Monday, August 20, 2012

Dear Dakota...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Dear Dakota,

Happy Happy Birthday my sweetest boy!!! I can't believe that you are already 4!!! You will always be my little baby but you just keep growing up so big and I'm not sure that I like it! You don't fit in my arms quite so easily anymore, you are getting heavier and harder to hold all the time, every time you get your hair cut you look more and more like a little boy instead of my little baby...I wish I could stop the time and keep you little forever but I can't. Because I was the youngest of 6 Nana always used to tell everyone..."this is my baby...I don't want her to get bigger." I didn't understand it at the time because I wanted to be big...I wanted to grow up. Now I get it!!

I wish that I could sit here and list all of your big boy accomplishments that you have done since you turned ride a bike, write your name, share with your sister (who I thought we would have by now), start preschool at Toree's down the street, be a big helper around the house, ride a horse all by your big boy self, etc. Things don't look at all like I imagined them being when you turned 4 BUT you are accomplishing more then I ever thought possible and things of FAR greater importance then riding a dang bike. YOU are teaching ME so much instead of ME teaching YOU! You got a free ticket to heaven on that tragic day that you keep in your pocket while mom and dad are still trying to earn ours...YOU have become our teacher and guide down the straight and narrow path back to our Heavenly Father. YOU are MY motivation to stay on the path and keep moving because I know that that is where my little boy is headed. You have taught me how to love more deeply and sincerely, how to have pure love and compassion for others...even complete strangers, patience...a lot of patience, how to trust in my Heavenly Father COMPLETELY (it's easy to trust in his plan when life is good and things are easy...but man it is SO much harder to do when life is hard), how to appreciate the little things in life...most especially a simple smile (I LOVE your smile and your sweet little giggle and I love seeing all children warms my heart like never before), how to do hard things...really hard things I didn't know I could do, how to focus on things that matter most, how to focus on the inside of others and see the good in each person, how to not judge others...I realize now more then ever that we NEVER know what a person has been through or are going through, how to pray more sincerely and with real intent, and the list goes on and on!! (Not that I have mastered any of these but you are teaching me) You are the most amazing 4 year old I know Dakota!!! Thank you for sticking with us when it would have been so much easier for you to leave this world and have that perfect body. I still believe you had a choice that day and you chose to stay. I'm sure you were warned how hard it would be for you if you stayed but you knew how much your mom and dad would need you and we are SO grateful to get to celebrate YOU turning 4!!

Mommy did a lot better this year then last. Instead of having a week of sadness...thinking of all that me and you were missing out on...I had a week of excitement. I think it showed me that I am healing... at least a little bit. You know I still cry cuz I miss your sweet voice and everything that I knew, but I love YOU and I believe you deserved to be celebrated for the amazing boy that you are. I wish everyone could see everything I see in you!!

Even though we can't say you have learned to ride a have accomplished a lot of little things in the last year and have come so far since the accident. You are a rolling machine!! You still get stuck when you are on your tummy and your arms are by your side but you try SO hard and don't give up. You are starting to bring your arms up some to help you but haven't quite mastered it. I think it is coming soon! You love to roll back and forth though and as soon as I lay you down on the floor you are rolling instantly and are most often laying on your side or partial front.
You are getting so much stronger with your head and core. You lift your head up off mine and daddies shoulder all the time and on your tummy. Your eyes are looking and tracking so well. You have gotten SO good at your swallows and are getting spoonfulls of baby food every day (just for practice). You close your lips better and better on the spoon and are keeping more of the food in your mouth then before and swallowing faster all the time. Eating orally is by far your most favorite thing to do...even more then watching Buzz. You are breathing SO good with your cap on...even during nap time. I only have to suction you 1 or 2 times a day (hopefully we will get the trach out next spring). I can't even remember the last time you needed oxygen at are keeping your stats up so good we hardly have you plugged into the monitor anymore. You are responding more and quicker to things with your looks and smiles. I totally know you understand what I'm saying even when you ignore me. My most favorite of all is that you are smiling and giggling more often and sometimes at things we do. You have worked SO hard to get to where you are at and I couldn't be more proud of you buddy!!! I can't wait to watch you continue to learn and grow over this next year!

Dakota at swallow therapy...closing lips on spoon.

We have had a really fun birthday week (birthdays should be celebrated at least a week! ;) ). The Sunday before your birthday Grammy and Poppy had a family party for you! All your aunts and uncles and cousins on the Friedli side were there to celebrate YOU!! Grammy decorated so cute with western stuff because you are still our favorite cowboy!! Mommy made you your very own pudding pie since you are doing SO good with swallows and grammy had your own special Trix yogurt and an otter pop for you! I think that was probably your most favorite part of it all!

Hangin with some of the fam

Daddy, Mailee, Uncle Ry, and baby Tate

Trying Trix yogurt for the first time

Chillin with Aunt Lindsay and Tate

Yummy otter pop

Me and Liv liked them didn't want to share I guess! ;)

You and all your cousins

Opening presents...your a spoiled boy

yes you are the boss!

You got a slinky dog that does bubbles...

I think it was your favorite!

Your cool Woody hat that Aunt Jenny made for you!

Getting ready for your own special pie...your eyes are glued to the prize!!

Mommy and daddy can't leave you alone though!

Blowing out your candles

YUM!!! Thanks dad!

On your actual birthday we woke up to Woody at our door and balloons that Grammy and Poppy surprised you with. You even gave Woody a smile.

You were so happy and smiley that morning YOU made MY day!!! I even captured some of it on footage...which I rarely get.

Birthday Morning

Later that day we went to the fair to watch Uncle Riley compete with his wagon. Lucky for us Aunt Ashley, Uncle Beau, Houston and Mailee got to come too! We had fun walking around the petting zoo and ran into our neighbors the Martins who gave you some of their goat food to feed the goats. You didn't seem so sure about it as the goats were licking it from your hand but afterwards you smiled that sweet, sweet smile!
Go Uncle Riley!!! Houston would yell..."go green one!"

You and your cousins checkin out the animals

Daddy and Houston

Feeding the goat

You liked it!!!

You had a couple of visitors come by to bring you a little birthday present. Grandma and grandpa Rhees come first and then our sweet friend Claudia.
Snugglin with grandma

She brought you a special card

Claudia brought you a balloon and sweet!

The Saturday after your birthday grammy and poppy took you for your very first sleepover since the accident for your birthday. They took you and cousin Houston to the fish farm and let you catch some big fish! I'm sure you had so much fun without us...which is why you hardly slept for them! ;) Too excited! (Mommy slept better then ever though! ;) )

You and grammy!

You and Poppy

What a big boy!

Your buddy Houston

Grammy always captures your sweet face so well...

Thanks Grammy and Poppy for a special day!
This year for the first time ever you got your very own friend birthday party! Something just told me it was time and that you were ready for it. You have so many sweet friends that love you and SO many of them came to celebrate YOU!! That morning when I got you out of bed I said..."Dakota today is YOUR birthday party! Everyone is coming to celebrate YOU because they love YOU!!! You gave me the biggest grin over and over.
Mommy decided to do it at the pool because you liked it there when we went before AND so I didn't have to entertain all the kiddos! ;) We had pizza and mostly just had a ball talking and playing with all your friends! You are one loved little boy Dakota!! Your friend Zach even handmade you some special birthday cards and couldn't wait to give them to you! You gave some sweet smiles at your party too!

(Thanks to everyone that took pictures for me...I didn't get a chance to take even one! If you have any good ones I didn't get send them my way!! Didn't get pics of a lot of you that came. :()

Getting ready for the madness!!

Uncle Ry and Aunt Lindsay and Tater








Smiled for the Gomez Family!!

What a cutie pie!!!

Holding cousin Tate

Aunt Jenny, Tate, and Poppy

Cousin Houston was so brave down the slide!

So were you! ;)

You and Daddy

Sitting in the pool with mom talking to Jake and Hadlee

Hadlee is such a sweet girlfriend and held your hand!

Birthday cakes

All your little friends that came...or most of them!! Thank you everyone for making his day so special!!! We love and appreciate you all!

When we were about to leave you will never believe but the Rasmussen family showed up...after driving 3 hours just to bring you a present and mostly just to hold you and love on you! It was their very first time to meet you (although they know you so well and have sent you presents in the mail before) but they loved you so, mommy, and daddy all felt it! They even got one of your sweet smiles that you don't freely give. :)

You are a very special boy Dakota and I hope you know how much you are loved not only by mommy, daddy, and your Heavenly Father...but by SO many people!! I pray every day that you feel that love!!

Happy Birthday my sweetest, most handsome, little angel boy!!!




  1. Oh sweet Dakota, HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY little Cowboy!!! You're mommy talks about all the little milestones you've hit, but they are such BIG milestones and we're all so proud of you!! You are definitely one of Heavenly Father's Angels and you are doing such Amazing work here on earth teaching all of us some much needed lessons, and not only are we all SO PROUD of you, but he is most proud of you! We can't wait to see all the things you will accomplish in the next year. We love you and your sweet parents SO MUCH and feel so blessed to know such amazing people like you guys. All our LOVE!! XOXOX

    The Lythgoe Family

    PS tell your mom & dad to bring you over to swim in our pool anytime :) You guys can have it all to yourselves!!

  2. Tessie... I watched the video and I am in awe! I really just cannot express how inspired I am by you and sweet Dakota! I feel grateful to know you and hope to get to know you and Dakota better. He is indeed a very special little boy! Happy Birthday Dakota.

  3. Happy Birthday to such a sweet sweet boy! You are amazing! Your blog is so inspiring!

  4. Happy Birthday, sweet Dakota! I loved the video of you in swallow therapy. I sure remember those sessions. Keep going, it's fun and worth it! You are such an inspiration to me on so many levels. Keep fighting!!

  5. What a fun week to celebrate such an amazing, BIG boy! Happy Birthday, sweet Dakota! Thank you for letting us be a part of your may have been short, but it was sooooooo sweet!

  6. The way that you talk about Dakota is so sweet, and no wonder he was so blessed to have you as his mommy...He is pretty dang special Tessie! My life has seriously been changed (for the best) Just by knowing you, Zach and Dakota. Love ya! :)

  7. Happy Birthday Dakota! I would have loved to visit with you more that day, but so glad we got to see you all at the fair! We love you!

  8. I'm proud of you, Holidays are hard, and I think we will always have the thoughts of what we thought they "should" be doing. Happy Birthday Dakota!!!

  9. He has a sweet, handsome smile! I'm glad he didn't give up on ya'll! : )

  10. Awesome! Happy Birthday! He is getting so big and is handsome as ever. So amazing all that he has accomplished with your hard work and dedication in the last few years. What an inspiration on every level. Thank you for the constant reminders and all that you do to teach us, sweet boy! We love you all the way down here in AZ even though we haven't yet had the pleasure to meet in person. Love and prayers from the Torrientes.