Sunday, September 22, 2013


After Dakota’s accident…I didn't know if I would ever feel real joy again in my heart until my little boy was back to his perfect normal self!

After we got home, I worked my hardest doing hours and hours of therapy with him in hopes that this would bring my little boy back.


Then and only then could Zach and I have the joy that he brought to us back in our lives! We missed his bright smile and sweet voice so much…it was our true source of JOY!!

The first year was so very difficult. The only expression Dakota had was sadness. He looked different and acted so different. All he did was cry and so did we. I often found myself asking God, “Why did you let him stay, if this is how it is going to be?” I couldn’t bear to see him so sad and miserable all the time and I begged…just let him be happy!! I know none of you can comprehend this…but we often thought that maybe it would have been better if he would have passed away.

As he continued to progress we first saw a hint of a smile and that was SOOOO exciting. Since that day Dakota has continued to progress in so many ways.

These last couple months we have seen even more change. It is always hard to describe these changes and progressions because they are so subtle and gradual that they are hard for me to even detect. But he has been more happy, more responsive, more alert, more interactive. I feel like we are finally understanding each other…even though he still can’t talk. I can ask him questions and get more responses either with a smile, a look, or a cry.

He uses those big sparkly eyes and sweet smile to tell us what he is thinking and needing and Zach and I are finally understanding him better and better. Don’t get me wrong…we still have our frustrating moments where neither one of us is getting the other but they are becoming fewer and far between.

This last week as Zach and I have had a lot of time to spend together since his work is slowing down, we have been together as a little family a lot. I have found myself several times just watching or listening to Dakota’s happy laugh, his sweetest smile, and the happiness in Zach’s voice. As I was listening to the happiness in Zach and Dakota while Zach gave him a bath…I felt that PURE JOY once again and I realized…it is back!! Dakota isn't back to his old self, but he is bringing us a source of JOY that I never knew. As I watch and listen I am completely content, happy, and my heart is full of JOY!!

I caught the very end of it so it was toned down a bit. (Don't mind the nudity!) ;)

The saying on the top of my blog that “Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful” is SO true!!! Dakota’s body and mind is still not perfect, Zach is still blind, day to day life is still hard for us…but we are happy and life with these two truly is SO wonderful!!!

Zach and I have had several conversations lately about how much we love Dakota this way. We still miss him and the boy he once was but he is SO much fun and makes us so happy in different ways. We talk about how much we love him and his unique little things that make him so different but so sweet. There truly is a piece of heaven that I can see in his eyes when he smiles. They sparkle differently then they ever did and he has shown me what true JOY is!!


After almost 3 years of coping with life with a brain injured child and mourning the loss of what once was…I can honestly say…I can feel PURE JOY again!! Heavenly Father in His own time and in His own way has answered my prayers! It took a lot of heartache and a lot of tears to get to this point but that is what this life is all about. He knew I needed to experience the loss of something so great and wonderful to learn to appreciate the simpleness and sweetness that life has to offer. We will never find happiness in the things we can buy…it is found right in our own simple little homes with the people we love!! If Dakota who can’t do much of anything on his own and truly deserves to complain can feel and show real happiness and joy…then we ALL can feel it!!! Find the joy in your life and SAVOR those moments!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Day of Preschool…for the 3rd time! ;)

Yesterday was Dakota’s first day of preschool…for his 3rd year!! He is no newbie to preschool but for some reason this year was SUCH a different experience. Not sure if it is because he has progressed further and is more aware, if he is better at expressing and communicating, or if he is just more excited this year then the rest!!

The night before school we read a little book, “How will I Get to School This Year” that his grammy and poppy gave him to get him ready for that first day! He smiled at the silly pictures. After the story I began my 1 way conversation with him. “Guess what Dakota…tomorrow is your FIRST day of school!” I got a little grin. “You get to see Miss Kari again!” (he gets the same teacher this year and we are super excited) I got a big smile. “She told me there are LOTS of girls in your class this year!” Big smile stayed. It was like that all night as we talked about school and all of the new friends he will make and things he will do! I thought…maybe I just got lucky and caught him on a happy night and maybe he wasn’t really that excited about school…maybe he was just happy.

BUT the next morning when I had to pull him out of bed to wake him up to get dressed before the bus got there…it happened again. He was just waking up…barely opening his cute little eyes…stretching his arms above his head. I said, “Dakota…today’s the day…you get to go to school!! Remember !” That same sweet smile crept up and stayed the whole time we got dressed and talked about school…even while we waited on the porch for the bus.

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He can’t even stand it!

Just waiting for the bus…finishing breakfast! ;) He looks so big!!!

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He has his same cute nurses we love (Robin on the left) and his same 2 AMAZING bus drivers (Carol and Valerie)!! We are so lucky!!

That is when I knew…he REALLY was excited about school. He TOTALLY knew what was going on and he was ready! The last couple weeks until his cousins came last weekend he had gotten in a little ornery mood. He was more whiny and not so happy. I really feel like he was just like all the other kids that are bored of summer and ready for some stimulation and socialization of school!

I am SO happy he gets to stay 1 more year at preschool with Miss Kari! It is going to be a great year!

Dakota and Miss Kari!

He is going 4 days a week for 2.5 hours this year! I hope he keeps the excitement and enthusiasm ALL year!!

First day captured by Nurse Robin!

Back in the wagon again!!! Just flexing his muscles for the girls! (He asked me to where his muscle shirt the first day to impress the ladies! ;))

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Taking a tour of the school and giving the office people high fives!!

He loves them too!! :)


Monday, September 2, 2013

We will miss you Nannie!!!

Of all the many people that loved Dakota…Nannie (Zach’s grandma) was most definitely one of them!
She went home to her most deserving spot in heaven a couple weeks ago and our arms and hearts are empty. Will miss her SO much BUT the knowledge we have that she is in a MUCH better place…with her sweet husband Don, free from all pain and worry brings us SO much joy!! I envy her in many ways for that and look forward to the day we are united again and I can hug her and feel her soft, warm cheek on my face again!!

Nannie, Grandpa Don and Dakota

Even though she wasn’t my “blood” grandma…she never treated me any different then her own grandchildren. She welcomed me into the family with SO much love that I couldn’t help but fall in love with her!!

She had such a special love for Dakota and he had that same love for her!!

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My FAVORITE picture of these two!!

Dakota’s name was brought up so many times at her funeral from her friends and family. Many people came up to us and told us how much she loved Dakota and always talked about him. Even her home teacher who spoke at the funeral spoke directly to Dakota because of how often Nannie would talk about him!

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Dakota was Grammy’s peace and comfort during this hard time!

All the great grandkids released balloons with messages to her!

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Off they go!!!

All of Zach’s family!

Now that she is in heaven, I feel like she has joined the list of one of Dakota’s heavenly cheerleaders!!I truly believe he has seen and spoken to her since she has left this earthly world. The night that she passed away we were at Zach’s parent’s house having a bbq with his family friends. Dakota was not in the best of moods or in the worst. He wasn't smiling and happy at all just kinda in a I don’t really care what is going on type of mood. Vicki (Zach’s mom)was at the hospital with her and when they called to tell Doug she had passed…we got the news too. Doug left right away and as we started cleaning up Dakota’s mood changed dramatically in an instant. He went from no smiles or anything to smiles and giggles. I couldn’t help but wonder if Nannie was already by his side and snuggling him so sweet as she always did. If only that little boy could talk I’m sure he would have SOOOO many stories to tell!! I am grateful that he is SO close to heaven that he gets to experience such special things that we can’t even comprehend.

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