Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

Written By:  Tiffany Verzal

Alexis has had a full life in her five short years. She’s spoiled rotten, sees her grandparents all of the time, and is loved by so many people. She’s had more prayers said for her, and received more cards and gifts from strangers than I can count. She eats cookies before dinner and can spray me with the garden hose without getting in trouble.

But Alexis has earned it. She works hard, and she is a fighter. She got dealt a hand of cards that most of us couldn’t handle playing with, but she does everything with such determination. However, the one thing that I know she is missing in her life is friends her age and play dates. I’ll admit, this one falls on me and my frustrations and fears.

I remember listening to a podcast about shaken baby syndrome when she was first injured. They were interviewing a mom whose son was six. He had been shaken when he was a baby. She sounded so sad and hopeless when she started talking about the social aspect of his life. She said that their family felt very isolated because it was getting too hard to take him out. He couldn’t do what the other kids were doing and she and her husband never relaxed, because they needed to take care of him no matter where they were.

I didn’t really understand at the time. We were always taking Alexis places, and friends invited us to come over and play. But over time, social activities with families the same age got more difficult, and now I understand what she was saying.

First, let me say we have it very easy compared to some families. We are not on a medication schedule, Alexis doesn’t have behavior problems, and she’s our only child.

But we still face some challenges that others don’t.

One of the things that has made making friends really difficult is that Alexis has a therapy schedule that (most times) keep us from meeting up when we are invited. At one point, Brandon and I were exhausted from taking care of her around the clock and going out of our home took that much more energy. It was also really hard to watch Alexis being left in the dust when it came to peers meeting milestones. The older she was getting, the more separation there was.

We would go to gatherings from time to time, but it was so hard. The other kids would go off and play and we would have to help Alexis play too. Brandon and I would switch off and on every ten minutes so that the other one could talk to the adults.

It wasn’t miserable, but it was isolating.

I want Alexis to be a kid this summer…because she spends a lot of time not being one. So my goal is to have a lot of “kid” time this summer, have several play dates, and make a point to get together with our friends. What I hope for more than anything is that we can find a balance.

This last holiday weekend was a weekend full of parties and gatherings. There is one thing that is true, Alexis LOVES being around other kids. She was bounced around on a trampoline and did much better than we expected. Other than several people telling their children they needed to be careful, and a 7-year-old boy wanting her to get off because she couldn’t jump, it was pretty cool to watch.

She sat on a “big-kid” swing and did really well hanging on.

She/we got outran by a three-year-old for 30 minutes, but she thought that it was a blast.

She’s invited at least five people over to have a slumber party in the last three days.

She would also “like to really go back to that place tomorrow.”

I’m so glad that she is having fun and that she doesn’t notice or hear what we do. I hope that it is a long time before she ever does.

I’m sure there are some of you reading this who have friends or family members with kids who have special needs. I am also sure that a majority of the time parents of kids with special needs come across as a little too overbearing and crazy.

I just want to ask you to hang in there with us.

Keep inviting us to your parties, even if we decline for two years. There will come a day when we are ready to go. And if we bring our kids and we end up in a corner with them, please come and sit by us and talk. While it may not seem like it, we are often having a great time- because we’re getting to see our kids do things they don’t normally get a chance to do.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Tiffany Verzal

Tiffany Verzal was raised in rural Nebraska, and now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Brandon and daughter Alexis (9) and Abby (2). In 2008, Alexis (then 14-months-old) was the victim of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of her daycare provider in Texas. Alexis suffered severe brain damage and has spent over 2000 hours in rehabilitation since her injury. Tiffany continues to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse. Brandon and Tiffany serve as members on Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s Board of Trustees. Brandon is currently the Chairman of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board.

What My Son Taught Me About Joy at the Holidays

In: Fatherhood, Uncategorized

There’s not a lot going on right now, but that doesn’t mean my family can’t still enjoy some of our favorite seasonal pastimes like trimming the Christmas tree, counting down to Santa’s arrival, and riding bikes around the neighborhood and loudly critiquing everyone’s decorating choices. Amidst the December doldrums, the announcement of a holiday decoration contest by our neighborhood HOA certainly sent a frisson of excitement through our household. My children are enamored with decorations anyway, but the prospect of a cash prize just for filling our yard with more inflatable monstrosities dialed up their excitement level to an 11....

Keep Reading

Christmas Magic May Look Different For a Special Needs Family

In: Kids, Motherhood, Uncategorized
Little boy looking at Christmas tree

Christmas can be a very magical time of year with Santa, decorations, presents, and family gatherings. It can also be a very tough and difficult time for families with special needs children. For many of us as parents, we are hanging on by a thin thread as we try to honor the traditions of our extended families while keeping our children with special needs happy and on routine.  My son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at 21 months and is non-verbal. He is now 5.5 years old. He doesn’t like the noise or chaos that gatherings bring. Sometimes lights...

Keep Reading

Kevin Hart to Star in Movie About Fatherhood That Promises to be a Tear-Jerker

In: Fatherhood, Uncategorized

Imagine having it all: you’re happily married to your high school sweetheart, settled into your dream home in Los Angeles, and over-the-moon excited for the birth of your first child—a baby girl. Then, without warning, tragedy strikes. Just 27 hours after your little girl enters the world, your wife suffers a pulmonary embolism and dies instantly, without ever holding the daughter whose arrival she had so eagerly awaited. Heartbreaking stories like this seem like the stuff of fiction, but for Matt Logelin, it is a terrible reality. After finding himself the sole caretaker of his newborn daughter, Maddy, Matt turned...

Keep Reading

Why Didn’t We Think of That? Dad Invents Candy Chute for Contactless Halloween Trick-or-Treating

In: Uncategorized

We know we aren’t the only dads who had big dreams for Halloween this year—after all, how often does the spooky holiday actually fall on a weekend? And one that coincides with a super rare blue moon, no less! Our kids have had their costumes picked out since last October, and we were fully prepared to endure 48-hour sugar highs and demand extra candy tax in compensation. Of course, no one could have predicted a global pandemic would throw a wrench into those plans, leaving many of us scratching our heads as to how to make a highly anticipated event...

Keep Reading

To the Great-Grandparents: Thank You For Loving Us So Well

In: Uncategorized

Can we take a minute to talk about the blessing of great-grandparents? Grandparents (i.e. your own parents) spoil your kids, of course—it’s a time-honored tradition, really. The reward for surviving parenthood with your own children is spoiling your grandchildren with abandon. All that spoiling prompts the inevitable wondering, “Where were these people when they were raising me?!” Your parents limited television and junk food. They enforced rules and consequences. Who are these pod-people who’ve invaded your parents’ bodies and are now spoiling the living daylights out of your children? This question doesn’t exist where great-grandparents are concerned. You know exactly...

Keep Reading

I Want My Son To Take Pride in His Heritage

In: Uncategorized
Mother holding newborn baby

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked the same question, THE question. The one I have grown accustomed to hearing yet not grown accustomed to answering. “What are you?” I’ve been asked this by people I’ve known for months and people I have known for mere seconds.  As a child, I had my prepared answer, “I am Polish, German and Native American.” Not the full story. As an adult I’ve tested out different responses, “I am American; I am mixed.” Not the answer they want to hear.  The truth is I was ashamed. Ashamed as a young child...

Keep Reading

To the Average Kid: One Day You’ll Realize You’ve Always Been Exceptional

In: Uncategorized
kids students graduate graduation academics

Hello average and below average kids and teenagers! Today you will not be on a stage receiving an honor, a pin, a certificate, a sash, a cord, or a badge for high academic achievement. Nobody will tell you your future is bright and positive, or that you can do and be anything you want. You will shuffle along the rest of your school days and years sheepishly wearing the “average” badge—which is actually no badge at all, rather it’s just you sitting small watching everyone else standing tall with honor. But I want to tell you something. Something incredible. It’s...

Keep Reading

I’m Not a Princess – But I’m Raising One

In: Kids, Motherhood, Uncategorized
I'm Not a Princess - But I'm Raising One

It was at my baby shower that I received my daughter’s first princess tiara. It was a gift from a family friend and it was truly beautiful. Radiantly adorned with Swarovski crystals and perfectly sized to fit atop a tiny toddler’s head. I remember my mom gushing over it when I unwrapped the box after the party was over. I scowled at it. “She will not wear that thing,” I said. My mom looked confused. “But she’s going to be a little girl. Of course she will want to wear it!” she said. “My daughter will never be called a...

Keep Reading

Make Wanderlust a Must: Raising Kids Who Love to Travel

In: Kids, Motherhood, Uncategorized
Make Wanderlust a Must: Raising Kids Who Love to Travel

The love of travel is perhaps one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children. It breeds curiosity, tolerance, adaptability and a sense of adventure. Whether it’s three hours or three continents away, traveling broadens the mind and restores the soul. Plus it’s just plain old FUN. But there is a difference between taking your children on a trip and cultivating a love of travel, and that difference lies in how you involve them in the process. Get their input. Where do they want to go and why? What types of activities interest them? While an African Safari may...

Keep Reading

For the Expectant Mom: You’re In For a Crazy, Beautiful Ride

In: Humor, Kids, Motherhood, Uncategorized
For the Expectant Mom: You're In For a Crazy, Beautiful Ride

This article is meant for the woman who is expecting her first child. Congratulations to you momma. I am so happy for you and wish you all the best. You are in for a lifetime of happiness and joy, and also a whole lot of crazy. There are a lot of articles out there for expectant moms that talk about the joys of motherhood, or tips on how to survive, but here are the top ten things I’ve learned since becoming a mom four months ago myself. Take heart, it’s a great adventure. Days of eating meals with your spouse...

Keep Reading