I clicked on the little Facebook year in review button the other day. It was showing my 20 biggest moments from 2013. I would recommend that you do it. However, I will point out that even with all of the algorithms (or whatever they use) to figure out your highlights, the heart knows best. Here’s what I thought my big things were…I’m using my online scrapbook (aka Facebook) for a little guidance. 

January- We took Alexis to Minneapolis, Minnesota for her first visit to Shriner’s Hospital. We found out she didn’t need (or couldn’t have) the major surgery we were asking about. But they did recommend a great hand surgeon. The Shriner’s Hospital was amazing. We saw 4 doctors, had x-rays, and saw two therapists in a matter of a couple of hours. Any person that knows their way around a hospital is ohhhing & ahhhing right now! But better than the doctors was that Alexis rode a roller coaster for the first time.


February- We celebrated Alexis 6th Birthday with a movie theatre full of Kindergartners. Our party favors included a glow in the dark necklace. That sounded like a great idea until they figured out that they could swing them around and it would look cool in the dark. Best part of the day is that everyone lived and no one lost an eye! Lesson learned.

Shrek, Fiona and Fiona Jr.

March- Alexis got a part in her first theatre production Winnie the Pooh. She did two performances, and had two lines and a lot of singing. It was an extremely proud moment for us. What was priceless was seeing her on stage without her walker & talking loud enough that people could hear her. Thank goodness for therapy!

April- Brandon and I were given the Spirit of Nebraska Award by the Brain Injury Association of Nebraska. There is still so much work to be done with education, prevention, and awareness. I’m not sure that we were the most deserving of this award…but it was such and honor and something we are very proud of.

May- Alexis ran in her first 1 mile race. I wrote about it in this blog post. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t seen it. It still makes me cry. I also ran my 3rd Marathon and bested my PR by 38 minutes…and Alexis busted me in a poem about my love of Cheetos.cheetos


June- Alexis and I took our first trip abroad to see my sister Mandi & her family. 

July- Alexis had many summer visitors during her therapy sessions at Madonna. We felt so honored to have so many professionals from her school that came to see what she does when she is not at school. We feel so grateful that they took some time from their schedules to see what she does. I think it was rewarding for everyone. 

sue and kristi

August- My cousin Sara had a fabulous internship at Parents Magazine this summer. She interviewed me about Alexis and then shared the story with the world. I was so thankful for the likes and shares that will continue to help us prevent Abusive Head Trauma/ Shaken Baby Syndrome.

September- Alexis made it through surgery at Gillette Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota! More importantly, we survived 5 weeks with a cast and a pin put through her hand…and only had one mishap that sent us to the emergency room to get re-casted!


October- Alexis was discharged from speech therapy after 5 1/2 years of very hard and intensive work. We have had about 10 wonderful ladies that are speech therapists that have played a huge role in Alexis’ ability to communicate. When Alexis was hurt, the initial prognosis was that she may be able to say a few words, but would probably never be able to talk enough to use a sentence. Amazing!

alexis discharge

November-  After getting a little (alright A LOT) impatient, we are starting to see the benefits of the hand surgery and the extra therapy. I was beginning to lose some faith and get pretty grumpy about her right hand, Brandon called it a “bad attitude.”  Just when I was giving up….

Alexis went and did this.


December- It’s only the 18th, so I have no idea what the highlight will be. I’m guessing it will probably be watching the Verzal Christmas Carol…but whatever it is, I’m looking forward to it.

Wishing you and your families a very safe and Happy Holiday Season.


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.