Giving of Gifts

Giving of Gifts.

The Giving of Gifts

It’s that time of year yet again: Time to buy gifts for the family and other important people in your life. Some people have a knack for giving and finding the perfect gift. They just seem to know what a person needs or wants. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that trait. I find it hard and often stressful to find just the right gift. On that rare occasion that I do find the perfect gift, it really excites me. It is such a joy to see someone’s face light up when they love what you gave them, but overall, I seriously lack in gift giving.

Then you throw in the question “What do you buy for a child who has needs?” It seems to be a tough question, but if you ask the parents of the child they can usually come up with a few ideas. Often, when the question is posed my mind goes blank and I forget about my son’s many needs. But usually, in our case and other parents I have talked to, a warm blanket is always a hit. Basic supplies, light-up toys and gift cards will always work for our special kiddos.

Then what to get the teachers, therapists, nurses and others involved in my son’s life? These people greatly enhance his quality of life, and I want them to know they are important to us. We are blessed with many good ones who deserve much more than our budget can stretch.

The children in my family also can be a challenge to buy for. You want their faces to light up, for them to be thrilled with what you bought. The older they get the more challenging that becomes, except maybe once they get to the adolescent years and really just want gift cards or, in the words of my 12-year-old daughter: “Money is always perfect.” They love to go shopping and pick what they want for themselves.

Amongst the shopping and preparing for Christmas, I need to keep in mind the real reason for the season: The love of God, family and friends; the birth of Christ; the happiness and joy on my children’s faces; Christmas gatherings and parties. I need to slow down and enjoy life’s moments. The best Christmas gifts are free.

For instance, last night I thoroughly enjoyed watching my eldest daughter play a flute solo in her band concert, and last week I saw my middle daughter perform. Watching them excel and grow fills my heart with love. Gift giving is not a concept that Austin can understand, but he does know when someone is talking and loving on him, and in his world that is all that matters. He teaches us that simple interactions are the most meaningful parts of life. When I arrived home from the Hickman High School band concert, he smiled and cooed for joy at the sound of my voice. My heart sang and I know without a doubt that time spent with loved ones is the most important gift we can give and receive.

In a talk with my 91-year-old Grandma last night, she gave me the priceless gift of her Christmas truth: “Family is the ultimate important thing in our lives. Christ showed us the love, and He died on the cross for us. The root word of ‘Christmas’ is ‘Christ.’ Spend time with family and be thankful for what you do have. Gifts are something to treasure. I thank God all the time for food, clothing and shelter.”

This week and the next, I will go shopping for gifts and enjoy the fun and try to avoid the stress of it. But I hope to keep the real meaning of Christmas close to my heart and spend time with my family and friends and be thankful for them. Another quote from my daughter Amber: “It’s more about giving than receiving.”

Reader, I would love some gift-giving ideas. Merry Christmas.

© 2013 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Giving of Gifts

The Giving of Gifts

 
 

It’s that time of year yet again: Time to buy gifts for the family and other important people in your life. Some people have a knack for giving and finding the perfect gift. They just seem to know what a person needs or wants. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that trait. I find it hard and often stressful to find just the right gift. On that rare occasion that I do find the perfect gift, it really excites me. It is such a joy to see someone’s face light up when they love what you gave them, but overall, I seriously lack in gift giving.

Then you throw in the question “What do you buy for a child who has special needs?” It seems to be a tough question, but if you ask the parents of the child they can usually come up with a few ideas. Often, when the question is posed my mind goes blank and I forget about my son’s many needs. But usually, in our case and other parents I have talked to, a warm blanket is always a hit. Basic supplies, light-up toys and gift cards will always work for our special kiddos.

Then what to get the teachers, therapists, nurses and others involved in my son’s life? These people greatly enhance his quality of life, and I want them to know they are important to us. We are blessed with many good ones who deserve much more than our budget can stretch.

The children in my family also can be a challenge to buy for. You want their faces to light up, for them to be thrilled with what you bought. The older they get the more challenging that becomes, except maybe once they get to the adolescent years and really just want gift cards or, in the words of my 12-year-old daughter: “Money is always perfect.” They love to go shopping and pick what they want for themselves.

Amongst the shopping and preparing for Christmas, I need to keep in mind the real reason for the season: The love of God, family and friends; the birth of Christ; the happiness and joy on my children’s faces; Christmas gatherings and parties. I need to slow down and enjoy life’s moments. The best Christmas gifts are free.

For instance, last night I thoroughly enjoyed watching my eldest daughter play a flute solo in her band concert, and last week I saw my middle daughter perform. Watching them excel and grow fills my heart with love. Gift giving is not a concept that Austin can understand, but he does know when someone is talking and loving on him, and in his world that is all that matters. He teaches us that simple interactions are the most meaningful parts of life. When I arrived home from the Hickman High School band concert, he smiled and cooed for joy at the sound of my voice. My heart sang and I know without a doubt that time spent with loved ones is the most important gift we can give and receive.

In a talk with my 91-year-old Grandma last night, she gave me the priceless gift of her Christmas truth: “Family is the ultimate important thing in our lives. Christ showed us the love, and He died on the cross for us. The root word of ‘Christmas’ is ‘Christ.’ Spend time with family and be thankful for what you do have. Gifts are something to treasure. I thank God all the time for food, clothing and shelter.”

This week and the next, I will go shopping for gifts and enjoy the fun and try to avoid the stress of it. But I hope to keep the real meaning of Christmas close to my heart and spend time with my family and friends and be thankful for them. Another quote from my daughter Amber: “It’s more about giving than receiving.”

Reader, I would love some gift-giving ideas.

Merry Christmas.

Jenny Wade lives in Columbia with her husband, three children and two dogs. She has a degree in Elementary Education. Jenny is an advocate for her son Austin who has a severe brain injury. Austin has taught her about navigating a new side of life. 

 

© 2013 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

 

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Every Child Needs A Bike!

Every Child Needs A Bike!.

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Every Child Needs A Bike!

Every Child Needs a Bike!

Most American children experience bike riding in their early years. It seems to be a favorite physical activity. When our daughters started walking around the age of 1, we bought them small riding toys. It was so exciting to see them push themselves around the yard or in the house. Then they graduated to big wheels and tricycles, and the thrills continued. They spent countless moments experiencing the freedom of riding, the joy of going fast down a hill. Then came the small, more grown-up looking bikes with training wheels, and eventually the training wheels came off. Such great memories were made! The memory of our daughter Amber learning to ride her bike without training wheels will forever be etched in my memory. She was so ecstatic to be able to ride like her big sister Abby, and it was ambitious because she was only 3 years old.

Biking is such a great physical activity and a confidence booster. It helps with learning, balance and stability. It is therapeutic for people of all ranges and abilities. According to Friendship Circle, a special-needs resource, biking encompasses many benefits for children beyond just fun. It can help the body with bone growth, strengthening of anti-gravity muscles, development of hand/eye coordination and visual perception, and it can increase circulation and blood flow throughout the body. Movement, which can be harder for a child with a disability, can help improve cognition. A bike can help facilitate movement that a child might otherwise not be able to do. After all, movement is life.

In recent years, my husband and I started to ride bikes on the trail, and I have rediscovered my childhood love of bike riding. So naturally, we wanted our son Austin to experience a bike, too. We bought a carrier to bring him along on rides, and he does seem to love that. He loves movement and the fresh outdoor air. It has also been a great way to include him in some family adventures. But my dream to get him a bike of his own kept nagging at my heart. I knew he would not be able to ride a bike like a typical child, but nonetheless, he deserves the feeling of freedom and joy that riding provides. To me, it’s a childhood rite of passage, and I want my son to have as many of those experiences that he can. So I, the mother who loves to research, found a bike online that I knew would work for him. It is called the Freedom Concepts bike and it was the only bike I could find that has all the proper supports my son would need. The problem, however, was the cost.

The first bike we tried we had modified by a wonderful man named Walt. It was great bike, but just not enough support for Austin. I was very sad, but we were able to donate it to another child.

Then, when Austin was 6 ½ years old, he got the Sarah Jian Lopez Medicaid Waiver and we finally had funding to get his bike. It took many months, but it was so worth it. He rides with help, and the Freedom Concept bike gives him total support. But, oh the joy of his legs moving and being outside. It is both refreshing and therapeutic for him. His legs are learning to move more and on the bike to move in opposite succession. In my world, that can only help his body. And really, who cares about the therapy part? This boy is riding a bike and experiencing a little freedom that we all should be able to experience. Every child needs a bike. I am beyond thrilled that my son has finally been able to have that luxury. He totally deserves it, and the smile and happiness on his face are worth all the time and research getting him that bike took.

Again, every child needs a bike. I hope you get time to enjoy your bike now and then!

Jenny Wade lives in Columbia with her husband, three children and two dogs. She has a degree in Elementary Education. Jenny is an advocate for her son Austin who has a severe brain injury. Austin has taught her about navigating a new side of life.

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Wishes and Dolphins

Wishes and Dolphins

 
 

This summer we were given an amazing gift. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Missouri granted my son Austin a wish.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation makes wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions. It is an amazing organization that works really hard to provide an experience of a lifetime. Different children choose different wishes. In our case, Austin could not tell us verbally what he would wish for, so we had to really think about what he likes.

Austin loves water, warmth and movement, so we decided a trip to someplace by the ocean would be fabulous for him. We had thought about a hot tub or having his room made over, but the idea of a family trip won over. This would be our first real family vacation since Austin was born. Most of our travel since then had revolved around therapy or medical care.

When our wish coordinator suggested a place called Island Dolphin Care, I was a little concerned about having another therapy place be part of our vacation, but it turned out I didn’t need to be worried. Island Dolphin Care (IDC) is located in Key Largo, Fla., and that is where Austin was given the gift of swimming with dolphins. IDC is a not-for-profit organization that provides dolphin-assisted therapy to people of varying abilities. We discovered that dolphins have an amazing ability to communicate and connect with humans, especially children and those with special needs. I totally believe they are magical beings and speak to our innermost selves. We all fell head over heels in love with the dolphins — especially my daughters Abby and Amber.

IDC does a great job of including siblings within its program. All too often, the siblings of a child with special needs get overlooked. IDC founder Deena Hoagland understands this and designed the IDC program to allow the sibs to feel like part of the experience. Both my daughters were able to have a chance to swim with Austin and the dolphins. The girls also were included in the classroom activities. It was an experience our family always will remember.

In the gift shop, a display of the book written by Hoagland, “Breaths That Count: The True Story of a Boy, a Dolphin and Their Remarkable Friendship,” caught my eye. I had to read the book. I had to learn all the details of this extraordinary family who make dreams come true through dolphin therapy. I wanted to connect with this mother, her journey and how she turned her dreams into a reality. Hoagland’s book is self-published and available on Amazon. It is truly a heart-warming story of healing and amazing love with dolphins and a family united to help their little boy.

Make-A-Wish created the vacation of a lifetime for us. It thought of everything. We were given an accessible wheelchair van to drive while in Florida, and Make-A-Wish made it possible for us to bring a nurse for Austin. Caring for him requires much time and work, and having help for part of the time enabled us to have a more relaxing experience. That extra help made a huge difference and is not something we could typically add to a vacation budget; it’s just too expensive.

The Make-A-Wish is such an amazing foundation. They really make wishes come true for children with life threatening medical conditions. It is really amazing what they do. Thank you so much, Make-A-Wish and Island Dolphin Care you gave a trip of a lifetime to a little boy who has been through so much in his life. You gave him joy and you gave him some connectedness that could only come from dolphins and the therapists at Island Dolphin Care. You made our hearts sing.

FYI, if you are looking to donate to organizations that actually help people Make-A-Wish and Island Dolphin Care are well worth your money. You can also check them out on Facebook.

 

 
 

 

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Wishes and Dolphins – Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Catching The Curve Balls

Wishes and Dolphins – Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Catching The Curve Balls.

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Advocacy, Advocacy, Advocacy

Advocacy, Advocacy, Advocacy.

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