It’s true there are many stories on ECHOage that make us cry, laugh, sigh. This one is unique, and worth retelling, it made us all stop and say: “Wow”. In the words of Victoria’s mom Amy, here is the story:
We live in a great house in East York, just a few blocks from Michael Garron Hospital where Victoria was born. The hospital is also where Victoria was cared for after a recent fall at school. Victoria fell and hit her head. Paramedics were called and she and I rode in the ambulance together. Victoria was captivated by the paramedics, who made her feel safe when she was scared and hurt. One of them had a crazy moustache, which Victoria thought was just about the coolest thing ever. When it was time to plan her birthday, we talked about ECHOage. Victoria said she wanted to “help kids and babies where I was born, and where “the moustache” helped me when I fell”. One of Victoria’s classmates’ dad is a police officer. When he heard about Victoria’s generosity, he felt compelled to track down “the moustache”. He found him! And he was able to come to Victoria’s birthday party to say “thank you” in person for Victoria’s donation to the hospital. They even let Victoria and her friends explore the ambulance!
Victoria has spastic dilpegia, a type of cerebral palsy (CP). CP affects everyone differently. For Victoria, she has very tight muscles in her legs, which make it difficult to walk. She wears leg braces and uses a walker to get around. Recently, we have been borrowing a used ice sledge so that she can go on school skating trips at our local arena. For her birthday, she received her very own, made-just-for-her ice sledge.
Happy Birthday To Victoria from the whole team at ECHOage! You made us cry, laugh, sigh. We’ll all be thinking of you throughout the holiday season, of you, your amazing generosity, of “the moustache” and the ice sledge. Thank you Victoria and Amy. XOXO ECHOage
There’s a general statement I often hear about kids, usually when there has been an incident of bullying or unkind behavior. That statement is “kids are so mean”. I cringe every time I hear it because:
a) It’s not true
b) Generalizations don’t serve anyone well and usually end up making me feel twitchy.
Unlike the bullying stories you often hear, I recently had an experience with my 14-year-old son that left me completely overwhelmed with how kind and supportive teenage boys can be.
He was out of town with his hockey team participating in a tournament. I worried that it might be a bit awkward socially, since the boys on the team didn’t know each other very well heading into the tournament. I was sure to send Daddy-o and son off with the Xbox and a load of junkie drinks and chips. That way, my kid’s room would be the “cool” place for them to hang out. When you’re raising a child with autism, you are always thinking about setting him up for success socially.
Daddy-o was giving me e-mail updates throughout the second game of the tournament, and what I was reading brought me to my knees. Here’s what happened:
- My kid got his first goal of the season. The bench cleared and his team went crazy congratulating him. In fact, our coach had to let the other coach know that it was his first goal and that they weren’t in fact rubbing it in that they had gotten so far ahead;
- Then my kid scored a second goal. More hysteria ensues. With one minute of play left, our coach was sending out the last lineup of players. One of the boys getting sent onto the ice asked coach if Mack could go out in his place so that he’d have a shot at getting a hat trick. Yes, a teammate gave up his own ice time for my son.
- After the game, his teammates decided he should be the tournament captain. A white “C” made of hockey tape was applied to his jersey, and he was given the game puck.
So you see why I don’t believe that kids are mean. We can’t forget about the coaches either. Any coach who can create an environment of support and peer encouragement for a bunch of testosterony 14-year-old boys has clearly worked some magic.
My family and I just had our annual week at the cottage. Now that my kids are getting older, cottage life has gotten easier. No longer do I wish for a baby gate around the lake and gone are the days of me following toddlers around the entire week.
But we certainly don’t have this safety thing all wrapped up just because they’re older. Older kids are more independent and mine like to go off exploring and visiting little friends around the lake. This year I felt like I had to keep an eye on my headcount. The thought of one of them getting lost in the woods makes me shudder.
So, I set up a few simple rules & tools that helped keep my stress levels down and my kiddos all accounted for:
- If going exploring, don’t go alone. Always bring a sibling and if you happen to get lost, you STAY TOGETHER.
- I reminded them of the “Hug a Tree” program. When a child is lost in the woods, they tend to wander, bringing them further away from home. I advised my kids that the moment they feel lost, they find a comfortable tree and stay with it. Chances are, they are not far from the cottage and it’s easier to find a non-moving target!
- My kids don’t have cell phones, but even if they did, we are so far in the bush that there’s no reception. We use walkie talkies, which are both fun and a great way to stay connected if there is a problem.
- When you hear the bell, you head home. We have a big dinner bell that echoes through the lake. When I feel like I have not seen a child for a while, I ring the bell and they wander back. I count six little heads and send them back off to their adventures.
- If a kid is going off exploring, have them wear a whistle around their neck. It’s a great way to locate them if they go off track, and whistles are good for scaring off the bears as well.
In the end, we survived the week and I managed to bring home the same six kids I left with.
Are you a family that camps or cottages? What measures do you put in place to ensure their safety in the bush?
About the Author:
Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six. Back to school is around the corner – have you got your school labels yet? The Ultimate Back-to-School Combo is here!
Hanging on a wall in our home is a list of basic principles that our family tries to live by. It’s a visual reminder of how we should treat each other. One of those principles is “Be quick to forgive”, and every now and again, the universe reminds me of just how important that is, too.
When I was in my first year of university, I upset one of my friends. I was mortified and apologized for my action. She forgave me, it seemed, and we moved on. But over the next couple of years, every once in a while she would remind me of that mistake. I got to the point where I just didn’t want to hear about it again and again. I sat her down and said that if she mentioned it one more time, I would have to end our friendship. She was shocked to learn how painful it was for me to be reminded of it, and completely understood. We remain extremely close today and it has never been mentioned since. In fact, so much time has passed I can’t even remember what I did in the first place.
This brings me to an incident that occurred this week. I made a mistake with one of my kids that left him in a potentially dangerous situation. I was horrified, upset and my confidence was completely shaken. I couldn’t sleep for days.
What was remarkable about the situation was that even though I made an outrageous mistake with one of the kids, Daddy-o supported me completely and kept telling me what an amazing mom I am. I found this remarkable because I know what I would have done if it had been him that made the same mistake. I would have been unforgiving. I probably would have told him that he can’t be trusted. I would have made him feel like a complete failure. But he didn’t do any of that to me.
So it has been a week of big reminders and even bigger lessons for this mama. The most important lesson being that I’m going to pay closer attention to the family principle of being quick to forgive.
Are there double standards of forgiveness in your house? Are you forgiving with your partner?
Written By Guest Blogger Julie Cole
For her 10th birthday, Amanda got craft supplies and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada got $72.50!Posted: April 8, 2013
When we think of the reasons why we are most proud of ECHOage, children like Amanda come to mind. This girl made turning 10 extra special, and she did it so easily with ECHOage. At 10 years old, Amanda loves to sew and make jewellery. It is her hobby and she really enjoys making things for other people. She chose sewing and jewellery supplies for her birthday because she will need more supplies in order to make more fabulous designs. But that is not all…Amanda chose to support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada because her grandmother has had Crohn’s since she was a little girl. In Amanda’s words: “I want to make sure that anyone else who has Crohn’s gets good treatment like my grandmother has.” Happy Birthday special girl! You have made our day, and you will certainly inspire many other children to follow in your footsteps. Thank you, Amanda!
What an amazing girl! Avital chose to support Child Find of America because she wanted all the children of America to be found (if they were lost) and to be able to go back to their parents. In her words: “I would hate it if I were lost and nobody found me.” She chose a Tablet for her gift because everyone else in her house could play games and text their friends but she couldn’t. Again, in her words: “I wanted to be able to text my friends and play the same games they are playing.” The best thing about her party? Swimming with her friends. Happy Birthday from all of us at ECHOage to an amazing girl.
Here is an eight-year-old boy who thinks about his grandmothers, and how he can help them. He chose to support Rethink Breast Cancer at his recent ECHOage birthday party because he wants his grandmothers to be healthy and enjoy their lives. One of Jamie’s grandmother’s died of breast cancer before he was born. Jamie chose to honor her memory at his party.
He also got to choose his birthday gifts – he got Wii games and a new baseball mitt. Jamie said he liked this more than getting lots of different birthday presents because he could choose his own games and the style of baseball mitt. When asked about the best part of his birthday, Jamie said: “The best part of my birthday was playing with my friends and having fun together!” Happy Birthday, Jamie! Our hats are off to you.
Zach is a champion in our eyes. He raised $1000 at his birthday party for his birthday gifts and supported the charity of his choice. His gift was Skylanders Giants and Zach says he loves playing with them: “They just came out with some amazing new characters.” His charity was Jacob’s Ladder – an organization founded on the love parents feel for their children. We asked Zach how he felt about his amazing contribution: “I love to help other kids and like to give to children that need things. I go to the same camp as Jacob, from Jacob’s Ladder, and I wanted to help his charity.” Even more special, Zach said that the best part of his birthday party was being with his friends. Way to go Zach! You are compassionate boy at age 7 – Happy Birthday Champ!
JACOB from Jacob’s Ladder with his family
For Kyle’s 9th Birthday he got Halo Mega Blocks and a Kindle Fire. The Association to Benefit Children got $102.50.Posted: February 3, 2013
Kyle feels good when he helps other children. That is why he chose to support The Association to Benefit Children for his 9th birthday party which he celebrated at the beach with friends and family. “When mom read me the different charities on the ECHOage site, The Association to Benefit Children sounded really good because it helps abused and neglected children. It is sad to think about kids being hurt and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore.” While helping children, Kyle also got the birthday gifts he has been dreaming of: A Kindle Fire and Halo Mega Blocks. “Halo is one of my favorite toys! I wanted a tablet because it’s cooler than a phone, and there are apps and fun things I can play on it.” Kyle told us that it makes him feel very good inside to know he helped other children. Kyle, it makes everyone at ECHOage feel good inside to know you’re leading the way for a new generation of kids who will celebrate their birthdays while thinking of others. Happy Birthday, special boy! You turned 9 and made a real difference in your world.
At ECHOage there are many children doing very special things with their birthdays. Seven year old Riley did something really amazing. She turned her party into an opportunity to honor the memory of her late uncle, Chucky Weiner, her Mom’s brother who was treated at The Montreal Children’s Hospital many years ago. Riley had a mission: “I want to help kids that are sick to feel better.” And when asked of her motivation: “My Mommy’s brother went there when he was a kid.” At only 7 years old, Riley has patience too. She got an iPod Touch which she had wanted for a year and a half. In Riley’s words: “It’s cool because you can load up games, and text, and FaceTime people.” Riley, thank you for what you have done. We hope your amazing contribution will echo around the world. Happy Birthday special girl! Love, ECHOage.