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Scheduling Mama, Scheduling Kid

I’m back! It’s been about 2 of the craziest weeks since the holidays. If you’re like me, between kids and working and hobbies and errand running and family obligations stuff just gets so busy everything gets done but nothing gets done well.

I don’t like that. Call it the perfectionist in me, but doing a lot simply to check it off the list isn’t good enough. I want to be present in my life – even the mundane stuff like house cleaning and walking the kids to school.

Someone who knows a bit about mindfullness is a writer friend of mine, Kate Hanley. Check out her weekly column at Ms.Mindbody. She’s even written the ultimate Chill Guide which you can find at her website.

I can’t even close to call myself a meditator. One of my biggest beefs with that practice has always been, “How can I find silence when my kid is vocally ticking!”

But even if I weren’t kidding – which I am (come on, people, haven’t you heard of ear plugs?) – the fact is that I simply haven’t carved out the time to do it. I have, though, found some ways to  organize my time so that I work more efficiently.

I’d like to talk about that this week, for in taking care of Mama, it has worked out that I am less worried about the things I can’t control, like T.S.! I can just do my best. That’s all any of us can do.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite pics taken over the past 2 weeks. I’d love to hear how you and your family are doing, too.

Here’s my daughter and me at Pip’s First Confession. Yes, I confess I have been a bad blogger! Oh, readership – all 20 of you – forgive me!

Here’s Rex, the kids, and little Miss L chilling out on a weekend night before a typical Saturday sleepover.

And here we have one of my favorite moments from our snow getaway last weekend. The kids had been disappointed that our cabin wasn’t covered in white, but the very next morning, we woke up to just enough flakes to enjoy some delicious sample tasting and a sled run down the hill.

Life with T.S. can feel far from perfect, folk, but I promise you that the more you live in the moment, the more you’ll look beyond a few annoying tics and cherish the friendships, the love and the smiles. A few extra snowflakes? That’s just icing on the cake.

Until next time,  hug that ticker of yours today!

Andrea

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Acupuncture Update #3 and Meditation

Stink was a bit head shaky, twitchy on Thursday. A session with Martina cleared this right up.

At first, Stink would complain about acupuncture. It was not the needles, but the time he had to take out of his day to sit still, that bugged him.

But now, he loves it. He is especially fond of Thursday’s sessions when he lays in Mama and Papa’s bed and hears this awesome meditation CD. In fact, the CD relaxes him so much, he and his sister go to sleep with it at night. It even worked in knocking him and his best buddy out in fifteen minutes on Saturday night.

This was after playing the Wii, seeing a movie, and running around like hellions in the backyard.

Just saying, if my kid and his 9 year old friend can go from this…

…to this

…it might be worth a shot for your little tickers.

Meditation CDs and acupuncture aren’t miracle cures, but for us, they are working.

More later!

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Wii Like Mario Now

For those of you who read me, you know that the Nintendo DS proved to be an absolute nightmare on many levels. Stink would obsess about when he could play it next. He’d make the finger movements in class when he should have been working on his writing assignment. He’d make the ever lovely Tarzan “ah ah ah” warble. His eyes would dart up down and round and round like a mad scientist tic-toc clock buzzed on Red Bull.

It didn’t matter how many expectations we’d set in order for him to play the game:

  • pay attention in class
  • no interrupting
  • no complaining over homework

My little gamer would ultimately break his end of the bargain. This resulted in many tears and feelings of shame as I ultimately held onto my end of the bargain which meant NO MARIO.

While I am not a mother who frets over my child’s self-esteem when it comes to doling out uncomfortable consequences (sorry, that’s life, kid) – I found it heartbreaking when I knew from the start he couldn’t control his impulses due to the very machine he was jonesing to play.

We found ourselves in a constant no-win circle. I likened it to telling a junkie they could have a shot of heroin only if they were able to meditate for an hour each day once/week and gain ten pounds back in the process.

It just so happens that I had enough of this Mario B.S D.S. right around the same time the school administration informed us about starting an I.E.P. evaluation for Stink.

Stink cried to mama when I told him that his hand held would be gone by Thanksgiving.

Mama cried to Papa when she was convinced Stink would be labeled as a special needs problem child by Christmas.

Along with the extra emotions and tics that come with Tic Trick or Treat… it was a fun Halloween season at he Frazer domicile.

We all got over ourselves around the time we moved the Christmas tree into the living room late November. The lights on the tree seemed to illuminate the best thing to happen in our house since Mario moved out: Sanity.

You can imagine my dismay, then, when Papa recommended that Santa buy Stink a Wii.  After smacking Rex over the head with a yule log,  I agreed. It made sense that the bigger screen and inability to transport that damn little box from place to place might dissipate tics and hyperactivity. We could buy movement games in addition to his beloved Plumber Lover.

I did provide a caveat though: If it caused any of the same symptoms as the DS, it was going to end quicker than Kim Kardashian’s wedding.

One month in, I’m happy to report that we have seen ZERO of the side effects we’ve seen with the DS. Stink still rushes to play his beloved Mario right after school on Fridays (no screen time during the week) but he’s fine with his 2 hour minimum.

His game time is tied into good behavior at school and home. So far, he’s doing phenomenally.

(Well, he still finds it hysterical to take pictures of his mother’s ass, such as this classic from Christmas Eve, but he’s 9. I’m into refining him into a nice young man, not a saint.)

In even stranger news, we finally heard back from the school about the I.E.P.. Turns out he doesn’t qualify based on high academic test scores and a fine enough ability to interact with others. He’s quirky. He’s odd. He’s stubborn as hell. He needs to curb the interruptions. He spaces out. But he doesn’t need an I.E.P.

I’m telling you, without even joking, that I I’d bet dollars to gluten free doughnuts that this I.E.P. process never would have gotten started if we hadn’t given him that D.S. in the first place last holiday season.

Of course, one will never know, but I’m relieved to know what our path is now. We have a few choices:

  1. $20k art school where he can tap dance his way into improv P.E. and be as quirky as he wants because, hey, we’re paying for teachers to “understand his eccentricities”
  2. Kick his butt into a better classroom management routine where he has consequences and rewards based on behavior

Guess which option we’re choosing?

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Acupuncture Update: 3rd Visit Results

We have fallen into a lovely routine already for Stink’s acupuncture visits with Martina.

Thursdays Martina makes a house call. While Stink does his meditations upstairs, Little L and Pipsqueak do homework downstairs.

Tuesdays after school I pick up all three kiddos. Note: This works only when I have not left my wallet in my husband’s truck due to my insane need to pick up roadside treasures and have to drive to his work to get my belongings (ahem, not a great day yesterday.)

We drive home.

We do homework.

We jump on the trampoline. (Well, they do. I have this post – birth bladder that doesn’t do so well with jumping anymore. Ahem, again.)

We eat a healthy snack.

And then drive over to Martina’s Woodland Hills office for his treatment. Looking like a cross between the White House and Cinderella’s castle, I always have a burst of joy walking past the columns into the large checkerboard marble hallways. Between the mirrors and the antique style oil paintings, an internal petite Eloise giggles within my 42 year old, 6’1 body. I momentarily pretend I’m really going home to the Plaza where I will be served tea and chat with a stoic elevator operator.

Sadly, Martina is located on the first floor only (no elevator rides) but the squeals of Little L and Pipsqueak, adorned in princess attire and tiaras are equally lovely. I mean, really, why would you not wear ball gowns to acupuncture?

After all, it helps to pass the time doing addition in the foyer while Stink is being poked with needles. (“Still doesn’t hurt!” he says.)

And it is such a fine, elegant way to assist Martina with her “color therapy”. If you didn’t look closely, you might think those two imps were holding magic wands at his ears, not pulsing tubes of light. (A video will come later next week, hopefully, where Martina will explain exactly what the colors and pulsations are for.)

Thier dresses are cause for celebration which means nothing less than a Taco Tuesday feast at Queen Grandma’s who lives a mile from the acupuncture castle.

Great “Huzzahs!” ensue – and not just that King Papa makes surprise visits occasionally. You see, thus far, Stink seems calmer after his visits with Martina. All tics are not erased, but he seems more focused. He sleeps well on the nights after his royal treatment.

Side Note: It’s interesting that if he starts the session with needles in his hands, and he’s still twitching/shaking his face slightly, Martina will “move the wind down his body” by adding two more needles to the feet.

 If I didn’t see his shaking subside drastically with that “release of wind” I wouldn’t believe it myself.

But then again, like my daughter and Little L, some things don’t have to be understood completely to work. It’s just magical, and I’m okay with that.

* top photo of the New York Plaza hotel

* middle photo of Pip and Little L, taken over the summer. I can picture this same photo in twenty years, but with margaritas in their hands instead. Dear Jesus, let that not be the case in ten years! I will lock them up in the dungeon if so!

* bottom photo: do I really need to explain Stink’s stinky feet?

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5 Ways to Write About T.S. For Sanity!

As you may or may not know, I write for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome. It might seem odd that an L.A. gal is hooked up with an East Coast support group, but for some reason the good folk over there were the only ones who seemed to write me back when I was desperately searching for support five years ago. It was because of them that I realized other moms might need help, which encouraged me to write my own blog on T.S. as well as start my own private support group. I am forever indebted to the New Jersey chapter and want to give back.

On that note, I encourage all of you to write your way to peace and serenity. You might not be able to stop tics 100%, but it’s hard to think about what you can’t change while typing words onto the screen or paper.

Not all of us are born writers, but I am pretty sure we are all born complainers, so here’s my 5 tips for writing your way into serenity:

1. Journal: Whenever I journal, I have such an immense sense of peace. It’s a place for me to whine and complain, as well as count my blessings. No one is going to read it, so I don’t feel bad stating, “Today I want to take a sledge hammer to my husband’s red Rx7 and use the insurance money for a one week trip to the Bahamas where I will bathe nightly in buckets of red wine and smoke the doobage like it’s Vitamin B.” (Note: I am one of the few people in L.A. who has never inhaled. No joke. Perhaps I need to do my Winnebago RV Blogging tour for all 28 of you who read me and we can talk tics while we light up and eat Frito pie.)

The other awesome thing about journaling is I can also brag without feeling like I’m obnoxious because, again, no one is going to read it. Except now, which I will brag about, because I came to my in-box this morning, tired and groggy from two hours of sleep, to find this from my dear Rx7 driving spouse:

Morning!

I love you – your back is going to feel better!

I love you –  we’re going to have spending money eventually!

I love you – you’ll fall asleep soon!

I love you – for fighting the caffeine!

I love you – even if you tell me to stop playing it up when I’m trying to tell you this.

2. Start an Online Blog: My private Google group, lovingly known as Twitch and Bitch, begun out of a need to connect to other moms going through the same thing as me. To start your own Google Group, all you have to do is click the link I provided for you. It’s free and simple to set up. You can find people to add to your group simply by paying attention to tip #3.

3. Leave Comments on Inspirational Blogs: Finding blogs that speak to your heart, whether it be about T.S. or losing weight or how to start an Ebay biz, is a way to connect to other people who share your passion. The more you tap into the positive, the less you’ll be taken down from the often confusing syndrome known as T.S. The more consistently you leave comments, the more consistently either the author or others will also leave comments and write you back. You can get a great feel for peoples’ character and integrity from their comments. After connecting to folk, especially if it’s a blog about T.S., you can start your own group and email them an invitation.

4. Take a Writing Course: So many of you, I have found, are really great at leaving comments that are thoughtful and interesting. You are clearly educated! Why not put some of this to use writing articles for pay? I used to teach an online writing course. I am thinking of doing so again, based on some of your inquiries, but I hesitate. I’m not sure if I want to mix biz with pleasure – such as you all! Let me know if it seems cheesey to offer this class here or not. I want to be of service for tics for free and don’t want to come off like a cheap car salesman!

5. Write for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome: They are looking for writers to post. They don’t pay, but they will give you the opportunity to share your story and help others. It will also be something you can put on your writing resume if you are trying to get other writing jobs down the road. Email me privately at LifeHappins@Gmail.com. If you are interested in writing for them, I’ll recommend you personally.

That’s it for now! What do you think about writing? Do you do it? If not, would you consider it? And what do you think about me advertising a class here? Be honest – I am walking a thin line. Sure, I’d like an income until my next paid column comes along, but my first priority is tic support!

Come visit my other writing, as other thriving parents’ blogs,  for daily support at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome website!

Photo above from Allposters

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My Favorite Art Pieces: Huntington Library

Thursday I visited the Huntington Library in beautiful Pasadena. Known for it’s collection of rare and historic books and art, the Huntington also has some of the most beautiful gardens in Los Angeles.

Last time I came here was about three  years ago. My babies were little. We spent the whole time at the children’s garden. This was the first time I was able to go by myself and check out other parts of the grounds.

One of the most breathtaking was the Chinese garden. The moment I stepped in I was hit with an overpowering scent of fresh flowers. I found myself wishing my husband, our resident gardener, was here to appreciate it. He’d have loved the painstaking attention to detail. It was so crisp – so thoughtfully organized from the bridge to the wood carved artwork – it made me wonder why I didn’t take time to appreciate places like this more often.

And yet, despite its beauty, a bit of melancholy accompanied me this day. Call it the kids being back in school, or the holiday let down, or maybe just a lack of sleep I’ve encountered this month (die, caffeine, die!) but I just felt antsy.

I wanted to be there – I wanted to appreciate all the art around me – but my eyes kept darting over to the objects that ring the deepest in my heart.

 Yeah. Those darn little four-wheel strollers. (Well, some of them were the three-wheel-pivot-$600-costs-as-much-as-a-Mercedes-car-payment-L.A. strollers, but I am more of an Umbrella K-Mart gal. You get my point.)

I don’t feel done with the kids.

I know I’m 42.

Rex is totally over it.

When I think about how much work it would be, and how much less freedom I’d have, and how much less time I’d give to my own grade schoolers, I know it’s the right decision to stop.

Perhaps, when I really dig deep, I want the opportunity for a fresh start. I want to hold that “perfect” newborn in my arms and enjoy those precious few years before diagnoses hit… before reality hits… before I started worrying about “what could be” and simply enjoyed every little coo, sigh and milestone in the present.

I know that nothing in life is perfect, and there’s no guarantee a new child would escape any issues. In fact, there’s a decent chance that he or she would come against something because that’s what life does to all of us: it hits us in one way or another. There’s no escaping it.

That aside, though, I want the magic back.

Of course I have the magic with my little ones at home now, and a baby simply grows up also, but the truth is, these children are the most beautiful pieces of art I have ever seen. Call me a proud collector, but I wouldn’t mind acquiring a few more prized possessions.

Anyone else feel like that?

Come visit my other writing, as other thriving parents’ blogs,  for daily support at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome website!