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Learning We Can Change

beauty_and_the_beast

It’s been a wild ride the past year or so. Just when I get closer to finishing my book, something happens like my mom breaks a hip. Or she gets breast cancer.

But then her hip heals! And she is cancer free! Hooray!

So there is now no excuse to not finally finish that book of mine.

But it’s Spring Break. And really, how much writing can one do when they are surrounded by two children, their three friends, and the neighborhood dog who insists on barking at their front door every day at five begging for treats and play time?

And then there is my husband.  The dude works – a lot. And while I don’t expect him to shower me with attention like our dating days of yore, it does seem that we live in two separate worlds at times and I’m not really sure how that happened.

You see, he used to be this guy.

MVC-043F

And I used to be this girl.

this girl

And we had this guy

this baby

Then my hot boyfriend morphed into this guy

this guy

And I morphed into this girl

me

And while we used to pour our joy into each other

this joy

We started pouring it all into them

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And while I’m stoked that in some ways we have a wonderful happy together family

for us

I wish that we felt a little more at ease with each other

together

Instead of trying so hard

parents

But like tonight’s Beauty and the Beast show, which I was so happy to do a profile piece on, I am once again inspired to never give up. Like Tourettes, it’s imperative to find the beauty beneath the beast. In all our relationships, we must turn our compasses toward the lyrics of the main song: “Bitter sweet and strange… finding we can change… learning we were wrong.”

I am not perfect. Nor is my husband.

This life… it’s not always the fairy tale we expected before we had kids or were married.

But I’m thinking that no one has it all. And like the many shows I see that seem so together, I must never forget the hard work that goes into it. The days and days of choreography and practice and sweat and tears for the final applause at the end.

What a gift it was to spend the entire evening with my beautiful daughter, who went from this girl

b & w sophie

To this one

sophia

She is kind and elegant and quick to laugh and forgive.

So must I be.

The takeaway: Don’t give up because of a bad day, because in the end, there promises to be a positive review after a wonderful performance.

Thinking of you all tonight.

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doms new hair.jpgEaster and Passover are here. Didn’t we just have Christmas? How is this possible?

As it is for us every Spring, Stink’s tics are up. Part of it has to do with the pollen. Part of it has to do with the fact that he is recovering from strep throat. AGAIN. Some of it has to do with more video games and food cheats than usual this weekend. Maybe some of it has to do with extra school work?

Oh, and some might just have to do with the fact that tics come and go. They come and go. Ah, yes, they come and go.

I’m not overly worried. A squeak here, a gulp there. Am I annoyed? YES. But do I know he’ll be fine? Absolutely.

We are out of his regular supplements. He’s just taking his Juice Plus (vitamins) and his focus pill. At some point I will plunk down the cash for his other regime. 

I suppose I’m just done trying to fix this. I can’t. I’m happy where he is right now. He’s a well-adjusted kid who tics. Could be worse.

I am not trying to sound cavalier. I still take my Zoloft. I still go to therapy once/week. But much of that has to do with my own artist desires being squelched as I put my real spirit aside to raise my kids. While on one hand I’d like nothing more than to go writing 60 hours/week for some TV show, in my heart (and I don’t mean this in some martyr way) I know my place right now is here with my kids.

So I write for my local paper and do theatre reviews. (Hooray for front row orchestra seats on Tuesday for Beauty and the Beast!)

I do profile pieces for my daughter’s best friend’s papa who is a world renown artist. (See the piece on John Paul Thornton here)

I start my own websites on theatre reviews because maybe, just maybe, I will do this for pay one day.

And then I, very slowly, work on my book on Tourette Syndrome.

I don’t have the answers for tics. And I don’t attempt to have any answers for life. But one thing I know is that there is a season for everything – for calm and for chaos. For twitches and stillness. For valleys and highs.

I am learning to be content in less than peaceful circumstances, and I am ever so grateful.

What do you do when you are not worrying about Tourettes? Have you made any progress in that department? Does it help that I continually remind you that a kid with tics who is confident is better than a kid without tics who is a dweeb?

I love you all.

I love your kids.

We are in this together.

Andrea

* Pic of Stink at the end of his fourth grade year. I’m not sure what happened, but he went from a chubby cheeked mama’s boy to a moppy haired boy band inspired pre-teen who won’t let me kiss him in front of his beloved teacher. Little shixxxt.

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Staying TRU to You!

tru

Meet Tru, Kaiser Permanente Therapy dog. She makes sick people feel well, even if for a few moments only. Do you think she cares that she has a crooked shamrock on her head or that her spots don’t match? I think not! Tru says to the world that you can have joy in less than peaceful circumstances. She is Tru (pun intended) to herself.

This is a theme for me these days.  Our house, for the past six months, has been in a constant state of change/upheaval/mess.

First came the renter in October, so the office went buh bye.

So did our dining room which became the new office.

So did the TV room which became the new dining room.

The living room stayed the same! Woo hoo! Good news!

The bad news… we had to get rid of 600 square feet worth of junk, not to mention that the kids had to choose what they valued most from their junk pile of flammable crap treasures in the TV room and consolidate it into their shared bedroom. Which has not shelves.

Which meant hallway linen closets had to be rearranged. (Do we really need 923 towels from 1974? I think not.)

It also meant that the kids had to throw out some of their crap treasures when it all didn’t fit in the hallway closet.

There were, to say the least, lots of tears, fits, anxiety and tantrums. I eventually wiped my eyes the kids’ eyes though and helped them see this as a learning experience. Tourettes truly taught me this. Ask any of my friends, and they will tell you that when Stink was first diagnosed, I was a basket case. Every tic was cause for alarm bells. No doctor could see me fast enough. No amount of “It’ll be okay” shoulder rubbing would suffice. I wanted perfection (no tics) and I wanted it immediately.

Of course, this didn’t work. I had to come up with a better game plan. And while it wasn’t easy, I started viewing his diagnosis as a marathon, not a sprint. I started having joy in the process. I mean, if you’re going to embark on killing your family with gluten free bread, why not subscribe to Pandora and teach your kids the art of show tunes while you bake? If you’re going to sit in traffic for 2 hours on the way to UCLA, why not get Harry Potter on tape or count sky scrapers and explain what it means to be an architect or bring your mom along who can point out the area of UCLA she used to work in back in the days of the covered wagon? (Sorry, Mom. I had to.)

I say all this because, finally… dare I type this… my house is sliding into place again. And with that place – and space – I am finding peace. But it wasn’t instantaneous. It took patience and time and work and, yeah, a few tears. But no one could do it but me. I had to set the tone – for my kids, my husband, my friends (who pitched in) and for, most important of all, ME.

It seems that as women we are bombarded with what it means to run a tight home and have successful kids. But what is the point of perfectly waxed floors and an organizational system to rival Martha Stewart – along with a tic free child – if we are miserable in the process? Why not submit sometimes to the chaos and give yourself the grace that you, your child, your home – YOUR LIFE – is a work in progress? And then, rather than berating yourself for your less that stellar outcome or getting into credit card debt for perfection that doesn’t exist, you can make slow and steady progress, small and steady goals, and look back over your progress and think, “Damn, I’m really growing as a person! Nice job, me!”

Just a few thoughts I had this Monday afternoon.

What about you? Whatcha thinking? I want to know!

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Medical Bills and Tourettes

Stink’s tics have been pretty minimal lately. We’ve got the jaw thrusts and the occasional shoulder shrug. We’ve got here and there light vocals. Yesterday in the library, he started in on this whole squat and stomach rumble and my first response was, “New tic? Meh, it’ll pass.” Turns out something else had to pass. (Yes, he needed to use the bathroom.)

I am stoked on two levels:

1. I’m getting a heck of a lot better in accepting that we will have good and not good days. No need to fear.

2. I’m also adopting a huge attitude of gratitude. Things in so many areas of my life could be a heck of a lot worse. Take this article from the Tourette Center of New Jersey. It’s written from a mom who has had a whole lot more to deal with than I have and likely you have.

If you are new to T.S. and are in that fearful place of “My son or daughter is going to bark like a dog non-stop and end up in a facility OH MY LITTLE BIRDIE” then please don’t click on that link. It’s one that will speak to your biggest worry.

I am not normally a fan of such articles – for no other reason being that so many of the hype related T.S. stories have to do with the sensational side of Tourettes. So many more people live lives like I do (and likely you do) where symptoms are manageable. I prefer to live by those examples.

And yet, some people don’t have it so easy. Like the mom who wrote the most recent article for Jersey. Or the link inside the article pointing out another family having a hard time paying off medical bills.

When you see articles like this, are you relieved that your child is doing a bit better? Does it scare you? Are you able to think about supporting another couple or mom financially or with some kind words to let them know they are not alone?

It’s past my kids’ bedtime. I have to read to them and say a few prayers. With tacos in our bellies, and a night of friends and Grandma and some silly laughs over their impromptu play, I have a lot to be grateful for.

Til next time.