education, faith, God, parenting, Tics, Tourettes, writing

Writing Wednesday: Happily Ticked Off, Chapter 1

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The the next couple of months for writing Wednesdays I am posting a chapter of my book, Happily Ticked Off. If you like it what you see, you can buy one in the link below. If you just want to read it week after week for free, that works, too.

Why Post a Chapter a Week for Folk? (Um, that’s putting it up for free, Dumb Ass.)

My goal is to get people to think about their own writing projects as well as give some love to moms and dads out there who have struggled with this condition in their households. (Though it was dedicated to the mamas.)

This book was not about fixing Tourette Syndrome. It was about helping people have a transition in their thinking: To know that while they might not be able to change a disorder they most certainly can use it as an opportunity to transform themselves.

For those that just want quick fixes, I say go for it. There’s a ton of resources out there to promise you the moon on that. But here’s the real truth: if you don’t come to terms first with your perspective on the diagnosis… on any diagnosis… you might end up like me: frustrated and discontent when the next weed comes along to ruin your perfect garden.

Life doesn’t always happen to us as we expect. But it’s what we do with our challenges growth opportunities that can make us bitter or make us better. While I’m still unsure sometimes of my path (just ask my bff Tuskany or Amelia) I know that when I remember I don’t know the answers, but God does, I stop struggling and just live in… what’s that word? Oh, yeah. Peace.

And so, with no further adieu, here you go! Let me know what you think and let me know about your projects, too!

book cover

Dedication

This is for you, Mamas.

When my son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome seven years ago, I encountered loads of disheartening information on the internet about tics, ADHD, OCD and disturbed children with behavior problems.

I found blogs full of victimhood stories and medications gone wrong.

I found a few helpful but ultimately dry informational books written from medical and nutritional viewpoints on how to suppress tics through natural or pharmaceutical means.

What I didn’t encounter, however, was a book on humor, support and most importantly, hope.

So I wrote one.

This book is not just for mamas dealing with Tourette Syndrome. It’s a love letter for all you moms dealing with an unexpected diagnosis. It’s the book I wish someone had written for me when I was hopeless, angry, and feeling so very alone.

It’s my sincere hope that this mom-moir will serve as one giant hug for your fears. May it whisper into your heart, “You did not cause this disorder. You are strong enough to handle it. Your child is perfect despite some medical challenges. You are not alone. I am here. YOU CAN DO THIS.”

For all you mamas out there who are hanging by a thread, I’m asking you to tie a knot and hang on. Happily Ticked Off was written for you.

****

Prologue

Happily TICked Off

 

“Your son has Tourette Syndrome.”

I looked up at a stern woman in her late 30’s. She had her arms folded tightly against her heart. (If she had a heart. The verdict was still out.) Black and silver hair spilled down her white lab coat, covering up her name tag. “Dr. Badbedside Manners.”

Combined with her pale skin and silver jewelry, she looked like a cross between Stevie Nicks and the Bride of Frankenstein. The diagnosis she just handed me didn’t make me less terrified of her.

Stop being a wussy, I told myself.

I glanced at the diploma on her wall and collected my thoughts. I had to admit, only a delusional freak would be surprised by her words. After all, my four-year-old had been referred to her only after I had already depleted every cent of my family’s HMO deductible on allergy testing, vision tests and more pediatric visits than my son had Scooby Doo band-aids. I was hoping all these visits would provide an answer to why my kid would transition from clearing his throat several times per minute to rolling his eyes side to side in rapid succession.

How I loved the pattern of those eyes on my retro kitty tic-toc clock! The predictable back and forth motion never ceased to instill a profound sense of joy and fun as I sipped my morning coffee and stared at them. Seeing them on my child? Not so much fun. Far from viewing it as kooky and eccentric, those eye rolls inspired nothing less than primal fear.

And anger.

Which… I’m ashamed to say… I took out on the kit-kat clock earlier that morning.

Only a bad mother would take out her irritation on a preschooler.  But that cat? She was fair game.

First she lost her tail. Then she was shattered to bits in a moment of pure frustration when my son morphed from eye rolls into unexpected gulps. Those tics, and that cat, had to go.

I tried to squelch the tears brimming behind my eyes. I wish my husband were here to hold my murderous little hand.

He was not. And that stunk.

Perhaps it was because I was alone on that ill-fated day that the revelation hit me so hard. Perhaps if Rex had been there to steady me . . . to wrap me in those strong, lithe arms of his . . . the blow would have felt less intense.

Lucky for me, I recovered quickly. I was the queen of composure.

“Tourette’s? You mean… But how…Wah wah HUH?”

Dr. Badbedside Manners didn’t twitch, and not just because she didn’t have Tourette Syndrome.  Likely she was used to moms like me. Moms who, despite hope against hope … despite seeing the signs themselves for months on end …were banking on a different outcome.

I’d hoped to hear he had a vitamin deficiency. Instead, I was handed a nightmare. With nothing more than a few words about this little known syndrome, I was told to come back in six months.

When I called my husband on the car ride home, I had only one statement: “Nicky has Tourette Syndrome.”

My husband had only one answer. “What happened to the kitchen clock?”

I hung up the phone and sobbed like a baby.

And that, my friends, was the beginning of a hellish six years.

Determined that no mama should go through what I did, I wrote a book.

This is the story I wish someone had written for me. My hopes are that it saves not only people’s sanities, and their marriages, but also perfectly innocent kit-cat clocks. No time-piece, no matter how annoying, deserves that kind of brutality.

This is my journey.

This is my story.

If you’re up upset at your child’s diagnosis, whether it be T.S., Autism or some other spectrum disorder, I want you to know I’ve been there.

I’ll have you Happily Ticked Off in no time. How about we start with a few facts I wish someone had sent to me during the first lonely, dark leg of this journey.

 FACTS and HOPE

 Tics or a T.S. Diagnosis

If you’ve picked up this book there’s a decent chance your child has recently begun to tic or has just been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.  You’re pretty ticked off.

My son was diagnosed at 4 years with T.S.. He’s now 12. He’s well-adjusted, funny and loaded with friends. With the right plan and perspective your child can have a similar outcome.

Freak-out time

You want to believe me, but you’re still panicked. Second only to dismay over this new diagnosis is the regret that you didn’t invest stock in the Kleenex Corporation. You can’t stop crying.

Neither could I. I’d sob to myself, my friends, my family – even bewildered gas station cashiers who simply wanted to sell me a Diet Coke – not hear a dissertation on the boring clinical definition of Tourette’s.

Boring Clinical Definition of Tourette’s

Named for Georges Gilles de la Tourette in 1885, Tourette’s consists of both vocal and physical tics that wax and wane in nature and last up to one year.  I’ll get into more detail later, but for now, let’s move on to something you can really relate to… like whining!

 “What happened to my perfect little boy?” was my broken record, twenty four hours a day. No one had an answer, but I have one for you: nothing has happened to your child. Your child is still perfect. Just hang tight. I survived this initial scary period and you will, too. I promise.

It’s Not Fair

You know life isn’t perfect and this condition could be a heck of a lot worse, but you’re still upset. You can’t see the big picture when you’re living the unsettling, fearful present.

In the subconscious recesses of my mind, I knew Tourette’s would one day be viewed as a present, but that didn’t keep me from spending the next seven years looking for the gift receipt. “Thank you, but no thank you. I appreciate the thought, but I’d like to return this for something else. Perhaps a good case of musical genius, a pitcher’s arm, or the ability to burp the Ave Maria.”

The Symptoms

Maybe you have no official label yet, but something is wrong and you’re freaking out. What you used to see as your child’s occasional quirky habits has morphed into unrelenting blinks, eye rolls, jerky head nods and spastic facial grimaces.

It’s hard to watch your child go through this, but stay strong. Tics are like visiting in-laws who invade over Thanksgiving – they’re annoying, can drive you to drink, and just when you get used to them they take off as quickly as they arrived.

The Nature of Tics

Like the departure of your extended family, you feel immense relief that the tics are gone. But Christmas is just around the corner. You have a deep sense of foreboding that those tics – and those in-laws – will be back. What if this time they bring friends?

It’s true that after a quiet period, tics often return. Sometimes kids exhibit the same tic as before and add a different one. Sometimes one tic goes completely away only to be replaced by a new one altogether. Like your Aunt Sally, tics are eccentric and always changing. At least they don’t wear housecoats and smell like old musk.

The Evil of the Internet

You are a normally well-balanced person, but you begin to worry something more serious is at the root.  After searching like a mad woman on the internet, you’re bombarded with hundreds of frightening outcomes for your child.

Seriously, this isn’t helpful. Turn off the computer. (Okay, fine. Don’t listen to me. Keep researching deep into the night like a crazed lunatic. I did the same. But let me reiterate THIS ISN’T HELPFUL.)

Perspective Lost

You begin to slide down the rabbit hole. In that dark pit, you become dizzy and disoriented. You lose perspective. You go to dismal places like brain cancer.

It’s not brain cancer. Your overworked mama brain, however, is spinning like a jacked up tilt-o-whirl on truck stop java. Stop the ride!  Minus some extra dopamine, your child’s brain is perfectly healthy.

Perspective Gained

In most cases – as will be the journey relayed in this book – T.S. and tics remain mild to moderate until adulthood.  Then like your wonky Uncle Donny and Cousin Frankie, they disappear altogether. (Pssst…it’s such a relief no one goes looking for them!)

Focusing on positive outcomes can really keep your negative thinking in check. If you can’t instantly change the tics, change your thinking.

Severe Cases & Seeking Medical Attention

In extreme scenarios (which you’ll get plenty of if you don’t listen to me and scour the internet into all hours of the night) you’ll find cases of children screeching, spitting, jerking and having to be hospitalized.  This is rare. The thought, however, is understandably upsetting.  As with mild tics, it’s always advisable to seek medical attention.

Start with your primary care physician who can then refer you to a neurologist if needed. Don’t be surprised if, after seeing your pediatrician, they seem very unconcerned. Your “emergency tic OH MY GOD IT COULD BE SEIZURES” situation is very commonplace to doctors. It can take months to see a neurologist. I say this not to frustrate you but to assure you that your child isn’t the first one to ever experience this.

Identifying the Triggers (as well as the ever-important legal term known as “Butt Coverage”).

I am not a doctor. I am not a certified nutritionist. I am not a psychologist. I am, however, a mother who has been dealing with Tourette’s for over eight years. This book will share what has eased my son’s symptoms, what has exasperated them, what has eased my symptoms of panic, and what has exasperated them.

Even if your child is dealing with an acute onslaught of tics, the present doesn’t need to indicate the future. Many mothers, with time and patience, have pinpointed triggers for their children’s symptoms. Once these triggers were eliminated, they were able to drastically reduce the tics.

Medication vs. Supplements

You are not a patient person. You want to stop the tics this instant and are bent on getting a prescription for Clonodine or Tenex quicker than you can say Giles De la Tourette. You want a quick fix, and medication is your answer.

That is a very personal choice and I support you on that journey.  I have considered this possibility for my own son, especially now that he’s in those tumultuous ‘tween years. I’ll keep you updated on this at my blog, http://www.HappilyTickedOff.com.

Self-Esteem

Many of you will opt for a more natural route to easing tics, but you worry about your child’s self-esteem while you work out a game plan. You don’t want him teased. Your heart breaks that some nasty kid will poke fun at his arm-thrusting tic.

I understand your concern. I was crushed at the prospect of some bully tormenting my baby. But I set my emotions aside and focused on a more important reality:  Cruel kids are going to tease other children whether or not those children have tics.  My son’s heart, character and personality would define him, not his tics.

“That’s easier said than done,” you might wail.

To that I will respond with a resounding, “Duh.” But with practice, you’ll learn to focus on your child’s strengths, not his tics.

Mild Tics/Mild Annoyance

If your child has mild tics, there’s a good chance he doesn’t notice them or isn’t bothered by them.

This last statement is hard to believe, but it’s true. Your kid might be happily watching Spongebob, coughing like a bronchitis-stricken seal six times a minute, and his only complaint at the end of the show will be, “Mommy, I could really go for a bologna and cheese sandwich.”

Your Child’s Life Is Not Over

To highly tuned-in mamas like yourselves, your children’s inability to be affected by tics is baffling, because every minor gulp, throat clear and tongue click will be magnified into LOUD! RICOCHETING! EXPLOSIONS!  They will boom like a foghorn in your ringing ears, taunting you that your child’s life is O-V-E-R.

Your child’s life is far from over. Tics or T.S. is not a death sentence. The only thing that needs to die is your old vision of what you thought your child’s life would look like. He can experience as much success as a non-ticking child.

It’s Not Your Fault

I’d lie if I said I have 100% embraced T.S., but with some experience under my belt, I have better days than worse days. I might make my kid eat broccoli on purpose, but I didn’t give him T.S. on purpose. I don’t blame myself for his condition.

Whether your child has a unique case of T.S. or he had a genetic pre-disposition to it, stop feeling guilty about it. Focus instead on passing down other incredible gifts to your child, such as the ability to stay curious about life, the ability to love, the ability to experience endless joy and the ability to tell a killer joke. (Never underestimate that last talent. It far surpasses tics any day of the week.)

You Feel Like You Could Die

“I’m devastated,” you might moan. “Acceptance is about as likely to happen for me as winning the Lottery. And frankly, I’d trade in tics for a million dollar jackpot any day of the week.”

 Unlike tics that often appear out of nowhere, transformation doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need time to both accept this crazy syndrome as well as come up with a protocol that will lessen your child’s symptoms. You need to be patient.

Patience-Schmatience

“How can I be patient?” You’ll snap. “As if I didn’t already have the stress of bills, housecleaning, work and a husband who, for the record, seems eerily unshaken by these tics and has no idea why I’m freaking out, I now have to listen to lip smacking five times a minute for three hours straight?!?!”

To this I’ll respond, “Patience comes when you stop paying such close attention.”

And to that you will respond with something that sounds like “I hate you, you self-righteous –know-it- all- bad-bad-lying-liar-who-lies writer lady.”

Go ahead. I can take it. I can also handle your protests about how you’ve tried not to pay attention to your kid’s noises, but you can’t help yourself.

It Gets Better

“There he goes again!” you’ll complain, as you read this introduction and scan for tics with the obsession of a hound dog sniffing out convicts. (Congrats on the multi-tasking, btw.)

To all this I will heartily add that I have been there. I get it. It will get better.

No one Understands!

You very likely will roll your eyes, wondering for a brief moment if you yourself have tics but then realize you’re simply being catty to me which, again, I forgive you. You will then convince yourself that no one else could possibly understand your frustration and hopelessness.

But I do understand it.  I have been locked in car rides through the desert where no amount of country music could drown out my son’s post swimming throat clears. For days afterwards, similar to Old Faithful, I couldn’t help watching and waiting for his well-timed and unremitting eruptions.

Other People Don’t Notice Tics Like You Do

“Old Faithful is an excellent analogy,” you agree, “because everyone is going to stare at him in public – clapping and jeering at this unique and boisterous spectacle.”

Unlike visiting a national monument, most people are not interested in the incredible national treasure that is your child. They simply will not notice the minor sounds and vocal movements. (Note: As a narcissist in transition, I am constantly working on that last piece of advice myself.)

No Room for Fear

But I’m terrified he will be ostracized by his peers!  What if he barks after busses and curses the F-Word in circle time!”

Get that fear a muzzle, because like your bad high school boyfriend, it lies like a rug. (For the record, less than 10% of T.S. kids uncontrollably curse. So let’s keep this worry in check and take it one step at a time, okay?)

Moms’ Survival Tactics

You consider getting earplugs but figure good mothers would never avoid the sounds of their children. You berate yourself for finding excuses to fold laundry to avoid watching your daughter blink and jaw thrust over her chapter book.

One of the best mothers I know rearranged her houseplants so she wouldn’t have to see her daughter nod her head over and over at the breakfast table.

Many people would call foliage adjustment poor parenting.

I call it brilliant. It’s a perfectly acceptable survival mechanism.

Perseverance

By now you’re not sure if I’ve completely lost my mind, but a small part of your brain is telling you I might be making sense. You agree to try out a little patience, but aren’t sure how to start.

How about right now?

Take a deep breath.

Tell yourself that for just this moment everything is going to be fine.

All you have to do is be your child’s mother – in whatever state he or she is in.

Tell yourself that you don’t have all the answers, but you’re going to try your best to take it one step at a time.

Take another deep breath.

And now allow me to share a little story with you as you take your first jaunt down that long and windy road of patience. This inspirational tale is one I heard long before my Nicky was diagnosed with Tourette’s. On rough days for me – which at the beginning were every day – its encouraging message would soothe my brain like a good cabernet.

Side Note: Drinking

During the early days, a bad cabernet worked just as well. If you, too, find yourself drinking a bit more to calm down at the end of the day, you wouldn’t be the first frazzled mama to do so. But I encourage you to keep it in check. T.S. isn’t going away anytime soon. Does your ticking son really need to be flanked by a slurring mother hopped up on Two Buck Chuck? And really, it’s going to be hard enough to find time to cook healthier meals, schedule in more exercise, shop for supplements and fit in a meditation schedule.  Combined with AA meetings, you’ll soon find yourself ticking, too. Careful, okay?  

Now, back to our regular scheduled programming of inspirational story-telling.

Story Time

One of my favorite all time stories about special needs is called “Welcome to Holland.” I took the liberty of adapting it for my experience with Tourette’s.

One day a family of five boarded a plane headed for London. It was winter, which meant their luggage was filled with sweaters, thick wooly socks, mittens and scarves. The mother, who had dreamed of this vacation ever since she had children ten years prior, had planned out the entire trip in painstaking detail. They would have tea near Buckingham Palace after shopping at Harrods. They would tour the Tate and take a family Christmas photo in front of Big Ben.  They would catch a show in the West End and go to mass at St. Paul’s.

After two hours on the plane, she looked over at her three children who had magically fallen asleep in the seats between herself and her handsome husband. She grabbed her mate’s strong hand, smiling at how perfectly everything had fallen into place.

At one point the captain’s voice streamed over the P.A. system.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for flying with us today. Due to some unexpected orders from the ground crew, this plane will no longer be flying to England. We will be changing directions entirely and landing in Africa. I can’t give you much information other than we cannot alter our course. You will have no choice but to make the best of the new arrangement. We’re not sure when we’ll be able to get you back home but you all seem like capable people who can wing it just fine. So, with that in mind, enjoy your new destination!”

Understandably, the mother was horrified at this news. Her husband remained cool and collected. She was both grateful, and horrified, that he wasn’t as freaked out as she was. How could he be so calm??! How could this enormous error happen? She wasn’t prepared for this abrupt switch of plans! This was not the way her dream vacation was supposed to go. The remainder of the flight was spent in abject misery as she ruminated, sulked, cried, moaned, hollered and generally cursed her fate.

By the time the plane landed, she was in quite a quandary. While this was one of the most unsettling experiences of her life, she also knew that falling apart would not help anyone. She’d have to be strong for the kids. She’d have to lean on her husband when she could. But mostly, she’d have to lean on herself. She’d attempt to make the best of it. What choice did she have?

Once on the ground, the luggage never arrived. Everyone was sweltering in their woolen sweaters and itchy pants. She borrowed a pair of scissors from a ticket agent and cut off the sleeves, which they used as headbands. She took the scissors to their pants, made makeshift shorts and hailed a taxi.

As this disheveled family of five crowded into a cab, the driver had a good laugh at their outfits. It turns out he spoke English and asked what happened. Against her normally private nature, she told him. He invited her family to his home and she said yes. Clearly she needed help and couldn’t rely on herself anymore.

For the next two weeks, her family did not shop. They did not tour museums. They did not eat at restaurants.

They ate home-cooked meals around a plain wooden table with the taxi driver’s wife, her sisters, their kids and 20 other people with names she could barely pronounce on Day 1  but by Day 20, she knew them as well as her own family’s names.

The kids ran around barefoot with  children who didn’t speak their language but sure knew how to laugh.

Her husband helped re-upholster the taxi driver’s car, which earned the family some extra money, which they turned around and used for a goodbye feast when the time came to finally fly back home.

With bellies full of food and hearts full of gratitude, they said their tearful goodbyes and boarded the plane.  As they flew back, the mother couldn’t help but think that Africa was a far cry from England. It wasn’t as civilized. It wasn’t as comfortable. But it was exotic. It was different. And her family bonded more in that two-week unplanned adventure in an African village than they ever would have in a pristine London hotel.

That mama, despite feeling like she would drown in despair, faked a good attitude until a true, authentic joy bubbled up from the pit of her soul. Despite not signing up for it, she made the best of the situation and had an adventure of a lifetime.

You will, too. Grab your T.S. passport. T.S. is an adventure. It might seem scary, but let this book be your road map.

Let me be your tour guide. Let my story serve to remind you that you’re not the first to take this scary trip. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but I promise you’ll land safely with your child intact.

Buckle your seatbelt. It’s time to Happily Tick Off.

Until next time,

Leave a comment or write me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. )

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faith, God, Jesus, parenting, Tourettes, writing

When Life Happens For You, Everything Changes

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Today at church Pastor Craig spoke about shame and pain. I honestly don’t remember the passage he read from in Romans, but in a nutshell, he spoke about how hard times don’t have to define us. Instead, these hard times can be used for good when we are transformed and then reach down to help someone else.

I found him in the cake and coffee line and I told him I had an edit to his sermon. At this point an elderly lady in the congregation took her leave (“Oh, Lord, it’s going to get sassy now!”) but Pastor Craig just stood there smiling. It’s what I love about him most. He’s comfortable enough with God, and himself, that he can listen… truly listen…. to other’s viewpoints without being offended. At our progressive church, it’s actually welcomed. (Both the listening and the questioning. It’s like my 12 step minus the drunk-a-logs!)

Me: “I like what you said about shame transforming, but I feel what could have been added is a piece on acceptance.”

Craig: “Go on,” he said.

Me: “I feel that people suffer a lot because they don’t admit that what is going on in the first place is not working… or that they are out of options… or have just hit bottom. If they could just accept it, then they could grieve it, give it to God, and then the beautiful work of healing could begin.”

He just smiled and nodded his head. “I couldn’t agree more,” he said.

A few years ago the idea of questioning a passage of scripture would have made me feel like a heathen. Now it feels the more I question the more welcome I am. It’s kind of like my 12 step group. If someone says, “I drank a few glasses of wine and now I’m here” people smile and offer them a cup of coffee. But if someone says, “I drank two six packs a night, had four DUIs and danced naked at my daughter’s quinceanera” raucous laughter peals out. The worse the story the better the welcome.

The deeper the death of ego the higher the resurrection of the better self.

Such radical honesty is a refreshing way to heal… to just be oneself and know one is welcome anyway. No right or wrong. Just honest truth about where one finds oneself.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling transparent and raw. I don’t like admitting that I don’t know everything. That sometimes my husband and I still fight about the stupidest stuff. That my son’s tics sometimes hit my ear drums and I just want silence. Blessed quiet. That I worry about my kids going to college or that I’m almost 50 and see yet another wrinkle creeping in. Oh my God! I can’t stop time! I can’t stop inherited conditions! Why am I not over it  yet?! Suffering suffering angst and grrrr!!!!

And yet, when I just surrender that I don’t have to have it all figured out…. That I’m not perfect, nor is my husband… that my son is doing just fine with his little noises and my kids are perfectly content with their lot in life…. that it’s just me with my ego and my hopes and my not yet fulfilled dreams not trusting God… I can then do what I should have done from the very beginning. I can tell God I am scared and sad. And when I do, the funny thing is, I feel relief. And then, like Pastor Craig talked about, I can let God in to fill the places that no one ever could in the first place. Not my husband or a non-ticking kid or script being sold or a full scholarship for my kids to Harvard.

Happiness is not when things are better.

Happiness is right now in the mess and the chaos and the unanswered questions and just knowing that I don’t need to have all the answers because God does.

When I remember that hard things life doesn’t happen to me but they happen for me to let go and let God transform my pea sized mind from negativity to absolute acceptance, life is so incredibly beautiful I could just die.

Or, at least at this very moment, go to bed. Fathers Day kicked my ass this year.

What Do You Need to Surrender to Be Happy? I’d Love to Know Leave a Comment

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. )

(Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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acupuncture, Tics, Tourettes, Uncategorized

Acupuncture Video #3 – Western vs. Chinese Medicine

In my third video of a series of acupuncture pieces, Martina Eberhard discusses the difference between Chinese and Western Medicine. Hint: It’s not that one doctor’s office has Fortune Cookies. Though if one did, I would make sure yours read: “Focus on you child’s gifts today!”

Happy end of weekend.

Andrea

acupuncture, Tics, Tourettes, Uncategorized

Are You Ticked Off by Negative Comments?

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My last post about my tic resolutions (what I can change, what I can’t, and having wisdom to know the difference) generated quite a bit of buzz over at The New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where my blog is syndicated. While many people 100% got my point of view, I got a couple pretty negative comments. I had a few reactions:

1. Wow, cool! I’m finally pissing people off! People are reading!

2. Ouch, ick. That stung. Poor me. Let me go cry to my friends on my “Twitch and Bitch” forum.

3. Logical schmodgical: What if I really am offensive?

#3 stuck to me for a variety of reasons. Let’s start a new list, shall we?

1. I’m not writing this blog just for me. I’m writing it for others. It’s my duty, as an “educator” to be sure I am communicating effectively.

2. There’s a fine line between being a narcissist and writing compelling, memoir-driven articles.

3. Most interesting realization of all: Insecure people, even among friends and family, will often skewer people they know as being narcissistic because of their preconceived views of who that person is and should be within the framework of their very own insecure lives. People have a much easier time extolling the virtues of “other” writers – you know, the ones with the pretty book jackets who end up on “The View” or “Huffington Post” – who already have stamps of approval by the public at large.

4. Referring to #3, once my book goes, said haters and cynics will suddenly tout me as being right all along. Yeah me!

5. As a Christian, I would be nothing more than a hypocrite to push any of this in their face, or respond to negativity with like. I must love them as Christ loves me, and if I can’t, enter Christ. For those in the #3 camp, this #5 statement makes me not only a narcissist but a self-righteous one at that.

6. This leaves me with #6: “If God is for me, who could be against me?’ Romans 8:31

I don’t just tout #6 as a fun inspirational flag-waving-attempting-to-accept-tics-and-not-ruffle-feathers-mama. I feel it. I care about people, but if people don’t like me, I don’t really care. It’s lovely living in this place! Come join me if you haven’t bought property yet. The neighbors are friendly, there’s lots of laughter and the wine is fabulous! (Being good on the wine, relax.)

I did write to Jeff Weber, New Jersey’s fearless web master, to be sure I wasn’t being offensive. He gave me the pass, so off I go to do what I do!

Acupuncture Update: In closing, Stink’s vocals are still gone. He was complaining of loose stools from the supplements he was on, so we backed it in half. Unfortunately, his head shakes came back full force. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Martina, his acupuncturist, believes he just needs to adjust to it slowly and the tics will go back down.

Martina Does Acupuncture Phone Consultations: Want a consultation on how to find an acupuncturist for your child in your area? Martina is available for phone consultations. She won’t recommend specific businesses, but she’ll get a sense of your child’s symptoms and then tell you what to look for in the right person, giving you specific acupuncture terms to use in narrowing down the right professional for your child’s needs.

Martina’s Consultant Fees: She charges $40/half hour, $60/hour. She’s versed in nutrition and supplements and can lead you in the right direction. Look soon for a new video of her treating Stink!

Martina’s In-Person Fees: Martina is in the L.A. area. Consult her directly for prices. Rates go down if you buy a packaged deal which, honestly, is recommended as she will want to start treatment 3 days/week and reduce as symptoms wane.

Martina’s Contact Info: You can find info on her at the link above. For quick reference, call her at 818-378-4157.  You can also look up her website or email her at Martina@YPIH@Gmail.com

Tell her Andrea from Happily Ticked Off referred you. I get absolutely no referal fee for this, but it does help her adjust her prices to you. (Pssst. I’m takign care of you!)

Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.

* Picture is “Woman in a Purple Coat” by Matisse. It always inspires me to live a life of purpose, joy and love. She just looks so relaxed, yet confident. I’ll take some of that, and a back scratch. Thanks!

Tics, Tourettes

Sounding Off About Vocals – A Real Term for This Irritation!

hands-over-ears-150x150

Those of you with tics who have written to me often say that your noises bug you.

Those of you without T.S. but who live with it say the sounds can drive you batty.

I have nothing but sympathy for people with T.S. when their symptoms drive them nuts. Honestly, if my friend’s kid is ticking, doesn’t bug me in the slightest! But when it’s my kid, I really struggle.

Perhaps this is like people who have sympathy for the anxiety/neurotic/blabbermouth type. You might find me those other emotionally-inclined people funny, but if you lived with them, you might want to kick them to the closest pharmacy and insist they down a bottle of Xanax with a Zoloft chaser.

For those of you who have issues with vocals – despite feeling guilty for having such issues – I am pleased to announce you might actually have a mental disorder!

This just in from someone in my Twitch and Bitch private group: I had to share with my loyal mamas here!

You’re welcome.

Misophonia:

Misophonia, literally “hatred of sound”, is a neurological disorder in which negative experiences (anger, flight, hatred, and disgust) are triggered by specific sounds.  The sounds can be loud or soft. The term was coined by American neuroscientists Pawel Jastreboff and Margaret Jastreboff and is often used interchangeably with the term selective sound sensitivity.  Misophonia has not been classified as a discrete disorder in DSM-5 or ICD-10, but in 2013 three psychiatrists at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam formulated diagnostic criteria for it based on the largest cohort of misophonia patients so far, and suggested that it be classified as a separate psychiatric disorder.

The disorder comprises a unique set of symptoms, most likely attributable to neurological causes unrelated to hearing-system dysfunction. It can be described as an immediate and extremely negative emotional response accompanied by an automatic physiological flight response to identifiable auditory, visual, and olfactory stimuli. The disorder disrupts daily living and can have a significant impact on social interactions. A 2013 review of the most current neurological studies and fMRI studies of the brain as it relates to the disorder postulates that abnormal or dysfunctional assessment of neural signals occurs in the anterior cingulate cortex and insular cortex. These cortices are also implicated in Tourette Syndrome, and are the hub for processing anger, pain, and sensory information. Other researchers concur that the dysfunction is in central nervous system structures.  It has been speculated that the anatomical location may be more central than that involved in hyperacusis.

Symptoms:

People who have misophonia are most commonly angered, and even enraged, by common ambient sounds, such as other people clipping their nails, brushing teeth, eating crushed ice, eating, slurping, drinking, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, typing on a keyboard, whistling or coughing; saying certain consonants; or repetitive sounds.  Some are also affected by visual stimuli, such as repetitive foot or body movements, fidgeting, or movement they observe out of the corners of their eyes; this has been termed misokinesia, meaning hatred of movement. Intense anxiety and avoidant behavior may develop, which can lead to decreased socialization. Some people feel the compulsion to mimic what they hear or see. Mimicry is an automatic, non-conscious, and social phenomenon. It has a palliative aspect, making the sufferer feel better. The act of mimicry can elicit compassion and empathy, which ameliorates and lessens hostility, competition, and opposition. There is also a biological basis for how mimicry reduces the suffering from a trigger.

Prevalence and co-morbidity:

The prevalence of misophonia is unknown, but groups of people identifying with the condition suggest it is more common than previously recognized. Among patients with tinnitus, which is prevalent in 4–5% of the general population, some surveys report prevalence as high as 60%,[11] while prevalence in a 2010 study was measured at 10%.

The Dutch study published in 2013 of a sample of 42 patients with misophonia found a low incidence of psychiatric disorders, with the exception of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (52.4%).  It has been suggested that there is a connection between misophonia and synesthesia, a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.  The basic problem may be a pathological distortion of connections between various limbic structures and the auditory cortex, causing sound-emotion synesthesia. There are people with both misophonia and synesthesia, and many people with synesthesia have more than one form of synesthesia (there are over 60 reported types).  Misophonia may very well be another type of synesthesia.

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They are now doing studies to see if there is a relationship between ADD and Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome (4S).  Individuals with ADD are typically not bothered by loudness of noise – rather, the softer, repetitive, common sounds are the ones that irritate, distract, anger and sometimes send them into fight or flight mode.

Photo taken from here!
Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.
acupuncture, Tourettes

Acupuncture to the Rescue: Tics Reduced!

Good news! This post is not as long as Sunday’s “War And Peace” expo Stink is seeing relief already from one treatment of acupuncture yesterday. I am so relieved. He came home calmer, with a 75% reduction in vocals. He still sported major eye rolling and head shakes/head butts, but his acupuncturist says it’ll take a week or so to really get suckers subdued.

I’m lucky as my son’s healer (and the source of my new found hope) is the incredibly talented Martina Eberhard who just happens to live across the street from me. She practices out of a darling 3 bedroom, wood floored, 1950’s cottage home. Her treatment room smells like heaven. It’s about about as clean and professional as any first-rate office park salon. In fact, it’s easier to relax in as the whole house is flooded with a personal warmth. Parking structure and cement? No thanks. I’ll take curbside service and a brick patio.

A few years back, she had come up with a treatment plan and supplements that she was convinced would really give Stink 90% relief. (Video and post here.)We ended up not seeing her plan to fruition because, despite only 20% of her treatment being executed, we saw such drastic improvement. Stink was tired of doing it, also, so we took a break.

Um, the above statement? It’s kind of akin to a bipolar person going off their meds because they “feel so much better!” Suddenly there are freak outs, manic screaming, and all around “What just happened?” despair. Pretty stupid, but let’s not berate ourselves with the past, shall we? Moving on.

As fate would have it, just when I started to lose my brain with tics, Martina mentioned that she saw this article on a teen Miss America who had severe T.S. and was “cured” through acupuncture. The formulas and treatment used on her were the same as Martina recommended for Stink two years ago, inspiring her even more to work on Stink again!

So, with my heart in my hands, tears in my eyes, I said “Yes.”

Full Disclosure: Martina’s rates are more than reasonable for her high level of skills. Check out the above video – she is sticking needles into my kids head and shins! She knows what she’s doing. That said, because of my professional writing background, we are trading service for service. I only mention this because if trades were not an option, I’d pay anyway. She’s that much of a healer. Eberhard did not pay for this review.

Big Take Away: Where there’s a will there’s a way, and sometimes we must get creative to make things happen. We all have gifts – why not use them to benefit one another?

Stink will begin acupuncture three days a week, then taper to two, then one.

Last night we had an impromptu bbq in the back yard. My sweet hubby cooked for us all, including Miss L and Martina. Connection and friendship out trump tics every time.

acu 2

I’ll keep you posted! Meanwhile, is something working for you?

Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.

Tics, Tourettes

Tics, Faith and Believe.com

superhero_happiness_BL

Are you thankful for tics this Thanksgiving season? You’re not? When my son was first diagnosed, I wasn’t either. But today, from a place of experience and growth, I am happy for the character building that has come from this crazy ride.

“How is that possible?” You might ask, before reaching through the computer and throttling me with frayed nerves shot from hearing thirty minutes of throat clears on the way to morning drop off. “I’m terrified my kid is going to be made fun of. Or worse, that this condition will be harder for him than it is for me!”

I get it. I really do. And all I can offer is my own experience, which is this: Six years later, my son is totally fine. Yes, he still tics (last night his vocals were driving me a bit nutty… low gulps and clucks) but he completely embraces with who he is – not a kid with Tourettes, but a kid who creates video games, loves his sister, rocks math class, has a gaggle of geeky computer boys at our house every Friday night and, oh yeah, he tics. It’s a microcosm of who he is in the grand picture.

Yes, people ask him about his tics sometimes. And he always gives them the same answer: “Jesus made me this way.”

I never saw myself as a religious person, but from the vantage point of time, I realize just how much my faith has meant to me and how much it’s shaped my son’s worldview of himself.

I really came to believe that our God is the same yesterday, today and in the future. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

If this is true, then God does not make mistakes. Which means my son’s T.S. was not an error in the production line of human creation. “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.…” Psalm 139:13

Oh, yes, does Stink know it.

Which leads me once again back to me. How do I know God’s plan for my life? And how does this relate to Tourette Syndrome?

I know not because someone thumped me on the head with a Bible or dragged me to church. I know not because someone drowned me in holy water and made me accept the Lord to live.

I know from hitting rock bottom in my marriage and my parenting.  It was only when I took a chance that maybe, just maybe, there was something outside of my own spinning brain that was guiding my steps, that I started to heal.

It took a while, but God was patient. Turns out I didn’t have to understand it all at once. I only had to have a little bit of faith.

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20

Ironically, that passage comes from a section in the Bible where Jesus heals a boy with a demon. I have often wondered if perhaps this child did not have “evil spirits” in him but just a bad case of tics that people didn’t understand. I wish I could have been there to hug that boy’s mother and father and let them know that, “Hey, you are not alone. I get it.” (But hey, they got the Big Guy himself. They didn’t need me!)

But it’s you likely do. I definitely do. We all need each other to support and encourage us along this journey. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:20

As I begin my new job as the female voice for Believe.com, I am looking forward to sharing my faith as it relates to marriage, parenting and Tourettes. I hope you’ll visit me over there so we can all grow together. (Link to my column when it’s live in a few weeks. Meanwhile, I’m open to a lot of suggestions. I’m looking to make the content more personal, edgy and conversational, like my BabyCenter and Good Housekeeping days, except instead of talking sex and diapers we’ll be talking tics, marriage and Jesus. And who am I kidding – you know I’ll slip in some sex talk anyway. I have just discovered this Christian blogger, and wow, is she good.)

Note: Believe.com is a Christian website, but for those of you who are not Christian, you are welcome also! I’d love to learn more about your background. And of course, I’ll always write here at Happily Ticked Off – because you readers are my first love.

Until next time, hug that ticker of yours today.

Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.

Tourettes

Finding the Right School

kids

When Stink was first diagnosed with Tourettes, I was still holding onto hope that he would attend the Catholic school of my youth. He would play sports and go through the Sacraments and be just crafty enough to be adorable in his skinned knee navy shorts but obedient enough to get straight A’s on his report card be head altar server. It was an awesome dream and so much fun to fantasize about!

Then all the kids from his preschool got their acceptance letters into kindergarten. Stink did not.

Given I had no indication whatsoever from his preschool teachers that he would not do well at the private gradeschool (he always had glowing reports on his character, behavior and cognitive/motor abilities), I made an appointment with the grade school principal.

She was five years younger than me, but acted like a stern sixty year old. As I sat there, looking at her somber face in front of an oil painting of the Good Lord, she informed me that Stink seemed very immature at the intake interview.

“He’s FIVE!” I responded, flabergasted.

“Yes, but he didn’t exactly hold his pencil correctly, and with thirty kids in the classroom and one teacher, we don’t have a lot of room for extra attention.”

“Why in the world, then, with that many children, would I want to spend 10k/year on your school?” I asked, incredulous.

“For the Christian environment,” was her clipped response.

“Oh, yeah, I’m really feeling the love here!” was my retort.

So off I went, enrolling him instead in a local charter school. We’re all different religions and sexualities and neuro make-ups and all kids are honored and get this: It’s free and the teacher student ratio is 22 to 1. Jesus would be proud!

My advice to you, today, is to be sure that the school your son or daughter is in does not reflect what you, as their parent, want. Your child is not supposed to live your dreams. They are supposed to live theirs. And that means being supported in a place that best fits their personality, disposition and academic requirements.

I love my charter school! I have the best communities of moms and dads I could ever ask for. (Literally, there are 15 parents at any given time I can call and say “Please pick up my child… I’m running late!” and boom – DONE. Community is everything. And not just any community. A community you are comfortable in.

Here’s a response from a reader here, Leanne, who spoke in my last post about the importance of talking to your child’s school about any issues they might have in order to best ensure their educational success.

Letter

Yes, my son is on Intuniv for tics.  2 mg in the morning, and then the generic form (guanfacine) 0.5 mg afternoon (because you can’t cut the Intuniv pills in half but can the guanfacine).  My son seems better than he was December 2011 when we got the diagnosis……I believe because of the Intuniv.  We didn’t put him on it until June 2012 and only did then because he was SHOUTING HIS WORDS and I can’t even tell you what that was like.  Horrible. 

He waxes and wanes.  I was scared to death of him starting middle school.  I truly was (yes public school).  So I went into middle school before it ended for the year last spring and met with the principal and counselor and let them know I had an incoming son with Tourette’s who would be there in fall.  I had printed off information from the TSA website on what it is, and I also printed off an “introduction paper” on my son and paper clipped a picture of him as well so they would recognize him when he came in. 

I had a friend go with me.  I had stuff about him that I thought would be important, like that he loves math, doesn’t like reading much, loves sports and does a lot of them, and of course explained the tics.  I also had the name of his neurologist and prescriber and phone numbers on there.  That way if they had any questions, they could ask them as well.  I actually cried when meeting with them but they put me right at ease and told me they were there for him and wanted him to have the best education opportunities possible.  I then went back with him two days BEFORE middle school started to meet again with the counselor and take another tour of the school and met with all of his teachers and explained about his tics.  Anything you can do to put his mind at ease, your mind at ease.  The counselor told me that if his tics got loud they could make accommodations such as letting him go to counselor office or bathroom to “let them out” if needed.  There are several things schools can and have to do to help, like a 504 plan I think.  There is a lot about school on http://tsa-usa.org/    

He does have loud vocals waxing and waning.  Some teachers have allowed him to chew gum in class discretely (so other kids won’t want some) and that helps his vocals, so do gummy candies but I try not to do much sugar.  He “disguises” it as well with his words in sentences going up and down in volume.  I was petrified of middle school for him.  But I did all I could BEFORE he got there which I think is huge.  Your mind can take you down some dark, scary roads that don’t even turn out to be true.  I think if you met with middle school staff your mind would be put at ease.  This got so long…….there is just so much I could say because I have been there, I do understand, and will continue praying for you.  I will answer any questions any time.

* Photo taken 3 years ago. These kids are still best friends. So much of that has to do with the school. It’s a school that advocates for diversity and togetherness with no bullying policy. I AM SO GRATEFUL!

Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.

Tics, Tourettes, Uncategorized

Writing the Book: Roadblock

Based on last post, you can see that there’s been a lot going on. Madness is not exactly conducive to sitting down and writing a book. And yet, I can type away here at Happily Ticked Off.

And writers write.

So what’s my problem?

Part of it is that writing about something in a structure format is different from spewing out my crazy ramblings offering up a quick blog post.

A bigger issue for me, though, is the increase in my kid’s tics.

It’s not that I’m so sad that I can’t form a sentence. It’s that I don’t know what sentence to write to finish the book.

Truth be told, I had really hoped this Ticnoir would have a dramatic story but a shiny happy ending: “Here’s where my life fell apart post-diagnosis… here’s where my marriage hit the skids… here is where my two big writing gigs went away… but here’s where Rex and I fall back in love and I’m content with motherhood and my $42.51/month on Ebay and all Stink’s tics are gone! Woo hoo!”

After a few years dealing with T.S., I had no real illusions that there would be a magic bullet for tics. But after all the diet and all the supplements. After all the good sleeping and trying out meds… I certainly didn’t think the tics would be worse.

And yet, they are.

And for the end of a book, that totally blows.

It’s like going to a movie about a woman who loses her high paying job and then has a hard time making her mortgage. She has a hard time feeding her kids and her husband gets sick with MS.

But then, a la It’s A Wonderful Life, the community pitches in. In the last scene of the movie she gets a ton of cash from her church and some fat kid gives her the last nickel in his piggy back. This woman not only saves her house, but has enough funding left over to re-do her kitchen. Her husband was misdiagnosed and her kids have more organic food than they know what to with! There are cheers and shouts and tears of joy! But then, in the last scene, some thug socks her over the head on the subway and steals her huge wad of cash. Her husband gets squashed by a Gremlin and she and her kids go homeless, eating 99 Cent store Mac N Cheese forever. The End.

Who wants that kind of ending? And really, if you’re going to get hit by car, wouldn’t you rather get hit by a Porsche?

I suppose, in a way, this is my apology to you: Sorry, suckers. I couldn’t fix your kid’s T.S.. You can stop reading now.

But again, and I mean this (waaaay deep down): Enter whisper: “If you can’t fix the tics… fix yourself.”

I’m trying.

I really am.

And for what it’s worth, I’m supporting you along your way.

The Bottom Line

Does everything we do to help our kids through diet and healthy choices and meds (if needed) help? Yes. I do believe it does. I believe it could be far worse without it.

The Truth

Ten years old is hard for any kid – especially kids with tics. But this is a season.

Even Better

I’m not in the emotional toilet. As I tell my blog friend, Margaret, “I am not in the bell jar.” Ring ring ring the bell! Maybe that’s the happy ending. That I’m learning to roll with life and never give up. I’m learning to… enter my other theme, “Accept the tics I cannot change, change the tics I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

Hang tight, all!

* Photo of me and Topanga T when I was 4 sent by my cousin, D D. Little did I know, at that innocent age, what a ride life would be. But maybe I had the right idea back then. When times get tough, get dancing.

Tics, Tourettes

Brain Balance, Change, Cancer and More!

WARNING: Loooooong post ahead. I am not journaling these days, but I need to. Lucky for me, I have a blog to fill in the gap! Sadly for you, it’s a mouthful. You were warned.

I don’t know about you guys, but there’s a lot of change in the air around the Frazer household.

Renting a Room We’re in the process of bringing in a renter. She’s a lovely assistant at the kid’s school who doesn’t have a car. She’s thrilled to walk the one mile to campus each day rather than take the bus. We’re thrilled because it will give my husband something we both need so badly: Time. The kids love this lady, so to work off rent, she’ll watch the kids 10 – 20 hours a month, giving Rex and I an opportunity to breathe.

Upon hearing we’ve consolidated our livingroom/TV room into one room, turned the dining room into an office, and turned the office into a bedroom for R, most people are really shocked. We get one of two reactions:

1. You only have 3 bedrooms! Why are you doing this!?

2. I can’t believe Rex – who is so private – thinks this is a good idea!

The answers to those inquiries are quite simple:

1. We have needed to get rid of crud for years. The kids aren’t ready to transition to their own rooms yet, so why not get a little income to fix up the house before they finally separate next year?

It’s taken one month of solid work, but we’ve disposed of about 800 square feet of stuff, leaving us with more room and organization than ever before.

2. Rex is as ready as I am to take some of the pressure off, both financially and emotionally. He can’t work 60 hours a week and then always be the beacon of calm when I’m freaking out over Stink’s tics which, is less and less these days, but some weeks I’m human. Last week? Not good. I could use some adult conversation on the nights my hub works late. Also, I am ready to build out my office to get writing work again, but need a better place to create in. The renter is our answer.

Stink’s Tics

Regarding Stink, the tics are still pretty yukky. I’ve decided to go full bore and save for Brain Balance. This is the one time I will mention here that I am accepting donations for this. After I’ve saved $ for Stink, all additional income, minus a small amount I will keep as compensation for writing this blog, will fund other children and families to go to Brain Balance or get additional support in their area for tics.

Please don’t feel obligated to give me a penny. I’ll keep on writing here forever. I just figured, with so many people with less worthy causes making $ off their blog, I would finally try and create a small stream of income for something I find quite worthwhile.

Note: I am open to comments telling me I’m extremely tacky to do this when I have a husband with a decent paying job. I would not disagree. At the same time, I’ve always been quite honest that Rex and I disagree over therapy for tics. He thinks Stink is fine the way he is – which is awesome. Me? I think there’s more we can do. Rex and I have agreed to disagree that if we are going after Brain Balance, this is my project to fund. He will be more than happy to support us and cheer us on, but he  is concerned with saving for college and things that will definitely be in our future, not the maybe’s of an alternative program.

House Transition

Here are some pictures of our progress with the house. Believe it or not, it has taken hours and hours to get cabinets cleaned out. The kids have cried over getting rid of old dressers and bags of plastic toys they don’t need. But in the long run, they are so relieved to have a nice space to call their room. Life, like tics, are always changing. My job isn’t to make them content with everything and spare them from yuk. My job is to give them inner tools to have peace while chaos is happening.

Here are some pics of stuff in progress

LIVING ROOM

We removed a brown couch that was blocking the window. We took out a huge armoire that was taking up space and put the piano there. We now have paths to walk around! Plus, in getting rid of the old, we had room for the new – like the lovely 100-year-old sewing machine you see in the 2nd picture.

Small Fixes: Paint and patch walls, add new photographs as Pip is no longer a new-born, and another cool seat in the corner for more entertaining.)

Dream Fix

OFFICE

The dining room used to look like this

It now looks like this:

Small Fix: Bring the big armoire that is currently storing Ebay stuff (used to be in living room) to the cabin. Bring in old office desk and use the plastic rolling carts for the time being until you can do this:

Dream Fix:

TV Room

It used to look like this

It was very crowded with the art center, the little table, the couch, the TV, the book shelves, the science center…. don’t make me go on. Now the shelves are going into the renter’s room. The old stained couch is gone. We’re building some shelves under the bar area (an un-used space) for all my dishes. The only thing in the room now is the big table and the TV.

Small fix: Take down 1980’s plastic blinds, put up toille curtains. Put a nice curtain over the corner of the TV area (as we don’t want TV in living room) and get a nice tall couch for one side of the table near window that will double as both TV viewing and eating. Build shelves under the bar and cover with a curtain. (Maybe get a nice sideboard when the shelves are moved into the renters room. Shelves not pictured here.) Paint the walls gray and get a chandelier over the center of the table.

Dream fix

RENTER’S ROOM

Here is our old work space office in transition. If you think moving computers into the kids’ shared bedroom, moving 10000 pieces of Ebay into the new “office” and hauling out 10 bags of trash was fun, you would be more wrong than many of the political rants I see on Facebook these days.

But the kid’s room is moving along! Here it is without a good paint job, and with many baskets still on the floor. Not bad for a shared space.

KIDS ROOM

I’m not sure why the last 2 pics won’t right themselves up, but it’s fine. These days life is getting comfortable with things I’m not normally comfortable with. I just know it’s all going to be okay.

Dream Fix (taken from Babble)

OTHER THINGS OF NOTE

Ebay

Today I need to get 20 items of Ebay up today as I’m selling for other people in an attempt to not work for $7/hour retail while I write my book.

Breast Cancer

I need to make an enchilada for a friend who just had breast cancer surgery.

Leukemia

I need to find time to see my other friend, Karen, who is on her third round of chemo for leukemia.

Look how amazing she looks!

Food Shopping

Apparently kids need to eat, and so do Rex and I.

Book

At some point this week I need to write my book some more. I’ve been at a road block which I’ll talk about in the next post.

Ex Husband

My ex-husband died a few weeks ago leaving a 10 year old boy and 2 living parents. He had a random brain tumor. Uggg. We haven’t been close, but I did see him in Christmas, 2011, for a brief visit. I’m glad we caught up and mended some bridges. This was a pic he posted on Facebook with the quote “Me the ex-Mrs. Ingman, taken 19 years after our wedding.” Um, I wasn’t thrilled by that. But hey, that’s FB for you. May you rest in peace, dear Jim!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I don’t know what to say except bring on the tics, bring on the house upheaval, bring on the illnesses. We can this together.

Love you all.

Thanks for listening.