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Know What You’re Doing? Neither Do I!

As I type this, our wacka doo pit bull mix is running through our office wagging its tail faster than Twitter blowing up over Trump’s golden shower incident.

By “office” I mean a small box of a room we carved out of our living room so my husband could jump start his I.T. business at home while I Ebayed, wrote and looked for full-time work.

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The good news is that my husband’s business is slowly gaining momentum, and I landed some work as special need’s aide at a public middle school while my own book starts to generate a bit of income/ freelance work trickles in.

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(Don’t scoff at the total. It’s only $59 for October, but it’s $59 from total strangers’ pockets based on someone searching frantically through the internet for “My kid’s tics are driving me batty Dear Lord HELP ME” and… based on my book… they’ve been mildly satisfied. See below!)

Shameless plugging? Perhaps. But truly, this book was my heart and soul. It was written before the pressures of having to go back to work for pay. I’m grateful beyond belief I had the ability to write it… to help other parents not feel so scared and alone at what might seem a daunting diagnosis. But truthfully,  life has seemed a hell of  a lot more stressful since.

Much of this has to do with the physical space of our house. As in… I have no space to myself anymore.

As I mentioned a while ago, my bedroom is actually a dining room now that my daughter has taken over our room. In theory it sounded amazing. Kids in puberty… their own space… we’ll simpify!

In reality, it’s meant my husband shoving his things into the front hall closet. I’ve used an old armoir for storage in the living room. We put our essentials under the bed in plastic buckets and our extras in shelves along the long wall of our makeshift bedroom. (Oh, wait… we don’t have those shelves yet! But it’s going to be amazing when it happens!)

Sometimes I’m irritated about sharing space with a renter, a husband, a dog, two kids and more neighborhood kids than a line at a Hamilton discount ticket drawing.

The other side of it, however, is that it’s only as frustrating as my acceptance level. Less physical space has its benefits when it comes to good old fashioned soul work. Cramped quarters in my home has translated into larger mental space. I’ve had to add new footage to my old ideas about what I needed to be happy. I’ve had to come to grips with what success really means. Is it a paycheck? Well, yes, in someways. I’d like to do more for my kids. But in the end, it’s how I answer the following questions that’s truly money in the bank:

  • Am I happy that my kids have such lovely folk to hang with? Yes.
  • Do I like my job with these special needs kids? No. I love it.
  • Have I learned more tolerance and patience? Yes.
  • Am I sometimes still a jerk? Of course! But I’m getting better.

In the end, these “things” I used to want so badly have become less important to me. They are, in the end, not hallmarks of a happy life. They are lovely toppings, instead, on a sundae that must always begin with a woman who is content and grounded based in the things that matter most:

  • Time with my children
  • A good book
  • Forgiveness of the past
  • Hope for the future
  • Better communication with my spouse
  • A life not based on what makes me happy but what makes me purposeful
  • A faith that God hasn’t brought me this far to drop me on my butt

If my 26-year-old self had heard my 46-year-old self describe my life this way, I’d have a quick translation for her: Loser.

But in reality, what more is there?

What About Goals? Do They Matter?

You betcha. A road with no map will certainly lead me somewhere – and that somewhere can be the difference between a suite in a New York plaza or an Idaho truck stop. (I’ll take the hotel, thanks!)

But this year is about being a little less controlling about the drive, the destination and even the passengers. I’m letting God steer a bit more. Who does He want me to be? What purpose do I need to fulfill? Who will be part of the road trip? Will I be earning my money through writing? A degree in special needs? Sharing my Doterra Oils or my book? (Ooooh… let’s not the pilot that I’m not half done with.)

Complicated Mama – Simple Life

I’d love to say I have it all figured out, but I’ve learned trying to manage, manipulate and control my future is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titantic.

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Maybe it’s okay, just for now, to take this job I have one step at a time, come home to my family, cook a dinner, watch Once Upon a Time as a family, and see where everything else pans out.

(And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll have an extra box of Trader Joe’s gluten free Joe Joe’s and Ghost Pepper chips on hand. OMG – so amazing!)

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What About You?

What about you? Do you know 100% what you’re doing? I’d love to hear from you. And you’ll hear from me, too.

Next Time – Tic Update – Stink is Doing So Much Better!

Andrea

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Life Will Get Better: Simple Solutions for Parents of Children with Attention, Anxiety, Mood and Behavior Challenges (New book by Dr. Nicole Beurkens)

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Dr. Nicole Beurkens, founder and director of the Horizons Developmental Resource Center, has written the book I wish I had read when I was first struggling to find a pathway for treating Stink’s Tourette Syndrome.

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Let’s face it, if you’ve read this blog, you know I was overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and worry about what a Tourette’s diagnosis would entail. Would I be able to help manage my son’s tics? Would Stink be able to self-regulate? How would I work with teachers, doctors and family? How could I help with diet and exercise? Beurkens’ book answers all these questions with the brain of a doctor and the heart of a mother.

In her own words, “My philosophy is that first and foremost these are children – they are not symptoms, problems or diagnoses.” Knowing that Beurkens not only has children of her own, but a background in special education and psychology, made me trust her.

A Road Map to Special Needs

Life WILL Get Better serves as an easy-to-understand guide on how to navigate complicated behavior and emotional issues ranging from ADHD to Autism, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Bipolar and more. What makes this book so appealing is that Beurkens provides an overview with takeaways in every chapter. Just some of the items she covers in her book includes:

  • Nutrition
  • Sugar and artificial sweetners
  • Chemicals and allergens
  • Sleep
  • The importance of movement
  • How to stay calm as a parent
  • The importance of connection
  • Coping skills (for the parent and child

Helpful Anecdotes

Peppered throughout the book are anecdotes of kids (ranging from very young to out of high school) who have used Beurkens’ simple tips with great success. Just a few techniques that Beurkens suggest include, but are far from limited to:

  • Going gluten and dairy free
  • Including fatty acids into the diet
  • Taking out all food dyes and harmful additives (buh bye MSG)
  • How to get your kid to listen without nagging (from bedtime to exercise)
  • The importance of drinking more water
  • The value of meaningful connection
  • How to set limits with screen time

Beurkens’ book is not preachy in the slightest. This is what I’d consider a “starter” kit to the beginning of your child’s personal journey.

Find the Chapter That Best Suits You and Dive In!

My suggestion to you as a reader would be to find out what you relate to most and then dive deeper into that area. (Chapters are self-contained so it’s easy to skip around to topics that most relate to your situation.)

For example, at one point in the book, Beurkens discusses the connection between the gut and brain function. “In fact, the gut is now referred to as the ‘second brain’ because of how intrinsically the gut and brain communicate. The gut comprises the bulk of your immune system, and also is the location where serotonin and other important neuro chemicals are produced. The microorganisms in your gut play a critical role in your mood, behavior and cognition.” (page 16, Chapter 2)

Given that Tourettes is an immune disorder, this strikes a chord in me as I’ve been toying with the idea of a GAPS diet for quite some time. (More on GAPS later!) Because she and I are on the same page when it comes to the connection between the gut and my kid’s behavior, I felt more inclined to trust her tips in later chapters, even if these weren’t tips I’d normally have thought of myself. (Example: How to establish better bed time routines or incorporate movement into a teenagers screen time without being too tyrannical.)

Dr. Beurkens is the Real Deal

Having also spoken with Dr. Beurkens over the phone, I can personally testify to her warmth, smarts and knowledge on everything from the stress special needs can place on family dynamics to her science based approach to alternative healthcare.

If you want a book that discusses the crazy ride it can be to go from freaking out over a special needs diagnosis you weren’t expecting, read my book! If you want the correlating game plan to managing it –  a plan that does not include drinking a bottle of wine every night and picking a fight with your husband every second over going into debt over Amazon essential oils known as Tic Tamers – I’d highly recommend Dr. Nicole Beurkens’ book, Life WILL Get Better. Think of it as a trusted resource to getting a handle on what might otherwise feel like an overwhelming situation.

Dr. Beurkens is available for phone consultations. You can find out more via her website contact page.

Prescription  from Dr. Andrea

Your kids are amazing.

There is hope.

You are not alone.

  • This review was provided in exchange for a copy of Dr. Beurkens’ book

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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The Mommy Show – It’s Back in Production!

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A few days ago I was standing outside my kids’ school, chatting with a grandma about the logistics of she and I getting our respective teenage boys to youth group. My Hermione of daughter walked up to our conversation, her arms holding a Trojan Wall constructed entirely of sugar cubes (which she got 100% on…of course) and said, “Mom, can we go now?”

To that I responded, a bit irked, “No, I’m talking.”

Apparently she misunderstood me the first time, because she went on to say, “But I’m tired. I don’t want to stand here anymore.”

To this I responded, “Are you kidding? I’ve been up since 6am working and ran home to go over the floors because I can’t handle ADHD and tics and begging for after school snacks on top of a house that has more paw prints than a kennel I understand you’re tired, sweetie, so go wait in the car.”

Before she could start in again I turned on my heel and barked under my breath, “NOW.”

With that she set sulked off to the car while I finished my conversation.

After channeling my inner project manager to coordinate the simple task of getting sweet boys from Point A to Point B post dinner – but before the oh so important start of ga-ga ball (because who doesn’t think of Jesus when they see 30 boys thrown together in wooden circle?) I walked toward the car.

It was a cool fall day but I was boiling inside.My daughter… my sweet, Anne of Green Gables meets Laura Ingalls Wilder of a daughter… was truly morphing into a sullen tween.

 

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She was acting entitled.

She was acting pouty.

And it was all my fault.

Who, but me, jumps through hoops to make sure kids get places on time and eat well?

Who, but me, is always considering “how they feeeeeeeeeel” over how I feel?

Lest you think I’m sounding like a martyr, I do things for my kids because I love them. But at the same time, letting them think that they are the center of the universe isn’t love. It’s enabling them. And more important than that too often thrown around buzz word, it’s hard as hell to live with under the same roof.

And that’s when I remembered a little mantra I used to live by when they were little. It was time to resurrect it. To use some of my sitcom writing skills from yore, let me paint you a little picture.

Fade in:

Int. Rolling Landfill of an SUV that smells like a cross between El Pollo Loco chicken legs and essential oil.

Cue Theme Music:

Mommy loves you Stink and Pip

But here’s for you a little tip

Your attitude, kids, need to go

Let’s tune in The Mommy Show

The Mommy Show! (ba ba bum ba bum) The Mommy Show! (ba bum bum bum) It’s exciting please stop fighting here we go (Here we go!)

No more talking no more squawking shut your pie hole no more balking

Let me say it one more time, The Mommy Show!

(ba da dum dum dum)

A tired mom sits in the front seat of the car. Her two hormone raging children sit in back. She turns to them, takes a deep breath, and slowly talks.

Mom: “Kids, I love you. I think you’re awesome. But it’s time for you to remember that, as much as your individual stories are important, this is, indeed, The Mommy Show.”

(The kids give blank stares. Eye rolls and sighs are optional.)

Mom: “I’m the main player. You are the supporting cast members. While your role in The Mommy Show script is very important, it wouldn’t exist without the main player. With that in mind, you will need to start taking a back seat to the main star so this production can run smoothly again.”

Man child: “Um, Mom, that sounds nuts. Besides, you are not the director.”

Mom: “Oooooooh, yes, my son. I am. You see, I am not only the main character in this show, I direct the shots AND I am the producer.”

Woman child: “The producer? What does that mean?”

Mom: “I produced you by having sex with your father. Producer Credits ARE MINE!”

Them: “EEEWWWWWW… too much! We’re going to walk off the set!”

Mom: “Go for it. Find some other set to live in. But you might be back to sharing a bedroom again and I can guarantee you that NO ONE makes a finer taco than me.”

Man child: “You’re the cook, too?”

Mom: “The technical term is Craft Service. And you, my friend, have just been hired onto the Clean Up Crew.”

Woman child: “I think we better stop talking about this now.”

And so they did.

And instead of feeling guilty or tyrannical, the tired mom just laughed to herself. And, well, it felt amazing.

Fade Out.

Roll Credits….

And the kids did NOT live Happily Ever After because life isn’t about happiness all the time so they can suck it and be more well rounded adults in the future.

The End.

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Duck! I’m Getting Out!…

… of my own way.

I must be getting used to this T.S. thing… or maybe I’m so busy having a life I love that that things that used to rip my heart out no longer do.

Such as a conversation with Stink’s teacher on Thursday.

Teacher: “Hey, Andrea, I noticed that Stink’s tics are really loud lately.”

Me: “Hmm.”

Teacher: “I thought you might want to know.”

Me: (Plain mattered… no heart in my throat… no “Oh my God I’m going to die that other people hear my son’s noises”) “Does it bother other kids?”

Teacher: “Not at all. They don’t seem to notice.”

Me: “Does it bother you?”

Teacher: “No. I am simply telling you because it’s a change.”

I say nothing, so she goes on.

Teacher: “Has anything happened that might have caused this swing?”

Me: “Pubic hair. Not really. Just the regular stuff of life. I’m working again, but I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s just the syndrome.”

Teacher: “Okay, well if it doesn’t bother him…”

Me: “No, mam.”

Teacher: “Well, then, God love him! That’s that!”

Me: “Indeed!”

I left that meeting with a few things in mind only:

  1. I’m so lucky to be in a school where teachers really know my kids.
  2. I’m happy that at almost 14 Stink is content with who he is – duck quacks at all.
  3. I’m relieved that (*enter self-obsessed mom) I’m finally learning to separate who I think he should be (on meds or a diet that keeps the noises down so he is more socially accepted) and who he wants to be (a kid who has tics and the friends he wants, regardless of social status.)

For the New Mom!

If you’re new to this T.S., please don’t think I don’t understand the fear and worry about tics. Please don’t think there is nothing you can do to minimize tics – I 100% know there is. But for me, it has finally become crystal clear that what my child believes about his true self is more important than what I believe about his potential self.

Who my kid is.. right now.. is what matters.

What I thought I wanted?

A quirky but fairly popular Tween Gap model who plays on the basketball team and plays piano.

What I got?

A quirky, fairly unpopular (but adored within his own circle) mesh shorts wearing xilophone playing, Hump Day loving, musical theater geek who just landed the part of the farting warthog in the Lion King.

He’s ridiculous.

He’s smart.

He’s his own person.

He’s entertaining as hell.

I adore him.

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Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Happily Ticked Off – The Book Preview

Hello friends!

Between my new very fancy all important writing job new barista gig at Starbucks, as well as a few writing gigs on the side/Ebay/kid wrangling, I’ve been neglecting the one place that always brings me contentment no matter what. So I’m back – and this time – I bring a video.

 

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

bookcover profile pic

My Friend’s Kid is THAT Kid. ADHD

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Keeping this short. After a long day of cramming in freelance jobs, full time work searching, getting the kids off to school earlier than normal, an “OH MY GOSH I NEED A BATHING SUIT FOR THE YOUTH GROUP POOL PARTY” fiasco and then, of course, rushing over the party only to come home for two minutes to rush back, I wonder if I, perhaps, have ADHD.

Alas, just the ever persistent contact-switching mama brain.

Before the sun sets on another day in paradise, I wanted you to see an article written by a friend’s son, Jackson. It appeared in Additude Magazine and I thought it was so well written for a young kid.

With ADHD licking at our ears, it’s a good reminder to not judge but instead help our kids learn to advocate. I don’t know about your kids, but for us, Stink’s ADD is more of a challenge then the tics themselves.

Side note (because when am I ever on track?): Had a GREAT phone conversation with Dr. Nicole Beurkens. Situated in Michigan, this psychologist started out as a special needs teacher, then moved into the consulting side of special needs to more deeply support kids and parents. What began as a summer program for special needs kids in her basement, morphed into a 10,000 square foot practice where she treats all sorts of neurological disorders holistically.

With a team of nutritionists, psychologists and natural practitioners, she supports the whole child (and his/her family) to balance out their brain without medication. Here’s just a tiny snippet from her website. In depth article to come as well as a book review!

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If Meds are For You – No Judgement!

Again there’s no one-size-fits-all and I look forward to hearing from all of you.

Let’s Hear Your Success Stories!

Who has had success with drug options? Who has had success with medication? Who just has an awesome kid who is the best thing that has ever happened to them? (Me me me!)

I love and support you all. We are in this together.

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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7 Things to Help Reduce Tics!

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Before my book came out I was blogging pretty regularly for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome. One of the posts that garnered 61 comments was on Five Things that Can Help With Tics.

A few years later, and with more research, I have decided to update the list a bit for new parents who keep writing me with the same question.

Question: How do I fix the tics?

Answer: There is no one-size-fits all answer. Every child is different.

What Can You Do If You’re Freaking Out About Tics? 

I’m no doctor, but after 10 years at this I can passionately state that all kids tic for a variety of reasons. I, personally , didn’t feel medication was the answer right off the bat for my son. It still isn’t. If it got severe enough, of course I would consider it, but so far it has not.

Here’s what I tell all parents who write me with concerns over their ticking kids. I tell them to ask a few important questions – the same ones I asked myself.

Questions to Ask if Your Child is Ticking

  • Could there be vitamin deficiencies happening?
  • What kind of environmental stressors could be worked on? (Less tension at home, less electronics?, etc.)
  • How much sleep is your child getting?
  • What kind of exercise is your child getting?
  • What does your child’s diet consist of?

It’s Up To You!

None of these questions are meant to either shame or suggest there are simple answers for complicated tic issues. Again, each child is different. My suggestion is to go to a naturopath and have your child evaluated for his/her individual condition. If you are low on funds (which I was) you can start with the basics and see if this helps. It helped in our case and I hope it helps in yours!

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5 Things to Help With Tics

  1. Magnesium: I gave my son 500 mg of magnesium a day, and it really helped with his eye rolls and vocals. For some little kids this might be too much, but I’ve been told the worst thing excess magnesium can do is cause diarrhea. Now my son takes a calcium/magnesium supplement as the magnesium is best absorbed with calcium. The ratio is double the calcium to the magnesium.
  2. Gluten Free: It was a pain, but it helped, and continues to help enormously. He can concentrate more and can fall asleep quickly. When he was not gluten free, it would take hours for him to settle down. He is still a high energy kid, but much less so now.
  3. Dairy Free: Ditto the gluten. It was a pain, but we’ve found many ways to supplement his calcium through rice milk, vegetables and fruit.
  4. Sleep: 10 hours of sleep a night is crucial and a huge tic reducer.
  5. No artificial flavors or preservatives: My son is very sensitive to chemicals. They can set tics off like bee around a honey pot. Not worth the sting of excess tics except on special occasions.

2 Other Supplements * Talk to you Naturopath first * 

6. NAC  – Standing for N-Acetylcysteine, this is an amino acid that can be purchased at any vitamin store. This natural supplement acts as an antioxidant and glutamate modulating agent.

According to this webinar, featuring Dr. Mark Mintz, “They (a study) found the N-acetyl cysteine decreased symptoms of trichotillomania (hair pulling) compared to placebo. It makes theoretical sense as NAC can modulate dopamine. So, there are reports that NAC can improve mood disorders as well (such as obsessive compulsive disorder). There needs to be more research and reports to have a better handle on the effects of NAC in Tourette, but it appears to show some promise.”

7. Taurine – I talk about Taurine here. My son is currently on 500 MG but I think he could use 1000. That said, I will talk to my naturopath first!

What have been your experiences with tics? Did any of you find it made a difference for your children? What about in some of your cases where tics were more severe? Would love to hear!

Until next time, may God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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