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When Will It Be Enough? Oh, You Mean NOW?

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Sometimes at the end of a long sub day

The kids come home and there’s hell to pay

The dishes from morning are still in the sink

There’s a lamp on the table and it sure makes me think,

“Why do I cook and do shopping and clean

And all of the other shxxx all in between

While they can do school and come home and relax

I swear those ungratefuls can go kiss my… donkey.”

And then I remember

They’re only teenagers!

With just a few short years left

Don’t you think you should savor

The fact they do homework? That they don’t argue much?

When, Andrea, when, will it be enough?

When your son stops his ticcing?

When you sell your next book?

When you get on a show?

When you hire a cook?

When you hire a maid?

When you get a new car?

Perhaps what you want is not really that far

You’ve got cars to drive in

You’ve got water to run

You’ve got food in the fridge

In a nutshell… you’ve won!

Stop waiting for Stink to stop making those sounds…

For the toilet seat lid to just for once to go down

The magic is happening… RIGHT AS YOU TYPE

With the neighbor kid laughing and the sweet pumpkin spice

That’s in my diffuser

Plus there’s chill in the air

It’s Fall time at last

And these days, I swear

It’s becoming more clear

That’s it’s my attitude

That keeps me most happy

That indeed sets the mood

So I’ll set all boundaries

I’ll remind them of dishes

I’ll have them fold laundry

But this mom – she wishes

To remember that mostly

This time… it’s so short

It seems yesterday, friends, they were setting up forts

And now they have cell phones

And geometry tests

So I’ll do what I can

But let God do the rest

In closing I wish

That no matter your deal

You’ll focus on things that are precious and real

The hugs and the smiles

The books by the fire

Because when kids are gone

And it’s time to retire

You’ll miss all the chaos

(Yup, even “those” sounds)

And wish those sweet donkeys were still coming around.

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Beeing Happy on Purpose

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She’s 87 or 88. Not sure. All I know is that somewhere between a 12 step meeting, my daughter’s choir concert the night before, my son’s impending “not-date” later that evening and Costco shopping I baked her a cake to celebrate.

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I say this not to be the Queen of Busyness. “Congrats! Here’s your award for stretching yourself too thin and then yelling at the kids five minutes before she arrived that “I DO EVERYTHING and all YOU have to do is sit on your butt and watch Youtube where people thirty years younger than me are making three times as much money as me and NO I AM NOT BITTER.”

I’m not at all frustrated about making that cake. Or the fact that no dishes were washed while I was shopping. (Okay, I’m frustrated about that last one.) I mention the cake because, if I’m not careful, I will be so busy busy busy doing and fretting and striving that I will forget to celebrate the people who mean the most to me.

I don’t always celebrate well, especially the past five years in this endless loop of trying to make money while raising my kids and finding my purpose. My mom will be the first to say, “I know how busy you are, Andrea, but don’t forget to call.” That said, despite not doing things as effortlessly as I did when the kids were younger, I am proud that yesterday I didn’t let a rough start with the kids bleed into the birthday celebration. Some days, like yesterday, just not throwing a fit is good enough. And I’m learning not to apologize about it.

Plus we had a lovely evening later that night at Stink’s “not-date”. While Stink was at the movies, Rex, Pip and I walked around the mall. We ended up playing this charades game, “Heads Up” on Pip’s phone. In the process, two random women walked by and started playing with us. An hour later, I learned all about one’s marriage issues, one’s scrap metal business, the fact that one of them just booked a part on Modern Family and how another wishes she could get into film editing but she’s thinking of starting a family soon. My introverted spouse and daughter just let me play Jay Leno to the latest guests on the Andrea Show while they checked out some free samples at Lush. I’d say I felt bad holding court without them, but it was a blast. I’m always in my happy spot when I can just converse – and that leads me to today’s message in church.)

Pastor Dre  was talking about Paul. He spoke about the importance of finding joy in our less than perfect circumstances. That joy happens when we leave room for God. When we don’t have to do everything ourselves. Like that conversation last night with my two new besties. Not planned. Not going to serve me financially. But honestly, made me buzz with the joy of the banter.

Choosing to be happy is a decision we must make every day. It might seem like an odd thing – finding small bits of glee when things don’t feel so easy in the grand scheme. But that’s kind of the point. We must choose gratitude over what is working, and not focus on what isn’t. That’s where the peace comes in.

As of this moment, I don’t feel particularly joyful. I am tired of the thought of waking at 5am to wait for a sub call I may or may not get. Why don’t I just finally go and get that Masters in Education and be done with it? But if I do that, there’s no more writing. At least not for a few years. Am I okay with that? Sometimes yes, sometimes, no. I’m sick of having no consistent income. So what am I waiting on?

And so, round and round I go. But, to quote my sponsor, sometimes the hallway is exactly where we need to be. If we’re so busy trying to fill it up with fixes, we may just block the door to the freedom and purpose that we’ve been waiting for.

For tonight – just for tonight – I will put on my sneakers and enjoy the beautiful Fall air.

I will relish in the fact that I have a clean car and a script to work on tomorrow.

I will focus on happy children downstairs and a pizza being made by my husband.

And I will remember that I don’t have all the answers to everything right this second. But God does. And that’s enough for now.

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Bee photo from here.

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Being in the Present On Purpose

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I’m subbing today at the Middle School I worked as a special needs aid for two years. I feel lucky that, out of 8 days subbing so far this year, 7 have been here at this school. These teachers know me and support me. I can make mistakes with people that already are aware of my successes. No more reinventing the wheel. It feels, in a nutshell, glorious. It feels safe. And from that place of safety, I can grow to be who God most wants me to be.

I have not always felt safe. I have the kind of mind that lives in the past or in the future. The present? It’s too frustrating. Here in the present is where the reality lives. The messy house. The lack of funds. The fears over my son’s Tourette’s. It’s also where my greatest joy lives when I remember to lean into it.

  • A delicious cup of coffee at 530am with my morning prayers

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  • A beautiful new office to dream in

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  • A husband who works very hard to be on the same team with me these days.

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  • Trader Joes pumpkin spice samples and old ladies at Costco who hand out burrito squares and tell me about immigrating from Cuba. (Sidenote: Has anyone seen One Day at a TimOne Day at a Time on Netflix? Rita Morena plays a Cuban grandma in this remake and she is amazing! So funny!)aaa

 

As I edge closer and closer to 50, I’m becoming more and more aware that my present only need be frustrating when I make it so. When I choose to accept reality exactly as it is… when I commit to being someone whose goal is to give to others, not take for myself,  things feel perfect.

Last week, in a special day class, I had the kids begin home room by talking about what they were most grateful for. Most kids couldn’t think of anything (minus the few who were thankful for Fortnight and Sephora) so I created gratitude for them. “How about, you are happy for your sweatshirt, because you’re not cold?” or “How about you’re grateful for the free breakfast you are eating because now you can concentrate.” From there we went on to study the solar system and discuss why Pluto is more than just a Disney character and no longer considered a planet.

“I wonder if he feels rejected?” I quipped, following it up with, “And your phone will soon be rejected by YOU who will give it to ME if I see it again.”

With the phones safely stored away in oversized sweatshirts we finished the class. At the end, a short boy with floppy brown hair ambled up to me. He looked into my face with amber eyes and mumbled, “Ms. Frizzle, I’m graaaful fa mefily.”

“What?” I asked, having no idea what he said.

He repeated in a soft whisper, “Ms. Frizzle, I’m graaaful fa mefily.”

I still couldn’t decipher it. “One more time, sweetie,” I asked, leaning in even closer.

“I’M GRATEFUL FOR MY FAMILY.”

He walked away then, big smile on his face.

And if I chose to look back, he’d see one on mine.

And maybe a little tear. (But don’t tell anyone. I work with Middle Schoolers. I don’t want them thinking I’m going soft.)

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Uncertainty: Do or Don’t Do (But Don’t Complain!)

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I’m subbing these days for the LA Unified School System. It’s terrifying and thrilling all at once. I love the kids. I love the bell schedule. It’s comforting to know that no matter how awful a hormonal middle schooler can be that in fifty five minutes he will, indeed, get off his desk and turn his cell phone on in someone else’s classroom.

What I don’t love about subbing is how inconsistent it can be. Some weeks I am on top of the world – everyone’s favorite sub and putting out flames like Miss Frizzle on a firetruck. Other days it’s slow. It’s me at 530am, barely awake with my phone on my chest, hoping above hope that the phone will ring – I can stumble through a quick shower – and I’ll be able to put 200 bucks in my bank account.

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Add in the fact that I need to book at least 100 days this year to qualify for insurance for next year and the pressure, like Donkey Kong, is on.

When I start to question my sanity on doing this job, rather than get a 9-6 office job or stay at the steady eddy school aid job that paid very little but gave me insurance, I have to remember a few things:

Reasons for Taking Chances

  1. Not working on certain days this entire week damnit would give me a chance to write my tv pilot! My dream! I am doing just that.
  2. Working as a sub would give me a better understanding of what it takes to teach. (I’m getting that. What used to terrify me now makes me a bit giddy. Who knew I could handle 46 stinky general ed 7th graders, or a class of 9 non-verbal/diaper wearing 8th graders, and not lose my cookies? It’s been an incredibly exciting challenge and full of personality and joy.)

The Uncertainty of Life

The issues I am facing with both the writing as well as the work is that they are both incredibly uncertain. Maybe I’ll get called for the day, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll sell a script, maybe I won’t. (Oh, and tics? Those are kind of uncertain also. Fun times, this uncertainty!) Bottom line: I can’t have it both ways. There is ZERO point in taking these leaps of faith if I’m going to complain, protest and be a general crazy person for my family. (This week taught me that. As of this moment, I am putting it down. Dear Courage, Dear Jesus, I’m ready… Bring it on! And please bring coffee, too. Panic attacks are so much better with Starbucks.)

Fantasy vs. Reality

Let’s get real: The chances of selling like a show, at my age, are slim. It’s not that I am not talented, but it’s so much more than that. This business, as I am experiencing yet again through a class I’m taking, is incredibly, incredibly laced with competition, fear and desperation. I was told by more than a few students in my class that I came on “too strong” and like I had “something to prove.” The truth? I did have something to prove. I wanted people to know I could write! But guess what? They didn’t care! And that’s, sadly, the reality of this business. EVERYONE wants EVERYONE to know how good they are. It’s not just about writing well, it’s about navigating complicated personalities. Knowing when to open your mouth and when to just shut up. The truth? I failed and it cost me a potential workshop win.

Truth vs. Lies

Losing the contest was a bigger blow than I had anticipated. I originally told myself, “It’s just one class… get used to it…” but I’m realizing now the wound went much deeper. It triggered a core belief I had about myself… a belief that turned out to be a lie. And that’s this: Somewhere along the way I told myself this big story that unless I sell a TV show I’m a loser.

Typing it out loud, it sounds so silly, but deep in my gut, my motivation for this genre was flawed. And flawed never works. Even if I sold something, I’d be happy for a bit, but then that roaring lion would come out soon again, taunting me with its “You’re not good enough” barbs and roaring at my inadequacies.

My dear friend, Barbs, said it best, “Andrea, it’s not about writing. It’s about your idol. As soon as you make something bigger than God you are going to lose out on your true purpose for doing what you do. Set it down. See what happens.”

Purpose

And so, on that note, I leave you with the idea of purpose. What is your purpose? What do you do when you think it’s one thing and it turns out, maybe, that God has other plans? Ex: I thought for a long time my purpose was to STOP THOSE TICS. And guess what? That was not the case. In terms of T.S., the purpose there was to teach me to not be so controlling – to accept my son for who he was. (Note: I fail with this a lot.)

With the writing, I know my purpose, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is to do this. But in what form? I don’t know. But God does. And until I am willing to surrender outcome 100% to him, everything else will be just a false idol of ego and proving that in the end will leave me flat.

A teacher I really respect, Graham Cooke, talked about this today.

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I don’t know where I’m going these days, but I know that God knows. So for today, just for today, I will finish up that pilot for a workshop I didn’t win, and once again remember that when my sweet ticker comes home from school, it’s not about me wishing he would make different choices with his Tourettes. My son knows he is a child of the King whose voice deserves to be heard. And, whether in Hollywood, books, magazines or just here in my beautiful new office, mine does, too.

And so does yours.

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 Facebookbookcover profile pic

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Acceptance Begins with Sleep! And Coffee Never Hurts

Summer is officially over. I went from hiking each dawn with some fellow teachers and mornings of glorious reading and meditation, to the grind “Mom, have you seen the cheese?” and “We need 1 million and 1 school supplies RIGHT NOW LET’S GO RIGHT AFTER SCHOOL!”

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Yesterday I was up at 445 AM for a meeting and didn’t go to bed until 1030 PM. Add in a visit to my mom, getting my kids to and from their first day of high school, picking my daughter back up and taking her for a Starbucks treat and taking care of a dog who insists on jumping through our living room windows, it was nuts.
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I write this not to earn a badge of courage. I write it to say that some days are just unmanageable. Fears come in. For those of you who read my book, you know it’s Rhonda, the voice of an old school yard bully. “How are you ever going to finish that writing pilot? What if you don’t win that contest? Your life is over! What about that messy office? No wonder you aren’t a successful writer! And by the way, those five pounds from not hiking are starting to creep back in. Watch it, Tubby!” (She’s a real bitch, that one.)
 
This morning, instead of freaking out, a nicer voice entered my head. Her name is Glinda, named after the Good Witch of the West, and she gently whispered, “Andrea, you need to rest on days you can. There’s no shame in celebrating some silence. And your curves – muy magnificente! And by the way, class or no class, you just sold an idea to a producer for another TV pilot. No pay now, but it’s great on your resume, so let’s just concentrate on what is real joy, not future fear, okay? Toodles!”)
 
I took her advice. And while Glinda would never take off her tiara and her bra, I did. Today the hanging twins and I took advantage of my husband driving the kids to school and no substitute teaching calls and slept in until 9. We sipped coffee, nibbled on toast, and watched three episodes of Call the Midwife.
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I was reminded once again through the lives of these nuns and young nurses that love comes in many forms. That in birthing babies we birth new ideas. That in burying ill friends or toxic relationships, we can let go of thoughts and patterns that don’t work for us.
For me, it’s realizing I’m doing a lot better than I sometimes think. That perhaps I never found a cure to tics, but am trusting that in allowing my son – my very ticky and twitchy son – to be exactly who he is, that this just might be a cure to what the world needs most: acceptance for who we are just as we are designed, not how others want us to be.
 
Last night I walked into Stink’s room to say good night and I heard a sound out of his chest that I had never heard before. These muffled honks came out while he was happily pounding his keyboard, writing to a good friend from 10th grade. My gut clenched. (I can’t lie. Each time it gets me. More to come on a diagnosis that explains a lot!) 
“You’re never going to get used to this. Give up now,” Rhonda snapped at me. But then Glinda came in. “Give yourself a break. Go upstairs, put on the loud fan, and go to bed. You’re worth it. And so is your son. He just needs you to love him as he is.”
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So with the power of a mom who loves this kid more than I can say. I kissed him good night and headed upstairs. I fell asleep fast – not out of sadness or despair, but from knowing that I spent a day doing what God asked of me: being of service, letting go of my old ideas, and loving my child just as he needs at this moment of his life.
What Can I Change? What Can You Change?
 
I can’t change my son’s decision to not medicate his tics, but I can change the grease on my kitchen cabinets.
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I can tape off the walls of my office so my husband can spray a neat white line on the ceiling.aa.jpg
And I can remind you that, if you’re hurting or lonely, you are not alone. Change what you can, and give the rest back to God. Because take it from me – the answer is not in fixing things or getting what we want. It’s would be nice! (Believe me, I’m ready for tics to end and get a TV writing gig to make some cash again!) But true serenity comes in loving what we have, not what we don’t.
And we can do this every day, one day at a time, with good friends, a little faith and, if you’re like me, a little coffee and hiking never hurts.

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 Facebook. (Yes, I’m back on Facebook for work mainly!)

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Here’s to New Beginnings!

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I made the recent (and for this social media mama, quite radical) decision to leave Facebook lately. Many of you readers found me over there originally… perhaps through a friend or my Happily Ticked Off page. Unfortunately, Facebook’s lull, pull and constant jabs of information and opinions became for me like tics – overwhelming, hard to decode and utterly exhausting.

Starting Over

Social media feels to me like how I used to view my son’s tics: Like everyone else knows the answer and I’m just an ignorant ass, fumbling along, trying to make sense of what is up and what is down. I was always spinning – never really present with Stink or my family because I was so busy just trying to hold on to the tornado of info that never touched down. Quite the opposite: I felt dizzy from the ride.

It wasn’t until I took the opposite approach and simplified that I found answers for my son and for me. Simplification meant less input from everyone and more input from a few trusted sources: God, my intuition, a few sites, a few good friends, and amazing naturopath.

I’m taking the same approach here. Either God is bigger than social media or he is not. Either my message is strong enough that people will seek me out or they will not. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. If 25 of you find hope and healing from what I bring here, then my life has meaning.

A New Day

It’s Sunday. I’m off to church and then to a communications class with my husband. I need it. Just last night we had an almost brawl over how to handle my 15 year old man child’s non-ending vocals. Stink is still not on medication, and he gulped approximately 7000 times during our vacation. (Yes, I estimated. I suck.) I am tired of it and want to put the hammer down: CBD oil or I’m out! But… on the other hand… I have to admit he is content. Yesterday he had 4 boys and 2 girls over for 5 hours to play video games and the board game Apples to Apples. He’s ridiculously goofy and full of joy. Who am I to demand him to change?

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And so I go… off to my quiet space… to let God know I don’t have all the answers but perhaps he can love me anyway.

And as I sit there in the chapel, praying and leaning into the grace, I will lift up a prayer for you, too. That perhaps you don’t need to have all the answers but are so worthy of love anyway.

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. 

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Stop Your Tics By Learning What Triggers Them! New book by Sheila Rogers DeMare

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It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years since I posted on Baby Center about Sheila Rogers DeMare’s first best selling book Natural Treatments for Tics and Tourettes. But alas, Stink is not the little five year old in the photo at Disneyland, sucking up a corn syrup/food dye laden lolly pop like a monkey at a banana sale. (Those ingredients are NOT part of DeMare’s suggested food of choice, for the record. Sugar and food dye are big triggers!) sssss

As most of you know, my kid is now ginormous and on a strict gluten-free diet (his choice). He is back on dairy after a long run without it (his choice… and yes, he has some vocal tics because of it). He occasionally indulges in food dye and, yes, his tics go nutty on them. But with him being the size of a small farm animal, I don’t freak out about it much anymore.I can’t control what he eats outside of the house – only what I bring in – and that, for the most part – is a nice combo of fruits, veggies and bread, almond milk, regular cheese, and buckets of Trader Joes bread that tastes like cardboard if not toasted.

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Is that “Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell” you might ask? Why yes it is. I used to be the secretary on that show and Stink was my recent date for a reunion we had at a pop up restaurant in West Hollywood called Saved by the Max. I bring this up for three reasons:

  1. I am so excited to dip my toe back into TV writing. We parents can’t forget about our dreams, even with scary diagnoses. In fact, I feel more than ever that writing for pay (and passion) kept me sane during Stink’s most difficult transitions. (I have zero regrets staying home and writing for websites and magazines…and my book… but now I’m ready to get back into the hussle bustle of Hollywood. We’ll see how it goes!)
  2. Dennis Haskins is a lovely human being, but he’s not a real school principal.
  3. Sheila Rogers DeMare is a lovely human being and she’s a real deal writer/advocate for Tourette Sydrome.

If your child has Tourettes or tics, do yourself a favor and pick up this highly anticipated new book.

Why THIS Book? Because It’s That Good

This book’s goal is to identify tics so that you, as a parent, can most effectively get to the source of what is causing your child to make uncontrollable movements and vocals. While DeMare never promises a simple solution, she offers an effective one. For me, her book would have been an answer to prayer if Stink were younger, because I wasn’t ready to have him go on medication.

A Natural Approach

“Easy Now, Hard Later… Hard Now, Easy Later.” That’s my favorite quote about raising kids, and the same can be said for DeMare’s approach to suppressing tics.

Unlike a pill, DeMare’s methods take a bit more time, but once the root is discovered, there is no need to cover up symptoms. (That was always my issue with meds. For me, it was like covering up a wall with with paint but never patching the holes. I’m just masking the issue.)

6 Sections

Similar to a workbook, DeMare’s book is broken into six easy to read sections with ample room for notes. Each section has chapters within it as well to further cover the topic at hand. Examples include:

Section 1

  • Tics and triggers: The basics
  • The importance of trigger lists
  • The gift of discovering triggers: My story
  • Allergic, dietary, and environmental impact on tics

Section 2

  • Advice from the community

Section 3

  • Where is the research?
  • Types of tic triggers
  • How can there be so many triggers?

The rest of the sections and chapters cover everything from the ethics of ignoring triggers for tics (example: doctors offering patients pills right off the bat, or even surgery later, rather than taking a more holistic and environmental approach to triggers), how to deal with “tricky” triggers, additional resources, food additives and more.

My Personal Connection to Sheila

When my son was first diagnosed with Tourettes, I was so scared. DeMare was gracious enough to talk to me on the phone, and I soon discovered that this incredibly resourceful writer knew what she was talking about. She wasn’t giving me just platitudes and “Oh, well, tics come and go” b.s.. She offered real solution and advice that you can find in her new book.

There is Hope and Solution!

One of my favorite quotes comes from her intro. DeMare writes, “If you or someone you care about is dealing with a tic disorder, it is my hope that this book encourages you to go beyond standard medical advice and explore what may be initiating or exacerbating tic symptoms. While answers are not always easy to find, and no approach applies to everyone, when triggers are identified and avoided, positive change can be right around the corner.

You Are Not Alone!

Moms and dads, you are not alone. You have this book. You can find more of Sheila Rogers DeMare’s advice on her incredible website, ACN Latitudes, and you can even find her referred to in my book, Happily Ticked Off!

I like to think of my book as a resource to help you live with the tics you can’t change and love the hell out of your child. DeMare’s book, however, helps you say goodbye to the tics you can change.

Triggers Are Like Dating

In closing, I would love to remind you parents that DeMare’s approach to tics is like dating: Sometimes you have to face a few rough ones before you find the perfect solution to what you’ve been waiting for. Buy her book, take some time, take a breath and know that you are going to be okay – and so is your child.

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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My Teenagers and Their Video Games: How I’m Playing the Game, Too

I get it: We live in a world where if we’re not careful, video games will suck our kids right in.

I get that our kids need to get outside and play.

I get that our teens need to think for themselves and not just be online all the time.

At the same time, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think my kids are pretty kind and smart people. Yeah, they play too many video games. But they are also the first ones to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and laugh their butts off while they do the nightly dinner dishes. They volunteer every other week at church to hang out with the little kids. (My son is a favorite leader. Why? He leads a pretty mean Super Mario Brothers Smash session before worship. Jesus meets A Crazy Plumber on Warp Speed. It works.)

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With everything happening in the world politically, it can be a fine line for this mama in terms of keeping them in the know but also letting them be kids and escape a bit with their games. What’s the balance?

For me, it starts with staying away from fear. I am not sure about you, but my fears look like this:

BIG FAT UGLY FEAR

“My kid is never going to go to college because instead of learning French and playing Piano like a champ he’s hanging out with other teenage cave boys,  diddling joysticks and stuffing down Cheetos like Pro Wrestlers!”

Luckily I’ve learned to “Pause When Agitated.” This P.W.A. technique allows a little bit of light to come in. Some call it grace, I call it sanity. It’s the reminder of what’s important.

Note #1: Screaming, nagging and being a buzz kill about them “not getting more important things done!” when I consistently forget to sign them up for important school trips, order yearbooks, turn in high school registration forms and order them much needed sneakers is not helpful.

Note #2: Keeping things light and airy with my kids and always letting them know they are loved is far more important than being a perfectionistic dictator.

With that in mind, here is where reality lives!

REALITY

  • Are they keeping up with homework?
  • Are they exercising?
  • Are they happy?
  • Are they kind?

If so, I can look at this video game thing with more rationality. And for me, it looks like this.

VIDEO GAME RULES

I am okay with letting them play a bit after school. I’m okay with them playing some extra on weekends. But I do have a few new rules:

  1. No electronics in the car unless I say so. It’s my only time to interact with them. I’m tired of dragging around zombies with ear buds. (I’ll let you know how this works out when I give them the sad news.)
  2. They can have extra time on weekends, but they need to read something educational.

As I type this, they are holed up in Stink’s room with Miss L who is spending the night. (Fear: “They are going to gain 100 pounds and never leave my house and I will go down as the worst mother in the history of time because I’m avoiding them rather than interacting with their stinky teenage selves!” Reality: “We spent the day at the beach. My 70-year-old friend Weird Joie joined us. In the process of getting lost we found a new beach spot, watched Joie blow bubbles – causing a hoard of four year olds to surround us more than sea gulls on a bag of chips-  ate packed lunches and cracked up while the girls got buried alive in the sand. (And guess what – no electronics!)

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Get Educated for Extra Video Game Time!

Keeping balance in mind, here’s here’s a text I sent them all:

“Electronic time is over at 8:30. Read this, tell me what you think, and you can play until 930. Thanks. Mom” https://midcenturymodernmag.com/these-magic-kids-1aefbbeb81cd

Am I being controlling? Maybe a little. But I look at those Parkland kids who are taking the future into their own hands. They are organizing rallies and forcing us to look at long held beliefs about who their generation is. They aren’t doing it by playing video games. They are using social media to spread awareness. Sadly, it took a shooter to rampage their classroom to do so. And while I’m far from an active shooter, I aim to be an active mama for the last few years they have in my home. It’s not easy, and I’m a little nervous to try this new regime, but it’s not my job to be loved. It’s my job to raise kids with character and insight and I won’t have those computers stealing their soul.

I’d love to know what you think about electronics and kids. Where is your balance?

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change (about teenagers) change the things you can (about teenagers) and have the wisdom to know the difference.

Andrea

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

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What Is Your Why? And Other Questions

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time (or not for a very long time given my lazy blogging skills as of lately) you’ll know that I’m a big fan of seeking. Perhaps you, too, fall into the Who What Where When and Why category, thus you seek, too:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you love most?
  • Who do you love spending most time with?
  • When do you find enough hours in the day?

And by far, the most important question:

  • Why do you even care?

I ask that last question because, at almost 48, it’s become crystal clear to me that if I don’t know why I am doing something, I won’t be able to adequately answer when I should allocate time for it, who I should do it with (or for), what I should be doing, and who I am most… that spirit within my bones… that seeks with a hunger to be someone of purpose… to carry out meaning in my every day life… to find joy and calm among the clanging and chaos of daily living.

On Friday night I had my first Sabbath dinner for my kids and their friends. As a Christian, this didn’t mean pulling out the Torah and reading Hebrew prayers over lit candles, though that does sound amazing. Especially with Neil Diamond singing “Hello” to me.

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No, my husband and I decided to do it because Friday is, in the Jewish tradition, a day of rest. We are intentionally slowing down and connecting more this year. This extends to our teenagers and their friends. We figure if we don’t offer them a place of comfort and warmth when they still want to spend time with us, they might just find some other place to go.  We don’t say this out of fear. It’s out of selfishness – we kind of still adore them.

And so, on Friday night, we had a little Shalom in our home. With the Christmas houses still on the piano (yes, we’re that family who has not yet put away our decorations) we taught six kids how to make lasagna with four ingredients. In teams of two, they made one dish gluten free (for my sweet ticker) and one with long curly strips. Cell phones went off, stove flames went on, and the table was set.

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One might ask if I really felt like doing this after a long week of work. The answer was, without a doubt, YES. It was because, despite still not knowing a lot of things about where my career is headed, when I want to bring in new job opportunities and say goodbye to old ones, who I might be transforming into as a writer/teacher/human or what this future is going to look like, I do know why I’m open to life – and that life is my kids.

What do To When You Love Your Why

For me, when I know my why, it never feels like work. God has my back, so I can let the stuff I can’t control go and just enjoy the things I can change. For me, that looks like a lot of humor and, when I’m not being rigid and controlling, forgiveness of myself and others. It especially means light heartedness and forgiveness over what I thought I would be able to provide my kids and enjoying what I can. Ex: I might not be able to send them to fancy private school or Italy for vacations, but there’s no reason I can’t school them on how to have conversations with friends outside of video gaming and teach them to cook lasagna in a 1958 styled kitchen. Perfection be damned – if I waited until the house was perfectly clean or I wasn’t ready to pass out from the day job it would never happen.

At one point in the evening, one of the kids put out a bag of Trader Joes Salt and Pepper chips on the dining room table (chips being each kid’s entry fee to the Frazer Sabbath.) Stink’s friend got so excited about the possibility of junk food he did a giant leap over the couch, landed on his feet and started sprinting out the room.

“Beep beep beep!” I muttered, signaling him back. “Rewind!”

He did just that – in zombie-like,slow-mo style. He ended the scene by jumping back over the couch again and landing back on his feet. (Impressive, I must say.)

“Dude, you can’t hurdle over my couch,” I told him. “It’s not great manners.” (The fact that this couch was a roadside find a few years back is not the point. And hey, don’t judge. It’s NICE.)

He looked at his friends sheepishly, who were all laughing at his goofy performance. “I am saying it out loud, in front of your buddies, because you all don’t want to be doing this at some girl’s house in a few years.” I remarked, waiting a moment, before adding, “Where are your ‘thank you’s!’ This is priceless advice!”

He responded in the way this shaggy hair boy normally responds. He grunted.

I continued. “Do you know why I’m even having these dinners?” I asked. And then he said the only two words I heard from him for the rest of night.

“Life skills?”

“Ding ding ding!” I shouted, pretending to be a game show host. “Thank you for playing!”

And with that, he walked around my sofa, entered the kitchen and stuffed down enough chips to clog 90% of his arteries.

Connection, table manners and cooking skills – for my own kids and the greater good. That’s a pretty good why in my book.

What is your why?

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

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Ode to Finding My Blessings (And Yours!)

It’s busy as a working mom

My sanity… it’s sometimes gone

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There’s always last minute dirty dishes

Laundry, shopping and teenage wishes

What? My husband? He wants sex?

The dog is barking? Oh, no , what’s next?

Halloween… Thanksgiving… Christmas, too?

Plus in my family, we’ve also got Jews

That means Hannukah and 8 days of light

An 8 day cruise? Now THAT sounds right

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Maybe instead of all this shopping

This tired mom could go island hopping

How many hours could I lose?

Chillin’ on an Alaska cruise…

Maybe Hawaii, Alaska or even France?

A captains lunch… a dinner dance…

And yet… as nice as this all may sound

As day dream thoughts in my head go round

I think of the world… and all that’s insane

The far right marches… the hurricanes…

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North Korea missles… and refugees

Guess who’s lucky? Yup, that’s me.

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So I don’t have a maid…

I don’t have a cook

Compared to most

I’m like a crook

I’ve made off with the health

I’ve made off with sweet kiddos

Safe home and a job?

Ditto and ditto

And so while there’s always some things I would swap for another

I’m one lucky wife. I’m a damn lucky mother.

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So with that this small poem

Is almost complete

I’ve got a bath to be taken

And a pit bull at my feet

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I hope that you readers

Can find blessings, too

In all who you love

And in all that you do.

Got any gratitude? Leave it in the comment below.

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

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