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I’ll Take a Venti Life with 3 Pumps of Sweetness and a Side of Career. Oh, And I Have a Coupon

wwwww

So the award for the longest title goes to me.

Also the award for the biggest tantrum on the planet. It has been going on for two days two years. And now it’s ending. What I really needed to do two years ago was give myself a spanking to snap out of it, but I don’t believe in corporal punishment, so instead I whined and complained and basically made myself and many around me miserable.

And then last week I threw water at my argumentative teenager which was my wake up call to give myself a time out on my nuttiness. And here’s what I learned.

Right now I’m exactly where I need to be.

I’m not God so I can stop pretending to run the universe. He has a plan for my kids, my hubby, my job, my entitled sausage of a dog… all of us.

I’m working at Starbucks.

I can stop feeling bad about it. It’s not because I suck at writing or because I couldn’t get something better. It’s because it’s an honest living. I get to stretch that side of me that hates discipline, order and routine and become good at it. Why? Because how can I expect my kids to do the same if I haven’t learned that lesson?

In taking a little time to myself the other day (a long time coming, I might add) it really sank in that my current job situation is tough for a creative like me. But it’s not impossible. And it’s not necessarily a punishment or a burden. It’s quite the opposite.

Getting paid pennies to show up on time, flex new sides of my brain and show professionalism when I want to scream are valuable life skills that I need to be ready when the bigger stuff hits. It’s allowing me to become a warrior in my own life. This is not a crap job. It’s a magic tool belt to refine my spirit. It’s a petri dish for my character defects and because of it I get to grow.

Life is not a Starbucks drink. I don’t get to stand in line with a kushy gift card and order a Venti Existence with Three Pumps of Joy and a Side of Career. (With a gift card no less!) I get to earn it fair and square so I’m ready when the big stuff comes along.

And here’s the real kicker: What if the big stuff is not out there? What if this is the big stuff… this very minute? This very “smells like Pike standing on my feet working it all out in a green apron” minute? Is that good enough?

The very plain answer is yes. Because right here… right now… is where my kids get to be 12 and 13. Where I get to work on my relationship with my spouse. Where I get to serve others and love on my nasty customers and try to make someone else’s world better each and every day.

And in doing so I get the greatest riches of all.

Peace.

Just a few thoughts for today.

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!

7 TIPS

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!

supplements

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

bookcover profile pic

20 Ways to Reduce Tics

As many of you know, I’m all about raising a kid whose spirit outweighs a few tics. But now that my baby is, gulp, a month shy of 13, it’s become apparent yet again to take a look at management. His tics are loud. I mean, so loud and startling at times that this morning I yelled, “Holy Tic Man, take it down a notch!”

I get that he can’t help ticking. And I’m beyond happy that he’s okay with his Tourettes. (I know that many of your babies are not as comfortable with them. We deal with other issues and believe me, I get the heartbreak. You have an ally in me!)

But here’s the deal: I suffer from anxiety. I do. It’s waaaaay better now than it’s ever been, but here’s why. I don’t get to sit around all day and tell my husband through tears, “Ohhhh, I can’t work and pay the mortgage. I’m having a pity party and you’re not invited.” No. I take responsibility for my tendency to feel more neurotic than Willy Allen on 3 cups of Expresso fearful at times. I:

  • Eat well
  • Exercise
  • Take a little bit of Zoloft
  • Go to a few meetings each week
  • Talk to a therapist when I feel overwhelmed
  • Sleep well
  • Stay off of all mind alterating substances (No doobage and booze for this gal. I’ve been tempted lately, believe me, but I refrain.)
  • 2 cups of regular coffee in the morning only

The same has become true for Stink. The time has come for him to be a bit more pro-active with his vocal outbursts. If he can’t control them on his own (which apparently he can’t) we get to help him. We are the parents. We make the rules.

If you’re in that boat of wanting to suppress tics, here are some options for you.

BASICS (We’re on all of this except the dairy. That’s next.)

  1. Limit Screen time
  2. Insist on at least 30 minutes of exercise every day
  3. Limit sugar, food dyes and artificial flavors.
  4. Insist on a strong multi-vitamin
  5. Insist on a really good night sleep
  6. Get off gluten
  7. Get off dairy

MORE ADVANCED (We have the doctor and we started the magnesium. Next is the Taurine)

9. Naturopath – find one in your area that will take an integrative approach to tics. Ask him or her about supplements.

10. Supplements – Ask your naturopath about Taurine, Magnesium, a good fish oil

 SUPER INDEPTH (This is happening in January after Ticmas Christmas.)

11. Salvia Test: Complete a 23andme.com‘s genetic saliva test to see what his DNA has to show for itself. Once you know, your doctor can see what is working in his body and what is not and treat it more efficiently.

12. Finger Stick Food Allergy – Get a finger stick food allergy panel by Alletess Labs.  Cost is $120. The test kit is sent to you, you can perform it in the convenience of your home and and then ship directly to the lab. Have results sent to your doctor. Once you know what your child is allergic to, you can start eliminating offending foods.

BONUS OPTIONS

13. GAPS: The GAPS diet is very intricate, but it has stunning results. In a nutshell, it heals the stomach lining so that food no longer slips through the holes, hits the blood stream and causes brain inflammation (which can cause tics.) Personally I would not resort to this diet without knowing if your child does indeed have a leaky gut. I would work with a naturopath on this.

14. Hemp Oil: There has been much research lately about the non-habit forming part of the pot leaf providing tremendous relief (or shall we say “re-leaf” for tics and twitches. Here is a link that someone in my Twitch and Bitch provided. Her son’s tics were so bad he had to miss school. They are 90% reduced now.

15. CBT: Known as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, this technique allows a child to transfer a loud or strong tic into one that is quieter and less obvious. It requires a certified therapist to work with your child.

16. Meditation: Just 30 minutes of meditation per day can rewire neurons and calm down the dopamine that causes tics. Learning to breathe and center oneself can keep give your child an opportunity to have more control.

17. Therapy: Having your child talk to a therapist can be huge in teaching them how to advocate for themselves. It’s crucial (in my humble opinion) to have them see their part in everything. While they can’t control tics, they can control how they advocate for themselves and how they behave toward others.

18. Treat the other Conditions: Most kids with tics have other issues. Often times when one treats the ADHD or the OCD (or whatever else is present) the child is calmer and the tics become fewer.

19. Hobbies: Insist on helping them find a hobby they love: Often times when a child finds something they are passionate about, the tics become less when they are focused on it.

20. Love Them and Have Fun: That is the best tip of all. Your child might not always remember a tic free childhood, but they will hopefully remember one filled with the support of people who adored them no matter what.

me and dom

Come back this week as I’ll break down this list over the course of the next six weeks, giving more detail on each tip.

Until then, may God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

My book, Happily Ticked Off, is available on Pre-Order on Amazon. Get your copy today!

book cover

I Found the Cure to What Ails Me!

So, I’m not going to lie to you. I’m in love with another man. His name is Sam Heughan. He plays Jamie in the Starz series, Outlander. Have any of you been watching? Or, prior to the series, have any of you read the series by Diana Gabaldon?

In a nutshell, a world war 2 nurse, Claire Randall, gets reacquainted with her husband, Frank, in a boarding house in England. To pass the time while he works, she falls through some Stone Henge-esque stones and lands in 1748 Scotland during the clash between the Scots and the English. A clan takes her in for her own protection. Soon they realize she has lots of medicinal powers. Is she a witch? An English spy? They don’t know.

But, to keep her safe – and since the lass is useful – they marry her off to a hot highlander to keep her out of the arms of a nasty lieutenant who finds rape, flogging and smacking the crap out men, women and children to be all in a day’s fun. The highlander she is betrothed to is none other than an outlaw – Jamie Fraser – who is six foot four, sassy and manly as the day is long.

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The problem for her is that while she must accept the reality she is in now, she misses her old one also. And yet, after consummating her marriage to Jamie, she finds that despite less than perfect circumstances, she just might be able to adjust to her new life.

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Clearly there is only one answer to my tic conundrum this month: To get over my grief of what was a nice, quiet run sans tics, I must simply be engage in sex with a man who makes love with “unflagging joy” and speaks to me in an accent that can make “we need toilet paper” sound like “Your body is a temple of Yuban goodness.” Yes, that would make it all better, do you not agree?

Outlander 2014

Until tomorrow, may God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

Your Twitch and Bitch (Slap)

my kid

I’ve been trolling a lot from my private group lately. There is just so much gold to be mined, I can’t help but share some of the nuggets. I promised my ladies, even though I keep their names anonymous, that I won’t be ‘using’ them forever for their stories.

But sometimes, I can’t help myself. When we share with others, it makes us all feel so much less alone and real. Besides, since my group is called “Twitch and Bitch,” I occasionally have to take advantage of my bitches. (Note to Margaret: I’m sorry. That really was kind of crass. Please forgive me. It’s bad enough that I went through 3 takes of a video I’m making because I accidentally used my kids’ real names. Your security motions are slaying me!)

Now, back to our original programming.

Today in my group a mom – who I’ve known over 5 years – was freaking out over upping her son’s medication. She is nervous about raising the dosage, even though she thinks he needs it, because she’s worried about what will happen if it doesn’t work. She’s afraid she might not be able to handle the disappointment.

I TOTALLY understand this. For you new moms out there, this is so very very very valid. It’s scary. You don’t want to feel you’ve exhausted everything and have no hope.

Even for you old-time TS moms, this is a valid feeling. No one should ever tell you what is okay and what is not okay to feel. But how you act on your feelings? That’s a whole other matter. And again, no one has to take my advice, but I have some anyway. For me, this means being harder on the old timers than the newbies in my group. They are tougher, and if they are not, I make them tougher by giving them a little Andrea boot camp. I call it the Twitch and Bitch Slap.

Maybe you could benefit from this, too. If I hurt your feelings, I’m sorry. Please know it’s for your own good. And if you disagree, feel free to say so! (But it doesn’t change my mind.)

My Note to Old Timer Sad Mom

Here’s you Twitch and Bitch-slap:
 
1. Get a therapist
2. If you don’t like the therapist, find a new one
3. If you don’t like that one, find a new one after that
4. When you find a great therapist, go every week for a year
5. If you’re not feeling better after that, try something new. Consider medication. Consider church. Consider meditation.  Consider a job. Consider exercise. Consider ANYTHING different.
 
I PROMISE YOU. You can’t NOT do what I prescribed and not feel better. It’s not possible. If you feel that it IS indeed impossible, it’s not, it’s just what YOU think about it and honestly, that is of no consequence. That “it’s not going to get better talk” is called depression. There is a cure for depression. Don’t know what it is? Re- read #1 – 5.
 
Take two drinks and get back to me in the morning.
 
Dr. Andrea
* Note about drinking: I’ve done it when the stress has hit. A lot of us have – it takes the edge off. But this is not a mechanism that should be a permanent fix. It’s a slippery slope between “mercy” and “alcohol abuse” and one that I find I have to watch closely. I hope you do, too. (Speaking of, it’s Saturday night and I’m drinking, shhhh, coffee. I know. I’m crazy. If Stink is going to head shake all day – which he’s been doing all week for whatever reason – I figure I can shake from too much caffeine in solidarity. I’m awesome that way.)

Faith, Supplements and Hope: Welcome!

After everything we went through this summer and last Spring with UCLA and their “wonderful” Intuniv program, Stink’s tics are worse than ever. His focus is up, but what is the trade off? The ability to sit still while clicking 50 times/minute plus, oh this is a fun one, at least three shudders/minute? Should we get on yet another medication to help ease this? Maybe some nice narcotic? And then, down the road, shall we go with an anti-depressant to ease some of the social stigma from all the stares and questions about his tics?

NONSENSE.

I am easing away from this stupid drug and all these ridiculous labels about what it means to have T.S.. I always say it, but far greater than a “classification” for symptoms is confidence, and God bless Stink, he has it in spades.

I am not going down the drug route anymore unless absolutely necessary.

And, as fate will have it, UCLA isn’t returning my call anyway. I have tried, for 2 months, to get a hold of Dr. McCracken, via email and phone. He had promised me, after we thought we found a silver bullet in helping Stink’s tics and focus, to tweak the meds if there was a problem. HELLO THERE IS A PROBLEM! But where is Dr. McCracken? Likely busy with yet another study that is funding his research or perhaps a child with more severe issues than Stink.

Which is fine with me. I wish him no ill will. He is very good at what he does.

But I’m good at what I do. It’s called calling B.S. when I see B.S..

I will moderate these tics with diet and some better supplements and, in three months, I will have good news to share with you!

Until then, please love your kids for who they are, not their tics. They are worth it. Life is short. Our kids are growing up fast. Time, like our kids, is ticking. Don’t let fear and a medical community who only knows “pills” tell you how to raise your kid. If the drugs work for you, yeah! But if they don’t, do not give up hope. There is always another way. And that way, my friends, is perseverance and faith and some mama kick butt humor and strength. We’re all in this together.

Next post: Supplements! We started today. I’ll keep you posted.

Empathe TIC – My Kid

Vacations are great. Not only do they force you to slow down, but in doing so, you observe and feel things you might not otherwise with the hustle and bustle of real life.

One thing that has surfaced came from my little Stink the other day. I told him something he couldn’t do (after he and his sister’s Lord of the Flies excess experience at the beach house) and he started to cry.

I hugged him, explained why he couldn’t do it, then went on to pack for our mountain getaway. (Surf and Turf in one week… I know, life is tough… stay focused.)

Within moments a very sullen boy came into the room. I was prepared to hear a dissertation on why an extra six hour, 2 minutes and 37 seconds of electronics are not only okay but good for him, but instead he just sputtered, “Mama, I think 3 pills are too much for me.” He was fighting tears.

I sat down on his Scooby Doo bed and took him in my arms.

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“Because I keep getting upset,” he said.

My kid is a con-artist. He can say anything to get his way, but I could tell this time was different. I dug deeper.

“You mean, because you can’t have extra treats like at the beach house or more computer time?” I offered.

“No. I mean… I just feel more sad… It’s like I have these mini cries… a lot… over little things.”

I was floored. I wasn’t surprised at his feelings – just yesterday my husband remarked that Stink seemed a bit too muted. A friend, a few weeks back, remarked that he seemed super mellow. Topanga T, during our Saturday get together, commented that he seemed a bit too robotic.

And yet, check out my previous post and video – he seems okay! I figured the pills just needed a few weeks to titrate.

But after talking to Stink a few days ago, my mama bear instinct kicked in. 3 pills really are too much for this kid. We need to back it back down to 2. Minimal tics are great. It’s been awesome to feed him crud and know he’s not going to spin like a tilt-a-wheel, and his focus is awesome, but at what cost? So we can then put him on antidepressants to combat the downer effect? This makes no sense.

We are going to back it down to 2, but first we need to talk to Dr. McCracken on Monday after our trip.

“Stink, we will cut back for sure. But we can’t do it before UCLA. Do you think you’ll be able to manage your mini-cries until then?”

He looked up, teary, and then smiled. “I think some extra computer time could really help.”

CON ARTIST.

“Fine,” I said. “A little bit only.”

SUCKER.

Take away for moms and dads thinking about starting meds for tics or focus: If you can hold out until your kid is at the age where they really know their bodies and can speak about the effects, it’s super helpful. Sure, a few years of hyper activity or trying out diet and supplement techniques are a pain (but yes, they really help in managing symptoms) but it’s a great baseline. If you start meds at 4, when they are 9, how will you know what their true personalities are?

* Butt coverage: Some folk absolutely need meds due to extreme ADHD or extreme tics. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s simply my theory for parents of kids who have medium to mild tics/focus/hyperactivity. And trust me: nothing helps build a parents’ tool box of character, patience, grace and forgiveness than learning to accept and nurture a child who isn’t a perfect cookie cutter kid.

Until next time, hug that ticker of yours today!

You can now follow me on Twitter: @AndreaFrazer. (Watch out – I might start following you.)