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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

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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

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Deceptively Delicious: Supplements in Food for Tics

sneaky mom

As you know from my last post, my kid refuses to take supplements for his tics, those specific supplements for now being Magnesium Citrate and Taurine.

Four days ago I was fine with that. He’s confidant! God loves him! Hooray! Guess what? Mama loves him too and she’s not happy about it at all.

It’s not just the sounds that are of concern to me. With them come a hyper-activity that is going to cause more harm than good when his father and I decide to kick him out of the house. It’s OVER THE TOP.

Who’s the Parent Here?

There is a fine line between letting a kid be confidant and taking control as a parent. And that fine line, my friends, is coming into play with diet.

Mom the Sneaky Chef

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I am putting some supplements in his food. This morning, he had rice, meat, veggies and a topping of salsa Taurine! It was “delicious” according to my ticking preacher. I am grateful that he was none the wiser and I feel better that in a few days we’ll hopefully (God willing) have a reduction in tics.

Mama Guilt Sneaks in the Back End

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I feel a wee bit bad about this, honestly. It feels a little con-artisty. That’s because it is. And maybe that’s okay.

When our kids were toddlers, did we ask them if it was okay with them that we mash bananas into their cup? Did Jessica Seinfeld ask permission from her kids to blend veggies into their pasta sauce? No. (And she made a crap load of cash off it, also! I really should ditch my spouse for a movie star. Having an affair with Hugh Jackman would not only cure Tourettes but it could quite possibly get me a cookbook! Duh!!!!!!!)

Making a Decision Based on a Bunch of Factors

Sometimes in life we have to look at what we’re dealing with. In my case, it’s a few things.

1. Confidant Kid: My kid likes himself. I don’t want to be the one person who makes him feel bad about his tics by constantly forcing supplements down his throat. (Believe me, I could go there. “No video games if you don’t take these, sucker.”)

2. Brain Unbalanced: While I am relieved that Stink is happy with himself, I see the tics as a sign that his brain is a bit unbalanced. While some things I cannot change (Translation: I am not going to fix Tourette Syndrome) some things I can fix (Translation: A few supplements, prescribed by a doctor, can even out his symptoms and help him to concentrate more in school, reduce tics and keep the energy level here down to a reasonable amount.)

My God Story

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While for my son the tics might just be a part of “God’s story” for him, I’m a child of God, too. As one person in my “Twitch and Bitch” private support group pointed out, I get to direct some of my son’s plot, just like God directs mine. This means calming down the symptoms a bit. He thinks he’s not taking pills (a win for him) and I see a reduction in symptoms (a win for me).

What’s My Intent?

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In closing, I have to really look at my intention with the supplement seeking. If I’m doing it just to make me feel better, that’s not good enough. If I’m doing it for his health, that’s another. If I’m sneaking around because I’m afraid to stand up to my own kid, that’s a problem. (No, there are MANY places I hold my ground.) If I’m working around it to allow him the grace to feel good in his own skin without constantly bringing up tics, that’s another.

What’s Your Intent?

Does anyone else out there struggle with this? I have found that situations like this are the most difficult part of my journey. I want my kid to advocate for himself, but at the same time, I don’t want to constantly throw “tics” and “tourettes” in his face. I want him to be a kid who is confidant, happy and joyful who happens to tic, not the other way around.

What is the story you want to write for your child?

Magnesium and Tics: The Miracle Drug

Well, the very scary, four-month, nervous breakdown inducing exciting summer with my kids has begun! If I had to compare it to swim lessons, I’d put myself in the water wing category. Tomorrow, I move up to the kiddie pool. By Friday, I’ll hit the steps of the big pool. By the weekend, I’ll be in the deep end. By Monday, well, I better be on a raft with a margarita in my hand. Since I don’t drink, however, I’ll settle for a decent routine where we can all get some work and play in.

Like last night! I took Stink to his first Dodger game. At first he was totally bored, but soon got into it. Who doesn’t love fries, popcorn, peanuts, Dippin’ Dots, and, of course, the foam finger? (And no, to answer some of your questions, I didn’t worry that he ate a lot of crap. We don’t eat like that every day, and for us, a little joy is worth it. I know some people are a bit more strict, but for now, the only thing I’m really a stickler on is gluten – as in NONE. Though last night, for the first time in two years, he had some very minor bits of Oreo in his Dippin’ Dots. He survived! Whoo hoo! Not making it a habit, though.)

dom 1

Side note: I’m pretty sure Stink was the only kid in the stadium that wore Heelies combined with mesh shorts and a Children’s Place camouflage suit jacket, but the Dodgers won, and they all matched in their shiny crisp uniforms, so it worked out. Besides, my kid could care less. “I’m wearing Cookie Monster Dodger blue!” he said of his tee-shirt choice. Really, in the scheme of things, his fashion choices are just fine with me.

Tic update

Some of his vocals are back again – sort of a minor throat quack deal. I don’t think it’s due to the lack of Taurine. I think it’s because his NAC also ran out.

NAC

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As I mentioned in a previous post, NAC stands for N-acetylcysteine. It is a natural supplement that acts as an antioxidant and glutamate modulating agent.  The only side-effect commonly seen with NAC is nausea. Stink has never had this, thank God!

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.”

Tomorrow I will get some more NAC and I’ll update you next week.

More on Magnesium

One of the best posts I’ve seen on Magnesium is this one by Birth Faith. I’ll let you click on over and see for yourself what she has to say. She has studies to back up her findings on how this supplement works on tics. She doesn’t talk about using Magnesium as a supplement. Instead she says:

“So far the only remedy we’ve tried that has shown significant and immediate results is magnesium. Surprise, surprise. 🙂

For a little over a week, I have been doing an experiment. When I notice my daughters tics getting more noticeable and obvious, I put magnesium to work for her in one of three ways:

  1. back rub with magnesium cream,
  2. foot soak with magnesium bath crystals,
  3. bath with magnesium bath crystals.

Afterward, I watch her carefully to see if her body responds. Of those three treatments, I would say the tics subside most following the magnesoothe cream back rubs and full-body magnesium crystal baths, but all three have brought about improvements. This, of course, makes us very happy. With daily magnesium-boosting, her magnesium levels should be restored in a month or two, and perhaps her tics will disappear entirely? That’s our hope!”

I hope this helps you all! Until next time,

Until next time,

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

Andrea

Connect with me on FacebookTwitter and at Armonia on Mondays. (Email works, too! Warning: I’ll likely email back.)

I Used To Be Such a Good Blogger…

…But a full-time job with kids home at all summer has put a serious damper on my style. I think I need a degree in project management to keep track of their schedules and my husband’s wacky work schedule. Not to mention my kids need sustenance. Seriously, mamas, kids need attention every day. EVERY DAY. Can you even believe it?

A big shout out to all my friends who have circled the wagon this past month to take my kids to such wonderful places as the beach, downtown Los Angeles for Mexican dresses, art openings, Swedish festivals, bowling, parties, sleepovers and more. I don’t even know if any of you read this blog, but if you do, you know who you are. I am so very grateful.

To answer the last blog’s question of ‘Would you tell a camp counselor if your kid had T.S.?’ I did indeed tell the camp director. She didn’t flinch. She didn’t even twitch – and not because she doesn’t have T.S.. She simply didn’t react because, apparently, I’m not the only mom in the world who has a child with special needs.

I was immediately put at ease, especially with her closing statement. “I am glad you said something,” she offered kindly, “Because if some kid acted poorly toward him, I’d want to know that he could advocate for himself or talk to his counselor.”

“My son not only advocates for his tics, he also advocates for seconds on popsicles, extra pool time and extra room on stage to take his final bow,” I said, giving her a small glimpse into his over-the-top personality.

She smiled, “He’ll have to join in line behind the other boys,” she said. “This is a public park n’ rec. That kind of behavior is par for the course.”

One week later, my son came home in tears.

“Oh, no,” I said, pulling him into my arms. “What’s got you so upset?”

“I don’t know,” he sniffled, sitting on my lap. I almost gasped at how heavy he was, but I decided breathing was overrated. How long would my almost sixth grader want to cuddle with me? I bent my head next to his mop of curl, enjoying the warmth of his bear paws on my knees.  I took a deep breath, was reminded he needed to wear Roll On with more frequency, and snuggled close. “You must know what’s wrong,” I nudged him.

“Well, I guess I do. But I just don’t want to say.”

“Oh, no,” I though. He’d been lightly hiccupping all week, likely due to chlorine overload. I was ready for his tale of woes about the kid at the snack bar who asked him to keep his noises to himself.

“Did some kid tease you?” I asked?

He immediately bristled and pulled away. “No! What would they do that?”

“Stupid me!” I wanted to respond. Instead I went with, “Then what’s the problem?”

“Well, you’re working so hard, and it costs money to go, so I feel bad saying this, but…” he burst into tears. “I’m not a fan of the great outdoors! Oh, Mama, I am a fan of the great indoors!”

I stifled my laughter, gave him a huge, promised him we’d turn on the air condition and watch TV the following week while his sister sweated her ass off with the other campers. “And lots of snacks,” he advised. “And lots of snacks.” Problem solved.

Here are a few images of what Stink considers to be ideal activity. Thank God he’s estimated to be SIX FOOT NINE. No joke. If not, he’d be bigger than a Whale at McDonalds.

dom 1 dom 3 dom 4 dom 5

 

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.