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Tag Archives: Special Needs

On The Couch: Mystery Monday #3

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Today was a day from hell.

It started with one of my kids’ continued refusal of chores which shall hereto be known as “The 24-hour/Sit on the Couch/ My Mother is a Horrible Human Being/Laundry Boycott/Summer 2017 Manifesto.”

Other than informing said child they had until 5 p.m. to either get necessary work done or I would be throwing out their clothes myself… and if they still did not do them by tomorrow I would be disassembling their bed so I could have a room to myself (oh and I might also be giving the dog away in a week since I can’t handle undone dog poo on top of undone laundry) I  remained very very VERY calm.

Minus the screaming match with my spouse in the kitchen.

Which turned into me driving to Hollywood to meet a friend… alone.

Note: Child’s sibling didn’t want to go with me to Hollywood because they needed “More than a day’s notice” which was just as fine with me. (Rabbit trail: Finding out I was pregnant with them unexpectedly thanks to a leftover 99 Cent Store pee stick didn’t exactly give me very much notice one surprising summer…. but I digress.)

Guilt about leaving my children with nothing to do on a Monday faded into the Malibu sunset when I reasoned they could find lunch within the couch cushions that my one child remain prostate on. (Lord knows there was plenty of carbs, half eaten granola bars and crackers left with the chores not done.)

After a long ride to Hollywood where I ruminated on everything from my ineffective parenting, 17 years of marriage and the fact that L.A. drivers maneuver the roads like drunks on doobage, my friend never ended up being able to meet me because the parking was so bad.

Which resulted in me driving through traffic back towards home.

Except I didn’t want to go home what with the boycotting and the overall hating of me.

So I drove to my old stomping grounds for tacos instead.

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(It’s pretty impossible to be in a bad mood with surfers, homeless people, Hollywood writers and happy lights.)

A full and very happy belly later I walked across the street to the beach.

This move worked out smashingly if I do so myself, for when I sat in the sand, I looked up to my left and there I saw an incredible rainbow in the sky. (Look closely at photo on top of page!)

Odd or God?

I’m sure it was just that time of day….the way the sun hit the clouds at just the right moment… but the closest I’d seen to a rainbow in these here parts was the West Hollywood Halloween Parade. I’m just going to assume that my higher power put it there to remind me that there is hope.

That I am never alone.

That end even in times of darkness where I don’t know what to do there’s color, beauty, joy and radiance that transcends my understanding. For that, I’m so grateful.

The Takeaway (Besides leftover fish tacos?)

Sometimes the only thing to do is nothing. It is there, with that beautiful empty space, that I can move out of the way and let God make His magic.

PS: Big thanks to Tuscany who afforded a generous ear to the play-by-play drama which is my life with teenagers.

Thanks also to Valerie Coulman, a generous writer and friend who I met at the Southern California Christian Women’s Conference. While I stuffed my face with extra fries we laughed and prayed together and realize just how strong we are – especially when we don’t take ourselves so seriously.

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Let me know about anything cool that happened to you this Monday. Let’s connect!

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

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There’s Nothing Outside of Yourself You Need to Be Happy (Except Maybe Headphones)

 

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I live in house with a husband, 2 kids, a pit bull and a room mate. Given that we have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, this does not give us a lot of space. (I admit it. I’ve peed in the backyard at times. No one knows this but a few close friends. And, well, now everyone who reads this blog. Don’t judge.)

I’m completely aware that people in other countries live 8 to a room (heck, the kids I assist at a Title 1 grammar school one city away live 8 to an apartment) so I try not to complain. Each day I write gratitude lists.

“Thank you God for the giant oak tree that shades the cramped dining room poor excuse for a bedroom  sacred space I share with Rex.”

“Thank you God for our fridge full of vegan hot dogs and gelitin-free food for my entitled/have no idea how much it costs big-hearted teenagers whose sweet souls are always thinking of animals.”

And, speaking of teenagers, “Thank you God for my beautiful daughter who today is 13. Today.”

Today, folks.

My round faced china doll girl of yore has morphed into long legs and curvy hips. Her Betty Page throw back hair style has been replaced with long brown locks. She has zits near those gorgeous dimples. And, as much as I grieve the few stains on her lovely face, I pray sometimes that, to borrow a similar statement from Farmer Stacey, ‘May God keep her pimply and humble.’ I’m not ready for what comes with the other.

Today I picked up my son from the train station. He had just returned from five days of visiting his best friend who lives 4 hours away. I swear, he stepped off that train and I didn’t recognize him.

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Stink: (Low Man Voice) “Hey, Pipsqueak.”

Pip: “Hi, Stink!”

Miss L: “Give us your bag!”

And so he did. My girl, her bestie and him. They walked side by side to the car, talking the pros and cons of the Hogswart Express vs. Amtrak. (Yes, there’s delicious food. Unfortunately no chocolate frogs or magical playing cards. Darnit.)

I often wear headphones, like the ones below, to get some space from the constant noise and chaos that surrounds this busy home.

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But when I stay in gratitude, I am so often overwhelmed with how it’s also a happy home with all its clanking, banging and raucous laughter. And I will miss these days when they are gone.

Quiet is good to calm the mind, but when push comes to shove, I don’t know if I’d have it any other way.

As my sponsor often tells me, “You don’t need anything outside of yourself to be happy.” And while I often want to punch her in the face cringe when she says that, she’s right. I am learning, slowly, that there is a lesson in everything.

And today, the lesson was clear yet again: head phones can give me a little breathing room to find myself amongst the dog barking, the door bell ringing, the Jehovah Witnesses preaching, but always remember I am my best self when I am surrounded by people I love.

And so, I will be taking off these suckers in a moment. I will be saying prayers with my kids upstairs. I will crawl into bed next to Rex, and I will once again say thank you to a God who I don’t always understand, but I know gives me everything I need. And I don’t need to find him outside of myself.

And neither do you.

Until next time,

Andrea

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

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Fun Friday – Sombreros for Taco Tuesday

I just got back from a beautiful trip to Lake Shasta. The trees were so green. The water was so blue. I kayaked without killing myself. #Itwasasuccess.

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While the views were outstanding, there was something even more incredible that took place in that beautiful country. It was something that, if I’m not careful – especially in my parenting- I can overlook. It’s called “Fun.”

From a spirited conversation on the plane ride over, to dinner out, lunch out and some amazing home cooked meals by Farmer Stacey, I didn’t have much to do other than to relate my stories, listen to hers and laugh.

While vacations can’t truly compare to real life (especially when I was blessed enough to not pay for the trip myself) it did remind me that life doesn’t have to be such a bore all the time. I can get so caught up in what “has” to get done (cooking, cleaning, shopping, working) that I forget what I “get” to do (talk with my kids, chuckle at a show with my husband, call up my  mom and dish over the time my father’s pants fell off in a Costco parking lot while talking to my sister about a great deal on Diet Coke.)

One of the things we do every Tuesday is eat tacos. But not just any tacos. Boring healthy kid-approved vegetarian tacos. (The teens aren’t vegan yet. I don’t have to mortgage the house for Whole Foods “Looks Like Queso Tastes Like Crappo” cheddar. Our veggie tacos are a simple fix of tortillas, beans, rice, lettuce, salsa and cheese.)

And sombreros!

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A few years ago I scored 8 cheesy sombreros for $4 at a Salvation Army discount day. Do they go with my retro tan and cream checkered floors? No. But is it hilarious to watch an unsuspecting guest put one on before saying the blessing over our food? Si, senoritas!

Until we get lice, we’ll be wearing those ridiculous over sized, Mexican noggin’ covers. On the inside, my kids are secretly dying at the absurdity of their six-one mother rocking out to mariachi music while wearing a cone shaped hat over her messy bun. But on the inside, secretly, I think they want some shakers to go with it.

Because it’s goofy.

And ridiculous.

And it’s fun.

And sometimes, you just have to go for it, mis amigos.

“Our egos are not our amigos!” I say, “Let’s drop the perfect routine and act like dorks because we can!”

PS: I don’t really think lice would stop my tradition. If you ever plan on visiting, you might consider making it a Wacky Wednesday instead. On those days, we just talk about camels and shout, Hump Daaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy at each other. Equally as enlightening!

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What about you? What do you do just for fun? I’d love to know!

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

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Today I was So Crabby I Could Die…

…like I wanted to poke a needle in my eye.

It was hot – so hot – like 100 degrees

And I got up late. And there was no coffee.

I was supposed to market for my husband’s job

But I was hungry… And tired… (I looked like a slob)

So I went to the YMCA instead

I threw stuff in bag… I figured I’d tread

On the jogging machine… and then I would shower

And so that’s what I did

And in less then an hour

I actually felt better… I felt pretty good

Then this sweet Asian lady… she asked if she could

Use the dryer next to me, so I said “Why not?”

And the two of us stood there… we started to talk

All 5’2 of her and 6’1 of me

We brushed hair side by side and talked idly

She told me she swam… she took ballroom dancing

“I focus on good stuff!” she said, “It’s enhancing!

“Why dwell on the stuff you can’t change anyway…?”

“Hi, my name is Yina.”

Then she bid me good day.

As I drove to my Starbucks to sigh at my work

I realized, quite clearly, that I’d been a jerk

That morning I felt stressed out…I felt overwhelmed

But it’s not always Andrea that stands at the helm

Life happens on its terms… they’re not always on mine

When I remember my place

Things turn out just fine

So I’m thinking about that, as I type out this blog

That I won’t always win clients… I won’t always jog

I won’t always have clean cups

My kids won’t always be happy

But I can change my perspective

And no longer feel crappy.

The End

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

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What Makes a Good Character?

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Last night I broke out my pilot. It had been about six months since I looked at it and I had a few reactions I wasn’t expecting:

  1. The first two scenes are pretty funny
  2. The second half of act one needs more work than the tile of my 1950’s wackadoo kitchen
  3. Act two is about as together as Sonny and Cher after a few blissful years of marriage

I’ve done enough writing in my past to not worry about the current state of my pilot. I just needed to go back to my outline.

So I did.

The story wasn’t clear enough. And then it became even more clear that in order to have a solid story I need to know more about the characters.  Who are these people, why are they in my script, and what makes them tic?

The Transformation of This Blog

As many of you know, this blog started out as a journey for Tourette Syndrome. Who was my kid and what made him tic? What would his life story be? Would it be a comedy, a tragedy, a giant mystery full of gluten free bread and neurologists?

I started this blog when my son was 4. He’s now 14 and doing very well. (He starts high school next year! He’s six two! Eeeegaaads!)

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The truth is, like most good scripts, his story came out when I gave him time. I wanted a cheeky basketball player. He wanted to be a Vegan animal lover. I wanted a straight A student with a perfectly clean bedroom. He’s an A/B student with a room that looks like Gravity Falls and Harry Potter threw up in it. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine.

When I didn’t force my kid to be anything other than who he was supposed to be, he was able to develop into the kid he’s supposed to be. He has limits and boundaries, but freedom to shine. I will extol that same grace to my pilot.

A Writing Schedule + Freedom = Great Characters (for me and my scripts)

With that in mind, I plan on giving myself some freedom over the summer to get off my crazy work train of a schedule and continue to write.

And read!

In addition to my morning spiritual books, I am toggling between:

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emotional intelligence

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What Do These Books Have in Common?

Amazing characters and insight. From a Jersey Girl bail bondsman, to an intelligent, fast talking orphan, to fascinating insight on the correlation between IQ and empathy, these books take me in. They make me laugh. And they make me think.

My Next Job Move

As I wonder about what next year holds for me at my current job, I can honestly say that whatever happens it will develop my character. Like the people in the books I am reading now, I will be forced to ask questions like:

  • Why am I making the choices I’m making?
  • What is my definition of success?
  • How can I be me while still contributing to a group? (My family/finances)
  • How can frustration be transcended into personal growth?

In the end, as I develop the character of Andrea, I will pour what I’ve learned into the characters of my pilot. And that, my friends, is really exciting! It’s my favorite kind of script – one where the lead character goes into the unknown with a bit of courage, sass and, hopefully, some humor.

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?

Your Life.

Your Life Who?

Whoeever you want it to be. You got one shot. Make it worth it!

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

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Special Needs, Dropping Trou and TV Writing

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You may or may not know that I’m a special needs aide for a public middle school. I’m not sure what is further from my Hollywood writing days of yore – working at a middle school or working with kids like Midu, who only know 50 words of Hindi, no English and are more comfortable dropping trou in front of me than the time “Actor Who Won’t be Named” thought it was perfectly acceptable to unzip his pants while I was handing him pink rewrite pages.

Checking out the package (and not the one I was delivering) I almost said,”Not the pink I was expecting to see.” Instead I went with, “Craft service has mini hot dogs! See you on set!”

Back to Midu, who is just learning his ABC’s, I can’t help but think of my days on set. Similar to my days in the writers room, there’s a beautiful synergy that happens over the lunch tables. We laugh a lot. We tell stories. We trade food. “I’ll give you my apple slices for your tahini!” Granted, I can’t understand a word this kid is saying, but half of the director’s notes went over my head also.

The facts are, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing some hand movements, head nods and a good dose of humor can’t solve. At the end of the day, like with a brutal rewrite, as long as no one has wet themselves in the process and we’ve all had a good laugh, it’s a day well done.

As I dip my toe into the water of teaching higher level special ed next year, I’m excited about the possibilities of having even more impact with kids. Like my home for my own kids, the classroom will be a safe place for my school kids… a place to know that… for a few hours a day… they can take a break from whatever is going on in their own houses and rewrite their life script. Some kids I’ll reach, some kids I won’t. (One kid I work with uses all day to sleep. As long is it’s not someone I’m pitching a show to, I don’t take it personally.)

In the end, though…when thinking about teaching… there’s also this 47 year old kid who has a small fire inside her gut. It’s a desire that says, “While you’re helping your kids achieve their dreams, don’t forget yours.”

What’s mine? I want to get into TV again. It’ll take time. I will need to use summers to write my scripts and school nights to network here and there. But I’m ready. I’m setting a goal to apply for a Warner Bros. Writing program 2018 – 2019. I’ll need two spec scripts. Grace and Frankie, here I come! (I’ll get Grace into rehab even if it’s only on paper!)Wish me luck!

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And after dealing with the Midus of the world, I will have stories.

Until next time, tell me about you. What is your dream?

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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Shame, Peace and Ostrich Eggs

In my last post I talked about shame. You might be familiar with the feeling.

“I’m not doing enough for my kids.”

“I am not making enough money.”

“My house isn’t clean enough.”

“I used to be a contender.”

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If you’re anything like me, you can do a pretty good job at keeping the tiger in the cage. You exercise. You pray. You keep a schedule. You try to let things go.

But sometimes you just have a day.

And that was my day Friday. Sure, I had missed the ONE day to test into full time employment – putting full time insurance off another month – but I gave myself grace. (“If the kids lose a leg, there’s always the county hospital.”)

Yeah, my bank account was running perilously low, but a check was going to land in my box on Friday. (“The kids are vegetarians now. A few cans of beans will sustain until pay day.”)

Alright, a huge vacation wasn’t going to happen this Spring Break, but I was blessed to have a friend give me a two night stay at her time share for $64 total. It was something I was looking forward to all week.

LOTS OF GRATITUDE!

And then I got a note – a terrifying note – from a friend I work with regarding permission to attend an out-of-district school that Stink had also applied to. Both our kids were accepted into the school, but it wasn’t in our district. We needed permission to transfer out – and that would take some work.

No worries! In true Andrea fashion, I pulled out all the stops to apply for this out of district permit – including gleaning a personalized acceptance letter from the high school secretary, to tracking down a fellow mom who had been through this with her own kids.

Based on fellow mom’s adventure through hell the Los Angeles school system, I knew in advance that I would be denied a permit and would have to appeal. I was nervous, but trusted the process. I told my friend at work that this would happen and, to save her the headache that the fellow mom from that school saved me, I told her what to do.

Only problem? Her kid got approved on the first go around. No appeal needed. This was not the case with Stink. Yup, lucky me – Not only was he denied a permit, I found out the lovely news an hour before my trip that Stink probably would not get the appeal approved because they are only taking theater kids this year. Stink applied for tech.

I was totally calm. Just like this!

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I calmly and rationally trusted in the Lord Jesus with all my heart, soul and strength. My heart hit my knees, I pooped a brick and belly cried like a drunk seal to my unsuspecting sister on the phone.

In my heart, I know that this is just high school. It’s not that he has cancer.

But in my head, it was the old shame tapes that played with his diagnosis. “You did something wrong,” they taunted me. “Your kid isn’t good enough.”

In my book, I recall a scene where all but one kids from Stink’s preschool got into a prestigious Catholic grade school. Stink was the one who didn’t make the cut. Which, well, sucked.

In fury, I made an appointment with the principal. (Note: In the book, I refer to Stink as Nicky.)

Excerpt from Chapter 3 – CinemaTIC

After finally being lead into the principal’s office, I was informed that Nicky didn’t grasp his pencil correctly in the interview process.

“You’ve got to be kidding…” I started to balk, but before I could continue she added, “He seems a bit immature.”

After peeling myself off the floor and holding back my urge to scream our Lord’s name—and not because there was a lovely oil painting of Christ hanging behind this woman’s head—I told her how disappointed I was. “He’s five. He’s not supposed to be mature. And why does it matter if he can grip a pencil correctly? Isn’t this what he’s supposed to learn in kindergarten?”

She gave me a fakey-compassionate half-smile. “His lack of coordination is disconcerting. It implies he’ll need some special attention that we just can’t give when there are thirty kids in the classroom and only one teacher.”

To which I responded, “With a ratio like that, why would I want to spend six grand a year on his schooling?”

To which she responded, “For the Christian education.”

“Oh, yeah, I can really feel God’s love here.”

And with nothing but a few cursory closing statements, I walked out of that office, enrolled my son in a public charter school, and have never looked back. It’s not as fancy as the private school of my dreams. But behind peeling paint is a structure built on joy that fosters creativity, self-worth and joy beyond my wildest expectations. And guess what: It’s FREE. Plus the student-to-teacher ratio is twenty-four to one. Jesus would be proud.

After firing off yet another letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District about why my son deserves entrance into that high school, it dawned on me that perhaps going insane was not the answer.

Perhaps my shame did not have to run the show.

Perhaps this “amazing” school for my kid is not to be, despite my best efforts.

Maybe, just maybe, if I can let go of the expectations I have for sweet Stink and allow what God wants for him, life just might be a bit more manageable.

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I can confirm that this thinking is correct because two things happened this weekend.

  1. My son told me quite calmly, “Mom, it’s not a big deal. If I get in, I get in. If I don’t, I’ll just to Big Scary Neighborhood School and I’ll survive.”
  2. We went to Ostrich Land over our weekend. It’s hard to live in shame when you’re feeding prehistoric beasts and sticking your head in germ infested wooden cutouts.d.jpg

The Moral of the Story

What we think has to happen for our happiness and security keeps shame front and center. Letting go and letting God direct the show keeps peace and laughter in the forefront.

The second option is so much better.

May your joy this week be like an ostrich egg: large and nourishing! (Did you know ostrich eggs are the equivalent of 30 chicken eggs? It’s true!)

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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