Coaching and Wellness, faith, spirituality, Tics, Tourettes

IGG Food Testing Vs. Traditional Allergy Testing

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About 10 years ago – during the time I was freaking out over my son’s Tourette Syndrome – I had Dominic tested for food allergies. I wrote about this in my book. Basically my husband thought I was a nut job as it didn’t follow the traditional route of blood testing through a lab. It instead involved vials and muscle testing. I was desperate for answers and I was relieved to find out what Dominic was allergic too:

Dom’s Allergies

  • eggs
  • peanuts
  • dairy
  • gluten
  • ham
  • …and a whole host of other things. When I removed them his tics dramatically improved

Note: He did not throw up or go into major shock when eating this food. His throat did not close up. But he was much less focused, hyper and, alternatively, lethargic afterwards.

Over time, with his resistance to bringing pizza to birthday parties that tasted like cardboard and moldy rubber, he chose to eat more of what he wanted. For him this meant consuming everything but gluten.

Then he decided he felt bad for animals so he gave up meat, chicken and even fish. I supported this. I made a lot of very bad veggie meals including gluten free mac n cheese with nutritional yeast for “flavoring.” YUM!

He continued to eat cheese and eggs (with little regard to the conditions of these animals in their cages, but hey, I figured he’d cross that bridge when he got there.)

Today we had a call with a traditional allergist today because his nose has been stuffy and he’s sick of it. The allergist gave me the same spiel that I got years ago. “Because I’ve been trained with Western Medicine, and the FDA doesn’t yet approve muscle testing, I can’t offer the IGG testing route.” But… she was great. She was honest and said that she’s seen great improvements with her patients who have gone off… wait for it… the SAME stuff Dominic went off ten years ago.

My point: Go with your gut, Mamas. If you think there’s another way to treat your child and it can benefit them, do that. If you’re only doing it out of fear, don’t do that. Take some quiet time for you and go along for the ride, because at some point your kid is going to be 17 and telling YOU what they need for their health. And if you honor them along the way, and don’t baby them when they are 5 inches taller than you, you just might be giving them the wings they need to survive in the world. And that, my friends, is far more important than fixing tics.

Until next time,

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

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. )

Need an editor, book coach (transformational non-fiction) or a ghost writer? Contact me at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com or find me on Facebook @AndreaFrazerWriter

Tic-Oh Tuesday, Tics, Tourettes, writing

Tic-O Tuesday #2: Comic Ticker Fish Lee!

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Welcome to Tic-O Tuesday #2! Many of you might know Fish Lee from his stint on the A & E television show, “The Employables.” Others might know him from his Facebook Page @TourettesLife which features his amazing Tourette Syndrome art work. Still others might know him thanks to his bestselling Tourette’s comic book, T-Man & Hyperstrike (copies are sold exclusively on his Facebook Page @TourettesLife.)

As for me, I had the pleasure of getting to know him today by chatting his ear off for over an hour. We discussed everything from his childhood with tics, his life as a struggling artist who had to live through some pretty severe Tourette’s, and his current success today as one of the most sought after comic book illustrators around. (Plus he’s barely ticking thanks to the right combo of medication, sleep and weight loss.)

Fish surprised me, because he is more than just a talented artist. He’s a human being who took adversity and kicked it to the curb. If you’re like me – a parent who is worried about your child due to an unexpected diagnosis – you need to take a seat and get a boost of inspiration topping for your taco this Tico Tuesday.

Fish’s Past

“I wasn’t diagnosed until I was thirty,” Fish said. “It was confusing and tough to not know what was wrong with me.”

Fish began with mild tics as a child. He would repeat things he heard on TV, hold his breath and rub his nose. He would obsess over things and have a hard time reading social cues. “I had a pretty bad temper, too,” he said. “It wasn’t easy making friends.”

That said, he was not officially diagnosed as a child – not even when he stayed home for three weeks because of his eyes being crossed. “My single mom must have taken me to the doctor 15 times, and in the end, no one believed me that I couldn’t help it. The doctor said there was no way I could have had Tourette Syndrome since I never cursed.”

After having every imaginable test run on him to rule things out (from diabetes to severe heart issues) Fish just had to live with this “mystery illness.” He went on to say that most of the time it was manageable, but one to two times a year things would get really bad. “It was terrifying,” he said. “Especially because people thought I made it up to get attention. There was a point when I got better where I wondered myself if I had made it up.”

Lucky for him they disappeared in middle school and high school, but it wasn’t just because of genetics and good luck. “I self-medicated big time,” he said. Fish, who has now been sober for a good long while, fully admits what would have been better than not having tics at all would have been to feel that who he was, as he was tics and all, was okay. But at the time, that simply wasn’t the case.

A Rough Time of Tics

The tics came back with a vengeance after college when he was newly married and sober. At 21 it really became a problem, and by 30 he could barely see, walk or talk. His wife had to bathe him. Despite seeing a respected neurologist (who said there was no way he had Tourette Syndrome) it was not until he saw a news show with professor on TV who had the syndrome, along with a weatherman who reported that he had it also, that he realized, “That guy is me!”

When he realized he had true neurological disorder – where his brain misfired and mixed signals like crazy – he was sent to a movement specialist in Houston. The moment he walked into the room the doctor took a look at his severe shaking and asked, “How long have you had T.S.?” to which he responded, “I don’t have Tourette’s! I don’t say bad words!” She said, “Oh, yes, you do have it. The bad news is that it’s the worst case I’ve ever seen. The best news is that it can’t get any worse!”

Fish laughed as he recalled that story. It was the beginning of an understanding for his disorder.

While Fish’s wife, who he is now divorced from, was horrified that her husband would be confined to a wheel chair and potentially be on disability, Fish was thrilled. He finally had an answer. “It wasn’t Huntington Disease. It wasn’t a stroke. It wasn’t MS. It was bad, but I was alive!”

Unfortunately he had to stop working for a while with his condition worsening. He could no longer foster children – which he loved. But he had 3 of his own still at home. And in the process he was able to go on Facebook and meet other adults living with Tourette’s. He no longer felt alone. “My whole world opened up,” he gushed. “I wasn’t the only person needing help bathing and feeding myself!”

The Mouthpiece – A Miracle Cure

A turning point in Fish’s life was a mouthpiece that was made for him in Memphis, Tennessee. Made in conjunction with NFL mouth guards, it was a Godsend for Fish’s constant movement. “It was made of rubber and soft on the inside… no metal,” Fish said. “It truly worked.”

(Note from Andrea: I can’t offer you parents medical advice, but I have heard so many good things about this device. Google and find a doctor in your area or give me a call and I’ll work with you to help you locate one.)

Advice for Parents

Many parents are scared about their kids’ diagnosis, and that’s understandable, but Fish encourages everyone to be careful about how they talk about tics both to them directly and around them. “They have it tough enough as it is, but it doesn’t have to define them,” he said.

He, in fact, pushes his own son, Bear, to go way beyond what someone might expect of him. “I remember as a kid at 7 that I personally could not focus because of seven trains of thought in my head: a fight I had with someone… a girl… a TV show,” he said, “But at the same time, this wild thinking was also what made me unique.” He went on to gush,”Tourette’s kids are so smart, creative and empathetic. So what if they are a bit ‘weird’ to others. That’s what makes them so amazing.”

He continued, “I encourage all parents to fully accept their kids where they are at. So what if they tic!”

Fish’s Medication and Tic Management

As far as managing the tics, he himself is on a combo of Guanfacine and Primidone. “Everyone reacts differently,” he said, “But for me the combo of these work perfectly. There are some side effects, but it’s been worth it for what I am able to do every day in my life.” And boy what a lot he does.

Fish’s Current Life

Unlike his past where he was confined to his bed and a wheelchair, Fish spends his days illustrating for some of the biggest names in the business, including Eric N Bennett. He shops, drives and spends time with his 3 kids whenever he can (Marcus 20 – who is giving him his first grandbaby in June), Jay (19) and Elisha (“Bear” /16 who, according to Fish, is “killing it” with his tics).

Fish’s Projects These Days

Fish has inked Empyrean Command #0 and illustrated Sentinels #269 and Fivestar #3 (coming after after Covid) (pencils, inks, colors).

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He colored The Power Company #2 (and has #3 in the works which will be done after quarantine is over.)

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Most of his stuff is up for sale at www.indyplanet.com Fivestar.

He is working on Sentinels #270 right now, then the next Fivestar, then the next Power Company which will be all of his art work. “I’m already booked for most of the rest of the year,” he says proudly. And with artwork like this, it’s understandable!

Other Social Links: Find Fish

@TourettesLife on Facebook

WWW.MrFishcomics.com

Instagram

He can also be found on Deviant Art and on Twitter 

Twitter

Your Child Is not His or Her Tics!

As a writer and mother of a beautiful 17 year old with Tourette’s, I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to speak to Fish today. I want to encourage all of you parents to keep coming back every Tuesday where we’ll bring a new success story to you. And if you, yourself, have Tourette’s and are thriving (or know someone who is – young or old) drop me a line at HappilyTickedOff@Gmail.com. I’d love to consider them for a Tico-Tuesday post or at least as happy face or art work on my Success Story wall!

Until next time,

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

Andrea

writing

Happily Ticked Off: 2019

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This just in! This just in! I am no longer writing about Tourettes. See here.

I am no longer offering services for tic consulting.

I am no longer pushing essential oils for relaxation.

Why? Aren’t they good ideas?

Yes, my dear readers, they are. I believe in them. But you know what I am happiest doing most? WRITING!

And who has a TV pilot contract writing? Me!

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And why am I considering getting my Masters in Special Education and teaching? Because I need to live in a fun little place called Reality, and that means my said pilot might not sell. (But honestly, I have a good feeling it will. I really do. If you are the praying type, please pray. If you are the superstitious type, please cross your fingers and don’t step under ladders for the whole month of January and beginning of February.) But…if this pilot doesn’t sell…and I teach… I will get summers and four weeks off a year to do what I love most. What is that? Did you forget? WRITING!

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And so with that in mind, bring on 2019. Let’s get Happily Ticked Off together learning how to accept the life we cannot change, change the life we can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

PS: As a substitute teacher for the LAUSD School District, I’m officially picketing with the teachers for higher pays and better classroom size.

What does that mean? I’m not working this week. What does that mean? I’m… WRITING!

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You know what, I refuse to be in a bad mood. Life is too good. I can’t wait to see where this life leads in 2019.

What are your plans for 2019? What are you dying to do? Leave a comment below! I miss you guys!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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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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“Life Happens For You, Not To You” – Rose Heart

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Um, he’s the size of my couch now

It’s been one of those seasons – 18 months to be exact – where I didn’t think it could get any busier.

And it did.

  • Full-time work as an aid in for kids with special needs.
  • Hubby transitioning from working at home to working to at an office.
  • Moving the kids into their own rooms upstairs.
  • Rex and I moving into the dining room to give everyone space, only to realize that we truly didn’t have enough of it. (Think of a Pinterest style cat box. It had cute nicks and crannies, but in the end, it was still a cat box: small and crammed with crap.)
  • Deciding if I had to hear a dish clinking in the kitchen sink (right off my bedroom) one more second I would kill everyone, including the dog.
  • Asking our beloved roommate to leave (it was hard… she’s like family) only to finally have to face that demon of a conversation, “Where does our money actually go each month?”

The Fear Oh Crap I’m Going to Be Homeless Simple Money Questions

  • Would I make more money if I went into teaching?
  • Would I bring in even more money with Ebay? Freelance writing? DoTerra? Piano lessons?
  • Would I be able to live with the resentment that I used to sit at home and write while my husband worked in a cush corporate job and instead I was now on a tight work schedule, fitting in my 12-step meetings, church, communication classes, exercise, (would I ever see my mom and friends again?) and oh, yeah, what about that dog that needs walking and, hellz, it was your birthday? Sorry I missed it. Again.

PS: I realized in the past 18 months I was not a victim. I told my spouse to go off and start his own biz. Woops. Until I came to that conclusion, and figured out what I was not willing to accept, it wasn’t fun.

Add in a few tics and high school panic and I could have lost my ever loving mind.

And yet I didn’t.

One thing was different, and so I’m sharing this secret with you in case you, too, might find yourself in a situation more unmanageable than Trump’s ego and hairdo: “Life didn’t happen to me, it happened for me.”

That came to me from my mentor and fellow writer, Rose Heart, and it bears repeating:

“Life didn’t happen to me, it happened for me.” – Rose Heart ,Writer

That statement has changed forever how I view life. Once you’re a pickle, you can never be a cucumber again. And so it is with truth when it hit me square in the eye.

I could either choose to bemoan my lack of time and funds, or I could be thankful for the opportunity to learn something new about myself.

I could either freak out about tics, or I could be grateful my boy still wants me to come in his room at night, say prayers, and show me his video game.

I could be steaming mad at my spouse – deflecting my own need to change – or I could learn to stand my ground on the things I need, let go of the ones I don’t, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

All these things lead me to my glorious glorious news: I am dedicated once again to what this blog is about. It’s not about changing people, places, things, tics or the weather in order to feel better in my own skin. It’s about changing what’s under my skin so radically that other things barely bug me.

It’s not always easy, but when I remember to radically love myself to love others because I know, deep in my gut, that God loves me, it works. It really does.

I hope you’ll come back to me here. I have missed writing. I have missed you.

And if you’ve missed you, it’s never too late to find yourself again. Because, at the end of the day, you are all you got. And whatever in your life you find so awful you can’t take it, remember that it’s not happening to you. It’s happening for you. You can either unwrap the gift of clarity every single day and go forth with courage or you can throw it away.

But believe me – until you take ownership – that gift will keep landing on your doorstep, begging you to use it, incorporate it into your life as it is (not as you want it to be… hello, reality!) and upgrade it for something better.

Until next time,

Andrea

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

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That’s One Mother FTHR Gene – MTFHR and Tics

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(photo credit: Mommypotamus)

Welcome to Tic Tuesday!

I’m so excited you’re here! But… I won’t lie – I’m tired. I have been up since 4am and it’s almost midnight in Mt. Shasta – a beautiful mountain town in Northern California that I’m just visiting for the first time.

My dear friend Stacey, who I met when she read me over at BabyCenter, flew me out to the home she shares with her five boys. FIVE. That’s about as shocking to me as the original diagnosis of T.S. my son got 10 years ago.

The reason I’m telling you about Stacey’s boys? Irony of irony – one of her sons developed a pretty serious tic condition right after leaving my house 2 years ago. (Quick – get off the computer before you catch Tourettes!) Stacey has done a LOT to heal her son’s symptoms, including the GAPS diet and following an environmental doctor’s supplement plan. I’ll talk more about these things in my next posts, but for now I want to talk about the MTHFR gene which, when undetected, had prevented her son’s healing. It might be affecting your kid, too!

MTHFR – What is That?

MTHFR stands for the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene. Say it five times fast: methyl-ene-tetra-hydro-folate-reductase.

To be more simple, it’s an enzyme in our bodies. This enzyme adds a methyl group to folic acid which helps the body properly use vitamins such as B6. If the gene is mutated, your child’s body is not able to get the nutrition it needs. This can cause all sorts of problems from mood swings, ADHD issues, depression and, you guessed it, tics.

Treatment

Specific vitamins can be given to your child that will help him or her absorb the nutrients they need. I will ask my friend specifically about the brand she uses and post before the week is up.

How to Diagnose

The diagnosis for this mutation is pretty simple. You can request a blood test from most naturopaths or do a saliva test for $199 through 23 and Me.

Excellent Blog Post on MTHFR

The Mommypotamus blog does an excellent job explaining more about the MTHFR gene here.

I’d talk more about how a man ten years younger than me flirted with me for two hours on the plane. (Yes, I told my husband. Relax, people. We only made out at the gift store later talked.  And it made me realize, as nice as he was, I’m so glad not to be in the dating world. I have the personality of an outgoing New Yorker but the insides of a stodgy librarian. It’s fun being me!)

I’d tell you about how Stacey had to bolt from the couch downstairs because a black bear decided to dig through her trash can and eat some of her organic GAPS brownie leftovers.

I’d tell you about how my sweet husband was kind enough to get up at 4am to get his wife onto a bus to get me to an airport where I almost lost my breakfast waiting for the second shuttle to arrive at the airport gate where I could dodge into a restroom.

But if I do, I might start ticking, and it’s not from the MTHFR gene. I’m just bone crushing tired.

New to T.S.? Come back next week!

You are not alone. Your child will be fine, and so will you. I promise. I do.

Until tomorrow,

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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Tics, Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

A Road Map to Special Needs

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

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

Helpful Anecdotes

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

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

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

Find the Chapter That Best Suits You and Dive In!

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

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

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

Dr. Beurkens is the Real Deal

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

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

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

Prescription  from Dr. Andrea

Your kids are amazing.

There is hope.

You are not alone.

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

Until next time,

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

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

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Uncategorized

Learning to Be Content – 1 Grunt at a Time (Mine, Not My Kid’s)

 

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In my quest to adjust to life as a working mom, there’s a lot I haven’t done, including writing here.

Because I am lazier than the gajillion people who refused to get out and vote this election season hate to reinvent the wheel, I thought I’d share something I sent to a friend today. She was on my  mind because, being a good self-indulgent product of the eighties, I’m on my mind a lot. And since I somehow live more peacefully in my Starbuck’s infested/doing too much/oh crap/I forgot to apply to high schools for my kid and now he’s going to be stuck at our local feeder school brain when I think of others, I thought I’d share it with you in case you can relate. (A few words added and deleted for privacy.)

Hi friend – 

Just writing you a quick letter to let you know something my own sponsor said to me today. I call her every morning at 730. If it’s 731 she gets on my case. “You’re late.” It’s annoying and a bit non-graceful. She’s of a different faith than me, a lawyer and pretty much the opposite of overthinking/soft hearted/no boundaries me. But she’s been amazing. She’s like those rubber walls in a pinball machine for me. My emotions get wound back and released high into the game. The ball then falls against those walls and plink! plink! plinks! all over the place. It wants to go straight to the top (that’s where I think the good life is) but it hits those walls. Those walls scream at me, “No. You’re staying right here. Get still. Stop running.” So I do. 
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Today I told her, all in fifteen minutes, how I had all these fears. Fears that I would never land on that TV show or hit the big time to have money to send my kids to private schools and have all these CRAZY FUN experiences if I keep doing what I’m doing as a special needs aide. I need time at night to write again and figure out a way to finish that pilot that’s going to make me that money. (And my book. Whatever happened to that?)
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But then I told her (and this is the truth) that I have never been happier at a job then I am right now. I make a small bit/hour and barely have cash after I buy food for the family and pay some bills, to do anything. And yet, I have people in a community that adore me. That I love right back. That bring me hard boiled eggs from their chicken coop and walk coffee to me on a break. People that have Thanksgiving and Halloween feasts…
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…that have burrito bars for our Hispanic community… arts and crafts and Willy Wonka productions and ridiculous school dances where I get to walk around with eighth graders trailing behind me like baby ducks while Gen Ed kids scream out at me, “Mrs. Frizzle! Mrs. Frizzle! Nice Marilyn Monroe skirt!” (Intentionally refusing to call me Mrs. Frazer based on my… ahem… style of dress.)
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I push wheel chairs and wipe drool and dance with Down Syndrome kids. I am plugged in to love on a daily basis. 
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With that,my life saving sponsor reminded me to remember where I am today. To “Make space between the notes” to be present. She reminded me that sometimes what we think we want is not worth it if where we are we cannot be content.
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As I write this I am still so unsure of my path. Without sounding like a narcissist, writing is where I find so much joy. My blog and my book are my soul. I refuse to lose it. But I’m also thinking that maybe TV isn’t for me. The pushing and shoving for money to validate my ego somehow doesn’t feel as rich as the team work and caring that validates others. I want to live up to my true potential, but what if what “I” thought was supposed to be is not what “God” intended. Is this spiritual enlightenment or just crack talk for the words ‘LOSER at a bigger life.’
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 I’m not sure. But I do know this: There is a peace in doing what I am doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Whether that’s painting a snowman with Ethan, my Asperger buddy who can barely read let alone hold a brush, or cooking dinner or having a beautiful Advent for my kids. There is joy in being of service right where I’m at and not flogging myself for being bigger in the world or my bank account. 
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In thinking of my purpose, I must always revisit God’s purpose. In all I do, I must remember the question, “What is my motive?”
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  To quote Paul, 
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“I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.
Hang in.
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Love, Andrea
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If any of you are reading and are not a God person, I still believe God has a purpose for you. If you’re of another faith – or perhaps Christian and think your life should have turned out better because you go to church and help the poor and only buy sheep from catalogs as Christmas gifts for people to sponsor underprivileged villages in South America and have foster kids named Jorge and Wanita Azul – let me remind you that the most Christian of them all hung out with the poor, the wackadoos and died a brutal death. We have to let that fantasy of “I deserve it” go. Life sometimes sucks. Period.
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Tonight, with four tween boys stinking up my house, a pot of rice in the cooker, lights twinkling on my staircase and a husband peacefully watching a show I’d rather die than view, I’m content that it doesn’t suck today.
I hope you are, too.
Here’s to more time here connecting. As always, I’ve missed you.

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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Uncategorized

The Mommy Show – It’s Back in Production!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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She was acting entitled.

She was acting pouty.

And it was all my fault.

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

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

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

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

Fade in:

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

Cue Theme Music:

Mommy loves you Stink and Pip

But here’s for you a little tip

Your attitude, kids, need to go

Let’s tune in The Mommy Show

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

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

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

(ba da dum dum dum)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man child: “You’re the cook, too?”

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

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

And so they did.

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

Fade Out.

Roll Credits….

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

The End.

Until next time,

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

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

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