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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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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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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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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

bookcover profile pic

 

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The Big Stuff… Don’t Miss It.

Hello blog world! It’s been about a month since we last connected. I’m not sure what you’ve been up to (would love to hear) but I’ve been up to a whole lot of everything. I’d get into the specifics for kicks and giggles, but really, they’re not that important. Let’s just say that the amount of things on my to-do list is equivalent to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

I’m a Master at Being Super Human

I try to get as much done as I can, and some days I succeed in checking off every single item, but most days, I’m more like the tourist in front of that rickety structure, just marveling at the wonky design and hoping I don’t get flattened like a pancake.

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Maybe if I put lights on my to-do list, the way that Italian masterpiece is illuminated at night, the hum drum of my daily life would feel more exotic.

“Hey, check out the dog getting washed in the strobe light in the 1950’s crap tub. Now that’s sexy.”

When my dog gets a bath on a Saturday, but I don’t, I know I’m doing too much. I want to stop, but like a tube of Trader Joe gluten free Joe Joe’s, sometimes I just can’t help myself. Busyness, and cream filled cookies, are addictive. In the moment it feels amazing, but the next day, you have nothing to show for it but a bunch of guilt and a massive hangover.

Shauna Niequest has a new book about this. It’s called Present over Perfect

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I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve read some of her other stuff. She’s kind of a genius at reminding us that, as women, we simply can’t be amazing at everything. Not unlike Brene Brown’s manifestos on shame research, Shauna is one of those writers that make you feel better for being human. She, like many of us, are in transition from being a human doer to a human being.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep up with the doing anymore. I want to work and market my book and love on my family and cook gluten free tacos from scratch while my kids hand paint pumpkins while listening to opera. But in reality, I have no idea what’s for dinner, I’m not sure if my son is preparing for a huge test or frying his brain on video games,  and my daughter is reading Wonder for the fourth time because her mom still hasn’t gotten off her tush to take her to the library for a new series.

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And guess what? That’s okay. Why? Because while I can’t do it all, I’m learning to be happy with what I can do. And it’s a lot.

Our house is decorated for Halloween. (Granted, the laundry is scary, but everything looks better with 99 Cent Story skulls and 1970’s painted pheasants.)

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My kids like school this year and, so far, they still like each other. (Though they spend less time in the same space now that my son is a giant and has to lean down to talk to his tiny sibling only 18 months apart.)

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The cake you see my daughter holding – she made it this weekend. It’s a double decker angel food cake with handmade orange frosting. I gained ten pounds thanks to her, but it was worth it. My point – she had joy despite a kitchen that would make Martha Stewart vomit. Like Niequest’s book, the kid was present over perfect. sss

I love my job at the Middle School. Yesterday, in fact, I ran into one of my students at Trader Joes. He’s a big, sweet dude with Down Syndrome, and when we saw each other in between the pumpkin spice coffee and the Chia Bars, we ran to each other as if in slow motion. It was hard not to smile. He looks like Fred Flintstone when he runs – feet splayed forward and arms shaking as if waving a giant drum stick.

“Mrs. Frazer!” he yelled.

“Sebastian!” I shrieked with delight.

We hugged and laughed and repeated it again at 8:30 this morning when he saw me after home room.

“Mrs. Fraaaazer!” he barked. “I SAW YOU AT TRADER JOES!

“I knowwww!” I responded, equally tickled.

A few months ago I couldn’t have predicted this kind of magic, but there it was – flickering as brightly as a candle in my Halloween lanterns.

What if right now… with my over crowded house and the renter and the pitbull and the small paycheck and the non-sexy but so wonderful job… what if this very unperfect moment is the BIG THING! What if the laundry and the house cleaning and the bill paying are the  BIG THING. What if tomorrow’s trash day is the BIG THING!

What if not screaming at my son for forgetting to take those cans to the curb for the gazillionth time is the big thing!

What if foregoing a night of writing that pilot script that’s going to take me away from my low paying gig (you know, the one I love and can’t stop raving about) and instead watching an episode of Once Upon a Time with my daughter instead is THE BIG THING!

I don’t want to miss it, folks. Not one second of it. Why? Because it’s BIG! And it’s chaotic at times. And it’s painful and beautiful and comical and depressing and absolutely hilarious in all of its bigness.

If you’re out there, wondering if “only I could get the tics to stop”or “if only I had some extra money” or “if only my husband could change”things would get better, may I make the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, you might miss out on the incredible growth that comes with your life exactly as it is right now? Your journey, people, it’s important.

It’s your story.

It’s your legacy.

It’s a BIG THING.

Until next time,

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

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

bookcover profile pic

 

 

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

wwwww

So the award for the longest title goes to me.

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

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

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

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

I’m working at Starbucks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace.

Just a few thoughts for today.

Until next time,

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

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

bookcover profile pic

 

 

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7 Things to Help Reduce Tics!

7 TIPS

Before my book came out I was blogging pretty regularly for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome. One of the posts that garnered 61 comments was on Five Things that Can Help With Tics.

A few years later, and with more research, I have decided to update the list a bit for new parents who keep writing me with the same question.

Question: How do I fix the tics?

Answer: There is no one-size-fits all answer. Every child is different.

What Can You Do If You’re Freaking Out About Tics? 

I’m no doctor, but after 10 years at this I can passionately state that all kids tic for a variety of reasons. I, personally , didn’t feel medication was the answer right off the bat for my son. It still isn’t. If it got severe enough, of course I would consider it, but so far it has not.

Here’s what I tell all parents who write me with concerns over their ticking kids. I tell them to ask a few important questions – the same ones I asked myself.

Questions to Ask if Your Child is Ticking

  • Could there be vitamin deficiencies happening?
  • What kind of environmental stressors could be worked on? (Less tension at home, less electronics?, etc.)
  • How much sleep is your child getting?
  • What kind of exercise is your child getting?
  • What does your child’s diet consist of?

It’s Up To You!

None of these questions are meant to either shame or suggest there are simple answers for complicated tic issues. Again, each child is different. My suggestion is to go to a naturopath and have your child evaluated for his/her individual condition. If you are low on funds (which I was) you can start with the basics and see if this helps. It helped in our case and I hope it helps in yours!

supplements

5 Things to Help With Tics

  1. Magnesium: I gave my son 500 mg of magnesium a day, and it really helped with his eye rolls and vocals. For some little kids this might be too much, but I’ve been told the worst thing excess magnesium can do is cause diarrhea. Now my son takes a calcium/magnesium supplement as the magnesium is best absorbed with calcium. The ratio is double the calcium to the magnesium.
  2. Gluten Free: It was a pain, but it helped, and continues to help enormously. He can concentrate more and can fall asleep quickly. When he was not gluten free, it would take hours for him to settle down. He is still a high energy kid, but much less so now.
  3. Dairy Free: Ditto the gluten. It was a pain, but we’ve found many ways to supplement his calcium through rice milk, vegetables and fruit.
  4. Sleep: 10 hours of sleep a night is crucial and a huge tic reducer.
  5. No artificial flavors or preservatives: My son is very sensitive to chemicals. They can set tics off like bee around a honey pot. Not worth the sting of excess tics except on special occasions.

2 Other Supplements * Talk to you Naturopath first * 

6. NAC  – Standing for N-Acetylcysteine, this is an amino acid that can be purchased at any vitamin store. This natural supplement acts as an antioxidant and glutamate modulating agent.

According to this webinar, featuring Dr. Mark Mintz, “They (a study) found the N-acetyl cysteine decreased symptoms of trichotillomania (hair pulling) compared to placebo. It makes theoretical sense as NAC can modulate dopamine. So, there are reports that NAC can improve mood disorders as well (such as obsessive compulsive disorder). There needs to be more research and reports to have a better handle on the effects of NAC in Tourette, but it appears to show some promise.”

7. Taurine – I talk about Taurine here. My son is currently on 500 MG but I think he could use 1000. That said, I will talk to my naturopath first!

What have been your experiences with tics? Did any of you find it made a difference for your children? What about in some of your cases where tics were more severe? Would love to hear!

Until next time, may God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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

bookcover profile pic