Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month

May 15 - June 15 is recognized as Tourette Association Awareness Month. (Yes, it's weird that this month of awareness is half of May and half of June instead of just one complete month.) Throughout these 31 days we aim to increase awareness about Tourette syndrome (TS) while advocating for those suffering from this disorder. 

For those of you who are new here or who may have missed the posts in which I've touched on this information, Hallie has TS. We started seeing tics around her seventh birthday, and she was officially diagnosed the summer before second grade. I wrote a little about that time in her and our lives here on Chasing Roots, in her eight-year-old birthday post.

TS is constantly changing, which means some hours, days, weeks, months, and even years are good...and some aren't. Hallie tries her best not to complain (my mom told me the other day that in six years she's only ever heard Hallie complain ONCE), in part because she knows she's one of the "lucky" ones, but there are days when the weight of TS becomes too much.

What does it mean to be "lucky", when it comes to TS? For us, it means that 1) Hallie has never had any vocal tics, which draw more attention - usually - than motor tics. I know that as much as she hates her motor tics, Hallie is glad she doesn't have vocal tics. 2) Hallie has learned how to use dance as a coping mechanism - or even "treatment" - of sorts. Moving her body so intentionally quiets her tics and helps her feel in control, at least for short periods of time, of what her arms and legs and hips and shoulders are doing. 3) Hallie has wonderful friends who love and support her no matter what.

Most people don't know much about TS, and many people have an inaccurate understanding of TS. So here are a few facts to set the record straight:  

  • TS is a neurological disorder that causes tics. Tics are sudden, involuntary, repetitive movements and sounds.
  • TS does not affect intelligence.
  • TS affects around 1 in 100 children, more of which are boys than girls.
  • The cause of TS in unknown, but it is believed to be genetic. 
  • Tics come and go, and increase and decrease in intensity.
  • TS is different for every person who has it.
  • Corprolalia (the swearing tic) is very rare - only about 20% of those with TS have it.
  • There is no cure for TS.

For most people with TS, tics tend to increase during times of excitement, stress, or anxiety, and decrease during times of calm or focus. Talking about or drawing attention to tics only makes them worse, as does asking someone to stop or suppress their tics. In fact, suppressing tics can lead to uncomfortable and even painfully severe rebounds of tics along with additional issues like migraines, anxiety, and depression.

So, how can you support someone living with TS?
  • Don't stare or draw attention to tics, and don't ask your friend not to tic. Though it can be difficult at times, try to pretend the tics aren't happening.
  • Don't try to fix your friend, but do pay attention to subtle signs of distress and offer support. (Just like you would do with friends who don't have TS.)
  • Don't joke about TS, and if necessary, stand up for your friend if others are bullying, taunting, insulting, or making fun.
  • Follow your friend's lead with regard to TS and tics. Some people feel comfortable talking about it, while others do not.

Ultimately, awareness, understanding, and kindness are the greatest tools we have to help people with TS live productive, successful, and happy lives.

Speaking of...my girl is productive, successful, and happy. (Well, most of the time. She is a 13-year-old girl, so she has 13-year-old girl "moments" just like the rest of us had, have, and/or will have.) She has the tenderest of hearts and is an ally for all, likely because she herself has been treated unkindly and understands how horrible it feels to be laughed at for something she cannot control. She has fragile moments, but is otherwise made of steel - exceptionally tough and resilient. We talk regularly about how "everyone has something", meaning that everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about. Some people, like her brother, cousins, and sweet friend, Morgan, have dealt with life-threatening food allergies. Others, including multiple friends of hers, have dealt with anxiety and OCD. Others still have conditions like dyslexia, ADHD, or autism or diseases like diabetes and cancer. For Hallie, knowing that everyone has something makes her something an easier pill to swallow and reinforces her mission to go out into the world and make everyone - regardless of their "something" - feel accepted and supported and loved. 


I always think of this picture as her "Tourette syndrome" picture. It was taken before we received her official diagnosis but after we had accepted what was coming, so it feels very transitional to me. Both before Tourette's and after Tourette's, when the world felt very dark but there were glimmers of her light shining through.

Questions? Ask us!

Friday, May 13, 2022

High Five for Friday (5.13.22)

 


Sharing a couple of weeks' worth of high fives today, since we dedicated last Friday to mothers...

One

While Will would not say that it went well, Tom and I enjoyed Will's final orchestra concert of his freshman year.


When Will started orchestra as a fifth grader, I thought for sure he would quit after sixth grade. And when he decided to stick with it in middle school, I thought for sure he would quit after eighth grade. I'm truly surprised - but pleasantly so - that he continues to enjoy playing the cello and plans to stay in orchestra through at least 10th grade. I credit the excellent teachers he's had and currently have with keeping him engaged and interested while also allowing him the flexibility to participate in orchestra alongside the other sports and extracurricular activities he loves.

We of course continued our tradition of eating dinner post-concert at IHOP.

I can't even begin to understand nor can I explain
what's going on with the hair on these two heads.


Two

In between the orchestra concert and dinner at IHOP, Will and I raced across town for the annual Cavalry Soccer banquet. 

At Will's first Cavalry banquet five years ago, he learned that players on each team were chosen to receive a handful of awards: best offensive player, best defensive player, warrior, MVP, and best teammate. That night he told me that someday he would be chosen as best teammate...and in my head I cringed. Because back then, at least on the field (but also in some other areas of his life), Will was bossy and demanding and critical. He saw the soccer field as a giant chess board, his teammates and opponents as the chess pieces, and himself as the player. And because he could visualize every possible play unfolding before it unfolded, he wanted to "move all of the pieces"...and he told everyone what to do, all of the time. Understandably so, this behavior didn't sit well with other players and was, at times, hard to watch.

Thankfully, however, a few of Will's coaches recognized that if he could learn how to combine his understanding of the game and vision on the field with a more positive attitude and tactful approach to communicating with teammates, he could turn his reputation around. They worked with him regularly - before, during, and after practice and games - and at the beginning of this year he had made enough progress to be selected as his team's captain, a role he takes very seriously and one that has allowed him to continue growing on and off the field. 

And then at the banquet, five years after declaring "best teammate" his goal, Will accomplished what he set out to do; his teammates rewarded him for turning bossy and demanding and critical into leadership and chose him to receive that award. 


Three

These three finally have clean bills of health: weight gain, healthy butts, and good looking poops! They're all great snugglers, and when they're ready for adoption they're going to make wonderful additions to families. 

Bourrée

Adagio

Bourrée is really patient...

Exceptionally patient...

Plié got to study with Will for the first time!

She's the BEST snuggler. Exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

Exhibit C.

Exhibit D.

Exhibit E.

Exhibit F.

Exhibit G.

Bouree still climbs on backs when he's done eating.

And Adagio still climbs in my lap when he's finished.

Four

My parents were in Texas for a wedding and spent a few days with us beforehand (and my mom popped back in for Mother's Day at the end of their trip). We tackled a couple of small projects, did a little shopping, and dined at a few of their favorite local restaurants while the kids were at school, but otherwise we watched the kids play soccer and dance - no time for big projects this time around! (Apparently we only took pics of them with kittens.) 



Five

Happiness Highlights

Strawberries from our garden!

Disney Day at school.

Will received an award for "Outstanding Achievement
in Science". He did not dress up nor did he brush his hair
prior to receiving his award or shaking hands with his
assistant principal, principal, and superintendent. 

Hallie was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society at
her middle school. Despite coming straight from dance and
going straight back to dance, she did dress up. (She literally
threw a dress on over her leotard.)

Which is why this is the only
picture I have of her with her award.

Waiting on Grandma and Grandpa at the airport late. Older
kids are fun, because they don't have to go to bed early and
can come (and play) with you to/in the airport at 10:30pm. 

Hallie's pointe teacher, Ms. Christi taught class at
39 weeks and four days pregnant. It was amazing.

One last Peter and the Wolf performance!

That's TOM'S head.

And Hallie did mine!

Enjoying the 2022 Bengal Belles Showcase.

And watching my boy's 13th hour at work.
(He arrived at 7:30am...and finished at 9:30pm.)

Hallie and I are SOOOO close to having the same
size feet. Sharing shoes has begun and it's awesome.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Once a Lad, Always a Lad

Will's first high school soccer season came to an end a few weeks ago, and while I meant to share a bit about high school soccer back then, club soccer picked back up so quickly (and other time sensitive blog posts needed to go up) that this content got pushed back a bit. Sharing today works out well, though, since the Lads' finale - their end-of-the-year banquet - was held last Friday night.

While I was excited about Will's high school athletic "career", I didn't have extremely high expectations for the season. During a meeting about the transition between club and high school and back to club last year, one of Will's club coaches painted an interesting - and less than positive picture - of high school soccer. He talked about unsafe training regimens, avoidable injuries, and inferior play, and explained that when he "loaned" his club players to their high schools, he always received them back in worse shape physically and technically. So as I said, my expectations were low...and thankfully, didn't match reality. 

The training was excellent - age and skill appropriate, and safe. Yes, Will ended up with an injury, but his sprained ankle wasn't avoidable and wasn't the result of unsafe training or inferior play. And when he was injured, both the physical care he received from the athletic training staff and the mental/emotional support he received from his coaches and teammates were exceptional.

I enjoyed watching new athletes and a different style of play. The Lads' victories were exciting, and their losses tough, and while they missed the playoffs by ONE point, they went out with their heads held high. 

I had a great time getting to know the other parents and fans, and I'm already looking forward to joining them in the bleachers again next fall.

I developed and watched Will develop a deeper connection to high school. I didn't love high school when I was a student, mostly because I never felt like I fit in or found my niche, so it matters to me that Will and eventually Hallie find something that makes them feel connected - and proud to be connected - to the school and other students during these four years.

And I loved watching Will find his footing - literally and figuratively - as a high school soccer player.

  

But my favorite part of the season was this:






The relationships established and strengthened during early morning workouts, after school practices, ice baths, hours on the bus, and late night stops at Whataburger and Buccee's. The laughs shared over good food at team dinners. The camaraderie forged through shared triumphs and defeats. 

Being a part of something matters, and I'm so grateful Will was able to be a part of this.


Friday, May 6, 2022

(High) Five for Mothers

Mother's Day snuck up on me this year, I think because it's earlier than usual but also because I've been busy...mothering. 

Rather than post a traditional High Five for Friday post, or a High Five for Mothers post, today I'm going to post five (seemingly random, but all of which have been on my mind recently) thoughts, stories, poems, and photos about mothers. 

~

One

My little sister was born when I was two-and-a-half years old. As often happens when a new baby joins the family, everyone - my parents, and my grandma, who was visiting - was paying a great deal of attention to the new baby...so I used a little of this "less supervised" time to plunge our brand new baby hairbrush deep into a tub of vaseline. I must have been reprimanded for this behavior (though neither my mom nor I remember this part), because shortly afterwards, my grandma found me sitting by myself and looking somewhat forlorn. She asked me what was wrong, and I responded, "mom's not proud".

Fast forward 40ish years...

Recently a friend kindly declared me "a helper." Apparently she'd recently seen me helping in various settings - at a nursing home, at a baby shower - and recognized that helping was my default mode. The first thought that went through my head (after thanking her for the compliment, of course), was that my mom would be proud.

My mom may not have been all that proud of me the day I ruined Sara's hairbrush, but I know she's proud of me now.


Two

Recently Tom went to London for a conference, and while I could have gone with him, I chose to stay home. After realizing this, one of our family members offered to - in the future - come to Texas to take care of the kids so I could travel with Tom. I thanked her for her generous offer, but went on to explain that me not going to London with Tom wasn't really about childcare. A second plane ticket to London isn't cheap, I need a new passport, we had foster kittens...but mostly, I didn't want to leave my kids.

We only have three years left with Will. We only have five years left with Hallie. Time is no longer passing at the glacial pace it was when Will and Hallie were babies and toddlers. Time is FLYING by now, and I don't want to miss a single soccer game, dance performance, orchestra concert, talent show, or awards assembly. On an even simpler, more mundane level, I don't even want to miss a single opportunity to practice driving or watch Psych with Will, or to play Gin Rummy or go for a night walk with Hallie. I just don't want to miss a thing.

Our marriage is incredibly important to both Tom and me, and yes, a trip to London would probably offer an opportunity to connect. But we're finding other ways to spend time together so that I/we can - at least right now, and for the remaining years Will and Hallie will still be under our roof - be as present as possible for the last third of this parenting marathon. I'm not saying we won't travel at all in the next half decade, but maybe we'll stay a little closer to home and/or leave home for shorter periods of time...adn then we'll celebrate crossing the finish line with a trip to London. (Or somewhere that has better food.) 


Three


 





Four

A few of my favorite past Mother's Day posts.



Five

Finally, The Raincoat by Ada Limon

When the doctor suggested surgery
and a brace for all my youngest years,
my parents scrambled to take me
to massage therapy, deep tissue work,
osteopathy, and soon my crooked spine
unspooled a bit, I could breathe again,
and move more in a body unclouded
by pain. My mom would tell me to sing
songs to her the whole forty-five-minute
drive to Middle Two Rock Road and forty-
five minutes back from physical therapy.
She'd say that even my voice sounded unfettered
by my spine afterward. So I sang and sang,
because I thought she liked it. I never
asked her what she gave up to drive me,
or how her day was before this chore. Today,
at her age, I was driving myself home from yet
another spine appointment, singing along
to some maudlin but solid song on the radio,
and I saw a mom take her raincoat off
and give it to her young daughter when
a storm took over the afternoon. My god,
I thought, my whole life I've been under her
raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel
that I never got wet.

~

Happy Mother's Day to all those celebrating (and hugs to those for whom today hurts), especially my mom, grandma, mother-in-law, sister Sara, sis-in-laws Chandi and Jenna, and village of mama bear friends. I love you all, and cherish our unique and special connections.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Monthly Medley (April 2022)



Reading 

This month I read The Husbands by Chandler Baker. I've heard Baker called the "queen of the feminist thriller", and this novel - an insightful and mysterious take on the Stepford Wives - fits her profile. I could see early on where the overarching story was heading, but I didn't figure out the entirety of the twist ahead of time...nor did I see the Alfred Hitchcock-esque gut punch - delivered in the final paragraph - coming at all. 


Watching

I watched two excellent movies this month - not too shabby for one of our busiest months of the year! 

First, Better Nate than Ever on Disney+, about a 13yo boy who dreams of becoming a Broadway star but is stuck in middle school, where he can't even score a role in his school's play. The actor who plays Nate is a talented actor, singer, and dancer, and had Hallie and I rooting for him within the first few minutes. The actor who plays Nate's best friend is as impressive in completely different ways, and Nate's aunt is brought to life by the amazing Lisa Kudrow, in a role that differs from Phoebe Buffet but is equally endearing. This movie isn't for everyone, but it absolutely, positively IS for theatre kids and their moms.

Second, Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds, about a bank teller who realizes he's a non-playable character (NPC) in a video game and decides to rewrite himself. I had LOW expectations for this movie because it's about video games and I'm not a fan of video games, but I ended up loving it. The actors were well cast and the storylines - those in the video game and those in the real world - were smoothly intertwined and enhanced one another. Additionally, action and drama and humor and romance all had a role in the plot...I laughed, and also shed a few tears. Oh, and it's worth mentioning that this movie went over well with a 15yo boy, 13yo girl, and two adults - this doesn't happen very often!

I also watched The Thing About Pam, which was the perfect dramatic series for this true crime fan. I didn't realize until I was about halfway through the series that it was based on a true story, and once I saw footage of the real Pam...WOW...Renee Zellweger deserves an Emmy for her portrayal of this bizarre and horrible woman.


Listening To

I have have anything new to report here this month, so I'll share a quick recap of the podcasts I listen to regularly in case you're new here and are in search of options for your podcast library. In the true crime genre, I like Crime Junkie, Criminal, and Dateline. In other categories, I stay caught up with The Simplified Podcast, Under the Influence with Jo Piazza, Young House Love has a podcast, and All Up In Your Business (local). Sometimes I listen to Feeding the Mouth that Bites You, For the Love with Jen Hatmaker, and This is Love. I'm working my way through The MLK Tapes, and might try The RFK Tapes next. Last but not least, I LOVE Serial and Gangster Capitalism and am eagerly awaiting new seasons.


Following

This month I've really enjoyed Sharon McMahon of Sharon Says So (@sharonsaysso). As a government and law teacher, Sharon felt equipped in 2020 to attempt to clarify the political misinformation coming out during the election. She quickly amassed a substantial following, and has now earned the titles of "America's Government Teacher" and "leader of the Governerds" on social media. Sharon is down to earth and likable as she shares politics and history in a clear, concise, fair, and kind (most of the time - she fully admits that Russia doesn't deserve any of her kindness right now) manner, and I find myself watching all of her stories every evening in an attempt to learn more about topics I'd otherwise be avoiding completely. 


Trying/Using

If you want to feel really badly about the debris, hair, etc. that has accumulated on your carpet, pick up one of these carpet shavers. My mom sent me one of these after she and I both saw it on social media, and WOW, does it work well.

Check out our new kitten corral! When we've needed to contain kittens in the past, we've enclosed them in our guest/kids' bathroom. But the bathroom isn't a great space for them - it's long and narrow, which makes it's difficult to maneuver around all of the kitten paraphernalia, and putting kittens in the bathroom means the kids are displaced. I saw this apparatus online, and decided to give it a try. It was relatively quick and easy to unpack and put together, and because it can be assembled in a variety of shapes (and two different heights), we could use it first to keep kittens in a certain space, and then when they grew a little older/bigger, to keep kittens out of other spaces.


Last but not least, I swapped out my fall/winter Loopy for a spring/summer Loopy. I honestly don't think I'll ever be able to use another kind of case - my Loopy cases have saved my phone time and time again. (I have no affiliation with Loopy. I'm just a huge fan!)


Wearing

I'll tell you what I'm not wearing - functional dress shoes. 

I've had many of my dress shoes for years...and by years, I mean more than a decade and in some cases, longer than I've been a parent (to a child who is almost old enough to drive). I kept all of these dress shoes because 1) I still like them and 2) they still fit, but affection for shoes that fit covered only two of the three shoe-related bases...they still need to function like shoes. Two months ago I wore a pair of my favorites when Hallie and I went to see Rent and they broke midway through the evening - the support completely collapsed and the shoe folded in on itself. Last month I wore another pair of my favorites to dinner with friends and the inside of the shoes crumbled - like they were biodegrading - against the soles of feet all night long. Then last week I wore a third pair of my favorites on a date with Tom and at one point I looked down and noticed that not only was one of the straps hanging on by a thread, one of the heels was wobbly. I guess it's time to get new dress shoes, which means that while I don't have anything new to share in this category this month, hopefully I'll have new shoes to share next month!


Eating/Drinking

There isn't a lot of cooking and baking from scratch going on right now. There never is at this time of year, but I've felt and I continue to feel particularly uninspired in the kitchen these days. I did, however, try one new recipe this month - Parmesan Broiled Tilapia - and it was amazing. I followed the recipe exactly, and it was fast and easy...and it traveled well in a Tupperware to soccer practice, where I ate it in my car. 😉


Feeling Good About

You may have heard about the group of Bay Area students who created a "feel good" hotline, but have you actually called the hotline? (707.998.8410) Because you should - there's no way you won't feel better after listening to those sweet little voices spread kindness, inspiration, and joy. 

This one made me smile:


And this one made me laugh:


On to May, my friends. On to May.