living after the death of a baby, living with Autism, living as a family of six, living on our organic homestead, living miserably, hopefully, and with joy, and somedays just living

Archive for January, 2011

Living A Romance, Not With A Romantic

I am lucky, I really am, I have this amazing husband, but if there’s one thing he’s not, it’s romantic.   Seriously, we don’t celebrate Valentines Day, or our Anniversary in any sentimental way.  We’re too practical.

I know a friend who flew to Vancouver secretly, there and back in a day,  so he could present his bride with a blue Tiffany’s box on their wedding day.  I dream of stuff like this, but it’s not the stuff that Kyle is made up of.  Heck if we get in a big argument there aren’t even flowers when he gets home.  I can’t actually remember the last time I got flowers, it was either for my Anniversary, or Micah’s birth, but not both.  Even his flower choices are always practical, mixed bouquets because they last the longest, and cost less than roses.

When I was pregnant there was no way he’d ever make a craving run, and there was no sparkly present from a small box when I delivered our babies.  He is not with out his romantic gestures, while dating I did get a whole pile of roses once, and for our tenth anniversary I did get sapphires, though I really wanted a Parisian vacation, the sapphires where a delightful surprise.

He’s not a man of grand gestures, or public displays of affection, nor though, is he a burly man’s man. It’s just really easy for us to get caught up in the daily task of parenting, and forget that we are also a married couple.  Our needs take second place to those of our children.  We’re also in the thickest, most time intensive part of parenting.  Currently we have 4 kids, 5 and under.  It will ease over time and there will be more time for us, as our kids become more independent.  For now though, we can go a whole day without stopping to hug or kiss each other.

And despite all of this, despite, my wish for the husband strait out of a romantic comedy.  I believe I have a love greater than most.  I never worry that our love will fade, or that we may not make it.  I know we are solid.  In talking with some other women, many have  spoken of the relief of having their spouses go to work,  and on those blissful business trips.   Life is easier when he isn’t around for short spells some feel.   I, on the other hand, would prefer to have my husband home with me everyday.  I get the driving you crazy because he does things differently than me bit, because we have that same issue, but I still would rather look up from my incorrectly made lunch and see him across the table.

There was a time when we would languish in each others arms on the sofa for hours, and wake up with our bodies tangled together.  Now there are only brief moments on the couch together, and we never wake up  pressed against each other like two spoons, because some small person is invariably in between us.

We have been through some terrible things, things that split marriages apart for others.  We met at 17 and 19, and married young at barely 20 and 21.  We made it through living well below the poverty line while Kyle finished grad school, we came out the other side after the death of a child, we’ve dealt with stressful family dramas, we overcame an international move (twice), and we continue to persevere while parenting a sparkling boy with Autism, even though we believe very different things about the cause of it, and have had serious head butting issues on how best to treat it, and parent for it.

We’ve taken on each of these challenges as they come, one at at time.  We’ve faced each of them, we use them to strengthen our commitment to each other, and to love regardless of how empty life can seem.   We haven’t allowed the wedge, that can be driven between people, get to deep between us.  It sneaks in some times, and it can be difficult to remove, but we do.  The greatest part is, it’s a joint effort, we pull each other together, each of us, equality.

I know I am loved a great, deep and meaningful love, and that is an immense gift.  I live a, not always so happily ever after, fairytale romance.

Thank you Kyle for loving me, ever flawed, never perfect, but always in love with you.

List of Jewelry Purchasers

I figure I should put up a list of those who have purchased
in a more prominent spot. These are the people I have made
orders for and have received payment from, with a few small
exceptions. I am waiting on a couple of cheques, but you’ve told me
they’ve been sent, so I’ve ordered for you. Also a couple of
orders came in after I ordered from the Puzzling Piece, I
should have enough pieces to mail out, if I borrow from the ones
that were donated and ours. Then I’ll reorder the pieces for
donation, since our gala isn’t until March where they will be
auctioned of to benefit Autism Services, unless you have specified
to have your piece donated to another parent.

Please verify that I have your order
correct, and notify me if I don’t.

Name: Necklace: KeyChain:
Avie F 1
Tammy H 2
Teri E 1 1
Cara H 1
Jen C 1 1
Rozanne W 1
Shaun G 5 Donate4
Katalin 1
Karina C 1
Lorry H 1
Mandi C DevFacto 10 Donate7 10 Donate7
Samer T 1 1
Carly G 1 1
Morgann H 2
Val T 2
Mandi R 1
Erin K 1
Connie T 4 3 Donate1
Angela R 1
Zoey O 1 1
Cindy R 1
Sarah 1 1
Jenn K 1 4
Jodelene W 1
Missy H 1
Kim J
1 4
Jill L 1
Lauren M 1
Penny H 1 Donate1
Alvina B 1
Barb K 1 1
Marianne B 1
Monica D 2
Angela R 1 1
Dayna 1
Tracy H 1
Us 1 2
Evelyne A 1
Heather C 1
Pam D 1
Cliff R 1
Robyn K 1
Vera R 1 Donate1 1
Konami M. 2 Donate2
41 57
Total 98

Only 22 more to go to change the life of another
family! I’m so excited! Tammy, Morgann, and Samer I don’t
have your address will you please send it to me?
erron.anderson(at)gmail.com Monica, shall I send yours
overseas?

Puzzle Piece Jewelry Order Update

For those of you who helped with Elijah’s iPad fundraiser.  Here’s an update on your orders. Emails were sent out if I had your email address. All recipients were BCC’d, so it may have gone to your junk folder.

The order was sent to the puzzling piece January 13th.  This may seem like a long wait for those of you who sent your money electronically, however a little over half our orders where paid by cheque .  Unfortunately we were not in a position to float the order while waiting for the cheques to arrive via Canada Post.  Once we painfully waited for the mail to arrive, and we had most of the cheques I sent in our order right away.  The puzzling piece, though running out of jewelry after such a successful program, filled our order and sent the iPad and jewelry the next day.  You can track the parcel through USPS with this tracking number cv 014 603 346 us.  It is currently in customs.  Once I have your pieces here I will separate the order, address envelopes, and send them to you immediately.  I’m as excited as you are to receive my package, hopefully it won’t be too much longer.  I anticipate early next week it will arrive, though I won’t be surprise if it arrives late next week, or early in the next.

As ever with much appreciation of your support,

Erron

PS we are 27 pieces from providing a second family with an iPad.  To help see this post



Yep That Confirms It…

Since my last posts, which was the busiest my site has been, I’ve acquired a few new subscriptions.  I have to say that leaves me feeling a bit more pressured to post more regularly.  As it is, I post about about once a week, often a bit less than that, and I imagine that won’t change too much.  Your inbox won’t be filling up with posts.  So probably this isn’t the best time to tell you something about me that I’m cautious to tell you, because it’s something that evokes a certain type of judgment, but it’s what I got, so here it goes.  Hopefully you won’t hit the unsubscribe button too quickly.

I love good food, I love food that’s good for you, and I’m passionate about good food that’s good for you.  As of late I’ve given up my morning coffee in favor of green smoothies.  I am late to the craze, but I love them.  Kyle bought me an awesome blender, that we’ve had our eye on for over a year. With some saving, and buying refurbished instead of new, Kyle bought me a Blendtec for Christmas.  Wowzers, does it ever make a smooth drink!  Typically my morning smoothie will have Kefir, 1/4 of a cabbage, two big handfuls of spring mix or spinach, one large floret of broccoli, Cacao nibs, a 1/2 a banana, some berries and chia seeds.  Because of the cacao it still has the caffeine kick, and it tastes surprisingly yummy, mostly the banana and the chocolate shine through.  Slowly over the past two years we’ve been making better and better food choices, I would say at this point we could be accused of being food snobs, and we wouldn’t have much of a defense.

A few years ago I was starting to get quite sick, I won’t give you all the crappy details, but it seemed that some foods, particularly wheat, were giving me quite the upset tummy.  Elijah now seems to have the same problem, though I think we ought to have him tested for a true allergy, because when he sneaks wheaty food he gets a rash up the backs of his legs.  I was tested for celiac, and thankfully the test came back negative.  Since taking up the green smoothies, likely because I’m getting a whole lot more fiber, probiotics from the kefir, and I’m guessing the extra nutrients don’t hurt, I’ve been feeling better then ever.

So, am I worried about being judged because I drink a green breakfast?  No. Here it is.

The other day while in the car listening to DNTO on the CBC I heard the host talking about her boyfriend, who has very serious aversions to food because of Ulcerative Colitis, talking about sway testing.  Ultimately sway testing wasn’t accurate enough for the hosts boyfriend, so they went on the SCD diet. **note this is not an endorsement of this particular site, it just happens to be the first one I found that describes sway testing well, this is the only page I’ve read on this site.

It got me thinking though, maybe I’ll start sway testing food to see what foods may potentially upset me.   I’ve experienced a type of this kind testing when I was seeing an acupuncturist.  He would put an herb on my chest and while I was laying down he would try to push my legs together.  It was fascinating how for some herbs I could not resist my legs slapping together no matter how hard I tried (it was not good for me), and for others it was easy (the right herb to try). When I told Kyle I was going to start sway testing food he was sure I had gone absolutely bonkers.

“That is something we are going have to disagree on” he said,” no way it works.”

When I asked him about the same testing he had gone through at the acupuncturist, he’s decided it was a trick. I think otherwise.  I think (so this is where you might start thinking I’m crazy, if you haven’t already) that if we are capable of putting off energy, then other things likely do too, and some energy reacts positively with you and other energy negatively.  The idea is that you take the food hold it to your chest close your eyes and focus on it, asking is this good for me,  if it is, you’ll sway forward, if you shouldn’t eat it, you’ll sway back.  I know that reading this is likely making some people I know cringe the way Kyle has been, but I bet most of you try it.

I’ve been sway testing, this and that, to see what I should eat today.  I could see Kyle catching glances at me when I would open my eyes with a smile of amusement, and a head shaking that indicates that he really does think I’m plum nuts, but I’m going to give it a shot, it’s not going to hurt anyone if I stop eating olives because I test negatively to it.  And after some time if  I feel like it’s changed nothing I’ll stop.  But what if it works, and I feel better because of it?  That’s what has me decided to give it a go. Now I wouldn’t test for other people as the link above suggests you may be able to do, and I ABSOLUTELY would NOT rely on it for prescription drugs, but for me, a personal experiment is just the kind of kooky I am.

Speechless

Those of you who know me, know I love to talk, get me on the phone and you’ll have to end the conversation because I won’t.  Gabbity gab gab. But right now I’m in front of my keyboard and I don’t know what to write.  I’m talking about the success of the iPad fundraiser from this post:

The post where I ask you for 20 bucks (don’t worry you get something)

I’ve said it to a few of you, Thank you seems much too small.  Yesterday we hit 60 people committed to purchase  in our fundraiser to earn an iPad for our family, Elijah specifically.

I almost didn’t do this challenge, I really didn’t. I wrote the blog post Sunday night and didn’t publish until Monday morning.  I didn’t want to get close and have to start begging people to please pony up.  It’s not my style.  But to hit 60 in one day?  Wow, no… WOW!  It is a testament to how wonderful nature of all those who purchased for our cause, but also to all those who RT’d, reposted, and blogged about our campaign.  I would say about 1/3 of the people in the comments in the post below I don’t know.  In fact, I got an email from someone saying: I saw this on Mike Hoovers Facebook.  I have no idea who Mike Hoover is, but some looking indicates that the girl buying is the friend, of a friend, of an acquaintance.  Next thing I know Kevin Bacon is going to be placing an order 😉  Mike thanks for reposting a stranger’s story.

I spoke with Melissa (from The Puzzling Piece) on the phone today and wowzers that woman has energy!  She is lovely when I told her we are at about 65 she say’s great you’re going for the second one!  What?  We can get a second one?!?  She says she’ll do it!  How amazing is that?  So if you haven’t purchased because you’ve seen that we have enough, don’t stop!  Please don’t stop.  If we can make 120 that second iPad is destined not for our house, but to another family.  You’ve been so good to me, I would love the opportunity to surprise a family in my community with this amazing gift.  I know a family with 3(!) kids on the spectrum, one completely non verbal, that I would love to bless.   And if they already have an iPad, I can think of two other autism families that I would love to surprise as well.  Keep me busy sending payment requests and reconciling my spread sheet!

My Blog had it’s busiest day yesterday with about 370 hits. And we are the first family to complete the requirements for an iPad!  The first ones!  Hey it doesn’t hurt that The Puzzling Piece is actually offering something genuinely gorgeous. Autism may affect 1 in 110 but your selfless acts have proven it can effect 1 in 1.  Those who give without thinking of themselves are the truly blessed.

By my count 27, 33 42 43 people have astounded us with orders for 63, 75 90 96  necklaces and keychains.

We’ve received payment for 11, 45, 49, 92 with many cheques in the mail I’m sure. Thank-you Jodelene, Sammer, Jenn, Zoey, Rozanne, DevFacto, Auntie Val, Jenn, Kim, Jill, Marianne, Barb, Angela, Tammy,Angela Ry,Evelyne,Tracy,Dayna,Evelyn, Penny, Alvina, Cindy, Shaun and Lindsay, Carly, Terri, Avie,  Jen C, Kaitlin, Morgann, Erin, Heather,Vera, Mom, Pam, Sarah, Lauren, Monica, Dayna, Tracy, Evelyn, Blaine, Cliff, Robyn and Cara for following through with your commitment.   I’m confident everyone will,and we are so lucky! (look for your name here when we receive your money)

Special thanks to Mandi and David of DevFacto for being our largest contributor, to Kelly of  Pulp Studios for sending the most people our way, and to Shaun and Lindsay of  Outright Life for doing the most promoting!

I will keep you all posted as to when I place the order, when it arrives, and when I ship it to you.

And though it’s not enough, Thank you again.  Please keep passing this forward, remember RT, repost, press this, email or write your own blog!

To help shore up that second ipad please see this post, as of January 23 we’re only 24 shy of changing another little ones life with the use of an iPad.

The post where I ask you for 20 bucks (don’t worry you get something)

The internet is abuzz.  Steve Jobs may have never thought he would change the lives of thousands of autistic kids, but he has.  His devices give voices to many bright, non-verbal kids with Autism, through apps like Proloquo2go and many others.  Parents have been astounded to find that many of their non verbal kids are able to speak eloquently, in full sentences, with proper verb tenses, and correctly using figure of speeches, when given an electronic voice, and those who don’t can learn.  Don’t believe it?  Search #autism into Twitter and I guarantee in less that 5  minutes you find a link to some article about how the i-revolution has helped to improve communication for children with autism.

I have a permanent search for tweets with #autism, and that’s how I found Melissa’s site: The Puzzling Piece. She makes pretty jewelry to promote Autism awareness and support autism charities, and she has this amazing promotion. If I sell 60 necklaces or key-chains she’ll send me an iPad for Elijah, free.  So I emailed her today, I wondered am I even eligible as a Canadian?  Well, that woman must have an iPhone because I got a reply in minutes.  Yes, I could take part, she said.  So then I had to think, do I know 60 people who would buy, so we could get an iPad for Eli?  I don’t know?  But that’s where you come in, you tell me.  I’m giving it a shot.

I know, I know what some of you may be thinking.  Elijah is verbal, aren’t you just being greedy?  What does he need one of these for.  Allow me to tell you why we think an iPad could help Elijah, even though he talks.

Elijah didn’t start really talking until he was three.  He has come a long way with biomedical intervention and therapy.  He has worked hard, and we are fortunate to be a family with a verbal kid on the spectrum.  He still has a lot of catching up to do, but he amazes Kyle and I all the time with the huge progresses he makes.  Currently Elijah works with Kathy-Jo Simmie, a spectacular speech therapist here in Saskatoon.  Speech therapy isn’t covered, so we pay for it out of pocket.  It is expensive, but so worth it.  He loves Kathy Jo,and he works there on pronouncing the letters he has trouble pronouncing, r,s,ch, and l mostly, he works on modulation (that kid has one volume: LOUD and one speed: fast), eye contact, and social interactions such as turn taking, how to have a back and forth conversation etc. etc.  It’s wonderful, but we only go twice a month.  The iPad has an app for that.  There is a speech therapy application that can help with pronunciation, pitch, speaking speed, and modulation.  Kyle and I work with him all the time, but plunk that kid in front of a screen and you have his undivided attention. I think the iPad can help with speech therapy and to help stretch our dollar.

Some of you know Elijah, so it goes without saying that he isn’t always the most easy going.  If we make a change of plans or take him somewhere where he’s never been, he doesn’t always know how to deal with it.  Often that means melt downs, tantrums, inappropriate behavior, and that famous high pitched, awful scream he has.  One of the ways we help with new situations (and old ones where that are difficult) is to write a social story for him.  Essentially, a social story is a “this is what’s going to happen and this is how you behave” type of story.  We personalize it to him using pictures from the internet and we write Elijah’s story. Then we print it out and laminate it.  We pull out the stories we need when we need them.  Here is an example of a social story for Going to Art Class.   It would be magic to have all those lovely stories tucked away in an iPad so that we could “pull” out the ones we need at any given moment.  Elijah’s and my stress would be greatly reduced when I have to to make an unexpected stop at the grocery store.  He could read “What I can Do When Plans Change” on the way and “Grocery Shopping” in the cart.  There’s an app for this!

In Occupational therapy, Eli is the obstacle course star.  That kid can climb/swing from/wiggle through anything.  Elijah may be super at gross motor skills, but his fine motor skills, particularly handwriting, is bad (even for a boy:)) Getting him to sit and practice printing goes one of two ways, he endures it reluctantly to get to the next task, or he refuses, by throwing his pencil, writhing on the floor, or hyperventilating.  But, put a touch screen in front of him and he will trace paths or letters with his fingers willingly, without knowing that he’s working on a problem area.  We know this from the little tracing some of his DS games require, and from a couple of games on Kyle’s iPhone.  The iPad’s larger screen means that he can start tracing big images that continually get smaller as his skill progresses.  And yup,  you guessed it, there’s an app for that!

There are also apps aplenty that will help with our homeschooling curriculum, math, social, reading, etc, and there are also apps that help kids, like Eli, who don’t understand social norms.  Like: where we need to keep our voices down, why we need to look at someone when we talk to them, how to say hello and goodbye, how to ask other kids to play, and how to politely tell other kids when he needs some space to be alone.  Elijah has learned thousands of things from Kyle and I and his sisters, and we continue to find real world ways to teach, and interact with him.  I think that balance is crucial, but I also know that when Elijah figures it out for himself the lesson is more lasting than when I drill it in a million times.  He practically taught himself to read from Starfall, Key Skills and PBS kids games.  Oh sure, I work with him at the kitchen table, but he is far beyond Petra’s reading level, and that is a testament to his brightness, and his own quest to learn at his own speed on the computer.

All of that being said let’s not overlook the obvious entertainment factor.  Because it’s full colour, and has a large screen it makes the perfect picture book e-reader, we can download Lego building instructions and he can independently play for hours (he loves Lego), he can watch movies, and play games on it, perfect for when the line up at the store is too long for him to endure.  One iPad in the house means learning how to share, and take turns with his sisters (I’m not sure if there’s a app for that).

These are the reasons I can think of to impress upon you why an iPad could be beneficial, even to our verbal guy.  I’m sure I’ll think of more later but these are the big ones.

So here’s where you come in.  You knew I had to be getting to this from the title, and that fact that I told you if I sell 60 of these:

From the website: NECKLACE This unique handmade, one of a kind puzzle piece is made from diachronic glass and measures 1 1/2 x 1 x 1/4". It comes on a 16" or 18" rubber cord, attached by a lobster clasp. All necklaces arrive individually packaged in a powder blue gift pouch. This necklace was made with lots of love and passion. My wish is that you enjoy wearing it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

or these:

From the website: KEY CHAIN Made of alloy and weighing 1.8 oz., this double barrel clasp key chain is worth its weight. It is a sophisticated key chain that does not require words to communicate its cause. For all the men who love a child with autism this one is for you.

We get an iPad for free.

If neither of these are your particular style or taste, but you would like to help, you can purchase a necklace or key-chain and I (you) will donate any unwanted jewelry to Autism services in Saskatoon where they will either give them to Moms or Dads who would love something like this, or sell it as a silent auction piece.  You can indicate if you want to give it away, or have it auctioned if you’d like.  Or you can keep it and give it away as a gift to someone you know. 1 in 110 children are affected by autism and that means you likely know another family with someone on the spectrum who would love it.  If you run a business the key chain would be perfect for tacking up on a corkboard, or to have displayed as a plant charm to show your customers that you are  business that supports autism awareness.  Furthermore if you would like to purchase jewelry under your business name, I would be happy to write a small blurb about how your business helped Elijah earn a free iPad that you can put in your blog or newsletter.

Okay, do I seem slimy sales-pitchy?  I’ll stop now.  I contemplated whether this was worth doing, if asking for this was going to make me seem selfish? greedy? I’m not sure of the word I’m looking for here.  I also wondered if I should even bother to see if I could sell 60 of theses, because in April I’m going to campaign for funds for Autism Service’s big Gala in Saskatoon.  They have been so good to us, and they deserve generous financial support, and so I will be asking for your money again then.  On the plus side, since our kids aren’t in public school you won’t ever have to buy chocolate covered almonds or wrapping paper from me, and this iPad fundraiser benefits our family solely.  Ask and ye shall receive they say.  If I don’t make 60, I don’t make 60.

Both pieces cost 20 dollars USD each, and are well worth it.  If you would like to order one please send me an email, make a comment in the comment box,  tell me personally, or send a letter to Erron Anderson, Box 841, Dundurn SK, S0K 1K0. I will collect cheques that you send me and place the order when there are 60, or once it seems that I reached the peak amount of interest to buy if there are fewer.  I will absolutely keep you posted here on this blog. I know it’s likely the worst time to be campaigning to get people to spend money, but maybe you have some extra Christmas cash burning a hole in your pocket?  And if it’s not in your budget, I get that, it’s okay.  If  it’s not in your budget, but you would like to help make this happen for us,  you can to pay this link forward via email, write your own blog entry or copy this one to your blog, post it to your facebook page, or Twitter account, and I’m grateful.

We are not rich, and we are not poor, but an iPad, though we’ve thought about it, seems a fairly large expense, and so we’ve decided it is too far down the list to think about getting one.  I think it’s wonderful that Melissa and The Puzzling Piece are going to make iPads happen for families who will benefit from them, even if we don’t end up being one of them. Kudos to you!!

Editing again to change payment info:

Previously I had to take the order from you, by cheque, paypal or e transfer.  Now the easiest way is to purchase directly from The Puzzling Piece! PLEASE don’t forget to add in the notes that you are purchasing for Erron Anderson’s Fundraiser for Elijah Anderson.  This way the item is shipped directly to you, not me, and then to you, and we still get credit.  For those of you who have already ordered, I’m sorry this option was not available to you at the time.

Here is the letter Melissa sent me on how to order (if you do order will you please comment or send me an email, so I can track our number of orders?):

Hello to all the iPad Challengers-

I have made a decision to try and help you all out.  In order for me to do this, I am really going to need you support!  Your friends, family and donors can now place their order for the necklace or key chains by going to www.thepuzzlingpiece.com.  Many of you have been asking for this to happen so I have conceded!  The only way this can work is if your supporters put your full name in the notes at checkout.  There is a spot on the pay pal checkout page where they can leave a note.  I will have no way to track your sales unless your supporters do this.  Please, Please, Please make sure your people do this.

We are proud to announce we have had 4 people complete the challenge.  Keep up the hard work and we are really excited to send your children a brand new iPad.

Please have anyone who writes you check to have it written to The Puzzling Piece.  Just so you don’t have to ask how many have been sold for you we will send an update on the 15th and the 30th of every month.  If there has been no change we will not update.  We will update any winners the day the goal is met.  Also just remind your supporters the challenge only includes the glass necklace and key chain.

This Challenge has been going so well we just don’t want to waste time!  Good luck to everyone.

All the best,

Melissa Winter

President-Mom

The Puzzling Piece

201-602-0547

www.thepuzzlingpiece.com