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

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From where I am…

It’s autism awareness month. I’m sure you’ve seen the light it up blue requests, the bombardment of awareness ribbons and colorful puzzle pieces, and the horrible contrived “post this to your wall if you care at all about autism, 98% won’t and are essentially the scum of the earth” type posts. I refuse to be coerced to posting something that spreads guilt and judgement – I refuse to post that type of awareness.

So instead of posting any of that fluff I’m going to tell you a little bit about living in my world. Today, 2014, with Elijah who is now almost 9. I’ll tell you about the guilt and judgement I do allow myself to partake in, and how I let it damage me and Eli.

It is Wednesday, so we have to go to dance after school today for the girls. It’s crowded, there are all kinds of kids everywhere and a gaggle of parents waiting in the smallish waiting area. Eli has been in school all day and because of scheduling Kyle is left to hang out with the boys at dance for 2 hours with the boys. The other kids run about, Eli takes this as a sign he can do the same, only he has less self-control. He smashes into walls, talks louder than everyone else, and grabs at other kids’ stuff, he hums and makes sound effects loudly. It’s frustrating, and embarrassing on some level. I don’t want to send a note to the entire club telling them our life story. That’s private. But it opens us up to all kinds of judgement.

And on the note of privacy, it astounds me how many people feel they have a right to know what’s “wrong” with him, people we’ll never see again, like people in line at the grocery store.

As much as it would be easier for me if autism was almost invisible on Elijah, it’s not. Most can plainly see after a smallish amount of time that there’s something just a bit different about him. That should be enough. I shouldn’t owe anyone any type of explanation.

I’m a soft people pleasing sort. Having a kid who can’t clue into that, or even understand why anyone would be, can be difficult for me.

Some places we go people will easily tell me it’s a discipline problem, or not so quietly say under their breath that he should be left at home, if he can’t behave. Other times I just get looks that convey the same message.

If people only knew how much more discipline my kid receives compared my other kids (who behave appropriately), or how many social skills classes we’ve taken, or how much socialization we’ve done.

There’s this tremendous amount of side eyes shot at me. I still have the hardest time dealing with it after all this time. What are we supposed to do? Stay home all the time? That comes with another type of bad parent judgement – “She’s not doing anything to help him make the situation better” judgement. It’s 6 of 1 half a dozen of another. Trust me, we skip out on a large number of things just because we know it will be too difficult either for Eli or us, often at the expense of our other kids.

There is so much to worry about when you have a child with special needs: acceptance of (his and yours), socialization, if he’ll ever have any friends, appropriate behaviour, wondering if you are doing everything you can to give him the best shot in life, education and how that will look, and the fact that everyone will judge him as less than for the rest of his life.

Guilt seeps in everywhere. I don’t have the time to work one on one with him every minute. I want to go unnoticed at an event. Some days I want him to at least act normal. As I said – guilt, for not accepting life as it is.

And so I walk forward, Elijah walks forward, and with numbers continually on the rise 1 in 68 according to the CDC this year, many more walk with us.

Some days we will navigate this life with ease, and others will be like walking over hot coals either for him, me, or the others in our family. It’s the only path we know, it’s beautiful and ugly. I love it and hate it. I will continue to strive for guilt and judgement to roll right past us without letting it affect us negatively. Elijah already does. It’s one of the beautiful things about him, he doesn’t see much in letting others’ opinions of him affect him… at least not often.



Bean Soup

We’ve been sick lately, really sick, all of us.

This morning I put a frozen pork roast in the crock pot to make shredded BBQ pork.  There was a time I thought we’d never eat all the pork in our freezer after butchering out two pigs, but sure enough the stash is getting low.

Once I had it in the slow cooker in walks Petra “hack, hack, cough, cough” can we have soup for dinner?  Now this girl never asks for anything, in fact, most nights end with us begging her to please eat something.  So I said sure.  I ran downstairs and grabbed some navy beans and  set them on low to simmer, so I could make the soup in time for dinner.  Thankfully it was 11 am because I didn’t have any beans canned, so I needed to cook them from dried.

So here it is my first posted recipe:

Anderson Acres Bean Soup.

2 cups dried navy beans or about 4 cups cooked/canned navy beans

2l pork stock or veggie stock

2-3 carrots

3 ribs of celery including the leaves

2-3 parsnips

1 medium sweet potato

2 cups of chopped kale, or whole trimmed spinach

4 slices thick cut bacon~ 3.5 oz (ham is also good)

1 1/2 tsp thyme

Salt and black pepper to taste (we like it rather peppery)

1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)

In a stock pot cover the dried beans with water. Set t0 medium heat and when it starts to bubble set to the lowest heat that still produces a simmer.  Do not add salt to the water as it makes for tough beans. Simmer the beans until they are re-hydrated and firm to the bite but not cooked too soft.

While the beans are simmering cook the bacon until it is crisp, but not crunchy. Remove grease and cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) pieces.

Strain, and rinse the beans.  Put beans back in the stock pot, and pour in the stock, and add the bacon.  Simmer on low heat for about 1-2 hours.

While the soup is simmering chop the vegetables into chunky slices 1-2cm (1/2 -1 inch) pieces. Once the beans have simmered an hour or two, add the vegetables and simmer 1 hour on low.

During the the last half hour of cooking add the sweet potatoes, thyme, ground pepper, fennel seeds, and salt.  If you are using kale add it now, if using spinach add it during the last ten minutes.

Serve hot, I add two or three dashes of tobasco (Mmmmm).

I don’t know how many calories or how much fat is in this soup.  I don’t watch what I eat, other than to watch what I buy.  We buy real meats and produce, we try and buy local as much as we can/want, we buy a minimum of processed foods, and raise our own free range pork and chickens.  In the winter we feed them organic grains and food scraps from our mostly organic kitchen, in the Summer most of their food comes from forage and garden weeding.    My BMI is perfect for my height, and we feel good about the food we eat, my kids don’t know that soup comes from a can other than what we preserve in our own mason jars.  For them real food is normal, and I love that.

Oh, and dinner for tomorrow is done too, the pulled pork is done, and just needs to be reheated.  That worked out well.

Always Say Please and Thank You

‘Now get me that Marshmallow!’

Or it could very well be,

“What?! I don’t get any broccoli?!” (our kids really like broccoli)

Which usually leads to me saying something like. “I won’t get you anything, if you talk to me like that. Please try again politely.”

I want my kids to have good manners. The world is kinder to you if you do, and respect is reflected.

So, why is it that I can be so bad at thank you? Face to face I’m good, but in extended graces I can be terrible.

Next Sunday will mark a year since Micah’s birth.  At the beginning of April it will mark a year since Kyle’s Grandmother died.

At the funeral Kyles Aunt R said “I have a little something for Micah, it’s in my car.”  She’s always been so sweet and always buys a little something for all the new babies, and Kyle’s family is rather big.

Somewhere between the service and in interment we never connected, and the present was sent to us a few weeks later with Kyles parents when they made their annual visit from the Philippines, where they are retired.

It was a lovely hand crocheted blanket. Done in a rainbow of colours. Being the fourth child it was the only one he got. The littles, being the firsts, could have drown in all the hand made blankies they got.  I love it, and we use it all the time.

After opening it I made a little mental note to send an email. Then I told my mother in law to remind me, she did, and I still managed by the time she left, to have it on my list of things to do.

Now I’m a busy mom of four, there is no arguing, the kids are all under 5, and the baby has been,well, an infant for the past year, but no one is so busy that they can’t take a few minutes to say thank you.  Unfortunately, once I back burnered it, it was something that would often drift up to my forebrain just as I was falling asleep;  ‘tomorrow, I must remember to send that thank you’.  Eventually I forgot to think of it every day.  It became something I thought of whenever I would pull out the blanket, usually as I was wrapping it around him to take him from the house to the car, so I would think; ‘when I get home I should remember that email’

Somehow, impossibly, a year has crept up, and I still haven’t said thank you.  Part of me  is embarrassed to send an email now, after such a long stretch, but as they say, better late than never, so here it goes.

Dear Aunt R,

Thank you so much for the beautiful blanket you made for Micah.  We love it, he and I both.  It was his bassinet blanket.  As an infant I kept an antique bassinet downstairs, so that he could be close while the kids and I played, he slept so peacefully in it.  He is the picture of perfection wrapped in it’s soft colours.  Once he was too big for the bassinet, it became the blanket we use to go from the house to the car.  Your blanket has kept him warm, and has served as bit of home that  travels with him, whether to the supermarket, or on trips to other provinces.

Thank you, for the generous gift, as someone who knits and crochets, I know the work that goes into handmade items like this. Please forgive me for being so tardy with the thank you, you deserved long before now.


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) Monica, shall I send yours

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,


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.

No Eggs and Ham

So it’s another food post.

Glazed with Alton Brown's Brown Sugar Mustard Glaze

I am crazy proud of what we have been able to accomplish on the farm this year, considering how little we knew about how to to do when we moved here. We figured we’d learn as we go, and boy have we ever. I’m going to have a gem of a garden this year with the knowledge I learned about planting from this year’s garden. We know how raise baby chicks into dinner size portions.  Plus keep hens (except the 4 we lost) to produce eggs of a much superior quality than supermarket ones. We buy our feed from a local organically certified farmer.  I couldn’t feel better about what we raise and eat.

Yesterday we smoked 3 slabs of bacon, rinsed a ham, baked, and glazed it it.  It looks less like a supermarket ham where they saw all the fronts and backs of the bones off, so it looks less like animal parts and more like magazine hams, and more like a part of a pig. We could have trimmed the bones too, but it cures and cooks the same regardless of whether you leave the ball joint and shank on, and it’s less work not too. It probably looks more like the farm hams my grandparents would have been accustomed too.  My grandfather’s (Gedo’s) family used to raise pigs I should ask him.

As it turns out it could have used a bit more time in the brine as it didn’t penetrate all the way through.  Around the bone was a ring of uncured meat that cooked up like a roast instead of a ham.   Maybe we have something going there?  A hybrid cut of meat to please everyone at the holiday table?  One for those who love a savory roast, and for those who love a salty spiced ham.   In the future we likely need a brine injector to get right to the center of the big hams, so the outer meat doesn’t become overbearingly salty.  Live and learn right?

Our ham does contain some nitrates. You can make it without, but I was too chicken to risk it.  Nitrates inhibit the growth of botulism spores, and while the risk of botulism is low, I wasn’t about to risk one of the lives of my children to do a nitrate free trial.  Because we aren’t making a commercial ham that needs a shelf life, we used the least amount of nitrate cure as possible.   The nitrates also give a ham that pink characteristic, something I didn’t know, but I always wondered why every other meat cooked up brown and ham stayed pink, now I know.    The pinker your ham the more nitrates it contains.

Our ham is a bit drier that a supermarket ham because it’s not plumped up with water injections to keep it moist and to inflate its weight, so you pay more for a cut of meat. It is yum none the less, and more hammy.  It was nothing like the boneless hams that are commercially available which are essentially whole processed deli style hams for you to bake at home. This is the type we used to buy. We’ve come a long way baby!

Since we left the shank on we have two sets of soup bones to make yummy winter soups.

We’ve fed some friends our home raised chickens, and eggs, now I can’t wait for our annual pig roast where we’ll be putting our own young pig on the spit and serving young vegetables from our garden to our friends.

It’s a new life for us next spring.  We plan on adding goats and turkeys, raising about 5 times as many meat chickens, and tripling our laying hens in order to start selling eggs.   Currently with the weather and light cycle we are getting zero to two eggs a day, usually zero.  We currently have none in our cold room, or in the fridge, and I’m out of mayo too, the next two are going to make mayonnaise, not breakfast.   Yup, we have no eggs and ham.

If you like my food/farming blogs I have a post in the works on why we do it all and why it’s worth it .  So stay tuned (maybe subscribed is the blog equivalent to radio tuned?) it should be soonish.

I’m off to enjoy some left overs, yum!