Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gadget girl

I'm writing this from my parents house in Devon on my new toy, an Asus Eee pc 901, using a mobile broadband gadget. Just because I can.

Home tomorrow and I will catch up more then.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Well, that was easy...

On Tuesday we had to take Son 2 to the hospital for a knee x-ray. It wasn't urgent, we know the limp he displays is probably congenital, but having consulted our GP about it last week we needed to get it done.

After previous difficult experiences, I know that a non-emergency hospital visit has to be planned like a military campaign. One thing that autistic people don't do well is wait patiently, especially in crowded waiting rooms. The outpatient x-ray department in our hospital is right next door to the pharmacy, with one open-plan waiting area for both. During the day it is chaotic.

So the first part of the plan was to phone ahead and check the potentially quietest time, which turned out to be around 7pm. We then had to choose our day...both Hubby and I would need to be available to go and we decided that Son 2 would be more co-operative if he hadn't just had a long day at playscheme. We settled on Tuesday, a whole week after we'd actually seen the GP.

On the day I used our symbol software to write a social story for Son 2, explaining the timetable for the evening. Hubby bought a new DVD as a bribe/reward, which son 2 could carry into the hospital. When we arrived, we were lucky enough to find a free disabled parking space and Son 2 trotted happily into the building. The x-ray department was empty. Despite a short hold up at the desk because our GP had not put the surgery details on the form (luckily I know them by heart!), Son 2 was seen immediately. He co-operated to the best of his ability and the job was soon done with no stress involved for anyone.

Back to the car, breathing a sigh of relief, only to get caught in the heaviest downpour you could imagine. But as we finally turned into our road we we were greeted by the sight of a beautiful double rainbow...

Three notable things:

1. After a freezing cold start to the day it is warm and sunny, just as summer should be.

2. I am nervously awaiting the return of my last Open University assignment, whilst trying to concentrate on planning the next.

3. The GB team is doing quite well at the Olympics so far, despite a few disasters...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Credit crunch

So how is it affecting you?

I was interested to read this article yesterday, saying that the food bill for the average family has risen by £27 a week, as that is exactly what I had thought. We are an average size family (although two teenage boys do eat more than average...) and I was only thinking last week that I seemed to be spending around £25 a week more, even though I don't shop extravagantly.

Then of course there are the fuel price increases. We are a two car family but getting rid of one is not an option, as Hubby uses his for work and I need my tiny old car to taxi Son 2 around, even though I use public transport myself whenever possible. We use the washing machine and tumble dryer at least once a day because of the mess Son 2 creates, though we haven't replaced the broken dishwasher. The house needs to be heated all day in winter as I work mainly from home. Our council tax is already huge and will no doubt increase even further.

But in many ways we are lucky. Our mortgage is finally paid off, five years early. We had a deliberate policy to make the most of a more prosperous cycle (Hubby, being originally an economist, is quite tuned into the cycles of the economy) and were also lucky enough to inherit some money to pay off a chunk. So we are not going to get caught out by rising interest rates or the need to find a new mortgage at the end of a fixed rate deal. Although house prices are falling, our house is still currently worth about twice what we have spent on it. After all, what is most important is having a place to live and it is just about big enough for us all (though the conservatory plans are on hold temporarily).

We live for now. What we don't have is adequate pension provision, because living on one and a little bit salaries we can't afford to pay into pension plans. Our eggs are all in one basket as far as work is concerned, since I am also employed as a very part-time accountant by Hubby's company, so if it were to fail we'd lose both salaries at once. He works in an industry that is already seeing a huge downturn, though the nature of his work is perhaps more recession proof than some. We are about to lose child benefit for Son 1 as he is not going to college yet. The complications of the benefit system and the need for after school and holiday care restrict my own earnings capacity, otherwise we could end up worse off by losing my Carers Allowance.

We are OK for now. We are not in debt. We do have some back up savings from the days when we had two well-paid jobs. But I believe the credit crunch is real and it will hit us all hard next winter when our power bills increase. I just pity anyone trying to move house or get on the housing ladder.

Three notable things:

1. Working with the BBC webfeed of the Olympics on in the background and celebrating welcome early British successes.

2. The kindness of the staff who look after Son 2 on holiday playschemes.

3. Trying not to worry too much about the news that my mother is displaying some worrying symptoms of confusion. Best to wait until she has seen the consultants and we find out something more concrete.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I'm suddenly feeling rather old.

It's not just the hot flushes, which have hit me in a big way in our humid summer weather.

It's not even the fact that son 1 has officially left school...not that he was actually there for the last two years, but you know what I mean.

Nor is it the fact that all our surviving parents have suddenly become more frail, both mentally and physically, and are likely to need a lot more input from us in future, even though they live so far away.

Most worrying of all is the fact that I'm starting to think I would like to move away from the city. For someone who grew up in the middle of nowhere and worked so hard to be able to move to 'civilisation', that is a shocker. But, even though we live in statistically the safest borough in London, as the mother of teenage boys I worry. London no longer seems civilised. I want out, though that isn't possible due to Hubby's job and son 2's specialist schooling.

Three notable things:

1. Son 2 behaved beautifully when we had to take him to the doctor on Monday.

2. Only one more assignment and a final assessment to go on my course, then I can look forward to studying writing again.

3. One week of son 2's summer holiday down, three to go...