Sep 7, 2008
It was little 's birthday on Friday. He had some nice presents and a treat for his birthday tea - fish and chips.
The following morning, he was feeling really sorry for himself. We went out on Saturday for a pizza and a film. He doesn't seem to handle anti-climax well and there were signs on trouble with a flash of anger over something he perceived as being a slight, but which really wasn't. He decided he was going to make real popcorn and do it his way with no interference from me. He was really robust about that. In the event, he managed to burn the popcorn in the microwave - he put far too much in, then when it wasn't popping, set it on again and this time, the already popped popcorn turned to charcoal and there was thick smoke. Shortly after that there was popcorn spilled all over the living room carpet. I made him pick it all up.
Today, I was making food in the kitchen when I smelled a burning smell. On investigation, there was soggy burnt pieces of paper all over the living room carpet. I'm not quite sure what he was doing, but it seemed to involve lighting pieces of paper and then dropping them when flames licked round his fingers, then stamping on them then pouring water on them. Needless to say, the carpet is thoroughly singed in 4-5 places. I did give him a bowl of water, some carpet cleaner and a sponge, but to no avail. I've placed a rug over it. It looks dreadful. Previously he had been at a friend's birthday party. It seems that anti-climax has struck again.
Fit and lean
Aug 2, 2008
I've been worried about little 's weight and I've been nagging him about it. I hate nagging, but I've been unable to find a way of getting through to him. I'm aware that I'm heavier myself than I would like. I woke up last night and three words came to me, 'Fit and lean'. Yes, I thought - what he needs is a target, not to focus on what he doesn't want. I spoke to him about it this morning and he said yes. I asked if he had a role model to model himself after. He couldn't immediately think of one. I asked if he could suggest anyone for me and he said, "Paula Radcliffe". http://www.paularadcliffe.com/ Actually, I'm thinking, I could do worse. I'll never have her hips, as my bones are much wider than hers.
I wonder who a good role model for little would be?
New perspectives - through the forge
Jul 28, 2008
The discovery that my son is on the autistic spectrum has really made me re-examine my own life and also to look at those round me. I'm handling a young adolescent who's going through some challenging times. Last night, I had another outbreak of rage. This time, I was aware that the rumblings portended rage, so I tried to deal differently with him. The presenting issue was money. He wanted what amounts to two months pocket money. With it, he was going to take me to the cinema or to have a meal and he also wanted the latest electronic game. I'm not sure that he could have done both, actually.
I think this outburst was a symptom of something else. He hasn't any friends close by and it's holiday time, so people who might have been available aren't. The friend he most wants to see (an Aspergers boy) and is just about within walking district has been taken out of school (a different one to my son's) because of bullying and I think that he has seen him only once since then - that's once all year. I think he feels he wants stuff to fill the void.
As for me, although it's not pleasant coping, I'm finding I'm growing through the process.
Jul 8, 2008
Today was my first meeting as President of my Toastmasters club, however the day started out with an appointment for the Community Paediatrician. She confirmed that little has autism - or rather is on the autistic spectrum (ASD) and he has been told this today. So for the first time, I've been able to discuss why his problems are occurring. Well, OK, 'Why' might be a bit much, but it does mean that I can discuss the fact that he has a condition which causes him to have problems.
On the positive side, it means that she will write to the school and suggest that provision is made for him, which might include having a laptop to help with the dyslexia - he struggles to write quickly and legibly - and that he may be able to get swimming lessons again. He was getting swimming lessons, but they stopped after he achieved the national standard. He doesn't like football, and stays in during break times because of the bullying and was just eating and not getting exercise. The paediatrician says that swimming will not only provide exercise but will stimulate both sides of the brain and will work symetrically on both sides of his body and give both upper and lower body workouts. If that happens, it's a result!
She is also going to refer him for music therapy. This will mean that he gets the chance to try out musical instruments. I know that he loves listening to music and I think he may have perfect pitch as he seems to be able to tell if music is played in different pitches days apart.
I may also now be able to access help with his behaviour as the CP will refer him to the Family Support Centre (I think that was the name) and I will also be able to find support from the local autistic society. I've found not knowing what to do for best at times very difficult and there have been times when I've just wanted to walk away and never come back.
I took him to school and then went to work, and then came home, as I was feeling a bit wobbly. I got a call from the school counsellor, who sounds lovely, and she is going to work with him from September.
As far as the Presidency goes, it didn't have the most auspicious start. I prepared my address and was just about to get in my car, when I noticed that another car had blocked me in my drive and I didn't recognise it as belonging to one of my neighbours. I phoned a couple of the other officers to let them know I was going to have a problem and would be late at the very worst. In the end, I found it did belong to a near neighbour and she moved it quite quickly and amazingly, the traffic was reasonably light and I got there just on time!
I think my address went down well and I got a cheer, which was very nice. I've got a chain of office - very smart!
Bike to work day
Jun 19, 2008
Today was bike to work day. I got my folding bike out from its rather dusty cover and pumped up the tyres. It had been raining in the morning and I saw grateful that the rain had stopped. Then I had a go at putting it up - for some reason, one of the folds wouldn't work. Eventually I did. The off I sauntered down the hill, around the corner then down again. I walked the bike across the junction as I didn't feel confident enough to cross on the bike. I thought that all the way to work was down, but it wasn't, so I got off and walked up the long hills, deciding to go up and off the main road, so I could use a side road, which wasn't so busy and not quite so hilly. From there it wasn't too bad until I got to the main road near to work. Then I got off again and walked up almost to our building, then got on again for the last little bit.
Oh dear, I'm not a very good example. I was dreading going back home as it is reall mostly uphill. As it happened, going back was down for a bit, then uphill really steeply, so I walked for quite a bit, then across (and the wrong way up a couple of one-way streets - but there wasn't anything coming the other way, so I wasn't worried. Down a big hill and turn right on my bike and up a bit, although I was feeling a bit stronger now. Off again and walking up another steep bit, then on again and up to the junction. Off the bike again and walking across the road, then on and along till my road, when I turned uphill for a short while, until getting off seemed a good idea, then a steep walk up to my place.
Isn't it funny - coming home was easier than going and I felt more comfortable, although I hadn't thought I would be.
Jun 10, 2008
Today I gave my professional speech to a conference of about 140 people. I'd written it, practiced it, got feedback, re-written it, did the powerpoint slides, sent them off to the conference organiser, then rewritten it and practiced it again.
This morning I was awake at about 4.30am with the speech running through my head. I eventually set off at 7.00am and arrived at the conference venue at 8.00am.
I'd not done a speech with powerpoint before, so I went through how to move the slides on and was still a bit worried about them fitting with my speech now that I'd amended it yet again.
Come the time for me to speech, it went down well. I could have been smoother with the powerpoint (at one point I had covered what was on the next slide, but by and large I was pleased with it.
I had another Toastmaster club meeting tonight and did an evaluation for a lovely woman with a speech impediment. She did really well.
I've been asked as well as to be President, to be involved in the setting up of another club nearby. I'll need to think about this carefully, because of the time commitment, but it is really flattering to be asked.
First time in about two years!
May 27, 2008
I've just given my first Toastmaster speech in about two years. I had almost completed the storytelling manual, but had got stuck on the 'moving story' one. The only one I could think of was too personal - and maybe only moving to me.
However - I'm committed to doing a speech in real life to a conference of 150 people, so I decided to plunge in and test drive my speech in front of friendly Toastmasters first. For various reasons, I haven't had uninterrupted time to write the speech, although I'd done a fair bit of research beforehand. Consequently, I spent yesterday (a bank holiday) from 9.30am until 11.00pm writing the speech. I went to bed absolutely exhausted with the speech written but not tried out.
This morning, I woke up and was very tired indeed. I went into work, having a meeting to chair and came home shortly after that and went to bed for a couple of hours. Then I got out the stopwatch and started to rehearse the speech. I felt that I would definitely need notes to deliver it, but in the event, I did it without and it went fine. There was a fair amount of feedback, and I now know which bits work and which need more work.
It now looks as though I might be President for the the next year too.
May 15, 2008
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Apr 21, 2008
Roy and I had a long talk over the weekend. We're going to split up.
A bit before the talk, little called a family council and asked that he and I spent a bit more time together and for Roy not to come round every weekend and we agreed one weekend off at the end of each month. It was after that that we had the long talk. We've not told little yet. Roy wants to leave it until the weekend after next. Next weekend is the one we agreed little and I would have on our own. Not quite sure how little is going to take it as he's very close to Roy.
Jan 15, 2008
What with my parents getting older, I thought it might be a good time to talk about their families before the information died with them. Dad was an only child and I know next to nothing about his family. I gave a friend their birth details and within a couple of hours she had traced people back to 1805 and I suddently have more of a picture of where I came from. When I told my dad, he was really excited. Seems on the patriarchal side, we come from Herefordshire of gamekeeping stock. Talking to my mum, I find that my son's name is a family name, which I don't think I knew before. I'm really impressed with my friend's research skills.
And they're off ...!
Dec 6, 2007
The brace finally came off yesterday after 19/17 months (bottom/top teeth), which I think is pretty cool. I thought it would take longer. I now have a couple of wires behind my front teeth where I'll have a retainer in a week or so which I'll wear only at night to make sure the teeth stay where they're put.
It will be so much easier to clean them now and I'll be able to eat more easily too. Yay!
Housework and anger
Oct 7, 2007
I've had a difficult day today. Little told me that he didn't want to learn an instrument at school. I flipped. I've wanted him to learn an instrument for such a long time. His primary school said that he could learn trumpet, then he was offered recorder instead, which he didn't want. His secondary school said they would be happy for him to learn trumpet. We discussed it at length. In the process, he seemed to prefer guitar, but still seemed keen. Today I had a conversation with him. It seems he failed to turn up for the auditions for instrument classes. He'd prefer to have something to eat in the break-times instead of learning the trumpet (or another instrument). He's overweight and I truly saw red. I recognised that it would not be good to force my opinion on him, but I was truly unhappy, frustrated and downright cross.
He went to a party and I had a period of reflection. Afterwards he told me that he did really want to learn an instrument, but not in school, when it might be a burden. So he doesn't want the free lessons; he'd prefer that I paid for them! Rise on the incandenscenceometer! I've found it really difficult to speak with him.
Then there was the episode of him having stuff on the internet to do to help with his homework. But then he threw my suggestions and help back in my face. Another rise in winding me up.
What I have found it much easier to do is to throw things away (like broken and mended pottery) and photographs and doing things like polishing and cleaning the carpet. Being good and mad certainly gives the impetus to get things done. So it's not all bad!
Oct 2, 2007
A couple of things have happened for me which have been quite positive. At work I'm having to do a major spring-clean ahead of moving buildings and going to hot-desking - and I'm really rather enjoying it. In truth, there generally doesn't seem to be the time to go through and weed stuff old stuff out. Now there's not really a choice (well there is - I could do nothing and then be in a real mess), I'm buckling down and - rip, rip, rip - away go the energies tied up in the files, including that of people who've left. I started a class with Roy (well, at the same time as, not in the same class as he's more advanced) in Philosophy with the School of Economic Science, which is really great and I was invited yesterday to join a T'ai Chi class on Tuesday lunchtimes and started the first one today. It's a different form than those I've done before and the teacher seems really good, so that bodes well.
Sep 19, 2007
It's been an interesting couple of days. Little has been throwing up like a good 'un and needed lots of TLC. I went to the orthodontist yesterday and again today (I got the date wrong) and when he saw me today he said the my progress was 'Phenomenal' and that he doesn't often put that in a patient's notes. It's because I've been wearing elastics and my compliance has been so good that I've overshot the correction mark. I don't think there's much to be done. He made a gap in my front teeth last time to correct a slight cross (thanks to my brother bashing my head against a wall a long time ago) and now it's time to close it again. After that, I think it's all finished!! He said it would be a bit achey - and it is!
Growing and changing
Sep 5, 2007
Little is 12 today and has had his first day at his new secondary school. Smart new uniform, getting used to going on the bus and handling the fingerprint dinner money system - totally confused me - I'm used to paying half a term at a time. I think it's priced per item, so I need to agree some clear rules with him.
He's just completed four weeks of plays - mostly musicals - during the summer holidays and I've signed him up for a term of musical theatre on Monday evenings. He'll get tuition to help his singing as well as his acting. He thinks he can sing; he can't (OK he can hold a tune, but it tends to slip away, I think because he doesn't concentrate) and the tutor says he can help him overcome his nasality.
I've fixed an appointment with the doctor on Friday so that we can look at his weight. I think he's overweight for his size now and he seems always hungry. I thought I'd get some guidance about my own at the same time.
I came across a very useful model of parenting based on Adlerian principles - Jane Nelson's 'Positive Parenting' and I'm reading up about it. I have great hopes that it will prove to be really useful.
Where am I now?
Aug 27, 2007
I'm not quite sure. I've had one of those conversations with Roy and I'm not sure whether we're doing to continue as partners or not. I got so stressed last week that I called a counselling service and got some fairly helpful advice plus the promise of up to four face-to-face counselling sessions for us either as a couple or individually. There's stuff going on at work as well - we're going to be hot-desking from December and moving from bulk storage to various half-*rsed partial options at a time when I have two staff off on maternity leave and I'm trying to run a service. And also a time when little is moving from primary to secondary school and I'm getting precious little help with his (strongly suspected) Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Having had the conversation, I feel much better. We're going to the Isle of Wight next week to see my parents - the first time he will have stayed with them - and it will be interesting to see what happens.
I asked little what he thought of Roy and he said that he had good and bad points. He thought the good points included the various sorts of support he gives us and the bad points included the amount of extra work he gave me. I agreed with the first, but wasn't so certain about the second point; it's much more complicated than that.
I have very much mixed feelings and have no idea of what I want out of this.
Little fish's leavers assembly
Jul 19, 2007
My gosh - doesn't time fly. Today, little has his leavers' assembly - OK he doesn't actually finish school until tomorrow, but the leavers' assembly was today. It was lovely; I cried.
They did a kind of review, with excerpts from the Christmas play, Bugsy Malone. Little did two solo bits, including leading the school's army-style call-and-response song. It was at this point that quite a few parents started taking their handkerchiefs out and dabbing at their eyes. I didn't do that until the last song - one of Queen's - 'Don't Stop me Now'. They also had poetry, cello playing, paintings, and automata. The kids were absolutely brilliant! At the end little cried and all the kids started writing messages on each others shirts, blouses and polo shirts.
They had a leavers disco in the evening and little was allowed to come home on his own, so he's been late to bed.
Tour de France
Jul 12, 2007
I took little to Greenwich last Sunday morning to watch the beginning of the Tour de France. We got a place roadside and stook there for an hour and a half waiting for the bikes to whizz by. Lot of vehicles going by in dribs and drabs hooting their horns. When the riders came past, they took just a few seconds .
Then we had a little look around Greenwich, which had a couple of fairs on. I would have like to have stayed a couple more hours, but I'd promised Roy I would be home by 1pm as he had work to do. In the event, we got home at 1.30pm. Don't remember what we did after that, except I made lunch for us.
Drawing in my horns
May 14, 2007
Following my builder's bill, I'm going to have to draw in my horns and exist on the minimum for at least six months. I've cancelled my trumpet lessons and I'm going to be looking at all my non-essential spending to see where I can make savings. It doesn't look as though I'm going to be able to take little on holiday this year. Shame, as he really looks forward to his camping trip.
May 8, 2007
I was asked if I would like to become president of my Toastmasters' Club today. I said it might be fun. There was talk of an election. I hope we have one, then it means I'm not committed. Our current president has said she definitely doesn't want to remain president. I'm not sure I can measure up to her. She's do positive!
May 8, 2007
The kitchen is almost finished. We worked on the floor until fairly late yesterday. It's now complete. Now all that needs to be done is:
a) putting all the stuff back in the units (and throwing stuff away as well!)
b) filling the cracks in the plastering
c) fixing the leak on the sink waste
d) painting the walls
e) fitting skirting boards
f) buying some pots and pans that work on the induction hob
The boiler has sprung a leak, which means I've had to turn the hot water off. A British Gas engineer is on his/her way tomorrow.
I'm expecting to get BT broadband tomorrow, so I won't be restricted to dial-up.
Apr 23, 2007
Last Toastmasters meeting I went to, I hadn't got a role allocated, so I wasn't particularly worried when I had to sort something out at the last moment, and I arrived late at the meeting. I then found I had been allocated the job of 'General Evaluator', which is a longish speech at the end of the meeting. All the speeches at meetings are evaluated and the General Evaluator evaluates everyone who performs a role, including the Toastmaster for the evening. Others are Timekeeper, Grammarian, Topics Master and Topics Evaluator and of course the speech evaluators.
I missed the opening and joined the meeting as the first speaker launched into his speech. I didn't worry overmuch, thinking I couldn't be asked to do it as a) I didn't know I was going to do it and b) I'd missed some of the meeting, so I didn't take notes during the meeting.
One of our members is registered blind and does all her speeches, including evaluating table topics, without notes, which is truly impressive.
Anyway, at the end of the evening, the Toastmaster said that this was the part of the meeting when the General Evaluator would speak, and I decided to give it a try, saying as I went up to speak that I hadn't expected to do it and hadn't taken notes. I'm really glad that I did. I found I could remember the order I had to evaluate people in, what they'd said and done and found I had good recommendations for everyone. Not only that - I was just to time. In a funny way, it was easier doing it without notes, because I had to fly by the seat of my trousers and concentrated on the major issues. Roy said that he thought I'd gone up in the estimation of the people at the meeting; I certainly went up in my own estimation. I'm not sure whether it was a one-off or whether I'd be able to do it again.
An egg equals a stone
Apr 18, 2007
I've been at a series of health lectures over the last few months at work. Today we had a couple of really top-line speakers - the Chief Medical Officer for Royal Mail and the President of the Faculty of Public Health. Both were fascinating.
I learned that overeating by 60 calories per day (that's about an egg a day) equals a stone a decade weight gain - and it's very difficult to get off.
The Royal Mail chap was an expert on absence management and one of his stories was a real beaut. It was about two women, both aged 45 who had hysterectomies by the same surgeon. One returned to work 14 days later, having worked out a plan of how she could do it and the other returned 9 months later, then retired 6 months after that. What was the difference? Oh yes, the first was in slightly worse health and a bit fatter.
Probably but not definitely
Apr 18, 2007
I took little to the Community Paediatrician on Monday afternoon. A lovely Scottish doctor, four days away from retirement. Apparently my lovely Egyptian GP had written a long letter to him asking him if he could fit let in to see him before he retired. We had quite a long chat. Initially all the focus was on let and it was some time before he spoke directly to me. He had him to some copying of line drawings and a picture of me, then some balancing on one leg. He said that we would talk in circumlocutions in front of him and after a while sent him out of the room so that we could chat more freely.
I was told that he probably was somewhere on the autistic spectrum - the main thing I think was that he didn't maintain eye contact - and that he would refer him to a speech and language therapist. He should get an appointment reasonably quickly and then we'll see the rather nice young Indian doctor who will be taking over from him.
It was encouraging that the doctor thought highly of the school he presently goes to and to our own GP. As far as I can tell, let is in the best possible hands on both counts, which is encouraging.
Destruction and reconstruction
Apr 13, 2007
I'm definitely living in a building site at the moment. The kitchen is stripped to bare walls (and by that I mean bare brick walls). The kitchen window has been taken out and replaced, but it's not yet firmly in place. I've no sink or cooker and everything is in boxes waiting for the kitchen to be installed.
The kitchen arrived flat packed last Friday and it took us four days to build it. We finished putting it together at 1.00am on Tuesday - so that was our Easter gone. It took three hours to put the first piece together. Other pieces came more easily after that but some of them were quite tricky. The worst of all was the larder unit with the swing-out baskets. It was German made and the instructions were in appalling English. That one took four hours to do and we had to take one part out and replace it as it didn't work when we installed it the way the instructions told us to.
Most of the units arrived on Friday, but the worktops didn't. We went to see them and arranged for different ones to be sent as the original ones ordered would be out of stock for another three weeks and you can't have a functioning kitchen without worktops. It was supposed to arrive on Wednesday and I took a day off work. It didn't arrive as the delivery van was too large to get down the road. They then said it would arrive on Monday, but I told them I didn't want to take another day off work and they agreed to bring it on Saturday and they'll park at the end of the road and we'll carry the worktops up to the house.
I had another problem with my awful ISP. My internet connection went off-line on Friday evening and I didn't get it back until yesterday. They said it wasn't their fault and told me to check the router and reinstall the firewall. None of these worked and lo and behold, it came back on its own about a day after the last call. I've decided enough's enough and have asked BT to take over my telephone supply and also be my internet provider.
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