A motley May.

Gosh where does the time go? Have suddenly realised I have not summer up last month and we are almost in July!

Good things about May were:

  • Husband and I had a very positive experience when he visited Occupational Health for a health check. After everything that has happened to us, I have become quite jaded and guarded. So it was so lovely to see that (while I don’t expect everyone to know everything about Asperger’s) the occupational health nurse had made an effort to read up on it prior to Husband coming to his appointment and got an insight into what someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome might need support with.
  • My colleagues and line managers at work were lovely and supportive. It’s balm for the soul when you’re stressed out and the world seems to have it out for yo, that there are people backing you.
  • The weather has been getting progressively better and I had a nice walk one evening which included some foraging.
  • We have continued to be under budget for food and I think once I have done the grocery diary for three full months, I will do a more in-depth post about it.
  • I got to spend two days in London seeing my best friend and her sisters visiting from Norway.

Things that could have been improved about May were:

  • On the 21st of May was our PIPiversary. On that day, one year exactly had passed since we had started the application process for PIP for Husband. Still no tribunal date.
  • Work is becoming increasingly taxing, with challenging behaviour from students, coupled with many policy changes to our service. This has led me to experience some nights where my mood has been very low this month. Some of these policy changes are unreasonable, and some are downright discriminatory. I think what they will lead to, is a significant decline in the number of people using our services.

 

 

 

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The last two weeks in review: A test of patience.

We’ve made some changes to the house the last two weeks, both inside and out. Not without its challenges, as the gent doing the work for us took much longer than he had forecast and so we spent a week on the sofabed downstairs while he did this to our upstairs bedroom:

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Before. Two awkward spaces, one on either side of our bed…
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….aaaand after! Just have to find all our clothes and things again now and put them away.
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Lots of lovely storage.

So pleased with how it has turned out. Just need to find the will to live to apply some varnish to it now.

I have also been doing some stuff around the garden at the back. Husband’s Dad surprised us by coming by one morning and bless him helped us cut the hedge for us. Our next door neighbor has said we are more than welcome to use their hedge trimmer when we need to, so that saves us buying it for the garden.

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Our back yard. I’ve managed to weed it now and clear some of the dead plants. I am so pleased so many of our plants seem to have survived a cold winter.
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Our sage, still being savage. I have cut it back a bit not as its size meant I couldn’t get in through the back gate.
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Aaaah! A wild tiny tomato plant appeared!
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A nasturtium has also sprouted, hope it’ll do as well as the one we planted last year did.
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Our front garden desperately needed a tidy. Before…
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…aaand after! Husband and I weeded and swept it and Husband’s father very kindly cut the hedges for us and helped us pull the last of the chickenwire out. We may get the front garden landscaped next summer.

Half term was very relaxed. The first half of the week was spent just with Husband and I enjoying it. Had dinner with his family and celebrated his birthday by going with him to see the new Solo movie and having breakfast out. I also travelled to London to see my friend and her sisters, and got some badly needed bras as several of mine are just unsightly now.

Last week was very different however, it was unsettling for us both.

Husband has been discussing lowering the dose of Epilim he is on as it is starting to interfere too much (seizure control ok, but impacting him in other ways). It was agreed with the consultant that the dose reduction would be done with his approval and with us discussing it first with the GP.

Naturally we went to get his prescription last Monday to find it had been lowered from 2300mg to 2000mg. Husband and I were both cross at this as it had been done without properly discussing it with us, but Husband was prepared to give it a try.

Husband and I ended up staying home for most of last week as his withdrawal symptoms were quite strong. Husband felt shaky constantly, tired all the time and felt like he couldn’t focus on tasks; he also felt on edge and tingly which he has explained is how you feel before having a seizure.

So he didn’t feel well enough to go to work, and I did not want to leave him on his own, so I stayed at home with him. Saturday one of the neighbours checked up on him while I was at work at my weekend job, and Sunday friends came by so he wasn’t alone for too long.

It’s been a week now and Husband is feeling more himself thank goodness. We just didn’t expect this to just be dropped on our laps.

We have however had a court date for PIP which I am pleased about.

I’m also quite happy with myself for getting some good reduced bargains these past two weeks. Buying yellow sticker items just helps us so much and has saved us so much money, especially this month.

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By going by four shops on my way through town after work on a Sunday night I managed to find us this food. Couldn’t believe the lovely fresh chicken we got for £1.31!
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Lots of lovely food, saved from the bin by Foodprint.
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Really chuffed with these finds, 24p for the punnet of plums! ❤

A walk around the lake at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham.

Half term this week so Husband and I have both had a week off work. The weather has been nice all week so Tuesday morning was spent taking a leisurely stroll around the lake in the grounds of Wollaton Hall.

I am so grateful that we can access these beautiful spaces.

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The last two weeks in review: Both losing faith in humanity, and having it restored at the same time.

These two weeks have been very mixed. No surprises there, as the Silver household normally is.

Last Monday was incredibly busy at work with students trying to finish their work and submitting it within the deadlines, all while the computer systems continued to crash and freeze. This has been on-going since the latest Windows OS was installed and people were pulling their hair out as it kept happening. All we could do was restart the PCs for them and keep encouraging them to save their work.

I just felt so unprofessional as even though it’s not our fault and we can’t help it, I didn’t feel we were delivering a very good service. In addition to this several of the students had their work saved as files that were so large the email system rejected them as being too large, so were not able to email their submissions to their tutors. We found ways around it but those two things combined with a chair that got vandalized left me feeling quite drained.

And to top things off we found out later that three of the students had formally complained about the PCs, understandably, but also about the staff in the library that day saying we had been unhelpful and laughed at their troubles.

I am absolutely incandescent. We were nothing but as helpful and understanding as we could be that day given everything we had to deal with. Not to mention one of the students who complained was barred from coming and seeing us for a term due to behaviour earlier in the term.

All the same, it left me feeling quite drained that evening. Didn’t have the energy to cook so we had takeout. Not great for the budget.

Tuesday was a bit better. I had a day off which helped my mood a lot, plus Husband’s visit to Occupational Health went very well.

The appointment went really well. I accompanied Husband to the appointment not sure what to expect. I needn’t have worried however as the occupational health nurse had clearly taken the time to read about Asperger’s Syndrome and how it can present, and went through the information carefully with Husband, checking repeatedly that he was alright and if there was anything he wanted to ask.

It all went swimmingly – until we got to the vaccination history. As Husband will be dealing with items that have human blood on them in his work, he needs to have the Hepatitis B vaccine. Husband hates needles. But to help him they have booked him an appointment to have the injections and blood tests done at the occupational health clinic so he can have them done in peace and at his own pace, rather than having to go to the drop-in sessions.

For some, it may seem like a small thing. However given everything we have gone through these last two years, anyone treating Husband with a bit of dignity and making adjustments so that he can participate fills me with immense joy.

Wednesday and Thursday last week were spent getting the garden together. I have planted nasturtiums and sweet peas and will try my hand at tomatoes this year. I have also planted some flower seeds we were given.

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Before. Garden has become a bit of a jungle…
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…and after. Need to borrow something to trim the hedge with as it’s growing out of control. Contemplating having the garden landscaped as it would mean less maintenance we would have to do.
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The weather has been lovely and warm, and the Cat has been enjoying the garden, at least.

Saturday after work I met up with Husband and the family and his parents very generous paid for a meal out at the Wetherspoon up the road from us. A lovely gesture and it meant I didn’t have to cook after a long day at work.

One thing I have been thankful for as well these last two weeks are my colleagues at both workplaces. Colleagues have listened and offered advice and support, and given us stuff and help.
A receptionist I like at work and I managed to have lunch together and she very kindly gave me lunch, and gave me lots of leftovers to use up. My supervisor gave me a box of cereal she’d bought but didn’t like so gave it to me, and a colleague at my weekend work has been giving me lifts partway home which saves me so much time. It also meant I was able to swing by Tesco Sunday night to get these beauties:

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My lovey bargains from Tesco. Note the muffins, 8p a pack!

I have continued to use my smartphone responsibly (?) and have installed Shopmium and continued to use Job Spotter. Shopmium has netted us £10.02 in free groceries via their cashback, and I have gotten a £10 Amazon voucher from Job Spotter and I am working on another one.

This Monday was an odd day for us – it was our PIP anniversary. We are still waiting for a court date for Husband’s PIP claim.

Tuesday was spent doing washing and things around the house. The weather these two weeks has been lovely and warm so have gotten several loads of washing done.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were spent at at my weekday job – I enjoy my work and like my colleagues and (most) of the students, but several changes to our procedures were announced this week and I am not sure I can stand behind these changes and how it will impact how we deliver our service. It has made me wonder if I have a future there. It left me drained and Friday night was spent feeling really off and unsettled.
It’s hard to explain, but I felt really flat and drained, and my skin feeling prickly and my hair kept standing on end for seemingly no reason.

So once again we had a takeout.

Must stop dealing with feelings by eating stuff….

Saturday and Sunday have been quite quiet at the university – this is a good thing as we have two new hires starting this month. My colleague very kindly gave me a lift almost the whole way home on Saturday. As the weather was nice I decided to do the right thing and walk the rest of the way, which I enjoyed.

Sunday morning was spent lounging around at home, and moving stuff upstairs from the bedroom in preparation for the carpenter to come next week to make the bespoke cupboards for the bedroom.

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The Cat enjoying a quiet Sunday morning.
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Got these lovely things when I swung by Sainsbury’s on my way home. Three packs of ham for the freezer and some satsumas ❤

Next week is half term, which gives Husband and me a nice week off from work, which we sorely need. We’ll get some time together, we’ll celebrate Husband’s birthday, and I will travel down to London to see my friend and her sisters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An expensive yet frugal week.

So this week has been both expensive and frugal at the same time. How, you ask?

Monday was a Bank Holiday, so Husband and I both had a day off. We had a leisurely morning at home before taking the bus and walking around the lake at Wollaton Hall, enjoying the lovely weather. We both an an ice cream before going to see Husband’s family. To contribute, we brought two bottles of fizz with us and we were given some lovely French stick bread to take home with us.

….aaand then his glasses snapped off at the hinge. So booked an appointment with the opticians for the day after as I had time to accompany him and I had a voucher for a free eye test. Husband’s glasses left us £160 lighter, even with us choosing the cheapest frames.

Tuesday morning, as we were getting ready to go, I dropped my phone. It then didn’t want to switch on and when it did, the screen wasn’t responding.

So called the carrier and as I was eligible for a free upgrade, I have now officially joined the 21st century and gotten myself a smartphone. Nothing fancy, but it works and I can access apps and things on it.

I’ve installed an app called JobSpotter on it as I do travel around a lot to and from work. You get points for taking pictures of uploading job adverts seen in local shops, and the points can be converted to Amazon vouchers. So far I have gotten £6.49 accrued so will cash out when I get to £10. Maybe I will review it in future?

Previously when I had a regular phone I shook my head at people who were continuously on their phones on the bus and while walking.  But now I have one, I can see how addictive smartphones can be, and I have made a conscious decision to not spend my whole commute on it, and read a book or newspaper instead. I also solemnly promise to not get it out while eating a meal (with other people) or before bed.

Thursday I dropped by Sainsbury’s to see if they had any bread, and got some lovely reduced food.

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Lovely reduced food ❤ 

Friday I attended a meeting at work where we were told officially what we have known for months, that the site we are working at will be closing when we finish for the summer. We have been advised they are looking at all the positions in our departments, not just ours, and that we will receive a letter in the next few weeks about how this will affect each one of us.

Sunday I attended a training session at work which meant we finished early. It was really pleased as it meant I could attend Sharing Sherwood after all. So I left work , got two bargains at Tesco, and went to join Husband and our neighbour there.

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Lovely soup which will keep me going when trying to lose weight<3

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Tonight’s menu at Sharing Sherwood.

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First helping of the main course: Green beans, salad with feta cheese, roast potatoes, frittata and cooked cabbage.
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Lovely dahl and basmati rice. Spicy!
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There was a lot of surplus food at Sharing Sherwood today and our donations got us this food. It really helps our grocery budget as we can buy food we would normally rule out as it’s outside our price range.

Next week we don’t have a lot of plans for (yet). We are due to see the occupational health nurse at Husband’s new workplace, as they need to talk to him about the conditions he declared on the occupational health questionnaire. Not quite sure what to expect as I have never done it before, though I can imagine it is similar to the questions we get asked whenever we renew our travel insurance.

Then, hopefully, Husband will be offered his contract and can hand his notice in at his current job.

 

Today: £20 in Tesco vouchers, a nice walk and some wild garlic.

This has been an interesting day.

I was called by one of the product testing panels to ask if I wanted to do a study with them that paid £20 in Tesco vouchers after work. I am saving all vouchers I get for Christmas (sorry, I know it’s the C word, but it’s best to be prepared!) so said of course.

The bus doesn’t go all the way to the venue so I get off at the closest bus stop and walk from there along the road. Sometimes in winter it’s a pain as it can be dark and wet and sad.

Not today. Everything is coming out so it was lovely and green, and I saw lots of bluebells and cowslip alongside the road. Plus it stays lighter for longer now and the weather was nice so it was quite a pleasant walk.

The study was scheduled to take up to 75 minutes but I completed it in 45, and on my walk back  to the bus stop on the other side of the road, look what I spied!

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Ramsoms!

Naturally I have been on the Woodland Trust website to ensure I have identified this right, but they are indeed wild garlic or ramsoms. There was this bunch and one further up the road as well.

It’s important to not take more than what you can eat and leave some for others, so I took a small bunch home. I’ve put them in a glass of water and will use them for dinner tomorrow after they’ve been thoroughly washed.

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These will go nicely with tomorrow’s dinner. Good thing I checked them before boarding the bus as I found two small snails hidden in them.

 

An affirming April.

April came and went by so fast!

  • Part of this is because two weeks of it was taken up by Easter. I had a lovely time, spent one week at home with Husband and another week at home.
  • Food spend is continuing to be good and we are being very frugal, keeping below our targets. Part of this is because my sister and her family were generous when I visited at Easter and sent with me a lot of meats for the freezer. In addition to this I have managed to continue to go to Foodprint and get bargains. They now have a referral scheme with the Salvation Army foodbank in their area. Customers can donate a sum which they make vouchers out of, and people visiting the Salvation Army can ask for a voucher if they’re in hardship to get food from it.
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    Lots of lovely food bought over two weeks from Foodprint, saving it from the bin. I was especially pleased to find the peanut butter. Where were you when I did my challenge in December, hmmm?

    I have started to keep a very detailed grocery log and depending in how it goes I can perhaps post it in a few month’s time to show how it’s going. Or not, depending.

  • I am thankful for my colleagues this month who have continued to be supportive and kind. One of my colleagues who works a different shift to me normally has been working with us at the weekend. It’s been so nice to catch up with her as we normally don’t get a chance to talk. Two Sundays in a row she has offered me a lift partway home which has saved me a lot of time on my commute on a Sunday night. Last Sunday her generous offer meant I had time to swing by two of the shops while walking home to get these lovely things:
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    Packs of ham, 25p each, wholewheat thins, 21p and some lettuce, 21p.

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    Lovely red peppers from Sainsbury’s, 14p each.
  • We had three full days of glorious, gorgeous, hot weather. It’s gone back to being normal spring weather now, so I have continued to peg the washing out. One night it was so cold, but we managed to resist turning the heating back on.

Things that could have been improved about April are:

  • We are still waiting for a court date for PIP. We are in May now and on the 21st of May it will have been precisely one year since we started the application process for Husband’s PIP claim. The gent who will be representing us has said it may be some time yet. Because of this, it’s holding everything up at the moment. I don’t want to book any flights home or travel until we know when our court date is. Goodness knows what people who don’t have anyone to support them do in the meantime.
  • The higher-ups at my weekday job is continuing to be vague with what will happen to one of the sites I work at on a Monday when we finish for the summer. People who work and teach there have been kind enough to tell us their departments are being moved out to other sites, and by our reasoning they will not need our services there if there isn’t anyone there. However we have about eight weeks to go until we break up for the summer and we have not yet been told officially if we are going to be there when we return in September or not.
  • Logging in to eBay after a long hiatus, I have discovered that all my listings (the unsold ones) have seemingly disappeared!

Plans for May include:

  • Having a local carpenter bespoke cupboards built into the alcoves of our bedroom, one on either side of our bed.
  • Celebrating Husband’s birthday. Still need to fully decide what to get him.
  • Reclaiming the garden.

I also want to let you know something wonderful and precious has happened.

Husband has been offered a job!

I helped him apply for a vacancy in January and spent a considerable amount of time doing it as the application form was quite complicated. At the end of it we got to the dreaded Equality and Diversity questionnaire. Now, every time we get to this, Husband and I have to discuss the nature of the job he is applying for and if it would benefit him or hinder him if we choose to disclose that he has Asperger’s Syndrome.

In our experience, even before he was formally diagnosed, declaring anything did not count in his favour for the great majority of vacancies he applied for and he wouldn’t hear anything back. Even from jobs where we have made it clear through the person spec that he has the right skillset.

But we nevertheless decided to declare it for this job.

January, February and almost all of March passed and we heard nothing. I was a bit upset by it, but mostly resigned, as it’s just something we have come to expect.

Then suddenly at the end of March, Husband had an email, inviting him to interview.

By this time Husband had been getting some good quality support from the Work Health Programme and so they spent an afternoon with him preparing him for the interview and working out good responses to give to questions they may ask. So Husband felt confident and well prepared.

So naturally he thought he’d bombed the interview.
Two people interviewed him and the person taking notes shook their head every time they put the pen to paper. Every time. For the whole duration of the interview. He then had a technical task to do which he did flawlessly and quickly. Nevertheless he left the interview feeling quite cross  and unnerved as he’d felt he had prepared well for it.

We had resigned ourselves to that Husband would get a rejection email but to our immense surprise and joy, he had an email a few days later offering him the position. It’s full time which he wants to try, but there is always the option to ask for a reduction in hours if Husband feels he cannot cope.

At this stage we are waiting for the background check and references to clear, then a contract will be offered. Once this is all done Husband will work his notice at his part-time job before starting.

Of course I, being paranoid and based on the $%^& we have had happen to us over the last year and a half, won’t lower my guard fully until Husband a. has signed a contract and b. passed his probation period.

All the same, I feel hopeful. For the first time, Husband has been offered a job despite (and I am truly sorry to say it like this, but it’s how it feels being rejected all the time) declaring that he has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Husband is overjoyed and has made statements like ‘Now that I’ll be working more, maybe you don’t have to worry so much and I can look after you’ and ‘With me working more, maybe you can work less so we can spend more time together.’

Sure, money is nice, don’t get me wrong.

But what I want above all else is for Husband to have some confidence and faith in himself again, and to be happy.

Here’s to hoping this new start can provide those things.