Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas Day

We had a lovely long walk along the river and on the beach.

A and Granny

Snowy mountains across the Moray Firth
The best present in the world!!
Christmas dinner :0)

Monday, 21 December 2009

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Woke up to this loveliness-

And here are mummy snow and baby snow-

Had a fantastic time playing out in the snow, including a snowball fight that went on for over an hour! (I won by the way - I'm much more devious than A).

Then we came in and had an afternoon of quizzes - out came the quiz_box from last year - we had general knowledge quizzes; staring contests; and a humming 'name that tune' quiz (A won this!).

I feel like I have done nothing but laugh today :0))

A decided this evening at about 9 o'clock to do some work on her Joanne Harris booklet - a while ago I suggested she do some research and produce a piece of work on an author she liked, this was just an attempt on my part to give A a bit of a challenge and get her to produce something she felt proud of. I was quite surprised at her choice of author, and impressed. Anyway, I love the fact that she was still working away after 10 o'clock, by choice, on something she was clearly enjoying.

I spent this evening pulling together my 'evidence' to send off to the job centre - surprise surprise - a couple of days after my last posting I got the letter through requesting self employment evidence for In Work Credit! Feeling more or less ok about it now, I just tidied up and updated my 'work diary' that I had tried to keep, and I also have invoices for the payments I have received and my paying in book for my work bank account, so hopefully that will be all they need. Mandy's comments after my last post certainly helped put my mind at ease - thanks for that!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Thought I'd do a little post about work, as I've not mentioned it much since I went self employed, and I know that from a home ed point of view there are others considering self employment who might be interested.

Generally - going quite well.
One of the things I'm having to get used to is switching focus/roles. Because of the way we operate, A spends a day or two a week with my Mum, as well as going off to clubs and friends to play. I'm not always sure exactly when she is going to return, especially from my Mum's, and I like to leave it fairly open for her to decide so that she doesn't feel like she's being offloaded and feels like she has some control over whats happening and how she spends her time. I work from home, but it is still A's home and its important she knows she can be here if she wants/needs to be, even if I'm working.
Its really important to me to be flexible, this is one of the main reasons I don't feel I could work in a conventional job with fixed hours and be the parent I want to be. Its also one of the problems I'd have with A being in school - the same rigid structure of how you spend your time. Sometimes its really important for a child to have time with their parent. There may be an obvious reason - if they are upset about something - or there may not. There may be periods where they need lots of this time, and other periods where they don't seem to need it at all. Above all, it is not predictable, it cannot be fitted into a schedule or routine.
I want to be available for as many of these 'times' as possible, because once they've gone - your child buries or hides that need - they are lost.
I know some who would accuse me of 'spoiling' my child by seeking to be available like this, or of failing to teach her about the reality of the world - that you cant get everything you want when you want. I disagree. I want my child to know that she is important to me, and I want to connect with her as much as possible. Materially she certainly doesn't get everything she wants, but time and love are not things I am going to purposely deny her just to teach her about how shitty the world can be, she'll learn that through experience I'm sure.
Anyway - getting back to the point about switching focus - what I'm having to do is put aside work if A seems to need me, and grab opportunities to pick up work while she is out or otherwise occupied. I have to admit, abandoning something I'm working on and leaving it in a pile for later is not always easy. Giving up trying to read through something because A is nattering in my ear, and turning my attention to what she is actually saying, without resentment, is not always easy. But it is getting easier. Its not an ideal way to work, but I am a parent first, so this is the way it must be.

Another issue I'm struggling with at times is: how do I prove that I'm working?
Now, I know that I am doing at least 16 hours a week 'work', but not all of it is paid work. As a freelancer I am trying to build things up, and a lot of time and effort goes into work that may never be commissioned. I do have some fairly regular clients, and there are more possibilities in the pipeline, but how to demonstrate this?
Maybe I don't need to worry about this, but I know that while I am receiving Working Tax Credits and - more importantly - In Work Credit, there will come a point when I will receive a form in the post asking for 'evidence', and the type of 'evidence' they will want is probably not the sort I can give them. I can give them bank statements and invoices showing payments I have received, but if they add it all up it wont come to 16 hours paid work a week. How do I document all the hours on the computer researching magazines/planning, researching and writing articles/brainstorming ideas/writing emails to editors/detailing my talents on listing sites/interviewing potential subjects of articles/studying books on freelance journalism?
I could tell them I've done these things, but what evidence can I give?
I gave up trying to write down hours I've worked as its all so bitty and irregular, so I cant give them a nice, neat timetable of what I've been working on, which is what they would like I'm sure.
I suppose I'll just have to wait for that form to come through the door and deal with it then. I'm just dreading having to phone them and try to explain my dilemma - I've had dealings with the centralised job centre before and it was NOT fun, they have their boxes to tick and anything outside that is just not recognised. Now I'm just depressing myself!!

This was going to be a short post - ha!
I don't want to end here with that negative stuff - the truth is I am really enjoying my work, and am very glad I went self employed. There are worries, and moments of panic still, but looking at the bigger picture I know I am working towards something for a better future. I know I will overcome the difficulties. It might not ever make me wealthy, but I am doing something I have always wanted to do, something I enjoy. Thats the best kind of job I reckon.

Christmas hearts - for Sally

Sally was asking about how we made our Christmas hearts - they are not difficult, just a little bit fiddly. I hope this photo helps explain the process:

we cut out a red and green piece of felt as shown above - I used a cardboard template as you can see, just to make sure they were exactly the same size and shape (which is quite important for the next step).
Once we'd cut the two slits, we weaved the two pieces together (the fiddly bit!), then pinned them to keep them in place, then sewed along the edges.
Lastly, we sewed on some sequins (not shown in this pic), punched a hole in the top and tied on a ribbon.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The girl's social whirl

A was singing at her old school's Christmas Market with the choir yesterday, very enjoyable to watch and listen to. She then disappeared with a gang of mates while I caught up with a couple of people and did some shopping. After a couple of hours I was ready to go, but A wasn't! Luckily another parent offered to bring her home later on, so I left her there.

She had a great time, as far as I can tell the group (about six or seven of them - girls and boys - all 11/12ish) did their own thing, including going off to the local shops, while the parents were involved in running stalls etc. This kind of thing is happening more and more often, and to me it feels positive, if a bit weird. She really is growing up.

Today she has gone off to the cinema with a couple of the friends she was with yesterday (with their parent - apart from anything else the nearest cinema is 15 miles away).

I have to say I am really enjoying seeing her burgeoning independence, and the self confidence that clearly follows. We seem to have entered into a new phase of this, which I think is partly a result of all the new group activities she is involved in. The latest of these - the creative writing group - is fantastic, and I'm sure will do wonders for her confidence.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Received this in my viva parcel yesterday:

I can see that my new year weight-loss plan (for when I've finished all the chocolate I've ordered in for Christmas!) is just not going to happen!!!