27 May 2016

Things are falling into place.

At the end of 2014 I took the scary jump into self employment, and whilst it's been the best decision I have ever made and means I am now doing a job I love, it's also been very, very stressful and far from plain sailing.

I made the jump into self employment to work with a child who was extremely complicated and would be my biggest challenge to date.  Despite being a physically and emotionally exhausting job I absolutely loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, due to circumstances out of our control as a team, this position ended after a few months.  Luckily I was able to walk straight into some more jobs relatively quickly.  Another two of these positions didn't quite go as smoothly as I had hoped, for a number of reasons, and I had to make the decision to let these go and move on. This was very scary as giving up these meant losing money, however working in these positions meant I was losing my confidence and self esteem.  In fact I lost a lot of confidence in my ability to carry out my job and my performance in my role as well.

Despite this I picked myself up and dusted myself down once more and found more work. It's safe to say though that by this point my confidence had been knocked completely and I found myself questioning whether or not I was actually any good at my job at all and whether I had made the right decision in taking on more clients or should I have given up and gone back to a regular office job.   

One of the roles I took on was with twins, both with a diagnosis of autism.  I started as the only tutor and got their programmes set up and running whilst the family found a consultant to oversee everything and found more tutors for the team.  This was always going to be a short term position over the summer as they were starting school in September and I couldn't work the hours they needed around their school times.  I enjoyed working with both the boys as they were so different and each day was really varied. When the consultant came on board she told me I had done a really good job of getting their programmes up and running which obviously gave me a much needed confidence boost. 

At around the same time I also started working with another boy, also right at the beginning of his programme.  A four year old with no speech or means of communication. Three months into this programme he began to talk. Another huge confidence boost and reminder of why I love my job and the life changing things we do in this line of work on a daily basis. This boy has absolutely flourished since we began working with him and I'm so proud of where he is at and the progress he has made in a year. 

Both these programmes have helped me regain my confidence and since then it has grown and grown and grown. I know once again that this is 100% the right career for me.   

I currently work with three boys, aged between 4-11, all completely different and at various stages of their programmes, in turn my job satisfaction is through the roof. Can you ask for anything more than earning money whilst doing a job you wholeheartedly love? 

Towards the end of 2015 I had another confidence boost in the shape of a promotion which means I now also have much more responsibility on my shoulders.  This is a position I've been hunting down for a long, long time but really struggled to find any positions that would work around my working hours and family life, so I was over the moon when they asked if I would like to take it on.  Not only has it boosted my confidence and helped me progress career wise, it has also meant I can drop a days work and in turn means I can pick Luca up from pre-school once a week. It's given me breathing space to get cleaning and shopping done but also allows me to do all my admin during the day too rather than having to do it on an evening and eat into my family time. 

This promotion came at just the right time and has given me so much more than just a pay rise (although the pay rise will help boost our savings and in turn mean we will hopefully have a house to call our own by the end of this year). 

After a rocky start to my self employed career things finally feel like they are falling into place and I once again am loving my career.  What a difference a year makes. 

Since writing this post one of the families I work for has decided to end their programme. I am always sad to leave a programme after putting in so much time and energy and becoming attached to each kid I work with, it's literally impossible not to.  Especially when the family as a whole are lovely.  I wish them all the very best for their futures and hope to keep in touch so I can see how the little boy is doing.  
This does mean though that I'm now on the hunt for another family to fill my available hours but going back to all of the above I am now in a position where I know my worth and I won't be sacrificing myself or my family to fill my hours.  These last two years have been tough for me as a self employed working mum but they have definitely taught me some very valuable lessons. 

25 May 2016

Best friends in the woods.

Luca has really settled into pre-school now and has got himself a best friend, R. They are adorable together, if a little mischievous and to top it off nicely I get on well with his mum.  This has meant we have had a few play dates outside of school together and they are always a little bit bonkers when we are all together, let's face it I do bonkers well on my own without any helping me.

One of our latest dates was to Newmillerdam, about a 15 minute drive from where we live. It's a big lake surrounded by woodland and a perfect place for two terrible three year olds to burn off some energy and explore.

We headed straight into the woods which were scattered with bluebells and piles and piles of crunchy dead leaves.  There were so many things to find like old tree stumps, massive fallen branches and feathers.

17 May 2016

Learning to Snowboard

I've wanted to learn how to snowboard for years. Skiing has never held any appeal for me but snowboarding has always seemed like so much fun.  I've been hoping to fulfill this dream of mine for years and it's been in my to-do list for 2014, 2015 and this year. 

I decided a month or so ago that enough was enough and I needed to put some wheels into motion.   Once I'd mentioned it to a few friends, including my brother and my husband, they all wanted in too so we ended up with a group of 7 all heading to Xscape Castleford for our first lesson together. 

One friend had to drop out early due to a previous knee injury but the rest of us pushed on for an hour and a half of wobbles, bumps and falls and by the end we had learnt (well 5 of the remaining 6 had) how to fall and also snowboard backwards down the slope, also known as boarding on the toe edge and to change direction whilst doing it. You can see a video on my Instagram if your interested. 
I ached like a bitch the next day and pretty sure I gave myself whiplash from a particularly hard and fast fall but was more than excited for lesson two in a few weeks.

Lesson two came around so quickly and after a quick recap of the first lesson we started to learn how to board on the heel edge.  I found this much harder than the first lesson and spent more time hurtling at speed down the slope praying I wasn't going to crash or fall. My horse riding days came in useful for keeping my balance I think.  Again we learnt to go from side to side and also got more than our fair share of snow down our pants! Despite thinking I'd done absolutely rubbish we all passed.

I feel extremely excited to progress even further and so proud of how quickly we have all picked up the skills so far. It's so much fun, if a little frustrating at times,  and I know already that we will be boarding for the rest of our lives. We've all been discussing hitting the slopes together for a holiday and I've even been discussing with Ant about getting Luca skiing lessons once we've passed.

This week we have our level 3+4 combined, that's three hours of snowboarding! Three hours!!! That one will be painful the day after and utterly exhausting but I can't wait for it to come around. 

10 May 2016

Tour De Yorkshire

On the 30th April the Tour de Yorkshire came past where we live, well, close to where we live.  We decided it would be lovely to go and watch it come past and so headed to my Dad's yard near Lotherton Hall to cheer them along. 

It was quite exciting watching all the cars and ambulances go past and the motorbikes relaying to close the roads in preparation for the cyclists.  It definitely built everyone's anticipation.

It wasn't long before they appeared and then also disappeared in the blink of an eye.  In truth it was a bit of an anticlimax, it was over so quickly but it was equally a great experience to watch and be a part of. It was nice to think that our little corner of the route was made a little easier by us cheering them along. 

With the cyclists gone we headed over the road to Lotherton Hall for the food & drink festival. The weather wasn't great, drizzling on and off all day so it wasn't very busy but this meant there were lots of places to shelter in tents and lots of places to sit. We didn't have to queue for any stalls and stands which meant Luca had a great time as he's three and hates waiting. 

Our first stop was the ice cream van which was quickly followed by the prosecco bar.  Luca then played on the tombola and visited the face painting stall for some glitter tattoos and a Spider-Man face. 

We then wandered between all the stalls looking at all the food and drink on offer. 
My mum bought cheese & my grandma bought gin (sums them both up perfectly).  

We then headed to the fun fair style area. We bought chips and toasties before playing on the hook a duck, which Luca was brilliant at. He rode on the merry-go-round thing and also on the bumper cars.

Luca loved sitting in the beach style deck chairs whilst listening to the bands and eating his chips. I now think I want some when we get a garden. They are so retro and cool, I love them! 

Luca also had a go at archery and was quite good to say he's only three, he'll be putting his Aunty Ash and Uncle Rob through their paces soon. 

We visit Lotherton Hall a lot, we love it here but it was really lovely to spend the day doing something a little bit different there. Hopefully they will run this event again next year as we'll definitely be back.

5 May 2016

Room on the Broom ~ Anglers Country Park

A few weeks ago Daddy had a few days off to spend some quality time with Luca whilst he was off school and I worked.

One day I got home from work early so we decided to make the most of us all being home together and went for a walk.  We chose to go to Anglers Country Park to follow the Room on the Broom trail.  We didn't arrive until just after 4pm so the visitor centre and cafe was closed which meant we couldn't grab a hot drink to walk with, boo!

The evening sun was glorious and although it was cold we were all wrapped up and ready to go.  There were loads of puddles for Luca to splash in, one of his favourite pastimes, and because we all had our wellies on we did some family puddle jumping which he thought was brilliant. 

The trail takes you around a big beautiful lake full of ducks and geese. We even saw two swans and a heron as well as lots of other wildlife along the way.  There is a large area of grass around the lake too which looks like it would be perfect for picnics when the summer comes. 

As you wander around the lake there are wooden sculptures to find.  The first one being the witch on her broom with her cat.  


28 April 2016

Harewood House

At the end of March, Harewood House opened it's gates for the first day of the season.  With Daddy off work it seemed like the perfect day to go and visit.  We set off fairly early to try get the most out of the day and the lovely weather that we were lucky to have.

When we arrived Luca made a beeline for the huge adventure playground.  The have two, a smaller one for little people and then a big one for older children.  Luca spent ages on the smaller climbing frame, sliding down the two different slides, climbing across the bridges and generally enjoying himself.  He then spotted the larger one with cargo nets, tunnels, slides and much more and managed to persuade his Daddy to take him on it.  Poor Ant is 6"4 so scrambling through some of the sections was a challenge for him but had me hugely entertained.

With the promise of an ice cream we managed to get Luca to come for a walk and discover what else was on offer.

With ice cream in hand we headed to the newly opened farm corner, where it was feeding time for the animals.  They have a rabbit corner, some pigs, alpacas and goats and we watched the pigs having their breakfast and listened to a little talk all about them.

Once Luca has looked at all the animals we headed to the start of the Easter Egg trail.  Hidden around the grounds were big eggs with letters on them that made a word.  Once you had them all you handed the sheet in and got a little chocolate prize.

Luca was really enjoying listening to the clues and hunting for the eggs before shouting out the letters he found. Fun & learning combined. 

26 April 2016

To Do List 2016 ~ Quarterly Update

March has been and gone (and lets be honest so has April but I'm miles behind on posts still) which means we are a quarter of the way through 2016!  Let's just think about that for a minute, a quarter of the way, already! What?!? 

Anyway it felt like a good time to reflect on my to do list and see what I've managed to achieve in these last three months. 

  • Firstly, and most excitingly, I have recently booked my first snow boarding lesson at our local ski slope.  What started out as myself and a friend has now become a group of 7 friends so we have managed to book a group lesson so we can all learn together. Apparently there is one other  person who will be joining our group too, I just hope they know what they are letting themselves in for with my bonkers friends and family. 
  • In March we made a start on having our regular date nights. We started well and managed to to do 4 consecutive weeks but then I got the flu, Ant worked a week of lates and then it was half term so we haven't managed to squeeze in any more. Once Luca is back at school and we have a bit more of a routine going on again I'm sure we will restart them up again as we have both really enjoyed the challenge of it being weekly and taking it in turns to think of things to do together. My favourite one so far has been our at home spa night. 

Me & Mine ~ March 2016

This months photo was taken in Sandsend on Mother's Day just as the sun was starting to set on what had been one of the best days ever.  You can read all about our time in Sandsend in my Mother's Day post but I think this photo sums up the day brilliantly.  It was cold, it rained, snowed and hail stoned but we spent hours on the beach digging, throwing stones, collecting shells and pieces of quartz, splashing in the river that runs into the sea and watching the ducks.  We laughed a lot and I was surrounded by the most important people in my life.  It was absolute perfection and I know it will be one of my favourite days ever for a really long time.

The Me and Mine Project

18 April 2016

In a nutshell ~ March 2016

I feel so lucky that most of our months seem to be spent doing lovely things and making brilliant memories. Writing these nutshell posts reminds me of how fabulous each month has been and I think this is something easily forgotten otherwise. 

March has seen us really embrace our time as a family and has given me the best Mother's Day so far, a day I know I will cherish for a very long time. So without further ado, here was how March looked for us.

  • First up was a day crafting Mother's Day cards and making bookmarks with Luca for all his grandma's and great grandma's.  He is very lucky to have two grandma's and three great grandma's.
  • We had some snow this month too, which was lovely if a little cold. I love snow though, I find it really magical and it makes everything look so pretty. 
  • Weekly date nights kicked off in this house and I started the proceedings with a night of board games, not the most exciting of nights but we still had fun followed by a cards night
  • Although we came home on the Sunday when we went to Sandsend, my parents stayed for the week so after a tiny bit of persuasion I drove back over there on Thursday night with Luca to spend another 2 nights by the sea. It wasn't quite how I had imagined it to be as Luca was struck down with a tummy bug but we did get to spend some more time on the beach, feed the ducks and I went off to take some photos with my camera for my homework for a photography course I'm currently on. Again you can see more pictures on my Mother's Day post.

  • The next weekend I took the opportunity to go into Leeds shopping and update my wardrobe a little. I refused to buy clothes for work despite desperately needing some and treated myself to clothes I just loved. My wardrobe was well overdue an update and although I could still do with some more pieces it feels really nice to have new items to wear instead of the same old stuff.
  • We had a family day out at Harewood House this month too. We haven't been here since before Luca was born so it was really nice to explore it with him. We went on the first day of the season and the weather was absolutely glorious. We did the Easter egg trial and played on the park and generally spent some quality time outdoors as a family. We definitely recommend a visit if your around that area for the playground alone. It's huge and great for kids of all ages.
  • Easter was early this year and Luca received a mountain of eggs (which I'm still helping him eat) and the Pie Face game. Hilarious! If you haven't played this game you must. There are a few videos on my Instagram if you fancy a peek, there is one of my 80yr old Grandma being splatted in the face and even the dog had a go.   
  • Luca went to his first party from nursery with his new best friend. These two are double trouble to say the least bit are great for each other. Luca has always been a bit of a pushover but since developing this new friendship he appears to be learning to stand up for himself a bit.  Luca got a Spiderman glitter tattoo which he loved.  
  • I finished the month with flu which wasn't exactly how I'd planned. Flu is an absolute bitch, I've never felt so ill in all my life and it's completely wiped me out. Despite feeling better now my muscles were ravaged during my illness and are still catching up on their recovery. I feel like I've run a marathon by bed time each day at the moment.

Apart from the flu March was a really good month and I've looked back on it very fondly whilst writing this post.  I feel so lucky to have the family and life I do and will always endeavour to cherish every minute spent enjoying it and remembering it.  These years with Luca are absolutely flying and I want to hold them closer and slow it down just a little.  

13 April 2016

Date Night #3 - Wife's Choice

Week three into our weekly date night pact and so far it's been our best I think. Ant may disagree but it's definitely been my favourite.  

Again it was an at home date as we are in frugal mode at present and it really didn't cost me much to do.  Inspired by my spa break I thought I'd arrange an at home spa night, especially as Ant had been working so hard recently I thought a bit of relaxation and pampering would be a perfect way to spend an evening together. 

Whilst Ant was putting Luca to bed I started a shower running for him to build up a bit of steam in the bathroom, I lit some candles in there too for a bit of atmosphere and lovingly hung his dressing gown on the door for when he had finished.  Once he'd reappeared from bedtime duties I told him to go jump in for a bit before putting on his dressing gown and coming to find me. 

Whilst he had been showering I had set up our bedroom to resemble a spa, well as much as is possible in your home.  Imagine lots of candles scattered around the room and some fairy lights (the ones in this post to be precise) for low, romantic lighting. I made sure I lit some scented candles too to add to the atmosphere of being at a spa as well as playing some compulsory plinky plonky music.  Thank you Spotify.