The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin daughters - nothing else scares me

Sunday, 5 July 2015

A Cautionary Tale for the Uninitiated Parent - Part One

When both daughters left for university, I imagined that our parenting conundrums would be over. Surely our daughters would discover new found wisdom and fathom out the minutiae of life in the real world with only minimal input from their parents once they'd left home?

With our role as full-time parents drawing to a close, we filed our memories under, 'Nice while it lasted, but now they're all grown, I guess it's time for us to move on.'

I continued to miss my daughters more than they'll ever know, and often found myself in their bedrooms contemplating what it means to be a mum with young adults for children.

The honeymoon period was delightful, but after only several weeks, one daughter required assistance. Naturally, we dropped everything to help her.

Although our services are called upon less frequently, an entirely different set of skills is required. This often results in advanced problem solving, brain ache and the need for several bottles of wine that you tell yourself are entirely medicinal.


We are just back from moving beloved daughter no. 1 into new digs. As there was an entire week before moving out of her old house and into the new, we booked an apartment overlooking the sea and thought we'd enjoy a holiday at the same time.

It started with an innocent enough, 'Mum, C has nowhere to stay.' We've met C on several occasions during previous trips to see our daughter and she is truly lovely. And so, our automatic response was to say, 'Yes,' and help out, obviously. Someday it might be your daughter who's in need of assistance; you'd like to think that someone would come to her aid.

On day one, filled with enthusiasm, we were ready for the off by 5:30 am. After a fabulous journey with minimal traffic, we're on the beach by 10 am, making the most of a hearty breakfast in the beach cafe and feeling very smug indeed.

We arrive at our daughter's accommodation and discover mounds of belongings heaped in the lounge, hall, kitchen and both bedrooms. Nothing is packed. And somehow, the realisation that these mounds have to be moved today, into our gorgeous apartment hits like a not-so-subtle brick.

After checking in and emptying the car of our tiny suitcases, we make a further three journeys to round up their errant stuff and move in.

In doing so, we hog the lift for a very long time and intermittently, a load arrives at level two along with a complete stranger who is too polite to do anything but help and reminisce about similar experiences with their own offspring. I am grateful for their patience and the realisation that there are people who are benevolent and generous with their words and time.

After lugging the stuff down the corridor, the apartment looks as though it's been ransacked. I vow to make it look gorgeous again just as soon as I can summon the energy.

Saturday's dinner is a very delicious fish and chips overlooking the harbour, followed by falling asleep over a large glass of (medicinal) Pimms and the earliest night I've had in ages.

We're up early on Sunday morning and off to the beach in search of cowrie shells, shrimp and solitude. Is there anything more lovely than time at the beach I wonder?

After a busy morning beachcombing, we head back. Only, we can't get into the apartment as we're locked out. Between the four of us, we have three pairs of shoes, an assortment of shells and sea glass, some loose change and no phone. Weighing up our options, we discover that none of the neighbours are in. Our daughter gets the giggles and we're both cross with her. Only we keep our thoughts to ourselves as we don't want C to think we are horrid.

There are images of calling a locksmith and having to gain permission from the owner and the rental company. Obviously, we'll have to foot the bill. To add further insult, we're all ravenous and I could really do with a wee.

Out of the window I spy a car pull up and an unsuspecting neighbour returns to her apartment. I ask for a hug after she announces that she has a spare key and buy our saviour the biggest bunch of flowers I can find the very next day....

Part two to follow.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
Image credit: Pixabay
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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Moving House...

If I'm not around much during the next week, it's because my eldest daughter is moving house and we're making the 250 mile trip to help out.

We've rented an apartment overlooking the sea and my daughter and her friend will be joining us for the week, before moving into new accommodation for their final year at university.

Here's hoping that the weather will be kind and we'll arrive in time to enjoy breakfast at our favourite beach cafe, before calling on Olivia and C. Chances are, our daughter won't be awake, but I'm optimistic that she'll have packed and that her house will be ready for the next occupants.

This time last year we were doing exactly the same thing, but were able to stay for only three nights due to work commitments. It was manic, but we managed to cram an awful lot in and the weather was gorgeous.

If all goes to plan, there'll be more time off for good behaviour this time around and we hope to spend hours and hours at the beach...

Visit a garden or two...

And take in stunning scenes like this...


And this...

I'm also plotting the odd trip several trips to the pub and may have written an itinerary as I don't want to miss a thing this time around.

My daughter lives in a stunning part of the UK. Someday we hope to live there too...

What are your plans for the summer?

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Cost of a Prom

It was February half-term 2011, and the search for prom dresses for my twin daughters had begun in earnest. A mum can never be too organised with these things, and several weeks passed in a blur of shopping expeditions before we spied exactly what we were looking for. Two full-length dresses, in complementary colours - one midnight blue, the other, burgundy. Both were perfect for my daughters' petite frames and reasonably priced at £165 each.

I may have commented that the combined cost of their dresses was actually more than my wedding dress. However, I was very happy that we'd found them and the dresses were ordered - we arrived home feeling very smug indeed.

And then it hit me, actually, we weren't finished at all. In fact, we'd barely made a start on the shopping list. What about shoes and bags and tiaras? I didn't want to think any more. I may have been delighted that I'd had the foresight to save in advance for what was turning out to be rather an expensive time.

A couple of weeks later, I spied a pair of Geox silver strappy sandals for the bargain price of £24.99. I purchased these quickly and spirited the pair home, in the hope that they'd be a match for Olivia's midnight blue gown. Fortunately, she adored them.

The following week Sophia spotted tiaras in the wedding department at a local store and out came the credit card again...

Meanwhile, the cost of the tickets to the actual prom came in at £30 each. And a friend suggested hiring a party bus, rather than a limo. The bus, complete with DJ, bar (serving non-alcoholic drinks as the girls were only sixteen) added to the growing list of expenses.

We shopped for a second pair of shoes for Sophia and settled on these burgundy diamante sandals...

In the meantime, the dresses had arrived at the shop and needed to be altered. As I can barely sew on a button, I wasn't daft enough to attempt a prom dress alteration, the cost of this was £35 per dress.

And let's not forget those last-minute essentials - two clutch bags plus an assortment of new make-up to complete the look.

The day of the prom dawned bright and sunny and my daughters spent most of it excitedly getting ready for their Oscar-themed prom night. We nipped off to the hairdressers, where Sophia opted to have her hair up and Olivia settled for curls. And by this point I'd stopped adding up what I'd spent as it was starting to scare me a little.

The final look was impressive and was one of the first times I realised that my daughters were growing up fast. I have no idea how that happens, one minute they're babies, the next you're waving them off to the prom and they're looking too glamorous for words. How did the time go so quickly?

The party bus was a great mode of transport to the prom, but I think the vote for most inspired transportation for the evening went to a group of lads who hopped in on space hoppers. I'm guessing this was a slightly cheaper option. I only wish I'd thought of it first. Kidding.

My daughters won an 'Oscar' for best double act and given their escapades at school during the past few years, this came as no surprise to their mother.

A recent survey from My Voucher Codes found that students in the UK are catching up with their American counterparts when it comes to spending on a prom. Clearly, I'd spent more than average on my daughters and this came as no surprise whatsoever. The survey has been published over at A Girls World if you'd like to read more.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

Collaborative post

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Curious Incident of the Socks in the Airing Cupboard

The number of odd socks in the airing cupboard had been puzzling me for some time. There were twelve of the things blinking at me each time I opened the door and the only suggestion that my daughters may have something to do with it - was that every last one, was theirs.

I'd toyed with the idea of flinging the lot into the ragging bag, but wondered if the mystery might unravel after the girls arrived home.

A couple of weeks ago, Sophia was packing for Camp America. She had decided that fifteen pairs of socks were ideal for her needs. I spied several pairs that turned out not to be matched with their twin and found each of the errant socks in the airing cupboard pile. Since when did the wearing of odd socks become a thing I wonder?

Meanwhile, undies were in short supply. With only five pairs located for Sophia's suitcase, we skipped off to M&S to purchase more. As Olivia had left for uni a few days previously, it appeared that she had taken most of them. More undies means you can wash less often and this is a good thing when you're a student - apparently. She also had one of my cardigans from White Stuff. I only know this as she was wearing it when I last saw her on Skype. Grrr. She'd also taken her sister's swimming costume - this meant another trip into town.

Since Sophia's left home for the summer, the end is in sight for the laundry pile. I've re-discovered a cerise fleece, one not-so-white cardigan and a pair of cashmere mittens - all of which have been missing since January.

Meanwhile, my gorgeous new walking boots from Trespass have upped and left with my daughter and will be spending the summer in Oregon enjoying horse riding and numerous hikes in the woods.

I've also misplaced a waterproof jacket, but rather than look for it - I've decided that it's probably on location with one of my offspring. Hopefully this will reappear in September when my daughters are home celebrating their 21st birthdays.

I've concluded only - that being a similar size to my daughters is not necessarily a good thing.

Ever wonder if you're going mad?

Until next time...

 Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 22 June 2015

It's a Cat's Life

We've always thought of the cat as the third child we never had and she holds a special place in our hearts. Now that she's our only daughter at home, the poor creature is in a perpetual state of confusion, as Olivia and Sophia arrive home and leave again many times throughout the year. Kitty just gets used to their company and the mayhem of family life, as they pack up and leave for university and the house is quiet all over again.

She can be grumpy for several days when this happens and  Mr A and myself feel guilty about our responsibilities as pet owners. A cat can do that to you. Kitty has grown up with the girls, so I guess it's only natural she's going to miss them when they're away. You cannot explain these things to a cat however, and so, we try to make amends by interacting with her (even more than usual) and filling her bowl with tuna, rather than the dried food she usually finds there.

On Thursday evening, the cat was in full grump mode. She sat resolutely on one of the sofas, glaring at the two of us with her claws splayed. There's nothing quite like an unhappy feline to tug at the heartstrings and the need to cheer her up was overwhelming. First I extracted her from the sofa and gave her a good brush... something she loves.

As soon as I'd finished, she leapt off, plonked herself back on her sofa and resumed looking stroppy. Mr A picked her up and dished out lots of fuss. Again, she jumped off and returned once more to the sofa. This made the two of us very sad indeed.

It was getting late and we'd had one of those days that requires putting to rights over a bottle of wine. A couple of glasses later, as the cat sat looking as though she was plotting our demise, Mr A said, 'I wonder what's up with Kitty?'

I have no idea how it happens, but you know how everything becomes clearer after wine? Well, I had one of those alcohol-induced thoughts that are so brilliant, you can't fathom out why you hadn't thought of the answer before... 'I know what's wrong with her.'

'You do?' said Mr A.

'Yep... the cat watched me leave on Tuesday morning with Olivia and I arrived home without her. And in the early hours of Friday morning, we left with Sophia and she didn't come back either. I bet she's wondering if she's next.'

Mr A was giggling at this point, the cat however, remained unimpressed.

I have no idea how a cat's mind works and that's probably for the best, but we're trying to make amends before everything changes again next weekend. We're going away for a week and leaving our niece in charge. We may have to leave several tins of tuna, a couple of bags of Dreamies and an assortment of little pink bells for the cat to swipe all over the floor.

One thing's for sure -  Kitty will be plotting her revenge the whole time we're away.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 19 June 2015

Even From 5000 Miles Away, a Daughter Can Still Worry her Mum

I was asked recently whether or not parenting gets simpler as children grow older. And my answer was a resounding, 'No!'

Instead, whenever there's a problem, it can take forever to sort out and can leave you with a headache that refuses to budge for several hours. There are times when you feel like the hired help and I find that the role of PA often features heavily in my duties now that the girls are older. Also, the pay is rubbish, non-existent, usually results in negative equity and with the added time difference in Oregon for one daughter (GMT - 8 hours), it can be tricky to negotiate.

Last Friday we waved daughter, Sophia off at Heathrow airport. As she's spending three months in Oregon and travelling afterwards, we were careful to cover every eventuality and make life as simple as possible for her. She'd trusted me with access to email, banking and sim provider for top-ups etc and I'd also received a lengthy list of things to negotiate during the summer.

We were expecting a text from our daughter to let us know when she'd arrived safely in camp. It never came. And so we waited, thinking that Sophia had curled up and gone to sleep after being awake for too many hours. The following morning we rang her sister - there was no way Sophia wouldn't have called her twin. Olivia confirmed that Sophia had texted (twice) from O'Hare (Chicago), but she'd heard nothing since.

And so I did that mum thing and started to wonder, 'How long is too long without hearing from my daughter?' I know she's 20, but seriously, how long should I wait?

By Tuesday night I'd caved. I'd gone from not wanting to interfere in my 20-year-old daughter's life, to needing reassurance that she'd arrived in one piece. And so, in full mum detective mode, off I went...

1. Checked her email: nothing.

2. Olivia checked Sophia's Facebook status: nothing.

3. Accessed her phone records: there were 2 texts to her sister, one call lasting 1 minute and 25 seconds to a US number, we're guessing when she was at Portland Airport to meet with her lift to camp and then, nothing.

4. I rang the company providing Sophia with mobile cover in the US and after much discussion it turns out that there is no signal whatsoever where she's staying.

Grrr... Seriously... How can they not have known that this would happen before she set off? Surely there have been people staying there previously who've experienced a similar problem. As she was using the sim recommended by Camp America, I thought we'd covered every eventuality. I wasn't naive enough to expect the signal to be any good in the middle of the wilderness, but had hoped that she'd be able to text or use her phone occasionally from the staff area in camp.

Next, I scrolled through her email, until I spied one from the camp she's at and fired off a quick message to the camp leader. Fortunately, she replied quickly.

I also emailed a contact at Camp America asking if an alternative sim provider could be used to ensure my daughter can stay in touch during her three months away. I hope to hear something soon.

We're not a family that stays in touch every day. My daughters lead busy lives and as long as they call home at least once a week (or when something's wrong), I'm fine with that. The girls have never been attached to their mobiles twenty-four-seven and I don't even own one. But I really need to be able to communicate with S as she's away for so long.

As usual I'm not convinced that I should be interfering at all in my daughter's life and I'll probably be ticked off when she does eventually makes contact. I'm still her mum though, and that's what we do.
In the meantime, I've resorted to snail mail and fired off an email in the hope that when she eventually finds access to the internet, she'll know that I still care.

Latest update: I finally received an email last night...
'I'm settling in well and camp is beautiful. The flight from Chicago to Portland was amazing, I thought we were going to land in the river, but the runway appeared just in time :o)'

Don't you just love her!

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Bon Voyage

We're awake a little after midnight and heading down the M40 in no time at all. I'm not convinced of the merits of a couple of hours sleep, but I may have dozed a little, (unlike my daughter) and keep reminding myself that I have work to do once I arrive home.

Sophia bumps into a friend from university at Beaconsfield services which is slightly surreal at 4 am on a Friday morning, but they compare notes and fond farewells before we rejoin the motorway and head towards the M25. We arrive at Terminal 2, Heathrow and Sophia spies several Camp America T-shirt clad teens and twenty-somethings. They're all travelling to different US cities, but stick together anyway and talk of plans for the next three months. I guess this is how the summer will unfurl - they'll get used to talking to new friends with shared interests and support each other throughout. 

I have no idea how you're supposed to feel saying goodbye to your daughter for three months - but there's excitement mingled with apprehension. I hope that Sophia will stay safe, be happy and have a summer filled with adventure. When you head home with your newborn baby - you never imagine that someday she'll grow up and go exploring all by herself. Our children are not ours to keep however, and I have to remind myself that Camp America will be the first of many adventures.

After check-in, Sophia delivers a final hug and heads off to departures with new friends. The group have waited for everyone to get through check-in before leaving en masse, which is sweet. One hug is not enough with my daughter, but I manage to restrain myself, 'Have a great summer,' I say, but she's already gone and just like her first day at school, she doesn't look back.

We return to the car and leave the airport. Stopping for a crazy-early breakfast at a service station and arriving home again in time to start work. Who needs sleep?

Sophia has two flights, the first to Chicago, the second to Portland in Oregon. I check the flight status several times during the day and hope that my daughter is sleeping; by the time she arrives at camp she'll have been up for almost 48 hours. Why is it that she's never mastered the art of sleep before flying anywhere in the world? She's been the same ever since she was a toddler - this has always driven me slightly mad.

At time of writing I still haven't heard from my daughter... I'd been warned that the chances of finding a signal in the middle of the woods in Oregon was almost zero. This doesn't make it any easier. The eight hour time difference doesn't help. I've gone old school and written her a letter that will take between five and seven days to arrive. If all goes to plan she'll head into the nearest town at the weekend and find an Internet cafe - maybe we'll even get to Skype. I guess she's busy having fun and making new friends, which is exactly how it should be.

For now, it's just me, the cat and Mr A for the summer. I plan on borrowing my nephew for a few days as the house seems too quiet and the cat's already cross with me for scooping her up and extracting too many hugs.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Friday, 12 June 2015

My Ultimate Bucket List

Earlier this week I was tagged by Suzanne over at Chicken Ruby, to share my ultimate bucket list. This may have been trickier than I imagined - but it's been a fun post to write and has really made me think.

As youngest daughter, Sophia left this morning to spend three months in the US, I realised that she'll get to do many of the things on her own bucket list this summer. Suzanne's tag provided the ideal opportunity to come up with a list of my own. Maybe I'll even get to tick off two or three while Sophia's away...

Here goes... 

1. Learn to play the saxophone
2. Ride Route 66 on a Harley Davidson
3. Grow old disgracefully
4. Move to Cornwall
5. Live in a penthouse apartment overlooking the sea
6. Find time to read every day
7. Visit New York with my daughters for my 50th birthday
8. See Enrique Iglesias in concert
9. Mentor lots more teens for the charity I volunteer for
10. Not have to work for a living and volunteer full-time instead
11. Feel energised when I crawl out of bed in the morning
12. Spend Christmas away from home
13. Visit the Scilly Isles
14. Learn to walk in heels
15. Own a pair of Laboutins
16. Shop at Selfridges and The White Company (without feeling guilty)
17. See the Northern Lights
18. Meet more of my fellow bloggers in person
19. Spend time at the beach every day
20. Go to a festival
21. See both daughters graduate from university
22. Watch my girls turn into awesome young ladies
23. Visit Canada
24. Write for one of the glossy magazines
25. Have an unlimited supply of energy
26. Go wine tasting at a vineyard
27. Take the girls to Walt Disney World in Orlando one last time
28. Meet Harper Lee
29. Learn to play classical guitar
30. Hug my grandchildren and tell them all about my daughters when they were little
31. Have naturally straight hair
32. Study for a degree in English Literature
33. Visit California
34. Be happy (most of the time)
35. Love every item of clothing I own
36. Take afternoon tea at The Ritz
37. Visit Rome and Sorrento
38. Spend more time with good friends
39. Take a helicopter flight
40. Declutter the house (and have it stay that way)
41. Find an hour every day that's just for me
42. Visit Stonehenge
43. Drink lots of cocktails in exotic locations
44. See Aerosmith in concert
45. Write a best-selling novel
46. Learn to meditate
47. Visit New Zealand
48. Replace the diamond in my engagement ring (I lost it last year)
49. Go on holiday with my sister
50. Explore Cape Cod with Mr A and stay at the gorgeous B&B we spied in Plymouth during a previous trip (it would help if we could remember the name).

Many thanks to Suzanne for the tag. It's been a therapeutic post to write on a day when I've driven to Heathrow (and back), been up since midnight and am feeling a little out of sorts knowing that both daughters will be away for the entire summer. I know that they'll have a fabulous time and that makes me happy - even though I'll miss them a lot.

And I'm tagging these three lovely ladies as I'm certain their bucket lists will be inspired....

Anya from Older Single Mum
Helen from Actually Mummy
Heledd from Running in Lavender

Until next time... 

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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