The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin teens - nothing else scares me!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Owning less and doing more...

Next month I'll be celebrating another birthday and that means I'll be even closer to fifty than I am already. Friends and family are asking what I'd like for my birthday and my answer is, 'Nothing at all.'

Here's the thing, I spent a considerable amount of time last year offloading tat we no longer needed. In the process I created space in the house and now that it's less rammed I spend less time keeping it tidy. I don't miss things falling on top of me every time I open a cupboard, or any of the belongings that once spilled out of the drawers and onto the floor. And for that reason I'm not tempted to fill the house up ever again. There are things I'll never part with, like cute pictures drawn by the girls when they were small, photo albums filled with treasured memories of my daughters growing up and an assortment of what can only be described as bizarre crap, which includes my collection of cat's whiskers and shells from far-flung beaches.  

Tackling the loft is still an ongoing process but as I'm rather taken by the prospect of only storing suitcases, sleeping bags and Christmas decorations up there, this motivates me to carry on. To start with I was unconvinced that any of the accumulated tat in the loft was worth anything at all, but selling a handful of vintage Ladybird books on eBay for £80 has made me think again. As I'd scribbled my name in most of them I was surprised they made so much. I've also sold my daughters' collection of Harry Potter Lego for £375 and I'm sure they'll put the money to good use on books making the most of student life just as soon as I pay this into their bank accounts.

Mr A and myself have decided to create memories rather than accumulate more stuff we don't want. We're never going to remember the time we shopped for... insert whatever, but hopefully we'll remember concerts, trips to the beach and special days out

For Christmas Mr A bought tickets to see Michael Bubl√©. And previously I've bought tickets for  Pendulum and Noah and the Whale - both concerts were awesome. And yes, for the record we have quite an eclectic taste in music.

In November we spent a week in Cornwall celebrating our wedding anniversary. We were also away for a few days last week after deciding to escape the demands of work and home and a bathroom that's mid-renovation. On the positive side the house will take less time to tidy up once the work's all finished as there's less stuff to put back.

How much stuff does one person need exactly? I find the older I get, the less I shop and the more I want to make of life a whole lot more...

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton


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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Things I Know Are True

I guess the older you get, the wiser you become to many of life's mysteries. You learn how to negotiate the pitfalls by mastering what works for you and knowing how to behave in a crisis. And I guess while this is great in theory, in practice I still have a lot to fathom out.

This is what I've learnt during my forty-something years...

1. I am never going to love eating salad or drinking water just as long as dark chocolate and wine are readily available.

2. The best way to deal with any problem is to tackle it head-on before it becomes an even bigger problem.

Warning: skip no. 3 if you're eating or feeling a bit peaky.

3. When the cat is licking her lips and making a strange knocking sound she's about to honk up a furball and I need to move like lightning if I don't want to scoop this up off the floor.

4. I always write better after a couple of glasses of wine. The following day however, I need to go back and do some serious editing as what I've written will be complete gibberish.

5. There are some mysteries in life that aren't meant to be solved, such as:

a. How did we end up with so many odd socks? and...
b. Didn't I just clean the house yesterday?

6. When conversations with my daughters begin with, "Muuuum," chances are I'm not going to like what they have to say. But being a mum, I'll always listen attentively and do whatever I can to help.

7. I like to think that I'm superwoman and capable of dealing with anything life flings in my direction. In real life that isn't how I roll at all. I'm guilty of taking on way too much and chances are I'll run out of steam before tackling everything I need to do.

 8. Often it's the simple (but daft) things in life that keep me sane. And dancing in the kitchen while listening to Mahna Mahna on my iPod never fails to cheer me up. The kids just look at one another in complete disbelief if they're home.

(YouTube - Mahna Mahna)

I guess if you know something, you don't have to think about it. What could possibly be wrong with that?


Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton



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Friday, 16 January 2015

The Life and Times of a Perimenopausal Shopper

I've reached that certain age where shopping has become exasperating. I guess this has something to do with being forty-something and perimenopausal. Once, not so very long ago I used to enjoy a spot of retail therapy with my daughters, but now it's not something I take on lightly as I know I'm likely to become hot (not in a good way) and irritable. However, as I need to replace a few essential items from time to time it's something that has to be done.

I don't crave a walk-in wardrobe overflowing with the latest must-haves, or a hundred pairs of shoes - I'd be more than happy with just a few purchases per season. But here's the thing, I want to love what I own and not be one of those women who wears 20% of her clothing 80% of the time.

Earlier this week I braved the shops. On my list were two of my least favourite items to shop for: jeans and swimwear. 
 
Mr A, who will only shop with me under extreme duress had decided to be brave and come with me. He had my deepest sympathy.

Mr A is ever hopeful that everything I take into the changing rooms will be splendid, he waits patiently outside and announces, "Yes, that's lovely," in the hope that I'll,

a) Make a purchase.
b) He can go home again.

As I'm dubious that the look isn't quite as gorgeous as he'd like me to believe his tactics often backfire as I retreat to the cubicle thinking only, where next?

Shopping alone isn't any easier. I'm overwhelmed by indecision, followed by optimism that something more flattering will turn up soon - as long as I can muster the enthusiasm to keep looking.

I am absolutely bloody brilliant at spotting something I love that isn't available in my size. I spied a skirt in Coast that was two sizes too small this week. At home I searched online only to discover that it was sold out everywhere. And not only are there none of my preferred brand of jeans in stock, but the shop in question actually no longer sells these in store or online. After trying on a couple of swimwear options, I'm unimpressed and not tempted to try any more swimsuits today as I suspect my hormones are on the rampage.

Giving up on swimwear and jeans, I book a bra fitting at a well-known department store instead. I had my suspicions that I was wearing the wrong size, but was astounded to be measured as a 32D. "Really," I said... and with that the helpful sales assistant vanished, only to return a couple of minutes later with a selection of lace-embellished options in an assortment of eclectic colours. I have no idea what was going through her mind as she made her choices, but she leaves me alone to wrestle with the bra straps, (always set on minimum and designed to inflict pain if you don't lengthen them prior to trying on) and struggle into the first one. It fits perfectly, my cleavage looks svelte, sculpted and none has escaped from the confines of the cup. There's just one problem - it's perfect just as long as I don't need to breathe. Defeated, I replace old faithful (my aged bra), share my observations with the helpful sales assistant and leave the store feeling the familiar beads of sweat forming and questioning whether or not it's actually possible to melt during a hot flush.
 
Mr A is waiting patiently for me and suggests that now might be a good time to break for coffee. I shoot him a reply and say, "Are you kidding? Why would I want a hot drink when I'm about to self combust?" He heads to Costa while I treat myself to a small tub of ice-cream and stand outside (it's 4°C) until the flush subsides. He's a sensitive soul Mr A and I feel dreadful for snapping at him. It isn't his fault that my hormones are making me bad tempered.

Glancing at the list that had only two items on it, I'm left contemplating why I've ended up buying two T-shirts (100% cotton and not a synthetic fibre between them, hence perfect for perimenopause), a pair of sunglasses and a birthday gift for a friend.

Defeated, I head for home without swimwear or jeans.

Is anyone else experiencing the delights of perimenopausal shopping too, I wonder? Any tips to help save my sanity?


Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 12 January 2015

How to book a service and end up at the wrong garage

Before Christmas I blogged about a well-known pizza delivery company causing confusion in the Anderton house. You can read this here if you missed it. As always when this sort of thing occurs, I'm left wondering how it happened and thinking that I'm losing my marbles.

Here we are just a couple of weeks later and there's a new tale of mayhem. This is what happened on Saturday...

Mr A bought a new car last year. As it was due a service and we're heading off on holiday soon, he decided to book the car in last weekend. The garage in question isn't too far from a shopping centre that we frequent from time to time and so, I followed Mr A in my car and we planned to spend the morning buying a few essential items.

Arriving at the garage he disappeared to the service desk, only to return several minutes later looking rather perplexed. It appeared that the garage had no record of his booking. Here's why...

A couple of weeks ago he called the local garage to book the service, however all calls are now diverted to a regional call centre based at a garage forty miles away. As no one had thought to ask Mr A where he wanted the car serviced, we turned up at the garage we've used for the past fourteen years none the wiser that anything was amiss. Naturally, there was no record of our booking. Although this was not the garage's fault and we're usually delighted with the standard of care received, Mr A was not a happy bunny.

We returned home in one of those, 'Oh well, I guess it's best to laugh about it,' sort of moods and decided to put the rest of the day to good use. Much later, we congratulated ourselves on being productive in spite of the frustrating start to the day and headed off to the pub. This seemed like the only reasonable thing to do.

The service is rebooked for Wednesday, here's hoping we turn up at the right garage this time.

Surely at the heart of good customer service is the ability to listen, communicate effectively and get things right first time around before anything has the chance to develop into a problem. This has always been my ethos in the world of work and has served me pretty well. Working faster does not always mean working more efficiently and there are times when I feel frustrated that modern life causes such chaos in our lives.

Please tell me that this sort of thing happens to you too...

Until next time...



Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton


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Friday, 9 January 2015

A Writers' Blog Tour

When I was invited to take part in the Writers' Blog Tour by Ting Dalton from My Travel Monkey, I was honoured as she's a Chief Sub Editor for a magazine and actually writes for a living. I'm not convinced that I have the right to describe myself as a writer, yes, it's what I love to do and I can't imagine not wanting to do it, but let's just say that this post has taken ages to write and leave it there. It has made me think about my writing process though, and I guess that can only be a good thing. I also get to nominate two brilliant bloggers to continue with the challenge... more on that later.


What am I working on?
Mostly The World According to Izzie, but also a whole host of other projects. I'm never happier than when I'm busy and I love to have lots of things on the go at once. There's a travel review lined up during the next couple of weeks and I'll be heading off for a few days very soon to do this. I’m also deliberating over whether to publish a second e-book. First time around was challenging, but I can’t help thinking that next time will be so much easier.


How does my work differ from others in its genre?
There aren’t many bloggers out there who are brave (or daft) enough to blog about their older children and to start with the blog was mostly about parenting fails and trying to see the funny side of life with twin, teen daughters. 

As many parents find themselves in similar situations with their own kids, I've been astounded by the response to the blog - especially in the UK and the US. Now that both daughters have left home, I’ve added lots of additional topics and The World According to Izzie now features interviews, travel, days out, reviews and random musings about life in an empty nest as a forty-something female. I never run out of ideas and always seem to be scribbling something in my notebook. As I think that life in the real world can be tough, I try to inject as much humour into my writing as much as possible.

Like Ting, I also think there's room for everyone in the blogging community. Each blogger has their own unique perspective on the world and that makes for some fabulous reading. I love the diversity that the blogging world has to offer and spend a considerable amount of time reading blogs from all over the world.


Why do I write what I do?
I always dreamt of working for a magazine and publishing a book and although my career didn't lead me in that particular direction (I worked in the NHS for 26 years as a Biomedical Scientist), I think it's possible to have the best of both worlds and make things happen at any age.

I think that sharing your own experiences helps the reader to feel that they're not alone in being completely flummoxed by the chaos that is family life. Often the media portrays family life through rose-tinted spectacles and well, we all know that in reality, life never goes to plan.


How does my writing process work?
It’s often a random process. I always carry a notebook and jot down anything I think might come in useful at a later date. This can be anything from a strange conversation I’ve had with Mr A, to the latest antics of my daughters, or something I've done that has inspired me.

I always write in pencil and usually produce my best work in the mornings; most days I'm writing before 7 am. There are often five blog posts on the go at any one time and like Ting, I come up with the ‘bare bones’ of a post before padding and polishing at a later date. It's rare for me to write a blog from start to finish in one go and I love to come back to it on another day with a fresh pair of eyes. Topics often pop into my head at the most inopportune moments and having a notebook in my handbag comes in very useful. 

I also belong to a writing group and have found this very helpful in terms of improving my writing technique. Daughter, Olivia is currently studying English Literature at university and we talk about writing a lot; she occasionally guest posts on my blog.


Over to these two lovely bloggers whose work I admire immensely…
I’ve been following fellow bloggers Anya and Sarah ever since I started The World According to Izzie back in January 2013. Maybe it's their refreshing honesty about life in the real world is far from perfect that I love...

First of all, Anya from Older Single Mum. Anya's an older, single mum (as if you hadn't guessed that already) and her posts are written from the heart. Her blog features topics such as: resisting getting any older, the perils of parenting young sons and raising awareness about what it means to be a single mum.

Hiya. My name’s Anya.  The lady with that wine glass is very me.

I'm useless in the mornings, have terrible taste in men and am known for loving a laugh and welcoming an invitation to lunch.  


I'm PR friendly, just friendly in general and write for businesses including Netmums, the goodwebguideGingerbreadLove All Blogs, and BritMums 

Divorced with two young boys (now nine and five), we live down on the south coast, near Brighton, England, UK.  My ex-husband, their father, was a famous Rugby player in his day.

I've travelled quite a bit and have got a background in the City, having worked my way up from Junior to Associate Director in Banking and International Money Broking, since when I've spent a long time exploring and working in the fields of Alternative Medicine.  The latter is tackled in a language for the layman (or as a fellow blogger put it 'in a way that doesn't make her sound like a loon') on my other blog The Healer.

Here, it is general parenting prattle, sometimes about the kids or our Foreign Language students, or me defiantly resisting getting older, plus there is a sort of raising of a different kind of consciousness - that only a mere 2% of single mums are teenagers.  
- See more at: http://www.oldersinglemum.com/p/about-me.html#sthash.sUNxiupp.dpuf
Hiya. My name’s Anya.  The lady with that wine glass is very me.

I'm useless in the mornings, have terrible taste in men and am known for loving a laugh and welcoming an invitation to lunch.  


I'm PR friendly, just friendly in general and write for businesses including Netmums, the goodwebguideGingerbreadLove All Blogs, and BritMums 

Divorced with two young boys (now nine and five), we live down on the south coast, near Brighton, England, UK.  My ex-husband, their father, was a famous Rugby player in his day.

I've travelled quite a bit and have got a background in the City, having worked my way up from Junior to Associate Director in Banking and International Money Broking, since when I've spent a long time exploring and working in the fields of Alternative Medicine.  The latter is tackled in a language for the layman (or as a fellow blogger put it 'in a way that doesn't make her sound like a loon') on my other blog The Healer.

Here, it is general parenting prattle, sometimes about the kids or our Foreign Language students, or me defiantly resisting getting older, plus there is a sort of raising of a different kind of consciousness - that only a mere 2% of single mums are teenagers.  
- See more at: http://www.oldersinglemum.com/p/about-me.html#sthash.sUNxiupp.dpuf
And secondly, Sarah from Mum of Three World. Sarah's a slightly stressed out mum of three and she writes about life with school age children - the highs, the lows and everything in-between. Often spotted freezing on the touchline while watching her kids play rugby, this is something I can identify with wholeheartedly.

I hope you'll pop over for a read.


Until next time...



Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton





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Monday, 5 January 2015

Longing for summer already


There is something about this time of year that's all a bit meh. The house is bare after being stripped of its festive decorations and everything looks a little jaded and in need of a revamp.

So I'm planning on putting the next couple of months to good use: decluttering, working on new projects in the house and sifting through my wardrobe to make room for clothing that can be worn to keep cool when it's warmer outside.

I long to emerge from hibernation and nights curled up in front of the TV wearing pyjamas and toasty socks - to eagerly anticipate warmer evenings sipping Pimms outside the local pub. In the meantime I'll plan days out and plot a makeover for the garden to turn it from drab into blooming. I've tolerated winter until New Year and feel that it's outstayed its welcome as I've recovered from partying a little too hard and long to spend time outdoors.

If it's wrong to fantasise about booking a vacation, balmy days ahead and being able to leave the house without multiple layers of clothing - then I don't want to be right.

The days are longer already as winter solstice has been and gone, but with endless cold days of January, followed by lacklustre February and March which can sometimes be cruel, I'll write work plans for the coming year and stay focused in the hope that the temperature outdoors will have climbed significantly by the time I have mastered all of the above.

The house will unfurl from winter to reveal a more hospitable living space that's a little bit more gorgeous when it's warm outside.

In the meantime, I'll keep the heating on and listen to my summer playlist from 2014, featuring gorgeous tracks like this...

If I close my eyes, I can almost remember how it felt to be warm...



Is anyone else fantasising about summer too?

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 2 January 2015

Here's to 2015 and growing old disgracefully

I have to admit to enjoying life with older kids - they're fabulous. And now that I'm no longer responsible for utilising advanced diplomacy skills on a daily basis and being worn to a frazzle doing mum-stuff, I'm making the most of my freedom. I've also allowed the housekeeping to lapse a little and stopped ironing altogether after nobody noticed during a trial run. Now that the girls are at university I get to re-discover the woman I used to be. And this is what I love about no longer being responsible for all of the above:

1. In my head I've discovered that I'm still eighteen - it's great to pick and choose from all the wisdom that comes from being considerably older - even if everyone thinks you're slightly bonkers. It's a shame I don't have the body to match, but there you go.

2. Not caring less about what others think. The way I see it is this - real friends are there for the duration and being slightly mad can make life really rather interesting, especially if you have a friend who's on the same wavelength. If someone doesn't like you, that's fine - it's entirely their choice.

3. Enjoying everything in moderation - a little chocolate every day (preferably dark) and the odd glass of wine makes me very happy indeed. I rarely managed to drink when the girls were home as lifts were often required in the early hours and their talent for sniffing out a hidden stash of chocolate was infuriating.

4. Having a stash of books on the bedside table and actually finding the time to read them.

5. Trying out new experiences - what's the worse that can happen? It's best not to think about fracturing my elbow at the ice rink a couple of years ago - I'd been having a blast up until then and may have been pretty useless in the coming weeks. The rest of the family survived and all of the domestic c**p was done in a fashion. Normal service resumed eventually.

6. I can tell the cat my innermost thoughts - she's a great listener and hasn't told me I'm in need of professional help as yet.

7. I love to run up behind people who've dropped litter, and say, "Is this yours? I'm sure you didn't mean to drop it," before handing it back to them. And for the record I've only been sworn at once.

8. I've learnt that dropping not-so subtle hints to my other half means that he'll know exactly what I want for my birthday. Last year I mentioned that I'd never had a space hopper as a child and felt as though I'd missed out. You can guess what he bought me as a gift. Just as soon as the girls head back to university at the weekend this will reappear from the loft and be put to very good use.

9. I used to be terrible at saying "No" to things I hadn't the time or inclination to fit into the chaos of family life. I'm still pretty rubbish to be honest, but I've learnt to say, "Maybe, let me get back to you." Often the answer will be, "No," and I'll have fathomed a perfectly coherent excuse by the time I return the call.

10. There are days when I'm convinced that I'm pretending to be a grown-up and here was me thinking that I'd have everything sussed now that I'm forty-something. I guess not.

I'd love to read your thoughts....

Happy New Year to all my readers. Whatever you're have planned for 2015 - here's hoping it's fabulous x

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 29 December 2014

Weird Stuff I Used to Believe...

Cast your mind back to 1972 if you're old enough to remember that far back. I was just four years old and had already developed a passion for TV. I was pretty discerning and had no desire to watch Jackanory, The Herbs, or anything chosen by my mother for that matter. As there were no remote controls back then, you had to leave the sofa to change channel and just as soon as my mother left the room - that was exactly what I did. While today's kids are fixated on Peppa Pig and In the Night Garden, my programme of choice was Bewitched. This was an American fantasy sitcom featuring a witch married to an ordinary man who couldn't resist using her magic powers to solve all of life's problems with a twitch of her nose. I'm not certain that at the tender age of four I was the target audience, I adored it all the same. And maybe I shouldn't have been surprised when my daughters became fascinated with Charmed just as soon as they learnt to change channel for themselves.

Intrigued by the idea that you could wriggle your nose and achieve whatever you wanted was a tempting concept and one that my four year old self was convinced I could master someday. I'm guessing that my top spells would have been something like this...

1. Can my sister be somewhere else.
2. I'd love a pet kitten.
3. Please magic my toys away.

No matter how hard I tried, the nose wriggle technique never worked and I learnt that the only way to achieve anything was through putting in the time and effort. It's a shame, but there you go. I can't imagine there's a mother anywhere who wouldn't wish to have this talent on standby for when the house is looking a bit meh and you can't summon the energy to move, let alone tidy away everyone's stray belongings.

I was also pretty discerning in my choice of sweets. Sweets for children in the 1970s were typically Spangles, Opal Fruits (now called Starburst) and Space Dust, but I always preferred chocolate and occasionally if my dad was feeling generous he'd buy me some Munchies (still produced today by Nestlé - yay).

 
I had no idea why Munchies shared their name with cat biscuits (my food of choice for the longed-for kitten that never arrived) and was convinced that the reason behind this had to be that each and every one of the chocolate variety actually contained a cat biscuit in the middle. As an adult I'm clueless as to why that would have made them appealing. And as I had to wait another three decades before sharing my house with a kitten, I wasn't tempted to test out any cat biscuits to see if they tasted the same.

Did you ever believe in weird stuff when you were small? Please tell me I'm not the only one.



Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton



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