The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin teens - nothing else scares me!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Mum Meme

Thanks to the lovely Sarah from Mum of Three World  for tagging me in the Mum Meme. I love her inspired questions and hope that I've done them justice as I'm just back from holiday in Cornwall and haven't blogged for over a week.

Here goes…

What is the soundtrack to your life?

I'd probably choose What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong as it was released the year I was born and is one of the first songs I can remember listening to. I still think it's beautiful and often listen to it on my iPod. After my daughters were born this was the song that made me sob...

What has been your favourite holiday so far? 
Our holiday to New England in 2012 was one of the best family holidays ever. We spent two weeks flinging ourselves on and off public transport and visiting as many places as possible. It was awesome. Here are the relevant blogs if you'd like to read about it: Boston, Salem and Hyannis

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Hopefully growing old disgracefully as I'll officially be retired by then. Maybe I'll have a couple of grandkids and be able to share all of my daughters' childhood tales with them. I plan on kidnapping the grandchildren at least one day a week so that their mums (my daughters) can have the day off and hopefully stay more sane than I ever did while being a mum. Here's hoping we'll be living by the coast by then and that I'll still be writing, blogging and reading even more books than I do now.

What do you best remember about your grandparents?
I'm lucky enough to have a grandma who's still alive. Sadly, she suffers from dementia - but occasionally she has a good day and we get to reminisce about the past. She's been the matriarch in our family for as long as I can remember and always been there for everyone.

I'll always remember our shopping trips to Birmingham and holidays in Wales when I was little. They were happy, fun-filled days and created memories I'll always treasure. I like that Gran is still full of spirit on a good day and has a habit of perking up whenever my daughters pay a visit.

If you could go to space, would you do it?
I'm thinking yes - I probably would - if only to see how peaceful planet earth looks from space. Although I'm guessing I wouldn't appreciate the motion sickness I'd have to endure on the way up - as I suffer badly with vertigo.

Shoes or handbags?
I'm not fixated on either to be honest. I have one handbag I use most of the time and as it contains my entire life, I'd be completely flummoxed without it. If I switch over to another bag, I tend to panic that it won't contain all the c**p I need.

Shoes - obviously I have lots more of these, I particularly like Geox. So I guess I'll go for shoes.

What food couldn’t you live without?
I may have to change that to foods and yes, I know... that's cheating. I love dark chocolate, crunchy peanut butter and lettuce on wholemeal pitta bread, tiramisu and all summer fruits, except raspberries.  

And now all I need to do is come up with seven questions to ask the fabulous bloggers I'm nominating for this meme. These were the first things that popped into my frazzled brain...

Who was your first crush?

What were the last three things you bought?

What are you secretly hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year?

Where would you go on holiday if you could go anywhere in the world?

What are you reading at the moment?

What was the last concert you went to?

What were you like at school?

I’m tagging these four lovely bloggers:

Anya at Older Single Mum
Catherine at Always a Redhead
Sonya at The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock n Roll Mum
Ting at My Travel Monkey

and hoping that they'll take part.

Thanks to Sarah for nominating me.

Until next time...

 Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Friday, 14 November 2014

So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999...

There was a time in my life when I lived to dance. In the mid-eighties after an eight-hour stint at a Saturday job I loathed, I'd summon the energy to throw on the latest fashion from C&A and head off to a disco. This was a typical look...
  • Black Lycra dress.
  • Black suede heels.
  • Roller-ball lip gloss (possibly spearmint flavour).
  • Glitter gel on my cheeks and sometimes in my hair too.
  • Purple eyeshadow. 
After dousing myself in Panache or Vanderbilt, I'd head downstairs to be told by my dad that I looked like a slug that had eaten a bag of chips (such was lip gloss in the eighties). And I guess parenting was different back then, but I'd have chastised Mr A if ever he'd said anything similar to my daughters.

School discos, parties, night clubs... I was there. And as soon as everyone was up on the dance floor I'd be swept up in the raw energy and dancing without a care in the world. In Sixth Form most students booked 18th parties at a local wine bar called Nutz - we'd be there most weeks, leaving our troubles behind and making the most of our freedom. Is there anything quite like a disco with school friends you've known forever - all singing and dancing to a song that's been on repeat in the common room all week?

On the dance floor we'd sing along to the latest songs we were fixated on. And it might have been a pretty eclectic playlist - U2, The Cure, Dead or Alive, Prince and Tin Tin... but these songs defined our generation and our collective passion for music made for brilliant nights out. I loved Kiss Me by Tin Tin so much - I spent my hard-earned wages buying the 12-inch single. I think I still have it somewhere...

And at the end of the night, there was always the possibility you'd be asked to dance by the boy who'd been looking at you across the crowded dance floor all evening. I was usually too engrossed in dancing to notice. Is there anything more lovely than dancing in the arms of someone you have a bit of a thing for when you realised he felt the same way? Aren't those kisses simply hypnotic when you're a teen?

Little did I know that in 1999 I'd be celebrating New Year's Eve with twin daughters in tow and it was literally a case of, '2000 zero zero party over, oops, out of time,' as by this time all my friends were married and even the wedding invites had dried up.

Now forty-something I don't have the opportunity to dance any more. The closest I get is extracting my iPod from the drawer in the kitchen and dancing all over the house with the Dyson. Tragic - I know. But I am still addicted to the latest chart music - much to my daughters' irritation.

Why should dancing be something only my daughters get to do? My youngest, Sophia offered to take me clubbing recently - I don't know who'd have been more horrified if I'd accepted? Maybe we need to invent a club where all forty-somethings can go and be themselves without feeling like the oldest person in the room?

I'd love to hear your favourite memories about the awesomeness that was the school disco back in the day...

This will be the last post for a while as I'm heading off to Cornwall for a break. Back soon - be good while I'm gone people x 

 Lyrics: 1999 by Prince

 Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Making the Most of Your Day...

We face 25,000 mornings in our lives - so how should we go about making the most of them? This is the idea behind Free Office Finder's #EarlybirdChallenge, which suggests getting up earlier than normal and making the most of some free time. 

The benefits of getting up in the early hours of the morning are enormous. You can make a huge difference to your health and mindset simply by adjusting your sleep pattern. By giving yourself more time in the morning, it's possible to reduce stress levels and enjoy some quiet time. Waking up earlier provides the perfect opportunity to eat a proper breakfast, while exercise will energise you for the rest of the day.

Recent studies by The Daily Mail and The Telegraph showed that a whopping 61% of adults claim to have no free time at all. A third of adults claim to have less than an hour to themselves after work, and many mums have a meagre 17 minutes a day to call their own.

And so, when I was asked by Free Office Finder to have a go at the #EarlybirdChallenge I was inspired to give it a try.

With the clocks changing a few weeks ago and the nights drawing in until the winter solstice on 21st December - by the time we arrive home from work it's already dark. The good news however, is that the mornings are lighter and this presents the perfect opportunity to head outdoors - if only you can resist the temptation to stay snuggled under the duvet and not hit the snooze button repeatedly.
On Monday morning I was up and about earlier than usual and by 7 am I was heading off for a walk in the forest. At 5 km this isn't something I often find time for and, as it's dark so early at this time of year - it's never an option after work. Crawling out from under the bed clothes and heading off in search of fresh air and solitude I'm filled with initial reservations and thinking only... "Ug - it's Monday, what am I doing exactly?"

Despite my negativity, I arrive to find the car park almost empty. It's not properly light yet and there's a residual mist hanging over the trees. Starting the walk in an early morning brain-fug, the more I walk the more clear-headed I become. Normally the local forest is a peaceful place to escape to at any time, but in the early hours it's even more tranquil than usual. I snapped a few pictures along the way...

Early morning light filtering through the trees

Autumn leaves trapped on a fast-flowing stream

Autumn leaf floating downstream

Fast-flowing stream

Multi-coloured ferns

Carpet of leaves in the meadow

And a very cheeky squirrel preparing for winter

I'm at my desk before 9 am and ready to start work after refuelling with a mug of coffee. There's nothing quite like the feeling of having a time out before the start of the working day and this felt guilty, but in a good way. I have to admit that I don't like staying in bed in the morning as this can leave me feeling lethargic. Most mornings I tend to start work early, keep going and forget that it's dark at around 4:30 pm. This means that I'm frequently deprived of fresh air during daylight hours and I guess it's all too easy to hibernate during the long winter months - but spending a little time outdoors every day can only be a good thing. Winter mornings present the perfect opportunity to achieve this.

My walk is a great start to the day and I'm inspired to make the most of getting up even earlier than normal and snaffling this hour all to myself for the rest of the week. Isn't it important to have a bit of me time every day? Isn't this what keeps us sane in an otherwise crazy world?

Everyone is welcome to join in with the #EarlybirdChallenge. Get involved by waking up an hour earlier every day for a week and see the huge difference it can make to your mental and physical well-being. Free office Finder will be tweeting #EarlybirdChallenge material to keep you inspired and motivated. When you have completed your week of early rises, tweet @officefinders using the hashtag #EarlybirdChallenge and share your stories.

Here's to getting up earlier and making the most of every day.

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post in association with Free Office Finder.

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 8 November 2014

Mentor Link

Founded in 2002 by Andrea Maddocks MBE, Mentor Link provides a mentoring service for children in the West Midlands. The charity currently has over 250 volunteer mentors and supports 360 pupils in local schools.

Mentor Link professionally recruits and trains volunteer mentors from the local community and aims to provide one-to-one support for children who may be facing difficulties and improve self-esteem, relationships and engagement in learning.

Sadly, as young people aren't as cute as babies... as adorable as fluffy bunnies... or as headline grabbing as the latest cancer figures, the charity doesn't receive the funding it deserves. Partly funded by The National Lottery, it relies on donations, a small but dedicated staff and a willing group of volunteers in order to survive. And with demand for the service increasing each year - the charity is looking to expand.

To raise vital additional funds, founder Andrea plans a challenging fund-raising even in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania for 2015. She'll trek for six days in wild and remote areas, experience harsh conditions and possibly encounter bears and wolves. She's set a fund-raising target of £10,000 - with all money raised going towards expanding the service and offering more children who may be facing difficulties in their lives, access to a mentor.

For more information about Mentor Link, click here

Alternatively, if you'd like to support Andrea's fund-raising event, please click on the link below:

Having volunteered for Mentor Link for the past seven years, this is a cause that's very close to my heart. Does anyone else volunteer too I wonder? If so, I'd love to hear about it...

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Best Things in Life...

I guess it's OK to feel under the weather occasionally - it gives you the opportunity to appreciate the best things in life while you fathom out what's not going quite so well. And when life's bobbing along nicely, it's easy to take the simple things that make every day special for granted and not think about the future and where we might be heading.  

In no particular order whatsoever, here are just a few of the things I love most. This list was scribbled down in a matter of minutes and reading it back made me realise that I have much to be grateful for. Many of them might be the simplest pleasures that life has to offer... but aren't they the best things of all?

Curling up with a book . My daughters . Hugs . Pimms . Strawberries . Dark chocolate . Travel . Our rescue cat, Kitty . Volunteering . Laughter . Clean sheets . Beachcombing . Listening to old songs . People watching . A good night's sleep . Mr A . New socks . Looking through old photo albums . Fairy lights . Peanut butter and lettuce on wholemeal pitta . The latest edition of my favourite magazine . Writing in pencil . Long walks in the woods . Maltesers . The sound of the sea . Cocktails . Wearing wellies . Friends and family . Catnaps . A mug of hot chocolate on a really cold day . Orchids . Warm fluffy towels . Ferris Bueller's Day Off . Live music . The first cup of coffee . The second glass of Prosecco . Spending time with my 12-year-old nephew . Being inside when it's cold and rainy outside . Dark chocolate digestives . Getting to Skype with my daughters . French bread and Boursin . My iPod and its eclectic mix of downloaded tracks . Arriving home at the end of a hectic day . My little red car . Talking to the cat as though she's our third child . Radio 2 . Time off for good behaviour . Red nail polish . Purple shoes . Straight hair days

It's good to reflect on life occasionally and make a note of all the things you cherish and love the most.

What would you write on your list I wonder?

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

On Marriage after 22 Years...

On Tuesday 4th November I'll have been married to Mr A for 22 years. This time last year I blogged about
our wedding and all the things my husband says that are music to my ears. You can find this post here. Despite the suggestive title... it isn't what you might think!

If any of you are in the heady early days of a relationship and wondering what lies ahead, this is what it's like 22 years down the line for me...

  1. When Mr A says, "Good morning darling, you're looking beautiful this morning," he will be talking to the cat.

  2. I've perfected the art of knowing exactly what my husband is thinking and when he pauses before replying, chances are he won't have called his mother/ located his credit card bill/ changed the cat litter (delete as appropriate).

  3. At a restaurant there's a 90% chance I'll guess what he's going to pick from the menu before he's decided for himself.

  4. If Mr A says, 'Can I get you anything?' he'll be feeling peckish and feels guilty about snacking alone.

  5. When Mr A says that he's planning on tackling a little DIY over the weekend... that is exactly what he means... a couple of hours and he's done. After that he's hopeful that I'll suggest we head off to the pub as a treat for all that hard work!

For the record... I am far from perfect. I'll hazard a guess that my top three imperfections according to my husband would be...

  1. Duvet thief.

  2. Waking at 3 am and failing to go back to sleep most mornings and last, but not least...

  3. Too organised for my own good Control freak.

Despite all of the above, being together for so long means that we've learnt to trust one another implicitly and know what it's like to weather a few storms along the way. We've learnt that difficult situations have a habit of sorting themselves out and that it's OK to feel unhappy occasionally, but not to take those frustrations out on one another. We've learnt that parenting is the toughest job of all and one that required both of us to stay focused and lead extremely chaotic lives for a number of years. It was all worth the effort though... and now our babies are all grown-up, they are awesome.

This year in lieu of an anniversary gift (apparently for a 22nd wedding anniversary the gift is copper - who knew?) we're heading off on holiday for a week. After fantasising about living on the coast in a penthouse apartment for a very long time, we've rented somewhere to test out what this would be like in real life during the winter months. Although, at time of writing it's unseasonably warm in the UK.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Three Little Words

I have always hugged my daughters and told them they are loved at every available opportunity. And now that they're older I can’t see any reason to stop. Over the years I suspect they mostly learnt to take this for granted and often when I’m dishing out words of affection it's received with... 'Oh Mum,' and closely followed by a sigh. Just occasionally the gesture gets reciprocated and that makes me very happy indeed. Now that both daughters are away at university (and I don’t get to see them until the holidays) I’ve resorted to writing letters and emails that end... Hugs and kisses, Mum xx

I’m not convinced either daughter appreciates the gesture.

During my daughters' sometimes challenging teen years I never expressed that they weren't loved… even in the middle of a row. If I was mad with either of them, I'd say, 'I love you, but I don't always like what you're doing.' I guess you have to remember you're the adult, no matter how bitter the argument.

I have a nephew, he's twelve years of age, gorgeous and mischievous and I know I'm going to have embarrassed him by saying that. My sister tells her son each and every day how much she loves him and he's started to resent this, just like my daughters did a few years ago.

During a recent visit to my sister's house I was chatting to my nephew and as he’s in training to be a teenager, he was not amused that his mum was dishing out her daily dose of affection.

'So, who's crazier then... me or your Mum?'

'You're both as bad as each other,' was his honest reply.

'Do you want to know why?' I asked.

'I guess so,' he said.

'Well, how would you feel if no one ever said that they loved you and you didn't feel as though anyone cared at all?'

'I guess I'd feel sad,' he said.

'Exactly, I said.'

I don't suppose he'll do anything but protest the next time his mum tells him how much she loves him... but maybe my nephew will remember our conversation and think about what life would be like if no one said those three little words at all.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Then and Now...

As a teen did you ever think you'd grow up and stay exactly as you were? Trapped forever in the seven years that defined your teenage years... only with a car and a house and the money to indulge in all the things you loved at that time?

I guess it's normal to never want to grow up and turn into a fully-fledged adult and I'm not sure I had any concept of what it meant to be older... why would you?

I even made a promise to myself that I'd never change and would stay tuned into Radio 1 and reading Smash Hits. How times have changed...

Way back when I was a teen... I wore heels, watched Top Of The Pops, listened only to Radio 1, bought every copy of my favourite magazine, ate a lot of crisps... any flavour, (except ready salted) shopped at C&A, drank Babycham, loved any music my dad took a dislike to... especially Dead or Alive, had no plans to fall asleep in front of the TV (unlike my parents) and thought that I'd never be too old to go clubbing.

Here's the bit where I justify each and every one of those changes now that I'm 46 years of age...

Heels... you're kidding right? Wearing a pair for any great length of time makes me ache in places I took for granted would always be supple when I was younger. I'm happiest in a pair of ballerinas or Converse and so... that's what I wear most of the time.

I'm partial to Radio 2... many of the DJs I used to listen to on Radio 1 as a teen now present on Radio 2 instead. It's a lot like listening to an old friend and Simon Mayo plays Mahna Mahna on his Drivetime show every Friday around 5:15 pm... what's not to love about that! And... gulp... given half a chance I find myself avidly listening to Woman's Hour on Radio 4.

I used to think that ready salted crisps were for old people. As a teen any flavour, no matter how weird was likely to be devoured with much enthusiasm. Is anyone old enough to remember hedgehog flavour I wonder? They tasted rather peppery if memory serves... but I kind of liked them. Now I only ever eat crisps when I have an attack of the munchies after a couple of glasses of wine. I can't justify the calories unless I'm inebriated and couldn't care less.

I've started shopping in M&S (other stores are available) they stock underwear that's sympathetic to the  forty-something figure, as well as a damn fine selection of food and wine. I'm also partial to placing orders with Boden and White Company and shopping at White Stuff, Fat Face and TK Maxx. I have a feeling the fact that C&A closed all of its UK stores back in the year 2000 had nothing to do with this decision whatsoever.

My passion for nightclubbing has been replaced by a love of dancing all over the house while listening to my iPod. But my all-time number one way to spend the evening has to be... curled up in front of the fire with a large glass of wine, a good book and being left well alone. And I guess I could be tempted by a glass of Babycham, but only if it came with a generous measure of brandy.

My passion for Smash Hits magazine had wavered long before it ceased publication back in 2006. Currently I have Good Housekeeping and Red magazines on subscription and don't plan on changing my reading habits any time soon.

Are some TV programs narrated to make you nap I wonder? The soothing dialogue on the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? meant that I failed to catch any episode in its entirety without taking a catnap halfway through. Maybe I should use this to my advantage and watch it on iPlayer as a cure for insomnia...

I'm just wondering if you turned out the way you imagined you would in your teens? I look forward to reading your thoughts...

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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