A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label Camp America. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Camp America. Show all posts

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Charlie's AngelsDaughter, Sophia left on Friday for the US. Three months away from home, working for Camp America for the second time.

We hadn't even pulled off the driveway before she had a hunch that something had been left behind. Parking outside the house, we extract her rucksack from the boot of the car and she riffled through the contents for several minutes without spotting anything amiss. 'As long as you have your paperwork, currency card and passport, you'll be fine,' we reassure her. 'Anything else can be replaced.'

We're on the M40 in Oxfordshire when she finally remembers what's not in her bag.

It's the keys to her suitcase.

I may have uttered a couple of expletives under my breath and told my daughter that she was an idiot. I apologised immediately and did that mum thing where you run through the consequences and try to come up with a solution.

Now I'd offered my daughter a selection of locks for her case and suggested that she use one of the more secure ones. She is, however, her mother's daughter and because I had suggested it, she had used the inferior one that came with the case. For once, I was grateful she hadn't taken my advice.

Now us mums have a lot of light bulb moments. Moments so inspired that you can't believe you didn't come up with the idea sooner. We're driving into Beaconsfield services when I yell, 'I've got it. We can pick the lock on the case.'

'Really,' says Sophia rolling her eyes.

'Yes, really,' I add. Riffling through the contents of the glove box and my handbag, I round up a pair of tweezers and some safety pins. Once we've pulled into a parking space, the boot is opened and I am ready to give it a go.

I manage to pick the lock within seconds and we bound off into WHSmith to buy a replacement. This time around we choose one without keys and settle on a numerical combination lock instead. I may have made a note of the number (in case she forgets this too).

If you're wondering why there's a Charlie's Angel picture, this is why...

Back in the late 1970s I was a huge fan of the TV series Charlie's Angels. In the days before the internet, games consoles and mobile phones, kids played a lot to relieve the monotony that was a 70s childhood and generally keep themselves out of mischief.

As part of my super-sleuth skills, I taught myself to pick the lock on my Cheney vanity case using only a hairgrip. In my adult life I have never been called upon to use this. A bit like mastering trigonometry for O level maths. I digress...

Forty years on, my 'detective' skills are finally being put to good use. Fortunately, this hasn't resulted in my getting arrested... yet.

To Sophia,

Have a brilliant summer in the US and try not to loose anything else.

Love you,

Mum xx


Your keys were the first thing we spied when we arrived home. You had left them in your sister's bedroom. 

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Cute Little Note

Daughter, Motivational smilesBefore Christmas I was having a sort out in Sophia's bedroom. I needed to retrieve all of the presents I'd stashed there to make room for my daughter to create chaos of her own when she arrived home from uni.

There were several gifts hidden in Sophia's blanket box, the one that housed toys not so very long ago and is now a bit like the room of requirement from Harry Potter - providing storage space for any family member who needs it. On removing the final present, I spied a tatty Wells Fargo envelope with my daughter's handwriting on it at the bottom of the box.

It read something like this...

Daughter, directions, Charmed House
733 to Downtown Union Station
Get off at Venice Broadway (23 stops)
Walk to Broadway/ Venice (4756)
Bus 4 Sunset stop/ Marion 14th
Turn left at Marion Avenue
Bellevue Avenue
Right onto Edgeware Road
Turn left at Carroll

At the end of her scribbled instructions she'd drawn herself a smile...

Chatting to her later that day I asked where she'd been with the carefully itemised directions.

She's been a fan of the series Charmed for years and had wanted to see the house where it was filmed. Both daughters watched the series from a relatively young age, perhaps before they should have done and continue to watch it to this day. Imagine Sophia's dismay to learn that the house wasn't actually located in San Francisco where the series was based, but instead, outside of Downtown LA in a beautiful neighbourhood.

After a lengthy trip on several buses, she eventually found the house and discovered that it was undergoing repairs - the exterior covered with ladders. That did not matter in the slightest to my daughter. She had seen The Charmed House and that was all that mattered.

Never underestimate the power of a daughter - she will find a way to achieve something even if it's a long way from home, requires some careful planning using free Wi-Fi and a very long bus trip.

Sophia's already been placed for Camp America next summer. Nothing could make her happier and as soon as she finishes her final year at uni, my daughter will be leaving home again. 

Copyright ©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 2 November 2015

The Lost Art of Postcard Writing

Letter writing, unexpected smilesThere was an unusual item of mail in the Anderton house last week that  made a change to the usual bills, statements and advertising junk. It was  a postcard all the way from the US in an unfamiliar, difficult to decipher handwriting. I read the thing (as you would), smiled at the content I could read and quickly put it down again - deciding that it had been delivered to the wrong address.

On the way up to bed that evening, I mentioned to Mr A that we'd received mail that wasn't ours and did he know of anyone by the name of Mr Kent, (which was how I'd read it) who lived locally? I'd racked my brain several times over and failed to come up with who it might be. It transpired that Mr A had no idea either.

The scribbled lines were filled with anecdotes and humour that I suspected only the true recipient would understand. I couldn't bear the thought of them not receiving their postcard all the way from Washington State with news from their friend or relative when such care had gone into its words - albeit in handwriting that was barely legible.

Letters and postcards seem to be a thing of the past with modern technology and it transpires that we can stay in touch from wherever we are in the world. Although that wasn't the case this summer for daughter, Sophia. There was no signal in the middle of the Oregon wilderness where she stayed for almost three months. Apart from the occasional email, I wrote to her each week with news and crazy anecdotes from home in an attempt to make the 5000 mile distance between us feel not so far away.

Doesn't that make a letter or postcard something to treasure? Will anyone hold onto a memorable email to reflect on in the years to come I wonder?

Picking the postcard up again the following morning, I finally managed to fathom out the name of the sender... it was Smudge. Next I noticed the recipient was KatKat. This was my daughter's nickname at Camp America during the summer. Staff are referred to by nickname rather than their actual name and I vaguely remembered my daughter, telling me she'd met a friend called Smudge.

Talking to my daughter over the weekend via Skype, I decided against telling her about the postcard. Instead, I've written to her and tucked the card behind my letter for her to discover for herself.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton   

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Saturday, 5 September 2015

Letting Go of our Adult Children

It's not easy to let go of our children, no matter how old they are. But if you love your offspring aren't you supposed to set them free, in the hope that some day they'll come back to you with a deeper level of understanding and respect?

If you fail to support their decisions, will they ever turn into responsible adults who can cope with the chaos of real life?

When daughter, Sophia, announced that she wanted to apply for Camp America this summer, I had no problem with that. What worried me were her plans to stay in the US for three weeks at the end of camp and travel alone. Especially as she's five foot nothing and could easily pass for fifteen years of age.

My father was furious with me for supporting Sophia's decision, but as she's almost 21 years of age what are you supposed to do exactly? I remembered the time when he barred me from visiting New York at the age of eighteen, to work as an au pair for six months. I have never forgotten this, and suspect my decision to support my daughter was partly an act of rebellion almost thirty years too late.

You hope only that you've equipped your children with the skills to survive in the real world. As a family we've travelled a lot and our daughters are used to getting lost, lugging cases and getting out of scrapes. I was cautiously optimistic that Sophia would cope well with the highs and the lows of her trip.

And so, she travelled with my blessing. I hoped that we'd stay in touch, but a non-existent mobile signal put pay to that and instead, I received only intermittent emails for three long months. I went to bed each night and fell asleep hoping that she was safe.

During this summer my daughter has...

Been bitten by a poisonous spider.

Got completely and utterly lost in Downtown LA.

Lost her glasses in the Pacific Ocean. 

And that's just what she's shared so far...

She's also...

Worked incredibly hard.

Been on an amazing adventure.

Learnt to trust her own instincts.

Grown-up a lot.

And made lots of new friends.

Can a mum wish for any more than that?

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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