A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Two Graduations, 8 days and 1000 Miles

1000 miles, 8 days, 2 graduations, twins, happy mumIf there was one thing I hadn't anticipated with twin daughters at universities 375 miles apart, it was the possibility that they might both graduate during the same week. This should have been no surprise, since they started university on the same day back in September 2013 and have been challenging their parents with problem solving conundrums ever since.

We had known Olivia's graduation date for some time, but Sophia's uni were more elusive and refused to divulge dates until April. The thought of not being able to attend both ceremonies made me want to curl up and have a good cry. I compared it to having to choose your favourite child. In the end, it was Mr A who sat me down and suggested that I go to Olivia's, and he would go to Sophia's.

I was so happy when we finally received the news that we could all attend both ceremonies. I hastily started scribbling plans for our hectic week in September... booking hotel rooms and emptying our diaries.

If all goes to plan in September this will happen...

On either the 2nd or 3rd September, (she can't remember which day - bless!) we'll drive to Heathrow to pick up Sophia after her summer working in the US. This involves a round trip of 250 miles.

On the 5th September, we'll drive 250 miles south with Olivia and a possibly still jet lagged, Sophia and stay in a hotel for 2 nights. Olivia's graduation is on the 6th at 5:30pm. We are probably going to celebrate the night before however, as we're on the move again the following day.

We check out of the hotel after an early breakfast and drive the 250 miles home. Maybe there will be time for lunch before we leave (again), travelling 125 miles east to stay at a different hotel for 2 or possibly, 3 nights.

Sophia's graduation is at 10:30am on the 8th September. We'll attempt to party for the rest of the day and if this doesn't happen (because we're asleep), there's always the 9th. 

I've worked out that in the space of 8 days, 3 of us will have travelled 1000 miles. The 4th member of the family, Sophia, will have travelled 6000 miles if you include her flight.

To add to the mayhem, Mr A and my mother celebrate birthdays on the 9th September. My mother turns 70 this year and dearly wishes to attend both graduations. Who knows if we'll get enough tickets? Fingers crossed.

One thing's for sure though... I will be one incredibly proud mum and couldn't be happier that I can attend both daughters' graduations.

This wasn't anything I contemplated back in the day when we arrived home from hospital with our daughters, placed the two of them on the sofa in their car seats and wondered what we were supposed to do next?

Olivia and Sophia Anderton, twin babies

Almost twenty-two years on I'm still looking for answers.
Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 28 August 2015

Where is Your Happy Place at Home?

For me, the living room is my happy place at home. It's where I curl up on the sofa to read, take my best naps, and watch random TV programs such as World's Greatest Motorcycle Rides, Ice Road Truckers and Salvage Dawgs. It's also where I catch up with friends over cake and steaming mugs of coffee.

It's here that the cat sleeps peacefully on the sofa and takes up most of the space, despite having her very own cat bed that she's ignored since the day we brought it into the house.

It's a room to come together as a family, to enjoy films and share stories about the randomness of our days. Here, you'll find the latest collection of shells and poster-sized photos from far-flung family holidays on the walls. There are also a couple of throws for cooler evenings and a small collection of art glass vases.

The living room also houses our collection of DVDs, CDs and a few of our books. Who knows if we'll ever listen to The Party Album by The Vengaboys, or watch Muppets From Space on DVD again? They're sitting on the shelf - if ever we're tempted. There are books from my twin daughters' early years, all favourite bedtime reads that I can't quite bring myself to offload. There's also a signed copy of the latest novel by Sarah Winman, a thoughtful gift from daughter, Olivia. Who knew a room could contain so much? If you take a look when it's tidy, you'd hardly notice so many belongings hidden among the shelves. Each and every one creating memories of family life in the same house for the past eighteen years.

It's where we drink tea after arriving home from work. Our place to retreat to at the end of a crazy day and forget all about the outside world over a glass of wine (or two), while burning incense or candles under the gentle glow of fairy lights.

I can't begin to imagine life without a room to unwind in.

Back in 2013 there was a near miss at home, when one daughter's bedroom almost went up in flames after a mishap with a candle. We were fortunate that her quick-thinking prevented the unthinkable from happening. The burnt windowsill and smoke damaged paintwork were soon repaired, but our thoughts turned to the possibility of 'What if?' and the sickening realisation that everything can change in a moment.

What would we have chosen to save, after ensuring that family members (including the cat) were safe? If, that is, there had been time to salvage anything at all?

The experience encouraged us to think about the value of our possessions accumulated over the years and how much they might cost to replace. That figure was more than we thought and our contents insurance was adjusted accordingly.

If you had to replace all of the stuff in your happy place at home, how much would this cost?

Legal & General have been insuring homes for over 90 years and have a helpful Home Contents Calculator to calculate the cost of replacing items in individual rooms of the house. You can check out their buildings and contents cover here.   

This is a collaborative post.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 17 August 2015

The Week That Was...

Social gatherings are like buses in the Anderton house. There are none for ages and then several turn up at once. Last week there were so many invitations that I had to admit defeat and decline a couple. The thought of partying every night fills me with dread and as I get older, I need a night off in-between to recover.

On Monday... I helped my dad with some gardening. Now I'm pretty rubbish at this, but I looked at the state of his lawn and borders and realised he needed all the help he could get. The realisation that a parent isn't coping as well as you'd thought is a sad one. We talked of putting his house on the market and moving to somewhere more manageable. I can't tell you how horrible it was to have this conversation.

Monday was also the Writing Group Summer Social, along with bottomless jugs of Pimms, lots of wine and scrummy cheese and nibbles. I was tired. We sat outside. I'd begged Mr A to collect me at 10pm, so that I could be in my PJs and reading a book by 10:30pm. And for once I managed to sleep quite well. This is what usually happens most nights: The Trouble With Sleep.

There was an invitation to a friend's house on Wednesday. As she lives just up the road there was a whoop of joy as neither of us had to drive. I have experienced some of the worst hangovers ever at her house. Her husband is a generous host who cannot bear to see a millimetre of empty space in a wine glass before refilling it. I vowed to stick to two glasses. And failed miserably. Four bottles of wine between the three of us, (Mr A was drinking beer) meant I was feeling delicate for most of Thursday. This led to the realisation that I need to come up with a new strategy next time. Mr A suggested I drive as I won't down a single glass of anything containing alcohol when I take the car.

I took several pictures during the evening, but this was the only one in focus...

View from a friend's garden
Daughter, Olivia phoned early on Thursday morning and announced that she would be coming home next week. Despite feeling under the weather hungover I felt very happy indeed and may have danced around the kitchen. She soon picked up that I was feeling below par and said, wasn't she supposed to be the one drinking? Ever been told off by your daughter? I felt well and truly chastised. Apparently she was up at 5am and had been to the beach, this made me snort with laughter as it wasn't so very long ago she was doing stuff like this...  Mum, You Know You Love Me...

I may have spent much of the day reading blogs and trying to find a few new ones to add to my reading list. This was my favourite discovery last week from Kate, over at Yes, She Writes. Anyone who's a book lover will identify with her brilliant post about the problem with books.

On Friday, I hopped off into town to buy food for a post I'm working on about food banks. As I'd been given some money to buy stuff, I was determined to make this stretch this as far as possible and went to several stores to buy as many special offers as I could. It was raining heavily for most of the day and I reached that point where I couldn't have been any more soaked than I already was. I returned looking rather bedraggled and realised that wearing Converse that morning wasn't one of my better decisions. On Friday night I consumed no alcohol whatsoever.

I'd agreed to attend a Golden Wedding Anniversary party with my father at the weekend. Sadly, my stepmum died four years ago from 'the big C,' but we still keep in touch with her lovely family who live just outside Bath. Their welcome was very warm indeed and I don't think I've ever had quite so many social hugs and kisses in one weekend. I wish we saw a lot more of them. For the record no alcohol was consumed.

On Sunday, after lengthy goodbyes and one heck of a delicious breakfast, we drove home again. The cat had missed me, I'm not so sure about my husband. I have a feeling he may have relished the peace and quiet.

Linking up with My Week over at Mummy Barrow.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 22 June 2015

It's a Cat's Life

Tortie-tabby, unimpressed, KittyWe'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.

Cat, claws, sofa

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.

Cat, sofa, unimpressed

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?'

Sofa, stroppy cat

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.

Cute cat, white paws

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.

cat, plotting, revenge

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Funny Sort of Day

Yesterday was one of those days that can only be described as a little weird and makes you question whether it's you or the rest of the world that's completely lost its marbles. As a woman of a certain age - I'm often left thinking it's me that's crazy.

Too much to do and not enough time is a common theme for most of us in the run up to Christmas. And Monday in the Anderton house was no exception. After tackling umpteen domestic tasks and delivering gifts for most of the day I thought I'd be clever and order a takeaway. I pre-ordered pizza and dessert online for delivery at 6 pm and felt happy that dinner was one less thing to bother about.

Mr A arrived home early and this made a pleasant change from second guessing what time he's coming back and leaving messages like this - 'Dinner's in the cat and next door's dog has polished off dessert.'
6 pm came and went and there was no sign of the food. I went online to track the order and found an email saying that it had been cancelled. To be fair, this wasn't entirely the company's fault - they'd insisted on taking a mobile phone number and as I don't have one, I'd given them Olivia's old number from her defunct phone. Why does everyone assume you have a mobile exactly?! I've never owned one - here's why.

I may have snarled. After a crazy day playing catch-up with fun festive tasks we were all pretty famished and not amused that there was nothing for dinner. We received a helpful follow-up email suggesting we might want to try another company, I decided against it and settled on leaving the house looking completely bedraggled and doing what we always do in a crisis - head to the local fish and chip shop. I arrived home just twenty minutes later to be greeted by Mr A at the door looking rather perplexed - 'You'll never guess, what's just turned up?'

'No idea,' I said, secretly hoping that a last minute Christmas present from Amazon had made an appearance.

No such luck - it was the pizza. 'Aaaarrrgggghhhh,' I yelled crossly.

'Would you like wine with that?' added Mr A helpfully.

'Yes please, make it a large one,' thinking that this might help before hormones got the better of me. We decided to eat the fish and chips and rammed the pizza into our well-stocked fridge for lunch the following day.

If you read my blog regularly you'll know that one of my nicknames is Dobby - here's why. Later that same evening as I wrestled another pile of  laundry into the garage, Olivia kindly pointed out that I'd dropped a sock. Handing it over I said, 'Master has presented Dobby with a sock - Dobby is free.'

'Nice try Mum,' said my daughter. 'You're not getting out of the washing that easily.' I guess you can't blame a mum for trying.

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton



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Friday, 5 December 2014

I Don't Know Why She Does It

Izzie's pretty tied up at the moment, (not literally) so she's asked me to jot down some mewsings and share them with you. As family pet in the Anderton house I see more than my fair share of strange behaviour and most of the time I have no idea what they're all up to. But right now, I'm wondering if anyone can explain why my owner human is even more insane than usual?

Here are a few examples of recent behaviour I've spotted while curled up on the sofa feigning sleep...

1. She returns home looking extremely knackered and carrying lots of bags.

2. She keeps wrapping the contents of these bags in brightly coloured paper and losing the end of the 'sodding tape,' her words, not mine. She isn't pleased when I chew the ends of the ribbon on any of her parcels and then swipe off the bows.

3. There is talk of a tree coming into the house in the not too distant future. I don't get why you would bring a real tree indoors, but in previous years I've seen this as a treat for yours truly, used it as a scratching post and reached the summit many times. A few baubles may have been sacrificed during my climbing expeditions - but it was so worth it.

4. The kitchen cupboards are so rammed I have a feeling we have a least ten people coming to stay for quite some time. I am plotting my escape.

5. My sisters will be home from university soon which can only mean one thing... trouble's brewing. She gets ridiculously excited about this and I'm happy to report that I receive slightly less attention as she lavishes affection on them as well as me. There's only so much love one cat can take. As I haven't seen any evidence of my cage making an appearance from the back of the shed, I'm optimistic they're not going on holiday and putting me in cat-jail.

6. Most evenings she can be spotted on the sofa scribbling in cards and licking envelopes... is this normal?

7. Yesterday afternoon she curled up on the sofa and watched one of those soppy Christmas movies. Personally I'd have preferred Fast and Furious anything, but as Mr A wasn't home there was no one around to help wrestle the remote off her. She may have sipped on a small rather large glass of something medicinal... I have no idea what was in there, but it seemed to cheer her up.

She's lucky I can't tell anyone what she gets up to. As for recent behaviour exhibited in the house I really have no idea why she does it. Can anyone enlighten me?

I know that it's going to be Christmas soon and here's hoping she remembered to buy a little something for me. In my recent letter to Santa Claws, I pointed out that I'd been exceptionally well-behaved this year and asked for an endless supply of tuna. If she buys me another pointless cat toy and a new collar, I'll be asking for the gift receipts and returning these the day after Boxing Day. I think these are the feline equivalents of socks and tea towels and you'd think that as I'm always losing collars while out on my daily constitutional would be a pretty good hint that actually, I hate wearing one. And while we're on the subject I'm supposed to like something called catnip... she can't smell it, but apparently it's supposed to make me go crazy. Seriously, why bother? Isn't there enough crazy going on already in my house?

Is any of the above going on in your home too?

Until next time, when I'm hoping that things might be back to normal... whatever that might be.

Copyright©2014 Kitty
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Friday, 28 November 2014

What's in a name?

The cat - aka Miss Nibbly
I spotted this week's writing prompt over at Post40Bloggers and couldn't resist sharing my thoughts as it's a great topic... 

Doesn't everyone dish out a nickname to their unborn foetus? Is this where the liberal sprinkling of alternative names begins

Having no idea what sex my twin babies might be, I spent considerable time perusing through the baby name books for inspiration. A combination of hormones and sleepless nights led to some pretty weird suggestions; but in the end we decided on names that were surprisingly normal compared to the assortment of nicknames both daughters have accumulated ever since. 

There are times when I wish I could call my nearest and dearest by their real names, but somehow I can't quite bring myself to do it. Calling someone by a pet name seems more affectionate somehow and it's never malicious. It does however drive both daughters completely insane and despite numerous requests to, 'Cut it out,' it's a habit I can't seem to break.  

In fact, if anyone in the house is referred to by their actual name this can mean only one of two things... 

1) We have company, or, 
2) They're in deep trouble.

Olivia answers to any one of the fifty or so names she has accumulated over the years - albeit with varying degrees of success now that she's twenty years old. 

Sophia doesn't have quite so many and I have no idea why this is. It's rare however, that she'll answer to any of them, which makes for rather one-sided conversation. Just occasionally, she'll forget and humour me with a reply - that makes me very happy indeed. 

My daughters' nicknames range from the sublime to the completely ridiculous and sadly, I'm banned from sharing any of them. I am however, happy to share a few of my own... 

'Dobby,' is one, as I'm always behind the scenes performing mundane tasks. I guess in the depths of domestic drudgery I have a lot in common with the infamous house-elf from the Harry Potter series and thanks go to Mr A for dishing this one out. For the record he's often referred to as 'Kreacher,' as he tackles his fair share of dull tasks around the house too.

Mr A also calls me 'Delia' - I'm always convinced that whatever's going on in the kitchen is completely under control, but sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. My husband finds this name especially hilarious as obviously the unflappable Ms. Smith's kitchen couldn't be more different from the one at the Anderton house.
Since watching Maleficent earlier this year, Sophia has been getting her own back and now refers to me as 'Beastie,' I'm guessing this isn't a compliment but as I've yet to see the film I'll reserve judgement.

Even the cat has nicknames although more often than not she won't answer to anything. 'Kip' is one of my names for her; this originates from the fact that she's sleeps rather a lot. Another is 'Miss Nibbly,' as she is partial to dishing out a swift nip whenever the mood takes her.

Is there a medical term for this affliction I wonder? Please tell me you do this too? 

Thanks to none other than Her- Mel-ness (also a nickname - who knew?!) for the inspiration behind this post.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

If Men Did Christmas...

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be dragged off Christmas shopping with my sister for the second time in as many weeks. As both of us refuse to shop during December, this means making a start in October if we've any chance of getting everything done.

Over lunch we had a discussion that went something like this...

Sis, "Do you ever wonder what would happen if you left your husband in charge of the Christmas shopping?"

Me, after choking on my tomato and mozzarella panini, "Well, I guess everyone would get a voucher from his favourite store, regardless of whether or not they shopped there."

Sis, "That's more than anyone would get from mine; I think they'd be lucky to receive a tenner sometime in January."

If Men Did Christmas became the topic of conversation for the rest of the day. And, after much deliberation, we came up with the following conclusions...

  • There is no way that turkey would be on the menu, both of the men in our lives would be more likely to extract barbecues from their winter hidey-holes and cook steak instead.
  • Everyone would receive a gift voucher, or cash (and this would probably be late).
  • The festivities would be far less stressful as our husbands wouldn't allow it to turn into a stress-fest.
  • We have no idea how the Christmas tree would look, but we were quite taken with the image above.
  • If Mr A had the chance to escape for a few days he'd prefer to book into a Premier Inn (and no, this isn't a sponsored post), eat Christmas dinner in the adjoining pub and return to normality two days' later. And finally...
  • If there were any gifts that required wrapping by either of them, it could turn out like this...
MC Hammer Spoof - Can't Wrap This (YouTube)

We concluded that the only reason we'll be doing all of the insane crazy Christmas stuff for another year is that our offspring are looking forward to the holidays and we'd feel guilty about a lone relative spending Christmas on his own. And so, for the next couple of months there will be extra demands on our time while we source perfect gifts, lovingly wrap each and every last one and prepare for the festive season all over again.
If you are a man and totally hands-on with all of the festive planning, I'm happy to apologise
whole-heartedly. Perhaps you wouldn't mind passing on a few tips to my brother-in-law and husband, who are both pretty clueless when it comes to creating the perfect family Christmas.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Birthday Season

OK, so it's September already and my thoughts are turning to OMG, 3 members of the family all have birthdays coming up. Mr A will be even older than he is already on the 9th September. And my daughters turn 20 on the 13th! First of all, how the heck did that happen? and secondly, that makes me feel old!

Buying gifts for my daughters has become even more of a challenge since they left home for uni. One has become master of losing stuff, while the other likes to keep life simple by not keeping lots of belongings at her rented house. I have a feeling that the thought process behind it goes something like this...

Less stuff = Less mess. 

To add to the mix they're both rubbish at coming up with suggestions and storage isn't exactly abundant. Hence gifts need to have a purpose and not take up too much space.

And so it falls to me to come up with ideas and I tend to go for gifts that can be useful with maybe one or two, inspired choices. This is what I've come up with so far...

Lights from Cable & Cotton to cheer up their drab studenty rooms...

Mojito for Olivia
and Cherry Pop for Sophia

Converse Pumps

Sophia has been a fan of Converse for a very long time. And as her current pair are looking rather worn, I've treated her to a pair of these...

Converse Well Worn Hi Trainers

Olivia, on the other hand prefers Skechers and so I've picked these out instead...

Skechers Bobs Utopia Lazy Daisy

Swatch watch....

As Sophia's a rower, any watch has to be waterproof, so I've gone for this...

Swatch - Pretty Sexy
Right now I'm struggling to find a watch for Olivia, so I guess that means just one thing... another shopping trip.


Sophia has asked for only one thing: perfume. As she's been borrowing my Coco Chanel all summer long I was only too happy to oblige. This is what she's chosen after a month of spritzing fragrances in department stores...

Kenzo Jeu d'Amour

Olivia has asked for some of her reading list for this semester as she's studying English Literature and loves books. This is what I've ordered to help her out:
  •  Black Skin, White Masks - Frantz Fenon
  • The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby
  • Falling Man - Don Delillo
  • A Tale For The Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
  • Belinda - Maria Edgeworth
  • The Nature of Blood - Caryl Phillips
  • The Book of Daniel - E. L. Doctorow
  • The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacialupi
  • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner - James Hogg
  • Quicksand & Passing - Nella Larson
  • The Grass Is Singing - Doris Lessing
 Books are always appreciated by my eldest daughter and she is always happy to receive them.

After I've sorted all of my own gifts to my daughters sussed, I dread the onslaught of calls from friends and relatives... "What are we going to get the girls for their birthdays?" And I'll be thinking: I haven't a clue and I'm their mother. Vouchers anyone?

Mr A is even tougher to buy for as he's not materialistic in the slightest. I've concluded only that we'll have a lovely day out... just the two of us. I'm certain he will appreciate some time away from the mayhem at home.

So, what do you buy your nearest and dearest when you're stuck for ideas and need all the help you can get? All inspiration gratefully received...

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Blog Spot Interview - Jaime Oliver

Jaime Oliver, The Oliver's MadhouseThis week's blog spot interview features the lovely Jaime Oliver from The Oliver's Madhouse. Jaime's blog features posts about lifestyle changes, reviews and fabulous tales of family adventure with a toddler and a teen. Jaime also hosts not one, but two blog hops! Magic Moments on Mondays and Active Family on Thursdays. If you haven't come across Jaime's blog before, you should pop over for a read.

Here, Jaime shares her thoughts on being a mum, everyday life and karaoke...    

        What’s the inspiration behind The Oliver’s Madhouse?
As awful as it may sound there is no exciting inspiration in The Oliver’s Madhouse (blog that is, not family). It’s just about us. It’s not to have the prettiest pictures or to be a chart climber, it’s just about capturing our life as honestly and accurately as possible. I made a promise to myself that when I started it, I wanted a fair representation of our lives and the madness that goes round in my head… I think that’s working.

I wanted the kids to look back on the blog in the future and see what was life was actually like... and not an idealized view of what a picture may have represented.

        What’s your favourite waste of time?
Whoever invented the refresh button on social media platforms will never ever get a Christmas card from me. I am a complete sucker for the refresh button and the procrastination that it can bring, especially on Facebook and Twitter. If I need to get work done I have to come out of them, mute my phone and set time frames while working, or I would get totally carried away.

        Have you ever tried karaoke? If yes, what song? 
Oh dear goodness… it’s like you're inside my closet and dragging out the skeletons!

Yes… I have tried karaoke… badly… I am a terrible singer and it only gets worse with alcohol. Thankfully these days with age I have given up almost all drinking (I am too much of a control freak I fear). 

I have only ever sung one song. I only remember snippets of that night and from what I remember of singing, it wasn’t one I'd ever want to relive!

        Do you have any hidden talents?
I used to play a euphonium as a young teen but other than eye-rolling, my talents these days are far less exciting… verging on non-existent. Maybe I need to take up a new thing!

         What drives you completely insane?
Ungratefulness – is an ugly trait and it drives me crazy, along with dog poo on pavements, cold callers and rude folk. I think I better climb off my soapbox as I really could moan for England!

        The best book in the world is…
I would like to offer some insightful title being an avid reader; however there is one book that I’ve read that makes me cry all the way through. It’s based on domestic violence and although not my normal read, my mum read it and passed it on to me many years ago after saying it sounded like my past life.

I no longer have the book, nor can I remember it’s full title but I am searching for it again. Not to feel sorry for myself, but it makes me stronger knowing where I came from. It’s like each time I read it, it gave me a little piece of me back, if that makes sense?

        What were the last 3 things you bought?
My daughter some new pants.
A new ironing board.
Some apples… yep, I really am rock and roll!

 What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Save! I was notoriously bad and spent money hand over fist until the age of 21, when I was on my own with daughter and penniless!

Take time to enjoy each day… even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Lastly, I would tell my 16-year-old self that in 10 years’ time when the option to buy my own house came along, buying a newer build will not be a financially wise move. Go for the first house you look at and snap their hand off!

        Wine – red, white or rosé?
Rosé is my fave, it has to be super chilled. Although having said that, it’s been nearly 3 months since I had a proper drink!

        Describe a typical day in your life...
Kids eat breakfast, while I get ready. I get the toddler and house straight while chasing the teen to hurry up. She finally sets off for school ten minutes before registration and then I start work.

I work from home, so have my desk in the living room so I can see Joshua and he can intermittently pass me krabby patties he has made (damn SpongeBob square pants).

While making lunch I tend to go on a cleaning spree… washing on, wet load on the line and then spend the most of the afternoon flitting from work to toddler to washing/ironing/cleaning/cooking (delete as appropriate). Hubster gets in at 2.30pm as he starts work super early and so then it’s on with prepping, cooking, sorting tea, baths, showers and toddler to bed. Then I pick up work again, often till the early hours.

It’s often about as exciting as we get, but I love it. Working from home, although it’s often harder to get stuck in with a toddler in tow, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

        Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
A lift engineer! I hate lifts and I would hate getting stuck in one even more! My borderline OCD tendencies would be going nuts, so stick me in there with someone that can fix it and fix it quick!

        What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
In my teens I helped crew an ocean youth club yacht to Holland. We were even pulled away by a tug from an oil rig! On the way home there was no wind so we were using the engine. It developed a fault and we crept into the red markers round the base of an oil rig which was dangerous, so we were pulled back out. Although thinking about it now terrifies me. At the time it was super exciting!

Thanks to Jaime for her refreshingly honest answers and for being my guest this week. 

If you'd like to be featured on The Blog Spot Interview, please drop me an email at izzieanderton@gmail.com and I'll be in touch. It's always lovely to hear from fellow blog authors and learn more about the fabulous people who make the blogging community such a wonderful place to be.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wood For The Trees - Part 2

When our daughters moved out and went to university last September, we looked at the accumulation of child-related paraphernalia in our home and thought only, "Why do we have all this stuff exactly?" The realisation that the paddling pool, Swingball, trampoline, assorted rackets and balls were now redundant and taking up 75% of the available space in our shed was a very sad one indeed.

After the girls left home, I may have tackled their bedrooms with gusto. This was tat that was right under my nose and the need to declutter was overwhelming and long overdue. I have blogged about this strangely cathartic process here

The loft however remained untouched. Pretty much a case of out of sight, out of mind. I'd lost count of the number of times the hatch had been flung open and extra contents added to our mound of belongings.

Although I've decluttered the house at least once a year since we moved in, my Beanie Baby generation daughters have at least 100 of the furry cuddlies stored in vac packs up in the loft. We have enough Sylvanian Family sets to start a village, plus a ton of Harry Potter Lego, Duplo, building blocks, family games and books. We also have a massive rocking horse (but I may have smuggled that over to my mothers and hidden it in her loft). And don't get me started on all the coursework that's found its way up there after my daughters have spent the last 15 years in education.

As the loft was groaning under the weight of our stuff, it was time for action. We plan to move house during the next couple of years and that means only one thing: sorting out.

Mr A is guilty of keeping all sorts of random c**p. We have a broken video recorder, a camcorder that hasn't worked in forever and every single Terry Pratchett novel ever written. There's also a stash of items that he describes as, "Might come in useful at a later date."I have my doubts.

I had a sneaky suspicion that most of the hoarding up in the loft wasn't actually down to me. Yes, I'm guilty of not being able to part with a small selection of baby clothes, a couple of cot mobiles and congratulations on the birth of your twins cards, but all I could remember putting up there was my wedding dress, assorted dolls from far-flung places, some vintage Ladybird books, a model of a Porsche, my collection of Whimsies, a certificate for a writing competition I won back in 1974 and that was about it.

As soon as I'd let that thought slip from my mouth, there was a collective gasp from other members of the family. Each of them adamant that they were not responsible for hoarding the most. And so, last week Mr A and myself spent a very long evening up in the eaves, dividing treasured family possessions junk into distinct piles: Me, Him, Olivia, Sophia, stuff-to-go and family belongings, such as Christmas decorations, sleeping bags, suitcases etc.

I have a feeling that the evidence speaks for itself:

Olivia's stuff!

Sophia's stuff!

Assorted tat belonging to both of them!

Beanie Baby vac pack no 1
Beanie Baby vac pack no 2!

Christmas decorations
Suitcases and sleeping bags

Mr A's treasured assortment of belongings!

And last, but by no means least, my stuff...

We've already done a couple of trips to the tip for those items that had no right being up the loft in the first place. And sold, or donated most of the kids' belongings from the shed.

The only question is: how did we accumulate so much stuff exactly? Now that our daughters are all grown up, we have no need to keep any of it and so, I will hold on to a selection of mementos from their childhood and offload what's left.

It's a sad realisation that we are a family with children who are all grown up, but here's to life made simple and new beginnings.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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