A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label University. Show all posts
Showing posts with label University. 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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Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Degree Show

Illustration Degree ShowI was going to write a Week That Was post today, but as this week has been all about my youngest daughter and getting to see her degree show, I had a change of heart.

My daughter has loved to draw ever since she mastered the art of holding a crayon. It came as no surprise when she announced her choice of degree and we encouraged her to follow her passion.

After three years studying illustration she moves out of digs tomorrow and back home until Friday, when she leaves to work in the US for three months. That's my youngest, creating chaos before moving quickly onto the next phase of her life. She's already thinking about options for when she arrives home again in September and doesn't plan on standing still for too long.

You know that sensation as a mum when you have to bite your lip or swallow hard to stop yourself having an emotional meltdown, well that was me earlier in the week. But this post is not about me, this post is dedicated to my youngest and her incredible artwork.
 
It was no surprise that Sophia's primary final project focused on all things Japanese. This has been a strong influence since childhood.

These pieces are dedicated to four Japanese cities, their landmarks and culture...

Illustration Degree Show

The attention to detail was incredible. She also designed her own origami paper and made cranes for visitors to take away.

This, however was my favourite piece of all, dedicated to the city of Kobe.

Illustration Degree Show

Closely followed by this...

Illustration Degree Show

She also completed a project on War Horse by Michael Morpurgo...

Illustration Degree Show

Illustration Degree Show


Huge congratulations to my gorgeous girl. Go and enjoy your amazing summer in the US. Your mum is so very proud of you and all your hard work. I can't wait to see what happens next for you x

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton
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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Week That Was... 9th May 2016


Daisies, Blue SkyAfter another busy week, we were treated to some rare, but welcome warm weather at the weekend. I'm hoping that this is just the start of a fabulous summer ahead. It was lovely to see so many people out basking in the sunshine and taking the opportunity to explore the great British countryside. The evenings were heavy with the scent of last-minute barbecues and here, the first Pimms of the season was enjoyed in the garden. Today, the rain has returned with a vengeance. Here's hoping it won't be too long until the clouds disappear and we can get on with making the most of summer.

This was my week...

Sudeley Castle
As the weather was glorious, we chose to ignore the mountain of monotonous tasks requiring our attention last weekend and ventured out to visit Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds instead.

Sudeley Castle, the Cotswolds


The castle was built in the 15th century, possibly on the site of a 12th century castle and is surrounded by ten beautifully laid-out gardens. The chapel, St Mary's, is the burial place of Queen Katherine Parr, sixth wife of King Henry VIII.

Queen Katherine Parr, Tomb, St Mary's, Sudeley


It's a fascinating place to visit and comes highly recommended.

Reading
The Promise of Happiness by Justin Cartwright. This was a gift from my daughter and looks promising so far. It's perceptive and features lots of amusing observations about a family in crisis. I can't wait to see how it ends.

Daughters
Both daughters are working hard on dissertations and final pieces of work for university. Parcels filled with treats were dispatched recently - containing sweets from their favourite sweet shop in town, sachets of hot chocolate for windswept beach walks and cold evenings spent camping at a rowing event. Plus cookies and breakfast biscuity things perfect for pulling all-nighters in the library. Final letters from home featuring nonsensical news and motivational words were posted yesterday.

I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of my daughters.

How did the last 3 years at university go so quickly I wonder?

Holiday 2016
And finally, the holiday is booked... after much trawling through the internet last weekend in search of the perfect vacation for 3, (yes, you did read that correctly). Sophia's going to work for Camp America again this summer, so we offered to take Olivia along. It's been a while since we've taken a holiday with either daughter, but I'm looking forward to spending time with my eldest. We settled on a week in Sorrento at a hotel that's right in the centre of town.

Today, it's 63 days and counting. Not that I'm keeping tabs.

The Week Ahead...
I'm looking forward to Music Night on Friday and Eurovision on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. For Eurovision 2016, I'm hoping for lots of cheesy, eccentric entries and will probably be tweeting live throughout. I hope to see a few of you on Twitter on Saturday night. You know the rule about not tweeting after wine? Well this goes out of the window for Eurovision as I suspect that everyone's having a party on there.

It's amused me that the US will get to see Eurovision broadcast live for the first time this year. I can't wait to see what they make of it.


Well that's about it for this week. Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead whatever you're up to.


Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 11 April 2016

I haven't lost all my marbles, but there's definitely a hole in the bag


I haven't lost all my marbles, but there's definitely a hole in the bagThis week has seen one daughter, closely followed by the other leave for their final term at university. Today the house is quiet, the beds and the fridge are empty and I'm alternately missing the mayhem and making the most of peace and solitude. It will take several days to adjust, but the past week has been an interesting one and I have loved having both daughters home as it adds a certain crazy dynamic to life.

This was my week...
  
Music Night
On Friday we attended another fabulous music event at a local venue. This time Olivia tagged along and it transpires that she can drink her mother under the table. I guess that's what happens when you've been at uni for two and a half years and had lots of practice. I, on the other hand am losing the ability to drink even two glasses without feeling completely sozzled. Note to self: drink less.

Cooking for four, three, two
Why does it take me an age to work out how much food to prepare for dinner when the girls have gone exactly? The quote, 'I haven't lost all my marbles, but there's definitely a hole in the bag,' springs to mind. Last night I set the table for 4 and only 2 of us were home, although there may have been a sneaky addition to the table. See below...

The only baby...
We jest that the cat is the third child we never quite got around to. We adopted Kitty from a rescue centre when our daughters were just 6 and she has been an adored member of the family ever since. I'm often heard to utter the phrase, 'Just because you're a cat doesn't mean I love you any less.' Sadly, she is besotted with my husband and only humours me with her presence when he's not at home :o(

A fellow blogger posted a photo of her cat eating breakfast at the table last week. Occasionally our cat invites herself to join us and Mr A and myself (secretly) find this rather amusing - neither of us has the heart to make her get down. I joke that she's better company than some of the people we invite over for dinner.


Cat, eating, table


Reading
A proof copy of a book that's yet to be released! The Course of Love by Alain de Botton - Review to follow very soon (I hope).

Happiness is 49 flavours
When I was little I remember owning a pencil case featuring Snoopy holding a multicoloured ice cream cone and the quote, 'Happiness is 49 flavours.' Back in the 80s - I was dumbfounded that there didn't appear to be anywhere near that number of varieties available in the small provincial town where I grew up. As an adult, I'm still rather partial to ice cream and only too happy to test out a new flavour. Last week while out on a walk with my daughter we spied Ferrero Rocher ice cream and in the interests of research, we had to try it out. I'm happy to report that it was rather delicious. Nothing however, has beaten the dizzy heights of 2012's Pimms & Strawberry ice cream. If you happened to spot a blogger and her daughter dodging rain showers while attempting to devour ice cream cones in Shropshire last week, it was probably us.

More happy news...
There was a small whoop of joy in the Anderton house on Tuesday. Daughter, Sophia rang to tell us the date of her graduation and it transpires that yes, we will be able to attend both daughters' ceremonies in September. It won't be easy as they're 375 miles apart - but it is going to happen.

Nominated
I have no idea who nominated my blog for Best Writer category in The Mad Blog Awards, but thank you so much. I wasn't even displaying a badge and was very surprised to receive a tweet on Friday.

Favourite Blog Post
I haven't featured a favourite blog post for a while, but this was an incredible read from Tattoed Mummy this week: Dads are rubbish at housework and parenting. The title (which is not what it seems) resonated well with my own experience of going back to work when my daughters were small and leaving my husband in charge. Pop over for a read if you haven't already. 

That's about it for this week. Here's to another awesome week whatever you're up to...

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton





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Monday, 4 April 2016

The one where a daughter finally sorts out her bedroom...

Daughter, Bedroom, Sorting out, DeclutteringAs regular readers will know, I'm always decluttering our home in the hope that some day we'll move to a house overlooking the sea and take only the things that are useful and/ or beautiful with us. In the meantime, living in a house that's slowly achieving minimalist status is a bonus. And while I'm pretty good at offloading anything that is surplus to requirements or takes up too much space - my daughters are possibly the polar opposite.

I have raised the subject of sorting out the contents of bedrooms many times; only to receive one of those withering looks from my offspring that roughly translates into...

'I hear you loud and clear - but didn't like what you said - so I'm going to ignore you.'

I was therefore surprised by the unfurling chaos in Sophia's room on Saturday evening and realising that she was actually going through her belongings came as a complete shock. Her collection of illustration books, art paraphernalia, coursework plus assorted tat she's accumulated while at uni has no space to go in a few week's time when she arrives home for good. This may have inspired her call to action. She's also off to the US for the summer and possibly leaving again just as soon as summer camp is over to teach abroad after that.

Sophia worked diligently in her bedroom for several hours. Methodically sifting through the contents of wardrobes, drawers and cupboards. I was astounded by the heap of belongings amassed on the landing and sad that so many treasured possessions from childhood hadn't made the transition into her adult life.

Gone are the cute kitten playing cards bought in Greece, the once treasured hair accessories and the Rubik's cube she never quite mastered. The prom tiara, secret diary and an assortment of gifts from friends and family that she neither wanted or used. My youngest daughter has grown up and there is no room in her life for any of the above. Instead, there is more emphasis on wanderlust than a room filled with stuff. 

Yesterday we made the long journey to deliver our youngest to university for the very last time. As we hugged before making the long drive home without her, I felt a familiar pang of something that's hard to define. I get to repeat the experience with my eldest twin daughter next week and know that I'll feel out of kilter in the coming days with only the cat and Mr A for company.

This morning as I bagged donations for the charity shop, I've gone from feeling sad to ever so slightly philosophical as I think about what's next for my twin girls and wonder where life will take them.

 
Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

















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Friday, 25 March 2016

Home for Easter

Empty nest, parenting, EasterDaughter Olivia is on her way home as I write this post. Sophia is already here after we collected her from uni last weekend. Last Sunday was a very long day and this meant that we have been tired for most of the week. Not that we shared that with our daughter obviously. To our kids, we'll always be mum & dad and therefore capable of anything.

I anticipate chaos during the week ahead as we adapt to living together as a family of four all over again. Sophia will work on final pieces for her degree show in May; Olivia, on her dissertation. There will be mess and mayhem, laughter and tantrums as I try (and fail) to keep everything afloat.

I read a fabulous post from Suzanne over at Chickenruby earlier in the week. What Happens After Your Kids Leave Home? summed up rather beautifully what it's like to live without your children once they're all grown. It resonated well with thoughts about my own daughters.

It's taken a while to settle down, but since my daughters left home and went to university we've got used to sharing our home with a cat who thinks she's in charge. I juggle 2 part-time jobs. Keep the house going. Find time to read. Enjoy long soaks in the bath. Go out for leisurely breakfasts with my husband. Attend local music nights. Spend time with friends. And secretly enjoy my own company more than I ever thought possible.

Having to factor in the needs of four all over again comes as a shock. I sometimes wonder if I'm becoming selfish in my old age - but it's rather lovely to be able to do all those things I haven't had time for since becoming a mum. I love my daughters more than anything, but accept that they need to live their lives and enjoy their own space. When they left for university in 2013 I couldn't imagine life without them, but now, I love that my daughters are capable of being independent - it kind of validates your role as a parent doesn't it?

For now, I'm mum all over again. Cakes are baked, the freezer filled, cupboards stocked and Easter Eggs hidden. I anticipate the car never being on the drive, the house unravelling and not being able to find what ever I'm looking for. The laundry basket will overflow, plans change at the last minute and I'll be up to date with the latest chart music.

When they leave, I will miss their company and the laughter that fills the house when they are here. 

As both daughters finish university in June, I have to get used to sharing the house all over again. Sophia's off to the US for 3 months and plans on completing a TEFL course and heading off again after that. Olivia's home for the summer at least. Who knows what will happen next? She returns to uni early for work experience at a newspaper and is busy applying for jobs.

Whatever happens I'm exceptionally proud of my girls and all that they have achieved. But just like Mummy Pig in The Three Little Pigs, I know that it's time for my daughters to make their way in the world and believe that this is the ultimate goal any parent could possibly hope for.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton


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Friday, 21 August 2015

You Don't Know If You Don't Try

Featured on the blog today is a guest post from daughter, Olivia. She starts her  third and final year at university in September, where she's studying English Literature and Creative Writing. Here, Olivia reflects on the opportunities she's had to explore the world of media and how much she's enjoyed the experience. 

Throughout life I have considered myself to be a very lucky person.

I was fifteen and sat in a maths class, but unable to think about numbers or solve problems. I kept watching the clock. In exactly fifteen minutes I would be in a small office having an interview with a woman I had never met, talking about myself and why she should hire me for a two week placement at a media company.

I was terrified.

But there was another feeling, like the feeling you get waiting in line for a theme park ride. That feeling was excitement.

If I am truly excited about something it doesn't matter how scared I feel, or how worried I am that I will fail. Hope for something great will always outweigh feelings of fear or doubt.

After a firm handshake I left the small office with my placement confirmed. Those two weeks were to be one of the best and happiest experiences of my school years. 

Now that I am at university, opportunities are thrown at me from all directions. You could almost drown in them. I always feel guilty for letting something pass me by. And the age-old question, 'What if?' pops into my head on a regular basis.

But the truth is, I like to trust my instinct. If I'm not excited by an opportunity, no matter how amazing it is, no matter how many doors it could open - I won't take it on.

Last winter, while sat tearing my hair out over an essay I received an email. My university were looking for writers to report on a local book festival. Intrigued, I looked at the online program for the two-day event. I could not believe my eyes: one of my favourite children's authors would be there. I instantly replied to the email and filled it with lots of exclamation marks and capital letters to show just how excited I was.

A week later I had a lovely conversation with the author over the phone.

On a cloudy Sunday morning, me and my fellow journalists bundled out of a taxi after a ninety minute journey and walked around the festival site. Today I would finally get to meet the author in person. At the book signing I felt a little out of place as everyone else was either a child or parent. I kept looking at my watch as I had to write a 300 word report by 4pm. It was now after 3pm. But this was something I had to do. When I got to the front of the line I was pleased to find the author every bit as lovely as I'd hoped she would be, and she later sent me an email wishing me luck for the future. I hope that one day my books will be displayed on the same shelf as hers.

This summer I applied for an internship at a top publishing house in London. Although my latest venture wasn't successful, I feel optimistic for the future and plan to apply again next year.

Excitement is the secret ingredient to achieving the impossible. Who knows where life will take you?


Copyright©2015 Izzie and Olivia Anderton

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