A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

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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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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Saturday, 28 May 2016

National Hug Your Cat Day 2016

Hug your cat day, kitten, kitty, catostropic, adopt a petI didn't grow up with a pet.

We had a rabbit for a year or so, but after some skin pin-prick allergy tests when I was about eight, it turned out that I was allergic to the floppy-eared creature. While out on my swing one warm sunny day, I noticed that the bunny was no longer in residence in his hutch inside the greenhouse.

Questioning my mother on the subject, she admitted that the rabbit had died and she hadn't wanted to upset me. I suspect the truth was probably more brutal, and that 'Rupert' succumbed to a fox with hungry cubs after successfully digging a hole from the greenhouse in a bid for freedom once too often. My mother is silent on the topic to this day.

I pestered for a Labrador puppy after that. Naturally, this fell on very deaf ears. 

Fast forward twenty-five years or so and twin daughters, Olivia and Sophia nagged for a pet of their own. I suspect that one daughter's first words might not have been your usual, 'dadadada,' but 'dat,' instead - this translated into cat. She was utterly fixated on any feline and just as soon as she learned to walk, any utterance of the word, 'dat,' meant that she had spotted some unsuspecting fluff-ball in the distance and was about to do a runner. If the cat was daft enough to hang around, she would have loved it to death given a couple of minutes in its company.

After several years of nagging, I finally caved. The girls were almost seven and there was room for one more something to love in our lives.

I made a couple of calls to a local cat charity and we endured a scary home visit to assess our suitability as cat owners. I already had twins and no one had done any checks then. Perhaps if they had, they'd have realised how woefully unprepared I was to take on the role of mum to not one, but two small babies, never mind a cat. We were approved as potential adoptive parents and asked for our preferences on kitten type. I'd always had a thing for tabbies, but as the kitten was a gift for our daughters' 7th birthdays, the choice was theirs to make.

One Saturday in July we set off to choose our kitten. Seven adorable faces stared back at us from the confines of their makeshift home. Number eight hid in a corner, nuzzling into an old jumper and pretending to be asleep. This one had attitude and hissed as she was removed from the security of her hiding place. 'Ah, this one's feral,' said the helpful lady from the adoption centre. 'She might not be suitable for re-homing with a family.' Obviously, this was the one our daughters wanted despite the splayed claws and feisty temperament.

After much love and perseverance, the kitten was deemed OK for re-homing with a family. Several weeks later we returned to take our tortie-tabbie, feral rescue baby home. We bundled the latest addition into her cat basket and once at home, she explored tentatively, before finding her paws and claiming the house for herself.



Well to look at anyway.

Her many talents included...

1. Curtain shredding.

2. Carpet destroying.

3. A knack for getting into spaces she couldn't reverse out of (cue: spice and wine rack dismantling during the first week).

4. Eater of bugs - flies, spiders, wasps. You name it. She's probably eaten it.

5. Phenomenal toe-biter.
6. Flinging herself around the house at great speed.
For those first few weeks I wondered what the heck we had done? Others might rave about the joys of cat ownership, but I wasn't feeling it.

And then, came a breakthrough. Exhausted after a full day of exploring, shredding and eating things she shouldn't, the kitten clambered up on the sofa, nestled down in my arms and promptly fell asleep. She looked so cute that I hadn't the heart to move her. Apologies for the pic quality - this is pre-digital era and my daughter has chopped the original picture to fit into her kitten photo album.

Kitten, adopt a cat, Kitty, catostropic

Finally, I got it.

This tiny bundle of fluffy gorgeousness had finally deemed us worthy of her company and felt safe enough to trust us. I may have sobbed with relief.

And so, as she turns 15 next week, it's hard to sum up the previous years with our gorgeous 'Kitty' (the girls got to name her too!). She dishes out unconditional love and the very best hugs. Knows when someone's having a bad day and does her best to make amends. She fills the house with laughter and dishes out playful swipes and bites when anyone's pushing their luck. She has my husband firmly wrapped around her four tiny white paws and also has her own Twitter account @catostropic

Crazy? Moi?


4th June also happens to be National Hug Your Cat Day... as if any excuse were needed.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton
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