Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wobbly Tooth Watch: Day 6

"It's very nearly going to fall out!"

We are at DefTooth 1.
The Tooth Fairy has him on the top of his watch list.

Pool coverage and photos will be provided as events warrant.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Spaghetti Challenge

Thing One, Thing Two and I took part in our school's "Spaghetti Challenge" last week. It was thrilling, challenging, suspensful and fun (sort of). We learned a lot about the pathos of winning and losing, but especially losing. But it also taught me an important lesson: Not all answers are available on the Internet.

The Spaghetti Challenge is a science exercise designed to show students about building, architecture, forces and problem solving. Each team was given a packet of spaghetti, a bag of marshmallows and a chocolate egg. The team that built the tallest tower in 20 minutes that could support the chocolate egg won the contest.

Now I love a good challenge. I'm also a big believer in arming myself with research and possible solutions before embarking on tasks such as this. So prior to the challenge, I did various things to get ready: I consulted with my dad (an electrical engineer), my best friend (a chemical engineer), I thought about how we could do it, and, crucially, I googled the problem.

After searching a couple of different terms, I couldn't find what I needed: a picture of a prize-winning spaghetti challenge entry. Obviously, the science teachers of the world (these contests have been held worldwide) are conspiring against future contestants in this challenge by never posting a picture of the winner. What's the point of the internet if it's not going to give up something like that?

I consoled myself by deciding I had done enough ruminating and consulting to solve the problem. We set out with a spring in our step. When we reached school, I realized I forgot my camera. "How will the world see our prize-winning entry?" I thought to myself. "I want to do my part to help future contestants!"

Thing One, Thing Two and I sat around our black bin bag, with Thing One clutching the spaghetti and Thing Two clutching the marshmallows. The whistle blew and we set to work. Our team was somewhat hampered by Thing Two's insistence that he eat a marshmallow. "But we'll need it," I said, thinking of my aspirational five-foot-tall structure. Finally, I acquiesed, knowing that if I didn't, he'd disrupt our work [read: cry until I let him have one].

To make a long story shorter, my ambitious plans were just too ambitious. We spent too much time on the first structure, whose foundation didn't really work. We pushed it aside with five minutes left to try a different one, but we ran out of time. As Thing One put it, "We didn't win because our tower did not stay up."

I should note that the winning team had THREE adults on it, a distinct advantage, and I also have insider information that as the structure got taller, the children were not allowed to build it, or for that matter, even touch it.

But we had fun. Thing One and I have decided that since Mr. MarathonMum missed the challenge (a big story broke just an hour before the challenge), we're going to try again in our kitchen.

Will I post a picture of a successful structure or will I contribute to the international conspiracy of silence? Only time will tell.

Wobbly Tooth Watch: Day 4

Thing One has a Wobbly Tooth! He woke up on Friday morning with it. This is terribly exciting for all of us, as this is his first wobbly tooth [in America, you would say loose tooth]. We are sure he is now on the Tooth Fairy Watch List.

Day: 4
Status: "Still wobbly!"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Crime & Punishment Success

With nine hours to go until my book club meeting, I finished "Crime and Punishment" today.

Yes, it was difficult. Yes, it felt like homework. But like many things that require hard work, it was worth the effort. I've always wanted to read it, and now I have.

To summarize: Penniless university drop-out decides to murder pawnbroker to prove a theory. In the 1860s, many people in St. Petersburg are poor and sad. The murderer is poor, but not sad. The murderer finally admits his guilt to the police, but still feels no remorse. He gets sent to a hard labour camp in Siberia for eight years. Even Siberia doesn't make him feel sad. Finally, it is the love of a good woman which makes him feel sad. And happy. The end.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Crime & Punishment Challenge

There's not much time for blogging today, MarathonMum fans, because I have reading to do!

Pages read: 459 (out of 647)
Pages remaining: 188
Hours until meeting: 32
Average number of pages I'll need to read per hour to finish in time: 6 (but then I'll have to give up sleep).

Yes, it does feel like homework, but it really is a fantastic book.

Friday, May 19, 2006

My Left Foot

I haven't been out on a run in two months. This is not by choice, mind you, but because of my dodgy left foot [insert joke about Academy Award winning movie here].

I've taken Nurofen. I've put ice on it. I've applied anti-inflammatory cream. I've tried to rest, but as any mother will tell you, that's impossible to do.

After two trips to the doctor and one X-ray, I finally hobbled to the orthopedist today. His diagnosis was that it was either a stress fracture or an inflamed joint on my toe. But first we must take an MRI.

"Ooh! An MRI!!" I thought. "They get those on ER all the time. I know I must bring my iPod because I have to sit still for a long time. I've always wanted one of those. This is exciting!"

The doctor went on to say that if it was an inflamed joint, I'll need to get a shot of cortizone. Then I said, "Just like a real athlete!"

Now I have to wait until the MRI in two weeks' time, to find out what exactly the problem is. I will keep MarathonMum fans posted.

In the interim, there will be no running (Obviously, since I can hardly walk, but still...Boo! I'm really, really starting to miss it), rest, and more Nurofen. Crucially, I need to stay off my feet as much as possible. We'll see if that can be done as a mother of two.

Tasteless Joke of the Day

A South African gold miner loses his leg in an
mining accident.

Choking back the tears later, he cried,
"It's over! who's gonna want a one legged gold

Then his phone rang. "It's Paul McCartney."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Crime & Punishment Challenge

We're making progress, MarathonMum fans.

Pages read: 201 (out of 647)
Pages remaining: 446
Days until meeting: 6 1/2
Average number of pages I'll need to read per day to finish in time: 67

It's still a challenge, but the plot is picking up, so it's getting easier to read.

The McCartneys Split

Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills McCartney announced Wednesday they will divorce.

Shock! Horror! Sadness!

Not, mind you, because their marriage is over. But because I didn't include them in my Couples Who Will Never Last List. To review, in September I compiled a list of couples who were bound to split:
Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore,
Britney Spears-Kevin Federline,
Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie,
Paris (Hilton)-Paris (shipping magnate), *split*
Hilary Swank-Chad Lowe, *split*
Marc Anthony-Jennifer Lopez,
Beyonce-Jay Z,
Jessica Simpson-Nick Lachley. *split*

I didn't do too badly, since three of the eight couples (37.5%) are no longer together. I guess I didn't include the McCartneys because I thought Sir Paul really did find True Love (even if Stella and Heather didn't get along), but I was wrong.

It's now an appropriate time to update the list!
Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise (the brainwashing will stop eventually)
Jennifer Aniston-Vince Vaughn (the cynic in me says she just wants to keep up with Brad)
Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie, (though I'm beginning to think this one might stick)
Britney Spears-Kevin Federline,
Marc Anthony-Jennifer Lopez,
Beyonce-Jay Z,
Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore,
*I'm sure I've forgotten a few, so I'll add more later. The last time, I forgot TomKat, which was a MASSIVE oversight. If you have any suggestions, feel free to add them.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Crime & Punishment Challenge

My book club (or clique, as one friend called it) is reading "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I am becoming somewhat worried about this, since the meeting is next Wednesday at our house and I haven't read much of the very, very long book.

I've decided to make it a challenge and give my MarathonMum fans a daily update about my progress. As I can't run at the moment-- it's my dodgy foot and I see the orthopedist on Friday-- this is a way to test myself. Encouragement is encouraged for this monumental task.

Today's update:
Pages read: 42 (out of 647)
Hours until meeting: 222

Wish me luck.

Thing Two Turns Three

Thing Two became a three-year-old today!

I love age three. I know some mothers think three is worse than two, but I totally disagree. First, we can go out and about and actually have FUN rather than be worried about having enough nappies, getting back in time for nap time and having enough snacks on hand (read: most of the drudgery is behind us). Second, he can make clear what it is that he needs or wants, even if he doesn't always get it. Third, he's not yet in nursery, so we can do interesting things during the day, like go to museums. And finally, he's becoming his own little person.

Now, if you'll indulge me, I want to list the Top Seven things that he does at the moment that I love:

1. If I forget to say, "Bless you" when he sneezes, he says, "Bless you me, Mom!"

2. If I give him one snack or treat, he'll automatically say, "And one for Andrew?"

3. When he runs into my room in the morning, he pulls on my hand-- much like Lassie-- and says, "Breakfast Time!"

4. If he's doing something he shouldn't, and I ask him what he is doing, he'll say, "Just boring things."

5. He's made up his own little special tune he sings when he's happy.

6. His smile and laugh.

7. When I say, "I love you, " he responds, "I wuv you too."

Happy Birthday, one-time marathon personal trainer. You're the best!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The British Apprentice

"The Apprentice" was chosen last night, and the winner was Michelle!

Now, for my American friends, you would be mistaken if you thought I was talking about the Donald Trump show. In fact, I am talking about the BBC version of the Donald Trump show, which stars British multimillionaire Alan Sugar.

As it is a BBC show, you would be correct in thinking that it is classier, less manufactured and more interesting than the Donald Trump show of the same name.

I was completely and utterly riveted by "The Apprentice." I loved watching them do the tasks. I couldn't believe how stupid some of them were. And I was quite impressed by the sales acumen of some of them, especially Ruth (though she lost out in the final to Michelle).

I'm quite tempted to apply myself but I don't think I'm such an attractive candidate. First, I am currently unemployed, so the BBC wouldn't have a job description to put under my name. Instead, it would say, "Maureen, Unemployed." Not so impressive. Also I have no business experience whatsoever, unless having a paper route at age 12 counts. Sir Alan would say something like, "So you've never worked in business. What makes you think I should employ you, given you have NO IDEA how business works." Sir Alan may also not like Americans, and there's nothing I can do about that. Finally, I may be too old. I think Sir Alan likes his Apprentices young, and at 37, I might be considered to be over the hill.

Still. Still. Still. Watching the candidates do some of the tasks, I thought, "I could do that" (even selling used cars). I think that really to succeed, you just need some common sense and confidence, of which I have both. Some of the candidates made such STUPID mistakes (ordering 100 chickens for 100 pizzas, for example) I thought again, "I could do that."

But the moment that really made me think I ought to apply was when it was evident that not one of the four finalists had bothered to do their due diligence about Sir Alan's portfolio of companies.

Even an unemployed 37-year-old American woman would know that you arm yourself with information, and then you start.

p.s. While I was happy to see that a woman will be the apprentice, I began to think she ought to have lost out on dress sense alone when I saw what she chose to wear to the post-win interview. Harsh, but true.

David Blaine: Who Cares?

The other day, David Blaine completed his latest "magic trick"-- and I use the term as loosely as I can-- at Lincoln Center in New York. He spent an entire week in what Thing One accurately described as a "fish bowl."

Ho hum.

Why is this magic? I know plenty of people (read: mothers) who would think seven days away from making meals, cleaning up Lego, remembering P.E. kits, and all the other usual tasks was a holiday, albeit one underwater.

Blaine's last stupid human trick, I mean stunt, I mean magic trick, took place just a few miles from here, next to Tower Bridge. For that "event" (I'm trying to be polite) he spent 44 days in a plastic cube suspended next to the bridge. Again, where's the magic in that? And that time, it meant even longer time away, that time 44 days. Where do I sign up?

Apparently, Blaine said this time he took his travelling freak show, I mean MAGIC SHOW (I have to stop doing that) to New York because he didn't feel appreciated in London. While hanging in the box, people did all sorts of funny things, including using a remote-controlled airplane to dangle a hamburger next to his box.

I would argue that was one of London's finest hours. Londoners, and I include myself in this group now, weren't hoodwinked into thinking his "trick" was anything more than a stunt.

Maybe after his failed human fishbowl "magic trick" New Yorkers will agree.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Midnight Stroll in London

Last night, Nicholas-- who will be 3 a week from today-- and I had a rare opportunity to stroll the streets of Greenwich at midnight. I'm sure we were quite a sight: he in his Superman pajamas and me in my red trench coat.

We were, in fact, not admiring shop windows or counting stars, but making our way to the car, so I could drive him to the local hospital.

Our Sunday had been lovely. We had a wonderful (read: slightly boozy) Sunday lunch with our friends, and then, much to the delight of our family, the new season of "Top Gear" started last night. Nicholas, filled to the brim with fun and laughs, fell asleep on Tim's chest during the show (alas, he missed "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car).

At midnight, I was awoken with the most horrible sound-- coughing crossed with wheezing and a little bit of barking thrown in. It sounded as if he was choking on something, but we couldn't think what he could have found in his bed. We asked him, "Did you put something in your mouth?" He replied, "Yes. Blueberries!" (that had been six hours earlier).

We decided, finally, we (read: the person who knows where the pediatric A&E is) should take him to the hospital. My one comforting thought at the time was at least there wouldn't be a wait at 1 a.m. My heart sank, though, when we arrived and I saw two other families in the waiting area. At least I didn't have to pay for parking.

While the nurse looked at him, he didn't cough once, and that's when I started to feel a little silly for bringing him in. But she said the symptoms sounded like croup, which improves once the night air hits the throat, opening up the air passageway. She said she would listen out to hear the cough while we waited for the doctor.

Now it's 1 a.m. and Nicholas is in great spirits. He's playing with the Nintendo Game Cube, putting together some Lego cities and even playing Foozball. At one point, he and I are laughing with another Mom at the Foozball table and I thought to myself, "Is this right? Should I be laughing at 1 a.m. in the emergency room? Shouldn't I be on the chairs with a concerned look on my face?"

Once I do sit down, I realize that the Phillies are playing the Giants. So I've got that going for me, at the A&E at 1 a.m. I can show Nicholas some American sports! It reminded me of the time I was in labour with Andrew and I got to watch Monday Night Football. It's the little things that keep you going at that hour, believe me.

Finally, the nurse hears his terrible cough/wheeze and deduces that it is croup. So while Barry Bonds*, who may or may not have taken performance-enhancing steroids, plays in Philadelphia, Nicholas gets his own dose of steroids, so he can breathe better.
(*the American baseball player chasing Babe Ruth's homerun record who has been accused of taking steroids)