Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy 9th Birthday Thing One!

Today Thing One is nine years old. I know people say this all the time, but it really does seem like it was just last year that he was born. Time really flies. It was a morning much like this one-- beautiful, sunny, with a whiff of autumn-- that I found myself walking up and down our little road, stopping every few minutes, so I could double over, hug myself and moan quietly during contractions. (Mr. MarathonMum kept an eye on me during my walk, but standing at our front door, clutching a mug of coffee.)

Thing One hit a few new firsts this year: His first cello concert. His first sailing lesson. His first overnight camp-out (when I picked him up the first thing he said, after a weekend of camping, was "Please can we go home now? I'm tired of the outdoors."). His first (and hopefully only) Harry Potter scar.

It's funny how now that he's older, the milestones he reaches are much more subtle. I went back and read last year's happy birthday post and everything I wrote last year is still true. He still loves to read. He still loves Monopoly.  He still loves golf. He especially still loves all things electronic, especially the Wii that he and his brother saved up and worked for. 

But I think, as time marches onward, that what we're beginning to see what sort of man he might become through these subtle milestones. Every once in a while, he'll do something that will leave me speechless. Like the time we walked past a homeless man, begging for money, and Thing One turned to me and said, "Can I have my allowance early so I can give it to that man who needs something to eat?"

Undoubtedly, Thing One is growing up. No longer does he run out of school, throw his arms around me, and give me a big hug and a kiss at the end of the day. He's too cool for that. But he still (shh!) sleeps with his blanket and he still has select stuffed friends who he loves, especially Alex, our WWF polar bear we adopted.

Even if he is too cool to kiss me in public now, he will always be my little boy. On to double digits.

Happy 9th Birthday Thing One!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Where in the World Will You Vote?

Today, a very special message from my good friend Gwyneth Paltrow. I mean, obviously we know each other and we're good friends, since all Americans in London know each other. We're both Americans in London! We both have children! We have so much in common! We meet all the time for lattes in North London. She said the fact that I live South of the River doesn't bother her. That's why I love Gwyneth. She's so open minded. 

In any case, I got sent this video from Democrats Abroad almost two months ago, but I'm just getting around to posting it now only because I finally sent out my absentee ballot request yesterday. Since I'll be voting Democratic in Cook County, Illinois, I expect they'll be sending me back two ballots, just to make sure that Obama gets elected. Just like they did for John F. Kennedy in 1964.

If you are an American living abroad and you happen to be reading this blog, please remember to request an absentee ballot for yourself. The website couldn't make it easier to get an absentee ballot. 

I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican (I happen to love a lot of Republicans, I'm just not one of them), just make sure that you vote.

Thanks, Gwyneth, for your contribution to MarathonMum today. See you next week for a soy milk latte.

The Education of Presidential Candidates

I got sent this e-mail by three different people, so I thought I might as well post it for all the world to see...

Dear Friends,
we all know that knowledge is power and power is strength.

Let's look at the educational background of the candidates and see what they bring to the job:

Occidental College - Two years.
Columbia University - B.A. political science with a specialization in international relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

University of Delaware - B.A. in history and B.A. in political science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)


United States Naval Academy - Class rank 894 out of 899

Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in journalism

Now, which team are you going to hire to lead the most influential nation in the world?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is it the end of the world as we know it?

The big topic at the breakfast table this morning, following reports on Radio 4 dubbing it Big Bang Day, was the possibility that the world as we know it will end today when scientists in Switzerland attempt to recreate the moments after the Big Bang.

I explained that some people thought that it was possible that doing so would mean that the world would come to an end. I kept assuring them that I didn't think that would happen, but it was too late. They were convinced it was ALL OVER.

Panic and laughter then ensued, and believe me, it's difficult to maintain both at the same time.

Thing Two ran down to the kitchen as I was making their lunches. "I just want to tell you something before the world explodes," he said. "Goodbye. I love you."

He then returned upstairs so he and his brother could continue their panicked screaming and laughter.

Thing One then popped his head downstairs. "Hey, Mom. Do you think I should prepare my last will and testament?"

Again, I assured him that while some people thought that the experiment would go awry, I, along with millions of scientists thought it would be fine.

However, as I was curious as to who would get what in his will-- despite the fact that we would all be dead in his scenario-- I asked him what he had to leave behind. Thing Two would get his Nintendo DS, which I thought was very sweet. I would get all of his stuffed friends. His father would get the Playstation. I then asked what would become of Blanket, which he still (shhh!) can't sleep without. "Oh, mom. Blanket is coming with me!"

While getting dressed, Thing Two said to me, "Mom, I want a smart shirt today. I want to look nice for the last day in the history of the world." And indeed he did, with his smart button down shirt and khakis.

We arrived at school, having managed to not do the hula, and to remember to wear our shoes, when I turned to the boys and said, "Have the best LAST day of school ever!"

I think they will be disappointed to learn that all went well in Switzerland.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Why Getting Ready for School Takes So Long, Part Two

A Play in One Scene

Characters: Thing One (age 8), Thing Two (age 5) and Mother (still stylish and funny and STILL in her 30s)

Location: Front hall of a house in London

Time: 8:45 a.m., in the last moments of preparation before school

Mother: OK? Everybody ready?

Thing One & Two: Yes

Mother: Did you remember your P.E. kits?

Thing One & Two: Yes

Mother: Do you have your lunches?

Thing One & Two: Yes

Mother: Do you have you backpacks?

Thing One & Two: Yes

Mother: Are your jackets on?

Thing One & Two: Yes

Mother: OK! Let's go. (She opens the door and they all start to walk out)

Thing Two: Wait! Hold on! I don't have my shoes on!!


Friday, September 05, 2008

Why Getting Ready for School Takes So Long

A Play in One Scene

Characters: Thing One (age 8), Thing Two (age 5), Mother (stylish, funny and STILL in her 30s, though not for long)
Location: A boy's bedroom in a London house
Time: 8:30 a.m.

Thing Two, who insisted on wearing a smart shirt for the second day of school, needs help with all of the buttons on his new Ralph Lauren shirt, so his mother is doing the heavy lifting. She leaves Thing One to do his own dressing for school, but then notices that he's doing something else.

Mother: Thing One, what are you doing?

Thing One: (who only has his underpants on, and is singing AND dancing) I'm doing the hula, of course!

Mother: Of course! What else would you be doing at this time of day?

Thing Two, now dressed, joins his older brother doing the hula. Scene ends with mother leaving the room, presumably to find some school clothes for Thing One.


Oddest Book Title Prize Announced

The Bookseller, the trade magazine for publishers, announced the winner of its Diagram of Diagrams prize for the oddest book title in the past 30 years. The winner is (drumroll, please) "Greek Rural Postmen and their Cancellation Numbers."

"Green Rural Postman" just pipped to the post, "People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to do About it" (sounds like a page turner). "How to Avoid Huge Ships" also was in the running for the top prize.

This story was broadcast on Radio 4 this morning, and just made me laugh out loud. The "winner" of the award, who Radio 4 tracked down, said the "Greek Rural Postmen" was meant to be a guide for philatelists as it was published by the Greek Hellenic Society of Great Britain. Hearing that makes the title seem less funny, especially since the author sounded like this very nice old man who probably worked very hard on the book.

If you're looking for a laugh, see the photos of the other finalists here