Science Fair Nightmare

Research Question: Can Tyler successfully conduct a Science Fair experiment with a partner who allegedly has ADHD? (In the absence of a confirmed formal diagnosis, Tyler's mother informally refers to the boy's condition as "Wouldn't-Remember-To-Bring-My-Head-If-It-Weren't-Attached-Because-I-Am-A-Spazmatic-Scatterbrained-Doofus.")

Hypothesis: Given our prior knowledge of Tyler, the aforementioned Doofus, and the tortuous purgatory that is the Science Fair in general... our educated guess is that Tyler will be shouldering most of the work involved—and by Tyler, we mean his parents—in an effort to avoid a dreadful score on his project and, in turn, an abysmal grade in Honors Integrated Science.

The Experiment commences:

Controlled Variables: Tyler, Doofus and Dave, who assumed the role of Supervisor in the Depths of Hell during the course of this project. [Clinical sidenote: At no time were Doofus' parents involved in any phase of this project.]

Manipulated Variables: Pretty much everything else. (Up until five days before the project was due, any number of things changed from day to day: The experiment they were going to perform, the action plan to conduct said experiment, the liquids they were using, the metals they were using... you name it. Finally, Supervisor in the Depths of Hell put a stop to their meandering and made them start their project.)

Observation & Data Collection: We observed two scenarios that played out, in some form or fashion, every single day during the experiment:

Scenario #1

  1. Tyler calls Doofus to remind him of what he's supposed to be doing.
  2. Doofus asks Tyler what he's supposed to be doing.
  3. Tyler explains (AGAIN) what Doofus is supposed to be doing.
  4. Tyler's mother overhears the conversation, rolls her eyes, and starts hollering about the inherent value of choosing a Science Fair partner whose head isn't simply an oversized knick-knack propped on top of their shoulders.
  5. Tyler looks at his hollering mother with contempt and misery, finishes talking to Doofus, then skulks off to his room to see if he can find a new place to live for the next five days.

Scenario #2

  1. Tyler and Doofus are meeting at our house to compare data at 4 p.m.
  2. Doofus arrives at 4:30 p.m.
  3. Doofus has forgotten his data notebook.
  4. Since Doofus has forgotten his notebook (along with the reason why he is at our house), Doofus suggests playing Wii instead.
  5. Supervisor in the Depths of Hell assesses the situation, puts the kibosh on Wii, and drives them back over to Doofus' house to get his notebook.
  6. Supervisor in the Depths of Hell proceeds to watch Tyler's and Doofus' every move to ensure that they're proceeding with the experiment as outlined.
  7. Doofus leaves at 5:30 p.m.
  8. Supervisor in the Depths of Hell skulks off to his room to see if he can find a new place to live for the next five days.

I wish I could say the data fascinated me... but it only gave me an overwhelming desire to purchase Xanax. A lot of it. IMMEDIATELY.

Results: After repeated rounds of Scenarios 1 and 2, and with Supervisor in the Depths of Hell hovering over them every minute, Tyler and Doofus managed to collate their data, write summaries, create a table, and select the photos of their progress (which Doofus forgot to take until the very last day of the experiment). They arranged everything on their display board... quite nicely, I'll admit...

And then... Doofus asked us if we could take the board to school, because his parents wouldn't be able to.

[Clinical sidenote: Even if they had offered, did Doofus honestly think—after all the man-hours and angst and self-medicating—that I would let the finished product out of my sight, much less send it home with HIM??? Not a snowball's chance in Science Fair Hell, my friends.]

Final Conclusions:

Conclusion #1: Out of a possible 100%, the data collected from this experiment proved that our hypothesis was 387.6% correct. Tyler did, in fact, do much of the work—his evil parents riding him like Seabiscuit the whole way—because there was a big lesson to learn about choosing wisely.

Conclusion #2: Tyler is no longer allowed to randomly choose a Science Fair partner on his own. From now on we will conduct thorough screenings and background checks, as well as formal interviews, of any and all potential candidates and their parents before making a final decision on a partner. (Why? Because after ALL OF THAT, Tyler actually said that, if he had to do it over, he would probably choose Doofus again because they're good friends. Lesson learned about choosing wisely? Uh... not so much.)

Conclusion #3: If you want your corroded pennies to be nice and shiny again, orange juice really does the trick.


Out with The Chin, keep The Hair in!!

I know there are a grundle of more important things going on in the world right now (everyone pray for Haiti!!)... but my undies have been in a bunch over this Jay/Conan issue for days now, and I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to pledge my allegiance to a talented guy who worked his goofy ass off to get where he is... and now, after only a few months, is being forced out by a prima donna who apparently has never heard of Move Your Feet, Lost Your Seat.

Whether his brand of humor is or isn't your cup of tea, right is right... and Conan is being handed a giant, sloshing bucket of THE SHAFT.

It'd be great if NBC grew a pair and did thing right thing—which would be to send JAY WALKIN' and keep Conan right where he is—but it seems unlikely. So, once the Olympics end and until Conan resurfaces on Fox, I'll be tuning in to David Letterman... after all, this is a DREAM. COME. TRUE. for him... I'm sure he and his writers are giddy as schoolgirls with all the material they'll have to work with over the next couple of months. And if Letterman is smart, he's working like CRAZY right this minute to lock in a very special guest for his show on March 1: Conan O'Brien.

The pooch has officially been screwed. Way to go, Jay and NBC. Rock on, Conan!


The fam. The barn. The photos.

Instead of a post where I'm taking shots at my family, I thought I'd post some great shots of my family instead, taken by my sister last month.

My family will be so relieved.

On the state road between my neighborhood and the town with the nearest grocery store (don't get me started), there's an old barn by the side of the road. As a bona-fide City Girl who's been displaced on the prairie for a while now, I've always made it a point to ignore the abject ruralness of my surroundings... however, since I'M NOT ABLE TO PURCHASE TOILET PAPER WITHOUT DRIVING TO ANOTHER TOWN (in case you haven't caught on, this is an open, festering wound that has pained me every day for five and a half years)... I drive on this road, and by this barn, quite a bit.

A couple years ago I finally noticed the barn—really looked at it—and was immediately taken in by the peeling red paint on the old planks, the tattered window inset with a rusty piece of tin… I guess I was channeling Laura Ingalls, because then and there I decided that the barn would be an awesome background for family pictures.

It took some time for the planets to align (sister in town with her camera... a quiet Sunday afternoon... two boys willing to humor me for 20 minutes between football games), but align they did—and these were the result.

I. HEART. THESE. PHOTOS. Hope you do, too. :)

The Christmas card photo (sorry if you didn't get one, I didn't order enough).

Here's my teenager—who, much to my dismay, is routinely mistaken for a member of the Wolf Pack by every 13-year-old girl within 20 miles.
Coincidentally, I'm looking into several all-male schools out of state...

Love this photo. LOVE. THIS. BOY.

Here we are, snuggling together.
Only one of us was really up for getting cozy... I'll let you decide who.

Isn't my hubby cute, too?

I'm SO happy that we'll be growing old and incontinent together.

There's that window I was talking about... cool, huh?
(Is it weird to be obsessed by a window for two years?)

I have no idea why Tyler stays in his room a lot...

It's not like I smother him or anything.
(Dave is desperately hoping we'll be done soon, because the Chargers are playing the Cowboys and he doesn't want to miss the kickoff.)

If I ever get my act together enough to write and publish a book, this is the photo I'll be using on my book jacket.
(Unless it doesn't happen for 20 more years and my hairstyle is completely outdated.)



Dear Tyler,

It 6:47 a.m. on New Year's Day... the dawning of a new day and a squeaky clean new year. Today is a clean slate, poised and ready to record all the good things we hope for--and the people we hope to be--in the coming year. Today, most people feel hopeful and optimistic and ready to make changes for the better. As a Neat and Tidy Gal, I love clean slates... so, the first day of the year is pretty great.

But it pales in comparison to the second day of the year.

The second day of the year is the day you were born... so every year, on January 2, I gather all the hope and optimism I feel the day before and I zero in on YOU... like a giant Laser Beam of Promise and Aspiration. (Remember in Independence Day, when the mother ship hovering over the earth shoots out that huge tractor beam and sucks up the crazy crop-duster guy in the fighter jet? A laser beam like that.)

But this year is a little different... this year, along with the usual joy and gratitude I feel on the day you came into the world, I feel a sense of sadness and loss as well.

Tomorrow, you're turning 13 and entering the Land of Teenager... a bizarre country complete with its own language, customs, and a few weird smells.

For a couple of years you've been a resident of Pre-Teen, an equally wackadoo land that in many ways prepares you for your next stop... so I think you'll be fine.

But I think you'll be fine for a lot of other, bigger reasons.

You're as sensitive as you are smart, which means you can use both your head AND your heart to make good decisions... I hope, I pray, that you'll do just that.

You're becoming more assertive... you're not afraid to stand up to someone (including me) and set the record straight, either for yourself or on behalf of someone else. And while that assertiveness may get you in a bit of trouble with your mom from time to time, she wouldn't have it any other way.

You're more emotional, courtesy of that steady stream of hormone cocktails served up by Puberty. You FEEL things more than you did when you were younger, and those feelings affect you more deeply... which makes you more invested in what happens to you, and around you. As a kid whose always been on a pretty even keel emotionally--the kid whose reaction to his first trip to Disneyland was the same reaction he had to having his tonsils removed--I think the heightened emotional state has been a good thing for you... so far. Managing those feelings can be easier said than done in the Land of Teenager... all we can do now is hope for the best.

From day one, your approach to new experiences has always been one of caution... not because you're afraid, but because you're a quiet deliberator. Whether it's going to a new school or getting on a roller coaster, you've never been one to jump into anything with wild abandon, both feet first, arms flailing, eyes closed... You've always been the kid who hangs out on the side for a while, watching and observing, deciding if getting in is the right thing for you... and if it is, you ease in, get used to it... and then the fun begins. But there's been a few times in your life when you've watched, and you've decided it's not the right thing for you... so you pass, and move on to something else.

Of all the inherent qualities you possess, this one will serve you best in this phase of your life... and as your mom, I can't express how grateful I am that you possess it.

Last but not least, the true indicator of your impending teenagerness: You're becoming more independent and social every day, which makes me so happy... and SO incredibly sad.

I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but you're the only kid in the house. (And no, The Dingo does not count as a kid.) You're the one and only child I've ever had to focus my time and attention and love and passion and hopes and dreams on, and when my one and only child is confident and self-assured enough to do his own thing and, in turn, not need me as much... well, it's wonderful and painful at the same time.

Just when you're starting to get really interesting, you pretty much want nothing to do with me... which is ironic, and completely understandable. I was 13 once, too... so I know what it's like to want to spend all your time with your friends. When I was your age and I had a choice between hanging out with Grandma and ANYTHING ELSE... yeah, anything else sounded pretty good. Believe me, I get it.

But, as Hannah Montana's dad once said, my heart is still all achy and breaky.

The trade-off is SO worth it, though... because while I'm busy trying to make peace with my new role in your life, you're busy becoming an amazing young man right before my eyes. I couldn't be more proud... and I couldn't love anyone more fiercely, or completely, or unconditionally than I love you.

Happy Birthday, Pookie.

Love always,