The Science Fair: Dante’s 5th Concentric Circle of Hell

It’s science fair season and I’ve never been more appreciative of my parents as I am at this very moment.  I had no idea.  I really didn’t.  I’m so sorry, Mom and Dad, for all the science fairs, dioramas, posters, projects and reports throughout the entirety of my education.  I have no idea how you survived without ever turning to the bottle.  For that alone you deserve sainthood.

The Peeshwank undertook his first big science project this year.  The prep began back in October.  He worked diligently in his “data journal”, collecting… well… data.  He had a plan and was following it fairly carefully.  He chose a fairly easy experiment because he knew he had some acting projects coming up as well as Odyssey of the Mind.  I admired the forethought he put into it and remember thinking, “My boy is growing up to be such a responsible young person.  This makes me so happy.”

We did the actual experiments over our extended Christmas break and once again I was ecstatic that the boy had chosen not to wait until the last minute to do it.  He had been turning in his data journal each week and so far had 100s at every checkpoint along the way.

Then it was time to make the display board for the big day.

My thought: glue a bunch of pictures from the experiment and some shiny letters at the top and call it good.

Teacher’s thought: a THIRTY THREE PAGE powerpoint explanation of what should and shouldn’t go on the board.

Yikes.

We had two days to get it done.  Keep in mind he had school all day, OM practice until 5:00, then Les Miserables rehearsal immediately after that until bedtime.  The Peeshwank spent his downtime at Les Mis rehearsal typing up the info that needed to go on the board.  The next day I did that thing that I hate to do.  I helped him by formatting it all so it would look nice on the board.  No problem.  The printer would give me fits throughout the day, so that made it a longer process than I had hoped.

I was The Peeshwank’s hero that night.

He quickly assembled the board and it looked great.

Then the next morning happened.

P: Where’s my data journal?

Me: What do you mean?

P: I can’t find it.  I have to have it.  All of this is due today!

[panic is evident in the boy's voice]

Me: Where did you have it last?

P: In my backpack.

Me: Then it’s in your back pack.

P: It’s not.  I checked like a thousand times.

Me: Check your room?  The car? 

[this goes on for several seconds]

Me: Well, we have to go.

In the car there the discussion continued.  We discussed being responsible and the fact that I couldn’t bail him out on this one and that it fell on him.

P: I’m going to fail.  It’s worth 100 points of the grade.

Me: Well, you turned it in on the 15th for a checkpoint.  Your teacher probably still has it.

He insisted she returned them and that he had it in his backpack.  His freakout level reached Defcon 1.

Me: Look.  You don’t have rehearsal tonight.  If you can’t find it at school, we’ll make another one tonight and you can just take a late penalty on it or something, k?

He livened up a bit and went to school just slightly less freaked out.

I got home and Joe and I tore the entire house apart looking for the DDJ (damned data journal).  We moved furniture.  We checked the freezer (Pooh bear was once found there when The Peeshwank was an even Pee-ier shwank).  We looked under mattresses.  We checked everything.  No sign of the DDJ.  P texted me from school.  It was not there either, but his teacher would let him turn it in late without a penalty.

I went to the teacher’s website and started the process of printing out all the forms, charts, tables, etc. that P had used in his DDJ.  Every time I would hit print, the printer would freak out.  (I’ve had it for the better part of 9 years.  It’s the grumpy old man of the tech world.)  So I would have to turn it off and back on again to clear the error messages.  Which made it reinitialize on my laptop, which in turn would give it a new printer name which I would them have to update in the printer queue.  Wanna know how many times this happened?

Yep.  16 times that a-hole of a printer did this to me.

Yep. 16 times that a-hole of a printer did this to me.

Because, of course it reloaded 16 times in the span of a single day.

This is me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjsSr3z5nVk

But I persevered.

The boy got home yesterday afternoon and said, “I’m gonna watch Breaking Bad and get this done.  Because: science!”

I sat down in the library and breathed a sigh of relief that everything was printed and ready to go for the boy to redo the entire book.  (At last count the DDJ had been 35 pages of research and data.  A pretty big undertaking.)

And then the boy gasps and yells,

“You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

[a pause while I ponder what I could've possibly missed during my printing trials]

“Mom!  Did you know there’s a secret pocket in my binder?”

The original DDJ had been in his backpack the entire time.

I had wine for dinner.

2014 Is Bringing Big Changes To Our Happy Home

Yesterday, the first day of a shiny new year, I sat down on the red couch you’ve all heard so much about and continued reading a book I had picked up earlier in the day.

The Peeshwank walked in and exclaimed, “What are you doing?”

“I’m reading.”

“But you read in the yellow chair.  You’re like Sheldon.  That’s your spot!”

“New year, new spot.  Maybe I’m turning over a new leaf.”

“But… that’s your spot.”  He points over at the empty yellow chair.  “This is where I nap.  Where am I supposed to nap if you’re reading in my spot?”

“Now who’s acting like Sheldon?”

Bazinga! Mug

I know I’ve been absent for a bit on ye olde website, but I promise to get back to making daily writing a priority.  The Peeshwank’s career and my volunteering at the theater started to take over our lives, so I’m working to take back some time to work on MY passion.  Yes, I’m learning to say “No, I don’t have time for that” in order to continue following my own dreams.  It hit me on New Year’s Eve that for the first year since 2009 I hadn’t released a new book.  I vow to never let that happen again.  As long as I am mentally and physically able to write, I will write.  No excuses.

And so, loyal readers, “The Last Girl” WILL be released this year come hell or high water.  If not, grab your torches and pitchforks and meet me in the front yard.

I’ve also got some other fun works that I started during NaNoWriMo that I can’t wait to finish and share with you.  Plus the YA series that Joe and I are writing together.  So many manuscripts!!!  I love looking through my computer and seeing all the work that I’ve been able to do thus far.  I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m up for the challenge.

Best wishes to you all!  Cheers!

Doctor Who, Minecraft, and a Donkey Named “Danger”

As you all know, we’re nerds.  Big ol’ sci-fi, video game, comic book loving nerds.  We’ve raised The Peeshwank to follow in our footsteps because, let’s face it, nerds are the best.

So this series of conversations made me laugh a lot more than it probably should have…

In the car:

P: Danger is dead!

Me: Excuse me?

P: Danger.  He’s my donkey in Minecraft. [He assured me it was NOT a reference to Anthony Weiner, although he giggled a lot when Joe asked him if the donkey's first name was Carlos.]

Me: Oh.  What happened?

P: Well, he was just standing there when Jerk McCrapface came up and murdered him.  Murdered him!  Right there in front of my house!

Me: I’m sorry.  Why did you let… um… Jerk McCrapface come to your house.

P: He told me he was a Doctor Who fan, so I let him teleport to me.  But I think he must’ve been lying.  A true Whovian would never kill another Whovian’s donkey, would he?

Me: No.  Absolutely not.

minecraftdonkey

Rest in peace, Danger.

Later in the library:

P: I still can’t believe that guy killed Danger.  I’m so mad.

Even later in the living room:

P: I’m gonna find the guy that killed Danger and raid his home.  He’ll be sorry he ever laid a finger on my donkey.

"Hello.  My name is P-dog Jenkins.  You killed my donkey.  Prepare to die."

“Hello. My name is P-dog Jenkins. You killed my donkey. Prepare to die.”

At dinner:

P: I’m still so mad.

Me: Well, how did he kill the donkey? I can’t imagine it’s very easy to kill a donkey.  They seem pretty resilient.

P: He punched him in the face until he was dead.

Joe: So, he was beating a dead horse?

Me: [giggle snorting laughter]

P: What?  I don’t get it.

The Peeshwank: Silly White Kid to Siamese Prince

Most of you know, The Peeshwank is currently appearing in “The King and I” at one of our local theaters.  A lot of people have asked for pics of the young one’s transformation from pasty, bespectacled white kid into a Siamese Prince.  I’m nothing if not accommodating, so here you go:

Step 1: Take one REALLY white kid.  Blonde hair, blue eyes, the works.

aIMG_3419Step 2: Dye his hair appropriately.

He grabbed a blanket to cover up, so as not to blind us all.

He grabbed a blanket to cover up, so as not to blind us all.

Step 3: Cut hair into a mohawk and spike.  (Got 2 B hairspray is the best for this portion of the program.)

Step 4: Crazy eye make-up.  Liquid liner is the only way to go.

Still looking a little goth though...

Still looking a little goth though…

Step 4: Spray tan the munchkin.

Still not quite there…

Step 5: Add a blingy costume and a couple of other Siamese Prince photobombers and VOILA!  Transformation complete!

Now go get tickets to come see the show and marvel at the majesty of it all: the singing, the dancing, the costumes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

The Peeshwank: Superhero or Crazed Villainous Overlord?

The Peeshwank turned 13 this year which is a cause for much excitement in our household.  Every nerd worth his mettle knows that the teen years are when your superpowers reveal themselves.  For The Peeshwank, this happened on our recent trip to Michigan…

The Peeshwank has participated in Odyssey of the Mind for a number of years now.  He comes from a long line of OMers – I having joined a team in ’84, and had it been around when my parents were in school my father would’ve been the king of Problems 1, 2, and 4, while my mother would’ve ruled over Problems 3 and 5.  This year The Peeshwank’s team won our state championship and made their way to World Finals at Michigan State University where they competed against teams from all over the world.  (And came in 25th in their division of almost 60 teams.  Top half!  Woohoo!)

After coming out of their Spontaneous competition we hosed the kids with silly string, bubbles and Hog calls then gave them Starbucks to refresh themselves.  Something in that combination must’ve set off something in The Peeshwank, because moments later this happened…005 (2)We knew a growth spurt would be coming soon, so we didn’t think much of it, until this happened…

004 (2) A Force Choke, Pdog?  Really?  Paul is your friend!

Then he turned his powers on his entire team and punched the ground.  The aftermath was too gruesome to show here.  Michigan State sent us packing after buildings started to crumble.  We’ve also been added to the “no-fly” list.  (These things may or may not be true.)

IMG_1904We’re a little concerned at this point.

The Peeshwank and The Lyrids: A Conversation

English: A meteor during the peak of the 2009 ...

Living in a science-loving home we are all about meteor showers, comets, eclipses and all sorts of other night sky phenomena.  The Peeshwank will drag the telescope out to the front yard to try to view all sorts of things.  (Usually this takes place on the coldest nights of the year.  Of course.)

This week, the Lyrid meteor shower promised to entertain us for a night.  So we bundled up and took our place in the driveway and waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

P: You know, on nights like these we should really live out in the the country.

Me: Yeah, the lights in town make it hard to see anything.

P:  And if we’re out in the country watching for meteor showers that aren’t gonna show up, at least we wouldn’t have neighbors around wondering, “What are those idiots doing laying in the driveway again?”

Touche`, Peeshwank.

I won at Car Line this morning

What?  You didn’t know Car Line was a game?  Well, it is.  Mainly because I’m a nerd-girl living with two hard-core gamers.  And I won this morning.

We started our quest to deliver a sleepy-eyed Peeshwank to his blustery prison sentence (it’s in the 20s today with a 10-degree wind chill, because: Spring in Arkansas, yo).  We turned the corner to see a line of campers all the way from one end of the school property to the other.  After discussing our strategy, we made our way to the front of the line.  Even though The Peeshwank had lots of loot to carry (60lb backpack, lunchbox, OM supplies, and his bass) we decided to show these n00bs how it was done.

We quickly realized we had apparently leveled up over Spring Break and were approaching an epic boss battle.  This boss: icy school driveway.

The boss had victimized not one but two vehicles ahead of ours – both of the players had apparently spent all their XP to upgrade their chariots: 4WD monster SUVs, tires bigger than The Peeshwank, NRA life memberships, etc.  Their giant wheels were spinning in place though.  The boss had disabled their special abilities.

The Peeshwank looked at me, a fearful look in his eyes, as I yelled “LEEROY JENKINSSSSSS” and easily delivered him over the ice and to the front door.

He threw me a fist bump as he exited our little mid-size sedan and I could hear his cry of “GET PWNED N00BS!” as I pulled away.

That’s how you win Car Line, y’all.

Hummer on Ice

Top 5: Signs Your Hair is Too Long

I decided awhile back to grow my hair to donate to Locks of Love or some other similar wigs-for-cancer-patients charity.  My hair grows really fast, so I figured I’d let it grow a little while, cut it, and smile in the fact that I’ve done something nice for someone else.

But right when I was ready to get back to my normal just-under-the-chin length, the better half let me know that he really liked it long.  So I decided to continue growing it, that way when I cut the requisite 12″ off to donate, I would still have enough length to keep him happy.

I realized this weekend just how far I’ve let it go…

So, here are some signs you need to pick up the phone and make an emergency call to your stylist:

5. You have to pin it up to go to the bathroom.  (Sitting down on the ends is one thing. Sitting down on them on the potty… EWWW!  Disclaimer: This has NOT happened to me personally.  Swear.)

4. It gets caught in your waist band when getting dressed.  (I wore a tie-back dress the other day and damn-near gave myself whiplash when I bent down to put on my shoes.)

3. Your shampoo budget rivals the car payment.  (The better half figured out that I had been dipping into his shampoo stash.  It’s hard to sneak increased hair product usage past someone who has very little hair to speak of.)

2. You’d put your hair in a cute sock bun, but when you pull it straight up, you can’t reach the ends.  (Two words: arm cramps.)

and…

1. The last time you saw your stylist was right before she went on maternity leave.  Her “baby” is now two.  (Actually she’s almost 2 and 1/2, but who’s counting?)

I think the better half will be okay with my decision to go back to my usual short length.  I suspect he’s tired of getting slapped in the face with half-wet hair every time I toss and turn at night.  I’m sure the fact that I start singing “I whip my hair back and forth” whenever it happens doesn’t help matters either.

Chewbacca

Hi, I’m here for my 1:30 shampoo, cut and style.

I Whip My Hair Back and Forth (the best version)

Getting Ready for the Globes

The Golden Globes red carpet starts in a few short hours and I’ve finally decided on my dress.  Hopefully Buffy won’t pull another stunt like last year.  But just in case, I wanted to show y’all the dress my stylist and I decided on for tonight’s festivities.  If anyone else shows up in it, you saw it here first.  You hear that, Anne Hathaway?

Y'all know I love a print on the red carpet.

Y’all know I love a print on the red carpet.

My acceptance speech is still pretty much the same as last year.  I’ve been too busy writing new novels to revamp it.  Mea culpa.  I’ll do better next year.

Jenn and Bec: A Conversation About Writing and Grammar

Since it’s been awhile, and I’m up to my ears in writing assignments other than blogging (clearly, judging by my absence here lately), I thought I’d put this out there to keep you sated for a bit…

My dear friend, Becca, is a writer like yours truly.  She’s also a fellow sports lover and collector of shoes.  She and I get together at various Razorback sporting events and chat about important things.  The following is an excerpt from our conversation at Sunday’s basketball game between Arkansas and Texas A&M…

Bec: You know, I labor over selecting the perfect words to convey my thoughts in my columns.  And then… I drive past the mall and BOTH sides of the sign say “Marry Christmas.”  What’s the point?

Me: Marry Christmas?!?  I’m sorry, but I think marrying holidays isn’t protected under the Sanctity of Marriage Act.  Can you imagine?  If we start letting people marry holidays, next thing you know it’ll be chaos.  People will start marrying dogs and toasters and…

Bec: I want a bumper sticker that says “Marry toasters.”

Our children pretty much ignored us from this point on.

So, welcome to 2013 and happy honeymoon to all of you who were able to marry Christmas.  (Fortunately, it’s still not legal in Arkansas, despite what the NWA Mall would have you believe.)

keep-calm-and-marry-christmas-3