Laura on Life

A science family

By Laura Snyder

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[September 26, 2012]  Some families are sports families. Sports families revolve around their favorite teams. Vacations are planned around the teams' schedules. Weekends are devoted to planning for and watching the games. Each member of the sports family has a favorite player and generally has at least three pieces of clothing with that player's team color and number emblazoned on it.

Some families are art families. Art families generally have a favorite medium, but every artistic endeavor from a 2-year-old's scribbles to an adult's woodcarving is oohed and aahed over like a brand-new baby. The art family will discuss a project only after it has been created and will undoubtedly decide it is perfect, because there is no way to do art wrong.

Little Billy's third-grade clay sculpture of a blowfish is proudly displayed on the dining table. Aunt Rowena's watercolor of a lily graces the entrance hall.

No one ever mentions Aunt Rowena's flower-child past except when she is hallucinating, and they never mention that her lily looks more like an albino octopus.

Likewise, little Billy never let on that his "blowfish" was supposed to be a flower vase. Everyone turned it on its side and decided it was a blowfish... so that's what it is. The art family is like that.

Our family is a science family. Our house looks like any other from the outside, but inside, you will not see posters of quarterbacks throwing a football or paint brushes in the silverware drawer. In fact, if you're squeamish, you might not even want to visit.

It no longer even fazes me when I pick up a Dixie cup in the bathroom and see something strange in it, resting in a liquid I can't identify. I simply put it back where I found it and hope the disturbance didn't ruin the experiment.

Littering my son's dresser, there are parts of pocket calculators with the liquid crystal display ripped out of them. For what reason? I can only imagine.

Yesterday, my daughter asked everyone to write "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" 10 times in different colors of ink to see if the colors had an effect on one's handwriting. Everyone had a suggestion as to how to remove any variables from this experiment. This is considered dinner conversation.

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There are two cups sitting on top of my refrigerator. One is growing rock candy; the other is separating tomato seeds from pulp for planting purposes. The latter is rather gross and involves growing mold... on purpose. It would be rude not to warn guests to be wary of that cup. Although doing so only makes them want to look inside.

Batteries are in constant demand, as locomotion is a popular topic with my 10-year-old. Therefore, the TV remote is always missing its batteries, which causes as much trouble as a missing remote.

In the kitchen, there are graduated cylinders and petri dishes gracing the countertop, along with evidence of my attempts to grow a pineapple by immersing the top of said pineapple in water. This has produced massive numbers of fruit flies, which my 15-year old uses to test his fruit fly extermination methods.

In the basement lies the evidence of my husband's attempt to build solar panels with our storm windows. The results of his efforts were... inconclusive. Now he has plans to build a solar dehydration unit with the now unsalvageable storm windows.

If, while visiting us, you were suddenly hit with the urge to extract some tomato DNA, you'd be in luck! We have the required mentholated spirits on ice in our freezer awaiting just such an occasion.

If someone ever brought a football into our home, it would probably get the same reception as one of the cups on my fridge would get in an art home: the look Spock might give you if he thought something was... illogical.


Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and speaker. You can reach her at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com or visit www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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