1. Meal planning
2. Health and wellness
3. Floors that don't crunch when you walk on them.
from the teen cuisine archives: How to eat like a 17-year-old
from the art supply stockpile:
Teams of scientists and literally trillions of colliding subatomic particles have produced compelling new evidence of the mysterious force that could hold answers to the most profound questions in the universe.
But we are no closer to solving the mystery of who left the Chipotle trash on the kitchen counter.
Much like the disappearance of every single clean towel in the house, the fast-food trash phenomena left the four teens with whom we are sharing vacation accommodations completely baffled.
How did it get there? What unseen forces were responsible for the fact that the Chipotle bag appeared on a kitchen counter that previously had not contained a Chipotle bag? Was it only coincidence that the teenagers had brought back Chipotle burritos a short time before?
The only certainty was their shared conviction that someone else was responsible for the bag's sudden appearance in the universe.
The 15-year-old who had ordered the steak and rice burrito summed up the puzzling situation in starkly literal terms.
"I literally have no idea," she said. "I don't know where the bag came from. I don't know anything about the bag. I did not touch it once. I know literally nothing about it."
Her brother, 17, offered an alternative
universe theory which placed his sister and her 14-year-old BFF at the center of responsibility, but was hazy about the link between the bag and his decision to "make a burrito run" earlier in the day.
Further insights were postponed by the unrelated discovery that the teenagers were hungry again.
Related research: How to feed 4 teenagers for 2 weeks for under $1 million
It's not even really the Venice of South Florida. But it's close enough.
from the coffee archives: How many 13-year-olds does it take to make a pot of coffee?
No question is too big or too flammable for these junior scientists, who packed flames, poison and perfume into an array of exhibits that threatened to eclipse all previous years for sheer hazard level.
Some observers noted the distinctly dad-inspired character of this year's experimentation, with fire, poison, snack food and toilet paper-related inquiries outnumbering safe science and perfume making by a margin of 4-1.
It might surprise you to learn the answer is not "hip hop." But possibly because they only considered alternative, country and classical. Who can say, really, which the bunnies actually prefer? They might have moved faster to get away.
Because in science, of course, every answer is the start of another question. Why won't Principal Killjoy allow a live demonstration of the flame-spewing sound wave tube? And whose job is it to clean up after the bunnies? Did it even matter whether the taste tasters were "spot on" or "far away"?
In the end, these questions would be left for the next crop of young scientists to unravel.
Except for the last one. That one at least, we can put behind us.
from the archives of scientific inquiry: Einstein's Mommy, School picture day in the elegant universe, Bottomless laundry pile may yield new insights into origins of the universe
There's a reason the mint julep never really caught on in the Midwest.
Even before the bourbon kicks in at my Real Housewives of the Confederacy party, the conversation has already taken a turn for the deep south.
I'm not going to repeat them here. Let's just say the concept of "Midwestern modesty" died hard.
Also the ice never really melts in Chicago, so you end up with what is essentially a glass of bourbon with a little mint and sugar in it. Or what is known in the Midwest as a "weak drink."
The evening is organized as a going-away party/intervention for the woman known as "Mary," who is moving to Atlanta in a few weeks with all the wrong shoes.
Mary interprets my instructions to come dressed as an icon of Southern womanhood as an opportunity to dress as Napolean Dynamite. She never misses the chance to wear her "sweet moon boots" in public. Which are only a little stranger than the shoes she wears on any other occasion.
Still, it is only about five minutes before she is swearing like Scarlett O'Fucking Hara and we know that Real Housewives of Atlanta has its next diva.
Also, that no one will ever try to make a reality show based on Housewives of the Midwest. Because once you have heard the story about the breastfeeding mother, the boy and the hotdog, you are never, ever going to turn on the televsion again.
"I think I am going to like the South," Mary says, discovering an affection for Kentucky bourbon that had apparently lain dormant throughout a lifetime of Midwestern winter drinking.
"Oh sugar," I tell her, "the South is going to love you."
Photos: (Right) The face of the New South. (Below) The Fulton County PTA president; Real Housewives of the Midwest, footwear; Napolean Dynamite dance of awesomeness.