Category Archives: Kid Stuff

The Quest for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love a good chocolate chip cookie.

Just the other night we made cookies and I remembered advice from THE person who makes the most available cookies I’ve had.  Her dad owns a bakery and she has some kind of midas-food touch.

Her advice?

I simply follow the instructions on the package.

Yeah, like it’s that easy, right?  I do that to, exactly… with a few exceptions.

Those darn exceptions have got to be the downfall of “perfect.”

Anyway, it’s been on my mind this week, and look at this article I just found: Ask a Chef: Chewy chocolate chip cookies

Here’s what I love about this article: instead of a recipe (which there is, actually, at the bottom), it focuses on the science of making a good cookie.  When you have words like creaming process, seeping, “run out,”  hydrated, emulsify, brown the butter, etc. you know it’s going to be fun to read.


Socialization Skills, once was homeschooling argument… now, technology??

My wife and I are talking about doing a “media fast,” where we shut down videos, video games, etc. for a period of time.

Last week I saw this article on our local news site: Tales from a ‘tech zombie-free’ family road trip

In the article I found it profoundly interesting that an issue with too much technology is lack of socialization:

A teacher at my kids’ elementary school told me that an increasing number of parents are asking that their young children be evaluated, citing socialization concerns. “The root of most of their issues,” this teacher explained, “is that these kids don’t know how to interact. We send them on the playground to play, but many simply don’t know how. Too many parents put them in front of screens at home and in cars, and even when they do have play dates, they often sit next to their friends in front of screens.”

I LOVE this paragraph from the article.

As homeschoolers we have heard over the years (not as much lately) concerns from people who think homeschoolers don’t get socialization.

The socialization argument is absolutely ridiculous (at least the way that we, and our friends, homeschool).  It is based on limited information and old perceptions. I’ve found homeschooled kids can communicate (ie, hold a conversation) with adults very easily, where public schooled kids have a harder time.

And now this… in schools they are saying that kids aren’t well socialized?

Awesome.  At least this time it’s not because of homeschooling 🙂

Do Homeschoolers Get Socialized?

One of the most common questions I hear about homeschooling is about socializing the student.

It’s a pretty ignorant question, and usually it’s brought up in a manner like “homeschoolers can’t deal with other humans – you aren’t socializing them” rather than the person really wondering if it’s true.

The homeschoolers aren’t socialized issue is old and most homeschoolers laugh at the idea.

It’s amazing how many decades-old perceptions homeschoolers still deal with.  Luckily, there is a lot of  laughing about how ignorant people are, instead of getting feathers all ruffled up.

Here’s an excellent article on homeschoolers and socialization.  Not to be a spoiler, but here are the last two lines (note that not all homeschoolers feel this way):

We’re just opting them out of the strange public school bubble that, in our experience, doesn’t even represent normal, healthy society.

In other words, we’re socializing them for what they’ll actually experience beyond high school.

Note also that this might not be the main reason that people decide to homeschool, but it is a compelling reason to think about it, for sure!

So, what about this socialization thing?

I’ve spent time at camps with homeschoolers.  Some of them are overnight camps, some of them are  multi-day camps where you leave at night and then come back the next morning.

I can guarantee you that the kids I’ve met are amazing.  Typically they are great with little kids, kids their own age, and … get this: adults.

I love seeing how kids who are homeschooled interact with adults. I can sit down with a homeschool kid and have a fantastic conversation.  The conversation can usually cross many topics, whether it’s talking about a classic, talking about American/world history, or talking about social stuff.

Here are two things I’ve loved to see:

1. At a recent  day camp, called Simulations Week, we had a talent show.  I think there were about 60 kids that stayed for the talent show.  More than half shared a talent.  Some of them were AMAZING.  The most impressive, to me, where the talents shared that were NEW.  In other words, someone who just started learning the cello played a beginner piece, with plenty of mistakes.  But they did it.  It was such a “safe place” for them to perform… and the audience was amazingly supportive.  I’m really amazed at how talented homeschoolers are.

2. Dancing.  My daughter has a “mentor” who teaches some Shakespeare classes. These are vigorous classes where there is a lot of reading, studying, discussing, memorizing and acting.  This particular mentor is a dance nut, and has taught the kids a bunch of period dances.  It’s so amazing to see the kids dance like they did hundreds of years ago… and guess what?  THEY LOVE IT!  They have so much fun, and they are very respectful to their partners.  It’s fun to watch.

BONUS: Here’s a video that is hilarious: Seven Lies about Homeschoolers

William’s head wound

Sorry for the gory pics… I had to put them somewhere 🙂

Kaisie and I were running and errand across the valley and got a calm call from our oldest daughter: “Um where are you?”  Then she said William was bleeding out of a wound on his head, but he was okay, and when would we be home?  A neighbor was there taking care of him…

We headed back home to see what was going on, but before we got there we were on the phone with our neighbor and agreed for her to meet us at the urgent care at the hospital.  Lucky the urgent care was in the hospital because they scooted us over to the emergency room right away.

It was a long night… especially for him.  He was terrified to get stitches.  We were home in bed by 1am, and he was okay.  His stitches and staples are now out, and I saw his wound yesterday and it looks really, really good!  He can almost sleep with his head resting on the back…

Here’s the funny thing… “the story” of what happened changed over a couple of days.  What really happened had more mischievousness than what we originally thought :p  Isn’t that how it always happens?


This is right after the nurse flushed it out with saline solution.  He’s laying on the hospital bed… happy that part is over.

Note the difference between the wound and the tip of the arrow… the nurse lifted up the skin and it went all the way up to the tip of the arrow.  This was a deep wound that required internal stitches before they would put staples and stitches on the outside.

I’m grateful for many blessings, including modern medicine, and that this was not any worse than it was 🙂


Brilliant happiness: Caine’s Arcade

There are a lot of things that are right with this video… from the dreams and passions of young Caine to his father creating and fostering that environment to Nirvan being the first customer to the climax, where he coordinates the flash mob.

This restores my hope in humanity. 9-year-old’s DIY cardboard arcade gets flashmobbed

Original blog post here, full video below 🙂



If I never would have been born…

A few days ago I was talking to my seven year old daughter, telling her the story of a time when I could have died.  (she likes the story, and requests it often)

She said, “wow Dad, I’m glad you didn’t die.  If you died, we wouldn’t be here!”

I said, “yeah, mom would have married someone rich, handsome and a good singer!”

She says, “DAD!  You are that!”

“I’m what?” I ask…

Her reply: “You are rich!  You own your own company!”

Yes I am.  Very rich 🙂

I know a song that gets on everybody’s _____

My five year old daughter couldn’t stop singing this phrase over the weekend:


How cute is that?

She also calls an ear worm a “head worm.”


One day a great song came on the radio (I don’t know which one) and she said “TURN IT! TURN IT!  That song gets stuck in my head!”

I said “oh, that’s called an ear worm… when you can’t get it out :)”

Taking one word from her description and one word from my description, she said, “I don’t want a HEAD WORM.”

Love it 🙂

On Parenting: Do You See Roots or Fruits?

The last few days we had some painters in our home, painting a lot of stuff.  What I thought would take me a few days of after-work hours turned into more than 50 man-hours for these professionals.

Since they were in our home for so long they got to know our family a bit.  We shared meals with them and talked quite a bit. It was fun.

Last night was the last night they were in our house.  Before they left, the owner of the company expressed his thoughts about our kids, our family and our home.  He was very impressed with our family, and our kids.  More impressed, perhaps, than we were.  It’s so easy for us, as parents, to lose sight of any success we have as parents, and then an angel comes along and subtly (or not-so-subtly) reminds us that we are indeed doing a good job.

As I went to bed I thought of an analogy… this is the first draft, which will probably go nowhere, but if I make time, one day I could see storyboarding it to become a kids book (or a parents book, written like a kids book). Enjoy:

There was a certain peach tree people would walk by and admire. The peaches were beautiful, they were ripe. The travelers took the peaches and ate them, and remarked how amazing they were.

Everyone who walked past the tree could see the beauty and taste of the flavor, and all were greatly impressed.

The tree, however, didn’t recognize the depth of the beauty, and couldn’t appreciate the height of the flavor.

The tree was busy focusing on pulling nutrition from the ground through its roots. It focused on the underground, unseen, dirty and usually unappreciated work of finding nutrition. There is nothing glamorous about this work. No one walks by a tree and says

“wow, those roots underground must be amazing, and healthy, and doing the right thing. I think these must be the best roots around.”

Above ground, the tree was busy focusing on simply staying alive – getting nutrition up the trunk to each branch. The tree worked to have leaves which could pull nutrition from the sun. In early spring it showed blossoms, but those mostly needed nutrition and didn’t provide anything (except beauty) to the tree. The tree worked hard to keep the blossoms healthy.

As time passed, the blossoms became more demanding, even weighing down the branches, as they developed into peaches.

The peaches demanded more and more nutrition, and became heavier, and the tree continued to provide nourishment. It was too busy doing what it was meant to do that it didn’t recognize the beauty of the changes – from nothing to blossom to fruitling, on its path to a nourishing fruit. From green to the beautiful red and orange colors of the peach.

The tree continued on, as it always had. Get nutrition from leaves. Get nutrition from the ground. Ignore pesky bugs, which the tree couldn’t do anything about. Do the job at hand.

While this was happening, travelers saw a tree, with brown branches and bark, rich green leaves, and commented how beautiful the peaches were. They could see the beauty. They appreciated the beauty. They knew that in a short time, the peaches would be ripe and delicious.

When the day came, people picked the peaches, and enjoyed them, and shared them. They loved them, and were happy with the tree, and were grateful that the tree would produce for years to come.

Isn’t this the way it is with us, many times, as parents?

How many of us have gotten comments about our children – how cute they are, how well-behaved they are, how fun they are, how special they are, etc. We all get slightly different comments. Sometimes we think “yeah, but you don’t see them fight at bath time,” or “yeah, but you should try getting them down to bed,” or “yeah, but _______.”

We act like the tree… focusing on the dirt and the labor. We need to – that is our role as parents. Hopefully we can also see and appreciate what others see so quickly – the beauty that comes from the labor.

These, our children, are the fruits of our labor. The fruits show that the labor was good and the system was healthy. Even though we see dirt, and where we work is sometimes dark, and we are busy giving of our time and energy, and we feel tired, and sometimes we don’t see the changes, we must recognize the beauty. We must realize we had an important part to play in it.

Rough draft, but cool concept. Thoughts? I had a bunch of follow-up thoughts (where the analogy could go), which I’ll try to capture in the comments below.

William and the Tarantula

On our road trip we stayed with family in Midland, Texas.  When I was a kid I caught some horned toads (aka, horny toads, which are some of the coolest lizards in the world) there, and have fond memories of hunting for stuff.

My son, about the age I was when we was there last, regularly went out to the yard to see what he could find.  We were told the corner of the 1/2 acre, with a wood pile, was the best place to look for critters.

One morning William ran in, barely able to speak/yell, but it was clear we had to run out to see what he found… a freaking awesome wild tarantula!

Why aren’t we lucky enough to get this stuff in our yard in Utah?  Dangit.

Anyway, we took a few pictures… this is my favorite… I kept saying “put your hand closer… closer, closer…” until he finally said, with anxiety, “DAD!”  Like, “DAD, you are freaking crazy!  I like animals, but I don’t like posing like this!

Nonetheless, the picture turned out great, don’t you think?