Wonder of Girls

WonderOfGirlsWell, I just finished reading a most wonderful book:

The Wonder of Girls: Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters, by Michael Gurian

This book really gets into what makes teenage girls tick.  Two main themes stick in my mind:

  1. There are solid scientific reasons why girls act the way they do, based on hormones and other things that affect the way they think, feel, and do what they do.
  2. Society has let feminism go a little too far in some ways, telling girls that they should not only be as good as boys, but be like boys, damaging girls’ nature of who they truly are.

Many elements covered in this book help me better understand my daughter and other youth women. I highly recommend it!

Settlers of Catan – Realtime Version

Do you like the idea behind the strategy game “Settlers of Catan”, but get a little bored waiting for your turn?  My family came up with a “Realtime Version” that speeds things up a bit:


  • One person is the game master, a full time dice roller and banker.  That person does not actually play the game.
  • Place all terrain tiles and number circles randomly to save time.

Initial Play:

  • As soon as the tiles and circles are placed, the game master says, “Go”.  All players place their settlements and roads at the same time without taking turns.  Whoever places a settlement in a spot first gets it.
  • The game master gives out resource cards for all resources that all players’ settlements touch (not just the “second” round).

Realtime Play:

  • The game master continually rolls the dice and hands out resource cards accordingly.
  • Players buy roads, settlements, cities, and development cards at any time.  The game master pauses briefly to make transactions.  However, as the name implies, all play is realtime.  There are no turns.
  • If the game master rolls a 7 then he moves the robber from wherever it is to the desert.  Players could check and reduce their number of cards per the regular rules (or not).  But, there is no actually robbing because the game master rolled the dice.
  • To maintain some sanity, we also said that the game master pauses after rolling a 7, and that is the only time that players can trade with other players.  We still allowed players to trade with the bank at any time.  However, you could allow players to trade with other players at any time, or you could make players wait until the game master rolls a 7 to trade with the bank.  We need to experiment with that more.

Why I liked (or didn’t like) your post

“Did you see that picture I posted yesterday?  Why didn’t you like it?”  While nobody has asked me that for a while, I overhear other people, students in particular, ask each other that.  So, I occasionally wonder if my friends are curious why I like one post or not another.  After some pondering, I figure they probably don’t care, and I move on.  Then, I read this:

Meet the Algorithm That Can Predict Your Photo’s Popularity Before You Post It

So, I thought, what the heck,  I could give you a tiny peek into my own little mind on this…

Whether it is on Facebook or Instagram, some people like just about everything everyone posts.  They must be fairly happy with life, and like pretty much anything they see.  I admit that I appreciate these people because I know they see what I post and they care enough to acknowledge it.

A lot of people never like anything.  They lurk in the shadows of the social networking world, like the Internet is a spectator sport.  I kind of wish these people would jump in the game and participate already!

As for myself, I prefer to lie somewhere in the middle.  I tend to like a post or picture if, well, I really like it.  However, those that know me also know that I over-analyze everything.  So, there are some rules:

  1. If you post a picture of yourself doing something interesting, and I can see your face, then I am more likely to like it, just as the article above says.  After all, I follow you to see you.  Not your food, not the world around you, but YOU.
  2. However, if you post a picture of yourself in anything less than a T-shirt and shorts, then I won’t “like” your picture.  While I would have the best intentions of letting you know that I think you are beautiful inside and out, not everyone might interpret my like quite the way I meant it.
  3. I really like some general subjects.  If you post anything to do with loving God or camping with Scouts, then I will probably like your post.
  4. I really don’t care for other subjects.  If you post a picture of your pet or anything related to sports, then I will probably just keep on scrolling.  You might have the most adorable cat in the world, but it’s still a cat, and I don’t care.
  5. I will admit that I am a bit biased.  If you are a family member or really close friend, then I will probably like your post no matter what.
  6. If your post has any content that could be considered Rated R, then I won’t “like” your post.  I volunteer with youth, and I don’t need to draw attention to anything questionable.

So, I guess that about covers it.  I can’t help but wonder, do you have rules for liking posts or pictures?  Or, do you just go with what you feel at the time?

Get Out of My Life…

GetOutOfMyLifeI just finished reading my latest youth development book, called “Get Out of My Life, but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?”  It’s subtitled “A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager” and is written by a psychologist that’s worked with adolescents for over 30 years.

First, I have to say that the book is very frank.  The author goes through several interesting points, each with facts, figures and evidence of experience to back it up.  He covers many key points, including independence, communication, control, and conflict.

With that said, I struggle to say that I like the book.  My summary would be something like, “Most teenagers are miserable monsters, and there is nothing you can do about it, so here are some coping strategies to get you though it.”  I’ve met some parents that pretty much feel that way, and they should relate quite well to this book.  I suppose I just have a better experience with most teenagers, so that seems a bit harsh to me.

In any case, whether you are a parent or other adult that works with youth, I think you’ll find this book a valuable read.
Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager, Revised and Updated

Modern Day Princesses

ModernDayProcessYou might think that it is a mother’s job to raise a daughter to be a modern day princess of the King.  While you would be partly right, and this book covers that plenty, this book also emphasizes and illustrates how important a father’s role becomes, especially as a girl gets older.  For any mom or dad trying to better connect with your tween or teen daughter, this book is for you:

Raising a Modern-Day Princess: Inspriing purpose, value, and strenght in your daughter


What Youth Want

T8HeartMy eldest son is months away from being an adult.  I recently logged my 9,400th hour volunteering with youth through Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and our church youth groups.  So, one might think I have some idea what youth want these days.  However, the last few weeks have proved that wrong, as some youth, including my own children, surprised me a little.  Here is what they reminded me:

Youth want a deep experience.  You might think they come to church just to hang out with their friends.  Or, you might think they want to read the Bible quickly to check it off and move on.  I asked my children what they would like to see in our youth group and Bible studies at home.  They said they would like to us to go deeper!  They’ve read and heard the same stories over and over.  They want to know more, learn something different.  Our church is already working on things in this area.  Now, as the spiritual leader of our family, I need to figure out how to do this at home.

Youth want to be productive.  Our Boy Scout troop developed a pattern for meetings.  We spend the first and third week working on advancement.  We spend the second week practicing basic Scout skills.  We spend the fourth week having pure fun, playing games.  The boy leaders in the troop just held their annual planning meeting to decide what to do different next year.  Top on the list was to replace the pure fun meeting with something more productive!  They still want to have fun, but they want it to have a purpose.  So, our fourth week will now be competitions to reinforce what they practiced in the second week.

Youth want to serve their community.  Our family waited too long to sign up for Metropolitan Ministries this year.  So, the only opportunity left was to hang out for an hour, just kind of guiding people around.  All three of my children were bummed, asking, “Why can’t we go for half the day and really do something, like we did last year?”  I didn’t realize they were so dedicated to serving.  We’ll have to remember to sign up earlier next year.

Youth want to help other youth.  Our Girl Scout troop had to pick a service project for their Journey program.  They could have picked anything.  They could have made it easy.  However, they chose to put something together to really make a difference and help other youth transition into middle school!  They originally challenged themselves to develop an elaborate program in our public schools.  We had to scale that down a bit and change to more of a seminar setting.  Nonetheless, they’re really onto something, as the girls they spoke to said it was quite helpful.

Youth want to be sincere and reverent.  For Christmas, our family had to choose between a high-energy, contemporary worship service and a calmer, more traditional communion service.  We chose the first, thinking our children would enjoy it more.  The service opened with music that felt like our own Tran-Siberian Orchestra and just got better from there.  My eldest and I thought it might be the best service we have ever seen.  My two middle schoolers agreed that they “liked” it, but they quickly followed up by saying it didn’t feel right.  They thought it would be more appropriate to celebrate the birth of our Savior with more sincerity and reverence.  So, it sounds like we’ll be attending the traditional communion service next year.

Youth want to give.  Early in the shopping season, my wife and I pondered giving each of our children a donation to a global charity.  However, funds were tight this year, and we decided to move forward with the usual gifts.  On Christmas day, long after the presents were open, I half-joked with them, “Yeah, we almost got you each a donation to a global charity instead of one of your regular gifts.  What would you have thought of that?”  I expected them to half-heartedly say that could be nice.  But, all three of them, in unison, said, “Now, that would have been awesome!”  Rest assured we noted that for next year.

Of course, I actually knew some of these things to some degree, just not to the extent that I have seen over the last few weeks.  Even then, if I looked beyond my children and scout troops, maybe I could have seen these points.  Many youth at our church sign up for service retreats, probably for these same reasons.  So, I suppose these are just a few more examples that help me, and maybe a few others, keep in mind what youth want.


An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars

McKennaShootsfortheStarsLooking for a good movie on how to handle friendships, embarrassment, and general challenges in life?  We watched “An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars” together as a family and really enjoyed it.  Like most American Girl movies, it’s just as good for boys as for girls.  Also, as usual, the main characters are in elementary school, but they still struggle with the same basic challenges that we all do.

McKenna: Shoots For The Stars [Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy] American Girl
McKenna: Shoots For The Stars [DVD] American Girl

An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong

ChrissaStandsStrongParents and youth – are you looking for a good movie about how to handle bullying?  We watched “An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong” together as a family and really enjoyed it.  Even though it’s An American Girl, the movie is good for boys, too.  The only thing to consider is that the main characters are fourth graders.  So, middle school youth might struggle with relating to the characters and particular situations.  However, the basic challenges of bullying are still there and make it worth watching.

An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong

What would you say?

WhatWouldYouSayWe discussed something interesting in youth group this morning.  Based on The Listserve, our youth pastor asked, “If you had the chance to speak to one million people, what would you say?”  It could be one word or a entire essay.  It could be funny or serious.  Students provided plenty of variety, including, “Live life to the fullest,” and, “Balance the important things in your life,” and “Take advantage of alternative energy sources.”  As usual, I have my own answer.  For those that don’t care, feel free to move on.  For everyone else, here you go…



  1. You are handcrafted for an amazing purpose.  That is both a great gift and a great responsibility.  You should determine your purpose and fulfill it as awesomely as possible.
  2. You are continually filled with amazing love.  That is both a great gift and a great responsibility.  You should share that love with family, friends, and other people you meet.
  3. You may occasionally find yourself sitting around wondering what you should do.  When that happens, review the previous two points.


Random Road Trip

RoadTripOur family had fun tonight going on a “Random Road Trip”.


We got the basic idea from a magazine, and then we added our own flair to it:



  1. Gather the family in your vehicle.
  2. Agree on how much time to spend driving.
  3. Start driving.  Yep, just start driving!
  4. Have everyone take turns deciding which way to go.
  5. Keep going until you have driven the agreed amount of time.  Then, continue toward the next major intersection.
  6. Visit a place nearby that you have never been to before.  It could be a restaurant, store, park, or whatever.
  7. Find your way back home, and enjoy the memory.

For our first trip, we agreed to spend 30 minutes driving to our random destination.  That went by quickly, but it was good for a first trip.

For deciding which way to go, the first person decides which way to turn out of the neighborhood.  The next person decides whether to go straight, turn left, or turn right at the next major intersection, as indicated by a traffic light or stop sign.  Skip any intersections that just have entrances to subdivisions  or shopping centers.

For a place to visit, try a local place (like “Gigi’s Pizza”) rather than a chain (like “Pizza Hut”) to keep things interesting.  While there, do something different.  Share a special meal or snack, get a little memento, or take a picture to remember your trip.

For more fun, perhaps bring some friends along.

For a bonus, take the opportunity to conduct a random act of kindness.  For our first trip, our waitress seemed new and stressed, so we tipped her an extra few dollars.

Consider using Foursquare or another GPS-based service to find a place near your random destination.  Or, maybe find a geocache in the area.  There is plenty of room for variations, depending on what your family enjoys.  Have fun!