The Congressional Award

A Secret Weapon for Rising Stars

congressional award, amazing kids, secret weapon

Most of us have heard of the Eagle Scout Award through the Boy Scouts. But what about the Congressional Award? If that one is unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone. Keep reading because this prestigious award is not only a bright gold star on any student’s resume, but the activities they do to earn it are life changing.

The Congressional Award was established by the United States Congress in 1979 to recognize initiative, service and achievement in young people. It is a non-competitive program open to all 14-23 year olds (kids can register at 13 ½ and start working on it at 14).

I first learned about the Congressional Award when my son was about to graduate from high school. By then, Chase had so much on his plate that it didn’t seem possible to add one more thing – or so I thought at that time. Looking back, that was really foolish on my part.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Grow It Again

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Hi, I’m Sam. I’m 11 years old, and I’m Jenni’s son. My mom asked me to write a blog post on re-growing food scraps. This is something I like to do because it’s fun and easy and leaves room in your garbage can. I am passionate about gardening, so my mom got me a book called Grow It Again. Most of my tips come from this book. Although a few come from my own experiences. Growing food from the fruits and vegtables in your home is a great activity for families to do together.

I’m going to show you how to grow food again in three different ways:

  1. Take it from the top
  2. Seed time
  3. From the ground up

Take It From The Top

I will show you how to grow two different foods in this category: pineapples and carrots.

Carrots

Let’s start with carrots.

Step one — Take a small, shallow container, and place a layer of stones at the bottom.

Step two — Cut the off about 2 ½ inches from the top of the carrot. Kids should have an adult help.

Step three — Place the carrot tops in the container with the rocks, and pour a thin layer of water in the carrots (about half an inch high).

Tips

Carrots seem to sprout best with a few carrot tops in the same container. Space them one to two inches apart.

Every other day, change the water.

Once you start to see tiny little green stems (check with a magnifying glass once a week), plant the carrot tops in soil in their own containers, and then water two to three times a week.

They like to live in partial sun.

Pineapple

Now for pineapple. Pineapple is one of my personal favorites, but it takes a long time to grow.

There are a few ways to grow pineapples, but the one I’m going to teach here is the one I have had the most success with.

Step one — Cut off the top of a pineapple. (Have an adult help.)

Step two — Cut all the flesh of the pineapple off, and keep cutting until you see tiny black dots on the rim of the pineapple top.

Step three — Peel all the leaves off from the first inch and a half.

Step four — Leave the top out on the counter to dry for about four to five days in room temperature.

Step five — Plant in potting soil in a large pot, and in a few days it will start to root.

One of my pineapple plants grow from the top of a fruit

One of my pineapple plants grow from the top of a fruit

Tips

Water every time the soil gets dry.

If you follow the steps, you will probably grow a healthy plant, but don’t expect a pineapple any time soon. It takes about two years before you see a blossom and about another seven months to produce a pineapple.

Seed Time

I’m going to show you how to sprout seeds that are difficult to grow, but if you follow these steps you will be able to grow them just fine. The three plants I will show today are oranges, apples, and avocado. I’m going to start with oranges because I live in Florida, and that’s one of the most common crops here.

Oranges

Step one — Take a small round plastic container or plastic cup, and put just a few stones at the bottom.

Step two — Fill it the rest of the way with soil and crushed egg shells for nutrition.

Step three — Take about three seeds from a ripe orange, and place them about an inch or two apart in the soil (the farther apart the better), but make sure the seeds are not too far into the soil.

Step three — Moisten the soil just a little.

Step four — Take a plastic sandwich bag, and put it over the container. Then wrap a rubber band around it to keep it in place

Step five — Leave it in a sunny window indoors.

Step six — Check every week to make sure the soil is moist, and in about three weeks, when you see sprouts, take the bag off.

Tips

Keep the seeds in a pot until they are strong enough to handle the environment.

Apples

Apples cannot grow in Florida because they need to go through a process called winterization, but when planting the seeds you can fake it!

Step one — Take out the seeds.

Step two — Put the seeds in a wet napkin.

Step three — Put the napkin in the refrigerator.

Step four — Check every day.

Step five — When it roots plant in soil.

Tips

If you live where it does not snow, you wont have any success with growing apples, even if you winterize the seeds in the fridge.

Avocado

Avocados are fun but difficult If you like a challenge, this is the plant for you!

Step one — Take out the avocado pit, and peel off the skin. Have an adult help.

Step two — Take toothpicks, and stick them into the avocado seed around the circumference of the seed. You want to put in 3 or 4 toothpicks. If the seed splits in two, it’s ok just tie the two halves together with a string.

Step three — Place the seed over a 4 to 5 inch cup filled with water. Make sure the bottom of the seed is in the water.

Step four — Once the root is three inches long, place it in soil, and water it three to seven times a week.

Tips

Be careful with the roots. They can be broken very easily.

This plant likes full sun.

From The Ground Up

In this category I am going to teach you how to grow two plants: garlic and ginger.

Garlic

Garlic is also one of my favorites. It’s fast, easy, and fun!

Step one — Take a small, shallow container (about the size of the carrot container), and place a layer of stones.

Step two — Peel about three garlic cloves, and place them in the stones so that they  are standing up. Make sure the pointy end of the clove is facing up.

Step three — Fill the container with about a ¼ inch of water, and leave it in a sunny windowsill for two days.

Step four — Plant in soil.

Tips

Clip the tops of the garlic every week. They get big quickly.

The tops are good in salads and are very healthy.

You can grow the garlic in the container with the water for a very long time. That was one of the things I did.

Ginger

Ginger is fairly easy to grow, so it is something I would say you should try.

Step one — Get a container like the one you put the garlic in.  Place a small layer of stones at the bottom and then fill it almost to the top with soil.

Step two — Place the ginger root flat on top of the soil.

Step three — Put soil around the ginger but leave its back out because ginger prefers it that way.

Step four — Water the soil just a little, and keep it in a sunny window. Within a few days it should root.

Tips

Water when the soil gets dry.

Transplant when the container gets too small.

Give the plant part sun.

They will eventually grow shoots. Some may die, but new ones will replace them.

They grow quickly. In about a month, the plant will be about three feet.

Don’t eat the shoots.

 

If you have any questions contact me at thesam326@gmail.com. You can also visit my blog and leave me questions and comments.

Sam Stahlmann

Farmer Sam is a sixth grader who is passionate about farming and learning alternative growing methods. He blogs about gardening, growing all sorts of plants and keeping a healthy worm farm. Visit him at farmersamblog.wordpress.com.

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Weekly Leader — June 19, 2015

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If this is your first time seeing the Weekly Leader, scroll down and read all about it below the line. Then pop back up to the top for next week’s suggestions.

Weekly Leader for the second week in June.

Mastermind Monday

As a family, think of 25 different ways to raise money.

TED Talk Tuesday

A performance of “Mathemagic”

*Note — You may not always agree with the perspective of a TED Talk, but rather than shy away from it, use it as an opportunity to explain why you don’t agree.

What’s Up Wednesday

The four lunar eclipses of 2014/2015

Think Tank Thursday

Have everyone in the family tell a story from their own childhood (even kids can tell stories from when they were younger).

Famous Friday

Charlie Brannock

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with nine kids between them (ages 4 to 28) and #10 due in August. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to parent on purpose.

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Weekly Leader — June 12, 2015

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If this is your first time seeing the Weekly Leader, scroll down and read all about it below the line. Then pop back up to the top for next week’s suggestions.

Weekly Leader for the second week in June.

Mastermind Monday

Think about a few ethical dilemmas, such as “How would you handle it if a group of friends were making racist jokes?” or “What would you do if you found a wallet with cash in it?” Write them on strips of paper and pass them around at the dinner table. Have each person read their dilemma and talk about it.

TED Talk Tuesday

Science is for everyone, kids included

*Note — You may not always agree with the perspective of a TED Talk, but rather than shy away from it, use it as an opportunity to explain why you don’t agree.

What’s Up Wednesday

Water shortage in California

Think Tank Thursday

Make a list of all the things that you would like to do as a family before everyone leaves the nest.

Famous Friday

Margaret Knight

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with nine kids between them (ages 4 to 28) and #10 due in August. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to parent on purpose.

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Weekly Leader — June 5, 2015

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If this is your first time seeing the Weekly Leader, scroll down and read all about it below the line. Then pop back up to the top for next week’s suggestions.

Weekly Leader for the first week in June.

Mastermind Monday

Have everyone in the family share a favorite quote.

TED Talk Tuesday

In the Internet Age, Dance Evolves

*Note — You may not always agree with the perspective of a TED Talk, but rather than shy away from it, use it as an opportunity to explain why you don’t agree.

What’s Up Wednesday

What’s happening since the earthquake in Napal?

Think Tank Thursday

As a family, brainstorm a whole bunch of random acts of kindness that you could do, and talk about why you would want to random acts of kindness in the first place.

Famous Friday

Carl Linnaeus

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with nine kids between them (ages 4 to 28) and #10 due in August. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to parent on purpose.

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Weekly Leader — May 1, 2015

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If this is your first time seeing the Weekly Leader, scroll down and read all about it below the line. Then pop back up to the top for next week’s suggestions.

Weekly Leader for the first week in May.

Mastermind Monday

Talk briefly about the difference between a chain and a franchise. Not sure yourself? Just ask Mr. Google!

TED Talk Tuesday

Underwater Astonishments

*Note — You may not always agree with the perspective of a TED Talk, but rather than shy away from it, use it as an opportunity to explain why you don’t agree.

What’s Up Wednesday

Riots in Baltimore

Think Tank Thursday

Friends are like vitamins — each one provides something different but essential. Have each family member talk about how their closest friends bring something unique to their life.

Famous Friday

Rosalind Franklin

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with nine kids between them (ages 4 to 28) and #10 due in August. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to parent on purpose.

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Weekly Leader — April 24, 2015

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If this is your first time seeing the Weekly Leader, scroll down and read all about it below the line. Then pop back up to the top for next week’s suggestions.

 

Weekly Leader for the second week in April.

Mastermind Monday

Have everyone in the family brainstorm ideas for a business for each member of the family. Or if someone already has a business, brainstorm new ideas for the business.

TED Talk Tuesday

The History of Our World in 18 Minutes by David Christian

*Note — You may not always agree with the perspective of a TED Talk, but rather than shy away from it, use it as an opportunity to explain why you don’t agree.

What’s Up Wednesday

Nuclear talks with Iran

Think Tank Thursday

How can you steer away from conversations that are inappropriate or somehow violate your conscience?

Famous Friday

Alfred Nobel

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with nine kids between them (ages 4 to 28) and #10 due in August. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to parent on purpose.

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Was That A Real Apology?

Apology

Has an apology ever left you feeling frustrated and unvalidated? How about the apology that subtly blames you? It usually goes something like this, “I’m sorry that you got your feelings hurt.”

When our kids give us a lame apology, it can make us especially angry because on some level, we feel as if we have failed to help them understand their wrongdoing and to take ownership of it.

The Six A’s of Apology can fix that!

A true apology is an expression of a person’s regret or remorse for having wronged another, and it is a critical part of genuine conflict resolution.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with nine kids between them (ages 4 to 28) and #10 due in August. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to parent on purpose.

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A New Definition for Leadership

Leadership

When we think of a leader, we might picture an elected official or the head of a company. Often we imagine someone in an influential role. And that’s not wrong because leadership is influence.

But there is perhaps an even better definition for  leadership — one that can help us see that every single person has the potential to be a leader. The definition came from Dr. Tim Elmore, leadership expert and president of GrowingLeaders.com. Dr. Elmore was a guest on our radio show last Saturday, and he has said that leadership is “solving problems and serving people.”

We have heard parents say that their child is not destined to be a leader, and it’s true that not every kid is going to be a CEO or a politician or even a team captain. But every child can solve problems, and every child can serve people.

As parents, we can do things to intentionally groom this in our kids.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Creative Is the New Intelligent

Creative

Creativity and imagination are the keys to the future. They will solve our energy crisis. They will continue to make our lives and work more powerful. If you had told me when I was a kid that I could stand on a street corner and talk on a phone to someone on the opposite side of the planet, I would have thought you were crazy.

Ever watch the Jetsons cartoon? I don’t know about you, but I didn’t expect to see their technology in my lifetime. I still doubt that I will ever replace my car with a flying mobile, but the Jetsonian flatscreen TVs are a part of our every day life. Video chat is also here. And although we don’t have personal robot maids who are part of the family, Honda’s Asimo robot can walk, talk and have basic human interactions. It will probably be a another lifetime before we can shrink our vehicles to a brief size as George Jetson could, but nanotechnology is a fast growing field that will surely make new and amazing things possible in years to come.

It is all the product of imagination and creativity, but he question for parents is this: “How do we help foster this in our kids?”

We would say that it starts with boredom. Author Nancy H. Blakely, said it much better than we could:

“Preempt the time spent on television and organized activities and have them spend it instead on claiming their imaginations. For in the end, that is all we have. If a thing cannot be imagined first — a cake, a relationship, a cure for AIDS — it cannot be. Life is bound by what we can envision.

I cannot plant imagination into my children. I can, however, provide an environment where their creativity is not just another mess to clean up but welcome evidence of grappling successfully with boredom. It is possible for boredom to deliver us to our best selves, the ones that long for risk and illumination and unspeakable beauty.

If we sit still long enough, we may hear the call behind boredom. With practice, we may have the imagination to rise up from the emptiness and answer.”

– Nancy H. Blakey, author of a number of books, including Mudpies: Recipes for Invention;101 Alternatives to Television; Lotions, Potions and Slime; and Boredom Busters, all from Tricycle Press

Parents can certainly turn off the TV or limit time on social media and video games. We can create open space (physically and mentally) for our kids to wander through, but once we establish an atmosphere of boredom, we also have to provide the resources and the encouragement for kids to explore and create.

Here are a handful of posts to give you some ideas. Click through, and try a few new things to cultivate imagination in your home.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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