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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What is serving you well?

Earlier this year, I asked myself a question that was a real game changer for me. I asked, “What is serving me well in my life?” But to answer that question, I found myself first asking the opposite question. “What isn’t serving me well?” For some reason, that one was easier for me to tackle.

The first thing that came to mind when I asked the second question was TV before bed. I had a made a weird observation. Whenever I crashed on the couch at the end of the day and watched TV right before I went to sleep, I had a much more difficult time getting up the next day. I almost felt a little hung over in the morning. But if I skipped TV and spent the late evening doing other things — stretching, journaling, reading — I had more energy the next day.

It turns out there’s science behind this. Blue light, which comes from a variety of sources but includes the light from TV, phones, computers and tablets, interrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm and affects sleep. Since this discovery, we’ve made a new rule in our house. All computers, phones and other electronic devices get collected about 90 minutes before bed.

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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This 1 Habit Could Change Everything

What if you could focus on ONE thing, and that ONE thing could change EVERYthing? That’s exactly what happened when a man named Paul O’Neill took over  an international aluminum company that was failing in the late 80’s. And the same habit can overhaul your life too.

Shareholders and financial analysts panicked when O’Neill took the helm of Alcoa and began a highly irregular focus on safety. He didn’t talk about increasing profits. He didn’t talk about lowering costs. He didn’t talk about anything that a CEO of company as big as Alcoa typically talks about. Instead, he was laser focused on what appeared to be a strange obsession with safety.

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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Grow It Again

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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I Wish I Had This For My Older Kids

When I saw the opportunity to review FamilyLife’s Passport 2 Purity, I jumped on it! I have an 11-year-old boy, and I knew this would be perfect timing for him. My older kids have had “the talk,” but they have all been very respectful about not sharing that information with the younger siblings. So I was pretty sure my Sammy didn’t know much about this stuff. (I was right!)

The Passport 2 Purity program is designed help prepare your child for their journey into adolescence. Let’s face it, the world they are walking into is much different than when we were young. Their’s is a world of sexting, cyber bullying, online stalking and perhaps the most blatant moral defiance in the history of our country. Innocence is under attack, and you cannot win the battle with a single awkward talk or a strict set of rules. The only real defense for your child is a strong relationship with you and with God.

FamilyLife developed Passport 2 Purity to assist parents in building heart-to-heart communication with their preteens, while laying a foundation of purity that will prepare them for the potentially turbulent years ahead. It is actually designed to be done as a mother-daughter or father-son team, over the course of a weekend getaway, but we broke all the rules.

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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How Do You Motivate Your Kids To Clean?

Have you ever sent your child to clean his room to find hours later that close to nothing had been done? That’s frustrating, right?

Well, it could be that your precious puddin’ pop feels like he’s going to the ocean with a teaspoon and feels completely paralyzed by the idea of organizing and cleaning an area that seems overwhelming to him. So, how do we help? Routine.

Let’s use the example of kids cleaning their rooms. What they really need are chore lists and routines. And cleaning works best if you do a little each day. Spring cleaning is great, but it’s less of a task if you’ve kept up on it all year long in a daily ritual. This is also a great way to build some healthy habits, such as constantly picking up after yourself.

Circumference

For some reason, it seems a lot of kids struggle with remembering to clean up after themselves. This is a simple idea, but a daunting task. Try begin by helping them become aware of their personal space. Get them in a habit of continually scanning about a three foot circumference around their body. If something within three feet of them is not in its home, have them put it away. Give them a code word, such as “circumference” so they know to check their space. Once this becomes a habit, their living space will become more manageable. Here’s another tip, the best broom for a child will be at their height, imagine a broom stick 2-3 times your height for a second. Now that you see why that’s an issue, why not cut them a shorter broom stick which they can install on the broom. This will give them a sense of ownership over a tool used in cleaning, which can be rewarding for them.

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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Are You Teaching Your Kids To Be Incompetent?

I’m sure most parents don’t set out to overindulge their kids. I know I don’t, but sometimes it happens when I’m not paying attention. Overindulgence comes from a good place — it is born out of our deep love for our kids. We want to meet their needs and to make them happy and comfortable. We want to nurture them, and rightfully so — nurturing is foundational to parenting.

But did you know that we can overindulge our kids by OVER nurturing them? When we do things for our children that they can and should learn to do for themselves, we are over nurturing them. Every loving parent crosses this line occasionally, and when it happens once in a while, it simply sends the message to our kiddos that we love them and want to celebrate them in various little ways.

But when the occasional overindulgence becomes the norm, it can spell huge problems for our kids later in life.

Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz wrote, “The proverb warns that you should not bite the hand that feeds you. But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself.”

When we do things for our kids that they should learn to do for themselves, we train them to be helpless and teach them be incompetent.

So what should our kids learn to do for themselves? Everything!

I remember once, as a younger mom, seeing a woman who had had her baby later in life and marveling at how she doted upon this little girl. The child was nearing a year old, and she had her strapped into a bouncy chair while she spoon fed her baby food.

From infancy, our goal should be gradual independence. So we help our little ones practice sitting up, and then we encourage them to stand, while we hold there hands. As soon as we see them grasping things with their thumb and forefinger instead of raking with four fingers, we begin offer small pieces of food for them to feed themselves.

Soon we teach them how to undress and dress themselves and how to clean up their toys. Two and three year olds can do simple little chores like folding wash cloths or putting their folded shirts into their shirt drawer.

As kids get older, they learn to make their beds, do dishes, take out the garbage. Our goal with housework should be to eventually teach our kids how to do everything we do as well or better than we do it.

When we are prescribing over-the-counter meds to our 10 year old, we can explain what we are giving them, why we chose that medication and how we determined the dosage.

Our kids can learn how to find experts who can answer their questions, make phone calls and leave detailed messages. They can learn how to make reservations, book airline tickets, cook for themselves, get directions, do their laundry.

Of course, we have to be mindful of their developmental level, but when we assume strength and competence in our kids, we gradually teach them to become capable, independent people. On the flip side, when we do things for them that they can learn to do for themselves, we are assuming that they are weak and incapable, and over time, we will train them to become helpless and incompetent. And who really wants that outcome?

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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Weekly Leader — April 24, 2015

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

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. 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 (POP) with the end result in mind.

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Clean Car = Happy Mom

“My car is not a garbage can!”

Yep, that’s what I used to yell when I felt frustrated over my car being such a mess. Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if I could figure out a solution considering I had small kids, but I knew I had to try something. So after exhausting a few fruitless ideas, I decided to treat my car like I did my home.

In my home, I don’t allow the kids to throw their trash on the floor or make messes without cleaning them up or eat in certain parts of the house without some precautionary steps in place, and I decided to try the same in my car.

Here’s how my family mastered a clean car.

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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Explain – Show – Practice

Sitting at the supper table as a middle schooler, I wanted the butter which was on the other side of the table. I started to reach for it when a booming voice said, “Sit down. Keep your buns on your chair.”

Okay, but what then? I was seriously frozen; I was clueless how to get the butter without lifting myself off my chair.

As the parent of small children, I would often tell my children not to do this or that. At times I could see a confused look on their face that brought back this memory from my childhood. I realized I was not helping them by just telling them what not to do; I needed to help them by telling them what to do.

That realization only complicated matters for me, because at times I didn’t know what I wanted my child to do or what was the “right” thing to do, I just knew I didn’t want them to do what they were doing.

While taking the time to think through situations we didn’t like and actually pondering what would be a better way for our child to act, my husband and I began to see a pattern developing.

First, we noticed the need to identify the character trait lacking in any situation. Again, this required not just labeling but understanding what we meant and expected when we declared a character trait.

Kim Doebler

Kim lives in the North Woods of WI with her husband of twenty-nine years, Todd. They are blessed with four children ages fifteen to twenty. They made their move to the country from big city living nine years ago. Kim keeps active teaching beginning public speaking, homeschooling, and speaking on Training Children in Character. She also loves entertaining, reading and going for walks.

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