On Becoming a Grocery Store Rock Star

grocery store

Anyone who knows me will hear me complain on a regular basis about the daunting and unending job of grocery shopping. UGH! It is the one thing that makes me wish I could duplicate myself and send my clone out on my behalf. But it’s also one of the few things I can’t successfully delegate, and that’s saying a lot because I’m a master delegator when it comes to most things!

Grocery shopping, however, is a delicate matter. Anytime I send the hubby, we end up with a mountain of junk food, and if I send a kid, they either come home with the wrong things or I end up fielding a dozen phone calls.

But a few weeks ago something happened that made me appreciate the whole grocery process just a little more.

I was in the grocery store with my huge (and dreaded) list of shopping items when a woman approached me and asked, “Does that really help?”

At first, I wasn’t sure what she meant. “My shopping list?” I asked her.

“Yes. Does it really help to write it all down like that?”

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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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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10 Tips to Help Your Kids Get Organized

help your kids get organized

 

Disorganization derails success. That’s true for adults and kids too. So as we embark on a new year, here are 10 tips to help your kids get organized.

1. Adopt a Mentorship Mindset

mother_daughter_moment

Punishment, frustration and anger don’t help kids learn to be organized. We, the parents, are their teachers and mentors. A messy room or a disorganized backpack is just a red flag telling us they need new or better tools and consistent training to help them learn how to stay neat and organized.

Today I’m going to share some tips for organizing their rooms, clothes, toys, school supplies and arts and crafts, but with Google and Pinterest by our side, we can easily search ideas at any time to help our kids overcome any organizational problem. The key is our willingness to teach them, follow up and tweak the system until we have a winner.

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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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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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.

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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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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Aim Kids For Success With Project Management Skills

The corporate and the academic worlds are moving toward a more project-based environment. So as our kids grow up, they’re going to need strong project management skills, and we can begin teaching them some of the basics by showing them how to look at their to do list to find mini projects: papers for school, putting together a vendor booth for their small business, planning a birthday party.

What Has to Be Done?

  • Teach kids to ask, “What exactly needs to be done?”
  • They should be clear and concise because being vague clouds vision.
  • Then they should define any related goals and be specific.

My fifteen year old has a successful henna tattoo business, and she gets a good amount of business from booths at various fairs and events around town. For these booths, she has to have a table with good signage. She needs pictures of her work, brochures, business cards and pricing information. Her goal is obviously to do tattoos at the event and make money, but it’s also to network for future business. That means she has to provide information on weddings, pregnancy belly tattoos and home parties (which tend to bring in good money). Her goal is to leave an event with at least three bookings — one to replace that day’s event and two to grow her business.

When our kids are defining their goals and tasks, they need to think about what they want the end result to look like.

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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Should I or Shouldn’t I Homeschool?

Last week we posted Jody’s testimony of how she began homeschooling her son, Chase in Mom, Will You Homeschool Me?

By our small-blog standards, this thing has gone viral. Today alone, we’ve already had more than 14,000 visits to the blog! Do you know what this tells me? A lot of people are looking for education alternatives for their kids, and a lot of people are taking a serious look at homeschooling.

Jody’s post did a great job of illustrating how difficult this decision can be. Deciding whether or not to homeschool is no small choice to make. You’ve got to count the cost, and if you decide to do it, you’ve got to be committed, because I can guarantee that your resolve will be challenged along the way.

If you’ve never homeschooled, it can be hard to think through the pros and cons, so we wanted to post something from a veteran perspective to help families who are considering this option.

Between Jody and I, we’ve homeschooled 8 kids (not including my toddler, but we homeschool him too) for a combined 23 years (13 for her and 10 for me). We’ve experienced working with a special needs child, high schoolers, pre-readers, academically gifted and academically challenged kids and audio, visual, kinesthetic learners.

We’ve also had an umbrella school for homeschool families for four years and counseled many families on most aspects of homeschooling.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’ve been there and seen a lot, so here are some basic pros and cons that we’ve seen over the years.

Homeschooling Pros

  • Customized Education — You can customize your child’s education. This is my absolute favorite! I LOVE that my ninth grader can start her own business and spend a good portion of her day learning about the formation of business entities and marketing strategies. I love that she can take the time she needs to perfect her craft so that she can offer an excellent service to her clients. I love that my 4th grader can spend a big part of his day growing plants and learning about botany because that’s what he loves. I love that two of my kids can use their peak performance hours to write movie scripts, film the movie, learn how to use professional editing and special effects software and master a final copy. And even with the standard academic subjects, they can all move as slowly or as quickly as they need to actually learn it.

  • Learning at Their Own Pace — Which leads me to my next pro — the goal of education can be learning, not passing a test or getting a grade, but actually gaining knowledge and understanding and being able to apply it. Sometimes that happens much faster than the standard American classroom allows it to happen. Other times, it takes a lot longer than a school lesson would take. It all depends on the kid and the subject the kid is learning.
  • Maximized Time — This is similar to the first two, but homeschooling avoids wasted time spent on transporting to and from school, transitioning from one class or one activity to another, waiting on long lines for food, water and the bathroom and constant distractions of friends, other kids’ questions, noises, sights, etc. Our children’s childhood is precious, and homeschooling allows you to maximize it.

  • Character Training Opportunities — So many people say that they couldn’t homeschool their kids because their kids would drive them crazy and they don’t think their kids would even listen to them. Homeschooling gives parents the time they need to teach communication and interpersonal skills and obedience. I’m not saying that it’s never frustrating or difficult, but when they’re with you all day, you can take the time you need to shape their character.

  • Community Involvement — Homeschooled kids can interact with the community throughout the day. Unlike their peers who are gathered into age specific groups for most of the day, homeschoolers tend to spend their days with kids who are both much younger and much older than themselves, adults, the elderly and people in different job sectors and socio-economic classes. For example, on Mondays our kids take a drama class with a large group of middle and high schoolers. On Tuesdays they spend the morning downtown with their youth pastor from church talking to to the homeless and offering them food and water. Then they spend the afternoon at a local tea house doing schoolwork, where they’ve been able to network and find new venues for their small businesses. After that they go the opera house, where they work with musicians and performers from around the world. On Wednesdays they take a few classes and then study at home or at a park. On Thursdays they take a class, sing at a local prayer house, babysit little kids and head back to the opera house. What I’m getting at here is that homeschooled kids have the flexibility to really connect with the community. Because of their availability, our kids have had the chance to be on the radio, attend community luncheons, sit in on city planning meetings, volunteer at a local parade, work with the Humane Society and nursing homes, and so much more.

  • Self-Esteem and Confidence — There’s a difference between self-esteem and confidence. Self-esteem is how much you value yourself. Confidence is a belief in your abilities. We’ve got a post on how to build self-esteem and one on building confidence, but homeschooling can help with both. For one, they’re free from the negative social aspects of schooling (bullies, unhealthy comparisons, unrealistic expectations, etc.). As kids are given the freedom to spend a good portion of the day discovering who they are and finding purpose, their self-esteem will rise, and as they take the time to practice and become successful in a variety of things, their confidence will increase.
  • Life Skills — They can participate in the running of the household. Jody did two great posts on Raising the Head of a Household and Raising a Proverbs 31 Woman. I encourage you to check them out. You’ll be inspired! But homeschooling affords you the time to really train and equip your kids for adulthood, and along the way, you get lots of help. Speaking of which, check out the post on how to Turn Your Kids Into Clean Machines!
  • Experiential Learning — There’s greater opportunity for experiential learning. This is another BIG benefit for our family. We LOVE a good field trip, and we take A LOT of them! A few times a month we go somewhere — a theater, a dairy farm, an art studio, a pizza place, an aquarium, a science center, a newspaper printing press, a castle made entirely of recycled materials, a hydroponic farm, a TV station, a supermarket, a metal fabrication shop…you get the idea. We like field trips. We also love internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing opportunities and mentorships. And we seek out those opportunities like a dog on a scent!
  • Scheduling Freedom — We school year round, but that doesn’t mean we’re all work and no play. Oh no, no! We LOVE a day at Busch Gardens, and we love that we can go on Tuesday when everyone else is at school. No lines, no crowds – it’s beautiful. We happen to live in a vacation destination spot, so whenever family and friends are in town visiting our beautiful beaches and warm weather, we can take time off and go sight-seeing or boating or to an amusement park with them. Just as my husband has the flexibility to schedule his vacation time when he wants, we can schedule our time off when we want. We can also have occasional PJ days, and on a rainy day, when everyone feels sluggish and drab, we can make food together and cuddle on the couch to watch a documentary. Netflix and Amazon Prime are a homeschoolers best friends!
  • Well Rested and Hydrated Kids — Homeschooled kids can develop a sleep schedule that works well for their bodies and their family lifestyle. We’ve got a friend whose husband is a chef. They’re all night owls so they can involve dad in their life, but they can also get the sleep they need in the morning. And how about hydration? I know it sounds weird, but this was actually one of the minor reasons I decided to homeschool. My daughter’s kindergarten class didn’t allow them to keep water at their desks. Instead they took them to the water fountain twice a day. I knew that a few sips at the water fountain and her water bottle at lunch weren’t giving her the 20+ ounces she needed a day. At home I could schedule two big water breaks and make sure she was always hydrated – a super important part of being able to learn!

Homeschooling Cons

  • Financial Restraints — Homeschooling can be expensive. It doesn’t have to be (let’s face it, a library card is free), but if you want to use pre-packed curriculum, take special classes and benefit from a bunch of cool field trips, it takes money.  The good news is, you set the budget and let that determine what you can and can’t do. There’s always the library and the Internet.
  • Not Being Able to Work — It’s hard to work outside the home. Working and homeschooling at the same time can be done, but it’s no small task, and it’s probably not a good idea for a new homeschooling parent. It takes top notch organization and time management systems, a student who is willing and able to work well independently, and an effective process for monitoring your kid’s progress.

  • Sports, Music and Art Limitations — Sports, music and arts opportunities may be limited. We happen to live in a state and a county where there are no limitations on the public extra curricular activities that we can do. As county registered homeschoolers, our kids can participate in any public school sport or music or art program. They can even take classes at local public schools. But it’s not like that everywhere, and for some kids that can be a big drawback. You can seek out extra curricular activities (our kids do opera, Civil Air Patrol, scouts, art and music) or you could team up with other homeschool families and offer homeschool sports. Here in Sarasota, we’ve got homeschool tennis, volleyball and archery (I’m probably missing some others).

  • Therapy Limitations — Limited access to special needs therapy. Again, here in Florida, our kids can get all the speech, physical and occupational therapy they need through the public school system, but that may not be the case in other parts of the U.S., which can be a huge problem for some kids.
  • Limited Social Opportunities — It never fails. Whenever someone asks about homeschooling, we can expect this question: “But what about socialization?” We’re going to do a whole post on the myth of socialization, but let me just say that I’ve homeschooled in three different states, and I’ve never had trouble offering my kids great social opportunities. But I do realize that for some people, there is not a large local homeschool community. We’re blessed to have a few homeschool graduations and proms and yearbooks to choose from. Because of the extensive network in our area of homeschool families, our kids don’t have to miss out on anything public school kids do, but we know that’s not the case for every family. The truth is, as a homeschooler, you will have seek out social opportunities for your kids.
  • Your Own Challenges and Limitations — Here’s a tough one to face: as a homeschool parent, your own struggles and bad habits and challenges and limitations will be on display for your kids. If you’re disorganized or have a short fuse or are addicted to the television or the phone or the Internet; if you are prone to white lies and excuses or battle depression or overeat, your kids are not only going to know, but they’re probably to going to pick up the same issues. Remember, more is caught than taught. Your kids will do what you do, not what you say. But there’s a great silver lining in this dark cloud — homeschooling can also be the catalyst for you to begin making the changes you’ve always wanted to make in your own life. Being a role model for someone else can be a powerful motivator! So pick one thing; do some research; make a plan to fix it, and then work the plan. When you’ve got that one licked, move on to the next.

We hope we’ve helped you in this process. While you’re here, leave us a comment below and tell us what pros and cons we’ve missed!

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 to Embrace the Mess

This week we’re talking about ways that we can inspire creativity, imagination and innovation in our kids, but we know that for some parents, the biggest stumbling block is the potential mess that creativity brings.

One of our taglines  is “parenting with the end end result in mind,” and building creativity is one of the things that requires us keep our eyes on the results and not worry so much about the process. The end result of fostering creativity is worth it. You are raising imaginative kids who will one day be problem solvers. They need this time to develop the brain function that it will take to become that, but often, the process is messy.

Don’t tell yourself the lie that your kids can get all the creative training they need in school. They don’t have the freedom in school to spend unlimited time and explore and make mistakes and let their imagination run wild.

Instead, let your kids indulge in manageable messes.

  • Let them break eggs once in a while to see what’s inside and to play with it.
  • Let them draw all over the sidewalk and driveway with colored chalk.
  • Let them make mud pies.
  • Let them line your window sills with sprouting plants.
  • Let them cut up old clothes and make new fashions.

Let them do just about anything that’s not dangerous and is not going to destroy something important. Just make sure you include them in the cleanup process.

Designate Creative Spaces

Give each kid their own cookie sheet. They can do art on the cookie sheet, leave the work to dry, and then clean it in between uses.

Keep newspaper near art supplies, and make the rule that no art happens without a covered surface.

Designate good clothes and messy clothes, and let them do just about anything in the messy clothes.

Designate a nail brush solely for messy cleanup and teach your kids to scrub their nails when they’re doing being creative.

Have a folding table with sheets and towels designated specifically for protecting surfaces during messy play.

Set a large tote filled with soapy water just outside the door with rag towels nearby so kids can wash off outside before coming in. If you anticipate that their clothes will be dirty, put another tote out with clean clothes so kids can take off dirty clothes, wash up, put the new ones on and leave the dirty clothes in the bin. That way they won’t track the mess into the house.

My dear friend Chastity lives in the northeast where it snows. After snow play, she puts a tote by the front door and has kids strip in the entryway and put their wet stuff in the tote, so they don’t track the snow into the house.

The bottom line is that we have to give our kids freedom to play, get dirty, make messes, experiment, explore and make mistakes, but there are ways we can do it without harm to the kids or to the house.

Sometimes it’s actually the kid who has the mess aversion. In that case it’s usually a tactile defensiveness. A Sensory Diet can help.

But whether it is you or the kid who avoids the mess, find ways to push through. When it comes to creativity, the ends often justify the means.

 

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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