Our Phone Call With Kirk Cameron

We were so excited when we found out that we were going to be included on a conference call with Kirk Cameron.

I have to confess (Jenni speaking) that I was a HUGE fan back in the 80s when he played Mike Seaver on the TV sitcom Growing Pains. Like most girls my age, I adored his impish character and swooned over his fetching smile, but now, more than 20 years later, I am much more impressed with the man Kirk Cameron has become.

The polar opposite of on-screen ladies’ man Mike Seaver, Kirk Cameron has matured into a devoted husband and father and an outspoken Christian leader, who has devoted much of his adult career to speaking, teaching and making films that spread the gospel message.

He has a new movie coming out on November 14th, and we had the opportunity to hear his take on Christmas, child-rearing, homeschooling and of course, the new movie.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), 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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Are You Up for the Challenge?

You are probably asking, “What challenge NOW?”

Well, with so many time stealers out there in the big bad world, our job as parents is to be purposeful in how we spend our family’s time. And make no mistake, there are a lot of options.

One of the best ways to spend your time (and probably one of the most important things you can do while you still have your little blessings under your wing) is to help them discover their purpose here on our planet. Now, we realize that they have a lifetime to fulfill their calling, and most don’t have it all figured out by the time they’re 18, but you can have a general idea as to what lane they’ll be running in during their stint as a big person. What we DON’T want is for them to waste precious time as an adult trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up (oops, I think that’s our story). Let’s save them from that great tragedy.

So, what are we doing to figure it out this big conundrum? (Wait! Don’t panic. We’re about to give you the answer.)

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. 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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How Will You Fill the White Space?

Start with a blank schedule with spaces for each hour from morning until bedtime. Have your student block off time spent in classes and in extra curricular activities and in other regular commitments. Block out time for chores and homework.

What’s left?

Without actually doing the exercise, you might be tempted to think that there’s nothing left, but in most cases, you’d be wrong.

It’s those white spaces — the left over blocks — that I want to talk about today.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including 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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You CAN Add More Time to Your Day

Everything we do requires a choice. We make choices when we wake up, eat food, get dressed, answer the phone — it’s all a choice. Although our choices are not always contemplated or obvious, they are choices nonetheless. And if we don’t choose our tasks and time deliberately, we can unknowingly allow important things to slip through the cracks.

We often hear people say they wish they had more hours in a day. Well, the experts say that for every one minute you spend planning, you will gain ten in execution. WOW! Over time, those minutes add up. You can do the math. So now the question is – Are we going to take the time to plan, and if so, how do we plan?

Start With the End Result in Mind

Time management is about starting with the end result in mind, and then working backward to achieve our goals. That’s really what this is about — setting goals and then figuring out our priorities. If we don’t do this, life just seems to happen to us, and years slip past us without any real significant achievements to speak of.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. 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 these wedding venues greenville sc, 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 seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including 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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Coaches, Role Models & Mentors

Back to school also means back to extra curricular, and with these come new relationships, tighter schedules and more commitments. Knowing that your little chicklette is going to be spending a ton of time with a new adult, have you ever considered interviewing them? You know, checking them out to see if they’re a good fit.

Would you hand off your precious offspring to a complete stranger for hours on end? Sometimes we do. They’re called coaches, role models and mentors.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. 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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Inspired By Garbage

When was the last time you took a good look at the possibilities in your garbage can?

Last week we talked about helping our kids find their passion and pursue it earnestly. This week, we’re turning our attention to kids who have done just that.

Here in Sarasota, there’s a group of five teens who have become local celebrities because of the treasure they found in their trash. They call themselves The Garbage Men, and they are a cover band who plays mostly classics from the 50s, 60s and 70s using instruments that they made entirely out of garbage!

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including 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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Out-Of-The-Box U

So, you’re starting to figure out what your kids are super interested in, maybe even passionate about. (If you’re not quite there yet, check out yesterday’s post for some inspiration.)

Now what? Where do you go with this information, and how do you help your kids dive deep into their interests without having to remortgage your house?

There are awesome opportunities tucked away in hidden places that you might not think about. You’ll have to be willing to do some research and log some miles on your car, but it’s totally worth it.

Hidden Treasures in Museums and Libraries

When I lived in NJ (Jenni speaking), we were members of the Newark Museum, and a few times a year, the museum offered inexpensive but awesome classes. One daughter, who was about eight at the time, took a jewelry making class.

The instructor would take the kids to a specific location in the museum where the kids would study a particular art form from a different time period and culture. Then they’d return to the classroom and make jewelry inspired by what they’d studied. The stuff they produced was way beyond anything she would have ever made at home. In fact, one of her pieces won second place at the county fair, and it was judged along with adult entries.

One of my sons took a profile picture that trained his eye to look for art in the world around him. I remember one day in particular when the whole class went outside and spent the day photographing only shadows.

Another son, my resident scientist at the time, took a slime class. They spent the whole six week session making all kinds of polymers that they could play with.

Libraries can also have hidden opportunities. Some have teen knitting groups. Some offer master gardener classes or special guest speakers. Kids can learn all about bats or participate in an African music class or join a Lego club. Some libraries offer business help for young entrepreneurs or American Red Cross Babysitting Certification classes. One year, my daughter won a $50 gift certificate just for writing a winning book review through our local library.

Google Is Your Best Friend

You can find all sorts of treasures by simply making Google your best friend. So, let’s say you have a child interested in photography like I do (Jody speaking). Go to Google and search for local clubs, free workshops and photography studios that offer classes.

This summer one of my daughters is taking a few summer workshops at Ringling School of Art. What she has learned in these few weeks is irrefutably key to her future success as a photographer. She is also following bloggers who are experts in the field, mimicking their different styles and techniques and mastering her craft. This is one of the many ways to help your kids become experts in what they’re passionate about.

My other daughter was convinced she wanted to own a bakery. We found out that Michael’s Arts and Crafts Store offers cake decorating classes. So, for her birthday, the entire family bought her everything she needed to bake unique cakes and cupcake accessories and all the tools to create her own little bake shop, and my sister purchased the first round of classes for her.

It was one of the best things we ever did, and we all enjoyed her delectable desserts. Yes, I had to diet once she exhausted her passion for that field. But, what she learned was irreplaceable. She figured out that she loved to bake and make specialty desserts, but only for special occasions. This was NOT something she wanted to do for a living. Good thing we figured that out in middle school and not in business college!

Look for local stores that sell supplies for your child’s interest and see if they offer classes. My daughter (Jenni here) has her own henna tattoo business. She gets her supplies from a store in Orlando, which is about two hours from our house. Next month, we’re heading up there for a full day of henna classes to help her hone her skills. While she’s there, she plans to rub elbows with some other artists and find out new ways to get more business.

Oddly enough, Skyler’s whole henna business was birthed out of a desire to take an art class. She’s an artsy kid by nature, but she wasn’t satisfied with her drawing ability. That one class opened a whole new world for her. Check out her henna designs here

Hidden Treasures in Your City

Do you have any historic societies or science centers in your community? Get on their mailing lists and find out what they’re doing. You might unearth some great treasures.

Does your city offer opera, orchestra, dance, live theater or bazaars? How about art shows? Are there galleries? What about restaurants (sometimes restaurant owners will let your kids tour the kitchen and make their own food).

Mark your calendar for the county fair and any other fairs your town might offer.  Get people’s business cards, and see if they’ll let you visit their farm or work studio.

Experiences fuel passion, and the people who are living and breathing their craft are great resources for helping us give our kids specialized experiences. Which leads us to this…

Sailing on the Right Ships: Mentorships, Internships and Apprenticeships

Contact local zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and other specialized attractions in your area, and see if they offer official internship programs.

Find a professional in your child’s field of interest who will allow him to job shadow for a few days. If it goes well, talk to the person about possibly mentoring your child.

Travel Required

Jenni and I have done some pretty crazy things to get our kids to places so they can have an experience that will fuel their passion . . . but I think we’re called to do that.

When Chase, my oldest son, was in middle school, we knew he wanted to pursue a career in law and politics. Politics was not my specialty, but this boy couldn’t get enough of it. I knew I had to get him to places where he could learn first-hand what it was all about. So, with two little ones in tow, I drove ninety minutes each way for five days in a row to get him to our state capital in Springfield, IL so that he could participate in a week long camp that would teach him about our political system and allow him to network with representatives and senators in our home state.

Well, that laborsome effort definitely paid off. Out of that experience, Chase was given an opportunity to work for our senator during the summer (his office was only twenty minutes from us – whew!), page for him later at the capital and later campaign for a representative in Missouri. Well, that passion at 12 years old catapulted him into law school and has turned into a career placing him with a group of attorneys that bring awareness to the Federal Budget.

But these trips don’t have to be a total wash for mom and dad. When Jenni and I take her daughter Skyler up to Orlando next month for a day of henna boot camp, we’re going to spend the day at a nearby cafe with WiFi working on our keynote talks for a 2015 homeschool convention (and we’ll manage to squeeze in some fun too). But if you want to work at home, just make sure you have this Wi-Fi Router to get the best speeds.

Summer Camps

Specialized summer camps can have a steep price tag, but they can be a great investment in your kid’s future. My daughter Skyler (Jenni speaking) wants to be a vocal recording artist. A number of top music schools offer intensive summer programs that will not only build skills and experience, but it will allow her to make valuable connections with working artists.

One of my sons wants to be a filmmaker in the military. The New York film academy offers middle and high schoolers camps with A-List producers, directors, screenwriters and actors.

There are excellent summer opportunities for nearly every interest.

We’re going to talk more about this and how to help your kids get into their first choice school this Saturday at 10:00AM on Parenting On Purpose With Jenni and Jody. We’ll be talking about how finding our kids’ passion is instrumental in preparing them for their future.

Sarasota locals can catch us on 1220AM, 106.9FM or 98.9FM, but anyone can listen in on live streaming on WSRQ or get directions to download a mobile app and listen on the go.

 

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), 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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Does Your Kid Have a “Thing?”

A few years ago one of my children was celebrating a birthday. He had $50 to spend (a gift from a great grandparent), and he couldn’t figure out a way to spend more than $6 of it.

As he lapped the store, he would pick something up and carry it around for a while and then decide it wasn’t quite right and put it back. He asked me if I thought his G.G. (great-grandma) would be sad if he didn’t spend the money.

“Of course not, Sam,” I replied. “You can save it until you find something you really like. I think G.G. would be proud of you for making wise choices with your money.”

When we left the store, he was very sad, and when I asked what was wrong, he said, “I don’t have a ‘thing.’ Seth likes science, and Skyler likes horses, but I don’t have a special ‘thing’ that I like.”

After that day, we spent a lot of time and thought helping Sam find his “thing,” and he has! Sam loves to grow things. We call him Farmer Sam, and he’s even gearing up right now to invest his leftover birthday money in a worm farm (by the way, he’s still the kid who won’t spend money flippantly — his birthday was four months ago, and he still has quite a bit of money left over).

One of Sam's backyard growing projects

One of Sam’s backyard growing projects

Farmer Sam Canning Tomatoes

Farmer Sam Canning Tomatoes

Jody and I are consistently amazed at how many people we talk to who don’t know what their kids are passionate about (other than video games and social media, that is). We’re not necessarily surprised that they haven’t discovered it. We’re more surprised that so often people say that it never really occurred to the them to figure that out.

But just as my little Sam was so sad that he didn’t have a thing, other young souls are feeling the emptiness that grows inside when passion is missing.

Laziness is Not a Personality Trait

As we dig deeper with parents, encouraging them to help their kids find passion, we often hear many of them say, “My kid is just not motivated.” Or worse, “My kid is lazy.”

Lazy is not a personality trait; it’s a sign of a spirit crying out for purpose.

Understanding our child’s bent, knowing what sets their hearts on fire, gives kids energy and focus, and it gives us a kind of parenting compass: we can plan family activities and birthday parties and gifts and bedroom decor all around the things that our kids love most.

It’s Okay to Change Course

Often you will find that if you allow a child every opportunity to fully explore an interest (as time and money permit), they will often come to the end of it. And that’s okay.

When Skyler was younger, she was passionate about animals, especially horses. She read everything she could get her hands on about animals. When she had TV time, she watched Animal Planet. We got subscriptions to animal magazines, and she read animal fiction books.

She had many pets (snake, lizard, tree frog, bunny, bird, cat, dog, guinea pig). She loved to study an animal’s habitat and try to re-create it at home, she even got all the cats to enjoy a fountain that was perfect for them. We thought for a while, she might become a zoologist one day.

By about age nine, her focus was on horses. She read Equus magazine, worked hard every year selling Girl Scout cookies to pay for horse camp at the Girl Scout Campground, took horseback riding lessons (when we could afford it) and even studied a horse anatomy book in her spare time.

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But by the time she was twelve, she had pretty much come to the end of it. She’s 15 now, and although she still loves horses and hopes to one own a horse, she came to realize that her true passion (something she’d also been cultivating for a while even while she studied horses) was music and art.

She’s has an amazing voice and sings at the Sarasota Opera House. She studies music theory and has learned to play a number of different instruments. She also draws and paints and runs her own henna tattoo business.

In costume for her role in the opera Little Nemo in Slumberland

In costume for her role in the opera Little Nemo in Slumberland

Henna Art by Skyler

Henna Art by Skyler

As they grow and evolve, it’s okay to let go of old interests and develop new ones. Most people go through it, but isn’t it better to dive deeply into something at 10 or 12 and come to the end of it than it is to dive deeply into something at 20 or 25 and come to the end of it (especially after spending 10s of thousands of dollars on schooling for it)? We actually hear that story quite often — the one where people went to school to become a teacher (or something else), spent years studying and then figured out during student teaching that she doesn’t like it.

Sure, some people don’t find their passion and purpose until they’re in their 30s or 40s, but it’s usually because they were not guided to deeply explore interests when they were young.  We can absolutely shorten the learning curve for our kids. If we make it a focus, we can (and should) help our kids figure out what makes their hearts soar.

This Saturday on Parenting on Purpose radio show, we are going to talk about how finding our kid’s passion is a critical part of helping them prepare for college and career. We’ll also tell you what to do with that information, once you have it. So be sure to tune in live at 10:00AM on Saturday, July 19th.

Local folks can listen on 1220AM, 106.9FM or 98.9FM. And out-of-towners can listen live streaming on the WSRQ website. You can also get instructions there on how to download a mobile app to listen on the go.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including 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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Confessions of a Tea Party Hating Mom

“Mommy, want to have a tea party with me?”

Okay, here it is. It sounds ugly, but it’s the truth. My skin crawls at the sound of that question. I confess…I hate tea parties.

I also hate playing with Barbies or any dolls really. I don’t enjoy pretending to eat Play Doh creations. In fact, I pretty much despise most imaginary play.

And for a long time, it made me feel like a bad mom.

When my older kids were little, I would suffer through tortuous rounds of imaginary play, trying not to fidget, and endeavoring to stay focused on their little smiles and happiness. But really, I was silently scanning the room, looking for something to distract them so I could escape the ennui.

I know. It sounds just awful. But Jody and I are huge fans of transparency and vulnerability, so there it is. My name is Jenni Stahlmann, and I hate imaginary play.

Our Kids Can Read Us Like a Book

In hindsight, those years of forcing myself to sit through a tea party and pretend I was having fun weren’t fooling anyone. My kids knew what it looked like when I was really enjoying something. They’d seen it often enough to spot the counterfeit, and because they knew I wasn’t really into it, there was a subtle desperation in them, as they searched my face hoping for signs of a shift.

I’m not sure when the light bulb came on, but at some point in the last ten years or so, I realized my play time with the kids would be much better spent in other ways. I can really get into a craft project or a board game or a day out letterboxing or geocaching. I LOVE long walks and baking or cooking with the kids.

When we lived in New Jersey, we’d go on long outings in our little town. We’d pack the stroller full of water and snacks, walk to the library, read some books together and take some home for later. Then we’d head to the playground, and then to the little grocery store on Main Street where we’d get ingredients for a baking project.

We had all kinds of ways to make the walk more fun. Sometimes we’d take a listening walk and challenge ourselves to hear 20 different sounds. Sometimes I’d print out scavenger hunt sheets of things they might see along our walk (an airplane overhead, a frog, a red bicycle, an American flag, etc.), and whoever found the most things got a little prize.

Freedom

Once I acknowledged that I wasn’t the tea party type, and I began finding things that I can truly enjoy with the kids, I felt a whole new freedom.

Fortunately for my kids, their dad loves imaginary play. So they got their fix when he got home, but during the day with me, we made birdhouses and played board games and read books and drew pictures and went to the zoo and pet the puppies at the local pet store and planted cacti in mason jars filled with sand art and make lighting bug lanterns and had water balloon fights and painted the snow with spray bottles full of colored water, but after we got tired of the snow in our driveway, we had to get it all removed so we could leave the house. If you’re looking for expert Snow removal in Boston MA these guys are the best.

And you know what? I didn’t feel the least bit guilty anymore about turning down the tea parties!

To learn about more play options, tune into this Saturday’s episode of Parenting on Purpose with Jenni and Jody at 10AM (EST). We are broadcasting LIVE from our favorite neighborhood toy store. If you’re local to Sarasota, stop in and visit us at Children’s World (4525 Bee Ridge Rd.).  We’d love to chat with you on air about your open play experiences!

You can also listen live on 1220AM or 106.9FM or 98.9FM. If you’re not local, just go to the WSRQ website and listen to the streaming broadcast or download the mobile app and listen on the go (they use Tune In Radio for that).

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including 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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