A Sweet 16 Birthday Idea

Our youngest, Mateo, turned 16 this week, so I thought it might be fun to share something we don’t tell many people… well until now. I would love to share, how we celebrate our teen’s 16th birthday.

How We Celebrate Sweet 16 Birthdays

There are so many great ideas when it comes to celebrating the 16th birthday.  Hop on Pinterest searching the term "sweet 16 ideas" and your screen is instantly filled with pink balloons, memories to capture and sweet anticipation to the big day.

We realized a long time ago we could not begin to afford a big birthday every year. 

It was a real blessing that we couldn’t even pretend to compete with the Jones because it required us to get creative.

We decided we would be strategic with which years got some kind of party and which years would get a sheet cake, an off-tune happy birthday sung and a small $10 gift.

YEARS 5, 10, 13 and 18 would get a bigger affair.  Examples: Hannah chose a sleepover every...

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Ready for a reality check?

As your teen gets ready to leave home, one of the questions that your teen will wonder is, "how much do I need to leave home?" 

Inside LIFE 101 PRO we unpack that question. 

We have your teen research housing options that are affordable for them, they create meal plans and much more.  In that scenario, we tell the teens how much they make per month and they have to make that budget work. 

However, a great next step is to find out what kind of jobs will make it possible for your teen to make it on their own. 

A company called Jump Start Financial Literacy has a great tool to help you unpack the next question. They call it a reality check and I couldn't agree more!

The questions take only a few minutes and the answers are GREAT!

After your teen fills in the questions and presses reality check they will know:

  • how much the need to make to live the lifestyle they hope to live.
  • how much education is needed to obtain a job making that kind of money.
  • what kind of...
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Senior Pictures: 9 Tips to Make Them Stress-Free

 Senior pictures can be such a fun moment in high school senior’s life and as a former high school senior photographer, I LOVED helping make this day special.  Over the years, we saw a trend of things that help a senior picture day go well and want to pass them on to all you amazing homeschool moms of teens for when it is your time.  

Senior Pictures: 9 Tips to Make Them Stress-Free

So, print this, pin this, save it for when it is your time, but I totally recommend EVERY one of these tips!

Decide your budget ahead of time.

You will get rid of a lot of the overwhelm if you stay in budget.  Senior pictures represent such a pivotal moment in your child’s life.  They are about to cross the threshold of adulthood.  Sure, you want to capture it all and give them the moon, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to show them you care and think they are amazing.  The best thing you can do to show you care is just there.  Take them to...

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The Best Way To File Taxes For Teenagers

The best way to file taxes for teenagers... is to make them do it themselves.  We have a 15 year old and a 19 year old and we are helping a 21 year old.  This is how each teen filed their taxes.


I don't know about yall, but I didn't file my own taxes until I was married and we were on our own.  We had a MILLION W-2's and mileage deduction and car depreciation.  It's amazing how we really did live on both of us working $8 an hour almost full-time jobs, but we definitely couldn't afford the luxuries, like Wal-Mart tax professionals.  So that became my part time job at home - as it took WEEKS to get our taxes filed the first time.

Thankfully, years of practice has made this much easier to handle.  We want that same confidence for our teens, so as soon as they start getting a W-2 we have them start filing their taxes.


We knew Mateo, our almost 16 year old (*gulp*) didn't need to file his taxes, as he...

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Morning Routines for Teens

This week we are talking about creating the self-care habit of a good morning routine.


To me a morning routine means you have your head and heart in the right place as you start your day.

Now hear me, I am an adult and I *JUST* started doing any kind of a morning routine a little over a month ago- besides blindly making coffee. ;)  I was totally inspired by Rachel Hollis and the journal she has created, Jay Papasan and Gary Keller's book The ONE Thing and a little bit of summer camp. :)

Because this is already showing a change in my heart and day, we are about to start having our teens do this in the morning, and including it in our Learning to Balance month inside the LIFE 101 PRO Subscription.


We have created this worksheet to help. There are 4 sections:

  • Goals they are working towards
  • Scripture and/or thought of the day
  • 5 things they are thankful for today
  • 2-3 things they want to accomplish today

In Chronicles 29:19, King David asks the...

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Create SMART Goals: Help Your Teen Accomplish Tasks On Purpose AND In Record Time

There are goals and then there are SMART GOALS.

It is NEVER a bad to time to create goals and a plan to accomplish them. Want to change the world?  Want to change ANYTHING?!   I first learned about using the SMART system to create goals from Michael Hyatt.

To create S.M.A.R.T. goals means to create goals that are:


Be CLEAR about what you want to accomplish.


How can you measure this goal?  I like to start with where I am and create a path that will get you to that goal.  Other people like to start at the end and work their way backward.  Whichever way helps you create measurable steps for your goal – do it!


Accomplishing ANYTHING takes action, so just consider this part of the process of creating your awesomeness.  Take each step you created on your path and create an action plan for it.


Create rewards for every time you complete an action step.


Lastly, put deadlines on each step of your...

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What Is Your Teen's Love Language?

Do you ever feel like you are constantly giving, Giving, GIVING love to your teen and for the life of you they are not getting it?! Of course, it could be because they are having a bad day, week, month. BUT another reason could be because you are not speaking your teen's love language.

You might be wondering... well, what’s a "love language"?

I first heard the term love language from author, Gary Chapman.  He defines it as “the way people speak and understand emotional love.”

One of the best things you can do for your ENTIRE FAMILY is learn all your love languages. 

You would think that by being around each other all the time would make it obvious what love language we each are… in fact, I assumed that. I thought what ever way I gave and received love was how EVERYONE received love… spoiler alert: I was TOTALLY WRONG!

There are actually FIVE love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical...

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Pushing Past The COMFORT ZONE

Working through creating goals can be daunting. 

However, it doesn't have to be.  In fact, sometimes creating new goals is a matter of finding clarity on what you are truly striving for. 

I think the hard part, especially for us adults, is creating a real vision of what we STILL hope to accomplish in life.  I know, for me, unless I push myself to see a bigger picture, it is easy for me to settle right where I am at.  In my comfort zone.  And be happy. Right.There.

It is when I realize I have gone a while and not done one things that scares me, that I know I am DEFINITELY slipping into a comfort zone. 

So, why the strong push to get OUT of the comfort zone?

Because friends, I am certain God is not through with me yet.  And if I want to grow and become all He wants me to be, I better not get too cozy. 

It's funny, but recently, Hannah has been working through Praxis. (BTW, there is a review to come on that program soon.) As she is coming...

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What is a Gap Year Program?

I learned a new word a few years ago: Gap Year.  Have you heard of it?  And no, it is not a year where you only wear Gap clothes. LOL... I am SUCH A MOM! :)

It is what some parents offer their teens the year after their senior year of high school. 

Introduction to GAP YEAR

Instead of going straight to college, there are camps and facilities offering a one-year program to give your child a year out in the world, but not in school or having to head straight to working the 9-5.

They focus on creating learning environments.  Some gap year programs focus on leadership training, others focus on exploring a country, while still others give you experience in the field you think you will be heading into.  Prices range from $1,200 for the year to as high as $40,000 - all include room and board as well.

Does this sound like your 16-18 year old teen?

They want to spread those wings a bit before committing to the direction they want to head for their life?

If so, then, I...

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Creating Moments that Matter - Life Skills for Teens


Today’s life skill for your teen is to: help create a fun moment over the Christmas season, instead of just being a participant.

For my teens, it was creating a time for decorating gingerbread houses with the cousins.

Looking back over my life, some of my favorite Christmas moments were made while decorating gingerbread houses or sugar cookies with my friends and family.  I have continued the tradition by having these moments each year for my kids as well.

This year, I am passing the torch to my teens, and they are coordinating our family moment of decorating a gingerbread house. 

Helping your teen grow these muscles will help them handle projects that require more than one step and following through the tasks assigned to them.

They are buying kits, so actually creating and baking the house is taken off the list.   I think everyone's first year doing gingerbread houses should be with a kit.  It lightens the load and they are quite affordable...

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