The Best Thing About Raising Teens

best thing about raising teens

Raising teens in today's day and age can be challenging. There are so many messages our society and  culture are throwing at them on a day to day basis. Not to mention their peers. Add to that fluctuating hormones and neurological changes and that makes for some daunting parenting years.

As a parent, I've heard it all when it comes to the struggle of parenting teens. And so far, I've just about felt it all too. What I haven't heard a lot of is the positive side of parenting teens. What are the joys? The successes? The triumphs? So, I went on the hunt for what parents love about parent teens. I asked fellow bloggers, my friends, and family (thanks mom!) to share "What's the best thing about raising teens?" Whether you have teens or will have teens in the future, I hope this is as encouraging to you as it to me.

Here's what they had to say.

The Best Thing About Raising Teens is...

"I enjoyed the energy of raising teens. There was always something going on! There was always planning and looking forward to the next thing. I also enjoyed getting to know your friends!" - My mom, Robyn.

"I think my favorite thing about raising tweens and teens is just watching them grow into the people they were born to be. I consider it a privilege to be along for the journey. I remember hearing from the moment I announced we had found out our baby was a girl, "Well, she will be cute when she was little, but just wait, she will be so awful by the time she hits puberty..." People need to quit this nonsense.  Being a tween is hard and telling someone they are destined to be awful is not helpful for anyone involved.  It is bittersweet to watch our babies grow into their own people, but I do believe that comunication, constructive confrontation, and empathy is what builds a firm foundation." - Kate of Highlights Along The Way

parenting teens

"Teens remind us of our good old days. They have a vitality and live for today! They also remind us ti remind us to remind them of how important their choices are during their teen years (and the rest of their lives." Susan Farese of SJF Communications

"Now that my oldest son is a teen, I love that I can be a little more frank with my feelings and provide him with truer, less edited insight on how the world ‘really’ works. Even though we have our moments, we are able to have deeper conversations about our feelings with each other and the world." - Lisa Robertson of BabesinDisneyland.com

"The best thing about having teens is having real discussions about real topics and learning about the amazing people my teens are becoming. We discuss our opinions about education, politics, driving , love, economics, heroes, solutions to world hunger, religion, family, friends, how to help people, humor, animals, everything. Teens have so many big ideas. It’s a blessing to be able to sit and hear them." Gina Valley of ginavalley.com

"Seeing their dreams unfold." - Diana, mentor and advocate for childhood cancer awareness

"You never get bored!" - Patricia, Mom of two teens.

"I love seeing them light up when they learn a new life skill like driving." - Naomi, mother of 2

"I really enjoy doing things with her. We enjoy concerts, movies, fun places to eat that we both actually enjoy. She's a pretty cool person." Shannon, mother of two and blogger at BentoLunch.net

"The best thing is when your teenage daughter buys you something with her hard earned money, just because. I also love seeing them be good leaders to their friends and siblings." - Cori, Mother of 4.

"I love being able to talk with them in a more mature way about situations, life, character, values, beliefs, etc. Watching them grow, learn and discover themselves and their world." Karen, mother of two.

"Watching them accomplish a goal. I get so much joy out of watching my son do his photography and live out his dream!" - Andi, Mom of two teens.

"Watching their fledgling independence grow, and as they experience successes in their attempts, seeing their self-love and confidence grow!!" - Claire, Language Arts Teacher to teens.

"You're reminded that you can control very little!" - Darlene, mother of two, grandmother of many and my aunt.

"They sharpen my views and beliefs." Roy, Father of two.

"The conversations I get to have with her." - Kalyn, Friend and mother.

"I love seeing how much they care about the world and want to make it a better place." - Jackie

"Having great conversations." - Melody, friend and mother of 3.

best thing about parenting teens

And as for me, the best part of raising teens is being able to have grown up and deep conversations with them, hear their hearts about things that matter to them, and to watch them show love to others.

What about you? What do you think is the thing about raising teens?

If you liked this post, check out my open letter to my sister on thoughts on motherhood


Connected Independence: Cox's Smart Home Tech

*This is a sponsored post in partnership with Cox Communications*

I recently took a tour of the new Cox Communications Smart Home in San Diego. You may remember I took a similar tour last year. This year, the focus is on providing our loved ones, specifically seniors, with connected independence. As I toured the Cox Smarthome, I met with a variety of Cox partners who are either partners with Cox in providing reliable infrastructure (like Cable Labs) or are utilizing Cox technology to power their services. These technologies helps seniors (anyone really) live more safe, connected, and independent lives. 


What Does Connected Independence Mean To You? 

This is a question that comes to mind when I think about technology and home life. It's different for everyone. For aging adult seniors it might mean being able to live at home longer, remaining connected to loved ones through smart devices, apps, and more. Are you not able to visit your loved one every day? Would  For families, it might mean the safety and security of smart door locks, simple home monitoring, smart light bulbs and plugs so the light is always on at home.

In our family, the ebb and flow of life has meant that family responsibility has shifted and I am now in the place my parents were not too many years ago. My parents are still relatively young and barely considered "senior" so the change in roles is still taking time to get used to. Some of the challenges that I see with aging adults who want more time living independently, I have seen with my grandparents generation. So then, what does connected independence mean for us right now? 

Well, for starters, as a Cox subscriber, I know that I have fast and reliable internet. Also, you don'st have to have a "smart home" to benefit from Cox Communications Smart Home Technology. There are so many ways for the loved ones in your life to stay connected. For us, it's our kids and family who live far away.

Here are a few of my favorite things about the Cox Smart Home :

Reliable and Fast Internet Service

Staying connected means having reliable internet. Whether your family is down the street or in another state, secure, safe, and trustworthy internet service is key. Cable Labs is a partner with Cox, providing Cox with innovative solutions to the growing need for innovative data solutions and increased infrastructure. Cable Labs partners with Cox to keep the "connected" in connected independence.

Integration with Amazon Echo/Alexa

Amazon's Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show all have the capability to integrate with Cox HomeLife security and monitoring. I can also set up your Echo to communicate directly with a loved ones echo without a landline (we tried this last night and spoke to my sister who lives in Chicago. The whole family could participate). You can "drop in" on a loved one without them having to answer. ou can set up Alexa to speak call anyone in your cell phone contacts list (I just tested it out and called my husband.) That's handsfree calling without ever picking up the phone.

Program your Alexa to call any phone in the U.S. or Canada for handsfree calling (great in an emergency).

Cox Homelife Integration

Fully automate not only indoor lights and home security, but home monitoring including security lights, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide monitors, surveillance systems and more. Everything is managed throughout the Cox Homelife Dashboard. Cox Smart Plugs help loved ones who may be hearing impaired with a strobe light alarm feature. Another useful feature is the motion detector - not for possible break-ins, but to help reassure family who may live far away that their loved one is up and moving about. You can be notified through the Cox Homelife Dashboard if someone hasn't moved over a designated period of time.

The Cox Homelife dashboard (left) is the helm connecting you to all of your smart devices and home monitoring.

Cox Contour

The relatively new Cox Contour interface allows for a seamless streamlined user experience. Gone are the days of squinting to see the small print on the guide. Beautiful eye catching graphics coupled with user-friendly categories helps users find what they love faster and easier. We love the voice activated search feature on the remote control. Want to watch western movies with Clint Eastwood or rom-coms with Sandra Bullock? Just push the microphone button and speak what you are looking for into the remote! You can read more about my take on the Cox Contour here.

Video call with a nutritionist means less time getting to appointments and more time spent in care. The smart utensil can help monitor food intake.

Other Ways Cox Internet Provides Connected Independence

  • Rendever Virtual Reality goggles and VR platform help seniors experience life and places outside the home.
  • Seniors can stay mentally active through online connected communities like senior forums,com, okbridge.com and more.
  • Seniors can have face-to-face video calls with nutritionists, physical therapists, and more.
The possibilities are limitless with Cox Homelife and we've already integrated a few of the tips we learned from the Cox Smart Home 2.0 Tour. Thank you to Cox Communitcations for providing an in depth look at the new Cox Smart Home 2.0.


5 More Podcasts For Kids

Do you listen to podcasts? How about your kids? We love podcasts for kids! Podcasts are like pre-recorded radio shows except instead of the radio, they are streamed over an MP3 device or online. Podcasts allow people from all walks of life to share their passion for any number of topics or ideas. Podcasts are great for screen free family time, alone time, rest time, and road trip time. There are a bunch of podcasts that our family loves - some about storytelling, some history, and some science. Here are some of our favorite podcasts for kids. 

Podcasts For Kids 

The Past and The Curious

If you have history buffs in your family, you'll love The Past and The Curious. Started by Mick Sullivan, The Past and The Curious is a podcast for kids that are curious about History and love to hear interesting stories about the past. It's a labor of love for all of those involved. So far, there are 13 episodes available, about one per month. We loved the recent episodes on presidents shaking hands. You can listen to The Past and The Curious via iTunes, sound cloud or online through their website.

What If World

What if Unicorns were real? What if kittens could turn into vampires? What If World is a podcast that takes your kids "what if" questions about all the things and turns them into a story. No "what if question is too fantastical or too far fetched. Eric James O'Keefe is the host and story teller with Karen Marshal producing. 

Wow In The World

Wow in The World is a Podcast for kids by NPR. This wonderful podcast for kids invites children to explore all the super rad stuff about science and technology. Hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz are on hand in every episode to be your guides to find the wow in our world. 

Sparkle Stories

Sparkle Stories is a podcast about stories for families all over the world. The podcast is a selection of stories from their subscription service. When you subscribe to Sparkle Stories through their website for a fee, you get access to all of the audio stories for children in the Sparkle Stories collection as well as the crafts and educational component. The readers voice is very calm and soothing. And they have a free 10-day trial going right now on their website. 

The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian

Join Finn Caspian on epic adventures in this science fiction podcast for kids. Episodes are only 15-20 minutes long. Perfect for driving around town or listening to a bunch on a long car ride. Finn is an 8 year old boy who travels on an interplanetary space station. He and his friends go on adventures in space, helping aliens, solving mysteries, and discovering the great beyond. We encourage you to start at episode one and listen through! 

Nate Podcasts (The Show About Science)

Nate is a 6 year old boy who has a podcast about, yep you guessed it, science. It's called The Show About Science. Nate, along with the help of his dad interview scientists from around the world and explore all things science. Nate has even been featured on Ellen. Whether it's a podcast about the tesla coil, fossils, genetics, or even the science and physics of Santa, Nate explores it all. 

There you have it! And if you want even more podcasts for kids check out our other list of even more podcasts for kids.


5 Reasons Why I Love Jamba Juice Catering

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary catered breakfast brunch by Jamba Juice Catering. The following is my honest opinion. We've loved Jamba Juice for a long time, even before getting the opportunity to partner with them in this campaign.

If I had to pick something healthy and delicious I would want delivered right to my door Jamba Juice would be at the top of the list. So when Jamba Juice contacted to set up a Jamba Juice Catering order of fresh acai bowls and fresh whole food smoothies made to order within an hour of delivery....I responded with "Yes, please!"

I wasn't sure how we were going to pull it off, getting fresh made smoothies AND all the stuff for the fresh acai bowls. But, I was so impressed with how it went. I invited a few of my friends over along with their children for a back-to-school get together. It was so nice to pause, refresh and enjoy a delicious brunch without having to worry about all the prep. Jamba Juice Catering literally did everything for me! My home can get a little dark, so some of the photos aren't great. But, the food was amazing. Fresh, delicious and so easy!

Here are the top 5 reasons we love Jamba Juice Catering

It's Healthier, Delicious, and Fun 

Jamba Juice smoothies and acai bowls pack a walloping nutritional punch. We love smoothies from the menu that are whole food and do not contain the sherbet that comes in their classic menu smoothies. Jamba Juice acai bowl catering comes with a variety of assorted toppings and an option to choose additional greek yogurt for those who cannot have the acai. My favorite toppings were the date pieces and the organic granola. So good! The kids loved the fresh fruit on their acai bowls.

Easy Ordering  

Right now, Jamba's catering orders are made through your local San Diego stores with more locations hopefully rolling out in the future! That being said it was pretty simple to order. I chose the catering menu items I wanted, including a Smoothie Pack and Jamba Bowl Bar, scheduled a date and time for delivery with my local store, and pre-paid for my order (I was treated to a complimentary brunch in this instance). Boom. Done. So simple.

Easy Pick Up and Delivery

I chose to have my Jamba Juice Catering order delivered. If you wish, you can also opt to pick up your order. But I mean, come on. Who wouldn't want fresh Jamba Juice smoothies and acai bowls delivered right to your door?! When it came time for delivery, my Jamba Juice store called to let me know they were on their way. They are prompt, kind, courteous, and help with set-up. Everything comes packaged up in insulated bags and boxes.

Here's our table set up for my back-to-school party.

 I love that there is a set up planning card for the acai bowl toppings. Pre-made cards come with your order to put out with the acai bowl toppings. Its good to know that there are no bananas because they brown when left out. 

It's Affordable Catering

While it's not cheap, you definitely get a healthy bounty of food and smoothies. The smoothie pack comes packed with 15 smoothies. You can choose up to 3 different smoothies and Jamba Juice Catering provides 5 of each flavor. The fresh Jamba Bowl Bar package comes with a huge bowl of acai that arrives in an insulated bag along with all of the toppings you need. Everything is kept fresh and cold until arrival. The toppings come in clear plastic containers with lids. They also provide napkins, utensils and straws. Jamba Juice really does think of everything. They make it so easy to wow guests with everything provided at a reasonable catering price.

Guests Will Love It

There were definitely smiles all around. I would have taken photos of the grown ups but we were all so excited to dig in to the acai bowls that when guests started arriving I totally forgot. That's when you know its good. Everyone's too busy eating! The kids happily savored their smoothies and I was pleasantly surprised to see my son, who usually doesn't like green smoothies, drink an "Apples and Greens".

Would I do anything differently? The only thing I would do differently next time is not order an super acai antioxidant smoothie when also having the acai energy bowls. They were so delicious, but I would have rather had a 3rd smoothie option without acai.

When all was said and done, I would have to say I would do this again in a heartbeat. Jamba Juice Catering is perfect for brunch get togethers with friends, team parties, corporate events, teacher appreciation, kids birthday parties and so much more. Jamba Juice has made healthier catering options for events both affordable and delicious. I'm really looking forward to surprising the kid's teachers during the holidays and teacher appreciation.

You can connect with Jamba Juice Catering in San Diego and order today!

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Lego Ninjago Press Day and Movie Review

We were able to see an advanced screening of the newest movie in the popular LEGO franchise: The Lego Ninjago Movie. A variety of well-known actors are part of the voice cast including Dave Franco as Llloyd (pronounced "Luh-Lloyd" - trust me you'll get it when you see the movie) and Justin Theroux as evil villian Garmadon, and Jackie Chan as Master Wu.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is the 3rd movie in the LEGO movie installments. The first movie, being The LEGO Movie and the second The LEGO Batman movie. Our family loves both the original and the second. And now, The LEGO Ninjago Movie which releases today!

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is about a group of secret ninja warriors who defend Ninjago City against the warlord Garmadon who wreaks havoc on the city daily. Lloyd (aka The Green Ninja) must also come to terms with his relationship with his father. With the help of Master Wu, the Ninjas go on an epic journey to discover their true powers and "find the ninja within ya."

What We Thought

Our official consensus of the movie? We loved it, of course. It's hilarious and perfect for older elementary kids and tweens. The animation and detail that went into the movie is incredible and the same stellar work as the first two movies. It was fun to watch the movie and see how they make Ninjago City come to life in such a fantastic way.

You should know that there is a lot of what I like to call potty humor. Crude jokes and sarcasm. There is also a main theme about father son relationships, abandonment and divorce. It's all done with a healthy dose of humor. But if you have a kiddo who is dealing with similar issues, it is good to know.

Below is a little bit about our time at the junket.

I brought Luke along with me for an afternoon filled with fun.

First Stop: The LEGOLAND California Hotel. We got a tour of the hotel, lunch at the Bricks restaurant inside the hotel, a special master builder workshop and a pre-screening of the LEGO Ninjago Movie.

We met with Master Builders and LEGO Ninjago Movie model designer Simon Lucas to learn all about what it took to make LEGO.

Here's an up close look at the Green Dragon LEGO (with Lloyd and Master Wu mini figures).

 Building LEGO to add his own piece to Ninjago City. His idea? A skyscraper building.

Ready to see the movie!

For more trailers, games, and details on the cast visit legoninjagomovie.com 

Head over here to read our The LEGO movie review.
Check out our fun food cups built with LEGO. Perfect for your LEGO-loving kiddo.