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Prepaid Cards Are Like Digital Piggy Banks

Prepaid Cards Are Like Digital Piggy Banks

*This post was created in partnership with Starbucks, and as always, all opinions expressed here are our own.

When our girls were very little, we introduced the idea of piggy banks – with a twist.  We gave each of our daughters three piggy banks, marked on their sides with a sharpie: “Save”, “Spend” and “Give”.  These days, those piggy banks have gone online, and now prepaid cards are like digital piggy banks that help kids save, spend and give through the use of tools like the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card.

Prepaid Cards Are Like Digital Piggy Banks

In this modern world of online banking and finance management, we are teaching our girls the value of money by allowing them to use our Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card. The idea of saving, spending, and giving is still the same.

girl in Starbucks with Starbucks mobile app

Sophia and Ava can both check their balances from their phones, and make Starbucks mobile purchases in any Starbucks location


As little girls, Ava and Sophia learned the value of saving for what they really wanted. The piggy bank marked “Save” collected $2 of the $5 we allowed each girl per week. With these two dollars accumulating per week until a small fortune (at least in the minds of young kids), they could witness what saving for something was all about.

We would ask them what they wanted to save their money for. Usually the answer was a new Malibu Barbie or Play-doh, or some fun toy. Then we would go online or show them in the store how much the item cost. We’d then help them tally their savings until they reached their goal amount. The reward for patience was to take the money and purchase the toy that had been saving for. Reward system!


Granted, the money in the “Spend” piggy bank did not last very long in that piggy’s belly. These $2 per week was designed for immediate gratification. Ava and Sophia could go immediately to the store and spend their $2 on whatever they wanted that week.

There was another benefit to this system – they also learned that $2 does not go very far. In fact, $2 does not buy very much at all. More the once, they would get a dissatisfied look as they held a few small pieces of candy or a Japanese eraser in their hand. To them, the rewards of saving for something bigger started to seem like a pretty good idea.

corner Starbucks store exterior

Our neighborhood Starbucks is within walking distance, and we’ve been going there with the girls since they were babies.


Our girls have been fortunate to have the opportunity for a weekly allowance. The “Give” piggy bank was designed to help them understand the power of sharing with those in need.  One dollar of the five each week was placed in this piggy bank, collecting until there was enough to make a gift of some kind.

As the money accumulated over a couple of months, we asked the girls where they would like to donate the money for that round. Sometimes their answer would be to help homeless people; sometimes it was school supplies for kids that couldn’t afford them. Heartbreakingly, one time it was for the janitor at school who had lost everything in a fire.

The look of pride on their little faces was priceless, as they realized their “Give” piggy banks had helped in some small way.


Now that the girls are teens, they’ve obviously outgrown the piggy banks. However, the concept of Save/Spend/Give is something we still talk about.

Starbucks Rewards Prepaid Visa Card

We felt like the cool kids in our local Starbucks store, whipping out our new card when no one working there had seen it yet.

We’ve shifted our conversations to how prepaid cards are like digital piggy banks that help kids save, spend and give. Through the use of tools like our Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card, we can use the card to help them learn about the value of money with an added bonus. Although far more sophisticated and powerful, cards like this can still operate in a similar fashion. We give the girls the choice to spend it all, or save it to amass for a larger purpose.

Once or twice a week, we sit with them in front of a laptop to view our card balances online. We talk though each purchase, the price of what they paid, and whether or not they feel that purchase was worth the cost. So far, the eye rolling and heavy sighs have been kept to a minimum. Instead, they actually seem interested in how it all works.

For The Love of Starbucks

A huge added benefit of the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card is the ability to earn Starbucks Stars with each purchase we make on the card (some restrictions apply, so see for details). We can earn an easy 125 Stars the first time we use the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card to load $10 or more to our registered Starbucks Card. Purchases outside of a Starbucks earn 1 Star for every $10 spent, but purchases made with our registered Starbucks Card at Starbucks stores earn 2 Stars for every $1 spent!

original Seattle Starbucks with Starbucks prepaid Visa card

We even visited the original Starbucks location across from Pikes Place Market in Seattle, and yes the card works there too.

We have no illusions as parents that their interest in talking finance with us will continue, but we are gaining confidence that the habits will last.  As digital piggy banks help kids save, spend and give through the use of tools like the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card, these old habits will die hard.

And in this case, that’s a very good thing.


At participating Starbucks stores. Some restrictions apply. See for details.

Debit cards are provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.  Member FDIC.

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9 Tips for Planning College Tours for Your High School Kid

9 Tips for Planning College Tours for Your High School Kid

It’s really hard to believe that Sophia is a Junior in high school already. It was just the other day we were pushing her around in the stroller while she gummed a handful of Goldfish Crackers. Now as a high school Junior, she has to start thinking about college. But where to go? Many parents have to help their kid visualize potential college options by actually going to visit them. We’re starting this now, and wow is it fraught with questions and landmines. Turns out planning college tours for your high school kid is no walk in the park!

This past week, we loaded up a sleek 2019 Chevrolet Traverse (#brandpartner) on loan for our family to test drive, and headed to Arizona. First up on the college tour schedule were Arizona State University in Tempe, and University of Arizona in Tucson.

Chevrolet Traverse with desert background in Tempe Arizona

With the Arizona desert landscape of Tempe in the background, the Chevy Traverse showed up nicely. #brandpartner

9 Tips for Planning College Tours for Your High School Kid

As we prepped for beginning this process, we learned some things about planning college tours for your high school kid worth sharing. Already we’ve made a couple of mistakes, so let us help you avoid some of our pitfalls and learn from our experiences. I imagine this will be an ongoing series, because we still have a lot to go!

9 Tips For Planning College Tours
  1. Talk with you kid about what they want to study. I know this seems obvious, but when we started planning this process Sophia did not have an answer to this question. Without knowing what she wanted to study, we were flying in the dark on choosing college campuses to visit.
  2. Know your budget in advance. One of our mistakes was planning to visit schools before we had checked on tuition and other costs. Well THAT was a shocker. We live in California, and out-of-state tuition and associated costs like housing, books, etc comes to $44,000/year for ASU and $48,000 for UofA. Not to get into anyone’s personal finances, but that might be a lot for some people to shoulder for 4-5 years. PER KID.
  3. Buy this book: Fiske Guide to Colleges. It lists every college in the US, complete with important stats like tuition costs, GPA/SAT requirements, strong areas of study, acceptance rates, financial aid and more. We’ve been pouring through this book, looking for potential college fits for Sophia using a list of criteria combining her desires and ours. It has been immensely helpful in narrowing down on great options.
    Fiske Guide to Colleges book cover

    This book, Fiske Guide to Colleges, is the bible for kids (and parents!) researching which colleges best suit their needs.

  4. Consider hiring a college coach. This may seem like a luxury for some, but we have found it to be money extremely well spent. You know that thing your teen does, where she looks at you like you are an idiot and know absolutely nothing about anything? Yeah, well they don’t pull that with a neutral third party. The college coach has gotten more information out of Sophia than we have. Plus she’s helping Sophia prepare for writing entrance applications, essays and more.
  5. Plan your college visits to include an actual school day. It may be hard to drag your kid out of school to miss a day for touring, but it will be good to see the campus with actual students and activity. On our recent tours, school was out on vacation and the colleges were deserted. It was a chilly way to see what is normally a bustling campus. Part of the reason for touring is to see the other students, and have your kid determine if they like what they see. Can they be friends with these people? Are these people they could be dorm roommates with?
  6. Make appointments for your college visits far in advance – the dates book up quickly. Most college websites have a built-in scheduling function so you can request your chosen day and time. The tours are very full, and no walk-ups are allowed.
  7. Encourage visits to large and small campuses, colleges and universities, public and private, small town and big city. This will help you kid start to envision themselves in this place, living here for most of the year. Do they like the energy and bright lights of the big city? Or maybe they prefer a quieter, less active country location.
    University of Arizona sweatshirts

    Waiting at the UofA bookstore for our tour of the campus, it was hard not to purchase a signature sweatshirt.

  8. Don’t stress if they hate it. This touring business is as much about helping your kid determine what she doesn’t like as what she does. Just like you, they are not going to like or feel comfortable in every location. Some will naturally drop off the list after touring.
  9. Have your kid keep a notebook for writing down pros and cons of each college you visit. Good advice given to us by our coach was for Sophia to ask herself the same four or five questions after each campus tour.
Tucson mountain landscape

The landscapes in Arizona are breathtaking, like this one in Tucson.

Arizona College Overview

Arizona State University

ASU is located in a sweet little town called Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix. Located right next to downtown Phoenix, Tempe is a mix of hotels, retail, residences and the Arizona State University campus. Our tour started at the Welcome Center, and was extremely well organized and planned. Starting in an auditorium with a slide show and video, our host guided us through a great amount of information. She was warm and personable, and Sophia felt instantly at ease.

family entering Arizona State University Welcome Center

The ASU Welcome Center was, well, extremely welcoming! Great way to start a campus tour.

After that 30-minute orientation, we were split into groups by major or interest, and off we went to tour the campus. Because it was holiday break, we did not see lecture halls or dorm rooms. However, we did tour the sports center and student union buildings – both were very impressive. Sophia’s eyes were wide open, taking it all in.

University of Arizona

A more informal tour, this one started at the bookstore on the Tucson campus. We were split into random groups and assigned to a guide for our walking tour. Since there was no orientation, the guide became the source of information about all things University of Arizona in Tucson. Our guide was knowledgeable and funny, but not overwhelmingly personable. We toured the student union, sports center and even a dorm building.

Old Main building at University of Arizona

The Old Main building at UofA was the original university structure, and now houses administration offices.

Sophia was not feeling this one, and I think maybe seeing a dorm room was the clincher. She will get used to it, but at first glance these rooms are S-M-A-L-L. She did not like the idea of having the shared bathroom down the hall either. We will be encouraging her to shake off the princess attitude, but this first tour was not the time to address that.

After a very brief comparison of pros and cons, Sophia decided that she did not want to pursue either of these colleges in Arizona. We’ll see if that view changes after touring more!

red 2019 Chevrolet Traverse in driveway

This sweet red 2019 Chevy Traverse was our loaner car for our Arizona college tours, and it was the perfect fit for our family. #brandpartner

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Prepaid Cards Are the New Allowance

Prepaid Cards Are the New Allowance

*This post was created in partnership with Starbucks, and as always, all opinions expressed here are our own.

Do you hand your kids cash? We’ve been talking with several of our friends with kids the same age as ours, and we all grapple with giving our kids cash money. We all ask ourselves the same question. If you hand your kid a $10 bill in the morning to go get a snack after school, do you really know exactly where they spent that $10? Yeah, neither do we. That’s why we decided that prepaid cards are better than cash.

Oh, and good luck trying to collect the change leftover from that $10. Not that we don’t trust our kids – it’s just they can be a little…..careless with the cash.

In our family, we’ve got a Saver and a Spender. Ava is our little Saver, and she often squirrels away her allowance to save up for a big purchase. She has a goal in mind, and she will work towards that goal until she achieves it. On the other hand, Sophia is a spender. She neeeeeeds thiiiiiiings, and she must have them right now. (Kind of like a sweeter, kinder version of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – “I want an Oompa Loompa NOW, Daddy!”)

Either style works, we tell them, as long as they keep responsibly within budgets. Honestly, it’s important for both routes to keep track of how many dollars are actually available, whether saving or spending.

girl in Starbucks with app

It’s easy to check our card balances online, and manage our purchases to a set budget while watching our Starbucks Star balance grow.

Prepaid Cards For Kids Are the New Allowance

We’ve been experimenting recently with the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card, and it’s been a great teaching tool for us. Helping the girls understand how to manage a budget, we are parenting them in financial responsibility. And best yet, they feel like it’s freedom!

Loading our Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card with their allowance each week, we are able to monitor their expenditures on the cards we got for this purpose. Sitting down at the computer with them on a weekly basis enables us to teach them how to manage their budgets.

Starbucks prepaid Visa rewards card and drinks

This card has brought our family all kinds of benefits, including a Starbucks treat now and then.

Why Cash Can Be Difficult

Cash is so easily lost or misplaced by kids. Our girls shove cash into their pockets without a wallet, crammed and smashed into little balls. Mixed with random coins, these pocket-fountains-of-cash often erupt when being pulled out. Money goes flying all over the floor. Plus, cash is easy to spend without full knowledge of where it actually went. Easy come, easy go – until it’s all gone, that is.

And even though we harp on the girls to carry a purse or backpack with them, they don’t always remember to bring it. However, they do remember to stick our prepaid cards inside their phone cases. Because they never go anywhere without their phones! At least we know the card will never be left behind or forgotten. We can also link the card to the Starbucks App, so they can make in-store purchases directly from their phones.

Starbucks and Chase app on phone

Connecting the card to the Chase App allows us to see the remaining balance, as well as purchases.

Prepaid Cards Allow Insight

One of the tools which automatically come with the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card is the ability to check balances online.  We like this card because there are no monthly, annual, or reload fees (other fees may apply) and it’s really easy to reload. For more info on the card, go to

Through the Chase website we can track the girls’ expenditures ourselves, or better yet so can they. We’re teaching Sophia and Ava how to log on, access their card accounts, and view every purchase they’ve made.

Yes, the first couple of times we sat with them were complicated, as we talked through navigating the site to access the available information. Keeping the conversation under 10 minutes, we found these quick sessions provided great ways to have a conversation about the value of money. How far $10 goes (or doesn’t go) was a revelation to them. We also covered budgeting tactics, and planning for the things you want to buy.

So far, so good. No transgressions so far. We have not seen them go wildly over budget, or misuse the cards. They don’t seem to hate the conversations held over the laptop about budgets and finances. After all, it seems like a good exchange for the freedom of having the cards available for their use.

Chase Visa Starbucks reward card

Win/win! We get Stars towards Rewards for using our card at a place we love, and then redeeming those Rewards for something we also love. Genius!

Racking up Starbucks Stars

All of these financial lessons have a silver lining for Ava and Sophia, and it’s called Starbucks. A place they already love to go for drinks and snacks, Starbucks now brings them new interest. The girls can cash in the Rewards they earn with purchases they make anywhere using our new Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Cards.

Not only do we get 125 Stars after the first time we use our Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card to load $10 to our Starbucks Card, we can earn Stars for using the card to make purchases at Starbucks. And you get Stars when you make purchases outside of Starbucks stores.

Now it’s just a question of what they will get with those Stars. A Strawberry Frappuccino drink? Cinnamon Dolce Latte? Cake Pops or mini vanilla scones?

So many choices….


At participating Starbucks stores. Some restrictions apply. See for details.

Debit cards are provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.  Member FDIC.

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New Starbucks Visa Prepaid Card Helps Teach Our Kids About Budgeting

New Starbucks Visa Prepaid Card Helps Teach Our Kids About Budgeting

*This post was created in partnership with Starbucks, and as always, all opinions expressed here are our own.

With two teen daughters in the house, their desire for purchasing things is through the roof. We make more trips to the mall than any other location in town! Now that both girls are old enough to shop on their own without us – and our wallets – present, we need to teach our kids about budgeting.

Teaching kids about responsible spending habits is not for the faint-of-heart. There is a great deal written about this subject, with many recommendations from finance experts about various ways to teach important lessons about finance. After careful research, we decided to teach our kids about budgeting using a prepaid card we can monitor together.

Girls looking at computer screen

Just a few minutes at a time, we check in on purchases with the girls so they can see how expenses accumulate.


We chose the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card because, duh! Starbucks Stars! It’s like a built-in reward system for learning about spending responsibly. The kids love to go to Starbucks anyway, so this is a great incentive to learn and earn at the same time.

How We Teach Our Kids About Budgeting

Apply for the Prepaid Card

The concept behind a prepaid card is simple. Triton and I both simply applied online, were approved and sent cards through the mail to begin. The online application took about three minutes, super easy. And better yet, while some other fees may apply, there are no monthly, annual or reload fees to complicate the process. Both parents got cards so that we could share with each daughter as part of the learning process.

Learn more at

Load the Card with a Set Amount

Okay this post is not about allowance, which we know is a flash point for some parents. For purposes of this post, let’s just disclose that we give the girls an allowance of $20 per week. If they do chores above and beyond, they can negotiate with us to be paid an extra amount. At the very least, we will be loading $20 per girl on the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Cards.

To test this new program, we loaded $100 per card.

Set the Rules With Them Up Front

Before just handing over the cards, we knew it was important to go over our house rules for how the girls would be allowed to use our cards. The operative word here is “our”. We made it clear that the card is ours as their parents, and we are allowing them to use the card under strict rules:

  1. The card can only be used to make purchases we have pre-authorized. They cannot just buy whatever they want, whenever they want. By asking us if they can go clothes shopping at the mall, we can grant them permission to use the cards.
  2. They must keep a balance of at least $20 on the card at all times. Through this, we can teach them about managing to a budget. If we let them go all the way to a $0 balance, there would be no wiggle room for mistakes and overages to learn from.
  3. Each girl must show us their receipts after a purchase, and then we can go over those purchases with the girls online to check against the card balances.
Our Modern Answer to a Checking Account

When most of us were kids, checking accounts were still a thing. We wrote checks to make purchases or pay bills, and kept track of our purchases and deposits in the checkbook ledger.

Now prepaid cards are the new answer. We still teach the kids to keep track of subtractions and additions, but online through the Chase website. It’s easy-peasy, and we can sit with the girls and show them how to track their cards on either laptop or mobile.

If you would like to learn more, go to

Starbucks Stars

The bonus in this plan is racking up Stars in the Starbucks Rewards program! As we teach the girls about responsible budget management, we can also earn Stars everywhere we make purchases.

Starbucks QR code on phone

Adding the Prepaid Card to your Starbucks app allows you to use it for easy purchases in any Starbucks store.


The first time we use our Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card to load our Starbucks Card in the App earns us 125 Stars (enough for one food or drink Reward). Plus, we earn 1 Star for every $10 spent outside of Starbucks stores, but at Starbucks we earn 2 Stars for every $1 we spend using our registered Starbucks Card. The way our family consumes Starbucks menu items, those Stars will add up veeeerrrry fast.

Our whole family wins, because we can go to a Starbucks and use our Rewards to get free goodies. Win/win!

Venti nonfat iced white chocolate mocha with extra ice no whip, here we come!


At participating Starbucks stores. Some restrictions apply. See for details.

Debit cards are provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.  Member FDIC.

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Sphero Learning Toys Help Make Kids Smarter Through Play

Sphero Learning Toys Help Make Kids Smarter Through Play

This post was sponsored by Sphero as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

As parents, we’re always looking for the right balance of amusements for our kids. There’s only a certain amount of frivolous fun toys we can supply for them, and those definitely have a rightful place in our home. The thing is, today’s world is about so much more than the ying/yang of fun and work. That’s why we’re so interested in Sphero, because Sphero learning toys help make kids smarter through play.

Sphero BOLT with girls in back

The Sphero BOLT brings our family hours of play (including the dads since this tech is so cool!)

Learning does not have to be work. Sphero is one company that has figured that out, creating cool devices that are both fun and educational. Yes, a lot of toy makers say that – and have been since back in the day. In our home, Sphero’s high-tech consumer robots brought this to another level. The whole family is in on the fun. Plus, while our kids are playing with Sphero BOLT and Sphero Mini, the robots are supporting their STEAM learning.

(STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

Sphero Learning Toys Help Make Kids Smarter Through Play

When we were asked to review the Sphero BOLT and Sphero Mini, our answer was an immediate yes. Admittedly that yes came from me, largely because I was so intrigued by the ingenuity of this technology. When the delivery arrived, I unpacked the contents like an eager kid on Christmas morning. I could not wait to get that package open!

The Sphero products did not disappoint, and soon the whole family got into the act.

Sphero BOLT

Once we downloaded the Sphero Edu app, were were able to communicate with the Sphero BOLT via Bluetooth SMART. Believe me, we are not techies and this app makes it very easy to understand the basics of computer programming. Partly intuitive, the programming of Sphero BOLT is a learning opportunity right off the bat. We were quickly able to enable the device to perform a variety of functions.
Sphero BOLT with girl's hand

So easy to control from the Sphero EDU app on her phone, Sophia plays with the Sphero BOLT.

Both kids and parents are just learning all the things it can do, but the Sphero BOLT has some pretty awesome features. As a rolling robot, we can control its movement from the touchscreen on our phones through the app. A finger on the screen can cause the Sphero BOLT to travel around the room, spin circles and more. We could use the Sphero BOLT’s advanced sensors to keep tabs on its speed and direction, or orient and drive it with the built-in compass. The super cool 8×8 LED Matrix can be customized to our favorite colors while it animates and displays real-time data. We can even create games and learn to code by drawing on our screens. As we learn more, we can even write simple JavaScript text programs to control the robot. Very cool!
One game we played is called Flags of the World. Sections of code are easily labeled for users to see what each will cause the Sphero BOLT to perform, simply by dragging and dropping these sections into a block. When ready, we initiated the sequence and the Sphero BOLT displayed the flag of a nation while my iPhone narrated content about that country. Super interesting and fun way to learn global geography and factoids – kind of like social studies, world history and coding courses all combined into one.
Sphero BOLT Charging Station

Even the charging station for the Sphero BOLT is super cool.

Even the charger is high tech, with a magnetic base that holds Sphero BOLT in place as it charges through a simple fire wire connection.

Sphero Mini

The Sphero Mini is a smaller, lighter version of the Sphero BOLT. About the size of a ping pong ball, the Sphero Mini is a tiny, app-enabled robot we can control with the same Sphero EDU app.  On the app, we just choose Sphero Mini, and then we are off and running with games galore.
Sphero Mini size with quarter

About the size of a ping pong ball, the Sphero Mini packs a lot of punch,

There are also a ton of games to play on the Sphero Mini. We can use the ball to simulate a bunch of different scenarios, including space travel. Right now our kids are more drawn to the Sphero BOLT, so we haven’t had as much play time with the Mini to truly discover all of its attributes. More to come on that!
Just like the Sphero BOLT, the Mini has a tiny gyroscope, accelerometer, and LED lights that blink and change colors. We can also buy colorful, interchangeable shells, easily switching them out to suit our tastes or moods. Right now, our Mini has a blue case and I kind of like it.
Sphero Mini in girls' hands

The Sphero Mini fits in the palm of Sophia’s hands.

Learning at Home and in the Classroom

I totally think this is an educator’s dream, and the Sphero BOLT and Mini will start to show up in school classrooms soon. Because they are so fun and engaging, these devices can keep kids’ attention longer than anything. (Truth be told, I’m just a big kid and I played the the Sphero BOLT for hours!)  The Sphero BOLT also features infrared communication, allowing our robot to “communicate” with other BOLTs. When paired or grouped, the devices can play brand new games that involved group coding activities. Equipped with Bluetooth SMART and a durable, waterproof shell, Sphero BOLT is such a fun new way to learn and play.
Sphero to the rescue!
unboxed Sphero BOLT with packaging

When we unboxed the Sphero BOLT, the packaging was almost as cool as the tech.

Even Teaching the Dogs

I must admit, we laughed pretty hard when our dogs first encountered the Sphero devices. They did not quite know what to do or what these robots are, so they sniffed them and then observed them in amazement. (Kind of like we did!) At first they tried to chase them a little, and then we programmed the Sphero BOLT to chase THEM. The literally ran backwards from the balls as they moved towards them.
Our dogs are pretty smart, so maybe we can teach them coding too and they won’t be scared of our new robots!

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Life Lessons Learned from Star Wars

Life Lessons Learned from Star Wars

Ever since I was a teenager seeing my very first Star Wars movie, I’ve been a huge fan and avid follower. Whether you’re a lifelong fan of the series like me, or a newfound Jedi, Star Wars has captivated audiences for decades. There are so many life lessons learned from Star Wars that can help anyone from the age of Solo to A New Hope.

young Han Solo

I loved this Han Solo movie – don’t have a clue why some people did not.

Life Lessons Learned from Star Wars

Here’s a few our family lives by:

Just do it!

You can learn a lot from the old wise ones. Just look at Jedi Master Yoda, who brought us such worldly advice as “Do, or do not. There is no try.” The line in The Empire Strikes Back reminds us that we should go for our dreams and goals. Stop saying you’ll try and just make it happen. This lesson can apply to adults and children alike. We remind our children that practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make permanent. Practice skills that are difficult whether they are athletic, academic, or musical. Practice can help you and your child improve and just get things done!

Yoda a wise Jedi

Yoda is a very, very wise Jedi Master.

Family is not always who you expect.

I’m not just talking about the unexpected declaration of a father in a dark mask of evil. Family can come in many forms. For Luke, family came in the form of Yoda. He was an elderly teacher who gave the young Jedi confidence and the ability to save the galaxy. He also had another mentor in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Even Han’s right hand “man” Chewbacca may not look like family. But he was a loyal companion and family from beginning to end. There are friends that come into our lives that may not be blood but are just like family. Hold those people close to you always.


Chewbacca is the best friend everyone wishes they had.

Girls can be princesses and warriors at the same time.

Padme Amidala, Princess Leia, and Rey are just a few of the female characters in the Star Wars series that remind us that princesses and admirable women. They are not just pretty faces in frilly dresses. The Princess titles (for Amidala and Leia) and the warrior spirit (for Rey) transcend traditional female roles in the movies. Most movies in the late 1970s (when the franchise started) did not portray women as fighters or warriors. Star Wars paved the way for female empowerment. They may not yet be saving the galaxy, but we tell Sophia and AVa they can stand up for their own rights and be anything they want to be.

Don’t judge someone until you get to know them.

Some of the best characters in Star Wars don’t necessarily look like they would be the loyal, loving companions you’d expect. When Han Solo first meets Rey, he doesn’t realize her impact on the future of the galaxy. As he gets to know her, he understands her loyalty. Rey also learns the same about Finn, the former stormtrooper and resistor. Many of the characters in Star Wars prove that loyalty to family and friendship is what really makes a person (or Ewok) someone you want in your life.

There are so many life lessons learned from Star Wars that we can apply to real life. If you haven’t watched the movies, start with the original, A New Hope and watch in the order they were released. You’ll be happy you did!

Darth Vader

There are even some good lessons to be learned from the Dark Side.

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Sophia’s Letter Exchange with Obama Honored at International Event

Sophia’s Letter Exchange with Obama Honored at International Event

After a heartfelt request, we recently granted permission for Sophia’s now-famous letter to President Obama about having two dads to be read aloud at Net-A-Porter’s annual fundraiser called the Incredible Women Gala. Held October 9 in Los Angeles and attended by a star-studded list of VIP guests, the Gala raised funds for Vital Voices. Not only that, the letter exchange was read aloud by two esteemed actors – Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (reading for Obama) and Storm Reid (reading for Sophia).

PORTERâ€'s Incredible Women Gala

Storm Reid at Porter’s Incredible Women Gala, moments before she read Sophia’s letter to President Obama aloud.

It changed our lives in Fall 2010 when Sophia wrote her letter to President Obama about having two dads. Little did we know how this simple act from Sophia’s heart would resonate around the world. And it still is. This was such an important milestone in our LGBT family and others like us. We call it the Neverending Gift, and the request from Net-A-Porter reminded us again of its significance.

Incredible Women Gala

What an honor for Sophia and the rest of us to know that her words still have meaning, and are kept relevant by events such as the Incredible Women Gala.

PORTER's Incredible Women Gala

Annie Lennox and Charlize Theron attended Porter’s Incredible Women Gala October 9 in LA.

This event has some serious international cred. This year’s Third Annual Incredible Women Gala 2018 was co-hosted  Porter’s Editor-in-Chief Lucy Yeomans and Universal Pictures chairman, Donna Langley in association with Estée Lauder. Featured celebrity guests included Annie Lennox, Charlize Theron,  Amber Heard, Leslie Mann, Tiffany Haddish, Miranda Kerr, Ellen Pompeo, Busy Philipps, Kumail Nanjiani, Kate Beckinsale, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Mahershala Ali, Cindy Holland and Tina Tchen.

This is not the first time we’ve been asked for the permission to read Sophia’s letter aloud. Not long ago the creator of Letters of Note, Shaun Usher, asked to include Sophia’s letter in his latest compilation of notable letters from throughout history. In addition, Letters of Note performed a live reading at London’s Freemasons Hall.


Sophia Bailey-Klugh letter to President Obama

Sophia’s now-famous letter to President Obama about having two dads.


President Obama letter to Sophia Bailey-Klugh

And President Obama’s letter back to Sophia was epic.

Sophia’s Continued Impact

Especially now when our nation’s rhetoric has taken such an unpleasant turn, we know people around the world need touchstones like this letter exchange. We sure do! We need to be reminded of the goodness in the world, that there are people with hearts and minds that match our own. People that live with love, not hatred – and are trying to spread that love however best they can.

Bailey-Klugh family at the White House

President Obama invited us to attend the Annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House!

Sometimes the words of a child can break through most clearly. We’re so thankful and proud for our daughters’ brave hearts and strong minds. Sophia and Ava mean absolutely everything to us, just like your children mean to you.

Let’s not fuck it up for them, huh?


Bailey-Klugh family with Katie Couric

Why yes we did appear on the Katie Couric show to honor Sophia’s letter exchange with President Obama. It was pretty awesome!

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Taking the Learner’s Permit Test at the DMV

Taking the Learner’s Permit Test at the DMV

We knew one day soon Sophia would be ready for taking the Learner’s Permit Test at the DMV, and in some ways it’s been a long time coming. Like many kids her age these days, she really has little interest in obtaining her drivers license. She turned 16 recently and is still completely unmotivated to drive herself anywhere.

For some time we’ve cajoled her, prodded her, encouraged her and even demanded that she study the online courses needed to prepare for taking the Learner’s Permit Test. It has been like another chore to her, or another homework assignment in a sea of many.

But, we got her there – and here’s how we helped our daughter get ready for taking the Learner’s Permit test at the DMV.

student driver scary

At the beginning, driving with Sophia was a little…harrowing.

Taking the Learner’s Permit Test at the DMV

Offer Solid Benefits of Driving

I don’t know about you all, but when I was Sophia’s age none of us could get our driver’s licenses fast enough! We were there at the DMV on my 16th birthday, my mom sitting nervously in the waiting area while I drove some grumpy man around to prove I deserved the right to drive a car. It was an ecstatic feeling to have proof of my adolescent maturity.

If this girl thinks she’s going to be driving that Audi around, she’s loco.

Leading up to today, we’ve had some in-depth conversations with Sophia about the freedoms a drivers license would afford her. She could drive herself to school! Drive herself to the mall to meet friends! Get a job and drive herself to and from work!

The job is what hooked her. Having her own money to spend as she likes, and the license to drive there and back – that’s what did it.

Do The Math

Sophia didn’t see the need to get her license. She reasoned that she could just take an Uber to work and back. OMG what have we done? An Uber????

So we did the math for her, explaining that taking Uber is expensive and calculating how that would eat up all the money she made at a job in the first place. Let’s see:

  • $20 – average Uber ride to and from work location
  • $11.50 per hour minimum wage earned
  • $46 – working a typical shift of four hours
  • $36 – approximately after taxes
  • $16 – Sophia’s final upside after Uber expenses (or roughly $4 per hour)

Evidently, rationale is not popular with teens.

Coach Through the Online Course

Through recommendation from a good friend, we signed Sophia up for an online drivers education course. This course is no longer offered in public schools, and we thought she would prefer to learn this way anyway. Our friend recommended, and we chose, Driver’s Ed Direct, which was structured with a series of lessons divided into sections. A test followed each section before Sophia could proceed to the next, ensuring she had learned the material.

See how fun they’ve made Driver’s Ed now? No more boring classes at school.

At the end of the course, she is supplied with multiple options to take sample tests similar to the ones at the DMV. (She must have taken these practice tests at least 20 times at our insistence). Her course completion triggered my access to request an official form, which is mailed to us in order to take a physical copy to the DMV.

Navigating the Forms

Like anything with the DMV, nothing is easy. I went online to the California DMV website to research exactly paperwork what she needed in order to take the official test. Well. It’s a lengthy list, and it was not easy for me to obtain all the necessary documents!

She needed:

  • Original copy of her birth certificate
  • Form of identification such as a passport
  • A piece of mail (like an electric bill) proving we are residents of the state
  • The certificate of completion from online driver’s ed
  • Several forms filled out and signed by both Sophia and both parents
  • A check for $75

With all this in hand, we made an appointment at the DMV for Sophia to take the test.

Be Ready for Multiple Attempts

We learned from some of Sophia’s peers that we may not expect to pass the test the first time. And they were right. Honestly, there is so much going on at the DMV to make a kid nervous. The lines of people, the surly employees, the photo (oh yes, they have to take a photo so get ready for that surprise meltdown). We even had a couple of crazies making the occasional ruckus.

taking the drivers permit test

The DMV is such a classy, hospitable place, especially when taking the written test for the drivers permit.

Sophia did not pass the first time. Or the second. (Note: you must wait seven full days before trying again. This means a week and a day – we learned this the hard way.) You are allowed three attempts before the paperwork must be started all over again.

On the third attempt, Sophia felt confident she would pass and so did we. AND SHE DID!

Actual Driving Instruction

After obtaining that Learner’s Permit, Sophia must now complete at least six hours of professional education behind the wheel. We are required to hire a professional driving instructor (you know, the ones with breaks on the passenger side for those just-in-case moments). When this instruction is complete, we will get yet another certificate to present when Sophia goes for her actual driver’s test.

More on this soon.

student driver with instructor

Sophia was so excited to have her driving lesson, except for when her instructor made her get on the freeway!

Now What?

So here we are with a piece of paper that says Sophia can legally practice her driving on San Diego’s roads and highways. If all goes well, in six months she can get her actual California Drivers License.

Or maybe become an Uber driver, which seems like it might kill two birds with one stone?