Graduating at 33 with 5 Kids

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YES!!  I graduated at 33 years old just in time to see my youngest head off to 4K!  I couldn’t be more proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished over the last two years.  I started my journey as a Udacity student back in 2016 when I took their free Computer Science course.  My husband had been encouraging me to check it out since he started his journey as a developer back in 2009!  Man, how time flies when you’re having kids!  Of course, I was busy enough with the kids at that time and didn’t think I could handle homework on top of being pregnant with our third.  Plus, I was working second shift at a mortgage call center at the time.  Man was that a crazy time!  The 2008 recession had just hit and it seemed like everyone was having mortgage trouble.  So, of course that wasn’t the best time for me to get started!  Or, was it??  Hmmmmm.  I kind of wonder now where I’d be if I had started something, anything, back then.  Even if it was just a simple coding challenge each day, that would have gotten me leaps and bounds ahead of where I was when I first started at Udacity.

kids looking at the stars

FIND YOUR PASSION

Well, since I can’t go back in time and change when I got started in programming, I’ll take the last couple of years as something to be super proud of.  At least I got started BEFORE my kids were all in school.  It prepared me for this feeling I would ultimately have when the house was completely silent, leaving me alone with my thoughts.  Now that I have the skills to create some amazing web apps, I can start getting to work building something of my own!  I want to build a career, a lifelong challenge for myself to continue to learn and grow, not just as a mother, but as a creator of awesome online experiences.

It’s the future!  I’ve always wanted to contribute to the future successes of this crazy world we live in.  I’ve always wanted to teach my kids that they can find something they’re passionate about and make it their life’s mission to be the best they can be at it, therefor creating wealth in all areas of their life.  My oldest daughter has found a love of drawing and has concluded that she’d like to be a Graphic Designer someday, so I will encourage her in that.  My other kids are still figuring things out, as they should at their age.  That’s what being a kid is all about!  Discovering your passion!

Of course, I still think of myself as a kid sometimes.  I’m still discovering new passions every day within the field of web development.  There’s just so much to learn, and it never stops!  I love it!  I’m always working on my portfolio, MarissaSchmucker.com, and would love to get some suggestions/feedback on it from anyone willing to take a moment to help me out.  You can leave a comment below if you’ve got some time.  Thanks!  And, keep learning!  Never stop finding your passion!

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Summer Fun at Home

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I’ve been wracking my brain trying to plan this summer with my five children.  So far, I’ve just got summer school in the mornings for a few weeks.  But, what about the rest of the summer?  Those long, hot, summer days need to be filled with… filled with… FUN!!  Fun for EVERYONE!  Keep those kids busy, busy, busy, so I don’t lose my mind, mind, mind.  HA!

Let’s create a kick-a$$ summer of fun at home, starting with the backyard!

BUBBLES!!!

Fun with Bubbles!

Kids love bubbles, so that’s what they’re getting!  Lots and lots of bubbles.  Bubble wands, bubble guns, bubble machines, a bubble paradise.  Making your own bubbles makes this activity cost effective.

 Just mix up some water, sugar, and dish soap!  So easy, right?

You can also make your own bubble wands with an old wire coat hanger, or just pick up some cheep plastic ones from your local convenience store or order from Amazon.com

 

WATER!!!!

What is a hot summer without sprinklers, squirt guns, and water balloons?  It’s crap, just absolute crap!  At least that’s what I’m assuming my kids are thinking.  And, I think I’d have to agree.  I’m thinking we’ll get a fun, silly kids sprinkler.  You know, the ones that wiggle around and spray everywhere.  Or, maybe to avoid excessive screaming, we’ll just use the boring predictable one to start.  I’ve also been wanting to try out the water balloons that come in a big bunch and fill up in under 60 seconds, or is it under 30 seconds?  I forget.  I just remember that I saw them at Costco, in a huge box of course.  O, and a water table with bath toys sounds like hours of fun for my youngest boys!

SAND, SAND, SAND!

Kids could spend hours at the beach!  So, why not make them feel like they’re at the beach by getting a sand box or sand table?  Or, to create a portable beach box, just take a big plastic storage bin you’re not using at the moment, fill it with sand and Play-doh toys, a play kitchen set, and any beach sand toys you may have.  You may want to put this somewhere with shade to avoid sunburn, heatstroke, or dehydration during those hours of fun they’re going to have with it.

 

CLOUD WATCHING… IT’S A HORSE!

 

 

 

 

 

MOW THE LAWN, BACK AND FORTH, BACK AND FORTH…

 

MORE IDEAS:

TENT/FORT/PLAY HOUSE for PRETENDING (or HIDING:)

NERF TARGET PRACTICE

CHALK, CHALK, EVERYWHERE!

PLAY SET, SWINGS, SLIDE, CLIMBING FUN!

I will try to add more ideas as the summer unfolds.  For now, I just want to get these ideas out there so that you can plan the rest of your summer.  Have fun in the sun everyone!

 

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Survive Cold and Flu Season with this List

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Just don't let a minion give you your flu shot!

Just don’t let a minion give you your flu shot!

Well, cold and flu season is upon us as the leaves change colors and begin to cover our front lawn.  I love fall and everything that comes with it, accept those dreaded soar throats, congestion, and body aches.  With seven people in our house, it’s nearly impossible to get through the fall and winter months without any cold or flu symptoms sneaking in to spoil the holiday season.

Here are just a few things I like to keep on hand to get us through those unfortunate times when those little organic lifeforms get us down.

Cold and Flu Survival Kit

    1.  Soup (I would recommend something organic with garlic)
    2. Vitamin C drops or supplements
    3. Lozenges/Cough Drops (Try Ricola Extra Strength Cough Drops)
    4. Cough Syrup (I like Matys All Natural Kids Cough Syrup or make your own!)
    5. Nasal Spray
    6. Kleenex
    7. Orange Juice
    8. Tea (I recommend the Seasonal Tea Sampler)
    9. Tylenol Cold and Flu
    10. Children’s/Infants’ Tylenol
    11. Apple Sauce
    12. Clorox Wipes
    13. Water/VitaminWater

In addition to all of the personal care items above, you’ll obviously need lots of sleep.  So, plan for someone else to watch the kids if you’re the one that’s down for the count.  Don’t push it, or you’ll get worse and won’t be able to take care of anyone!  You’ll need someone to take care of you!  So, everyone get lots of sleep to prevent and fight sickness.

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New Gluten Free Coupons

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Where to Find Gluten Free Coupons, Codes, and Discounts

 

Gluten Free Coupons can be found in magazines, your local paper, online, or in your local grocery store’s ad or coupon book. Get great deals on gluten free products and food when you use gluten free coupons and coupon codes. Look for sales on gluten free products online and in stores before shopping and using your gluten free coupons on double coupon days. Get extra cash back when you use a cash back credit card or shop online through Top Cash Back or Ebates.

Amazon always has Amazon Gluten Free Coupons available to clip and discounts available for prime members and through the subscribe and save program, where you’ll get an extra 15% off when you subscribe to 5 or more items.

Get Printable Coupons at Coupons.com

 

Coupons powered by Coupons.com


 

Rudi’s Gluten Free Coupon

 

Udi’s Gluten Free Coupon

 

Glutino Gluten Free Coupon

 

Delallo Gluten Free Coupon

 

Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Coupon

 

Pamela’s Gluten Free Coupon

 

Larabar Gluten Free Coupon

 

General Mills Chex Gluten Free Coupon

 

General Mills Cheerios Gluten Free Coupon

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Sunshine and Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie

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I made up this smoothie this morning and I thought it was actually pretty good.  It’s packed full of good stuff and will keep you full for a good portion of the day.  The orange juice and peanut butter make for a surprisingly tasty combination.  You can always adjust the amount of each ingredient according to your own personal preference.  Enjoy!

minionbanana

1/2 frozen banana

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

2 tsp orange juice

2 tsp peanut butter without added sugar (Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter suggested)

1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (Vega Protein & Greens Vanilla suggested)

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup fresh organic spinach

 

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The Stigma of Direct Marketing

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After having my first child in 2005, I became a stay-at-home Mom.  For the first few months, I was busy with my little girl.  But, after falling into a rather predictable schedule, I became antsy and started looking for a hobby.  That’s when I found candle making.  It was therapeutic and I was actually really good at it.  After perfecting them, I decided to try and sell them.  I even went so far as to rent out a booth at a craft fair to try and sell them.  And, even though I didn’t sell very many the first time around, I was instantly hooked on running a business.

About a year later, I had to accept the fact that candle making and toddlers do not mix.  My little girl was becoming more of a handful and I had less and less time to actually make the candles.  When I became pregnant with my second child, I knew I needed to either give up the candle business or find another way to keep it going.

I never thought of joining a direct marketing company.  That is, until that moment I realized it was the perfect alternative to giving up my business.  I had heard all of the usual stigmas surrounding direct marketing/direct sales/multi level marketing companies.  Most of them stemmed from people that had a bad experience with pushy distributors/consultants that only cared about making money.  But, when I went searching for a company I could trust, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  I found women, and men, that actually used the product or service they were selling.  I found passionate people that loved the social part of their business just as much as the product they represented.  I found quality products with great reviews and a fan base.  I found a family!

I finally settled on a candle company I could believe in and hit the ground running.  I did shows, fundraisers, and connected with people online.  I bought candles for myself and my family and friends.  They were great candles and I wanted to share them!  I built a team of my own and trained them to just let the product speak for itself.  And it did!  I was doing well, and my team was doing well.  But, as time went on and family life consumed more of my time, the business took a back seat.  I no longer had the time or energy to put into my business and it slowly started to close shop.  I stopped ordering candles for customers and handed over all of my inventory and leads to one of my team members.

Although my team continued to build their own businesses, after a while I stopped getting candles for myself.  I had lost my passion for the product.  I stepped down as team leader and decided to focus on just being a wife and a mother for a while.

Yes, it’s true that many distributors and consultants for direct marketing companies will quit.  But, I’d like to look at it more like moving on instead of quitting.  I learned a lot during my time as a candle business owner.  I learned how to connect with people, generate leads, build a basic website, and how to run a successful fundraiser (I even ran a successful fundraiser in New York from my home in Wisconsin!)  I learned about marketing and social networking.  But, most importantly, I learned how great it felt to build something that was mine.  I learned that hard work can get you places you’ve never been before.  I learned that direct sales companies are a great way to empower people to share their passion, make friends, and become financially independent if they play their cards right.

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Facebook Pros and Cons

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Connect With Friends and Family Using Facebook

add-as-friendFacebook is a free social media site that connects people all over the world.  Having a free Facebook account and complete profile can help you stay connected with old friends and relatives near and far.  If you like seeing and reading the latest memories being made, then Facebook is the way to go.  I personally love Facebook for how easy it is to find my friends and family, connect with them, message them whenever I want, and browse the latest uploaded photos and share my own.  I also love that I can customize my Facebook feed so that I know what is going on immediately with my closest friends and family.

The only down side to connecting with friends and family would be connecting with people you may not want to connect with.  It can be awkward to get a friend request from someone you don’t really want to connect with.  But, there’s always the option to ignore the request or unfriend them at any time.  You can also simply block them from showing up on your Facebook feed.

Facebook Events

Have an event you’re planning?  Facebook is a great way to invite your friends and family to your party or other eventcreate-new-event for free!  You can easily let them know the date, time, and location along with any other details.  Your friends and family will be able to RSVP quickly on Facebook, which is great if you’re planning something last minute.  I’ve had plenty of friends throw an event out there last minute, and anyone who didn’t have plans for the weekend now has plans!  It’s great!  You can make it an open invitation or private, depending on the type of event.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to spice up the look of your invitation other than change the heading image on the event page.  You also can not include friends and family that aren’t on Facebook.  Still, it saves you time and money using the Facebook events feature for those that are on Facebook.

Facebook Groups

facebook-create-group-3Starting a group on Facebook is a great way to connect with people who share your interests.  I have friends who enjoy playing ultimate frisbee and are able to coordinate their games easily using Facebook.  Everyone can communicate by posting on the group’s Facebook page.  And, it’s an easy way to remind those that tend to forget.

Again, you will not be able to include those that do not have a Facebook account.

 

 

Games on Facebook

There are so many great things about Facebook, it’s hard to see the bad.  The pros I’ve talked about so far include game-collections-v1-500x351connecting with friend and family, sharing information and photos, planning events and inviting guests, and starting a group.  Other pros that I haven’t really explored might include games and pros for business.  I don’t really play games on Facebook, but I know a lot of people that do and love it.  Some say they are addicting, especially Candy Crush.  So, I wouldn’t recommend starting to play them unless you’ve got some time to kill.

Facebook for Business

Blue-Money-Sign2-261x3001A free Facebook page for your business can help you connect with clients/customers and generate new leads.  There are also ways to promote your page with Facebook and advertise using Facebook for a fee.  Exploring those options if you have a website or business can be very beneficial and help you acquire new customers and increase revenue.  You can check out the Facebook page for my blog at www.facebook.com/famfinfun.

 

 

 

To read what others are saying about Facebook and to help you make a more informed decision about letting your child use Facebook, visit Common Sense Media.  If you’d like to share your own Facebook pros and cons, please comment below.  Thanks for visiting FamFinFun!!

 

 

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To Jesse Schmucker, My Loving Husband

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I would just like to say Happy Valentine’s Day to my wonderful husband, Jesse Schmucker!

 

weddingI know this past year has been one of the hardest years yet, but I have never been more proud of you for how you have walked through it.  I know that we do not know what tomorrow holds, but all I want is for you to hold me today and for every day we have left.  Life is unpredictable and time is fleeting, so let’s not give the past an ounce of that precious time.  Let’s spend our time loving each other, loving our children, and trying to make the world a better place if we can.  Let’s not let those who refuse to forgive bring us down.  If you ever feel torn down and undeserving of love, I will be there to build you up.  You have always loved and supported me, even when I’m not my best.  You have been, and continue to be, a wonderful father and have given me and our five beautiful children an amazing life that you should be proud of.  I know that we’ve both made mistakes and have been childish in the past.  We’ve done things without thinking as many people have while in their early years of adulthood.  But now, we can put our childish ways behind us and move on toward a brighter future.

family2014I look forward to teaching our children along side you, giving them their best chance in this crazy world.  I look forward to seeing one or more of your amazing ideas become a reality.  I look forward to you challenging me to be my best and me challenging you.  I look forward to many more long nights of deep discussions begun by our many thought provoking questions we ask each other.  I look forward to cherishing our children with you while they’re still children.  I look forward to confronting new challenges with you, knowing that we are strong enough to handle anything as long as we are together.  And, I look forward to whatever lies ahead knowing that our love will only evolve into something greater with every passing year.

I couldn’t imagine my life without you.  I love you Jesse Schmucker!

 

 

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Why is Sleep So Important?

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When you have a newborn, a sick child, or you just can’t sleep because your brain won’t turn off, it can be hard getting enough sleep.  But, how much sleep is really enough sleep?  And, how important is sleep really?  Why do we need sleep?  And, what happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

Sleep has been a struggle for me since my first child was born over 9 years ago.  Even after each of my babies started sleeping through the night, it was still hard getting to bed and falling asleep at a decent hour.  So, I’ve been through the effects of sleep deprivation, and it’s really no joke.

Sleep is important.  Not getting the sleep your body needs each night to refresh itself can lead to some serious side-effects.  These are just a few that I’ve experienced.

  1. Loss of Energy:  This, of course, is a given.  If you’re not getting sleep, you’re going to be tired and lack energy.  Depending on the severity of sleep deprivation, it may be difficult to keep moving throughout the day.  Your eyes may feel heavy, as well as the rest of your body at times.
  2. Irritability:  To put it plainly, you’re going to be crabby.  Just like a two year-old who misses a nap, it’s going to be tough keeping your emotions in check.  This can lead to a strain on relationships in addition to feelings of self-hatred and guilt.
  3. Depression:  When you feel tired and crabby all the time, it can be easy to slip into a state of depression.  When you feel depressed, you lose the desire to be social and can isolate yourself from others.  Again, not a good thing for relationships and even worse for your mental health.  This can also lead to a vitamin D deficiency if you’re not getting out of the house.
  4. Weakened Immune System:  That’s right!  Not getting enough sleep can make you sick!  And, everyone knows that being sick can disrupt whatever precious amount of sleep you do get.  So, this can get serious pretty fast if you don’t fix the problem.  No amount of vitamins and/or medicine, as great as those are, will help you out here if you’re not getting that much needed rest.
  5. Loss of Concentration:  Since your body hasn’t been given enough time to rework the wiring in your brain during sleep, you can suffer from what I call a fuzzy brain.  It can be hard concentrating on important tasks when you feel like your head was just stuffed with cotton or you have a few screws loose in there.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body

 

 

So, how do we combat against sleep deprivation?  First, I think we need to look at the underlying causes.  The reason for my sleep deprivation may be different from yours and everyone else, but here are a few of the main ones.

crying_baby

  1. Stress/Anxiety:  This is a big one and it can come in all different forms.  What it really comes down to, though, is how your mind/body is handling life and everything it throws at you.  This was the main one for me this past year, since there are many things in my life I have little or no control over right now.
  2. Responsibilities:  Sometimes it’s a sick child that needs tending to, or maybe it’s a project that needs to be completed.  Whatever it is, you’re responsible for it/them and you’re losing sleep as a result of that responsibility.
  3. Caffeine/Sugar:  How’s your diet?  When you’re feeling tired, it’s easy to reach for that extra cup of coffee and eat whatever is quick and easy.  This is another one I struggle with.  I love a hot cup of coffee with flavored creamer in the morning and I’m not very good at preparing healthy meals in advance.  Still working on this one.
  4. Disorder/Sickness:  Maybe it’s just a stuffy nose keeping you up or maybe it’s a little more complicated than that.  Getting uninterrupted sleep when there’s a battle going on in your body can seem impossible at times.

Now, think about what is keeping you up at night.  Is there anything you can do about it?

Yes!  There is hope! Take Your Pick.

  1. Take a vacation to relieve stress
  2. Write in a journal or pray to empty your brain before going to sleep
  3. Drink soothing tea like chamomile
  4. Cut back on caffeine and sugar and eat a well balanced diet
  5. Sticking to a routine can help everyone in your household sleep better
  6. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
  7. Cut back on screen time by limiting T.V and computer usage
  8. Get your heart rate up every day and make it fun!
  9. Get out of the house and into the sunshine
  10. See your doctor for more options

 

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How to Get Free Food from the Grocery Store

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Getting free food from the grocery store only takes about an hour of planning each week.  It’s a great way for us moms to contribute a bit to the family finances.  So, instead of just feeling like I’m always the one spending money, I can know that I’m doing my best to save the most on food.

 

5 Simple Steps to Getting Free Groceries

  1. Shop at a grocery store that has double coupon days and then plan to go shopping on those days
  2. Save the grocery store insert and in-store coupons that you get in the mail each week
  3. Look at all of the sales and specials and find manufacturers coupons to match the items that are on sale
  4. Take the sale price and subtract in-store coupons and doubled manufacturers coupons to get your final price
  5. Decide whether or not the end price is worth the purchase and add it to your shopping list

If you don’t have much time, but you’re curious about what some of the free items could be at your local grocery store, you can get a list at Money Saving Mom.  You can even sign up for their e-mail list that will keep you updated on the latest coupon match-ups for the week.  The lists aren’t always complete, but it’s a good place to start.  I usually find more products than what they have listed.

To find manufacturers coupons, you can look through your Sunday paper and/or find printable coupons online through Coupons.com, Save.com, ShopatHome.com, CouponNetwork.com, and through various social media and product sites.  You can always do a search for the specific coupon you’re looking for.

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