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.

 

 

    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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Have Your Cake and Eat it Too! For Breakfast!

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0001167_banana-chocolate-chip-mojo-muffins_200Now, I’m not really much of a cake person, but I do love me some muffins!  A nice warm muffin, cinnamon roll, or even a stack of pancakes with my coffee in the morning really hits the spot.  But, where’s the all important protein and fiber in those foods?  And, should we really be eating all of those calories if we want to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight?  Those are some good questions!

According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and Women’s Health, a study showed that “those who ate more calories in the first half of the day lost significantly more weight and demonstrated better metabolic activity than those who ate heavily in the evening.”  And, what about protein?  Check out the visual below to learn what protein can do for you and why it’s good to eat it in the morning.

 

Protein, The Building Blocks Of Your BodyFrom Visually.

*Eating most of your protein in the morning can keep you feeling satisfied and help reduce your carb cravings throughout the day.  It will boost your metabolism and suppress your appetite.

Fiber is also important in the morning.  According to many experts, including Chris Powell, fiber is very important and should be included in your morning meal.  The morning is also the best time to consume your carbs for the day.  Getting all of these things in the morning will help curb appetite, flush out toxins, and give you the energy to get through the day.

As a mother of 5, I’m always looking for ways to keep my energy level up.  But, I still love those muffins!  Of course, most muffins don’t have a ton of protein in them.  But, I refused to give up my morning muffin!!  All I had to do was find an alternative to the low nutrient temptations I craved.  So, I scoured my usual food finding places, like Amazon and Peapod.  I also checked my local grocery store and Costco.  Anything high in protein was usually in the form of a bar or bland cereal with nuts.  The only muffins I found with a high protein and fiber content were the FlapJacked muffins that come in individual cups.  Sounds easy enough, just add water and stick it in the microwave.  And, Voila!  You get 20 grams of protein in a cup.  Now, let’s see how much they cost…hmmmm.  $24.99 for 6 cups!!!  Are you kidding me?  Well, that’s just not going to happen.  I guess I’ll just have to make them myself.

*Update 02/01/16:  I did make some pretty awesome protein pancakes recently that turned out amazing… and they’re gluten free!  Check out my Instagram for the recipe.  I don’t always have the time to experiment, but here’s what I came up with.

 

Well, I don’t have a ton of time on my hands, but I suppose if I found a good recipe or something I could whip up some yummy protein muffins.  So, I went searching for recipes.  I found this website that gave me a list of 20 protein muffin recipes.  Some of them had high protein content, but those recipes called for protein powder.  Protein powder isn’t cheep and usually comes in huge tubs.  I still felt like I needed something easier, like a muffin mix.

Ok, well sometimes gourmet and direct sales companies have uncommon foods.  So, maybe I’ll find a company that has high protein baked goods and maybe some other healthy breakfast options.  I started searching online for a company that had what I was looking for.  I went through a few different companies before coming across what looked like a brand new company called “Crave It!”  I guess “Crave It” is the sister company to “Do You Bake?”  They make food mixes with all real ingredients, including a protein banana chocolate chip muffin mix!  They also carry a line of protein smoothies, bars, pancakes, and more!  They even have some gluten free mixes that look really yummy.  I got so excited about the food, I just had to order some.  So, I went through the process of ordering and discovered that I could get 50% off my first order if I became an “ambassador.”  So, yea, I just had to take advantage of that.  I ordered the protein muffin mix, a Goin Green Smoothz, and a freezer meal kit.  I waited in anticipation for my package of yummy goodness to arrive.  It took FOREVER!  I guess it had a lot to do with the new year rush and the fact that they’re a newer company, and hopefully that their products were just that good.  I hoped that it was all worth the wait.  I didn’t want to have to search for another company to feed my obsession with baked goods in the morning.  After all, I had gotten the protein muffin mix from “Crave It” on sale AND got the ambassador discount.  SWEET!

Now for the moment of truth.  I opened my package to find gift bags full of mixes, cool looking noodles, a rice mix, and some kind of sauce.  It all looked so…so…time consuming.  Well, I certainly asked for it.  I mean, I just HAD to get that freezer meal kit, didn’t I?  With 5 kids, it’s always a good idea to stock up.  Ok, back to my protein muffins.  I pulled the box out and looked at what I would need to make the muffins.  Bananas…check, greek yogurt…add to list, and eggs.  Ok, that’s doable.  Now, let’s see how they turn out…

YUMMY!  Not too sweet… just right!  Only 5 grams of sugar and 11 grams of protein per muffin (or 3 mini muffins.)  One box made 3 dozen mini muffins.  Since they are pretty filling, they should last a while.  I decided to freeze a bag of them for next week to keep them from going bad before I could enjoy them.

 

images

 

The protein smoothie I got was also delicious and really convenient.  They come in individually wrapped bags for ease of use when you’re on the go.  So, when I’m at the gym and I don’t want to spend $5 on a protein smoothie from the smoothie bar, I just shake up my own protein smoothie/shake by filling my water bottle with water and the Smoothz powder.  Delicious and nutritious!  Yum!

 

Order Now

 

Just tried half a packet of this #smoothie mix and it was yummy! http://www.getfitwithcraveit.com

A photo posted by Marissa Schmucker (@mschmucker31) on

Since I love the products so far and I love what the company stands for, I’ve decided to promote the “Crave It” line of products on my blog to support the mission of both “Crave It” and FamFinFun.  We are all about promoting a healthy lifestyle and showing others how easy it can be with the right support and convenient, healthy food options.

*Update 02/01/16:  New for February 2016!  Get the “Crave It” breakfast bundle for only $31.95!!

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If you would like to support our mission and give your body what it needs, without sacrificing flavor, please browse our catalog below and order online here.  You can also enter to win a free packet of Smoothz protein powder here or have an online party.  Want to get 50% off your first order, make money, and help others make healthy choices?   Join me!

Join Our Growing Family Stand Up for REAL FOOD Banner

sign-up-green

 

Thank you for being a part of our mission to promote a healthy lifestyle!

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Valentines Day Ideas, Savings, Coupons, and Promotions

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VDBanner

Breakfast in Bed

 

Wake your Valentine up with the smell of Cinnamon Rolls and Coffee!  

Get $1.00 off when you use Pillsbury’s refrigerated dough.  

Just click, print, buy, and bake!







 

 

Something Sweet for Your Sweet

You can’t have Valentines Day without something sweet!  

So, grab that box of chocolates or make something special for your sweetheart.  

Get 20% off when you sign up for Russell Stover’s e-mail list!


 

 
20% off Mars Chocolate at Amazon
 
Save $1.00 on Mars Valentines Day Chocolates!  

Brands include M&Ms, DOVE, SNICKERS, TWIX, Milky WAY, and 3 MUSKETEERS (2.0 oz. or larger)



 

 

VdayThumb-LentilCloseupOR!  Customize your M&Ms with MyMMs.com.  

Don’t forget to click through TopCashBack.com first to get 10% cash back on your order!  You can also find other websites that you shop regularly and get cash back every time you shop.  So, don’t forget!  The savings can really add up!

 

Check Snacks and Chocolates Coupons on Amazon.com for more great savings on sweets for your Sweet! 

Make Jello-O Hearts when you save $1.00 on JELL-O





 

The Perfect Gift

Save Money on a Classic!  Valentine Roses


OR Browse a wide selection of gifts on Amazon.com.  Don’t forget to check Amazon Coupons

Date Night

Make a home cooked meal or search Yelp for local restaurants and get up to 90% off.  Don’t forget the Wine!

Set the Mood with Candles and More!

Nothing is more romantic than breakfast in bed, chocolates, a night on the town or snuggled under a warm blanket, and…

the right lighting and the right music.



 

American Express Savings for Valentines Day!

When you use your American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card, you can get additional cash back and discounts at the following websites.  *Make sure you login to your online American Express account to add these offers and benefits to your card before using it.

  1.  Teleflora:  Get 30% off
  2. 1800Flowers.com:  Get $15 back when you spend $50 or more
  3. Shari’s Berries:  Get 20% off
  4. FTD.com:  Get 25% off
  5. Godiva:  Get $10 back when you spend $50 or more
  6. Flemings Prime Steakhouse:  Get $25 back when you spend $100 or more
  7. Hilton Hotels and Resorts:  Get $60 back when you spend $300 or more
  8. Ghirardelli Chocolates and Gifts:  Get $20 back when you spend $100 or more (Exp: 02/08/16)

And MORE!  Sign in to your American Express account to view all offers.

 

Get more ideas on Pinterest

Follow Marissa’s board Valentines Day Ideas on Pinterest.

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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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Starting a Web Design and Development Business From Home

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We started our own business!

But, before I start talking about that, I wanted to bring you up to speed on the past couple months.

So, a lot has happened since I last posted.  In February, we found out that we will have our fifth child in October!  This news was a bit unexpected, yet we weren’t really surprised (if that makes sense).  Our world is about to change… again.  With four children already, all under the age of 8, our desire to home school has been replaced by our desire to keep our sanity.  So, we enrolled our oldest in the local public elementary school and our second-oldest will be in Kindergarten next year at the same school.  We hope to return to homeschooling when our youngest is 3 yrs old.  I will probably talk more about this in a future post.

How We Started a Web Design and Development Business From Home

Today, I would like to talk about how we started a Web Design and Development Business from our home.  My husband has been a web designer and developer for about 3 years now after taking just a few classes at the local technical college.  He has an eye for design (see his work at www.MashupMedia.net), a passion for front-end web development, and he has always wanted to start his own business.  Since I’ve already tested the waters with my own candle business a few years ago, I knew that we would make a great team.  Although I didn’t have the time anymore for my candle business, I knew I could handle most of the clerical side of the web design and development business while taking care of the kids.

Stuff to Consider

Before Jesse gave his two weeks notice to the company he was working for at the time, we had to first consider a few things.

Top 5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Home Business

  1. Where would he work?  We would have to get an office set up at home to start things off.  Once the business was making a profit, we would consider other options.*Update:  As of June 20th, he has officially moved into a great office space only a minute away from our home!
  2. How much do we need to invest of our own money?  Office supplies, accounting services, legal services, marketing, insurance, etc.*Update:  We have only invested about $600 from the beginning and have already paid ourselves back!
  3. What connections and resources can we tap into in order to secure an income for the first 6 months?  We have a family to support and can’t afford to lose money in the first year like most businesses.*Update:  Jesse was able to negotiate a contract with the first company he worked for.  The contract states that Jesse will be doing contract work on a regular basis for this company and in return would get paid bi-weekly.  This has given us the security we need.
  4. What will our business entity be?  Will we be a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or something else?*Update:  We started out as a single member LLC and have converted to an S-Corp since hiring our first part-time employee.
  5. Where should we set up our business accounts?  Keeping business transactions separate from personal ones is very important, so we had to set up a business checking and savings account.  We also shopped for a business credit card with a 0% intro rate and cash back on business purchases.*Update:  We’re still working on this, since we couldn’t open the account under the business tax ID number (the business has no credit yet!)  So, although we were able to open business accounts, we were unable to separate them completely.  Now that we are an S-corp and have been in business for almost three months, we should be able to switch the accounts over to the business tax ID  number.

We started the business April 1st and have been going strong since then.  A few small things we’ve done have brought us new clients and even more security for the future.

5 Easy Ways to Get Clients for Your Small Business

  1. Tell Your Friends and Family!  Get some nice looking business cards and hand them out to friends and family just to let them know you’ve started your own business.  You can spread the word on Facebook and Twitter too!
  2. Post an Ad on Craigslist.  You may need to experiment with wording and title choice when posting.  Delete your old post and make a new one every week or every month at the very least.
  3. Join a social networking group.  If you don’t have the time to get out and join a physical business networking group, at least join LinkedIn and start building a network that way.
  4. Make sure your own website is looking good and has a contact form for prospects to contact you.
  5. Make your current clients happy!!!!  Always, always, always, make sure your clients walk away happy with your work.  This will help with getting clients by word of mouth.

Well, I guess that’s it for now.  I’ve been working on this post for weeks now and should probably go ahead and publish it.  Hope y’all enjoyed it!

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Eating Healthy With Kids

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I have to confess, I most certainly have a sweet tooth and would be content to eat nothing but a bowl of ice cream for dinner.  But, ever since I had my first baby seven years ago, I’ve been struggling to be a good role model for my kids when it comes to eating healthy.  I may look like I have my eating under control, but even thin people struggle with the foods they eat.

We have everything at our finger tips here in the USA and in many other places around the world.  Just around the corner is a McDonalds, Culvers, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Dairy Queen!  I’m sure I’ve missed a few more fast food places in that list, but I’m sure you know how I’m feeling.  We all have to drive past those places on our way to school, work, the store, and even at the most vulnerable time when we’re all hungry after church on Sundays!  Am I right?  The kids never fail to ask if we could just stop for a while at McDonalds or get some ice cream at Dairy Queen.  The kid inside all of us would love to do that very thing every day.  But, we know exactly what that would lead to and we don’t want to go down that path.  Not only would our belts and budgets be busted, we would also experience the quantity and quality of life God has blessed us with diminishing with every cheeseburger and blizzard we buy.

There is a verse in scripture I was recently given a new perspective on.  Some parents take this verse to mean that if we teach our children about Christ, they will eventually believe and be saved.  I don’t, however, believe this verse has anything to do with salvation.

The verse is Proverbs 22:6 ESV

Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I’m sure you’re asking “What does that have to do with healthy eating?”  I’m getting there!  You’ll just have to bare with me, ok?

When you see the word “train” in scripture, very often it is used when speaking of war.  Soldiers were trained for battle so they would have the best chance of survival.  Although in most cases we are not training our children for a real physical battle, the Bible talks about another type of battle.  James 4 addresses the war within us that wages each and every day.  It is a war of “passions.”

We need to be training our children to face these passions at an early age and overcome them.  We all know that it is much easier to develop good habits when we’re young than to try breaking bad habits when we are older.  I believe that is at the root of that verse.  If we train our children to eat healthy and develop other good habits, they will not depart from those good habits when they are older.

eating

We should be establishing these good habits to ensure a bright future for our children and their children.  Not only are we at war within ourselves, we are also at war as a nation.  Our country is fighting obesity, diabetes, depression, and so many more conditions that are fueled by the foods we eat and our lack of physical activity.  If we fight against these bad habits now, our children are less likely to struggle as we do.

Throughout my childhood, and now into my adulthood, I have struggled with a sugar/carb addiction.  I never established good eating habits and I am now paying for it.  While in high school, I used to eat Fruity Pebbles for breakfast and come home after school to devour a few scoops of my favorite ice cream or get a blizzard at Dairy Queen after Tennis practice.  Sugar was my reward for almost everything.  It was my reward for waking up in the morning!  And, don’t even get me started on my birthday favorites.  Ok, I’ll get me started.  My birthday included French Toast (made with Wonder Bread) piled high with butter and powdered sugar, Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese for lunch, and Pizza for dinner.  And, don’t forget the birthday cake made out of Oreos and Cool Whip!

You may be asking, “How are you not overweight?”  Well, the answer is very simple really.  I never ate large portions.  I would eat throughout the day in small portions.  This kept my metabolism up.  To this day, I still have a hard time finishing an entire meal.  It’s just not natural for me.

Although I may have my weight under control, my emotions have been taken on a rollercoaster.  When I eat nothing but carbs and sugar, I become very irritable and sometimes depressed.  My emotions are all over the place and I have a hard time focusing on tasks.  Being a Mom of four young children already keeps my emotions on high alert and keeps me from completing tasks.  I certainly don’t need to be feeding my frustrations with “crabby calories.”  Eating donuts in the morning for breakfast might be fun while you’re eating them, but just wait a little while after that and you’ll be more likely to snap at little Timmy for spilling his milk again.

 

It’s important to find a way to kick your sugar/carb cravings.

 

Teaching our children good manners, healthy eating, cleanliness, and self control at an early age will ensure a life of good habits and can even give them a better chance of survival in this world we live in.  A rude, unhealthy slob with no self control will not survive and thrive the way we want our children to.

 

Breaking Bad Habits

If you are one of the many people that struggle with a sugar addiction or you’re just looking for ways to change your families eating habits, here are a few simple steps you can take to become healthier.

Step 1:  Education

Get Educated!  Sit down as a family and watch a documentary on food and how it affects your health.  You can find some good videos at http://www.documentarystream.com/category/health/food/.  After you discover the facts as a family, discuss your findings.  Then, find some healthy recipes for meals you would all enjoy.

Step 2: Find Healthy Alternatives

Before you go on a rampage and throw out all of your favorite treats, you’ll want to take it one step at a time.  First, try replacing those treats with a healthier version of them.  I know these may cost more, but you are paying to keep the nutrients that your body uses to properly process the sugars.

 10 Healthy Alternatives to Kids Favorites

  1. Replace fruit snacks and gummy bears with dried fruit or Fruit Roll-Ups Simply Fruit Rolls
  2. Replace refined sugar with date sugar, a whole food sweetener made by simply grinding up dates.  Date sugar can be used to replace white sugar or brown sugar in most baked goods and it tastes just as sweet!   Check out my recipe for date brownies!
  3. Replace chocolate with carob chips or powder.  Read about the benefits of carob at http://amazinghealth.com/AH-health-carob-chocolate-methylxanthines
  4. Replace ice cream and yogurt with unsweetened fruit smoothies.  Try the recipe book Green Smoothie Recipes & other Healthy Smoothie Recipes to get you started.  Or, just come up with your own smoothie recipes and have fun with the kids!
  5. Replace regular peanut butter with Natural or Organic Peanut Butter with NO Sugar.
  6. Replace Pancake Syrup with 100% Pure Maple Syrup
  7. Replace Jams and Jellies with 100% Fruit Preserves
  8. Have designated “snack” times throughout the day to avoid hungry tummies and over eating at meal time.  Great snacks include fruit, string cheese, carrots, and dried fruit and nut mixes.  Read about the benefits of Snacking.
  9. Try to have your children help or just be in the kitchen with you while you are making dinner.  They will be more likely to eat what you’re making if they can participate somehow in the meal preparation.  And, maybe they’ll learn something!
  10. Instead of delivery or frozen pizzas, try making your own!  My family and I love socca pizza and it’s really easy to make.  We got our recipe from the Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Recipe Book.

 

Step 3:  Drink More Water!!

Drinking more water will help you stay hydrated and keep you from over eating.  Sometimes your body just needs water, not a bar of chocolate!

Step 4:  Stay Active

For some reason, this is the hardest thing to do for most people.  As a mom, I get tired just watching my kids jump around.  It also doesn’t help when your body is being dragged down by junk food.  The first week I cut out refined sugar, I felt horrible!  I didn’t want to do anything or talk to anyone.  All I wanted to do was focus on getting through the week without putting a spoon full of ice cream in my mouth!  But, once I got past the first week, I found that I had much more energy.  Not only that, I also felt less irritable and had a clear head.

Once I got my energy back, I started to force myself to exercise.  I couldn’t understand why it was still so hard for me since I had the energy to get through the workouts now.  Suddenly, it dawned on me!  Exercise can be fun!  I just had to find an activity that I loved doing.  I tried going for a run and nearly died of boredom.  I know I love tennis, but now it’s the middle of winter.  I also don’t have the time to go to a fitness center or join any yoga or zumba classes.  So, I had to think of something I could do at home while taking care of my four kids.

One day, I finally found the ear buds/headphones I had been looking for.  I plugged them into my iPod and started dancing around the house as I did laundry, vacuumed, picked up toys and clothes, etc.  Not only did this give me a great workout, it made me happy!  The kids found it amusing and I’m sure they noticed that Mommy was in a better mood.  I had finally found something active that I loved to do… dancing!

Step 5:  Treat Yourself!

While you may have gotten rid of all the junk food in your house, there are still those temptations outside of the house.  Once you’ve cleansed your body and gotten into a clear state of mind, you most likely won’t crave the junk anymore.  But, don’t fool yourself!  Those memories of sinking your teeth into a gooey glazed donut will not fade as quickly as you hope.  You can still treat yourself once a week without giving in to your addiction once again.  You’ll find the less you eat the sugar and carb filled treats, the easier it is to pass them up and only have them once in a while.

It’s important to teach our children that cake and ice cream are for special occasions.  They shouldn’t be something you keep in the house to eat after every meal.  Once that has been established, you and your children will begin to enjoy the healthy treats.  Your interest in different flavors will grow, and life will be that much more exciting!

 

 

 

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