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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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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10 Best Apps for Homeschooling: Early Education (Pre-K, K5, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and 3rd Grade)

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The iPad and iPod have been instrumental in educating our young daughters. They use the iPad almost every day to learn and play. Our oldest daughter, who is 7 now, has been using the iPad and iPod for homeschooling since she was 3. Our youngest daughter, now 4 yrs old, also uses the iPad and iPod for homeschooling. I’ve found that my oldest daughter has excelled through this type of interactive learning. She has a very “hands on” personality and enjoys learning more when she can interact with it. On the other hand, my youngest daughter has been doing well with, and enjoying, her workbooks. But, she has also come to love the educational apps we have gotten for her on the iPad and iPod. Every day there are new, fun children’s educational apps introduced for the iPad and the iPod/iPhone.

We believe that the use of tablets, such as the iPad, in schools and for education will increase exponentially as our children get older. We would be doing them a disservice if we did not teach them the latest technology. The iPad and the iPod have ushered in a new form of homeschooling. It’s a form of homeschooling that is more efficient and more fun! As a parent, I’m always looking for the best ways to educate my children. With the iPad, I feel confident I’ve found the best tool for teaching my children at home.

 

Eliza with the iPad

My 4 yr old with the iPad

10 Quality Educational Apps We Use for Home Schooling and for Fun

  1. TeachMe: Toddler, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade
    These educational apps are by far my favorite homeschooling apps for the iPad and iPod!  They’re only $0.99 each and my children love them!  They are fun, educational, and super easy to navigate.  You can also change settings and add/delete users quickly.  I love that I can just hand the iPad or iPod to my girls and they can navigate through each app easily with little to no help from me.  I can not say enough good things about these apps.  They are wonderful!
  2. PBS Kids Video
    This is the best free app for early educational videos on the iPad and the iPod.  I love that my 2 and 4 yr old can watch Curious George, Sesame Street/Elmo, and Cat in the Hat for free without being subjected to advertisements.  We also have Netflix, but I would rather have them watching only educational videos.  PBS Kids Video is easy to navigate and I feel comfortable letting them use the app unsupervised.  My 7 yr old also likes this app.  She watches Arthur, Word Girl, and some of the other educational shows on PBS Kids Video for iPad and iPod.
  3. BrainPop Jr and BrainPop
    The BrainPop Jr and BrainPop Featured Movie are free educational video apps that add just a little extra knowledge to our weekly routine.  These apps offer 1 free video and quiz each week, but you can upgrade at any time in order to view more videos and take the quizzes that go with them.  (WARNING:  The videos available through this app may teach the theory of evolution and may need to be monitored by young earth creationist parents and others apposed to the theory of evolution.)
  4. Kids Reading Comprehension: Level 1 and Level 2
    These reading comprehension apps are a great choice for any child that is ready to read on their own.  My 7 yr old has gone through Level 1 and is now going through Level 2.  I love these apps because they aren’t only teaching reading comprehension.  Each Level is filled with short, educational reads that contain photos and illustrations.
  5. Monkey Preschool Apps
    Monkey Preschool Lunchbox and Monkey Math School Sunshine are great apps for 3 and 4 yr olds.  My 4 yr old daughter has lots of fun just playing with them.  The fact that they are educational is just a bonus.  The 99 cent price tag is great too!
  6. ABC Pocket Phonics
    When it comes to learning how to read and write, this app is a great option.  It is great for that extra practice time that is often needed, but not always wanted by you know who.  My girls never had a problem sitting down with this app and using the “magic pen” with the iPad.  It’s a great addition to our Reading/Writing time and a welcome tool for homeschooling.  The full version of this app is $2.99 and well worth it.  A great find!
  7. Stack the States and Stack the Countries
    If you’re looking to get your youngster started on geography, then these are a great way to get them excited about it.  These geography apps for kids are colorful, cute, and fun.  Stack the States is only $0.99 and you can get Stack the Countries for just a dollar more.
  8. Telling Time
    A wonderfully customizable teaching tool for learning how to tell time.  I can start my youngest homeschooler out with the simple hourly and half past analog recognition.  After those are mastered, I’ll just switch on the quarter past analog recognition and move forward from there.  A very clean and comfortable app.  Love it!  $0.99 for an app you can grow with.  The developer has many other apps I would like to try soon.  If you’d like to check them out, the website is www.grasshopperapps.com.
  9. MindSnacks: Learn French, German, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and English
    After going through a French immersion week, my 7 yr old was delighted with these free language apps.  Although the first level is the only free part, it’s enough for a beginner to start off with.  We may choose to upgrade once she has the counting down.
  10. Nth Fusion Apps
    The app that my daughter is using right now is the Geometry 4 Kids app.  It teaches geometry basics in a clear and easily understandable manor.  I’m excited to try out all of the other early education apps by this developer.  I will definitely be getting the Book Report app and the Body Organs app.

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