Post-Blissdom Blues

That’s probably not the best title for this post, since I am thrilled to be back home with my family!  But, you just can’t deny the fact that going from dressing pretty, learning about/talking about/breathing blogging, dancing, and room service back to cleaning, errand running, and stuff is a bit hard.

I miss the great ladies I met. I miss the buzz that was in the air. I miss all the learning. I miss being able to say “I’m on WP and use Thesis” and knowing that people would understand. I miss all the tweeting!

But, there’s one thing that helps me put it all into perspective:

I found my Bliss.

I had five days to sit and gain better perspective of myself and where I’d like to be headed both professionally and personally.  I have ideas.  I have worksheets {the branding and you session was deep man}.  I have an awesome book to read.  I have new friends.  I am excited.

I plan on doing a complete Blissdom wrap-up post, but I wanted to share a few pearls of wisdom I took away:

  • Do not compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
  • Determine what your core values and strengths are, what your goals are, and this personal realization will guide everything you do, both personally and professionally.
  • Always hydrate while dancing for three hours.
  • The floor at the Gaylord Opryland is one of the most comfortable places to sit.
  • Push yourself outside of your comfort zone and you’ll be rewarded.
  • Just go up to people and introduce yourself. Nine times out of 10 they don’t bite and you’ll be so glad you did.

OK, that’s all for now.  Look for my Blissdom re-cap and some great new stuff here on Sweet Phenomena soon!


Headed to Blissdom!

Woot woot!  I’m headed to Blissdom!

I won’t be back till some time Sunday.  I’d like to write a few posts while I’m there, but I don’t know if that’ll happen {I’m still not done with my “real job” work for the week and I need to edit and post a video for Babydoll’s entry into the Ben’s Beginners contest}.

I’ll definitely keep you guys updated via Twitter and Facebook though!

Going to Blissdom?  Let’s meet up!  Just DM/@ me on Twitter!

Can’t wait to bring you guys all the goodness I can afterward!



Sweet Critique: Arm & Hammer Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter


So, yeah, I know.  Homeschooling to cat litter?  Well, I do lots of product reviews here on Sweet Phenomena, and I generally try to review things that we can personally use.  Hence, the litter.

All Hail Princess

That right there, to the right, that’s our cat Princess. She’s a princess if I’ve ever seen one… She came to us when she was about two, and was already named Princess, so we decided to just keep her name.

Little did we know how well that name fit her…

It took her months to get used to us, and at least a month to come out of full-blown hiding.  When she did, she let us know she was particular about things.  She wants stuff her way and that’s all there is to it.  And generally, she gets it, because she’s just so darn pretty.

After a little over a year, she finally came around and has began acting more like a lap cat.  She’ll sit with us from time to time, and show a teeny bit of love.  You just have to take it when you can get it, however, and always let her run the show.  When she’s done, she’s done, and she’ll let you know it…

Princess Needs Litter


Yes, all cats need litter, but Princess like really needs it.  It has to be fresh and scooped and free of little girls {the jury is still out on little boys}.  Well, the room has to be free of little girls {more on that later}.

If her litter isn’t quite up to par, she will relieve herself, um, elsewhere…  She’ll even do it with you watching.  She’s evil like that.

Given all of this {and the fact that I don’t want my house to smell like a toilet}, we’ve tried to be very particular about the quality of litter we use and how often we scoop/change it.  Of all the types I’ve tried, I’ve enjoyed the Arm & Hammer varieties most.  I like the fresh scents {without being too perfume-y}, the fact that it has baking soda in it {it’s a miracle product I tell you!}, and it clumps well.  TMI? Maybe, but we’re talking litter here, so we have to go there.

I was excited to try their new variety, Arm & Hammer Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter.  Every granule is coated with baking soda AND odor-destroyers, meaning it works really hard!

When Babydoll first switched out the litter, she noticed right away that it had a powerful scent, but not overpowering.  With other litter brands, I’ve had to hold my breath because the perfume smell was too much for me.  Asthma would ensue.  Not so with this stuff.

It smells fresh and clean, and clumps really really well.  I was surprised; I didn’t know things could clump that well.  Which, for us, is important, because Princess doesn’t like any remaining clumps.

The granules are a good size, not so big that it’s weird for your cat, but not so small that it gets stuck on them and tracked all over the house.

And yes.  It really does smell great.  It had been at least 24 hours since the litter was scooped {normally Babydoll’s chore, but she was heading to someone’s house}, and by the time I got up there to do it, you’d never have known.  Freaking sweet.

I definitely recommend the stuff if you’ve got a cat.  You can get it at Walmart, and it’s a reasonable price in my opinion.

Oh, and about the little girls.  I don’t know about your cat, but Princess will not use her litter box if there are people by it.  She has her area up in the room above the garage, which is also where toys and books are located.  Generally, Babydoll and her friends sleep up there when they have a sleepover.

I found out the hard way {read: urine on my oversized chair…} that she will not use the litter if they’re up there.  Does anybody else’s cat do that?  Or is it just her?

True Confessions: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf Arm & Hammer and received a product coupon to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Sweet Critique: Clipix

So, I’m constantly finding things online.  Always.  Little rabbit trails make up my life.  Generally it’s when I’m supposed to be doing any number of other things, so I often can’t read through whatever it is at the moment.

I’ve never quite found a way to really address this.  Sure, I can bookmark it, but then there’s the hassle of going through all the bookmarks and trying to remember from a title exactly what it is I was looking for.  I can’t tell you how many times I knew I bookmarked something but couldn’t remember what I bookmarked it under.  Frustrating…

This is the main reason I’m loving clipix right now.  Like, totally heart-ing it.  It’s like bookmarks on steroids.  Take a look at the cute video, I’ll wait.

Isn’t it awesome?!  Cute little clipboards organized any way you want.  I’ve already got one up for summer camps, blog design, and dog stuff.  I also plan to have one for stuff I’d like to come back and read, recipes, and homeschool stuff.

I love that I can make these private, I can share them in a variety of ways, and they update in real-time.  Take a look at some of the clipboards I just started:


I can’t wait to go through my bookmarks and start organizing them better.  I know there’s stuff in there I’m ready to see, but have no clue what it is…

Be sure to go check it out and let me know what you think!  What would you clip?

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TOS Sweet Critique: ALEKS


What:  Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces {ALEKS}

Cost:  1 Student – $19.95/month, $99.95/six months, $179.95/12 months OR the Family Discount Program for multiple students

Recommended Ages:  Grades 3-12 and up


What is ALEKS?


ALEKS, in a nutshell, is a browser-based math learning and assessment tool.  After administering a quiz to assess the student’s math knowledge, ALEKS teaches lessons that the student still needs to master, while reinforcing what has already been learned.  The goal is to move toward mastery of each topic.

What makes ALEKS stand out is it’s use of “adaptive questioning”, which means it quickly determines what a student does and does not know to tailor lessons to that student.  This helps avoid repetitive learning {which can bore a student} while also ensuring topics are being mastered.

Our Thoughts


I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated about ALEKS at first…  It’s not like other browser-based math lessons you generally find, which have colorful characters, music, etc.  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as good, though.

After I sat down and went through the master account, I understood how to use the program more and quickly discerned it was easy to use and rather spot-on with determining what Babydoll needed to learn.

ALEKS Master Account

When your student first enters ALEKS, they are asked to take an assessment {not multiple choice} that helps the system determine “where they are” in math.  They can type in their answer or choose an option that states the current question is something they haven’t learned yet.

I went through an assessment and answered some and skipped some saying I hadn’t learned the stuff yet and I saw the assessment quickly change to accommodate that.  I think this is very helpful for self-conscious students who might feel bad after selecting “I didn’t learn this” so many times.

Once the assessment is finished, the student is presented with their “pie”, a graphical representation of what they know well and what they will be learning.


From here, the student can click on lessons and start learning!  Once you get over the fear of how “official” looking ALEKS is, I think it is a really good and comprehensive program to teach math.  I really like how it adapts to the student; that’s a total win!

What Do Others Think?


See what other members of the TOS crew think about ALEKS by clicking here.


True Confessions:  I was provided with access to ALEKS in order to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.