Sweet Critique: CLARO Acne Clearing Device

I {thankfully} have never really had to worry about terrible acne.  I had your typical skin problems as a teenager, and suffer from a few blemishes each month.  Other than that, it’s not a huge issue for me.

Still, none are better than some, and the sooner I can get rid of my acne the better.

There are many devices out there that claim to get rid of your acne, but unfortunately many of them are hard to use, smelly, or downright painful.  Other times it just takes too long for them to work.

The CLARO IPL Acne Clearing Device

Yes, I was skeptical.  Yes, it seemed a little too good to be true.  Yes, I was scared.

The CLARO uses intense pulsed light {IPL} technology to deliver heat and light directly to the acne.  This info was taken from the CLARO site:

The bacteria that cause acne produces a compound called porphyrin, CLARO uses heat and light to stimulate porphyrin to produce singlet oxygen that attacks and eliminates the acne bacteria.

To use, you simply turn the device on, place the treatment window over your pimple, and press the button.  The device flashes light on the pimple 10 times.  You repeat this a second time, completing one treatment.

You can treat the same pimple three times in a 24 hour period, waiting eight hours between treatments.

What I Thought

I messed up and did not treat the same pimple after our initial treatment, so our results are a little skewed.

That said, even after that one treatment I can tell that this little device works.  After one round of treatment and 24 hours, the acne treated had significantly reduced in size and redness.

I like this device for what it claims to treat:  mild to moderate acne.  If you have severe acne, you’d spend all your time moving this thing from pimple to pimple.

For a few pimples, though, you can easily treat them quickly and be on your way.  There’s no messy creams, no excessive steps, you just turn it on, press a button, and in a few seconds you’re done.

I know you want to know if it hurt.  I wanted to know.  I was scared to try it.

So, I did what any good blogger would do and asked my husband if he’d sacrifice his comfort for me.

He did, and he survived.

Aside from my excitement and subsequent trigger-happy fingers going to town treating pimples {which caused some moderate heat}, he said he didn’t feel a thing.

At $194.99, it might be a bit pricey for some folks.  If you are looking for an investment in something that is not consumable, this is a great one.  It’s quick, easy, clean, and effective.

True Confessions:  I have received the reviewed product from Best Buy for free.  All opinions are my own.

Blissdom Breakdown 4: I Found My Bliss

Blissdom Conference 2012

Be sure to check out the first, second, and third posts in the series, too!

I got more out of Blissdom than I could ever put into these breakdown posts.  I wanted to touch on a few key parts, though, and I hope you guys have enjoyed it!

By the way…

My newsletter subscribers got an extra shot of bliss with exclusive access to my notes for the session on growing  your Facebook fan page and a book giveaway.  You can subscribe to it here!

Blissdom was one of the first blogging conferences I found out about after I started blogging back in August, 2010.

It looked fun, educational, and just awesome, but it also looked unattainable.  There were so many costs associated with it, and I had no idea I’d be at this point with my blogging, looking to do more.

When Vince suggested I go, it was like that little push I needed to make it happen.  I have a hard time spending large amounts of money on myself {like most mothers} and I have a hard time doing things for myself {like most mothers}, and Vince is always encouraging me to do things for myself.

I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until my sister-in-law asked me what I was doing for myself.  There we stood, in the kitchen, cooking dinner for the family {me stressing, as usual} and she looked at me and said, “So what are you doing for yourself?  You’re always working and doing stuff for Ava and Vince, but what are you doing for fun for you?”

It stopped me dead in my tracks.  Like, I literally stopped chopping whatever it was I was chopping and looked at her, and I couldn’t answer her.

I was associating fun and fulfillment with my taking care of my family.  I was putting everything I had into working and into their needs.

Yes, I do get a certain kind of fulfillment out of caring for my family, and it can be fun, but it’s not the same.

I felt depleted.  I felt slightly bitter.  I felt exhausted, mundane, and irritated.

Irritated that I had let myself get to this point.  Irritated that I was so selfish to want to do things for myself.  Irritated that I felt selfish when I knew it wasn’t selfish.

Bitter that I had neglected myself in an effort to give to my family, which is not at all the way it should be done.

Exhausted from the constant thought process of doing for my family.  They needed me, they couldn’t function without me, so I needed to always be anticipating their needs.

One of the many problems with this is that it doesn’t work like this.  I was taking from them.  I was giving them sloppy seconds.

As I tried to blog and create this business, I was doing nothing justice.

Blissdom helped me refocus, refuel, and repurpose my life.  I felt new and fresh and happy when I left Blissdom.

I found my bliss.

I knew my family could make it without me.  I knew I could make it without them.

I was able to be Tiffany for five days.  I was able to have conversations with other women who did the same thing I do, but in vastly different ways.

I was able to make connections that I never would have otherwise.

I was able to dance and have fun, relax, go to bed early,and not worry about anything else than myself and my brand for five days.

I came home with a deeper love for my family and a deeper understanding of what I wanted out of my blog.

I am by no means perfect, and I will make mistakes along the way, but I feel I am in a great place right now.

It’s all thanks to Blissdom.  If I can help it, I will never miss a year going forward.

That’s how special it was.

Sweet Critique: Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners

I firmly believe everyone is gifted in some way.  All it takes is someone showing a little attention and believing in their abilities, and they can do great things.

When many of us think of a gifted child, our mind automatically focuses on academic talent.  Gifted children can also be gifted artists, dancers, athletes, etc.

For this reason, I absolutely love Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners by Cindy West.

West gives a good overview of homeschooling, curriculum, and styles, but she spends most of the book giving the reader actionable and practical information to help them adjust their teaching to their children.

Tables, Charts, and Resources

West, a veteran homeschooler, knows how much time homeschooling takes.  Her book is not full of a bunch of irrelevant and useless information.

By including tables, charts, and lists of resources, West has made it easy to search through the book and find exactly what you need.

Interested in a classical approach to education?  West provides a list of curriculum resources specifically for that approach.

Have a child that enjoys logic puzzles?  West gives you a list of logic puzzles, grouped by age/ability.

In addition to listing these resources throughout the book, she has placed them all in the back if you’re really just looking for that information.

Those Who Excel and Those Who Struggle

This is perhaps my favorite aspect of the book.  The bulk of the material is designed to take a subject/interest {history, science, spelling} and provide the parent with information to enhance that subject if their child excels or resources and ideas to help those who struggle.

I was keenly interested in what she had to say about spelling.  I’ve noticed that Babydoll is excellent at spelling.  Never has a problem with it.

But because it is a school subject, I felt like we had to set time aside to do it.  Still, there was this nagging feeling that we were wasting our time as she always aced it.

West says what others are afraid to:  if you have a child that excels at spelling, ditch it.  Spend time building vocabulary instead.

Use the time you would have spent doing spelling and provide your child with something useful, such as the ability to understand what those words mean.

Technology, Record Keeping, Socialization, and College

West touches on each of these areas as well, and does it well.

I am a firm believer in using technology in your homeschool, so I appreciated all the ideas and resources she provided in this section.

Record keeping is something that many of us struggle with each year, and West provides yet a few more pearls of wisdom.  She shares the way she keeps track of everything, and it’s not complicated!

Socialization is never far behind when discussing homeschooling, so West gives this area appropriate attention.

Despite the fact that your child might be in elementary school, time flies and college will be a reality sooner than you think.  West provides solid resources and information about what to consider when you get to this point as well.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any homeschool parent, new or old.

The fact that the book is full of links and resources makes it a winner in my book.  I can’t stress enough how wonderful this book is at providing you with solid, specific, practical ideas that you can implement right now.

Definitely give it a try.  I think this is something I’ll be referencing for the rest of our homeschooling days.

Blissdom Breakdown 3: Real Peeps

Blissdom Floor

Blissdom Conference 2012

You can also check out my first and second recap posts!

One of my Blissdom goals was to meet at least five new people while there.  Check baby!

There’s something really satisfying about meeting people that you’ve seen online.  They’re real!

Sometimes you feel like you’re old friends despite never having met.  And then, going forward, you have a basis for a great friendship even if you don’t see each other for at least a year…

The first day, during registration, I met Misty from The Family Math {no, it’s not a math blog}.  As in, I went to stand in line for registration and she introduced herself.  Just like that.

Turns out we were following each other already and had had a few interactions on Twitter.  I don’t think we could have planned that any better.

Going forward, she was my conference buddy; a friendly face to look for in the crowd.  A fun person to make plans to attend events with.

After the {awesome} Handmade Marketplace, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do to kill time until the Newcomer’s Meetup.  Walked out of the room and there was Misty with a group of women, sitting on the floor.

I joined them.  Perhaps one of the best decisions I made at the conference.

Photo Credit

We sat.  We laughed.  We grew in numbers.  All newbs.  It was awesome.

I met:  Issa, Shelley, Lisa, and Esther.

Later that night, at the Kick-Off Reception, I got up the nerve to approach Sue, Wendy, and Meghan.

I wanted to meet bloggers I’ve been following for some time, and I’ve been reading these homeschoolers’ blogs for some time.

I was terrified, but glad I did.  They were all super sweet and gave me some great company during the event.

Photo Credit

The next morning I had breakfast with a bunch of homeschoolers.  Totally rocked!

I met Tiany, Amy, Susan, and others!

I met many more wonderful women, and I know I haven’t listed them all here.  I have yet to get through my huge stack of business cards.

I met women at sessions.  I met women at parties.  I met so many women.

It felt like community.

It was awesome.

Blissdom Breakdown 2: Branding YOU

Blissdom Conference 2012

You can read my first breakdown post here.

One of my goals for attending Blissdom was to gain knowledge on growing my brand, building a business.

I have a business management degree and have started a couple of businesses, but blogging as a business is its own animal, so I really wanted to soak up as much knowledge as possible at the conference.

On Saturday afternoon I attended what turned out to be my favorite Blissdom session:  Branding YOU:  The Merger Between Their Perception and Your Reality, by Tami Heim.

In addition to being an engaging public speaker, Tami presented information that was both interesting and useful, deep and meaningful and actionable.  She graciously gave us permission to share this information with others.

This post is a bit long, but I really encourage you to bookmark it and come back to it if you can’t read through it all now.  It’s great information.

What is a Brand?


Simply put, a brand is an emotional or intellectual connection between you and someone else.

Your brand is about your target audience.  It’s what you want them to feel when they see the visual representation of that brand.  It’s what you want to cause in someone.

The trick to getting this right is to properly convey this to others.  If you’re brand is cute baby stuff, your visual representations will not likely elicit thoughts of anger, disgust, or contempt.

And like it or not, we have about four seconds to get that point across to our readers.

How Do You Get It Right?


Tami came at branding from a personal and internal standpoint.  Once you know who you are, your brand can reflect that and everything will flow from that concrete knowledge.

It will enable you to only take on work that is truly in-line with your brand.  It will enable you to do the work you were meant to do, and nothing else.  It provides an awesome sense of focus and purpose.

So, how do you come about this great revelation?

Blissdom’s sessions this year were broken up into instruction, group work, and Q&A time.  Tami did an outstanding job of talking a little and then giving us time to work with others at our table.  She did this, back and forth, as we worked through three different sections of our worksheets:

The Journey from the Inside Out

For this section, we used a Core Values worksheet and a Strengths reference guide to come up with our five most important core values and our five greatest strengths.

Being You

In this section, we listed our priorities and goals and the impact our success in achieving these would have on others.  Here’s one of mine:

My goal: raise a strong, independent, fearless daughter / The impact:  a woman who knows she has the power to change the world

We then took a personal stand; we created an “I AM” statement:  who you are, what you do, and how it impacts others.  My statement is:

I am a passionate wife and mother who thrives on achievement and cultivating the best family possible.  I strive to empower others through my curiosity, vitality, and love of learning by sharing helpful and relevant information.

Through this, you can determine if you are sharing relevant information, working in conjunction with your “I AM” statement.

The Merger of Your Reality and Their Perception

Extraordinary behaviors follow extraordinary thinking.

If you are consistent in working within your “I AM” statement, the perception the world has of you will be aligned with the way you want your brand perceived.

Tami had us list five personal, professional, and digital {specific} behaviors that reinforce and reflect this.

The Art of Living Out You


This information is taken directly from our worksheet, and is written by Tami Heim.

Choose:  Every decision is yours alone to make.

Commit to be YOU:  You are one of a kind and it’s tragic if the world misses out on all that is wonderfully you.

Accept responsibility:  Own that you have the power to cause whatever your words and actions direct.

Empower yourself:  The past is the past, but the future is full of possibilities for you to embrace or create.

Review your brand framework:  Keep what you believe to be true ever before you.

Stay focused on the goal:  Recalculating your direction delays you from getting to your destination.

Make every action count:  If every action causes an equal or opposite reaction, know in advance what you desire to cause.

Repeat and repeat again:  Your heart is a muscle and with enough repetition it will know how to respond.

Take the high road:  Forgive, move on, and you will remain free to get where you desire to go.

Consult the trusted:  Truth from trusted friends accelerates the merger between your reality and the world’s perception of YOU.

So what is your brand framework? Do you have it figured out? Will you be working through this process?