The Homeschool Mother’s Journal

The Homeschool Mother's JournalIn my life this week…


This week was so productive, it felt awesome!  We finished almost everything I had scheduled school-wise, I got almost everything up on the blog that I had anticipated putting up, and all-in-all we’re settling into a great schedule.  I do so much better when I’ve got some pressure on me!

I also learned a ton of new and interesting and random facts, which I love!  Like, did you know the average American eats 10 pounds of marshmallows each year?  My job as a social media marketing assistant means I write the tweets/FB status updates for a variety of businesses.  In addition to linking to their sites and blogs, I also get to find facts relevant to their field and tweet about them.  So fun!

A major accomplishment this week was finding a site that has clothing that I like that is reasonably priced.  I have such a hard time finding clothing that I like.  It’s either too old or too young, or too expensive.  I ordered a couple of new items for Blissdom, and that was really exciting!

In our homeschool this week…


We got a ton accomplished!  We watched a documentary on Martin Luther King, Jr., on the History channel and learned quite a bit.  I even learned several things I didn’t know.  We continued to practice multiple digit multiplication in math.  Babydoll moved on to her next unit in grammar.  She also read quite a bit; I believe she’s working on Alice in Wonderland right now.

We also started working in a book we bought in December, Write Your Own Story Book.  Babydoll is not a fan of writing, so we thought we’d give this a try.  Oh man, night and day!  She loves the book!  We opted to start with the section that provides a prompt or picture, and then she gets to write a story to go along with it.  She’s been typing her rough draft {she hates handwriting}, and once it is finished, she will write the final copy in her book with her best handwriting.  The story is turning out great!

Babydoll also finished up the Top Secret Adventures we were behind on, and we will start the states this week.  She worked on spelling compound words on Spelling City, and we continued lapbooking the planets.

Thoughts I have…


I really need to start making notes throughout our week, because when it comes time to write this post, I forget half of what happened

Do you have a week you’d like to share?  Want to read what others were up to?  Check out The Homeschool Chick’s link-up here.

Sweet Social Media – The Duds

I’ve made it no secret here on Sweet Phenomena that I am compensated {in one form or another} for certain things, be that sponsored posts, paid opportunities, product reviews, advertising, etc.  I enjoy bringing you guys information about products and services you might not have known about, I enjoy getting to try new things, and I enjoy making a bit of spending money.

While some of this is accomplished by networking, through social media groups, and other means, a good majority is done by direct pitching.  This can be both fun and nauseating, at least for me.  You’re putting yourself out there, hoping that a business will see the value you’re offering, but primed for them to say no.

I have no problem with a polite “No, thank you.”  As a matter of fact, I welcome it.  If your business can’t {or doesn’t want to} work with me, please just let me know.  My feelings won’t be hurt, and I can move on.  And, it’s just plain courteous.

I went to college, I took business classes in high school, and I was taught that you always respond to a personal email.  I’m not talking the emails that you know have been sent to about 500 other folks, but one that has been specially crafted for you.

It annoys the crap out of me when I pitch a business and they can’t even take the time to respond to me.

Story Time


In November, Vince and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary {yay for us!}.  We never had a honeymoon, and ten is a pretty big milestone in the world we live in, so I thought it would be nice to really enjoy ourselves and celebrate.

Being a blogger, I of course thought, “I should find a few places and pitch them!”  The outcome would be two-fold:  we could get to take a fun little trip and the business would get social media street cred.

I was offering a two month social media package that consisted of a variety of things such as promotion on my blog, social media mentions, and other stuff, tailored to their business, for the duration of the year.  And I really wanted to do this right:  I offered to conduct interviews with chefs, PR folks, owners; I offered a blog series complete with separate posts on each aspect of their location; I truly wanted this to be something that properly showcased what they had to offer.

After all, you guys know if I love something, I let you know.  I get excited about it!

Pitch #1 went to Barnsley Gardens Resort.  I fell in love with the place, just from the website.  It had history, wide open spaces, a spa, outdoor activities, something for both of us.  We could relax, learn, do things together, and we’d both enjoy it.

I put together the email and sent it to their Director of Marketing {as per their Media Center page}, Sharon Ordono Cohen.  Then, crickets.  Nothing.  Still, to this day, nothing.  I would think that a company that has a specific section on their site set up as a media center, with the contact information of a marketing director, and all the special awards they’ve won, would at the very least take the time to reply to an email.

They didn’t.  Now had they done so, I’m pretty sure we still would have gone to the resort.  If we hadn’t gone for our anniversary, we definitely would have visited some time in the near future.  Because of this one small thing, they have lost at least one potential customer for life, and who knows how many more because of the fact that I have let people know how little they thought of me to reply.

I know I’m not a big-shot blogger.  I know I’m small potatoes.  But I am a person, and was a potential customer, which means I deserve respect as does anyone else.  They didn’t give me that, and that’s a big no-no in business.  Their marketing director should know that.

Did the Next Place Get it Right?


Um, no.

Next up is Bittersweet Cottage & Suite.  I found them when I decided I wanted to visit the Asheville, NC, area.  We were actually just going to book a few nights there, so I began conversing with one of the owners, Matt Clark, via email.  I had a few questions about the place that I needed answered before booking.  He  was prompt about getting back to me with answers.

Again, being the blogger that I am, I decided to pitch Matt.  I put together a social media promotion {similar to Barnsley, but again, tailored to Bittersweet} and emailed it to him.  I never heard from him again.  That’s right, the man who had promptly replied to my other emails  never sent me another.

As in the case of Barnsley Gardens, if he would have simply let me know they weren’t interested, I would have booked the trip anyway.  I would have told the countless family members we have in NC about them.  I would have eventually stayed there, and if I had loved it, I would have told you guys without being compensated for it.  Yet, just like Barnsley, they’ve lost a potential customer for life.

Final Thoughts


I know that I won’t always get what I want when it comes to blogging, or life for that matter.  I know that businesses are cutting costs and have to make tough decisions everyday.  What they did five years ago, they might not be able to do now.  Perhaps they’re already working with a blogger, perhaps I don’t have the numbers they need, there are many reasons that this wouldn’t have worked out for us.

That’s not the point.

Whether you can make something work or not, you always respond.  You give people that courtesy.  And that’s the issue I have with these companies.

So, if you’re a blogger looking to work with companies, just keep this in mind:  everyone doesn’t play nicely in the sandbox.  It’s just a fact.  Nice thing is, though, you can always come to your piece of internet real estate and let the rest of us know…

I’m happy to say, for every sorry experience, I probably get five good ones.  Most companies realize the value of what we do.  They are looking for a mutually beneficial relationship, and working with them is a pleasure.

Next week, we’ll talk about a few of my faves!

Train Up a Dog – Results #ILoveMyk9

Milk Bone

Last week I talked about some of the treats we got to train our dog, Winston {aka Mr. Stone}.  We got a variety of things that we thought would be good for him, as well as tasty, and set out to teach  him to spin.

The Results


Well, he can’t spin…  Babydoll wanted to be the one to train him to do this, but she was scared of him snatching the treat from her hand, and it just wasn’t working out.  Winston likes to think he can bully Ava sometimes, so it’s generally best that she not test him unless she’s ready to show him who’s boss.  That hasn’t happened yet.

The good news is that we have made significant progress with something else we were trying to teach him to do:  stay.  We haven’t really worked much at getting him to stay, other than what Vince does when we’re bringing Winston back inside.  I took this opportunity to work with him on just staying when we asked him to, and he’s getting much better.

What I Used


Winston liked both the Pup-Peroni and the Milk-Bone® treats.  We haven’t broken into the other two items {the Milo’s Kitchen treats} because I didn’t want to have four bags of treats open for one small dog.  He doesn’t get soft treats often, so I think he really enjoyed the Pup-Peroni ones.

To train him, though, I used the Milk-Bone® Healthy Favorites treats.  I break them up into a few pieces when training since he’s so small {10 pounds}.  Otherwise, he’d be getting tons of little biscuits!

This time around, I called him over to me, had him sit, and then had him do something else we’re working with him on:  up.  Apparently Havanese used to be circus dogs and it’s easy to see why; they look very entertaining when they’re doing things like begging.


These are fairly easy for him; he learned to sit right after we got him, and he generally begs {up} anyway.  The real test for a dog like him that gets super excited about everything is to have him sit and stay when he knows you have a treat.

He knew I still had more treats in my hand, so he was very attentive.  I had him sit again…

…and then I slowly backed away.

Score!  It took a few tries, but we successfully got him to stay while we continued to back away.  I even walked back over to him to give him his treat and he patiently sat there until I gave it to him.

This was a lot of fun to do!  I used some of the tips we got when he went to puppy class, such as starting by rewarding with a treat every time, and then slowly expecting more out of him before he got a treat.

Also, I think the best piece of advice is to stay “Good ______!” instead of “Good boy/girl!”  This helps them learn the command and know what it is they’re doing good.

Do you have any dog training tips?

True Confessions:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias


Sweet Critique: Chippy the Chipmunk – Babies in the Garden

Chippy Chipmunk: Babies in the Garden (The Chippy Chipmunk)Chippy is back!!!  Last year I did a review of Chippy Chipmunk:  Parties in the Garden.  The book was awesome, and all three of us really enjoyed it.

I was so happy to find out that I was being sent a copy of the newest book in the series:  Chippy Chipmunk:  Babies in the Garden by Kathy M. Miller.

I have to say, I think I love this book more than I did the other!  The pictures are even more amazing {the very first page of the story has a gorgeous picture of a purple and pink flower}, the explanation of the names of the chipmunks can start great conversations {the four chipmunks are named after conservationists and others who have tried to make an environmental impact}, and the story is wonderful.

The back even has several facts about chipmunks that can lead to even further investigation.  This would be an excellent book for any child {or adult…} who loves animals, a study on chipmunks, or just a basic study of animals.

The book does a beautiful job of telling an engaging story with great pictures and great educational content.  As a homeschool mother, I love this!

I can’t get over the photography in the book.  I’m amazed by good pictures anyway {I suck at taking them}, but the actions and scenes that Kathy catches are amazing!

Whether you choose to use this book as an educational accompaniment or just to enjoy as a family, I highly recommend it.  It’s such a fun book!

Check out this video to see Chippy in action.

True Confessions:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Blissdom Bound Baby!


Creative Kristi DesignsYes, woot woot!

*dances around the room*

I’m still excited, it hasn’t worn off since I bought that ticket {thanks Dear!}.

Despite the excitement, I’m experiencing what many of you seem to be experiencing: sickening nausea over the fact that I don’t really know anyone.

I did meet Anne from Not a Supermom at BBCATL in October and enjoyed eating lunch with her, and she’s going, but I still don’t know her you know?  So, I’m pretty freaked out about the thought of walking into a room full of a ton of folks…

This is one of the reasons I think this Ice Breaker thing is a great idea; I’ve already found several bloggers I can’t wait to meet!  I’ve been slowly making the rounds, and finally got around to writing my post up.  I’d like folks to get to know me too!

Who Am I?


  • I’m a 30 year old mom and wife.  I’ve been married to Vince for 10 years, and we have a nine year old daughter, Babydoll.  That’s me down there.  We don’t have a recent family pic, or I’d post one.  There are pictures of all of us sprinkled around the blog though.

  • I couldn’t stand animals till I got my fur-babies:  Princess {a fluffy white cat} and Winston {a fluffy white dog}.  I’d seriously maim people for them.  For reals.

  • I’m a homeschooler.  We’re about as far from the homeschooling family stereotype as you can get:  we did not plan to do this {you can read more about that here}, we don’t do it for religious reasons, we don’t limit TV and video game time {so long as work is done}, and I don’t make my own curriculum.  But, we’re enjoying it so we stick with it.
  • I’m a perfectionist and I’m OCD, and it doesn’t serve me well.  Perhaps the only way these traits serve me is that I don’t like to fail and I throw everything into what I do.
  • I’ve worked as an accounting assistant, office manager, parking office assistant, cake artist, pastry chef, bistro cook, and freelance writer.  Oh, and now I’m a blogger and social media marketing assistant.
  • I love almonds and chocolate.  Together.  The only way to go yo.  Oh, wait.  Add caramel to that.  Freaking sweet.
  • I love food.  I love cooking it.  I love eating it.  I love reading about it.  I could totally do nothing but spend my time with food and be OK.  Well, as long as my family was with me…
  • I met my husband in junior high.
  • I can’t stand having messy hands or dirty socks.  Like, I’ll eat bacon with a fork because I can’t stand having stuff on my hands…  Or, I’ll change socks multiple times a day because I can’t stand the sight of stuff on them.  It’s an OCD thing; like I really “feel” it…
  • I totally *heart* planners.
  • I love my house and I like to go outside and stare at it.  That happens when you have to wait years for something…
  • I love computers, gadgets, technology, and gaming.  LOTRO FTW.
  • I love sparkly, glittery, pink stuff.

What is Sweet Phenomena?


  • Um, a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  Seriously, I tried the whole niche thing, and eventually found it didn’t work for me.  I’m not an uber-homeschooler, and I can’t constantly blog about that.  You’ll find posts about homeschooling, life, product reviews, giveaways, ending domestic violence, and anything else I feel like slapping up here.
  • Ending domestic violence is something I’m passionate about and something that I “officially” embraced in October here on Sweet Phenomena.
  • This is my creative outlet.  It may not be perfect.  It may not be done “correctly.”  It may not make sense to anyone else but me, but I love it.  I truly enjoy being here.
  • Here on the blog, I write the way I talk.  Yes, I really do use these words and phrases.  Ask folks that know me.
  • I am never completely happy with the layout/design.
  • It’s pink because I think pink is the most uber color ever.

There is, of course, a ton more to both subjects, but I’d prefer not to bore you.  Look for me at Blissdom, I’d love to meet you and discuss this more over chocolate.  Or lemon drops.  With chips and queso…  Or a steak…