A lightweight timepiece: fYt Watch review

Teenage boys can be hard on stuff!  So I’m happy to have found a watch that can survive a teen’s wear and tear.

My oldest son likes to wear a wristwatch to school because he’s not allowed to have a cell phone out at any time during the school day.  Not even to check the time.  He also can’t see the clock during all of his classes.  And he likes to always know the time.  (Especially for certain subjects when he looks forward to the end of class.)

The problem?  He keeps breaking wristwatches.  I got him a wristwatch for Christmas recently, and it lasted only a few months until he broke off the piece that holds the band.  So I got him another watch for his birthday.  Guess what happened?  Yep, he broke that one, too.   {Sigh}

When I saw the fYt Watch LED wrist watch (available at Amazon), it looked like the perfect timepiece for him.  It’s a single piece of silicone, which I immediately recognized as a great solution for my son.  I quickly signed up to get the watch at a discount for the opportunity to provide an honest review.

The watch looks like one of the popular activity trackers, but it does not actually include activity tracking.  It’s simply a watch with a time and date function.  But the modern, sporty style appealed to my teen, so he was happy to wear it, even without getting any special features.

fyt-watch-white-front

The fYt Watch in white silicone

When you order this watch, you get both a black and a white version.  I liked getting two watches in neutral colors for one low price.  I tested one, and I gave the other one to my son to get his thoughts on it.

We both found that the watch is light and sleek.  It’s very comfortable to wear.  My son and I agree that it’s easy to forget you’re wearing it because it’s not clunky or heavy on your wrist.

fYT watch display black

The fYt Watch LED display

The LED light gives you the time and date when you press the tiny button on the watch.  Then it goes off for automatic power saving.  In artificial light, the LED is bright and very easy to read.  It looks a bit dimmer outside in daylight, but it was still bright enough to see the time clearly on the display.

The fYt Watch is not perfect.  We both found it a bit difficult to set initially.  Although it’s like setting most digital watches by scrolling through the numbers, the button was a little jumpy when I was trying to set it.  The watch arrived without any instructions for setting it, so you have to just go with your instinct on how to set the time.  That wasn’t ideal, but not a big issue since you just have to set it at first, and then it’s done.

My son and I both had to experiment a bit with the adjustable notches to get the clasp set correctly to the right length on our wrists.  Once we got the silicone popped out of the small notches in the band and figured out how to secure the clasp into the notches, we were all set.

fYt Watch adjustable clasp

The fYt Watch adjustable clasp

The adjustable band will accommodate a wide range of wrist sizes.  My small 11-year-old daughter wore the watch on her wrist for a while, and she found it just as comfortable as my 16-year-old son and I did.

Although an inexpensive silicone watch does not require elaborate packaging, I would have liked to see a nicer presentation for the watch when it arrived from Amazon.  Ours came in a plastic zip-top bag without any instructions.  It doesn’t have anything to do with the performance of the watch, just my preference for the initial impression.

Overall, this watch does its job well.  The fYt Watch is an inexpensive silicone watch that is comfortable to wear.  It’s a simple, sporty-looking, effective timepiece for anyone – especially teenage boys who break traditional wristwatches.

Disclosure: I received the fYt Watch at a deep discount to facilitate my honest review.
All opinions are my own.

7 parent-tested tips for how to help a child with math

If you’re reading this post, you’re likely in the same place I was a few years ago.  My son was a young student struggling with math.  And my husband and I were struggling to find a way to help him.

For a long time, he just wasn’t getting it.

Now let me skip ahead to the happy ending.  That child is a straight-“A” student in math.

I hope that’s an encouragement to other parents who are in the same situation.  It is possible for a child to overcome difficulties with math.  That child can eventually become an excellent math student.

Image credit: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

There’s no quick fix for how to help a child with math.  It may not be easy, but it is definitely worth the effort.

The tips below are the strategies that helped us get from the struggle to the happy ending.  I’m not an education expert, but these are the things that worked for us.

7 tips for how to help a child with math

1.  Believe.  Start with the belief that the child will get it.  When a child is struggling with something, it is so easy for him or her to feel incapable and hopeless about it.  That can lead to just giving up.  It’s important for both of you to stay positive and believe that it’s possible to improve.

As President Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

And Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re  right.”

These leaders knew that the right attitude has an important effect on success.  Believe in your child.  And make sure children who are struggling believe in themselves.

2.  Encourage.  Regularly communicate your confidence in your child.  When they bring home another bad grade, say something uplifting about doing better next time.  Let them know it’s OK, that it’s not the end of the world, but you have confidence that they can do better.  When they improve even slightly, make sure they know you’re happy with their efforts.

I’ll never forget my son’s excitement when he got his first “A” in math on his report card.  He was elated, and he said, “Mom, I never was really sure it was possible, but you and dad always kept believing in me and encouraging me so I made sure I was trying to do my best.  And now look, I got an ‘A’!”

Encouragement – in the good times and the bad – helps a child keep striving for success.

3.  Be involved.  Nothing speaks more clearly about your commitment to your child’s learning than investing time with your child.  It’s not just talk.  It’s action.

Be available to provide help as much as possible.  Sit down and talk through homework together.  If you feel like someone else can help better, get a tutor, but remain involved by asking about the math lessons and seek to personally help as much as possible.

When my husband and I were working with my son, there were times we all got frustrated.   Sometimes my husband and I alternated on helping him to try a different perspective for going over a concept.  There were times we had to take a deep breath and take a break – for an evening or even for a week.  But then we started working on it again.  We went over homework together.  We did extra worksheets together.  We went through flashcards together.  He knew he wasn’t in it alone.

Make sure your child knows you’re in this with him or her and you’re there to help.

4.  Communicate with the teacher.  Be sure to contact the teacher and ask for his or her professional advice on how to help your child.  The teacher may notice particular issues and may be able to provide some extra worksheets or direct you to specific resources that may help.

Teachers have classrooms full of students, and they don’t always have the time to give individual attention to students.  But I’ve learned over the years that when I keep in contact with the teacher to work on my child’s problem areas (without being pushy or demanding), she’ll usually make an effort to communicate proactively with me about issues and look for ways to help.  It’s been a blessing to rejoice together with teachers to see my child improve.

5.  Practice, practice, practice.  It’s been said that repetition is the key to success and that practice makes perfect.  In school, math homework is assigned to give students practice performing the math facts and operations they have learned.  But is the class time and homework enough repetition and practice?

For my oldest son, he heard the math lesson in class, did the homework, and he had it down.  For my younger son who struggled, he needed a lot more repetition and practice.  So we worked on it.  A lot.

We came to realize that it just took more time for him, but he would get it eventually.

It was like he struggled in the dark for a while with a new math fact or concept, and then a light switch finally flipped on and he could see it correctly.  The struggle was so worth it to see the light of understanding in my son’s eyes when he finally got it!

6.  Make it fun and practical.  Help math come alive by showing students real-world application of math concepts.  Use a bag of snack-sized candy bars or marshmallows and group them to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Show how you use math to divvy them up.  Talk about fractions when cutting a pizza into slices.  Set up a pretend store and let children use money to buy and sell things with you.

Be creative and make math as fun as possible in as many ways as possible.  Because people learn in different ways, you never know which strategy you may use that will spark a better understanding about how numbers work.

Hands-on learning is especially powerful for many children, so being able to physically touch and manipulate numbers of objects can really help solidify numbers concepts for them.  My son seemed to grasp multiplication better when we had him physically group objects together with his hands and then tied that back to a math problem on a piece of paper.

7.  Find resources.  Thankfully, math resources abound if you look for them.  You can find a wide variety of free and paid resources to help with math skills.  (Look for another blog post on this topic coming soon.)

Bonus tip
8.  Pray about it.  I put this last because I realize that not everyone who reads this post will share my Christian faith.  But as a Christian, I really believe this goes first.  The Bible tells us to pray regularly, and Hebrews 4:16 says we will find help through prayer.  It says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” 

My husband, son and I prayed regularly about his understanding of math.  We prayed together before working on it at home, and I advised him to pray about it before his tests at school.  When he eventually “got it” and started doing well in math, we attributed it not only to his hard work, but also to answered prayer.

Overcoming the obstacles – my son’s math success story

My son, who struggled with math early in school, is now in high school.  After all his work in elementary school, building the foundation for upper-level math, he no longer has problems with his math classes.

In elementary school, he had the most difficulty in the early grades.  Up through third grade, he put in a lot of extra work just to get to a “C” in math on his report cards.  By his upper elementary years, he had worked up to “B” grades in math.

He earned his first “A” in math in seventh grade.  He has never received a lower math grade on his report card since then.  (I should mention that he has always attended a traditional, private school so he was not learning the Common Core math curriculum.)

The bonus is that his hard work has paid off for other subjects, too.  He’s now getting “A” grades across all of his classes.  His early struggles with math have taught him diligence, perseverance, and good study skills that apply to all of his schoolwork.

I’m proud of my son, but I’m including his academic success story not to brag, but to encourage other parents whose children are struggling in a particular area.  It really can turn around!

7 tips for how to help a child struggling with math

I would love to hear from you.  Do you have other tips for how to help a child with math?

Final touches for a budget dining room makeover

It makes me happy to freshen things up around the house.  Especially when I can update rooms inexpensively for a great new look.  For my budget dining room makeover, I installed board and batten and wallpaper for less than $150.

After that, the dining room needed just a few finishing touches.

First up: new curtains.  I hadn’t actually planned for new curtains.  But as I worked on the walls, I decided I really wanted a whole new look in the room, and that included the window treatments.

I never imagined how hard it actually would be to find just the right curtains to complement the new dining room style.  It turned into the curtain quest of 2016.

My daughter insists that she’s never been to so many stores in one day in her (short) life.   But I was glad for her company while we shopped!  After searching every local store I could think to visit, we went home to search online for curtain panels for the dining room.

Finally I found coordinating window treatments for a very reasonable price on sale at Kohls.com (affiliate link).  Between the sale and a $10 off special offer, my total curtain cost was $20 for two panels (regular price was $45 each).  Not a bad deal, right?!

The light, sheer curtain panels freshened up the look of the dining room windows for summer.  The white-on-white pattern reinforces the lattice/trellis look of the wallpaper, but it’s subtle enough that it doesn’t compete.

board and batten accessorized

Next I found the perfect miniature lampshades for updating the look of the dining room light fixture.  As you can see in the pictures, it’s a shiny brass chandelier straight from the 1960s.

Since buying our fixer-upper house, I’ve thought many times about putting a new, more modern light fixture in the dining room.  For now, though, I’m keeping the budget in check and just making the old brass fixture work.

The white and gold design on the new mini lampshades accentuate the gold tone of the brass, putting it proudly on display.

In recent years some say brass is back in style and others say it’s not.  In my case, I’m making the brass chandelier as stylish as possible while it adorns my dining room.

board and batten chandelier

I think the mini lampshades are a fun addition to the old chandelier.  At just $3.50 each for 10 on sale at Hobby Lobby, they were an inexpensive way to update the look of the dated fixture.  They’re the final touch for my budget dining room makeover.

The gold trellis design on the lampshades complements the wallpaper and curtains.  With all three trellis elements in a light, neutral palette, the pattern coordinates without being overpowering.

Overall, it doesn’t matter that this was a budget dining room makeover.  The new dining room design makes our family happy to be in there, and that’s what it was all about!

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