Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Renuzit Pearl Scents

Because I'm Me Renuzit Pearl Scents

Have you heard of new Renuzit Pearl Scents?

Because I'm Me Renuzit Pearl ScentsThe long-lasting scented odor-neutralizing gel-type balls are encased in an attractive, decorative container with a slotted lid to release the fresh, gentle air freshener. They blend in well with home decor, so they don't have to be hidden in a secret corner.

I placed my container of Renuzit Pearl Scents near my downstairs bathroom, which is also home to the dreaded, stinky litterbox. The Sparkling Rain scent has been much preferred over the cat box smells, which has been minimized as a result of the odor neutralizers in the formula. Definitely an improvement!

Would you like to win your own container of Renuzit Pearl Scents? Of course! Enter below for your chance to win 2, yes two, coupons for free Renuzit Pearl Scents. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Setting Sail

His first regatta.

We've got a few things to learn about this new trimaran boat design.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

TOS Review: Homeschool Legacy - We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution

Homeschool Legacy Review
When asked to review Homeschool Legacy's Once-a-Week Series unit study We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution, by Sharon Gibson, I was very interested, because I knew the need was there for Adam(14) and Kaden (12) to learn more about our goverment and it's beginning. When I learned that completing the unit study would also satisfy all requirements for Citizenship in the Nation, a challenging Eagle-required Boy Scout merit badge, I was more than interested.

This unit study, and many others in this Once-a-Week series, meet not only Boy Scout merit badge requirements, but also American Heritage Girls and 4H requirements. Information about what requirements will be met in the unit study can be found on the Homeschool Legacy's website and specific requirements being met are noted with symbols throughout the unit study.

The Once-a-Week unit study is completely downloadable, an easy single digital download that you can then print to use. I printed the 68 pages and immediately put them in a 3-pronged binder.

This unit study is an 8 week program, with a different chapter devoted to each week; the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the amendments to the Constitution, and the different branches of government. It is suggested that the user do parts of the unit study a few days a week, devoting one entire school day per week to doing the majority of the unit study. Fortunately, the program is very flexible because that wouldn't have worked for us, there's no way we could devote an entire day just to one subject - instead we did a little bit each day, completing the weeks work in 2-3 weekdays, putting in about an hour each day, with additional time spent reading and watching related movies. At the beginning of the unit study is a page outlining possible schedules for completing the unit study, and at the back of the program are four pages devoted to getting the most out of the unit studies; both of these sections are very helpful.

When We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution was first presented to me I was aware of the fact that it was a Christian based program, the premise of the unit study is to understand the Christian values and beliefs that our founding fathers possessed and the role those beliefs and Christianity played in the founding of the United States of America, particularly the writing of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The kids and I don't home school from a religious perspective, but I do believe that our country was founded by men with a strong belief in God and very admirable values, and that that is important to understand and remember as our country grows and changes. One of the benefits of a unit study like this is the flexibility to adapt it to meet the needs and style of the student, which we did; we followed the majority of the unit study but omitted the bible work.

To give an idea of the program and how it worked for us:

Chapter 3 is about the Bill of Rights. Each boy was asked to read the first ten amendments to the Constitution (the Bill of Rights). We then learned about the "separation of church and state" which does not appear in the Constitution, as many believe, but was coined after it was said by Thomas Jefferson and referred to keeping the government out of religion, not to keep religion out of government.

In Chapter 3 the boys were asked to read a newspaper daily for a few weeks, which satisfies a Citizenship in the Nation requirement.

The boys also learned about felonies and what rights a felon loses. Gathering and writing about this information was their creative writing schoolwork for one day.

We discussed the reasons for the Bill of Rights and how it came to be necessary.

Throughout each chapter are numerous reading opportunities, with options for both strong and less confident readers.
What we thought:

I appreciated how thorough and clearly written this program was. It was very easy to grasp what the author was saying and where she was leading, and the boys learned a great deal from this program. I really enjoyed studying the Constitution with the boys because there were constant opportunities to think and discuss. While we could do the unit study work in an hour or so we often sat at the kitchen table discussing the founding of our country, comparing it to the way our country is running today.

Homeschool Legacy ReviewI have to admit that I'm not normally a fan of unit studies. I often find them cumbersome and confusing. I felt that this program was easy to follow and easy to teach, and I actually liked teaching it.

The program is biblically centered. I think this can be a positive or a negative, depending on the user, but as I said before we were able to adapt the parts of the unit study we needed to while still teaching many very relevant religious portions.

Would I teach this to our troop for their merit badge study? Yes, I would with a few alterations. Would I recommend the unit study to other students studying American history and the United States Constitution? Yes.

We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution is geared towards kids in 4th through 12th grade and it, along with many other unit studies, is available at Homeschool Legacy.

Homeschool Legacy Review 

Friday, May 15, 2015

TOS Review: S is For Smiling Sunrise, book by WordsBright

S is for Smiling Sunrise, ABC book review at Because I'm Me
When asked if River, age 6, and I would be interested in receiving and reviewing the book S is For Smiling Sunrise, published by WordsBright, I offered a hesitant "sure"; while River has discovered a love of reading I wasn't sure if this book would be challenging enough for him, given that he's outgrown traditional ABC books.

S is for Smiling Sunrise isn't your average ABC book and River dove right into the book, and enjoyed it very much. The hardcover, full-color, illustrated book written by Vick Wadhwa is recommended for children ages 3-6. The book contains about 30 pages, all of  which are of a high quality, thick, glossy finish (ie - not going to rip easily).

As I mentioned, this isn't a typical ABC book. Instead of "A is for Apple" in this book A is for Artwork - drawing and painting, and singing and dancing. The other alphabet letters in the book are equally unique, with C representing colors and H for heart. Instead of focusing on beginning words the book focuses on seeing and thinking about beautiful things, and taking time to stop, pay attention, and appreciate the world around us.

S is for Smiling Sunrise, ABC book review at Because I'm Me

River and I received a study guide to use with the book, with questions and activity suggestions for each page. I used the questions to help River think about what he was reading. After reading the A page we talked about different types of artwork and what kinds of art he liked to create. We then discussed how dancing could be considered art and brainstormed about what else could be art that isn't typical "art class" art. The image below is from the study guide:

S is for Smiling Sunrise, ABC book review at Because I'm Me

At Cub Scouts River has been working on his photography beltloop. One of his requirements was to submit 10 photos that he took using tips he'd learned about photography. I tied this book in with that requirement, as photography also requires you to slow down and observe what's going on around you. Focusing on the subjects of the book gave him something to look for instead of just taking random photos. I'd like to say that these are all River's pictures, but he got sidetracked when we discovered an armadillo shell and bones, so some of these were taken by one of his brothers who, once he got a hold of the camera, didn't put it down all day.

S is for Smiling Sunrise, ABC book review at Because I'm Me

There is also a CD included with the book, with one song on it retelling the book. Personally, we preferred the book without the song, once I heard the song I had a hard time going back to the book and taking the "singing" out of the reading, if that makes sense. I found the song more of a distraction than an aide.

S is for Smiling Sunrise, ABC book review at Because I'm Me

River, nearing the end of First Grade, had no problem at all reading the book on his own. He liked the pictures and the variety of information in the book. Between the book and our discussion of the pages he did some great learning and thinking. There were some challenging words mixed in which was good for him. Is it a book he'll read again and again? Probably not, only because he's just at the cusp of being a little too old for the book, or it being a little too young for him.

I appreciated that S is For Smiling Sunrise encouraged River to look around and notice the world, and to think about the things he was reading.

S is for Smiling Sunrise, ABC book review at Because I'm Me

Had I had this book when I had my daycare I'd have gotten a lot of use out of it, tying craft projects in with the pretty pages of the book. For example, these adorable hand print caterpillars would have been tied in well with "B is for Butterfly". I'm sure I could have found projects that would have worked for each of the 26 letters, combining the book with the discussion questions, letter drawing, craft projects, and activities would have been a lot of fun for the kids and for me.

S is for Smiling Sunrise is available through WordsBright Publishing, with discounts for bulk orders.

Wordsbright Review

Monday, May 11, 2015

How to Tie a Because I'm Me Boys Necktie

Because I'm Me boys neckties come pre-tied, making life super easy for the receiver; all they have to do is put the tie on, adjust the neckband, and look like a million bucks.

However, sometimes the ties come untied. It happens.

Retying them is as simple as basic macrame, with a few adaptions.

But don't ask me to explain it verbally (or in print). I've tried. It's not my forte.

So, without further ado, here is the easiest way I know to explain how to tie a Because I'm Me children's necktie:

Lay the tie over the neckband, with narrow end facing down. This is where you decide the length of the necktie, if you want a long necktie leave a short short end, if you want a shorter necktie leave the short end longer.

Fold the tie over the band and bring the wide end down towards you and out to the side.

Fold the wide end of the tie over and across the short end.

Bring the wide end back behind the neckband and lift it upward. The front "knot" will now look like a trapezoid. While doing this adjust the neckband do keep it straight, you don't want it twisting or turning into a "squiggly" line, you want it as straight as possible, it just makes it easier in the end.

Bring the wide end of the tie back to the front of the tie and thread it through the "knot" you created, again keeping the neckband as straight as possible.

 Pull gently to bring the band through the knot so it is laying nicely.

Pinch both ends of the neckband with your fingers to keep the band straight and adjust/slightly tighten the necktie. Here you can adjust the lengths of both ends a little bit. Do not tighten too much, you want it to be comfortable, not super constricted and thin.

Finally, let the neckband slack a little, make sure your narrow end of the tie is in the back and not showing, and give the tie a final adjustment. Not too much tightening, just enough for it to ease into a perfect necktie shape.

I hope that answers your questions about tying a Because I'm Me Boys necktie. If it doesn't please leave a comment below or e-mail me any questions at

I'm hoping to get a video put together to make this even simpler.

If you need to retie your tie I suggest pressing it first,  not a lot just enough to loosen any wrinkles. I don't recommend machine washing ties, but they can be spot cleaned and air dried.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

TOS Review: A+ Interactive Math

Check out our review of A+ Interactive Math
Adam, my Algebra I student, was recently given A+ Interactive Math's online Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan program to review.

Last school year Adam was in Pre-Algebra. The program we were using was one I'd used with the older three kids and, while we liked it, I knew it wasn't a perfect fit for every student so when he started to struggle I didn't hesitate to have him try a different program. The new, very different, program worked well for a few months, but then he and I both realized it wasn't the right program for him in the long run and we switched back to the original program, starting from the beginning. Things went much better for him this time around, however because we'd made the last program switch halfway through the school year there was no chance of him getting through the entire program by the end of the school year and he only completed just over half the lessons.

This year his younger brother, Kaden, is using that same Pre-Algebra program and, of course, Adam really didn't want to be doing the same work as his brother so he opted to go ahead and start Algebra I this year, without the solid foundation he really should have had. This hasn't been an easy math year for him, though I have give him a great deal of credit for working hard and not giving up even when we decided to go back and redo 30 lessons. Right now, with one month or so of school left, he's finally "getting it" and should be able to finish the entire Algebra I program (let me tell you, I'm proud of this kid!).

Because of the gaps in his Algebra foundation and the struggles he's had this year I was certain that A+ Interactive Math would be a benefit to him as he could certainly use a little extra practice and lessons from a slightly different perspective are always helpful.

Kaden and River also used this A+ Interactive Math program for this review, but my focus, from the time the review was offered, has been on Adam. After doing a few tests and lessons River opted to use a different math review program he was already using, simply because it was familiar to him. Kaden has continued to use Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan, using the same 7th Grade/Pre-Algebra level as Adam, but at a slower pace.

The Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan program is on online program, for grades 1 through 7 (Pre-Algebra). While Adam is in Algebra I and Eight Grade the Pre-Algebra level proved challenging for him and was a good fit. The program looks for gaps in their knowledge and is tough, both boys were surprised they didn't do better on their initial placement tests but realized that's because they do still have a few things left to learn.

The student enters the program and takes placement tests for each related subject. Either he'll do extremely well on the placement test and move on to the next subject or he won't do as well, showing some gaps in knowledge and a need for improvement, and move forward to the lessons he needs to fully grasp the subject. As he does the lessons he can retake the placement test to see if he's mastered the subject. If the student isn't sure how to get started there are helpful videos to watch to guide them into the program.

A+ Interactive Math student test area

The student doesn't have to take all the placement tests in order and can skip around as he wishes, which can be very helpful as not all math programs move at the same pace.

A+ Interactive Math student lesson area

Each placement test or lesson takes about 20 minutes. We found that pen and paper is necessary to do the work associated with the challenging problems.

The lessons section provides the student with an individualized lesson plan. The lessons for the tests they've "passed" won't show up here, only the subjects they need work on. Within each subject are many lessons for the student to use to build knowledge.

The lessons are videos that clearly and concisely explain the subject matter. At the end of each lesson is a Q&A section to test comprehension.

My boys each did four lessons per week, as a supplement to their regular math programs.

The parent has his own A+ Interactive Math account to watch the student's progress. While I found the parent dashboard to be helpful, allowing me to see where Adam was in the program, I thought it was a little limited. Adam's school schedule had him doing four lessons per week, I found I couldn't track how many assignments or tests he'd done each week, so I really had no way of guaranteeing he'd done his allotted four and couldn't tell which four he'd done, making it hard to track his progress. I felt that I was "out of the loop" with this program, which, as the teacher, I don't like.

A+ Interactive Math online math enrichment review at Because I'm Me

"A+ Interactive Math is easy to navigate and if you have trouble you can watch the video that explain how to navigate through the website. You can learn a lot if you take the tests, go through the lessons, and retake the tests. A+ Interactive Math only takes 20 minutes a day to take a test or go through a lesson.

I did learn stuff I didn't know, so it has helped me with my Algebra."

"Some things I did not know but A+ Interactive Math had lessons so I could learn more. The program tells you about fractions, percents, and word problems. I have learned more about word problems from A+ Interactive Math. I have learned about negative numbers and percents. I think it is a good website."

Personally, I think this is a good program for a kid like Adam who needs a little extra to grasp math. He'll be continuing with it through the end of the school year. Additionally, if Adam enters public school he'll have to take an "End of Course" exam for the Algebra he's done this year, if our curriculum didn't cover something or explained it differently this program is helpful for filling in those gaps and differences.

My oldest daughter started struggling with math in 3rd grade. She's now in college and still struggling. While it's a little late to send her back to 3rd grade math I wonder, if this program had been available when she needed it, if it would have helped her to understand and to gain some confidence in math. I'd certainly have tried it. Because math is a subject that builds on itself it's really tough on a child when they don't understand a concept(s) early on and get lost trying to build on a foundation that isn't there.

I see it as a benefit too for summer enrichment, either to fill in any gaps from the previous year or prepare for the upcoming school year.

As I mentioned earlier, I do think the parents area needs to add some more details so the parent can see what the student is doing each day and how they're doing each day.

A+ Interactive Math Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan is available now for $29.99 for one student for a 3-month subscription and just $10 for each additional child. Free resources and more information can be found here.

A+ Interactive Math Review

Friday, May 1, 2015

Suit Up, Ted

Yes, please.

How I Met Your Mother was the first series I watched straight through when we switched to a Roku box and Netflix. That Barney Stinson is a stylish man. Legendary.

How to Suit Up Like Barney Stinson
Courtesy of

I have a huge (seriously, bigger than huge) crush on Neil Patrick Harris. I stalk follow him on Instagram so I'm pretty sure he loves me. Oh, and he went to high school with my brother (or to another high school in Albuquerque at the same time my brother went to high school in Albuquerque),  pretty amazing, right?