The crazy life of the ClarkClan. Living a life of grace through Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Too Much Technology?

     My husband loves technology. He has a laptop computer, that is about 4 years old and a smartphone that he has had about 8 months now. He also has a GPS unit and has had hand held PDA’s that his phone has now replaced.

       I used to leave all things technological to him. That has changed in recent years. Matt has dragged me into his love computers and gadgets. I have become the happy recipient of his love of technology. I have more gadgets than he does now. It started with him buying me a laptop about 4 years ago. He also bought me an I-pod Nano. I was quite happy with these two gadgets. I love my i-Pod, I use it almost on a daily basis. I love my laptop as well.  I have learned to use it well. I have also grown used to having a computer all my own.  The next gadget he gave me was a smart phone. That is way too much fun. I call it my mini-computer, that just happens to make phone calls.  Then, because I love to read, he bought me a NookColor. That little gadget is quite fun. And for Christmas what did I get, a new laptop computer. This came about because I had a computer crash in November and while it was able to be fully restored, the expert we took it to said it was on its way out. Wow is the new computer fun. Fast, easy to use.

     I use my technology daily. I e-mail. I blog. I Facebook.  I download and listen to podcasts on i-Tunes. My kids do a lot of school on the computer. They play games. They watch Latin videos. They type papers and e-mail them to me.

     All this technology has come with a price though. No, not necessarily a monetary price, although that is a consideration. The price that I am thinking of is that I have been dragged into knowing quite a bit about technology now. I used to go to Matt whenever I had a computer problem. Now, he just tells me to figure it out. If I am having trouble with my i-pod, he says he is “i-pod illiterate” and I have to fix it myself. When I have computer problems, he only advises me now, not take it and fix it for me like he used to. And now with my new computer, I have had to get it set up completely on my own. I have had to install all the virus protection, cleaners, and programs all on my own. I had to figure out how to put on a program, and then pull the information off of a separate drive he has set up for back ups, so I don’t lose any data. It has been fun, but challenging. I am stretching my brain and learning new things and even been able to help others along the way. There are times I want to throw up my hands and say to Matt, “Please just do it for me!” But I persevere, soldier on and learn to do it myself.

     But, I still wonder at times. Do I have too much technology?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The World’s Greatest Stories


     We received a wonderful CD to review. The World’s Greatest Stories CD is simply the Bible read word for word. The genius is in the reading. It is not just simply reading, but it is  dramatized by George W. Sarris. The dramatization is what makes this CD  engaging and entertaining.

     George W. Sarris is an accomplished actor, narrator and spokesman. He began telling Bible stories in 1985. He has performed many one-man shows since then. There are currently six volumes of Mr. Sarris’s The World’s Greatest Stories CDs.  We reviewed Volume 1 – The Prophets.

     We found the CD to be easy to listen to and understand. I loved that the stories were word for word re-telling's, nothing added nor taken away. What a great, easy to implement way of increasing Bible literacy.  We reviewed the NIV version, but a KJV version is also available. The CD’s sell for $7.95 each and are available at The World’s Greatest Stories website



     The available volumes include these chapters

  • Volume 1 – The Prophets with readings from Daniel chapters 3, 5, 6, 1 Kings 17-18, and The complete book of Jonah
  • Volume 2- The Life of Christ with The Real Story of Christmas, taken from the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus, from Matthew 3-4. The Healing of the Blind Man from John 9-10, Things Jesus said and did from Luke 18-19, and The Real Story of Easter from John 18-20.
  • Volume 3 – Beginnings with In the Beginning from Genesis 1-4.  A Lame man in Lystra from Acts 14. A Jailer in Philippi from Acts 16. The complete book of Ruth. The Raising of Lazarus from John 11-12.
  • Voume 4 – Joshua and Esther  This includes the Battle of Jericho from Joshua 1-6 and The complete book of Esther.
  • Volume 5 –Joseph and his Brothers. This volume comes from the book of Genesis chapters 37-50
  • Volume 6 – Defeating Giants. This is David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17. Naaman the Leper from II Kings 5. Micaiah the Prophet and Jehoshaphat the King from II Chronicles 18-20. The Sacrifice of Isaac from Genesis 21-22 and finally Gideon and His 300 men from Judges 6-8.

     I think the best way to sum up what we thought of The World’s Greatest Stories CDs is to write a quote from Ben the first time he popped the CD in and listened. When it was over, I asked him how he liked it. He replied, “ It was very good, I listened to it all and wished there was more.”


     I was not the only one to review The World’s Greatest Stories.  Visit the Crew Blog to read what my Crew Mates thought of this CD.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received The World’s Greatest Stories, volume 1 CD for free , in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I See Cards --Fractazmic


The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Learning Fractions!



     Fractazmic makes learning fractions and equivalent fractions fun.It is designed for 1st through 8th grades, but is fun for all ages.  I was skeptical the first time we played it, but thanks to the cute little pictures on the cards, found that the game was easy to learn to play. While it may have been easy to learn , it was challenging enough to be fun to play. Sarah (14) and Ben (10) and I (mom) were the ones who played the game the most. The more we played, the better we got at looking at the fraction numbers and not having to rely on the pictures quite so much.  My kids found that this made a great game to play during lunch or snack time.

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     Each “suit” on the cards is based on a different fraction. There are the Sixteenth’s suit (red in color) a Twelfth’s suit (blue in color) and a Tenth’s suit (green) in color.  Within each colored suit, the cards can be combined multiple ways to make a “hand” equaling 1.  Our family had a great time playing this game, and you can be sure that when someone announced they had made a “whole”, their cards were thoroughly checked out to make sure they didn’t miss count.

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     The ClarkClan evaluation is that this is a cute, simple to learn, fun educational game. The same company that produces the Fractazmic Cards also produces other card games. Pyramath is an award winning math game using all the basic concepts: add, subtract, multiply and divide, in a comprehensive, interactive game. Prime Bomb is another math related game reinforcing, prime, multiplication and factoring.

     Visit to read more about the game and be able to order it. The game is $6.95 for the 60 card deck. To get a feel for the game you can play a speed version of the game at Fractazmic speed version. Playing online also gives you a chance to win a free deck.

     Visit the Crew Blog to be able to read what my Crew Mates thought of this game. Check out to see if they enjoyed playing as much as we did.


As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received Fractazmic game for free  from I See Cards, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beautiful Desert Morning

Today was a beautiful, cold, morning across the desert. The snow from yesterday was mostly melted, but the temperature was about 22 degrees.  During my walk this morning, I reached the point where you look out across the Tularosa Basin to the Organ Mountains. The sun just touching the mountains and turning them beautiful shades of purple was gorgeous. The picture, which was taken by my phone, does not quite do the scene justice.


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pitsco Education



Medieval Machines Pack

  • Trebuchet Kit
  • Catapult Kit
  • Mass Plates
  • Siege Machines book
  • $21.95
  • Age Range: Intermediate-Middle School
  • Available from Pitsco Education

Product Description (from Pitsco Website)

From The Lord of the Rings to Night at the Museum, we are fascinated by these medieval devices. Now, use that interest to teach basic math, science, and problem-solving skills. With this pack, your child learns about catapults and trebuchets through hands-on activities that cover three areas:

  • Science: Tension versus torsion, elasticity, gravity and levers, and force and motion
  • Math: Metric conversion, calculating averages, and prediction
  • Experiments: Mass versus distance, testing rubber bands, targeting, and more

They will discover the history of medieval siege machines as well as the concepts required to build and use them.


ClarkClan Product Thoughts

      Each of these siege machines are made of basswood sheets with laser cut parts. You punch the pieces out and then glue them together according to the instructions. The instructions written step by step with pictures for clarity. These were not difficult to put together, but they were not easy either. Matthew (18) and Sarah  (14) put together the catapult. Dad, Sarah, and Ben (10) put together the trebuchet. With the catapult the only real difficulty came when Matthew snapped the top of the trigger. This was fixed with a little super glue and has not seemed to affect the performance.  Dad and Sarah had a little trouble with one part of the trebuchet, but a step back and re-reading of the instructions made things clear.


      The real fun came when we used the siege machines! Sarah, Ben and Rebekah (8) all had fun when we tested the machines. First, we read the history in the Siege Machines  book. Then we launched into the experiments. One day we tested the catapult and the next we tested the trebuchet. The Siege Machines book has well laid out experiments.


      Our first experiment with the catapult was Mass vs. Distance. We weighed out three balls of clay, each with a different mass. Then we launched each ball three times and recorded the distances. Then we had to convert our English measurements into Metric measurements. The next experiment had us calculating and graphing averages. We also tested different rubber band sizes, as well as the temperature of the rubber bands.

     With the trebuchet we practiced prediction skills. We tested our ability to predict outcomes by trying to hit a target. We were able to talk about Newton’s third law of motion and transfer of energy.


     Each experiment was easy to accomplish and I appreciated the charts and graphs included in the book to fill out as a record of what they did. My kids discovered that the catapult was more accurate than the trebuchet. The trebuchet was finicky and had to be set up just so to be able to fire properly.

     Along with the experiments provided, my kids had a lot of fun experimenting on their own. Even though the safety instructions say to only use clay, my kids ended up trying Lego men. Then they got out our blocks and built castles to see what they could knock over with a ball of clay. I have seen them spend hours on the floor with these little machines, trying first one way then another.


     This was a winner with our family. I liked the well thought out, easy to accomplish experiments. Then I liked that the machines have been sturdy enough to have the kids play with them and try their own ideas. 

     Pitsco Education offers a wide variety of  learning activities.  Visit their website to find experiments in aerospace, dragsters and race cars, engineering, robotics, structures and many topics.


There were many other Crew Members who tested out the Siege Machines along with us. Visit the Crew Blog and read what they thought about these little medieval weapons.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the Medieval Machines pack for free  from Pitsco Education, in exchange for my honest review of their product.