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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Garden Fun

We have been very excited by our garden and how well it is growing. We are growing some things from seeds and bought plants for others. From seed we are growing; basil, summer squash, zucchini, green onions (scallions), radishes, cucumbers and green beans. We bought plants for: tomatoes (3 kinds), Red and Yellow Bell peppers,  watermelon and cantaloupe.

Everything is thriving except the watermelon and cantaloupe. Both of those plants have died. I have heard two theories about why. One was that they take a ton of water and two is that the soil is not sandy enough. I am not sure what I believe about why, but I told the kids we are not going to try them again we are going to plant something different. So I have decided to plant butternut squash. My grandmother assures me that butternut squash grows well around here. We bought the seeds at Wal-Mart this evening. I am going to soak them in water tonight and then plant them in the morning.

garden april 29 2013

It is getting quite a bit warmer now, so I am expecting the garden to grow quickly now. Most days are high 80’s  to lower 90’s. It has been extremely dry around this region, so I have been watering every morning. With this shape garden, it does not take much water.

Matt did his part by making me a cage to keep the birds and cats out. I get very upset when the neighbors cats come over and dig in my garden. But, that problem is solved now, thanks to Matt.


Monday, April 22, 2013

What’s for Dinner?

About 3:00 pm each and every afternoon comes the inevitable question: What’s for dinner, Mom? On my best weeks, I have a menu, have all ingredients for said menu and know exactly what is for dinner. Other weeks, well, not so much. It is a, let me check the refrigerator and pantry to see what I can pull together. And if it is a really bad night, with lots to do, it may just be Taco Bell.

But tonight was a good night. I pulled out pizza crust dough that I had in the freezer to thaw. I browned hamburger with onions. Then I rolled the crust out and par-baked it for about 10 minutes. I pulled it out and spread a can of petite diced tomatoes over the crust. I then put on the browned hamburger and onions, spread green chiles over the hamburger and sprinkled cheddar cheese over the top. I baked it for about another 10 minutes and Voila!

Green Chile Cheeseburger Pizza


It was a hit. All four kids and myself loved it. I am going to have to make it again soon, since it is  completely gone and Matt, who was at work, did not get any.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Review–Progeny Press

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Progeny Press specializes in literature study guides. They offer over 100 guides ranging from kindergarten to high school. The guides concentrate on critical thinking skills, comprehension, literary analysis, and Christian application. Progeny Press also offers “everything literature”. On their website you can find novels, study guides, and unabridged audio books.

The literature guides offered by Progeny Press teach well-written literature and help students develop and refine how they deal with man’s philosophies in relation to God’s Word. They equip students to understand writing and help enhance their reading enjoyment.

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Adventure! Danger! Treasure! these are just a few of the many reasons that Treasure Island is an enduring classic book. The Progeny Press study guide will help your student go in depth into the book, pulling out various themes and bringing greater understanding to the material.

ClarkClan Experiences

Ben, 11, is the one who reviewed the Progeny Press Treasure Island Study Guide.  He had been wanting to read Treasure Island and this was a good way to get him into it. I will say, this book is not for a struggling reader. The reading level that I gleaned from several places says this is about a 7th grade reading level.  Ben is an excellent reader and has been reading through the book, although it is taking more time than other books, due to the difference in language from 1883 and today. I downloaded onto his I-pod an audio version of Treasure Island, so he could listen and read along, but he has not done that. He said he prefers to just read the book and then will go back later and listen to it.  We found Treasure Island for Ben’s Kindle reader. One reason I had him read this on the Kindle was so he could quickly find the definition for any unfamiliar word, using the dictionary feature.

The Treasure Island Study Guide (either the CD or download format) is an interactive guide. This means that answers to the questions can be typed into the actual study guide. Then saved and printed out, if desired, or just graded on the computer. We did not use this feature. I printed the entire guide out, comb bound it, and Ben used this as a “workbook”. This was the best option for us as Ben was not tied to having to have a computer available to work on his Study Guide.

The first thing we did to start the study guide, was to read over the pre-reading activities and pick a few of the activities. We went over various coins, not in usage today. We looked at different types of ships and talked about how words change meaning over time.

Next, I had him take a couple days and read through Chapters 1-6. Then we picked up the study guide and worked through the Part 1 section. Ben did most of the work on his own, asking questions when he needed help. The first section is vocabulary, then there are comprehension questions, a Thinking About the Story section and finally a Digging Deeper. I let Ben take the study guide at his own pace, working on it for about 1/2 hour each day. When he finished Part 1, he then stopped and read chapters 7-12 for Part II and then completing the study guide.  This approach worked well for us so the amount of information and questions in the study guide did not overwhelm Ben. We have continued on in the same manner and plan to continue until the end of the book.


I would recommend the Progeny Press Study Guides to others who would like an in-depth guide to good literature. They are very academic, no fluff and a lot of thinking involved. Because I had reviewed a Progeny Press guide with my older daughter, Sarah along with one for Ben, I knew I liked them (you can read that review here). So, when I received  this review, I also bought a study guide for Rebekah, who is 9. She has been steadily working through the study guide for the book A Cricket in Times Square.This is a challenge for Rebekah, I think a good challenge, in that she can not just give quick one word answers, but has to process her thoughts to get them down on paper. This is hard for her, but we are taking it slow and she is getting it.

Many of the Schoolhouse Review Crew also reviewed literature study guides from Progeny Press. Visit the Crew Blog to read what they thought about their guides.



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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review–Knowledge Quest–Sacagawea

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Sacagawea by Karla Akins is from the Brave Explorers Every Child Should Know series. It is a fascinating look at the life of one of America’s most heroic women in history. Very well researched, Sacagawea shows the trials and triumphs of a woman living in a time so different from our own. We cannot imagine the hardships, trials, tribulations, as well as the joys that Sacagawea went through while on the trip with the Corps of Discovery, yet this book brings them to life.

Sacagawea begins with some background on Sacagawea and how she came to be a Shoshone slave living with the Hidatsa. It describes her early life, then the beginning of her marriage and finally the bulk of the book is about the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery trip and Sacagawea’s role during this important event in American History.

The book is 16 chapters and 112 pages long. It is available as an e-book with interactive links. These interactive links are truly amazing. There are hundreds of the links embedded throughout the text. When something unfamiliar comes up during reading, click on the blue word and it will take you to a web page with that information.  For example, in chapter 2 click on the word “fire stick” and you will be taken to a website that describes the gun and its uses and history.

We used the interactive links extensively, but we found out quickly that we needed to read the chapter, then go back through, clicking the highlighted words and reading and or looking at pictures . By reading the chapter first, we did not lose the flow of the chapter, yet could still find the information about many different, interesting topics. One word of warning ,these can become “addictive” and you can find yourself an hour later with the kids still clamoring for more.

We have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It brought back many, many memories for us as we spent five years in Montana. We would regularly visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, as well as other sites, such as the Portage around the Great Falls. Reading the book, we could talk about how we had seen a Hidatsa bull boat, we had pulled a rope representing how much force it took to portage around the Great Falls, we had seen a replica of the iron boat that did not work. We could remember pushing the buttons to see how many interpreters it took to speak to the Shoshone.

I would definitely recommend reading this book. We used this as a read aloud book to supplement our history program. It is  written at a level that about 3rd to (4th grade) could read on their own, if desired.

Visit the Crew Blog to read reviews from my Crew Mates about how they liked or disliked this book as well as the new app called Timeline Builder.



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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How Does My Garden Grow?

We are trying something new this year. A garden. Moving around, living in base housing or rentals is not conducive to having a garden. But now that Matt is retired and we are settled, we can have a garden.

I have decided the way I want to garden is by following a book called Square Foot Gardening. This involves building a square box and filling it with soil. Then section it off into squares and plant. The idea is that you do not need a lot of space to grow plants as well as little to no weeding.

So the first step would be to build the square container. Matt has been extremely busy at work, so he has not had the time to sit and figure out how to make it. But one day, I was telling Pastor what I wanted for my garden. Then he took Ben to buy supplies and the two of them built my garden box. It is perfect.


I have planted zucchini, yellow squash, radishes, onions, cilantro, and mint.  I am excited to see when and if the seeds come up. Rebekah helped  me plant the seeds and write the names of the seed on the sides of the garden.


So far, it has been four days since we have planted seeds. Nothing has come up yet, but I am checking . It is going to be exciting when something comes up.  I am sure Rebekah and I will have a blast looking over the results together.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review–Supercharged Science


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  • Supercharged Science
  • e-Science Online Learning Program
  • Designed and taught by Aurora Lipper
  • Age Range: K-12
  • K-8 pricing: $37/month
  • K-12 price; $57/month
  • Visit the Supercharged Science page to watch a video on getting started.

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About the Program

Supercharged Science is an online science program that can be used with all grade levels, from Kindergarten through Twelfth grade. It contains over 20 topics (study units) and over 1,000 activities, experiments, and projects. 

Supercharged Science is the creation of Aurora Lipper. Aurora is an accomplished Rocket Scientist. She received her Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cal-Poly State University and became one the youngest instructors in engineering  at Cal-Poly State University. She noticed that her students seemed bored with science. She decided to investigate why, and decided to create her own set of physical science lessons for younger kids. These lessons have grown into an entire K-12 science curriculum.

Supercharged Science is an “inside out” program. Experiments are encouraged before starting in on the more mundane reading pages. This catches your kids attention and gets them wanting to know more.

For each unit, parents  can download a PDF file containing lesson plans for that unit. These plans will tell you the approximate time the unit will take, which grade levels the experiments are suitable for, what materials are needed for the unit, vocabulary, experiments, activity pages and more. Also along with each unit are videos, many videos. These videos are of Aurora doing the experiments and talking you through each experiment and lesson. Supercharged Science covers both state standards as well as, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

ClarkClan Experiences

Ben and Rebekah have enjoyed their time using Supercharged Science. We start just where Aurora suggests, with watching the introductory video for the unit we are working on. This video includes not only information about the topic being studied, but also fun experiments to watch. Then, we dive in and begin doing these experiments.

I print off the information pages and supply lists for the unit we are studying and have that available as we begin working on the experiments. Then the second day of the unit we would read some of the information included.  The third day we would spend on more experiments and more reading. I tried to keep it fun and not get too bogged down in reading page after page of information. This approach worked well for us.

Ben and Rebekah seemed to really respond to the approach of experiments first, then reading about what they just observed. This is the opposite of how we usually approach science: read the information, then perform an experiment to see if what we read actually happens. By doing experiments first the kids usually ended up asking why something happened and then we could go and find the answer. Their curiosity was piqued and learning effortlessly followed.

Overwhelming is the word to use when you first log into the website. It is helpful to watch the introductory video where Aurora will explain how to use the site. Then just dive right in. You can go in order, or skip around. We used the skip around approach, so we could evaluate many different units.  (And thanks, Aurora , my kids still drive me crazy with “the world’s biggest parent annoyer” noisemaker.)

I think one of the neatest features of Supercharged Science, (besides Aurora, my kids loved her hair and enthusiasm), is that it is suitable for all grade levels, all at once. We reviewed the K-8 program. All your students of all levels can work on the same unit, at the same time. The younger ones will perform experiments and glean what they can from the reading or discussions. The older ones will be able to go more in depth the the information provided. If you have high school students, they will also have access to the K-8 program as well as the high school so they can go back and watch and maybe pick up on areas they didn’t learn or comprehend while younger.

We performed many experiments while reviewing this program. I found them to be non-complicated and fun. The materials needed were not hard to find. Since the materials list is included in the lesson plans, it is simple to print that page off and start collecting what is needed. We have two pizza boxes in our garage because Ben and Rebekah want to make the Solar Oven they saw in one of the videos.


We have greatly enjoyed our time reviewing Supercharged Science. Even my husband,when he asked what review I was writing, said, “Oh, that was a good program. The kids really enjoyed it.” He was able to participate in many experiments and see the kids excitement.

This program does involve a monthly subscription fee. For the K-8 program (what I reviewed) it is $37 a month. While this may seem a little high, it is worth the money for the information the program contains. Kids become excited about science and want to learn more.

Many of my Crew Mates also reviewed Supercharged Science. Visit the Crew Blog to read what they thought about the program.



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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review–Computer Science for Kids

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Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic is a self-paced tutorial course. It is designed to help teach students programming concepts using Microsoft Small Basic.  There are 13 chapters within this tutorial. The first ten are exactly the same as the first ten chapters of Beginning Microsoft Small Basic. The last three chapters deal with writing code for classic Computer Bible Games that students can program and play in Microsoft Small Basic.

This tutorial will teach students about program design, text window applications, graphics window applications and many other elements of Small Basic language. There are many visual examples included throughout the tutorial so the student knows exactly what to look for while writing their code.

ClarkClan Experiences

We used this program exclusively with Benjamin, who is 11. He was very, very, excited to be able to take a programming class. I think he was most excited that he got to work exclusively with Dad for this program.

So this review is my observations of watching my husband work with my son, using the Microsoft Small Basic program and the Computer Bible Games Tutorial.

They worked exclusively on my HP laptop computer while using on this program. My husband, Matt, started out by printing out the lessons and putting them in three ring binder. Then he and Ben sat down and started the first lesson. Because Ben is 11, Matt broke  each lesson into two sessions a week, each about an hour and a half to two hours long.  The first lesson consists of a short history behind computers and computer programming language. Matt and Ben had a great time discussing the history. Matt was able to bring his childhood into the lesson as he could tell Ben about using this computer or that one while growing up and helping his dad at the family store. The second day of lesson 1 involved downloading and installing Small Basic.

Each lesson went in about the same manner as the first. Matt and Ben would sit down at the table with the computer, open the binder with the printed tutorial, and start following the lesson. The lesson begins with an overview, then the meat of the lesson and finally a summary.

Matt and Ben were able to work through lesson 5 during the review period. Here are some  thoughts from Matt about the tutorial.

“This program was very well laid out and easy to implement. While I sat with Ben for each lesson, he was able to read and understand the lessons on his own. Being able to see on paper, exactly what Ben would see on the computer was the main reason Ben could be successful using the program.”

I, Mom, was impressed at how much Ben learned and used during this review. He must have been hungry for computer knowledge, because he talked about it during the week and even went back to the programs he wrote and used them again and again.

One of the programs he wrote was a savings calculator. I laugh every time I see Ben go to the computer, open up that program  and then come tell me how much money he will have in 6 months if he saves x number of dollars each month. 


I would recommend this program to anyone. I think it is a great program for both kids who know a little about computer programming and kids who do not even realize computers need a specific language to work (like my daughter). We will be continuing with this course until the end of the book as Ben was really enjoying himself and looking forward to learning more.

Many of my Schoolhouse Review Crew Mates also reviewed this program as well as Beginning Microsoft Small Basic. Visit the Crew Blog to read their reviews.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

New Sink

We bought our house last November. When we moved in, we knew we were going to need a new kitchen sink. The previous homeowner had totally ruined the sink. There were cigarette burns all around the edge, there was a crack at the top on one side. But the worst part of all was the finish on the bottom was completely ruined. It was rough, pitted and stained a blackish color.

Because of holidays, company, lots of sickness since November we have not had time or the money to replace the sink quickly as originally planned. But, this week was the week. Matt and I went to the home improvement store and picked out our new kitchen sink. I originally thought I wanted a granite composite sink. These look nice, but are a little expensive. So we looked back to the stainless aluminum. We found a sink we wanted, large single sink instead of a double. It was a whole sink “kit” which included the sink, the faucet and all hardware needed. By going this slightly cheaper route, we were able to buy a nicer disposal. I am totally amazed at how quiet the disposal is. Quite a change from the last one.

From This


To This!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter 2013

Easter is always a busy busy day for me. Being the church youth group leader means that I am in charge of the Easter Breakfast. I also play in the bell choir and sing in the vocal choir, both of which were performing on Easter. But despite running around like a chicken with my head cut off, it was a very nice Easter Sunday. The only thing that was missing was Matthew. He is visiting his fiancé and so was not here.

We had a very nice dinner with family and friends on Easter. It was the first holiday dinner we have been able to host in our new house. What a fun, relaxing time as all we did was eat and sit around and talk and laugh. The kids spent most of the day outside in the sunshine playing all sorts of games.


Aren’t We Sweet picture!






Let’s Be Silly picture!







Sarah almost 16, only 27 more days!









Benjamin at 11!









Rebekah at 9!