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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Meal Favorite

One of my favorite summer meals is a summer squash, Italian sausage one pan meal. I served it over brown rice, but think that Quinoa would be good as well. or even whole grain pasta. I made a huge pan of this tonight so that there could be leftovers for lunches.

Italian Sausage Summer Squash Meal

5 links Italian Sausage (I always use Hot Italian Sausage)

2 large onions, diced

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

3 medium zucchini, diced

3 medium yellow squash, diced

2 (14oz)cans diced tomatoes (fresh would be good, but mine are not ready yet)

basil (to taste)

salt (to taste)

Brown the Italian Sausage links. Take them out of the pan and slice into 1/4 inch or so slices. Put slices back in the pan to finish browning and cook through. Take Sausage out of the pan and put aside. Drain grease. Put onions and garlic in the same pan and cook until onions are soft. Add Sausage, zucchini, yellow squash, and diced tomatoes. Season, to taste, with basil and salt. Cook for about 20 minutes until squash is soft. Serve over rice, Quinoa, or noodles.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review–The Adventures of Lily Lapp

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The Adventures of Lily Lapp is a fiction book series written for kids ages 8 and up.Published  by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group,  each book follows the adventures of Lily Lapp, a five year old Amish girl. Written by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher, these books show how the Amish live without having many modern conveniences.

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Life with Lily

Lily Lapp is a five year old Amish girl living in New York state. Every day finds Lily caught up in a new adventure. She helps her mother and father around the house and farm. School is a very exciting adventure for Lily. She loves everything about it, until there is a teacher change.Follow Lily as she helps her mother sell baked goods door to door. Lily tries so hard to be good, kind, and helpful, but it seems that her friend comes along and gets her into trouble. 

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A New Home for Lily

Lily has moved away from New York with her family to a new home in Pennsylvania. It is a scary move that Lily does not want to make. Making new friends and learning the rules for her new community take up a lot of Lily’s time.  When Mama has a new baby, Lily is old enough to be a big help, if only her parents would realize it.

ClarkClan Thoughts

We enjoyed the books we read in this series. Lily is a believable, lovable, and fun character.. Rebekah would take about 30 minutes to read one chapter. She really preferred that I read this book out loud to her. It was a fun book to read out loud and laugh together. It also provided a great introduction to the Amish way of life.

I, mom, really liked the fact that Lily was a girl who wanted to do the right thing, but kept getting into trouble. It made the character very believable and fun to read. I felt sad for Lily when her friends would get her into trouble. While this book is aimed at children, I enjoyed it just as much, if not more than Rebekah did. Reading about the Amish way of life from a child’s perspective is different.

Many of my Schoolhouse Review Crew members also reviewed these books. Click on the banner to read more reviews and see what others thought of the book.



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Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I have recently been very conscience of trying to eat healthier. I decided to continue my “small steps” way of making changes. I like to think that I have tried to eat fairly healthy. But I knew I was eating too many sweets and drinking too many sodas.  It is not easy for me to change the way I eat.

I have read many diet/health books, but with this new way of eating I began reading new ones.  I have read books that have helped to strengthen my resolve to eat better. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan was an excellent read. I liked his philosophy of: Eat food, Not too much, mostly plants. Along with In Defense of Food, I also read Food Rules and Cooked.  Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal by Melanie Warner  was interesting and made me think twice about buying and eating many different packaged food, especially cereal. . One diet book that I did not particularly care for was The Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin.

So my small change for eating healthier boils down to: eating whole, non-processed foods without being too fanatical about it. So I tell my kids we are going to eat about 80% of our food fresh, non-processed and 20% can be other stuff.  I promised my kids, and  husband, that I would not turn them into vegetarians, we would eat meat, just not as much. I do laugh though at how many meatless meals I already make and they just eat and never complain.

This small change is going well. I like that we are eating food, real food. It sometimes takes just a little more planning ahead than I am used to, but I am figuring it all out without too much hassle.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review–Memoria Press

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About the Company

Memoria Press is a family run company that was founded in 1994. They produce products for grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. All their products use a classical Christian education approach. Memoria Press strives to make all their products easy to use for families who are not familiar with the subject matter. An area that Memoria Press prides itself on is the price of their programs. They are designed to be affordable and not a drain on the bank account.

About the Product

Geography I covers The Middle East, North Africa and Europe.  This comprises the area that was ancient Rome. Explore the historical context of each region alongside the present day look at the region. Bringing both the past and the present together creates a deeper understanding of the ancient lands of the Greeks and Romans.

The Geography I set also includes The United States, States and Capitals Review. This workbook is designed to be used as a review to help with retention. It is also written so that students who have not learned states and capitals will not be at a disadvantage, but will learn them with this book.

ClarkClan Thoughts

I used this product with both Ben and Rebekah. We received one full Geography I set to review. When I looked through the book, I knew it would be a product that fits our learning style, so I immediately ordered a second workbook set. I think Memoria Press has met its goal with the pricing  of their products. With the second workbook set only $11.95 for the Workbook and $5.00 for the United States workbook it was not a hard ship to order the second set. I did not order the Student Text as I figured they could share.

We would work on this three times a week. I would sit together with Ben and Rebekah and we would take turns reading the student text out loud. Then we would open the workbooks, go over the questions, then I would have them sit at the table and work independently to write down the answers.

This is a straightforward, no fluff text and workbook. We like that in our schoolwork. Ben especially likes to get the information, get to work and be done. This Geography Set is perfect for that style. Each chapter of the text focuses on one country. Each country is laid out in the same manner. The first part is History’s Headlines, focusing on the past. Then the Tour of Today brings the focus of the country into the present. A chart of fast facts completes the reading of each chapter. A map shows the country and geographical features.

When Ben and Rebekah would work in the workbook, I would have already gone over answers with them. Then I expected them to fill out the workbook and label the map. I would then check their work for them.

I would use the Teacher Guide to grade the workbook pages, as well as run copies for the Quizzes and tests.  I used the Teacher Guide for The United States review books in the same manner.

ClarkClan Recommendation

My children and I enjoyed using these workbooks. As I stated earlier it suited our style of learning. I would recommend this curriculum to families who like workbook style learning. It is not a hands on curriculum, but  we found it to be very informative and easy to use. I really liked that a study of The Middle East, North Africa, and Europe also included review on the United States and Capitals. I do not think I would have bought a separate book to review this if it had not come as part of the set. But, I was very happy to have it as the review was great for my kids.

As a full service curriculum company, Memoria Press offers many different products. I reviewed their Geography I set, but other Crew Mates reviewed their Prima Latina program. Visit the Crew Blog to read  the opinions of the Geography and Latin programs.



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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Taking a Break

It seems that my life runs at at the speed of light. Most of the time I do not mind, but every now and then I get overwhelmed. I get up early, exercise, get kids up, water the garden, feed the dogs, pick up backyard dog stuff, make sure kids get chores done, plan dinner, get some summer school work in, take kids swimming, cook dinner, play softball among other things.

This week, on Monday, I came home from exercise, took Matt to work, came back home and realized. . . I had nothing scheduled. I organized the kids to clean house and then I took the time to read a book.

I love to read, but I have been so busy I have not had time to think about reading anything other than non-fiction. It seems that non-fiction I can read in snatches and put down with ease, but fiction I like to read all the way through. I am a fast reader and usually can finish a book in a few hours.

It was nice and I realized that I should take that “break” a little more often. It may not be reading I need, but I should take some time to do things I like that does not involve my regular, everyday routine. My list includes reading, sewing and learning to use the digital scrapbooking program I bought. I am going to try hard to make sure I take a little bit of a time-out for myself.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Family Rules

Every family has a different set of “rules” that govern them. With the ages of my kids now, some of our family rules are so set in stone that they are often not mentioned any more, because there is no need. But since my kids cousins have been  back, suddenly I am confronted with what to do when they break one of my rules. Do I ignore the behavior? Do I punish? Do I state my rule and explain why I would like that behavior to stop?

Well, the third choice is what I go with. The one rule that my niece and nephews are learning around Aunt Jill is: No Physical Violence. This means no hitting or pushing your sibling when you are annoyed with him or her. The first time it happened I saw it and announced that I had a rule, a no physical violence, rule.  It does not happen often, but I have had to remind them of my rule. This is all it takes and they apologize and continue playing.

I actually have this rule for any kids that come into my home or are under my care/supervision for one reason or another. The kids in my youth group I help lead all can recite in unison, “No Physical Violence” The hitting has drastically decreased since I started.

Simple, easy to remember and easy to enforce. That seems to be my kind of rule.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Driving Lessons

We are embarking, for the second time, on a journey to teach a teenager how to drive. Matthew is 20, he took drivers education when he was 15 and received his license 9 months later. I remember thinking it was “strangely weird, and weirdly strange” the first time I climbed into the passenger seat while my son was in the driver’s seat.

But, now it is Sarah’s turn. She is a little older than Matthew was when he started. She took Driver’s Education when she was 15, has her learner’s permit and drove about 3 times. Then we got busy, and every time I asked her to drive she said, “No”. Now here is is a year later and she is now 16. Her driving skills are better after waiting a year, but more importantly her maturity level is higher. She does not mind the instruction I give while she is driving this year.

The goal is to complete as much as we can of her required 60 hours this summer. I have a log in the car and the plan is that she is to drive everywhere we go, unless we have other kids in the car. Because Matthew is moving out, getting married and generally not going to be home, I am losing my extra driver. So Sarah is going to have to get her license to pick up the slack.

I sure hope my hair does not turn any grayer than what it is already.I may have to break down and do something I have never done before: Color it.

Review–See the Light

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  • See the Light Art Projects
  • Paper Jungle – In the style of Henri Rousseau
  • Designed for ages 10+
  • Lessons taught by Master Artist Pat Knepley
  • $14.99 per DVD or all 9 Art Projects DVD’s for $99.99

About the Product

See the Light is a company that is dedicated to bringing Biblical principles and scripture to students. They employ a variety of techniques, the foremost being art instruction. Using different specialty artists and musicians, they are able to engage students while teaching art skills.

We reviewed one of See the Light’s DVD’s from their Art Projects series. We were able to review Paper Jungle, In the style of Henri Rousseau. In four step-by-step lessons students produce their own masterpiece following the instruction of Master Artist Pat Knepley.

Paper Jungle takes one of Henri Rousseau'ss paintings and helps kids translate the painting into a collage. The DVD contains four lessons each approximately one and a half hours long. Art instruction is woven together with Art History and Biblical truths during each lesson.

The four lessons of Paper Jungle are: 1.) Background: Cutting Trees 2.) Foreground: Grass and Leaf Shapes 3.) Focal Points: Flora and Fauna 4.) The Final Step: Overlapping and Gluing

ClarkClan Experiences

Paper Jungle is geared towards kids ages 10 and up. I used this with Ben, who is 11, and Rebekah, who is 9 (10 next month). I found that both kids could complete the lessons with Rebekah needing just a little bit more of me sitting beside her talking her through various techniques.


Because this is a DVD, we would watch the first segment, then pause to do the work, then watch the next segment, and stop to work and so on  until the lesson was over. Occasionally we would need to go back and re-watch a part. Our television set is in our living room, so I would set up tray tables for the kids to sit and work. The recommended pace for this DVD is one lesson per week. I used it a little differently.


The way we used the DVD was one lesson a day for an entire week. This worked well for us as a special school week. Instead of their usual morning assignments, we would work on the Paper Jungle DVD. The materials needed were easy to assemble. I liked that the list of supplies needed is included in multiple places, on the website and the back of the DVD.  This made it easy to get the supplies before we started.


I liked listening to the chatter of my children as they were gluing their collage. Ben said, “Did you notice my falling leaves?” And, “Look, I made my tiger small and my banana’s large, just like the scale Henri Rosseau used.” Rebekah kept pointing out her details. “I put my sun behind the branches.” “My horse has a long neck, but I like him that way.”


Ben’s favorite elements in his picture were the moon and the tiger. He said he had to re-do his tiger three times before he had one he liked. Rebekah’s favorite element was her sun behind the tree.

The only problem that we ran into was that Rebekah would get frustrated that her drawing would not match the one on the DVD.  We solved this problem by me sitting nearby while Ben and Rebekah worked and I could easily help when needed. Rebekah thought she needed to make it look exactly like the one on the video. When I explained that she did not have to copy Pat Knepley’s work exactly, she became more relaxed and had fun with the project.


I would recommend this DVD and the whole Art Project DVD set to other parents. We enjoyed the lessons and for me, the best part of all was watching my children enjoy their art and be extremely proud of their finished products.

My Crewmates from the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew were able to review many of the See the Light art DVD’s. Visit the Crew Blog to read what they have to say about their products.


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Monday, June 3, 2013


I am one of the two leaders of our church’s youth group. Just like almost all groups, we have to raise funds for trips, snacks, supplies and various other things. Trying to come up with creative ideas is hard.

One idea that my mom came up with while she was leading has become a standard. It started out as a youth “slave” work day. People from the congregation would sign up, the youth would go do whatever work they asked. While this worked, okay, it needed a lot of adult help as some jobs were literally too much for the ages of the kids we had. But one job that was requested by multiple people was window washing.

Window washing has become a twice a year fundraiser that people look forward to and start asking weeks ahead of the time we have planned. We simply take a bucket, white vinegar, rags and squeegee. We also take a small shop vac to help clean screens and window tracks.

This event has become both a fundraiser and a service. It is a fundraiser in that we get paid whatever the person would like to pay us. But, it is also a service to help the older members of our congregation get their windows washed when they cannot do it themselvese.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Nutmeg Update–6 months


Nutmeg, my birthday puppy, is now 6 months old. She has been so much fun! She is a happy, friendly little dog with a tail that never stops wagging. Due to her mixed breed nature of rat terrier/yorkie, she is a little scruffy looking, but we think that just makes her cute.

Nutmeg is about 7 pounds now. I think she is about her full grown size. I have heard from multiple sources that 6 months is about when a small dog stops growing.  She loves to eat and she also then loves to be in the kitchen when I am cooking. She was spayed about a month ago and has an S tattooed on her belly. This is just in case she gets lost and Animal Control will know automatically she has been spayed.

Chasing a ball is one of Nutmeg’s favorite activities. The other seems to be cleaning Loki’s teeth. Loki is much bigger than Nutmeg, about 48 pounds, but she stands on her hind legs and licks inside his mouth. She also likes to be outside and run and play and sniff and dig. She is also a cuddly dog. She will run and play, then climb up onto your lap so you can cuddle with her.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy

This past week was a busy week. It seemed like I had not time to even sit down, except for driving to El Paso and home on Wed. I was on the go from the time I got up in the morning until I went to bed.

Monday was Memorial Day. Sarah and I went and helped the VFW put flags out at the cemetery at 6:00am. Then I took her and a friend to breakfast. In the afternoon the kids performed in a music recital that the piano teacher put on. After the recital we ent to her house for a barbeque and swimming. Then Matt and I went to the VFW for our usual Monday night karaoke. (Well, my usual karaoke, Matt does not sing, he is a groupie.)

Tuesday I got up, walked then ended up helping find someone a ride to Las Cruces. I had a friend’s two kids in to play with Ben and Rebekah. I took the youth group to wash windows for their fundraiser. I then took kids to youth group, came home and let the two younger ones run through the sprinklers. I made dinner and then went to play softball, a double header.

Wednesday was a fun day. I had set a trip up to go to the zoo. I had about 27 adults and kids meet at the El Paso Zoo for a day out. We had so much fun.

Thursday I tried something new and went to water aerobics. What a great way to exercise while having tons of fun. Then I went to the commissary. I came home and had to do my usual job of scrubbing floors for a lady from church. Then I cooked dinner and went to a softball game, only one this time.

Friday I walked in the morning, took Matt to work, went to Wal-Mart. I came home and put soup in the crockpot, then I took the kids swimming, came home at the soup in the crock pot and crashed. I was in bed, sound asleep by 8:30pm. I seem to have caught a head cold and so I really needed the sleep.

Saturday, today, whew what a day. I took youth group kids to wash windows for their fundraiser, two houses today. Then Matt called to say he forgot to tell me about the fire department family day cookout. So we went to the fire department for lunch. After that we attended a fun birthday party for our favorite four year old. Then Matt and I ended the evening with dinner out with friends.

I am hoping next week is not quite as busy, although I am afraid it might be. I am still taking kids to wash windows. My sister is moving back and will be here on Wed. Who knows what else will crop up. But that is our crazy life, it never stops, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.