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Families Again
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Reading and Writing but not 'Rithmatic
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


You all know that we are big readers around our house. We read all of the time, and we read almost anything. Thankfully, because of the curriculum we use, John Allen reads a lot of living books. Living books are the books that are usually rich in morals and rich in history. Unfortunately we have not delved into many classics. Last year I had to review a book that suggested a lot of children's classics to read, and that helped a lot. I even began to read some of the great authors myself. Still, with all that we have to do with our regular studies, it's been hard to find time to read some of the classical literature that we should be reading.

Until, this year when we were chosen  to review Janice Campbell's Excellence in Literature English One: Introduction to Literature. Excellence in Literature is a fantastic program where you not only read the classics, but you learn HOW to read the classics. You also learn a better understanding of the classics by writing approach papers, literature summaries, author summaries, and other essays.

We received Excellence in Literature (EIL), English 1: Introduction to Literature and I have many likes and some dislikes regarding EIL. Let me take them one by one beginning with the likes:


I really like how this course is laid out. It is very easy to follow. Really, it's made for a student to do on his own. I haven't been brave enough to do this with John Allen yet, but soon I'll let him loose and just check up on his work as he completes assignments.

Each unit takes about a month (four weeks) do complete. What needs to be accomplished is laid out week by week, but it doesn't say what is to be done each day. This makes the student learn time management. He knows what must be accomplished during that week, so he must divide it into reasonable amounts to do each day. Of course, this is meant to be a high school course. If you chose to do this with an advanced middle school student, he may need some help with managing his time.



I really like the literature that John Allen is going to read this year. Unit One is all short stories including:

"A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett

“The Diamond Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant

“The Ransom of Red Chief” by O’Henry

“The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allen Poe

“A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber

The student is also required to read a short online biography of Sarah Orne Jewett. John Allen's favorites were "The White Heron" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". Such good literature!

For each unit there is also an honors option. For unit one the honors student was required to read short online biographies of each author as well as a second short story, of the student's choice, from each writer.

After unit one, things really get hopping! The students are then required to read good classical novels from great authors. Here's John Allen's list for English One:Introduction to Literature.

Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Honors: 1984 by George Orwell

Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

I read Jane Eyre a few years ago and, of course, I read Animal Farm. I just got done reading Treasure Island and I'm now reading Around the World in Eighty Days. I can't wait to discuss them with John Allen!


I really like the writing element that this course has. It's only going to make John Allen a better writer. He's already a good writer. More than once I've scolded him because I thought he had copied book reviews from the back of books, only to find out later that he had, indeed, written them himself.

The first approach paper that he wrote for Excellence in Literature English One: Introduction to Literature was no different. I thought he had copied it from someplace. I really need to learn! Of course he hadn't. In EIL the approach papers, summaries, comparisons, etc. will only make him even better. The author makes it so easy with plenty of examples in the back of the book, and recommendations on where a student can find even more help.

I'm not sure that he is looking forward to it, but I'm looking forward to what he is going to produce. He is already working on another writing course, and these compliment each other! It's going to be a lot of fun.

Un -

There are several things that I didn't like about this course. For instance...no, that was that math program last year...Oh! I know...no, that was that history book that I didn't like...Hmmm...I got it!...I knew there was somthing...I didn't like that...no, that was that bologna sandwich that gave me heartburn last night!

You know what? I can't think of anything! There is nothing I can find that I disliked. Nothing! Excellence in Literature English 1 is really an excellent course.

If you think that your student is more advanced then there are four other courses that you can choose from. Here's a complete list of all of the levels complete with links to the Excellence in Literature page for each.


  • English I: Introduction to Literature
  • English II: Literature and Composition
  • English III: American Literature
  • English IV: British Literature
  • English V: World Literature
  • Not only is it an excellent course, but it sells for an excellent price. Each level is only $29 + $4.95 shipping for the physical book, or $27 for the downloadable ebook that you can print out and put in a three ring binder. OR...you can purchase the entire five volume curriculum for $139 + shipping for a bound copy or $135 for the ebook version. For more information on Excellence in Literature just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Other TOS Homeschool Crew members tried other levels and you can find out what they had to say by clicking here.

    Happy Homeschooling!

    As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free downloadable ebook version of Excellence in Literature's English One: Introduction to Literature to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

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    Posted by tink38570 at 9:59 PM CDT
    Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2011 12:18 AM CDT
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    Monday, 31 October 2011
    Trunk or Treat 2012
    Mood:  silly
    Topic: Ministry

    I know that some folks don't agree completely with this, but our church tries to use Halloween as an outreach. Instead of sitting in our houses with the porch lights off and ignoring what's going on outside, we try to use it as an evangelistic time.

    I'm sure most of you have heard about "Trunk or Treating". Many churches do it now, and ours is no exception. We decorate our cars and sometimes we even dress up ouselves. Then,we park our cars in the church parking lot, open up our trunks and invite the kids from the community to come by to get candy.

    Of course we greet them and their parents with a smile and invite them to go to the food table for popcorn and hot chocolate, but the most important thing is the car at the end of the line. The car that everyone has to pass by. It's the car with the man that makes sure that every boy and girl gets a gospel tract that tells them about Jesus.

    Some will read the tract and think it's interesting, Many will throw it away without looking at it. But, there may be one or two that actually read it and trust Jesus as their Saviour because of it. Or, perhaps the seed will at least be planted for someone else to water. At any rate, if just one child or adult is led to the Lord because of that tract, then it will have all been worth it.

    I don't know the final count, but this year we were expecting over 700 to go through. Below are some pictures from the fun time we had this year. Please pray with us for all of the kids that received a tract.

    Our Crew With Some Friends


    Our Pastor and His Wife - The Clampetts


    Grandma Crayon - Another Trunk or Treat Host


    My Wife, Sarah's, Creative Carvings


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    Posted by tink38570 at 11:03 PM CDT
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    Sunday, 30 October 2011
    Baby It's Cold Outside!
    Mood:  chillin'
    Topic: General

    Brrr...it is cold outside. It's even cold here in the dear old south. I heard today that some places in NJ had 7 inches! My sister lives in NJ! BCM International just got done with their big 75th anniversary celebration in Lancaster, PA. A good friend of ours went. At last report there was 2 inches of snow with more coming down. It's not supposed to snow this time of year in PA! I know...I lived there for eleven years when I was growing up.

    So, in honor of my friends up north that just got snow...and in honor of all of us in the south that are just cold with no snow...I decided to post this video. I searched and searched for the best version, and this is the one that I liked the most. It still has the references to a drink and to a cigarette that I don't like but the video is done in a very clever way by two of my favorite old movie stars...Betty Garret and Red Skelton. Why don't they make movies like this anymore. What's happened to Hollywood? Anyway...enjoy!


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    Posted by tink38570 at 10:30 PM CDT
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    Saturday, 29 October 2011
    Just One Reason Why We Sponsor A Child With Compassion International
    Mood:  a-ok
    Topic: Compassion International

    This video from Compassion International caught my eye because it features a boy from Indonesia. Indonesia is where our Somi is from.

    Somi, like all of our Compassion kids, is very special to us. He, our third Compassion child, came to us on March 25, 2010. We sponsor six Compassion children from all around the world. One we financially sponsor and for five we are correspondence sponsors.

    A big part of Compassion International is the relationship that you have with your children. Compassion really encourages you to write to them. Some children, however, have sponsors that either can't write to them or don't want to write to them. That's where the correspondence sponsor comes in. Correspondence sponsors develop a relationship with their children just as if they were the regular sponsor. In fact, the children don't know any different. They think that the correspondence sponsor is their regular sponsor. That really doesn't bother Sarah and I because we have already vowed that if, for some reason, one of our children's regular sponsor couldn't afford to sponsor them anymore then we would take over the payments. We don't know how we would do it, we are already stretched to the limit, but we would do something.  

    Over the years that we have been sponsoring with Compassion International we have realized how important those special relationships are. I think you may get a glimpse of how critical it is through this video:

    Hopefully the above video gave you some idea of how important letter writing is to a Compassion child. If you would like more information on Compassion International, just click here or on any one of the links above. Please prayerfully consider it.

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    Posted by tink38570 at 10:35 PM CDT
    Updated: Saturday, 29 October 2011 10:37 PM CDT
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    Friday, 28 October 2011
    Big South Fork Scenic Railway - A Fantastic Field Trip!
    Mood:  happy
    Topic: Family

    October is always a special month and this October was no different. Something special is going on for three weekends in a row! A couple of weeks ago we had the great pleasure to take a ride on the Big South Fork Scenic Railway with some good friends. Words cannot express the fun that we had but, as they say, pictures say 1000 words. So, I'll let these pictures do the talking. We had great fun with family...

    with great friends...


    and with Grandma...

    We had fun traveling into tunnels...


    Over bridges...


    And through a lot of really great scenery...




    And we even learned some history...



    A great time was had by all on the Big South Fork Scenic Railway!

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    Posted by tink38570 at 4:44 PM CDT
    Updated: Friday, 28 October 2011 5:05 PM CDT
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