Sunday, 20 January 2008 05:00

    Open Source Queen, I Am, I Am

    As you have probably noticed, I have listed a few open source programs as resources.  I have to say that I absolutely love perusing the absolutely gigantic open source program listing on SourceForge.  It would take forever and ever to look at each program.  You can’t really do that easily since it is such a massive database of open source projects.  I go on there every now and then to look for this or that, and I can usually find some gems.  Today is no different.  I hope you enjoy these two as much as I have.  Anytime that I take the description from the website in question, I italicize the text.


    Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.  Just set your coordinates and go.
    It is absolutely beautiful and easy to navigate.  If you are having problems, they have a forum and some great user’s guide.  It’s a pretty hefty size if you are downloading with a dial-up connection.  This will be great when we start working on Astronomy.   I cannot say enough about it.  You can overlay the drawings of the constellations, the names of the constellation, the art of the constellations, names and locations of nebula.  You can search for a particular system.  It goes on and on.


    FreeMind is mind-mapping software.  These are great for you and your students to organize thoughts for essays, papers, homework, working out problems, planning projects, etc.   This little program is just as good as any mind-mapping software out there, and best of all, it’s free.  One thing I really liked about the program is the ability to change the appearance of the interface.   I know, that’s a bit trivial, but that’s how I am.  I played with it a little bit, and it seems very intuitive to use.  I think it is a definite must-have for any homeschool.
    Thursday, 03 January 2008 05:00

    Happy 10th Day of Christmas!

    I haven’t been very good at updating my blog very often.  I fully meant to write something earlier this week, or at least yesterday, but I was busy creating new templates for Ariclegomaniac and AriannaJoy.  I really like the way that Arianna’s template turned out, but there are some glitches with Aric’s.  It only looks good in Firefox.  I need to tweak it to look good in Internet Explorer.  I probably have a mislaid tag somewhere.  Easy to do when you are trying to alter an existing template.  I made Arianna’s from scratch, and then added the blog tags to it.  Works much better that way!  So, if you have a chance, go by and check out their blogs.  Maybe if you left them some comments they may decide to actually blogin it!

    So, how did I celebrate the 10th day of Christmas?  Well, I went to work while the rest of my family slept for most of the morning.  Not exactly fun, but we are very thankful that I have this job, so I won’t complain.  Just between you and me, I would have liked to sleep in this morning rather than brave the cold air.

    I have been listening to the audiobook of Stephen Lawhead’s Paradise War from the Song of Albion trilogy on the way to work and back.  It seems the only way I can get my literature in these days.  It’s a bit hard to get into, but now I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  If you like Celtic lore and fantasy (which my husband and I do), you would really like this.  It has some similar veins to C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy.  He also wrote The Pendragon Cycle which is about the Talieson, Merlin, and King Arthur, with a Celtic twist which would be more in line with the time period.  He has a new series, Raven trilogy, out with Hood and Scarlet so far.  I haven’t read them yet, but we’ve bought the audio books from Audible, and I hope to get to them as soon as I finish the Song of Albion trilogy.

    Well, I suppose that’s enough rambling for now.  Have a great evening (or day, depending on when you read it)!

    Saturday, 29 December 2007 05:00

    PDF Creator

    Today’s free homeschool resource is PDF Creator.  PDFCreator is tool to create PDF files from nearly any Windows application.  Use it in any program you can print from.  It is particularly useful for creating  electronic homeschool reports to be emailed or stored on CD. 

    Have you designed something in Word and want to send it someone and keep the formatting you used?  For instance, you recently downloaded a cool font and created something with it.  Odds are that others don’t have that font.  Print it to PDF!

    Friday, 28 December 2007 05:00

    Happy 4th Day of Christmas!

    Well, this has been another interesting Christmas at the Entmoot Academy.  Usually I get sick at Christmas.  Normally it is bronchitis—this year it was my lower back.  I could barely walk on Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t straighten myself out.  Christmas Day was a bit worse, but now I am finally getting more mobile in an upright position.  This has really limited some of the things I normally do at Christmas.

    My cinnamon dough ornaments have still not been completed.  They sit forlornly on the cookie sheet we baked them on.  I have a spray can of polyurethane to spray them with, but that hasn’t been done yet.  We obviously cannot give them out for Christmas gifts, but we could at least put them on the tree.  Maybe I will feel up to it today.  Who knows!

    We had Gregg’s mom, sister and her family here for Christmas Day.  His uncle and my mom were sick, so they couldn’t join us.  We had a good time anyway.  The kids received some great gifts that they really liked.  Since I wasn’t very mobile, I got to sit back and watch everyone else do all the work.  Gregg brought me my plate of goodies.  It was rather nice to tell you the truth.  Arianna and Gregg did a great job getting things set up.  Aric and Arianna did a great job of cleaning up afterwards.

    I downloaded the audiobook A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (read by Jim Dale) on Christmas day from Audible.  We listened to some of it, but haven’t finished.  We keep getting involved in other activities.  Jim Dale is a master storyteller, and does a great job at the different voices.  However, if you have ever listened to him read Harry Potter and the . . . . , you will notice that he uses the same voices, so I always expect to hear Sirius Black or Voldemort enter into the conversation.  It is still very enjoyable.

    Aneira turned SIX the day after Christmas.  We went over to my mom’s house to have the little party.  Since we didn’t see her on Christmas Day, we exchanged gifts before the guests arrived.   Once the guests arrived, Aneira opened up her birthday gifts, and boy did she rake in the goodies!  We gave her mostly Disney Princess stuff.  Grandma gave her a Shining Stars kitty cat where you get to name a star.  We named a star in the Andromeda constellation—Aneira.  We picked that constellation because it means princess.  All in all she had a pretty good birthday.

    On a final note, I found this incredible program that turns pictures into ASCII format.  It is licensed under the GNU General Public LicenseIt’s called Ascii Generator dotNET.  With this program you can turn a picture into ASCII format.  It is so cool.  I’ve been playing with it for a couple of hours, and made several creations.  Here is one of them:


                                     , ,,,,.. PDfPPXt0
                                    , , ,,,,, D9h1XpS9
                                     , ,,…. FRUP9pSE
                                    ,,,,,,,.. hEphpXS0
                                  .,, ,.,….,LQtPE9hb
                       , .,   ::79i  ,…….,tQ2PbEpD
                 ,..:i7 ,  .j :, ..7i   .:…,UQX000b0
              ,RQQ910X,r.,r7Y: j h :f2r   ::.,JQ1bEEpZ
            iJ,  ,i7:   .,irir 7 :. J:iXc  .i,LQ90bb00
         ,cr.        , i   i:JJ,:.9,1j2RZP.  .cQp90RpM
        , 7J    i:. .::rrY rbjM S,X:r0r:PRRr .:QQbZDDZ
        .,,i : .,,:YM rch9S :J P,.7: rici :hLr: JQQD0R
         . Xi.r.:,.Z2 P1cLpM.t .EQp9QDQQ7t,,,i:7,.QQ0Z
                 PQQQ:2ZR0RJi.rF70RJ..: :7triJ:.S7 QQM
                         ,.   ,iP,.jfJrf7::2QPXtr1j,QQ
                .::7SX9P12c:        ,.,
           r   ..:i:ir7LJchZRES7:         :J.RR0QQQY,Q
           7  , ,::7LjLL77rLYjj9Ej :    ,,  L.U9hr.iQQ
            . .,,.:::.:irLL7cJYLYF: 7.,.   :r,.: rZQQM
              .7r .   ..7Y7r.:.:ri7. ::..i:,:7:QQQQQZR
              .rYL77iLr.Y2SLr.L  .rjbE:,..t,.::QQDQRRQ
          ,,  .77YLJUYrirFt2Xf7tJhP9XS ,,.iU ::QQMRRQQ
          ,r:  77YUYtLi:UpSLSPbXXfh2P:,::..f.:iRMQQRQR
           ,   ir7c2tj,.2DJ7LfFX1P29U,:iU.,rL.7J7cQQMQ
                 :.::..7LLJhjr7L7tj, ,ij.:.r.::rrLJrEQ
                  :.r:.,..,.ir::r. ,::i,r.i..::r7cJtrR
                .,ir.:rcL77Lr:::, …c.r,…:.:jrLJ90j
              .:.:iLFi:irr7r7Lhrir ,:.,     ..ijL77hQ2
              .c.:::70SfJjtb9F1FLLr,     , , ,:Jtc71PM
               ,LrrcLj12tYJLYJcrri  ,,, .,,,.,  7JYLh9
                  rffPhP2P9b9hUpJ,  ,,,,.,,.., :r77LSD
             i1 :      ,:,.::ri:  ,,.,, ,,.,  if.r:iiU
           r0hLQr77::r , :,.         , .,,  .bf2::.rSX
    i79.:7,fYb7.fDf7Qc:rJQ2i.,M:h.        iRQQRQX9LiZD
    ip.  . 7:L0.:7t9Q.FRY7 . fihDQZQU771rQQQRRZQ7Qr,tb
    :L  . rii:DL. rQt7f7QZLQc9iEQDQQrbJQYQQRQbQMch:RLQ

    Here is the picture it was made from:

    Sunday, 16 December 2007 05:00

    Stained "Glass" Ornaments

    The past three years we have made what we call Stained "Glass" Ornaments.  They are not glass at all.

    First we design the ornaments using a print or graphic program.  We start with a circle, and then put our design inside.  The simpler the design the better.  You can use a different shape than circle, but those seem to be easiest for us.  I prefer to use Celtic knotwork or imagery inside of mine.  Here is a generic one we made last year.

    Celtic Knotwork

    Then we print it on inkjet transparencies in black using mirror-image setting.  Be sure to set the paper setting to transparency, otherwise it won’t be very visible.  It would work much better to print on a laser printer using laser printer transparencies, since you wouldn’t have the coating to deal with.  The inkjet transparencies are not cheap, but a hundred of them will last for a long time if you are careful with them.

    Next we paint them using glass stain or sun-catcher paint you would purchase at a craft store.  We use both the type that has glitter and the regular type.  They coordinate well on the ornament.  Be sure to paint on the side that isn’t printed on, otherwise the ink will get messed up.  This particular ornament is very intricate, and not for the faint of heart.

    Here is an attempt at a picture of one of the ornaments.  The flash caused part of it to whiteout. 

    Celtic Knotwork Painted

    There are a myriad of ways you can paint Celtic knotwork.  Usually you would want to paint the knotwork in alternating colors.

    Here are a couple more template ornaments that we made. 

    Aneira Ornament

    Arianna OrnamentAric Ornament

    These are old ones, obviously.  I did some much better ones last year, but I designed them in Print Artist because it’s easier to do the mirror image print.  I uninstalled it this year when I had some harddrive trouble and I can’t access those right now.  Obviously I need to reinstall Print Artist.

    For the round ornaments, I used a die cutter to cut the ornament.


    Sunday, 16 December 2007 05:00

    Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

    Well, yesterday we started working on our Cinnamon Dough Ornaments.  I have to say we will never make these again.  Most people are just more able to pull off these crafts.  I am hopelessly craft-LESS.  I'm also very tactile oriented, and the feel of the dough was more than I could handle. And I smell cinnamon everywhere.

    I baked them last night, and they are sitting on the counter waiting to be shellacked and then decorated.  I don't know where the shellac is, so we will have to wait for Gregg to get it out of his shop.  Actually, I may get Gregg to shellac them  so that I don't smell shellac and cinnamon all day. Then we will decorate with glitter glue.  I thought about going ahead and decorating with the glue, but decided against it.  The shellac should keep the glitter glue from soaking into the ornament.

    Actually, they may turn out nice yet.  I'll post again when we've finished and give an update.

    In my next post, I will post how we have made ornaments in the past.

    Saturday, 15 December 2007 05:00

    Christmas Thoughts

    My favorite time of the year is Christmas.  I'm usually the first to put up my Christmas tree, and the very last to take it down.  Our family has several traditions that we love to incorporate into our Christmas in order to really focus on Christ.  We've pulled some traditions from liturgical churches, just because we love Christmas so much.  As I have already blogged that we were late putting up our Christmas tree, it should come as no surprise that we are behind on most of our traditions.  Last Sunday we finally got our tree up and decorated (after a trip to our local Walmart at 12 midnight to pick up more lights for the tree).  Everything else is still sitting in boxes in a spare room.  My crèches are still boxed up, the Christmas dishes aren't being used.  We did wash the holly glasses, and I am using a Christmas mug my mom gave me.  That's about it.  Am I being a humbug?  No, I'm just soooo fatigued and sick of being sick.  I'm so dispirited that we haven't done more by now.  Today, amid laundry duties (because I don't think that anyone in the house knows how to do laundry consistently), we will put out all of our Christmas stuff.

    We celebrate Christmas through Epiphany, which is also the twelfth day of Christmas.  We do it more because we think we should have more days to celebrate Christmas than just the first day, instead of building up to it with such a frenzy and then poof, one day, it's over.  It forces us to take it a little slower because what we can't fit in by the 25th, we still can do afterwards without feeling like we are behind.

    I have two crèche sets.  My dad bought me the first one years ago when I was a teenager I believe.  My sister has an identical one.  The second set is a beautiful ceramic set that my sister made for me.  It is exquisite.  My sister is very talented in whatever she chooses to do.  She'll pick up a hobby and create all kinds of things until she either tires of it, or doesn't want to expend more funds on it.  She has cross-stitched, done ceramics, sewn, and now she makes handmade cards.  My mother does this as well.  I'm not this creative, nor do I have the time nor patience to start big projects and actually complete them.  That's not to say that I can't do it, I just am not as inspired I suppose.

    Here are a few activities we plan on enjoying this Christmas season:

    • Make ornaments ~ we do this every year, but this year we will make them completely different than we have before.  We are going to make Cinnamon Dough Ornaments using the recipe that homeschoolhighlites posted on her blog.  Hers look wonderful!  I thought it was a wonderful idea!  We are going to shellac ours, and then decorate with glitter glue.  I'll let you know how they turned out.
    • We are going to study Christmas Carols using the Good Christian Men Rejoice! unit study by Karen Caroe.  We have used this study in the past, and we absolutely love it. 
    • Make a gingerbread house together.  We buy a kit each year.  Last year we bought the house and a tree.  We will never buy the gingerbread tree again.  It was very difficult to work with, and it kept breaking.  We usually make the house on Christmas morning before Gregg wakes up, but this year we are hosting the extended family's Christmas on Christmas day, so we'll make it on Christmas Eve.
    • For our crèche, we don't put the Christ-child in the scene until Christmas day.  We keep the magi hidden until Christmas day, and then we put them on the other side of the house.  Each day they come closer and closer until they finally reach the Christ-child on Epiphany.
    • Make cookies.  Not sure what we will make yet, but we do plan on making some.

    We also have other traditions that I didn't list.

    This is the Creation Science resource that I had posted about earlier that for whatever reason did not post. I'm glad that I waited. I found some more wonderful resources on their site that I didn't know about earlier.

    Answers in Genesis

    My Creation Science resource for this week is Answers in Genesis. Since they can say it much better than I, here is a short synopsis of their ministry:


    Answers in Genesis is an apologetics (i.e., Christianity-defending) ministry, dedicated to enabling Christians to defend their faith and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus particularly on providing answers to questions surrounding the book of Genesis, as it is the most-attacked book of the Bible. We also desire to train others to develop a biblical worldview, and seek to expose the bankruptcy of evolutionary ideas, and its bedfellow, a “millions of years old” earth (and even older universe). Read more . . .


    There are so many resources on this site that I cannot possibly do it justice. I am going to list just a few of the remarkable gems you can find on this site, with a short description afterward. I have italicized the parts I pulled directly from their site.

    • Video on Demand ~ They have taken some of their most popular video series and released them online for free! They add a new segment each week They have been posting since August 2006, so there are a lot of them to watch. Some of the topics include astronomy, origin of species, the intelligent design movement, racism, flight, the moon, the ear, the eye, and fossils. It also includes the 24 part series Answers with Ken Ham.
    • Listen to the Bible in a Year ~ Listen as Max McLean delivers an engaging and powerful presentation of the Bible (NIV). You can start up where they are right now, or you can set up your own listening plan. You can also purchase it on cassette, CD, or MP3 if you don't want to listen to it online.
    • Answers Mini-Dramas ~ These 60-second mini-dramas are designed to engage and entertain while communicating a brief, life-changing message!
    • Creation Magazine Archives ~ Years of research and life-changing articles—from Creation magazine—at your fingertips. Nearly every Creation article over the past 15 years, conveniently organized in a single, powerful database for advanced research or easy reading! Search by author, type of article, date, etc. These magazines were formerly distributed in the US by Answers in Genesis.
    • TJ—in-depth Journal of Creation Archives ~ This magazine, formerly distributed in the US by Answers in Genesis, is more technical than the Creation magazine. There are not a lot of archives there yet, but more should be added in the future.
    • Morning and Evening: A Devotional Series by Charles H. Spurgeon ~ This is not the only place you can read these timeless devotionals, but it's nice to have them available when perusing the rest of their site.
    • Creation scientists and other biographies of interest ~ Ever wonder how many scientists believe in a literal 6-Day Creation? Well, this list will give you some of them! It's amazingly long.
    • Answers Magazine ~ Answers magazine is the Bible-affirming, creation-based magazine from Answers in Genesis. It is well worth the cost of suscribing. They offer some of the articles online. The recent issue has been sold out in the US, so they decided to post the entire issue on their website for everyone. If you are a subscriber to the magazine, they offer additional articles online that are extensions to the hard copy.
    • Kids Answers ~ is designed to be a fun, safe, Creator-honoring place to find educational entertainment for your children. We will show free kid-friendly Christian movies, as well as feature a new animal every week, and provide coloring sheets and activity pages.
    • Study Guides ~ There are several free study guides that go along with some of their educational books like the The NEW Answers Book;The Astronomy Book; Exploring Planet Earth; The Geology Book; and The Ocean Book, just to name a few.
    • Online Books ~ A few of the best-sellers are posted in their entirety online so that you can read them without buying the book. Definitely worth perusing!
    • Also in the Education section of their website, you can find Creation resource books and reviews; free PowerPoint presentations & Images; Help with writing projects; and the opportunity to purchase curricula and online courses.
    • Let's not forget that they have a very large assortment of resources for sale in the online store. It speaks for itself.
    • Last, but by no means least, is the Creation Museum. The Creation Museum presents a “walk through history.” Designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director, this state-of-the-art 65,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life.A fully engaging, sensory experience for guests. Murals and realistic scenery, computer-generated visual effects, over fifty exotic animals, life-sized people and dinosaur animatronics, and a special-effects theater complete with misty sea breezes and rumbling seats. These are just some of the impressive exhibits that everyone in your family will enjoy. The prices are very reasonable. We are charter members. I wish I could tell you that we've visited the place, but unfortunately we have not been able to yet. Hopefully within the next year we can go.

    Finally, Answers in Genesis has feeds that you can put on your website or blog. Here they are (separated by horizontal lines).



    Saturday, 08 December 2007 05:00

    Christmas Memories

    A Christmas Memory from the Past

    One particular memory stands out above all the rest. This was when I was a very young child living in NH when my parents were still together. One of our Christmas traditions was to open one gift on Christmas Eve before we went to bed. This particular year my sister, brother, and I were somehow able to conjole our parents that night into letting us open all the gifts under the tree with the plea of "just one more!" after each gift we opened. The next morning when I got up early, I went in the living room to play with my toys, and I discovered another gift for me near the fireplace. It was a poster of Snoopy dancing with a bright pink background that my dad had put there after we had gone to bed. I don't remember my other gifts from that year, but I still have that poster to this day.

    Sunday, 02 December 2007 05:00

    Decorating for Christmas

    Well, I'm sitting here at my computer reading my favorite blogs and drinking my coffee in the new Christmas coffee cup my mom just gave me. In the background I hear my two oldest, and sometimes the youngest one, arguing about where to put the boxes they are getting out of the attic. I asked them to bring down all the Christmas boxes, as well as boxes containing clothes. I can't believe that here it is December 2nd, and I still don't have our Christmas decorations up. This has got to be the longest I have ever waited.

    Of course, I'm not sure why Aric and Arianna are arguing about where to put the boxes. I gave them both explicit instructions as to where they should be put: Christmas boxes into Arianna's soon to be new room, and clothes in front of our display case in our library. Seemed simple to me. Of course, Arianna wants to do things her own way, and in her own time. I figure I will let them argue, get the boxes down, argue more, and hope by the time I get up there that everything will be in it's proper place. It's hard to hear them arguing, but I'm trying to learn to let them work these things out for themselves. Sometimes it is easier to just tell them to close their mouths and not talk for 15 minutes, but that doesn't actually help them to learn to work things out by themselves. Mind you, the little one shouldn't be up in the attic anyway. I suspect that she is standing at the ladder "helping" by getting into the boxes and pulling Christmas stuff out.

    The major question you should be asking is why I'm not up there pulling down the boxes with them? I'm afraid of heights and would no more get up that ladder than step into a room full of mice running around. I suppose that if I were in the middle of a flood and the only way I could survive is to climb up there and try to get on the roof, I would probably attempt it. Now, then, why am I not helping? I'm afraid to watch my kids climbing up there because my mommy brain just knows that they will fall. I hate the fact that they are quite unperturbed when climbing up high things. Hey, I get my 17 year old to kill bugs for me, too. Forget the mouse thing. I will leave the house completely if there are any of those. Thankfully my cats seem to discourage mice from visiting or living here. They are my best friends.

    Anyway, back to the Christmas decoration saga. Arianna has just informed me that they are not done pulling down boxes, and that she's not speaking to him anymore because he found a fake spider the size of my hand and threw it at her. I think someone has failed in this child-rearing adventure. Have the kids missed something crucial, or did Gregg and I miss teaching them something along the way? Well, at least she is calm and hasn't tried to either choke her brother or throw him down the ladder. That is a good thing . . . .

    In the time that it took me to type all of that (amid interruptions by Arianna), Aric finished pulling down the boxes. I'm not exactly looking forward to decorating. I don't feel well, and I would prefer to do nothing today, but, alas, I still can't believe I haven't decorated yet! Maybe once we get it done, it buoy my spirits. Maybe I will post a picture or two.

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