The Great Doll Rescue

The nice Australian lady at taught us how to rescue dolls. I agree with her philosophy that many little girls prefer realistic dolls that resemble their own family members and friends. Or at the very least, look like real people Рgood people who are kind and sweet and joyful.

So Abbey and I decided to launch Operation Bratz to Beauties. (I’m still pondering why a line of dolls would be called “Bratz”?)

BEFORE: pouty, sultry brat


AFTER: one-shoed beauty


Abbey did most of the work, really. She scrubbed the original faces off with nail polish remover and eucalyptus oil.





Giving the dolls a new face was tedious work, so I did that – but under Abbey’s direction. ūüôā



Here is the above Arctic Girl before her make-over:


And after:


Abbey restyled their hair.





She designed the clothing…


..and I coached her along in making the dresses.

She made gum boots and shoes for them. To make the footwear, she used a mixture of silicone caulk (yep, like you put around a bathtub) paint, and cornstarch. The shoes/boots are removable.



AFTER: (still without her new shoes)


We’ve only begun on the boy….





Abbey and I have enjoyed doing this little rescue mission together. It’s not something we plan to sustain; we’ve too little time and there are too many Bratz. ūüôā But afew makeovers were worthwhile in the pleasure that they gave us.


Forest Charms

 ***** What I Discovered On An Afternoon Hike*****

I tried to find fungi representing every color in the rainbow. It was easier than I thought. It seems I’ve experienced the one and only perk of our having had too much rain this summer.



More shades of red…




I do not know what this finger-like stuff is, but it looks like a sea anemone! 




As if the color variety wasn’t splendor sufficient, there were unique shapes within the color groups.

Like this orange umbrella mushroom in contrast with the orange anemone.



Just like lemon meringue pie.


I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find a green fungus, because one of the characteristics of a fungus is its lack of chlorophyll.

 I settled for a lichen. Is a lichen a fungus? 


The same mushroom represents blue and purple. Because it is periwinkle, aka Is-it-blue-or-is-it-purple?


 (It really was this color! I did not alter the color on any of these images.)

I decided to add the challenge of finding the remaining three of the basic seven colors: brown, black, and white.

Finding BROWN fungi wasn’t difficult, of course.

There was wet, mottled brown.



Dry, wrinkled brown.



This one had white linear pigmentation on it.



Striped brown.


I thought I might find a decayed fungus that was BLACK. 

However, Ian found this very healthy, alive, absolutely stunning black fungus.



To me, it looked like a plant. Andrew said it was a fungus and I desperately hope he is correct, because if it isn’t actually a fungus, I’m toast. It was the only black we could find.

Its texture was thick and slimy and waxy and it was shaped perfectly like a mousy’s ear.


I knew I could count on the common puffball to provide a WHITE speciman.



But there were also crops of white forest anemones!



And then the ultimate find was this pristine little lady, discovered by Andrew.

She was lovely, single, and alone; and I wondered why.




                                                  ***** What Ian Discovered On The Same Afternoon Hike****

A spotted newt….


…a whole posse!¬†


And a geocache.


Choose What You Want to Learn, Kid

I am planning the 2-14-2015 schoolyear¬†for¬†Maya and Ian. My intention was to read Ruth Beechick’s You Can Teach Your Child Successfully¬†for the second time, as my inspiration at the beginning of the year. But I don’t have time. So I drug out this stuff that I summarized from a book I read afew¬†years ago. Published in 1994, it is rather old stuff, and I wonder where research has lead since? I’ve heard snatches of negative comments about allowing children too much choice in their learning path and it makes me curious how the educational trials are turning out currently. Don’t most issues have opposing extremes with a perfect and moderate middle ground? ūüėČ

Anyway….here it is: My report, written several years ago on….


Educating The Entire Person¬†‚Äď Ron Dult


I like to read some education philosophy over semester break, to sort of inspire and stimulate my little homeschool at a time when I begin to run dry. So, here is a summary of the book I finished reading today.


This book is a 127 page essay which was written in 1972 and revised several times. I read the 1994 and most recent revision. Basically, the book attempts to provide a philosophical foundation for productive learning and responsible teaching, which is something that interests both Andrew and I. Andrew had to listen as I read aloud many passages to him from this book.


Dultz makes the initial point that methods of teaching that do not focus on specific learning needs of the individual should not be expected to have a beneficial effect upon them.

Learning begins at a young age and we as parents are responsible to preserve and encourage the intensities, enthusiasms, and individuality of our child’s native gifts and inclinations and interests. Working with their natural learning inclinations is providing wind to their sails, while making them work with our learning inclinations, if they chance to be differ from his, is like providing the sail and asking him to provide the wind.

We teach them a love of knowledge, how to read, write, and speak and do math. During the childhood years we encourage them to seek many, many varied experiences and show them that life is a great adventure with endless possibilities to be explored and delighted in.

As a child developes, we teach them to think for themselves. Thinking for oneself is more important than a gathering of facts or a particular set of skills. The latter are useless in the hands of an adult who has not been taught to think for themselves. We teach and test, often, on the latter rather than the former.

How do we teach them to think for themselves? A student must be taught to observe things accurately, to study things in great depth without distraction. To really inspect and to  become immersed and absorbed in a particular  thing of interest to them. We can ask questions such as: 1. Is the student studying what is right for him? 2. Is he internalizing what he is learning in a healthy way? 3. Is there an application to what he is learning, so that he is truly living it or is the learning a stagnate part of him and possibly even an irritant?

We also give them gentle guidance and an increasing freedom in choosing what to learn and how to learn it without burdening them with a study diet of rules, expectations, and guidelines. If a toddler is given rules and excessive instruction about how to walk, they would quickly lose their desire to walk, as a result of the burden of instruction at times when they were perhaps constructively entertained in other ways. Too much regimentation of the learning process can also result in a loss of desire to learn.

Students should be more responsible for their own learning journey, Dults says. Imagine that a friend invites you to play tennis with him. You hate tennis and you stink at tennis and you don’t want to play tennis and would rather play basket ball which is a game that you know and enjoy. But your friend says, “Oh, the options will be given to you…which racket to use, which side of the court to play on, wether or not to keep score etc. Certainly, in this example, you are given many choices. However, if your heart is set on swimming or basketball, these choices are meaningless. Students who are told what to learn are often unhappy because the subject matter doesn’t interest them. Even when given options about how to learn it, it becomes discouraging and a mere matter of obedience and submission to the instructor.

A youngster must struggle with motivating himself as a student; which means being given the option of not learning anything so that he will be required to motivate himself to learn something. Our goal is self-sufficient adults so we must work at producing self-sufficient students who can manage their own affairs.

Dults said that in order to learn well, the contents of ones mind must be organized and be able to speak in practical ways into one’s life. Otherwise, the contents of the mind should be forgotten and unlearned. He suggests that many of us are taught in a compulsory manner things that are irrelevant to us and these things can be an interference with our thinking of things that actually matter to us as a unique individual. Just as excess baggage is a burden to a person, so is excess knowing. We internalize only a small percentage of what we encounter, therefore that small percentage should be the right things. What are right things? Well, things that produce beneficial results in my current life, things that bring positive transformation in my life or those around me, or that are a logical extension of current processes going on.

So one must identify the contents of his mind and evaluate them for pertinence. This can supposedly be done with a notebook and a pen over the course of 6 months or so, as one writes down the essence of their beliefs and values, their motives and goals, personal habits, emotional characteristics, interests, problems, needs, vulnerabilities, areas of confusion, and anything that you consider to be essential aspects of who you are. Well. What a job. I am not sure if I am up to the task, even though it sounds fun. So then, what we find to be fluff and dander in our minds, we discard…not by just willing it away but by actually changing who we are and how we act. This involves God, of course, and his redemption, but Dultz doesn’t mention that aspect.:)

Three things must be learned: 1. Those things the student desires to learn 2. survival skills‚Ķhow to be a self-sufficient¬†adult¬† 3. character traits. All other things are optional, even the ones that we’ve already made compulsory.

The most fundamental job of the educator is to nurture the development of a spirited relationship between a student and an area of study or object of interest. The objective of this nurturing is to stimulate and encourage the impulse t learn.

So each student needs a learning profile and each collective group pf students needs a learning profile. What is a learning profile? Learning needs, interests, and inclinations. The student and students should be primary in writing their learning profile. Parents and teachers give guidance and ask appropriate questions in this matter, but the student, in the end, takes responsibility of recording this. He can be encouraged to revise it occasionally.

A school run on this principle would have certified educators with classrooms. A child would tour the facility and let his attractions settle on several classrooms, teachers, and subject matter that appeal to him. The teacher provides guidance, resources, etc. but the student is responsible for motivation and to stay on task and to decide what to study or what to make etc. Each student would be required to be cooperative, to apply themselves to SOME matter, and to be respectful and polite toward others’ learning processes, otherwise be expelled.

The conclusion, then, is that voluntary and self-directed learning, assisted by an environment and a teacher that encourages and supports it, is the superior educational path for students. And that wherever learning is mandated in exact ways like subject matter and how to learn it and when, it becomes oppressive and a drudgery. Giving the student the freedom to manage his own education is enriching and freeing and, in the end, produces a better-equipped and more effective adult for the life they will encounter.

I just don‚Äôt know what to think of it. I don‚Äôt know why I keep happening upon these quirky but intelligent sounding educational books, without intending to happen upon them. It certainly serves to keep me in a stir and not stagnate. One thing I have learned is that there is some good even in extreme ideas if some balance is added. That is how I am inclined to view Dultz’s stuff.

What do you think?

Instead of Cinnamon Rolls

**** I Rarely Make Cinnamon Rolls*****
…because I carefully monitor my family’s sugar-intake and the payload of sweetness in cinnamon rolls makes us all grouchy for several hours.

Not true.

***** What IS True*****
When it comes to making cinnamon rolls, I lack enterprise.

*****What I Make Instead Because It’s Much Easier and Almost-As-Yummy****


3/4 c. lukewarm water
3 T yeast
1 1/2 c. water (or orange juice, for a light citrus flavor)
1 1/2 c milk, scalded
!cha-ching! 1 whole cup of refined white sugar!
3/4 c. shortening
2 t salt
3 eggs, beaten
3 t cinnamon
10-10 1/2 c four ( I use 3 c. whole wheat)
2 1/2 cup raisins

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Heat milk and add sugar, salt, and shortening. Add 1 1/2 c water or orange juice. When cool, add to yeast mixture. Add eggs, flour, and raisins. This makes a soft dough. Let rise for 30 minutes. Divide into four pieces and roll each piece out. Sprinkle with cinnamon and roll up into four loaves. Let rise in pan until loaves are fully developed. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

When cool, slice thick slabs and toast them. Spread with butter (and cinnamon and sugar, if you wish) and even add a slice of cheese.

This was our breakfast this morning, with eggs, ham, and coffee added for Andrew. A slice of this toast sustains me until lunchtime.

To Be Sustained is nice when one has things to do.

Portraits of Andrew and Shannon


¬†We did a project with paint for Father’s Day this year.

***** Watercolor Portraits******

The children began by drawing a simple U for a basic face shape and then they closed in the top of the U with hair.

Basic instructions are here:



The first portrait is of my brother Shannon and was painted by Erin. The next two are of Andrew and were painted by Maya and Ian. Andrew thought it a nice touch that Ian was so generous with the hair. (Not sure about eyes that touch in the middle though, especially since the larger of the two eyes seems to be sucking nutrients from its smaller twin.)

The children wrote notes to Andrew on the back of their paintings.



Something to Do With Frogs and Flowers

 **** Something For Boys to Do****

         catch frogs                



**** Important tip for frog hunting****

1. Take your shirt off.


**** If a photographer shows up***

Give your buddy’s stomach¬†a muddy tattoo


pretend you’re an antelope who hunts frogs for dinner.


****Something for 11-yr.old girls to do****

Build a house




A Summer Miscellany

Officially on seasonal sabbatical, the school textbooks are in the attic. We’ve squeezed lemons for lemonade and mud for pies. Caught some frogs, built a stick teepee in the front lawn, combed the beach, hung the volleyball net, and had afew picnics. We are loving us some summer!

                                                                                                                                 ***What I figured out***

        For afew years I was an over-booked mom and teacher with almost no time margin. Andrew, meanwhile, had quite a bit of leisure time. Now, life demands less of me and more of Andrew. He is building a house for us. During the day, he builds for others and when evening comes, he builds for us. After dark Рhe sleeps.

                                                                                                                                     *** A good read***

     The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. The library owns a copy but they say it seldom makes it to the shelf before someone requests it.

                                                                                                                               ***Something about me***

¬†¬†¬†¬† Chick flicks are not my cup o’ tea. Intense dramas put me in a mental hibble. (According to Andrew, hibble is a word that originated with his sister to¬†communicate the idea of “a stir or unrest”. (And all this time, I thought it was a real word and I used it freely assuming everyone knew what it meant!)) There are precious few¬†movies that I enjoy fully without reserve. “Try Call the Midwife,” someone suggested. But I didn’t have enough time margin to try the show. Until April 2014. It was delightful and just right for the likes of me. Of greater significance is Having Found Some Time to watch it. I like Having Time.


*** More about homespun words***

¬†¬†¬†¬† Boke” is a Scottish word that means “gag”. Used by My People. It is an excellent example of onomatopoeia, I think.

Chooky” (oo as in took and look) means “slack or excess”. But chooky is not a real word either. My People¬†produced that one.

      *** About this blog, recently resurrected***

       It does not exist for the purpose of being public nor is it a ministry.

¬†¬†¬†¬† It is my journal that’s not my private journal.

That’s its only purpose.

It tells what I have inside in the moment, which may be much or nothing, often or infrequent, one word or two hundred words.

It’s for me, but others are not unwelcome here.

   *** About these photos***

I took them at the Cleveland Zoo.

It’s an album of faces.