Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Nature, and people, and cats

What is natural? It can be hard to know, but interesting to consider.

How would people live "in the wild"? They would form groups, find shelter and food, and create a hierarchy. Other details vary. They would become us. But what about learning, and living, in more natural ways? It's fun to think about.

What's natural for housecats? Many are native-born human companions. Others might look for people to take them in, and feed them and pet them and share their shelters, or at least their barns or porches.

What's natural?
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sweet dreams

Sleep is crucial and peace is good.

We don't know what experiences and ideas our children are processing, but the more often they go to sleep gently and wake up sweetly, the better their lives will be.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Monday, January 29, 2018

Something old, something new...

Something old, something new;
Something borrowed, something blue.

That's traditional advice for a bride, to create good luck by what she wears to the wedding.

For those in places where that little verse is foreign, then it's history, and cultural trivia.

As an unschooling tool it could be a checklist of things to look for, when you go for a walk, or see a video, or a painting, or while folding the laundry.
photo by Sandra Dodd (in Corrales, New Mexico)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Surprise us!

Breathe and smile more than others expect you to.
photo by Holly Dodd

Saturday, January 27, 2018

More (or sometimes less)

Some days, do more. Some days, do less.

Try not to worry. The worried days aren't the best days.
Making a family's life better
photo by Cátia Maciel

Friday, January 26, 2018

The best thing

"The best thing that any parent can do is to make their life with and their relationship with their children as good and as happy and as stress-free as possible."
—Schuyler Waynforth
Quietly, sweetly, gently
photo by Ester Siroky, in Seville

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Improve, understand, learn

"I think it behooves us to be better people, to improve, breathe, understand, make the best choice, and keep learning."
—Jill Parmer
Jill wrote that in a chat in 2011, but I can't find it to link it.
Home might be a good match, or Alive and breathing
photo by Janine Davies

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hopeful, happy thoughts

Consciously draw in more hopeful, happy thoughts.

Without leaving your home, without leaving your chair, you can turn 90 degrees and get a different view.
photo by Amber Ivey

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Wander. Explore. Investigate.

Explore art, form, shadows.

Explore stories, ideas, words.
Exploring (with Deb-Lewis words)
photo by Ester Siroky

Monday, January 22, 2018


Meredith Novak wrote:
The first time I made pancakes with white flour he thought they were the best pancakes he'd ever eaten.

Here's an interesting tidbit, though: after a few weeks of being allowed to have all the cakes and cokes he could eat at our house he out-and-out said "You know what, now that I can have all the sugar I want, I don't want nearly as much of it."
photo by Sandra Dodd, of pancakes designed by Devyn, 8

Sunday, January 21, 2018

"Sculpture" and other words

This photo is from a Chinese Lantern Festival event.

What is a Chinese lantern? What is "a lantern"? These have wire frames with cloth, and electric light inside. There are many other kinds of lanterns, both more traditional and modern.

In Albuquerque, balloonists sometimes get together to inflate their balloons at night. They stay on the ground, and the fire from the hot-air-creating burner will light the huge balloon up from the inside beautifully.

Back to the photo, though. It'a a monkey. It's a Chinese zodiac symbol. Geometry and technology were involved, with some traditional ideas about connecting pieces of cloth to create three-dimensional forms. It is a tool of cultural exchange, of good will, from a country at odds with our own. It is a propaganda monkey, and an art monkey. It was a happy light in darkness.

One thing is many things.

The flow of words
photo by Sandra Dodd, of other people's art

Saturday, January 20, 2018

New combinations

There are random factors in the world around us. This tree was never blown down before. That horse never lay down near a downed tree that way.

Things happen in new combinations, without warning, and we make choices about how to see and respond to those things. I'm glad Cathy took a beautiful photo. It's good that the tree didn't fall on the shed, nor on the horses. It didn't break a fence.

Next year, it will be firewood.

Life will bring more surprises.
Unexpected Juxtaposition
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Friday, January 19, 2018


Rests can be short or long.

Resting isn't always sleeping.

Sleeping doesn't always last long.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rows of colors

"It is what it is." Sometimes.

"It" depends what "it" is.

Usually, it is what one uses it for. Sometimes something is what one imagines it to be.
Pattern Appreciation
photo by Amber Ivey

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Just look

Sometimes, just look.

You might look as an artist, or as a scientist. You could look in wonder. You could gaze lovingy, or observe suspiciously, but as you don't always know exactly what you're seeing, sometimes it's good to just look.
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New tools

Kristin Burton wrote:

I have for sure felt like unschooling has been like recovery. It hasn't come easy to me. Recovery from using guilt as a tool, using control as a tool. Letting go of expectations of what it means to be a parent and how children should be.

It's ongoing for me, it take lots of thoughtful pauses to remain on the path of unschooling life. But it's seeped in everywhere now, how I treat my husband, how I even treat myself. How I see relationships, food, world issues.

Recovery is about emptying your toolbox of the broken, ineffective tools that have helped you scrape by in life. For me to feel joy in my own self and want joy for others I had to empty that tool box and find new tools. It's been scary and I ve had to take lots of leaps of faith.

The other day my daughter said she needed a hug, and in that embrace she said, "Mom you are like my compass."

That is what recovery feels like for me.
—Kristin Burton
photo by Sandra Dodd (of someone else's painting)

Monday, January 15, 2018


One smile is better than none.

Don't cheap out on your child, though. You can afford three smiles, or five.
Small Gifts
photo by Eva Witsel

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Looking back...

Older moms are irritating. They're always saying things like "appreciate them when they're little," and "you will miss this stage." "They grow so quickly," say those parents of bigger kids.

I've been the exhausted mom of babies. I became one of those older moms.

The child in this photo might not fit in that space anymore. I'm still working through photos people sent me two years ago.

Today is my son's birthday. He became a father two and a half weeks ago.

They grow so quickly.

Being where you are
photo by Erika Ellis (thank you again, Erika)

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Enjoyment is about joy.

Find enjoyment in the little things you do.
Choose joy.
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, January 12, 2018

Souls and minds

I think if people divide their lives into academic and non-academic, they're not radical unschoolers. I think unschooling in the context of a traditional set of rules and parental requirements and expectations will work better than structured school-at-home, but I don't think it will work as well for the developing souls and minds of the children involved. And those who are not radical unschoolers would look at that and say "What do their souls have to do with unschooling?"
photo by Lydia Koltai

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Stop / Go

Stop doing the thing that stops you from doing what you need to do.
—Holly Dodd
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Step it up

Do It.

If you're going to unschool, do it now and do it well.

Part of doing it "well" is moving into it deliberately and with clarity, and going gradually, but by "gradually" I don't mean over five or ten years. Childhood lives in weeks, days and hours, not in months, years and decades.
but the quote is from page 20 of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Megan Valnes

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Trivial history

Knowing that we live in the flow of change is something anyone interested in learning or in history, or in learning history, might want to learn to appreciate rather than to resist.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, January 8, 2018

Highlight now

Our parents grew up in a different time, with different pressures and realities, and there's no profit in trying to persuade them they should've had the sensibilities you might have now (or that you're developing or would like to have). If you focus on what you want to do with and for your own children and why, the rest of the family can begin to fade in importance.

Customized, thoughtful choices
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Peace and health

"Candy fed with love beats the heck out of broccoli eaten out of fear."
—Schuyler Waynforth

"Ramen in a happy environment is better than four dishes and a dessert in anger and sorrow."
—Sandra Dodd

Turns out it had been said before. See other quotes about eating a dinner of herbs, or a dry crust, or Twinkies and a Red Bull, here:
photo by Janet Rohde Buzit

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Individual needs

In an attempt to "be fair," parents can be very UNfair. Children don't all need the same things for the same amount of time. Measuring with rulers and timers and charts is often shortchanging one child or another. What they could use more than that is the opportunity to decide when they're finished for their own reasons.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Friday, January 5, 2018

Pattern appreciation

People like patterns.

Most folks find symmetry soothing. Coincidences are fun.

Arranging food, or clothes, or hair, putting socks in drawers, stacking fire wood... feel richer from patterns you find, or create.
Pattern blocks and deep thoughts
photo by Holly Blossom

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Thames and shadow

It was a sunny day, in England, to get a shadow like that.

Shadows prove sunshine.
2011 photo by Sandra Dodd, from the Royal Windsor Wheel
which is hardly ever there

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Which came first...

Which came first, curiosity or learning? Exploration or knowledge?

If you're lucky, and open to it, they will tumble and leapfrog over one another in all the best times of your life.
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Sun and water

Something we have in common with our most ancient ancestors, and our most distant cousins, is our need for water and sunlight.

For fun (and for learning, but don't think so much about that part), maybe let that be the theme of your thoughts and connections for an hour, or a day. Wheat and trees, birds and bugs, ice and steam, waterfalls and deserts, all can be considered and compared.

Some things must be wet, so it's a good thing there's water. Others need to stay dry, and the sun helps with that.

Make a happy game of exploring ideas.
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, January 1, 2018

Sweetness and goodness

Find the best in each moment, the best moments in each hour, and by focusing on what is sweet and good, you will help others see the sweetness and goodness, too.
Happy memories
photo by Karen James
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