Thursday, February 28, 2013

Enough to learn

antique stairs down past a window
I don't want to make parents feel bad about themselves. I want parents to make decisions that lead them not to have things to feel bad about. Big difference.
(I linked random page generator, as the quote came
from something not so uplifting.)

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Enough to learn

[Some people say] "I used to control this (or that) and now that I don't, and I told them they can do whatever they want to..."

Too big a jump.

If your kids ask for another one (potato, cookie, peanut butter sandwich) I think it's helpful if you just say "Sure!" and make another one, even if you don't think they'll finish it, even if you think they'll be too full or whatever. As long as they're not eating someone else's share (and even so, if the other person agrees), it's not a big deal. If they don't finish, save the leftover for someone else. If they do finish and they're "too full" that's how they'll learn their capacity (which will change anyway as they get older).
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Practice watching

Look directly at your child. Practice watching your child without expectations. Try to see what he is really doing, rather than seeing what he’s NOT doing. If you hold the template of "learning" up and squint through that, it will be harder for you to see clearly. Just look.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of two-year-old Marty Dodd
in medieval garb

another quote with "practice watching" in it


Monday, February 25, 2013

Look and rejoice

How much do you need to own to touch a child gently? How much money do you need to have in order to smile?
Look at what you have rather than what you don't have. Look at what is in the world beyond your family and your neighborhood, and rejoice that your child might be able to go out someday and experience things you've never seen or heard or touched or tasted.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of fried potatoes
in a pan we earned with grocery store points
before we had children


In 2020, I was in here editing photo links. We still have that pan, and its lid—a bonus from a long-gone grocery store. Our oldest child is thirty-four.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In the winter...

"When you have snow, or can get to snow, snowshoeing is wonderful because you don't need any special skills to strap on the shoes and go have fun."

Deb Lewis wrote that, at the beginning of a very long list called "Things to do in the Winter." Most activities are indoors, and could be done by people even near the equator, except for the snowshoe part.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of old Tonka trucks in the yard

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Clarify / "Why?"

One of the finest ways to clarify a concept is to explain it to someone else. It’s one thing to passively understand (at least momentarily in short-term memory) how to tie a clove hitch or to make waffles, but to really know the thing you need to have done it so much you can do it while you’re sleepy, in the dark, in a wind storm. Or so much that you could pass the secret skill on to another person. Be prepared for the most important question of all: “Why?"
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, February 22, 2013

All ages

"In the real world, we get to choose friends based on interest. And that's what unschoolers get to do. There are classes and park days and online friends and people of all ages that homeschoolers interact with."
—Joyce Fetteroll
photo by Julie D

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Time out

There have been a couple of errors lately, and I wanted to take a minute to talk about the blog. I misspelled the name of the Concorde in yesterday's post. Julie D, who has provided me with some nice photos, and who crossed the Atlantic by Concorde more than once, caught that. I spelled it as though it were part of Flight of the Conchords, and if anyone isn't familiar with that duo, this is a fun intro.

On February 10th's post, one of the links was broken when the e-mail went out. It was repaired that morning, on the blog, but for those who missed it, here it is with the link working: Disharmony for a good cause

Two nights ago in a conversation here at the house, I was telling a friend that the photos I use aren't really very good, and that Lori Odhner's daily mailing (Marriage Moats) has GREAT photos. The very next night I was talking to another friend by phone, and she brought up how much she loves the photos on Just Add Light and Stir.

I will continue to do what I'm doing until frustration outweighs satisfaction, and I quit and do other things.

Until that happens, here are two other resources some of you might subscribe to, or peek in on occasionally. One is an infrequent blog about connections and thoughts, called Thinking Sticks: Playing with Ideas. The other is a little more frequent, and links new pages or notable additions to existing pages on my website: Unschooling Site News,

If one day a post from Just Add Light and Stir seems too small for you, or it wasn't something you needed to read, maybe you could go and poke around one of those other blogs and find some sparkly ideas.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Labels as walls

A label will put a wall of words and fears and filters between a parent and a child.
from "Seeing your child, rather than a label,"
page 70, The Big Book of Unschooling

Photo by Sandra Dodd, of the corner of a WWII bunker (or pillbox) at The Brooklands Museum in Surrey, in England. Full view was used on this blog September 29. Because it's near the Concorde, it's not much noticed. And it's not a display; it was there for the defense of the aircraft factory. **

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Adding it up

What adds to relationships makes the children's lives better. Whether you're improving your relationship with a child or a partner/spouse, it's still beneficial to the child.

Quote from a chat, recently.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, February 18, 2013

Half a cup...

Half-empty cups are substantially different from half-full cups. It's not just theoretical holy water in those cups. The half-empty cups hold a concoction of frustration and need and irritation. The half-full cups contain joy and hope and gratitude.

page 185 (or 213) of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo of and by Holly Dodd

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Future grandparents

A child, no matter how young, is a potential future grandfather or grandmother. Looking back on joys and sorrows in people they actually know, perhaps parents can avoid damage they have witnessed in others or felt in themselves, and emulate the empowering and joyful things they have seen or remember.  photo DSCF4396.jpg
Mommy-labs Interview, October 2012
photo by Holly Dodd

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Start with them.

Schuyler Waynforth wrote:

You start by learning about your children. You start by playing with them. By hanging out and listening to them. By starting with them. The more you know about them, the more you know about what interests them, the more you see them and hang out with them, the easier it will be for you to find things that interest them. Don't start by looking at the wider world and trying to force it upon your children. Start with them.
—Schuyler Waynforth
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, February 15, 2013

Clear and solid

lump of ice the shape of a bucket, with old flowers stuck in the middle

Living mindfully and making conscious choices for clear reasons is what a solid, thoughtful life is all about.
photo by Sandra Dodd
of flowers and clear, solid water in the compost pile


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Success and Joy

Little by little, years ago, I started to see that each little idea that had changed my own family had the potential, if I could explain it clearly enough, to change another family. Just a little was enough. As more and more families shared their successes and joys, the world changed.

Thank you, to those of who have shared your paths to unschooling with others so freely over the years. Thank you to those who have come and shared and gone on to do other things. Thank you to those who came years ago and are still helping others. Thank you to those who have just shown up lately, and whose enthusiastic newness inspires others to be kinder to their children.

The top paragraph is from
photo by Julie D

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Past the horizon...

The world is changing, and anyone with a young child in 2013 should not expect it to be 2002 when that child is grown. Adults are often looking back ten or twenty years in their knowledge and expectations. It’s impossible to look forward with accuracy, but if you look around at some of the new jobs of the 21st century, you will see that there was no way to begin preparing for them in the 1980s or 1990s, except to let children play with computers as much as they wanted to.

from the Second Mommy-Labs interview
(The original said 2012, but I changed it. I can do that.)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Newness unfolding

I can't really speak to any "end results," because they're still growing and experiencing the newness of many firsts in their lives. If there is ever an "end," the results won't matter anymore. But as long as life continues, the results unfold.
photo by Marty Dodd, of himself and his girlfriend when they drove to Grants, New Mexico, on a whim to visit the Mining Museum

Monday, February 11, 2013

Joy in the sky

Remember that every moment is precious.

You do indeed have choices.

You can take joy in the sky as easily as you can be irritated about the ground.

Paraphrased (re-punctuated) from page 193 (or 223) of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Disharmony for a good cause

Cognitive dissonance ROCKS.

It rocks your thoughts around and old things can fit together in new ways.

In case anyone here is spooked by the term "cognitive dissonance," it's just a disturbance in the mental force. Brain racket. Edgy discomfort.

Wikipedia has a cool article on it, with links: Cognitive dissonance

The text above is the entirety of a May 31, 2005 post at Unschooling Discussion.
Poking around on an old hard disk, I found some text collected for a conference presentation, and wasn't sure if it was even my writing, but googled it up and there it was, from 2005. I do love the internet.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Nice harmony

This is from Gail Higgins, written around 2005.

As I became more aware of my kids needs and responded to that it just naturally carried over to my husband.

Our relationship is so much stronger now and part of it is just because I'm nicer now! I think I used to be so controlling of our lives that it affected us all in a negative way. I'm still working on it but just the awareness of what I was doing has led to changes.

There are very few times when our lives don't seem in harmony these's the best bonus I could have ever imagined.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, February 8, 2013

Too much noise

I woke up with voices in my head, but it was my own voice. Too many words. "What if...?" and "How will...?"

The peace and safety of my children, even though they're young adults, was running through my mind, and what could go wrong, and what if one of them makes a bad decision, or an awkward mistake, or forgets to do something, or...

Then I remembered what I was doing at their age, each of them. Most of it ended up needing to be undone, or recovered from. But I remember, and those things informed my decisions ever after.

An agitated mom won't help any of us. And the agitation didn't show. It was nothing but thoughts racing and tumbling, tighter-than-necessary muscles, so early in the morning.

I made moves to calm myself, and to take several small positive steps. Breathe. Put clean cutlery away. Fill the birdfeeders. Feed the cat. Check on Holly, who isn't feeling well and was muttering in her bed.

And I began to think of things to be grateful for this morning. My children are alive and healthy. They are thoughtful and energetic. We have seed to give birds, and food for our cats. Holly has a good pillow and warm covers. She will feel better.

I can breathe and be still and not be knocked down by thoughts. Thoughts can lift me up. I can turn down the volume. I can switch channels.
photo by Sandra Dodd

The photo is a link to something written when I had three teens.
They were 21, 24 and 26 on February 7, 2013, when I was worried in the morning.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Notice joy

If you practice noticing and experiencing joy, if you take a second out of each hour to find joy, your life improves with each remembrance of your new primary goal.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Real life in the real world

"Scientific studies have their place in the world, but we can't let them stand in the way of seeing the real-world behavior of our real life kids."
—Meredith Novak
photo by Julie D

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shared fun

The side benefits are family togetherness, common experiences, and fun!

As partners and supporters, if one of us is having fun, the others are glad, and happy, and often right in the midst of that same fun.
photo by Julie D

Monday, February 4, 2013

A softer vision of the world

What happens when you see other people differently is that you cannot help but see yourself differently. When you choose to find opportunities to give other people choices, you yourself have begun to make more choices.

When you begin to see learning from new and interesting angles, you yourself are learning about learning (in addition to all the things about bugs or food, bridges or clouds or trains that you're learning with your children, or when they're not even there).

Your softer, clearer vision of the world makes you a softer, clearer person.

Wednesday, February 6 chat on Personal Change
photo by Orion Larson

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Breathe. Smile.

If you're just starting to homeschool I have a few words of advice: Breathe. Smile. Your kids will be sharing your stress and fear, so move quickly to get over them. Meet experienced homeschoolers and model your practice on families you like and respect. Deschool yourselves, and the kids will follow easily.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lighter and brighter

The more people who can lighten up, the lighter and brighter the world will be.
(The quote is not from there, but it's a good page.)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, February 1, 2013

Life is lumpy.

Susan May wrote:

I am reminded that this path I'm on isn't really "just" about parenting. It's really about me and becoming the person I want to be. As I do that I am also becoming the best possible parent to my children. And I am slowly learning that when I love myself in my lowest of lows, then I am quicker to forgive myself, recover, and move on the next moment."
—Susan May

"Life is Lumpy," on Susan's blog
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a lump of century plant in a lump of snow