Monday, October 31, 2016

Like magic

Since my kids were little they could have all the Halloween candy they wanted, and since they were little that has been no problem at all, because by the time they gave away what they didn't like and traded for favorites, and saved it and shared it with kids who came over for the next few weeks, there was still candy left.
. . . .

We were confident that it was control, not access, that made kids eat, do and want "too much" before we ever considered unschooling. Others come to the idea the other way around—unschooling first and releasing other control-urges later.
photo by Pam Sorooshian

This is a repeat from 2013
because the photo is great
with text from 2010
because it's still true.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Fewer folks farm than used to. It's understandable.

Even without a farm, though, what's planted might grow. What is tended thrives.

Not everything can be controlled, but many things can be accepted and appreciated. Mentally gather up the positive results in your life and be grateful for your harvest.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Light goofs

Find things to smile about in small casual moments.

Happy Halloween-costume days.
candid tomato-slice photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, October 28, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Your kids know

close-up of cat behind big leaf
Joyce wrote:
"He can feel you hovering over him waiting for him to do something that will calm your fears."

Sandra adds:
Your children know when you're anxious or nervous. Don't think you're sneaking up on them. It's important to relax, not just to pretend to be relaxed.
photo by Susan Gaissert

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No time out

Time can be geological, historical, millenial, generational, eternal or poetic. Current time can involve years, months, seasons, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds and subparticles thereof. Time can fly or drag along. It can heal everything or be the enemy. There's no time out from time!
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


It's easy to think there's not much to unschooling, and then to fail at it.

Read a little, try a little,
wait a while, watch.

Do that so many times that you don't notice you're doing it all the time.
photo by Celeste Burke

Monday, October 24, 2016

Trash or treasure?

You can use antique shops or junk stores, charity shops, thrift stores, as museums to visit with your children. Many things are neither trash nor treasure, but can be interesting examples of art, technology, geography, politics, function and design.

In deciding which link to use with this image, I settled on the history page, and noticed a paragraph I wrote over a decade ago. Now, two deaths and a Nobel prize have entered the story:

History can be nearly current, like comparative pop/funk of the '80s— is Prince really all that much greater than Michael Jackson? Is it because he plays guitar? What about the history of the guitar? Does Minneapolis create better musicians than Gary, Indiana, or does it even matter? Is Bob Dylan evidence for Minneapolis? One thing leads to another. Thinking about Minneapolis can lead to thoughts of U.S. history, of early 19th century border fortifications, the Mississippi River, the French in Canada, and in Louisiana. You can let your mind float downstream (or up). "Hiawatha" would've been set in that area, and Longfellow wrote that and many other things of childhood, and parents, and night time.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, October 23, 2016

When you breathe

When something makes you sad, breathe in a lovely thought.

When you're worried, breathe in hope.

When you're afraid, breathe in calm.

Let breathing bring you closer to better, for your family and for yourself.
photo by Jo Isaac

Friday, October 21, 2016


Learning proceeds from being able to touch and see things, maybe to hear, smell or taste things. To discuss new or unexpected things. To think about interesting things.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Look for light

Look for light, literally and figuratively.

Early, in the kitchen, a basket of light:

One side is white with dark holes. The other side is dark with pink morning sun. Had I used a flash, both sides of the basket would have looked the same and the soft spots would have been gone.

Downstairs, another light show:
photos and little video by Sandra Dodd in 2010

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sweet and playful

10/20/16 Sweet and playful photo Look how long our shadows are

"Don’t underestimate how wonderful your happy presence can be for your kids. Be sweet and playful and optimistic and involved. Give them lots of your time."
—Deb Lewis
photo by Eva Witsel

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


"I will never forget how I realized that I could be an independent person from watching "That Girl," or how seeing Barbara Jordan give the DNC speech as the first Black Woman ever to do so impacted me in ways that stay with me to this day."
—Jocelyn Cooper

You remember learning things. Your children are learning, too.

Read more:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sorry for the American references, but here:

"That Girl" was a game-changing television program, and Barbara Jordan (a U.S. Representative from Texas) gave a speech aired on TV at the 1976 Democratic National Convention at which Jimmy Carter was nominated to run for president.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Get your footing so you can make progress.

"That picture you paint for yourself will get in the way of seeing the whole, real person right in front of you.

"Be precise in the words you use to describe those you love, aim to support and care for. Be as generous as you can too. The clearer you see your child, the better you can respond to their needs. The better you learn to listen to them, see them, and be of useful service to them, the more they will have confidence in your ability to have their best interest in mind."
—Karen James
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cats, for real

For fun, today, maybe think about the nature of cats. There are pet cats, acting-and-modelling cats, folklore and humor about cats, fantasy cats, cartoon cats, imagery, song, and story of cats. Wild cats, musical cats, cool cats. Thinking about what IS a cat will help with thinking about the "is"ness of all other things.
photo by Brie Jontry of painting by Noor JontryMasterson
who also created the cat art here:


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Kirby is married

Kirby, our oldest, was married October 14, 2016. The wedding was in the foothills of the Sandia. The reception was at "Event Palace," a rental facility, but the party (with karaoke) moved to our house and is still going on while it's time for me to create this post. So I will report a new daughter-in-law, many compliments tonight on Kirby, Marty and Holly all, and gratitude that Kirby's new wife loves him.
photo of Kirby and Destiny singing "A Whole New World,"
with her sister listening
by Sandra Dodd

Friday, October 14, 2016

Same door

The same door can lead to different spaces, different times, different associations and memories. This door has seen joy and sorrow. People have passed through merrily and dreadfully. They wore clothing, shoes and hats of many different times. They thought of their relatives, their jobs, their problems, and their hopes.

I passed through that door in 2016. I saw the stone arches, the flint wall, the woodwork, the iron latch. I saw the sunlight without and the darker, quieter space within.

Our days are full of doors and portals, some physical and some in our thoughts and ideas. Bravely see with your very own eyes.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stronger, and calm

As you understand unschooling better and have stories of your own child's learning, you will be stronger, and bigger, and relatives will start to love those stories of natural learning, too. It takes a while. It will always take a while.

When the stories are about YOUR children, and not just other people's children, you'll be in a more stable, calm place.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

the best Now

Colleen Prieto wrote:
"I know that no matter how wonderful a childhood he has—no matter how accepted, nurtured, loved, and cared for he is—I can’t control his Future. His Someday is his—and he will run up against a whole world that is full of potentially confusing and potentially damaging things and people. We give him the best Now we can, in hopes that’ll carry him through his Someday as well as it can."
—Colleen Prieto

That's an almost-direct quote. There's a "but..." coming in the original,
but you might not need it today.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Really reading

My recommendation to worried parents is to smile and wait and hold your child lovingly and to do no damage to his happiness while you're waiting for the day he can really read.
photo by Quita Gray

Monday, October 10, 2016

Simple joys

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. You don't need someone else to give you permission, or to decide whether or not what you thought gave you joy was an acceptable source of enjoyment.
photo by Kirby Dodd

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Magic (it isn't)

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.

Unschooling cannot be learned by reading or writing.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Wrapped in thought

"Self control" is all tied up with being bad, and with failure. Choices, though, are wrapped in thought, power and freedom!
photo by Elise Lauterbach

Friday, October 7, 2016

Secondary benefits

Look at all this impermanence—pixels showing a digital photo of the shadows of paper banners. Nothing very solid. Nothing that will last a century. But when you share an observation with a child, or with a friend, it is possible that you will be offering a missing piece, an inspiring opening, a near-magical life-changing clue.

What seems small to one person might be life changing to another.

The text above was written for the image, but here's an example:
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mysterious everything

If you don't know what something is, another person probably does know.
If your child knows something you don't know, be glad of that!

When you know something your child doesn't know, it might not be something he wants or needs to know.

Calmly accept the mysteries of life.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Comforted and loved

Too many parents talk and talk to their kids, and ask them how they feel and ask them what they need.

Learn to guess. Learn to provide in advance. Food is good to practice with. Soft, clean cleared-off beds are good to practice with. Clearing off space for video gaming is nice. Soon you start to think about heat, softness, clean clothes, toothpaste before it runs out, favorite foods when you shop. And then people feel heard and comforted and entertained and loved.
photo by Holly Dodd

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bigger, better life

We make choices ALL the time. Learning to make better ones in small little ways, immediate ways, makes life bigger and better. Choosing to be gentle with a child, and patient with ourselves, and generous in ways we think might not even show makes our children more gentle, patient and generous.
Chrissy Florence

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bright clouds

Mix it up, with words and ideas. Be happily surprised.
photo by Robert Gottlieb

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Reading and watermelons

When learning to read happens naturally, it doesn't look like school's reading lessons. It doesn't take years. It might take only days, but the tricky part is when those days will come. If you plant watermelons, picking at the leaves and threatening the vine will not get you a watermelon before one was going to naturally grow and mature. It's the same with children.

The quote is from page 86 (page 95, in 2019 edition)
of The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Amber Stippy