Thursday, May 31, 2018

Whirl and twirl

We have made good use of making patterns in the slots of a revolving rack of poker chips, and then with poker chips out on the table. I have set out photocopied pictures and cheap water colors, lots of brushes, and had side-by-side painting by the hour. Whichever kids or visitors wander by will be drawn in and as they play or paint they talk and share and think.
. . . .
Working on patterns in silence allows one’s mind to whirl and twirl.
scanner art by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Think well of them

"Think well of them, all the time. Be grateful."
—Schuyler Waynforth
about partners,
but it works for kids
photo by Cátia Maciel

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

News or nostalgia

Today, something different. It's an invitation to smile, and probably to laugh. I'm sharing my secret stash of favorite cheer-up videos, collected for the days I need them. Dancing babies, mysterious Japanese philosophy, auto-tuned glory, Yoda, and the words of "a desert hobo" might make you think thoughts that remind you of the first time you thought them, or might make you wish this wasn't the first time you had sung along.
Please take some time to share smiles and create memories with a loved one.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Loving presence

Each child, in the moment, doing something interesting in the presence of a loving parent... that works the same for anyone.
Marta Venturini saved this and quoted me in 2012.
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Find ideas you like

Find ideas you like, but remember that all parenting happens at your house, not online, not in groups, but within the parent. Your relationship with your child doesn't need to be approved by strangers. It needs to be the best you can do with your child, yourself, at your house. If you need ideas, the world is overflowing with good ones, and bad ones.
(Thanks to Robin Bentley, for quoting me on May 22, 2013.)
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, May 25, 2018

When to whine

If you notice you're angry or complaining, back away a bit, physically or mentally or emotionally, and see how big the problem really is, from a different perspective.

There is a cloud...
photo by Sandra Dodd

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Peace is all about choices

If you want to live peacefully make the most peaceful choices. Peace is all about choices. Choose to breathe consciously. Choose understanding over ignorance. Choose to make choices. Choose awareness over oblivion. And make choices based on the principles you live by.
(Thanks to Heather Newman for quoting me, May 22, 2011.)
photo by Sylvia Woodman

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Nature and construction

Nature, culture, ancient engineering, curiosity, a moment of still wonder...

People love bridges. Think back to bridges from your childhood, the oldest bridges you've seen, the simplest, the most elegant.

Think of memories, or images, of people and of bridges. Beauty and wondrous crossings, over water, over canyons, over little streams and ditches. I think this must be one of the most iconic motifs in human history.

a bit about bridges
photo by Annie Regan

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Shame free

I didn’t expect unschooling to create a shameless life, but one day I said to Holly, joking, “Aren’t you ashamed?”

She didn’t know what “ashamed” meant. She was twelve; maybe thirteen already.

People used to say “you should be ashamed” lots, to and around me, when I was young. And I was, I just hadn’t found the reason for it yet. Shame is like an indwelling virus that surfaces when we’re weak, in those who caught it.

I didn’t know people could grow up without having a wad of shame inside them, waiting to surface.
photo by Gail Higgins

Monday, May 21, 2018

Quiet focus

Moments of quiet focus, and photo evidence of those, are both a bit magical.
photo by Ester Siroky

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Gail Higgins photos

Another collection!?
I'm getting well, but have two unexpected separate house guests, from two different unexpected situations.

Please enjoy some beautiful photos by Gail Higgins.
(A couple have Gail-Higgins quotes and photos by others.)

photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, May 18, 2018

A fun person

"Treat her like a fun person rather than like a kid."
—Angela (NYCitymomx3)
Fron a longer list at
photo by Chrissy Florence

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Seasonal doings

There is a "when" and a "where" to activities. Soon, at my house, we'll be inside trying to stay cool, but a different latitude or hemisphere could change that.

Are plants coming or going? Or maybe you live where the plants last all year, every year; maybe you live where plants are mostly indoor houseplants.

Share these ideas with your children, if they're interested. I remember that a year seemed forever, when I was six years old. At sixty, time was very different.
photo (a link) by Janine Davies

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Chrissy Florence photos

Chrissy Florence sent me a Christmas card once, with this beautiful photo (and others). I couldn't stop looking at it. I still love to see it, every time it comes by.

I wrote to ask if I could use it, and if she had others. Yes, and she did.

Chrissy's photos show contemplation and exuberance. I hope you enjoy seeing them, and the quotes that jumped out to match them. Some photos were used twice, because of a Photobucket site glitch that caused me to lose some notes. That's okay, though. If a quote or photo comes by twice, it probably means it was worth seeing again!

I'm grateful for her eye and for her generosity.

Photos by Chrissy Florence
(Sick week, day 2)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Karen James' quotes and photos

photo by Karen James

I need a few days of sick leave, please.

This will lead to posts with a photo or quote (maybe both in one, but not usually) by Karen James:

Karen James


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Words can block thought

Have you considered putting limits on paper time?
       Cloth time?
               Other-human time?

I wrote that when the umpteenth person asked why unschoolers weren't limiting children's "screentime," without being able to break that down into what a child was actually doing.

Beyond the door
photo by Cátia Maciel

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Time flows

Every ghost town used to be alive.

Every "haunted house" was once new.

An abandoned car started with good tires, a running engine, and a happy owner.

Each adult was a child.
The flow of history
photo by Karen James

Friday, May 11, 2018


Sometimes it's good to see cause and effect, connections, relationships.

Other times, it might be best to gaze without speaking.
photo by Amy Childs

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Solid and sunny

In a moment, in a place, the world can be solid and sunny. Awe-inspiring. Accessible. Safe and strong.

Those conditions can arise in other ways, too. There can be a time of solidity and warmth in a relationship, in family finances, home maintenance, friendships.

Then there will always be more slippery, jarring days when the world is not as warm.

Store up the feelings and memories of the solid, sunny days. Remember they will come around again.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Around the corner

Sometimes there are deadlines and commitments. This week, for us, a baby shower, and a college graduation. If Keith misses his pain-clinic appointment, he might need to wait weeks.

Much more often, though, life has more options, more leeway. A path or choice might be reconsidered.

Be accepting, if you can, when you can, of surprises. We don't know for sure what is around the corner, no matter how familiar the road is.
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Following trails

Don't hesitate to follow little trails, and to quit when something else is more interesting.
photo by Heather Booth

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Intensity and focus

Pam Sorooshian wrote:

Is unschooling right for everyone? My answer is, "It depends." I think ALL children can learn and grow and thrive as unschoolers. But I also think it takes an intensity and focus on living life with a great deal of gusto on the part of unschooling parents. Unschooling parents work hard. For example, they must develop a very high level of sensitivity to their children to know what to offer, when to support, when to back off, how busy they want to be, how much solitude they need, when to nudge them a bit with encouragement, when to get more involved, and so on. AND parents need to be able to always have their kids and their interests in the back of their minds, thinking always about what would interest them; bringing the world to them and bringing them to the world in ways that "click" for that particular child. And it takes a great deal of trust that the child will learn without external pressure.
—Pam Sorooshian

I LIVE THEREFORE I LEARN: Living an Unschooling Life
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Step back and think

I did an odd thing, when Kirby was five. I consciously decided not to use the names of "subject areas," ever. Whether he liked something or not, I wasn't going to tell him it was "history" or "math" or "science." Each of those is made up of dozens, hundreds of interests and unrelated topics.

In school, kids decide to declare that they like or hate "science," when really geology has very little to do with psychology or surgery. Same with "geography." Would someone who "likes geography" because he's fascinated by maps and mapping necessarily care about the major production of different regions of the world, or traditional costume of Afghanistan?

But as an unschooling mom, I think it's important for the parents not to say "I don't like... (maps/science/costume/psychology), because if you have fears and prejudices left over from school, it's a good thing to do whatever internal work you need to get over that, so you can answer your children's questions without showing (and maybe passing on) an aversion.
photo by Ester Siroky

Friday, May 4, 2018

Usually unusual

Even in New Mexico, it can be difficult to see a roadrunner. They don't live in groups and they don't make much noise.

A person might live in Texas for a long time and not see a live armadillo.

Don't worry if you miss seeing something cool, but be grateful for lucky sightings of mystery or beauty. Something normal near you might be exotic everywhere else.
More "more"
photo by Holly's friend Eliza

Thursday, May 3, 2018

History's disorderly conduct

History can't be learned "in order," because it's never going to be orderly. It doesn't even happen in order, because often facts aren't discovered until years after incidents occur, and so the history of them unfolds and is clarified and expanded all the time. People knew zip about Pompeii until 1700-and-some years after it was buried. Someday people might know more about Amelia Earhart's disappearance or the assassination of JFK than they do now, after all who knew them personally will have been long dead.
photo by Lisa Jonick

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


My son is finishing his last semester of an economics degree. I helped proofread a paper Monday night and one of his section headings was "Trade Goods and Bads."That was cute, and was a good header, as the text went.

The next morning, my friend called from Clearlake, in California. I was asking about the neighborhood, and she said that up and around the lake was a place called "Nice." Nice!

Nicer things can make you smile. Smiling is nice.
photo by Amy Childs

This post used to end with "Smiling is better for peace and calm."
That's true, but I think the ending is better without it, rhythmically, poetically.
(Edited the evening of the day it went out by e-mail with the longer ending.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


It's better to think of good moments or bad moments, rather than to curse a whole day with "this is a bad day."

The next moment can be better.
photo by Colleen Prieto