Sunday, June 30, 2019

Tend to living things

"If you need meaning in your life, let it be your family and the things you love. Let it be in building calm and peace in your home for your partner, your children, your pets, your plants. Tend to living things that you can feed, and nourish, and help thrive. If you must tend to your causes too, do so without outrage."
—Deb Lewis

Be dignified
photo by Karen James

Saturday, June 29, 2019


Karen James to her son Ethan: I'm going to the store. Do you want anything special?

Ethan, after a pause: Yeah. Lettuce.

Karen: Lettuce?

Ethan: Yeah, lettuce...and other good snack food like that.

Karen: Okay.
photo by Jo Isaac

Friday, June 28, 2019


There's something unsettling about transitions. Sit, or stand. Not halfway up. Be single, or be in a relationship, not kind of sort of. But life has gradual changes all the time. We don't want the sun to just come up suddenly, or go down instantly.

Luckily, the sun doesn't change directions, or sit thinking for a few days about whether to continue.

Be patient with yourself and others. Growing and changing are normal parts of natural life.
Thoughts on Changing
photo by Amy Milstein

Thursday, June 27, 2019


I like the word "juxtaposition." I like the look of it, the sound of it, and the meaning. It's not a matched set, and it's not about opposites. When things are together (by design or by happenstance) and there's something surprising or quirky about it, thoughts twirl and leap.

New combinations
photo by Holly Dodd, of lily pads, in the desert

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Nourished and strengthened

Pam Sorooshian, on a way to step up peace and focus:

There are times in life that you won't feel like you can take care of others around you as well as you'd like. You need nurturing yourself and other people's neediness starts to be draining on you.

I've felt that, too.

But I've also found that if I focus more on "seeing" my kids with loving-eyes focus, consciously choose to pay attention to what I love about them, then I actually begin to feel more nourished and strengthened by them, and by the very acts of caring for them.
—Pam Sorooshian
(photo by a realtor in Scotland)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Start thinking about stopping.

Here's a way to gauge your unschooling progress: Can you stop learning, at your house? Can you put the pause on unschooling?

Once a year, lots of people do that, as well as they can. Just one day. It's coming up next month, July 24.

I thought you might need some time to plan.

Learn Nothing Day, in here, over the years

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Learning by experience

"I think respectful parenting is similar to learning to ride a bike. The bike, gravity, pavement all provide feedback on whether you've got it right. Or right enough to work. And then you work on refining it. And you don't forget because it's learning by doing.
Learning through immersion. We don't make them do it right. We help them think through the problem, provide information, and help them as they try out solutions. It's often the less than optimal solutions -- as long as they aren't going to injure themselves or harm others -- that are the most instructive because they can see *why* other ways work better. They can see and experience the consequences and the learning is far deeper than being told how to do it right."
—Joyce Fetteroll

"You are nuts!"
photo by Lydia Koltai

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The world came to life

"I was amazed at how much of the world came to life when they were free, and encouraged, to immerse themselves in their deep, passionate interests."
—Pam Laricchia
photo by Janine Davies

Friday, June 21, 2019

Melon Holly
photo by Trevor Parker, later edited by Holly Dodd
photo 2010, caption added 2014, first use here 2019

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ice cleans up after itself

Some of my kids' best bathtub toys have been ice. We have a copper fish mold (you know those molds for jello and aspic and pate and suchlike, all out of fashion now) and an ice-fish was fun, but ice in a bundt pan (like they do for big bowls of punch) has been a fun bathtub toy too. Some bathtub toys make a mess or get moldy or have to be stored, but voila! I mean "where'd it go!?" Ice cleans up after itself.

When we hadn't planned ahead and had ice, I would just set a big plastic bowl full of ice cubes within reach of the tub and Holly would float them, sink them, hold them while they melted it, race them around by swirling the water and I don't know what all.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of ice for Devyn in 2014

P.S. Public service reminder. Ice cleans up after itself in a bathtub, in a wading pool, on the patio, but not on a nice wooden table, and not on the keyboard.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

 Cheese and crackers

Pam Sorooshian, on becoming the parent you want to be:

Fix them a little tray of cheese and crackers and take it to them, wherever they are, unasked. Sit down on the floor and play with them. If nothing else, just go and give each of them a little hug and a kiss and say, "I was just thinking about how much I love you."

Just change the next interaction you have with the kids. Focus on making the next interaction another one that builds up your relationship.
—Pam Sorooshian

How and what to change
photo by Amy Milstein

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

"Just enough" is not enough

When Kirby was a baby, I had a rough day, home alone, and when Keith came home I cried. I said I didn't feel like I was doing a good job, and the house was a mess (and all that stuff). He said "Is the baby still alive? Then you did a good job."

It was a nice thought for that one day, but I'm glad I didn't settle for that, with three kids over the next 20+ years.

Thoughts about doing better
other posts about being and doing "better"
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Sunday, June 16, 2019

More positive

In a world of choices, every choice that moves one toward positivity (hope, optimism, joy, sweetness, peace) and away from negativity (cynicism, anger, disdain, dismay, pessimism) is a solid step toward "better" (IF the person wants to be more positive).

In a world of partnership, when one partner is more positive, the partnership is more positive.

In a home with a mother, when the mother is more positive, the family's life is more positive.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, June 15, 2019


Stop thinking about your own comfort for a while. If you become successful at attending to other people's comfort, their comfort will overflow all around you, and you will feel your success and that will be some of YOUR new comfort.
photo (a link) by Sandra Dodd

Friday, June 14, 2019

Changing your security settings

Someone wrote that some people need to feel secure to make a change.

I responded:

Make changes, and then feel more secure. That's easier.

Little changes, like breathing and calming and smiling.
Little changes, like looking for abundance, and being grateful for little changes.
photo by Lisa J Haugen

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Starting to soften

Karen James wrote:

Being Ethan's mom changed me. I surprised myself in good ways. In learning to give to him, I grew to really like myself. The walls started coming down. I started to soften - to have compassion for myself.... I challenged myself to continue to do better, because I now knew I could. I had a found confidence in that new truth. Honesty and humility too. All good things for learning to really flourish.

As I became happier with myself and the world around me, I would say that real learning started to happen. From my experience, when trauma heals, learning begins to become more fluid again. Richer. More meaningful. More lasting.
—Karen James

More words and/or photos by Karen James
photo by Karen James

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Seeing beauty

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," they say. Sometimes it's intended to be a put-down, of the thing, or of the person who said "Beautiful."

"You're looking at the world through rose-colored glasses" is another sort of light insult.

Picture anything, though—a cloud, a teacup, a puppy—and think about people who would criticize or dismiss, comparing them to someone who would quietly admire and appreciate the thing.

I like to think of parents being the way they want their children to be. I try to remember to be the way I want to be remembered. Maybe seeing beauty is one of the most beautifying things in the world.
photo by Ester Siroky

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Photos can't show it.

Sometimes clouds and mountains make dramatic art of themselves. I wish I could share it with people who live in flatlands, or where they can't see a long way. Photos never show it. Sometimes one provides a breathtaking peek, but when you see a picture of beautiful clouds on mountains, remember that the view was many miles wide and might have gone on up into the sky so high you would fall over backwards trying to see it all.

Caren Knox saved and shared this in 2014. I had posted it without a photo, and will do so again here. Caren matched it with this post, which does have an image: Simply seeing

Monday, June 10, 2019


Think about what you think you "have to" do.

Choose to do something good, for sensible reasons.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Now and then

Today I have seen two of my grown children. Keith saw all three, but not in the same place. We have three grandchildren. I saw two, today, but not at my house.

When your children are still young and with you, once in a while I hope you will look at them all, and maybe catch a photo. If you have one child who lives at home, breathe that in and know that it might not always be so.

Moving away or traveling, going to university, getting married, having children—those things are natural and fine. Time goes forward and people spread out. Today's reality is not what your younger self could have known. More waves of future will come along.

Find peace and appreciation and share it with your children.

Thoughts on growth
photo by Lydia Koltai

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Unseen future

We all are preparing for our unseen futures.

Kids love the excitement of not knowing what's around the bend. Parents prefer the illusion of planning years in advance, but we don't know what's around the bend, either.

Being as present as possible today, now, in this moment, will improve your unseen future.

The first line is from Art, Aging and Spirituality

The best matches for the other ideas are Moments and Big Gambles

photo by Dawn Todd

Friday, June 7, 2019

Visible joy

Make home a place the child is always safe, secure, loved, and respected. Model empathy, kindness, and take visible joy in good things. Bring more good things into the home for the family to take joy in.
—Jessica Hughes

Building an Unschooling Nest
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Images of light

I am grateful to Lisa Jonick for letting me use photos she had taken, over the years, here. Some of my favorite posts have her photos.

I like the matching chickens contrasting beautifully with the green wall, on a snowy day best. You might like others better.

Here they are! Enjoy.

One more way to randomize Just Add Light and Stir
photo by Lisa Jonick

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

It's about everything.

"I wish people who think unschooling is about doing nothing could know that it's about everything."
—Stephanie LaBarge
in an online chat in June, 2010
photo by Sarah Lawson

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Avoiding problems

What else can be a problem with unschooling?
Trying to save time and money; skimping on attention.

I've done this, "Not now," or "please not today." But what do you tell yourself about that? If it's "Good, no problem," that's bad, and a problem.

Generosity begets generosity
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Who will you be?

Make the relationship between parent and child the first priority. Don’t have an image in mind of who the child should be. Begin with an image of who you want to be to your child.
—Jessica Hughes
photo by Chrissy Florence

Saturday, June 1, 2019

What you do changes you

The improvement to life in a family where the mom feels like an attentive, present mom is huge. The improvement to the Mom's life when she is empowering her children rather than limiting them is big. The solid value of her own self esteem when she knows she is creating a safer more peaceful environment is priceless.
photo by Amy Milstein