Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Words and history in charity shops

Digital cameras have been very good for me. I've always been a collector, a saver. "A pack rat," said my Mamaw.

Modern cameras have allowed me to collect without weight or bulk, without shipping costs. But digital photos can be fragile, hard to find, and easy to lose.

In 2013, I went to a shop selling used things, in Scotland, and I saw this tie. It says "Trusty and Leal." I didn't know the word "leal," so I took a photo. Looking at it later, I wish I had bought the India-print looking black and yellow cloth behind it, but I didn't.

In 2021, when I had some time to look at the photos in a more leisurely way, I found that "leal" means loyal and true. The word is archaic (out of style and use) and Scottish.

So in Selkirk, or somewhere around there, maybe, is (or used to be) a school with the motto "Trusty and Leal." That dates the school to the very early 20th century, or earlier, probably.

I love this stuff. Connect what you know to what you can find, and you will have more and more hooks on which future thoughts can hang.

photo by Sandra Dodd

FOUND IT just before this post was to launch. I had failed to discover it while I was writing the post last week.

The tie and its motto are associated with Selkirk High School, founded in 1897. Two guesses right. What I didn't know is that "trusty and leal" comes from a song. This link should take you right to that part of the song. Up wi the Souters O Selkirk

Another recording: Ross Kennedy. Seeing there that Robert Burns wrote it, one more search got me the poem, from 1796.

Monday, August 30, 2021

A little more interesting

Instead of feeling like you need to struggle, just stop and look at your son and think, "Right now what can I do to make his life a little more interesting?"
—Pam Sorooshian

photo by Belinda Dutch

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Windows, and grown children

The pandemic made me appreciate the views from windows. I loved seeing so many exotic window views shared on facebook.

My youngest has her own house now. For a few months, she had a housemate, who is pregnant. The baby's father died, during the pregnancy. Holly had known the friend years ago, and invited her in to rest and recover.

A few days ago, Holly let me know she had been 200 miles away, overnight, helping the roommate move to another town to be with her mom, in a new place. This view is from that new window.

I brought that story to let you know that someday those little children at your house will grow up, and you might find them being compassionate and generous in ways you will only learn about after the fact. They will see beauty, out windows in other places, and might send you a photo.

photo by Holly Dodd

Saturday, August 28, 2021


An angel, holding an image of dice, in a church in Wales, in reference to a story about Roman soldiers near Jerusalem, long before that.

Light from the same sun.


photo by Sandra Dodd, St. Teilo’s church at St. Fagans Museum

Thursday, August 26, 2021


I took this photo in 2014, on a beach on the east coast of Australia. A man walking his dog told me what caused those tiny sandballs that were here and there. I remembered, for a while, but I don't know now.

It was an interesting mystery at first, and now it is again! I would love to blame over-activity or aging for this, but it's just the way I am. My oldest said once that it must be great for me to be able to see movies again and still be surprised by the ending.

Some things I remember well, and some I don't. Some recipes I look up every time. Some spellings I double check. Names and faces elude me the first several times; it takes a while.

Be patient with yourself and others, about details. Discovering something the second time can be fun, too. Some people are aging, and over-active. Stress never helps. Be kind. Repeat yourself with a smile.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Fear itself

Clare Kirkpatrick wrote:

"I always find it helpful to really pick apart my fears and compare them to other fears I could have and I usually come to the conclusion that I really should just chill out about it all and look for joy, not fear. Fear just gets in the way of everything. And fear itself is bad for you anyway—worrying about this or that all the time just means you have some nasty, harmful hormones floating round your body. You can find reasons to worry about everything but all those things will get in your way."
—Clare Kirkpatrick
Better Biochemicals
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Safety and welcome

This gate was made for an open-air museum in The Netherlands, in a style that's called "wattle," in England. I like it.

I love gates, especially when you can see through them, but they keep children, animals and gardens safe. Though they might keep strangers out, they can welcome friends in!

I hope you have a gate or two you use, or see, or like, in your life.

Other gates
photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, August 23, 2021

Museum tea

Have you ever been "museum sick"? Sometimes a museum is so large and overwhelming that my thought is "Do they have a good cafeteria? A cafe?"

This teabag was at the Escher Museum, in The Hague, when Joyce and I went to speak in 2013, and Rippy took us touristing

Photos are good for memories and ideas.

I miss museums, and I miss being able to travel and meet up with unschoolers.

I hope everyone who reads this will still, someday, get a chance to see so much museum that all you can think about is sitting down with some tea or food.

Museum Sickness
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 22, 2021

If nobody makes you...

Sadie Brown, now a veterinarian in her 30s (once Sadie Yurista, unschooled in Northern New Mexico) sent this a few years ago, writing, "It made me think of you and learn nothing day."

Calvin and Hobbes online
art and concept by Bill Watterson; read more at the link above!

Sent by Sadie Brown; rescued by facebook memories.

Sadie had sent a photo of a page from a book at her house. I found a flatter, lighter version online. Bill Watterson's work is wonderful, and I hope any of you who don't know those characters will spend some time with them.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Plain everyday exotica

Where you live is different. It might not seem different to you, but it's not like all the rest of the world.

Manhole covers are different in different places. The default surfaces of streets, and the way they are repaired and refinished vary. Whether the pedestrian part of the road (if there is one) is called "sidewalk" or "pavement" or something else... I grew up where there were few surfaced walkways. We had "side of the road."

Try to look through the eyes of young children, or of foreign visitors.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 20, 2021

Choosing paths

Jen, who took this beautiful photo of outdoor steps, sent a note with the image:

"Thanks so much for all you’ve done to show us a different path to choose. ❤️"

I like that phrasing, and I appreciated the message. I've thought about it for a couple of days. Unschooling is a different path, for sure. Being present and as patient and as peaceful with children as one can manage to be is a path to choose, too. Neither of those is one path to a shared destination, though. None of us can even see what's at the top of that hill.

Making choices as we go, we can opt out of attractive stairs, or we can come back to them later. Let your path meander. The way is clearer behind than in front, because every day we make many choices.

The trail starts to open up
photo by Jen Fletcher

Thursday, August 19, 2021


Passageways through, between, under, within buildings can be fun, like secret portals.

There are passageways otherwise, too—in the connections among friends, in jobs and hobbies, in forests and gardens, and once in a while within a home. If you have a house with a fun door, back stairs, or hidden room, be glad! I've visited two places with secret doors, and one with back stairs that only showed if you knew.

Learn to love surprising trails.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Following different kinds of trails

I took this photo in a history museum called Archeon, in The Netherlands. They have sections portraying different historical periods, with full-size buildings, and with guides in costume, making things, playing instruments, cooking, training birds, and many other things. There are gardens growing. There are chickens.

When I decided to use the photo, I googled "Roman hopscotch" to see whether there was documentation for that, and found this quote: (source)
Hopscotch began in ancient Britain during the early Roman Empire. The original hopscotch courts were over 100 feet long and used for military training exercises. ... Roman children drew their own smaller courts in imitation of the soldiers, added a scoring system and "Hopscotch" spread throughout Europe.
This is a kind of history about which more is known as time passes, rather than less. More may yet be discovered. Whether the diagram in the photo is historical or not, maybe people at the museum know. Either way is fine.

Learn history lightly, because new things will be learned, a new focus will come, and if you live long enough, it will change again. Collect ideas and information so that connections will continue to form, your whole life long.

Many images of hopscotch layouts, and many lead to more info
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Truth and kindness

young friends watching a video in the dark
Some things I've said when others were critical or questioning, about unschooling:

"This is working for now. If it stops working, we'll do something else."

"Thanks. I'll think about that." (Or you could say "We thought about that," or "I think about that all the time.")

Mostly people want to know you heard what they said, and that you have thought about what they're suggesting. It doesn't hurt to say that you have, or that you will.
—Sandra Dodd

What Can I Say to Doubters and Critics?
photo by Julie D

Monday, August 16, 2021

Understanding and experience

"There are many things one can trust as one begins unschooling. Draw on what you know about your child, your partner and yourself to nurture confidence. Trust in unschooling will deepen and grow as one gains understanding and experience."
—Karen James

photo by Gail Higgins

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The next interaction

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

Stop thinking about changing "for good and not just for days or moments." That is just another thing to overwhelm you and you don't need that!

Just change the next interaction you have with the kids.

Stop reading email right now and do something "preventative"—'something that helps build your relationship with them.

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."

Okay—so that is one good, positive interaction.

Again—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

I appreciate that Pam Sorooshian has let me collect her writing and quote her for many years. There are others who have been similarly wise and generous. It is a gift I enjoy every time I come across their words. —Sandra

Becoming the Parent you Want to Be
photo by Elaine Santana

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Gratitude and joy

If you don't feel you will be happy, then you won't be. The largest part of happiness has to do with gratitude and joy. Either of those can be snuffed out by the recitation of ills.

Discussion of the Gratitude page from The Big Book of Unschooling
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, August 13, 2021

Bad ideas, but funny

Holly is smart and funny. She showed me a question (in art/meme form) asking "If you could delete one thing from Earth, what would it be?"

So one person wrote "The stupid people. All of them."

Holly doesn't know her, but said "That would make her the stupidest person on Earth."

If someone could remove everybody who is stupider than they were, they would, by default, become the dumbest person left, as she explained it.

It's like the opposite of "Idiocracy," where a guy became the smartest person.

Anyone who thought deleting all the stupid people was a good idea would happily delete her next. 🙂 So I said "ants." But I wasted my wish. I should've said "mosquitos."

I read this tonight, after getting a serious mosquito bite from being outside talking with Brie about the movie Idiocracy, and about Holly being smart and funny. All coincidence, because I hadn't remembered the post or conversation. Stupid mosquito. My ankle itches.
August 12, 2017 on my facebook page, where I apologize, explain, and endure assurances that ants and mosquitos are important (other animals eat them), and agree with the idea that maybe humans are not necessary to the survival of Earth.
image by Scott Nickel (I don't know him.)

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Joy and Eternity

The better we handle the trust given us by a child, the better people we are, and the better the child's young life, adulthood and old age will be. We're not just dealing with little children. We're dealing with the whole of life itself, which will outlast us all. We are dealing with joy and with eternity.

link to musical original,
and to another post celebrating small but profound changes
photo by Sandra Dodd (a grandchild in the arms of her Dodd-Dad)

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Quizzes can fizzle

This story has just been added to my site. It was told in 2003, when Marty was fourteen and Holly was twelve or so.

My husband's oldest brother came to visit and [Holly] and Marty discussed how to deal with his quizzy questions, usually math. She told me a story from when she was littler, maybe eight. Uncle Gerry had been here, and Holly was brushing her teeth. He stood watching her, and started in about how important it is to brush teeth and floss, because (as Holly reported, he said in a teacherly voice) "Do you know how many sets of teeth you have in this lifetime?"

Holly said, "Two?" (in a kind of "is this a trick question" tone) and she said he was already holding up his index finger as the "one" of the coming "right answer," and he added another finger and sheepishly said, "That's right. Two."

So Holly won a big point and never even told us about it at the time. Cool story. I don't think he quizzed them this time.

Better Answers
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


Words and image by Pati Nagle, a longtime friend, former housemate, author.
Shared on facebook 9 August 2021.

Monday, August 9, 2021

"Same-old" can be new

There are things that most kids do, that most adults have done, that can seem ho-hum and same-old.

Don't be bored and boring! Look for joy in moments. Shine your own light on things.

Turning point
photo by Sarah Dickinson

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Don't worry.

Don't worry if kids don't eat much. Don't worry if kids eat lots.

Try to give them lots of choices in small amounts, and try not to worry!
Monkey Platters
photo by Sandra Dodd, of apples drying

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Small wins you can choose

You could be the best part of someone else's day.

Be careful not to be the worst.

You can choose your goals, and practice to win.

Remember to think of moments, more than days, too.
Slowly Becoming Wise
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, August 6, 2021

Building an epic nest

If you want to unschool, there's no curriculum to buy and you and your children will be discovering the secret passages and magical destinations without a schedule or a map.

To help you prepare for or strengthen your own heroic adventure, there are three tools you need, and a checklist of seven nest-building items for you to collect and protect.
Equip yourself with:
good examples
Build your nest with

Building an Unschooling Nest
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Quick! They're gone!

Older moms say "Appreciate your kids. They'll be grown before you know it."

Younger moms think it's rude, and wrong, and can hardly endure the endless days of damp, stinky babies and toddlers, and messy, destructive, needy three and four year olds, and...

Life is made of stages that can seem long. I've had young children and felt sticky and crowded and exhausted. I've had teens I started to miss before they were gone.

Wherever you are, breathe and be patient and loving.

photo by Ester Siroky

This is a re-run from only a year ago. I usually wait longer, but I feel that this could help some parent (or many) every month. Please continue to be as kind and as appreciative as you can be, even when the world outside isn't helping. You could be the best part of someone else's day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Two things at once

Here's a confession. While advice to focus and concentrate on doing one thing without distraction—singlemindedly performing a task in and of itself—seems very spiritual and clear, in my own real life I don't like it. Maybe it's because I can't succeed there.

I like to have conversations during video games, and sing while I'm driving, listen to audiobooks while I'm doing dishes, and that's probably why I like this picture of kids interacting just some, while also doing other things. I see evidence of activity and of choices made, and nothing taken too seriously. There can be clear and spiritual advantages to accepting that some people are that two-for-one way.

Doing Two Things at Once or, Leaning on a Truck and other parallel play
photo by Kinsey Norris

Monday, August 2, 2021

Be prepared to seem patient.

Planning for snacks and having them handy can seem like patience.

Planning for clothing and having extra with you can seem like patience.

Having a map and directions and having the phone charged up and a flashlight and an umbrella can seem like patience.

Impatience is often the beacon of unpreparedness and the resulting embarrassment. Be prepared!

The quote is from the section called "Patience" in The Big Book of Unschooling
but this link has some other ideas: SandraDodd.com/patience
photo by Sandra Dodd

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Just Do it!

"Just Do it — show your kids by your actions that their needs and feelings are important to you."
photo by Cathy Koetsier