Thursday, March 31, 2022

Safety and peace

Brie Jontry wrote:

There's the misguided idea sometimes that unschooling means hands-off, but it doesn't. You, as the adult, need to make sure everyone is safe, and that there's as much peace as possible. Leaving kids to work through problems on their own isn't partnership and it doesn't strengthen relationships. Your kids need you to help them sort through problems.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Wednesday, March 30, 2022


I regret some times I spoke without thinking first, without breathing first.

Live (think, breathe) as well as you can now so your own list of regrets will be as short as it can be. You will sleep better in future years if you breathe before you speak today.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Successful unschooling

Unschooling might not look like a big deal when people are thinking "School? Curriculum? Unschooling?"

School or a curriculum can be picked up or put down. Unschooling, to succeed, needs to be lived, as a family.
photo by Holly Dodd (it's called "Reach")

Monday, March 28, 2022

Becoming unschooling parents

In order for parents to unschool, they need to become unschooling parents.

Saying "we're unschoolers now" isn't enough.

There are changes that need to take place.

the quote is from Who can Unschool?
but this will help: Becoming Solid
photo by Ester Siroky

Sunday, March 27, 2022

A message to your grandchildren

Your children are developing a holographic internal image of you, complete with voice and emotion. The things you do and say are being recorded for posterity; make them sweet and good. What you choose to say and do now will affect what your children say to their children, and what your great grandchildren will hear after you're long gone.

Live like you're their last hope.
photo by Julie D

(translated by J'OSE la vie in 2013)

« Vos enfants sont l'élaboration d'une image holographique interne de vous toute entière, avec la voix et l'émotion. Les choses que vous faites et dites sont enregistrées pour la postérité, faites-les douces et bonnes. Ce que vous choisissez de dire et de faire maintenant aura une incidence sur ce que vos enfants diront à leurs enfants, et ce que vos petits-enfants entendront après que vous soyez partis depuis longtemps. Vivez comme si vous étiez leur dernier espoir. » ~ Sandra Dodd

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Acceptance and sharing

The more accepting you are when they share with you, the more they will share.

From a 2013 discussion of Focus, Hobbies, Obsessions
photo by Gail Higgins

Friday, March 25, 2022

Helping as a good partner

Joanna Murphy wrote:

Think of yourself as creating a partnership with your son. See your son as whole and healthy and desirous of being in a state of rest and vibrancy but maybe just not knowing at this moment how to get there on his own.

If he's not able to make certain decisions for himself yet (like reading his tired signals), then you can be the part of the team that can make that decision and explain it to the other half—it's not him or you—it's both of you working together to make a healthy and happy child.

This is the moment when his bed is made, the lights are low, the music is on (or whatever he has identified as aids to his sleep). Your certainty about what he's needing at that moment (sleep), combined with the quality of the connection and trust you have with him will determine what will happen next.

Original on Always Learning
(I added some paragraph breaks for today.)
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Invisible and personal

We cannot see what our children are learning, and to some extent it's none of our business.

Hobbies and interests lead to learning
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

A peaceful day

I think it's harmful to stir up outrage in and among parents of young children. It's okay for unschooled children to have a peaceful day even though there are others outraged elsewhere.

Outrage is not a virtue. Donald Duck should not be your role model.

Later note: In a larger context, peace shouldn't be limited to only unschooled children. And it shouldn't be limited to children.
photo by Kirby Dodd

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Sparkly and wonderful newness

Part of what makes something sparkly and wonderful is the observer being new to it and seeing it as a giant wall of glory and potential.

Be patient and understanding if your child is growing tired or more cynical about an interest or pursuit.

When unschooling isn't as new, it can begin to dull for the parent. Find what you can see as new and sparkly, in your child and his interests.

The first paragraph is a quote from the Focus, Hobbies, Obsessions chat.
photo by Kinsey Norris

Monday, March 21, 2022

Kind and patient

When you are kind, it changes the kind of person you are. When you are patient, it makes you a better person.
photo by Sarah S.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Closer, sooner, sweeter

No volume of parental talk will help as much as it will help for the parent to be closer, sooner, sweeter.
Practice being quiet
photo by Sarah S.

(source of quote)

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Better right now, today

from a discussion about preventing hitting

Something that makes the situation better right now, today should be the first step, for sure! Be nearer, be attentive, improve conditions, make sure kids aren't hungry.
photo by Sarah S.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Stock market and yoga poses

Renee Cabatic wrote, in 2013:

As Xander has been playing Grand Theft Auto 5, I've written down some of the things he's been learning:
1) choose your friends, co-workers carefully
2) how to buy and sell stocks
3) some yoga poses
4) new vocabulary
That's doesn't include the conversations brought up by the talk radio playing in the stolen vehicles.
—Renee Cabatic

Safe on the Couch
photo by Sandra Dodd (not of Xander, but of my husband, Keith)

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Staying home in modern times

Below is something I wrote in December 2020.
I'm sharing it because it has been two years since the covid shut-down changed my plans. I was to have stayed with a grandson while his younger sibling was born. That little girl has turned two years old now. Because I have an undiagnosed chronic cough, I fear to become sick, so I stay home, still, usually.

I could be sad at home, or I can be happy. I have years of practice at conjuring and sharing happiness. Keith knows that sometimes I fail. I get scared, or have a bad dream, or feel sorry for myself, but I revive and recover and put out one more “Just Add Light and Stir,” where people can peek into moments in other families, viewpoints of other people, and sightings of birds or lizards on other continents, in other seasons. There are words and ideas people can take in for a moment, or an hour, or to keep. Then I feel better.

I hope next year is easier and sweeter for all of us. If it is, your memories of an expansive world should allow you to jump on and ride it.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Kind and safe

Parents get pretty good at noticing when a child is tired, hungry or frustrated. It's important to see those things in yourself. Keep your family safe from your more dangerous moods and states. If you're too hungry or too tired to be kind and safe, ask for help. Or admit you're feeling stressed, and be more careful. Don't use your mood as an excuse to be harsh or dangerous. Learn to do what you need to do to stay in a workable, safe zone.
photo by Destiny Dodd

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Quoting "science"

"Scientists" say whatever they want to say. Scientists say the Grand Canyon was created suddenly by a flood. Scientists say the world is only 6,000 years old. Scientists say body fat is not bad. Scientists say it's terribly deadly. Scientists say a species is extinct, and then scientists say they were wrong.

Facts change.
photo by Cass Kotrba

The text aboved was part of a rant. Sometimes when I rant, it's fun to read later, but the context was (as usual) unschooling, within the world of homeschooling.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Learning is natural and personal

Meredith Novak wrote:

"Unschooling stems from the premise that learning is natural and personal - and as such it depends utterly on the individual's perceptions and perspectives. It is not something that can be given or created from the outside. There is no way to guarantee what another person will learn. From that perspective, teaching isn't so much bad as superstitious."


Learning, or maybe Curiosity
photo by Laura Zurro

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Helping grown kids

Holly gets her firewood from our house. Her dad splits wood for fun and for exercise. He enjoys organizing his woodpile as a hobby. In addition to the split wood, she takes kindling, and I make "waxy wood" a time or two a year, by splitting short sections of straight cedar and dipping each stick in melted wax.

If Holly got cold, she could come to our house, or I would lend her blankets, or make corn bags for her to heat up in her microwave. We would pay her gas bill if she needed that sort of help. But for now, we share our fireplace know-how and the by-products of Keith's wood-processing hobby.

Share what you can share. Do what you can do.
photo by Holly Dodd

Saturday, March 12, 2022

March 2022, a note

I'm sorry I didn't put up a new Just Add Light and Stir, but now I guess I am, though it's late.

Yesterday's has a slide show / photo gallery, at the blog / website, but it didn't work in e-mail, so here: "Beauty" (the post from yesterday)

While you're there, play with the randomizer!

And here's a photo of two of my grandkids playing at my house a few days ago.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 11, 2022


The other day I saw some beautiful onions. People would buy them even if they hadn't been arranged so nicely, but the produce manager had set each onion down by hand, with thought, and there they were in a pattern I helped to dismantle by taking some of them home with me.

Some of what we have used to be elsewhere. Some of what is at our house will be other places someday. Patterns come and go like cloud pictures, and we ourselves are part of that changing swirl of life and beauty.

click to see others
The photo gallery works on the blog, but not in e-mail; sorry.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Traditional wisdom

"No matter how long the winter, Spring is sure to follow."
—English Proverb

Hope and Joy
photo by Gail Higgins, from whom I also lifted the quoted proverb

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

See through loving eyes

Alex wrote:

Decide to not hold on to your pessimism. Choose today to be optimistic. Choose to look at the beauty around you and to see life and people through loving eyes.

That is all it takes.
—Alex Polikowsky

The Value of Optimism
photo by Karen James

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Living clearly

"A life well lived is one where our motivation for doing what we do is clear in our own minds and hearts."
—Karen James

Be, be, and you will be
photo by Renee Cabatic

Monday, March 7, 2022

Past and Present History

History is where your car came from, and what car you had before that, and how far back in your family it was when they didn't have cars, and what did they use?

History is why people in different places speak different languages. Why are there different accents in different parts of the same countries? Why are they speaking French in Québec and Louisiana? What's with Hawai'i? Why isn't South America all Spanish-speaking? What's with Brazil and Belize? How long did it take to get from Europe to those places back in the day? How long now?

Why are there milestones in Massachusetts? Why are there milestones in England? What the heck is a milestone?

Page 80 or 88 of The Big Book of Unschooling
Some figurative and (photos of) literal milestones
photo by Teresa Phillips

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Building a rich life

"What it takes to build a rich life is you — your time, energy, imagination, openness, passion, and optimism."
—Claire Horsley
on Always Learning
photo by Rippy Dusseldorp

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Learning, becoming, presence

A beautiful response from Pam Sorooshian:

The stated problem:
"With younger kids, there is no opportunity to pursue my own passions."

Pam's suggested solution:

Make becoming a fantastic mom your passion. Make learning all about those kids of yours, your passion. Make having a peaceful and joyful home your passion.

Then you can pursue that while still being fully present with your kids.

One source of that, which leads to another
photo by Sarah S.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Subtle and crucial

When a family doesn't consider learning the primary goal of unschooling, things can disintegrate pretty quickly. YES, once you get it going kids are learning all the time. But if a family starts with the idea that learning is happening all the time, they might never quite get the learning part of unschooling going. And in that case learning will NOT happen all the time. It's subtle but crucial.

Sandra Dodd, at Always Learning, 2011
quote discovered and revived by Marta Venturini in 2016
photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Service and abundance

Service is an expression of love for me. It really depends on the attitude, doesn't it? Like the half full or half empty cup....although for me it is neither but plenty in it to go around.
— Nicole Kenyon
Responses to the Question about Service
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Yesterday's link to didn't work, but it's fixed now, and is related to today's quote, too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

A Sense of Abundance

Colleen Prieto wrote:

I hope I have instilled a sense of abundance, not moderation, in my 11 year old. I hope he will love, enjoy, think, create, eat, sing, play, read, watch, go, see, and do in whatever amount or volume makes him smile. I hope he will never look at an opportunity, or a person, or a cookie, and think "I'd really like to do that, or hang out more with him, or try that" and then stop himself because his goal is moderation rather than happiness.
—Colleen Prieto
photo by Gail Higgins

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

More peaceful behavior

Amy Carpenter wrote:

Adrenaline is a big part of an anger reaction — the "fight or flight" reaction is a very difficult one to reason ourselves out of once it hits. In addition to giving us quick reactions and additional strength, adrenaline gives us "tunnel vision" — we are only able to think about, or even see, one or maybe two variables at a moment (as opposed to when our conscious minds function normally, and we can juggle 5-7 variables in a situation).

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm just philosophizing (in a non-helpful way) about anger. I have collected these tidbits about anger because it has played a big part in my own life. It is only in the past few years that I can consistently count on myself to act the way I want to, even when "driven to anger." Knowing these things about anger have helped my own self-awareness, which led to much more peaceful behavior on my part.

There is more: Understanding Anger
photo by Karen James