Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Up and above

Negativity will weigh you down and make life heavy.

Hope and optimism will help you float up and above.
photo by Abby Davis

Monday, January 30, 2023

Little actions

"Show him by your little actions throughout the day that you love him."
—Pam Sorooshian

photo by Sarah Dickinson

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Become a better partner

Because you become a better partner, that partnership works better.

photo by Sandra Dodd; carving by Keith Dodd

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Cliff wall

Realities aren't always easily categorized. Where do these goats live? Turkey. Ester Siroky saw them, when she, her husband, and youngest child passed through. The goats have a shelter that's up against a cliff, against which is built a wall as high as the natural hill, maybe. I'm limited by what the photo shows. I like it, but there are still mysteries.

Appreciating the intersection of a natural wall and a manmade wall would not be ruined by knowing of other walls (if any, or fences) around those goats.

A wall isn't always an obstacle. It might be a shelter, a protection, and a thing of beauty.

It's possible, and it's fine, to appreciate part of a song, a film, a painting, a story, a life, without fully understanding the depth and breadth of the whole thing. A part of a thing is also a thing.

Same goats, out by water
photo by Ester Siroky

Friday, January 27, 2023

Turn away (and smile)

Negativity is contagious poison. Turn just a little bit away from it. Then you can turn away easier the next time; and take a step away, and soon you aren't even standing by it.

photo by Gail Higgins

(Because Erika D-P quoted me in 2013, I can share it with you in 2023 thanks to "Memories" on Facebook. The longer original is here at Radical Unschooling Info.)

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Something new

salt-encrusted old coke bottle lying on cracked earth
Learning comes from connecting something new to what you've already thought or known.
photo by Marty Dodd, of a salt-encrusted coke bottle in Utah

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Shops, museums, and museum shops

Sometimes a shop can be like a museum.

Some museums have displays of shops (or things from shops, in the past).

Some museums have gift shops.

Even when you don't buy an object, you can still admire, inquire, or (maybe) photograph it to ask about or think about later.

Your House as a Museum
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Tender protection

Unschooling isn't anarchy. Being kind to a baby isn't anarchy; it's tender protection of one's young. Being sweet with a toddler isn't anarchy; it's opening up the world to a human being seeing it with new eyes.

photo by Cátia Maciel

Monday, January 23, 2023


"Choose to look at the beauty around you and to see life and people through loving eyes."
—Alex Polikowsky

Sandra's addition: "... to see life and people" and fancy chickens, cupcakes, frost, sleeping puppies and your favorite mug as beautiful.

photo by Helene McNeill

Sunday, January 22, 2023

A series of moments

All that needs to happen for years to pass peacefully is for a series of moments to pass peacefully.

All you need to do to have anniversaries accrue is to continue to behave as conscientiously as you can, and to make choices in generous and selfless ways

Anniversaries and Memories (from 2012)
photo by Holly Dodd

Saturday, January 21, 2023

When rules don't work

Jenny Cyphers, on principles over rules:

One of the kids that live near us, said rather astonished, "you don't have any rules do you?" I looked at him and said, "yes we do, they are, play nicely and behave kindly." He didn't think those were rules, and they aren't really, but that's where it all seems to come down to. A rule of no hitting, could be summed up nicely with "be nice," because clearly hitting isn't nice. Being nice covers it all.

A kid could easily not break the rule of "no hitting" by pinching or kicking, and completely get away with it, and feel pretty darn good about getting away with being mean without getting in trouble. If the idea is to "be nice," pinching or kicking won't work.
—Jenny Cyphers

photo by Cathy Koetsier

Friday, January 20, 2023

Others' regrets as springboards

When we're helping new unschoolers, or those who are undecided about whether they want to even try to unschool, those who've been around a while, we see their responses and fears through the filter of what we know of other people's regrets, false starts, delays...

(Read more about why experienced unschoolers sometimes seem pushy, at the link below.)

photo by Colleen Prieto

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Simple needs

Joyce Fetteroll, in helping others untangle ideas and prejudices about what children think they "need":
If someone needs three glasses of water a day and only gets two, they'll spend the rest of the day trying to get that third glass. So it will seem to others like this person's constantly thirsty and can never get enough. But if he gets three glasses and can have as many as he wants, he won't seem thirsty at all.
—Joyce Fetteroll

photo by Karen James

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Keep choosing

You can't choose to be an unschooler once and expect that one choice to see you through life. You have to choose several times an hour.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Plain old or all dressed up

Sometimes a table might be formally set for a special meal, or decked out with a birthday cake, and other times it has a week's worth of mail and a forgotten art project.

People will doll up with formal clothes and the best of hair and make-up, or be set head-to-toe for a sport, performance, or a cosplay event.

A house, or neighborhood, might be decorated for a festival, and a week later have too much sunshine, and trash blowing down the street.

This happens with learning, with relationships, and in families, too. A special movie night isn't the same as whatever's on and helping fold the laundry so there's space on the couch. What looks like a quiet, boring afternoon might have a lot of learning under the surface.

A Typical Unschooling Day Described two ways
photo by Janine Davies

Monday, January 16, 2023

What and how much to eat

Alex Polikowsky, the day after "Pi Day" one year when her kids were younger:

My kids can eat bowls of sugar if they want. They are not fat, obese of even chubby. They have lots of cookies, candy and sweets at home at any time. Just yesterday I bought two pies for Pi day and baked. My daughter ate a big piece of the pumpkin pie but only the filling. Then she asked for an apple and ate half of it. Then she went to the refrigerator and grabbed the red bell pepper that we got for the Guinea Pigs and cut a couple pieces for them and ate the rest. That was while I was reading [an unschooling discussion]. That was her late night snack.

My son ate a strip of bacon and left the other one and went to sleep.

They have chosen what they eat and how much all their lives.
—Alex Poliowsky
March 2012

True Tales of Kids Turning Down Sweets
photo by Sylvia Woodman, of candy sitting peacefully

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Keep your world warm

The faith he has in you is growing or waning at every moment.

You're either building your relationship or you're eroding it.

Every laugh at his expense, every promise you can't keep... erosion. Getting cold, not getting warm.

The quote is from a chat on breathing, but this link is better:
photo by Karen James

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Portals to this and that

Yesterday's post had a song to listen to, if you clicked through to the blog. It didn't show in e-mail. Check again, if you missed it, if you like songs. This one is from late 1967. Some of you were not born yet, but I was 14 years old—a great age to appreciate new 60s music.
Another link to What You Can't See, from yesterday.

As I worked on updating and stabilizing pages here and on my website, I started marking those I felt were sufficient, for now, for use from phones and computers both. At first I was using a big asterisk, but when I linked a page on facebook or somewhere, a grey scary asterisk showed as the first image, and that's no good, so I went with
a little line.

On blogposts, they're centered below the photo credit. On webpages, they're in the upper right corner (or left, if the upper right was occupied).


From Just Add Light and Stir, on older posts, if you see one of those lines it probably goes to a second webpage that's also applicable—maybe one that didn't yet exist when the post was new. Sometimes they go to a different blog day that's a good match.

At SandraDodd.com, they link to posts at Just Add Light and Stir that link to or quote that page, usually. So those go back and forth between the blog and site, usually.

If you find one that doesn't go anywhere, let me know and I can put something in. There might be ten or a dozen that are blank, because at first I thought it would be just a mark for my own use.

Entertaining mysteries are better than irritating blank mysteries.

Have fun, if you see any of those unmarked portals.

Unschooling Site News, SandraDodd.com
photos by me (the sign) and Hema Bharadwaj (of me in 2010 posing with a zoo's... I don't know what those are called, when you stick your head in something for a photo)

Friday, January 13, 2023

What you can't see

If that apple weren't there, you might be able to see Mount Taylor in the distance. It's 60 miles away. If it weren't for that pesky apple, it would probably show itself.

It's easy to think of what I might have done if I hadn't had kids when I did, or at all. It was even easier when they were little and moist and sticky and grabby. It's better for your soul, and for theirs, if you don't see them as pesky kids keeping you from getting away with whatever you were imagining.

Look past the momentary downside. Wipe off the stickiness and give them something good to grab. Maybe an apple. Don't worry if they don't eat it "right," or at all. Let it be a ball, an attribute block, or a visual aid that can block out a mountain.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Donovan wrote (and sang):
First there is a mountain
Then there is no mountain
Then there is
P.S. I did not place the apple there to block Mount Taylor. The photo was taken on my back deck in April 2013. The words here are from January 2023.

The apple is long gone; Mount Taylor is still there. My kids have moved out, but I've seen each of them this week.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

"Wrong place"

"A place for every thing, and every thing in its place" can hamper a lot of experimentation and originality.

Live loosely, for learning to flow.

Inflexibility makes fewer connections. Stiffness opens fewer conversations.

photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Keep looking

If you're traveling or if you're in a familiar place, the things you see are viewed through your own windows, or doors. You see through your own eyes, and experience. *You* see.

The world you see where you are today will not be what you could see ten years ago, or twenty.

What your child sees and what you see will probably be different, and continue to change.

Keep looking.

photo by Ester Siroky

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Saying "Yes" Again

A mom named Sara came back after lapsing toward "no," and wrote:

I'm a huge believer in fresh starts, and I decided to just hit my personal reset button and start fresh. .... I have begun with something very simple, which is saying yes instead of no.
. . . .

I took a deep breath and started over, with YES. I kept a little list of all the things the kids asked for (they didn't see me doing this). Can we have some jellybeans? Yes.

Can we watch a movie? Yes

Could you get me a pickle and a napkin in a bowl, and can I eat it on the couch? Yes. (Shushing the mom-voice in my head that wanted to say we NEVER eat on the couch, you know that. I just said 'sure' and got the pickle, and then another when she asked for a second one.)

Can we play a computer game? Yes.

Later I was looking at my list and I thought, wow, I'd have loved to have a day like that when I was a kid. Jellybeans and a movie and pickles and computer games.
—Sara, 2007

photo by Sandra Dodd

Monday, January 9, 2023

Positive, upbeat, hopeful, helpful

Parents who want unschooling to work should be positive, upbeat, hopeful, helpful.

photo by Gail Higgins

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Choose not to snark

When I'm tired or hungry or don't feel well, I have to be more thoughtful about how I talk to my husband and how I think about him, because it's easy for me to slip into a negative place and to focus on the things he didn't do that I wish he had or the things he did that annoyed me.

One of the best things I've done for our marriage is to be more quiet when I'm tired/hungry/not feeling well. In those instances, I'm more prone to feel like snarking at my husband, or commenting on something he did / didn't do, or otherwise saying something that would be hurtful to him.

What goes along with that, for me, is to remind myself of the things he *does* do. And also to remind myself that "it's not all about ME!!" If the trash is full and he doesn't take it out when he heads outside, him not taking it has nothing whatsoever to do with me, in spite of what my tired/hungry/cranky brain may want to think in that moment. 😉

When you're feeling competitive with your husband, be aware of what you're thinking and be aware of how easy it could be, in that moment, to snark at him. Then make the choice to not snark at him. And make the choice to think nice thoughts about him, to think about the nice things he does for you and your daughters. Be the one to make the better choice in that moment, to not say or do something that contributes to the competitiveness.
—Glenda (wtexan)

photo by Cátia Maciel

Saturday, January 7, 2023

See, appreciate, encourage

See, appreciate, and encourage imagination.

photo by Elise Lauterbach

Friday, January 6, 2023


Elevators, subways, trains, airplanes—all seem like transporters to me in a way that automobiles don't. You get in, a door closes, you get out somewhere else.

Although it mostly goes to "older floors," there's one on my site, too. Someday, newer pages will be added, I hope. 😊

Randomizer (SandraDodd.com/random)
photo (top) by Shawn Smythe Haunschild
art (bottom) by Bo King

Thursday, January 5, 2023

How and why

People can only learn what connects to what they already know. The more one knows, the more one can learn. And THAT is how, and why, strewing works.

photo by Julie D

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Gradually learning; seeing clearly

Unschooling is not easy to understand. Even people who are ready and really want it will take years.

Read a little, try a little, wait a while and watch. There is no other way to learn about unschooling than gradually. There is no other way to learn to see clearly how it works than by trying it a bit at a time and seeing how putting learning first changes other things—how putting peace ahead of schedules changes things.

Quotes, tweaked slightly, from Explorations
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

In full flow

a waterfall in West Yorkshire
Waterfalls are made of streams of water, made of drops, of molecules, that were up in clouds a week, a day, or a minute ago.

Confident parenting, in full flow, is made of courage born of successes of big choices and small decisions that were once tentative, and before that you hadn't even considered them.

Enough improvement and ease can cause good options to tumble and flow all around you.

Considering Decisions
photo by Rosie Moon

Monday, January 2, 2023

Variable speeds

Water freezes; ice melts.

The sun goes down; the sun comes up.
Children are still, and sit or lie down. Kids jump up and run around.

When I was younger and I would change, I thought something was wrong with me. I was under the mistaken impression that personality and mood should be constants. Life is better when I think of those fluctuations as tides, or as the weather of the soul.

Cocooning and other stillness
photo by Diane Marcengill

Sunday, January 1, 2023

What's important

Calm yourself with the awareness of what's important.

I wrote that, but had not shared it in this blog. I found the quote last night at Being and knowing and passing it on, which I wrote in 2009.

Page 205 of The Big Book of Unschooling that Holly was reading that day.
It's page 238 in the 2019 edition.

photo by Sandra Dodd