Thursday, November 30, 2023

Happy, fun dishes

Finding ways not to be grumpy about dishes is a good model and practice field for other choices in life.

We get our dishes from thrift stores, mostly. If one of them bugs me, it can go back to the thrift store.

Sometimes when a mom is really frustrated with doing the dishes, it can help to get rid of dishes with bad memories and connections, or put them in storage for a while. Happy, fun dishes with pleasant associations are easier to wash.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Something sweet; do it again

Decision time isn't about what you will do next year or for the rest of your child's life. Decision time is about what you will do in the next five seconds. I recommend getting up and doing something sweet for another person, wordlessly and gently. Never send the bill; make it a gift you forget all about. Do that again later in the day. Don't tell us, don't tell them, just do it.
photo by Theresa Larson

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

From pictures alone

Cally Brown wrote, in 2012:

Back in the olden days when #1 son was 6, homeschoolers used to be 'inspected' in New Zealand. The inspector asked Greg to show him his favourite book and Greg ran off and returned with a large volume of a 20-something-volume encyclopaedia. The inspector looked amazed and said, "Goodness! You can read that?" and Greg replied, "Of course not! I'm only six! I just love looking at all the pictures," and proceeded to show the man all sorts of interesting things, clearly displaying an amazing amount of knowledge he had garnered from pictures alone.
—Cally Brown

Learning without Reading
photo by Rosie Moon

Monday, November 27, 2023

The morning sky

Somewhere in the world it is morning every moment. Somewhere, light is dawning. Some people, and I'm one of them, believe that any portal to the universe leads to the whole universe
photo by Cathy Koetsier

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Live purely and sweetly

There are some homeschoolers who are so obsessed with the evils of school, the unfairness of some bygone situation or other that they or their children were involved in (or relatives, or friends' kids), that they cannot live a day without reliving that incident, emotional package and all. They obsess on school. They homeschool Because of School. When asked about homeschooling, they talk about school.
. . . .
If it is horrible, turn away from it and prove that life can be lived purely and sweetly without it. If life is lived in reactionary response to a thing, the thing is still the centerpiece of life and thoughts.

Sixth post down, archived discussion from 2001
photo by Julie D.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

No other way

Read a little, try a little, wait a while and watch. There is no other way to learn this 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.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Friday, November 24, 2023

Naming things

Seeing new things and learning their names is the way babies and toddlers learn their native languages and how they learn about the world. It works for people of any age.

Each model of the universe requires identification, sorting, relationships between things, and other patterns. Whatever seems trivial in one context is of central importance in another.

Names and words and labels and descriptors have a glory about them.

Naming Things elsewhere here
photo by Denaire Nixon, of a young red-footed booby

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Soothing soothes.

Find the light moments, and the laughter, with your child. Be as soothing as you can be, because soothing them will also soothe you.

Be sweet; be well.

Peaceful Memories
photo by Amy Milstein

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Choices, for partners

When you choose to say something or to wait, think of which will be more patient, or less critical. If you decide to say something, think of two things and choose the one that is closer to the person you want to be. If you choose not to say anything, consider your posture and demeanor. Choose to be gentle, and not to express negative emotion.

Sometimes choose quiet space, but not hateful silence.

With practice, it gets easier.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Fill up your family

"You can't give what you don't have," some people say, and if you want your children to give generosity and kindness and patience to others, you should give them so much they're overflowing with it.

It works with respect, too.

Holly and Adam making Christmas cards
photo by Julie D, of Holly and Adam

Monday, November 20, 2023

Work or play?

The best moments are when an activity might look like work, but it feels like play.

It can happen to anyone.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Sunday, November 19, 2023


You may pass through the same door again, but you will be different each time.

Where you are right now will never be exactly the same again.
photo by Sandra Dodd

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Closeness and connection

Janine wrote:

Most of the things that have happened I didn't foresee! And they continue to happen and surprise me every day! To name just a few: spirituality, healing, realisations and awakenings, and most of all, a closeness and deep connection with my boys (and partner) that warms my heart and fills it till it's fit to burst! We spend every day laughing and smiling, most days side splitting laughter over a shared joke or something.
—Janine Davies
photo by Janine Davies

You can hear Janine's voice at 10:22 in the recording here: Healing

Friday, November 17, 2023

Step toward learning

Confidence in unschooling can't come from other people's accounts. It can only come from seeing one's own children relaxing into learning effortlessly through play, conversations, observations, a rich life.

"Facing fears" sounds scary, intimidating and negative. Stepping toward learning is much more positive. Being with children is easy; they're already right there. Move toward them, instead of milling around with fears and vulnerability.
photo by Denaire Nixon

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Other possibilities

Being steeped in principles of peace, respect and strength has allowed me to learn that there are other possibilities. It's almost like recovering from addiction...addiction of the effects of control. Little by little, day by day, with a lot of (sometimes painful) awareness...slowly new peaceful joyful stuff replaces the old, sad stuff.
—Alex Arnott
(a.k.a. Alex Wildrising)
photo by Brie Jontry

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A variety of good things

Without choices, they can't make choices. Without choices they can't make good choices OR bad choices. In too many people's minds, "good" is eating what parents say when parents say (where and how and why parents say). That doesn't promote thought, self awareness, good judgment or any other good thing.

Food Choices (and lots of them)
photo by Sandra Dodd, in Pune, in India

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

When I grew up

When I was in first grade I decided I wanted to be a teacher.

All through school I paid attention to what teachers did and how, and why (when I could figure that out, which was pretty often). And I asked the other kids what they liked about teachers and what they didn’t. So I learned LOTS and lots about how learning works and what factors work for different kinds of people.

When I was older, 13/14 or so, I wanted to become a missionary (still teaching-related), or to work at a magazine. And it seems all those rolled together are what I’ve become. I write, and I help people have happier more peaceful lives, and it’s all about learning. So in a natural-learning way I’ve been working up to this always.

I wrote the above in an online exchange for Mothering Magazine in 2007.

Recently, I remembered another writing-related profession I had seriously considered for a short while in my late 20's. I had read that the Hallmark Cards company was hiring writers, in Kansas City. I thought I could do that! I knew nothing about Kansas City, and decided I didn't want to move, but while I thought about applying, writing mushy or funny or inspiring words to go with an image sounded easy and fun.

When this blog was already ten years old, I remembered the greeting-card thoughts, and saw that Just Add Light and Stir is much like a greeting-card collection. Some are funny, or mushy, and many are inspiring. Some are seasonal, and some are about babies. With over 4,680 posts, I guess I have inadvertently written some greeting cards.

The top section was originally published in 2021, with a video. The permission to use that video was forgotten about and the organizer said no, when I reminded her. That post said "...with over 4,000 posts" but today there are 4,687. Thank you for reading.

Just Add Light and Stir on my site
The snowglobe image above was by an artist at Fiverr in 2017.

Monday, November 13, 2023

It's invisible, until...

Sandra, responding to a mom who said her son only wanted to play, play, play.

You’re looking for school. Because you don’t know what unschooling looks like, you can’t see it. It’s invisible to people who haven’t deschooled.

Because you’re pressuring your son, he can’t deschool. His deschooling won’t take as long as yours will, but if you never leave him along he will never deschool.

If you don’t stop looking for school, YOU will never deschool.
The words above are from a longer post, here.

I also noted, of her nine-year old who was new to unschooling, "Play, play, play is what he should be doing. Nothing else. Only playing."

Deschooling is recovery, and is a major reset of perception and of focus. It's always awkward, and sometimes scary for parents, but it's necessary and leads to visible unschooling!
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Passing a passion on

When we stop looking at our kids and what they do through schooly glasses, we're no longer concerned about how long they've been interested in something, or how much time they've spent doing something but rather we're in there with them, their passion leaking onto us and giving us a bit of that passion too. It just becomes life and living, not some thing they're doing because it's good for them or because they'll need it when they're an adult or whatever other reason school says kids should do things.
—Kim H.
photo by Roya Dedeaux

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Expand your world

Jen Keefe wrote:

Getting to know my kids and subsequently all the amazingly cool "nerdy" things I never would have learned about otherwise has expanded my world. Cynicism always shrunk it.
—Jen Keefe
photo by Marin Holmes, in Tokyo

Friday, November 10, 2023

Empower and enliven!

photo from a car in a tunnel without other cars

Anything you feel you "have to" do is entrapping and stiffling.

Something you *choose* to do can be empowering and enlivening.
photo by Marty Dodd

Thursday, November 9, 2023


It's not about "success," it's about progress, and living in the moment as well as possible.
photo by Sabine Mellinger

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Safe at home

"He should be safe in his own home" is a good thing to remember about a child. It can be said to visitors, to siblings, and reflexively to oneself when making a decision. An adult partner should be safe in his own home, too.
photo by Julie D

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Quieter, softer

Sometimes children are soft, in soft surroundings, and a mother's heart is soft.

Sometimes they're loud, sticky, and stinky. Sometimes moms are frazzled.

Remember the quieter times will be there, too. Help to soften their lives.
photo by Lydia Koltai

Monday, November 6, 2023

One quiet, loving thought

Different families have different resources, but here are two gifts any of us could give to someone today:

1. A glass of water, to someone who is working, or playing, or just got home, or just woke up. A favorite glass, or a pretty one, or a special one, maybe. Perhaps with ice, or a slice of lemon. Present it with a smile or a kind word.

2. A gentle touch, for a child or partner. Fingertips on an arm, or brushed down the back, or a hand held for a second longer than you might have otherwise. Sit close and lean softly for a couple of seconds. Think one quiet, loving thought while you touch this important person.

Other easy gifts
photo by Karen James

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Fun and happiness

"I want fun and happiness to be priorities in our home. If people are happy and having fun, they are learning."
—Sylvia Woodman
photo by Sarah S.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Calm, happy, trusting

sandstone in Colorado
Someone commented that responses to her questions had hurt her feelings. I wrote:

When he is calm and happy and trusting, THEN you will feel better—not because of things we wrote, or didn't, but because you will BE better. You will see it in your son's eyes.

Don't make it about you. Make it about his range of exploration and his choices and his learning and his happiness. You can live on the interest, if you invest enough in him.

(at Radical Unschooling Info, on Facebook)
photo by Amy Milstein

Friday, November 3, 2023

Hobbies and games and friendships

Parents who are afraid their unschooled children won't learn enough might have forgotten how little learning actually happens in school. Short-term test-taking "learning" isn't nearly the same as the kind of learning unschooled kids gain from their hobbies and games and friendships. Even though I had read John Holt in college, and studied "the open classroom," I was still pleasantly surprised at how much learning came so easily, to everyone in the family.
photo by Cátia Maciel

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Trails connect to other things

If someone is being entertained, that person is thinking. That person is analyzing SOMETHING, and every trail made in the brain is a reuseable trail, and a trail to connect to other things.

The Roy Rogers Show used to end with "Happy Trails to You," like this:

"Pure entertainment"
photo by Gail Higgins

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Different in the dark

Things look different in the dark. It's understandable for a kid to be afraid of the dark. A little explore might be fun, though, sometimes, with flashlights, or with a camera.
photo by Sandra Dodd