Monday, April 26, 2010

Seeing-Eye Parrot

This came with one comment:
"I had heard about this costume and that party a lot, but never expected to ever see a picture! Facebook is cool, if only for the old people!"

I don't know who posted it on Facebook, though. Somewhere I have some photos from that pirate party too, and from the preparations for it. I already had the papier mache parrot. I just wired it up with a harness, and made two [see-through] eye patches.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More commentary on my children from strangers

Bold and footnotes are mine. The rest is someone with more opinion than knowledge who read my account of my children's unschooling (maybe) and wrote this:

Well, this is deep water. I happen to believe that for all its ups and downs, a formal education solidifies a person’s credentials educationally, but will not gauge how much a person truly learns. BUT…”unschooling” is a good supplement to a formal education at some point in life. If for no other reason, there may be many semi-success stories with this concept (the author’s children don’t seem successful at anything other than defiance to me right now)1, the world has and will continue to shun people without a formal education. In my household, this would simply be another barrier in my child’s future, considering he has other challenges. In essence, how can a child who is already disadvantaged expect to be received into society without a credible foundation? If I were to “unschool” my child, I can guarantee that he will NEVER get a job.2 He may be intelligent enough to start his own business with all the inovative ideas he learned on his unschooling quests, but his lack of education would only be a drawback to potential investors or others who may be instrumental to the success of his ventures. In summary, let’s be honest: if I were trying to purchase a home and I had NO credit at all, a bank would not loan me $500,000. An educational record is a lot like that credit record: it doesn’t tell everything about a person, but it may highlight some highs and lows that would give insight into what a person is like to someone who does not know them personally. As a manager, I would NEVER, under any circumstances, hire a person who has never been formally educated. Not on my formal payroll, anyway.3
1. Nothing in the article pointed to defiance in any way.
2. Doesn't that seem like a curse!? He will never get a job. HOW can she "guarantee" that? Not everyone believes as she does.
3. Her loss.

(The quote is from page 2 of comments on the interview at, but I was tired of putting comments there.

Oh! Glenda wasn't too tired, and did respond:

Glenda APRIL 23, 2010, 10:31 PM
===As a manager, I would NEVER, under any circumstances, hire a person who has never been formally educated. Not on my formal payroll, anyway.===

So it’s a good thing there are plenty of college graduates in need of a job right now! And what the heck would an informal payroll be, anyway???

There’s room in this world for people who think traditionally, such as yourself, and for people who think outside the box and focus on the individuals who work for and with them.

I’ve worked for the traditional thinkers — most boring jobs I’ve ever had. I’ve worked for out-of-the-box thinkers — most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had. The out-of-the-box employers have also been the most successful in terms of “having it all”.

===the author’s children don’t seem successful at anything other than defiance to me right now===

We read the same article, right??? And you somehow managed to read in it that her kids are defiant??? Wow.

===If I were to “unschool” my child, I can guarantee that he will NEVER get a job.===

But you know what? You would not be successful at unschooling the way you currently think. You think in limitations; unschoolers don’t.

I’ve never heard an unschooler, even those who have kids with disabilities, say anything remotely along the lines of, “I guarantee my child will NEVER get a job.” There is more than one path to happiness and success (though it’s pretty obvious you and I define “success” quite differently) — that’s what I love about unschooling parents in general, their desire to help their kids explore whichever paths their kids desire.

Ronnie too. Glenda and Ronnie, THANK YOU!

Ronnie APRIL 23, 2010, 11:00 PM
Defiant? As in, people who are defying something? What exactly are they supposed to be defying?

I am baffled as to what has given you this impression, so I’ll just set about correcting it. I have met all three Dodd offspring and cannot think of an adjective more inappropriate to use in describing them. They are warm, gracious, fun, and friendly people.

Jenny Cyphers, just the part about defiance:

“the author’s children don’t seem successful at anything other than defiance to me right now”

One child has been employed since the age of 14 and now works in a job he enjoys. Another child has worked on and off in various jobs that he’s chosen and has been well regarded by his employers. The youngest child has been travelling around helping with other families children, one could see that as experience being an “au pair”, if nothing else. Three children, who visit home, live at home, or call home frequently, maintain contact with their siblings and parents, and still help each other out willingly. Where in there is defiance?

My kids didn't have anything to defy. We were on their side, helping them out!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Extra visitors to

It's not like the David Bowie letter spike, which went to over 90,000 in one day, but visits to my site more than doubled last Monday when unchooling was in the news, and spiked again on Friday when a parenting site ran the interview about my family. I have had a few e-mails, not a lot, which means there are many more people reading than writing. That's fine. It means more people are aware of the option and this summer should bring more new unschoolers than most summers bring.

My site usually gets between one and two thousand hits a day. Today/Saturday shows low because the day isn't over (and it's Saturday and unschoolers are probably tired of reading anything this week, after all the ruckus).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Something POSITIVE (even though I wrote most of it)

First, one of the ignorant comments. Then a link to what she was talking about.

Sara APRIL 23, 2010, 1:25 PM
The children, after they’ve all grown up, seem positively average. College is the easiest way to get yourself a successful career in this day and age. The kid who works at Blizzard? He is probably an unusual case. He had raw talent, knew what he wanted, and got there. Good for him. I’m jealous of his fulfilling life without real school.

However, the current jobs of the other two seem to be only helping more families that choose to go the same route.

It’s tough for me to imagine what kind of lives the rest of the unschooled kids of America will lead. I can’t imagine it to be easy for them.

Julie Taylor did the article, and called it Why I Unschooled My Three Kids, but except for the title, the intro and the questions, it's all straight-up my writing. And she put in those links to my site (the blue words, not the underlining). I spoke with her by phone for quite a while on Wednesday, and her questions were based on that conversation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wild Week

The unschooling world is all a-flutter about a crazy little piece on Good Morning America Monday morning. The family looked great. The reporter and anchorman looked like doofus and doofette. But you don't have to take my word for it:

Unschooling and Unjournalism, by Peter J. Orvetti, at The Moderate Voice. Some people called it a trainwreck. Peter Orvetti calls it a hatchet-job.

Lunatics and know-nothings came out of the woodwork this week bigtime. Unschoolers who are easy to find have had phone calls and e-mails galore. Facebook comments are high quality and hoppin'. Blogs are gathering gems.

Meanwhile some crazed stalker named "anonymous" put a lame little-kid attack on my sweet and wonderful daughter, on an old post:

Miss Holly Dodd's New Glasses

I'll quote the problem child, then my first response, and then what Holly wrote. She doesn't want it deleted. You can read the other comments at the link above. Skim down to the current dates. Comments are welcome! Even stupid, hostile ones. They're amusing. Taunts cannot change the fact that my kids are well and happy.

Today I got an e-mail from someone who was busy and missed the roiling ruckus. I have permission to quote it. I even sent it to one of the journalists, who was very interested. It's longer, but here's the sweetest bit:
I have finished the book. I have been consumed by nothing but thoughts of unschooling for 6 days and already I feel that it has made a difference in my life as a mother, wife, daughter, friend...I feel in some ways that this burden is lifted that I put on myself before. Pressure to do right or be right—looking at some activities as more valuable than others rather than just enjoying the moments, whatever the activity.
Ah. Full circle. While I was writing this blog post, I got an e-mail. It also included praise for the book, but then there was this about Holly:
One thing I wanted to mention was that the words that have had the biggest impact on my unschooling life came from your daughter Holly. You told a story about how when she was young you were both in a public restroom, and she was waiting on you when she observed a Mom berating her young child. Holly said something like—"You should be nicer to him". I read that story a long time ago, and it hit me right in the heart. I realized that I should focus more on my attitude toward my children, and less on what others thought. Holly's words have caused me time and again to focus on myself and my attitude and behavior toward my children. Whenever we encounter an "issue", it usually has to do more with my own scars from childhood—whether from my home life or school—and not with what my kids are doing. Once I learned to look at them as special and unique individuals and to let go of all the nonsense that has been poured into my head over the years, I was able to be much calmer and handle the situation better.

Your daughter is such a wonderful example of what a wonderful person a child can become when they aren't hindered by the baggage that comes from years of institutionalized "education", shaming, guilt, and oppression. Her simple advice of "you should be nicer" just sums everything up for me. I find myself hard pressed to think of a situation in life where that perspective doesn't apply.

Thank you for all the help you have provided over the years for my family, and thanks especially to Holly!
I can hear the "yeah but" now. We had one this week on Always Learning. Those who spew "yeah, but you..." all the time instead of thinking and letting thinks soak in might say that Holly wasn't being very nice by criticizing that mom. Holly was taking the side of the child, and of right, and of peace on earth. The mom wasn't just berating him. She was holding him roughly and asking him in that threatening way whether he wanted a spanking. I've been asked that question. There is no right answer; you're probably getting a spanking. That's when Holly spoke up. I don't care how well or how early a person can read, or whether he can read at all, the courage to stop violence, in a young child especially, is exceptional. Most adults would've just looked the other way.

Many adults, as this week has shown, don't even have the courage to put their names on a blog post.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lilacs Blooming, fern and dinner

They never would have put this on Walt Disney because it's too whippy and choppy, but it is kinda pretty! Too bad you can't smell them.

On the last couple of days there, it rained. One of the mornings you can see the truck, because there's so much moisture on the lilacs, and then as they dry off they lift themselves back up.

The camera was facing East, with a wall behind it, so that's why it gets dark so suddenly, when the sun crosses over the house there.

In other botanical news, a little air fern that used to be in Kirby's bathroom and nearly died after a few years has recovered. It's too big for the shelf it was on now.

And gastronomically, here's the pork loaf I made for dinner (those who were in the chat had to hear about it... sorry).

Here's the pan I was talking about, and it comes apart at two of the corners, with pins through what would be a hinge, if there was only one of them.

When it had cooled enough to move it, I put peaches on and around it and put it back in the oven.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

My kids never got detention

I used to teach at a school with A lunch, B lunch, and C lunch, lest anyone look at that and think "blunch!?"

The image was lifted from the facebook event "That's What She Said" Day, which is being observed Thursday, April 8, 2010.

This scholarly project is undertaken by students at the University of California at Irvine. I noticed it in Pam Sorooshian's facebook stream. Here it is for those who expect to be bored Thursday and want a juvenile pick-me-up (if Facebook itself isn't enough for you, I mean).

For me that phrase goes with school lunch, because the first time I heard "that's what she said," it was my friend Bobby Sultemeier, over on the west side of the music building during lunch one day. It was 1968 and we were 15. He was saying it about EVERYthing and wouldn't stop. "Shut up, Bobby." That's what she said! "That's gross." That's what she said! "You're really pissing me off now." That's what she said!

And I suppose the last time I heard it was last week, from Marty. I guess the next time I'll hear it might be Thursday.

It's cute that the teacher wrote out the whole joke on the detention slip up above. Owning that note is totally worth a detention, on the stage, during one lunch.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Kitchen and Yard, for Holly

This is about as Eastery as it got at our house this year, without any little kids anymore. There is a "three round things" moment, and it was all natural and not posed.