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2016...thanks for the ride

7.1.17
In 2016, we cruised ever so gently into a new rhythm of homeschooling. Older, and more independent, the children were on a different course of learning and discovering. Winter saw piles of snow, warmth, and a coming-together to share warm soup, and treats. I think that's what people like to do when it gets cold. 

January, February, March

Then spring descended upon us, slowly, delightfully, and with the promise of adventure. Ah adventure, who does not look forward to adventure!? And so we indulged in the seasonal activities that spring and Easter provided. What a wonderful Spring celebration we had. 

But that wasn't all. Every year (for about 7 years), I have chosen a word for the year. In 2015 (my first full year of business), my word was "transition". Being a newbie to the dayhome arena, I knew that it would take some time to get to know the ins and out of the business, but, more importantly, the need to transition each child/family into our home was at the fore-front of my mind.  

April, May, June (I realized that the picnic by the bow was actually in July)
In 2016, I choose "collaborate" as my word of the year.  And collaborate we did...
At Small Wonders, we have been known to connect with other bloggers, and like-minded, creative individuals. Bloggers like Liane, Kierna, Juliet and Linda have inspired me in the nature-aspect of my work in so many ways.

In 2016, Small Wonders stepped it up a notch. My husband, (realizing how I connect with businesses & organizations) is always in awe that I am able to just blindly call said individuals and ask them to support Small Wonders.  
I wouldn't put it down to being that simple however. For example,  my past life as a blogger has allowed me to learn a few things about networking blogging-wise. The truth is I really would never plan to do anything that I wasn't passionate about in the first place, and I think people can feel that passion (be it over the phone, in an email or in person). I also believe that the reason I am able to do this is because the individuals that I connect with are (as stated above) like-minded people.  

When I first contacted Colin Menzies at Studio C to speak about the possibility of a collaboration, I knew that I was speaking with someone who was (in a sense) speaking the same language. Even though Studio C did not work with children as young as my group, I knew we could pull it off. I believe that he (never working with me in that capacity before), saw that I was up for the challenge. My 20 minute conversation with Colin led to a successful and fun adventure for the children

Art & Brunch behind us, we waited for summer. Summer came in slowly. At least the full warmth of  the season did. There was a lot of rain, and our Earthschooling became quite interesting.  It was far from what I'd expected for our outdoor classroom. The truth is, living in Alberta, I should have known better. Nonetheless, many of our Earthschooling excursions were filled with beauty from every corner.  

We sang songs in praise of learning and growing, we marveled at the seasons, recited poetry, shared every piece of our days with our friends: drawing, painting, eating, storytelling. We created space for all that we discovered. It was quite simple, you see. With every blade of grass; each critter spotted outside in our garden, to every raindrop, and dandelion fluff swept up in the wind, your child found wonder.

Connecting with Ms Wendi Silvano - a precious lady and wonderful author (another collaboration) also led to some wonderful things. Thanks to her book, Love is All Around Calgary, we decided to become tourists in our own city. The interesting thing about children is that they truly love simplicity - they really do not "need" loads of toys. What they need is mental and physical stimulation. I learned that lesson, more than anything in the month of July. I learned that they liked to sit on the bus and look out the window, walk barefoot by the Bow, and eat simple home made snacks. That's what we did.

July, August, September
Back at home, every day was cause for celebration. I really love summer. I could barely keep the children inside the house. And our garden...our second home, aww, it was magic. The children, my little homesteaders grew herbs, vegetables and flowers - a beautiful journey. 
As summer came to a end, and we were waiting for the autumn season, we anticipated changes. They were lovely changes that spoke to the beauty of growth; like MM going off to school, and my own boy being away at school all day. Growth also meant that the torch was being passed to our smaller friends, who were no longer babies, but leaders. 
Some (friends) were no longer in diapers, a huge triumph, if you ever were a child :)  My my, how time flies. And like clockwork, autumn fell slowly into winter again. A trip to the North Pole confirmed it. And as we gathered around, children, parents, laughter, gift, and food-sharing, it all came back to being called home - from no where in particular, but everywhere all the same.
October, November, December
Homeschooling so many children, from different homes - different lives is not easy. Highlighted throughout the pages of this blog is the beauty of homeschooling life (the joy of play, circle time, nature walks, and communal simplicity). However, on the far end of the spectrum, the challenges, difficulties, conflicts (you name it), are intensified and can sometimes be exhausting.

Spending all day at home calls for a lot of reflection. 
Questions of how to do better, get through, remedy, communicate efficiently (and the list goes on), surface every single day.  Sometimes, time allows for working it out. However, at various points on this journey, we come to an agreement that some things must be accepted: there will always be flus and temper flare ups. There will always be hurt feelings. And sometimes, we learn to laugh about it, but more importantly, we know that we can get past it.  

One of the things that I grapple with as I share aspects of our days, weeks, months...is the very shady area of  respecting each child's authentic experiences here. Here in this space that allows for unfiltered interaction. Where we can be anything and everything, as long as hopefully I allow them to be themselves (within boundaries of course). For me, this journey begins the day a child comes into my care; whether s/he is 1 year or 3 years. 
So as I share on a very public blog, that extends beyond the families that use my service, I always think, how much is too much?  I always go back to this picture of MY kid having a major MAJOR meltdown - exorcist-like, thrusting all over the kitchen floor after trashing a bag of chocolate chips (if I remember correctly).
I had no reservation in sharing that photo, because first, it was MY child on MY blog. But most importantly, it showed the ugly in the pretty. The truth is (if you read this post) you will find that 99.9% of the ugly never makes it here, in this space. I cannot allow it. I will not allow it. 

Though I’ve walked many roads, and have met a few interesting characters on the way, right now I am where I am needed. I am home. The constant motion of work, child-minding, mothering, staying on track is my full time job. It's not glamorous. It's isolating, and frustrating, and this type of work is (and I assume will always be) greatly under-valued

Nevertheless, I claim it; as I claim every aspect of the beautiful richness that comes with it. 
The beauty that moves. The beauty that falls, or falters. I claim it! More importantly, I claim the beauty that allows us to craft, share, compile, create, gather, and renew.

I have learned so much from witnessing how these little people weave the fabric of their own lives. And you know what? It’s not an uncomplicated life - it is a journey. Who are we to say otherwise? How can we measure their success...growthThey are learning and growing every minute. They have questions, but did you notice they also have lots of answers?


 ...and the cycle continues...

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“A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.”
~ Forest Witcraft

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