Category Archives: dancing rabbit daycare

new rhythm + feeling festive

Since daycare officially ended a few weeks ago, I find our days have a new rhythm to them; slower; less frantic.  The kids have been getting along better and I often find them reading a book together or laughing hysterically at each other’s antics.  It’s good.

Yesterday I used the hot glue gun to attach cedar to cardboard wreath templates.  As I was explaining the importance of not touching the tip to avoid burning yourself to Poppy, I promptly burnt my thumb.  She gasped, kissed it, and asked if I would like a band aid on after a bath.  Later I had them sort through the cranberries by placing the mushy ones in a small dish and the good ones in a little pile for me to string onto baker’s twine.  I hung it in the kitchen and added the small cedar wreaths to it.   I hung more twinkle lights in our bedroom.  We rummaged around in the scrap pile for two good pieces of barn board and made a “be merry” sign as well as a “follow joy” sign.  I have no idea where I will hang them, but I like them.

Today we went on a hunt in the woods for leathery oak leaves, bits of cedar and spruce, feathers, birch paper, clumps of mossy and lichen, and pine cones to create a festive yet natural advent calendar I am so excited to create.   I was on the lookout for small pine and cedar saplings to transplant along our front fence.  I had never noticed the numerous saplings who had gathered at the feet of fallen or barren coniferous trees; as though to protect and pay their respects to a fallen elder.

We then released thousands of milkweed seeds into the air.  Much like the petals of a peony they remind my of frivolous and whimsical things.  Things like star dust and moon beams.  Seeds with wings, my goodness, it doesn’t get much better than that.  The sky is as pure a blue that ever was or will be and the sun friendly.

Of course Silas still throws down like a boss and Poppy still refuses (I mean refuses) to go on the potty, but I find myself more patient with it all.

Today I woke early and started a crock pot full of pulled pork with a made from scratch sauce.  If it tastes half as good as it smells we are in business.

The season of home and hearth is upon us and it is where I am most at ease.



go gently.  be wonderful + merry.


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painting rocks + thoughts on unschooling

I had all sorts of grand plans for Dancing Rabbit Daycare.  With Poppy being the oldest of the four children, I quickly realized they were unrealistic.  Instead of spending hours doing structured crafts and exploration they spend most of the day half naked in free play and exploration.  When we do do crafts, it usually lasts about 20 minutes and then I spend the next hour cleaning the house, the children, and the bathtub.

In their freedom, they have begun making up games of their own; the newest being a dragonfly hunt in which they run around the yard searching for imaginary dragonflies (don’t worry, no real dragonflies were harmed).  They discuss strategy and work well together.  Another favourite is when they all hold onto a stick or rope and pretend they are a train travelling around the yard.  Silas’ personal favourite are Peter Pan sword fights on the rocks and logs with great agility.  Their favourite toys generally aren’t toys; things like rocks, sticks, and dirt are most often played with.  They enjoy the dump trucks and diggers and love making mud and soup with rocks, dirt, grass and water.  They enjoy taking water from one place to another and will do it with great purpose.  We play a game in which we guess if an item will sink or float and then throw it in the wee pool to find out who was right.  I have been doing some reading on unschooling and am fascinated by it.  I realize their play is their work.

In the last few weeks I have noticed a shift in Poppy as she becomes more measured in her crafts.  Not so very long ago, she was the girl covered from head to toe in whatever medium we were working with that day (namely glitter, glue and/or paint) and usually smearing and sprinkling it on every surface available to her (human or otherwise).  I always tried to let her experience it as she needed and wanted, but it was exasperating at times.

This week we went into the field in search of items to use to make collages and Poppy surprised me with her enthusiasm.  She was the first to think of using the many feathers scattered through the yard.  She found leaves and flowers and stayed with me for the duration of the task, placing each item with excitement into the basket.  We said hello to an especially lovely beetle and a fluffy caterpillar before heading back in to begin our craft.  Inside she put just enough glue on her paper and carefully picked her leaf or feather to place.  She was so proud of her completed work and when I taped it up high on the kitchen door she demanded I give it to her and I later found it hanging at her level so she could admire it.

Yesterday, while the little ones slept, I took the two older ones out to paint some big rocks they had found.  Poppy usually prefers to paint her entire body (and I mean her ENTIRE body), but with this craft she took her time and chose the colours carefully.  She used a small brush and layered the colours in one concentrated place in a way that they were all visible.  It was like a beautiful gem.  They declared they were painting happy and scary monsters.

I was only there to ask questions and provide the paint and wash cloth.  I didn’t interfere or make any suggestions.  I just let them sit in silence and put the paint where they wanted.  They decided when their creations were complete and then we placed them in the sun to dry.

I am learning to trust.  My gut is drawing me into unschooling, but it is still something that makes us both a little uneasy though I have a hard time articulating why.  I think it is mainly due to the  misunderstanding attached to the term and process.  What if our children are behind?  Will people think we are neglectful and dumb.  Poppy has been testing our trust since the early months.  She was very slow to talk and has refused to show any interest or motivation to potty train while she has excelled in other areas such as coordination, and knowing all her colours, numbers, letters, animals, etc with great confidence from a very early age.   Any effort to teach her things such as using scissors or how to complete puzzles and games on the Ipad usually just makes her freeze up and resist.  Then I will spy her doing it nearly to perfection all by herself a few weeks later.  I see myself in her ways;  I preferred to learn things alone where I could make mistakes without being corrected.  Even when I really wanted to try something or learn something I would often bow out if it made me uneasy.  This can be disabling in many ways, but I would have appreciated it greatly if I hadn’t been pushed (with the best of intentions)  to be something I wasn’t.  It is a fine balance for sure; honouring who they   are while learning that challenges can be good.  Silas, on the other hand, is a proficient talker with an insane vocabulary and incredible coordination and imagination, but doesn’t have the same interest in letters and numbers that Poppy has.

My biggest question is how would we ever deal with any “delays” with confidence?  How do we tap into the trust?   Of course, these are more our issues than our children’s so I will continue reading and watching.  For anyone interested I am currently reading The Unschooling Handbook and The Unschooling Unmanual and wanting to watch this documentary.  Some other videos I have come across here.

So, who out there is unschooling?  Any tips, thoughts, references?


go gently + be wonderful





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dancing rabbit daycare


{I found and purchased the dancing rabbit image via etsy}

Many of you have been oh so curious about our decision to have a daycare in our home.

If you had asked me at any point in my life what I saw myself doing for a living, home daycare would have been the last thing I would have answered.  I have always dreamed of owning my own shop or some sort of furniture building.  But a few weeks ago, Mike and I were chatting over coffee about how we would like to have more regular play dates {I am sure I have mentioned how much I hate that term, but have yet to come up with a better one} for the kids’ social sides.  Minutes later I checked my email and there was an email from a local couple who had seen my poster in the post office and were wondering if I would be interested in caring for their two young children a few days per week.  The next day we met and all felt comfortable with making it a reality.

Now, I had considered doing home daycare, but never thought it would be someone’s first choice with our free range chickens and numerous pets, but we found out from chatting with them that there is both a need and a lack of childcare that doesn’t include plopping the kids in front of the television and feeding them poor quality foods.  I was shocked, but when you consider the average hourly wage of the home daycare provider it has to be  a labour of love.

Some of you may think I am insane for taking on more children as I have often written about how exhausting it is being a full time stay at home mom, but a lot of the exhaustion comes from worry and maybe even some guilt.  I worry that I am not enough or that my children are bored or under stimulated (they aren’t).  I think that home daycare will give me the focus and organization I often lack as well as provide a change of scenery and important  social skills for the kids.  We also hope it will loosen the financial cinch as a side benefit.

Some of you have mentioned that you have considered doing this yourself so here are a few simple steps I have taken to prepare:

  • Notified our home insurance provider that we will be providing home child care 2 to 3 days per week
  • Registered my business name with the government – this way I can claim things like food costs, toy and book costs, and even a percentage of home maintenance costs.  The tricky part will be to put the taxes away for tax time.
  • I have taken the full first aid course many many times in my life, so I purchased a concise laminated copy of the emergency basics to keep in the bathroom with a few first  aid items.  We also have a home first aid learning kit we got from the local EMS.  It is important to refresh the basics on a regular basis.
  • I refreshed our stock of basic craft supplies like scissors, glue, construction paper, and ingredients to make bubbles, cloud dough, slime, finger paint, etc.
  • I did some basic meal and snack planning and will continue to go through our cookbooks and Pinterest for great ideas.
  • When purchasing groceries and supplies I tried to fairly divide it into two purchases – home use and daycare use so that the receipts are simpler to tally up.
Need to do:
  • Make up a simple info sheet for the parents to fill out – birthdays, emergency contacts, general information, etc.
  • Create an invoice template to issue – because families can claim childcare costs most parents would require a receipt.
  • Find an effective and simple software to keep track of expenses, payments etc.
  • Organize a file folder for receipts and documents as well as purchase a ledger (I still prefer paper records though it would be wise to transfer it to the computer as well)
Yesterday was the first day and it was a good day.  There were no tears, though I know it was a transition for everyone involved.  The kids shared well and there were no arguments.  They are two very sweet boys, but it is still 4 children to feed and care for so it was a big change for me.  As we all get more comfortable, I would be open to taking on one to two more children depending on their ages, but will take the time to adjust to two extra bodies first and see if I think I could comfortably take on more.
We had some free play, lots of outside time, bubbles, water, sand, and ball play, painted with watercolours, paper cutting, gathered eggs, played with the bunny until it got too intense, reading and looking at lots of books, a healthy snack tray (a la Dr Sears) with orange quarters, apples, cranberries, crackers, cheese, and dry cereal and a homemade lunch of organic beef stroganoff.
Some activities I would love to do with the kids:
  • transferring their crayon drawings to a blank shirt
  • cloud dough
  • giant bubble wands
  • cut and paste with old magazines
  • colour matching with paint chips and clothespins
  • felt and button bracelets
  • simple baking and diy pizzas with homemade pita breads
  • gardening
  • nature walks
The day’s goal rhythm:
  • greetings, getting settled, free play
  • outdoor free time, let chickens out, check for early eggs, gather fresh grass for the bunny
  • morning snack
  • main activity/craft
  • tidy up
  • lunch
  • stories/reading
  • quiet time/nap time
  • wake up, afternoon snack
  • yoga dvd/outdoor time/or movie (weather depending)
  • gather clothes and items for home time
  • goodbyes
*all snacks, meals, and activities will be done outside when possible because a) it keeps cleanup a little simpler and b) outside time is good.
*if and when they do watch television I would do a quick tidy/catch up and then sit with them while doing some simple hand craft like knitting or crocheting.
go gently + be wonderful
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