January 2017

Already a month into 2017. January sure went by fast. Yet at the same time it was a month of adjustment, rather than new beginnings.

img_0845We went back to doing school after nearly a month-long break. Kids went back to their extracurricular activities. I went back to my work and had a very productive month. Life moves in measured paces more or less, with a crazy day here and there of course.

 

We went to see Star Wars the Power of Costume in Denver Art Museum, and we absolutely loved it, such a large and thorough exhibit. Local people, if you haven’t yet, definitely go and take a look, it’s on until April.

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D. did three days of World Peace Game with our homeschool group. It was such a valuable experience for him and made him think about current events more.

School was mostly “getting into the swing of things” and hopefully it will be better in February.

Gray and white cold days, splashes of color of mundane things – the combination seemed comforting somehow

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My favorite moment was probably playing with Excentric Cinema book by Beatrice Coron. Kids had so much fun moving shadows and making up stories

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I ended up making one of my own papercuts out of black paper and it worked too

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Kids read (beyond a pile of re-reads):

D. read Pax by Sara Pennypacker and White Fang by Jack London

C. read BFG by Roald Dahl and Amazing Animal Stories by Quentin Blake

Mama read Spaceman by Mike Massimino and absolutely loved it

 

I have opened a bookstagram  with most of our reads. Come and take a look. I have a Litsy account under the same username too.

So this was our January. February looks quite busy, but it is also shorter. I hope to keep the measured pace and not give in to the crazy moments.

 

 

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Tuesday Night Playtime : Little Boats

This is our last Tuesday Night Play for a while as D’s choir starts again next week.

This week we took opportunity to play with some walnut shells and created a sea adventure. Initially we hoped to make mini candles so we have floating lights, but those didn’t work out.

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kids were very free with the beeswax 😀

We ended up just sticking little flags made out of washi tape into the shells and let them float.

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kids also added glass beads, plastic snowflakes, ice and even a stray cranberry for more dramatic set-up. A candle served for the setting sun

Later children added an island- one of D’s earlier ceramic creations, and some animals to liven up the scene.

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mysterious island

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and a baby hippo guarding the treasure (love how kids picked turquoise tissue paper to put underneath our glass bowl, creating a lovely tropical beach)

 

So here is our Tuesday Night Play, I loved seeing kids play small worlds again. A little bit sad because D. is slowly leaving it behind (they grow up so fast). Stay tuned for more, we will definitely keep this tradition, if not on Tuesdays, there are 3 more free nights in the week 🙂

 

 

Tuesday Night playtime: creating tiny universes

Evenings are long and dark , but tonight was delightful. I saw the idea of playing with marbles and assistive light on the phone somewhere on the web, and today we finally got a chance to try it out. We had marbles and beady decorations from the floral section in the craft store. Warning, don’t look directly at the light, it will definitely hurt your eyes!

Just a marble put on top of phone’s assistive light and a complete darkness- all you need to create a tiny amazing universe, we found that craft store beads create better galaxies, but marbles make amazing planets:

our first marble universe

our first marble universe

 

 

the blue one most definitely has water :)

the blue one most definitely has water 🙂

 

A good chance to remember differences between opaque, translucent and transparent- and the biggest marble becomes Neptune

A good chance to remember differences between opaque, translucent and transparent- and the biggest marble becomes Neptune

half the planet is covered with ice

half the planet is covered with ice

my favorite spotty marble   reminded us about Earth

my favorite spotty marble reminded us about Earth

It gets even better – the colors reflected on our ceiling absolutely charmed little C.

marble planets reflection

 

reflection from marbles

 

We also had some rocks bought from the museum long time ago and those made some magic of their own

this shard of crystal like rock created icy and fierce asteroid

this shard of crystal like rock created icy and fierce asteroid

this one looks like a glowing amber

this one looks like a glowing ember

This one, blue with lilac strikes is our favorite, it looks like it has a heart

This one, white with lilac strikes is our favorite, it looks like it has a heart

 

Fun and calming time tonight…

THE BEST SEASON OF ALL 2015: Days 8-13

Another week flew by and half of December is gone. We had lovely week of small, quiet celebrations. Here what it was like:

On Tuesday there was another lovely concert with D.’s choir- his division performed in the nursing home nearby and as always, wonderful singing and warm, holiday atmosphere.

 

Wednesday kids opened their new winter books.

TBSOA 2015: new booksFor C. it was “Snow Rabbit” by Camille Garoche- a wordless picture book about a paper rabbit that turned real and two sisters that went chasing after him.

Snow Rabbit

D. got Neil Gaiman’s “Odd and the Frost Giants” and he loved it.

Odd and the frost giants

 

On Thursday we tried finger knitting, I must say it was crazy difficult for me and C., I am not a knitter at all and crochet but a little. C. didn’t have patience. But D. got a hang of it and had fun finger knitting for a while.

TBSOA: fingerknitting

 

On Friday D. and his dad had a lovely family karate class and we got our tree after. We usually get a small tree to fit into our tiny living room, but this year the choice was either microscopic or 6 feet tall. So we got 6 feet tall one. It’s weird to have such a big tree again and it takes up half of the room, but ids are absolutely thrilled.

On Saturday we made a few decorations as per our annual tradition and decorated our tree.

D. went for a paper house, inside tha box is colored as a room

D. went for a paper house, inside tha box is colored as a room

C. painted a shell with acrylic paints. As always, I love her colors and especially how she incorporated gold paint

C. painted a shell with acrylic paints. As always, I love her colors and especially how she incorporated gold paint

I of course went with felt and made a simple heart

I of course went with felt and made a simple heart

 

our not at all tiny tree

our not at all tiny tree

Sunday was a card making day, kids made a bunch of cards for their friends and teachers.

Monday they started their annual lego village display

TBSOA 2015: Lego village

 

We watched “It’s a Wonderful Life!”, kids for the first time. Elves have been visiting and putting tiny presents for kids under the tree…I draw some holiday cheer too

TBSOA 2015 :mama draws

I keep doodle diary this season and it’s filling up little by little

two weeks of events

two weeks of events

Wishing wonderful holidays to everyone!

 

 

Week’s Roundup: September 7- September 13, 2015

Another week went by.  The fall creeps in our surroundings.

Photo of the week:

on the edge of the color blue

on the edge of the color blue

What were we up to this week?

Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Paper Goods Projects by Jodi Levine

Just in time for the school year! Paper Goods Projects is a book full of simple crafts that don’t require too much time, yet look good both as an accessory to an imaginative playtime and a party. The book is written by Jodi Levine who was a part of Martha Stewart creative team for over 19 years. The cover copy promises total re-evaluation of one’s pantry shelves and tons of  fun with household materials. Let’s see if it lives up to it.

paper goods projects

This  colorful book offers a variety of simple and cute craft ideas from all sorts of materials available at most homes: coffee filters, paper towel tubes, balloons, milk cartons , etc.  It is separated into four sections according to the material. Coffee Filters and Cupcake Papers is my most favorite of the four. Dyed Coffee Filters look amazing. The projects include flowers and cake topper ideas. Second section is dedicated to paper plates, bags and doilies. It is also quite creative and there are number of ideas I am excited to implement such as garland, masks and paper bag decoration ideas. The third section is my least favorite and is dedicated to balloon creations. The balloon cake toppers are just not appealing at all to me and table decorations are plain ugly, sorry to say. The only project I would really like to do with my kids is balloon solar system. The final section is dedicated to the materials found in recycling bin-cartons, cereal boxes and paper tubes. I liked the ideas for paper town out of boxes and cartons, tube animals look great as well.

Overall impression: I somehow expected something extraordinary from this book, and while there are some wonderful ideas, there is not much I haven’t seen before on various blogs and Pinterest. As I’ve written above, balloon section (which is 1/4 of the book) is useless to me. The book is pretty– bright colors and lovely photography. The crafts are simple and easy to put together with kids of different ages. 3 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Haiku

End of August/September is a special time. Time of transition from summer to autumn, time when the cricket outside our window sings with all its might, time when the weather changes five times a day, time of shadows getting longer and sun changing angle, so the golden light lasts well into the morning. Time of the nights getting chillier, time of asking ourselves whether we should get our comforters out or maybe we can get by for another week or two. Time of longing for a season that is to come and time for saying goodbye to summer with its delights. In other words – a haiku time!

We had a good haiku week in Sunflowerous House:

learning about haiku1. We read haiku books:

Hi, Koo: A Year of Seasons by John J. Muth, absolute delight– soft and sweet illustrations, quiet thoughtful poems

Hi Koo

Don’t Step on The Sky: A Handful of Haiku by Miriam Chaikin, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata a lovely collection of poems, mostly summer theme so it brought to mind memories that are still fresh

don't step on the sky

Cool Melons–Turn to Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa by Matthew Gollub, illustrated by Kazuko G. Stone, a book about great haiku master Issa, his life story and poems

cool melons turn to frogs

The Year Comes Round: Haiku Through the Seasons by Sid Farrar, illustrated by Ilse Plume, another wonderful collection, with a few poems dedicated to each season

a year comes round

2. Haiku are amazing because they are an embodiment of mindfulness,  each moment so wonderfully concentrated. The task I gave to kids first was to go outside and carefully observe the world around them. They brought back the news of first fallen leaves, of a stray cat sneaking into the grass, of a toy forgotten in the middle of the lawn, that there are fewer bees comparing to a month ago…

D. then sat down and write a couple of haiku of his own

D' s haiku 5th grade

3. We learned about haiga (an artwork based on a haiku) and looked at some beautiful haiga paintings in The Art of Haiku book, there is a video too

art of haiku

(Long but interesting article on haiga can be found here). Then I asked kids to either make a haiku or pick a favorite one from a book and illustrate it. Both made their own:

C's haiga

C’s haiga
“Beautiful and Purple Flower”

D's Bees fly over bush Basking in the sun An early sunset.

D’s
Bees fly over bush
Basking in the sun
An early sunset.

I chose to illustrate a poem by Kodoujin

kodoujin three drops art

We are going to continue reading and writing haiku, it is a wonderful exercise in mindfulness, a great reason to pause and look around, it is one of the most relaxing poetry forms to me

Favorite books in addition to The Art of Haiku mentioned above:

The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology, this book was a great find, it has most famous haiku, as well as less known, notes on poets and Japanese versions in romaji included.

the classic tradition of haiku

Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years is another book I love to read by myself and aloud

haiku in english

When I think about visual equivalent of haiku– how a mundane moment becomes a beautiful art, Makoto Shinkai’s work comes to mind immediately, so when I am in my “haiku mood” I love to rewatch

5 centimeters per second

and

The Garden of Words