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.

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


The Garden of Words


Now is good

It’s August tomorrow. My dashboard is preparing for school, countdowns are up, supply lists, clothes and lunches are being discussed it great detail. People are getting ready. We are not there yet.  I am grateful for freedom of homeschooling – we can go back in a month as opposed to in two and a half weeks when our school district starts again.

We will continue to enjoy our little moments of gold. It was so simple to allow ourselves to rest well this summer. We enjoyed meeting friends, but also were alone a lot. We learned how precious it is to have alone time. I hope people that didn’t get to see us this summer will understand. We had so many “lucky moments”- pelicans, frogs, going hiking, reading under the tree, listening to the rain and watching clouds.

sparkles on the water under the sun

sparkles on the water under the sun

noticing pretty colors

noticing pretty colors

making little bouquets on a hiking trip

making little bouquets on a hiking trip

little legs long enough to kick my elbows, but the toes are still tiny

little legs long enough to kick my elbows, but the toes are still tiny

We grew up so much this summer.  Kids got more independent, they got taller too. I learned to allow things to myself (this poem helped a lot), the man of the house started a new journey in his career. Two books that fell into my hands  talked about the importance of genuine living and basking in the light of present moment. While the concept isn’t new, never before have I felt it to be so imperative to our family’s well being. Maybe it is also because I can physically feel kids growing up so fast and I am not ready to let go. Maybe because the whirlwind wore me out. I want gold moments to last: C. waking me up with kisses, D. sharing his thoughts on Harry Potter, clouds raising when we go up the hill, the cuddles, the warm moments of togetherness. The peace. That is my biggest wish– to be peaceful in my heart. If I learn how to be peaceful, then when the schedules and obligations and necessary activities and chores will start again, I won’t be tired out of my mind, and I won’t feel like my world is spinning and I can barely keep up…Now is good.

Week’s Roundup: June 15-June 21, 2015

Another week flew by and it’s Summer Solstice time already. The summer is officially here, yay!

Photo of the week:

Kids were all about playing with water this week, no wonder, we had a couple of extremely hot days

Kids were all about playing with water this week, no wonder, we had a couple of extremely hot days

What were we up to this week:

Continue reading

The Lamps by Mary Oliver

Lighting the candles in my kitchen…My own little evening ritual, so comforting, signalling the end of a day- long or short, easy or hard…


This poem by brilliant Mary Oliver always comes to mind:

Eight o’clock, no later
You light the lamps,

The big one by the large window,
The small one on your desk.

They are not to see by—
It’s still twilight out over the sand,

The scrub oaks and cranberries.
Even the small birds have not settled

For sleep yet, out of the reach
Of prowling foxes. No,

You light the lamps because
You are alone in your small house

And the wicks sputtering gold
Are like two visitors with good stories

They will tell slowly, in soft voices,
While the air outside turns quietly

A grainy and luminous blue.
You wish it would never change—

But of course the darkness keeps
Its appointment. Each evening,

An inscrutable presence, it has the final word
Outside every door.

Mary Oliver “The Lamps” ( Twelve Moons, 1979)

Book Spine Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, so exciting!

Saw an awesome idea at 100 Scope Notes about creating book spines poetry. We decided to give it a try today. Kids pulled down half of a bookcase and here’s the very first cento  they came up with:

One Big Rain It's Raining Pigs and Noodles. The Cat in THe Hat Buying Mittens, The Vasa Piglet  Instruct[ion]s Blue Chicken To Fly Outside Your Window. Shapeshifters Hop on Pop, Maps  Sing a Song of Popcorn

One Big Rain
It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles.
The Cat in The Hat
Buying Mittens,
The Vasa Piglet
Blue Chicken
To Fly
Outside Your Window.
Hop on Pop,
Sing a Song of Popcorn

Quite silly, but the part about blue chicken is quite beautiful too.

Such fun game, I’m curious to see what they will come up with next.