Monthly Archives: November 2013

Garden Variety Family Walk


We wanted to venture outside today beyond our soggy backyard, so my hubbie & kids headed back to the UBC Botanical Gardens -our first visit since August. Earlier this week one of my returning signing clients had asked me about the gardens after reading my summer canopy walk post, and I remembered we still hadn’t gone back to check out the cultivated gardens. The canopy walk is now closed for the season, but the forest trails and formal gardens are all open and admission is FREE now until spring! Lots of great exploring for little feet. Here are some photos from our day visiting the cultivated side of the gardens, which were still showing lots of colour and activity despite being November.

My kids loved seeing all the veggies & plants growing in the huge Food Garden area:

Ian chomped on some kale, literally (oops! we realized too late not to pick!):

Have you ever seen a cultivated fruit tree growing flat against a structure? This is the side view of a full apple tree: (how did he get more kale?)

We decided it was WAY more fun to read the Alpine Garden’s trough plant names out loud like they were spells from Harry Potter…
…Scutellaria PONTICA!!

There’s also a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre:

Multilayerd stone & cement walls surround the amphitheatre:

My daughter was inspired to show us the duck calls she learned at outdoor ed camp this week:

To end, we raced the Labrynth around and around to the end -no skipping over lines!




Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow…


My little girl left yesterday to go to outdoor education camp with her grade 6 class. Okay, she’s not actually that little, I know, and she’s more than ready for a week away with her friends and teachers from school. But I was a bit teary and feeling tender as we pulled up to the school and schlepped her gear to the waiting bus. She saw my moist eyes and shot me a wide-eyed look of despair: please, please don’t gush and embarrass me with a million kisses and hugs, Mom! But that’s all I wanted to do.

I wanted to squeeze her until the very last minute before she got on that school bus.

I held my enthusiasm in as much as I could. I know she needed me to send her off strong. I took a deep breath and gathered my reserves. Suddenly I had a vivid memory of the first day I took her to daycare at 2 1/2 years old. She was a very social kid and was interested in the new toys and teachers that greeted us. I was encouraged to stay and play for a little while but then wisely told to move on without a lot of goodbyes or delays (those teachers were so smart!). It was terribly difficult to leave her, but I knew I had to go. I looked her in the eye as I stood at the door and signed “I Love You” before heading outside. I did that each and every time I left her at daycare, and it very slowly got easier to turn away and head out the door. Some days she cried when I left -tears would literally pour out of her eyes as she signed “I love You” back to me. But some days she didn’t cry. Some days I would have to call her name to catch her eye as she ran in and began playing with another little friend. But either way, soon enough we created a routine that always included saying “I Love You” in sign language before separating, and it was all ours.

Back at the school bus yesterday, I gave her a long hug and told her I loved her, and to enjoy every minute of camp and to tell me all about it when she got back. Then, because it was time for her to go, she turned around and started walking away, but before she got too far, I called her name and signed, “I Love You”. She smiled and signed it back to me, and I felt so much better.


Ella signing “I Love You” with me & her brother, 2010

Poppies for Remembering

How to sign REMEMBER in American Sign Language:

Photo of me signing REMEMBER

Are you REMEMBERING our lost soldiers this weekend?

On November 11th in Canada, we observe Remembrance Day as a memorial to the members of our armed forces who have given their lives in the line of duty in wars since World War I. Poppies are a very visual symbol of Remembrance Day since 1920 after the poem “In Flanders Fields” was written, a poem which referred to the vibrant flowers that first grew in the churned-up earth of soldiers’ graves in Europe. The poem was written by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on May 3rd, 1915, after witnessing the death of his friend, a fellow soldier, the day before.

Poppies are to be worn on your chest over the heart.

I REMEMBER learning the poem “In Flanders Fields” in school as a child, and now my elementary school-aged kids are bringing home their drawings of vibrant red poppies and renditions of the poem in social studies projects every November. Two years ago, my daughter’s girl guide troop made pretty felt poppies, and their creative craft inspired us to make more at home. We always pop some money into the Canadian Veterans Poppy Campaign donation cans and proudly support their efforts each year, but we don’t take a poppy from the tray.

Making the poppies is easy and only requires pieces of red and black felt and some black thread (after sewing the layers of felt together, we hot-glue safety pins to the back for attaching the poppies -this keeps those usually-used stick pins from pricking, and also keeps the poppy fixed in place instead of popping off). It’s a fairly easy craft for kids to do once they are able and old enough to cut with scissors and/or sew with a needle.


Because they are handmade, our felt poppy brooches are all unique and garner lots of attention.


My daughter and I made some extra poppies this year for grandma and grandpa and also some for the kids’ teachers. While stopping by to visit our good friends at Bloom Essentials Spa in Vancouver, owners Kim and Nicole’s enthusiasm for the poppies gave us an idea: my daughter and I could make more poppies for Bloom to sell at their front desk and then donate proceeds to the Veterans’ Poppy campaign.


The $2 poppies sold out in a day, and I’ve since delivered another batch to the shop for the Remembrance Day weekend. More importantly, Kim and Nicole are also generously matching our donations to give to the veterans! I’m so proud that a fun craft with my daughter turned into an activity that could teach her the power of doing, donating, and REMEMBERING.

(a very special thanks to my friends and Bloom Girls, Kim & Nicole!)