Momma Cat (and how to sign CAT in ASL)

How to Sign CAT in ASL.
Hello, Halloween costume! I remember dressing as a CAT waaaaay back when there was no Pinterest, no Etsy, no online ordering or even affordable costume shops in our town.

We always made our costumes entirely from stuff at home.

Felt ears hot-glued to a hair band, a stuffed-sock tail, all black clothes and a trip to my moms makeup drawer to paint on eyeliner whiskers and a pink lipstick nose and I felt like the most sophisticated 7 year old feline around.

It was so much better than the previous year’s white sheet over the head with two holes cut out for ghostly eyes, or the piled on layers of my dad’s not-so-gently worn clothes and muddied-up face for a hobo costume that I wore the year after (not kidding). Hmmmm, maybe I should be a momma CAT this year…?

To sign CAT in American Sign Language, trace out the whiskers from under your nose with one or both hands in an ‘F’ hand shape
(yes, in case you have a baby, a bottle, a bag or maybe you’re pushing a stroller while you pass by a CAT, it’s ok to sign it with one hand).

Are you dressing up for Halloween? Do you make your own costumes? I need ideas!! And I’m still pretty handy with a glue gun.

Thanksgiving Jello Bites

Jello Bites Cut-outs

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and my mother-in-law asked me to bring some of my Jello Bites to eat alongside the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner.

No problem!

Jello bites are little cut-outs of jello that can be eaten with your hands. Also called Jello Jigglers, this jello treat is made with less water than the usual recipe to make it more dense and jiggly. This adapted recipe for jigglers has a creamy layer too. But don’t panic, you don’t actually make 2 layers, this recipe mixes once and sets with 2 layers on its own. Hooray for small victories!

I first tried these cut into squares at my lovely neighbour’s house almost a dozen years ago and she generously shared the recipe with me; I’ve been making them ever since! I use cookie cutters to make them cute for whatever theme is happening -birthday parties, school events, even Thanksgiving! My kids love these wiggly, jiggly, creamy bites of jello (and my mother-in-law, too)!

They’re great for little hands with chubby fingers to hold and gobble up on Thanksgiving, or any time at all, give them a try!

Creamy Jello Bites

4 small boxes of same flavour jello
4 cups boiling water
3 sachets of gelatin (I use Knox brand)
1 small carton of whipping cream (250ml)

Pour the jello and gelatine crystals into a large heat-proof bowl. Slowly add the boiling water and mix well. Slowly add whipping cream into bowl and stir until blended. It may look a little globby as it blends, but it always sets evenly. Pour mixture into a 9×12 lasagna dish or deep cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. The jello and cream layers will form naturally as it sets.

Let set 3-4 hours, then cut with cookie cutters or into squares with a knife.

Keep chilled until served.

I pack them up in containers with parchment paper in between each layer to store in my fridge, ready for bringing to parties, school celebrations, and Thanksgiving dinner!
Jello Bites packed up

Happy Thanksgiving, my Canadian friends!

Learn how to sign more Thanksgiving signs in American Sign Language, too!

Gobble, gobble!


WATER for me!

How to sign WATER in American Sign Language
Right after my new beginner sign language class today, one of the families held out a bottle of WATER and asked me how to sign WATER. I showed them and they said, “Here, this is for you”.

I stood there looking puzzled.

(I had noticed the dad leaving in the middle of class & returning a few minutes later, but I didn’t think too much of it at the time). The mom went on to explain to me that I had mentioned during the class that I had left my WATER bottle at home today & apologized for my voice being a bit scratchy as we sang our signing songs. Turns out her husband had gone downstairs to the vending machine and had bought me a cold bottle of WATER!

Oh my, how sweet! I have the best clients 💕

Don’t forget to sign WATER with your babies when you are drinking WATER, not just them!

How to Sign Fall & Autumn

It’s the first day of Fall today! The air is getting cooler, the leaves are changing colour, the sweaters are coming out. Although my feet aren’t ready to put away the flip flops of summer, let’s start talking about FALL with our babes. All the visual, tactile things about FALL are easy to talk about.

Apple Farm
Sharing a FALL apple at the farm is one of our favourite things to do in autumn.

How to Sign FALL in ASL

To sign FALL or AUTUMN in American Sign Language, hold one straight arm and flat hand up on a diagonal in front of your body (like the branch of a tree). Your other arm and flat hand becomes a leaf falling from the branch. Use a double motion to push away that flat hand in front of your “branch” arm, like a leaf falling shown twice.

What do you like to do in FALL?

Brand New Glasses

Eye-poking www.growingsigns.comAfter complaining about not being able to see the board clearly at the end of the school year in June, my son starts school today with brand new eye glasses. Most of our family wear glasses of some sort -either strong prescriptions for all the time, or light ones just for reading. It seems Ian’s eyes need them for distance, like his dad.

So it was time to get him into a cool new pair of eye glasses fit for an active boy. Our neighbourhood optician, who’s been making my husband and I glasses for over 20 years, carries a line of frames that specializes in flexible titanium frames for both adults and kids that bend and won’t break under pressure. They also have all the machinery to make the glasses in-house, so Ian got a special tour of the back room to see where his glasses were being made. Machines to make eyeglasses

Ian was really excited the whole time we were trying on frames and measuring his face and touring the shop. He’s learned how to take care of his glasses at home this summer, but now I’m admittedly nervous for the start of school days with energetic playground games and running around. Fingers crossed!

To sign GLASSES in American Sign Language, hold index fingers and thumbs around eyes and trace the shape of eye glasses, pulling fingers and thumbs outwards to connect.

How to sign GLASSES in ASL

Helping Hand

Reaching for HELP

Here’s my son, Ian, showing me the puzzle piece he’s putting together isn’t fitting and he wants some HELP (and yes, he’s sitting in a laundry basket doing a puzzle. Of course).

The sign for HELP is in my ‘Daily Signing’ category for babies who are just getting busy and often get frustrated with their new abilities -like when they can’t reach a toy that’s fallen or something they’re playing with keeps falling apart. Or really any baby or toddler who gets frustrated (i.e. all of them).

My son could also never get out of his high chair fast enough after a meal. Instead of letting him cry or whimper at me to let him out as I fumbled quickly with his straps, I would excitedly show him the sign for HELP as I was coming over. “Look! Mommy is coming to HELP you!” Smiles and cheering (positive reinforcement at its best) as I slowly HELPED him, then “Yay, you’re out of your chair!” and soon he understood an urgent cry wasn’t needed to ask for HELP.

You can also sign HELP and UP before you get your babies out of their car seats or anywhere they feel stuck.

These signs will signal what’s about to happen & your babies will realize they don’t need to fuss to get HELP.

Whenever you are about to HELP, sign it first & show them how to ask for HELP.

How to Sign HELP in American Sign Language
To sign HELP, one open flat hand comes up to lift the other hand in a closed fist with thumb on top, raising both hands up together to show giving a helping hand

(**my little guy always sticks his thumb way up signing HELP, so I find my thumb goes up too, but it’s correct to keep your thumb laying flat).

When can you add the sign for HELP in your day?

Home Run

I played a lot of sports as a kid, but baseball was the very first team sport I joined. There was a keen dad in our kindergarten class, and somehow he rounded up enough girls that summer to make a team. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was pure comedy for the parents to watch a dozen 5-year-olds learn how to throw a ball, use a mitt, and (sort of) run around the bases at practices. I remember a lot of horsing around. We were very young and very silly, and it was probably sheer chaos to our adult spectators, but I remember so many fun summer nights spent at the baseball diamond. I played every summer with that same team until we moved away when I was twelve.

Flash forward a few (ahem) years, and now I’m the parent sitting in the bleachers watching my little guy go up to bat and take some swings. Well, a lot of swings, actually. All the kids are swinging and hitting and throwing their hearts out. And boy are they having fun! My guy is thrilled to learn a new sport and join a team with his school-mates and other kids from around town. Sitting there watching his first practice, I realized I had completely forgotten how much I loved playing baseball as a kid, too. Like, really loved it!
The next day I picked up an adult glove for me from the used sporting goods store, and started throwing the ball around with my new little leaguer that night. Talk about feeding the soul –tossing a baseball back and forth on a warm sunny evening together felt so good.

Last weekend his team played their final game at playoffs and then the league hosted a huge family fair to end the season. I made cookies for snack after our last game, but soon after munching those down the kids made a bee-line over to the other side of the field where hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, a dunk tank, and a bouncy castle awaited all the teams on this last day of the season. Super fun.
This former baseball player mommy got to experience the fun of the game through new eyes, and touch back to my own childhood.

Do you play any sports or activities now that you also played as a kid?

Think about it, you might be like me and remember a whole other side to your childhood that can feed the soul again.


How to Sign BASEBALL in ASL.

To sign BASEBALL in American Sign Language, pretend you are holding a baseball bat with both hands up, then swing hands forward like swinging the bat to hit a ball.

Hammock Time

For Father’s Day, my husband asked if he could just chill in his hammock. No gifts. He’s been keeping long hours at work for a big project these days and he didn’t want anything fancy, he just wanted some quiet time with us. The kids and I readily agreed that we could all use a lazy day after a lot of end-of-the-school-year events lately. So we quickly packed up the picnic basket and headed to local Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver for the afternoon.

It was time to break out the hammocks for summer!

A few years ago, my hubby scouted these cool camping hammocks by Kammok that attach to trees with nylon straps, adjustable to wherever you may go, as long as there are two sturdy trees. He bought two of these new Kammok hammocks a while back when Kammok first brought them out as a kickstarter project, and we love them. They fold up into a pouch about the size of a grapefruit, and we take them whenever we head out into nature.

For our last-minute, very casual family celebration for dad, we set up our blanket and picnic lunch on the seaside grass.
Then Scott got the hammock set up and climbed in. He had a few minutes alone before the kids climbed in, too.
We also went exploring down at the beach –it’s such a pretty park and beach.
Whytecliff Beach
Ian found this cool critter that we called a sea-centipede. It probably has a real name, I’d love to know what it is!

We spent the afternoon at a leisurely pace with everyone lounging, reading, and relaxing.

Happy Father’s Day to all the hard-working dads.

Happy Father’s Day


Happy Father’s Day

I’m not celebrating Father’s Day with my dad today, but I’m celebrating. My dad died of cancer when I was 10, but he lived his life before getting sick with an easy-going conviction to enjoy every minute and really notice and celebrate the good stuff. He laughed big laughs and loved to poke fun at himself. He was always the life of the party, but he also took time to find quiet moments to just sit and think and look out the window.

I still have very vivid, wonderful memories of him slow dancing with me with my feet on top of his feet, and watering the garden together on summer evenings talking about the day. We used to make up words like “squg”, which was a cross between a squeeze and a hug, because that’s how we embraced every day. I still do it with my kids, too. I named my boy after my dad, Ian, and my daughter has our family name as her middle name. We are connected, we all squg.

Big or small, we all need squeeze-hugs.

I know you’re celebrating the fathers in your life and your kids’ lives today with me. My husband is an incredible father and we are celebrating and cherishing him today. Last June we were on top of the Eiffel Tower on an incredible trip he planned to Europe for us. He wanted us to leave our usual day-to-day and explore new places together, something he learned early from his father and mother. So much to remember and celebrate with these dads!

DADDY in American Sign Language by

To sign DADDY in American Sign Language, tap the thumb of your open hand to your forehead.

Don’t forget to sign DADDY, and give your kids a squg from me!


Processed with Rookie
Processed with Rookie

We are looking at the important people in your FAMILY in our Signing Babies classes this week!

Don’t forget to show your babies how to sign their favourite people they see in person, in photos, on FaceTime or Skype each day, these faces will be so familiar. My babies didn’t sign MOMMY very much because I was mostly always with them, but it was easier for me to show them the sign for DADDY when he walked in the door from work, or GRANDMA & GRANDPA when they visited. I also name everyone in our family photos by pointing at them, then signing who they were.

How do you teach your baby about your family members?

MOMMY in American Sign Language by

To sign MOMMY in American Sign Language, tap the thumb of your open hand to your chin

DADDY in American Sign Language by

To sign DADDY in American Sign Language, tap the thumb of your open hand to your forehead

GRANDMA in American Sign Language by

To sign GRANDMA in American Sign Language, the thumb of your open hand begins at your chin, then pulls away in an arc from the body twice (showing two generations from you)

GRANDPA in American Sign Language by

To sign GRANDPA in American Sign Language, the thumb of your open hand begins at your forehead, then pulls away in an arc from the body twice (showing two generations from you)