Tag Archives: baby

Real Mother’s Day Moments

Let’s be real. Being a parent is no easy feat. Babies are amazing and exhausting. I’ve been doing this mothering thing for more than a decade and I still find I’m growing and learning from many botched attempts at perfect parenting. But I promise, there is no perfect in parenting. So don’t worry about it so much!

I’ll freely admit I’ve raised my voice at my kids needlessly, I’ve felt completely unable to help both my colicky babies from crying, I’ve served meals that no one at the table wanted to eat, and I’ve been woken up by kids wailing that the tooth fairy forgot to come more times than I care to say. And it’s okay.

Something I’m thinking a lot about now is making sure I’m staying present in the moments with my kids, and valuing those moments together.

Becoming the mom of a bonafide teenager this year has certainly brought to my attention that childhood is fleeting and I don’t want to miss any of it. How many more moments will she want to snuggle in bed with me and talk about her day? How much will she still want to hold my hand, walking down the street?

At my daughter’s 3rd birthday, I remember having a lot of fun creating a spring-themed toddler party with spring baskets and frilly balloons. I was snapping pics of the kids making their craft, capturing all the prettiness of the table when my very wise, Very-Inspiring-Friend whispered something quietly in my ear. “Don’t forget to enjoy the party, not just take photos of the party”. I looked up from behind the lens and noticed that my daughter was giggling away, both hands covered in paint while I was taking photos of the colour-matched decorations. I remember going over and picking up her paint brush and adding another coat of paint on her thumb and then my own thumb, making her giggle even more. It was ridiculous and so, so fun. No wonder she was giggling!

Uh-oh. Time to start being mindful of the moments, not capturing them.

As much as I love taking photos and creating beautiful photos, I also try to make sure I am enjoying these moments with my kids. The photos can happen, but the moments of being completely there, not just watching from the sides or through a lens, do not come back. And even though I’m still making mistakes and not quite doing everything right as a parent, I always feel okay when I’m thoughtful and present with my family.

IMG_0809

(Sssshhhh… I’m writing this as my kids and husband quietly make Mother’s Day breakfast for me. I’m supposed to be sleeping in, but my mother’s brain is awake and my heart is happily awaiting seeing their smiles as they come upstairs to surprise me. No photos will be taken).

Happy Mother’s Day!

How to Sign MOTHER in American Sign Language --www.growingsigns.com

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

How to Sign HAPPY BIRTHDAY

photo[4][1]

My daughter turned 13 yesterday (deep breath); she’s now a teenager. I feel faint.

I’m not even sure how this happened, but in all seriousness, it’s so exciting to share this milestone with her. She’s always been an amazing kid to me and her dad, and we couldn’t be prouder of her (the crow’s feet around my eyes I could happily wish away, but not if it means I didn’t age these 13 years and get to see this girl grow up, so I guess I’ll need more eye cream).

Here’s a little peak into how we celebrate our kids’ birthdays every year, and how to sign HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your kids!

We’ve always started birthdays early in the morning with our kids. First thing upon waking we gather in our pajamas and open a few little presents. This is her brother opening some presents on his birthday last year.
Processed with Rookie
We always blast our “birthday playlist” full of different kinds of birthday songs that we’ve been adding to every year. Silly songs like “A Berry Happy Birthday” from Ella’s favourite show as a toddler, Strawberry Shortcake, right to some birthday-themed Beatles and Stevie Wonder and Selena Gomez songs. Those soundbites remind us of the early birthday parties and celebrations through the years (if you search “birthday” you’ll find lots of fun songs). We loop the birthday playlist all morning as we eat breakfast and get ready for school.

This year we decided to step up our birthday morning game a little. Thirteen is a big number and she’s been really excited to become a teenager. The buildup for the past few weeks has been tremendous. So we wanted to watch Ella wake up her first morning as a teenager and start smiling right away…my husband and I snuck into her room at the crack of dawn and put 13 balloons around her bed. Then we crept back in when we heard her stirring. A birthday surprise to get her smiling as soon as she opened her eyes. It was so fun!

Then, downstairs for birthday pancakes.

Happy Birthday Pancakes
Happy Birthday cake toppers by Lisa Leonard

We usually save pancakes for the weekends when there’s more time, but the birthday girl wanted pancakes, so pancakes it is! For dinner the four of us went out for her favourite food -SUSHI! And a party with her friends will happen soon, but for now, it’s all about her.

Happy Birthday Ella!

Here’s a little montage I made of her first 12 birthdays…time flies when you’re having fun! This was a big project, but I am so glad I’ve taken lots of photos and at least tried to get a smiling pic with her cake or at her party each year. Putting them all together with the numbers for her age thirteen years later was pretty neat. She absolutely loved it!
Processed with Rookie

Do you have birthday rituals you do every birthday with your family?

To sign HAPPY BIRTHDAY in American Sign Language, first brush your flat hand upwards on chest for HAPPY

How to Sign HAPPY in American Sign Language: www.growingsigns.com

Then with middle finger extended, tap your chin once and then your chest once for BIRTHDAY.

How to Sign BIRTHDAY in American Sign Language: www.growingsigns.com

Goat, Sheep or Ram?

Processed with Rookie
Today is the beginning of the new Lunar New Year for 2015, a calendar Chinese people have used since 2600 B.C when the mythical Yellow Emperor, or Huang Di, started the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac. According to legend, Huang Di named an animal to represent each year in a 12-year cycle that includes the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

But there seems to be some reticence in North America to call it the Year of the GOAT, and choose instead a more “sexier” animal, the “Ram”, or even the softer, fluffier “Sheep”.

Is it the Year of the GOAT, Sheep, or Ram?

I think many in North America consider the GOAT to be a bit banal, a lowly animal un-befitting of the majesty of the Lunar New Year, but the GOAT has always been a very well-respected animal in Chinese culture and history. Since ancient times, the goat became closely linked to Chinese people’s livelihood. Its meat and milk are highly nutritious, and its wool makes fabric that is lightweight, soft, and has other good properties. Chinese people also learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and its skin to keep warm.

The Chinese character 羊 (yáng), which generally refers to a GOAT, is considered a symbol of auspiciousness, good luck, and peace. Since ancient times, people have used 羊to symbolize good-naturedness.

羊 is among the animals that Chinese people like most. It is generally gentle, calm, and quiet by nature and is a source of many things that benefit humankind.

羊 is close to the meaning of good things. As such, it is used in many Chinese characters to indicate something beneficial.

The most striking characteristic of the GOAT is its peaceful manner and so Goat people tend to be lovers of peace who prefer to avoid disagreements. Thus, the Year of the GOAT is a time for people leave conflicts behind and to get along peacefully.

Epoch Times

Those born in the Year of the GOAT (1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, or 2015), are said to be creative, intelligent, dependable, and calm. GOATS are comfortable being alone with their thoughts, are seen as calm individuals. Their personalities are quiet, reserved, and soothing. They tend to be easygoing and relaxed. GOATS enjoy being part of a group, but prefer staying out of the limelight and letting others take center stage. They are nurturing and pensive.

To sign GOAT in American Sign Language, tap your first two bent fingers (like the horns of a GOAT) to your chin and then tap forehead.


Gung Hei Fat Choi (Happy New Year)!

What do you think –GOAT, Ram, or Sheep?

The I LOVE YOU Challenge

Processed with Rookie

‘I Love You’ in American Sign Language

Hold up your hand with index finger, pinkie finger, and thumb extended.

I’m challenging you to teach someone you love how to sign ‘I LOVE YOU’ in American Sign Language. Let’s learn and teach and spread some love this month!

Send me a photo of those hands – little or big – signing ‘I LOVE YOU’ on my I LOVE YOU CHALLENGE post on Facebook and Instagram for your friends and family to see & like. Make sure to tag @signingbabies and use the hashtag #SIGNYOURLOVE.

Be creative, make it cute, and show them how to sign. I’ve got some prizes to send some love back to those whose posted pics get plenty of likes on my sign language lovefest!

Please post your photos by midnight PST Feb. 14, 2015. Spread the love by sharing & tagging your friends so they can play & learn ASL, too!

Snow Day (indoors and out)

My in-laws live next to a lake about 10 minutes away from Whistler Blackcomb, host mountains to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Whistler, B.C. Their little cabin overlooks the lake with both mountains tucked in behind. It is gorgeous here year-round, but it’s especially snowy and beautiful in winter. Every year for New Year’s Eve we come up and stay with the grandparents and play in the SNOW!
Indoor snowball by Snowtime Anytime
(Disclaimer: lots of wintry words ahead, but if it’s not snowy where you are, I have a really delightful indoor solution for you and your littles at the end of this post.)
How to sign SNOW in American Sign Language --www.SigningBabies.ca
To sign SNOW in American Sign Language, hold your hands up in the air. Flutter your fingers as you move your hands down and side to side.

We don’t get much SNOW where we live in Vancouver, so the 90 minute drive up to Whistler always excites us as we watch the terrain slowly morph from shades of brown and green in the city into a frozen wonderland in all shades of white.

As soon as we arrived, I rushed outside while it was lightly snowing and took some photos so I could show you some snowy ASL signs!

image

To sign COLD in American Sign Language, hold up both arms with closed fists, and shake them sideways like you’re shivering in the COLD.

Every SNOW day requires you make a SNOWMAN! Here’s our little guy ready to greet the trains passing by, not far from the cabin:
image

Signing SNOWMAN is easy -just sign SNOW with your fluttery fingers (see sign above), then sign MAN:
How to sign MAN in American Sign Language --www.SigningBabies.ca
To sign SNOWMAN in American Sign Language, first sign SNOW, then MAN by tapping thumb once to your forehead and then bring thumb down to tap once on chest.

A good PLAY in the snow always tuckers out my kids, hallelujah!
How to sign PLAY in AMerican Sign Language --www.SigningBabies.ca
To sign PLAY in American Sign Language, twist both hands with pinkies and thumbs out (middle fingers stay tucked in).

Of course, a steaming cup of HOT CHOCOLATE is always in order after playing in the snow, right? It’s almost the best part, and always a fitting ending to all that snowy fun.

To sign HOT CHOCOLATE in American Sign Language, sign HOT by placing your open claw hand beside your mouth, then turn it away from your body (like it’s too hot to touch). Then sign CHOCOLATE by circling your ‘C’ hand on top of your other hand in a closed fist.
image
image

*Okay, so here’s my find of the year, brought to me by my Very Inspiring Friend, who first found these incredible Indoor Snowballs online here.
6packsnowball
She then showed me they carried them at a local dollar store near her house and I promptly bought two dozen snowballs to tuck into everyone’s stockings for Christmas. We had a huge snowball fight right after opening our presents and it was completely hilarious. The kids didn’t get tired of chucking snowballs at each other but they did get just as tired as playing outside. The adults had the biggest child-like grins on their faces as they pelted each other, too. The snowballs are made of tightly bunched soft yarn so they aren’t likely to injure people or knock down things in your house. They’re incredibly realistic-looking and just plain fun to throw!

And that leaves me with one more word for you to sign with SNOW:
How to sign BALL in American Sign Language --www.SigningBabaies.ca
To sign BALL in American Sign Language, hold both open claw hands in front of you, like you are holding a BALL.

Are you having some fun this winter in the SNOW (inside or outside)?

Happy New Year!

-Lee Ann

How to Sign PUMPKIN in American Sign Language

You can’t miss ’em. Vibrant, orange pumpkins decorating storefronts, school rooms, and houses are everywhere during October, and your little ones will notice them. Stop and point them out and say PUMPKIN a couple times while signing it:
How to Sign PUMPKIN in ASL  www.signingbabies.ca
To sign PUMPKIN in ASL, middle finger is held connected to thumb, then is flicked onto the back of the other hand which is held in a fist.

Even better than seeing pumpkins is holding and playing with a big pumpkin, or eating pumpkin. Have some fun with signing PUMPKIN this week, and stay tuned for more HALLOWEEN signs!

-Lee Ann

Light the Night

My family is participating in Light the Night in Vancouver this evening -a walk to raise funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. It occurs to me as I write this that many of you don’t know my father because he died of cancer at the age of 43, when I was 10. He was one of those incredible people that embodied life and charm and vitality, and I miss him every single day. He’s been gone much longer than I ever had him, and although I know he’s with me and my family today in different ways, it’s not the same as having him here, alive, with us. Not even remotely the same.

I have two other friends whose fathers passed away of cancer, one specifically of leukemia. My husband, Scott, lost his grandparents to cancer, and his cousin, Chelsea passed away from an incredibly rare form of brain cancer just last summer leaving 4 small kids under the age of five. The list goes on.

We all know someone.

This cause is very close to our hearts, and we are joining this walk with our dear, dear friend, Sara Sutton and her family, who bravely and thankfully showed lymphoma that it was no match for her two years ago.

Tonight, we will be walking for them, with them, and to benefit them. Maybe you want to light a candle or lantern tonight and think about those you know and love who felt the impact of cancer. I felt it was really important for my kids, aged 8 and 12 years, to participate and perhaps begin to understand how we can try to make a difference while we celebrate the triumphs and mourn the losses. They are old enough now to be a part of change, not just hear or learn about it. So we will be walking and lighting the night.

Of course, these two ASL signs are very usable signs for babies and kids, too!

LIGHT in American Sign Language -middle finger and thumb are connected, then middle finger thumps chin twice lightly  -www.signingbabies.ca
The ASL sign for LIGHT -middle finger and thumb are connected, then middle finger flicks upward on the underside of the chin twice lightly.

NIGHT in American Sign Language -one arm is held horizontally, palm down, while other hand arcs forward from behind flat arm to rest its wrist on the back of your flat hand.  -www.signingbabies.ca
NIGHT (or “evening”)
The ASL sign for NIGHT -one arm is held horizontally, palm down, while other hand arcs forward from behind flat arm to rest its wrist on the top of your flat hand.

If you are interested in donating, here is the link for our family’s team within the mighty Vancouver Team Sutton.

Thank you!

Birthday Class Giveaway

Processed with Rookie

Win a Signing Babies class of your choice!

Today is my birthday, and I’d like to give back some of the love that I receive in bunches and bunches all year long from my family, friends and clients.

So here’s something from me to you (and to your family, friends, and clients)!

I’m giving away a full session of one of my upcoming Signing Babies classes in Vancouver, Richmond, or West Vancouver, B.C. -a 6-8 week session of classes, worth up to $130. Here’s the schedule of classes the lucky Vancouver-area family will choose from. The winner will pick one full session of classes at any location.

To enter, comment below on this blog post, or hop on over to my Signing Babies Facebook page and comment on today’s contest post (you can enter once by blog, and once by Facebook, with bonus points for liking both pages).

Please spread the love and share this giveaway.

I will be picking randomly from the entries received before midnight on August 4th, 2014.

IMPORTANT CONTEST DETAILS: Winning family must have a baby aged 0-36 months and be able to attend a scheduled Signing Babies class in the Vancouver area within the assigned class dates. Private & drop in classes are excluded from this giveaway. Families with twins aged 0-24 months are eligible. Winning family will be announced on August 5th here and on Facebook.

To Market We Go

Processed with RookiePart of the greatness of visiting friends who have already lived in Avignon for a year is learning all about the local French culture. Our friends, a family of four, jumped into life in France with all 8 feet!

In the short week we’ve joined them, they have demonstrated how decisions about where to go, what to do, and what to eat in France are based on what is nearby, what is available, and what is fresh. As a rule, the French eat fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and in season. Period. Imported produce is bought very reluctantly by locals. If it’s not apple season in France, you don’t buy apples. And if you aren’t sure what’s in season, you’ll realize soon enough when you see the price of imported apples next to the local apricots.

In the city Avignon, there is Les Halles market that is open most days selling fresh produce, meat, dairy, and fish, which we visited soon after arriving here. And once a week on Thursdays, just outside the city walls across the bridge there is a weekly outdoor market in Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon, a small town originally built as a fortress to protect access to the bridge to Avignon.
IMG_7074
We strolled over to Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon’s market day, our cloth shopping bags in hand. It’s a large, lively outdoor market, with food as well as goods and clothing.
Processed with Rookie
The booths were dazzling and the smells were out of this world -how do I describe the olives stall?! It took my breath away and my feet instinctively stopped dead as I just breathed in the pungent scent of freshly picked olives of every size and colour. Handcrafted tapenades and olive-based spreads were also tickling my nose. It was heaven for an olive lover like me, and soon my two olive-loving kids doubled back to see what I was staring at.
Processed with Rookie
It was so great to be able to eat some of the local olives we had seen growing in the groves we had passed by in our daily excursions to Tavel and Orange this week. We enthusiastically bought a few assorted kinds of green and black olives and started to munch right away. We chomped as we strolled the market and bought incredibly fresh, local produce for our last homemade dinner with our friends in Avignon before leaving the next day for Cannes.
Processed with Rookie

Haribo Candy Museum

Did someone say candy?

To throw in a little excitement for the kids (both big and small) during our week in Avignon, we spent an afternoon at the Musée d’Haribo, a candy museum in the nearby town of Uzès. A whole afternoon? At a candy museum? Mais, oui!
Our friends had visited the museum several times, and recommended it highly for a little sweet tooth fix, and some history, too, of course. Haribo has European roots with factories worldwide. It specializes in making gummy candies of all kinds and shapes, like bears and coke bottles, and began gaining fame after World War I making licorice candies. Licorice is not my thing, but I loooove gummies, and I used to buy the wrapped Maoam chewy candies (pictured below) all the time when I was a kid. I had no idea they had such a long, rich, European background.
image
The man behind Haribo, Hans Riedel, originally came from the town of Bonne, and so created the name of his candy company from the first two letters of his name HA (Hans) RI (Riedel) BO (Bonne) –Haribo!
image
My kids loved the interactive games area where they had to add up the weight totals of different kinds of candy to determine a delivery, and spin the marshmallows tub with one arm in time with the syrup pouring with the other. The museum was unlike any I’d ever seen, and I had moments of feeling like I was in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory at times, with oversized installations of gummies and technicolor displays of Haribo’s incredible repertoire of candy.
image
Although there are Haribo factories all over the world, including North America, apparently the best Haribo candies are made in the European factories. We got to walk through both buildings at the Provence musée -one for display of how the candy was created, and one factory building where certain types of Haribo candies were made. The last place we visited at the Musée d’Haribo was, of course, the gift shop!
image
More candy then I’ve ever seen before, and people were piling it into boxes the size of grocery store baskets. The fever to buy candy was contagious, and although our kids don’t buy or eat candy regularly at home, we decided to join the locals and throw some coke bottles, gummy bears, and sour cherries into a box and call it a day (in France).

To sign CANDY in American Sign Language, twist the tip of your index finger on your cheek:
image