Tag Archives: Children

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 www.growingsigns.com
Sharing a FALL apple at the farm is one of our favourite things to do in autumn.

How to Sign FALL in ASL  www.growingsigns.com

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 www.growingsign.com

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 www.growingsigns.com

Helping Hand

Reaching for HELP -www.growingsigns.com

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 www.signingbabies.ca
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. www.growingsigns.com

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 signingbabies.ca

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!


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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 signingbabies.ca

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

DADDY in American Sign Language by signingbabies.ca

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

GRANDMA in American Sign Language by signingbabies.ca

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 signingbabies.ca

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)

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.


(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.



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.
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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!
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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

PINK Shirt Day

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Did your city wear PINK today?

PINK Shirt Day originated at a high school in Nova Scotia eight years ago. Travis Price was in grade 12 back then and a student three years younger was being bullied on the first day of school simply for wearing a pink shirt, and that didn’t sit well with Price and his friend David Shepherd. They went out that night, bought 75 PINK tank tops and encouraged as many of their classmates as possible via social media to wear the colour the next day.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen. We didn’t know if we’d be the only two in pink or if everybody would be in pink. We show up the next day, we were a school of 1,000 kids, and about 850 kids showed up that day wearing pink, and Pink Shirt Day was born just from that simple act of kindness,” Price explains.

Incredible. I love how those boys used the power of positive action to subvert a hugely negative force like bullying. Eight years later, Pink Shirt Day has come to be recognized as an international symbol against bullying. Every school in our city promotes and celebrates wearing pink. My son’s school sells PINK lemonade at lunch hour all week with proceeds going to the Kids’ Care Club fundraising for helping low-income families in our neighbourhood. My daughter’s school held a “Friendship Dance” with fundraising also.

Even if you didn’t wear a PINK shirt today, you can learn the sign!

To sign PINK in American Sign Language, slide the tip of your middle finger down your lips.