Tag Archives: school

Search and Find

True story: last week as I arrived at school pick-up, my son looked up at me with those big eyes of his and sheepishly told me that he couldn’t find his glasses. It took all I had not to completely freak out, I’m not gonna lie. His glasses are extremely important, of course (not to mention expensive!), and the last thing I wanted to do on this warm afternoon was go looking for them.


Schoolyard  www.growingsigns.com

We started retracing his steps to SEARCH the school, but then something went horribly wrong.

During our first loop around the hallways outside his classroom, one of the school workers we knew ran by us and said a girl was missing, the little sister of a boy in first grade. She was only 4 years old, she said. “Have you seen her go by?” Suddenly my son’s glasses were completely forgotten and we joined the SEARCH for little Olivia. Ian knew the boy and his sister and remembered he had seen her in the hallway running by right when school let out, but by now no one had seen her for almost 20 minutes. The panic in the air was palpable as we started looking and I saw all of the principals, teachers, school workers and parents on the school grounds SEARCHING, too. Kids old enough to look were combing the area in pairs and threesomes or trailing behind their parents as the entire school community dropped everything and came together to find this little girl.

All you could hear was the calling of, “Olivia!” as we SEARCHED every corner of the school building and walked the grounds.

The happy ending is that our kindergarten teacher ended up finding Olivia tucked in between the bushes and the school building right next to the playground, afraid to come out even though she heard everyone calling her. She thought she’d be in trouble for running away and hiding. The relief that spread across our schoolyard was immense as we watched her mom pull Olivia into the tightest embrace that didn’t seem to end. Once my own maternal heartbeat returned to normal, I felt so proud to have witnessed our little elementary school community stopping everything and coming together to SEARCH for Olivia.

And I took the opportunity to sit down with Ian and discuss how great it is to have everyone at school help us, and how we can always count on our community here. And I pulled him onto my lap and hugged him so tight he sputtered for air.

Oh, and then we got back to SEARCHING for those darn glasses.

To sign SEARCH in American Sign Language, hold your ‘C’ hand up to your eye and circle that hand in front of your face a couple times, like you’re looking hard for something through a lens.

How to sign SEARCH   www.growingsigns.com

CLICK to learn how to sign EYEGLASSES

Hurry Up and WAIT

No one likes to WAIT, especially kids. That’s why I’ve found the ASL sign for WAIT to be so incredibly helpful to me as a parent, especially at moments of great anticipation or angst.

Let me paint a recent picture for you: My family was at my 8 year old son’s holiday piano recital. It’s not a fancy event, but the kids get to play one song they’ve been working on from their lessons, and after everyone performs there’s a treat table of goodies that the families contribute from home. You see the usual suspects: cookies, cupcakes, brownies and squares, juice, and some fruit. To the kids, the open table full of sweets is worthy of WAITING through 20 performances, but not much longer. The piano and violin performances last just shy of an hour, and then it’s treat time! Time to race over to the table and fill a paper plate with desserts.

So imagine my son’s face when I pull out my camera and tell him I want to get a nice photo of him at the piano first, before he hits the treat table.

Yup, you imagined right. Full pouty face quickly morphing into an angry “no way” face, which does not suit an 8 year old at all. Then I had an AHA! moment and quickly asked him to sign WAIT for me, too (oh, yes, sometimes being a signing mom has its moments)! He knows that sign quite well because I pull it out whenever my kids are practically jumping out of their shoes to go do something or ask me something while I’m busy.

Here’s the one photo I took before I allowed him to join his musical friends at the treat table (I’m pretty sure there was an eye-roll that I missed on camera):

How to sign WAIT in American Sign Language (www.signingbabies.ca)

To sign WAIT in American Sign Language, hold both hands up with one slightly behind the other and wiggle all your fingers.

Use the sign for WAIT when you want your kids to know you are listening to their request but they need to understand it’s not quite time for what they are asking.

One more story: two years ago, I was speaking with Ian’s teacher after school about an upcoming field trip. I could see Ian hopping around us trying to get my attention, but he knows the rule about interrupting adults when they are speaking, so he didn’t barge in. He kept visibly trying to meet my eye, but I didn’t break away from the conversation with Mr. C. Finally, I held up my hands and signed WAIT to Ian, and he signed back BATHROOM. I nodded and said, “Go ahead, meet me back here” and continued my conversation.

Phew, another moment where Ian and I were so glad we could sign, and I was proud that both he and I could be polite and respectful to Mr. C. but still get what we wanted. It felt like a win, and those moments are simply wonderful.

Have you had some signing wins?

In the Pink

During their daily explorations while their children were at school, our friends discovered the town of Tavel (ta-velle), about a 35 minute drive north-west of Avignon. Favoured by the Sun-King Louis XIV and praised by Balzac, Mistral, and even Hemingway, Tavel is well-known for making France’s most famous rosé.

“Tavel wines are made predominantly from the Grenache, Syrah and Clairette varieties and are intended to be drunk chilled, as a more complex alternative to white wines during the hot summer months. The hot, dry Mediterranean climate means that the grapes have no difficulty in reaching full phenolic ripeness here.”


So, on a very hot, dry Mediterranean-style day, we went to visit the Tavel winery Château La Genestière Saint-Anthelme, which had originally been a silk farm on a beautiful plot of grape-growing gorgeousness. We toured the wine-making facilities, seeing where the grapes came through the chute from above and walking through the pressing area, which is completely chilled to maintain the fresh aromas and flavours of the grapes.

Then the kids were shooed outside to play while the adults tested a few wines. We did a tasting of their reds, whites, and rosés, which were all so delightful, but we happily chose to buy a case of a Tavel rosé due to the scorching South of France weather. The rosés were incredibly refreshing here, and locally grown and made –Louis XIV knew his stuff!

Off to lunch in the little town of Tavel, where we walked by beautiful old homes surrounded by narrow streets. We passed by the town centre’s washing pool, dating back to the 1300’s, where people would come to wash clothes.
Indeed, someone’s freshly washed rugs, no doubt too large to hang at home, were hanging to dry on the adjacent stone walls behind the pool:
Through the gate beyond those walls was a huge community garden. A waterway to irrigate the gardens flows down along the stone path between the garden plots, and many plots of young tomatoes, lavender, onions and other vegetables were set up to grow:
Lunch was at a little restaurant our friends had discovered in the middle of Tavel called Le Philosyph, run solely by Stéphane and Edwige, the chef and the maître d, respectively. The food was unbelievable –oh, la, la! A simple plate of canard avec sauce au poivre, des carrots, et des pommes de terre rôti, roasted duck with pepper sauce, carrots and potatoes, but made with love by a chef following his passion. It was absolutely the most delicious duck I have ever tasted.
Let’s just say, every one of us wanted to lick the plate, except maybe Ian, who has a smaller appetite than the rest of us, but dad was happy to help him finish the few last bites on his plate.

What a day! We got to take an insider’s tour of the highlights of a quaint town bearing beautiful wines and foods, with a little history thrown in there, too. Both the winery and restaurant in Tavel are must-sees on our list of to do’s around Avignon.

And in case it wasn’t completely clear, Scott and I are now officially rosé-lovers.

To sign PINK in American Sign Language, with one hand in the letter “P” handshape –thumb tucked in between extended index and middle fingers– drag the tip of the middle finger down across the lips twice.

For more about Tavel, here’s a quick New York Times article of a wine retailer’s family visit during wine harvesting time.

The Colours of Sports Day

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Every year my school-aged kids have Sports Day, and I have to admit, I love it. I have vivid memories of my own sports days as a kid – I absolutely loved the running, the games, the parade, the 3-legged race, the relays, and admittedly, I loved the doughnuts and hot dogs. All that still happens at my kids’ school now (including the doughnuts!), and it’s like a fantastic jump back in time for me. Literally. There’s a hilarious Parents-Only Sack Race & 3-Legged Race at the beginning to kick off the kids’ day.

Another big part of Sports Day is the COLOURS (yes, in Canada we spell it with a U, bear with me, my south of the border friends!) Each year the kids are assigned to a team with a team COLOUR. For me, I was always on the orange team, which was almost impossible to find clothes in, of course, but my mom did her best to make sure I had one tee shirt with some scrap of orange for sports day. Now that I’m the mother, it’s my job to dig through the dresser drawers for the right tee and shorts to match my kids’ team colour, which changes each year. Sigh.

You should know that I refuse to buy
clothes just for one day. I won’t.

And for some reason, neither of my kids has EVER been on the blue team. Why not? Blue clothes are stacked aplenty in our closets. And why hasn’t there ever been a pink or purple team? That would be handy for the two entire years my daughter refused to wear anything that wasn’t pink or purple. Instead, I’ve repeatedly had to find green, yellow and red, which are unfavoured, scarce clothing colours in my house.

Last year, Ian was on the red team, and I managed to find a red-ish tee in his closet, yay! But it was a scorching weather week, and as Sports Day edged closer I realized he would need a hat to stay cool and protected. That morning, digging through the front closet yielded a cargo green hat. Green! Dagnabbit, I needed something red. After some thought, I decided I’d paint the hat red. I know, I know, that is a pretty silly idea, but I was determined to use what we had. I didn’t have time to paint the whole hat, so I thought about something that could make the hat appear more red than it was, at least from the front, and I remembered something Ian loved that could ensure the hat was a success and worn for Sports Day.

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Not bad for an 8am paint job.

Sports Day has rolled around again, and Ian informed me that he is not on the red team again, but on the green team this year. Green.
Of course.

What lengths have you gone to for Sports Day colours?

For more COLOURS, check out these Signs of the Month on my website
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A Mom’s Back to School List

Okay, July and August are now past tense, and I’m quite pleased with what we accomplished from our family summer bucket list (more on that very soon). As far as I’m concerned, though, it wasn’t truly back to school for us today because the kids went to school for 1 hour; I don’t really count that as school, that is just all the kids (& parents) seeing each other and reacquainting themselves with school life again. The teachers and school staff are fully launched back to work, oh yes! But myself and my kids? We are very slowly wading into the “back-to-school” waters, which is actually just how I like it: nice and slow.

My kids are starting grade 2 and grade 6 this year, with my daughter entering a brand new school for the grade 6 late-entry French Immersion program -we are all holding our breath to see how another location and different language works out for her, but I have a good feeling about it. So, tomorrow will be the first full day of school, and that’s where my brain is going now…

It’s time to make a new list just for ME! I work part-time teaching my baby sign language classes 3.5 days a week, and have 1.5 days to manage our home and work lives, as well as some volunteering. I want to make what little time I have work for me, not the other way around. Making a list has become a terrific way to remind myself of what’s important in life.

I’ve been thinking hard about what kinds of things fill me up so I don’t get run down while I fulfill my passion towards my family and my work.

These are some of the things I’m looking forward to doing once my kids are back in school:

My Mommy Back-to-School List
Drinking my morning cup of tea while it’s still hot, in one sitting (no microwave warm-ups)

• Riding my bike, by myself with no kids attached to mine or wavering ahead of me in

• Listening to CBC Radio 2 as I do the breakfast dishes

• Walking once a week in the forest trails with a BFF (Best Fitness Friend):

• Creating my new wellness plan: a proper fitness schedule actually booked into my schedule, so no excuses

• Painting my summer-scraped toenails a fun, fall pattern like this:
Essie nails-thumb

• Opening up my Pinterest “Recipes to Try” board and actually trying some of the recipes I’ve pinned

• Visiting the public library and leisurely perusing the brand new books shelf for ideas

• Looking over my own favourite cookbooks to get ideas

• Organizing some meal plans and recipes with shopping lists

• Making homemade soup like this Celery Potato with Blue Cheese recipe:

• Going to my favourite yoga class and practicing at home

• Reading a novel I’ve been dying to read with a (hot) cup of tea

• Tackling some fall home projects like organizing my pantry & switching over the closets from summer to fall

• Booking some Mommy playdates & catching up with my friends

Fall is a good time to switch gears and think about a list for just you. Here’s a hot-cuppa-tea toast to all the things that “fill us up” so we can live & work better this fall!
Lee Ann