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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.

To sign REMEMBER in American Sign Language, hold your thumb sideways to your forehead, and then bring it down to land on top of your other sideways thumb. 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 <em>always</em> 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.

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

Making the poppies is easy and only requires small pieces of red and black felt and some black thread. 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, each felt poppy brooch is totally unique and garners lots of attention.

EASY HOW TO: I used two shades of red felt for my poppies, and black felt for the middle. I like to cut lopsided circles to mimic the fluttery feel of actual poppy petals. Cut out differing sizes of poppy circles, and some smaller black circles, and layer on top of each other. Sew a few stitches with black thread to secure the layers together. (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 little fingers, and also keeps the poppy fixed in place instead of popping off).

My daughter and I made some extra poppies last 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 we quickly made more and delivered another batch to the shop for the Remembrance Day weekend. More importantly, Kim and Nicole also generously matched 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! Sadly, they closed their popular little spa last fall to spend more time with their 3 little boys and aging parents. We miss you, Bloom Essentials!)

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