Another Word About Public Television

Those of you who read this blog know that Emilie and I took Signing Time off the air because we do not have a sponsor and we cannot continue funding TV production without one. For those of you who are new to this conversation here is a brief recap of my previous post.

• As of October 2008 Signing Time is no longer on public television.

• Having Signing Time on public television has been a WONDERFUL experience. The stations and our distributor American Public Television have been fantastic to work with. You, the viewers have been loyal and supportive.

• Two Little Hands is not paid to be on public TV, in fact we pay to produce the episodes.

• Most children’s shows that are on public TV have a sponsor–a company or foundation that pays for production. To date Signing Time has not secured a sponsor.

• We simply cannot afford to produce episodes for public television without a sponsor.

• Many of you have asked what you can do to help. If you have a relationship with a business or foundation that you believe would be a great sponsor for Signing Time, share your experience with them and invite them to consider sponsorship.

• We hope to have Signing Time back on television!

As you know from reading my blog or attending outreach events all over the country, public TV stations are our partners. They chose to share Signing Time with their viewers. Our distributor American Public Television and many of the stations are disappointed in losing Signing Time, too. Many have told us that they want Signing Time back on the air. We are so thankful for their support! They have gone the extra mile to support the mission of Signing Time. We hope you support your local public television station and thank them for airing great shows like Signing Time.

If you, or your friends or family members are upset about Signing Time going off the air, please understand that it is not because stations cancelled the show. It is because Signing Time needs a sponsor (or to win the lottery! 😉 If you need to vent, vent here on this blog. If you want to write a letter, write it to an organization that you believe would be an appropriate sponsor for Signing Time on public television.

We love you guys! Thanks for your support of the mission of Signing Time!

Rachel & Emilie

Merry Christmas! Songs from Rachel and Alex

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

We hope you are celebrating and making memories with your friends and family.  

This year, at our Signing Time Christmas Party, we filmed a couple of songs for you. I hope you enjoy them!

“What Child Is This?”
Rachel Coleman

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“Could I Hold The Baby?”
Alex Brown

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Happy Holidays!

Love~
Rachel, Alex, Leah, and everyone at Two Little Hands Productions

Wasatch Woman of The Year

How perfect! The day after I posted about Marcus, I got a call saying that I had not only been nominated, but won Wasatch Woman Magazine‘s – Wasatch Woman of the Year Award for 2009!

How cool is that? I was nominated (by a fabulous Signing Time fan, Tammy T., who will receive all sorts of cool Signing Time swag!) under the business category, but I won the overall award!!!

That also meant I had a photo shoot coming up and would be on the cover of the magazine. I figured what a perfect chance to take you all along!

Now remember, Thursday I found out there would be a shoot on Tuesday. I quickly made the necessary calls.

First, I called Michael, who does my hair. My roots had grown out about 2 inches. His schedule is pretty tight and to get in before Tuesday when salons are closed on Mondays??? You get my dilemma, I know you do. The call went like this, “Hi Michael, It’s Rachel – hey I have a shoot Tuesday and HAVE to get into see you. Please call me ASAP!”

The next call was to Marcus and I left him a message like this, “Hi Marcus, it’s Rachel. I have a shoot on Tuesday any great ideas? It’s a magazine cover and I am supposed to bring 3 changes of clothes. I am thinking bold and bright. I also have my dirty Signing Time clothes in my trunk. Heh, sorry about that. Call me.”

Then I made an appointment to get my nails filled, because they were about as bad as my roots.
*Little Secret* I am not a girly girl. I only get my hair and nails done when I have a shoot or an appearance or a performance. It makes me crazy to spend an hour in a nail salon or three hours in a hair salon. I NEVER wore make-up or used a hair dryer in my real life prior to Signing Time. I learned everything I know about hair and make-up from our crew. In high school, Emilie did my hair and make-up for important occasions, like dances.

Now, when I get ready in the morning, if I have a meeting or something, Aaron says, “Let me get this straight… are you going to do your hair and make-up EVERY morning for the rest of our lives?” The other day I went to work with a baseball cap on a ponytail. I think he was relieved. When I have a shoot and come home with all that make-up on, he asks, politely, if I plan on washing it off or just hanging out that way for the rest of the day. He thinks make-up is pretty gross and I think he misses his “granola” wife!

1996

1996

1998

1998

2008 crunch

2008 crunch

Michael called me back and scheduled me for Saturday. Marcus called me back and said we could shop after my hair appointment. Saturday was also the University of Utah vs BYU football game and Aaron had tickets. This meant Leah and Lucy would be with me for three fun filled hours of salon and then a long shopping trip.

Saturday I loaded up the girls and got to the salon. They took my iPhone and stayed pretty busy, taking pictures of me and of each other.

Bye-bye roots

Bye-bye roots

Not bored yet

Not bored yet


Then the esthetician took pity on them and offered to paint their nails for free.

We loaded back in the car and called Marcus. We met Marcus for dinner and then dove into Anthropologie. Leah and Lucy ran/rolled around, trying on hats and giving me the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” as I tried on countless outfits.

Round 1

Round 1

Round 2

Round 2

Round 3

Round 3


Finally we had narrowed it down to 2 outfits and I told Marcus I would bring some other options from home on the day of the shoot.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning. I got up at 7, loaded my car with clothes, shoes and jewelry and got to my hair and make-up appointment at 8 at Tranquility. I arrived at Cafe Niche for the shoot at 9:30.

Cafe Niche

Cafe Niche

Marcus had been there for 15 minutes. The rolling rack was set up and everything was steamed. Lindsey was already there too.

The art director took a look at my clothing options and we decided to go with 3 different looks, since the plan was to have me on the cover and photos inside with my story. Look #1 was some stuff I just brought from home, the art director said my collar had a personality all its own, so Marcus took that as a cue to use his toupee tape and mold that collar, forcing it to follow his artistic whims.

Hair and wardrobe

Hair and wardrobe

Final touch-ups

Final touch-ups

More make-up

More make-up

The photographer, Michael Calanan was great. As I am SURE you can imagine, I am a pretty demanding subject, especially because I RARELY smile. 🙂

Look #2… I can’t even remember, I guess we will see when the magazine comes out. Maybe the red/orange top and jeans.

While I waited I figured I could probably talk Marcus into taking a picture with me so you can all meet him officially! I even put it up on Twitter that very day. (NOTICE the toupee tape stuck to the top of his hand!! In case of emergency, ya know!)

Toupee Tape - don't leave home without it

Toupee Tape - don't leave home without it

They were shooting all the winners for each category. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I called Aaron and asked him to meet me there. That way we could have lunch after the shoot.

Look #3 was a dress we found at Anthro. They wanted to shoot it on a white wall, but the only white wall had someone sitting at a table eating in front of it. We finally shot it outside against a white shed.

We wrapped around 3pm. Aaron and I ate lunch.

Marcus loaded out… still sporting toupee tape on his hand 🙂 and that fanny pack is filled with all the secrets I shared before. So- he is allowed to wear a fanny pack.

If Marcus is happy, I'm happy

If Marcus is happy, I'm happy

The end!
Oh, sort of the end. I will be featured in the January/February issue. I am even supposed to be on the cover!

My Peeps – Marcus

My Peeps – Marcus

I have noticed over the past few months, conversations about “Rachel’s People” have come up, over and over again. It always makes me giggle. Do I have people? My first response was “No! Are you crazy? Of course I don’t have people!” But… then… on second look I realized… oh, maybe I DO have people!!

So, I have started a whole new category called My Peeps.

There are a number of people who are involved in Signing Time that I regularly refer to in my blog and on Twitter. First and foremost there is Marcus.

Marcus handles wardrobe for Signing Time and he is an authorized user on my credit card. He is also the only man other than my husband who routinely sees me in my birthday suit. He is also brilliant at putting together outfits. He buys me bras and hand washes them! I mean Hello?! Everyone should have a Marcus! He would also D-I-E if he saw this post!

When I have any media interview or photo shoot, I call Marcus. He shops. Then he shows up with a rolling rack of clothes that I can only presume he begs, borrows and steals, because that credit card is almost maxed out.

Marcus came over the other night with my Signing Time outfit(s) that he had lovingly hand washed in shampoo for color-treated hair, to keep the oranges orange. He also brought a great pair of shoes, for me. “Do you like them?” he (always) asks.
“How much are they?” I always ask back.
“$30!” He responds proudly.
“Yes, I love them! I have needed brown on brown closed toed pumps for winter!”

Brown on Brown Pumps $30

Brown on Brown Pumps $30

(Marcus picks out better shoes for me than I can pick out for myself.)

See, it has taken Marcus some time to really understand that I feel REALLY uncomfortable with a $400 handbag, $500 boots or even a $100 necklace, even if he thinks it is the most fabulous thing and I will love it and use it for the rest of my life. He knows the first hurdle he will be met with is one question, “How much?” If he won’t tell me, but instead tells me to try it on, I know, that he knows it’s too expensive and he had better have the receipt.

Marcus now knows that the thing I value the most is, well, a good value! My husband appreciates this fact and hates it too, because sure I might get a $350 BCBG gown to wear for the Emmys, but when you say you love it, I tell you, “It’s a $350 dress and I got it for $68 including shipping on Ebay!!!” (Which, by the way, is TOTALLY TRUE!)

Aaron cannot understand WHY I tell everyone what everything costs and where I bought it. Seriously, try it. Next time you see me say, “Oh I love that top!” And I will say, “Thanks! You would never believe I got it for $7.99 at Ross Dress for Less! And my jeans are usually $130 at Anthropologie, my favorite store, but I got them for $18.99 at TJMaxx! Can you stand it?”
(But don’t bother trying it if I am wearing my Signing Time outfit, because each year those puppies get harder and harder to find, so I am not telling!)

Back to Marcus
Marcus does not judge me. He doesn’t care if I’m a size 16 or a size 4. He always figures out a way to decorate the body I currently have and he does a fabulous job.

Marcus not only works on Signing Time, he watches it regularly. He tells everyone about it and is proud to run into people who tell him how much they love Signing Time.

Marcus loves Oprah! Each time we are shopping he will see something great and expensive and say, “We should buy that and save it for when you are on Oprah!” He will also buy things that are similar to something that Oprah had on, like a necklace that is “just like Oprah’s!” He is SURE I will be on Oprah and when I am, of course he will come with me and I will look fabulous. It will be his pièce de résistance!

So- here are a few things I have learned from Marcus and I am happy to pass on to you.

1. Carry Toupée Tape (even if you do not wear a toupée)
Use toupée tape to keep those necklines in place. Since it is double sided you can tape your shirt to your bra so no one ever sees your straps.

2. Never Let Them See You Sweat
Dress Shields are these fabulous oval shaped, soft, moleskin-ish stickers that you can apply right to the underarms of your clothing. So, if you are in jeans, a t-shirt AND a jacket, singing, signing and performing for over an hour under lights… your pits are perfect! And I would like to state for the record that I do not sweat any MORE than a regular person who is running around singing and dancing, thank you very much, YOU KNOW WHO, who posted that I have a “problem” and use dress shields to manage said problem. When YOU KNOW WHO is the person with an actual perspiration problem.

3. Never Let Them Know You Are Cold
Um, well there are these things called Petals. So, just go check them out if you are going to be photographed in the Arctic wearing something that is sort of clingy in the chest area.

4. Spanx = How to Look 5-10 lbs Thinner and Smoother
Did you forget to diet before your upcoming high school reunion? Well, march your hot little self down to Nordstrom and buy a pair of Spanx Higher Power. It will smooth out your waistline and hold everything in tight like magic! You don’t need to hold that tummy in, let your Spanx do it for you! Here’s another tip, once you wriggle your way into that new body(suit) hike it up and safety pin the front center band to the front center of your bra. This will help keep those suckers from jimmying down.
PS- Don’t put them in the dryer!

5. Everything Can Be Altered
I am 5’ 2” tall. (GASP!) I know… Deal with it. I am short… No! I am petite!!! Yes, I am petite. So, nothing I buy actually fits. We (meaning Marcus) usually have to cut off 2 feet of pant before I can walk without tripping. But in Marcus’ world if I try on a dress and it is too big, but it is the last one, he will be heart broken if I don’t let someone “take it in” – but Marcus doesn’t yet understand that NO woman WANTS to buy a bigger size, EVER!… EVER!!… EVER!!! Seriously, NO WAY! – There is something satisfying about buying something that is SMALLER than the size you know yourself to be. There is nothing more crushing and psychologically disturbing than buying something that is a size or two bigger, even if you have it altered. So, stop it Marcus!!

See I lost some weight recently and I have a closet full of clothes that are a few sizes too big. I am happy to clear it out and say “Good-bye!” Marcus wants them ALL taken in!! Uh, no, I think not!

6. Why Iron When You Can Steam?
Marcus carries a professional steamer in his trunk 24/7. This is good. I hate ironing. I hate it. If I accidentally buy something that must be ironed I would rather wear it once and throw it out than iron it! Mostly I just try to avoid buying clothes that must be ironed. If you HAVE to iron something, my advice is only iron the front, you are going to be sitting on the back or leaning back and wrinkle it anyway. (That is MY advice, NOT advice from Marcus) Every time Marcus comes over he brings in the steamer and steams most everything in my closet. I like how he insists on steaming things I am about to pack in my suitcase 🙂 That always makes me laugh. It might make him cry if he saw how I load up my bags after he leaves. He might actually understand the complete futility of it.

When I travel, Marcus brings everything in a garment bag… Let me clarify, EACH outfit is in it’s OWN garment bag and each outfit/bag is tagged.
“Rachel ST! Outfit 1”
“Rachel ST! Outfit 2”
“Rachel Interview 1”
“Rachel Interview 2” and so on… then he has the matching jewelry and accessories in zip-lock bags that he has hung by a safety pin to each hanger. Everything is there, socks, tights, shoes, underthingys, toupée tape and dress shields.

Sometimes he includes a Polaroid of the outfit hanging up, so I can get it right!

Then he leaves. I take everything out of the garment bags and off the hangers and fold, roll, or stuff them into one suitcase.

7. Two Evening Gowns Are Better Than One
Marcus made me buy two gowns for the Emmy trip to New York. I had never even owned one gown prior to that event and suddenly I need two? Remember the little gold cocktail dress? He removed the big dumb bow and bought 5 pair of gold shoes. (I did make him return 4 of them, because REALLY, I haven’t worn gold shoes since I was 4!) “You have to take it to New York, I am sure you will get to wear it to some fabulous party. If you don’t I will pay for it.” he insisted!
So, I took it, didn’t wear it and am still waiting for a reimbursement. (But, that’s ok because I got it at Nordstrom Rack and it was originally $250 but I got it for $45!!! Can you stand it?)
So, I will probably wear it to the next cocktail party I am invited to, because there are so many of those in Utah! (Add sarcasm)

8. Everything on Hangers
There are no dressers or drawers on a film set to put clothing in. Everything goes on a hanger. EVERYTHING. This accidentally became the topic of a Signing Time Chat one evening, because I mentioned that we do not have any dressers in our house. Someone asked, “What do you do with sweaters?” Well, Marcus taught me to hang a sweater and I passed this invaluable knowledge onto you, my friends.

9. I Have Scissors and I am Not Afraid to Use Them
Sometimes Marcus and I take on the alteration process together. This usually happens while I am wearing the clothes and while the crew is anxiously waiting for me so we can start shooting. Neither of us are trained professionals. I mean we ARE trained and professional but sewing is not our forte. But that doesn’t stop us. We have lopped straps off bras, cut out shelf bras from tops, shortened sleeves on the fly and sliced off jeans and scotch taped them in place. In the last shoot, Marcus cut a large button off the front of my jeans and then used gaffer tape to keep them closed! Ha! It’s movie magic! I do not recommend this, it is fun and exhilarating but, there really is no going back once you lop something off. You must be willing to face the music of your quick fix when someone with mad sewing skills clucks their tongue and shakes their head in dismay as you ask them to make it all better.

10. You Can Buy Taste, Even If You Have None
Marcus (or someone like him) can be hired to shop with you or for you. I have trained Marcus to hit the sale rack FIRST. (Thank me later!) Emilie hired him to shop for her husband Derek one year. My sister Julie has hired Marcus to dress her on her talk show. BUT you cannot hire Marcus when we are in production on Signing Time, because even though it looks like I am just running around in the same outfit, Marcus is hard at work!

Marcus hand painted Leah’s cowboy boots for “Leah’s Farm.”

He bought Alex a wet suit for “The Zoo Train” and had orange panels sewn into the sides, so it was more “Alex”

He took a horse costume and turned it into a unicorn for “Once Upon A Time.” The head didn’t fit anyone other than the director, so I just about giggle to death when I think of Travis, in that suit. Travis who will do anything to avoid being filmed is in that hysterical unicorn costume!

Marcus even took the striped tube tops that I wear under my Signing Time jacket and had them made into tank tops, so I can take off my jacket when it is too hot! See? That is love! I know it is love… or it’s his job… or both!

Signing Time is No Longer on Public TV

Ok,

so…

Here it is…

As of October 1, 2008 Signing Time is no longer on public television anywhere in the country.

I think that statement just needed to hang out there in the world for a minute.

So did that one.

We have been flooded with phone calls and emails from you, our Signing Time Families. The stations have called us too, because many of them do not want to lose our show, they know the difference it is making for their viewers and it is a pretty darn popular show.

So, the question you all have is, “Why?”
If the fans love it and the stations love it, why would we pull it? I don’t know how to answer that without total honesty, a little squirming and dispelling some myths.

But, I believe that the truth will set you free, so here is the truth, squirming and all.

Children’s Television 101:
1. We do not get paid to be on television.

2. We are not paid to make the shows. We pay to produce these shows.

3. To maintain a fresh and successful program we need to produce new shows on a regular basis. Ideally a new season each year. That’s approximately a 1.5 million dollar commitment annually.

4. When I say “we” I mean my sister, Emilie and I.

5. We had hoped to find a corporate sponsor or foundation who understands what we are doing and believes in our mission and would partner with us. To date we have not found that partner. (Yes we have gone after grants as well)

6. A children’s show on public TV cannot advertise a product nor can we direct viewers to an internet site where our products can be purchased. As parents, that is one of the things we love about public television.

Many viewers have no idea that there are DVDs, Music CDs, flash cards, t-shirts and books available to purchase. We could not direct them to www.signingtime.com (where we sell our products) we could only send them to www.signingtimekids.com (where we do not sell our products)

7. We do sell enough Signing Time products to maintain our staff of 8 people, fulfill orders, keep the lights on, etc. We do not sell enough product to fund 13 new episodes annually.

___________________________________________________________________________________
Here’s the bottom line, for the past three years, Emilie and I gave Signing Time to viewers for free on public television. We made that choice because we felt that doing so would have an incredible impact on families across the country. We hoped it would get into homes and in front of children who needed it. We believe in communication for ALL children of ALL abilities. That is what we care about. We also believed that through this national exposure we would find a sponsor.

The truth is that there is no way for two sisters to continue pulling this off without a partnership… or by robbing a bank and sorry guys and girls I am not going to rob a bank. At this point it would be financially irresponsible for us to commit to another year and even worse to consider bank robbing, I mean how would you explain THAT to your kids?

I still believe a like-minded organization or corporation will partner with us in our efforts and that Signing Time will be back on TV. I know the difference we are making in the world and how important that difference is. You know it too or you wouldn’t be reading this.

Now what?
1. Well if you saw Signing Time on public TV, you can sit down and write a note to your station and thank them for airing us. Share with them the difference that it made in your life. See, unlike the shows in the PBS Kids Block that MUST air in a specific order at a certain time, your station was not forced to air Signing Time, it was a choice they made, to share us with you. Over 70% of the public television stations chose to air us! Not too shabby for a couple of sisters in Utah.

2. Make a request to your local libraries, early intervention programs, lending libraries, schools and other organizations to add the Signing Time Library to their offerings.

3. Purchase Signing Time products and tell others who miss seeing us on TV that EVERYTHING (Music CDs, flash cards, t-shirts, board books, of course EVERY single DVD) is available on www.signingtime.com

4. Keep telling your friends, family members and complete strangers the benefits of signing with children and how Signing Time has helped this parenting revolution.

5. As far as a sponsor, think about the people you know and the people they know. The right fit is out there. It is just a matter of finding them and them finding us. You may be the one who makes that connection. We need strong leads, not just a bunch of great ideas. If you feel that you or someone you personally know can make a difference, please have them get in touch with us.

I know there is strength in numbers. Let’s all put our thinking caps on! I can’t wait to announce that Signing Time is back and better than ever!

Thank YOU!
Honestly, the partnership we have had is a partnership with you, our Signing Time customers. Each time you purchase our products, you are letting us know that you appreciate what we are doing and that you want more.

From my family to yours, thank you for your incredible, continuing partnership!

~Rachel, Aaron, Leah and Lucy Coleman

Meet Elizabeth

Meet Elizabeth

Filming Baby Signing Time is always an interesting process. I often, semi-jokingly state that the whole idea of Baby Signing Time was based on a dare. I mean really! Who in their right minds would take 50+ children ages 2 and under and try to film them signing? Kids that age sign because they need or want something. They sign to communicate. They RARELY do it on cue. So, if your signing toddler refuses to “show off” their mad-signing-skills, no worries, WE believe you! Babies sign to communicate, NOT as a fancy baby trick.

Last March we received an email from a mom in Texas, Katy Barrett, she and her husband are speech pathologists. Their story had been on their local news and now they were writing to share that the Today Show was going to be telling their story!

The Barrett’s daughter Elizabeth was the focus of this national media tale and the phenomenal part is that Elizabeth has incredible reading skills for a toddler. The Barrett’s contacted us because Signing Time was the only show they had ever let their daughter watch and they felt that signing not only fostered early language and early communication, they believe it also impacted her amazing early reading skills.

The Today Show producer contacted us for some clips of Signing Time to use in the piece and the segment aired March 10, 2008. Since I wasn’t sure how much they would say about Signing Time, I didn’t make a big announcement, but anxiously watched. There were three segments with the Barretts and sure enough, one of them showed some clips of Signing Time.

March 2008 Today Show Clip

March 2008 Today Show Story in Print and Video

My mom called early that morning and said, “Rachel!!! I JUST saw you on The Today Show again!!!” (She “screamed” it more than “said” it.) She said “again” because in February 2003 The Today Show did a story about my little family! It was called “Against The Odds”

We thanked the Barrett’s by sending them the complete Signing Time Library. I mean really, that’s the least we could do. (And if YOU manage to garner positive national media attention for Signing Time, I’ll send you the whole enchilada as well!)

Around the same time in March, we started the casting process for our new Baby Signing Time shows. I got in touch with the Barrett’s again and invited them out to the shoot, giving Elizabeth the chance to appear in her favorite show!

Fireese and Elizabeth sign FRIEND

Fireese and Elizabeth sign FRIEND

Elizabeth’s mom, Katy agreed to do an interview with us about the benefits of signing and how she feels it made a difference for her little girl. From that interview, we created the following piece that appears as a special feature that you can see that on Baby Signing Time Volume 3 – A New Day.

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Can’t get enough of little Elizabeth reading? Don’t believe it? Well, I sat down with her myself, wrote up some pretty big words and phrases on cards and had “Reading Time with Elizabeth and Rachel!” Take a look. I was shocked. I bet you will be too!
(Included in the following video are some additional behind the scenes shots.)

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THIS morning, (Friday November 7th) The Today Show is planning to revisit little Elizabeth and her family and give an update. This time they asked for clips of Baby Signing Time. So, set your DVR or tune in to see more of this incredible little girl. (Barring any breaking news, of course)

Who knows… maybe my mom will call me screaming again.

A Weekend In Oregon

Oregon is Beautiful

Oregon is BEAUTIFUL! <--------- I know that is a complete blanket statement and that it is probably not possible for ALL of Oregon to be beautiful, but so far I have no evidence to the contrary. See, I have spent the past few days in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Lindsey did not come with me since she is busy gallivanting around somewhere in Greece. I imagine she is island hopping, eating Mediterranean food and probably looking for some tall, dark and handsome Greek man. I think she does it to taunt me, see I have never been to Greece and I have been talking about it a lot this year. I have had my eye on Mediterranean Cruises, but have not booked one. She MUST be over paid, I wonder if we can scale that back a bit… Hmmm, I will look into it.

The point is, Lindsey was not in Klamath Falls enjoying the autumn colors and the rain and the beauty, she was in Greece, which I am sure is also beautiful but in a very different, possibly warmer way. When this travel conflict first was noticed, Lindsey asked me to pick her “runner up” or shall we say understudy? Well, there are only about 8 people who work at Signing Time, (I am not kidding) and three of them are related to me, so I see enough of them.

This Klamath trip was a bit longer than usual do to the fact that there is one tiny airport with one gate with only one flight each day <——-that might not be true). I would be there 4 days <—-that IS true). I drew a name out of a hat, (no I didn’t) and that person was Jessica. Jessica is a lot like Lindsey, (not at all) in that she is single – (sort of), her “boyfriend” lives in “England” (yeah right) and I have never met him, (fishy) but whatever. So, Jessica handed over her Frequent Flyer number and I checked to see if she had a preference of sharing a bed with me or not – since Lindsey always wants to snuggle. (You know I am teasing right?) And Jessica gave up her FF digits and I booked our weekend+ in Oregon.

We arrived at one of the world’s smallest airports and were met by Lisa. Lisa is really the reason we came to Klamath Falls. One of her boys has autism and his communication and world opened up through Signing Time. Lisa was determined to get me to Klamath Falls. Most people on her committee thought she was certifiable, I mean, there are plenty of people around who can talk about sign language, why bring in this, “Rachel Coleman” chick? Lisa was undeterred. She heard “no” – “No” – “NO” – “NO!” and she still didn’t stop. Lisa just answered, “We WILL have Rachel.”

Lisa came to the airport bearing chocolate covered strawberries. Thank you very much! She and her family took us out for dinner and gave us maps with our complete trip highlighted – to our hotel – to the elementary school – to the community college. After dinner, Jessica and I set out to the Running Y Ranch, where we were staying. IF by chance you are ever in or near Klamath… stay at the Running Y! It was STUNNING!

View from our room at the Running Y Ranch

View from our room at the Running Y Ranch

They have an ice skating rink which Jessica and I were ALL for, except it was set to open the day after we left 🙁 The restaurant, The Ranch House was some of the best food I have had in my life, and let me tell you I care a lot about good food. It was so good we ate dinner there two nights in a row. Plus as we were eating, deer came prancing by! So, I say A+ for atmosphere.

On Halloween I performed at a Literacy Fair. I sang, signed and told stories. I even slaughtered the “Happy Birthday” songs that I wrote for Signing Time as I burst into a cappella versions per request! Ha! I think I sang something like this:

“Today you will have presents, today you’ll get a cake, today you will have something, today you’ll get a snake! Today it is your birthday, your birthday all day long. Happy, Happy Birthday and here’s your birthday song!” (Then I had to stop because I had excitedly started it in a key that was way too high and I was laughing too hard!)

And that my friends is the beauty of my live performances, not only do YOU never know what is going to happen, quite honestly, I have NO idea either. See, the cute family who requested “Happy Birthday” had come to my Salem event, driving 4+ hours to be there AND came to this event, driving 2+ hours to be there, so how could I say no?

Halloween Night, Literacy Fair

Halloween Night, Literacy Fair

The following day I spoke at the Klamath Falls Chapter of The Oregon Association for the Education of Young Children (OAEYC) – I have to say that Steve the sound/tech guy was GREAT. It looked like we were going to have some technical issues, but that guy, just didn’t stop until I got what I wanted. He said that he doesn’t have kids yet, but his wife is a fan, because even though they do not have kids, she has been looking into signing and plans on signing with their some-day kids. So, Steve sort of shyly asked for a picture with me (for his wife) and admitted that he hates asking people for pictures. But let me just clear the air on that one people – Don’t even worry about asking to take pictures with me. I feel like it sort of comes with the territory… most the time. It’s just when I barely roll out of bed, pull back a pony tail, throw on flip flops, cut-offs and make a quick Costco run that I am sort of like, “Uh… really? You want a picture with this?” Marcus of course says it’s my own fault and he would DIE – DIE – DIE if he even knew that sometimes I leave the house undone… I think he believes that paparazzi care about me… which they don’t. He would also be completely undone to see pictures of me taken on different days wearing the same outfit (ST! costume excluded). Marcus cares… a lot!

Ok, back to Klamath. I gave the keynote presentation. Immediately after the presentation a woman approached me and said she had driven more than 100 miles to be at the event and if it had ended right after my presentation, she felt it would have been completely worth her time, drive and money. (How cool is that?)

It's Signing Time with Mason and Jaxon

It's Signing Time with Mason and Jaxon

Jessica and I started to head back to The Running Y and I missed my turn-off toward Medford and instead kept driving toward Keno, unbeknownst to us. After quite some time we noticed this road had more houses than our road. I don’t believe in “lost” I mean, really, taking one wrong turn is not the same as being lost! And I think EVERY trip I take includes at least one or two wrong turns and Lindsey always jumps to, “We are TOTALLY lost!” And I am like, “No we are not TOTALLY lost, we are almost right on track, we are just a little off.” And then Lindsey launches into how she is going to buy a portable GPS because she hates Google Maps. Then I say she just needs to read a few more lines of the directions at once, because those directions are always TOO detailed. Then she rolls her eyes at me. Then I remind her that my iPhone has maps and GPS so why buy another GPS. And then she tells me to learn how to use my own phone for heaven’s sake! And I say, I would, except I am the one driving!

So, since Lindsey wasn’t there to start the “We are TOTALLY lost!” conversation, the drive went like this: So, Jessica and I noticed we made a wrong turn, so we started pulling over and taking pictures of things, like bald eagles that we believe were planning on carrying off unsuspecting cows…

Bald Eagle Stakeout

Bald Eagle Stakeout

… and Red Tailed Hawks on power poles.

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

Oregonians burning piles of leaves, sticks and brush in the rain…

Burning the Brush

Burning the Brush

…we even saw a gaggle of deer playing in the woods. (I KNOW it’s not a gaggle, but how cool if they were called that?)

Deer in the woods

Deer in the woods

More deer

More deer

We saw “For Sale” signs and drove down gravel roads and looked at A-frame houses and talked about how great it would be to live off the grid. Even though technically we were still ON the grid.

We turned around and righted our ONE wrong turn and decided this time to drive PAST the Running Y and see what there was to see that way. Turned out to be a brilliant idea, because we found a lake and we pulled over and jumped out of the car to take pictures of each other in the gorgeous fall colors in the rain.

Rachel of the Lake

Rachel of the Lake

Lake, big lake!

Lake, big lake!

How very Blair Witch

How very Blair Witch

Jessica's Scarf Matches the Leaves

Jessica

This thing is supposed to be IN the water

This thing is supposed to be IN the water

Jess on the shore

Jess on the shore

Still raining on Rachel

Still raining on Rachel

The trip was great and it was nice to have a few extra days of relaxation. Usually I fly in, sleep, sing and fly out and sometimes help deliver a baby or two 😉 The odd thing is that the very first time I went to Oregon, I went in the Fall, with my best friend Jessica. That was a good 15 years ago, but even back then, my friend Jessica and I couldn’t help but jump out of the car and take pictures of each other in the gorgeous Fall leaves.

P.S. The white tailed deer in Oregon are WAY cuter than the mule deer we have in Utah. I know because there is a gaggle of mule deer that eat the leaves off the tree in front of Lucy’s and Leah’s bedroom windows all winter, each year.

Meet Fireese

With the recent release of Baby Signing Time 3 & 4, I wanted to introduce you to one of our incredible signers and her exceptional mother who we were fortunate enough to have involved.

You may not know her by name, but Fireese Berg may be one of the most famous signing babies on the internet!

Her mother Laura Berg posted a great video clip on YouTube of 1 year-old Fireese signing, which has to date garnered over half a million views!


I saw the video almost a year ago and thought, “I wonder if they know about Signing Time?”

I started to do a little research and found out that Laura is not only great at marketing, but she is the founder of My Smart Hands. My Smart Hands offers baby sign language classes in the US, Canada and Europe and can even train parents, like YOU to become baby sign language instructors.

As we began the massive process of auditioning children ages 3 and under for the upcoming Baby Signing Time shoot, I received an email from Laura. She was so cute, she prefaced it by saying that I probably had NO idea who she was or who her daughter was, but she had received SO many emails through youtube from “Fireese Fans” suggesting she audition that she felt compelled to write.

I called Laura on the phone and confessed that I too am a Fireese Fan! We invited them out for the shoot, without an audition… all you have to do is watch that youtube video to know, that Fireese is a little girl who can REALLY sign!

You will see Fireese signing away throughout both episodes of Baby Signing Time 3 “A New Day” & 4 “Let’s Be Friends”. I was able to be on set during some of her filming and her expressions and signs were just fabulous!

While the Berg’s were here we went to lunch and talked quite a bit. It was really clear to me that Laura is a bright, educated professional who really cares about making a difference in the lives of families. It was also clear to me that Laura is the type of gal I could easily be friends with!

We filmed an interview with Laura and had anticipated adding it as a special feature on Baby Signing Time Volume 4. I am disappointed that the piece was not completed in time for our release deadline. I am sure Fireese Fans were disappointed too. It is still being produced, editors are working on it right now and I can’t wait to share it with all of you in the future.

So, I won’t wait 🙂 I am going to share a couple of clips right now!

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

You can currently see the first clip (above) on our new Baby Signing Time web-site under “Testimonials”.

Because Laura was willing to share Fireese’s signing experience through youtube, she has helped countless families see that not only is it possible for one-year old Fireese to express herself through sign, it is possible for all children, everywhere.

Laura and Fireese,
Thank you for signing with us!

~Rachel Coleman

All Pool, No Swim

Believe it or not, it is only on rare occasion that I travel with Alex and Leah. Most of the time when I head out for an outreach event, it is with my trusty sidekick Lindsey. (She loves it when I call her a “Trusty Sidekick!”)

Last weekend we were invited to perform at the Triangle Down Syndrome Network of North Carolina’s Buddy Walk. Now I know that some of you reading this are in NC and wondering why you did not hear about this event. Well let me tell you why, you have not signed up for our Signing Time Newsletter. Did you know that each time we have a Signing Time event we will shoot you off an email if you are in the general vicinity? I even tell my friends and family members to sign up, if they want to know when I am traveling near them, because, really… do you think I can keep it all straight? Well I can’t and I don’t.

Last weekend was one of those rare occasions when Alex and Leah were traveling with us. If Leah is booked with me, no problem! If Alex is booked too, still, no problem but that does require an additional adult to manage the kiddos, so Alex’s dad, Derek came too.

There is a big difference between traveling with Just Lindsey (She loves it when I call her “Just Lindsey”) versus traveling with the kids. Differences like more bathroom breaks, not skipping meals and a constant state of torture giggling from wherever A&L happen to be, which is reminiscent of Ghana.

Here are some other differences. Lindsey, though probably tempted has yet to take pictures of me sleeping on the plane… Leah on the other hand took my iPhone and had a hey-day!

See I ALWAYS sleep on planes.  And I guess I sleep with my mouth open!

See I ALWAYS sleep on planes. And I guess I sleep with my mouth open!

Self Portrait by Leah

Self Portrait by Leah

At one point, Leah looked out the window and started laughing, “Mom, LOOK!! (giggle, giggle) Scattered clouds!!”

Scattered Clouds

Scattered Clouds

Unreasonable Requests
Our layover was in Las Vegas. Leah was puzzled, “Isn’t that the WRONG direction?” Yeah, well she can take that up with Southwest Airlines. But, our first layover was in VEGAS Baby! Do you know what Vegas has got that Salt Lake City does not? Nope, not gambling… I mean YES it does, but THAT is not what I am looking for and let’s just stop the guessing right there, since this is a child’s show.

The answer my friends: In-N-Out Burgers! We had an hour and a half layover and I put out the tweet. My tweet was answered and my dear friend Cathy loaded her triplets and adorable daughter into their minivan, drove through In-N-Out and delivered burgers curbside!! Are you kidding me?

I love that woman. I grabbed the burgers and ran. (Do you get the feeling I do a lot of running through airports? Well I do!) I ran and ran and ran. The train was not working so I just hoofed it, making it to the farthest possible C gate (of course) arriving 10 minutes before the flight left. I was huffing and puffing and laughing as I spotted Lindsey, spotting me. We handed out burgers and Leah looked at me and said, “This is the best lunch ever!”
Be careful you never know where my next layover will be and what wacky request I might send out. You could be next!

We arrived in North Carolina, checked in to our hotel and went out to meet our hosts for dinner. As we arrived at a Country Club I reminded Alex and Leah to please use their best manners. Heh-heh. Right.

Note to self: the time to instill manners is from toddlerhood on, NOT right before dinner at ages 10 and 11 respectively.

What Manners!  What Manners?

What Manners! What Manners?

Remember my last outreach post about trying to find Lindsey a man? Well we were only so-so successful. This is TJ.

TJ and Lindsey at Dinner TOGETHER

TJ and Lindsey at Dinner TOGETHER


Lindsey helped him cut his steak. He offered her his vegetables. They whispered secrets to each other throughout dinner. And that is all I am saying about THAT!

All pool, no swim!
That should be the title of all outreach events with Alex and Leah. Neither one can comprehend how it is possible that they are staying in hotels and not swimming at all. Every time they passed the pool they gazed at it with want. (sigh)

Sunday morning, the kids and Derek slept in. Lindsey and I went to an interview. After breakfast we all got ready for the show. We arrived at The Buddy Walk. My eyes immediately went to the blow up bounce houses and giant slides. Most Buddy Walks have these, and Lindsey and I NEVER get to play in them. See, by the time I am finished signing autographs, taking pictures and performing, all of the inflatables are being packed up! Not this time. Not on my watch! Besides, we had arrived a little early!! “Come on!” I hollered at Alex and Leah and as I sprinted across the grass toward the giant slide. We threw off our shoes and ran up the slide.

Pausing for Pictures

Pausing for Pictures

“One at a time!!! One at a time!” The teenagers standing guard shouted at us.

No Manners and Never Following Directions

No Manners and Never Following Directions

We had a great Meet & Greet prior to the performance. Again many families mentioning that they usually watching Signing Time on PBS on Saturdays, but it hadn’t been on the past few weeks. (Yeah, that blog is still coming)

Then we hit the stage!

Then we hit the stage!

Then we walked the walk

Then we walked the walk

It was a beautiful day, 78 degrees and I was the only one wearing jeans and a jacket!

Now it was time for dinner. Alex and Leah had been requesting sushi for days. Well, in my mind they had earned it. We found a sushi joint and ordered up. I have to admit there is a smug satisfaction in watching my daughter devour raw fish like a Grizzly Bear after salmon.

It's sushi time with Alex and Leah

It's sushi time with Alex and Leah

Derek, Lindsey and I watched as the kids piled up their plates with nigiri and rolls, then we ordered another full round. While waiting for round two, Alex and Leah had the brilliant idea to have a wasabi challenge. Each takes a mound of wasabi and on the count of 3 they eat it. Whoever reaches for water first loses. “Loses what?” you ask… nothing… remember when you were 10 and it was just about winning and losing… with nothing at stake other than that? So simple. And here it is…
“It’s wasabi time with Alex and Leah”Here comes the sad part. After dinner Leah and I dropped the rest of the gang off at the hotel and we drove 2 hours to Wilmington. Are you wondering what is sad about that? Well, I am not sure, but those kids were crushed. You’d think they didn’t live 10 minutes away from each other 365 days a year.

In Wilmington we stayed with our friends Kelly and Caroline and their kids, Jacob and Carly… oh and their 5 dogs. Count them!

Leah, Caroline, Kelly, Abby, Bama, Checker, Molly and Sammy

Leah, Caroline, Kelly, Abby, Bama, Checker, Molly and Sammy

I am not a dog person. We have had two dogs and it was not my thing and we found each of ours a new home. There is just something about coming home and having to scout out puppy puddles, puppy poop, puppy barf or potential doggy damage that doesn’t work for me. And then there is shedding, see I am fond of wearing black and our dalamation… ugh! So, we got a maltese poodle thinking small, non-shedding dog, but alas.. no that wasn’t it. What IT is, is this. I am NOT a dog person!!!

But I love my friends and I put up with the pups and they know I am putting up with the dogs. 🙂

Leah and I visited Jacob’s old school the Child Development Center and did two signing, singing story time performances. We had a couple of interviews and then we went to the beach. We had to go! Do you know how many times I am at incredible destinations and must refrain? Well, most of the time.

Rachel, Carly, Leah and Jacob at the beach

Rachel, Carly, Leah and Jacob at the beach


My new wallpaper on my iPhone

My new wallpaper on my iPhone

We had 20 minutes at the beach and then turned around for a Meet & Greet at the library. I couldn’t just stand there and meet and greet. I had to sing! Plus it’s a library, so I signed some stories too. I just can’t help myself.

Then they took me out for a birthday dinner. Hey, I am not opposed to dragging my birthday out for weeks… I mean really! For dessert we had key lime pie, which is a green colored pie in Utah, but it is a cream colored pie here in North Carolina.

Making a wish! (I wish I could go back to the beach)

Making a wish! (I wish I could go back to the beach)

Leah and I flew home to Salt Lake City the following morning. At the airport we had ice cream for breakfast.

Rachel, Leah, Ben & Jerry

Rachel, Leah, Ben & Jerry


Maybe Leah should come with me more often. Maybe we should all let our kids inspire us to play more often. I mean, every kid just wants to play with the biggest kid on the block and guess what… You are the biggest kid on the block. Your kids just want to play with you!

And Then There Were Twins!

You are not going to believe this!! I guess it is only fitting with all the babies being born around here that I would have some babies too. Twins!

It took a few tries to get them started, I mean, just ask Brad and Angelina, when you are going for twins, it’s a little tricky 😉 Then it took just about 9 months for them to be ready to present to the world. It was, of course, a labor of love. Yesterday, I delivered them!

I am a proud mommy and happy to introduce you to, the only kind of babies I will personally be making: Baby Signing Time 3 & 4!!!

They even arrived with their very own web-site, www.babysigningtime.com – such technologically savvy babes!

Just like any parent, I am completely biased. In my opinion, these shows are the cutest shows we have done to date! I am very proud of these little babies!

As we neared completion on Baby Signing Time 3 & 4, we thought it might be cool to have some folks preview them, before the shows were released. We went straight to the internet. First let me share an amazing fact: 80% of Signing Time fans hear about Signing Time from a friend or family member! See, your friends do believe you and they listen to you and they even follow your recommendations!

We contacted a number of bloggers who had over the past year, blogged about using Signing Time, we asked if they would like to preview and review the shows. I figured it is a little way to say “Thank you!” for spreading the news about what we are doing. Sometimes, I hop on and comment on their posts… and some of them don’t think it’s really me doing that, but it is really me… I mean YOU guys know that.

Our reviewers were honest. They shared what they liked and didn’t like. They shared how their children reacted and how the grownups reacted. Me, I’m too close to it all, I had to keep reminding myself as I read them, “They are not talking about me, they are talking about my show.” Oh, but some of them were talking about me too. 😉

So, in no particular order, except for #1… it really is #1… because it is by far my very, very favorite!! (Odd that it is the most flattering, the most hilarious and at the same time it is slightly disturbing!)

Here are 10 great bloggers reviewing Baby Signing Time 3 & 4!!!

#1. Backpacking Dad
Wandering Scientist
F is For Fischer
Rhett’s Journey
Stay At Home Mommy, Adventures of The Baby Chaser
Blogging Hallie (Thank you for mailing us cannoli, they rocked!!)
Maternal Instincts… Flying By The Seat of My Pants
The Family Update – Because Things Change So Fast
Raising Allie Kaye
If Only I Had Super Powers

I just have to say THANK YOU to all of the reviewers and to all of you out there who share your Signing Time experiences with people in your world, virtual and real. It is an honor that you welcome me and my family into your home and invite us to teach you and share our lives with you!!!

~Rachel
PS- Backpacking Dad, Call me! 😉 (I am totally kidding!)