Being Thankful… for Leah

Being Thankful for Leah

Thanksgiving is over…
and Leah’s birthday is today. She’s 12! (I KNOW, just go back and watch My First Signs and she will continue to live on as a 4 year-old and we can all just pretend that 12 isn’t happening!!)

The night before Thanksgiving, I was thinking about the things I am thankful for and then I thought that I could probably surprise myself by actually diving into my journals and reading how it really was. I have 10 journals, so I opened one up to see what year and what thoughts it held… The first one I opened was from 6 years ago. The entry written about the Christmas after we shot Signing Time 2 and 3.

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December 29, 2002 – Salt Lake City, UT

Christmas was hard. We had nothing and could give little, even to our own kids. Aaron and I didn’t give each other gifts. Two days before Christmas my dad gave us $200. The next day my sister Julie gave us $200. We were then able to get Leah a bike and a Gameboy. She also got all of her Signing Time wardrobe clothes and the “Leah Doll” – it was pretty humbling.
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After I read that I called Aaron in. I read it to him and we both sat there stunned. We had to think, really hard to even remember that Christmas. The following morning, Thanksgiving Day, I pulled my dad and my sister Julie aside and thanked them for giving us Christmas 6 years ago. Neither one of them vividly remembered helping us out. Just as I didn’t vividly remember the Christmas we really needed help. If it hadn’t been in my journal, would their generosity and our need have been entirely forgotten?

Then I couldn’t stop. Each night I have poured over my journals. It’s been painful. It’s been funny. It’s been an interesting journey, to say the least. My journals are stuffed with concert tickets, notes, postcards, scribbles from Leah, photos, and songs I have written.

I dug deeper in time, reading the details of Leah’s birth and then found this:

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December 10, 1996 – Salt Lake City, UT

… Aaron said, “It’s a GIRL!!!”
I started crying, “My baby, my baby girl!”
Aaron kissed me and said, “It’s Leah.”
Leah Jane Coleman. Leah who was called Anna before her birth. Leah who’d kick my ribs, (and sometimes my heart, it seemed) Leah who pushed against my guitar during all of those shows. Leah who gave me the feeling while singing “In Silence.”

Little Leah Jane whose daddy would run his fingers over my belly and say “Here’s your spider, here comes your spider!” Leah whose heels and knees I could slide around, whose little leg would press out hard as I massaged it. Leah with hiccups- Leah at 1:00AM and 10:30AM playtime.

Leah, who I threw up every day for. Leah who I prayed about and worried about. Leah, who made me what I’ve wanted to be most for years – a mom. My little girl’s mommy.

Leah with me while I hiked in Boulder, Utah. Leah in Bryce Canyon. Leah hiking the Zion’s Narrows. She’s my little girl. My sweet little girl now and for always. I love my daughter more than she may ever know.

It’s 3:20AM and I’m crying my eyes out. You’re here asleep next to me and your dad’s on the other side of you and that’s where we will always be, right beside you.

I love you so much. I love you more than you may ever know, maybe when you have a girl of your own. Goodnight my sweet girl, pleasant dreams. I’m so glad you are here with us. I love you, I love you – I LOVE YOU!”

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I went forward in my journal, looking a year after Leah’s birth to find little bits and pieces. Confused entries about Leah’s hearing. Just a line here and there. Things like:

“We don’t know if she can hear us.”
“She has fluid in her ears, but her pediatrician thinks it’s more than that…”
“We can’t get in for the ABR test for 6 more weeks!”
“Still no answer on Janey’s ears.”

No answers in my journal for months and then I found this:

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March 31, 1998 Tuesday
Salt Lake City, UT

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so alone in my whole life. I feel like there is no one I can talk to because no one would understand why I’m crying. Actually I think they would misunderstand. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or for Janey. I don’t want to call our families and tell them what “PK” the audiologist told us today. Half of my tears are simply tears of relief. The wondering and questions are done. A tearful release of 2 1/2 months- fears, hopes, anticipation and prayers.

I know it’s not helpful but I can only blame myself, and it’s eating me up inside. I think that in his heart Aaron blames me too. In only these past few months people have asked if Jane’s hearing loss is because of my band. And playing and practicing while I was pregnant. People ask. Or they say “boy that must be devastating with you being a musician and music meaning so much.” Do they really think I give a S#*! about my music in comparison to my DAUGHTER?

I’d never sing or play another note if it mattered. Music is nothing to me. Leah Jane is my world. She is wonderful. She is beautiful. I feel like the biggest obstacle in her way is me. I don’t know sign language. I came so close to learning it, so many times. But I didn’t. I feel bewildered. But I feel thankful that we caught it as early as we did….

….We may never know what caused it, or if she as born with it. “Deaf” is such an uncomfortable word for me to use. In a way I am glad that I didn’t know when she was born. Maybe I would’ve treated her differently. Maybe I’d be totally over protective. Everyone would’ve treated her a little different. But now I have had 16 months of Janey. And treating her like a regular kid (except that she is more awesome than most kids)…

…I know of 3 people who are deaf. I’ve had conversations with only one of them ever. I hardly know what the term means. I remember the deaf kids in Jr. High and High school. I sure could not tell you any of their names. They all stayed together with their interpreter and I never gave them a second thought.

Severe – Moderate – Mild mean so little all your life. But today, I was told my daughter has a severe hearing loss. And I still barely grasp the concept. But the word SEVERE is clanging around in my brain. SEVERE? What does that mean? And what does deaf mean? Is there a scale to measure it on? If hearing aids help you are you still deaf?

She can sign a few words now. MOMMY, SLEEP, EAT, SHOES, THANK YOU, BIRD. When I teach a sign she always “rolls it and rolls it and sticks it with a B”

She has the most beautiful lips and puckers for kisses. She also puckers when I tell her “NO” because it looks like kisses. How can I keep a straight face when she does that?
When she gets frustrated she hits her head with her hands, or on the floor.

When she’s nursing, she looks up at me then squeezes both eyes shut tight and then pops them open. She nurses, and the corners of her mouth turn up in a smile. Maybe she’s never heard me say the WORDS I love you. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all. She probably knows it more than most kids who hear it every day.
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A few weeks ago Leah and I were talking. She asked me how I felt when I found out she was deaf. I told her, “I was distraught. I cried. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I was scared.”

Leah smiled at me and said, “That’s so funny mom. You thought it was terrible and now you know it’s not.”

She’s right.

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

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.

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!

The Evolution of Rachel Coleman

I have this whole serious post ready for you about why we are not on public TV anymore, but I just can’t bring myself to post it and especially NOT today!

Because: (cue music) “Today is a special day a special day it’s true, we celebrate the happy day that I became me!”
Well the lyrics don’t work so well in the first person… which is exactly why I did not write that song with lyrics in the first person… See, I am quick like that!

Yes, 34 years ago today, October 9, 1974 – I was born: Rachel Lee de Azevedo. The fifth child of Lex and Linda de Azevedo.

The Evolution of Rachel Coleman
I doubt there was much fanfare, outside her own family. Her mother’s mother came to town and stayed with the family to help care for her daughter and this new granddaughter. Little did the world know what spirit had just been unleashed upon it. Little did her parents know.


This little girl, shy and quiet in the tumultuous chaos that would become a family of 9 siblings, was NOT the “squeaky wheel,” no. She was silent and observant. She didn’t ask for what she wanted because there were so many other children and she knew that many of them would ask.
She didn’t ask for the things she wanted and because she didn’t ask, she didn’t get them.

Little Rachel

All smiles

She didn’t find her voice until she was 17. She found her “angry voice” first. Like when Mrs. Potato Head packs her husband’s “angry eyes” in Toy Story II. Her family was shocked to hear this voice, shocked not only at the upset but also shocked at hearing a voice from someone who had up until that point refused to sing.

Rachel de Azevedo – We The Living: HEAVEN HELP ME
[audio:/wp-content/mp3/HeavenHelpMe.mp3]

She found love, got married, becoming Rachel de Azevedo Coleman and had her first child, Leah. One year after her daughter’s birth she took a personal vow of musical silence, at age 24, upon discovering her daughter was deaf. Like all things, this silence lasted… until it ended.

The silence ended when she was 28. Her second daughter Lucy, then 2 years old, was wrapped in a blanket on the floor, Lucy’s physical disabilities, cerebral palsy and spina bifida, kept her trapped in her own silent world. The problem felt very familiar. The circumstances did not. There happened to be a guitar in the room. This time, she heard a voice of inspiration. It started with this simple phrase: “How are you doing little one? I’d like to know what’s on your mind” and ended with this plea: “Show me a sign!”

Rachel Coleman: SHOW ME A SIGN
[audio:/wp-content/mp3/ShowMeASign.mp3]

She now had a story to tell.
She now had a message to deliver.

The message to children: “You are perfect, exactly how you are!”
The message to their parents: “You are not alone.”
The message to professionals: “Do not limit us with labels.”
The message to the world: “Communication does not delay communication.”

She discovered she had a powerful voice, a silly outfit, yet a powerful voice in the world and for the world. A voice that is a stand for children, children who may feel like they don’t fit in, maybe they are shy or quiet, maybe they feel lost in the noise. A voice for so many children who feel that they cannot have what they want and are too afraid to ask, or maybe they just don’t have a way to ask at all.

Then one day she turned 34. It was to be the best year of her life. No, everything was not perfect, but it was. There would be disappointments as well as wonderful surprises. There would be new friends and old. Best of all, after 17 years of music, there are still new songs.

Rachel and Natalies Excellent Adventure

I don’t know where to start. I am so glad that I signed up for a Twitter account right before leaving for Oregon and Colorado, because those “tweets” are now my mile markers through the blur of the past few days.

The evening of Thursday, September 25 Lindsey and I flew to Salem, Oregon. Lindsey, is the Two Little Hands Communications Manager, she also coordinates, executes and assists on my outreach events. If you want me to come speak or perform at an event or conference in the future, contact Lindsey. She sometimes refers to herself as, “Rachel’s Handler” which makes me crazy. I think animals have handlers, not people, but whatever. I like to call her my assistant.

Another character in this cast is Natalie. Nat and I have been friends for 20 years. We went on our first dates together.

Monster Mash 1990

Monster Mash 1990


In the past 20 years we’ve gotten into a bit of trouble together, like when I accidentally lit her hair on fire or when we were sledding down freeway embankments, when the freeway was under construction, and then there was that time I broke my ankle when I was chasing a goose and a rooster was chasing me! (All true stories I swear) We met in 8th grade. Her locker was two down from mine. Somehow we had 7 out of 9 classes together that first year and we became fast friends. Natalie is officially my #1 Fan. (Sorry! I know a lot of you think you are it… nope, it’s Natalie)
Love the 90s

Love the 90s


When I began writing songs, I would tape record them and give them to her. She keeps everything, even all of our notes passed back and forth through the years. She is practically my personal archivist! (Nat should we release a “Rachel Unplugged”?? .. nah better not I was sort of grumpy in high school, mostly to try and hide how shy I was) So, if there ever is a True Hollywood Story in the works, they should just go straight to Natalie’s house.

Sometime around, oh… 9 months ago, Natalie and I had a conversation. It was a conversation about the future, her future and how it looked like she was going to become a mother. At that time it also looked like she would be taking on motherhood, for the most part, alone. She asked if I would be her Birth Coach. I said, “Yes!” Her due date was September 21st.

Fast forward to THIS weekend.
Lindsey and I landed in Salem and made our way to the hotel. When we got to our room there was only one bed. I called to see if we could get two beds and they said none were unavailable. We considered two rooms, but decided that is not as much fun as one room. Sometimes I think I am reliving the sleepover days. Those of you who have volunteered at ST! events can attest. We stay up late talk, eat, have pillow fights (not really) and laugh (yes really hard). Two rooms would not do! Plus what if one of us slept in, missed the wake-up call, or had no idea what time the events were scheduled! I offered Lindsey the sofa bed, (nice of me eh?) but she said she doesn’t mind sleeping with her boss… err, not how it sounds AT ALL.

Who's Closet?

Whose Closet?


We hit the sack, with a serious “pillow barrier” between us. There is nothing more freaky then stretching out and touching a strange someone, in a strange hotel room, in a strange city. Thus, the “pillow barrier.”

In the morning we met Cory and her kids. Cory came bearing gifts! She brought breakfast scones, drinks, candles, a scarf, jam and other fun stuff.

Welcome basket

Welcome basket


Cory must read my blog. (Hi Cory!) Because the woman brought me cannoli!! FYI, I also love chocolate covered strawberries, English toffee, anything coconut, lemon or lime, The Cheesecake Factory and massages…(hee hee) Oh, Lindsey is single and is looking for a “tall, dark, handsome, funny, smart, single man.” Just thought I’d put that out there. If someone wants to deliver that to her sometime she would be very appreciative! You can even check out her blog first.

We got ready and went to Salem Heights Elementary. I did a signing, story time with one of the kindergarten classes.

Salem Heights Story Time

Salem Heights Story Time

Class photo

Class Photo?

After story time, I got ready for an assembly for the whole school. I had a great time, that’s what counts right? The kids had a great time too.

I have NO idea what I am signing! (Match?  Roommate?)

I have NO idea what I am signing! (Match? Roommate?)


Signing Autographs after the assembly

Signing Autographs after the assembly


I have to thank Nacho Cordova! Nacho was our photographer and he did a superb job. (Nacho, how’d you make me look so good?) Checkout our Salem days on his site. Here I am with Nacho’s adorable daughter.
Rachel and Terra

Rachel and Terra

After the school visit, Lindsey and I went shopping. I needed to buy PJ’s, since we were down to one bed, and that’s all I am going to say about that. We went to Macys and I did a quick change in the car. I have a fear of getting busted, no pun intended, because I always have to change in the car.

Let's shop

Let's shop

Guess who's car?

Guess whose car?

When we finished shopping, we got lost, like we always do. Lindsey gets so mad at Google Maps, and I think it is sort of funny. I mean how lost can we get? We made a few calls, got our bearings and arrived for the Willamette Valley Down Syndrome Association fundraising concert, starring, yours truly. We had another great show! THAT was a “Silly Pizza” that I will never forget!

After performing the Silly Pizza Song, we all died!

After performing the Silly Pizza Song, we all died!


And then we hung out on the floor and had a long chat

And then we hung out on the floor and had a long chat


After the performance we held a “Meet & Greet” so that I get to meet, chat, share, take pictures with and give autographs to all who want it. I knew it was great show because while I was performing, I could see Lindsey cracking up at the back of the hall as she ran some of the technical aspects. And Lindsey has heard all of my jokes a hundred times. Later she said, “Rachel you are way more fun to travel with when you are sleep deprived!” 😉
We grabbed dinner and went back to the hotel.

Saturday, September 27, 2008.
I got up and started getting ready. Today I would perform at the WVDSA’s Buddy Walk. I was doing my hair and makeup when my phone rang. It was Natalie, she said, “Rachel, my water just broke!” I didn’t know what to say. Did you know that water breaking at onset of labor is very Hollywood? It rarely happens in real life! How could this happen? No contractions for days, everything quiet and hoping to wait until Sunday when I get back and her water broke? AHHHHHHH! She still wasn’t really having contractions either… hmmm

Lindsey called Cory who happily rearranged my scheduled performance time, so I could sing before the Buddy Walk, instead of after. (Thank you Cory and crew!!!) Lindsey pulled up flights. We were flying out of Portland an hour and a half away. I found a flight and booked it and off we went to the Buddy Walk. Before the event we had to eat our cannoli!

Let's have breakfast

Let's have breakfast


Lindsey, Rachel and Cory

Lindsey, Rachel and Cory


Loved this pin I saw at the Buddy Walk

Loved this pin I saw at the Buddy Walk

The Buddy Walk was another great event. We had our Meet and Greet before the performance.

Thanks for the photos Jennifer!

Thanks for the photos Jennifer!


And with that, Lindsey and I ran to the car and sped to the airport! If I was going to catch my flight there was no time to change clothes. Colored fingers and all, I RAN through the airport, feeling a bit like a speeding orange traffic cone or a flare.

The plane landed early and I called Natalie, she was still at home. I got my car and made my way to her house. Natalie laughed when I showed up at her door as “Rachel Coleman.”

Now, remember Lindsey? She stayed in Portland to fill up the car, return it and get on the original flight straight to Denver. The plan was, let’s deliver the baby and I could pull an all-nighter and drive the 8+ hours to Denver. As long as the baby came by midnight, this plan would be fine. My sound check at the Oh Baby Expo in Denver was scheduled at 8:30AM. Looking back, that was sort of a silly plan!

Natalie, her mom, friend Emily and I went to The Birth Center at 7PM. They checked her and though she was having contractions, it was still early labor. This was not good. As we approached the 12 hour mark, it was clear this baby was not going to be born within the time frame that The Birth Center could comfortably and legally accommodate, considering the broken membranes. We packed up and went to the hospital.

That alone was frustrating. It didn’t mean Natalie could not necessarily have the ideal delivery she wanted, but we both knew it meant we would all have to work much harder for it. I sat alone in my car and cried in the parking structure outside of the hospital. It was almost mid-night and it appeared I would be facing yet another defeat. I needed to leave for Denver. How could I leave? Especially right now? I felt like I had just barely proven myself as the best friend in the whole wide world, turning my schedule upside down, grabbing a flight home and even showing up in bright orange, and now I would instantly be the biggest jerk. How can I go up there and say, “Natalie, I’m leaving.” As I sobbed, and put off the inevitable, my sister Rebecca called to see how thing were going. I sobbed and yelled and let it all out. “I AM SO MAD! I can’t be EVERYWHERE I need to be and I PROMISED! I promised to be HERE and I promised to be in Denver! I PROMISED!” Rebecca listened to my frustration and said, “Ray, it sounds like you need a replacement, a back up for yourself. Can I come down and support Natalie?”

I was stunned. Rebecca is two years younger than I am. We were the ultimate picture of sibling rivalry for most of our lives. She made me crazy. For many years I had no relationship with her, I couldn’t stand her! Then three years ago, I saw how much of that was really my fault, not hers. I offered to be her sister again. Nine months after we made peace, I was able to be at the home birth of her first child. In the past 3 years we have become more than sisters, we are great friends. So, here is Rebecca, who had given birth just 2 weeks ago, 2 WEEKS ago to her second son and she was offering to come down at midnight so I could go to Denver? I cried even harder, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I went up to Labor & Delivery with puffy red eyes, and found the rest of my now puffy, red-eyed team. I asked to have a minute alone with Natalie. “Nat, I have to go.” The tears streamed for both of us. “I have to drive to Denver, I am so sorry. Please forgive me. Don’t hate me.” Natalie looked back at me through tears and said, “Rachel I can’t stand the thought of hundreds of little children being disappointed that you are not there.” I told her Rebecca was coming. We hugged. I kissed her on the head and I cried my way into the hallway, still feeling fairly defeated. Rebecca was already in the hall with Natalie’s mom and Emily. Aaron, my husband was also standing there. Huh?

Aaron and I walked down the hall and he said, “Come on. We’re going to Denver. You are not doing this alone.” I asked where our kids happened to be. Aaron had called my mom, packed the girls’ bags, dropped them off at mom’s house and made it to the hospital in record time, to make sure I didn’t try to go it alone. As we walked out of the hospital we passed this mural on the wall of Starbucks

Speak softly people will listen. Take your time the world will wait.

Speak softly people will listen. Take your time the world will wait.


We picked up a rental car and drove into the night. He took the first shift, since I was exhausted. He blared Rush albums, as I slept. For me it is REALLY hard to sleep through Rush. It is Aaron’s favorite band and… well it’s not at all my favorite band… at all. Geddy Lee’s high pitched voice was piercing through my dreams!! I tossed and turned in the uncomfortable passenger seat and plotted my revenge. What would I listen to while he tried to sleep? 😉

“Hey, wake up. Can you drive?” We were in the middle of nowhere. I sat up. I had slept, on and off, for close to 4 hours. “Yes, I can drive.” We filled up the car and bought some pringles, nibs and a cherry coke for me, a code red for him. I took my turn driving. I sang “The Silly Pizza Song” for 4 straight hours 😉 Just kidding. I listened to Shawn Colvin and did my best to out-sing and out-harmonize her on every single song, singing at the top of my lungs. The sun came up. I kept driving. My phone buzzed with a message from my friend Cathy who lives in NV, she had sent me driving directions to the convention center. (Thank you Cathy!) I pulled up to the convention center at 8AM listening to The Pixies, “Where is My Mind?” Fitting.

Sound check was set for 8:30AM. Whew, that was close! I re-did my hair, and put new make-up on top of old make-up, taped my fingers and put my Signing Time clothes on. I called Natalie. She had finally progressed to 6cm after more than 24 hours of labor. A c-section was on hold. Are you kidding me? I might make it back for the birth? Aaron found a flight back to Salt Lake City and we booked it. I hit the stage. Were my eyes red? Was my voice haggard from dueling with Shawn Colvin for 4 hours? I don’t know. Was my brain foggy from lack of sleep, well yes. I smiled, sang, and told them the truth. “My best friend is in labor and I am her coach. I flew home from Oregon yesterday and then drove straight here all night. Natalie said she couldn’t stand the thought of causing such disappointment for your families, if I did not come.” The Signing Time families in the audience signed “Thank you.” I stayed just long enough to take a handful of pictures and sign a handful of autographs.

Still smiling in Denver

Still smiling in Denver


Aaron and I ran to the car and sped off to catch our flight back to Salt Lake. He had filled the tank while I was singing.

If I hadn’t gone to Ghana, Africa twice this year, I don’t think we would have made the flight. We did not check-in in time. The computer would not let us check-in, but I have Gold Medallion status because of those Africa miles with Delta and they made and exception and we ran through the Denver airport, me in my bright orange again. As I ran passed, people looked bewildered at my taped fingers and outfit and asked, “Go Broncos?” I had no idea what they meant. Then Aaron explained the Broncos colors are orange and blue and he started laughing. Ok, “Go Broncos!” When we got on the plane I happened to be seated next to a woman who was also wearing orange.

Maybe they sat us together BECAUSE we were wearing orange

Maybe they sat us together BECAUSE we were wearing orange

I slept on the plane. This plane landed early too! I ran to my car, dragging my carry-on bag behind me. I imagine Aaron walked to his. I twittered my landing and one of my dear friends, twittered back, “Go! Hurry to hospital! All cake and eating it too!” I had to smile, everyone around me, friends from coast to coast, fans across the country, they were all pulling for me to be there with Natalie.

I called Natalie, “I am back and I am wearing orange again!” While I was gone she had pitocin and an epidural, she had been laboring for over 36 hours and was exhausted.

I returned to Labor & Delivery and got the details. Since Nat was still at 6cm, we were all hoping that 7 to 10cm would happen quickly. The nurses came in and updated me. Emily and Nat’s mom fell asleep. Then the nurse came back in and asked for my autograph. I looked at Natalie and we both started laughing. Then a bunch of nurses came in, all fans of the show. They apologized to Natalie, saying, “Our kids, love Rachel. They’ll never believe we met her!” Natalie said she was used to it, she’d known me forever and it was part of the deal. Besides, we all know how Natalie feels, “There’s no way I am going to disappoint a bunch of little kids.” I handed out Signing Time temporary tattoos and I autographed pictures of me and Alex and Leah.

Signing Autographs for the Nurse, Still Smiling

Signing Autographs for the Nurse, Still Smiling

The evening wore on, Natalie rested. The nurse midwife came to check the progress. Bad news. Still at 6cm. The last 8 hours she had stayed at 6 and now her cervix was swelling and the baby’s head was moulding to try to come through at 6cm. I put on scrubs, so did Natalie’s mom. I kept telling myself, “breathe and don’t pass out.” Technically had two c-sections with Lucy, but had never been the one standing up through it, being supportive, I got to experience the other side of the table.

At 6:38PM my best friend Natalie became a mom. When they brought Baby Nicholas into the world, everybody in the OR room gasped variations of “What a beautiful baby!”

Auntie Rachel and Baby Nicholas

Auntie Rachel and Baby Nicholas


Brand New Baby Nicholas

Brand New Baby Nicholas

I spent the night in the hospital with Natalie and Nicholas, even changed his first diapers. I help Nat figure out the whole breastfeeding thing. We all slept a little.

The following morning was Monday, I drove home. The house was empty, the girls were in school. Aaron was at work. I autographed 300 Baby Signing Time covers for the upcoming release.

Signing the New Baby Signing Time Covers

Signing the New Baby Signing Time Covers

I put them in a box on my front porch and called my Two Little Hands office, “The covers are done. But someone needs to pick them up. They are on my porch. I am going to sleep. Please don’t knock.”

I slept. Around 4:00PM Leah and Lucy woke me up. “Mommy!! You are home!!” My eyes had headaches. My head felt heavy. I squinted at my girls, reminding myself, “Oh yeah, that’s right I am a mom too.” I sort of unpacked. I sort of helped the girls with their homework. I felt like I had been gone for ages. Was there even food in the fridge? Leah came down the hall around 6:00PM and said, “Something smells weird in the hall!” I was too foggy to care. Besides a lot of things could smell “weird” in a hall. Awhile later I walked down the hall and noticed, “Hey something smells weird!” It smelled like something was burning. “AARON I SMELL FIRE!!! COME HERE!” Aaron ran down the hall and we went from room to room. It was strongest in Leah’s room. I double checked outlets to see if a plug had gone crazy, but found nothing. Aaron ran downstairs to see if it was coming from the basement. We couldn’t find it! No smoke, just that smell. Some of our neighbors had an electrical fire in their wall a few months ago and I was not going to risk it. “I AM CALLING 911!” I yelled as Aaron came back up stairs and put his hands on the attic ceiling entrance in our closet, to see if it was hot.

The 911 operator told us to “Get out of the house.” I grabbed Lucy, put her in her power wheel chair, and we went across the street. Aaron and Leah followed us out. We could already hear the fire engines coming. I guess our neighbors heard it too because they all came pouring out. They could see I had been, tired, crying, upset but they didn’t know it had not been about the “fire.” A simple, “Are you okay?” was answered with a flood of tears. “I am so tired!” Is all I could get out… and then, “See I flew to Oregon…” and then I stopped. I mean really! Really? Did all of that really even happen? Who would believe it. “I’m just really, really tired.” I repeated.

See what happens when you call 911

See what happens when you call 911


Just use the front door

Just use the front door

The firefighters could smell the burning, but they couldn’t find the source. Aaron finally went in with them and came out holding Leah’s favorite hat.

Grumpy Hat

Grumpy Hat


And then he turned it around.
Very Grumpy Hat

Very Grumpy Hat


The sweet smell of burnt acrylic. Leah burst into tears, “That’s my favorite hat!” Yep, her favorite hat that accidentally got tossed on top of her desk lamp and ended up with a lightbulb shaped hole burnt right through it. So, if any of you are going to Disneyland anytime soon, I would sure appreciate it if you kept an eye out for a new “Grumpy Hat” for my daughter. See… I am tired. Really, really tired.
Go Broncos!
We're Tired!  Really Tired!

We're Tired! Really Tired!

Making Wishes Come True – Part 2

It was early Tuesday morning and I didn’t want to get out of bed.  Truthfully, it wasn’t even that early.  I had already gotten up and tag teamed with Aaron to get the girls out the door and off to school and then I had returned to bed and had no desire to get out.  See, I have meetings on Tuesdays and though I have been tempted to show up in my pajamas before, I never have actually done it.  No, I usually give in and shower, get dressed, pull my hair back in a ponytail and show up 10 minutes late with an honest excuse like, “Sorry I’m late!  I couldn’t get out of bed.”  Who would say that?  No, I usually call it “getting stuck in traffic” or “running into unexpected construction” and here’s a tip, no one can argue with, “The bus was late.  Very late.”   

On this particular Tuesday, I pulled my laptop out from underneath my bed and “took on the day.”  That means I hit “Send/Receive” – my inbox began filling up.  It fills UP, because I sort my email with the newest ones at the top.  I try to deal with each email systematically and then on completion, I file it away to keep my inbox clean, which I don’t and it isn’t.

Amidst the meeting reminders and Baby Signing Time post-production epistles marked “Urgent!!!!” one email subject caught my eye, it read, “Subject: Rhett’s Wish & Star Party.”  I only know of one Rhett, and he is an almost 2 year-old boy here in Utah who has Down syndrome.  I had been peeking in on Rhett’s blog for over a year.  I started checking in on him, when I had heard about this little boy who had a near fatal, accidental, painkiller overdose in the hospital.  I opened this email to see what it held.  It had a message from someone who expressed a wish to remain anonymous.  So, the edited version is this:

**********************************************************************************************************

Hi,

Just incase you don’t already know, i wanted to let you know about Rhett’s wish.  I heard Rhett wished for a big screen TV and Signing Time DVD’s to watch on the big screen.  Anyway, his wish was granted, and now it is time for Rhett to hang his star with all of the others.  He will be having his star party on this Tuesday at 7 PM at Make-A-Wish.  Rhett’s blog is: www.rhettsjourney.blogspot.com

Rhett is a really fun little boy to talk to, if you haven’t met him yet, I am sure you will love him at first site.  Rhett will be back in the hospital later this week, unless it was postponed.

Thanks, for all you do, our family has benefited from Signing Time as so many others have also. 

 ********************************************************************************************************

I jumped out of bed.  If there was going to be a Signing Time related wish today in Salt Lake City, I was going to be there.  I showered, and put on my “Rachel” make-up and did my “Rachel” hair, checked my closet for a set of Signing Time “Rachel” clothes.  Then, I checked Leah’s closet.  I had my ST! outfit, Leah did not.  I was pretty sure Alex didn’t have one at home.  I called Marcus, “Hey I don’t know what you are doing today, but I need a set of purple for Leah and a set of orange for Alex before 5PM tonight.”

I then scoured Rhett’s Blog and found plenty of details about making the wish and having the wish granted, but no mention of what the wish was or if it included Signing Time. I called the Utah Make A Wish Foundation and wondered if they would even tell me anything or would some sort of confidentiality law like HIPA apply?

When I called, I told them that I had heard there was a Signing Time related wish planned that evening and I said, “I am Rachel Coleman from Signing Time, and I would be happy to support you in any way possible.”  Eventually we had a plan…

And with that, I will let Rhett’s incredible parents share the rest of the story.

The day after Rhett’s wish is granted, Rhett’s mom shares OH.MY.GOSH

Rhett’s dad shares the following day on the post STILL GLOWING

Rhett’s mom put together the following video slide show, Rhett’s Wish.  (Grab a tissue!)

And then mommy comes back a week later with this post, simply entitled, “WOW!”

After meeting Rhett and signing with him, I was very impressed with his signing vocabulary.  I let his family know that their little boy is “on my list!”  He is a great signer and he signed everything that I asked him, on cue!  We enjoyed spending time with this remarkable family and it was a thrill for all of us to be a part of such a special celebration!

Late Night Phone Call

I was up late last night, very late.  Marcus, who does wardrobe on Signing Time, stopped by with my clean, steamed orange outfits close to 11PM.  I could not really pack until after he got there and I didn’t really pack after he left.  Marcus wants me to blog about the many wardrobe secrets of Signing Time.  (Sigh)  I just don’t know if I dare!  Not that you want to know the potential wardrobe malfunctions, so you are looking for them, but I am sure I could save you some wardrobe malfunctions of your own.  If you bug me about it enough I might just give in.  Or maybe we should have a wardrobe chat, like the sweater folding chat which was followed by the sweater folding blog.  

Like I said, it was still very late and I hadn’t packed.  I was on my computer doing all of the important things that just can’t wait until tomorrow, when you have an 11AM flight.  Plus, as I became more tired, I lost the ability to complete a task with velocity and finally could not complete a task at all.  Eventually in a sleep deprived, groggy state, I had that jarring, recurring thought… “Is my cell phone ringer off?”  (If you have read any of my posts in the past two weeks, you can understand why this makes my heart pound!)  I located my cell phone and the ringer was off, I turned it on and there were no calls. This was around 4:30AM.  I thought about plugging it in to charge and then I paced a few pointless circles in my kitchen, noticed all of the lights were on in the kitchen and dining room and then… my home phone starts ringing.  Just so you know, no one calls my home phone during daylight, so it is even more rare for it to ring in the middle of the night.  I fumbled through the sofa cushions and found the cordless phone.  “Hello?”  I said nervously, thinking to myself, “I have never anticipated someone’s reply more than right this second.”  

“Hello.  I am calling for Rachel de Azevedo,” said the woman on the other end of the line.  

“That would be me.”  I respond quietly and intently. 

“Ms. de Azevedo, (of course she slaughters the pronunciation of “de Azevedo”) this is Erin, I am an agent with Delta Airlines.  Your 11AM flight tomorrow has been canceled and you are now departing tomorrow at 9 o’clock PM.”  I asked her some random pointless questions, like “When was it cancelled?” and “Why didn’t I know sooner?”  As if that matters, but it was 4AM and I was half horrified I was going to have to try to get a first time baby delivered in the next 5 hours before a flight.  THAT is PRESSURE!  

The moral of the story is, sometimes you CAN have your cake and eat it too!?  And the other moral of the story is that procrastination can pay off!  Ok, neither one of those is the moral of the story and I am obviously very tired and thankful that I can still pack, take a nap, see my kids when they get home from school, AND fly to Oregon tonight!    

As promised, here is my nephew Carter who was born yesterday.

And I am working to get Twitter up on my blog so that I don’t have to commit to an entire blog every time the phone rings in the middle of the night.  Or when Lucy chooses to run for student council and yesterday she gave the speech to her class, that went like this,

“Hi!  I am Lucy Coleman.  If you have any questions about the school, I am willing to answer them.  Vote for me!”  

And then, she won!!  See, with Twitter you will get all of that and so much more 🙂