Signing Time: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

As I read Rachel’s Blog entry entitled “Strong Enough To Be Your Mom – Part 2“, I reflected on the impact of Signing Time on my life. I realized that when my sister gave my oldest daughter Sarah a Signing Time VHS for her first birthday in 2002, we thought she was giving us the gift of early communication. But what I got was so much more then I could ever imagine.

My sister’s husband had learned about Signing Time and the benefits of signing with children while listening to an interview with Rachel Coleman in 2002 on KSL Radio. He thought it would be great gift for Sarah. They also purchased Signing Time for their son who was a few weeks old. (This was when Volume 1 My First Signs was the only product offered!) My sister signed up for email notifications and I did the same.

Signing Time became part of our daily routine. Sarah would get excited when she heard the theme song and we instantly fell in love with the video.  Within a month she was signing “milk”, “want”, and “more”. It was wonderful to see her express herself with signs instead of whining. Friends and strangers would ask if she was deaf. When I responded “no,” they asked more questions and I became a walking infomercial for Signing Time!

A few months later, I received an email from Two Little Hands Productions asking for customer success stories, so naturally I responded. I was shocked when I received a phone call from Emilie Brown (Alex’s mom) asking if my family would be interested in being interviewed on camera. I was amazed that the co-creator of Signing Time was calling to talk to me!  When we went to the interview, I was again amazed that Emilie was the one doing the interviewing.  When it was Sarah’s turn, we tried to get her to sign all of the signs she used at home, but she would not sign for the cameras. My husband said that we missed our opportunity because Sarah was signing “cookie” just before we came in, so he gave her a cookie. Emilie was so great, she told us not to worry about it – she understood that children sign when they want to communicate something, not on command. We were so excited when we received the (then) newly-released Signing Time Gift Set. It was great to have additional material. Sarah’s favorite song soon became “The Silly Pizza Song“.

I received another email announcing a Signing Time playgroup on June 17th, 2003 at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, Utah (where Two Little Hands Productions is headquartered).  I had to invite everyone I knew!  So, with my husband and Sarah, my sister and her family and other friends in tow, we gathered at the park. Rachel and Emilie were the hosts with Alex, Leah and Lucy in attendance. Rachel signed a story, hosted activities for the kids, and took a huge group photo. When I talked to Emilie I said, “I have told so many people about Signing Time, I should just sell them for you.” She said, “We have talked about having distributors. Just call the office and we can figure it out.”

Sarah's Scrapbook Page From Signing Time Playgroup
Sarah's Scrapbook Page From Signing Time Playgroup

The next email came on a week later, inviting me to join the new Signing Time “alexandleah” yahoo group. Of course I joined right away – I had to let the world know that I was officially a Signing Time “groupie!” The first post was a welcome letter from Rachel.  Shortly thereafter was the first Signing Time Online Chat. Rachel and Emilie answered questions and we all got to know each other. As the group and online chat grew, Rachel started announcing challenges and activities to help spread the word about Signing Time and asked us to email her if we completed them. During the next chat Lucy would draw a number and the winner would receive DVDs. Through the yahoo group, our current forums and chat I have met some of my closest friends.

In August of 2004, Rachel called and asked if I wanted to bring Sarah to her house to film for Volumes 4-6. Sarah was about to turn four and was soaking in as many signs as she could.  She did great signing for Rachel, but she freaked out as soon as the camera was on her. You do see her swimming briefly in Volumes 4 & 6.

Then while in production for Volumes 7-9, I got another phone call asking if my playgroup would be interested in filming. We had a great time and several of the children made it into the DVDs. While they where filming they also took some footage of my youngest daughter Maeghan. A spit second of her ended up on Baby Signing Time Volume 1.

On June 18, 2005 Rebecca Overson (Rachel and Emilie’s sister who managed the office), called and asked if I had time to come meet with her. When I met with her she asked me if I would be interested in working for them from home on an as-needed basis for some special projects. To my surprise, there was consistent work.  A few months later I was asked if I could come in and learn customer service as a back-up and work from the office as needed. From there my hours and responsibilities increased.

That is the point that the gift of Signing Time that started out as a VHS for my daughter’s first birthday became a gift for me. I had a job I loved with people I admire and consider dear friends. In January of 2007 I took an educational seminar called the Landmark Forum upon the recommendation of Rebecca, Rachel, Emilie and Lex. It was a life-changing experience. What I thought would be a great course in communication turned out to be an amazing opportunity for me to look at my life in ways that were entirely new for me. That alone made a huge impact on me, and thank the de Azevedo family for sharing their experiences with me. Just one more way that my association with Signing Time has blessed my life.

Then (yes, there is MORE!) in August of 2007, Rachel shared her Body for Life experience with me I decided it was time to take a look at my health. I had just given up on fertility treatments and decided I was going to focus on being healthy so I could enjoy my daughters. I went back to my endocrinologist and started exploring what was causing my glucose levels to increase. I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and was given the correct medications, diet and exercise plan. By April of 2008 Rachel invited anyone else in the company who wanted to, to do Body for Life. I had just found out that I was pregnant again, but I was excited to have the group support for my fitness goals. I did gain 20 lbs while I was pregnant, but I had a very healthy pregnancy. Samuel was born in November of 2008 by c-section.

During my recovery, I started gaining weight but as soon as I was cleared by my doctor, I started working out again. Even though I was exercising I was not losing the weight. After talking to Rachel  (who has recently become incredibly fit), she told me to get a Body Bugg, which I did. Since then, health and fitness has been the discussion on weekly Signing Time chats and also on the forums, which has made it easier to stay on track. In the last two years I have lost SEVENTY POUNDS and can honestly says that I couldn’t have done it with out the encouragement and support of my Signing Time friends.

Before August 2007
Before August 2007
Before August 2007
Before August 2007
After August 2009
After August 2009
After August 2009
After August 2009

I would like to thank Rachel, Emilie, all of the past and present Two Little Hands Productions Staff and the Signing Time Fans who have impacted my life in more ways than I can count!

5 thoughts on “Signing Time: The Gift That Keeps On Giving”

  1. LeeAnn,
    What an amazing story!. I too have been touched by SigningTime and had my life altered in very positive ways.
    Thank you for sharing your story and for being an inspiration to others.
    Keep up the great work.

  2. LeeAnn,
    What a terrific story and I’m so glad you shared it with us, fellow Signing Time! fans. I, too, have been touched by Signing Time!, Rachel and Emilie. You look great and have truly changed your life. What an inspiration you are for many of us.

  3. LeeAnn, that was an amazing story! I remember my first chat with you guys, and can’t believe the friendships that I have made since then. I feel the same way about Signing Time!

    You are doing awesome with your quest to be fit!

  4. All I can say is that if you think those pictures of LeeAnn are amazing, you should see her in person! 🙂

  5. LeeAnn, what a wonderful story! I’ve been blessed to have seen in person the changes you’ve made. I love the gifts that Signing Time has brought into my life, and I count your friendship right up there with them!

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