Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Being a parent - The most important job in the world!

In a blog written in Nov 2011 I shared my views on the importance of bonding and attachment. This post was entitled love is the answer. Interestingly a year later I came across this great article. It highlights so clearly how HUGELY important relationships and connections in the first two years of life are in shaping a baby's brain development and ultimately their future.

Babies are born already connected and are able to imitate facial expressions from birth. This discovery was made in the 1970s and has caused significant discussion among developmental psychologists. This video shows a 10 minute old baby imitating daddy:
The most signifcant period of brain cell development is in the first 2 years of life. It is shocking how important and potentially far reaching our behaviour is in our child's early years. In exteme cases of neglect / lack of love a baby's brain is wired for crime, violence, unemployment and substance misuse. This information can worry a lot of parents who have experienced post natal depression, domestic violence or other circumstances that meant they were not able to connect with their baby as much as they would have liked. I know I worry about Cara being in SCBU, which meant I was unable to have physical contact with her for those crucial first days. Of course I do not think that this lack of contact will directly result in her becoming a mass murderer, but I do think it is detrimental which is why I signed with her and have showered her with as much love as I have in me!
I have always said being a parent is the most important job in the world. How great a responsibility is it to know that you can potentially wire your children for love, success and happiness, as you are shaping and moulding the world's future! Hopefully this information will make those night feeds less frustrating, the screaming less sore on the ears, the messy house easier to cope with!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Gifts in My Life

Daddy & I on my wedding day
As many of you may know I have recently lost my beloved daddy after a short but courageous battle with lung cancer. He lived 3 short months during which he suffered terribly and passed away on 7 July 2012.

Since daddy died I have reflected a lot on our relationship, the gifts he has given me and his influence on my life. He was a colourful character who knew everyone, would talk the leg off a stool and smoked like a train! He was also the kindest, most loving person I have ever met. He gave so much to others and changed and influenced the lives of many. I am very proud and lucky to be his daughter!

Daddy has always been so proud of me for establishing Sign2Music and watched with pride as it blossomed. Initially a sceptic, he was a strong advocate of the benefits of the joys of signing, having seen it first hand with Cara and later with my nephews. I think the Seven Thirty Show got it's biggest viewing figures ever the night Sign2Music featured. He phoned everyone he knew (a LOT of people!) to tell them to watch it! He asked all his friends and family to vote for Sign2Music in 2011 and 2012 What's On 4 Little Ones Awards and I am sure those votes helped us reach the final in both years. The first thing I did after collecting my Award for Best Use of Social Media and Online Technologies in the Down Council Beyond business Awards was to send him a text. He was so proud, even though at that stage he was in terrible pain.

When I reflect on the gifts my daddy has given me I keep coming back to one word....love! He always loved me unconditionally and exuded love in his life, helping and touching so many people. Like him I always follow my heart. Of course this had led to some very poor decisions in my life but it is because I follow my heart that Sign2Music is now in existence!

When I decided to try baby signing with Cara I had no idea what a life changing decision it would be. It was obvious to me when I first read about it that it was something special. I read every book I could get my hands on and trawled the internet for hours and hours on end. It was such an amazing experience that touched and ignited something in me. My heart screamed at me that I had to share it! It is fair to say that Sign2Music is my labour of love and the product of much blood, sweat and tears!

In the past 5 years my passion and love for Sign2Music has grown and grown as I see more and more evidence of how powerful it is. Like everyone I have moments of doubt. I wonder if am are doing the right thing, getting the work-life balance right. I am not a natural 'business woman', so these moments usually occur when I have to deal with something difficult or the dreaded admin / finances have to be tackled. However, the wonderful feedback I get from parents, carers, teachers, etc. is what fuels my passion and reassures me to keep following my heart.

There have been so many ups and downs the past few months while daddy was ill. So many times I went into a class with a heavy heart, but always left smiling from ear to ear. When I was feeling most low there was always fab news about one of the children doing their first sign or having a signing explosion. I heard wonderful stories shared by parents and had the most gorgeous smiles and hugs from the little ones. How could anyone feel sad for long while doing such a beautiful job?

Many of you reading this have been the most wonderful comfort to me in the past few months and have got me through some tough times without realising it. I have met some wonderful people through Sign2Music and many of you have become valued friends.

I want to take this opportunity to say how I appreciate all the gifts I have been given in my life: A wonderful father who loved and inspired me; A great family who encourage me; And last but not least..... Sign2Music and all of you who support me to continue to do something I love so much!

Deirdre x

Monday, 3 September 2012

Beyond End Of Summer BBQ A Networking Sizzler

Beyond End Of Summer BBQ A Networking Sizzler | Down News

This article in the Down News summarises a fun networking evening faciliated by the Beyond Programme. I was very priviledged to be asked to be one of the speakers at the event. I was a tiny bit nervous before the event as I knew I would be speaking in front of some well respected business owners and local councillors. I had also decided to take a risk and add an element of fun to the presentation by showing all present how to sign 'Old McDonald had a Farm'. It could have gone down like a lead balloon. Luckily everyone joined in and we had a bit of fun!

For those who have not heard of Beyond, it provides great networking opportunities and business support for small businesses in the Down Council area. Through Beyond I have been able to connect with some great local businesses. I have been able to avail of affordable business support, including much needed advice on accounts and access to a mentor for IT support. I also entered and reached the final in 3 categories of the Beyond Business Awards 2012. I am very proud to be the winner in the Best Use of Social Media and Online Technologies category. The Awards ceremony back in May was marvellous!

It was only sitting down to prepare the presentation that made me realise how much support I have actually gained from Beyond in the past year. I truly appreciate this support and would encourage anyone who has a small business to check out Beyond for great advice and support.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Blossom Method is finally available!

Today is the day so many people have been waiting for. It's the official day of publication of 'The Blossom Method', by Vivien Sabel, published by Random House. I truly believe this groundbreaking book will be hugely influential in the field of parenting and childcare forever and I for one am hugely excited about what's to come! The book outlines a simple way of using non-verbal cues to understand what your baby is telling you FROM BIRTH! I have had the priviledge of reading the book already as I attended the launch party on 29 May. One of my observations was that The Blossom Method is not complicated but a very simple, beautiful and natural communication and bonding experience. So simple that parents and carers have been watching babies using their tongue and body to communicate for years, but we haven't understood it's significance!!

The reason Vivien and her daughter Blossom were the ones to make these discoveries are to do with Vivien's life experiences and history. She is the daughter of a non-signing deaf mother. Vivien and her mother have no problems communicating at all, they use non-verbal cues to do so. This has made Vivien totally in tune with the body language of others. I know this as we have 'skyped' a few times and she was able to tell when my facial expressions and body language have not been congruent with my utterances. She had me totally sussed from the moment we 'met'!

When Vivien had her daughter Blossom, she was able to tell by her tongue, lips, body and smell when she was hungry, tired and even sick. It was so natural to her that she assumed everyone else was doing it too. When she discovered they weren't she just knew she had stumbled upon something amazing that she just had to share with the world and the seeds of The Blossom Method were sown!

I have got to know Vivien well over the past few months and she has become a very treasured friend. When she asked me to be a speaker at the launch of The Blossom Method in the Hotel Du Vin in Harrogate on 29th May I knew I had to be there! It was a fabulous evening. Not only did I get to meet Vivien and some of the amazing people I have met or got to know better on twitter (affectionately known as my #twitmates) but I got to hear what others said and to share my views on The Blossom Method.
With the lovely Blossom
Vivien and Blossom
Me speaking at the event while Vivien signs

Yummy cupcakes!
I explained to everyone that one of the main reasons I started Sign2Music was that I was impressed how signing with my daughter Cara not only helped support communication and reduce frustration but also supported attunement and connectedness in our relationship and ultimately enhanced our bond. I have seen the consequences of poor attachment in my job and follow the current research that shows how poor attachment contributes to lack of empathy, propensity to violence, mental health and addictions. The Blossom Method was like music to my ears. I have been looking for something that can enhance very early communication before the benefits of signing really kick in. I believe The Blossom Method is this 'something'! Vivien explains in her book how to move from using The Blossom Method techniques to baby signing and it is a very natural and beautiful progression.

I know there are a lot of people wanting to know exactly what The Blossom Method 'techniques' are. All I can say is, if you have a young baby or are pregnant please buy this book. If you have a friend or family member that does, forget about buying babygros as a gift, buy them this book. They will truly thank you for it. It is a little gem!
Sharon Trotter (TIPS Ltd), Moi,
Vivien, Vicki
Vicki Gilbert (Babies Can Sign/ Tinysigners),
Moi, Vivien Sabel, Heather Avul (Tinytalk Leicester)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Win for Sign2Music in Down Council BeyondNI Business Awards 2012

BeyondNI is a business programme targeted towards supporting existing businesses of all sizes within the Down district area. The Beyond programme facilitated 'Business Week', a week of events in May culminating in the Beyond NI Business Awards, held at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle. The Awards were largely funded by Invest NI and supported and hosted by Down Council.
We were delighted to hear in early May that Sign2Music was leading the way as a finalist in 3 categories:
- Best Use of Social Media and Online Technologies
- Training and Development
- Chairpersons Special Recognition Award
I was so excited about the Awards. It mean a lot to me being selected as a finalist because the Beyond Awards are local business Awards and the winners picked by council officials and business experts. I was also excited because it was a proper formal Award Ceremony in an amazing 5 star hotel, the works!

I couldn't wait to tell my family, the Sign2Music teachers and of course the parents, carers and others who take part in Sign2Music programmes that we had reached the final. Everyone was over the moon and it was time to get to the preparations in earnest! Who would look after the kids? Long dress or short? What colour? What shoes? Tie or dickie bow for the men? The list goes on.....

We eventually got all the preparations sorted. Our family are a bit like the Griswalds, so of course there were a few dramas, like last minute alterations needing done to the dress and Cara deciding tonight was the night to cry after mummy and daddy! And of course a 15 minute drive took half an hour as everyone and their granny had decided to go to Newcastle that night.

We drove into the grounds of the Slieve Donard and were taken aback at how beautiful it was on such a sunny evening, even though we had been there so many times before. Before going in for the event we spent some time enjoying the view and soaking up the beauty of the setting. The Slieve Donard is a beautiful 5 star hotel in Newcastle, Co Down, at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.

We were soon joined by one of our Sign2Music teachers, Steph Hanna, and her husband Colin who had joined us to represent Sign2Music. Steph, who is due her 3rd child in August, was looking gorgeous in purple! The room was looking fantastic and it was clear it was all set to be a brilliant night! Everyone was looking fabulous and we took our seats.

We had a fantastic meal and the event was hosted by Dermot Curran, Chairperson of Down Council and Sarah Travers from BBC Newsline. We also had entertainment by a local comedian. When the time came for the Awards presentations we were all well fed and entertained, but getting more nervous by the minute!

The Awards were announced one by one.

1. The Dundrum Inn won the Customer Service Excellence Award.  

2. Wildflower Boutique won Best Kept Business Premises Award

3. Crossgar Foodservice won Training and People Development, one of the categories Sign2Music was a finalist in. Crossgar Foodservice was a very well deserved winner. Well done!

4. Alternative Heat Ltd Best won Export Business 

5. Best Use of Social Media and Online Technologies Export Business.
When this Award was being announced we were sitting on the edge of our seats. I will never forget how amazing it felt to hear the words SIGN 2 MUSIC echo through the hall. The walk to the stage and collecting the Award was a blur. It was great to see so many familiar faces sharing the applause as we returned to our seats including Jim Masson from Down News the 2011 winner of this Award.

6. Ballymote Community Project Ltd won Best Community / Social Enterprise.

7. NI Bootcamp won Best New Business.

8. Platinum Recruitment won Best Marketing Campaign.

9. Laura McGreevy, Mange Tout won Employee of the Year

10. Boatcovers Ireland won Best Small Business
11. Stephen Mayne, Mayne Communications won Dermot Curran Young Achiever

12. Charlene Molloy, Henderson’s Spar, Ardglass won Chairman’s Special Recognition another of the categories Sign2Music was a finalist in. Charlene was a very well deserved winner. Well done!

After the Awards were announced the offical photographs were taken. Anyone who knows me will know I never miss an opporuntity to promote Sign2Music so made sure I got a chance to tell the lovely Sarah Travers about what we do and how wonderful it is. She was genuinely interested in Sign2Music and how we find Social Media useful. She did confess to not being too savvy with the intricacies of Facebook and Twitter!

We left shortly after the photos were taken but the party had only started with all the guests, including local businesses, council officials and political representatives boogying the night away! I did not want to let the children and parents in Ballynahinch down by turning up in a mess the next morning so made an early exit!

And of course the following week we appeared in the local newspapers both online and in print:

Down Recorder 30 May 2012
Mourne Observer 30 May 2012

 It truly was a magical night and one that I will never forget. I am so grateful that our hard work was recognised in relation to making social media an intergral part of what we do. However, it is important to say that social media is not something that the Sign2Music teachers and I do in isolation. The term social media says it all, it can only work through interaction with others. The parents and other businesses who support us and interact with us using social media deserve this Award every bit as much as us so CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU ALL and thanks for helping this happen for us!

Deirdre :)

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Daisy Doggy Supersigner 2012

Sign2Music has held a Daisy Doggy Supersigner competition since 2010 to celebrate our birthday. Each year parents and carers send in photographs and videos of their little ones signing and the Sign2Music teachers each vote for their winner.

2012 has by far been the most amazing year yet. We have had some super entries. So many fantastic children. We have been humbled this year with the signing experiences we have seen and heard shared. Despite the common perception that children do not do their first sign until 6 - 9 months we have had a number of children sign before this age. We have also had the benefits of signing for early literacy reinforced as we have seen some children sign letters as young as 12 months!

The following children impressed us so much and will receive a Daisy Doggy Supersigner 2012 certificate from their local teacher:

- Noah from Newcastle classes, who at 12 months, was able to sign letters, notably the letters for his sisters names. He also showed us how he can sign BABY in another video.
- Daisy from Bangor for her wonderul and energetic performance of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
- Lucy from North Belfast for showing us lots of animal signs and singing and signing Insy Winsy Spider and Horsey Horsey
- Orlaidh who attends Ballynahinch classes for her signing of her favourite song, Miss Polly had a Dolly. We have loads of videos of Orlaidh signing from she was a little baby. She is a fab signer!
- Ellie from Ballynahinch classes for signing along with Little Daisy Doggy while on a car journey. Her speech was so clear too!
- Caden from Ballynahinch classes for signing MORE and for his fab fingerspelling and singing our alphabet song.
- William from Newcastle classes for signing NAPPY CHANGE. William was one of our early signers this year.
- Ryan from North Belfast for his super fingerspelling and singing our alphabet song
- Ruby from Newcastle classes for signing MORE
- Norah from Whiteabbey who we caught on camera in class signing MUMMY and BATH
- Olivia  from North Belfast for signing MILK and BATH

These fab videos can be found on the Supersigners playlist on our You Tube Channel or in the videos tab of our Facebook page

However there can only be one winner. There was a very clear winner..............

DANIEL is the 2012 Daisy Doggy Supersigner Competition winner!!!! Daniel is 18 months old and is a dedciated Sign2Music participant, having attended classes in Ballynahinch for a number of terms. His mum and dad both attend classes with him every Saturday and are very committed to signing with Daniel. They are happy to share with others how beneficial signing with Daniel has been for them. The videos below show Daniel demonstrating some of his huge signed vocabulary:

Well done Daniel and his mum and dad. I am a very proud teacher too! Looking forward to presenting you with your Daisy Doggy next Saturday!!!

Congratulations to all all those who entered and those who are receiving the Daisy Doggy Super Signer Certificates!


Thursday, 31 May 2012

What a Wonderful Month!

What an amazing month it has been for Sign2Music. First of all we heard that we are a finalist in the What's On 4 Little Ones Awards (Best Local Activity for Under 5s and Most Outstanding Activity Leader for Under 5s, Deirdre MCLaughlin) and received a shiny new badge:

Then we heard we are finalists in the Netmums Favourites Awards for Preschool Classes in both Northern NI and Southern NI areas and got another shiny badge!

As if we weren't excited enough we discovered we were finalists in 3 categories in the Down Business Awards: Best Use of Social Media and Online Technologies, Training and Development and Chairpersons Special Recognition. We attended an amazing Awards ceremony in The Slieve Donard Hotel and WON AN AWARD for Best Use of Social Media and Online Technologies. We are absolutely delighted and will blog about this event later.

I was invited to Harrogate on 29th May to attend the launch of a fabulous book on baby communication, The Blossom Method, by my friend Vivien Sabel who is the author. I had the pleasure of speaking at this event and will blog about the event and the book later. This picture is me with my #twitmates Vicki Gilbert, Babies Can Sign, Vivien Sabel (author of The Blossom Method) and Heather Avul, Tinytalk Leicester:

Phew my feet haven't touched the ground this month, but it has been a wonderful month in many ways. Looking forward to blogging about what I have been doing and bringing you the news this weekend about the winner of our Daisy Doggy Supersigner Competition 2012!

Deirdre x

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Deaf Awareness Week 7th to 13th May 2012

It is Deaf Awareness Week from 7th to 13th May 2012. People are often think Sign2Music is an organisation solely for deaf children. Most of our service users are in fact hearing children and their families, carers and educators.

We do work alongside groups that support deaf children and this would be a good week to highlight some of these groups:

The National Deaf Children Society (NDCS) in N Ireland provide a variety of great services for deaf children and their families. If you have a deaf child please do check out the services they offer.


Sign2Music supports NDCS, delivering sessions for many of their events. Alison (our teacher in Bangor / Ards) works as an NDCS volunteer also. I will be facilitating a session for parents and a Sign and Sing session for children on Sunday 13th May at Jordanstown School for the Communication is Fun event. I also was invited to a super fun day on Mon 7th May organised by a new group called Sound Friends Deaf Children's Society. This is a local group in Portadown, run by parents and carers of deaf children. There are also similar groups in other areas

The British Deaf Association (BDA) is the largest UK Deaf-led organisation.  BDA represents the British Sign Language community and promotes British Sign Language, Deaf Culture and Deaf Identity The BDA works to promote equal rights for and to stop discrimination against Sign Language users.


Sign2Music took part in successful events with the BDA for Belfast Culture Night 2010 and 2011, promoting sign language and Deaf culture.

Sign2Music programmes do not use sign language per se, but vocabulary or signs taken from sign language (British Sign Language, NI Regional Signs), used alongside speech. We endeavour to ensure that the signs we use are accurate regional signs. We have a huge respect for the Deaf community and the beautiful language we have borrowed from them. We promote and encourage our teachers and service users to learn sign language through local colleges, etc. Many parents who have attended our classes have undertaken BSL qualifications, Stage 1, 2 and even 3! Some of our teachers had no previous sign language training and had to undertake this training to enable them to practice as a Sign2Music teacher. While the basic requirement is Stage 1, some of our teachers developed such a love for the language that they have gone on to do Stage 2 and 3!

Other organisations include:

Signature promotes excellence in communication with deaf and deafblind people. They are an awarding body providing a range of qualifications through accredited centres in sign language and communication.  http://www.signature.org.uk

Action on Hearing Loss is the new name for RNID (Royal National Institute for the Deaf). They help those who are deaf or have a hearing loss access services, receive equipment, care and support. http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/about-us/northern-ireland.aspx

If you know of any other organisations in Northern Ireland that support deaf children please leave a comment.

Deirdre :)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Beyond Business Awards Finalists Announced

Beyond Business Awards Finalists Announced

What a lovely surprise I had this morning when I 'opened' the online newspaper, Down News. The finalists for the Beyond Business Awards have been announced and as you can see I am LEADING the way. I am beyond delighted! There was a great caliber of entries and my fellow finalists are some of Down's best businesses.

The Award Ceremony will take place on Friday 25 May in the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle. The next step is to find some suitable attire for the Gala Event. Fancy frocks don't exactly fill my wardrobe of course!

Look forward to sharing the experience with you all via social media and of course will do a very special blog after the event!

Thanks everyone!

A very happy Deirdre :)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Happy Birthday Signing Sandy and Daisy Doggy!

It is so hard to believe but Sign2Music will be 5 years old tomorrow. This time 5 years ago Sign2Music was just a dream. I had completed my interview and test with Sign2Me and was awaiting to hear if I received certification as a presenter. Some of you may not know this but Sign2Music originally started out as Signing Kids. And Signing Sandy has had quite a few image makeovers in the past few years. Not only has he dyed his hair and changed his clothes, he has also had quite a bit of 'work' done and is a lot more handsome than he was in 2007!

What a whirlwind the past 5 years have been. We have had such fantastic feedback from our service users and colleagues and are always striving to improve the services we provide and reach as many people as possible to spread the joys of signing.

We have had a lot of ups and downs along the way of course! Reaching the finals in the What's On 4 Little Ones Awards in 2011 and being nominated in 3 categories in 2012 is definitely one of our great achievements.Voting for the 2012 Awards closes TODAY! Your vote would be a fabulous birthday gift for Signing Sandy and Daisy Doggy. It only takes a minute to vote in the following categories:
   1. Best local activity for under 5s.
   2. Most Outstanding Activity Leader for Under 5s ( N Ireland & Scotland) (Deirdre McLaughlin)
   3. Best Children's Party Entertainment

I've even sung again for your vote!

We are very grateful to those of you who helped and supported us over the past 5 years! The wonderful children, parents and carers we work with have been our inspiration! Thank you all so so much.
Deirdre :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Daisy Doggy Supersigner Competition 2012

It is hard to believe but Sign2Music will be 5 years old on 7 May 2012!
To celebrate our birthday for the past number of years we have been running an annual competition, the Daisy Doggy Super Signer Competition! The winner receives their very own Daisy Doggy.

To enter share a picture or video of your child signing. The Sign2Music teachers review all the entries and decide the winner!

This is our reigning champion Shawna: http://youtu.be/rjscYbS38rc

If you have shared a video or picture recently and would like this to be considered please contact deirdre@sign2music .co.uk

We would love to use the entries in our promotional videos / website so please indicate if you prefer your entry not to be used for this purpose.

Good luck!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sign2Music is coming to the Carribean!

Some very exciting news to report! Back in 2005 my husband and I spent a blissful week in Jamaica on honeymoon. We met some lovely people including a Jamaican girl called Jovi Franklin. Jovi and I had so much in common including a love of sign language (she is a qualified ASL interpreter) and have remained firm friends ever since. I have always wanted to go back to Jamaica, but this time to spend time with the Franklin family and see the 'real Jamaica', not the tourist parts where I spent most of my time during my honeymoon.

When Jovi had her little boy Clinton in 2009 I supported her in starting to sign with him. Signing with Clinton has been an amazing experience for Jovi and her husband Lenford. Their friends have been so impressed with Clinton's ability to communicate that they have asked Jovi to show them how to sign with their little ones. Jovi follows Sign2Music on Facebook and contacted me after she saw a post about our new teacher in South Belfast. She told me a light went on for her as she is currently looking for a part time job she can work around Clinton when he starts preschool soon.

Jovi and I are both so excited about Sign2Music coming to the carribean! Jovi is going to be our first international Sign2Music teacher!!!

I am booking my flights to Montego Bay next week for August 2012 so I can train Jovi. Can't wait! Signing Sandy and Daisy Doggy have their sunglasses at the ready!

Deirdre :)

Monday, 20 February 2012

Our new CD Songs for Movers, Coming Soon!

Our Sign2Music Vol.1 CD was released a number of years ago after parents asked me for a CD to use at home with songs from our classes. I had written a lot of songs for various topics for Sign2Music classes and was surprised at how everyone loved songs like Daisy Doggy and Little One it's Time for Bed. I was lucky to be friends with an amazing musician who wrote backing tracks for all the songs I needed. She even wrote the backing tracks for 'Little Daisy Doggy' after I sang it into her answering machine!

I just can't believe how popular the CD has become and the fab reviews I received from Vivien Sabel (Baby Communication Expert and Author)  and Elizabeth James (Founder of Jellybeans Music and Music Bags). We have even had agreement to sell it in a NI retail outlet soon!

It is a great accompaniment to our classes, particularly for those attending wrigglers classes as we sing every single one of the 26 songs during the term.

I will never forget the day I recorded it....Traipsing up to the recording studio armed with tissues, as I had a stinking cold. Then being escorted to the recording suite, feeling like I was a 'proper musician'. I felt a bit stupid though when I got the big headphones on and stood in front of the mike with the techno guy outside mixing and doing his stuff, particularly when I started belting out 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. I bet I was the talk of that studio for a long time. I will never forget the techno guy's face when I started singing 'Little baby isn't happy, 'cos he has a dirty nappy'!.... He looked like he expected someone to jump out and say 'ha! ha! Gotcha....at any stage!

We do also have another programme, Movers Classes, for older toddlers. For this programme I wrote many new songs, including themed songs like 'I Like Playing with My Toys', 'What's the Weather Like Today' and a few new parachute songs, because of course Daisy Doggy not only loves to hear the music, she loves to play with the parachute too!

For a couple of years now I have been promising to produce a second CD and this Thurs I am taking the first step to keeping that promise! I am going to be on a tight schedule with 3 hrs to record 26 tracks, with.....a cold again!!! I have been told that I sounded like one of the Smurfs on the first CD, so I think it is fitting that I have a cold again to keep with the Smurfy theme, lol!

I am very excited about this CD as I know the content is good, even if I do say so myself!
  • It will include themed songs from the classes for topics like Animals, Opposites, Transport, Playtime, Manners and Behaviour.
  • There will also be some well known favourites including Little Peter Rabbit, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Row your Boat and 5 Little Ducks.
  • This CD will include a big favourite from our classes 'My Hands Can Clap Like This', recorded with permission from Dawn Errington (Signing Tots).
  • A new song will also debut on the CD that even the Sign2Music teachers haven't heard yet - Clap Your Hands, Just Like Signing Sandy. This is an adaptation of one of the songs recorded by Rowena (Rhythm Express) who does our backing tracks!
Roll on Thursday.........

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Nominated for Top 25 Moms with Inspiring Families - 2012 list on Circle of Moms!

I am quite new to the world of blogging and have been a bit naughty recently, not posting as often as I should!

Therefore I was surprised but delighted to receive an e-mail today saying:
"Hi Deirdre, Your blog Baby Signing with Sign2Music has been nominated to the Top 25 Moms with Inspiring Families - 2012 list on Circle of Moms!"

Time to up my game, blogwise, I think! Time to start updating this blog and newsletter more regulalry!

In the meantime I you want to give the Sign2Music blog your vote do so by clicking this link.

Vote for this Blog in Top25 Moms with Inspiring Families.

You can vote for this blog once a day until March 7, 2012.

Thanks all. See you again soon!

Deirdre :)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Do you have what it takes to join the Sign2Music crew?

Interest in baby signing is steadily increasing throughout Northern Ireland. As Northern Ireland's own baby signing company, Sign2Music is at the forefront of this interest!

The word is spreading too about the quality of our classes, parties, workshops and sessions in nurseries, schools and preschools. We have had a lot of press coverage (local Newspapers as well as the Irish News and Sunday Life) recently and featured on the SevenThirty Show in 2011. We also got through to the FINAL in a the National What's On 4 Little Ones Junior Awards 2011, making us one of the top 4 local activities for under 5s in the UK, a fanatastic achievement for a small NI company!

As you can see it is very exciting times for Sign2Music and a good time to consider joining us!

I would love to work alongside enthusiastic and committed people to ensure Sign2Music is available in as many areas as possible. I can confidently say that our existing teachers are second to none. Here we are at our 2011 conference:

I would love to increase the number of teachers so we can reach more people, but strongly believe in quality above quantity. This is why we have a selection process to become a Sign2Music teacher to ensure not only that you are right for Sign2 Music, but that Sign2Music is right for you!

Ask yourself these questions:
·         Do you want to make a difference in the lives of children and have lots of fun doing so?
·         Do you want to earn an income while working around your family?
·         Do you enjoy spending time with children?
·         Have you seen our classes and thought you would really enjoy being that teacher?
·         Do you want to start your own business but would like to be handed the ideas, customer base and know how, so you can get started right away?

If you answered YES then Sign2Music is the business for you. You CAN have it all! 

Registering your interest in becoming a Sign 2 Music teacher is the first step to the best and most fun job in the entire world! Our licensed teacher programme requires a relatively low investment, much lower than most similar opportunities. You receive all the materials and resources needed to start immediately and the flexibility to add your own personal touch, by adjusting the content to suit your personality and skills. Training is tailored to your individual requirements. You also receive mentoring and support once training is completed. As an evolving business we are constantly adding to the services we offer. What we do is underpinned by strong values and a desire to bring this wonderful communication, bonding and development tool to as many people as possible!

If you feel you have what it takes please contact me via email (deirdre@sign2music.co.uk) or phone 07874742704 for your free information pack.

Look forward to meeting you soon.

Deirdre McLaughlin

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Confessions of a Procrastinator

I'm nearly afraid to say it out loud but the tax return is done AT LAST!! It only took me several weeks of searching handbags for scraps of paper, hunting through bank accounts, bank statements, invoices and finding envelopes of receipts in different places. Any accountant reading this will be disgusted at my lack of organisational skills, financial know how and lack of planning!

This is typical behaviour for 'Deirdre Procrastinator Extraordinaire'! I was always the one sitting up to 2 and 3am the night before exams cramming or writing the assignment the night before it was due at school and university.

People often do not realise the amount of preparation and planning that goes into every Sign2Music class, especially in the first term. Knowing this never encouraged me to have the bag packed a week before like other sensible people would do! No no, I always 'faff about' and leave most things to do the night before once the children are in bed, often staying up 'til 2am or later!

The tax return has been hanging over my head for months. I knew how much preparation was going to be involved in getting everything ready to submit it. It is such a small thing in my busy life, not something I want to prioritise or focus too much attention on. However, it really has become a huge mountain that I have had to climb to allow me to focus on the 'big things' I have planned for Sign2Music.

Running a small business is a very fulfilling role and has been one of the most amazing learning experiences for me. It is also a time and life consuming role, especially, like me if you have a job and a family too! A small business owner has to be an expert on so many things, not only the field in which they are operating: computer skills, social media, book keeping, PR, marketing, organising, planning, networking, communicating, to name only a few! We do not have a personnel department, communications department, finance department and a collection of policies and procedures to refer to!

I have never employed an accountant or any other business or personal support services as I always say I can't afford to and can easily do everything myself. I have now realised I can't afford not to! The amount of time, effort and stress preparing for today would not have been necessary had I approached it like an organised business woman would! Had I completed this months ago there are so many things I could have been doing instead!

Promise to myself! This year...new me! I have already started recording as I go along, clearing out my purse and filing and recording receipts regularly. I have accepted the support offered by my husband and 15 year old IT whizz son! My books will be sent to my accountant in April /May and I can say goodbye to another small thing and put it into the hands of an expert!

I would say I am now going to sit back and relax, but there is the small matter of my house! Anyone fancy cleaning it for me!? ;-)

Deirdre :)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

One for the Dads

We are very lucky to have lots of dads attend our Sign2Music classes. Too often preschool classes are predominated by mums. Not ours! It helps that many of our classes are at weekends so are accessible to more family members - mums, dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and siblings!

Modern research emphasises the importance of the mother - child bond in building the foundations for sound relationships in adult life. However, this does not take away from the important roles fathers can play in the lives of their children.

Unfortunately dads are often overlooked in parenting discussions. One of my colleagues told me that when his son was a baby a health professional visited the house on a regular basis in the early days. While he was present every time, all the discussion and advice was addressed to his partner. He described how disempowering this felt.

With this in mind I was delighted when I came across this wonderful video by the American Actor and rapper Tray Chaney, focusing on fatherhood:

I am not a rap fan but this is a beautiful song with meaningful lyrics and a great video.

I heard about Tray from my friend and author of ' the Blossom Method', Vivien Sabel. I was very touched and moved to receive a tweet on Twitter from 'the man' himself!

I wish Tray every success with this song. I really hope the popularity of this song increases even further and continues to promote the roles of fathers everywhere!

Deirdre :)

Monday, 16 January 2012

My Promise to You

As you all know Sign2Music is not a job to me, it is my passion, my chance to live my dream by helping everyone share the huge benefits and massive joy that can be gained by the use of signing.

As a business Sign2Music has a Vision Statement. My vision for the future is this:
1. For signing with babies and children to be mainstream in families, nurseries and school and to be accessible to everyone.
2. For Sign2Music to be a popular and respected name, providing high quality programmes and products throughout Northern Ireland and beyond.

Our Mission Statement, ie, how we achieve these aims is:
1. We provide high quality programmes throughout Northern Ireland.
2. We work to raise awareness of the benefits of signing with all babies and children and to produce useful, affordable and accessible products.

Sounds a bit lovely dovey, but that's me, heart rules my head! I have been on a 3 day training event recently which has made me realise a lot of things about how I run Sign2Music. Because it is my passion, I have not treated it enough as a business and sometimes find the 'money part' uncomfortable, which I realise is a disservice to Sign2Music and to you! I have often felt like using the word business somehow diminishes the values and beliefs that drive what I do. I have put my everything into trying to reach as many people as possible, spreading myself too thinly. As a result I have not done everything I should have.

Well, here and now I am going to commit to actions in 2012! Here goes....gulp!

1. I will produce the long awaited Sign2Music Vol. 2 CD.
2. I will produce record a Sign2Music DVD
3. I will facilitate an open training event for nursery / childcare professionals
4. I will ensure Sign2Music covers as large an area as possible by recruiting more Sign2Music Licensed Teachers.
5. I will produce materials so that those unable to attend Sign2Music classes can still access our services.

There I've written it down, not just on my computer but for you all to keep as evidence to hold me to account! Hope I don't live to regret this, lol!

I am really really excited about what lies ahead for Sign2Music for 2012. I promise to work hard to for you all and hope that the amazing support for Sign2Music from you all that drives me onwards continues this year. Thank you all!

Deirdre x