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!