Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Axel Loves Rachel

*Note* For those who are new to this blog, Axel was adopted from Serbia on December 9th, 2010. When I took custody of him on December 3rd he was completely non-verbal and had no way to communicate. Nothing. At 10 years old he could not tell someone he wanted a drink, or to eat, or that he liked one food over another. He was communication starved!

I started signing with Axel the day I took custody of him, and within the first 24 hours he learned that he could tell me he wanted a drink, and he could even choose between apple or grape juice. Since Axel discovered the joy of communication, his world has blossomed! Along with being a former ASL interpreter, while still in Serbia I introduced Axel to Signing Time, which was the beginning of his love affair with Rachel!
So go back to Thursday, May 19th, when I got an email from Axel's teacher saying there was a Signing Time event in our area. Rachel, LIVE, for the kids to enjoy. She was coming Friday, May 27th.

Awwww man! Axel and I were scheduled to fly home that day and there was just no way I could turn around from a day of traveling, and drag him to a concert. I was bummed for Axel, even though he didn't know he would be missing anything.

But then we came home a week early! But I still couldn't order tickets yet. I mean, he just had major surgery, I really needed to see how he was feeling. Then by Tuesday I knew that by Friday he'd be ok. I bought our tickets. I WAS EXCITED! I love being able to surprise my kids with something they love!

But the boy couldn't go shirtless! I took Axel out earlier in the day and bought some cheap t-shirts at Target that I could attempt to modify with scissors and velcro. I thought this "American" shirt was very appropriate. ;-) Axel loved helping me with this project, and always made sure I had scissors, or the measuring tape, or something in my hand before I needed it. LOL (Later today we have three more shirts to do. ) Look at that smile! He was happy to have clothes too.

Then we got in the car to drive to our special destination. Axel had no idea where we were going, and I don't know that he would have understood the English if I'd told him. He was just happy to be in the car. For those of you who know the cities, I had to make it from my place, all the way across the city to Maple Grove in rush hour HOLIDAY traffic. You know the "up north" mass exodus of Memorial weekend?? UGH! The concert was to start at 6:00, but we had general admission seats so I wanted to be there by 5:00. We left the house at 3:30 and made it at 5:10. YUCK driving!

So we get in there and we're the first ones in line. Axel had a program in his hands, holding it in front of his face. If he'd moved it for a second he would have caught sight of Rachel and Leah giving those who'd purchased VIP tickets their pre-show and meet and greet. LOL But he didn't...he just thought I'd given him something with signing time stuff on it.

Then someone came out from the sactuary (it was at a church) and saw that Axel was in his wheelchair. She took down our names and arranged for wheelchair seating. We were allowed to go in a few minutes ahead of the crowd. So far we were the only wheelchair family there. Imagine my surprise to find our seats right smack front and center!!!!! Oh, I was dying to see Axel's expression when Rachel finally came out! For now he was just thrilled to see all the Signing Time logos. LOL

And then the Singing Time theme song started, and out came RACHEL!!!! I turned on my video to catch Axel's face. He was EXPRESSIONLESS! Why? Because he was in SHOCK! You mean Rachel is REAL????

Look how how old Leah is now! She's 14!!! Rachel said Leah is starting to get a little too old for this stuff. LOL But Leah was a good sport. Did you know Signing Time has been around for 10 years? I remember when it started being annoyed and skeptical of it, because any signing videos I'd seen for kids at that point had a lot of regional signs (signs used only in certain parts of the country) or were really Signed English. But Signing Time is different! Although there are a few regional signs once in awhile, even though Rachel speaks in English, she signs in ASL word order. This is a tough skill to learn (one that I used to be good at, by the way. ;-)

The first song that she did was the Rainbow Song. She picked Axel to sign "red", and up to the state he went. Notice he's still not smiling??? LOL At the end of the song Leah gave him him a bracelet and tattoo. OH...Axel was SO HAPPY Leah TOUCHED HIM! Also, during the video he starts signing "Hopkins" (the frog) because he REALLY wanted to see Hopkins! LOL

Ok, I don't know these girls, but maybe their mother will stumble across my blog, because these are just great pictures of her girls on stage!

Also, for those who have little ones who will be working on potty training soon, Rachel has a special project in the works! She has an APP that will be coming out, where you can play a little video (or audio, not sure) of Rachel congratulating your child on going potty on the big boy/girl potty, or wearing big kid underwear, and stuff like that. They don't know when it will be released yet, but watch for it! 

When the show was done, they told everyone to file around and make a line for the meet and greet. I had Axel out of his chair at that point (he was actually in the adaptive stroller, which has him sitting a little funny, which causes the vest from the halo to pinch his legs.) I was going to load him up in the chair again and the woman in charge said, "No! The kids in chairs (there were 3 of us now) can stay right there. Rachel will do a meet and greet with them right here." So we go to take his picture, and do you notice he's STILL not smiling??? He's totally blank faced! He was just completely STUNNED by this whole event. Of course, as soon as we got in the car he's laughing and chattering about Rachel and Leah, and Hopkins, and I heard "Signing Time" 5,000 times from the back seat! HA!!!!

After the show I spoke with the woman who put this all together. She did it all ALONE! There was no advertising, only word of mouth. This was a lot to put together! I volunteered to help her with next year, and while I'm at it, I might as well become a Signing Time Instructor, huh? Besides...Rachel said there is a convention in Vegas in July. LOL


Kathie Brinkman said...

How wonderful! Leah, you are such a great mom. Either by planning, or sheer luck, you have such a great knack for giving your kids fantastic life experiences. Your kids are so blessed to have you as their mom. I'm sure this was a great treat for Axel after all the crap of the past few weeks. fun, fun, fun.

Becky said...

Oh my goodness, watching him sign is just amazing, he's such a smart boy! I love seeing it!

Melissa said...

I love this!! We are going to see Rachel when she is in Denver in July. Clairey is a little young, but I think she will enjoy all the music and I'm hoping to pick up a few new signs. :)

LeeAnn said...

We would love to share your story on the Signing Time Academy Blog. If you are interested contact me at

Thank you!

LeeAnn said...

We would love to publish your story on the Signing Time Academy Blog. If you are interested please email me at