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!

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About Rachel Coleman

The opinions and late night musings published on this blog are Rachel de Azevedo Coleman's alone, and are not ever intended to represent the opinions and sentiments of any organization or product that Rachel is, was, or will be associated with. Rachel Coleman is the creator and Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time!, the children's American Sign Language vocabulary building series. She is also the creator and host of Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and Rachel & Me. Rachel now serves as the Executive Director of the American Society for Deaf Children, a 501c3 nonprofit established in 1967 by parents of deaf children. ASDC is the American Sign Language organization for families who are raising deaf children. Motivated by her child, Leah's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 18 years creating ASL products to help bridge the communication barrier between hearing and signing communities. In 2006 Rachel founded the Signing Time Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to putting communication in the hands of all children of all abilities. In 2014, the Signing Time Foundation launched a 50-Lesson online ASL curriculum called "Sign It: ASL Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Salt Lake City Utah. They are parents to Leah who was born profoundly deaf, and is now a senior in college at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and recently graduated high school. In 2010 the Colemans were joyfully reunited with Rachel's daughter Laura. Rachel is proud to be Laura's birth mom. Laura was placed for adoption as an infant in 1992 when Rachel was 17 years-old.

14 thoughts on “All Pool, No Swim

  1. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel….you are missing a VERY important thing here. FIELD TRIPS. See, I think you should start taking ST! on the road when you do new DVDs. You could do a whole show about the Beach (and you’d HAVE to be ON the beach…and that could take a few Weeks or Months–preferrably when it’s snowing in Utah and 80 in Florida)! It’s brilliance!
    And, in case you want any more unsolicited advice….I think you should do another episode for Jack. Call it—Please-Eat-Jack! A whole DVD on feeding aversion. Leah and Alex can teach Sensory Integration via the Wasabi Method. It would sell Millions. Or at least one—and Jack would LOVE it!
    Glad you played. Playing really does help us forget that we aren’t 25 anymore! 😉

  2. Hey Rachel! It was soo awesome to meet you and the gang! The kids are a trip. Alex now has me looking for bottlecaps to add to his collection. Maybe I can save up a few before y’all come back next year. 🙂 Glad you made it home safely.

  3. I so love the inflatable toys. We have been getting a bounce house for the kids for the last couple birthdays. I am one of the only parents that get in it. Last year I got in it and I was less than 2 weeks from giving birth to my third daughter. You have to get in it and play. My family and friends didn’t want me in it, and it wasn’t like I wasn’t going to have the baby anyway.

  4. So when is your next trip to Oklahoma? We want Alex and Leah (AND Lucy and Aaron and Emilie and Derek and whoever else you can drag with you!). Between my house and Jen’s house we could find room for all of you. Not that we haven’t loved the two visits you’ve made so far, but we need more time to spend doing fun things too…

  5. Wow! Watching you do the concert at The Buddy Walk was great. I’m glad you had a lot of fun and I second the idea of you doing a video on the beach. A concert on the beach would be awesome too! If we could go, my Jack would be in heaven–Alex, Leah, Rachel, AND the “pool” (it’s what he calls the ocean both in sign and spoken language)!

  6. Yes! When is your next trip back to Oklahoma? My son Cole has Cerebral Palsy and LOVES watching Signing Time! It would be awesome if you could make a visit to his school Special Care (see!! All the children would love to meet you! Maybe you could have your pics up on their wall of fame with some Oklahoma greats like Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Reba Macintire and others.

    Come visit Cole at

  7. Oh my dearie! The last time I saw a wasabi contest was almost a year ago when my husband, myself, and friends went out for sushi. Dave called it his “last supper” because the next morning he was going to go and have lung surgery (because his lung kept collapsing for no reason). Dave kept on eating the wasabi, laughing, and crying at the same time! It was the best time that we can remember out for dinner. On the way home from dinner his lung collapsed again. We aren’t sure if it was the wasabi or laughing. We were laughing just the same thinking about it! Oh, dearie, I am laughing now just remembering. I guess we can laugh now because he is all better and he hasn’t had sushi since… oh the burn!

  8. a) You have WAY too much energy!

    b) You look AMAZING…care to share how you look so good and still eat key-lime pie and Ben and Jerry’s???? Hmmph!

    c) What is Wasabi???

  9. Hi Rachel! We were at the Buddy Walk in Raleigh and thought it was SO cool to meet you, Leah & Alex. (I’m the one who said you were the Mick Jagger of our house, which btw I meant in an “ultimate rock star” way, not a “creepy old British dude” way). My little girl didn’t quite put together that you were the same people from her DVD’s until you started performing, then she tried to rush the stage and I had to army-crawl on my belly past all the parents with their cameras to retrieve her. Good times.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip to NC. We hope you can come back for the Buddy Walk next year!

  10. heathersebi: Oooh I like the way you think! How about Signing Time goes to Hawaii, like the Brady Bunch did! I will have Marcus start working on a very modest, orange swimsuit. LOL

    I am not sure that eating wasabi will help with sensory integration though… actually, I am pretty sure it might CAUSE the problem for countless unsuspecting children

    pattip574: It was great meeting you too. How did I miss Alex enrolling you in the search for bottle caps? I seriously thought he forgot about the caps shortly after we returned from Ghana.

    Amazon: You can bounce while pregnant? Gah! I can’t imagine. Leah would like us to rent a mechanical bull for her birthday this year… what I wouldn’t give for a simple bounce house request.

    teechrmom7: I was going to say 😉 I have been to Oklahoma twice this year, but of course you know that. Just keep spreading the word that I am available to come speak, sing, sign and inspire. You know I would come back.

    JacksMommy: See? Hawaii, I tell ya! Or Florida… or even California! I am not picky when it comes to beaches.

    Leanna_mom23: Wow, a lot of Oklahoma requests! I do not currently have another Oklahoma visit scheduled but I would love to come back.

    davenjen: Why do I suspect it was the wasabi that caused the lung to collapse? IDK. And WHY would you have a wasabi contest the night before surgery? Seems dangerous! (baffled)

    a) Are you sure I have too much energy? How do you measure that?

    b) Thank you very much! My secret is I ONLY eat key-lime pie and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. It is called The Children’s Television Star Diet. You will soon be hearing about it in all the magazines.

    c) You don’t eat much sushi do you?

    cindy w: Well, I have been called a lot of things 😉 But I believe you were the first to liken me to Mick Jagger! (Thanks for the clarification!) And let me tell you, I feel like Mick Jagger when small children like yours rush the stage… though I don’t think small children rush the stage for Mick… but I don’t know, maybe they do!

  11. Awww… It sure was nice of Cathy to be your Vegas layover “In-N-Out hookup. Might I suggest Cappriotti’s, The Cupcakery, Sonio’s Cafe, or The Chocolate Swan, on your next Vegas layover. Tweet, and it shall be given. Sorry bout the C gate tram 🙁 Seems like it never runs!

    The Wasabi challenge was classic, Lindsey and TJ looked cute together, and I’m glad you actually got to play while in North Carolina. I feel it is my duty as an H20 addict, to strongly encourage Swimming Time with Alex and Leah. Doesn’t one of the Ten Commandments read “Thou shalt not pass by any pools or any large bodies of water, without going for a swim”? 🙂

  12. OMG, I am laughing my pants off at the Wasabi challenge. Oh to be a kid again.

    Those poor kids, having to fly Southwest, not getting to go for a swim, man they must have been miserable!! 😉

    So there is this really cool place by our house called Jumping Jacks, and it’s indoors and has all of those fun inflatables…..SO… should totally come our way and go with us. Aaron too. We have been known to get a little crazy (that is Andy and I) and get told to settle down. There is super fun for EVERYONE in the family.

    You know, just throwing that out there <—-totally not in a creepy stalker way. If I was going to be creepy, I would have done that when we met up for the backpack drop off!! 😉 (Totally kidding)

    Anyways, I gotta quit typing when it’s late. Good night!!

  13. Ella: Yes you may suggest all of those. I hope my next Vegas layover is 12 hours so I can take you up on that offer. You’ll be happy to know I just packed my swimsuit for the Klamath Falls, OR trip.

    mom2rhett: I love those places, especially when they have obstacle courses. I hate to lose 🙂

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