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Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Set your DVRs, ladies, because tonight is a 90210 reunion! Well, kind of. Jennie Garth and her longtime gal pal Tori Spelling are teaming up again in the new ABC Family series Mystery Girls, premiering tonight. Parents caught up with Jennie a few weeks ago and then met her at a special Mamarazzi screening event, hosted by The MOMS of SiriusXM fame. The actress and mother of three daughters, Luca, 17, Lola, 12, and Fiona, 8, opened up to us about raising her girls to be confident women, recovering from divorce, working her latest volunteer project, and filming her hilarious new sitcom.
P: Your girls are growing up so quickly. Is it tougher to be a parent to toddlers and preschoolers or tweens and teens?
JG: Oh my god I would have to say younger is tougher because they cannot articulate what they’re thinking or what they want or need so well. The language barrier is definitely a problem.
P: What traits of yours do you see in each of your daughters?
JG: All of my best ones [laugh]. I can definitely see qualities from myself as well as qualities of their dad. Good and bad from both of us. Luca today was listening to the same exact music that I was listening to at her age, which was The Cure. She didn’t listen to it today because of me, she listened to it totally on her own. So we have similar musical taste. She’s also beautiful. She has very similar body, dance, movement style. My middle one, Lola, is very organized and very much an organized thinker, a list-maker and she likes to have tasks and complete them—that’s how my brain works. My little Fiona, she’s very competitive. So when we play board games she likes to win, and she’s very quick-witted and those are definitely both qualities of mine. You definitely see yourself in them for good and for bad sometimes.
P: Is there a childlike thing that you get excited to relive through Fiona, since she’s your youngest?
JG: All of it. Easter egg coloring, and you know, she loves to play board games. Coloring. Coloring book coloring. I love just sitting and coloring. She loves any kind of game. Puzzles. We do all that. And reading with her. We still snuggle in bed together, where the other girls do their own thing at bedtime, you know. The book-reading at that time is one of my favorite times of the day.
P: Having three girls is no easy task, and you’re a single mom. Do you have any best piece of advice for women dealing with the same situation and transition?
JG: I have so much encouragement and wisdom to pass along to people. When I first was on my own, everything was so challenging. Everything was stressful. Everything was more than I could handle and I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to get through it on my own. I felt like I was swimming upstream all the time. And at some point it just changed. And all of a sudden, mornings are pleasant again. The morning rush isn’t stressful. It isn’t like “I can’t do this,” it’s like “Yeah, we got this guys.” Me and my girls will handle it and it will all be great. It rounded a corner for me and I think that that happens when it happens for everyone and nobody can force that, and it’s really hard to believe when you’re in it. Hold on to that faith and knowledge that it will get better.
From a kid’s perspective, it’s an ongoing condition. My kids are never going to not be sad that their parents aren’t together. And me acknowledging that and holding that really gently and tenderly is the best thing that I can do. I can’t change the situation unfortunately, but I can hold the fact that their feelings about it are always gonna be right there at the surface no matter how old they are.
P: It sounds like you are all so close. With such a busy career it can be tough to keep that “family unit” feeling going. Are there any routines to carve out family time?
JG: We do dinner every night together. It’s tough because my teenager’s got a full schedule. But it’s always family before friends and the girls respect that and they take that seriously, which is cool. I just keep it really tight. Family first.
Spice up your family dinner night:
P: You’re involved in a new campaign that starts July 24 “Get an A+ in Eye Care” to help other families. Tell me about your work with this cause.
JG: Well with the three girls, two of them are now in glasses. I wear glasses. Eye care is something that’s a part of our family. I see when we provide vision care for the kids that don’t have access to it what a difference it makes in their lives. It’s pretty profound. I love being a part of it and this campaign is a very simple one. For every “like” on the Eye Solutions Facebook page Alcon is donating a dollar and that money goes directly to free exams and eyeglasses to children in need. I’ve been there and I’ve helped kids get fitted for their very first glasses.
P: Is activism and volunteerism something you hope to cultivate in your girls?
JG: Absolutely. It’s something that’s been instilled in me since I was a little girl. It’s something I’m just naturally handing down to my girls. It’s not something I really thought about. You pay it forward, that’s just what you do in this lifetime.
P: Mystery Girls with your longtime friend and co-star Tori Spelling premieres tonight. Tell me about the show and how you help your girls create solid healthy friendships like the one you have with Tori.
JG: Tori’s and my friendship is a pretty unique situation because we were on  for ten years together. Not a lot of people get to experience what we did. So we have this crazy bond together and we are so blessed by that and able to carry that into our next job together. This is very a special love for each other. For my girls it’s just about teaching them their self-worth, first and foremost. Teaching them to love themselves and respect themselves and to gravitate toward other people who do the same and also to give them that same respect.
P: How did being a mom affect your decision to go back into the studio full time with Mystery Girls?
JG: For me it was location. It’s very close to my kids’ school and our house, where we shoot it. The hours of the day that we work, sitcom hours, are much less than any other show you can shoot, and we work three weeks on, one week off. So I can have a solid week with my kids. And also, our kids come to the set and it’s so close to their school that they just come right after school. If this was a show that shot in West Los Angeles or something, it would be a totally different decision to look at. When you have kids, for me, they come first and my job comes second. So I have to look at all those factors, location and traffic and drive time all that stuff.
P: Your character, Charlie, is a bit concerned about being perceived as a cool mom by her daughter. How concerned are you with being a cool mom?
JG: I try to be not cool. I’m the mom with the tattoos. My kids admire the fact that I am kind of edgy personally, and they actually try to keep me in line. But I try to be not cool because I don’t want to be their friend. I want to be their mother.
P: Your book Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde puts it right out there: don’t stereotype me. How do you help your girls be confident young women and defy stereotypes?
JG: I think just in my actions and them seeing me function, you know. I’m so independent and capable that they have no other way of seeing a woman. I set an example not by choice but because that’s how I have to live. It’s so easy to stereotype women. Even my 16-year-old daughter is cast in plays as the “pretty girl,” the cheerleader, and she does it beautifully and she does it with depth and a certain depth I wouldn’t think they were expecting, but I’m already cognizant of what’s happening with her. It’s something that we’ll be facing and working on and discussing I’m sure for the rest of all of their lives.
Mystery Girls premieres Wednesday, June 25 8:30/7:30c on ABC Family. Check your local listings.
Photograph: Courtesy of Jennie Garth
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Friday, March 14th, 2014
Finding time to work out can be tough for any mom, even supermodel Miranda Kerr, mom to 3-year-old Flynn. Just recently, the Australian beauty teamed up with brands like H&M and Wonderbra and squeezed in time to make this steamy commercial for Reebok’s new Skyscape collection, a line of sneakers inspired by (get this!) the same molded foam you find in bras. Parents caught up with the self-proclaimed yogi at the shoes’ launch party this week in New York City, and she had a lot to say on staying fit while raising a strapping toddler.
P: From a mom’s perspective, what appeals to you most about Reebok’s Skyscape shoes?
M: What I like is that they are just so lightweight, which makes them great to walk around the city and take my son to the park. Because I have to be in high heels a lot, it’s great for me to have a shoe that I feel really comfortable in and can also wear with jeans. They are really fashionable at the same time; I love all the colors, especially the pink! And the 3D foam technology makes them so cozy.
P: Being that you’re so into fitness, how does that influence the kinds of activities you do with Flynn?
M: Ever since he was a baby, he’s been there when I do Yoga and Pilates at home. Now he jumps on me when I’m trying to do Yoga and Pilates–that makes it more intense! And I do squats and lunges with him, especially when he was even younger. I’m always like, “Come on Flynn, do it!” I try to find fun ways to encourage him to be active. We go to the park together and run around, but then at home we turn the music on and we jump on the trampoline together. He loves it, and it’s very healthy for him. He also helps me make my smoothies. Just the other day he said, “Mommy, they’re full of antioxidants.” He’s like a little sponge soaking up everything I say!
P: What else do you do together?
M: I love reading stories to him. He still likes Goodnight Moon and The Jungle Book. When he was really little he used to love Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? I actually took him to the opera at Lincoln Center, and we got a couple of books there we’ve been reading as well. And I let him draw in the books, so it’s more fun. It’s a really good way for him to express his creativity. I like it when he draws in a book because it’s like a good little memory as well for me when he grows up.
P: For busy moms, what advice do you have for fitting exercise more into their routine?
M: Do things that make it fun and be as active as you can be. Take just 15 to 20 minutes to turn the music on and dance around with your child or go chase him around in the park. Give yourself that time and don’t feel like it’s not enough. Every little bit helps. Even little exercises if you’re in the car on your way to work or traveling on a train or airplane, you can flex and tone different parts of your muscles, like your legs and calves, just by clenching them. I feel like when you’re a parent you’re multitasking a lot, so this is a good way to work out your body in between.
For all you brand-new moms out there, here are some tips for post-pregnancy exercise!
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celebrities, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety
Thursday, March 13th, 2014
Cold and flu season is almost behind us. Though your days of runny noses and coughs may soon be over, another illness is proving to be a more serious hazard for young ones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns America is experiencing one of the largest outbreaks of reported pertussis cases in 50 years. That’s an even bigger deal for infants who are much more susceptible to the disease; they can’t get vaccinated until 2 months of age.
As mom to 4-year-old Charlotte and 17-month old Rocky, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, 36, was blown away when she learned how easily the disease can spread. Because newborns can’t get vaccinated right away, it’s still a must for adults who plan to be around an infant; the vaccine you got as a child has likely worn off. Parents caught up with the Sounds of Pertussis campaign ambassador to get her take on the disease as well as her tips for raising a healthy and active family.
P: What makes you so passionate about this health issue?
S: Once you become a parent, your main job is to protect your children in any way possible. When I first had Charlotte, whooping cough was something most of my friends thought had been eradicated. People aren’t aware that 80 percent of the time when you link back to how an infant gets the disease, it comes from a family member or direct caregiver. That’s the scariest thought. Our job is to protect them, and if it’s something as simple as getting a vaccination, that’s something everyone needs to know.
P: What can moms say to convince family and friends to get vaccinated?
S: It’s about making the information understandable. The way I liken it is if someone has a cold usually they will try to stay away from your baby so he doesn’t get sick. So why would you potentially expose a child to something that’s even more fatal, like pertussis? When you put it in those simple terms, how can anyone who loves a child say no? When the information is coming from someone you trust, it’s a very easy decision.
P: It can be stressful when your kids don’t feel well. How do you handle Charlotte or Rocky getting sick?
S: There’s no question that the very first time your child gets that stuffy nose and cold, it completely freaks you out. You have so much guilt because you can’t explain it to them. I think sometimes first-time parents have this thing of, “I don’t want to bother the doctor and be that annoying parent.” But if you have a question, you need to ask it. As you have more children and become an experienced parent, you sort of get to the point with the colds where you’re like, “If it’s not severe, you’re going to school.”
P: You’re a very active person. How do you encourage your kids to keep fit as well?
S: The beauty of children is that everything is interesting to them. The more you involve them in whatever activity it is you’re doing, they just love to be part of your life. I let my daughter go walking with me and our dog Bella outside. And there’s still so many fun activities you can do for children exercise-wise in inclement weather. My daughter practices Yoga and Jiu-Jitsu. It’s about taking the time to listen to your child and find what interests her. Whatever those things are that appeal to children and get their minds flowing, that can help keep them healthy and active.
P: How do you motivate Charlotte and Rocky to eat healthy?
S: Including children in the actual preparation of food is a big thing. We started Charlotte in cooking classes at about 3, and seeing what goes into it gave her a new appreciation for vegetables. Whether you’re growing produce in your backyard or taking a trip to your local farmer’s market, seeing those different aspects can get children excited to eat better. And anything you can do to give a young child ownership and help him feel independent, that’s what you ultimately want. Even if it’s as simple as letting Rocky sprinkle cheese on eggs or a pizza. You just see his face light up.
P: What else can moms do to teach their children the importance of good health?
S: It ultimately comes down to explaining at a young age what healthy living means, teaching a child what germs are and how easily they are transmitted or how to wash his hands correctly. Those very simple things can really stop the spread, not just for your own family but for your friends and everyone else your child comes into contact with.
Whether you’ve had the vaccine or not, visit the campaign’s Breathing Room Facebook app to help spread the word about pertussis. There, you can create a virtual room for your Baby and invite family and friends to join you in the fight for protection. Every little step counts!
In the meantime, watch this short video to learn what whooping cough sounds like.
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celebrities, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, Your Child
Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
As a singer-songwriter, Jewel is a big fan of stretching those creative muscles and loves to encourage her 2-year-old son, Kase, through music and crafts. It’s no wonder that she was eager to teach kids the Clean Up song at last week’s Swiffer Sweep & Trap event in New York City. Parents chatted with the mommy maestro about getting messy, impromptu songwriting, and raising her toddler.
P: What is your favorite messy activity to do with Kase?
J: We’re just getting into crafts. Valentine’s Day was the first time that we really started crafting. The glitter sticks and the glitter went everywhere. But it’s nice. I want him to feel like he can make a mess and not be the kind of mom that’s saying “no no no no no.” You know? Let him get dirty and I’ll bring a change of clothes.
P: Is he a helper when you clean up?
J: I’m trying to teach him that whenever we play, part of playing is also cleaning up. It’s not to be perfect, it’s just engaging in the process and building a habit and building an expectation of a habit. I won’t nitpick. That just takes all the joy out of cleaning, if that makes any sense. I just want it to be part of the ritual. I make it fun; I sing a song and we move on.
P: It sounds like Kase is into music already. How do you hope to foster that love for music in him?
You know I don’t care if he ever becomes a musician or a songwriter or not, but I like what engaging in creativity does for a person’s development and for their confidence. We do little things. If we go hiking I carry him on my back in a little backpack and I’ll go, “Make up a song about what you’re seeing.” And he’ll go [singing] “Trees….Rocks….Bird poop.” I love it!
P: Your upbringing was quite unconventional. How does that influence how you raise Kase?
J: It makes me think a lot about being spoiled. I think that for me struggling, learning I had to do things on my own, having responsibilities, understanding what responsibilities were—that are age appropriate—was really good. I think it robs your child of confidence when you don’t let them struggle and learn how to do something on their own. It’s hard as a parent to resist fixing that little thing for them or helping them solve that puzzle. You have this weird urge to “Oh that goes right here,” and I constantly remind myself to not intervene, and let him struggle, and let him figure it out.
Find great activities for you and your child with our Activity Finder.
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Monday, January 13th, 2014
2013 Photography by Robert W Gilliard of Eppicmoments.com
To gear up for the bi-annual Olympic festivities, Parents checked in with Olympic gold medalist, World Ski Champion, and mother-of-four Picabo Street. Juggling her work with the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and her four sons (Eli, 10, Treyjan, 9, Dax, 4, and Roen, 2) is no easy task, but nothing gets this gal motivated like the games!
P: Do you watch every Olympics with your kids?
PS: Absolutely. In Torino [Italy, 2006] I was there, and in Vancouver [Canada, 2010] I was there with two of my children. This year unfortunately I won’t have my kids with me, but I will be there with FOX Broadcasting and the U.S. Olympic Committee and Ski Team. I am infected with the Olympic bug and will be a huge fan forever.
P: Do your kids have Olympic fever, too?
PS: They definitely get it, especially the older two who are 10 and 9. They started to ask some big questions about it: where certain countries are and what sports come out of them. We go online and they can send a well-wish to the athletes or donate money or buy mittens that will benefit the team through the U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor programs. Through Citi Every Step, my 10-year-old voted on my initiative [promoting injury prevention and awareness for Olympic skiiers and snowboarders]. You see all the Olympians that are in the Citi program and then the kids feel really close to it. They know athletes by name and sport, so when we watch the Olympics we’re into it. They’re just counting down to the Opening Ceremonies in February.
P: Is skiing their favorite winter Olympics sport?
PS: Trey likes the bobsled, the skeleton, the luge, all of those gliding sports. Trey and Eli love the skiing because they can relate. Three out of the four do ski. The youngest was only 2 last year when we were in Park City in March. I think that hockey is probably also a favorite.
P: What do you say to moms who might think that skiing is too dangerous for their kids?
PS: Get yourself out of the way and don’t put yourself in your kids’ shoes and automatically assume that their strengths and weaknesses are yours. That’s one of the most difficult things that parents have to do is to get themselves out of the way of their child. They are their own person and they are capable of potentially more than you are. If they’re gung-ho, make sure you or somebody with experience can guide them along the way so they are safe while doing it. Skiing is a great family vacation, I know it’s expensive but it’s like no other family vacation. It’s such a safe place to let your kids be free.
P: Are there safety precautions that you take with your boys as they ski?
PS: First and foremost is to wear a helmet, dressing them for success. I made sure they knew how to stop. We taught them speed control and how to make quality turns before we took them over to the chair lift. The next thing was teaching them etiquette of the resort, and that’s something we still work on. Eli, my oldest, was relentless. His persistence was very inspiring.
P: How do you ensure that your kids enjoy sports while still taking it seriously?
PS: You gauge off of them. You can tell what kind of motivation they need; whether they like tough love (like I did) or if they need a softer, more praising touch. From personal experience, competing at that level, we were all willing to do more than the next gal or guy in order to get it done and win. We didn’t have to be told. It was just something that we do. I grew up with “good better best never never rest til my good is better and my better is best.” I have to actually be careful not to step on my kids toes too much with who I am and what I’m about and what I expect of myself. I try to let them be them.
P: Do you ever worry that they might put pressure on themselves because you have accomplished so much?
PS: Of course, you worry about everything as a parent. I don’t really believe that I or anyone else has that much control, or any for that matter, over what our children like, what they’re interested in, and what they want to become. I can tell you my mom played 26 instruments all self-taught, I can barely hold a tune and cannot play a single one. All of my kids are musical, go figure. Why wasn’t I a musician? I’m just going to encourage my kids to follow their dreams and aspirations and do what they love. If it happens to be Olympic bound, here we go. If not, I’m fine with that, too. With four of them, my odds are good that we could be at the Olympics again.
P: How do you keep your boys effectively bundled in the cold weather?
PS: Layers. Layers. Layers. I dress the boys in layers and make them easily accessible so they can go to the bathroom while they’re up there and feel comfortable. Eli is alright with wool against his skin, but it itches Trey, so we go with silk or a polypropylene for him. Roen is the same as Eli. I like wool, polypropylene, cashmere and then fleece and then the outer layer is the key. It needs to have two components in it. It needs to have down and it needs to have a windbreak. With those two in the outer layer, you really don’t have to bulk them up too much inside. It keeps them from having a stiff-armed snowman feel all day. If it’s really cold you can change their temperature by what you put on their hands and head. Go gloves or mittens depending on the temperature. You can also just wear a helmet, or you can do a light little beanie super thin up underneath the helmet and cover the ears. If it’s super cold, you can put a neck gator on with a face mask and bundle all the way up. Make sure you’ve got sunscreen, sunglasses or goggles and water. Lots of H20. You have to watch the water intake. That’s key.
P: Your kids all have such unique names. How did you choose them?
PS: Treyjan I named after the Roman emperor. On his father’s side he’s the third Newt [Trey is a nickname for "the third"] and his dad and I just really thought it was a cool name. Eli is biblical, my husband chose it that way. Dax is a little French town and it was a kid in my class growing up and I wanted an ‘x’ in his name and I landed on him. I wanted his initials to be early in the alphabet, too, so I landed on Dax and my husband, John, agreed. Roen’s was tough. Dax and Eli’s names were early in the alphabet, I wanted Roen’s name to start with something close to Trey so I bounced around the S’s and the R’s. We finally landed on Roen. John said without the w. And I said R-O-E-N and he said love it.
Check out our Baby Names app to help you find names just as fitting as the ones Picabo and John chose for their kids.
P: Eli, your oldest, is your stepson and your husband, John, is Trey’s stepfather. What is your advice for parents merging two families?
PS: Definitely unconditional love. We also have to get over ourselves and really see our kids for who they are. I had to really get to know Eli and then earn his trust. Also, the best thing for someone who you’re new to and who is new to you is to be predictable and consistent. The more consistent you are the more stable your relationship is, the stronger it gets. Honestly, Eli and I have worked really hard to have a really strong bond and we can talk about everything and anything. It’s rock solid. As far as Trey and Eli went, merging them, that was tough. I wanted to protect Trey from the way Eli is because Eli is dominant, a real alpha, and he’s boisterous. Trey is sensitive; he’s harmonious. Eli would kind of beat up on Trey and I would get protective. When I talked to some of my expert resources, they told me ,“Eli is gonna toughen Trey up and Trey is gonna soften Eli and they’re gonna land somewhere in the middle and it’s gonna be a beautiful thing so unless they’re really going at it let them work it out.” It got easier when Dax showed up because he was a true brother to both of them.
P: Do you have plans for another?
PS: No ma’am. We gave up on having a girl with Roen. It is a lot to handle, but it’s an even sports team because there are six of us.
P: What is your best advice for other moms who travel a lot and might spend a lot of time away from their kids, as you do with your speaking engagements and your activism work?
PS: Take care of yourself and try not to beat yourself up too much for being gone and being someone who contributes to the family, and who pursues their dreams at the same time. Easier said than done. I leave notes when I go. I make sure to call and participate at the really important times during the day. I try to Facetime and Skype with them, so I can really see them and get a feel for them as much as possible. One of my goals is to talk to my kids and my husband first thing in the morning every day. The bottom line is to be honest with them about where I’m going, what I’m doing and why so that they understand. What’s tough is when I say “bye-bye” and then Dax says “But Dad, you’re staying with us right?” And I just think oooooooh. I’m picky about what I leave home for these days and my kids know I’m leaving for important things. They know all about the work that I do with the US Olympic Committee and with the sponsors and specifically now with Citi to make a positive difference in the next generation of Olympians’ lives. That’s what I am proud to go be a part of these days.
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celebrities, GoodyBlog, Time for Fun
Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
By Jessica Simpson
I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I dreamed about it and planned it since I was a little girl! The day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Maxwell was one of the best moments of my life. Having Maxwell and now my son Ace changed my perspective completely. Suddenly, I am responsible for these little lives and want all the happiness in the world for them.
My pregnancy with Maxwell, specifically because she is a girl, made me realize that I wouldn’t be able to protect her from everything I had been through as a woman. I wonder each day how I can shield her not only from the critics in the world, but from the criticism we all dole out to ourselves. My pregnancies (especially my first with Maxwell) were well documented and my struggles with my weight and body image have played out in front of the world. As hard as that has been, the hardest part is to realize that with all the hurtful and harsh criticism from others, I have been the hardest on myself.
Raising Maxwell makes me realize that I don’t want her to see me beat myself up for things like food choices or numbers on a scale. I don’t want her to learn anything like that from me. Those things don’t determine who we are and instead make us feel terrible about ourselves. I want to teach her to value herself, listen to herself and tune out the world. I want her to know her value, rather than spending her energy fighting negative voices from within. I want to teach her to figure out what is truly right for her rather than worrying about what anyone else thinks.
Becoming a mom has helped me realize I’m actually proud of myself for a lot of the things I have done in my life. Having my kids has made me feel so much more at peace with myself. I see how loving and kind we can be to our children, while never noticing all the things we have done well ourselves.
I am happy that Maxwell and Ace will have each other to rely on in the magical way that only siblings can! I feel very complete with the two of them in my life and as they grow up I hope they remember these few things from me:
- Build a great support system. A strong family and wonderful friends keep me headed in the right direction every day!
- Learn to accept compliments as graciously as you give them. Don’t dismiss them – soak up the positivity and give it back as often as you can!
- Find a partner who really supports and listens to you in the good times and the bad.
- Be original. The world will try to fit you into a mold, but carve your own path.
For more from Jessica and a daily dose of all things mom, subscribe to and download the app for MomFeeds, a new digital magazine from Weight Watchers available for free exclusively on Flipboard.
Image: Jessica Simpson and Ace via Twitter
Plus: Are you ready for another child? Take our quiz to find out! Or see which celebrities have given birth or are expecting this year.
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Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
Actor James Marsden has starred in a variety of movies and television, from superhero epics (X-Men) to drama (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and comedies (30 Rock, the upcoming Anchorman 2). But chances are your family probably recognizes him from one of his many kids’ movies, including Hop, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and my personal favorite, Enchanted.
We recently caught up with the 40-year-old star when he was hosting “SWAPtoberfest,” the launch party for Skylanders SWAP Force in Times Square. He told us all about making family movies, raising his three kids, and even showed off some of his video game skills.
How did you get involved with Skylanders?
My kids have always loved the games. My 12-year-old boy and my 8-year-old daughter will play together, so it’s good to find a game we can enjoy as a family.
Are you a big video game fan?
I have been off and on through my whole life. I have to watch myself because if I get into a game, I’m not very productive with other parts of my life. But I played a lot back in the ’80s, and now I usually will play with my kids.
You’ve been in several kids’ movies. Is that because of your own children?
Completely. I’m not that interested in staying in one type of genre, so I do like to diversify the work a bit. But I like that with kids’ films, I’m making something that my own can enjoy. I get to experience the movie with my kids.
Do your kids like watching your movies?
Films are very real to young kids, so they didn’t get the concept of seeing Dad on TV or on the movie screen. It was a little uncomfortable for them. Kids don’t want their parents to be anything but their parents. So I never introduced them to my films until they were old enough to grasp the concept of “Daddy’s playing pretend.” But they’re wonderfully underwhelmed with what I do. They think it’s cool, but they’re interested in movies I’m not in. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Would you encourage your children if any of them were interested in acting?
If their heart was into it, then I would encourage it no matter what. But I would probably make them wait until they were 18 to professionally get involved. Kids should be kids. You’re a kid for such a short period of your life, and you’re an adult for a large period. A lot of kids start in this business too soon, and they grow up too soon, in my opinion. So while they were young, I would encourage my kids to take acting classes, and to be in school drama, musicals and plays.
What’s your best parenting advice?
Consistency and boundaries. I know that sounds very discipline-oriented, but I think that kids need to know what to expect. Set very specific boundaries for them, and within those boundaries, they can do whatever they want and embrace their individuality and their spirit. They need very clear ideas of what’s right and wrong and when they bump against that boundary, it’s not a hard moment. You want them to know what to expect and try to create a consistent environment for them.
We’re not far from where you filmed the infamous bus stabbing scene in Enchanted.
They couldn’t close off Times Square, so we were doing it in front of tourists. It was the first time I thought, ‘This movie is either going to kill my career or it’s going to be really great.’ Luckily, it turned out to be really great. But it was an exceptional experience. Who else can say they’ve stabbed a bus in the middle of Times Square while wearing tights?
Image: James Marsden plays Skylanders with young fans, courtesy of Activision.
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Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
Parents caught up with tennis star, humanitarian, father (and now snack-creator) Andre Agassi upon the launch of his new snack line for kids, Box Budd!es. Agassi teamed up with V20 Foods to create snacks from milk boxes to granola bars.We particularly enjoyed the fun new Peachy Apple Fruit Pouch as a twist on traditional applesauce. The chocolate granola bars win the Parents vote since they’re the perfect size for a lunchbox treat, with only 100 calories and 5 grams of sugar each. Not to mention, all of the proceeds from these foods benefit the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. But aside from this endeavor, as dad to Jaden, 11, and Jaz, 9, this pro has plenty to say about healthy eating, kids and sports, and teaching your child kindness.
P: What got you started on the nutritional front for kids?
AA: The impetus was about education and it morphed into educating on two fronts. All the money goes to my Foundation for Education, so we can educate our future, and we also educate parents on how to make better choices for their kids.
P: The snacks are a bit healthier and the proceeds support education, but I have to imagine taste was a factor. Were Jaden and Jaz your taste-testers?
AA: They were two of them, let me put it that way. Their cousins were four more and their friends. As we got closer to the end product it became a fun thing in the house. We would line up all these blind taste tests and cut them into little tiny squares so you could compare them and then they would all do their little notes about them. It was actually a pretty fun process.
P: So are applesauce and chocolate milk some of their favorite foods?
AA: We have the same dilemma every parent has in that you keep your kids living a well-balanced health lifestyle and it starts with educating them on their choices and forcing them to eat something healthy before they eat something that’s not as healthy.
P: What are you tricks of the trade in getting them to choose that healthier option?
AA: Well, it’s a mandate. If you want something that’s unhealthy for a snack, you first have to eat an apple. You want to go to dessert, you have to finish this on your plate. It’s filling them up on the good stuff before they choose the bad stuff. If they ask for snacks, as long as they eat something healthy they can have the snack. We don’t discriminate against the snack as long as they start with the healthy option.
P: I know that you are involved with the Boys and Girls club, an organization that mixes education and athletics. Do Jaden and Jaz play sports to keep active and healthy?
AA: Yeah. My son plays baseball, full stop, and my daughter’s on two hip hop dance competition teams. She is rock hard now and she’s nine. I didn’t even know bodies could do those movements. It’s crazy to watch her do it.We’re there at competitions and games cheering all the time.
P: In your autobiography, Open, you talk a lot about how tennis felt pressurized for you. How do you keep athletics, or dance, or physical activity in general fun for your kids?
AA: Well, we’re not the kind of parents who expect them to do this for a lifetime. We try to nurture what they gravitate towards and they both found their niche pretty quickly. We just support it. There’s nothing to push them at. They just have to see through their responsibility. It’s really smiple: You’re going to fulfill your responsibility. Jaz is part of two dance competitions. She doesn’t have to do it next year, but this year I say, “You’re going to every practice, you’re going to go to every competition.” Same with Jaden—he can make his choices year to year if that’s what he chooses, but I harp on being responsible.
P: Through your Foundation and all of the wonderful causes that you’ve been a supporter of, giving back is clearly an important value to you. How do you go about instilling that value in your children?
AA: All of those things I did that led me to education. I got tired of sticking band-aids on issues and I wanted to give the tools for real systemic change. But I will tell you this, and one thing I’ve learned most profoundly as a parent: children will learn from what they see way more than what you tell them. So the fact that I’m in New York right now for two days and I’m not home with them, they want to know where I am and why I’m going. I walk them through what I’m doing, as an example, with Box Budd!es. They all of a sudden realize that I’m not really doing something I want to do—I don’t want to travel, I don’t want to leave them—but I have to because it is the right thing to do. So they see that more than telling them. Next thing you know on the weekend they’re having a lemonade drive for the ASPCA to save pets and animals. It’s remarkable how that correlates.
P: I know that Jaden has a birthday coming up, he’s about to turn 12. Do you have birthday plans?
AA: Both of them actually. Jaz wants to take her entire dance team to the Jabberwockies. So that would be the third year in a row she wants to do that. They’re better athletes than anyone I’ve ever seen on a tennis court. They’re remarkable what they can do. Jaden, his birthday is late October so he’s still sort of morphing back and forth between a very understated barbeque with just a few friends or a big movie night with his entire team.
P: Will you serve Box Budd!es at the birthday party?
I’m gonna push this as much as possible. I hope this brand builds. I hope that when people see that seal, that logo, that this is really going towards our future, that they trust the source, and that 100 percent of all my proceeds are going directly to our future.
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