Thursday, February 6th, 2014
The 18 straight nights of TV coverage of the Sochi Olympics start today! But as we gear up, be sure to also mark March 7, 2014 on your calendars for the first ever broadcast of the Winter Paralympic Games. In recognition of this momentous occasion, Parents chatted with U.S. military veteran and member of our Paralympic Sled Hockey team Rico Roman. From his tours in Iraq and his injury to life as an athlete and father of Juliet, 12, and Raul, 10, Rico shared his experiences and his excitement for what’s to come.
P: How do you feel about going to Sochi and representing Team USA?
RR: It’s just a great feeling to be a part of a team again, to wear the red, white, and blue and represent USA.
P: How are the emotions similar and different to what you felt when you represented your country in the service?
RR: I feel just that same pride in putting on that uniform and being able to represent my country. It’s just a little different. I know that going over there to play hockey is just a game and it’s just to have fun and represent my country, but going over there to war is a tad bit different. You can always not come back, so that’s always in the back of your mind. In some ways, it’s very similar—being a part of a team. We’re from all over the United States, just like you are when you’re with your platoons and squads in the army, so that is very similar. The different accents. The different cultures and the different foods we like, so I love that part of it.
P: How old were your kids when you first left home to go overseas?
RR: I want to say Juliet was 2 and Raul was a couple months, because when I left I was carrying him around and when I came back he was crawling and standing. I was blown away.
P: Obviously, you felt a sense of duty and pride, but what was it like to leave them home when you had to go?
RR: It’s hard. It’s really hard to be away from your loved ones when you’re deployed. You constantly think about them. You constantly want to make sure that they’re good and that they’ve got everything they need. I would pray for them over there, even though I know they’re okay I would always say a little prayer for them. And you miss them. You miss them so much. My wife would send me pictures and I would always try to write letters.
P: When you became injured and you came home, how did your role as a father change with your new abilities?
RR: I don’t think it changed, you know. I just felt, Hey, I’ve got to get better and I need to get better and take care of my family. It goes in part with this Liberty Mutual RISE program that they have going on: With every setback there’s a chance for a comeback and to rise up from that. With me being injured, I didn’t really look at it as, This is gonna be the end and I’m never gonna be able to do the same things. I do them, I just have to do them a little differently now.
P: You were injured when your kids were quite young. Did they notice anything different in terms of the way you related to them and played with them?
RR: They did. They understood. I was in limb salvage for about a year. The doctors saved my leg, but it couldn’t bend and it was very painful. My kids have seen that and they’ve seen that I was really either very medicated, unfortunately, because of the pain, or I was very cranky because of being in pain. I’m the one that opted for the amputation and sure enough my daughter was really worried. She said, “Is it gonna grow back?” She was really nervous about it. My son knew right away from being around other injured service members that “Oh you’re gonna get a robot leg!” But they handled it very well. They seem to be very proud of me. I’m blessed with two great children.
P: Are your unique abilities everyday to them now, or do they recognize how extraordinary it is that you’re going off to the Paralympics?
RR: I think that they think it’s just me being me. One of their teacher asked my daughter—I guess she found out that I’m an amputee—and she asked, “So what can your father do?” And my daughter says she looked at her and said, “Everything.” I was so blown away that she said that. I don’t think it’s even part of the equation. We go about our days like no big deal. They love teasing me. Sometimes if I don’t have my crutches I’ll kind of hop around on one leg and they’ll have their pajamas on and they’ll fold their leg up in one of the pajama legs and hop around the house [laughter]. It’s a lot of fun.
P: After your accident and later your recovery, did you ever dream that you would end up taking the path of an athlete?
RR: No, I never did. I was always very into sports and I was so fortunate that I did my rehab in San Antonio, at The Center for the Intrepid. We had Paralympians come and speak with us. It gave me that drive that if I ever found a sport that I could play and get a chance to play in the Paralympics that I would really go for it. It just so happens that worked out.
P: What was Operation Comfort’s role in helping you find sled hockey?
RR: Operation Comfort invited me to do an MS-150, it’s a bike ride for multiple sclerosis and Operation Comfort helps veterans with disabilities due to combat. We did this bike ride and from there they had asked me to come and try the sport of sled hockey. They are the ones who sponsored this all-veteran team there in San Antonio. After playing for 8 months, our coach at the time, Lonny Hannah, was on the national team and said he thought I could make the Paralympic team. I didn’t even know there was a Paralympic team for this sport. I thought this was just the local, fun, rec thing to do. I tried out for the 2010 Vancouver games, but I didn’t make the team. I had to rise up and work really hard to make this national team. I made it the following year and have been on it now for four seasons, so I’m so excited to play in the Paralympics coming up.
P: Are your kids into sports? Do you hope that maybe one of them will take on hockey?
RR: Oh definitely. Texas is not that big into hockey, though. Football is #1 there. My son plays a little football. My daughter just finished basketball season so now she’s starting swimming. My son, I just got him started with skating lessons.
Shop for sports & game gear for your kids here.
P: What do you hope your kids can learn from your experiences, everything from your service to your injury and recovery to now your representing Team USA?
RR: I’m hoping that they’ll learn that you never know what life’s going to throw at you and to just be happy with what you’ve got and always to work hard at the things you want. Focus on things that you want. Tell yourself that you can do it and go get it.
P: Is your family coming with you to Sochi?
RR: They are. I’m so excited about it. They’ve never seen me play in the international games. They’ve seen me play in the club league but this will be the first international tournament and it’s the biggest thing, of course, the Paralympics. I’m very excited about them coming. I would love to eat some local food and enjoy the scenery with them and hopefully they embrace all of that and take it all with them.
For those at home: The Paralympic Games will be aired on NBC for 50 hours of coverage. This is the first time this is to ever happen.
Celebrate the Olympics and Paralympics at your house with this themed cake!
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Thursday, July 19th, 2012
Is Early Potty Training Harmful?
Many experts’ recommendations to get children out of diapers before age three can be dangerous for some children. A child’s bladder, which continues growing to its standard size until age three, grows stronger and faster when it’s filling and emptying uninhibited. You interrupt that process when you train early, one expert claims. (via ABC News)
US Panel: Improve Child Custody Rules for Military
A national legal panel that works to standardize state laws wants to simplify child custody rules for military service members, whose frequent deployments can leave them without clear legal recourse when family disputes erupt. (via Associated Press)
Lack of Exercise Is a Global Pandemic, Researchers Say
Lack of exercise causes as many as 1 in 10 premature deaths around the world each year — roughly as many as smoking, researchers say. This global pandemic is largely due to four major diseases: heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer. (via TIME)
Study Reveals How Some Kids Can Overcome Egg Allergies
Giving children with egg allergies small, and then increasingly higher, doses of the very food they are allergic to may eliminate, or at least reduce, reactions, a new study shows. (via MSNBC)
Mothers Who Use Fertility Drugs May Have Shorter Kids
A new study from Australia found boys whose mothers used fertility drugs were on average 1 inch shorter at ages 3 to 10, compared with boys of mothers who did not use the drugs. (via Fox News)
Breastfeeding Tied to Kids’ Nut Allergies in New Study, But Not All Agree
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Australian researchers claim children who are exclusively breastfed for their first six months have a greater risk for developing a nut allergy than those given other foods or fluids, either exclusively or in combination with breast milk. (via Huffington Post)
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Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Unruly 3-Year-Old Child Kicked Off Alaska Airlines Flight
Alaska Airlines ordered a screaming, squirming toddler off a plane over Memorial Day weekend when he would not stay buckled in his seat.
Youngest Speller Trips Up on ‘Ingluvies’ at National Spelling Bee
Lori Anne Madison, the 6-year-old who became the youngest-ever competitor in the National Spelling Bee, did not qualify for the semifinals but still made history.
More Questions on Antidepressants During Pregnancy
When moms-to-be use antidepressants, their babies may be more likely to be born early or have a seizure soon after birth, a large U.S. study suggests.
Military Mom ‘Proud’ of Breast-Feeding in Uniform, Despite Criticism
National pride, or disgrace? A photo gone viral of two servicewomen breast-feeding their children while in uniform has added a new layer to the debate over nursing in public.
Fighting US’s Worst Teen Pregnancy Rate in Mississippi
Mississippi’s teen birth rate declined modestly over the past decade as rates around the country fell. But Mississippi still has 55 births per 1,000 15- to 19-year-old girls, compared to a national average of 34.3, according to the most recent figures from the federal government’s National Center for Health Statistics.
8-Week-Old Baby Sickened by Dry Dog Food, Lawsuit Claims
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A New Jersey father who claims his 8-week-old son was sickened by salmonella-tainted dry dog food is suing the maker of the recalled product and Costco, the store that sold it.
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Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Study: 1 in 8 Low-Income Parents Waters Down Formula
Many low-income parents feel they must resort to “formula stretching,” to keep their infants fed, even with government food assistance programs, a new study shows.
Missing Toddler’s Mom Unable to Complete Polygraph
The mother of a toddler reported missing from her father’s home in Maine a month ago says she was unable to finish a lie detector test because of a medical condition.
Parents Fret Possible All-Harbaugh Super Bowl
As sure as a parent would find picking one child they love more than another impossible, they’d struggle watching one succeed at the other’s expense. And that’s in any situation, let alone the Super Bowl.
Heartbreak Brings these Military Families Together
Two heartbreaking deaths were able to bring two military families together for healing.
Video: Year Of The Dragon
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A baby boom is expected in China in 2012 — the Year of the Dragon. Many parents consider it good luck for their kids to be born now: across Asia, the dragon symbolizes wealth, wisdom, and good fortune.
Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
Baby, Mother Pulled Alive from Rubble in Turkey
A small baby was rescued alive from the rubble Tuesday in eastern Turkey, two days after a devastating earthquake toppled buildings in the region.
CDC Committee Recommends Boys Receive HPV Vaccine
A federal government advisory committee voted Tuesday to recommend that boys as young as 11 be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus, commonly referred to as HPV.
Toddler Watches Military Dad Read Prerecorded Bedtime Story
A video of a 2-year-old girl watching her military dad read a book to her in a recording has gone viral. The little girl looks captivated by her father reading, and she follows along.
Halloween and Trick-or-Treat Alternatives for Parents
As kids eagerly count down to trick-or-treat, some parents worry about Halloween. Safety and health issues , stranger danger, religious objections, too-scary decorations, older kids trick-or-treating, costume concerns: here are child-friendly Halloween and trick-or-treat alternatives.
4 Tech Tips for Parents to Embrace Digital Education
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Learning the ins and outs of the latest technology is a lot like learning to swim or ride a bike: The younger you are, the more naturally it comes.
Monday, November 8th, 2010
Many breast-fed babies lack Vitamin D - Although breast milk may be the best source of nutrition for babies it is low in Vitamin D. Newborn babies need 400 international units of Vitamin D a day, and can not get that from breast milk alone. Mothers who have breastfed should also give their child a Vitamin D droplet. This is a simple solution however, only five to thirteen percent of breastfed babies receive these supplements according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. [MSNBC]
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Cute naked photos of tots pose dilemma for parents - It seems that the days when parents could take photos of their baby taking a bath are now over. They have the potential of getting arrested themselves for the exploitation of a minor if they post the nude shots online or in public. [MSNBC]
Kids get an eyeful of fast food marketing – According to researchers from Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity there has been a substantial increase in fast food adds bombarding child audiences, and it seems to be working. Forty percent of children ages 2 to 11 ask their parents to take them to McDonald’s at least once a week, and 15 percent of preschoolers ask to go every single day. [Washington Post]
Mental health visits rise as parent deploys – As multiple deployments become a norm there is a need to investigate their effects on military families as a whole. A new study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics including more than half a million children, released information suggesting that it is harder on their psyche than anticipated. Visits for mental health concerns, like anxiety and acting out at school, were the only kind to increase during deployment; complaints for all physical problems declined, the study found. [The New York Times]
In efforts to end bullying, some see agenda – Angry parents and religious critics agree that schoolyard harassment should be stopped, but are charging liberals and gay rights groups as using the anti-bullying banner to pursue a hidden “homosexual agenda.” [The New York Times]
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