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Friday, January 31st, 2014
Tomorrow marks the start of Black History Month. To celebrate the occasion (and because our Olympic fever is running high) Parents chatted with Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Gabby Douglas to talk about her upcoming biographical film The Gabby Douglas Story premiering Saturday, February 1 on Lifetime. After talking with the spunky athlete about her accomplishments and her family, it’s no wonder that Gabby, and her mom, Natalie Hawkins, continue to inspire us.
P: Tell me how you feel about gymnastics and how you feel when you compete.
GD: I love gymnastics and when I compete it’s my favorite thing to do. I just love putting on a good show for the crowd. It’s just so fun for me because as a gymnast we get dolled up and I love decorating my own leotard. My mom and I love to put a lot of rhinestones on it, a lot of bling. It looks great out on the competition floor.
P: How were your mom, your sisters, and your brother helpful in encouraging you to pursue your passion?
GD: They were so helpful and supportive. Family is definitely the most important thing. When I wanted to quit they helped me get right back on track. They’re so loving, so caring, and I wouldn’t have been on the podium if it weren’t for them.
P: When was the first time you thought about the Olympics?
GD: When I was little the Olympics was in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until I was 8 slash 9. During the 2004 Olympics, an Olympic gold medalist was doing a skill called The Jive on bars—her name is Carly Patterson—and I was looking at what she was doing and I thought Oh my goodness I want to go there and do what she’s doing. I sat in front of the TV in awe.
P: And now you’re the flying squirrel.
GD: I haven’t heard that name in a very long time.
P: Your family was obviously very supportive, but you did endure economic hardship. What does it mean to you to have a mom who made sacrifices and believed in you enough to make those difficult choices?
GD: Just to have a mom like her who sacrificed basically everything for me to be in the gym and for me to train and go to different competitions, to this day I’m just like, Mom, gold medal goes to you. She’s so supportive and even at my lowest point or if I would make a mistake, she wasn’t very hard on me. She would say, “You know what, next competition. I believe in you.” She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I’m just so blessed to have a mom like her. Thanks, Mom! I love you.
P: You’ve mentioned there were times when you thought of quitting. What made you continue on?
GD: I wanted to quit right before the Olympic Games. I was homesick and it was hammering time in the gym and I was doing more intense numbers and routines and I thought, Oh my goodness, this is way too hard. I want to quit and work at a Chick-Fil-A or join another sport. The people around me, my team, my brother John, my two sisters Joy and Ariel, and my mom helped me get back on track and told me just to keep fighting.
P: What would you say to a kid who is thinking of quitting either a sport or an art, something that they’ve devoted a lot of time and energy and passion to?
GD: I would say, just keep pushing through and don’t give up. We’re human, so of course there may be some times where we think it’s too hard or we want to give it up because things may look crazy, but I would just tell him, “If you have the passion for it, just don’t give up! Just keep pressing!” The worst thing to have in life is regret. Keep striving for your goals and keep pushing through.
P: What is your advice or your mom’s advice for parents of a child who wants to quit?
GD: Mom, maybe you’re better to answer this one.
NH: I knew gymnastics was her passion. It was never something that I wanted her to go out there and do. It was something that she always expressed to me that she loved. If that’s the situation, then you definitely have to be there to provide that support when the times get hard, because they do get hard. After 10 years of training in a sport 38 hours a week it get’s kind of monotonous after a while. You have to be that support that helps them when they’re struggling the most. What I didn’t do was grill her when she came home from practices. I didn’t come down hard on her if she made a mistake. I would say, “You have to allow yourself chances to make mistakes because you’re human. You’ll go out there, you’ll compete again, and you’ll be happy with your results, but you’ll never, you know, know the satisfaction if you don’t try.” And then if it’s not their passion anymore and they want to explore other sports, it’s hard. As a parent when you’ve put so much time and energy and effort into something, you want to see it through to the end. But if you know that that’s not their passion and they’ve expressed that to you, I think you have to step back and allow them to pursue their own path.
P: At a certain point, you decided to train away from home. How were you feeling?
GD: I moved away from home from Virginia Beach all the way to West Des Moines, Iowa and I know that everyone thinks WHY? I moved away when I was 14 years old and what I was feeling was I am so ready for my dreams to become my reality. I was just so ready for a new chapter and a new beginning! I also was so excited to train with Coach Chow, the coach that I saw at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I was so stoked to meet him and train under his wing, so at that time I thought YAY I get to go train with him! But then I realized what am I gonna do? My family wasn’t around me and missed being around them. I was devastated and thought, What did I do? I remember just crying pretty much every day. I just had to come to realize that this was my decision. I just had to suck it up and push through this.
P: What was life around the house like being part of a new family?
GD: I moved in with the Partons and it was a change for me because they have four little girls and now I had become the big sister. I’m the youngest one in my family so I was like “what? Big sister? Huh?” It was just a change for me because I kind of had to set great examples for them in their life. I loved it. I loved helping them with their school or watching them dance because some of them did dance. Leah Parton does gymnastics so I would help her on different skills. I loved it. I like being the big sister!
P: You make it to the Olympics. You win team gold. You win all-around gold. You make history as the first American woman to do both in a single Games. You’re the first African-American to win all-around. What were you feeling in the immediate moments and then the aftermath of all of this success that you’d been working towards?
GD: Oh gosh. I just wanted to go to London. I did the best that I could. I wanted to place because who runs a race and doesn’t want to win? Everyone competes to win. But, wow. It hadn’t sunk in, yet. So much was going on and I think when I got back to the States it actually sunk in because everyone said, “We were watching you and rooting for you.” When I won was just excited. Thinking about all the sacrifices my family and I had to overcome…it finally paid off and it was all worth it.
P: Black History Month is upon us and you’ve certainly made history. How does it feel to take on the position of role model in the African-American community?
GD: It’s so great. I just love sharing my advice to young kids or anyone who is going through struggle or an obstacle in their life. I’m just so blessed to be on this platform where I get to inspire or make a big impact on someone else’s life.
P: What is the message that you want to communicate to young kids?
GD: My message is just to always keep pushing through and you never ever want to give up. You want to try your hardest and give your 100 percent. I learned to just keep pushing through. Like my mom said you never know if you don’t try so you always want to give it your best shot.
P: One of the things you had to push through was being bullied or feeling ostracized as a child at your home gym. Even at the Olympics they were making such a big deal about things like hair. How do you handle criticism and what is your advice to kids who are dealt criticism from their peers?
GD: My advice would be just to not focus on it. You always want to walk in love. You never want to go out and say mean things back because you’ll regret it. I wouldn’t worry about it. But if you’re being bullied, you need to speak up and tell an adult. As for London, I knew I had a job to do at the Olympics and I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything stop me from accomplishing my dreams. So I was said, “Yeah they can talk about my hair, but I’m gonna do this floor routine.”
P: Yeah and you nailed it. So, how do you feel about being the subject of a biographical film for Lifetime?
GD: Oh my goodness. It’s just amazing! I’m in New York City right now and we pulled by a bus stop and I have a poster right there! It just seems so surreal. I never would have thought I would have a movie coming out about my life story.
P: Did you have a lot of input in the film with picking who played you, or any of the events that you thought were the most important moments of your life to include?
GD: I did. My mom and I had a lot of input and we were very much involved with who portrayed us. When we found out Regina King was playing my mom we were jumping up and down. We love her and she did an excellent job. They kept my mom and I in the loop.
P: Are you having a viewing party on Saturday?
GD: I think my family is back in L.A. I am not going to be there because I am actually a special correspondent for Inside Edition [at the Sochi Olympics].
P: Have you seen the finished product? Are you happy with it?
GD: I am happy with the film. I like how they show the spirit of my family and my story and how we like to joke and we’re just so close. I’m pleased. Are you pleased mom? (I am.) She’s pleased.
P: What are you hopes for the future? I heard you want to go into acting, not just being the subject of a movie, but here you are going off with Inside Edition.
GD: I want to do another Olympics. The whole Olympic experience is just such a fun journey and you know you learn a lot so I definitely want to do another Olympics. I’m training right now and hopefully I’ll be competing by this year. You’ll see me and root for me!
The Gabby Douglas Story premieres February 1, 2014 on Lifetime at 8/7c. Check your local listings.
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Thursday, January 30th, 2014
With the Sochi Winter Games commencing on February 6th, we’re getting into the Olympic spirit.
We’re taking a look at 5 past and present winter Olympic parents, including hockey stars Mike Smith and Jenny Schmidgall-Potter, and controversial figure skater Tonya Harding.
Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith is headed to Sochi to represent his home country, Canada. But the hockey star, 31, will not be bringing his young family due to the recent threats and terrorist attacks in the region.
“Me having two young kids, my wife’s also expecting number three, they’re not going to go. It’s not worth it,” the NHL star told CBC. “It’s not worth it for myself, thinking about is she okay whenever I’m not with her. It’s something that’s unfortunate but that’s just how it is.”
Mike’s wife is fellow Olympian, Canadian Alpine skier Brigitte Acton.
Father of sons Aidan, 10, and Maxx, 6, former Olympian Scott Hamilton will be in Sochi as a figure skating analyst for NBC. The 1984 champ, 55, makes light of his “unique hobby of collecting life-threatening illnesses,” including testicular cancer and a recurrent benign brain tumor.
“I left home at 13. I have two sons,” Scott told Parade. “I’m not capable of letting them leave because I feel like I missed that time with my parents. My mother died when I was 19. It’s like, ‘No, I’m not going to sacrifice that time.’”
Also a Dancing with the Stars champ, Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi is now raising two daughters – Keara, 10, and Emma, 8 — with husband and former Olympic hockey player Bret Hedican. She will be in Sochi as the U.S. Olympic committee’s digital ambassador.
“I am very excited about the upcoming Olympics in Sochi,” Kristi told Celebrity Baby Scoop in August. “I don’t think my children will go, because it is such a far trip to take during the school year.”
On the controversy surrounding the Winter Games in Russia, Kristi said: “When I think of the Olympics, I think of everyone coming together in peace and competing in goodwill and good sport. I hope that everyone is able to do that as well. It’s all about these amazing athletes who have worked their entire lives to showcase their dreams. I’ll be cheering for all the athletes!”
Former Olympian Tonya Harding was involved in one of the most shocking winter sport scandals of all time.
Two decades ago, her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly hired a man to break Nancy’s leg making it impossible for her compete against Tonya in the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit.
“I don’t care,” Tonya recently told Access Hollywood when asked if she’s bothered by the public’s opinion of her. “Everybody is entitled to their opinion; it was 20 years ago. [Gillooly and I] both have gone our separate ways. Get over it, okay? Its 20 years. I’m sure that she’s done and I am, too.”
On her life now, Tonya says she’s loving being a “mommy.”
“I’m married and I have a son… I wasn’t supposed to have children, so my son is my miracle… I love being a mommy and I like to do landscaping in the summertime, and then I kind of do these fire starters where I dip pinecones in scented wax,” she shared.
Gold medal Olympic hockey player, Jenny Schmidgall-Potter, is proud mom to daughter Maddy, 12, and son Cullen, 6. The 35-year-old hockey star opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about how her family keeps her grounded.
“I don’t really have a mantra but I do believe in hard work,” Jenny said. “I think being the best you can be and trying to be one of the best players in the world keeps me focused and that my family is there is share it with me.”
Check out our 2014 Sochi Olympic Games coverage, take our parenting style quiz to see what type of parent you are, or find sports equipment at Shop Parents.
More celebrity & parenting news:
Rosie Pope Celebrates Baby Shower
Sarah Rafferty: My Oldest Daughter Has Never Seen Me On ‘Suits’
Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl Dish On Their Kids & ‘The Nut Job’
CelebrityBabyScoop.com is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-the-minute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’ss due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on CelebrityBabyScoop.com.
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Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Just before her flight to Sochi, Parents caught up with 19-year-old Olympic ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson. Inspired by her father, Bill, Sarah started Alpine skiing at age 2 and then followed in her older brother and father’s footsteps into ski jumping at age 7. Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes recently released a study showing that sports are a prime way for dads and daughters to bond. Sarah and Bill each took time to chat with us about Sarah’s dreams as a young athlete and how skiing helped to bring father and daughter closer than ever.
P: Congratulations on your huge accomplishment making this year’s Olympic team, not to mention the first team in your sport! What was the first thought that went through your mind when you find out you were going to Sochi?
SH: It’s been my goal since I was little and when I had my knee injury my dream kind of seemed to flash before my eyes. But I worked hard and luckily I rehabbed just in time. Obviously just super excited to represent Team USA and compete at the highest level. I don’t think I really realize it at the moment how big it is historically, but it’s really exciting.
P: And, Bill, tell me what you’re feeling.
BH: It’s a dream come true. Who would’ve asked for anything this tremendous and awesome? A lot of it hasn’t sunk in and I don’t think it really will until maybe I set foot in Russia and see all the fanfare. It’s just gonna be tremendous to see Sarah at the venue with an elite group of jumpers and to see how she can do.
P: How is it to have a child who is so determined to achieve her dreams?
BH: It’s pretty inspiring, right? As a parent we try to inspire our children so when things flip and you realize my child is inspiring me, that’s pretty impressive. You kind of ask yourself, where does that come from? What gives her that drive? I carry passion for life and passion for skiing and maybe I’ve passed some along to her. I’m just so impressed with her. She takes the time to be the best she can be within her sport. It just warms my heart to find that she seeks that thrill and that joy out of doing what she loves to do.
P: When Sarah was younger, when it wasn’t clear yet that she was destined for the Olympics, how did you manage to balance a healthy encouragement of her talent without stepping into pressurized territory?
BH: Most parents probably don’t think about raising a child to be an Olympian and I certainly didn’t either. It was just a matter of doing what you love to do and having fun doing it. I would do my best to encourage my kids to get out of bed on Saturday mornings so we could go up to the mountain and go skiing. Then it kind of just naturally evolved. Because you have fun you want to go back and do it again and again and again.
P: Sarah, your dad was a ski jumper. Were you drawn to jumping because of your dad?
SH: He jumped when he was in high school. My dad really helped me get my start when he taught me how to ski at the young age of 2 here, in Park City. He loves bringing me and my brother out and enjoying the snow and the outdoors with me, so when I wanted to start ski jumping, of course he was super excited that I was following in his footsteps and also in my brother’s.
P: Do you think ski jumping brings the two of you closer together?
SH: What brings dads and their daughters more together is that athletic bond. It’s really important to have that bond with my dad. He supports me in every way and we still love going out skiing together. He obviously didn’t jump after high school, but he always says how proud he is of me and how crazy I am for jumping the hills that I’ve jumped. I’ve jumped further than he ever did. We share the love of skiing and we have so many memories of going on ski vacations.
P: How is the father-daughter relationship different from the father-son relationship in your house?
SH: I guess I’m Daddy’s little girl. He thought having a girl, I would be a little princess, but I have a tough side to me obviously.
BH: As Nick was going through adolescence, as a father-son relationship he just needed some more space. But with Sarah, I think we got a little bit closer as she’s been going through that 15-19 range.
P: Do you think your dad ever worries about you as his little girl?
SH: He definitely gets nervous, as well as my mom. They’re the ones at the bottom peaking through their hands as I jump at World Cups or World Championships when they both came and watched. I think they get more nervous than I do.
P: Is that true? Were you ever fearful for either of your kids to ski jump?
BH: Not particularly. I have a sense of what it is and what it’s about and that under the right conditions it’s reasonably safe. It’s not without risk, but I’m a bit of a risk-taker myself so I can appreciate that they take some risk. In terms of damage to the body because women are different from men, I would say not a concern. But I did have the concern that, Sarah being just under 100 pounds, she doesn’t necessarily have the strength Nick does to deal with conditions that aren’t ideal. What she does have is amazing body control and finesse and smoothness and grace that usually more than makes up for any concerns I would have. She is Daddy’s little girl, but great things come in small packages. She’s a tremendous little athlete.
P: How were you feeling when she got injured?
BH: It pained me to have her going through such agony. It was almost like we were one. She’s feeling pain, I’m also feeling the same pain for her. As parents we don’t want our children to suffer any pain. So that was tough, plus I knew she had aspirations to go to Sochi and just the uncertainty of all that. Could she recover 100 percent? Could she recover in time? Would she be able to jump again? Would she experience the same level of joy that she did previously now that she’s crashed?
Learn about sports injuries and how to prevent your child from sustaining one with this video.
P: What is it about a sport, specifically, that lends itself to strong father-daughter bonds?
BH: Sports seem to really allow dads and daughters to spend time together. Participating in a sport, you have to let other things fall away and that passion comes out and it just opens up and exposes who we are as human beings. You really let the real you come out. I think that when we allow ourselves to be authentic with each other, whether it be dads and daughters or fathers and sons, that creates a special bond where we can know each other authentically and accept each other.
For more news on dads, daughters, and bonding with your kids, sign up for our Parents Daily newsletter.
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Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
With the Sochi Winter Olympics just around the corner, Parents chatted with Olympic figure-skating legend Kristi Yamaguchi about her favorite Olympic memories, keeping herself and her daughters (Keara, 10, and Emma, 8) healthy, and her work for the 2014 Olympics with Team Kellogg’s.
P: What is your favorite Olympic memory?
KY: They’re all so inspiring. I would probably have to go with something from ’92. I would say participating in the Opening Ceremony. At that point, putting on the Team USA uniform and meeting all of the athletes and marching in as a team was…you just felt the honor and the pride of representing our country and you just felt the enormity of the event and it wasn’t just about going out and skating, it’s the Olympics.
P: Do you watch with your daughters? How do you guys get into the Olympic spirit?
KY: We wear red, white and blue and I try to tell them a little bit about the athletes we’re watching if I happen to know anything about them. It’s fun just to cheer on all the athletes and hope to see great performances from them. I definitely encourage them to check out the Great Start stories of the athletes from Team Kellogg’s. It’s fun to learn about who they are before you actually watch them, before Sochi.
P: What is each of their favorite event to watch?
KY: I think probably skating is one of them, but then again, we’re sure to have that on. My older daughter is becoming a pretty good hockey fan. They’ll be exposed to more this year because they’re a little bit older and can understand it a little more. I think they’ll enjoy the snowboarding and some of the skiing events.
P: Your younger one, Emma, skates. At this point, it may be too soon to tell, but what would be a sign to you that she could take it to the next level?
KY: If she shows me the desire. It’s still fairly new, she started about two years ago, and I’m not pushing it too hard. If I see that desire to always want to go in and learn more and practice more and experience more within the sport, then that’s when I’ll know.
P: Is 6 about the age when kids usually start?
KY: It’s different for everyone. You see some who are learning how to walk and they’re already out there. I think it depends what part of the country you’re in and how available the ice is. I was about 6. Boys tend to be a little later in skating.
P: What advice do you have to moms who want to start their kids skating?
KY: Go to the local rink and, especially this time of year, they’ll have group classes to sign up with. At that point it’s not a huge commitment—probably once a week—where they can try skating and get some instruction in a group atmosphere. If they seem to like it and take to it, after a session or two of that, perhaps see if there is a particular coach that is teaching at that rink that your child connects with personality-wise. You can probably ask for a short private lesson.
P: Are there safety precautions that are important? At the end of the day it is a sport.
KY: It is. The U.S. Figure Skating Association has some guidelines. They recommend all beginner skaters wear a helmet when they’re first starting out. Our kids did until they were 5 or at least until they had a little more control on the ice. I think that’s why it is a good idea to put them in the classes, because there they learn how to get up when they fall and learn some techniques that will help them be safer on the ice.
P: I know you live in California so it’s warm, but what are some of your favorite winter recipes to make?
KY: I’m not a huge cook. I do cook dinner, but my kids are very particular and not as adventurous as I’d like them to be. I would say stir-fry chicken with some vegetables and some steamed rice as a go-to just because I know it’s something they’ll eat and it’s pretty quick and easy.
P: Eating is just one part of a healthy lifestyle and exercise is the other part. As an athlete, you’re obviously still very fit. How did your body change after your pregnancies?
KY: It’s quite different, especially coming from the athlete side of things. My lifestyle changed, with me not training like an athlete and burning calories like an athlete. The body slows down a bit and I wasn’t as active as I had been. I definitely didn’t feel as fit. People would say, “You don’t look like you’re out of shape.” But there’s a difference between looking fit and actually being fit.
P: Was that activity essentially the key to what got you back to a comfortable level of fitness for your life as a mom?
KY: It was gradual. What did I have time for? What could I do that fits into the schedule with the kids? Working in a routine at home worked when they were little because if they were home and I was looking after them, I could fit just a half hour in and I felt like I was doing something for myself and I didn’t have to find a babysitter to get that workout in. Now I have the luxury that when they’re at school there’s a bit more open time.
Check out our Lose the Baby Weight Newsletter for great tips to regain your fitness after the little one arrives.
P: Do you still skate?
KY: Every now and then. Emma goes twice a week so I try to get myself on the ice while she’s working with her coach and having a lesson I’ll go on the ice and skate just for fun. I’m like one of the public skaters out there these days, just recreationally skating around.
P: Can skating be a lifelong sport?
KY: Oh absolutely. For sure. There’s definitely skaters who have picked it up at a later time in life and there are definitely skaters who enjoy the sport recreationally for their entire life. It’s always inspiring to see the next generation out there still enjoying it and I’m always hoping that I can continue to get out there and have fun with it, too.
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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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Thursday, December 20th, 2012
We recently had the chance to talk with Lashinda Demus, Olympic hurdler and mother of five-year-old twins, Duaine and Dontay, about balancing life as a star-athlete and mom. Here, the 29-year-old track star shares her struggle with pregnancy and her experience adjusting expectations in order to fulfill her dream to become a legendary competitor and parent.
Do you think that in today’s society there is pressure for women to establish their career first and then have family, rather than the other way around?
I think that [we put pressure] on ourselves. The more vocal women are, the more we want to attain and do [we think], “Well I just need to get straight first.” And I think, “What happens to having a union and you guys working together?” Some women think when you become a mom or married, you automatically fit into this box of what a wife and a mother are supposed to be. I fell into that, too. I would find myself not dressing up, not going anywhere, and just making sure [my boys] look good. I didn’t care how I looked. I had to snap out of that.
Your biography refers to your pregnancy as unplanned. What was the original plan?
I always wanted kids, but my plan from the beginning was to compete until 2012, which would have me making three Olympic teams. I made ’04 my junior year in college, and then I hoped to make ’08 and then ’12. Then, I’d be 29 and start having a family. My husband and I were together for four or five years before I got pregnant in 2007. It wasn’t planned at all and I don’t think I was ready to have kids and that’s why I went into my little depression. I find that I’m more attached and more hands-on now because I constantly think about how I didn’t even want to be pregnant and that sets me straight. Now I’ve made my twins a part of my dreams.
Once your life started to take this different course, did you consider becoming a non-working mom?
I did not. I would get discouraged because I knew my body went through a drastic change and I thought “I don’t know how I’m going to get back to being number one in the world athletically, after having two human beings in my body.” I’m actually one of those women that won’t mind being the stay-at-home-mom. That’s one of the things that I think I’ll like to do. But at that point, I knew I was gonna get back at it.
You said your goal was to go through 2012.
I’m going to go to 2016. Once you’ve run as long as I have—I’ve been running since I was five years old—you want to make sure you finish the book. I want four things out of my track career and that’s an American record—which I have—a world championship title—which I have—Olympic gold and a world record. Almost had that gold this year, so I have two more on the bucket list.
Do you see that in your boys, that thirst to be the best?
I see not a will to be the best, but I see them wanting to please me, and that’s scary. That’s why I kind of keep them away from track…for a while. I don’t want them to think they have to stand up to what I’ve done. To me, that’s a lot of pressure. I want them to be passionate about something, but not passionate about pleasing me or outdoing me.
How is it being the mom of twins?
I always wanted twins that had that “I feel what you feel” thing, and they really have that. They’re best friends. My family is a family full of fraternal twins: My great-grandmother had four sets and they’re all fraternal.
That’s quite the legacy. In past interviews you mentioned that your legacy is what you want to leave your boys. Other than the markers, what message do you want your legacy to send them?
The message of greatness—not just in athletics, in whatever you’re passionate about. Since I was a little kid, something was put in me that I’m the best at this. I want them to just exude greatness. I’m going to have grandkids one day so I want them to have an example of “she was a woman, a mother, an athlete and she still, she put her best on the line all the time.”
Image via Luke Wooden Photography
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Friday, September 14th, 2012
I recently got to have breakfast with U.S. Olympic soccer team captain Christie Rampone (I even got to try on her gold medal from London! That’s me holding it in the photo). Rampone is a super down-to-earth mom of two who is working on keeping her kids healthy just like all of you.
Rampone recently returned from the London Olympics where she led her team to its third straight gold medal. Her world-traveling daughters Rylie, 7, and Reece, 2, got to see their mom play in London and loved every minute of it.
The Rampone family doesn’t travel with a nanny, but instead Rampone and her husband balance responsibilities. “Traveling can be a struggle at times because it’s hard to keep my girls on a routine with all of the time changes and jet lag,” she said. “But the benefits far outweigh the costs. It’s taught my daughters to be more self-sufficient. They love meeting kids of all nationalities. When they’re playing together it doesn’t matter if they don’t speak the same language.”
Rampone, a spokesperson for FRS Healthy Performance natural energy supplements, gave us some tips on how she keeps herself and her kids healthy.
Find time to rest.
Rampone makes a point of relaxing despite her hectic schedule. “This summer I was hooked on ‘Friday Nights Lights’ so I would sit down and watch that after a long day of games and practice. I also like to go on quiet walks with no music, just my thoughts,” she said.
Lead by example.
“I’ve noticed that Rylie will be more hesitant to try a new food if she sees that I don’t like it,” Rampone said. “She used to not eat seafood because I didn’t like it, but after she saw me try a bite she realized it wasn’t bad.”
Teach your kids how to plan healthy meals for themselves.
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Rampone teaches her 7-year-old how to pick nutritious foods by giving her healthy options and allowing her to pack her own school lunches. Beyond healthy options, she always lets her indulge in one treat.
Friday, August 17th, 2012
Editor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.
Let me say this right up front – not every child masters the monkey bars. Unlike sitting, standing, walking, potty training, or riding a tricycle, the monkey bars are not considered a developmental milestone. At well-child visits, doctors don’t ask, “Has your child mastered the monkey bars yet?” the same way they ask, “How many words are in your child’s vocabulary?” Trust me, I’m a pediatrician. There are even successful adults working alongside you who have never been able to master the monkey bars. Trust me, I’m one of them. I was never able to climb a rope or do a pull-up either. I always blamed my inabilities on a poorly-centered center of gravity. But enough about me. This is about our daughter who, happily, did learn to master the monkey bars. She absolutely had to.
Emily’s best friends in grade school were tiny wisps of girls who didn’t touch the ground when they walked because they were too light for gravity. For them, the monkey bars were as natural as breathing – they didn’t have to think twice before sailing from one end to the other, with each girl outdoing the other in speed and panache. When the monkey bars became the “must” place to be during recess, Emily was in a tough spot. Her feet did touch the ground while walking and the monkey bars were not automatic like breathing – they were more like hyperventilating. Not being a wisp came in very handy for Emily when she played sports later in life, but this was first grade and nothing mattered except the monkey bars.
Knowing no one would be at the school playground on Saturday, we packed everyone in the van and headed there for a monkey bars crash course. First, our oldest child (who was in third grade) tried to inspire Em by hopping onto the launch step and zipping all the way across, gracefully swinging from each arm to get to the next bar. He dismounted and encouragingly said, “See, Em, it’s easy!” Emily didn’t find this inspiring. In fact, she started crying. Next, the youngest child (who was in preschool) needed a turn. We held him up and walked beneath the monkey bars as he touched each one with his hands. Then he was off to the sandbox.
Finally, Emily stood on the launch step, grabbed the first bar with her left hand, stepped, and…just dangled there. Her right arm waved toward the next bar, but her body did not obey. She dropped to the ground and sobbed, “See?! I told you I can’t do it!” Of course, we asked ourselves how much of the obstacle was physical or mental. We pretended to be sports psychologists for a little while, probing her deepest monkey bar phobias. Yes, she was afraid of failure. Yes, she was afraid of embarrassment. Yes, she was sure everyone else was better at monkey bars. Yes, she would never, ever, ever have friends, in her whole life, if she couldn’t conquer the monkey bars. Ok, enough psychology – there were fewer than 48 hours before Monday’s recess. A miraculous cure was in order, and it had to be immediate.
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