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Kristi Yamaguchi may have an Olympic Gold Medal, a ginormous trophy from her win on "Dancing with the Stars," and dozens of other awards and accolades from her 20-plus years as a world-champion figure skater and philanthropist, but one of her biggest challenges these days is managing her family's schedule.
The busy mom (she's married to retired NHL player Bret Hedican and they have two daughters Keara Kiyomi, 8, and Emma Yoshiko, 6) uses iCalendar to keep track of activities. "I'm really on top of scheduling," Kristi laughs, "I'm constantly organizing the calendar." It's color coded and synced up with her husband's calendar so he can see the family schedule at a glance. And right now, Kristi's color is filling up the days as she celebrates the release of her second children's book, "It's a Big World, Little Pig." Her first children's book, "Dream Big, Little Pig," debuted at #2 on The New York Times bestsellers list.
In "It's a Big World, Little Pig," main character Poppy the Pig, an adorable and determined figure skater, is on her way to Paris for the World Games. Poppy makes new friends from different countries, learns how to say "hello" in new languages, and discovers she's not the only skater with jittery nerves at the competition.
Kristi tells Team Mom on Shine, "It really was about having an international experience and remembering my first international experiences...meeting friends and seeing the excitement of learning a few new words in certain languages and teaching them some English, and how they were fascinated with the United States. And, you know, we all shared skating and our passion for skating. It was an impressionable lesson I learned really young. And I think it's helped me be very opened minded and open to people's differences, and appreciate different cultures as well."
Kristi was six years old when she first discovered her love of figure skating. Competing just "came along with it" as she got older. By the time she was in junior high, she was competing regionally. Beyond the medals and trophies, though, were the life lessons imparted by Kristi's parents throughout her skating career. And she shares those lessons through Poppy the Pig, most notably when Poppy skates "from the heart."
"I think both my mom and dad just stressed that, 'as long as you're giving it 100 percent then we'll support what you do. It's a lot of time and a lot of sacrifice from everyone but if you're putting in 100 percent, we don't care what the result is, we'll support you.'"
In her first children's book, "Dream Big, Little Pig," Kristi emphasizes that success doesn't come without its bumpy patches...even for Poppy the Pig. "You learn to deal with failure, how to learn from it and move on from it. You know that life's very humbling," Kristi tells Team Mom on Shine. "You're only as good as what you put out there. Athletes are pretty good at knowing that they need to earn whatever it is that's given to them."
Kristi's oldest daughter, Keara Kiyomi, has danced in a Polynesian performing arts group for nearly four years. She also plays the piano and just started softball season. Younger daughter, Emma Yoshiko, recently started ice skating lessons and while it remains to be seen if she'll follow in her mom's footsteps, Kristi knows the sport can impact her life in other ways. "Whether you are competitive or not, there are a lot of things that skating can offer a child for an activity. I hope she gains some joy out of it."
How much did Kristi's own mom impact her youth sports experience?
"She was not only chauffeur every morning before school, up at four in the morning getting me to the rink -- and then a lot of times driving me again after school -- but coordinated whatever needed to be done with the skating, getting my equipment and costumes and travel, and then traveling with me and all the while looking after my brother and sister."
"For sure it took a team of people and my mom was the captain of that team."
And that team captain probably had her own color-coded scheduling system, too.
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