I’m back today with our second feature in the Traveling Family Series. A week ago, we got to learn about Violetta’s childhood, growing up touring with her parents while they were figure skaters in the Russian Circus. You could call today’s post the U.S., present-day version of that story. With beautiful baby Signey looking on from the ice rink boards, Jodeyne Higgins and Sean Rice are touring together in ice shows across the world.
For the past 23 years, Sean and Jodeyne have performed as a pair team professionally and in amateur competition, such as the World Figure Skating Championships and Trophee La Lalique. Their extensive career has taken them to 42 countries in total and they’ve toured with some of the world’s premier entertainment productions, including the Walt Disney Company, Cirque Du Soleil, Royal Caribbean Productions and Le Linde du Paris. It made sense that their career would evolve to fit the needs of a new baby so that mom and dad could continue to do what they do best: perform.
When they aren’t touring, the family calls Palm Harbor, Florida home and head back there to coach and produce Christmas and specialty shows through their production company, SeaJo Productions & Entertainment Inc.. This gives them a chance to share their decades of expertise and experience through directing while ensuring less downtime in their work schedule.
Once again in this series, I am so honored to host their story and thankful for their time spent sharing so much information about their adventurous life with us. You can follow their travels and performance schedule on their Facebook page and reach out to them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sean and Jodeyne are also available for speaking engagements and motivational speeches.
What does Signey’s passport look like so far and what trips do you have upcoming? I have a feeling I’m about to get very jealous of a baby.
I first travelled with Signey when she was 2 weeks old to Myrtle Beach, SC. We were there to install Christmas on Ice with the ice skating cast. We did a show at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls Canada so we travelled with her there and were in the show for three weeks. After the show concluded we drove to Biloxi, Mississippi, where we stayed for four weeks until after Christmas.
So far Signey has been on four plane rides and at the end of March this year she has been on 12 planes so far. She has driven through nine states in the USA in her life so far. We have a trip planned in June to travel to the UK. We will then be traveling to cruise on the Liberty of the Seas out of Barcelona, Spain and then we are attending another friends wedding in Malaga, Spain.
Did you always know that touring or skating abroad would be part of your life with Signey?
We got pregnant rather quickly and were excited to become parents. I skated on tour until I was 5 months pregnant and then began to coach through the summer to continue to work. I skated and coached until 1 week before I delivered Signey. I have been doing a little coaching now since we have returned to Florida but mostly I am just enjoying being a mom at the moment and Sean is doing more of the coaching.
We did however produce and skate in a show at Christmas time this year. The holiday season is our busy time of year for shows and skating production. So we are not on the road as much as we were but definitely we don’t hesitate to take her with us where we go and we think that since we love to travel and see the world we want Signey to grow up seeing it and appreciating what the world has to offer. Even when we go to the rink to train we bring her with us. Even at such a young age she loves to sit by the boards and watch what we are doing. I think it is in her genes.
We actually just finished a show and skating seminar in Thompson Manitoba this past weekend and she traveled with us on the plane to get there and once we were there she was with us in the dressing room as we got ready for the show. And then during the dress rehearsal came back stage with us in her stroller. Sometimes she slept and sometimes when she was awake she played with her toys while we worked. Also wherever we go there is always someone who loves babies and wants to help out.
The only thing we as parents need to make sure of is that people just wash their hands before picking her up. That way she is not exposed to as many germs. We are not crazy crazy about germs but its important to make sure since we are traveling so much on the plane, bathrooms, different spaces, around many people that we just keep our hands washed, her hands washed and also those that pick her up too.
What does a normal day look like for your family when you’re abroad for a skating show? Does Signey get to hang out with the other skaters? I have a newborn by the way so by “hang out” I obviously mean chew on other people’s hands and then spit up on them.
When we had Signey at the show in Niagara Falls she was very young we had her in the hotel room and she was taken care of by family and close friends while we were away at the show. I would feed her and then run off to rehearsals and then come back before the show to feed her again run off to do the show and then returnafter the show once again. She was only 4 weeks old when we were doing the Christmas show in Niagara Falls. When we did the show in Biloxi until Christmas this year I actually didn’t skate only my husband did. So, it was a great opportunity to learn and grow with her while daddy worked. Although we were staying in a hotel and everyday she was mixing with the singers and dancers.
For the show we have coming up she will be with us at the boards when we are at the rink training and then when it is show time we will leave her with a friend while we are on the ice doing our number.
Pretty much where ever we go we bring her with us. She enjoys getting out and loves her walks. It is like she understands when we have to go out she knows what to do.
How do you manage the logistics of moving from place to place with baby? Any great travel tips you’ve learned along the way?
We have a great stroller called a Indie Bumbleride. It is the best it goes everywhere with us and is super easy to travel with and she loves it. It lies flat as well so she can even sleep in it if necessary. We also have an Ergobaby to carry her in. We like this one because you can use it from the time they are new born through the stages. It also fits both larger and smaller framed people. She loves to be on the go with us and each new thing that we see we explain to her where we are going and what we are doing.
We travel with a diaper bag that is a back pack everywhere we go. It is a petunia pickle bottom. Very pricy but worth every penny. It’s a very versatile bag. Everything but the kitchen sink is in it (LOL).
Let’s see, here is what is in it:
At least 12-15 diapers
Diaper Cream (from Canada, it’s the best)
Vicks Vapor Rub
Washing soap and cream
2 Changes of Clothes
A few small toys
Signey is an amazing traveler. She loves to just go and be with us. She has traveled in the car and also on the plane.
Does Signey get on the ice with you guys yet?
Yes, Signey first went on the ice when she was 2 weeks old, at 4 weeks and then each week since she has gone on the ice just for a little spin around in our arms. She loves it and when we are in the rink loves to watch the skating. You should see her smile when she watches. Her eyes are glued. We often take her to the rink with us when we train as well and she loves to sit by the boards in her car seat or her stroller and watch mom and dad practice.
She normally lets us skate for 30 minutes before getting board and well that kind of attention span for a little one is amazing. So we work quick and efficiently now at our skating. We will definitely teach her how to skate. But we will see if she chooses it as her passion all on her own. We feels its important to expose children to many different sports and activities and allow then to find and choose their own passion in life. But as a canadian its important she learns how to skate. My mom has kept my bob skates which are two bladed skates from when I young and first learned so I am sure as soon as she is walking we will try them on her.
How do you manage nursing while touring?
I believe in breastfeeding and have been very lucky as I have been able to and Signey and I have not had any trouble doing it. Not everyone is as lucky but for us it has worked.
When I am busy and I have had to have someone watch over her I pump and she takes my milk from the bottle although she prefers the real thing but she will take the bottle when she needs to. I have learned also her schedule of when she needs to eat so I try to figure it out so that she is hungry just before we go to take off in a plane or feed her just before we travel in the car.
Fed babies travel much easier than hungry ones. And also for example this past weekend we did a show in northern Manitoba in a place called Thompson and I made sure I fed her before I went out to perform and then she was hungry again when I was done. So it works pretty good. I guess I just have become sensitive to when she eats and try to make what I am doing juggle around that if I can. But the pumping option is a great tool when I am leaving her in someone else’s care. I have also gotten good at being able to feed her on the go in restrooms and feeding her standing up. I have become a great mutli tasker. LOL
I think a baby getting breast milk is important if your able to do it. People around you will understand if you need to feed your baby. She is now almost at the age to start solid foods so I have researched this as well and I think with continuing to provide breast milk through pumping and adding it to solid food will be the option we take. I am going to try very hard to make my own food for her to keep it as natural as possible. There is a thing called a food mill that grids food up and does not require batteries or electricity. I think that this will come in handy to make food for her on the go as she transitions when it is time.
Do you put much time into “setting up” your space when traveling abroad for a show? Or does it change too much to spend much time doing this?
We have a play yard called the Joovy Room and it has a bassinet in it. Inside of it we have a sheep skin rug that lies on top of the mattress cover. Everywhere we go we take the sheep skin rug and she sleeps on that so it feels consistent even though we are in a different location to sleep. We even have a small one for her stroller so when she has to use it to sleep as it goes completely flat she feels consistency and comfort.
We also travel quite a lot between canada and the U.S. so we have a Joovy Room play yard that is the same in both countries so she is sleeping in the same environment each night when we can. There have been a few nights when we have been in a hotel though we have allowed her to sleep between us due to temperature of the room so we didn’t want her to get cold.
We don’t have a crib at home and have loved the Joovy as her bed option. It will be able to grow with her. It also comes with a changing table which has been super helpful as well. So as she gets older we can also travel with the bed too so she is always in the same bed.
Do you hope you all will be able to keep touring with Signey into the future?
Yes, we love taking her with us where we go. She seems to love going with us to and is a happy baby. She smiles at everyone she meets.
We will see if she wants to join a show someday and probably by that point if she does we will no longer be skating in the shows but hopefully doing one of our passions and that is actually producing the shows. So it would be really neat to have her skate in something we produce. But if she doesn’t find skating as her passion then we will enjoy taking her where she wants to do and allow her to follow her own dreams and aspirations.
Also, once she reaches the school age we will have to make some very important decisions about how and where her schooling with take place. I am not opposed to homeschooling either as long as she gets social stimulation from other activities. But we will decide when the time comes. We have a couple of years yet but I am sure it will go fast and it will be here before you know it.
What’s your favorite aspect of touring with a baby?
We love showing her the world. My favorite thing is to watch her smile at the people she meets and that talk to her. Also it is so amazing to watch everything through fresh eyes. Nothing like seeing things for the first time through the eyes of a child. We are not afraid to take her with us and explain what we are doing. It’s like she understands when we are busy when we talk to her and explain what we are doing. I believe if we talk to young children, babies included, the way we speak to each other they will understand what is up and have a sense of patience when needed.
What are the biggest challenges involved?
The airport is the most challenging place especially when traveling on my own. Its just important to be organized and try not to take too many bags. Just take what is needed. Also, I have learned its good to travel with her stuff with you in a carry on bag. You can always get stuff for yourself if its lost but you need changes of clothes for babies and the extra little things need to be on hand if you have to spend a night in a hotel unexpectedly due to any type of travel changes and delays. Always check the stroller at the gate so its with you during connections and at each leg of your journey.
Thanks so very much, Jodeyne and Sean! What a beautiful family you have and Signey is going to be one well-traveled toddler.
You can follow this traveling figure skating family on Twitter at @Jodeyne and @misterbubbles72 as well as the pair’s Facebook page.