“Octomom” Nadya Suleman and her eight 8-year-old kids had a very active Thanksgiving morning.
The 42-year-old mother of 14 and her youngest children Makai, Josiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Maliyah, Jeremiah, Nariyah and Noah participated in an annual Thanksgiving race and field day in their California community, with Nadya — who now goes by Natalie now — sharing photos and video of their outing to Instagram.
One video captured the octuplets competing against one another in a sack race. “#WhenYourKidsTakeUpTheEntireSackRace,” she captioned the clip, adding “#NeverGiveUp.”
That phrase seemed to be for her son Jonah, who struggled to keep up with his brothers and sisters. “You can do it, don’t give up!” Suleman encouraged him before he eventually stepped out of the sack to catch up with his siblings at the finish line.
In another video, Suleman made sure Jonah wasn’t left behind again — carrying him to finish the race.
“Last but not least to finish the race…#LittleJonah,” she explained of the clip. “#NeverGiveUp #IsJonahYourHouseAndYourTheSnail.”
The family has participated in this Thanksgiving activity for a few years now, photos of which Suleman has often shared on social media.
“A new year, an old tradition…” Suleman wrote on Instagram in a now-deleted photo, accompanying a smiling family photo of herself and her kids. “#TurkeyTrot5k #FitFamily #HappyThanksgiving.”
As fans remember, Suleman made headlines after giving birth to octuplets in 2009 when she was already the mother of six children. She quickly earned the name “Octomom.”
In February of this year she opened to Inside Edition about the media scrutiny she faced after she made the tough decision to release a sex tape, pose for a nude photo shoot and become a stripper to provide for her children.
“I never coined the term Octomom. Octomom was created by the media,” she said. “They made it up without my permission, but I took accountability out of desperation to provide for my family. Shamefully … I abandoned my own identity.”
“I had stopped wanting to do it from day one,” she told PEOPLE in November 2016, adding that she only earned $ 8,000 from the video. “I was violating my boundaries and my value system and my own self. I didn’t think of it at the time because I was in survival mode, and I was doing whatever I possibly could to provide for my kids.”
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The troubling times caused her to step out of the spotlight and “abandon the character” in 2013 — a decision that has had a positive impact on her family.
“I was alive again,” she said. “As ‘Octomom,’ I was the walking dead. When I woke up and I went back to my roots, my helping profession, and my kids, we were struggling financially but it didn’t matter. I never felt so free and so happy in my life.”
Now, they all live together in a three-bedroom town home in Orange County, California and dine on an all-vegan menu of cheese-less pizza, lots of veggies and chocolate cake.
“I have embraced every day with gratitude,” Suleman, who works as a counselor, said.
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