High-flying Mommy


From beginning to end, the staff at Fly School Circus made sure I was having fun.  While hanging from staff member Matt’s hands and swinging from the trapeze, he asked “smiling?”.  And I was.  After all, I went to the Fly School Circus trapeze class, located up on 5th and Cecil B. Moore, for fun.  There are many clichés that I could use for why a mom of two would take a Sunday morning trapeze class… taking a leap of faith like becoming a parent, showing my children that moms can still have fun, rising above perceived limitations so my children can learn the to do the same.  Really though, I signed up simply to try something different and fun.  Except something happened when I was standing on the tiny platform 25 feet above the ground… I realized that I was taking a leap of faith, showing my children that moms can have fun, and rising above my perceived limitations.  Hey… Fly School Circus tricked me into having fun and learning a few life lessons along the way.


After surmounting the ladder to the platform for the second time, the instructor told me, “first time is for fear, second time is for fun.”  As I am not afraid of heights, I didn’t imagine that trapeze would scare me.  I thought that I would show up, learn some techniques, and maybe swing from the bar a few times.  Instead, I found myself getting a quick instruction from leader Mary Kelly before hanging from my knees and doing a back flip!  I was amazed at how far they were able to take me in two hours!  By the end of the class, they assured me that I was ready for a catch– meaning that I would grab onto a staff member swinging from another bar, release from mine, and hang from his arms.  I had no idea that I was capable of completing this move, but with encouragement from Mary Kelly and the capable hands of staff member Matt, I found myself doing just that.


Besides a mom looking for some Sunday morning fun, who takes such a class?  Well, the other novices with me were a yoga instructor and a 6-year-old girl, showing the range of who takes these classes.  There were 3 other children in the audience watching our flying adventures, truly making it a family affair.  With Mary Kelly, a former Ringling Bros. trapeze artist and clown, running things, there was plenty of entertainment between fliers.  Besides the 3 beginners, the rest of the class seemed to be more professionally inclined, doing things without safety wires and performing tricks that left me holding my breath.  They were quick to warn me that once I performed my catch “the next thing you know you are wearing sequins.”  It seemed that most of them had been coming regularly to Fly School Circus for the past two years and so the atmosphere had the friendly and supportive feel of a family.



My son watched the video of me flying about five times in the car ride home.  While I don’t know if he quite understood what mommy did, he seemed proud.  Most importantly though, I was proud of myself.  I came with expectations of swinging from a bar and left having done so much more.  I’m not quite ready to leave my job for the circus, but I got a great work-out without even realizing it, pushed my own boundaries, and overcame some mental hurdles.  The last time I hung from anything was when I taught my 3-year-old how to use the monkey bars at the park, so this was definitely a big challenge and change of pace.  Thanks to the Fly School team, this “Interdependence Day weekend” as Mary Kelly put it, I learned that I am capable of more than I thought, especially when I put my trust in a few new friends.




To book your own flying trapeze lesson, go to:  http://www.flyschoolcircusarts.com/Fly_School_Circus_Arts/Schedule_Policies_Booking.html.  Book an entire class for 10 for $540 for your next bachelorette party, mom’s night out, or birthday!

{My Fly School Circus class was courtesy of Aversa PR.  I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.  All photos are with permission of those photographed.}

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A Very Different Kind of Helicopter Parenting


One of the challenging things about being a working physician mom is the unpredictable nature of my work.  As a pediatrician I take calls from home and have a set daily patient schedule, which is certainly more routine than someone who responds to emergencies or attends deliveries, but there are still many things that come up and throw off my schedule.  My family has learned that sometimes a “regular day” can turn into more and that a certain degree of flexibility is needed when dealing with the unpredictability of illnesses.  I learned this lesson as a child watching my cardiologist step-dad in action.

One particular day stands out in my memory.  Knowing that my step-dad was working late, my mom and I drove over to the hospital to bring him dinner.  When he failed to respond to multiple calls and pages announcing our arrival, we grew frustrated and started to leave.  We grumbled about being inconvenienced.  As we drove around the side of the hospital, someone waved us to stop at the cross walk where a team of doctors and nurses escorted a stretcher over to the helicopter on the nearby helipad.  Much to our embarrassment, there was my step-dad leading the team.  Here we were worrying about his dinner getting cold and he was saving lives.

I hope that my kids will learn to appreciate this as well.  There will come a time when mommy is late because she was taking care of a sick child.  As “essential personnel” there will be snow days and natural disasters that close schools and offices but not mommy’s work.  There will be phone calls from worried parents overnight and on holidays that intrude into our own family events.  These obligations and interruptions are part of my job, and make it quite unlike many other jobs.  But there will be days like today that reaffirm the importance of my career to my kids, when walking in our neighborhood we ran into one of my patients and his parents who were excited to see me.  The dad said to my son, “your mommy takes very good care of my son.”  However, my son was oblivious to meaning of this conversation and I informed the parents that he still thinks that I work “at the pretzel store,” which is across the street from my office and his special treat when he comes to visit.  I appreciated the sentiment though.  It was kind of them to want to share with my children their positive experience.  So while he may never see me escorting a patient to a helicopter, I hope that he will see many other positive examples of how my career impacts children in our community.


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Baby Bookworms: New AAP policy promotes early literacy


As a pediatrician, I dish out parenting advice regularly.  During well child visits, I routinely discuss everything from car seats to sunscreen to childproofing and parents rarely question or challenge this advice.  There has been enough media attention and word-of-mouth coverage of most of these topics that they are already familiar to most new parents.  However, one piece of advice raises some skepticism: reading with infants.

I remember recommending a dad read to his 6-month-old daughter and he laughed at me.  Another mom lamented that her 4-month-old must have something wrong with her because she didn’t like TV, but had never considered trying a book.  New parents of a baby girl raised their eyebrows when I suggested reading as an activity appropriate for a newborn.  Why was reading to an infant more unbelievable than stating that sleeping on ones back prevents Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or that wrapping a baby like a burrito is calming?

Well, as a new parent myself I read with my infant and discovered that it seemed he wasn’t interested in the book as anything other than a chew toy.  It took months before he started to engage with the books in a way that I recognized as reading.  So I understand the hesitancy of these parents.  Why would one read to a child who doesn’t understand story time, who doesn’t have the attention span to listen to a full book, and who can’t follow a plot?  So I encourage parents to think of books likes toys, allowing their kids to manipulate them, flip through the pages, and even chew on them.  They can read the words or just discuss the pictures and point to objects.  Simply sitting together and holding a book increases the language that a child is exposed to and teaches them an important lifelong love of reading.

My practice gives out a Reach Out and Read book at each well child visit from 6 months to 5 years of age.  This creates an opportunity for us to discuss the benefits of reading with children and allows me to model age-appropriate reading behaviors in the office.  Yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a new policy that will encourage pediatricians to advocate reading to children from birth and that CGI America, Reach Out and Read, and Too Small to Fail will be helping to expand our book giveaway programs to these younger infants as well.  I am excited that we can expand our efforts to get more books into low-income families’ homes.  Nothing makes me happier than when a child asks for a lollipop at the end of a visit and when I say that we don’t have any but they can have a book instead, I see a huge smile across their face.


Older posts about reading and Reach Out and Read books:

Book Nook

Bedtime Stories

Booking It Out of the Bookstore


What N is reading now:




What G is reading now:

Lilly’s Chocolate Heart

Olivia Counts



Filed under Doctoring

Working Outside the Home


During a busy day of seeing patients I checked my cell phone and saw that I had two missed calls from my daughter’s daycare.  Over an hour had passed since her teacher left me a voicemail message stating that she needed to be picked up due to vomiting.  When I called back the teacher, she updated me about the situation and I apologized about taking so long to respond to her call.  As is typical for most daycares, they have a policy that sick children need to be picked up within one hour, so I imagined that they were upset about not being able to reach her parents.  “Oh I didn’t even call your husband,” the teacher informed me, “because I didn’t want to bother him.”  I wondered what the threshold would have been for calling a Dad versus a Mom.  How sick would she have to be in order to reach that level?  Nevermind that I was having this conversation while letting my own work start to pile up around me with patients waiting in exam rooms.

While I am often asked if I work outside the home, my husband is never asked if he is a stay-at-home dad.  While the stay-at-home dad trend is growing, this group faces their own biases.  The same raised eyebrow I get when I say I work full time with two young children, these dads get when they say they gave up their careers to stay home.  At first other moms enjoy talking to them on the playground, but then they aren’t as likely to include the dad in their weekly lunch date or stroller strides class.  Furthermore, moms are less likely to leave their children unattended at a stay-at-home dad’s house.  So gender stereotypes work both ways.

My husband and I have an ongoing joke about how whenever he sends our son to school in mismatched socks or with a hole in his pants or food on his face, I say “oh no, they are going to think I sent him in like that” and he laughs because he knows it’s true.  Regardless of us both working and splitting our parenting duties equally, my gender automatically makes others assume that I am responsible for a majority of the childcare.  When my husband picks up my son from school or takes him to the park, people tell me he’s a “good dad,” but when I do those things, I’m just being mom.

Given that working mothers are now the top earners in 40% of households with children and roughly 67% of moms are in the workforce, it surprises me that only 21% of people think that working moms of young children are good for society. There is an assumption that women work because they have to, and as a married woman with an employed husband, many still think it is better for my children if I stay home.  My 3-year-old son recently told me a few times that I “work too much,” which was devastating to hear.  I know though that I am not working too much and that as he gets older he will learn that my career makes me happy, that I am valued outside my role as mother, and that he (and his partner) can follow his (their) passion(s) as I did.  In the meantime, he reminds me that my first and most important job is always being his mother.  Finding a way to integrate my work and family is one of the greatest life challenges I will face, but so far, I think it is going pretty well and I hope that soon more than 21% will agree with me.





Filed under Childcare, Parenting, Work-Life Balance

June Challenges

For the past month, I partnered with SheKnows.com to take five mini challenges that would give me some “Everyday Inspiration” to reconnect with the little things in life or learn something new.  I had fun approaching each of these challenges and wanted to share them with you.  Some of my challenges are already posted on SheKnows.com and others are on their way!

My first challenge on 6/3/14, was to book a ticket.  See what I booked here.  When was the last time you booked something for yourself?  Have you been meaning to plan that vacation or see that show?  Do it now!

On 6/11/14 you can read about my challenge to buy a house plant.  I have a track record of killing house plants immediately, but so far these are going strong!

house plants

On 6/15/14 you can see me consume a story.  Have you read a good book lately?  Are you keeping up with your professional reading?  Finding time to read without falling asleep is one of my greatest new mom challenges!

If you know me, you know I don’t cook much.  So the challenge on 6/20/14, of cooking with a new ingredient was a little harder than expected because I had to actually cook, but also easy because there are so many *new* ingredients!  What’s your favorite new ingredient this summer?


Lastly, on 6/25/14, I was challenged to make something for myself.  My instinct was to make something for my kids, but I redirected myself to stay focused to the challenge.  I found a way to get my kids involved in the project though.

So challenge yourself this month to take on something new or rekindle an old hobby.  Leave a comment below about what you did to add a little everyday inspiration into your life.

For the full schedule of Everyday Inspiration challenges:  http://www.sheknows.com/tags/everyday-inspiration
For the bio of the women who completed these challenges with me, click here.

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Filed under Work-Life Balance