Mid-Career Access Road

Written by Role Mommy contributor, Debra Etelson.

A recent cover article of the New York Times magazine “Mid-Career Time Out” by Judith Warner discussed the early 2000’s trend of highly educated women who left prestigious and lucrative careers in order to raise their families. Ten years later, the author discusses the challenges many of these women have faced: difficulty in work re-entry, stress on marital relationships from shifting balance of power and expectations, raising a family on a single, often reduced income due to the recession, and a change of identity and self-worth.
The article interested me because I was a full-time working mother who wanted to work less, especially after the birth my second child. Unable to reduce my hours because that would mean forfeiting our health insurance, I remained a “full-time conflicted working mother.”
My love for children had influenced my decision to become a pediatrician, and I was spending more time with my patients than with my own kids. Due to my hours, I was rarely there for pick-up or drop-off during Sam’s first year of pre-school. He was the youngest student in the school’s history to take a bus to school and back home to our babysitter. Knowing that thousands of women shared my experience didn’t make it any less painful for me. I was sad that I was missing so much of this magical time in their lives. We made a family decision that after my third child, we would bite the bullet and I cut my work week to 3 days.
Nine months into this improved schedule (which made a huge difference in my quality of life), we found ourselves in the pediatric ICU with Leo in diabetic ketoacidosis. Type 1 Diabetes in an infant requires a degree of hypervigilance that is emotionally and physically exhausting. Oct 1 2007 was my last day of work until I returned a few months ago. Relating it to the above mentioned article, I would call my experience a “Mid-Career Access Road” replete with potholes, construction zones, and broken traffic lights. For a while, it seemed liked more of an off-ramp, and I did not know when or if I could return to work.
Here is a list of experiences on the Access Road:
1. Endocrinology sabbatical (still doing it)
2. Gluten-free shopper and baker (still doing it)
3. School lunch lady volunteer (cleaning tables and buttering sandwiches which my kids can’t eat-but I got to see them socialize during lunch)
4. Soccer mom
5. Elementary school art appreciation/history teacher (a program run by parent volunteers -don’t worry-we had training sessions to make up for my lack of art history knowledge)
6. Fundraiser (not too shabby, our family’s team has raised over $150,000 for JDRF)
7. Lab courier (my least glamorous role, I brought a stool sample of my friend’s child to the hospital lab so she didn’t have to miss work)
8. Lobbyist (see MDmommy goes to Washington http://mdmommy.com/?p=447)
9. Class mom
10. Board Member (for JDRF and my children’s camp)
11. Mommy blogger
The silver lining is that I was able to be more present in my children’s lives than I initially thought I would. I am grateful for this. Make no mistake about it, I would have given up all these experiences in a heartbeat if it meant my children wouldn’t have to live with their health conditions. I have learned over time that we lack control over when and which challenges confront us. We do control how we react and what we do when they occur.
Not all women have control over their decision to opt-out of the work force. Certainly, no one can foresee all the sequelae of their decisions.
I am merging from the access road back onto the highway. Although the roadwork has followed me, I have become a better navigator. For all the times I may have asked “WHY” or said “ENOUGH”, the obstacle-ridden access road has prepared me for re-entry into my pediatrics career.

IMG_1152c rop.JPG Debra Etelson is a practicing pediatrician who lives in New Rochelle, New York with her husband and three sons, ages 7, 10, and 12. In her blog www.mdmommy.com , she shares her experiences of raising and advocating for her own children who have chronic medical conditions.

Why Miley Cyrus is Officially a Publicist’s Nightmare

finalmiley.jpgI could have sat down to write a post about how as a mom of a tween and teen, I was completely appalled at Miley Cyrus’ performance on the VMA’s this week. Except, I didn’t have to do it because my own 14 year old was completely disgusted by Miley’s on stage porn display. We wouldn’t even allow our 11 year old to watch it and he’s seen “TED” – yes, I am that mom. But I digress.
There have been plenty of parenting writers who have already shared why they felt Miley’s performance was just plain horrific, but I’ve got a much different take on the situation. I’m looking at it through the eyes of a publicist. There are some publicists out there who just yes their clients to death even if everything they are doing screams train wreck and it looks like Miley has hired that agency. Obviously, Miley’s parents are no longer getting involved in her career but someone, somewhere has to be advising her and allowing a 20 year old to make decisions that are turning her into a laughingstock in the music industry is not my idea of a good PR or talent management plan.
Between Miley’s horrific hair style, to that teddy bear body suit to the beige underwear to that repulsive foam finger that was used in places nobody should show on cable TV, everything about Miley’s performance was just plain cringeworthy. Now that she has become a trending topic in an incredibly bad way, what can Miley do to turn everything around? Here are some suggestions:
1. Stay away from the press. Whatever you do Miley, do not consent to any interviews where you proclaim the virtues of smoking pot and how you are entitled to being reckless at 20 and not care about how that can screw up your image.
2. Hire a new wardrobe stylist. Whoever decided a plushy teddy bear jumpsuit was a good idea should be fired on the spot.
3. Hire Paula Abdul or Kenny Ortega as your choreographer. Miley — you need a way better dance routine and for the love of God — please stop twerking so damn much.
4. Stay away from foam fingers for a very long time. Unless you use it at a baseball game, if I were your publicist, I would hereby ban you from using a foam finger in public ever again.
5. Do not try to be Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Madonna or Katy Perry: The public is used to seeing them do things that push the envelope and while they sometimes may even be controversial, they didn’t grow up as Disney stars with legions of young girls idolizing them.
6. Find some girlfriends you can trust It would be so great if you hung out with Selena Gomez or Miranda Cosgrove – anyone with a great image who doesn’t embarrass themselves in public. Sure Selena sometimes has to deal with the fact that her boyfriend Justin Bieber is a PR time bomb too, but she’s taken the high road and so far, she’s doing everything right.
7. Find a mentor stat! Whether it’s Drew Barrymore, or Brooke Shields, or even Britney Spears, it’s time for Miley to be mentored by someone who has been there, done that and has made it to the other side.
8. Have Billy Ray Cyrus take control of her life again. I don’t care if they had a falling out. Her dad helped catapult her career in the first place and it’s time he gets involved in his daughter’s life again whether she wants him to or not. Sure she’s upset with him because he cheated on her mom but he was doing a great job with Miley’s career before she kicked him to the curb, cut her hair off and just became totally weird and out of control.
9. Move back to Nashville. Miley needs to get away from all the people in her life who are steering her in the wrong direction. And if that means moving out of Los Angeles and staying away from the people who are singlehandedly helping her screw up her life then sayonara Hollywood, it’s been nice knowing you.
10. Go to college. Okay – this one is a stretch but hear me out on this one. Miley never went to college and some of the most successful child stars who are still going strong took time to get a college degree and then re-entered the entertainment industry. From Brooke Shields, to Jodie Foster to Mayim Bialik to the Olsen twins (who happen to be bazillionaires), sometimes it pays to get a college degree. And even though it might be a bit late in the game to enroll in a University, I say, it’s better late than never.
Here’s hoping that Miley finally turns her career around. No one is asking her to become Hannah Montana all over again — we just don’t want to see her travel down the same destructive path as Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes. As a publicist and a mom, it’s pretty tragic to see such talented young girls throw their lives away because they don’t stop and appreciate how lucky they are. Miley – you were fortunate enough to have a dad who turned you into a superstar. Now you need to figure out how to rebuild your brand so that young girls and even young women can look up to you again. Being a role model is really not such a bad thing. Why not throw away those tasteless costumes and try that on for size instead?

Back to School Shopping: Staples Saves the Day

I can’t believe the summer is almost officially over. I guess I should have known the writing was on the wall when I wandered into Staples last week and I caught all those early bird parents shopping for school supplies. Sure, I should have joined them – found the lists and found all the folders, pens, and notebooks in a calm and relaxing environment, but then that wouldn’t be me. I’m the ultimate procrastinator — which means I will be printing out the school supply list this week and will most likely be hitting Staples when the lines are insane.
But I’m not worried — this time around, the team at Staples have already given me a head start on back to school shopping and I’m here to share some really great items that might not necessarily be on that official school list but should be a must have item for your tween.
Backpack Central – If you’ve got a son hitting middle school this fall (that would be me), then there’s no better place to find him the coolest backpack around than Staples. In fact, my husband happens to love their backpacks too and since many of them even have a special compartment for laptops, you may just find yourself picking up a Back to School and Back to Work backpack too. My son picked out a super cool Reebok backpack in red and his dad now has a snazzy blue backpack with a laptop holder and we even took it along on our recent trip to Maine.
Samsung Chromebook – My son has been loving this new affordable laptop and even used it to complete his summer assignment. The cool thing about the Samsung Chromebook is that the entire system operates on the Google platform but you can still access the Internet and surf the web and best of all, they can do all their assignments by using Google docs. There’s even a way to link your printer to the laptop. Plus, my son was able to share his assignment with me so that I could read it and make sure he was on the right track. Just think – you’re at work and your child is doing their homework and he or she is having a hard time. While you’re still at the office, they share their assignment with you via Google docs and you can check it out in real time and give him feedback before you even walk through the door. Plus, there’s also Google hangout — where you can chat via video. And here’s the best part. The Samsung Chromebook is only $249! Check it out to order a chromebook for your family.
There’s plenty more great deals where that came from. In fact, if you order your back to school supplies right now, you can save even more, get free shipping and avoid the crowds! So what are you waiting for? All your school supplies and more are waiting for you at Staples.
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Disclosure: I received two backpacks and a Chromebook for review for my family. All opinions are strictly my own.

Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Red Kale Recipe

Try this quick and easy nutrient packed side dish or entree and boost your energy level!!
Red Kale with Sausage, Almonds and Raisins:


2 cups raw, trimmed and washed red kale, chopped up
1-2 tsp olive oil
1 medium sized chicken sausage or any kind you like, chopped in 1/4″ dice
2 TBS roasted almonds
2 TBS golden raisins

Heat up olive oil in a frying pan
Add kale and stir for a few minutes until heated through
Add sausage and stir
Add almonds and raisins, stir and serve
Enough for 2 main servings
Alma Schneider
Take Back the Kitchen

Five Must Have Vacation Apps for iPhone Users

We just returned from a vacation to California and I have to say that having technology on my side made the experience even more worthwhile. From finding directions in a snap to pinpointing amazing restaurants, sites and more, I found that I relied on a few important apps that made our lives a whole lot easier. If you’re planning a road trip in the coming weeks, make sure you download these apps — trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
photo (32).JPG1. Yelp — I have never used this app more in my life than this past week and have to say, those folks are right on the money. We managed to find the best Korean BBQ restaurant that was right near Dodgers Stadium with the help of Yelp. Then in Redondo Beach, we tracked down an amazing brunch spot called the Wildflower Cafe. Every time I saw more than 1000 reviews or the restaurant made the top 10 list, I knew we were in good hands. Only downside – when we were in La Jolla, two of the Yelp recommendations were jam packed — because they were so popular. But, we did manage to find another great joint called Harry’s that’s been around since the 60’s and yes, their reviews on Yelp were pretty stellar too.
images.jpeg2. Apple Maps with Siri route guidance — When you don’t order a GPS system with your rental car, then the next best thing is to turn your iPhone into your very own Garmin. That’s what we did all week and the only downside is that it uses up the battery pretty quickly. As a result, your best bet is to have a car charger on hand and make sure your data plan can handle all that roaming. We went over our data usage numbers this week but the additional charges still came out to less than ordering a GPS from the rental car company.
3. Trip Advisor — Once you arrive in a city, check out this app in order to find the top 10 places you should see while you’re there. We’re headed to Maine in the coming weeks and I managed to find some really great outdoor activities for us to take advantage of while we’re there (in between me finding some great restaurants on Yelp so that I can indulge in a few lobster dinners).
4. CNN, ABC or New York Post — Never miss a minute of the news with these handy dandy apps that literally update you when something big happens. I’m not one to ever go off the grid and I loved having my news apps handy whenever I needed a fix for what was happening at that moment.
imgres.jpeg5. Kicksend — If you’ve taken a ton of photos from your iPhone camera, use a wifi connection and upload them to Kicksend where you can print out your photos at any CVS that’s nearby. What a concept — real photos instead of the kind that travel with you in the palm of your hand.
Have any cool apps that are great for vacations? Let us know since there’s still time left for last minute summer travel!

Back to School Shopping at RUUM with KidzVuz

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Shopping for clothes with my tween daughter can either be really great or really painful. KidzVuz and RUUM invited my little fashionista and I to check out the new store at the Palisades Mall. And the experience? Really great! There are over 22 RUUM stores across the country with adorable (and affordable) children’s fashions. RUUM, launched in late March 2013, and was founded by Ezra Dabah, one of the foremost authorities in children’s wear. The former CEO of The Children’s Place who helped make sales that exceeded a billion dollars while expanding to 900 stores, is now back in the fashion fold.
The clothes run from Baby sizes all the way to size 14. It was too bad I didn’t have any baby gifts to buy, because the baby clothes were too cute and so soft. Instead I focused on my daughter and we began to shop!
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My very picky tween walked around grabbing everything she thought was “omg, so cute!!” Next thing I knew my arms were full of clothes. Once she had made her way all around, we headed to the dressing room. Even the dressing rooms were cute. There were big peace signs that opened up so you could hand clothes out or take clothes in, such a cute touch, my daughter loved that. As you can see in the pictures, the clothes are right on trend without being too trendy and everything looked beyond adorable on her and was comfortable too.
Once she was all set with her fab finds, we headed over to the boy’s section to see if there were some good things for my 6 year old son. It was really hard to narrow down what to get for him, too many good choices. After we chose some shirts for my son, we checked out all the great shoes and accessories. Tons of headbands, hairbands, bracelets and hats too! Suri Cruise was even spotted carrying a RUUM ruffle bag.
The store itself is “totally fun” as my girl said. There are photo booths, stickers, paper airplanes and our favorite part… a candy bar! Your kid gets a little cranky? I bet a lollipop or some twizzlers will make them happy and give you more time to shop. If there isn’t a store near you, you can shop online at http://www.ruum.com/ruum/. There are some amazing sales going on right now, buy more and save more.
Awesome looks for my fashiontweensta… she’ll be rocking her new RUUM clothes in the fourth grade!
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*Great news for all you Role Mommy readers! You could win a $250 RUUM SHOPPING SPREE! Click here for all the details and go to the KidzVuz website to create a video for your chance to win. Have your kids go back to school in style, good luck!
I was provided with a gift card at this event, all opinions are my own.

The Enchanted Glass Sneaker

I have a confession to make. I am a shoe-a-holic. My closet is filled with shoe purchases I’ve made over the years and I have to admit that some of my favorites were from Zappos — the online shoe retailer that enables you to order shoes, boots, sandals and more and send them back if they don’t fit free of charge! Lucky for me, I’ve never had to ship back my purchases and I have to say that some of the best shoes I ever bought were from Zappos.
Little did I know that my shoe addiction could actually come in handy and might even win me a family vacation to Disney! New Balance, in partnership with Zappos just launched an online sweepstakes called the Happily Ever Excellent Glass Sneaker campaign in which a pair of enchanted glass sneakers will “magically” appear to one lucky winner on the Zappos website and “whisk the winner away to a magical kingdom.”
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The campaign, a digital scavenger hunt to find the “perfect fit,” runs from Monday, August 12th to Saturday, August 31st on Zappos.com.
NB Glass Sneaker 2.pngParticipants will be challenged to search for the glass sneaker on the Zappos.com website. Hints and links will be available to those who follow Zappos on Facebook, Twitter (#HappilyEverExcellent) and Instagram.
The grand prize winner who finds the glass sneaker and successfully adds it to their mobile shopping cart (as if they are buying it) receives an all-expense paid trip for a family of 4 the Walt Disney World runDisney event of their choice, 4 1-day Magic Your Way tickets, and the one-of-a-kind pair of glass sneakers.
There will also be a weekly drawing until August 31st, with one winner announced each Friday (August 16th, 23rd and 30th). These participants will win a runDisney family trip (no glass sneakers). Visitors can enter every day for a chance to win.
For more information, check out this promotional video from Zappos.
Disclosure: I was compensated for this sponsored post. However, all opinions about my shoe addiction and Zappos are completely my own.

Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Tofu Recipe

Here’s a quick and easy recipe that calls for the delicious garlic scapes which can be found in your local farmer’s markets! Great for accommodating vegetarian guests at your next BBQ.
Penne with Smoked Tofu and Garlic Scape Pesto:
12 oz. box penne pasta, cooked and drained
lemon juice and zest of one washed lemon
8 oz. smoked tofu (Soyboy brand), cut into small cubes or strips
salt and pepper to taste
Garlic scape pesto:
1 cup garlic scapes
1 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper taste
Purée until smooth
Add one cup roasted almonds, chopped in a food processor
Take drained pasta and place in a large bowl
Spoon in a few TBS of the prepared pesto or more to your taste and stir it into the pasta until pasta is coated
Add in the lemon juice and lemon zest and stir
Salt and pepper to taste and serve
Alma Schneider
Take Back the Kitchen