When in Rome

December 19, 2013

It has been a whirlwind 2013 and I wanted to put up a brief note to let anyone who is still watching that I am still here and hopefully there will be some content going up in the near future. Obviously for those hoping to find my ramblings about living in New York will find that while Rome was a vacation spot where we traveled to visit our families and meet friends, it is now home and New York has become our vacation spot to meet with old friends and catch up. It’s been only 6 months and we are still getting settled “back” into the routine of Rome after a decade away. Hopefully I can get back into sharing my observations as my now 5 and 2 years olds are making new friends and getting spoilt rotten by their nonni.

Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort

November 6, 2012

It was frigid today and temperatures will be hovering at the zero mark tonight across the tri-state area. My family is one of the lucky ones. We are safe and sound with a roof over our heads. We have experienced first hand the effects of Sandy because our family business has a warehouse in New Jersey that was chest deep in water and without power until a few days ago. Things are things, though, and people are what matter most so we consider ourselves extremely lucky.

We have been told that a nor’easter is headed our way to make matters worse for many of our neighbors who are still without power, heat and especially for those without home.

A post is the very least that I can do to help out and below are a few links for those looking for ways that they too can contribute to the relief effort. Also, please feel free to post as a comment any other links to volunteer organizations that you know of that are bringing blankets, water and other basic necessities to many of those struggling to keep warm and fed in the areas hit by Sandy.

You can also Google “Hurricane Sandy Relief” to find many other online resources and a comprehensive list of relief efforts in all the affected areas:

New York State Hurricane Relief Info Center (http://www.governor.ny.gov)

New Jersey State Hurricane Relief Info Center (http://www.state.nj.us/nj/home/features/spotlight/hurricane_sandy.shtml)

Connecticut State Hurricane Relief Info Center (http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/view.asp?a=11&q=513034)

American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/index.jsp)

Century of the Child at the MoMa

September 19, 2012

My friends at Timbuktu wanted to make sure that if you happen to be in New York, there is something you don’t want to miss: Century of the Child, an ambitious exhibition at the MoMA about design for children (its theories and developments) in the XX Century – “the century of the child,” as design reformer Ellen Key called (and envisioned) it in 1900.

Toys, books, posters, objects: the exhibition is an impressive collection of all that design has done for and about children last century.

And for those of you who can’t see the show, there is a great website about the show which is essentially an online version of the exhibition and gives a pretty accurate idea of the extent of the collection.

 

And if you are planning to go see the show with your kids (you should!), here is a family activity guide to help you make the most of the visit. The exhibition is up through November 5th and you can find more information about the related events here. Let us know how you like it!

Timbuktu is the iPad magazine for you and your children. They work at the intersections of design, education and technology and help parents discover the world with their kids.

Notes from an ex-Fencing Jock.

August 9, 2012

There are three sabers that hang over the mantle at our summer home here in Italy. They are my fathers and they are fencing swords. He was a fencer in college back when ink was used on the tip to determine a “touche”. He passed on the fencing bug to me and already a big fan of Tolkien and Dumas growing up I started taking lessons at Santelli’s in Manhattan. I loved fencing. I hated the fact that I had to do tons of tedious and repetitive exercises, but then again isn’t that true of all sports when you are a kid – you just want to play. I got pretty good and even earned a trip to the Junior Olympics to which my parents categorically said no. With no fencing team or club in college my Olympic hopes were dashed forever!

I do, though, get to live vicariously through today’s athletes and in particular one of the greatest fencers ever to fence in my opinion: Valentina Vezzali. Fencing is about speed, focus, cat-like reflexes, hand/eye coordination, footwork, balance and most of all timing. Even with modern technology it is hard to follow fencing with the naked eye and, at first glance, decide who landed a point or “touche” especially given the need to establish which fencer had the “right of way” when both are simultaneously on target. As so many individual sports, fencing gives you quite an adrenaline rush. Watching a “fuoriclasse” like Vezzali is a pleasure and an honor. Watching her dominate the sport for so long winning 6 gold medals in 5 Olympics (and medaling individually in all five), not to mention World (13 golds) and European (11 golds) Championships, is epic.

I was pleased, therefore, to get a call from the New Amsterdam Fencing Academy (NAFA) recently inviting me (with a very funny reference to The Princess Bride) and my older son to a Daddy and Me lesson. They offer special classes for 2-4yo and their parents to teach them the very basics. I am really looking forward to holding a foil again after so long and hopefully having a fun day with my son (as always hoping for his full collaboration…). You can find out more about NAFA on their website http://nyfencing.com and I hope to report back about a fun experience. Who knows maybe one day I’ll see my son fence his way to the Olympics! Families of athletes get free tickets to all the events, right?

Guest Post: Are Italian Dads finally shedding their “Mama’s Boy” label?

June 19, 2012

A silent revolution is taking place amongst new Italian fathers. Does this signal the end of the ”mammone” or as you would say in the US “ mama’s boy”? I wanted to give you an Italian dad blogger’s point of view and New York Dad was kind enough to share my post with all of you (editor’s note from NYD: BABBOnline wrote the post directly in English which is not his first language. I have only corrected a few things for flow, but I wanted to leave as much of this untouched as possible. I also wanted to make sure reader appreciated his effort).

Even though Italy is known as “Mom Country”, and the other countries see Italian men as “mama’s boys”, in the last few years there has been a silent revolution involving the role of dad in the parenting equation. There is greater awareness amongst new Italian fathers about the importance of being an important part of the growth process of their children. New dads involved in what are in many places considered standard dad tasks: diapers, cooking, bathing, cleaning etc. These new dads are 30-40 years old with a wife who works full-time. They share the responsibility of supporting the family and child care with their wives. They take a leave to stay at home with kids and they love spending the day with their babies. Fathers have discovered that they can be just as good as moms.

This is a novelty for Italian men. Many men are not so happy about this change because it entails effort. To be a full time dad is harder than being a “just one-hour-a-day” dad. Some fathers are used to minding the children only when they’re back from work late in evening. Many dads, though, have realized that it’s not as difficult as they thought it would be to actually stay at home with their kids. Moreover spending time with their children is the best way to create a relationship with them and establish a strong bond.

It’s clear that dads and moms are different, they have a different approach and style in interaction with children but they are complementary and indispensable for their baby’s growth. And this new approach to fatherhood is not innate, but can be simply learnt.

New dads are still a minority in Italy because there are many social barriers. For example, companies are not used to managing these new dads. It seems that a man should decide between career and fatherhood while I would argue he could get both. The children of this new dad generation will grow up with a new perspective and maybe this will spell the end of the “mammon” era.

Some months after the birth of my daughter, I decided to start up a blog on my fatherhood experience to share my thoughts and my everyday life in order to create a community for dads. I realized that on the Internet, Italian dad bloggers are like a drop in the ocean of mom bloggers. Unlike moms, it seems that dads are not as good at building a team among men. Maybe because the father role is not defined, everyone interprets this role in a different way. It’s unlikely to see dads chatting together when they are at the park with children. Moms do it all the time.

I was told that abroad the situation is completely different. I know there are even some magazines just for dads, in Italy that is inconceivable.

As a blogger of the Italian blog BABBOnline, which means “Dad Online”, I created a logo dedicated to dads: “Dad On Duty” identifying dads who take part in their childrens’ life.

The image I created is that of a father raising his baby to the sky. This is known as “il gesto di Ettore” or “Hector’s gesture” because in Iliad, before the battle, the hero Hector says good-bye to his son with this gesture. According to some research this is a typical male gesture. I would love to see stickers with my logo on bumpers, on the back window of cars or even on a backpack.

I look forward to meeting many more Italian and foreign “dads on duty”.

Sincerely,

BABBOnline (http://babbonline.blogspot.it/)

Got kids? I’ve got a watch for you.

June 14, 2012

They got me. They hit my weak spot. They know. They’ve been watching me. They knew I’d cave. They smelled blood. They know I crave watches. And I tried to resist. Really, I did. But who am I kidding? Would I say no to a watch review. Especially, if it is for an iconic brand like Timex? You may say, “but you have so many watches already did you really need to review another one?!” I would argue it is my duty especially because I was skeptical about the one they sent me. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. An all black IP fly back chrono with something they call “Intelligent Quartz”. I already own several Timex watches and you may ask why given some of the others you have seen on my wrist. My answer to you, in the form of a question, is simply this: Got kids?

I do. Two boys and they beat the crap out of everything they can get their hands on. My 4 year old experiments resistance thresholds whereas my 9 month old just bashes and giggles Bamm-Bamm style. I am old enough to remember when Timex had one of the best taglines ever: Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. And that is still true. This chrono looks great for both casual and dress wear, but most importantly it can go all day and is quite durable. Although a solidly constructed watch it is surprisingly light for a 42mm. I’ve never had a problem with the inner works yet on a Timex especially in the T-series family so other than the rare battery change I trust it will lead a long and healthy life on your wrist. The best part is that considering what kids are capable of this watch is affordable so you don’t have to liv fear of wearing it at work or play. If you want a workhorse watch that can do it all (except maybe babysit) then grab a Timex Intelligent Quartz Fly-Back Chronographs.

Extreme Urban Parenting with the new Diaper Dude Boba Camo Baby Carrier and Father’s Day Giveaway

June 13, 2012

“She didn’t get into the right pre-school which means she won’t get into a good private school which means she’ll never get into Ivy League college which means she won’t get a good job. I mean, she’s three years old and her life is finished.” – Woody Allen

In a nutshell that is Manhattan. Living on the UES makes the nutshell even smaller and that much harder to crack (as well as making you nuts and look nuts to outsiders). Extreme Urban Parenting has more to do with egos here than it does with navigating the Urban Jungle with kids so what better venue than to flaunt my top secret LE Diaper Dude Boba Carrier in Camo print. Every tactical advantage on the battlefields of the UES must be embraced and so when Boba called me up and asked if I would field test and review my very own and not yet seen (which in UES speak is “I’m better than you because I can get stuff before the rest of you plebeians) Diaper Dude Boba Carrier with Camo print to match my camo watch, camo diaper wallet and camo Diaper Dude diaper bag, I told them I would have to ask my stylist. My 8 month old giggled which I took to be a yes and the mission was a go.

Not only would I be the only UES dad to have one, but I no longer had to suck in my gut to fit in my wife’s carrier (yup, I’m not allowed to change the setting on it… you know what I’m talking about ladies!) and, to be frank, beige is one of my least favorite colors. So when it arrived I did my happy dance which my 4 year old defined as “silly”.

Out of the box the setup is a cinch and logical if you have ever worn a baby carrier and even if you never have it is easy. Most surprising to me was the feel of the cotton – soft and supple. I was definitely expecting a more “synthetic” and coarse feel. The carrier comes with detachable stirrups which is a feature that I ditched. My 8 month old would basically start yelling “giddy’up!” and dig his heels into my side at the first inkling of stirrups and that would be bad news not only for me, but for everybody around us. The padding is great and the stowaway head cover thingy (ask my wife what the technical name is, but you know what I mean!) adjusts perfectly to keep my son from turning into a bobblehead. He fit perfectly with a few quick adjustments to the straps and it was a very smooth ride for him and I felt that he was snug and my back was well guarded. You have a smart compartment out front for keys and cards. The camo print is just a lot of fun. Most carriers are standard run colors so dad gets to have a little fun while walking around with this one. I also got a lot of compliments from the ladies… about the camo. I would suggest to Boba that they would most definitely find a mom market for the camp print although I am sure they have already thought of it because many moms and dads asked me where I had gotten it. So for that I thank the Diaper Dude and Boba for making me the Alpha-Dad/Parent of the UES for the last month or so. I also plan to put it to the ultimate test by traveling overseas with it so stay tuned for a follow up report!

So whether you are an hardcore AP or a Brooklyn hipster or a stuffy banker I highly recommend the Diaper Dude Boba carrier if not for excellent fit and portability at least for the symbolism of camo and parenthood as a struggle which on the UES takes on a whole new meaning with Extreme Urban Parenting.

 

How about WINNING a LE Diaper Dude Boba Carrier? If you like the sound of that you know the routine for entering to win:

  1. Leave a comment on this post saying what the next camo Diaper Dude Boba Baby Carrier print should be (i.e. desert, tundra, jungle, forest etc.);
  2. Like Boba on Facebook for one entry;
  3. Follow Boba on Twitter for one entry;
  4. If you like New York Dad’s Blog and follow me on Twitter I will also count that as additional entries;
  5. Post or Share this giveaway for additional entries and post the links in a separate comment below.

Make sure that for multiple entries you use a separate comment for each one.

This is open to U.S. readers only.

I will announce the winner on Father’s Day! Good Luck!

Disclaimer: I received a Diaper Dude Boba Carrier for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

WE HAVE A WINNER!

Thank you to all of those who participated in the giveaway. Eva M. is the winner as selected by random.org

Happy Father’s Day to everyone :)

Obesity and the American obsession with “food”.

June 1, 2012

I know I am just cribbing my own comment posted on Babble, but I thought it merited being posted here. The question of obesity and the American obsession with food is something I cannot get over. In this case, Bloomberg, our mayor, feels that banning super sized sodas will cure obesity. Although, I agree with comments on Babble that say this is not the solution, I do not agree with the why. Our nation’s obesity does not derive from the consumption of a particular product or the lack of self control, but a fundamentally flawed approach to food.

Here is the link to the story/post: http://blogs.babble.com/babble-voices/good-enough-is-perfect-rene-syler/2012/06/01/the-slippery-sugary-slope/

And here is my comment for what it’s worth. I could say much more, but this sums it up:

“I find the collective American obsession with food fascinating. It is the only country on earth with such a sick and twisted relationship with food. Diets. Low this low that. Ban this ban that. Women (and worse young girls) who feel the need to poke at food with a look of disgust on their face as if it was their worst enemy. So many reasons for this perverse way of relating to and consuming food, but first and foremost is the fact that we are never humble enough as a nation to look beyond our borders to see how other cultures relate to food. Food is about family, it is about gathering around a table convivially, cooking a meal and eating it together, spending time together and talking to each other face-to-face. The health aspect is a fortuitous consequence that works better in some cultures than others, but regardless it is secondary to what food is about even in countries where it is abundant. When children grow up in a culture that relates to the food on the social and not biological level it makes them happier and healthier. The kicker is that we are one of the most multicultural nations in the word – with the best of the world cultures to draw from at our finger tips – and we can’t even be bothered. Sad really.

And to the point about prohibition, it still very much exists in this country. The absurd law that makes alcohol illegal for those under the age of 21 makes it all the more desirable for the most gullible, easily influenced and immature demographics. They can’t have it and unlike in other cultures it is not part of a controlled and pleasant communal activity such as “a glass of wine with your dinner”, it is just forbidden because no one (just like with food) knows how to integrate it culturally as something to be enjoyed and not abused – and that is why it is a problem in this country and not in others. But that is a whole other post…”

 

Rock & Roll Parenthood.

May 7, 2012

I watched my oldest son flick through the pages of the display iPad in the Nature’s Bioluminescence exhibit at the Museum of Natural History (aka the dinosaur bone museum) and watched his eyes twitch from icon to icon and his finger flit over this or that button before pressing it. And in that rare moment of silence, my mind drifted.

He turns four this week and I just cannot get over the fact that this little man is my kid. I could tell you that he is smart as a whip and a handsome devil to boot, but I know that already so I won’t bore you with the details. I just take the greatest pleasure in watching when he is interacting with something or someone and see those little pieces of me (and my wife, of course) that are reflected in those big brown eyes. You have to understand that I am slowly getting the hang of this parenting thing or rather I am OK with the fact that it is beyond my control and yet I have to put all my brawn, brains and heart into it in an attempt to budge it this way or that in a direction that is hopefully the better path for my kids. It usually, though, feels like Sisyphus and I actually have decided to adopt him as my parenthood mascot – my patron saint of Parenthood.

With my oldest son almost four and my youngest almost 9 months, I still have an eternity to go before earning my veteran parent benefits. There is still plenty of watching that boulder roll back down the hill and trudging back down the hill to push it right back up. And it’s draining.

Two things comfort me and transform the trudge into a little more of a skip in my step. The first is that I see plenty of other kids throwing tantrums at the supermarket and schadenfreude is the best therapy for parents – bar none. The second is the deception created by those moments – often just a split second – where your kids do something so normal and yet so superlative that you turn into silly putty and slide right back down that hill. A smile, a song where all the words are wrong, an unexpected hug, a sincere I’m sorry, replicating something taught without prompting, a delighted laugh, you know what I’m talking about. It gets you every time and is worth all the schlepping that is parenthood. Call me a sucker for punishment, but it’s every bit worth it pushing that rock day in and day out with a skip in my step.

Very, very better latte. Per favore!

May 2, 2012

For the past 100 years in a land not so far away (it’s actually a bedroom), a little boy (I know… you’re wondering how he stays so young!) shows up at the foot of his parent’s bed (they look every bit a hundred years old) and at the top of his lungs says:”I want very very better latte, per favore!” The latte he is referring to is not the Starbucks kind, but simply “milk” in Italian. Every day for the past century his parent’s have slept with one eye and ear open dreading the moment. They’ve tried everything to break the spell. Pleaded, threatened, ignored, hidden, cried even – to no avail. Every morning at around 5am, rain or shine, much like a Swiss cuckoo clock, the boy comes and makes his proclamation. It is repeated several times and more. Even the neighbors must hear and fear it since no village posse bearing pitchforks and torches has ever descended upon the household seeking to purge this scourge. I know this tale seems fictitious, but I assure you it is something that neither Tolkien nor Lewis nor Jordan nor Goodkind nor Eddings or any of the other master bards could conjure from the deepest recesses of their brilliant imagination. Such is the fantastical reality known to some of us as Parenthood.


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