The Truth About Screen Time

In general I’m a pretty honest person.  I tend to follow the advice of Mark Twain who said, “If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember anything.”  For me that’s just the easiest thing to do.  I have a million things floating around in my head, so to try to remember who I told what to would be way too complicated.  But when I took my son for his two year check up recently I lied to his doctor, big time. 

The appointment was routine.  We talked about his diet, his progress with talking, his sleep schedule, etc.  I was proud to tell the doc that my son has never had fast food, he prefers fruit over candy (and pretty much anything else), that he mostly sleeps like a champ and I let Mario’s conversation with him speak for itself.  He’s a chatterbox, like me.  When the doctor looked in his ears, Mario told him his uncle had found money there.  All three of us laughed and I was one proud mamma.  Then at the end, the doctor asked me about “screen time.”  He wanted to know how much time Mario spends watching TV or on a computer.  And that’s when it happened.  I lied. 

Now, I know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children younger than two years old and a 60 minute limit for toddlers.  And in general, I go by their guidelines for most things.  But, not for screen time.  So I lied.  I told the doctor that Mario rarely watches TV and when he does it’s only for about 15 minutes at a time.  I told him that I don’t let him use our iPad or our computer.  In reality, he watches TV every day.  And, he got a Kindle Fire for his birthday. 

The truth is I really did limit his screen time.  I wasn’t one to let him entertain himself with a tablet or my phone.  I was strict about that right up until August 19th.  That’s when my second son was born.  After that all bets were off.  I came home from the hospital to a 20 month old who was used to being the center of my universe.  To that point we spent all day, every day together coloring, reading, going for walks, playing with his animals and building with blocks.  If he was awake, we were always doing something together.  Then along came baby Lorenzo and his world blew up.  I remember walking up to our front door with the new baby.  I had pictured the scene a hundred times in my head before.  I expected I would come in with the baby and Mario would come running with a big hug and a kiss for both of us and we’d be an instantly happy family of four.  Ya, not so much.  He did come running.  Only he was screaming, “Noooooooo baby!!”  So he needed some time to adjust to say the least. 

When he saw me nursing the baby he would freak.  He would come over and physically try to unlatch him.  Someone told me a good idea would be to include him in the day-to-day care of the baby.  So, I’d ask him if he wanted to help me change the baby’s diaper.  No.  Did he want to help me give him a bath?  No.  And when he saw that I was trying to get him to fall asleep, that’s when all hell would break loose.  “Put him down!  Go away baby!”  Oy.  That’s when I loosened up on my screen time limits.  A lot.  Sometimes letting him watch an episode of Super Why was the only way my baby was gonna get fed.  Or letting him play Monkey Lunch Box was the only way I would be able to sneak in a shower without having to worry that he’d be plotting against his brother while I was in there. 

Another thing started happening recently that TV seems to be the only cure for.  A bunch of times over the last month or so, Mario has woken up at 4:30 or 5:00 am and refuses to go back to sleep.  So when I get him out of his crib and he’s screaming for Thomas what am I supposed to tell him?  Sorry baby.  It’s too early for screen time?  Truth is, I’d let him watch soft porn on Cinemax if it kept him from waking his brother.  So, on those mornings, he watches TV until I am semi-human and can deal with him. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  Mario’s no slug.  He has a ton of books that he loves to read.  He’s obsessed with horses and could spend hours lining up the dozens of them he has.  He loves cars and trucks and trains and machines.  And, his preference is always to play.  But sometimes, I just need him to chill.  Sometimes I need to give the baby my undivided attention and I can’t do that while neighing and mooing and meowing like the animals in his books.  Sometimes I’m just fucking exhausted and I need 15 minutes to have a cup of coffee or slump over on the couch or pick my blackheads in the bathroom mirror.  I just can’t be on all the time.  

I’m not worried about Mario at all.  He’s wicked smart, really active and by all accounts very advanced for his age.  As I drove home from that doctor appointment, I was fuming mad — at myself.  Why would I lie?  I’m a woman in my forties.  I have my shit together.  In my previous life as a PR person, I could hold my own with any client.  I was always confident in my capabilities and never hesitated to tell anybody what I thought even if it meant I’d fall out of favor (maybe I wasn’t such a great PR person after all).  So why was I lying to my son’s doctor about something as stupid as cartoons?  I guess it’s because I wanted him to think I’m a great mom.  I wanted him to admire me for always putting my children first.  I wanted him to see my son in all his awesomeness as a reflection of me. 

As a stay at home mom, I feel like there’s even more pressure on me to make sure every minute of every day is jam packed with enlightening and uplifting activities for my kids.  And for the most part, they are.  But sometimes my kid watches TV.  Sometimes he watches two consecutive episodes of Thomas the Train and sometimes he insists that I call him Percy.  And the American Academy of Pediatrics can suck it.  I’m doing the best I can.

 

 

I’m blogging again.

Lately I’ve had the itch to blog.  I’m not sure why or really what prompted it.  But I’ve had this nagging feeling that I really should revisit The New Mrs. Carbone and breathe some new life into it. So here goes.

The last time I sat down to blog was November of 2010 when I blogged about my new found obsession with yoga.  Ahhhhh.  I remember those days.  When I wasn’t in class, I was thinking about it.  I worked tirelessly at home to try to perfect my poses.  My husband saw a lot of my back side as I practiced, practiced, practiced in the middle of the living room floor.   Just before that I blogged about my dog — a really long post, all about Sonny, with 31 pictures to go with it.  And before that I wrote about celebrating my niece’s 14th birthday.  As I read through my old posts I felt like I was reading a stranger’s blog.  I haven’t practiced yoga in more than two years.  The only time my husband sees my backside in the living room nowadays is when I’m bending over to wipe spit up off the floor.  My niece is 17 and driving now.  She came over the other day with her boyfriend.  And I don’t even like my dog anymore. (More on that later.)

A lot has happened to The New Mrs. Carbone since that last post.  Here are the highlights:  I got pregnant.  I put on 50 pounds.  I had my first child.  I lost 50 pounds.  We celebrated his 1st birthday.  I got pregnant again.  I turned 40.  I put on 40 pounds.  I had another baby.  That was almost 5 months ago.  I’m working on losing those 40 pounds as we speak.  (I mean literally, right now, I’m not eating.)

I can tell you a lot of things have not happened in that time too.  I have not slept through an entire night without waking – whether it was to pee or shift my belly weight or nurse a child or peek at the baby monitor.  I have not gone out with my husband to dinner, then drinks, then dessert, then more drinks, then pizza, then coffee, then breakfast like we used to.  I have not put on a bathing suit.  I have not put on lipstick unless tinted chap stick counts.  I have not gotten drunk.  I have not gone to the gym.  I have not tanned.  I have not showered without sticking an ear out at least once to listen for someone crying.

But, this is not the part of the post where I say that I don’t miss any of the things about my old life.   This is not the part where I rip off something from a Hallmark card to say that I’m a much better human being now that I’m a mother and blah, blah, blah.  Because truth be told, there are some things I miss.  Size 27 jeans for one.  Boobs that are not a food source are another.  Only being responsible for cleaning up my own poop.  That was nice too.

But seriously.  I couldn’t ask for a better life.  I love being a mom.  I mean, I absolutely adore it.  My kids are friggen awesome.  My two year old says and does funny shit all the time.  My little one is finally passed the “blob” stage and is turning into a charmer himself.  My marriage is stronger now that my husband and I are working together to make sure our kids don’t grow up to be assholes.  There’s my crazy family, my crazy in-laws, my crazy friends and my dog.  And this is where you can read all about it if you want to.

So there.  I did it.  I’m blogging again.

Ommmmmmmmmm

My friends know I have a bit of an obsessive/addictive personality.  If I’m into something, I’m realllllly into it.   This applies to many areas of my life.  Sometimes good things.  Sometimes bad.  Like, if I find a food I like I’ve been known to have it every day for months on end.  A couple of years ago I had tuna on pita with Miracle Whip and  iceberg lettuce every day for almost a year.  I was buying Starkist by the case at Costco.  Then I realized I was probably going to die of mercury poisoning or my children would be born with gills, so I stopped.  After that I was into peanut butter and bananas for breakfast for almost six months.  My recent food obsession is Indian, so I’ve been putting curry in just about everything I eat.  Not sure how much longer that will last.  Enzo has already lost an eyebrow.

I’ve always enjoyed working out, so many of my obsessions have been with different forms of fitness.  When I first got into biking I bought three bikes in one year – mountain, hybrid and cruising – so I’d have a bike to suit whatever terrain or type of biking I wanted to do on any given day.  I’d get on one of my bikes as soon as I got home from work and ride til it got dark. Then I started thinking – did I really need a car?  Could I ride my bike to work and then home again?  That would be a good way to clock an extra 12 miles a day!  Brilliant.  But no.   On weekends I’d try to get everywhere by bike.  Oh, I need milk – let me just hop on my bike and go get some.   I want to visit my parents – I could be there in 5 minutes by bike.  Have to go to the post office – bike.  Going to the gym?  Bike.  I’d even ride my bike to get a mani/pedi which was ridiculous AND a waste of money because I never made it home without totally messing both up.  Then I started making up destinations just to have somewhere to ride to.  Really it was silly.  Why couldn’t I just ride my bike sometimes and have fun?

Oh and who could forget when I was all about kick boxing?  I took classes 5 nights a week and I’d practice my moves all the time.  It didn’t matter where I was.  I’d even do jump kicks in the hallways at work.  Sure, I had a casual work environment, but I don’t know why I thought that was acceptable.  I also became obsessed with my kick boxing instructor.  I wanted my body to look like hers.  I wanted to be able to kick as high as she could, punch as hard as she could.  I even went out and bought the same sneakers and workout gear she had.  OK?  I talked about her to my friends – as if they gave a shit what her arms were like or how many tricep push ups she could squeeze out!!  I’d talk to her before class and after class and wanted to know how long she had been practicing, where she trained, how she got started.  Then I think she started to get a little freaked out by my interest.  I guess I can see why now.

That brings me to my most recent obsession.  Yoga.  A little more than a month ago, my friend Michelle dragged me to my first HOT power yoga class.   I was one of those people who always thought yoga was just stretching and chanting.  I was wrong.  You don’t think yoga is a workout?  Try it.  Anyway, a week later after my body healed,  I did another one with her and then I was hooked. That’s it.  Now I’m a yogi.  I’m practicing about 5 days a week and have researched every yoga studio within a 10 mile radius of me.  I know which offer the best discounts, the best schedules, which have the best instructors and the most normal clientele.   Normal clientele is an important factor as I’ve learned some studios attract a more earthy crunchy crowd than I’m comfortable with.  The workout I got at the first studio I went to was killer but the people there were a little too into the spiritual side of yoga.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a peace-loving person.  I love the Earth.  I like sprouts.  I want to have a balanced mind and body.  But I guess I’m more into the physical part of it.  This place opened the class with three oms and closed the class with three oms which is not bad.  But some people would spontaneously om during the class or turn their breaths into oms and I just didn’t like that.

I am still very much a beginner but I am determined to become a master and fast.  I see some people in classes who’ve obviously been practicing for years.  I mean, they’re balancing upside down on nothing but their index finger and that gets my competitive juices flowing.  One of “my” instructors told me it took her a year til her heels touched the floor in downward dog.  No way.  I have to be able to do it.  I have to do it now.   So, if I have a free minute, I’m in my dog stretttttttttttching closer, closer, closer to the floor. I do it in front of a mirror so I can see how close I’m getting.  I even set up my camera to take a picture of me while doing it.  I watch yoga videos on YouTube and even discovered Comcast has a yoga channel On Demand.

I make Enzo watch me get into different and new poses that I learn.  Wanna see what I learned today?  This is eagle.  This is crow.  This is really hard.  Try it.  Try it. God bless him.  He sits there on the sofa and watches and I always get a “that’s awesome, Mon.”    At Sunday dinner I overheard him prompting my sister-in-law to ask me about “my” yoga.  I love him.  She asked.  Here’s what resulted.

You  really don’t need much to do yoga.  But part of my obsession includes having to get the “best” whatever it is I do need.  So I spent about 4 hours researching yoga mats online one night and ordered what I think is the top of the line ultra thick, sticky, eco-friendly mat out there.  When it came in the mail I thought to myself, with this mat I can do yoga anywhere. Really?  Other than a yoga studio, where am I really going to do yoga?  It’s November.  It’s Boston.   It’s not like I’m going to be doing it along the banks of the Charles or in Walden woods.  I also got a Yogitoes skidless to go with my mat and I’m putting a plug in for it because I think it’s an absolute must for keeping a good grip during hot yoga.  Sure, you could use a regular towel but a skidless is soooo much better.  It’s not a towel, it’s not a mat.  In their words it “prevents slipping on your yoga mat, stabilizes your practice and puts a hygienic layer between you and the mat.”   Sure.  I’ll buy that.

Guess what’s on my Christmas list this year.  You got it.  Yoga.  Friends, fam – wanna get me something I’ll love?  Get me a few classes at Yoga Power, my favorite studio so far.  Sure, the jury is still out on how long my fixation with yoga will last.  But if I know myself, this should take me well into the spring.  I’m going to shoot for keeping it up at least until I have Madonna arms.   We’ll see.

Namaste.

Happy birthday Sonny Carbone!

Today is a big day in the Carbone household.  Our dog, Sonny, turned 1!!  As usual he started his day early – 5:30 am – and by 6:00 he had already torn through the presents we got him.  I think his favorite is the squeaky squirrel.  And as I sit here watching him make that squirrel pay I wonder, what did we do before Sonny?  What did we talk about?  Who did we take pictures of?

Here are some highlights from our first year with the animal who stole our hearts, soiled out sheets, chewed our shoes, ate our underwear and took over our home.

This is where we fell in love.  I distinctly remember Enzo saying, “wow, he doesn’t even bark.”

 

 

 

 

 

First stop was at my parents house.  My mother (hereafter referred to as Nonna) suggested we name him Sonny.  We tried a few other names like Primo and I wanted to name him Kevin, but Sonny is what stuck.  He also answers to Bobo, Bobes, Bubba, Bubbalicious, Bones, Boney, Sonny Bunny, Bunny Rabbit, Little Lamb, Disgraziato (what Nonna calls him) and Cornutiello (what Papa calls him).

 

 

 

 

A surprise guest at the Carbones’.  What would Enzo’s dad say?  He hates dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

Hmmmm.  I think he likes him.

He usually calls him Mezz’ pugnetta (not sure of the exact translation but I think it means something like 1/2 a jerk off).

 

 

 

 

Most everyone was thrilled to meet Sonny.  He could win just about anyone over in under 5 seconds.  That is of course, with the exception of two very important creatures…

WTF?  If he’s gonna be down there, we’re staying up here.  The first few days were really tough.  Lorenzo gave in first – he’s a softie.  Although he has given Sonny a few good beatings.  The jury is still out on Lucia and Sonny.  At first she couldn’t resist smacking him every time they found themselves in the same room.  Now they do this sideways walk thing when their paths cross and they won’t even look at each other.  I think they learned that from my parents.

 

 

 

 

Lucia, just where he wants her.  I swear he pushed her out the door.

 

 

 

 

 

Before we knew it he was ready for his first day of school.  We quickly learned he’s better suited for athletics than academics.

 

 

 

 

 

He didn’t seem to mind his first bath.  Much.

 

 

 

 

 

He really made the photographer work for her money during the photo shoot we had in February.  This is one of the pictures I had framed for Enzo’s birthday.

 

 

 

 

A few of his favorite things:

Car rides

 

 

 

 

 

Chillin with Daddy.

 

 

 

 

 

Hanging out with friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Being with family.

 

 

 

 

 

Snack time.

 

 

 

 

 

Ice cream!!

 

 

 

 

 

Sonny is a great watch dog. Even early on he made sure we knew about every person, animal or car that went down our street.  So much for not barking.

 

 

 

 

He was a little depressed the night before we left on our honeymoon.  I think the suitcases tipped him off.

 

 

 

 

 

But, by the time we got back, Romeo had taught him to jump up on the sofa by himself.

 

 

 

 

 

This was taken the night we had him neutered.  Owie.

 

 

 

 

 

He loves long walks in the neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes he gets pensive.

 

 

 

 

 

Morning coffee tawk.

 

 

 

 

 

Our first family vacation. ACK.  He loved it.  However we learned he does not like it when people wear big hats.  And, he prefers Nantucket Town to Sconset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, Trick or treat.  Now get this f-ing thing off me.

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight we’ll celebrate with a doggie cake his ZiZis bought him.  For now he’s just trying on outfits.

Happy birthday Bobes.  We love you sooooo much!

Any kind of Jews you like

My parents are Italian immigrants.  They moved here in the late 60′s from Naples, Italy – Naples proper – not one of the mountain villages around it.  (No offense to people who are from those villages, but they ain’t Naples and people from there ain’t Napoletan’.)  My mother was in her late 30s, my dad almost 40 when they uprooted my two sisters and my brother and came to Boston to build a new life.  Both of my parents speak English and considering how late in life they came here, they speak it pretty well.  But they never lost their accents (thank God) and there are some nuances of speech that they still sometimes screw up.  Here’s a prime example:

Before my sister got married, she dated a Jewish man.  (Funny story:  she dated two Jewish men with the same first and last names but that was just a happy coincidence.)  Anyway, he came to my parents’ house for dinner one Sunday.  God bless him.  He tried so hard all afternoon to make small talk with my parents and to find some common ground with them.  Food was one easy topic.  My mother put out her usual Sunday spread – red sauce with meatballs, broccoli rabe with sausages, marinated eggplant, fried artichokes, chicken cutlets, etc.   He was very complimentary and he ate a LOT, so that made my dad happy.  According to my dad, if you don’t eat in abundance, there must be something wrong with you and it’s probably cancer.

Later on, the topic of conversation turned to religion.  My mom told him that his Judaism was fine by her.  My other sister’s first husband was Jewish and she had long since gotten over the fact that the Jews killed Jesus.  (No, seriously.)  Some time later, after he picked his jaw up from the table, he asked my mom politely, “Carmela, are there Jews in Italy?”  I’ll never forget.  She was standing by the stove.  She looked over at him as if he was the stupidest person alive.  Was he effing with her?  They were from the big city!  “Of course we have Jews in Italy.  We hava the apple jews, the orange jews, any kinda jews you like.”

Thanks folks.  She’s here all week.  Try the veal. 

We had to walk up hill to school BOTH ways

The other day I took my gorgeous niece for a haircut as a treat for her 14th birthday.  She wanted a new style, something edgier than she could get at her regular hairdresser and cooler than what she had at 13.  So, I took her to a fabulous salon on Newbury Street – a Mecca of upscale salons in Boston.  60 bucks later she was beaming – obviously really happy with her cut.  I’d pay 60 grand to see that smile.  Her hair is a little spiky, a lot layered, just enough covering one eye, just long enough in the back.  She loves it.  On the way home I asked her what else she had planned for her birthday.  Was she going to have a party with friends to celebrate?  She looked at me as if I had asked if she was going to Chuck-e-Cheese.  No.  None of that.  But she was going to see her favorite band at some club (accompanied by an adult, of course).  She planned to get there early for autograph signings and to meet the band. My how times have changed.

Now, when I was young…My parents – more specifically my mother – had complete control over everything I did.  I mean EVERYTHING.  Haircuts?  Well, my mother took me once a year to the same place where she got hers done.  And let me tell you, my mom didn’t go to Dellaria.  Every year, about a week or so after the last day of school my mother would take me with her to see Angie.  She was a nice Italian lady who cut hair at a hotel salon the next town over.  After she was done coloring my mother’s hair light ash brown, she’d go to town on me.  I’d sit there in a chair flanked by old, old, old ladies in tight curlers who pummeled me with questions and clucked out a running commentary.  How old are you, dear?  What are you going to do on your summer vacation?  My granddaughter is your age and she looks just like you!  (Ya, sure she does.)  And Angie would chop all my hair off.  My hair is super curly so I’d walk out of there looking like Gary Coleman just praying that by September it’d be long enough to wear barrettes again.  I wanted long hair so badly.  I wanted mine to look like Lorna Archdeacon’s – straight and shiny and always in perfect braids.  But as a kid, I didn’t get to choose.  My mother didn’t want to deal and she wanted it short.  So there you have it.

I didn’t get to do lots of things other kids did then and certainly none of the things kids get to do now.  Take sleepovers.  All across America kids have them.  Sleepovers with their friends where they eat snacks, paint their nails, watch movies.  Well, I wasn’t allowed.  I slept at home, in my own bed, every night.  Sometimes I’d ask if I could sleep at my friend’s – right up the street.  No way.  “What are you a gypsy,” my mother would ask.  Same went for dinner.  Every meal was at home.  And every meal was home cooked.  Looking back I should have been thrilled with the meals my mother put on the table – always some Neapolitan dish with firsts, seconds and sides.  But back then I would have given my left arm to have tuna casserole or mac and cheese like everyone else in my class had.  I remember one time I asked my mother to make me mac and cheese and much to my surprise she agreed! But wait, where was the blue and yellow box?  Where were the little elbow macaroni?  The powdery cheese?  No, no, no.  This was not Kraft.  This was Carmela.  So my mac and cheese was rigatoni smothered in provolone, mozzarella and parmeggiano reggiano.  It was delicious but not what I had in mind.  I just wanted fake, orangey-yellow  mac and cheese like everyone else.  Oh well.  Dig in.

My cousin’s daughter, who’s 16, got her first job this Fall.  Her parents are proud, but limit the hours she can work to make sure she still has time for after school activities and homework.  She does cheering, plays an instrument, takes dance – and she’s encouraged to do so.  My parents didn’t believe in after school stuff like that.  I went to school, I went to work, I came home and did my homework.  Anything outside of that would surely subject me to the evil American influence that would result in me growing up to be a slut.  I was 12 when I started working at a farm stand.  I’d ride my bike there – it was pretty far – and I’d ride my bike home.  My mom was pretty excited because she got my 10% employee discount.  So, boo-hoo, I never learned to express my creativity through dance or piano and never learned the importance of teamwork through sports.  But I’ll tell you what I did learn.  I learned personal responsibility and I learned how to earn a buck.  For that I’m grateful.

If you walk into my niece’s bedroom, you’ll see it’s all her.  The walls are purple – or at least what you can see of them behind posters of her favorite guitarist.  Last night she said she’s considering painting it red.  She has a funky comforter, dressers topped with all her “things,” a tv, a dvd player and a closet full of clothes that she chose – all black.  It was different for me.  First of all I didn’t even have a room.  I’m at the point where I’ve come to terms with the fact that I was not planned (I will not say mistake).  So when I came along, my parents didn’t have a room for me.  There were no carved letters strung by pink ribbon spelling out my name above my crib in a perfect 10×10 room.  I slept in my parents’ room until I was too big for a crib.  Then I moved to the dining room where I slept on a fold up cot that would go back in the closet every morning.  Seriously.  You know what a pain in the ass that was?  “Ma, I’m so tired.  I’m going to bed.”   Then I’d wheel out the cot, unsnap the blue plastic straps that held it upright and push it into the corner.  Get the sheets, make the cot, then get in.  And I did it myself.  Now to get a kid to go to sleep they get the 30 minute, 15 minute and 5 minute warnings.  Then it’s a project to put on their PJs, then you have to call the Queen and the President because look - they’re in their big girl bed!

Anyway, as I got older I tried to add some personal touches to my dining room/bedroom.  The year I was twelve, I was in love with Michael Jackson and I won a Thriller mirror at the Carnival down the street from my house.  I was psyched!!  This would be the perfect accessory for my room and since I wasn’t allowed to affix anything to the walls, I leaned it up on the ledge of the china cabinet.  Well, my mother flipped!  How dare I bring a piece of trash into the house and even worse put it up for everyone to see!!??  She blurted out some racial slurs, smashed it and that was the end of that.

My niece has a cell phone.  So does my nephew who’s 12 and my other nephew who’s 10.  They use them constantly for talking, texting, sending pics and videos.  Rewind to the 80s when I was a kid.  I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone.  I’m not kidding.  Who did I have to talk to?  What could I possibly have to say to someone that couldn’t wait until I saw them in school the next day?  When I got to high school and my cot and I had set up shop in my sister’s old room, I’d stretch the cord from the phone in the hallway into my room so I could have a few minutes of meaningless conversation with my best friend, Amanda.  I’d get about 10 minutes before my mother would pick up the phone in the kitchen and tell me it was time to hang up.  Can – you – friggen – imagine????  By the time I got to college (yes, of course I lived at home) I was allowed to have my own phone with my own number (because I paid for it).  I could make calls and get calls from whoever I wanted.  I even had an answering machine with my own funny greeting.  I was like Mel Gibson in Braveheart.  FREEEEEDOM!!!!

I could go on and on about how different things are now and how tough I had it growing up.  No boy/girl parties, no Chinese food (to be explained in a later post), an 11 o’clock curfew up until the week before I moved out, blah, blah, blah.  But you get the drift.  And while I don’t begrudge my niece, nephews or kids these days the liberties they’re afforded I do sometimes think things may be getting out of hand.  I’m not sure how I’ll be with my own children someday.  Early conversations point to Enzo and I differing on our approaches.  He leans toward giving children everything we never had whereas I’m more for moderation.  Ultimately I think what we’ll settle on is something in the middle.

What are you doing on that thing?

My husband is not a jealous person.  In that sense he’s an atypical Italian man.  He doesn’t have an issue with male friends or ex-boyfriends.  He’s very secure in our relationship and trusting of me.  But there is one thing – one relationship I have that makes him very uncomfortable.  It’s with my computer.  And according to him, my attachment to it is unhealthy.

In a sense Enzo is right. He’s one of those people who has almost no use for technology.  He’s not on Facebook.  He doesn’t have email.  He pays his bills the old fashioned way.  Heck, he’s not even really that into texting.  I on the other hand have to be somewhat connected most of the day.  Thanks to wireless access my laptop is never more than a few feet from me when I’m home and when I’m not I have my iPhone and Safari to keep me connected.   I  get a little antsy when my computer battery starts to run low or if the internet connection is spotty.  Most nights it sits with us on the sofa and entertains me while my husband gets lost in Clash of the Titans or one of the super gory Saw movies he loves.  Sometimes if I’m laughing or seem really enthralled I’ll get, “Mon, what are you doing on that thing?”  And the beauty is I can be doing just about anything.

Like 175 million other people, I usually start on Facebook.  That’s always good for at least 30 minutes of entertainment.  I have about 500 friends, many of them people I’ve never met or met only in a professional setting.  They’re certainly not real friends so I shouldn’t really care about their dogs learning a new trick, the funny things their kids say or their pseudo-philosophical musings about life.  And it’s not so much that I “care,” but I’m interested.   There’s no relation but I love to see what Monica Pandolfi, my Italian FB friend did last night or pictures of her and her friends singing karaoke.  It’s also awesome to see what the offspring of people I went to high school with look like.  It’s even awesome-r to see what they look like themselves.  Nothing picks me up when I’m feeling fat and ugly faster than seeing how well I’ve aged compared to some.  Here’s some advice – say no to Bud.  I may not be runway material, but at least my hair style has changed a few times since graduation.

Since I started blogging another thing I’ve become borderline obsessed with is analyzing my blog stats.  How many people are reading?  Where are they coming from?    Which posts get the most traffic?  What times of day?  How do they find me?  You know what the number one search term people have used to land on my blog?  Madonna Holiday.  Ya, not happy about it.  Whenever I see that someone has found me by searching for The New Mrs. Carbone I get a little tingle.  Someone, somewhere, knows about my blog and they have gone to their computer wanting to read it.  That’s cool.

OK, so if I’ve gone through Facebook and am up on my blog traffic sometimes I’ll go to Craigslist.  You wanna really be entertained?  Check out Craigslist “missed connections.”  I think you’ll be surprised at the encounters taking place all around you.  For example I learned that while I’m at the gym killing it on the elliptical, there are budding relationships everywhere and some of them aren’t so pure.  Word to the wise – if there’s a steam room or a whirlpool at your gym, don’t use it.

Zillow.com is another site I can get lost in.  You type in any address of any property and it gives you all the details and its market value.  Being the somewhat competitive person I am, I know exactly how my home’s value compares to all 79 in my neighborhood. (I also know that I can easily afford a 5900 square foot home on a 15 acre lot in Omaha.)  Zillow also shows you what homes are on the market, what homes have recently sold and what the sale price was.  Sometimes for shits and giggles I put in addresses for places in Beverly Hills, CA or Telluride, CO.  Today I found there’s a home for sale on Tower Road in Beverly Hills.  Enzo and I walked that neighborhood while we were there on our honeymoon.  It’s on the market for the bargain basement price of $17,995,000.  And if you put 20% down your monthly payment is only $97,100.  Imagine?  Even though the house is on the market for almost $18 mil, the assessed value is only about $8m.  Whoever owns the house now paid $92,700 in taxes last year up almost 150% over the last five years.  Sucks to be them.

Another great thing about having a computer is that you never have to go to the doctor.  Just do a search for the symptoms you have and you can easily find out what’s wrong with you and how to fix it.  For the last few weeks I’ve had this burning feeling right above my ankle.  It also coincides with numbness in my hands in the morning.  So I either have Guillane Barre syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, pernicious anemia or Raynaud’s phenomenon.  See how easy that was?  All that info including how to remedy those conditions was free.  I don’t even know why I have health insurance.  Waste.

Starting in 2007, those crazy kids at Google deployed a fleet of specially adapted cars, tricycles and snow mobiles to give street views of almost everywhere in the world.  That means you can type pretty much any address into Google Earth and see 360 degree views of what it’s like there.  It’s great for checking out hotels and planning trips or just virtually exploring places you’ve never been.  I used it recently to check out the section of Naples, Italy where my family is from.  When I showed my Dad he actually got teary eyed seeing the storefronts, apartment buildings and alley ways of his old neighborhood.  We went from there to the beach town where my family used to vacation, to the place my grandmother lived, to where my grandfather had his gas station, down the bus route my dad drove and on and on.   Just imagine the tremendous effort it took for Google to pull that off.

So, those are some of the ways I pass the time online.  Nothing to be alarmed about.  But still I’m sure when I go to the back bedroom to grab my laptop tonight Enzo will roll his eyes.  “That thing again??”

The toughest job in the world

One of my Facebook friends posted this piece that appeared in The Washington Post a few years back and people went bananas.   More than 40 people commented on it with arguments on both sides of the fence.  Take a read…

Tell Me About It
By Carolyn Hoax

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Carolyn:

Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What’d you do today? Her: Park, play group . . .

Okay. I’ve done Internet searches, I’ve talked to parents. I don’t get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don’t do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I’m asking is: What is a typical day and why don’t moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I’m feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won’t my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest (“My life is so much harder than yours”)? What’s the deal? I’ve got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.

Tacoma, Wash.

Relax and enjoy. You’re funny.

Or you’re lying about having friends with kids.  Or you’re taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven’t personally been in the same room with them.  I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.

So, since it’s validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm’s way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It’s needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It’s constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It’s constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It’s resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone’s long-term expense.

It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.

It’s also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn’t judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself.

OK, I’m with Carolyn on this one.  I don’t have kids, but you only have to spend an afternoon around some to know they’re tough!  Even the best behaved kids are a lot to handle.  I’ve looked after my brother’s kids – 3 of ‘em – and even today at 13, 12 and 10,  I need to go down for a nap after hanging out with them.  It blows my mind to imagine if it were my responsibility to keep another human being alive, healthy and ensure they don’t grow up to be an asshole.

Several of my friends are working mothers (some work full-time, some part-time) and I constantly marvel and wonder how they are able to do it.  Take my friend Kara (www.hamperchronicles.com).  She went from zero to 2 kids in 38 weeks.  She went from literally spending a few hours a day at the gym to being lucky to spend a few hours a night sleeping.  I’d see her at work every day and mutter obscenities at her under my breath because she was always on time (early even), always matchy matchy and always had makeup on.  Meanwhile there were days I had to pick the crust out of my eyes before I could apply a bit of mascara at my desk.  Sometimes we’d compare our mornings.  She was up at 5:30, got her daughters up and dressed, fed them, entertained them for a bit, put them and all their stuff in the car, brought them to daycare and finally came to work.  I got up a good couple of hours later, sprinted to the bathroom, through my shower, did my hair (kind of), got dressed and sped to work.  And her children – awesome.  They’re smart, they’re sociable and they’re funny.  How Kara?  How?  She’d always say that something changes when you have kids and you somehow just manage.  I friggen hope so.

I also have friends who are stay at home moms and they don’t have it easy either.  My cousin Sandra has three bosses -  four year old twins and a seven year old.  You think that’s a walk in the park?  No way.  Imagine if your boss insisted you take him to the bathroom every time he needs to go?  They need constant attention, entertainment and supervision.   Her husband works unbelievably long hours so it’s often all on her to make sure everyone (including her husband) gets fed, played with, read to and scrubbed up.  But you know what?  Whenever I see her, she’s happy and literally bubbling over with energy.  How?  How?  I mean, my dog threw up three times this morning and I was out of sorts all day.  Totally ruined my workout.  ; )

So, moms, parents, stay at home or working, my hat goes off to you.  IMHO, there’s no job on the planet that’s harder or more important than what you do all day, everyday.

Glad to be off the market

The other night I saw the movie, “He’s Just Not That Into You.”  I know, I’m a little behind on my movies.   I thought it was great.  Not just because my hero, Jennifer Aniston is in it.  But because I think it was a pretty accurate depiction of the shit singles go through.  I commend whoever wrote it and am a little disappointed it wasn’t me.

The whole time I watched I couldn’t help but think how happy I am to be off the dating scene.  Now, I’m not saying that in a condescending I’m married now way.  I seriously thank my lucky stars those days are behind me.  Because, in my dating days, I had some real doozies.

My friends and I had some belly laughs last weekend running through some of the stories.  There was the guy I met at the gym who told me he had been married but wasn’t anymore.  What he didn’t tell me until the first date was that it was because his wife had committed suicide about 60 days earlier.  Did I want to come over for dinner in the house where she offed herself?  No thanks.  There was the guy I was set up with who seemed great the first few dates.  Then when he thought he was closing in on “the kill” he thought telling me about his sexual escapades would be a turn on.  Sorry, hearing about how you and your pal banged the same girl at the same time does nothing but disgust me.

How about the guy who got so sloshed over dinner he threw up in a dumpster on his way to his car?  Or the guy who took me on  a date in a stolen car?  (I won’t go into detail on how I found out it was stolen.)  Let’s not forget the hoarder whose car and apartment were packed to the roof with garbage.  I’d have rather sat naked on a public toilet in Penn Station than clothed on his sofa.  There was one who got the runs EVERY time we went out.  There was the guy who always seemed so wide-eyed.  Turns out his pupils were always dilated because he was on drugs.  WTF.   There were the guys who never called.  Those who’d only text.  And some who called incessantly.  One left me a detailed message about how much of a catch he was and how I was making a HUGE mistake by not seeing him.  He said if he didn’t hear back from me he’d take it that I wasn’t interested.  I didn’t call back.  He called again.   Ug.  There are many, many more that I can’t get into – I’m too embarrassed to even write about them.

Then after all that, when I’d had it with everyone and everything, after I’d drilled my millionth cigarette with my head in my hands and sworn off all men, along came Enzo.  He’d been just a friend for years after my brother initially introduced us.  I’d tell him some of my horrible dating stories.  He’d tell me some of his and about his own offenses.  He’d try to explain why guys do the things they do and turns out the motivation was usually the same.  I remember my friend Amanda telling me several years back that I should date him.  “ENZO???  Are you crazy???  He’s just a friend and besides most of the time he irritates me!”  You know what she said?  She said, “Mon, you’re gonna marry him.”  How the hell did she call that???

From the beginning, he was different than anyone else I’d ever been with.  It sounds cliche, I know, but everything was effortless.  We started as friends so we skipped the awkward getting to know you period.  He called when he said he would.  He said and did nice things – not to impress me but just because that’s how he was.    There were none of the usual games on his part or mine.   No waiting 3 days to call, waiting 1 day to call back, scheduling dates at least 5 days in advance, blah, blah.  He made his intentions clear and he followed through.  Within three months of dating we were engaged and nine months later, we were married – on the anniversary of our first “real” date.

I’m glad for the dating experiences I had and for all the jerks, misfits and weirdos I came across.  I really am.  They made Enzo stick out like a sore thumb as the one and left me with some hilarious stories.   At the time, I thought they were signs I’d die a spinster.  But looking back I see they were all just stepping stones on my way to happily ever after.

Things I don’t miss about my job

As you know from my earlier posts, I’m no longer working in PR.  And since I’m a ‘labeler’ I’ve decided to call this period in my life a sabbatical.  By definition, a sabbatical (from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a hiatus that lasts from two months to a year.  Now if you ask me, those Greeks and Hebrews sure know how to live.

I went into my sabbatical with some trepidation.  How would I adjust to life without the job I’d had since even before I graduated college?  How would I fill my days?  My thoughts?  I worried there’d be so much I’d miss about my old life.  But I gotta tell ya, since then, I realized there’s much more I don’t miss.

There’s the obvious stuff I don’t miss about my job like the eye bulging stress and the complete and total infringement on my life. : )  But there’s also a bunch of little things that you realize are really annoying once they’re gone.

Take the bullshit, made-up vocabulary of the corporate world.  Corporate America has a vocabulary all its own that includes lots of ridiculous phrases contrived to make regular ol’ things sound important.  Like touch base as in “I’ll touch base with you on that later this week.”  Um, how about just “I’ll talk to you about that…?”  There’s also circle back.   That’s basically the same thing as touch base as far as I remember.  But I mean, what are we show horses?  Circle back.  Tssst.  Here’s one that cracks me up – action items.  You can call them action items if it helps you cope, but the reality is they’re just the shit you have to do.  Synonymous with action items are deliverables.  But still – just the shit you have to do.  Oh wait.  Let’s not forget about low hanging fruit.  Maybe my mind is in the gutter, but every time I heard that one I couldn’t help but think of something perverse.  Let’s just say I’m not interested in your low hanging fruit, buddy.  I could go on and on, but I’ll throw in just a couple more particularly egregious terms.  Value add.  “Susy Snowflake, what’s your value add?”  Translation:  “Say something smart that justifies your being here.”  Out-of-the-box.  “We need some out-of-the-box ideas.”  Translation:  “We have to think of something we haven’t tried and failed at already.”  I haven’t used any of these phrases in almost six weeks and I’m pretty sure I’m still communicating and people understand me.

Another thing I don’t miss is email.  Obviously I still use it in my personal life, but in my work life, email was the primary method of communication.  I think that was partly because you always need to have a paper trail to back you up in case something went awry.  But for Christ’s sake we’d email people who were sitting not more than 20 feet from us.  To add insult to injury there was also IM.  You used that if the person you just emailed (who sits 10 paces from you) doesn’t respond within 3 minutes.  And, even if you had a real, live conversation with someone, it was always followed up shortly afterward by an email, just to put the exact same things you talked about in writing.  Imagine if you did that in real life?  I know, next time Enzo and I have an argument, I’ll send him an email recapping what I think my most salient points were.

I also don’t miss business travel.  In my real life I love to travel.  I love everything about it from planning the trip, picking hotels, researching excursions, etc.  But business travel is different.  Through my job I had occasion to travel to some of the most beautiful parts of the country but rarely spent enough time in any of those places to really enjoy them.  In the business world, any destination you can get to in 4 hours or less is a day trip.  And sometimes even a trip to the west coast didn’t constitute an overnight unless you count the 30 winks you get on the red eye.  I once flew 6 hours to sit in a 90 minute meeting and went straight back to the airport to fly 6 hours home.  That was nice.  Nope, I don’t miss that.

So despite my initial concern, I’m enjoying this sabbatical very much.  Today’s agenda included waking up at 6:00, making my husband’s lunch, having coffee and a walk with Sonny, having lunch with my mom and dad, a trip to Russo’s where I leisurely selected the best of their eggplant, squash, russets and cubanile peppers, a stop at the local nursery to pick up mums and pumpkins to decorate our front porch, an afternoon of work in the garden and sitting down for dinner (3 courses that I made) with Enzo at 6:00.  Now that’s my idea of value add.