P.C.Pop with Pablo

Posts Tagged ‘family’

Father’s Day – Hey Groupon, I Ain’t That Guy!

In father's day, fatherhood, Malavenda, Men, Pablo Malavenda, parenting on June 19, 2016 at 6:20 am

fathersdayAs Father’s Day approaches — I once again have to accept the fact that I am not a “typical” dad. And my kids are used to explaining that our family is a bit “weird.”

Thanks to “Deal of the Day” websites and e-newsletters like Groupon & Living Social — we are further reminded of the stuff and activities that dads are supposed to like.

Groupon not only has Father’s Day deals that include cigars, meat (steaks), sports equipment, watches, recliners, grills, grilling tools, chain saws, lawn mowers, car detailing, beard grooming stuff, all kinds of things to help me carry my beer and keep it cold, and yes, ties — but they also have a post entitled, The Guide to Father’s Day Gifts. Groupon wants my kids to take me boxing, race go-carts, start a wood working project, jump out of a plane (tandem sky dive), taste a bunch of beers…and go to the shooting range (yes, guns), golf course, batting cage, rock climbing wall, go-cart track, etc. Not to mention that Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menard’s keep sending me emails promoting their gift cards as great Father’s Day gifts. Really?

Now, truth be told — I do enjoy some of these things, a few of these activities, and enjoy an occasional trip to the “hardware” store — BUT is this what they really think about fathers. Is this it? To be fair, Groupon has a deal for facials but they listed it under “wildcard” father’s day gifts.

These “Deals of the Day” sites have taken it to a new level.

My frustration stems from the fact that I was raised as a progressive, Mediterranean-American male – who does NOT fit any of the stereotypes of the typical man as defined by Groupon, the greeting card industry or by any marketing that is gender-based.


Greeting cards are the worst though. In general greeting cards reinforce all of the worst negative stereotypes about men, women, and several other historically oppressed peoples. Standing in the card store in front of the rack filled with greeting cards, I momentarily feel inadequate, left out, odd, and less than a man. I don’t golf, fish, drink beer, or demand dinner when I get home from a long day in the office. I DO cook and bake well; I work around the house; I respect my life partner (and still love her a lot); I love being a dad; I do laundry, iron, and put away clothes; I fill and empty the sink and dishwasher; I dress myself; and I put the toilet seat back down. Eventually I realize that I am very, very OK with NOT being the “guy.”


1963ish1 (2)My male role models in my family were studs – but they were respectful of their partners; they were romantic; could cook and did often; and dressed very well. They hugged and kissed their kids every day, said I love you to their wives, and went shopping, did laundry, and made dinner. Of course roles in relationships were different in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s – but I am a combination of their great traits and the expectations of modern times. Why then do the greeting card writers and marketing gurus still perpetuate these archaic, primitive, unenlightened behaviors featuring beer loving, Neanderthals, sloths, chauvinists who can’t cook and prefer hunting and fishing and golfing more than being with their family?

So what’s up? I doubt if the only Father who doesn’t fit their mold is me. I am sure there are other Fathers, perhaps the majority of Fathers, who can’t relate to the males depicted in these greeting cards. In such a competitive, commercial, and capitalistic industry – if it didn’t sell, they wouldn’t keep making them. So, who are these guys? – And who’s buying these cards or this stuff on Groupon? Are we just so lazy that we can do nothing more than surrender to the negative stereotypes of Dads? – No matter how offensive it is to both men and women.

Or it is that I – once again – am the only one who cares? (Probably not.)

So, now I must go and bake for the church brunch, hug my wife, do the laundry, drive my son to band practice, call my mom, text my wife that “she’s beautiful and I miss her,” sew my daughter’s shirt, tutor my kids in math, go grocery shopping, and get dinner ready for the family.

This is what this Father is doing – so, call us weird — but there are NO complaints here — because I’ve got the BEST job in the entire world!


Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


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Anno Nuovo – Vita Nuova

In Family, health, New Year, wellness on January 3, 2015 at 5:19 pm

happy-new-year-2015

I have great hope for 2015 — to be the best year in ages.

Starting the year with strong connections to family, a small group of friends I can trust, work that fulfills me, children who make me proud (and make me laugh), a partner whose got my back (and makes me laugh), the wisdom to remember the past for what it teaches and the precious memories it has created, the courage to face the future without anxiety, love to share, patience to “let it go,” and the good sense to live for today and be present in the moment — and appreciate (thank God) all of the treasures I have (and perhaps don’t deserve).

Praying for peace, justice, joy, and good health — for all.

Anno nuovo vita nuova!

Father’s Day – I (still) Ain’t That Guy!

In father's day, fatherhood, Malavenda, Men, Pablo Malavenda, parenting on June 14, 2014 at 11:34 pm

happyFathersDay2014

You’re family’s weird — we overheard our son’s best friend say to him on speaker phone. What do you mean? Max asked. Well, his friend said, your dad is baking for church and your mom is outside cutting the lawn. Max then replied — yeah, my family breaks all the stereotypes.

Only two days ago, when I was explaining to a friend that I was having the hardest time finding anyone to fix the concrete steps at my church — she  replied — just do it yourself. My response was — you obviously don’t know me. I am handy around the house and all — but install a set of concrete steps — are you kidding?

Then there is the media and memes and greeting cards — I ain’t that guy!!

Greeting cards in general reinforce many negative stereotypes about men, women, and several other historically oppressed peoples. We may have come a long way from the racial and ethnic stereotypes in mainstream cards but problems still exist. As a feminist and a father of a daughter, I am aware of the role of women and girls in greeting cards as well as the images, colors, and characters used for girls versus boys. It starts with from conception with Baby Congratulations cards and continues on through Father’s Day and Mother’s Day cards, Anniversary cards, and general Birthday cards. Our best friend and his wife just welcomed a new baby girl, and we could only find a Minnie Mouse congratulations card – no Mickey – and of course it was pink. (There was a Mickey Mouse card but it was for a new born boy and it was blue).

Personally, there are two times a year I dread going shopping for greeting cards. One is my wedding anniversary and the other is for Mother’s Day. I also get frustrated during Father’s Day by all of the marketing and sales. It’s a great time to buy power tools, a lawn mower, a grill, golf clubs, hunting gear – because it is all on sale – for Fathers – but I Ain’t That Guy. My frustration stems from the fact that I was raised as a progressive, Mediterranean-American male – who does NOT fit any of the stereotypes of the typical man as defined by the greeting card industry or by any marketing that is gender-based.

Standing in the card store in front of the rack filled with greeting cards, I momentarily feel inadequate, left out, odd, and less than a man. I don’t golf, fish, drink beer, or demand dinner when I get home from a long day in the office. I DO cook and bake well; I work around the house; I respect my life partner (and still love her a lot); I love being a dad; I do laundry, iron, and put away clothes; I fill and empty the sink and dishwasher; I dress myself and do it pretty well; and I put the toilet seat back down. Eventually I realize that I am very, very OK with NOT being the “guy” in the Father’s Day, Mother’s Day or Wedding Anniversary cards. After a few minutes of browsing cards in our local greeting card store and online, I noticed some themes.


The message I saw is that Real Fathers:

  • Eat Beef not veggies
  • Don’t Cook – unless it is an Outdoor Grill or Deep Fried Turkey
  • Sit in Recliners
  • Sleep in Hammocks
  • Try to get out of doing Chores
  • Golf
  • Fish
  • Drink Beer
  • Leave the toilet seat up
  • Won’t Change a Diaper
  • Can’t Dress Themselves
  • Aren’t Romantic
  • Don’t Bake – unless you count pancakes from a mix
  • Demand Dinner after a long, hard day at work
  • Are Lazy, unorganized
  • Love cars (over human life partners)
  • Burp, Fart, Spend a lot of time in the bathroom, Snore
  • Lounge in underwear
  • Have bad tempers – Yell at their wives
  • Are not affectionate — don’t kiss, hold hands, hug
  • Love Bacon
  • Leer at young women in bikinis
  • Have a mustache
  • Need more tools
  • Smoke a pipe
  • Shoot guns
  • Insult their wives – joke about their weight, hair, looks, gray hair, cooking, etc.
  • Are mostly white, stupid, and straight

1963ish1 (2)My male role models in my family were studs – but they were respectful of their partners; they were romantic; could cook and did often; and dressed very well. They hugged and kissed their kids every day, said I love you to their wives, and went shopping, did laundry, and made dinner. Of course roles in relationships were different in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s – but I am a combination of their great traits and the expectations of modern times. Why then do the greeting card writers and marketing gurus still perpetuate these archaic, primitive, unenlightened behaviors featuring beer loving, Neanderthals, sloths, chauvinists who can’t cook and prefer hunting and fishing and golfing more than being with their family?

So what’s up? I doubt if the only Father who doesn’t fit their mold is me. I am sure there are other Fathers, perhaps the majority of Fathers, who can’t relate to the males depicted in these greeting cards. In such a competitive, commercial, and capitalistic industry – if it didn’t sell, they wouldn’t keep making them. So, who are these guys? – And who’s buying these cards? Are we just so lazy that we can do nothing more than laugh at the negative stereotypes of Dads? – No matter how offensive it is to both men and women. Are we not protesting enough to see a more aggressive movement to influence change with the current messages in greeting cards – and the negative stereotypes that they are reinforcing? Or it is that I – once again – am the only one who cares? (Probably not.)

So, now I must go and bake for the church brunch, hug my wife, do the laundry, drive my son to cross country practice, call my mom, text my wife that “she’s beautiful and I miss her,” sew my daughter’s shirt, tutor my kids in math, go grocery shopping, and get dinner ready for the family.

This is what this Father is doing – so, call us weird — but there are NO complaints here — because I’ve got the BEST job in the entire world!


 

Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


Why I Love to Vote!

In Children, College Students, Election, Family, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, Politics, Tradition, Uncategorized, Vote on November 3, 2012 at 9:02 am


“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” Franklin D. Roosevelt


As election day approaches I start to get more and more excited because I love to VOTE.

I grew up in a house filled with politics and lively discussions about the issues facing our community and our nation. My father was a city council member for many years; and my mother was appointed by the mayor of our city to serve on the city’s Housing Authority, of which she soon became the chair for more than 15 years. In addition to my parents’ direct service as public officials, one elected and one appointed, we were involved in several political campaigns. We always had candidates’ signs on our lawn, we always worked our party’s “booth” at the various town gatherings and festivals, and we always worked on election day. My parents wrote letters to editor, called their elected officials, spoke at open forums and attended meeting regularly. My mother was asked to leave a few open “public” meetings, once even by the mayor. Of course she challenged them by filing a complaint with FOI (Freedom of Information) — and BTW she won — resulting in the mayor and city manager having to personally pay a fine.

As a teenager on election day, I made phone calls to remind people to vote, drove people to the polls to vote, collected data from polling sites for the party headquarters, and even worked for a national TV network to survey voters and call in polling information. I attended several post election receptions — and for the record, I prefer partying with the winners. That was the fun part. It wasn’t so much fun when my father voted against the teachers’ contract triggering a teachers’ strike. The head of the teachers’ union was my calculus teacher, and he did not hesitate to make comments about my father in class. My brother got the same treatment from his Italian teacher who was also his soccer coach. I laughed it off; my brother got angry and quit soccer; and my sister was too young to understand. My parents eventually transferred by sister to catholic school. That was not fun — but it was a great learning experience and made me even more passionate. When I attended college, I joined a political student organization and continued to work on campaigns and work on election day. My involvement and interest in politics, campaigns and elections never waned.


“Thinking is not to agree or disagree. That’s voting.” Robert Frost


Then I began my career in higher education and chose to put my personal political beliefs aside. I say “chose” because it was not a hard/fast policy. I decided that if I was going to “serve all students” I had to be nonpartisan. Being nonpartisan meant that every student leader and every student organization could count on me to serve them well — regardless of their politics, regardless of their beliefs, regardless of their religion, regardless of their attitude. I encouraged political engagement; I encouraged political rallies and protests (and counter-protests); and I assisted in candidate and surrogate visits (including three Presidents, several US Senators, and a few Governors). Everyone knew that I would work hard to support them and make their dreams come true — no matter their agenda. They were important, they were valued, and they were a vital part of our campus and our nation. I pushed them to exercise ALL of their rights and fought for them when others objected. What a great job it was. I worked with a wide variety of student organizations including the following:

  • Amnesty International
  • College Democrats
  • College Republicans
  • Conservative Action Network
  • Feminists
  • Green — Anti-Coal
  • LGBTQ Student Alliance
  • Libertarian Socialists
  • Libertarians
  • Marxists
  • Military
  • Non-Theists (formerly known as Atheists)
  • NORML – National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
  • NOW – National Organization for Women
  • Occupy Wall Street
  • PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
  • PIRG – Public Interest Research Group
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Pro-Life
  • Pro-Peace
  • PUGWASH
  • Socialists
  • Student Government
  • Students Against Sweatshops
  • War on Hunger

Since I was unable to put a sign on my lawn, wear a button on my lapel, support a candidate, openly debate political issues, or work for my party on election day — encouraging students to care about politics is what kept me going. During this time I grew as a professional and as a citizen when I was truly nonpartisan — when I was working hard for ALL student leaders – ALL student organizations. Today, I am a little bit more open about which candidates I support but still hesitate because of all of those years keeping it under wraps. Those year did however help me develop a much greater respect for anyone who gets involved in any part of the democratic process. After all  how much fun would it be if everyone agreed with me? Not too, that’s how much!


“In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.” David Foster Wallace



I love voting. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to election day though. On election day, I will get up early and put out our USA flag. I wear only red, white and blue — and have a special “election day” tie and a wide assortment of flag lapel pins. Before I was eligible to vote, I couldn’t wait until the day came that I could vote — especially in a presidential election. My visit time was as exciting as I imagined. Before I vote — I study, I read, I listen, I debate — until I am ready. I take this process very seriously. I usually vote the straight party ticket — but I never pull the straight-party lever. I enjoy pushing a lever for each and every candidate — and vote on every question and referendum. I also don’t vote early – even though I passionately support early voting — and anything that enables more citizens to vote. I am afraid that if I don’t vote on the actual election DAY it won’t feel the same – and I am not willing to take that risk. For me it is all about getting prepared, waiting and anticipating, and getting more and more excited — and voting on election day, the second Tuesday in November (not before). If a candidate visits our city, I am there whether or not I agree with their platform. To name a few, I’ve attended speeches or debates with Jerry Brown, Mitch Daniels, Chris Dodd, Ross Perot, Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Richard Lugar, Lowell Weicker, Joseph Lieberman, Evan Bayh, G. Gordon Liddy, Bill Bradley, Mario Cuomo, and Colin Powell. I was even involved in the first ever Rock the Vote campaign in 1992.


“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” John Quincy Adams


To me it is a privilege and honor. To me it is a duty and an obligation. I know it sounds corny, but when I am voting I feel very patriotic. And I wear my “I Voted” sticker with great pride. Voting on election day gives me such joy. I love democracy and I love the United States of America. I don’t take my citizenship for granted — and know how lucky I am. I can’t even comprehend US citizens who are eligible to vote who DON’T. I just don’t get it. I also believe if I vote then I will have a right to complain later. And those who don’t vote; well, you know – how do they have the nerve to complain? The people who really baffle me are the self-proclaimed “undecided” voters. How can this be possible? Who are these people? Are they messing with us — or just in need of attention?


On Undecided Voters: “To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes​ down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?​’ she asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of poop with bits of broken glass in it?’ To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.” David Sedaris


Lastly, I don’t even acknowledge the argument by non-voters that “my one vote doesn’t count and doesn’t matter.” I truly don’t believe that and even if it were true — that would not stop me. I AM VOTING!


“Voting is the most precious right of every citizen, and we have a moral obligation to ensure the integrity of our voting process.”  Hillary Clinton


I truly appreciate my parents for surrounding me and my siblings with politics and getting us involved in current issues and the needs of our community. They made it accessible and exciting. My mother (who is a few years past the age of legal retirement) still attends Housing Authority meetings and is an advocate for any tenant who needs her support. Our weekly phone conversations typically include some talk of the politics of the week. And nothing would stop her from voting — nothing!


“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Winston Churchill


My obligation to my country and my parents is to VOTE. And now that I have two kids (12 and 14 years old) – I must keep up our family tradition. A family tradition of caring, staying informed and getting involved — and being patriotic, loving our country and doing our duty as engaged citizens. Both of my kids, especially my oldest, get fired up as much as I do about politics. My oldest even watches political news shows with me — and get frustrated and laughs at the appropriate times. This is the greatest gift I can give to my parents…and my country. The next generation will have at least two kids who will VOTE and will become involved, good citizens — stepping up to serve their community, studying the issues, supporting candidates, putting signs on their lawns, and working on election day.


“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.” Gore Vidal


I must admit — I am ready for the 2012 “campaigning” to end but I can’t wait to VOTE. My only complaint is that my time in the voting booth isn’t long enough. I believe in democracy – I believe in this country – and I believe in the strength and resilience of the generous and caring people of this great nation. I am an eternal optimist and have great hope – always. And when I VOTE – Inever feel more HOPE and hopefulness deep within my soul. This one act – VOTING – defines who I am as a US citizen. It is a beautiful and inspiring thing.


“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.” Theodore Roosevelt


So, next Tuesday (and every second-Tuesday of November) — I will meet you at the Voting Center. Please – don’t forget to VOTE and bring a friend to VOTE too. We all matter — and our votes do count! If only for that wonderful feeling of patriotism — that knowledge that your vote is as important as anyone else’s — that sense of duty. Then, perhaps, you will LOVE to VOTE and get as excited to vote as I do. I am certain of it.

Have I mentioned — I LOVE TO VOTE!


{For more information on how to VOTE and get engaged — click HERE.}


“Stand beside her, and guide her | Thru the night with a light from above” – Irving Berlin



Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


How to Say NO to Facebook – Advice for Families and Educators

In Education, Facebook, Family, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, social media, Uncategorized on October 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm


Facebook – Advice for Families and Educators

Each day in the life of a parent of a teenager or tween invites challenges. Parenting today’s youth contains so many contradictions and conflicts. We want our kids to respect us — and like us. Kids need and are begging for boundaries — but we don’t know how to say “No.” We want to protect our kids from worshiping material things but we want them to have better stuff than their friends. We hope our kids will follow the rules but we teach them how to break them every day. Some decisions are easy – say No to drugs, don’t steal, don’t cheat. Others are not so simple, like when it is OK to date, go to an R rated movie, or get on Facebook.

This post can’t possible cover all of those issues adequately – so, let’s focus on one – how to deal with that inevitable question about Facebook. My first reaction to parents and educators is that it is simple – follow the rules and agreement. Most people “agree” and “accept” agreements with online sites and software without ever reading a word. Scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll…click the “I accept” box and submit. So it is no surprise that very few know Facebook has an age minimum. Here is an excerpt from the Facebook Agreement you accepted (but most likely did not read) under the Safety Section, specifically “Registration and Account Security.”


Facebook – Statement of Rights and Responsibilities

Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

    • You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
    • You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.

Facebook and many other online sites like Twitter, Instagram, and all Google products including Gmail and YouTube has age restrictions to show good faith to the US Federal government. These social networking sites have adopted these policies based on their interpretation of the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 also known as COPPA.


Here are some COPPA facts:

  • COPPA is a Federal Law
  • COPPA was Enacted on October 21, 1998
  • COPPA became Effective on April 21, 2000
  • COPPA applies to the “online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction from children under 13 years of age.”
  • It details what a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children’s privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing to those under 13.
  • While children under 13 can legally give out personal information with their parents’ permission, many websites altogether disallow underage children from using their services due to the amount of paperwork involved.

This doesn’t stop kids under 13 from getting Facebook profiles on their own or asking their parents to give their blessing for a Facebook profile. Facebook doesn’t do too much to prevent kids from creating a profile. Facebook screens out kids by requiring new members to submit their birth month, birth day, and birth year. If the birth year reveals that the person registering is over 13 years old – they make it past the one and only hurdle imposed by Facebook. Most kids savvy enough to know about Facebook are savvy enough to fudge their birth year to get approved for a profile. The only other ways a minor may lose their Facebook account is if another user reports them as being under age or they change their birth date information too often. Otherwise, once a minor gets in they are set.

After surveying the parents of the kids who were already using Facebook, many of these parents admitted to helping their children falsify their information to get a Facebook account — creating what is known as a “Virtual Fake ID.” Parents who actually help their kids commit fraud when registering with Facebook concern me for a couple of reasons. These parents either don’t completely understand the dangers of kids using Facebook, or they know the risk and don’t really care. Most of these parents find it very difficult to deny their kids anything. So when the kids ask for access to Facebook stating that all of their friends are on Facebook, the parents concede. These parents don’t want their kids to have less than other kids, and they really want their kids to like them and think they’re the cool parents. So these parents teach their kids to cheat, lie and commit fraud to get that much desired Facebook account. With these families, saying NO to Facebook is not their real issue. The good news is most parents know that there are risks and know they should say NO but just need some advice on “how to say NO” and information that supports the claim of risk and danger.



As parents, that day arrived for us when our kids were in fifth and fourth grades. My son came home and told us that many of his friends had Facebook profiles and he was wondering if he should get one too. We sat down with both of our kids and told them that Facebook did not allow kids under 13 years old to register – and kids between the ages of 13 and 17 needed their parents’ permission and the parents’ commitment to monitor their activity. We continued the discussion with our two kids about our concerns and about the risks and dangers of the internet. The topics or discussion points we used in our conversation with our two kids are as following:


  • Purpose of Facebook — The original purpose of Facebook which was to assist college students in connecting online – and now any adult. Due to the amount of college students and young adults using Facebook — inappropriate content and language is freely shared, used, and available. Just like we wouldn’t allow them to wander around a university campus at their age, they shouldn’t be allowed to wander around Facebook at their age. Quite simply, Facebook was not designed for kids.
  • Why an Age Restriction – First it is part of a Federal Law and written into the Facebook agreement. We as a family follow rules and obey laws. A lot of research and discussion was involved in passing the law and creating the rule; therefore we will comply.
  • You Don’t Need It – When kids get older and go to college, Facebook is a useful tool to keep in touch with your high school friends and family.  Once you graduate college and/or get a job in the real world, your network of friends, family and colleagues will most likely extend across the country and perhaps will be global. Facebook will then be a useful tool to keep in touch, share information, and develop relationships that may assist you in life and your career development. But until you can show your parents that you need Facebook to communicate or stay connected to your friends – you should not be on Facebook. Go to school and talk to your friends instead.
  • Too Public, Too Many Strangers. Due to the amount of users (more than 1 billion to date), there is a great potential for predators to hurt them, harass them or just pick on them and make them feel bad. Bullying is a real issue, and cyber-bullying is even easier and potentially more damaging. Even though kids are using the internet and Facebook in the safety of their own home – it is a very public place. Kids are just not developmentally ready to be on their own in such a public place with potentially a billion strangers watching them.
  • Waste of Time – Addictive. How it can become addictive and a waste of valuable time – taking away from the true priorities of doing well in school, having friends, and participating in other activities like sports, band and student council. Online addiction is a real issue especially with kids who are easily distracted, seeking attention or validation, or avoiding work. This by the way describes most children, tweens and young teens.
  • But Others Kids are Doing It. Why other kids are doing it and we can’t. In our family, we have already established with our kids through various conversations that other families may make different decisions than us. We are not going to judge other families but typically what other parents do will not have an impact on us. Only we know what is right and good for our family.

That being said, it is great when the parents of your kids’ friends have similar rules about Facebook. It is the Tooth Fairy Syndrome – when you discovered that one kid in your kids’ circle of friends has received $10 for just one tooth from the Tooth Fairy. Those parents ruined it for the rest of us parents whose kids only got 50¢ to a dollar per tooth from the Tooth Fairy. For this reason it is worth having a discussion with other parents, your kids’ teachers, and other family members to see if you can establish some consistency in the messages your kids are getting about social media and social networking. Most parents when they are educated about the dangers and risks of kids using Facebook will also restrict their kids’ usage. Also, most of our parent-friends were clueless that the age restriction was tied to Federal Law and explicitly stated in the Facebook user agreement. If you can’t find common ground though, don’t back down and don’t compromise. After all it is the safety of your kids that is at stake.


So, now that we have this Facebook dilemma figured out – whose going to help me figure out how to talk to my kids about “you know what,” when they could start dating, and when they can go see an “R” rated movie without me tagging along. Somebody Help Me. Please.


Nobody said it was easy — No one ever said it would be so hard.


Read more about Social Media on PC Pop with Pablo:


References & Resources for Parents, Teachers, and Families:


NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline. The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement. With resources such as videos, games, activity cards, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates.


OnGuardOnline.gov is the federal government’s website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online. The Federal Trade Commission manages OnGuardOnline.gov, in partnership with several other federal agencies. OnGuardOnline.gov is a partner in the Stop Think Connect campaign, led by the Department of Homeland Security, and part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our nation’s children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional, and physical development. As a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, we provide trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume.


Kids Using Social Media – A Guide for Families and Educators

In Children, Education, Facebook, Family, Malavenda, marketing, parenting, social media, Uncategorized on September 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm


Since the launch of Facebook in 2004, I have been studying the impact of individuals’ Social Media choices on their lives. I have seen time and time again individuals who insist on posting inappropriate content online using Facebook and other social networks. These choices cause problems, anxiety and often severe and irreversible consequences.

In 2005, my focus was on educating college students and college administrators. Facebook was such a new and mysterious internet phenomenon, I was kept very busy working with student athletes, coaches, campus officials in the dean’s office, top administrators, campus police, media relations staff as well as religious leaders and student leaders.

In 2010, there was a shocking increase in the number of middle school and elementary school students joining Facebook despite the age restriction. (Facebook requires that members be at least 13 years old to register.) My kids were in elementary school at the time, and I went on a crusade to get the word out to teachers and parents. As I started to give Social Media lectures and workshops I realized how ignorant most parents and teachers were to the potential dangers and pitfalls of social media and networking.

Today, the problem still exists only the technology is getting more and more advanced, parents and getting worn down, teachers are getting desperate, and the kids are getting more persistent and savvier. So, I am taking my crusade to the place where everyone is and wants to be – the internet.


Families & Parents

Many parents in this generation are intimately involved in all aspects of their kids’ lives and want them to have everything – including the latest cellphone, unlimited texting, and a Facebook profile. A majority of the kids who were altering the “birth year” to gain a Facebook profile had their parents’ consent and in many cases had their parents’ help with the registration process. Parents want the latest gadget for their kids but don’t even know it’s bad. And the pressure is on to equip your kids as well as your neighbor’s kids. Yes, peer pressure exists among parents too. Families must become engaged in social media in order to understand and to help their kids to avoid the pitfalls and navigate the dangers.



Teachers

Teachers on the other hand know the potential dangers when kids use Facebook but most teachers simply don’t know enough about technology to assist the kids or the parents. Teachers have a great deal of training and experience in how to deal with bad behavior but no one prepared them for this. Technology has added a new troubling dimension to student behavior issues. Every issue teachers have been dealing with for decades are still prevalent but with a new twist. Teachers know it’s bad – but get stuck there. Teachers must focus not on where the behavior is occurring but rather on the behavior itself. Whether the incident happens on the playground or on Facebook, the approach should be the same and the discipline, if necessary, should be consistent. Educators will then realize that they already know how to handle this online behavior and already have the resources to combat it. Educators should trust their instincts and rely on their training and experience to proactively work on educating kids on the pitfalls and giving parents the tools to do the same. But they must also be prepared to react swiftly, fairly and firmly, when needed.



Kids

The kids are going to take what they can from their parents – who want to give them everything. Kids will do their best to be safe but will eventually make a mistake. Let’s hope the consequences aren’t too damaging. There’s a reason they don’t have middle school dances at night – and they don’t have them at all in elementary school. Tweens do not have the skills to deal with complex relationships. Elementary school kids aren’t even ready for simple relationships let alone complex ones. Children are just not ready – developmentally – for the skills needed to use Facebook and other social media without getting hurt in some way.  Through my experience I know that social networking environments like Facebook are difficult for adult and college-age students; therefore, it will be impossible for teens, tweens and juveniles to avoid trouble. This new technology has far worse consequences though.  The danger is real, the harm is severe and the results can be permanent and irreversible.



Educating Kids

First, parents and teachers must partner together. The solution is not to ban young adults from using the internet but to make choices as a family – as a community.  For instance, like with PG-13 and R-rated movies we must have conversations with our kids about what’s appropriate, what the boundaries will be and why. Once kids are old enough they must be educated, trained and coached. Parents and teachers must expect mistakes and be supportive and understanding while correcting behavior immediately, equitably, and consistently. Social media is not going away. The best gift we may give our kids is the street-smarts to navigate this new medium successfully.



I plan on posting a series of blogs discussing the issues with kids using social media. My goal is to educate families, school personnel and students on some of the pitfalls. For now I will offer a short list of some of the potential issues with using Social Media for young adults and children. Ponder these and stayed tuned for more.



Now – if you choose to and allow your kids to go online – enter at your own risk – Godspeed.



Glossary of Internet Acronyms:

  • ASL = Age, Sex, Location?
  • BRB = Be Right Back
  • G2G = Got To Go
  • MIRL = (Let’s) Meet in Real Life
  • OMG = Oh My God/Gosh
  • POS = Parent Over Shoulder
  • P911 = Parent Alert
  • TMI = Too Much Information

A complete list of Top 50 Internet Acronyms Parents Need to Know


Read more about Social Media on PC Pop with Pablo:


References & Resources for Teachers, Parents, and Families:


NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline. The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement. With resources such as videos, games, activity cards, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates.


OnGuardOnline.gov is the federal government’s website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online. The Federal Trade Commission manages OnGuardOnline.gov, in partnership with several other federal agencies. OnGuardOnline.gov is a partner in the Stop Think Connect campaign, led by the Department of Homeland Security, and part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our nation’s children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional, and physical development. As a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, we provide trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume.


My Story of Pasta Fazool

In Family, fatherhood, Food, health, Italian, parenting, Summer for Renewal, Uncategorized on August 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm


Pasta Fazool aka Pasta e Fagioli — This is My Story


Pasta e Fagioli is one of those dishes in my family that popped up every now and then — and everyone loves it. Later in life I was given more insight into this simple Italian meal from my Grandmother, Phyllis. If I hadn’t lived with my grandmother for a while in college, I might never have heard some of these stories about our family, our heritage, our Pasta e Fagioli. When I was accepted into college my family didn’t have a lot of disposable income to support me 100% — so, I made some tough decisions to make college more affordable. First decision was to attend a regional campus of UConn to save some money.  Commuting to the Hartford regional campus would allow me to live at home and pay a fraction of the cost of tuition/fees compared to the main campus. By the time the first day of classes rolled around I unfortunately no longer had a working car. Just getting to the campus every day was a challenge. I did various things to get back and forth and for part of that time I lived with my grandmother. My grandmother lived in the south-end of Hartford and the UConn Hartford campus was on the west-side of Hartford — actually in West Hartford. I soon became a city kid and got comfortable taking the bus everywhere.

My new home was in one of the oldest Italian neighborhoods in Connecticut. Franklin Avenue is a well-known center of the Little Italy of Hartford — and I live right on Franklin Avenue in an apartment with my grandmother. The street level of her building was one of the best Italian grocery stores on Franklin Avenue and directly across the street from one of the best Italian bakeries in the city. It was a very walk-able neighborhood — everything you needed was within walking distance and downtown Hartford was only a 20 minute bus ride away. My grandmother did not drive or own a car either but never struggled getting by on Franklin Avenue. At this point in her life my grandmother was retired but still very busy. I soon realized that during the day through early evening she had a definitive routine.

My grandmother’s routine was driven by “her shows.” Her first soap opera came on at 11 a.m. so everything had to be done by then. She got up and made breakfast. One of my favorites was French toast made with Italian bread. She often ate hers with salt and pepper — not maple syrup. Once breakfast was done, my grandmother planned the menu for the day and then went shopping for fresh bread and everything else she needed for lunch and dinner. She enjoy really fresh food, so she shopped every day at the small grocery store downstairs, the bigger grocery store a block away, and one of the several bakeries on Franklin Avenue. Her options of places to shop increased on Wednesdays because she walked a couple of blocks up Bond Street to attend early morning mass at St. Augustine’s. My grandmother worked very hard all morning planning the meal, shopping, tidying up the apartment, and making lunch. Her ultimate goal was to be settled in her chair in the TV room with her lunch ready to eat at exactly 11 a.m. when her first soap opera started. The dinner she planned would be pretty traditional with an Italian flair but lunch was consistent — a sandwich and a side dish. My grandmother used fresh Italian bread, fresh deli meat, and fresh cheese usually provolone. She then prepared a hot side dish. Although for most this would be just another lunch — but to my grandmother it was an inspired work of art made with love. The sandwich was toasted or grilled and was a masterpiece.  The side dish could be almost anything like a simple soup (chicken noodle, turkey rice, split pea & ham, minestrone), vegetables (ratatouille or grilled vegetables like peppers, onions, squash, zucchini), pasta (risotto, pastina), or creamy polenta with grated cheese and/or tomato sauce. I learned a great deal about cooking and planning meals during these times. My grandmother shared little tricks and techniques and soon I knew how to turn a good sandwich into a great sandwich.

Most of the time, my grandmother was so focused on getting settled for her soap opera TV show, that there wasn’t much time for chatting. But I learned that if I listened carefully, I could learn a lot. She not only taught me about food but also would tell me the story behind the food. One of my favorite stories is how this is the food that the poor people at in Italy. Most of the ingredients of her side dishes were inexpensive, grown in the garden or from left-overs from dinner. As I mentioned in another blog, we rarely went out to eat at an Italian restaurant because they served we could make better, fresher and much less expensively — for pennies. As Italian chain restaurants started to pop up and become popular it amazed my grandmother that they offered and charged a lot for Italian “peasant” dishes like polenta, pastina, risotto, Pasta e Fagioli, and even pizza with homemade pizza dough.

Another story was about Pasta e Fagioli. Pasta e Fagioli is the ultimate poor-family meal. Among her friends when she was a kid, Pasta e Fagioli was made at the end of the week with the left overs from the entire week. Pasta e Fagioli literally translates into “pasta and beans.” So technically any soup that includes pasta and beans can be called Pasta e Fagioli. It is a delicious, hearty meal that you could make with everything you had on hand. Pasta e Fagioli can include meat but it can also be a vegetarian meal. Now you have to be careful with old time Italians because even though it was served vegetarian most of the time in my family — the flavor in the broth came from pork. A hunk of salt pork, some bacon fat or a ham bone was often used to add flavor. Salt pork or bacon fat was used when sautéing the onions and celery and if you had a ham bone on hand you would include it with the water or broth when you begin simmering the soup.  You then add the first of the two main ingredients — the beans. It can honestly be any bean you like but in my family it was typically kidney, chick peas, canteloni beans or some combination of the three. After an hour or so of simmering, remove the hunk of pork and ham bone and add beans and pasta. My favorite is a mini tube pasta called ditellini. Others in my family prefer a bow-tie pasta. I think you get the idea — frugal families would take all of their leftovers for the week (including hunks of salt pork and bones), add rough-cut vegetables, onions, celery, garlic, broth/water and the magic ingredients — pasta and beans.

Pablo’s Pasta e Fagioli Recipe – click photo

The best part about Pasta e Fagioli is it is the ultimate Italian food for the soul. There is nothing more comforting that a hot bowl of Pasta e Fagioli with grated parmagiana, crushed red peppers, and a slice of crusty Italian bread. So it is not surprising that most Italian restaurants offer Pasta e Fagioli; and it is one of the best things to bring to a carry-in or potluck. And when you want to show your friends that you care about them during tough times or times of joy, nothing says you care more than sending a big pot of Pasta e Fagioli. You’re not only sharing a meal but you are sharing your heritage and a family tradition.

Another quite humorous part of this meal is the pronunciation itself. When I was growing up we ate something called “Pasta Fazool.” Everyone in our family called it Pasta Fazool; our friends called it Pasta Fazool; you could order Pasta Fazool in a restaurant on Franklin Avenue and get what you wanted without the server giving you a strange look. Basically there was no reason for me to question the proper pronunciation of Pasta e Fagioli. It wasn’t until the coordinator of the potluck lunch at work asked me for the recipe of my Pasta Fazool that I actually saw how it was spelled. And then the first time someone ordered it at the chain Italian restaurant, the well trained server of the fake Italian restaurant gave us a funny look and corrected our pronunciation — which by the way wasn’t correct either. I again denied our family mispronounced Pasta e Fagioli because we also didn’t pronounce other foods phonetically — like lasagna, manicotti, mozzarella, or ricotta. I later discovered that the pronunciation, Pasta Fazool, is unique to the American-Italian community in the Northeast. So I now proudly say Pasta FAZOOL!

Our Pasta e Fagioli is vegetarian (often vegan) and a healthy, high protein, low fat meal. Today, I share this story and meal with my family — the next generation. The most wonderful part of this meal are the memories of my grandmother and our time together. The cook that I have become is in large part to my grandmother. She was a creative and confident chef. She loved making meals special and loved sharing meals with others. As a tribute to her and all of the other great cooks in my family, I am committed to not only sharing these meals with my kids but also keeping the stories alive. My grandmother would be very pleased that I have kept many of her traditions alive and I am still sharing her stories and our memories.


Buon Appetito!


If you want my recipe for Pasta e Fagioli, click here.


This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:

 


Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


Pablo’s Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

In Family, fatherhood, Food, Italian, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, Summer for Renewal, Tradition, Uncategorized on August 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm

This is one from my grandmother’s kitchen. It is a recipe from the old country — true Italian comfort food. Pasta e Fagioli can be found on the menu of many of the best Italian restaurants around — but the dish was a peasant dish served by frugal families. My grandmother’s version used salt pork or a ham bone for flavoring. My version is vegetarian (often vegan), high protein, and low fat. Pasta e Fagioli is a special treat for my family — and I hope it becomes that for you. For the whole story of my family’s Pasta e Fagioli tradition, READ the PC Pop Blog post: My Pasta Fazool Story (aka Pasta e Fagioli).


Pablo’s Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

Serves: 10-12


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups – onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups – celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves – garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups (2 cans) – kidney bean (light and dark red)
  • 2 cans (28 oz.) – crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) – diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tbs. – olive oil
  • 2-4 tbs. – dried or freshly chopped parsley
  • onion powder/garlic powder, to taste
  • 28 oz. – water or broth
  • 1 cup – pasta (ditalini)
  • grated cheese
  • crushed red pepper
  • crusty Italian bread

 

 


In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and onions. Saute onions stirring often until they begin to look translucent – about 2-3 minutes; then add garlic and celery. Continue to stir occasionally over medium heat for about 5 minutes (be careful not to burn onions or garlic). Optional – add other chopped vegetables.

Add kidney beans, parsley, onion powder and garlic powder – and combine ingredients by tossing well. Add crushed tomatoes and stewed tomatoes. Fill each empty tomato-can half-full with water or broth (approximately 28 oz. total) to get remaining tomatoes — add to the pan. Bring soup to a boil carefully; then reduce heat and simmer for 20-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For al dente pasta, 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, carefully bring the soup to boil. Then add the pasta, bring to boil again, cover and turn off heat. Let stand, covered for 20-30 minutes. Stir and serve with grated cheese, crushed red pepper, and crusty Italian bread. Fresh green salad with oil/vinegar or Italian dressing is a perfect accompaniment.


Buon Appetito!



This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:


Mia Famiglia

In Family, Food, Italian, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, Summer for Renewal, Tradition, Uncategorized on July 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

What I did on My Summer Vacation: Rediscovered My Family through Food, Kids and Tattoos


The family was an art…and the dinner table was the place it found expression. 

Don DeLillo, Underworld


Coco

Coco

This summer we drove 850 miles to be with our family in the homestead. My childhood home was the center of our family gatherings and holidays for many years. Now it is just my mom and her dog, Coco. Although I have kids of my own now and everyone is 30 years older; we were able to recapture the magic of our weekly Sunday family get-togethers again.

From the turn of the century through 1935, many Italians migrated to the United States of America — including my family. On my father’s side, my grandfather and grandmother’s parents were born in Italy. On my mother’s side, all of my great-grandparents were born in Italy. Although my father only had one brother,  my mother’s family was quite large. I grew up attending weekly Sunday family gatherings and became very close with my aunts (not pronounced “ant”), uncles and cousins. We met every Sunday at my maternal grandparents with the rest of the clan numbering 15-20 relatives. When my grandfather passed away, my mother, the eldest of her siblings, was asked by my grandmother to host the weekly get-together. It made sense because we had a home with a large backyard, in-ground pool, and enough room to seat everyone (albeit tight) for dinner. So, in the early-1970’s, my family began hosting. Like many family traditions, we were going strong until the kids started growing up and eventually having their own kids, families, in-laws, other cousins, etc.

On a recent visit to the family homestead (we now live 850 miles away), we were able to re-create the magic of those American-Italian family gatherings — and it sort of happened spontaneously. We let everyone know we were coming in advance, and many family members generously shared their days-0ff and vacation days with us. Family was coming together like old times. It was a welcome and wonderful treat. We caught up on everything going on with everyone, but honestly we spent most of our time reminiscing about old times. One surprise was how many of my family had tattoos. My sister, her son/my nephew and two of my first cousins had tattoos. Perhaps I noticed them this visit is because it was summer, and we were swimming and at the beach. It struck me that all of the tattoos had something to do with family. My sister has a tattoo of my nephew as an infant and another memorializing my father. My female first cousin had, in script, on her foot, perfectly aligned with the curve of her left flip-flop, simply, “la famaglia.” I thought nothing of it at the time — I was just surprise that they all had tattoos.

Part of the fun was also telling our family stories to the newest generation, aged 4 to 14. It was wonderful how curious the kids were, and amazing how vivid and similar all of our stories were. We also were fortunate enough to hear stories from a few of our great aunts two of whom are 90 and 92 year old sisters. What a hoot. Our shared experiences brought us closer and closer as a family in just a few short hours. As a family we have been lucky. Yes, we have had our losses, our tragedies, but all in all, we had a closeness that others have envied. over the years, we have also created  many traditions that focus on family and also honor our heritage. The constant with any gathering, holiday or family tradition was the FOOD. Preparing a meal together and eating as one big family as always been central to all of our get-togethers. And if your birthday fell the week of the Sunday family gathering, there was a home-baked cake in your honor. Birthdays were about family. Today we plan our kids’ birthdays  at the movie theater, nail salon, country-club pool — with lots of their friends. My birthdays through the years were with family — and I loved it. On this visit we even had an old fashioned birthday celebration for my son (see photo above).


So here’s the story we told our kids recently. The meal for Sundays was always the same. Homemade marinara sauce (not gravy), homemade meatballs, Italian sausage, and pasta (which we called macaroni). Typically the pasta was rigatoni but occasionally we would get crazy and have penne or ziti — but never spaghetti. My mother (my grandfather pre-early-1970’s) would get up at 5 a.m. to begin making the sauce and meatballs because the sauce needed to simmer for 4-6 hours. A big tossed salad was also a part of the meal prepared with olive oil and red wine vinegar and various Italian herbs. Whoever was closest to the Italian bakery was responsible for bringing the Italian bread. It is a meal to die for. An old fashion Italian feast.

The family would begin arriving at 11 a.m. and munch on whatever antipasto that was prepared or carried-in. Swimming began right away and the ball game of the day was put on the TV downstairs (usually either New York Giants or Yankees, depending on the season). Vegetables for the salad were prepared by 1 p.m.; at 1 p.m. meatballs were put in the sauce to simmer for an hour; at 1:15 p.m. the water was put on the stove to boil; and once this enourmous pot of water was at a raging boil, 4-5 pounds of pasta were dumped in to cook. Then the kitchen was cleaned, the Italian bread was cut and buttered, the salad was dressed and tossed, and the sinked was scoured in preparation for draining the (al dente) pasta. Around 2 p.m., my mother would be making plates for everyone and we would eat. She knew exactly what everyone wanted whether it was both meatball and sausage, no meat, extra sauce, light on sauce, etc. For a few minutes it was chaotic until everyone was seated and eating.  Once everyone finished grabbing bread, adding parmesan cheese and/or hot crushed red pepper, it was silent, for a moment, for the first time all day. Once everyone finished their pasta, the salad was served typically in your pasta plate. One or two ate their salad with their pasta but most ate their salad after their meal. (Italians believe it helps settle your stomach after a big meal.)

After Sunday dinner, there was more swimming and potentially a softball game in the front yard. When the sun started to go down, we would go indoors and play Setback (cards) or backgammon. My maternal grandmother was very serious about her card game. Usually by this time everyone would begin getting hungry again, and we would started making sandwiches.  If there was a birthday or anniversary to celebrate this was also the time to bring out the cake and coffee.  Speaking of coffee, there was hot coffee available all day and all night long.


During our recent Summer visit, once the meal was served, all of our wonderful memories of our family through the years came flooding back. The special Italian feast is the one thing that we share as a family.  My maternal grandfather would tell you that at the turn of the century, Italian immigrants had to be frugal.  The food we ate was the food of the peasant in Italy. It was absurd to even think of going out to eat for Italian food. First, we made the food better, more authentic with fresh ingredients; second, our grandparents and parents refused to pay for a meal that they could make for pennies.  We also never used “jarred” sauce. To this day, I feel funny about going out for Italian food or buying sauce in a jar. Not only do I have family memories about food but also specific foods for specific holidays, events, and seasons. Some of these food memories are as follows: chili dogs and homemade ice cream on July 4th; stuffed breads, baked ziti, and lasagna for special occasions like showers, bachelor parties, Christenings; fried dough with powdered sugar for holiday breakfasts; for events that need really special desserts – cannoli, rum cream cake,  pasticiotti, New York cheesecake; for family events like birthday parties – homemade pizza; for special Sunday gatherings – gnocchi or cavatelli; linguine with clam sauce on Christmas Eve; lentil soup on New Year’s Eve; and pasta e fagioli, for some reason, I remember it as the perfect food for the reception after funerals.


If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

Bernard Shaw, preface, Immaturity


We are all getting older and wiser, and during this visit we all realized that nothing is more important than family. No matter what drama we have dealt with in the past and regardless of what issues we are dealing with today, family members love you and accept you and make it right. As a family we are not perfect, but this recent visit was filled with so many wonderful memories. More importantly we have shared our stories, history and traditions with a new generation. We laughed loudly, we hugged, we danced, we swam, we took lots of pictures, we chill-axed, we ate. Our Family connections are stronger than ever. We were able to be ourselves, we were comfortable and content, and it was easy and natural. This is the beginning of a new era. And we are committed to keeping this family together and continuing to create new memories while honoring our Italian and American heritage and our established traditions.

And I can’t help but thing of those TATTOOS — especially “la famiglia.” How profound, yet simple – and perhaps this one word, in Italian, was inscribed permanently on my cousin’s foot not by accident but rather with focused intention. I am convinced in our own silent ways, we all wanted this; and we made it happen. Thank God.


Benedici la Mia Famiglia!


This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:


 

Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


Father’s Day – I Ain’t That Guy!

In father's day, fatherhood, Malavenda, Men, Pablo Malavenda, parenting on June 17, 2012 at 12:28 am

Greeting cards in general reinforce many negative stereotypes about men, women, and several other historically oppressed peoples. We may have come a long way from the racial and ethnic stereotypes in mainstream cards but problems still exist. As a feminist and a father of a daughter, I am aware of the role of women and girls in greeting cards as well as the images, colors, and characters used for girls versus boys. It starts with from conception with Baby Congratulations cards and continues on through Father’s Day and Mother’s Day cards, Anniversary cards, and general Birthday cards. Our best friend and his wife just welcomed a new baby girl, and we could only find a Minnie Mouse congratulations card – no Mickey – and of course it was pink. (There was a Mickey Mouse card but it was for a new born boy and it was blue).

Personally, there are two times a year I dread going shopping for greeting cards. One is my wedding anniversary and the other is for Mother’s Day. I also get frustrated during Father’s Day by all of the marketing and sales. It’s a great time to buy power tools, a lawn mower, a grill, golf clubs, hunting gear – because it is all on sale – for Fathers – but I Ain’t That Guy. My frustration stems from the fact that I was raised as a progressive, Mediterranean-American male – who does NOT fit any of the stereotypes of the typical man as defined by the greeting card industry or by any marketing that is gender-based.

Standing in the card store in front of the rack filled with greeting cards, I momentarily feel inadequate, left out, odd, and less than a man. I don’t golf, fish, drink beer, or demand dinner when I get home from a long day in the office. I DO cook and bake well; I work around the house; I respect my life partner (and still love her a lot); I love being a dad; I do laundry, iron, and put away clothes; I fill and empty the sink and dishwasher; I dress myself and do it pretty well; and I put the toilet seat back down. Eventually I realize that I am very, very OK with NOT being the “guy” in the Father’s Day, Mother’s Day or Wedding Anniversary cards. After a few minutes of browsing cards in our local greeting card store and online, I noticed some themes.


The message I saw is that Real Fathers:

  • Eat Beef not veggies
  • Don’t Cook – unless it is an Outdoor Grill or Deep Fried Turkey
  • Sit in Recliners
  • Sleep in Hammocks
  • Try to get out of doing Chores
  • Golf
  • Fish
  • Drink Beer
  • Leave the toilet seat up
  • Won’t Change a Diaper
  • Can’t Dress Themselves
  • Aren’t Romantic
  • Don’t Bake – unless you count pancakes from a mix
  • Demand Dinner after a long, hard day at work
  • Are Lazy, unorganized
  • Love cars (over human life partners)
  • Burp, Fart, Spend a lot of time in the bathroom, Snore
  • Lounge in underwear
  • Have bad tempers – Yell at their wives
  • Are not affectionate — don’t kiss, hold hands, hug
  • Love Bacon
  • Leer at young women in bikinis
  • Have a mustache
  • Need more tools
  • Smoke a pipe
  • Insult their wives – joke about their weight, hair, looks, gray hair, cooking, etc.
  • Are mostly white, stupid, and straight

My male role models in my family were studs – but they were respectful of their partners; they were romantic; could cook and did often; and dressed very well. They hugged and kissed their kids every day, said I love you to their wives, and went shopping, did laundry, and made dinner. Of course roles in relationships were different in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s – but I am a combination of their great traits and the expectations of modern times. Why then do the greeting card writers and marketing gurus still perpetuate these archaic, primitive, unenlightened behaviors featuring beer loving, Neanderthals, sloths, chauvinists who can’t cook and prefer hunting and fishing and golfing more than being with their family?

So what’s up? I doubt if the only Father who doesn’t fit their mold is me. I am sure there are other Fathers, perhaps the majority of Fathers, who can’t relate to the males depicted in these greeting cards. In such a competitive, commercial, and capitalistic industry – if it didn’t sell, they wouldn’t keep making them. So, who are these guys? – And who’s buying these cards? Are we just so lazy that we can do nothing more than laugh at the negative stereotypes of Dads? – No matter how offensive it is to both men and women. Are we not protesting enough to see a more aggressive movement to influence change with the current messages in greeting cards – and the negative stereotypes that they are reinforcing? Or it is that I – once again – am the only one who cares? (Probably not.)

So, now I must go and bake a cake for my daughter’s birthday, hug my wife, do the laundry, drive my son to his guitar lessons, text my wife that “she’s beautiful and I miss her,” tutor my kids in math, go grocery shopping, and get dinner ready for the family. This is what this Father is doing – and NO complaints here — because it is the BEST job in the entire world!


 

Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts: