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The Family That Laughs Together, Stays Together *

The Family That Laughs Together, Stays Together *

* Blogger’s note: Due to the graphic nature of the following story and the family nature of this website, please note that throughout the blog, the word “laugh” and it’s uses will be used to represent the word “vomit.”

Ever had a stomach virus? For those that have, you may skip this next paragraph as I would hate to conjure painful flashbacks. For those that have not yet had the pleasure, let me describe a bout with a stomach virus. Imagine the worst 48 hours of your life. There. That’s pretty much it. Imagine dying of thirst, but not being able to drink even water because you can’t hold any liquids down. Imagine setting up a makeshift bed on the bathroom floor tile because there’s no real point in leaving the room where you’ll be spending most of the night plus you can’t waste precious seconds running all the way from your bedroom. Imagine involuntary chills, but a temperature of 102. Imagine if a genie appeared to you and said, “What is your wish, master?” and you unhesitant in your joyous answer, “Genie, kill me. I wish for death. Make it swift, but make it happen.” Of course this would be a strategic error because you could probably just as easily wish for the stomach virus to go away and still enjoy the rest of your life.

The TODDLER was taking a late afternoon nap when he laughed *(see above note) for the first time that Saturday. As adults when it comes to the unpleasant but inevitable task of laughing, we are experienced enough to run to the bathroom commode, laugh it up and flush it down. Toddlers can’t get to the bathroom so they just laugh and laugh. And man, there’s nothing more unpleasant than cleaning up projectile laughter. You find laughter in places that seem impossible. The TODDLER wasn’t done though. He began laughing every 15 minutes. The poor little guy was miserable. He didn’t understand what was happening. He only understood that he wanted it to stop. Every time he felt the laughter start to rise he would whine a meager, “No. No. Done. Done” as if to reason with his stomach that he was no longer enjoying this thank you very much. A doctor was called and prescribed an anti-nausea medication. Since it was after 6:00 on a Saturday evening, the prescription was called into an all night pharmacy. It was in the next town over and about a 15 minute drive. The FATHER raced over only to find that the all night pharmacy was closed from 7 PM to 7 AM that particular night due to “unforseen circumstances”. Of course it was. Upon arriving back at home empty handed the FATHER discovered that the TODDLER had been laughing in his own room, giggling in his parents’ bed, chortling in the hallway, and guffawing everywhere else. The MOTHER and FATHER would try to put a bucket in front of him, but the TODDLER began to associate that action with laughing and would push it away in hopes that it would stave off the next joke. Of course it didn’t and only made things quite a bit messier. Carpets needed to be scrubbed. The TODDLER’s bedsheets were soon soaking in the bathtub in an attempt to save them for future use. An attempt that would prove futile. The MOTHER and FATHER’s bedsheets were thrown into a washing machine that was about to have a very long night.

The FAMILY rushed to the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital. The title “emergency room” is one of those oxymorons like “jumbo shrimp” or “holy war”. Nothing about that place moves at the pace that emergencies should. And if you ever feel depressed because you’re sitting home on a Saturday night, take a walk over to your local emergency room. After spending 5 minutes in the packed waiting room of miserable, injured, and sick people, you’ll walk out feeling like a million bucks happily returning to your boring but healthy Saturday night at home. The FAMILY arrived at 9:00 and was seen at midnight. The TODDLER was given some medication that actually seemed to help. He stopped laughing long enough to hold down some liquids. The little guy was exhausted from his 6 hour ordeal however. The doctor looked at the PARENTS and said, “It’s so sad isn’t it? You just wish it was you going through it rather than him, don’t you?” Stupidly the FATHER agreed. And the irony began. When the FATHER turned to the MOTHER, he noticed that her face had gone deathly pale. She looked at him and said, “I don’t believe this. I’m about to start laughing.” She excused herself and went off to find a ladies room to chuckle in private. It was like the end of The Exorcist. The TODDLER was no longer possessed, but the evil spirits had hopped over to the nearest warm body. The hospital prescribed an anti-nausea medication (the same one the doctor had prescribed over the phone 5 hours before) and released the FAMILY. The pale MOTHER and recovering TODDLER headed out to the parking lot while the FATHER settled the bill. As he was filling out the paperwork, he suddenly felt the blood completely leave his face like the tide rushing out to sea just before a massive tidal wave. He felt his mouth go dry and his hands go clammy. You’ve got to be kidding me. The clerk handed his insurance card back and said cheerily,”You’re all set. Good night!” The FATHER grunted something incomprehensible and pondered turning right to the bathroom or left to the parking lot. Being the good father that he was, he decided to get his sick wife and baby home. He walked out to the car where the MOTHER was already in the driver’s seat. He was trying to talk himself out of laughing until he arrived home. No such luck. Things were just too funny on this night. The car was barely moving when the window was rolled down and the FATHER shared a joke with the parking lot. And then there were three…

Upon arrival home, the MOTHER and TODDLER wearily climbed into the master bed which was now a bare mattress with a bare comforter. The TODDLER quickly fell asleep while the MOTHER made a few more trips to the bathroom. The MOTHER and FATHER debated getting the prescription filled immediately or waiting until morning. The MOTHER reasoned that there would be no sleep without some form of medication. The FATHER reluctantly agreed, climbed into the car that didn’t have remnants of laughter all over the passenger door, and headed out to the other all night pharmacy which coincidentally was in the strip mall across the street from the previous all night pharmacy. This begs the question: what’s wrong with the inhabitants of this town that they need two all night pharmacies within fifty yards of each other? The FATHER felt queasy and exhausted, but was proud of his heroic efforts to take care of his family at 2:30 AM. In fact he felt downright thirsty. And he remembered that as a small boy, his mother always let him have Coke to help his upset stomach. So he picked up a bottle on his way out of the pharmacy. But always mindful of his weight, he settled for Diet Coke. Now this was stupid because A. he had probably dropped a pound or two anyway in the last couple of hours; B. the sweet coke syrup not found in Diet Coke was what helped upset stomachs and C. sipping the Diet Coke was probably the way to go rather than gulping half of the 20 ounce bottle in one swig. Needless to say the FATHER was halfway home when he felt the urge to cackle which quickly turned into a strong urge to hoot and holler. Having no time to pull over he rolled down the window and leaned out while acrobatically keeping the car straight. N
ow this was also stupid because if he had paid attention in Physics class he would know that expelling an object out of a vehicle moving 50 miles per hour would just bring said object right back into the vehicle at an equal velocity…or something like that. The joke was now on the FATHER not to mention the front seat of his car. Laughter: 2 Family Cars: 0. Had anybody been witness to this pathetic display, they would have seen a grown man driving a car down the highway screaming,
”AHHHHHHH! AHHHHHH! OH MY GOOOOODDD!!!!” Upon arrival at home, the FATHER quickly undressed and threw his clothes into the overworked washing machine. He jumped into the shower, scrubbed himself with the ferocity of an obsessive compulsive, toweled off, gave a pill to the MOTHER and took one for himself. He then staggered into bed and the family enjoyed a restless sleep for 2 hours.

The next two days were spent alternately on the couch and the bed. Frequent trips were made to the bathroom by both the MOTHER and the FATHER. The TODDLER was thankfully good as new and couldn’t understand why his parents didn’t enjoy it when he gleefully climbed all over them or jumped on their heads and why they remained in bed moaning all day. The MOTHER and FATHER were actually grateful that the TODDLER felt better. It would have been impossible to take care of him in this state. The FAMILY eventually recovered and actually relished in the weight loss. But they never will forget the night of 1000 Laughs.

So why do I recount this graphic tale that at times crosses the line of over sharing? Because looking back, it was a 72 hour period of time that can only be endured by people who truly love each other. Never has the term “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” been put to the test more. Because nothing says happy family like a night filled with laughter.

Look Out. Here Comes Tomorrow.

Look Out. Here Comes Tomorrow.

The last time I checked I wasn’t a fifteen year old girl from the 60s, but I was surprised at how affected I was by the death of Davy Jones last week.  Then again I guess it makes sense. I was a Monkees fan before I was a Beatles fan (and anyone who knows me knows there ain’t no bigger Beatles fan). My brother and I used to come home from school and watch the reruns of the Monkees show in the 70s. Then we would play the Greatest Hits album and transform ourselves into the band playing in front of thousands of screaming girls. My brother was a Mike Nesmith fan so he would play the guitar (on a tennis racket). I was a Micky Dolenz guy so I would play the drums (on my hamper). I know the Monkees are seen as a bubblegum “fake” group, but the show and their music is brilliant and still holds up 45 years later. That band sparked my love of comedy and music, two things that still play such a big role in my life to this day.

So what does this have to do with a Daddy blog? Well, I got to thinking about memories and when they start to stick. My oldest will be six next month. I think I was around his age when I discovered The Monkees ergo music and comedy. My sixth year of life was when things really started to click. 1977: The year of my first obsession, “Star Wars”. First grade.  The year I started to make friends that I still have today. Six is still my favorite number because of that year. I swear. I remember at the time my mom asking me “What’s your favorite number?” I yelled out “Six!” My older brother looked at me and snarked, “Oh so is seven going to be your favorite number next year?” (jackass). I replied”uhh…no.” and so it stayed six.

So as far as my son goes, the window of “Oh he won’t remember this when he’s older” has slammed shut. This time when I screw up as a father, it’s very possible I’ll be doing some real damage. How’s that for pressure? I also gotta get my head in the game and start the wheels of influence. First up? I’m breaking out the season one DVD box set of The Monkees. (Yup. I own it.)

Chris Loprete, aka the father of Our Milk Money, began writing his experiences as a new father upon the launch of Our Milk Money, calling his work, appropriately, The Daddy’s Den. Chris is no stranger to comedy composition. He wrote and performed his one-man show You’re from Philly, Charlie Brown, having successful runs at Circle X Theatre, The Lonny Chapman Repertory Theatre and The Comedy Central Workspace in Hollywood, California as well the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Chris has performed all over the country in theatrical productions, television and film. He is an alumni of The Circle X Theatre Company and The Groundlings Sunday Company. Currently, he is a writer/producer for the Comedy and Reality Promo Team at ABC Television. Chris lives in Stevenson Ranch, California with his wife Ally, founder of OurMilkMoney.com and his two beautiful sons, Braden and Henry.

Sniff, Sniff

Sniff, Sniff

I’ve noticed one new thing about myself that I’m attributing to being a father.  I make a lot more noise when I stand up.  Okay, wait. Two things.  I cry at the drop of a freakin’ hat now!  Growing up I was always a sentimental guy (to a fault), but short of excruciating pain or a death in the family it would take a lot to actually start the water works.  Three big exceptions: the movies Terms of Endearment and Glory and for some reason the Happy Days episode when Fonzie goes blind.  Buckets.

Now it takes very little to get me verklempt.  I’m not talking about sobbing or rending of garments or anything.  But the least little tug at the heartstrings will get me welling up.  Movies, TV shows, even commercials.  The wireless provider ad (I’m not protecting anybody’s name.  I seriously forget who the ad was for) where the guy is on a business trip and miserable and is sitting at the airport and then his daughter appears next to him smiles and says “Hi Daddy” and he starts asking her how her day was and you find out he’s on his cell phone talking to her with a big smile on his face?  I was a mess.

THERE!  See?  Even now I just felt my tear ducts start to work.  Or there’s a scene in the brilliant mini-series Band of Brothers when the American Army liberates a Belgian town from the Nazis.  A GI approaches a young Belgian boy and gives him a chocolate bar.  The boy’s father says “He’s never had chocolate before.”  The boy takes a bite, looks at the soldier and smiles.  Forget it.  I was done.  Even family sitcoms like The Middle or Modern Family will have a sweet moment each week that will get me going.

So add one more thing to the long lists of Things They Don’t Tell You about being a Dad.  You are destined to turn into one big wuss.  I guess it’s a good thing though.  Looking at the examples above, one common denominator is that any situation eliciting an emotional response from me always involves children.  So it’s no wonder these reactions have started since I became a father.  It just tells me that I’m so in love with my kids and being a Dad that any sentimental situation on TV, film or even books involving children succeeds in triggering such a stirring of emotion in me for my kids that I…excuse me I have something in my eye.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Déjà Vu All Over Again

My wife and I are either crazy or stupid or so self loathing that we feel we deserve to be punished. It must be that, right? How else would you explain it? Why on Earth but for any of the above reasons would anybody want to go through this again and so soon after the first time? Oh by the way, my wife and I are expecting our 2nd child. Thank you. Yes, it is very exciting. We’re thrilled.
Sure. Whatever.

It is said that the body and mind are able to block out memories of pain and misery. That must be true. If it weren’t, all families would only have one child. We would be a “single child” society. Maybe the Chinese are on to something after all. My wife is in the last weeks of her 1st trimester. She’s miserable, fatigued, nauseous, hormonal, oh and trying to raise a toddler on top of all that. It only gets better from here on out. Soon will come the heartburn, the restless nights, and the various physical ailments that accompany a pregnancy.

My wife will go through some of these symptoms too.

Then it will all culminate in that “wonderful day” that I described in a blog a few months ago. Oh, but wait. There’s more. Just when we trained our first child to sleep through the night, here comes baby # 2 to carry the sleep deprivation torch. It’s time to get spit up on again and time to look forward to another 2 years of changing diapers. Now once the baby comes, our little boy will be 3 years old so I’m sure he’ll be able to take care of himself by then, yes? No, you say? In fact he’ll require even MORE attention so as not to incite any sibling jealousies? Oh great. So I have THAT to look forward to as well.

We’ll be finding out the sex. I’m not sure I understand the “we want to be surprised” philosophy. There are enough surprises on the day your baby is born anyway so why not knock as many of them out as you can before hand? My wife and I want a girl. We would be happy with a healthy baby no matter what the sex … but come on. Neither of us can handle another boy running around this house. We’re just barely able to keep this one from burning down the neighborhood, why would we want to unleash another Y chromosome onto the world?

Our little boy sees the potential though. The toddler Sith Lord needs his apprentice and knows that together they can rule the galaxy. He has stated very plainly that he wants a little brother. He has also made it clear that he wants us to name the baby “Braden”. We have assured him that while it is a beautiful name, it is also his name and things could get confusing around the house if we duplicated it. So, while we would love a little boy just as much, my wife and I are hoping for a girl. And then we’re hoping she’ll magically turn into a boy when she reaches high school. At least I am.

So why do it? It’s not like it was forced on me. My wife didn’t suddenly leap across the bed and ambush me as I innocently read a book. (Believe me I would have loved it…) No, we actually tried to conceive another child on purpose and succeeded. In fact I am very proud to say that THIS time, we didn’t need any help from the medical industry.

Nope.
All me, baby.
A solo slam dunk with no time left on the clock.
Thank you.

So why go through all of this again? The answer is simple. Why the hell not? I can’t go out anymore anyway, so I might as well raise another kid and get them all out of the house at the same time so I can go back to enjoying my life.

Okay that’s only part of it.
The truth is our little boy needs a sibling. He has friends, but he needs to be a big brother. He’s only two, but we can almost feel his loneliness. On a recent trip to the park he slid down the slide, looked around and shouted “Hello?!” to an otherwise empty playground. It was if he was saying, “this is only fun if I can share it with someone.” It’s heartbreaking to me when he wants to play with his toys and doesn’t have a playmate. Oh, shut up, I play with him plenty, okay? I just don’t have the energy of a 2 year old. I have the energy of a 37 year old that’s raising a 2 year old which amounts to… not a lot of energy. There are selfish reasons for having another child too. I got a little teary-eyed when I took his crib down and put him in his “big boy” bed for the first time this past month. It’s only been two years but I get very nostalgic when I look at pictures of my boy as an infant and how small he looked in my arms. I had been warned about how fast they grow up and while my son isn’t exactly borrowing the car or moving out of the house, I do feel like those early stages of life are past him. I’d like to experience them just once more. I’ll savor them a little longer this time.
I promise.

Then we’re done. Seriously. I don’t care how fast this one grows up. I’m not doing this any more.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Chronicles of a Stay at Home Dad

Written by Nathan Bright

My wife and I have been married five years. We were both career-oriented individuals on a good track. In the year 2006 we had life figured out; I received my master’s, my wife had just gotten her foot in the door in an unusually high position at a local community college, we purchased a first home, got a dog, and I turned 30. I also got a job at a Community Center as the Director of Marketing and Recreational Programming.

Things chugged along smoothly.

We also planned on “not trying” to prevent a baby from coming. Lo and behold the stick said “pregnant” at the end of December. We were ecstatic.

 Our daughter entered the world in August 2007. That’s when we discovered what life was all about (figuratively and literally).

 My wife took a full 12 weeks maternity leave and I took 2 of vacation. At the end of October our little girl was finally ready for daycare.

To sum it up – it sucked. We woke early, bustled without paying attention to much else outside the routine, said goodbye to our 3 month old for 10 hours, picked her up in the dark, bustled for a cruddy meal, bath, bed, nighttime waking, do it again. Weekends were spent trying to catch up. Little one-on-one time with baby and zero for each other.

It only took two months to realize we couldn’t function as a real family. My wife and I were hardly talking (not because of anger, but just lack of time) and our daughter felt our radiating stress. We inhaled unhealthy meals and did nothing for ourselves.



I made the realization on my own to stay home. My wife’s paycheck was higher than mine, plus my current pay scale had a definite ceiling. We crunched numbers till we were blue and finally decided to go for it. We saw we’d go in debt a little each month – up to about $700 for the entire year – just to make bare ends meet. In the end we decide that the sanity and health it would provide for our daughter would be well worth the money. We factored in gas for me to drive to work, daycare, and all the incidentals such as Xmas gifts for my staff, meals eaten out, etc. Operation “Career Killer” was given a green light.

 I’ve been at home for two years now.

People we initially told all had the same response; “Oh really, wow, that’s so great for you guys,” while their faces said “That’s weird”. While introducing me to someone, I once caught my dad saying I worked from home. Women, particularly older, would have the most empathy. Although it sounded weird to them they appreciated the toughness of the task I had before me and realized the sacrifice and value it added to our family.

 The value is enormous. I try not to judge others, but it’s tough not to. I see so many other couples who have a paper family (my interpretation of those who are technically in a family but don’t come close to the dynamic complexity involved – this, I feel, can only be accomplished only by spending sheer time with each other).

My wife and I have no problem with being pigeon-holed into “roles”. She works long days for the money. I do house stuff. I feel that if she’s out working hard she should come home to little to no home stresses. As such, I clean, cook, pay bills, maintain house & yard, and everything else associated with home. When she comes home we all have a sit-down healthy meal and enjoy each other’s company.

I’m a catch, I know. For dramatic effect I should say I rub her feet till she falls asleep but that’d be a fib.

Tune in next week when Nathan gives us the pros and cons of being a stay-at-home dad.

Nathan Bright is a 30-something stay-at-home dad who resides near St. Louis, MO. He is a husband to an amazing woman and father to a doubly amazing 2 year old little girl. His blessed home is scheduled to be even more blessed in March, as Nathan and his wife will welcome a second daughter to their family. When Nathan is not blogging for OurMilkMoney.com’s The Daddy’s Den, Nathan writes and illustrates his own children’s books. Available for purchase immediately is Maddi Patti and her Stay-at-Home-Daddy.