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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.

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.

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.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

The Housedad Interrogation

Written by Guest Blogger, Edmund Farrow

“So, are you on holiday then?”

It’s the question I fear most. I never know exactly how to answer and it usually comes at an awkward moment, such as when I’m trying to break up a fight between my kids or I’m having my haircut. If I’m really unlucky, I get asked it when I’m trying to break up a fight between my kids while I’m having a haircut. This is obviously worse – difficult explanations are made so much harder when having to hiss threats at a nine-year-old as someone waves scissors around my ears. Normally, though, the question is just well-meaning small talk at the supermarket from an acquaintance or a stranger, designed to make me feel better as I extract a small child from an disastrous encounter with a cereal display.

“Actually, this is me at work,” I mutter, tipping Cheerios out of my daughter’s pockets. “I’m a housedad.”

“Oh!?” The amiable grin on my inquisitor’s face dissolves and they take an involuntary step backwards. Surprise, disbelief, pity and fear fight for control of their wildly-jiggling eyebrows as they realise they’ve blundered into a whole different conversation from the one they were expecting. Then they pull themselves together and remember that it’s rude to stare. They try to think of something encouraging to say.

They usually fail and resort to asking, “Do you enjoy that then?”

I mean, where to begin? I get to watch my kids grow and learn. I have opportunities to play with them, teach them and delight in them that most dads can barely dream of. Do I enjoy being a housedad? Of course I do.

Then again, it can be tough going sometimes. I’ve had to watch Finding Nemo 537 times, for instance. Being a housedad is a daily parenting adventure but it’s also a job.

Back in the day, when I had three children under the age of five, I was constantly busy. There wasn’t time for anything much beyond looking after the kids and trying to stay sane. I regularly had to choose between sleep and time to myself. Getting enough of both was a perpetual juggling act.

The last couple of years have seen a steady improvement. Aside from the occasional nightmare, they all sleep through the night. They all know how to get dressed without assistance. Very rarely, they can even all entertain themselves at the same time and leave me in peace. It’s a crazy new world of wonder I’ve entered. Better than that, my youngest started school this year and I have several hours to myself every day.

Unfortunately, when well-meaning acquaintances learn this, they immediately ask, “Are you thinking of going back to work then?”

Er… Did I say every day? I meant every weekday when school is on and none of my kids are sick. That’s something quite different. At best, I have twenty-seven hours a week with which to pursue another vocation and that’s if I leave shopping and cleaning until the weekend, don’t stop for lunch and ignore any travel time. Most weeks it’s more like twenty hours. Many weeks it’s none.

This limits my career options.

Explaining is more trouble than it’s worth, though. Everyone assumes that, as a man, I must be leaping at the chance to get out of the house and win some bread. It’s only natural, after all. Personally, however, I’d rather have a lie down. I’m due several years’ worth of lunch hours as it is…

I counter by mentioning that I run a parenting website but, sadly, by this point, I’m already irredeemably marked out as ‘slightly odd’.

My interrogator’s eyes narrow. “Does that make any money?”

“That’s not really the point. I get to pass on what I’ve learnt, encourage other parents, build my self-esteem and share a few laughs.”

“So, that would be a ‘no’ then.”

“I do get free computer games.”


For some reason, this always impresses people enough to cover my escape. I make my excuses and leave, mumbling something about having to find my children. Then I set off in the direction of the bickering, following a trail of little old ladies who’ve been barged into freezer units, their rubber-soled shoes waggling out from amongst the packets of frozen peas.


I wonder if mums who ‘only’ stay home and look after their kids face the same kind of thing?

Having all three at school has brought new possibilities. That said, they still need me around an awful lot for the time being. The website (DadsDinner.com) has been going well and is hopefully the beginning of a self-employed writing career but I’m not holding my breath. I’ve got plenty to keep myself occupied – not least with ten years of chores to catch up on. Realistically, my main task for this first year of freedom is to figure out what I’m doing in the second.

Got to start back into the world of paid employment somewhere, I suppose…

Running a successful business with children around is an impressive feat. Hats off to all of you who’re giving it a go.

Located in the UK, Edmund Farrow has been a housedad for nearly ten years and has three children, aged 9, 7 and 5. He vaguely remembers that he was once able to program computers. In 2007, however, he finally got fed up of being told how common housedads are these days by everyone he spoke to, despite the fact he was normally the only one they’d ever met. He decided to set up a website, DadsDinner.com, to share what being a primary carer with only one X chromosome is really like. Dadsdinner offers advice, encouragement and humour to parents, prospective parents and especially stay-at-home dads. It includes guidance on everything from potty training to surviving a zombie invasion, along with reviews of such housedad essentials as home delivery services and films with explosions. Don’t tell anyone, but mums enjoy DadsDinner, too. Sometimes it gives them scary ideas about getting their men more involved in childcare. (Well, scary for the men in question, anyway…)

I went to the grocery store with an infant and a toddler ALONE…AND I survived.

I was determined. To heal quickly from my cesarean.
To conquer the idea that I now had TWO kids rather than 1.
To get out of the house.
To prove to myself that although I don’t have family nearby, or neighbors to help out, I was completely capable.
I had been told by several of my friends not to even try it- it couldn’t be done. But I didn’t listen.

A friend of mine suggested that I order the groceries online to be delivered to my home. Another one suggested that I wait until my husband came home from work. I had considered waiting until the toddler had preschool and then take only the infant to the store. All good options, but I had issues with each one: I didn’t want to pay the delivery fee, my husband was working late, and my toddler only had preschool twice a week.
The refrigerator was empty, and so was the pantry.
I had no choice but to attempt this intricate task…today.
It started off fine, believe it or not. As I walked the aisles in the store, I remember thinking, “Hey! This is easy. I can accomplish this!” Of course it was very premature. I was worried that my toddler would take issue with walking NEXT to the grocery basket as opposed to being IN it, since the infant had now taken the prime and ONLY seat available, but actually he seemed to be proud at his new role as the big brother. I was especially grateful that the toddler did not disappear and then attempt to leave the store as he had done several months earlier, at a time when I was pregnant and too handicapped to be able to chase after him.
I confess that I had bribed the toddler with a box of cookies, so he was in fact behaving himself.
The first hitch began when I got to the car and realized that with the double stroller, the diaper bag, and BOTH car seats taking up the entire back seat, I had very little room for groceries.
I made a mental note to bring up the issue of purchasing a bigger vehicle to my husband that evening, which would prove to be a waste of my energy. I would later post my frustration on face book.
Somehow, I managed to squeeze the groceries into the unreasonably small trunk space of the Toyota Rav 4, and slam the door before anything could fall out, knowing full well that opening it again would create a new challenge. I opted not to be concerned for the moment, as I had other tasks to complete. I would cross that bridge soon enough.
Got the kids in their car-seats. First the toddler, then the infant- so as not to have the toddler running in the street and stopping traffic while belting in the infant. Drove home. Okay.
Now HERE is where the real chaos began. By the time I had pulled up to the house, my car at become a chamber of hissy fits, tears and pandemonium.
It was at this point that I realized I had a real dilemma of which action to take first. The infant needed me to nurse him, the toddler wanted his cucumber sandwich with the crusts cut off and a side of apple slices, I hadn’t eaten yet- which was an important task to accomplish before I attempted to nurse, and the groceries were melting in the car.
Plus, I had to pee. Badly. And to those ladies out there who have also been pregnant, you can attest to the fact that it takes several months before one’s bladder is even close to recovering from the trauma.
But this? This was like Sophie’s choice.
What to do first…
Feed the Toddler?
Feed the Infant?
Feed myself?
Save the melting groceries?
Save my bladder?

To be honest, I don’t remember how it went. But the important thing is that it all worked out… because, well, here we are.
As I write this, my well-fed boys are napping (another miracle in itself!), my bladder has been emptied, and the groceries have been put away. Somehow I survived, and I am now able to chalk this up to another lesson learned about how I need not over-extend myself and to know my limitations as a mother.
From now on, I shop when the toddler is at preschool, or my husband is home from work. If I get desperate, I will sit down at the computer and type my grocery list into the virtual shopping cart. If I get REALLY desperate, I will take the boys out to eat.
Now, onto the next task: How to convince my husband that we need a minivan.