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My Son, The Comedian

My Son, The Comedian

Written by Chris Loprete

My 3 year old is hysterical. Seriously. I’m not talking about the little “oh isn’t that cute” type of laughs that an infant elicits. Nor am I talking about the courtesy laughs you give to a joke told at a cocktail party or by the elderly…or your in-laws. No, I mean every day my 3 year old son says or does something that brings a genuine belly laugh out of me. I always thought I was a big shot because I wrote and performed a one man show a few years back. That’s nothing! My kid performs a one man show every night whether it’s on our living room floor or in the bathtub. And it’s all improv. You should see what he can do with a few finger puppets and plastic dolphins. He’s named every one of his toys and not your every day run of the mill names either. He calls his rubber shark, “Rusty”. Who names a shark Rusty? Brilliant! I’m dying over here! He’s tells funnier stories than Bill Cosby, he’s a better prop comic than Carrot Top and can make a bigger mess than Gallagher. He also works blue at times. His bathroom humor would make Howard Stern blush. I’m not all that fond of his potty mouth, but I understand that he has to work in front of all kinds of audiences. I don’t know, I guess some kids at day care go for that sort of stuff. And unlike every comedian who is just starting out, he never bombs. He goes out there and kills every night.

Is he funnier than your kid? Of course he is. To me. You wouldn’t find him funny though. Just like your kid is hilarious to you, but I probably wouldn’t get it. His or her musings and observations would be lost on me while you would be rolling on the floor laughing. Why? It’s all in the material. You’ve heard the question, “Where do they get this stuff?” The answer? Us, of course. Our kids are little Dictaphones. They just spew back to us what they hear. Good and bad. Their brilliance is spewing it back to us when we least expect it. Last weekend my toddler came in to our bedroom at 7AM looked at me in bed and said with extreme disgust and contempt, “Daddy, are you asleep? Oh, I don’t believe it” Not funny right? WRONG! It’s comedy gold. Tonight he looked at me and the trash bag in my hand and innocently said, “Oh! What have you got there?” SEE? That’s funny! It’s not just what he says, but the commitment behind it. I have no idea when I, my wife, or anyone else said those words, but we must have at some point. The fact that he chose these random moments to say them back to us just shows his penchant for comic timing. And he’s not the only funny preschooler in the family. My 4 year old niece makes me howl too. And the two of them together? Abbott and Costello only WISH they were that funny. I’m also excited because my 2 month old just learned to smile. I’m sure he’s starting to mentally jot some notes down that will soon turn into some real A material.

I’m writing this down here in this forum because it’s the kind of thing that only parents can understand. We are all dying to brag or joke about every single thing our kids say and do. We have to show some restraint though. Our friends who are single and married without kids would give us a smile or a courtesy laugh (see above), but they just don’t get it. Our friends with kids would genuinely laugh, but they would be thinking, “My kid said something much more cute and funny the other day”. Don’t believe me? When you update your Facebook status with an anecdote about your child, the only comments you get are from parents who will say. “That’s funny. It reminds me of the time my little Brittney said…”

Now if you’re like me and you have a toddler, enjoy these comedy sets because they will not last. As my kid grows he will always be funny, but he’ll be a different kind of funny. The innocence and complete lack of insecurity is what makes this stage of life so magical and uproarious. So do yourself a favor before it’s too late. Turn off the TV and take time to watch the show that your kid is performing right in front of you. I guarantee it’s better than any reality show or sitcom (except for the fine programming on ABC). And at times they’ll need a straight man so make sure you can keep up.

Chris is an actor/writer living in Los Angeles. He’s performed in movies, TV and on stage with the Groundlings Improvisation troupe, and the award winning Circle X Theatre Company. He recently performed his self penned critically acclaimed one man show “You’re From Philly, Charlie Brown” in several cities across the US. Chris currently works as an Associate Writer/Producer for ABC On-Air Promos for Reality and Comedy. He lives north of Los Angeles, in Santa Clarita, with his wife and two children.

Please Forgive the Pregnancy Brain

Please Forgive the Pregnancy Brain

Written by Ally Loprete

I don’t know how many more times I will be able to get away with the excuse that I am pregnant every time I have a brain fart. Seriously, my brain seems to be functioning less and less the larger the baby in my belly grows. Does the bloat travel upward to our heads as well? I am a bit of ditz, anyway- as my closest friends will tell you. And it’s not for lack of trying, or lack of caring. In fact, I used to be quite sensitive to the blond hair on my head until I met my husband and he helped me learn to laugh at my malapropisms and idiosyncrasies. There. A perfect example of how I mix metaphors and folk lore.
It’s times like these that I notice the difference in the patience level among my friends who parents like me, and those that are not. Not that I blame them, as I know I had less patience before I became a parent. It’s not that I was an insensitive person, but looking back, I see how easy it was to be judgmental. If we witnessed children acting up in a restaurant, for example, my husband and I would whisper to each other that when we have kids, we would make sure that they would behave much better that that. We’d nit-pick at the parents who were obviously are not giving their children the correct attention or discipline. Looking back at that time and that old me, I want to reach back into the past and smack my face. How dare I? The truth is, I barely recognize the person that I was before I had children and perhaps those unsympathetic notions are punishing me today with a very active toddler, often difficult to control in public places.
I used to be embarrassed by loud childhood behavior and public temper tantrums- especially the ones where my son would lay down in a high traffic area out of protest for not wanting me to hold his hand and force him to go in MY direction rather than his own. After nearly a year of this, I stopped apologizing to the disapproving strangers while they stepped over the obviously “poor parented” child on the ground, and stopped caring altogether what they must think of me.
But back to me and the air in my brain.
It’s gotten significantly worse upon becoming a parent, beginning with my first pregnancy. The term is called Pregnancy Brain: a lapse in awareness because of the fatigue that comes with creating a child and the big belly that causes a disruption in balance resulting in complete and total clumbsiness. Once the baby is born, the brain then transforms to Mommy Brain: a lapse in awareness resulting from sleepless nights and lack of adult interaction during the work week.
Of course, just as my toddler began sleeping through the night and I began to meet other numbed brained parents with whom I might commiserate did I rediscover all that lost energy returning. Of course, I became pregnant again soon after. Hello, pregnancy brain, can’t say that I missed you, but welcome back.
It’s no easier the second time around, either. The only difference is that I have stopped apologizing for it, and I’ve accepted it as part of the 9 month cycle. This is not to say that I don’t use the Pregnancy Brain explanation on a daily basis. The thing that I’ve noticed is that I don’t even need to give the explanation to my parent friends. They just nod in empathy when I’ve forgotten something obviously simple, like …oh…my own son’s name, or the year we are living in, or how to write a proper sentence. They get it…because they’ve either been there, or they are there with me now and didn’t even notice.
Yet, for all my non-parent friends, who I love as much as I ever did, for whom I find myself envying now and again for the motor in their minds that is still operating at full functionality- I forgive you for not quite understanding, but appreciate your acceptance, nonetheless. It would appear that parenthood kills more brain cells than the occasional kegger.
My Son, The Comedian

Back to the Basics

Written by Ally Loprete

As the owner of OMM and a representative of so many members, I’ve had to do something I’ve never done before, and that is to swallow my political opinions and keep them to myself for the sake of everyone. This is because I care about all of our members, the parents who are working hard to support their children and are doing so by running their own businesses. I did not want anyone to think for a moment that I if my opinions differed from theirs in the political arena, that I was not FOR them, when I certainly am.
But I feel the time has come to open my mouth a little. There is so much happening in our country right now that I feel it almost ridiculous not to talk about it, especially when so much of it affects us directly and what we are trying to achieve as an organization dedicated to working moms and dads. So I’ll just say it. I love President Obama. I believe in what he is trying to accomplish, and I think for the first time ever, our voices are being heard.
According to a recent letter I received from Momsrising.org, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first piece of legislation signed by President Obama, both the House and Senate passed an expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and now the Senate is getting ready to vote on an economic recovery package that has a number of key provisions that would directly help moms and their families.
Whether you like Barack Obama as a candidate or not, I think we can all agree that we have been fearful of anyone to step into the white house and take on the mess that has been left for him. Therefore, we are fearful of any new maneuvers that the new president will take on to help the situation. But the reason I am so impressed with Obama is because he is not afraid to take risks. He did not take office to sit quietly and second guess every move that might rock the boat. He is diving in and making something happen. I think if we all follow suit, something WILL happen.
When Our Milk Money was just a blip of an idea, the economy was not in the state that it is today, yet it was created for this exact time. Let me tell you a quick story, that you may or may not have already heard. Before OMM was conceived, I was trying to price a piece of jewelry that I had made, and wondered how it would compare to the prices in the department stores. I guessed $50 would be a good price. And then I imagined all that I could do with an extra $50; a tank of gas, a small trip to the grocery store for milk, bread, eggs, cheese and some fruit, a month of Gymboree classes for my toddler, date night with my husband…
It wasn’t difficult to conclude that $50 was more valuable to me and my family than a large corporation or department store. I wondered if anyone else would care about that value enough to make an effort to change their spending habits and buy my product over someone elses. Yes. Other parents would feel the same way, I just had to find them. I made a decision right then and there that I would make an effort to search for a parent who might possibly be selling whatever it is I needed each time I made a purchase. With the internet, and the master search guru I had become, I should be able to find anything online, right? Wrong. I searched and searched. Nowhere could I find the answers I was looking for.
The rest, you probably know. Our Milk Money, and the first parent only business directory was born.
Why am I talking about this now, almost a year later? Because while I am thrilled to see that our directory is growing, I am concerned about how little it is being used. I imagine that the excuse is that our country is in a state of crisis and people are just not spending money. Wrong. If there was ever a time to use the directory, its now. What better time to rebuild the economy in a way that supports small businesses than right now? The slate is practically clean at this point. And while the excuse is that people aren’t spending money right now, I beg to differ. We are all spending it. That hasn’t stopped. It can’t stop, because in this country we need to spend money to survive. We need to buy things to live, even if they are just necessities. Well, guess what! Those “necessities” are available for purchase by a parent somewhere in your local community, and may even be listed in the Our Milk Money business directory. If you are a parent, you have even more reason to support the directory, because it benefits you as well. We are an organization and a community of parents that need to stick together. What are YOU doing to support others like you?
The Consequences of Learning

The Consequences of Learning

Written by Guest Blogger James C. Ferguson

Apparently, as I endeavor to educate my toddler by increasing her vocabulary at every waking opportunity, she – ironically – is turning me into an idiot.

As I mentioned in a previous piece, my daughter adores the written word; she loves books (which, at her reading level of almost two, consist primarily of about fifty actual words plus a never-ending parade of brightly colored genetic testing escapees). It is not uncommon for our daughjter to slip quietly out of sight. But rather than putting all of her socks in the cat’s water bowl, or trying to eat every single piece of fuzz on the carpet, she will retrieve a book from what I call “the library cart” (a little red wagon filled with books), plop down on the floor and begin to read.

My wife and I do our best to encourage this habit. We read to our daughter almost every night. And if she runs up to us brandishing yet another tale of what I can only assume are anthropomorphized aardvark-clown crossbreeds, we temporarily set aside whatever we’re working on and read to her. (Thankfully, she has yet to interrupt any sort of carnal activity.)

Because of what I can only label her aggressive reading habits, our daughter knows a lot of words. And this is where things get paradoxically complicated.

Certain words, if she hears them, elicit such an over-the-top emotional reaction – akin, I’m guessing, to an opera singer getting a wedgie – that we do everything we can to avoid using them in day-to-day conversation. One of the words you can always count on to turn our daughter into Jamie Lee Curtis from Halloween is “milk.” She loves her milk. When she wants her milk, she wants her milk. And if you foolishly happen to utter even part of that particular word anywhere where she can hear you, the sweet child who loves to hug the cats and laugh at The Daily Show turns into a banshee.

So we sometimes find ourselves in situations where you need to use a word like … you-know-what and you do exactly what I just did: you hedge, you weave, you bob, you duck – you do an embarrassing and awkward verbal dance to avoid using the … you know … “it.” And you sound like a complete and total moron. You can feel you I.Q. sliding out your ears. You think, even as it’s happening, “I wish the producers had contacted me about playing Bob Thornton’s part in Sling Blade.”

It might go like this:

Me: “Honey?”
My beautiful wife: “Yeah?”
Me: “Are you going to the store?”
My beautiful wife: “Yeah.”
Me: “We need more, uh, you know …”
My beautiful wife: “What?”
Me: “The stuff.”
My beautiful wife: “Crack?”
Me: “No, not crack; I’m not going to ask you to buy crack at Ralph’s. … It.”
My beautiful wife: “What are you talking about?”
Me: “Come here. Let me whisper it to you.”
My beautiful wife: “I’m in the bathroom!”
Me: “You know what I’m talking about.”
My beautiful wife: “Even less than usual.”
Me: “You know, the … uh … the, um … um … You know, the liquid cheese!”

And if you think your wife is ever going to have sex with you again after using a phrase like “liquid cheese”, I’d buy some stock in cold showers. There’s no coming back from a phrase like “liquid cheese.”

But I guess that’s how it goes. The new generation replaces the old, like New Coke or The New Monkees. As our daughter grows increasingly verbose we – her elders – march slowly down the path towards life as a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. I guess, at the end of the day, you just have to hope she has her own bank account and a driver’s license by the time you get there.

(And if you happen to be driving by a store anytime soon, would you mind picking us up some … you know.)

James C. Ferguson lives in Los Angeles with his wife, daughter and a pile of books about a monkey. James’ own book, Context Clues, is available on Amazon.com. And his film, Happy Holidays, is available at iTunes, Indiepix, Cinemanow, Caachi and Eyesoda. (Soon, the film will also be available on WebMovieNow, Amazon On Demand and Jaman). Additional information can be found on the Happy Holidays MySpace and Facebook web sites.

My Son, The Comedian

The Truth Behind the Mask

By Ally Loprete

They call me “supermom”.
That is because I am a mom, and I have super powers. How else would I be able to manage the chaos in my life and handle everything with a smile on my face without breaking a sweat?
Don’t believe me?
See for yourself: I have a very demanding 2 year old, and another on the way. I am the co-founder of a national organization that caters to 4500 recipients in 80 cities nationwide, and the CEO of a handmade jewelry company that I design and create. I am a leader, a motivator and a people mover, giving public seminars, volunteering to teach improvisation to inner city children, planning community events, writing guest blogs and articles to over 25 news sites, not including my own. I participate in my son’s pre-school twice a week, teach musical theatre and performance to 9 year old girls at a local dance studio, and still find time to run a household, go grocery shopping, prepare 3 meals a day and sleep. I do not have a nanny, rely on daycare, nor do I have any family close by (or even in the same state for that matter) to rescue me or my schedule.
That is why I am known as “supermom”.
But like any superhero, I have a secret identity. Behind the mask is a woman who struggles to maintain the balance of it all, has broken down on more than one occasion, exploded with Niagara Falls, water works hysterics, has turned to one too many bottles of wine in the middle of the day, screams at her husband “how DARE you ask me if you can hang out with the guys tonight???” and has made several “parenting” mistakes such as putting off a dirty diaper change to finish a blog- which resulted in a diaper rash for her infant son. Even as a superhero, I wonder how others are able to pull it off.
Look closer.
Is anyone really pulling it off?
What is this term, “supermom” really doing to our society? Does the term inspire, or intimidate? Does it put added pressure on the women of today that are trying to do it all?
The truth is I am no supermom.
I don’t have any super powers, and I certainly have a breaking point. The more women I speak to, the more I realize we are all very similar. Mothers today are simply amazing- but then again we HAVE to be. Of the women that I know that are working full time- or even part time- and raising a family and maintaining a household, none of them are doing it just because it’s fun for them, and they were looking for MORE in their lives. Most of us are doing it because it’s what is necessary for our families to survive in today’s world. Our families need us to try and bring in a supplemental income because one income is not enough from our husbands- not even those with college degrees and higher educations. It’s not their fault, and we certainly don’t blame them. It’s just the way it is these days.
Before you choose to let someone who seems to be able to do it all overawe you and minimize what you know you are capable of doing, LOOK CLOSER.
If there are days that you feel you are barely staying afloat, take a moment and look at the others in your very same pool treading water. Perhaps they are looking at YOU and wondering how you got YOUR superpowers. All the things that you accomplished today? You seem pretty amazing to me. I’d love to know your secret…
…or your secret identity. I think I might relate better to the woman behind the mask. The real person who falls down often, forgets to eat, lets the laundry pile up, and cries from the overwhelm. It feels better to unveil myself, come clean that I am not actually able to “pull it off” and laugh about it with others who often feel the same way I do. It’s a relief to know I don’t have to save the planet all on my own.
and again.
and again.