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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.

Meet Rosemarie Kahn!

Meet Rosemarie Kahn!

When was the last time you saw an Avon brochure? If it has been quite awhile, you may surprised to learn that Avon has a lot of exciting new products as well as the tried and true classics and favorites. Rosemarie Kahn is a Gold Leader and top seller with Avon, where she has lead award winning teams for many years.

Rosemarie discusses the trends she sees in her industry, the challenges she has faced, and what she is most proud of with her role as a ‘parent-preneur’.  Rosemarie also shares some wonderful advice for others who might want to start a business like hers.

What motivated you to start your business?

I had worked other direct selling/mlm companies prior to Avon.  I always dreamed of being a successful business owner and I found it very appealing that many of the mlm companies’ start up costs were very reasonable.  However, for some reason or another I never achieved the levels I wished for through the previous companies.  After getting married and purchasing our first home, I would frequently find an Avon brochure on my door.  I was not an Avon user at the time but loved cuddling up in my bed at night with a cup of tea and going through the many pages of products.  I was really surprised at the affordability and decided to place some orders so that I could experience the products.  Soon after I decided to join the company.  I was not really looking for much except to get my products at a good discount and maybe sell to a few people here and there.  After attending my first meeting and seeing the sales amounts of fellow representatives I decided to get serious about Avon. Not long after, I was introduced to the Leadership program and started building my own team. It took me approximately six years to build my business to a point where I could leave the 9-5 working world and make Avon my main source of income.

How did you get your first customer?  

I passed around a couple brochures at my previous job and one of my coworkers was thrilled to find out I was selling.  She was already an Avon customer that no longer had a current Avon Representative and she was excited to place an order with me.

What kind of background or expertise do you have in your field?

Since I had been involved with another work from home business dealing with cosmetics and skin care prior to Avon I did have some training in the field although I was very happy to find that Avon offered much free training and support to help me grow my business.

What trends do you see in your current industry?

Honestly, the last two years have been my most profitable ever.  Regardless of the economy I find that customers still find the money to purchase such items as lipstick, perfume or a skin care product.  We also offer many daily needs items such as shampoos, deoderants, etc.  Customers who have been paying higher prices for beauty items are more likely to consider our affordable products when watching their budgets without risking the quality.

What are the most demanding aspects about your business?

We adopted our daughter from China when she was a year old.  During her first year with us, this was the point when I truly understood the ‘juggling act’ as a parent and a home based business entrepreneur.  As a mom I wanted to give all my time to her and yet I wanted my business to continue its normal flow.  I soon realized that I would have to make some changes in order not to feel overwhelmed.  There were some Avon responsibilities I could do while she watched “The Wiggles”, took a nap or played with her favorite toy but it still was not enough time for me to be on top of my business as I was before.  I found a great local babysitter and a mother’s helper (she sat for my daughter at my house while I was home) and between the two they covered about 15 hours per week.  This really helped me catch up on my phone calls, do deliveries and coach my team without being distracted.  I also started having some customers pick up their orders instead of having to personally deliver them and I held team meetings at my home.  Now that my daughter is older she loves playing Avon with me.  She thinks it’s fun to help me stamp my brochures, unpack and bag products and even likes to say a few words at my trainings.

What are the most rewarding aspects about your business?

I love that my earnings are based completely on my efforts.  I also love the flexibility.  My business allows me to schedule my work according to my family’s needs and not the other way around.  The relationship building is also great whether it is with my customers or my team members.  I have met some of the most wonderful people through Avon, not just business partners but also true friends.

What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business like yours?

If you are interested in starting your own Avon business you first need to understand this is not a get rich quick business.  You have to handle it just asa you would any other small business.  The sign-up cost ranges from $10 to $20 depending whether you meet with someone in person or sign up online but you must invest time in building your customer base.  The cost of our brochures are very reasonable (approximately 100 for under $20 – though you can order as few as 10) and you can distribute them to your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc.  I did not start off as a high seller but consistency paid off.  Recruiting is not a requirement but if you find that you enjoy selling the product and are looking to increase your earnings, it is another way to earn additional revenue.  I think it is also very important to team up (be recruited by) someone in which you like and feel you will work well with.

What are you most proud of as a ‘parent-preneur’?

I am most proud that my daughter is able to see that her mom can be both a devoted, loving and responsible parent while still having a career.  I am also happy to be a ble to share the financial responsibility of our home and family with my husband.  It’s a very satisfying feeling to put in the effort and see rewards.  I think my daughter, even at a young age, understands that it is important to work at something you enjoy and the rewards one gains by being responsible.  Because my career consists of connecting and socializing with people, my daughter has grown into a very friendly, polite and cutely entertaining little girl.

What has been the most effective way for you to promote and market yourself?

Handing out my brochures very consistently, word of mouth and through referrals, advertising both print and online, setting up tables at fairs.  Fund raising is also a fun way to help a worthy cause while meeting new customers.  My most recent Avon fundraiser helped my daughter’s pre-school raise money during the holiday season.

Why is Avon special to you?

It helps me support my family but it is more than just a source of income.  It is an opportunity that allows anyone to start their own business at a minimal cost to earn extra money based on their schedule and personal commitment.  It has been a major source of income for me for many years.  It is also a community of women and men with similar aspirations.  I have made many beautiful friendships through this business.

How do you measure your success?  

By the income I earn,  but also by the luxury of building my business on my own schedule.  I am very happy that I was able to work from home when my daughter was young.

Ever felt like throwing in the towel?  

Actually, not really.  Of course there have been times of frustration or concern that come with the waves of having a small business but those feelings have been very short lived.  It’s those who learn to ride the waves that  increase their chances of success.  The time and effort I have put in my business continues to pay me through my residual earnings and that is very rewarding.   Plus, I’m currently experiencing the benefits of working my business online through social media.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before you started?  

I wish I would have had a better grasp on working my business online earlier.  There is much to gain for those that know how to navigate in a social media world while also building a face-to-face business.

What is the best advice you have for someone who is just starting out? 

Seek out other business owners that inspire you and when possible pick their brains.  Listen to what they say and apply their advice, techniques and tips to your business.  Their trials and tribulations helped lead them to success and can help you put into play things that work while avoiding things that may not.

What is the best advice you received?

When I first started, a fellow Avon Representative advised me to reinvest half of my earnings in my first year back into my business for marketing purposes (brochures, advertising, tables, customer incentives etc).  It helped me grow my business quickly.

What does your ‘milk money’ provide for you and your family?

My milk money pays for our mortgage, my daughter’s school, groceries, clothing and my daily spending.

Can You Afford To Quit Your Job?

Can You Afford To Quit Your Job?

One of the biggest misconceptions that parents who want to quit their job make is in the financial preparations. If it takes at least a year to build a business from home, then logically that would mean you would need to save at least your full annual income to live off of in that year, right? WRONG.

No wonder so many people think it is impossible and remain STUCK in a less than desirable situation.

The good news is that you are NOT STUCK.

The bad news? There are still sacrifices to be made.

Before losing all hope, create a financial spreadsheet. Cut out all of the expenses that go along with working outside of the home, such as daycare expenses, house cleaning, commuting, etc. With your spouse’s income, you should only be in the negative $200-$500 a month. If you are higher than that, go back to the drawing board and see if you can’t cut something else out. Sacrifices will need to be made for a short time.

Once you have gotten your expenses down to no more than -$500, multiply THAT amount by 12 months.

For example: 500 x 12 = $6,000

Now isn’t that a more logical annual goal to save before you quit your job? $6,000 is much more attainable to have saved than $60,000, and should minimize the fear of jumping without that safety net.

Furthermore, this now gives you a new income goal as a first time business owner.

You have enough of a safety net for a year… and that is more than enough time to get your small business up and running. Remember, you don’t have to REPLACE your monthly income. The goal now is to earn $500/ month. Sure, it may take you a few months to get there, but when you do, you won’t have to dip into your safety net anymore… or if you have a down month, your safety net should still be there for you.

Don’t look now, but you are self-employed.

Before you know it, you’ll be thriving as a self-employed career parent. You may even get used to the less expensive way of life. Once business picks up, you’ll need to think about how to scale it up, hire some outsourcing support, or even scale it back for busier times of the year. You got this!

Meet Stacy McGuigan!

Meet Stacy McGuigan!

Meet StacyMcGuigan, Party Conciege!

1.      Please tell us about your business and the service that you provide:

Special Events Company, provide invitations, theme ideas, centerpieces, favors, just ask and I will find (florists, caterers, DJs, etc…)

2.      What motivated you to start your business?

I have been giving people party ideas for years as well as throwing great parties not only for my kids but for my husband and our friends, it was time to get paid for my creativity!!

3.      What kind of background or expertise do you have in your field? 

I was the PR/Marketing Manager and Special Events manager for The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

4.      What trends do you see in your current industry? 

More home parties.

5.      What are the most demanding aspects about your business? 

Meeting your client’s budget and giving the WOW factor!!!

6.      What are the most rewarding aspects about your business? 

Seeing the person who the party is for, thier face when they see the event all pulled together.  Seeing people have fun at the events I create and getting their feedback.

7.      What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business like yours? 

Be specific with what type of events you want to do and go for it, put yourself out there, be positive and know that it takes a while for people to call you, but once they do, they will keep calling.

8.      What are you most proud of as a parent-preneur?

Showing my children that if you have a passion for doing something, take the chance, work hard and you can be very successful and happy at the same time.

9.      How have you been able to balance your time between work and your family? 

It is very hard but I try to work when the children are in school or when they are in bed.  If they can help me with a portion of the event, they do.  We are successful together and support each other in our family.

10.  What has been the most effective way for you to promote and market yourself? 

WORD of mouth and making “friends” with reporters in the local papers.  Within one year of being an official business I have had 7 articles written either about me or thanking my company.

Finally: What does your “Milk Money” provide for you and your family? 

As a new member, I hope more exposure for my company and potential new clients.

The Last Kid

The Last Kid

It’s a moment we all have to go through. A moment that is profoundly sad. The moment that you realize you’ve had your last kid. My oldest started kindergarten this week. My youngest started pre-school. My babies are growing up. I cleaned out the garage last week and found a storage bin filled with bibs, tiny shoes and onesies. They had all been worn by my first born and been passed down to his baby brother three years later. I got a lump in my throat knowing as I put them away, they would not be worn by another child of mine. My wife and I have two beautiful children. We will not be having another…and I am soooo, so cool with that.

I’m done. I’m ready to move on. Don’t get me wrong. I really loved the baby stage and there are many things I miss and will always miss about it.  I hate that I can no longer carry my 5 year old because he’s getting too big. I hate that his cute baby cries have turned into a not so cute whining sound. I hate that my two year old is starting to climb out of his crib on his own and will soon need a bigger bed. But, man, I love the fact that I’m about 6 months away from never having to change another diaper. And that everybody’s baby teeth have already painfully popped though their gums. And that when I go to sleep at night I’m not going to be woken up every two hours until dawn. Yes, I grew very melancholy when I packed away the baby clothes, but I would have grown melancholy no matter how many kids I had. There always has to be a last kid. Might as well be now.

I can tell you for a fact that as my wife is reading this blog, she’s either welling up with tears or getting really angry. See she wants to leave open the possibility of a third kid (hopefully a daughter). In her head she knows that the family dynamic is perfect now, it’s not financially feasible to add another mouth at this point, and that we both have very busy lives and can’t handle the commitment it would take to care for another infant. But in her heart she is always hoping I’ll change my mind. I knew I was going to stop at two as soon as she sent me a picture of the pregnancy test confirming that another bundle of joy was on the way. By the way she sent that pic to me on my phone just before a callback for a major national commercial. No wonder I didn’t book the job. Plus I saw that commercial ad infinitum for about two years afterward. Never really forgave her for that one. Anyway I knew we were done during the her second pregnancy. We already had a three year old boy so obviously we were hoping for a baby girl to get that nice perfect sitcom family. When we were told we were having another boy, we shrugged and said “Oh well. Saves us money on clothes and toys and anxiety during the hormonal, “mother hating” teenage insanity years” Plus not having a daughter saved me the time and money spent on researching chastity belts and convents. At the time though, my wife didn’t want to close the door on a third child. I told her, “No, of course not, dear.” Meanwhile I had closed, locked, barred, and thrown a heavy bookcase against the door. A few years after the birth of our 2nd little boy, she began to realize that our family unit was perfect. She said, “By not having a daughter, I shall stay the most beautiful woman in the house.” That’s not an exaggeration by the way. She really said that. In fact she said it while standing in front of a magic mirror and holding a poison apple. But now the queen is beginning to change her tune a little and hinting that she may want a princess after all. Now I reminded her that in 7th grade health class they told us we don’t really have a say over if we get a princess or a 3rd prince, but she said it didn’t matter. She would be okay with another little boy. I then went on to remind her that raising two boys has so far nearly killed and divorced us (in that order) and it does in fact NOT get easier with a third. In fact a friend of mine said it best. She said raising another child is like adding a full point on the earthquake Richter Scale. Each point up the scale means the earthquake is exponentially worse. Going from 1 to 2 kids is like going from a Richter Scale 5 to a 6. Minimal destruction. Going from a 2nd to a 3rd (and another boy at that), well you’re talking a 6 to a 7. Now you’re looking at pretty extensive damage and injuries. Plus you should never let your kids outnumber you. Right now my wife and I can play a man to man defense. If we have another one, we’ll have to go to the zone and any basketball coach will tell you that’s a much tougher coverage. So I hate to tell my wife (and her mother), but I have now added another padlock, a couple of couches and an angry Doberman to that closed door.

I love my two boys. They’re my best friends. My 5 year old is watching sports with me and starting to understand satire and sarcasm. I’m starting to have conversations with my 2 year old. I am eager to continue on to the next phases of raising my wonderful family.  I want to look forward and not start over.  So barring any “accidents”, I’ve had my last kid. Oops. Shouldn’t have written that last sentence. I’ll bet my wife is putting the kids to bed, opening a bottle of wine and slipping into something more comfortable right now.

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 Daddys 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.