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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.

How I Knew Not to Take My Four Year Old to see Coraline.

How I Knew Not to Take My Four Year Old to see Coraline.

Written by Guest Blogger, Chris Mancini
I read the book a few years ago. I knew what it was about. I knew the director Henry Selick has a dark streak and directed Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. To be honest, I couldn’t wait for this movie to come out. When my four year old daughter Bella saw the trailer she wanted to see the movie. I told her no, it would be too scary.
Now, you would have no idea of that from the trailer. It shows happy scenes and a little bit of danger. Standard kid fare, right? Not even close. Coraline is an animated gothic horror nightmare for children. In 3D. And it’s well, great. But I’m not going to let my daughter see it for at least a few more years. But at the time of the trailer I hadn’t even seen it myself yet, so how did I know? Because I knew the source material and I knew who the people involved were who made the movie, and I noticed the PG rating, although after seeing it, it was really a borderline PG-13.
The book was terrifying. Especially if you’re a parent. It’s about a little girl who disappears through a small door in their new home and meets her “other” mother and father who are much nicer to her, at first. The problem is they have dead black buttons for eyes. The creepiness is lightened slightly for the movie, but not much, that’s for sure. And to be truly effective, it shouldn’t have been. I was very impressed. But as a parent, it doesn’t help you how good a movie is if it’s inappropriate for your children. Your kid may like video games and enjoy Mario Kart but you don’t want them going to Vegas and playing video poker, do you? Technically, still a video game.
As usual, trailer editors and marketing departments have no idea what the content is that they’re trying to sell. So it’s up to us parents to not only filter content but to now also adjust for big studio incompetence as well. As if we didn’t have enough to do.
So know your books, know your shows and know your movies. And look, if you get stuck or miss something, just as me or any other parent who always seems to be talking about Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Battlestar Galactica. Trust me, we’ll know.
Coraline is an absolutely fantastic movie and I can’t recommend it enough. It will soon be a classic up there with the Nightmare Before Christmas. See it in 3D for the full effect. Just don’t take your little kids. Seriously. Don’t. Get a babysitter and leave them home with Wall-E.
Chris Mancini is a comedian and author. His first book “Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad” will be out June 2, just in time for Father’s day.http://www.daddyneedssomealonetime.blogspot.com/
Thanks. I got it.

Thanks. I got it.

Written By Chris Loprete

Why is it that when women see a father alone with a baby, they immediately assume we don’t know what the hell we’re doing? Now I don’t want to generalize here. I’m not talking about single women. In fact the single women tend to gravitate towards the daddies at the park or in other public places. Chicks LOOOOVE guys with babies. Babies and dogs. They say, “I want that.” Now of course we men are kidding ourselves because ‘that” is not specifically us, but rather a stable man who’s a good father, and the fantasy is fun. Anyway I’m probably already in trouble with my editor who happens to be my wife (and the two are very rarely mutually exclusive) so I’ll go on. No, I’m talking about the annoying mother who wants to give all kinds of unsolicited advice on how to raise your child. And rightly so. OBVIOUSLY I MUST need this unsolicited advice because my child’s mother is nowhere in sight. I therefore MUST be doing something wrong. And then, I imagine this “guardian angel” will go along her merry way and later at the dinner table tell her family how she saved a child’s life today.

Take this little encounter for example. It was a summer Saturday afternoon about two years ago. I was in my townhouse downstairs and my wife was upstairs with our infant son. I was watching a baseball game and cleaning. The cleaning part is not important to the story but I specifically remember doing it and I always like to remind my wife/blog editor that it does happen on rare occurrences. Anyway I could hear my son crying upstairs pretty loudly. He was probably getting his diaper changed which to him has always been the baby equivalent to a root canal. There was a knock at the door. When I answered it I saw a woman who was walking her dog in front of our door. She asked, “Do you have a baby?”
“Why yes” I said waiting for the inevitable compliment. Something along the lines of, I see you walking him. You have a lovely family. or Well, he’s obviously going to grow up to be a very good looking man. Why else would she take the time out of her dog walking to knock on our door?
This is why: She looked at me and said, “He’s crying upstairs.”
I paused to make sure I had heard her right. Then I said, “Yeah, my wife’s upstairs with him.”
She replied, “Oh, I heard the game on pretty loudly so I wasn’t sure you if could hear him”
Yyyeeeeahhh. Handled, honey but thanks. I’m sure the children of our housing complex are a lot safer with you roaming the sidewalks knocking on doors. Hey hero, I think I hear a baby coughing a couple of houses down. Do you want to call child services or should I?
Or how ‘bout the woman on the beach later on that same summer? I was walking on the beach, my son safely strapped into the front loader on my chest. I felt good. First of all the Baby Bjorn completely covered my huge gut so I wasn’t nearly as self conscious as usual. And secondly, it was a beautiful day and I was walking with my new son at the place I’m always the happiest: the beach. So when I saw a woman walking toward me and eyeing both of us, I started to feel even better. I was sure she could sense the good energy coming off of me and like I said the baby was covering up my huge white shirtless girth so I thought Hey, I think she’s checking me out.
So when she passed by and asked, “Does he have sunscreen on?” I was a bit nonplussed. First of all I had practically bathed him in SPF 560 or whatever the strongest baby sun goop is nowadays. This kid could have crawled across the surface of the sun and come away with nothing but a nice base.
So I told her, “Uh….yeah…plenty.”
She replied, “Oh. Cause his legs look a little red.” and passed by me never breaking her stride.
I immediately turned and shouted after her, “Yeah? Well they call his chubby legs and butt baby fat. They call yours cellulite!” ZING! That got her. Of course I didn’t actually say that but ooooh I wish I had.

And these brilliant pieces of parenting wisdom are not confined to just me when I’m alone. My wife has had to endure some slings and arrows of her own. It’s like divide and conquer. Once my wife and I are divided, they love to conquer. I don’t ever want to hear a sentence that starts with, “Y’know what WE do…” I don’t even like hearing it from our parents, but that I understand and tolerate because “parental interference” is in the grandparent’s code book. It’s a God given right. To tell you the truth as my wife and I get ready for baby #2, we’ve learned to tolerate buttinskys a little more. In fact I’m amazed how laid back we are about having another child and we’re only 3 months out. I guess we think of ourselves as old pros now. In fact it probably won’t be long before we’re handing out some advice of our own to other parents who obviously don’t have a clue what they’re doing. I’m sure they’ll thank us for it.

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.

Thanks. I got it.

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.