Archive for June, 2008

Beach Body…

June 28, 2008

With summer upon us, I know that many of you are looking for ways to shed a few pounds in order to look good in your summer wardrobes- e.g. swimsuits. Both of my kids are incredibly lean, so I watched them carefully over the past few weeks to see if I could identify their methods for maintaining their rock hard physiques.

The following list was generated from those weeks of research and observation. I would encourage all of you to give these techniques a try and see if you can meet with the same level of success.

The work out is a bit unconventional, but should be pretty recognizable to those of you with children.


-State the following for 300 sets of 15 repetitions: “I’m so booooooored”
-For those with an intermediate to high fitness level, combine statement with a sigh/shoulder slump rotation after each rep.
-Flexibility is key, so feel free to throw in additional warm-up sets whenever you have a spare moment.
-Guaranteed to increase the heart rate of anyone within earshot.


“The Spoiler” (muscle group engaged: Back)
-Open and close refrigerator door at a rapid pace for 10 sets of 10 repetitions.
-Leave the refrigerator door open at the conclusion of each set.
-Take a quick lap, locate and annoy a sibling, watch 6-minutes of mindless television and then return to starting position.
-Magically, when you return the refrigerator door will be closed and ready for the start of your next set.
-Before beginning subsequent sets, ask the big, angry-looking guy next to the refrigerator for some cold water; hydration is key to muscle growth.

“The Tornado” (muscle group engaged: Cardio/ancillary muscles)

-This exercise must be conducted near a clothing source.
-As fast as you can, try on every article of clothing located in your dresser.
-After each total body clothing change, heave the items as far from you as humanly possible.
-The goal of this exercise is to completely cover all surrounding carpet and to spike your parent’s heart rate up to 680 BPM.
-Folding and putting away clothing items is an exercise designed for a more mature body type. Never attempt this exercise especially when you are in close proximity to an adult, namely the large, angry-looking guy you saw down in the kitchen.

“The Bounding Monkey” (muscle group engaged: Glutes/hamstrings)
-Jump, full force, on the nearest mattress (preferably located on the upper floors of your home) for 3-sets of 15-repetitions.
-At the conclusion of each set, launch yourself from the mattress and land squarely on the floor with both feet.
-Final rep should be forceful enough to disengage plaster from 1st floor ceilings.
-Successful completion of each set is signaled by the statement “(insert name), stop jumping on the bed. You’re going to come through my ceiling!”

“The Hammer Toss” (muscle group engaged: Deltoids)
-Procure (1) brand new claw hammer from your fathers sacred work bench that you have been told to never touch.
-Utilizing stealth, move in the most expeditious manner to your home’s backyard.
-With all of your might, chuck the hammer as far as it will go.
-Exercise is normally only good for one repetition per week.
-To recover hammer for future workouts, follow your father while he mows the lawn until you hear a loud clanging noise. The abrupt seizing of the mower’s engine signals successful hammer recovery. When father’s head faces back to the front and fire stops spewing from his mouth, offer to put the hammer where it belongs. He will be exceptionally appreciative.

“The Insomnia-ator” (muscle group engaged: Abdominals)
-Exercise is only effective when conducted after 8:00 pm.
-To begin exercise, climb into bed and lie in the prone position.
-On the command “Good Night guys” commence repetitions.
-Every 15-seconds, sit up in bed and loudly voice one of the following statements:

“Mom, I need a drink”
“Dad, who built the pyramids?”
“Mom, does the color yellow taste like sunshine?”
“Dad, (insert siblings name) keeps touching me”
“Dad/Mom why do you look angry?” Immediately followed by “I just wanted one more hug”

-Exercise duration: 1.5 to 2 hrs. or until parents visibly demonstrate a “Berserker” level rage.

“Tug & Snatch” (muscle group engaged- Biceps and forearms)
-Training partner required.
-From what I have observed, in order for this exercise to be effective it must be continuously executed from sunrise to sunset.
-To begin exercise, identify training partner (normally younger sibling) and wait for that sibling to place an item in his/her hand (nature of item is insignificant).
-Run towards the sibling and seize a piece of the object and with both arms, pulling the object vigorously toward your upper torso while sounding off with an authoritative “Mine”.
-The training partner (sibling) will enthusiastically return the item to its original starting position without prompting.
-This exercise will continue until one of the following occurs:

-Adult intervenes and claims the exercise item.
-Training partner finds a new object of greater value.
-Someone gets injured and requires medical attention.

Dancing, cartwheels, summersalts, and vibrating in place due to untapped reserves of energy are also part of the regimen but I am unable to articulate these activities into an easily understood format. Observe your own kids for a while to gain a better understanding.

Happy Fathers Day

June 17, 2008

Well another Father’s Day has come and gone and those of us lucky enough to have kids are probably still recovering from all the extra special Dad “lovin” that we received. I just wanted to take a moment to talk about my day. I promise this will be a short post as my boys just got in bed 5-minutes ago and the ninth trip to the bathroom that just went down normally signals the beginning of the “Ultimate Fighting” championship that they engage in every evening right about this time. I can all most set my watch by the screams for medical attention that normally occur at 8:22.

So what happened in the Groah household on “Shane Day”? Surprisingly, I was able to get down a half cup of coffee before Mack arose and opened the festivities. He walked down the stairs looking like the Grand Marshall of the Macy’s Day Parade and at that moment I knew the day would be chalk full of Dad-like activities. We started off the morning with a quick scan of the TBS/TNT action movie listings. We knew we only had a short amount of time before it would become too dangerous to record completely inappropriate movies, so we made our selections quickly and, with cat-like TIVO reflexes, set them to record at a later time. When Connie walks down the stairs next week to find Mack watching “Die Hard with a Vengeance”, I know I will be able to deny any involvement with enough sincerity to throw her off my trail.

Right about the time we finished fishing for action movies, Cayden came down the stairs. Cayden sauntered in wearing his big boy lounge pants and no shirt. If he had muscles I am sure they would have been rippling, but muscles have yet to appear on my youngest boy, so like every time I see him bare chested, I found myself subconsciously counting his ribs. I got to 17 before he gave me a hearty “Happy Fathers Day, Dad!”. The kid was really pleased with himself for remembering and his smile was enough to warm my heart.

When Connie got up, the boys went into present giving mode. If you don’t have kids, let me explain something, the only thing kids like as much as getting presents is giving them. I still cannot figure out how they contained themselves until Connie woke up, but somehow they did. So here is what I got:

Cayden gave me a card that he made himself. I think he had a little help with the words and spelling but the pictures were 100% Cayden. On his card I was represented by a short blue blob with an unusually large balloon-like head. My arms appeared to be made of marshmallows and I only had 3 fingers, 2 on one hand and 1 on the other. If the picture was drawn to scale then my 6-foot long legs were strangely disproportionate to my torso which was approximately 6-inches long.

Cayden’s depiction of himself was much more flattering. He was a good 6-feet taller than me and he was either holding my hand or ripping my arm out of the socket, I can’t get him to say which it was. His face had a nose, 2-eyes, and a mouth. My picture had one giant eye right below what appeared to be a zipper. If I ever wondered what caused night terrors in children, I now know; my boy thinks I look like a Frankenstein/grasshopper hybrid who was in a bad car accident.

Mack also presented me with a card. His card was a bit more sophisticated; he actually did all of the spelling and even came up with the content. If you have read anything that I have written, you know that Mack can be a bit eccentric and my card would confirm your suspicions. Instead of giving me a bland “Happy Fathers Day, I love you” Mack wrote the following:

“These Guns are Lethal!”

Next to this catchy little phrase was a picture of what appeared to be an arm. I know this because, unlike Cayden’s picture, the arm was attached to a hand with at least 9 fingers. If only Mack would have shared a couple of digits with his brother, the first picture would have been significantly more becoming. The arm also had 6 giant lumps on it. Knowing my oldest as well as I do, I knew that these lumps represented muscles and he confirmed my insight by kissing his own biceps as I read the card aloud. Mack loves to jack the steel (lift weights for those of you who do not have a taste for the iron game) and his card was a way of saying that his Dad had really big muscles, which most men would agree is an excellent compliment.

Those two cards were the highlight of my Father’s Day. I am smart enough to realize that in a few short years my kids will be too cool to make cards for their old man. Before I know it I’ll start receiving industrial-sized vats of “English Leather” or “Brute” and will no longer get things made with their own little hands (all of which have 4-fingers and a thumb). These are without a doubt the best years to be a Dad on Father’s Day.


June 8, 2008

As parents, we ask ourselves why on a daily basis.   Why is my boy wearing panty hose?

Why can’t my sons coexist for more than 11-seconds without someone getting injured?

Why does my child feel it is necessary to wear his “Incredible Hulk” costume under his school clothes but not have the same conviction when it comes to socks and underwear?

Why do those things that could cause grave bodily harm fascinate my children?  E.g. steak knives, ninja throwing stars and my gas powered weed-whacker

Why don’t bubble-wrap and Styrofoam packing peanuts fascinate my kids?  Research demonstrates that there is not a single case of a person losing an eye while manipulating packing peanuts, they appear to be fairly benign, and thus my children have no interest in them.

The word “Why” permeates our parental vocabulary and therefore it should be no surprise that it becomes the most used word in our children’s lexicon.  We teach them this word and then curse them for using it; in the Marine Corps we call this a “self licking ice-cream cone”.

If you’re a parent then you have felt the sting associated with the word “Why”.  If you’re not a parent then the following information may prepare you for what lies ahead.

The child’s “Why mechanism” may be one of the most common points of dismay among parents of every culture, ethnicity and even species; it transcend time and is documented in early cave drawings as facilitating the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Bottom line this is some powerful stuff.

If you think your kids will be different then you’re wrong.  No one is immune, you are not special and your child may not be as advanced as you are leading Grandma to believe.  These are cold hard facts.  Listen, and listen closely, your kids will torture you with the word “Why” for the majority of their adolescence and the best that you can do is try to weather the storm.

Mackinley’s “Why Mechanism” is the most finely tuned verbal assault weapon that I have ever encountered.  There is no counter measure to its awesome power, when on the receiving end you can only hope to minimize the damage or deflect its destructive force in another direction.  I have included a dialogue of a conversation that Mack and I engaged in while driving from Maryland to North Carolina (avoid long car rides at all cost).

Mackinley:  “Daddy are there bears in these woods?” 

Daddy:  “Yes, buddy there are.” 

Mackinley:   “Why?” 

Daddy:  “Because that is where bears live.” 

Mackinley:  “Why don’t they live in houses?” 

Daddy: “Because they are bear. People live in houses. Bears live in the woods.” 

Mackinley:  “Why?” 

Daddy:  “Because housing cost are too high in this area and most bears are unemployed and unable to compete for the limited affordable housing that is available.” 

Mackinley:  “Why?” 

Daddy:  “Well buddy rent is high because the job market in this area is really strong which means higher income for most people thus driving up the cost of living to include rent and housing prices.” 

Mackinley:  “Why?” 

Daddy:  “Well son, it’s all about supply and demand and economic stability, this area is rich in textile mills and industry, thus providing plenty of jobs to persons who will not eat their employer when faced with having to do an unpleasant task.” 

Mackinley:  “Why?” 

Daddy:  “Because I said so Mack.” 

Mackinley:  “Why?”

Daddy:  “Because I am “DAD”, all-knowing and all-powerful in this SUV, and when you’re old and trapped in an SUV with your 5-year old son then you can make claim to being all-knowing as well, until that time you’re going to take my word for it, good to go?” 

Mackinley:  “Daddy, are there alligators in these woods?” 

This is a brief synopsis of what it is like to be trapped in an SUV with a child who has learned to articulate the word “Why”.  Mack’s goal was to numb my brain until I slipped into a coma at which point he would have escaped from his car seat, taken over the vehicle and driven to “Toys-R-Us”, I am sure of this, but I have no concrete proof of his intentions, if I knew for sure I would put the screws to him by placing him in “Time out” (I know I am a dangerous man).

I used this example because it demonstrates several different attempts to counter Mackinley’s assault.  First, I answered with logic.  This technique suggests of course that children are capable of understanding logic.  Now, why would I try to use logic on a person who refers to himself as spider man every time he achieves nudity?

My next counter was to stymie him with more information than his little mind could process.  This is a more appropriate technique, however nine out of ten times my boys don’t hear a word I say anyway.  You must realize that when the “Why” mechanism is engaged the listening mechanism (if it even really exist) is tuned to a completely different frequency.

Finally, I attempted the old “I am the parent and what I say is final”, Ha! Who am I kidding.

The only truly effective technique to counter “Why” questions is to answer every single question with complete and utter nonsense. It may not be very fulfilling at that moment, but some day when they attempt to answer an SAT question with the information that you provided you’ll get your revenge.  Good luck.