Archive for January, 2009

Mack and I were driving home from Home Depot today when we had to stop at a traffic light. Off to our left was a cemetery- something Mack has always been interested in. After a couple of minutes, Mack started asking some graveyard-related questions.

Mack- “Dad, how come some of the graves are small and some are big?”

Dad- “Do you mean the headstones buddy?”

Mack- “Yeah, the headstones- some of them are great big and others are really small.”

Dad- “Well headstones are expensive son, that great big one right there probably cost a thousand dollars- that little one next to it was probably almost free. If it were up to me I would go for the free one and then leave all that money I saved to you and Cay. Sounds good right?”

Mack- (Pause)  “Nope, I would get you the great big one.”

Dad- “That’s silly why would you do that?”

Mack- “Because I love you and I would want to be able to find you if I needed to.”

That choked me up a bit because if you know Mack you know how he feels about cold hard cash. His willingness to part with a thousand dollars is one of the most gracious compliments I’ve ever received from him- and then he said this:

Mack- “Dad will I know you in heaven?”

Dad- “Absolutely buddy- of course.”

Mack- “That’s good. You know what else dad?”

Dad- “What’s that stud?”

Mack- “If I died I wouldn’t want to come back if I couldn’t have you and mom as my parents.”

We rode in silence the rest of the trip, but I reached back to his car seat so we could hold hands all the way home.

NYR #14

January 31, 2009

I have a confession to make- I may not watch the Super Bowl. Yes, that’s right, you heard it here first- a man is openly admitting that he did not plan his entire week around the most important game of the year. I expect some repercussions from this admission. In fact, I was openly ridiculed at work when one of my co-workers asked me who I was rooting for and I had to ask him who was playing. The news spread like wildfire through my office and by noon I couldn’t find a single person in the Pentagon who was unaware of my inadequacies- to include the Subway employee from Istanbul who just happened to be wearing a vintage “One for the Thumb” Steelers T-shirt.

Truth is, I haven’t watched an entire football game in 8 years and, if you do the math, you’ll figure out that’s about the time that Mack was born. I don’t think that I am any less complete. I don’t feel a gaping hole in my life for having missed so many collegiate and professional football games. Maybe I should. Maybe somewhere along the line I missed a life altering game or maybe even just a single play that had I watched my life would be richer and more fulfilled. I kind of doubt it. Personally, I believe the hours logged watching Josh and Drake, Sponge Bob and I-Carly have had a much greater impact on who I am and what I’m all about. Because when I watch one of these shows I’m normally sandwiched between two little boys who think it’s super cool that their Dad can imitate “Patrick Starfish” better than anyone they know.

That being said, we may watch the commercials- Cayden thinks they’re hilarious and once he gets laughing you can’t help but join in.

Why are you not asleep?

January 30, 2009

I am going to start posting the kid’s reply to this question each evening because without fail they come up with a new excuse every night.

Tonight’s reply to my query:

Cayden- “Because Mack is chewing on my slippers.”

mack- “Because Cayden’s playing Nintendo under his covers.”

Saint Carlo of Rossi…

January 29, 2009
Why Carlo Rossi should be a Saint…

1. He is a firm believer in quantity over quality.

2. All of his wines come equipped with a screw top to help seal in the freshness.

3. His products are brand new- none of that 30 year old, tight-ass vintage crap that you buy at high end liquor stores. His stuff is legit- I am pretty sure each bottle comes with a born on date just like a six pack of Coors.

4. Wine in a box lacks sophistication and looks at home when perched on the counter of a mobile home- wine in an industrial-sized jug tells the world you’ve arrived and that your home won‘t roll away during periods of inclimate weather.

5. Carlo Rossi sounds Italian- and everyone knows that Italy is the birthplace of the grape.

6. By volume, it’s cheaper than tap water.

7. Every gallon of Carlo consumed creates three new acres of Brazilian rainforest.

8. If you throw a get-together at your home and provide your guests with Carlo, you’ll still have enough money left over to serve those fancy corndog pastry bites that went over so well at your kids birthday party.

9. Carlo sort of tastes like wine- only without that fine wine aftertaste.

10. Carlo Rossi’s middle name is “Let’s get naked and party until someone throws up”- now that’s the guy I want to align myself with.

11. Carlo voted for Barack Obama and dedicates 50% of his profits to solving the national financial crisis.

12. Carlos Rossi’s Merlot has reportedly cured testicular cancer in lab rats.

13. Carlo is working on a solution to male pattern baldness- and will likely succeed.

14. One glass of Carlo Rossi wine per night makes you slightly more attractive, two glasses makes you a stunner and three gives you superpowers.

15. Carlo Rossi invented online shopping, the miracle bra, and beef.

I can sit here all night and name a hundred more reasons why we should honor Carlo, but my train is about to pull into the station and I’ll need to shut down for the night.

Before I head home to the family, I wanted to give a shout out to Frank the homeless guy who rode next to me for the past 50 minutes. Frank gets co-author credit for this post, he is a huge fan of our man Carlo and provided a large portion of the Carlo facts- especially the last five. Thanks Frank- live free brother…

NYR #13

January 28, 2009

It’s a few minutes past 9am and the boys are once more outside braving the elements. Gone are the majestic flakes fluttering down like a Norman Rockwell painting- they are nowhere to be found. Nope, it rained last night and then dipped below freezing so yesterday’s fluffy snow is now today’s barren ice plain. I wonder how my chances of escaping a trip to the emergency room will fair when matched against these conditions.

Regardless, they are fed, they are bundled, and they are sledding down our meager, ice covered slope. It took Cayden 20 minutes to make it 10-feet due to the slippery conditions. He fell at least 300 times in the process but the smile never left his face. This is the same kid who claimed to be paralyzed after a certain not-to-be-named individual accosted him with a Styrofoam sword last night. I’m a bit confused at the inequity- can’t imagine that the 300 falls he just sustained hurt less than the Styrofoam sword strike, but okay, who am I to question?

The plan for our day off is to let them play outside until the ice thaws. Once the ice thaws, we plan on traveling to the next injury producing event- roller skating.

Remember roller skating? If you’re over 30, you probably have some pretty fond memories of the local roller rink- moonlight skate, ladies choice, the disco roller boogie. “Hey, check me out! I can skate backwards- Don’t I look cool in my “Members Only” jacket?” Of course I was pimping my feathered Scott Baio haircut with a gigantic Goody comb sticking out of my way-too-tight Levi’s back pocket. Good God! I loved the early eighties- someone put on some Rick Springfield or J. Geils Band! I need some theme music.

Scott Baio still a Pimp after all these years

Men are still trying to achieve the impossible standard of masculinity that Chachi Arcola set in the early eighties- it may never be done- only time will tell.


























Sorry, just trying to get warmed up to the idea of roller skating. I was really good at it 25 years ago- so my hope is that I’ll impress the guys with my skill and not break my hip while doing so.

NYR #12

January 27, 2009
It’s snowing in Maryland today and I know the kids will be stoked. Connie told them when they got home from school yesterday that snow had been forecasted. The rest of the evening was spent monitoring and preparing for the snow-filled, school-free day that would certainly be waiting for them when they awoke. To ensure that snow actually fell, Mack had everyone in the family cross their fingers and toes. I didn’t join in- I drive to work at 5am and had no desire to face a snow-filled commute.

I did however help the kids prep for their snow day. After dinner last night, I went to the garage and filled their snow tubes with air. It didn’t take long for the kids to locate me, hijack a snow tube and sled down our basement steps. That’s the thing with my boys, they have no sense of fear- an honest assessment would be that the sense they are lacking is the “common” type.

When Connie mentioned going tubing, I quickly mapquested local emergency care facilities. I wanted to know how far from a paramedic I would be should I decide to take a day off and go with them. This may sound paranoid, but when you’re Shane it’s a smart precaution. I have lived long and dangerously enough to develop my own formula for the likelihood of massive trauma resulting from fun family activities. It goes something like this: height (H) X weight (W) X slippery surface (SS) X angle of trajectory (degree of slope)= certain bodily harm.

I learned this formula one year when we took the kids to a water park in Delaware. The first day we were there, the kids wanted to go down this huge water slide. Though it looked like a lot of fun, I was content to watch. The trouble was, Cayden was terrified of the climb to the top- so he asked me to accompany him. Here is an unknown truth about water slides, the stairs are only used to go up- you must use the slide to come down.

So let’s apply the formula that I mentioned earlier.

H= 70 inches

W= 210 lbs

SS= water slide

Angle= 70 degrees (ass puckering steep)


Sitting on the top of the slide before releasing the handholds was the last time that any portion of my body actually touched a solid surface. When I released, my body rocketed from 0 to a million mph in a nano-second. My cheeks blew open like an astronaut going through a G-Force simulator and my testicles disappeared into my abdomen for protection. I may have screamed but I doubted anyone could hear me as I was certainly traveling faster than the speed of sound. Eyewitness statements later confirmed that a string of obscenities were flowing from my clenched teeth, but I honestly don’t remember. When I hit the water, I generated enough force to push every other person from the pool and blow over six beach cabanas. Obviously I survived, but it’s taken me 12-months to get over my phobia of slides.

So if 911 is programmed into my phone or I go to the slopes with my personally owned defibrillator, it’s not without reason. I’m just a little wiser and a little more aware of what being Shane truly means in the physical universe.

NYR #11

January 26, 2009
My son wants to be the next Great White Hunter. I know this because he repeatedly expresses his desire to go hunting. I am not a hunter. I have no desire to sit outside in sub-arctic temperatures waiting for some hapless deer to stumble upon my half frozen carcass so that I can shoot it and then drag it from the wild. Mack, on the other hand, thinks this sounds like an amazingly good time.I knew I was in trouble a couple of weeks ago when I looked out our back window to find my son crawling through the grass stalking a crow like a Marine sniper stalking an enemy target. Wait a minute- what’s that in his hand? Is that a spear? Good God, Mack is armed and is about to skewer a city chicken. I yelled for Mack and the bird flew away. Mack looked defeated.

BTW the spear was homemade, we don’t have no-shit spears laying around our house and we certainly don’t let Mack go outdoors armed with authentic weaponry.

The idea of Mack killing a crow with a makeshift spear was a little unsettling, but I figured after our discussion about eating whatever you kill he would give up on his back yard safari fantasy. I was wrong.

When I looked out our back window this weekend, I saw Mack perched in a tree about six feet off the ground- so of course I investigated. Sure enough my boy had built himself a real life tree stand and was patiently waiting for his prey to come within range. Couple of things Mack forgot about. One, the Groah family forest consists of about 3 trees and a half dead bush- we aren’t exactly sporting a rainforest back there. Two, our yard is fenced, so the likelihood of any big game venturing into our area to hide behind one of our three trees is pretty slim. Finally, he had no weapon other than a baseball-sized rock.

If left to his own devices, the scenario would have unfolded one of two ways. First possibility, Mack gets bored and tosses the rock at a squirrel and in the process he becomes off balanced and plummets to the earth knocking himself unconscious. Second possibility, his little brother happens along and catches Mack’s weapon of choice right between the running lights. Either way, a non-desirable afternoon would soon follow.

I took the rock and gave Mack a pair of binoculars and told him that the news had reported a gorilla sighting in our neighborhood. He believed me. It’s Monday night and he is still out there. Sure is cold tonight.

Does this make me a doctor?

January 25, 2009

So not more than an hour after posting a piece on potty training, I get a lovely comment from the Colon Cleansing Institute of the Americas. If you have a dirty colon, you can visit these helpful folks at Isn’t that something- I never knew that someone grew up with the intention of becoming an authority on colon cleaning. That must go over like a lead balloon at their kid’s career day. So Johnny what does your dad do? Well Ms. Crabtree, my dad is a professional cleaner of colons and did you know that a bowel flush can increase your energy up to 100%? I’m sure Johnny’s friends will be amazed.

When I told Connie that the colon cleansing authority had left a comment she said that I had received spam. I don‘t consider it spam- I consider it an opportunity. So I went to their site and come to find out it’s a blog dedicated to providing you with the most current news on advances in general colon maintenance. This is some earth shattering shit (whoops I said shit, I probably just earned another comment). If you decide to venture to this blog you will not only learn to cleanse your colon- you can also learn lots of good stuff about bowel detox and parasitic nasties that live in your pipes. That my friends is some pleasant Sunday reading, dive right in- just do so after you’ve already eaten breakfast.

The colon cleansing blog claims to provide only quality information on the health and care of your colon. The funny thing is, when I hit the link and worked my way to the bottom of the page I found my post “I have some solid advice for you”. What do you know, I guess the path to a healthy colon begins with how well you‘ve mastered potty training.

(As a disclaimer I had no idea that my post would have such wide reaching implications. When I originally wrote it, I had no intentions of becoming a board member or contributing author to the Colon Authority’s website. Not sure if I should be proud or alarmed that somehow that’s exactly what I managed to do. I fear that my new found “Colon fame” will result in a flood of comments and emails from people desperately seeking sage advice on the general health and welfare of their digestive systems- to be honest I am a fraud when it comes to colon care and have nothing legitimate to offer them. Besides I have to wonder if these are the folks I want pilgrimaging to my web page- I can only imagine that, like their bowels, they’re probably quite irritable.)

I was listening to a couple of parents going back and forth about potty training the other day and decided that it’s time to end the mystery and open this up as a topic on my blog. I believe it’s a universal truth that the idea of teaching our children to use the toilet strikes fear in the hearts of most parents. For some reason ,we feel inept and unqualified to instruct others on this simple, yet necessary, life function. How could this be? Throughout our parenting careers, I am sure that greater challenges have presented themselves and I’m willing to bet that we attacked many of these challenges with confidence and zeal. But the thought of training our kids to use the crapper sends our anxiety levels through the roof. I have to wonder- why we are so intimidated?

Connie and I were like most parents when it came to the process of potty training- we had yet to reach the Zen level of enlightenment that we enjoy now. So we did a lot of research before Mack was even remotely ready to make an attempt at the big white bowl. I’m pretty confident that we did more research on his topic than any other aspect of parenting to include the birthing process. We went straight to the web and then to the library, to collect as much information as we could. There are a ton of self-proclaimed experts who have made a fortune selling their philosophies on the perfect potty training technique- Snake Oil salesmen, brokering hope to an intimidated demographic. We fell in rank and file. We believed that in order to successfully conquer this monumental quest we would need professional help- and a lot of it. So we read; and we contemplated; and we discussed; and we joined support groups and… well you probably get the point. We made things a lot more complicated than we probably should have. But before I give you our method (for free mind you) let me explain how life-altering potty trained kids can be.

Getting your kids out of diapers is one of those milestones that I would place next to baby‘s first words, first steps or college graduation- it’s simply that huge. If you’re still smelling of baby wipes and carrying around a 40lb diaper bag everywhere you go, let me paint a picture of what life will soon be like. When your kids finally say “enough is enough” and join the civilized masses, you will no longer be faced with several ugly tasks. For instance, you will no longer be required to wipe another person’s butt. Think about it, I don’t know a single parent who has muttered these words- “You know what, Dear, I sure do miss wiping Henry’s ass- I think I’ll give him a call this weekend and see if we can arrange some father-son time”- reason being, wiping a kid’s butt is gross. Changing an occasional diaper might be a novelty for non-parents, but it’s not if you’re doing it 24/7.

But wait there is more. When your kids are potty trained, you can skip right past the diaper aisle at the grocery store without a second thought as to if Huggies are on sale this week. Friggin’ glorious. Personally, that’s how I knew that I had turned a significant corner on parenting. I started to walk down the baby aisle when I realized there wasn’t a single item on my list that I needed in this area of the store. Holy Shit, I’ve been liberated! No more diapers, no more ass-wipes, no more butt cream- all of that cash instantly redirected to my robust home equity line of credit. I was beside myself with glee, overwhelmed with joy. I ran past several parents perusing infant diapers (whoa! they have a long way to go) to find others who had escaped diaper hell. It wasn’t hard to find them, they were smiling and had fat wallets, and when they saw me coming they opened their arms to welcome me to their society of survivors. Sure was nice to find others who could understand the significance of the moment.

There is so much more to life when your kids are no longer pooping in their pants. No more changing tables in gas station rest rooms that looked like they were used as a card table for a band of hobos. No more 30-minute diaper bag packing process. No more running to the convenience store at 3 a.m. because you’re out of wipes. No more gut-wretching odors when you’re trapped in traffic and one of your kids decides to drop a deuce in the back seat- anyone go through that, I speak from experience not somewhere you want be. I can’t emphasize the magnitude of this life-altering stage in parenting enough. In our home, we celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the day our kids learned how to use the toilet.

Now on to our method-

When we decided that it was time to potty train Mack, I was unfortunately deployed to Iraq and unable to participate. When it was Cayden’s turn I was not so lucky. My wife allowed me to take the lead on this evolution as payback for not being around the first time. I felt up to the challenge as stated earlier, I had read plenty of books; watched plenty of video, received online help, etcetera. Even though I had all of this knowledge packed into my head from previous research, I felt it prudent to see if anything new on the topic had come out in print. I found a new book, I read one sentence and then put it away. The sentence stated “Talk to the child before beginning potty training and see if they are ready to participate”. Made sense to me- I wonder if Connie did that before potty training Mack? Truth be told it does not matter what type of approach you take, if the kid does not feel like participating then guess what? You’re not going to be successful.

On the big day (choose a weekend), I sat Cayden down and explained to him what we were going to attempt. I gave him two things- a brand new pair of “Thomas the Train” big boy underpants and a book about a little boy learning to use the crapper. We talked for a while about how “big boys” use the toilet and not their pants and then I asked him if he was ready to try it. Cayden has always been an easy kid with a great temperament so it came as no surprise that he was ready to give it a shot. And so began the brainwashing evolution known as potty training. Here are steps I took.

I let Cayden wear his new underpants (but only during the day at first).

Then, every hour I walked Cayden to the potty and helped him undo his trousers. I showed him how to aim and then we stood there and waited, we waited some more, and then we waited for a little longer. After a while we ceremoniously wiped the rim of toilet with paper and flushed- flushing was the highlight for Cayden.

At bed time I put him in training pants. Every few hours I would get out of bed, grab Cayden and take him to the bathroom. Same drill as the day time evolution- only difference is I had to hold Cayden’s body erect otherwise he would have fallen into the toilet. Most of the nighttime trips he couldn’t remember because he never woke up. Every so often I would alternate standing to sitting in case he had to do more than pee. I can’t begin to tell you how many minutes I logged crouched in front of the toilet with Cayden’s butt on the seat and his head on my shoulder sound asleep.

We did this drill all weekend until he actually let a little fluid go into the bowl- amazing! At that point I experienced a flash of euphoria, I saw the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich, a bush was burning in the background, flowers sprouted from the frozen earth and my childhood pet came back to life. That is how right the planet was at that one single moment. Cayden danced- and then refused to flush until everyone in the family and a few neighbors got an opportunity to view his accomplishment. From there it was easy. Sure we experienced some setbacks and an occasional accident, but all said and done it was pretty smooth sailing- together we had managed to accomplish a huge task.

A little additional advice for those of you who have kids just beginning to use the toilet. Teach your kids to put the seat up when they pee, but teach them to put the seat down when they need to have a bowel movement- Cayden has gone for a swim more than once because he has forgotten this bit of advice. Multiple kids peeing in the same toilet at the same time equates to wet smelly kids and a damp floor. With newly potty trained children wear shower shoes in the bathroom at all times, re-read the statement above for further explanation. Newly trained children abide by the principle “the more paper the better”. In following this adage they will use an entire roll of toilet paper to wipe their tiny buttocks. So that being said keep a plunger near the bathroom but out of the reach of your kids who will try to serve each other lucky charms out of the cup end.

Happily at this stage in our lives both kids use the potty with a certain degree of expertise. I do realize however to expect ebb and flow, some days are better than others. I still must remind Mack to flush the toilet on occasion- this is confusing for him. His response to me asking him to flush is simply, “But then no one will see the poop”. Yes Mack, that is the idea. To him a really good bowel movement is worthy of praise and admiration from family and friend alike.

So that is my advice, it can be done. You and your child can pull this one off. It takes about one weekend’s worth of effort, but it pays off huge dividends.

NYR #10

January 21, 2009

They call me Dad

I can move mountains.

I can kick the boogyman’s ass even on my worst day.

I have every tool ever invented- and know how to properly use most of them.

I love your mother and listen to what she says.

I can beat up your bully’s dad.

I know where you left your favorite toy even if you don’t.

I can teach you how to tie your shoes, make an omelet, and shave your face- all in the same morning.

I yell, but I’m not a threat.

I can open a jelly jar with my bare hands.

I’m afraid of nothing- except disappointing my children.

And yes, son, if your teacher asks you to build a robot out of garbage- I can do that too.


The helmet is a plastic wine glass...Long live Mr. Carlo Rossi!!!

The helmet is a plastic wine glass…Long live Mr. Carlo Rossi!!!