Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Village Inn ripped me off!! (but it might be my fault)

OK, so Angie and I went out shopping last night and stopped by Village Inn to pick up some pie to eat at home. We have never really gotten pie from Village Inn but the Cheesecake Factory was 15 minutes further away.

It went wrong from the very start.

There was a nice young woman behind the counter. Here is the exchange; you tell me where it went off the tracks:

Village Inn Girl: "Can I help you?"

Chris: "She would like a slice of Cherry pie and I would like a slice of Chocolate Peanut Butter."

Village Inn Girl: "That will be $6.50."**
**take note that my slice of pie cost $3.80

I swiped my debit card and the machine instantly asked me if I wanted to tip 15% or 20%. We have now been in the building 3 minutes. I saw Village Inn Girl move out of my line of vision as she headed to the back to get our pie, so I turned my head slightly to Angie behind me and out of the corner of my mouth uttered:

Chris: "Tip? 15% tip? 20% tip? How about zero?"

It is at this moment I realizeed much to my horror that my superhero-like spidey-senses have detected Village Inn Girl right behind me. She whispered in my ear:

Village Inn Girl: "If you want zero just hit zero. That's fine."

I was mortified; Angie was mortified but it was too late. Village Inn Girl gave us our pie and I slinked out.

When we got to the car I opened the pie container to make sure she hadn't spit in my food. What I found was almost as bad: I had received the smallest piece of pie I have ever seen at a restaurant. And I had paid $3.80! Here is a dramatic recreation using Village Inn's website (click to enlarge):

In the interest of social studies, I went to my friend Kimball's house and "talked him" (ie, had to pay him in pie) into going to Village Inn to order pie as well. This time he was ready to tip big. He ordered, he got a bigger slice.

Angie and I want to make the world a better place. Friends and followers of this blog know that we both want to teach others our valuable life lessons.

Here is what Chris learned: Drive the extra 15 minutes to the Cheesecake Factory if you can. It is so loud there that they won't hear you announcing you won't be tipping.

Here is what Angie learned: stop going out in public with her husband.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Little Culture

Last week we took the boys to the Hale theater to see "A Christmas Carol". I didn't actually tell the boys where we were going until right before we left for the play. To say that they were not happy would be an understatement. Chandler sulked up until the play started, Jackson just wanted to know what candy he could buy and Christopher ran around outside throwing rocks. I was afraid it was going to be a huge disaster.

We have taken the boys to see musicals before. They have seen "The Lion King" and "Wicked" and they loved both. So I was a little surprised at their reaction to this play. It was almost magical to see how they all softened during the play. It was a great show!! The music and actors were really good. During intermission Jackson asked if we could sit in the balcony next time we come and see a play. Chandler thought it would be cool if we could get season tickets and Christopher decided he wanted to be an actor.

I was surprised that the boys didn't know the story of Scrooge- I guess I have been slacking in my parental duties--but they really got the point and loved the play. I loved the play and think we are going to make it a new Christmas tradition. So at this Christmas time I say "God bless us, every one."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The End of an Era

Alert- If you are 12 or younger or think Santa is the most amazing person ever please don't read this post.

Tonight when I was bringing Chandler home from scouts we had an interesting conversation. Here is how it went:
Me: How was scouts?
Chandler: fine.
Me: What did you do?
Chandler: We went to the High school and played football.
Me: Sounds like fun. So how was school?
Chandler: Fine.
Me: So- What do you and your friends talk about at school?
Chandler: Nothing really.
Me: Are you excited about Christmas?
Chandler: Of course
(good thing I learned how to ask find out questions on my mission or this would have been a very short conversation).
Me: What do you think Santa is going bring you?
He kind-of gave me a funny look.
I repeated the question- again the funny look.
Me:Chandler- do you and your friends talk about Santa?
Chandler: sometimes
Me: what do you talk about?
Chandler: we mostly talk about if he is real.

Now I know that Chandler is almost 12 and we probably should have had this conversation a couple of years ago- but I was hoping to hold off one more year.

Me: Do you think Santa is real?
Chandler: well I don't think he can be real. I mean who believes in Santa. Of course he is easier to believe in then the Easter bunny. I mean really, who would believe that a huge bunny hops around the world delivering candy.
I sat in stunned silence.
Me: so you don't believe in Santa? (I asked it like it was unbelievable that this could be true)
Chandler: well kind-of
Me : what do you mean kind-of?
Chandler: I kind-of hope he's real.

The rest of the ride home was quiet. I have to admit that I was a little teary to see my baby begin to see the world as a teenager. How I have enjoyed the innocence of youth. How I have enjoyed watching them as they look at things through eyes that think anything is possible. It makes me sad to see a little bit of that belief lost to the reality of the world. I wish I could keep them young forever and that they would have the absolute belief in all things good.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bobby Flay Loves Me

OK, so my post about being in New York and meeting Bobby Flay really starts with trying to explain a monumental injustice in the world (not monumental like children starving in Africa or testicular cancer but still...).

A couple of years ago, we got together with the Wickes and the Richins to recreate the TV show the Iron Chef. Have you seen Iron Chef? Famous Chefs are given 1 hour to create meals using a secret ingredient revealed to them only moments before the 1 hour starts. The girls picked a secret ingredient (sour cream) and Kimball, Thomas and I had to create a main dish and a dessert in 90 minutes. We had to shop, gather supplies, and cook in the same kitchen in those 90 minutes. We called it Iron Chef Mesa.

Long story short, we made the mistake of having Thomas' brothers be the judges. There was a controversy involving a simple shake with a sprig of parsley being declared a winner over stuffed crepes, yada yada yada, Thomas wins the desert portion, splits the votes and leaves Kimball as Iron Chef Mesa.

Fast forward 3 years later: Chris is in New York City trying to put the ugly memories of Iron Chef Mesa behind him while drowning his sorrows in Diet Cokes. I was walkiing up 5th Avenue near Central Park and who do I see coming my way? None other than famous Iron Chef Bobby Flay:
I quickly explained the facts of Iron Chef Mesa to him. His eyes grew large in disbelief as I regaled him with the ins and outs of the culinary horror that robbed the world of Iron Chef Miner. I could have sworn that I saw one lonely tear roll down his face. In our minds, we hugged goodbye, one Iron Chef to another. Both being germaphobes, however, we kept our goodbyes to a nod of the head and a picture taken by a passing old man.

Once I knew Bobby was on my side, my day perked up. I put down the Diet Coke and saw the city in a whole new light. The grass was greener, leaves were goldnener and the taxi drivers swore less.

Here are some pictures I took in Central Park:

Pretty, eh?

In the end, the trip was good since the conference I was in New York for was excellent and I was able to get some new purses for the girls through some tough haggling with Nigerians selling counterfeits on the streets late at night. Plus I will always have Bobby...

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I have my own Scottish Highlander. You know how I love Scotland. My brave highlander actually walked the streets of Mesa on Halloween night. I am sure he was there to protect me and the boys. What a brave soul he is.

A Little Obsessed

I have become a little obsessed with canning. About a month ago I went a little overboard canning peaches and pears. I bottled 36 quarts of pears and 36 quarts of peaches-no one in my family likes peaches. Last week I canned apples. This was the first time I have ever worked with apples. I ended up bottling 24 quarts of apples and 24 pints of applesauce. It was a lot of work-but it ended up being a lot of fun because I did it with a good friend. Chris is now worried that I am going to fill every closet with fruit.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Artistic Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins was so much fun this year. The boys were very creative, their level of pumpkin carving is getting very high. Even Chris created a great pumpkin. Guess who he carved?

Here are the before, during and after pictures.

Christopher hated cleaning out the pumpkin- I thought he was going to throw-up. It was so funny watching him clean it out.

Jackson tried a very difficult pattern which didn't work. He adapted well and changed his pumpkin to a spider/throw-up design. I think the inspiration came after he ate some raw pumpkin.Chandler chose to carve a skull. I didn't think it turned out very well until it was outside and lit. It was amazing!

Chris worked very hard on his pumpkin. We are very proud of his pumpkin carving skills. Of course he couldn't help himself- he had to do the throw-up joke. That really caught on with the boys--thanks Chris. Can you tell who he carved? That is my cute little bat in the background.

Piano Recital

So I have been quite a slacker when it comes to our blog- so here comes some updates.

The Boys had a piano recital a few weeks ago. I am always so proud of the boys and how hard they work to memorize their music.

Christopher is always a hoot. Everyone watches to see what funny thing he does. He is always soooo serious.
Jackson played so well. He worked very hard this year and I am glad I won't have to hear the song "The Train" any more. The train whistle was very loud at 6:30am in the morning.Chandler always takes his recital so serious. He practices hard and is very responsible. He didn't really want his picture taken and rushed out of the room so the picture is not great.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NBA is FANtastic!

So last week a former (law) partner of mine gave me 4 center court tickets to a Phoenix Suns game. Of course since there are 5 of us in the family we had a major decision to make. Should I leave a boy home? Should I stay home and Angie go? Should we give away the tickets since we can't all go?

We decided to settle it the old fashioned way: Angie and I arm-wrestled for the right to take the boys to the game.

Here is the first picture of the night that the winner took. Can you guess who took it?

What can I say? I love dancing. Just kidding. Long story short, Angie let me go even though I lost the arm wrestle. Plus she had book club that night. Now in most marriages it would be no sacrifice for a wife to skip sports and go do girl-talk with appetizers. In our marriage however, Angie is a HUGE sports fan and although I love sports, I am also happy to spend an evening yacking it up and eating finger foods.

Thanks for sacrificing Angie. The boys and I had a great time.

The tickets included passes to all the clubs at the Arena and the area underneath the stadium between the floor and the locker room. At half-time and after the game we gave the players high fives as they ran into the locker room.

After the game we talked Amare Stoudemire into stopping and signing autographs for the boys. They were so excited!

All in all it was quite a lot of fun and hopefully the boys remember the good time we all had with Amare, Shaq, Nash. And the Suns dancers. OK, I don't want them (or Angie) to remember that part.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Camping = Fun!!

So Chandler and I went on our first 11 year old Scout campout this past weekend. Fate, sickness and vacation schedules had conspired to keep us from going on earlier scout campouts.

Needless to say, Chandler was so excited to play with friends in dirt and lake water. How could I deny him?

We went to a place north of here called Apache Lake:

It was a bit of a drive to get to the lake but on the way we stopped when the scout leader spotted a rattlesnake laying on the road. Like any good scout leader, this one got out and bothered the otherwise comfortable snake until he started to rattle. The leader wanted the boys to hear what a rattlesnake sounds like when it is ticked off and rattling so that the boys could be warned and on the lookout. This makes perfect sense to me as a carrier of male chromosomes. Angie, of course, was horrified at this retelling. Her reaction went something like this:

Me: "Wasn't that a good idea?"

Angie: "What? Are you fully retarded or just slow?"

Me: "I'm all man, baby!"

Angie: "I will take that as fully retarded."

If that wasn't cool enough, later on the drive we saw a tarantula. A huge tarantula in fact. So huge that we had to pick it up and let it walk on us. First the boys petted it (yes it was that big) but then they got brave and let it walk on them.

You can all imagine what Angie's reaction was when I told her about this part. It won't surprise you that she has asked my employer if there is a special "short bus" that can take me to work since she doesn't think I should be allowed to drive.

Once we got to the lake Chandler was good about helping me get the tent up, dinner, etc. Luckily the 11 years old scouts are still 11 and were oblivious of the girls in bikinis in the next campsite over. Just to be safe I decided to keep an eye on them and make sure they didn't wander into our campsite and frighten the young boys. You're welcome, Angie. Chandler was safe!

Of course Chandler wanted to get up at 6 am and fish which was fun except for the really smelly bait. We didn't catch any fish but we saw a couple steal the bait.

All in all it was a fun campout and we can't wait to do it again. In case you were wondering-don't worry, the bikini-clad temptresses were not out early Saturday morning. I checked several times just to be safe.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Anarchy in the UK

So poor Angie had to deal with us driving all day last Sunday back from vacation in California just in time for me to get on an afternoon flight to London. I was gone an entire week for business. It was tough leaving Angie and the boys right after vacation (not that it's easy to leave any time!).

I spent the first couple of days just outside of London. I realized as soon as I landed that I had accidentally left my jacket in hot Phoenix and it was rainy every day in London. A cab driver and I shopped a thrift shop and I found a nice wind breaker for 5 pounds (about 10 bucks). It had a little school insignia on the jacket but I didn't worry about it until I got back to the office and looked up the name of the school and realized it was a school for teenage boys with emotional and behavioral problems! How fitting, some of you are thinking! I just hope that people who saw me walking around with it thought that I was a teacher and not a student :)

I did get into London for some meetings but I also had a nice dinner with my friend Adam who lives in London. He and I started at the same law firm in New York many years ago. Later when Angie and I were in Frankfurt, Adam's future wife, Karen, was dating him in London on the weekends and working in Frankfurt during the week, where we met her also. Anyway Adam and Karen now have a cute house in London and a cuter new baby and it was wonderful to catch up. It was also fun to walk the London streets again and see the tourist sites: parliament, Westminster, Big Ben, etc. Mostly I missed touring with Angie!

Later in the week I went North for several days. I did get to play hooky on a Friday afternoon and trained to York, a beautiful old city. Here is the York minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe outside of Italy:

Here is a medieval street in York called the "Shambles". Notice the rain and the crooked buildings down the street:

On the train I met a man from Zimbabwe, where the inflation is so bad because they just keep printing money. You have to spend money as soon as you get it because prices double every day. He gave me a 50 billion dollar note, currently worth about 50 pence (or $1):

On Saturday I went to a football/soccer game in Newcastle. The Newcastle fans were in a near riot with protests and chanting because the coach had just quit and fans blame the owner so it was a lot of fun and quite a scene! Here I am with my new football friends (notice the Newcastle team Jersey and school jacket):

The home team lost 2-1, but I did get to see Michael Owen play. He is a fantastic player for both Newcastle and the English National team. He is also very popular with the girls. Angie is a fan of his soccer skills!

I am so excited to be back home and have the best wife for putting up with trips like this. Traveling just isn't as fun without her and I can't to get back to England with her!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Relaxing in Cali

According to our kids, we finally went away for a "proper" vacation. We took a few days and headed to California for a quick trip to Disney Land, a day at the beach and a MLS soccer game. I don't usually let the boys miss school for vacations- but I would say this was worth it. There were no lines! We basically walked up to every ride. On Splash Mountain they let us keep riding-we didn't have to get off-it was great. The boys had a great time and we discovered we have an daredevil-Chandler. He loved all the scary rides. We also had a great time at the beach. It was a perfect day. The boys spent the day boogie boarding and I spent the afternoon reading/sleeping under the umbrella.
We capped off our vacation with a LA Galaxy game. It was fun-we were a little sad that Beckham was in England- but we enjoyed the game even without him.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mom and Dad

My mom and dad were able to spend a week with us this summer. This was amazing because we don't get to see them as much as we would like. It was so much fun for me and the boys to hang out with them. They were also a big help- six boys can really take it out of you. My mom and dad were very brave- can you imagine the level of noise that 6 boys can make. Here are some of the more memorable pictures.

Mom and dad enjoying a nice cool (only 95 degree) morning by the pool.

Dad going down the water slide in our pool

Mom playing Guitar Hero with the boys.
It was a great week- but I think they were very ready to go home. Thanks for coming- we love you!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Christopher's big day

I finally have my computer back so I can post some of our summer pictures. The highlight of our summer was Christopher's baptism. He was able to go to Las Vegas to see his cousin Matthew baptized, and then all the boys came to our house, along with Grandma and Grandpa and Julie and Steve, for Christopher's baptism.
Matthew and Christopher in Las Vegas
Chris and Christopher at his baptism

Christopher and Grandpa and Grandma PrattWhat a great day that was for Christopher and our family. We are very proud of Christopher and all the work he did to get ready for his baptism!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Greatest Day

Warning-this is a sappy post. 15 years ago Chris and I were married. I am so blessed to be able to have him in my life. If you can think of all the good attributes a person has-Chris has them all. He cooks, cleans bathrooms, does laundry, makes me laugh, lets me read all I want and works very hard to provide for us. He is the most unselfish man I know. I am so grateful for what he does for me and my boys. He is amazing!!! So thank you for a great 15 years. I wouldn't have changed anything (well except for our only 2 mistakes- our dog and our house guest). I have loved our life together. You are the best!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

No Sleep :(

Okay- the Olympics is ruining my life. I admit it- I'm addicted. I start at 7:00pm and watch until 12 or 1 am. I don't think I have been to bed before 1:30 all week. I have bags under my eyes and my temper is a little short all because I had to see if the US women win in gymnastics or if Michael Phelps wins another gold. I think I might be dead by the end. Last night I spent 20 minutes on the computer playing Olympic trivia after watching for 4 hours. I think I might need an intervention!

ps--I have loads of pictures from the end of summer, but I had to take my laptop in to get fixed so they will have to wait until next week--sorry.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Highland Games

A couple of weekends ago we were in Flagstaff watching Cam play baseball. While we were there, Flagstaff was having their Highland Games. We had the best time! We ate lots of food- scones and sausage rolls, we watched men throw telephone poles, bought the boys swords, and bought Chris a Kilt. Good times were had by all.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's great to be 8

Well, my baby is eight. I can't believe he is so old. He has had a great week of a birthday. On Monday he refused to do any jobs and picked where we ate dinner. On Tuesday it continued until the end of his birthday party. This Sunday he complained that he never got to pick out Sunday desert- so today he got to pick out Sunday desert. He certainly knows how to work it to his advantage. Here are a few pictures of his great day.

Christopher picked out his own cake- of course baseball.

Christopher loved eating his cake and pizza.

Jackson created an interesting look with his ice cream.