Monday, September 2, 2013

Recipe for a Perfect Father Son Night

Hello friends. I wrote this post for my wife's blog 5 years ago. 5 YEARS! Where has the time gone? In honor of the start of college football season, here is this exclusive encore. :)

In the spirit of the blog world, I decided to post a recipe. 
Below is a recipe I found for a perfect night out with your son:


1 extremely excited 4 year old boy (can be substituted with any boy up to age 95+)

2 tickets to an ASU football game (it helps if you have friends who have season tickets but can't go to the game - thanks Travis!)

1 afternoon nap for everyone (don't skip this step, trust me)

1 heaping spoonful of Sun Devil Pride (this may be hard to find when your team is 2-5, but you gotta have it!)


1. Get dressed in gold shirts (try to wait until 2-3 hours before it's time to leave, but this may be impossible with an excited 4 year old).

2. Convince any other children that you love them just the same and that they will be doing something just as fun next weekend. (Use Mom for diplomatic relations help - do not meet without preconditions).

3. Eat before the game at Panda Express or similar restaurant. (If you make over $450,000 a year you may skip this step and eat at the stadium).

4. While driving, try to dodge questions like "are we almost there?"

***One way to do this is to distract them with a song of their choice. (in this case, it was "Won't Go Home Without You" by Maroon Five).

Once they are singing along, you have succeeded in buying some more time.

5. Try to remain calm during traffic congestion near the stadium. (This applies to father and son alike. Any muttering, murmuring, or outright complaining must be suitable for children's ears. Fathers should also keep it clean).

6. Make sure you have your tickets or you will have to repeat steps 4 and 5...and increase the likelihood of words "not suitable for children's ears."

7. Free posters make the best souvenirs, get as many of them as you can.

8. Spend entire 1st quarter telling your child that you "don't know where Sparky is, we'll find him later," and "the line for treats is super long right now, let's wait." Pray that this response is good enough to last until halftime.

9. Cheer loudly to get the most out of the whole experience. Teach child to yell "boooo" at the opposing team. Smile when he yells "boo, boo" like a scary ghost at them instead.

10. Remind your son how to do the ASU pitchfork with your fingers. Explain that the sign he had been making is actually quite offensive. When he presses for details about why it is offensive, say "I think I can see Sparky!"

11. Always put your arms in the air for a touchdown.

12. Don't forget to call Mom (even if you think he is talking to her but it ends up being a 1 minute 30 second conversation with voicemail because he "couldn't hear very good").

13. If you visit the sidelines, let your son peek through the cracks in the fence...

14. Try not to laugh when you see what he was watching.

15. Hurry your son farther down the sidelines to take a picture that won't make your wife upset.

16. Explain to your son that you didn't really mean what you said earlier about the quarterback, seeing that he is now within striking distance of you.

17. Finally give in and get a treat.

***Editorial side note - although it costs the same as the GDP of some small countries, the Minute Maid frozen lemonade, strawberry flavor, is worth every penny. Grab two spoons and fight the brain freeze to get your fair share.

18. Go find all costs.

19. Hold your son up with one arm, lean away to take a picture with the other, and watch him experience the memory of a childhood.

20. Thank Sparky with a high five and proceed to find ice for your strained shoulder.

21. Head home and try to go to sleep.

This recipe will be a family favorite just like Sunday roast beef dinner or Monday morning cold cereal. Your son will probably remember this night for the rest of his life. You, on the other hand, will certainly remember it forever.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Review of a Children's Cookbook...

I know, you're probably thinking to yourself why I would be reviewing a children's cookbook. There's a good reason...let me explain.

First, let me say that one of the advantages of being a famous author is that you get to rub shoulders with other great authors. I’ll let you know if that statement is true if/when I become a famous author.

But in the meantime, let me tell you about an extraordinary author I did meet at a conference I attended last month. Her name is Christina Dymock, author of a brand spanking new cookbook for kids called Young Chefs: Cooking Skills and Recipes forKids.

She found out that I had an 11-year-old who loves to cook and graciously sent me a copy to review. Elly and I had a good long look at it and decided it was definitely worth telling the world about. Seriously, what an amazing book! I mean, good food and kid-friendly writing?! I love it.

Here is a comprehensive list of why you should buy this book for your kids.   
  •  Amazing recipes. I would venture to say that this cookbook, unlike so many others, is about 95% full of things kids will actually like and be able to create. There are no fancy ingredients that you’ll never find in the store and no uppity dishes that they only “eat” at overpriced restaurants. And there are plenty of them to keep you and your kids busy. There are so many fun, delicious recipes in here it would be hard to do them all this summer—so buy your copy today and get started.
  • Unique recipes. A lot of these dishes are old classics but with fun and tasty twists. For example, broiling the bun and the hot dog together for Game Day Hot Dogs. None of the recipes are really earth-shattering, but will be just the right amount of novelty and simplicity for young chefs.
  • Vivid photos. I hate it when you can't see what the dish is supposed to look like. These mouth-watering images will get you excited and motivated to get started and when you're done, give you an idea if something went horribly wrong somewhere along the way.
  • Only 2 references to onions. I can’t even write the word “onions” without grossing out. *shivers*  Everyone knows (or should know) that onions are the world’s plague, but the good news is that I only counted 2 times where a recipe calls for onions. That’s few enough that I’ll just consider those typos and ignore them. Well done!
  • Clear instructions and handy tips. I love how Christina sprinkled these tips and tricks throughout the book. It made it really easy for me…err…my kids to know why we do certain things when cooking.
  • 2 words: Breakfast Buns. Wowsers! Cream cheese, crescent roll dough, white chocolate chips, craisins. Enough said.
So head on over to Amazon and get a copy for your house. Maybe you can even sit back and let the kids plan meals for the next several weeks. This one is a winner!

Happy reading/eating/sending me cookies. Carry on.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What would you do with $.27?

Last week Amazon had my book, The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero, on sale for a great deal3% off! I was so excited with the prospect of my beloved fans saving $.27 that I decided to give away a copy of the book (the full retail version).

I asked everyone to leave a comment on The Facebook telling me what they would do with an extra 27 cents. The answers were amazing, to say the least. I decided to list the honorable mentions here, since they technically should be mentioned to be an honorable mention. And while this may not be honorable, here it goes:

Honorable Mentions

“I'd convert it to British Pounds Sterling, and look forward to spending that 18p in England this summer.” – Sara R.

Sara, this is a great response. I love the creativity, the forward thinking, and the great knowledge of foreign currency exchange rates. I think that since the museums in London are free, 18p would be a nice addition to the little collection cubes in the front. But alas, this response made me so upset that I wasn’t going to England this summer that I put it in the honorable…er…honourable mention category.

“According to - the price of 1 gallon of regular gas is around $3. $.27 will get me about 0.09 gallons of gas. My truck gets about 15 miles per gallon. That means I can drive about 1.35 miles - just enough to pick up the Teachers in our Teachers Quorum for our campout this weekend.” – Jordan H.

Wow. Great job Jordan. You were astute to site your source, albeit errant information. If gas is supposed to be around $3.00, I’ve been getting ripped off for a good 7 months. But I love that you thought about your Teachers Quorum and the upcoming campout. I’m glad that the $.27 would allow you to pick them up, and no doubt that is money well spent. But I’m concerned that you’ll reconsider things when you’re actually on the campout and nobody is sleeping at 3am. For that, you get an honorable mention.

“I saw some leftover Valentine's day candy at Bashas yesterday for 14 cents. If I looked real hard for an extra penny I could get two.” – Camille R.

This is a great example of not thinking like a victim. Need an extra penny? “Look real hard.” That’s the kind of hard work and ingenuity I like to see! And heaven knows I’m all for Valentine’s candy. The only thing keeping Camille from the finals is that the candy was “leftover.” Had it been February 13th, things might have looked differently.

“I would donate it to charity. That means that along with Mr. Bill Gates, we will have donated $48,000,000,000.27 to charity since 2007.” – Francis J.

Very classy, Francis. This is a great way to give back to the children. I am a big fan of what two people can do if they each put in all that they can—that’s the true definition of teamwork. You would have been much higher in the rankings if Windows 8 hadn’t just come out…I can’t find the stupid Start button anywhere on my laptop. Ask Mr. Bill Gates if he knows where it went, and then we’ll reanalyze the standings.

“Buy an egg, incubate and hatch, raise the chick to give my family more could happen.” – Brandon R.

Brandon is on the right track here…it’s all about return on investment. This is a great way to be self sustaining well into the future. The only drawback? I kinda threw up in my mouth thinking that an egg from the store could actually hatch. [shivers]

“With coupons and advertised sales, I would buy a week's worth of groceries for my family of 10 again! Love couponing!!”  – Shawnee J.

Pretty amazing use of coupons, Shawnee! The only problem is that I don’t understand all of the math that goes into couponing. You might as well have said you would be dividing the hypotenuse of the burn trajectory by the cosine of the turn radius (times pi) to regulate a sustainable atmospheric reentry for Apollo 13. It’s all gibberish to me.

“Buy an extra ranch sauce from McDonalds for my kids chicken nuggets.” – Tiffany A.
Love this, Tiffany. There’s nothing like Ranch to satisfy tired, grumpy kids. Not that your kids are grumpy—I was talking about mine. But as a matter of principle, I have to leave this comment in the honorable mention category. Nobody should have to pay for extra sauce. Freakin’ McDonalds.

“I'd take it and have a rat gnaw that thing off.” – Thomas J.

Yes. Wait, what? This is one of the most bizarre things I’ve heard since we read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in college. And since I got a "B" in that class, so should you.  

The Winners

“Throw it into the kids mission fund. Every little bit counts!” – Tera M.

This is great, Tera! With the recent announcement of 58 new missions and the circulation of this awesome video, I’ve been a little teary-eyed about missionary work. So you caught me at a vulnerable time. Congrats!

“I would give 13 1/2 people my $0.02 on why they should buy your book for their kids!” – Bryan K.

There are a couple of reasons why Bryan wins here. First, he’s helping the cause of talking about the book (hint, hint for the rest of you). Also, he’s not excluding anyone. Even ½ people deserve to read a good book now and then. Well done Bryan!

To the winners go the spoils! Tera and Bryan, send me your address and I will send you a crisp new copy of The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero. 

And to the rest of you, thanks so much for participating. I had a blast! Let’s go live it up. We’ve just discovered that we really only need $.27 – and there should be no shortage of ideas now.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peace on Earth?

My soul has been rocked.

I don’t think a news story (including 9/11) has hit me as powerfully as the tragedies in Connecticut last Friday. Too much evil. Too much innocence. It’s hard for me to fully comprehend what happened that day.

I think perspective is what makes this unbearable. If I step back and look at it with the wide-angle lens, it’s a terrible thing, to be sure, but it’s possible to move on.

But if I look at it from the eyes of those parents searching but not finding their kids in the crowd, or those first-responders who walked into the eerily quiet kindergarten classroom, or those teachers and staff members who heard the shots and saw the fear in their students (and themselves), it’s more than I can take. Way more. And tears flow freely.

I have a 6-year-old Kindergartner, too. Rilla.

She is my bright burst of sunshine after a long day at work; she’s always first to give me a hug and a bigger-than-life smile. She loves to sing and knows the words to songs better than I do.

Her little glasses are always filthy. Her upper lip usually has a line of milk, chocolate, jelly (she doesn’t like peanut butter on her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), or Kool-Aid. She doesn’t put away her shoes. Ever.

But her soul is always clean. She is full of love and forgiveness. She is pure.

She wants to be a princess. All she wants for Christmas is an “Ariel dress.” She has a Princess Kate picture book that I got her from London…it’s her prized possession.  

She is observant and smart, even if she doesn’t always reach the most accurate conclusions. Last night she told me matter-of-factly that “all the white horses are girls.”

I love my Rilla-Roo.

And thankfully, she is safe. I will see her tonight as we have our weekly family home evening. But there are 20 families who can’t say that, and others still who have lost a parent, a sibling, or a spouse in this horrific tragedy.

Each of them has lost a precious member of the family, and that hole can never be filled again in this life. So what now? How do any of us move on from the images and feelings seared into our consciousness?

I don’t know. But how about this for starters:

We hug our children a little more often. We take that walk to the park, knowing full well that getting the 2 year old off the slide to come home will be an epic battle. We stick together. We keep praying.

Perhaps the world has never been darker, more filled with hate than it is right now. You can say we are in the midst of a cold, dark winter. But somewhere, there is a manger holding the Hope of the World. He has come, and we must seek Him out in these tragic hours.


That’s the only way we’ll be able to do this. Whatever your faith, whatever your beliefs, we must rise up as one and find a light in this dark world. I cringe to think of the heated debates that will likely follow this tragedy. They’ve already begun. Let’s not do that. Fight for change? Yes. Vilify each other as a political strategy? No.

Let’s watch out for each other. Care for each other. Listen to each other. Protect each other. Serve each other. That’s the only way right will prevail.

My wife Melody remembered a verse of a favorite Christmas carol in the midst of the breaking news and breaking hearts on Friday. It fits perfectly.

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth, I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

I’m ringing my bell, can you hear it? Probably not. But if we all ring them together, well…that's a song that can change the world.  

I can think of 20 little angels that are singing along right now in heaven. Rilla is singing, too. And so are your innocent children. Listen and you will hear them. Instead of drowning out their voices, let them be heard.

May we all find peace on earth this Christmas – somehow.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Launch Party!

It's finally time for a launch party! You're invited to Seagull Book in Mesa (on the corner of Mesa Drive and 4th Ave) on Thursday, October 25 from 5-8 PM. We'll have lots of cool giveaways, book signings, some food, and lots of fun. Stay tuned for more details, I can't wait to see you there!

Check out my invitation video if you haven't seen it yet:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What I packed for London...

So I'm in a 747 on my way to the UK right now. The trip is technically for work, but let's be honest -- we all know there will be a lot of nonsense like castle visiting, Shakespeare watching, and Big Ben finding (it's tall enough to see even when you're lost, right?). We'll even get to see if I can drive on the left side of the road (stay tuned for results).

I know, it's really not fair, and I should be ashamed of myself. But, assuming all goes well on the flight, I will be visiting my brothers and sisters in the UK (the ones we used to call Redcoats), and I'd like your support. Even if it comes as veiled jealousy and hatred.

The worst part really is that I can't bring my sweet wife Melody. She's wanted to go to England since she was a little girl, but it didn't work out this time. She's due in August, so rather than risk having a baby with dual citizenship and an ongoing internal strife about the correct way to spell favorite/favourite, she stayed home. But we will come back someday, that is for sure.

I'll try to post more details about the trip during the week. But for this initial post, I wanted to show you what I ended up packing for the trip. It took some thought, but I think I finally nailed it.

Norton's Anthology

Believe it or not, this was one of my favorite textbooks in college. I figured if I flash this puppy around town, I can get instant street cred. "Yeah, I know Wordsworth and Marlowe. Now how about a few extra chips with the fish?"

My Book

Look, you never know when I might meet an Oxford Professor or Cambridge Press rep looking for the next great British novel. I want to be ready with samples when/if the time comes. (By the way, that's just a "fake" copy of the book, no need to freak out just yet. August will come soon enough, friends).

Running Shoes

Two words: Olympic Marathon. The Olympics are coming in just a month to...guess where? London. You think one of the top three American runners can't get a hangnail on their big toe or pull a hamstring or get e-coli? I will be there to fill in on a moment's notice, wearing my red, white, and blue. I wouldn't be able to finish with the other guys, but you can bet I would still jog around the stadium with a flag draped around my shoulders -- even if it was at 11:00 PM.

Okay, quick interruption here. The flight attendant just came by and asked if we had any "rubbish." Ahh, I love it.


I'm just not going to take any chances with the bland food I keep hearing about. I'm going to keep this bad boy in a holster, and the joke will be on you, British chefs. As one of our chefs says -- BAM! (I think he's American, anyway).


[no photo available]

Yep, the biggest thing I packed was a suitcase full of excitement. This is a dream come true for me. I can't wait to meet the lovely people, see the historic sites, do a little brilliant work for some fantastic clients, and simply soak it all in.

This is my first visit, but it won't be the last. I'm thinking of this as laying the groundwork to come back and really enjoy it with Melody by my side. 

Until then, I hope what I packed will get me through the week.

Cheerio then!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Luis Freakin' Bermudez

This is a story about triumph. About overcoming trials. But in junior high, those things don’t matter much.

So there I was, on the chopping block for the 7th grade basketball team. It was down to me and Luis Bermudez for the final spot, and I didn’t sleep a wink that night.

In the morning, the crisp computer printout on the gym door betrayed me. They must have misspelled my name. It had the same number of letters as my name, but it looked eerily different. Luis Bermudez. I didn’t make the team. Ugh.

Cut. Thrown aside. Cast out. I could already picture the rest of the team (the ones whose names were spelled correctly) running around the courtyard in their new warm-ups. Girls following, swooning.

And then there's me, left without a team and I probably forgot to finish my math assignment, too. I heard it all from well-intentioned family members and friends: “Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team.” “Basketball is lame, anyway.” “Well, Luis is a pretty good player…”

I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted to bury my head under the pillow and listen to Richard Marx all afternoon. I know, that could have been disastrous. But keep reading.

Instead, I decided to find another potential venue for disappointment. Wrestling. I threw on my sweats and walked into the dance room, but it didn’t smell like ballerinas. It was a wall of B.O. A thick wall. But I kept pushing through and officially joined the team (no tryouts, all were welcome).

I learned how to do a single leg takedown, a half-nelson, and an Olympic headlock. And how to wear stretchy pants/shorts. And you know what? I had a great time. I learned a ton. I even took 2nd place in the end-of-year tournament. Take that, basketball guys.

I wrestled through my sophomore year of high school and managed to get out before I ever got cauliflower ear. It was a great experience, and I feel like it was the right path for me. But there’s no way I would have known that in 7th grade…unless Luis Bermudez made the basketbal team and I didn't.

In a way, all of us have our own Luis Bermudez’s. For some, shyness may be their Luis Bermudez. For others, a lack of education. For me, Luis Bermudez happened to be a tall kid who was a better rebounder. (And just to be clear, Luis is a good guy. No hard feelings). 

But everything happens for a reason. More recently, I got “cut” from 3 construction jobs before I figured out that I should be writing for a living. Even though being rejected from the construction industry hurt, I finally learned that it wasn’t where I belong. I belong where I am now, and I love it.

So what are you going to do when you face challenges or rejection? Take it from me, there’s something waiting for you that is much better than mulling around listening to soft rock from the 80’s. Go out there and find it. 

Oh yeah, and hold on to the nights.