Eating At A Retro-Esque Pizza Parlor

I think we all have that pizza place from our childhood that was the place to go after sports games or for birthday parties. You know what I am talking about, right? Subpar pizza, pinball machines, a ball crawl, air hockey, and redemption games. Ah, these places were more like palaces for us as kids.

I am about to share with you a place in the Hillyard district of Spokane called Market Street Pizza.

These days, the joints I just spoke about above are few and far between. Gourmet pizza ristorantes and giants like Dave & Buster’s dominate the market that these blue-collar pizza parlors once claimed. The nostalgia remains but the profit does not.

Another look at the exterior of Market Street Pizza.

Unless of course you can offer modern disguised as nostalgia. That is the formula that Market Street Pizza in the Hillyard district of Spokane has championed.

A glimpse into Market Street Pizza from the front entrance.

My mom’s birthday was yesterday and she requested that we try out Market Street Pizza. It opened rather recently in November 2019 but it had to tangle with the pandemic so many locals are trying it out for the first time. We were in that boat last night.

Beau and grandma enjoying Market Street Pizza.

Our entire family gathered for this special occasion. My parents, my sister and her family, my brother and his wife, and the four of us all gathered at Market Street Pizza. The 13 of us sat around a large round table and celebrated the end of Monday.

The table that we sat at last night.

We admired the spacious and retro-inspired interior. The sectioned areas, checkered décor, classic salad bar set up, and colorful memorabilia made it feel like a parlor of yesteryear. But the old school was balanced with a sophisticated bar, string lights that zigged and zagged throughout the restaurant, and an indoor brick wall that made the place feel warm.

This photo I took shows the brick wall in the background.

Of course, Mikayla, Johnny, Sloan, and Beau couldn’t be kept out of the arcade. They milked us for all our coins and managed to turn the silver into tickets upon tickets.

The arcade was a big hit with our kids.

Let’s be honest, the real draw of Market Street Pizza was its namesake. Each couple chose a pie and then we all shared with each other. Although I enjoyed the carnivore pizza that Sid and I ordered (your classic meat pizza) I thought the Goodfella pizza my parents ordered (olive oil, tomato sauce, meatball, red pepper, multiple cheeses, garlic, and more) was especially on point.

You can’t go wrong with the pizza at Market Street Pizza.

After we ate, the whole staff came out to sing my mom “happy birthday” and present her with a big bowl of ice cream. There was almost enough in that bowl to give everyone at our table a little scoop to go with the cakes that my sister and brother brought.

Market Street Pizza definitely had some charm.

What a nice time we all had at Market Street Pizza. As I have said before, I feel so fortunate that our family is able to consistently get together and have so much fun. I will never take it for granted. But back to Market Street Pizza—if you are ever in Hillyard, give it a try. Don’t Blink.

Camping in God’s Country

The “Best Summer Ever” continued this past weekend when we went camping with my sister and brother-in-law. Wanting to “be one with nature” and stretch beyond our comfort zones just a bit, we eagerly accepted their invite to join them at a remote campsite a couple miles north of Usk, Washington (aka God’s Country).

Sidney and I enjoying a camping weekend.

This wasn’t a glamping excursion. Although they have a camper, we spent most of our time in the middle of the woods disconnected from the world and cell phone service. It was glorious. My parents watched Beau so Sid, Sloan, and I could have a relaxing time with Miranda (sister), Jay (brother-in-law), Mikayla (niece), Johnny (nephew), and Duke (family dog).

We did get away from the campsite to visit a lake and also this gravel area where the kids got to climb a “mountain.”

A lot of the weekend was spent sitting in a circle of camp chairs just chatting…and hydrating. While the adults talked, the three kids ran around the campsite and played in the creek that flowed right by us. It was quite the scenic backdrop.

Sloan and Mikayla hold hands while walking in the creek at our campsite.

We did get away from the campsite to spend a couple hours at a nearby lake. After we swam and ate rice krispy treats, we headed to a large area where the kids could play on gravel mountains at one end while Jay and I could safely take target practice at the opposite end.

The kids (and Duke) enjoying the lake that was near our campsite.

On Saturday night, Miranda and Jay prepared venison tacos for everyone. We also made s’mores, played Taboo, and busted out the glow sticks. The kids retired inside the camper to watch a movie and the four adults stayed up well past midnight just talking about life.

Sloan decked out in glow sticks on Saturday night.

It is easy to forget about the magical world we live in. God truly designed a picturesque planet. Taking time to literally smell the fresh air, listen to a stream flow, and taste a cold beer while surrounded by nature are things we should all try to do more often. I am glad we took the opportunity to experience all three this past weekend.

Thank you to Miranda’s family for inviting us camping!

Of course these experiences are enhanced even more when you get to do them with people you sincerely enjoy. It was so nice spending quality time with Miranda and Jay while watching the three kids have an absolute blast with each other. To be isolated from the outside world but connected with family is a special thing. Don’t Blink.

A Comparative Thursday Rundown

Good evening! I hope your week has been a success thus far. Here is your chance to enjoy a quick respite as I cover five random topics. The latest Thursday Rundown starts now…

Comparison – On July 28, 2020, I took the photo on the left. Yesterday morning I decided to replicate the pose and took the photo on the right. Beau has ditched the helmet and Sloan has grown…both in height and hair follicles. I sure love these two!

Same pose, same calendar date, different years.

Cheers – My brother and sister-in-law recently received their wedding pictures from Zach Nichols Photography and they are beautiful. Well, except for this one below because it is of…um….me. I had the honor of delivering the best man speech at the reception and this shot captures a moment from that address. In future Thursday Rundowns I hope to share a few more photos from that special day.

I attempt to drive home a point at Glen and Carrie’s wedding.

FlatStickPub – Last Saturday we joined my brother, my sister, and their spouses at FlatStickPub, an entertainment/restaurant center in downtown Spokane. There are a few other locations in the United States and each one focuses on two activities along with its food and craft beer/special cocktail menu: miniature golf and duffleboard. You read that latter activity right—duffleboard. It is an original game that FlatStickPub made up that you can research on your own because we didn’t play it. Instead, we opted for miniature golf and let me tell you, it was a unique experience. It wasn’t like the Happy Gilmore-esque courses you find on every corner in Myrtle Beach. Rather, it was a more industrial experience that focused much more on angles and out-of-the-box thinking. FlatStickPub had a nice vibe to it and I think a lot of my readers would have a good time if they tried it out.

FlatStickPub is a fun place. Beau got to play some miniature golf and the course has Spokane-themed holes (my sister-in-law, Carrie, is pictured in the bottom right photo).

Favorite New Olympic Sport – Four years ago I wrote about my five favorite Olympic sports but that countdown now needs to make room for another one. I loved watching the 3×3 basketball over the past several days. What a fun brand of basketball! What’s not to like about 10-minute games, 12-second shot clocks, and no stoppage for change of possession? It was my impression that the sport was going to take the form of traditional 3-on-3 basketball tournaments that communities annually host but I was pleasantly surprised. Congratulations to the USA women on winning the gold medal.

I really enjoyed watching the 3×3 basketball during the Olympics.

Big Brother 23 – I didn’t write a Big Brother preview post for this current season but that doesn’t mean Sid and I aren’t watching it. We have enjoyed the first few weeks of competition. The team concept seems to work, the high risk/high reward theme is interesting, and Julie Chen’s fortune cookie signoff lines are as corny as ever. But what I find pretty cool is that there is a houseguest named “Brent.” Thus far I have enjoyed watching the game play and I especially appreciate the way that Kyland and Derek X. have approached the competition. We are hooked!

Big Brother 23 is shaping up to be a another great Big Brother season.

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That will do it for tonight. Don’t let the Olympics pass you by, make sure to tune in for the best international competition there is. Enjoy your weekend. Don’t Blink.

Counting to 100

Every night, we read books with Sloan. Last night we made it through “Curious George Learns to Count from 1 to 100.” As you could probably surmise from the title, the book chronicles how George navigates from 1-100. It really is quite creative how the author transitions from number to number as George encounters different objects on his climb to 100.

We read “Curious George Learns to Count from 1 to 100” last night.

Sloan is starting to get a little obsessed with counting to 100. Out of all the books we checked out at the library this past weekend, she was really stoked about George. Although 100 excites her, she has a long way to go before she is able to chronologically reach the top of that mountain. She is still at the point where she starts to stumble after she reaches 20.

But if she is anything like her daddy, she should be counting to the century mark in about two years.

In life it is crazy the stuff we do remember and the stuff we don’t remember, especially early childhood memories. I think Forest Gump explained it best in his “It’s funny what a young man recollects” bench monologue (go watch it if you don’t know what I am talking about). There are so many things I don’t remember about being a kindergartener but I do remember when I counted to 100 for the first time.

I was in the car riding somewhere with my mom. Suddenly, I just decided to count to 100. I had never done it before, never really even practiced it. But I had my mind set on doing it…and I did. I still remember how effortless it felt. Up until that point I didn’t really even remember ever saying “70” or “80” or “90.” But for whatever reason I was able to pull those numbers out of my brain and correctly pair them with whatever second number was appropriate (70, 71, 72, 73…). I managed to pull knowledge I didn’t know I had and smoothly count to 100.

It would be cool if it just clicked for Sloan like it did for me. Here I am thinking it was kind of a phenomenon but perhaps that is how it happens for a lot of people. Do you remember when you counted to 100 for the first time? Don’t Blink.

Olympic Lessons for Kids

This past weekend we were fixated on the Olympics. Our family watched a lot of coverage and thoroughly enjoyed it—well, at least Sid and I did. Although I think Sloan might still enjoy her YouTube videos to the Games, she did show some genuine interest in what we were watching.

And I think that is good. I believe that the Olympics provide learning opportunities, even for a 4-year-old. Over the past few days I think we have had some mild success in conveying the following lessons to Sloan…

Sloan has been so on fire about the Olympics that she can’t even manage to stay still long enough for me to take a non-blurry photo of her while watchng the coverage.

1. The World is a Big Place – By watching the Olympics, Sloan is starting to learn that there is more to our world than just Washington and South Carolina. By seeing the different flags, hearing the different languages, and observing different nationalities, she is developing a concept of countries. She might not be able to distinguish exactly what makes Spokane different from Germany, but the seed has been planted.

2. Tokyo – The country of Japan, especially the incredible city of Tokyo, will forever have a place in Sloan’s heart. This place has been drilled inside Sloan’s brain the past few days and while she might not know the names of all the countries on this planet she does know about this far east island. Sloan was introduced to Japan during the opening ceremony and has become more acquainted with it by seeing all the cutaway shots of Tokyo during the Olympics coverage. I also took the opportunity to teach her some kid-friendly facts about Tokyo courtesy of the world wide web.

3. Cheering for the Stars and Stripes – As Sloan has learned about the world and all the countries that it encompasses, we have also taken the liberty to highlight the country she lives in. We have cheered hard for the American teams and athletes, hoping our passionate support rubs off on her. So far it has…she has morphed into a red, white, and blue cheerleader! Trying to teach her the hierarchy of town-state-country-continent-world is undoubtedly challenging, but I think she is coming around to what it means to live in the United States of America.

4. The Diversity of Sport – Over her short life, Sloan has been conscious of the sports that she will sometimes find her daddy watching on TV—baseball, football, and basketball. But over the course of just 72 hours, she has learned that there is so much more to the athletic world than American-inspired sports. From hand ball to water polo to equestrian to synchronized diving to so much more, Sloan has watched these games with eyes wide open. To be honest, it just isn’t Sloan getting a crash course in the diversity of sport—I am too!

5. Winners and Losers – A valuable lesson Sloan has learned is that there are winners and losers. Not everyone wins gold, not everyone gets a medal. Yesterday we watched a medal ceremony where an Australian athlete won gold and as the unfamiliar anthem played, I explained to Sloan that the United States did not win. I didn’t have to heart to elaborate and say that “not winning” is a common theme for all of us throughout life but hopefully this will set the stage for that discussion later on.

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If you have kids I hope you get the opportunity to watch some of the Olympics with them. It truly is fantastic family programming with lots of lessons built in. If you feel like I have missed any of the lessons in this post, please let me know…I would love to share them with Sloan over the next couple weeks. Don’t Blink.

Watermelon Thursday Rundown

Okay everyone, the Thursday Rundown is back. I know it went dark last week but I am chomping at the bit with five fresh topics tonight…

Watermelon Birthday Treat – My sister knows how to plan a party! For my nephew’s fourth birthday party this past Sunday, it was a dinosaur theme…for the most part. When it came time for cake and ice cream, the dinos went extinct and everyone got a watermelon sugar high. Not only did my sister bake a watermelon-shaped/flavored cake but she paired it with chocolate chunk watermelon ice cream. Although big pieces of chocolate in a watermelon ice cream might be a tad misguided, the cake sure was good!

A look at the watermelon cake my sister made along with how it looked when paired with the ice cream.

Vanderpump Again – When I went to Las Vegas for work in November 2019, my boss-at-the-time Lindsi took me to the Vanderpump Cocktail Garden. Well, Lindsi isn’t the only “Vanderpump Rules” fan I know. Visiting Lisa Vanderpump’s bar in Caesar’s Palace was on my wife’s Vegas bucket list when we visited last week. We made sure to stop in for some goat cheese balls. Let me be honest with you, it truly is a nice place to sit down and have a drink. Our stay in the garden was short but I know Sid sure enjoyed it.

Sidney at the Vanderpump Cocktail Garden.

Peppa Effect – Earlier this week many news organizations reported on a condition that impacted American children called the “Peppa Effect.” It turned out that a lot of kids in the United States watched a whole lot of Peppa Pig during the pandemic and started talking with British accents and using English terms. I saw these reports, shook my head, and thought the “Peppa Effect” has absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic. Any child who watches Peppa Pig will most likely develop the “Peppa Effect” whether the country is shut down or not. How do I know? My daughter had a strong case of it! In fact, I even documented her case by writing about it in 2019. Not only was she speaking with an accent and referring to Santa Claus as Father Christmas but she went all-in and dressed up as Peppa for Halloween.

Sloan dressed up as Peppa Pig for Halloween in 2019.

Nice Gesture – Big shoutout to Breauxdoo Bakery in Spokane. We had never heard about the business until Saturday night when they posted on a popular Spokane Facebook page that they were giving away a free large cookie to everyone who stopped by. Sid and I threw the kids in the car and we drove to the bakery that happens to be located in a very obscure part of Spokane Valley. I chose a red velvet cookie, Sid selected a “chocolate on chocolate” cookie, Sloan opted for a sugar cookie with sprinkles, and Beau “picked” a lemon cookie. We all shared with each other and our unanimous decision was that the lemon cookie was the best. Thanks, Breauxdoo Bakery!

Our free cookies from Breauxdoo Bakery.

A Good Pizza Buy – If you are looking to order pizza this weekend, you might want to give Domino’s a try. After about four years, we gave them another chance this past Friday. Domino’s offers a pretty good $5.99 menu that allows you to order medium pizzas, wings, chicken, breadsticks, and more. We ordered a medium pizza for Sid and I, a medium pizza for the kids, and mango habanero wings. The food was good and we paid just $20. I don’t know if I will be moving Domino’s up on my list of top pizza chains, but we were satisfied with our most recent experience.

Sloan standing next to the pizza we ordered from Domino’s.

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Another summer weekend is upon us. I hope you enjoy it and remember to take some time to watch the Summer Olympics. Don’t Blink.

Excited for Tokyo 2020

Tonight I start with a phrase that is even more cliché than the one I use to end each blog post: Let the games begin!

The 2020 Summer Olympics officially start on Friday and I am geeking out a bit. I am a big Olympics fan! Don’t believe me? I have written about the games numerous times over the 10-year history of this blog on topics ranging from my favorite events to the media coverage. Thus, you can probably imagine that the postponement of the games last summer was one of the toughest pandemic-forced blows for me to digest.

I am extremely excited for the Tokyo Olympics!

But that disappointment is in the rear-view mirror and during a summer when we weren’t supposed to have the Olympics we are now just a couple days away from lighting the cauldron. Ah yes, the Opening Ceremony. I still remember watching the Opening Ceremony from the 1996 Summer Olympics with my parents and being absolutely transfixed by the pageantry, spirit, and importance of the event. I became a lifelong fan of the Olympics that night. Kudos to NBC for broadcasting Friday’s Opening Ceremony live (7 a.m. ET, 4 a.m. PT) and for offering an encore showing later in the night. We will be watching!

I can’t wait to watch the athletes compete. There is something pure about the Olympics that no other sporting event can come close to replicating. I don’t know how interested Sloan will be watching the coverage with me but I do hope to introduce her to the Olympics and hope that it can substitute for some of her YouTube programming over the next couple weeks.

There is no doubt in my mind that Tokyo will put on a show and be a great host. I am excited to see what the city has planned and the iconic images that will be generated from the XXXII Olympiad. Let us all take a moment to pray for peace in Tokyo and for the safety of all athletes. Time to compete! Don’t Blink.

Our Vegas Show Experience

A popular thing for people to do when visiting Las Vegas, at least the non-early 20s crowd, is to see a show. Naturally, Sidney, a Vegas rookie, put it on her “bucket list” for last week’s trip.

Sid knew what she was after to satisfy this part of the list. It had nothing to do with Cirque du Soleil, ventriloquists, or women wearing feathery hats. Rather, it was all about one thing: Magic.

Vegas is a place where your mind can run wild in a desert of illusion. My wife wanted to be amazed and entertained by the fabulous world of magic so we chose the most popular magicians not just in Nevada but possibly the world—Penn and Teller.

What better way to say “Welcome to Las Vegas” than going to a Penn and Teller show your first night in the city? That’s what we did. We checked into our hotel a little past 6 p.m. and managed to score tickets for the 9 p.m. show. After securing transportation to the Rio and eating a quick dinner, we were sitting in the Penn and Teller theater.

Sidney and I in the Penn and Teller Theater in the Rio.

Prior to the show starting we were treated to some jazz music with Penn himself coming out to play a couple numbers on the cello. Once 9 p.m. hit it was showtime! Watching the stage go dark only for a spotlight to illuminate Teller to a rousing applause was pretty cool. One of the first acts was a misdirection/gorilla in a cage trick that set the tone for the rest of the show.

The night was structured with Penn narrating the whole show. The overall theme was basically Penn “exposing” basic principles of magic but then using those same principles to pull off tricks that left everyone in the audience guessing how it was done. Funny and charismatic, Penn generated a lot of laughs. But with Teller, no words were necessary for him to captivate and entertain. His talent, mannerisms, and confidence pack more of a punch than any one-liner ever could.

Sidney posing next to an oversized portrait of Penn and Teller after the show.

Penn and Teller did classics like the goldfish trick and shadows. They also threw in a card trick and some fire breathing. They did a Zoom magic show parody and a slight of hand trick that was fun. The show lasted for 90 minutes with Penn pausing on multiple occasions to say how nice it was to perform in front of a crowd again.

We really enjoyed the evening. Although a couple of tricks were tough to follow because they weren’t conducive to being performed in front of a large crowd (even with video boards), the majority of the acts were captivating and well-executed. Penn could probably talk a little less but to see the iconic duo perform in person was a real treat.

If you are a magic fan and/or a Penn and Teller fan, this show is for you. It runs Thursday – Sunday and will probably provide you with a memory or two. Don’t Blink.

Easing Back

It was a somewhat return to normalcy today. I started a regular work week after what seemed like eternity. Well, okay, at least a few weeks. My brother’s wedding weekend was the July 4 holiday. I took off Friday, July 2, and then the government gave us Monday, July 5. I worked those next four days and then something crazy happened…

Sidney and I went on vacation. Just the two of us.

Sidney and I at our first dinner while on vacation.

Thanks to my parents, we were able to travel to Las Vegas from Sunday, July 11 through Thursday, July 15. We returned to Spokane that night and then I worked this past Friday. Then it was the weekend. Yes, that equates to a 1-day work week…quite the concept, right?

This past weekend was spent recuperating to a degree. But we were still able to fit in a Chuck E. Cheese trip, a picnic lunch at the park, and the birthday party of my nephew. And then Monday hit today.

My nephew turned 4 this weekend and my sister threw a dino-mite birthday party for him!

Hopefully you didn’t forget about me during my time away. If not, I look forward to relating some of the experiences from the past 10 days or so. Crossing my fingers that your week is off to a great start! Don’t Blink.

Happy Birthday Dad Thursday Rundown

How is your summer working out for you? For my family it has been packed and the good times are going to continue to roll throughout this month. But let’s take a quick break from the summer craziness and get started with my latest Thursday Rundown…

Happy Birthday, Dad! – My father was born on this date in 1957. As I type this, we are celebrating his 64th birthday at my parents’ house with a grilled hamburger and hot dog cookout. My dad is truly an outstanding human being and even though I have been back in Spokane for 16 months now, I still don’t take these birthday celebrations for granted. Dad, thanks for your kindness, humility, and patience….we love you!

Just hanging with my dad tonight on his 64th birthday.

Chuck E. Cheese Summer Fun – Back in April I wrote about how much fun Sloan and I were having at Chuck E. Cheese. Since then we have continued to go nuts at the entertainment center but we took a big step up this past weekend. Sloan, Beau, and I took advantage of a break in the wedding festivities and went to Chuck E. Cheese on Saturday morning. It was at that time that we signed up for the Summer Fun Pass. For $40 we secured Sloan 30 minutes of unlimited play every week up through September 1. For signing up we also received free pizza, free sodas, and 100 tickets. The best part about Saturday’s visit was that Sloan actually got up on stage with Chucky for a photo, something she was reluctant to do until just this past weekend.

Sloan posing for a photo with Chuck E. Cheese.

IHOP Value – If you are looking for an inexpensive restaurant to take your family for dinner, try IHOP. Sid, the kids, and I went to our Spokane Valley location last night. There are some good deals to take advantage of. First, kids eat free from 4 – 10 p.m. Additionally, they have a $6 happy hour menu with entrees like burgers, chicken sandwiches, ham and cheese omelettes, pancakes, and much more. All of these meals come with sides too. Do keep in mind that if you purchase the $6 meals, your kids don’t eat free (so one or the other). Portions are good and food is decent.

Sloan at IHOP about ready to eat her cupcake pancake. Beau is also visible as he is about to dig into his chicken and waffle.

Swim Night – I can’t think of a more wholesome summer activity than family night at the city pool. Earlier this week, the four of us went to Liberty Aquatic Center for its 6:30-8:30 p.m. open swim. The City of Spokane has made all of its public pools free and open to the public so it is a great opportunity for everyone. Back in my day, the city pools were pretty unimaginative, but over time they have transitioned from giant bathtubs to true aquatic centers with slides, whirlpools, splash pads, and more. Sloan and Beau had a really nice time.

Sid, Sloan, and Beau enter the pool for open swim at Liberty Aquatic Center.

Best Man Full Circle – What an honor it was to be Glen’s best man. From standing next to him when he said his vows to signing the marriage certificate to delivering a speech on his behalf, it sure was special. With the wedding now complete but the amazing experience still fresh in my mind, it was kind of ironic that I wrote this blog post exactly two years ago today about Glen asking me to be his best man. When he asked me I had no idea how long I would have to wait to serve in the role (he didn’t either!) but it sure was worth it. Glen “popped the question” in a very unique fashion, one which can’t be explained in a Thursday Rundown, so you need to actually read the post. Have fun!

Glen asked me to be his best man in a very unique way

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Okay, please excuse me while I continue to celebrate my dad’s birthday. I will be out on vacation next week so if you don’t hear from me over the weekend I will catch back up with you in mid-July. Don’t Blink.