Thursday, February 9, 2012


Brad's sister borrowed our house for a few hours last Saturday to host a formal dinner for 20.  Our house is free to borrow(especially for family), but it does come with one not-so-attractive addition--five noisy kids.  Even if those five noisy kids are your nieces and nephews, they are not welcome at formal dinner parties.

Brad and I decided to take them to a burger joint here in Mesa that he had just discovered--Lenny's.  All five of the kids were extremely wound up since we were late for dinner after Ben's rugby match, but I did my best to settle them down during the ten-minute drive.  I guess my best wasn't good enough (name that song).

The diner is TINY--five or six booths along one wall, a few bar tables with stools and one large booth big enough for our family right in the center of the floor.  Awesome--now everyone would get a free show along with their dinner.  And we were a FREAK show, above and beyond our normal level of entertainment.

Let me just say, the food at Lenny's is awesome.  So good. Made to order and all that jazz.  Made to order for my kids, however, translates to more time to explore, poke each other, make messes, use your imagination.

Hyrum asked me to read the sign on the wildly fascinating mukebox--"please do not touch jukebox.  It is for decoration only."  He complied, but my seven-year-old--who is the self-proclaimed best reader in his class--ran up, grabbed the iPod docking station, then proceeded to read the sign just before snapping said docking station off.

Hyrum lost interest quickly in something he couldn't touch, so he opened a door marked "Employees only."  He ran back to our table and told me he'd opened a door he shouldn't have, but all that was in there was mops and stuff so he ran away.

Ben, who was exhausted from playing rugby, sprawled across the bench, taking up Lily's precious space.  This led to a discussion about who needs more space, etc., accompanied by loud complaining and a few pokes to the ribs.

Evie was starving and screaming and she kept pointing at the soda fountain and begging for drinks better than her water (she's getting too smart to be fooled, dangit).  I finally distracted her with what I thought would be a satisfactory substitution--a small paper fry tray and a squirt of ketchup.  While I was busy settling a space dispute between the two oldest kids, Evie found a spoon and devoured every last drop of ketchup out of that paper tray and then demanded more.  Eww.  Really.  And when she demanded more, what did Mom do?  Acquiesce, but with only a small drop.  Does that make me a bad mom?

Brad, during all this commotion only four feet behind him at the ordering counter, was trying to place orders for all of these squirrelly monkeys while doing his best to block out the commotion.

It didn't take too long for our food to arrive, and once it was on the table, mouths were full of food instead of whiny voices, fingers were busy dunking fries in the ketchup instead of spoons, and Mom could actually take a minute to eat.  Whew.

Then it all started up again--loud, mostly happy voices needing to be heard, fries needing to be allocated and counted exactly, you know the drill.  Since our booth was in the middle of the tiny diner, I felt like Elmo's Dorothy--everyone staring at us from all sides.  How could they help it, really?

It was all manageable commotion (at least from my perspective), until Hyrum reached for the lidless soda cup (can you see where this is going?), and spilled 20 oz. of Fanta all over the checkered floor.  I ineffectively swabbed at it with napkins, but whoever designed diner napkins purposely used paper fibers that refuse to soak up anything.  A waitress came to the rescue, squatted down on the floor and quickly wiped up the spill.  Then, she did something that amazed me.  Here we were, an extra boisterous family of seven, and she took the time to come up and tickle first Evie then Hyrum, faking like she was ENJOYING having us in the diner.

That should have been the end of it all, right?  Dinner was gone, soda was thrown spilled, and ketchup was eaten with a spoon. We had nothing left to leave them, did we?  Unfortunately for the staff at Lenny's, we couldn't go home yet. Remember that party at our house?  Dad, in a temporary lapse of judgment, said OUT LOUD where the kids could hear:  "They have great ice cream cones." (Brad is a bit of a soft-serve snob, and he knows his ice cream.)

Seriously?  You said this OUT LOUD?  Are you crazy?

Hyrum poked a hole in his cone, allowing the liquid to run down his hands and puddle on the table, which of course made him cry until I tipped the entire thing into a paper fry tray and handed him a spoon (note to self:  find paper fry trays online).

Ben snarfed his gigantic cone down in mere seconds, then proceeded to tease his eleven-year-old sister until she huffed and yelled at him.

Evie, who wasn't allowed a cone for reasons obvious only to everyone else in the group, begged for one of her own to hold.  A stroke of genius from Dad--he swirled a spoon across the top of his cone and handed the spoon to Evie.  She was so thrilled with her own "cone" that she began dancing to the music from the mukebox--this would have been darling, except she kept forgetting about the ice cream covered spoon in her right hand, which she would drag through her hair and then scream, "DIRTY!"

Micah, in one of the smarted moves of the night, stayed quietly occupied with his cone, hoping that his silence would keep him invisible.  He was right.

A couple across the aisle kept smiling kindly and nodding in my direction, then the wife introduced herself to me, saying she knew who we were through a mutual friend.  So much for my hope that this moment would never be traced back to our family.

Mom was questioning her sanity by this point and didn't care WHO or WHAT was at the house, just as long as she could get everyone home and in bed.  I promised them a surprise if they could sneak in the back door, head up the stairs, get their pjs on, then slink into Mom's and Dad's room without anyone knowing we were back at the house.  It mostly worked (Evie is still too small to have this strategy override her need to scream), and they all ended up in our room.

The surprise?   Dad turned on Star Trek  the first generation.  This was not a surprise they had thought of--or appreciated, for that matter.  Lily grabbed Evie and they deserted to their end of the hall, and Ben called a friend.  The little boys stuck around for a few minutes, but even they tire of the 1967 special effects rather quickly. (Why?  Sparkly, quivery, blotchy jello just doesn't captivate the way it used to, I'm afraid.)

Very soon it was bedtime for the littlest ones, Ben was still occupied on the phone, and the party was winding down.  I went to bed that night with an immaculately clean house (thanks, Amy!) and sleeping kids.

And I will totally go back to Lenny's.  They have the best sweet potato fries I've ever had, and their fish sandwich was delish--aside from the unintentional splashes of orange Fanta.  Next time I may just need to leave the kids home.

As they say, "It's a memory!"

Linking up to L at Jenny Matlock's today.
Jenny Matlock
I was not reimbursed in any way for this review of Lenny's, but I'm sure if they ever find out where I live they will be sending me a bill for the destruction we left in our wake--Hurricane Denton is never kind.


  1. This post made me smile! We have 5 kids and we've had dinners like that! :) Our kids make fun of Star Trek too - Our oldest son won't watch anything having to do with Star Trek - He's a Star Wars freak and says Star Trek is "blasphemy"!

  2. Mmm, sweet potato fries!

    I think our family's behavior is always worse in our heads than it is for other people. And if it's not, whaddya gonna do?

  3. Makes me remember eating out when my kiddos were little...

    Now it's the grandkids causing all the fuss. Why does it seem cuter when they do it???

  4. They sell fry trays at Smart and Final!

  5. loved this real! And I love that you have a rugby player..yay! My step son is the top ranked collegiate player in the country...he'd never brag about it but I like to.. He played for Highland when he was in high school (watch for Roundy in the movie, Forever Strong)...ok, enough bragging. Hope you have a great week!

  6. Loved the little peek into what life is like in a big family! Although...I was a little stressed by the end of your post...imgaining myself in that situation! Even with one I am sometimes stressed when eating out...lower your voice, leave your straw in your drink, stop kicking the back of the booth, we're not ready to leave yet, use your napkin...

  7. It was fun to read a long step by step of your visit to Lenny's. I would imagine that a family diner would not be surprised when people come in and act like families do. Fun for the other patrons.

  8. Great post, enjoyed it like a good book.
    "Lenny's" sounds just like "Five Guys" that's our local burger joint, it's awesome.

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  10. Great story and an even better telling of it!


  11. Oh boy did that bring back memories!!

    It was probably the least boring night the workers at Lenny's had had in awhile :-D!!

  12. wow - what a day! I can't believe you can go through a whole day without collapsing! Glad you had a good dinner and hope that Ben won his game. {:-Deb

  13. Pretty lively at Lenney's! I remember that our parents sometimes told us to be quiet and eat, and there were only 3 of us, lol!

  14. That's a good way to get your house cleaned! Hummmm? :)~Ames

  15. Ive only had Lenny's when Bret and Brad went and got me take out. Yummy

  16. Ah... another great outing with the Dentons! Luckily, your kids are so cute that it would be hard to stay seriously mad at them - even with 20 oz of Fanta on the floor. I will remind you of this outing when you're sad because they've all left home. And yes - do go back and enjoy sweet potato fries sans kids another day!

  17. Okay, this could have been a day in my life. Our trip to Five Guys comes to mind. Yes, this is why we rarely go out to eat.
    But you survived it. Glad to hear I am no the only one!

  18. Thanks for that - it was a good laugh at the end of a hard day! Honestly, I'm not laughing AT you, but WITH you, because you are laughing....aren't you?

  19. What a great family you have....a whole lot of love in all....and your photos posted here today...just bring it all out...what great memories are made every second ...! Just sharing life together...through it all!

  20. Some trips are for the memories for sure. Love those pig tails...and sweet potato fries!

  21. I am truly a coneseur of sweet potatoe fries. Salt city burger here is my winner so far. Were they extra salty??!! Yum:)

  22. Such a Lively Little bunch!

    I will definitely have to give Lenny's a whirl...

    Along with everyone else that has commented,

    I Love sweet potato fries!!

    Hold your head up high girl... You have a beautiful family that is so full of Life and that is definitely something to be proud of!

    Thanks for Linking.


  23. Oh boy! We have just E (for now) and the evening you had sounds similar to one of our normal nights eating out with just the 3 of us. Now I'm a bit worried how things will turn out when 3 becomes 4.... Well at least the food was good! And Evie is looking bigger and bigger every time I see her! By the way, E would totally do the ketchup thing too if hungry enough.