Thursday, December 31, 2009


When I was 15, I made a decision. I vowed never to eat another hamburger. This is purely a mental thing. It's hard to explain. It's just something I decided for myself after eating a hamburger at Burger King one day. In the 15 years since that time, I've rarely eaten hamburger meat or any red meat for that matter.

On Christmas Eve, I decided to take a HUGE risk and stop and In-N-Out with my mom in American Fork. At first we were just going to get fries. Upon seeing the ginormous line for the drive through, I decided what the heck, take the plunge. Here is the video as evidence:

I know, very attractive!

I have only had one burger since, at In-N-Out in Orem with my friend Mandy last month. Don't worry people, I am not totally sold on this burger business. Fortunately, In and Out puts so many toppings on and the patty is so thin, I can barely taste the meat.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

1 Month Old!

This picture was taken today. He is becoming so much more alert.

Time flies! It's hard to believe our little guy has been with us over a month now. I took Matthew to the doctor on Thursday and we found out he is a big, strong, healthy boy. He weighed in at 11 pounds 11 ounces and measured 23 inches. 90th percentile on both weight and height and 50th percentile for head circumference. We are headed out to Utah on Wednesday, the 23rd, for the holidays and I figure he should be about 12 pounds then. This means I have a 5 week old the size of a 3 month old! It makes for easier packing. I figure I will just wash and pack his 3-6 month clothes since he is actually at the weight and height for that size. I can't believe it. My baby boy is growing way too fast.

Note: Matt had an idea to take a picture of Matthew every day of his life for the first year. Afterward, we will make a movie showing each day and the progression of change. I thought it would be a good idea to do it on the Boppy so that there is an constant in the pictures to measure his growth by. Hence all the pictures of our sweet little guy on the Boppy :)

Matthew on the day of his 1 month check up.

I decided to dress him in 3-6 months clothes the day after his appointment, just to see how they look. The pants are a tad big in the waist and a little long, but other than that he is filling them out quite well. I hope he stays in this size for a while!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dress Up

Mommy loves to play dress up. Matthew doesn't. He hates having his clothes changed. His little arms are so stiff and he just cries and cries. I had to catch him while he was sleeping to get this little sweater on him.

He LOVES being in the bath, but dreads getting out and having to get dressed.

Daddy bathing baby Matthew.

Mommy drying him off.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Look who came to visit!

Grandpa Shipley called us this morning to let us know he'd be stopping by in the evening to say hello and give us all a big hug. He had to come out to Washington D.C. for business for a few days. We were so excited to see him and have him meet Matthew for the first time. He was actually in town the day I went into labor. My water broke an hour after his plane took off. So, he was back out exactly a month later to meet Matthew. It was so fun to watch him interact with Matthew. He is so good with babies. He lulled Matthew right to sleep and put him down in his crib. Only problem was he woke up an hour later, but gave us enough time to play a game of Settlers :) My dad has VERY strong genes. So many of the Shipley babies look just like their grandpa. I was amazed looking at the picture of the two of them and noticing that Matthew's coloring matches grandpa's.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

First Airplane Ride

All ready for my first airplane ride. Dressed up in my "Little Pilot" outfit.
So excited for my first big trip!

We took a quick trip to Boston. It was quite the adventure. The week Matthew was born, Matt offered to take a hearing in Boston so that I could come and bring the baby to visit our friends Alisa and Eric. Matt has earned enough flights with Southwest that I can fly for free with him anywhere he goes. Matt was flying back from Louisville, Kentucky and didn't have enough time to come up to the house and get us and go back to the airport, so my sweet friend, Donna, offered to drive Matthew and I to the airport. Just before leaving, I decided to see if we needed any documents for the baby. I found out that Southwest requires you to bring the baby's birth certificate to prove that he is at least 2 weeks and less than 2 years old and also to prove that you aren't trying to fly away with someone else's child. Well, this was a problem because we had to send the birth certificate back as they had forgotten to put the "IV" after MKS on the certificate. After lots of phone calls and inquiry, Matt found out that we would be okay if we had an immunization record from the pediatrician. Luckily I planned an extra 30 minutes to get to the airport, so Donna drove us by the pediatrician to pick the paper up.

When we arrived at the airport, we found out our flight was delayed 50 minutes. There was a big snow storm in Boston that day and the airplane coming in was late. It seemed as if everyone at the airport was flabbergasted that we were taking a 3 week old on an airplane. We were nervous about it too, but hoping all would go well. After getting through security and waiting for daddy to get out of the bathroom so that we could find a decent place to feed the baby, we got onto the airplane only to find out that our flight was delayed another 90 minutes!!! So much for hanging out with Alisa and Eric that night. I was regretting coming, but after pondering the thought of going back home only to have to turn around to pick Matt back up the following night at the airport, decided to stick it out. Luckily, Matthew fell asleep. When we finally took off I was so worried about making sure Matthew was sucking on his pacifier that I put it in his mouth and kept moving it around to get him to suck. I wasn't sure if he was sleeping if his ears would be okay and didn't want to take any chances. After landing, we waited for the Dollar Rental Car shuttle to take us to get our car. We watched as 3 or 4 shuttles passed from every other rental company before Dollar's shuttle came by. Talk about bad luck! We didn't get to our hotel until almost 11 p.m. Side note: we realized it would be much easier to check the car seat instead of taking it to the gate.

When we checked in, the guy told Matt there would be a crib in our room. We got to the room and there was no crib. They finally brought the crib, but it looked pretty scary - very institutional. I opted to let Matthew sleep in his car seat and then near me in the double bed after he got up the first time. Well, we did get to see Alisa and her big boy, Tyler. Ty is 7 months old and in 18 month clothes! He is such a cutie! It was so fun to see Alisa. We went and had Thai food which I haven't had for so long as Matt is not a fan. Then we went back to her house. Eric was home for lunch and Matt pulled up just after we did with canolis from Mike's Pastry! We had a great visit (despite Matthew's fussiness) and Alisa even let me take a much needed nap. Matt and I went to Boston 2 weeks after Ty was born, so it was fun to be able to bring Matthew out at about the same age.

The trip back, we checked the car seat and made it to our gate to find out we were delayed 50 minutes. I guess you just have to expect lots of delays in the winter. We were grateful to make it home safely and agreed that the next trip would be longer than 1 day, but that it was worth the trip to see the Stoddards and to know what to expect before heading out to Utah for Christmas.

Alisa and me with our boys in front of their gorgeous Christmas tree. These guys will be good friends.
Matt and Alisa taking care of the babies.

Ty showing off his mad jumping skills!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Matthew's First Moments

Matthew Kenneth Steen IV - born November 16th, 2009 at 5:37 p.m. 9 lbs. 7 oz. and 20 3/4 inches. He surprised all of us in his timing and his size!

Baby Matthew is here! We thought for sure we'd be waiting a week after his due date to be induced and welcome him to our family, but this boy has good timing. I started contracting on a regular basis at church Sunday the 15th (his due date) during Sunday School. I didn't really say anything until we got home and when I started timing things, contractions were coming every 10 minutes. Around 6:30, I realized my water broke while I was sitting on the couch eating a yummy dinner - Cafe Rio Chicken Salad. I thought I felt something strange and when I got up to go upstairs, realized that indeed, water was flowing down my leg. Thank goodness I was home! I let my mom and Matt know and they both started frantically packing their bags so we could get to the hospital. I called Matt's sister, Aunt Mary (who lives nearby and works in Towson, Maryland as a labor and delivery nurse - she's been nursing in L&D for 17 years). We had been texting about the contractions and when I called to tell her that my water broke, she was at work and telling everyone she had to go! They all knew that she had been anticipating this event for months and agreed she would go as soon as things were under way. She planned on meeting us at the hospital, but after contacting Cheri Gard, my midwife, I decided to stay home for a few hours to let the contractions progress. Around 9:30 p.m., we decided to head into the hospital. My contractions were every 5-6 minutes by this point. Matt was speeding. I had to give him a hard time. We take Route 30 into Lancaster to get to the doctor and the speed limit is only 55 mph. He always gives me a hard time for going too fast. He was going 80-85 the whole time. He said it was different this time and I was just praying that we wouldn't get in a wreck :) Mary and mom followed behind us in Mary's car. Matt dropped me off and I headed to triage. Luckily, Matt brought in all the bags and I found my I.D. to give them and was happy he had his insurance card in his wallet, because for some reason, mine was not in my wallet. After checking me, I was only dilated to a 1! I was pretty frustrated by that, but at least something was happening. The last few weeks of going to the doctor and being told that nothing was progressing was getting a bit depressing. Since my water ruptured, I was stuck in the hospital until Matthew came. They gave me a sleeping pill and mom and Mary went back to our place to rest up for the coming day. It was a LONG night. How is anyone supposed to sleep through contractions? I would lay down and get up every time a contraction came. Finally at 4 a.m., I called the nurse to see if I could try something else. She brought in a birthing ball and I sat on that and leaned on the bed for a few hours. Matt was sleeping through all of this, I'm sure not well, but I was glad he was at least in the same room, albeit envious that he could sleep. At 6:30 a.m. the nurse started me on pitocin. Meanwhile Mom and Mary showed up all rested and ready for the day at 7:30. I sat in a rocker and tried to breathe through contractions until Cheri showed up to check me. She came soon after 8a.m. She actually didn't check me, but told me she would come back around lunch time and look. I decided to get an epidural, which I got around 8:30 a.m. Contractions were evey 2-3 minutes by then. Wow - all I have to say is that epidurals are truly a blessing from God. Immediately, I felt SO much better and able to relax.

At lunch time, I was at a dilated to a 5. The nurse kept upping the pitocin - until I was at a level 16 and was consistently still getting 5 contractions every 10 minutes. At 2:30, the nurse checked me and I was at a 9 - so close! They told me to let them know when I was feeling pressure down that way and they would call Cheri to come in. Around 4:15, I called the nurse, she checked and I was fully effaced, ready to go, at a 10. I have never been so thrilled to hear the number 10 in my life! Cheri came in around 5:15. We got into position and after pushing for 15 minutes, Matthew arrived! It was amazing! I never thought I would opt for the mirror, but I was curious to see and I think it probably helped me know where to push and be more aware of how things were progressing. I had an incredible amount of support in the room. Aunt Mary, Cheri, Susan - a nurse at Women's and Babies who Mary used to work with, the nurse assigned to me, Bethany, my mom, and Matt. I met Susan a couple of times over the last few months and she actually gave me a private tour of the hospital. She came in on her day off to help me out. I am so grateful to have had such wonderful people with me. Matt stood at my left shoulder with his head nuzzled into my shoulder/the bed. He has a hard time with blood, so I expected this. I did see him peek up a few times to look. My mom and Mary were in charge of taking pictures. Here are some of the photos they took:

Matt and me before the big push!
Mary updating family on facebook. Baby Matthew getting his first look at mom.
The Delivery Team: Left: Cheri, the midwife; Susan, Grandma Shipley. Right: Aunt Mary, Bethany, Robyn's L&D Nurse, Matt
Proud Aunt Mary with Matthew. We've been waiting for him for a long time!
Me after the workout! Looking tired, but so happy to have Matthew here with us.
Susan swaddling Matthew.
Our first visitors (besides mom and Mary) - Jessica and Cody. He was excited to meet the baby and anticipating being a big brother in May!
Matt helping Cody hold Matthew - and me thinking how fun this will be when we have our next little miracle.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Guess the Baby's Measurements, Win a Prize!

The days of Robyn's travail are almost over. In fact, according to the scientific countdown clock on the blog, the baby should be born today! While that probably won't happen, it should be anyday now (we're hoping). Robyn is ready to have Baby Maffew evicted, but he is a stubborn hold over tenant to say the least. I thought it would be fun to have a contest, inspired by our discovery this week of Andes Creme de Menthe cookies. Whoever is closest to correctly guessing Baby Maffew's weight and length will win a box of these highly desirable cookies, shipping paid. Trust me, these cookies are awesome. The rules are simple:

* There shall be two prizes given: one (1) box for the person who correctly guesses the weight, and one (1) box for the person who correctly guesses the length. Should the same person guess both measurements correctly, that person shall win both prizes.

* In accordance with time tested game protocol established by The Price is Right, should a person be closest, but go over the official measurements, that person shall be disqualified, and the next person who is closest without going over shall be the winner.

* All entries must be registered in the comments section of this post and must be received before the arrival time of the baby.

* The official arrival hour and minute shall be that time established by the hospital staff.

* Amending entries is allowed, but only the last entry received before the birth of the baby will count.

*All readers, casual, loyal, or by happenstance are eligible for the contest.

* In contrast to other contests, family members of the Steens are eligible to compete, especially the parents of Baby Maffew.

* All measurements should be in pounds/ounces (if ounces are part of the guess) and inches. The length measurement should be rounded to the nearest whole inch. Entries given in grams or centimetres or some other Socialist scale will be immediately deleted and disqualified.

* In the event of a tie, the names of the person(s) with the winning guesse(s) shall be drawn at random. The person whose name is drawn shall be the winner.

Good luck to all participants.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A few pictures of my pregnant belly

Many of you have been asking and I've been avoiding it. I mean, who really wants to take pictures of themselves at this stage of pregnancy let alone share them with other people? I am now 37 weeks and every week for the last few months, I have thought, is it possible for this belly to get any bigger? The answer is yes.
35 weeks prego.
In the car after seeing the doctor at 36 weeks. Yes, this is the same sweater I'm wearing in both pictures, different colors. One thing I will not miss about pregnancy - the limited wardrobe. I can't wait to be able to wear real people clothes again!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Shortly after I came home from my trip out west, Matt had a hearing in Cleveland, Ohio. I wasn't sure if I was up to getting back in the car for another 6 hour ride there and 6 hours back after 1 day, but I haven't been to Kirtland before and I really wanted to be with Matt, so I decided to go. Matt's mom, Grace came with us as well. It was well worth the trip.
The Kirtland Temple
The front of the temple. The doors were actually green at the time of construction.

Matt in front of the fireplace in the School of the Prophets - upstairs above the Newel K. Whitney store. Joseph Smith lived in this building for a time and received 20 revelations here including The Word of Wisdom. This revelation came after Emma and Joseph became concerned about the tobacco smoke filling the room during meetings. It is said that when Joseph told the brethren of this revelation that they all threw their pipes and tobacco in this fireplace.
The John Johnson Home where Joseph and Emma were staying when he was taken out in the middle of the night by a mob and tarred and feathered.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dear U.S. Airways

Last week I flew for the first time in over a month. I had come to almost miss air travel a little. Then I was abruptly reminded why I should never be so foolish. You may remember my last "angry letter," to Delta. I never sent that one because I was admittedly overreacting and just having a bad day. This one, however, will be sent! So with apologies to my Uncle Bobby, who at the time of his retirement was the second longest tenured employee with US Air, here's my latest angry letter . . .

Dear U.S. Airways-

I am a very frequent flier, though not always with your airline. [Give yourself some cred by adding that you're no novice traveler!] This year alone I have flown more than 300,000 miles all over the country for work. Over the course of my travels I have gleaned a little knowledge about airline policies. And though I have more than once experienced delays or other aggravation as a result of those policies, I respect them as reasonable. [Add credence to your argument by letting them know you're a reasonable person!] I understand that those policies are in place for a good purpose that at times must transcend my personal needs and comfort.

This past week, however, I had an experience with your airline that defies justification. It was Wednesday, October 21st. I was flying from Philadelphia to Columbus, Ohio. I was coming from downtown Philadelphia after a court hearing that had run late. After battling traffic and waiting in one of the longest security lines I had ever seen [full of Frenchies and other foreigners!], I had to rush to catch the shuttle bus to another terminal. After exiting the shuttle bus, I ran at a full sprint to my gate to find the door closed. I have enough experience traveling to know what that means. It's too late to board the plane. I didn't even bother entreating the gate supervisor, Anthony XXXXX, [a man whose English I strained to interpret], to let me board, because I know those policies are hard and fast.

As I was resigning myself to the fact that I had missed my flight and would have to take a later one, on top of driving almost 2 hours afterward, I looked out the window and saw the flight attendant beckon to me. He asked if I was supposed to be on that flight. I motioned that I was. He waved me in! [Time to get a little dramatic, though I'll probably leave this out in the real draft]. I was saved! I would be able to board my plane after all because of the consideration of a flight attendant who was going above and beyond his call of duty. I told the gate supervisor what happened. "No," he replied. "You're not getting on this plane." I told him the flight attendant was waving me on. "The door is closed, we have to have this door closed 10 minutes before takeoff." This I already knew, but the plane still had 10 minutes or so before takeoff. Couldn't the rules be bended a little in the cause of customer service? I asked him again, pleading, never indulging in using a tone or raising my voice. His reply: "you had plenty of time to get here." I was taken aback. He rebuked me with the cold terseness of a grizzled schoolmarm. What was most offensive was his assumption that my lateness was my own doing. How did he know that? As I explained, I did not have plenty of time. Shocked at his rudeness, I walked over to the window again, this time to find the pilot motioning at me. He was waving me on board! Again I entreated Mr. XXXXX, but to no avail. Not only did he refuse me, he did so rudely and dismissively. At length, the pilot himself deplaned and walked down the jetway and asked Mr. XXXXX if he could not let me on the plane! "We still have 5 minutes before we're supposed to push," said the pilot. Mr. XXXXX said no and asked him to step into the jetway for a chat. As he disappeared behind the door, the pilot apologized, telling me he had done all he could. After Mr. XXXXX's departure, the young ladies working at the gate even apologized to me for his behavior.

And that's the subject of my letter. I commend the flight attendant and pilot for doing all they could. They could've done nothing and been justified since they were following industry policy. But out of human compassion and a committment to the passenger they tried to do the right thing. But I'm left to wonder, what harm would've transpired if the gate supervisor had opened the door and let me on the plane? Would he have had to do some extra paper work? Would he have had to swallow his pride and let someone on the plane whom he assumed had been careless in not giving himself time to catch his flight? One thing is certain, if he had let me on the flight, a passenger would have been exceedingly grateful at his compassion and would be left singing the praises of U.S. Air for their understanding instead of vowing never to frequent them again.

I am the first to admit that Mr. XXXXX was in the right. I know the policies and he followed them dutifully. But what harm would've occurred if he had flouted those rules for the sake of excellent customer satisfaction? Would any lives had been endangered? Would U.S. Air have been held to task by the FAA? Mr. XXXXX's commitment was to the letter of the law, not to the spirit of customer service. That was made abundantly clear by his actions and rude demeanor. Truthfully, I don't think I'd be writing this letter but for Mr. XXXXX's rude behavior at the gate. Even though I strongly disagree that my boarding the plane would have caused any problems, if Mr. XXXXX had explained it in a courteous way, I would have come to terms with it, even though I would have disagreed. I hope this episode is instructive on how not to treat your customers. Customer service is becoming a lost art in this country throughout all industries. Hopefully you can apply these lessons to future passengers. Unfortunately, it won't be with me. [Always end with a zinger!]

Yours truly,

Matt Steen

Saturday, October 10, 2009

AACA Car Meet in Hershey

I heard that there was a big car show in Hershey, PA this week. In fact it's one of the biggest held in the country. Those of you who know Matt, know his love for old cars - especially "muscle" cars from the 70's. He is still mourning the loss of his 1973 Pontiac Grandville (pictured at the top of our blog) which we traded in for a 2009 VW Tiguan. So, I figured he would be excited about going to a car show and suggested we go Saturday. I was surprised how much I enjoyed looking at the antique cars and admiring the details of each car. Cars of the past just do not compare to cars today. I can't imagine going to a show 50 years from now to see cars manufactured today. Older cars have a distinct smell to them and reminded me of the old Grandville. I really enjoyed watching Matt get excited about different cars. I managed to take a few pictures of a some of the cars he liked.

Dodge Charger (I think)
Ford Mustang
Chevelle (I think)
Another Mustang
This is a "house" car from the 1920's. I had never seen anything like it. They had it all decorated in period style inside.
This was Matt's favorite car at the show. It's a Cadillac. He just loves long cars. His dream car is a Lincoln Continental with suicide doors. We saw one while we were there, but it was driving out, so we missed our photo op.

Let the coupon shopping begin!

My sister, Heather, has inspired me to start couponing (is that a word?). She is the ultimate bargain shopper. Since we have moved from two salaries to one, things have been tighter. Especially since preparing for MKSIV who will be joining our family next month. I figured it is high time I start figuring out how to use coupons to my advantage and shop the sales. Matt is all for it as long as I don't buy things that we would not normally use "just because I have a coupon." So, I have been frequenting "Pinching Your Pennies" over the last week and Heather was able to find me two blogs local to PA that list deals at the grocery stores close to us. I actually got a heads up this week on a Friends and Family 20% coupon for Babies R Us through the PPYP blog and was able to get a crib that would have normally been out of our price range. I had spent an inordinate amount of time searching for cribs online previous to this and had my eye on this one, wishing it were a bit less expensive. Very exciting!

Tonight, Matt and I headed over to Weis grocery store. We've actually been there just once or twice since we moved here. We didn't even have the savers card yet, so I sent Matt to the service desk to sign up for one while I commenced shopping. I am so proud to share that we saved 45% on our shopping trip between coupons and "Weis Club Savings." So instead of spending $101.31, we spent $57.31. It certainly paid off to plan a trip and look for the deals.

I signed up for the newspaper this week too so that I can start getting Sunday coupons. So far, I've just been printing coupons from I am so excited to be saving money. Thanks Heather for all your help in getting me started!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


My sweet husband gave me a pedicure. I was due for one and can no longer reach my toenails without feeling REALLY uncomfortable. I'd been telling him when I got to this point, I would have to go get a pedicure. His response was, "how hard can it be to paint toenails?" So, I told him I'd be happy for him to do it. So, he took off my old polish and clipped and filed my toenails. Then he put on a clear base coat, two coats of red polish and a top coat. He was so careful and particular about it all. He did an excellent job and will be doing the next one before the baby comes :) Thanks babe!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Endless Travel Finally Pays Off

I travel a lot for my job. Flight attendants know me by name. They have my drink order memorized when they come to my seat. It's regrettable, but my job keeps me away from home a good deal. I try to equalize the ill effects of travel on my family life by laying claim to every possible benefit I can. For the past 10 months I've been racking up a lot of miles on Delta and Rapid Rewards credit on Southwest. Tomorrow, when I return from Jackson, Mississippi to Baltimore, I will achieve my 100th credit and secure a companion pass for Robyn. That means that whenever and wherever I fly on Southwest, she can fly with me for free! (subject to seat availability). This has been a long awaited perk. We hope to be able to take advantage by flying to Utah or Boise every now and again.

As I type this, Robyn is driving across the country with her mom in our new Tiguan. She loves it and is very glad, again, that my old car is gone. But let me stress the Tiguan will never take the place of honor in our blog banner.

Lastly, I'm in Mississippi today. I think I always say this, but we're hiring more attorneys around the country so the opportunities for me to travel this far are growing fewer. Right across from my hotel is a Shoney's restaurant. When I was a kid I enjoyed many a fine meal at the all-you-can eat breakfast bar. Though I usually opt for the free hotel breakfast to save on my per diem, I'm going to have to splurge and go for Shoney's!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

End of an Era

Last week when I was in Utah, Robyn and I found ourselves with a little time to kill. We decided to go to some local dealerships because we'll be needing a new car soon with the arrival of MKSIV. We decided to take my beloved 1973 Pontiac Grandville with us to see if anyone would give us a trade in for it. It's too old (or too experienced, as she preferred to say), to qualify for Cash for Clunkers, but we thought some dealership might be desperate enough to take it.

We stopped by VW to see what they had. Robyn had fallen in love with the Tiguan (a small SUV) in Pennsylvania. Long story short, the dealer gave me $2900 for my car, which is what I paid for it. We love our Tiguan, but it was very difficult for me to say good bye to my beauty. She was a faithful car and got me to wherever I needed to go in grandiose style. Here's a brief timeline of some memorable events in our time together:

July 2003: Still smarting from a tough break up with a 1994 VW Passat, Matt was perusing the classifieds when he spied an ad for a 1973 Pontiac Grandville. Unfamiliar with that model of Pontiac, he googled Grandville and decided to respond. As soon as he saw the car at Sally Fink's house in Millersville, Pa (aged 92), he instantly fell in love (with the car).

July 2003: While driving the car back from work, the heater core gave way, resulting in a flood of antifreeze on Matt's feet. ($220)

July 2003: Shocks replaced ($160)

August 2003: Matt had the car shipped out to him in Utah ($900)

March 2004: The transmission had to be rebuilt for the paltry sum of $400.

July 2004: While at Sonic car wash in Provo, the hood of the Grandville is severely damaged by the car wash. The windshield is also shattered. The car wash paid for all repairs.

November 2004: Heater motor gives out ($250)

February 2005: Radiator replaced ($230)

April 2005: Starter replaced ($200)

August 2005: While driving home one evening, the power steering suddenly gives way. The culprit turned out to be something called the power steering gear box. A replacement was finally located in Georgia at a cost of $300.

Late August 2005: Matt drives his Grandville 17 hours across the country to Tulsa, OK for law school with no problem ($275 for gas).

May 2006: Brake work totalling $250.

January 2007: After noticing a small hiccup in the car's acceleration, it is discovered that the valves need extensive work. The car is in the shop for a month at a cost of over $1,000.

April 2007: Battery and alternator are replaced ($125)

June 2008: While sitting in his car, Matt detects the strong odor of gasoline, which he later finds pouring out the bottom of the engine. Fuel pump is replaced for $250.

April 2009: Matt and Robyn move to Pennsylvania, leaving the Grandville in the covered garage of Robyn's parents' condo.

August 2009: After 36 years and 89,871 miles of loyal service, the Grandville is unceremoniously discarded for a newer, hipper, foreign car, much to the delight of Robyn. Like the Giving Tree, the old Grandville had imparted its all for the happiness of her owner.

I love you, Grandville, and will ever hold you in sacred memory.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Made a Big Mistake

This is too funny not to share. First, a little background. A little more than a week ago I was chatting via facebook with an old mission friend, Wade Bean. A few days later I got an invitation to view "Bean's blog." I was happy to accept the invitation. I visited Bean's blog, and noticed that it was obviously new. There were two posts, but I only read the most recent one, about their garden. The author wrote about the various vegetables growing in the garden: watermelon, cantaloupes, tomatoes, and, most notably, beans. The author wrote that there were "little bean plants" growing and that they would have "little beans anyday now!" Anyone who knows me knows I strive to make funny little comments on peoples' blogs whenever I see a good opportunity. So I left the following comment on the blog: "Wait a minute, I know what's going on here. 'Little bean plants??' 'We're going to have little beans here any day?' These are metaphors for saying you're PREGNANT!!! Congrats, Elder Bean!!!"

I was just so proud of myself for another witty showing on someone's blog. Then I noticed there was a comment from someone named Marian. I clicked on the name and it was my own mother-in-law! Well, the LDS Church often makes the world even smaller than it seems, so I figured that Marian knew Elder Bean's wife so I left yet another comment: "Hey, I noticed my mother-in-law posted a comment. Is your wife a sibling of my wife, elder Bean? I guess it's possible I could've missed you guys at family dinners." Another funny comment! I was on a roll!

I went back to the blog later in the day and decided to look at the other post I hadn't read yet. It was about a recent trip to Lagoon. And there were 5 comments, from Holly Casos, Danielle Casos, Kayla Casos, Capri Casos, and Sienna Casos. Now I was just totally confused. How on earth did Elder Bean know my entire family??? Then I got an epiphany. This wasn't Elder Bean's family blog, it was Kristina Casos's blog! My 10 year old niece, and I had left a comment saying she was pregers!!!! Embarrassed and mortified, I deleted the comments, hopefully before anyone saw what I had left. Ironically, this is why many blogs are kept private, to keep weirdos from posting things. Sorry Kristina.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dear Delta Airlines

I had a horrible flight last night (see below). As I was fuming on the airplane I thought about writing a scathing letter to Delta. Funny thing is, when I woke up this morning I was completely over it, but I decided to write the letter anyway just to see if my powers of persuasion were enough to get them to respond or give me a million skymiles for my trouble. I wrote the below letter on the plane today (ironically) on my way to Chicago. It is supposed to be as self righteous, indignant, moralizing, and condescending as it sounds. I make a few little notes in brackets. It's long.

To Whom it May Concern:
My name is Matt Steen, I am a frequent flier on Delta. My frequent flier number is ******8070. Before I get to the real purpose of this letter, I need to explain a basic legal principle that has bearing on my narrative. It's called the "eggshell plaintive rule." In short, the egg shell plaintiff rule holds that if a plaintiff's injury is made worse by the presence of a pre existing condition, though unknown to the defendant, the defendant is still held responsible for any harm caused as a result of his actions. A potential defendant, therefore, inflicts even a small offense at his own peril, for even a perceived small breach of conduct can yield costly consequences.

This fundamental legal maxim is relevant to my story because last night, as I boarded flight 242 from Detroit to Baltimore, I was in a fragile state. Though it was only the middle of the week, I was already mentally and physically spent due to stressful interactions with judges and an unusually taxing travel schedule that left little time for sleep. After my flight I had only a short turnaround before I had to awaken very early the next day and drive a considerable distance for work, only to turn right around and head back down to the airport to fly to Chicago [on Southwest]. The only flight I could get out of tiny Alpena, Michigan left at 4:30pm, followed by a 3 hour layover in Detroit and a late arrival in Baltimore. Under optimal conditions, with the drive home I would get home around midnight at best. At about 8:30pm, tired, frustrated, and frazzled, I boarded my flight [on first class, as Robyn points out], anxious to get home.

As the wait stretched out I slowly grew more dejected, because of my seemingly inescapable fore ordination that I be perpetually tired [poor baby!!!] and out of concern that my aged and easily confused mother [zing! My mom doesn't know where to find the internet, much less my blog], who agreed to pick me up, would make it to the airport alright.

It turned out our plane was in need of repair, and the 10 minutes expected to repair the problem grew to an excruciating hour. By the time I made it home, fighting to stay awake, I had only 4 hours until I had to pull myself out of bed the next day[wahhhhhhh].

If our delay had been caused by inclement weather or some other force majeure, you would be insulated from any blame. But, innocent or not, this seemingly minor breach of duty was your doing. Though it may seem small to you, it was a big deal to me [but I'm really over it now, not like it hasn't happened before]. and I write this letter to ask you to make due reparation. You are the world's largest airline, and I am one dissatisfied customer. Your market share wouldn't feel the tiniest ripple if I never flew Delta again [I have WAY too many miles to follow through on that one] and indeed, my cynical nature tells me this letter will go largely ignored because of your size advantage [reverse psychology alert!!]. But I am asking you to do the right thing, the honorable thing [I'm not beneath manipulation!]; admit your fault, acknowledge my letter [on Foxnews at primetime], and make amends in proportion to the harm incurred [which for my purposes, was colossal].

This isn't the proper forum for me to pine over the lost art of customer service, but I will offer a couple of my insights if you will bear them [time to talk down to you!] First, right minded customers, among which I count myself, do not expect things to always go perfectly. Secondly, and most importantly for our purposes here, is this: it's not the lapses in good service that distinguish bad companies from good ones, but how they react to those lapses. Every mistake, great or small, is a seminal moment for a corporation or business [waxing deeply philosophical now]. It is a great opportunity, one for the corporation or business to not only preserve trust, but bolster and grow it by providing surety that the company takes its stewardship seriously. When a good company makes amends, the previously aggrieved and disgruntled consumer is left with a profound respect for the company, and feelings of disappointment are replaced with appreciation and awe that the great paid obeisance to the one.

Even more pivotal for a consumer (and company) than how a mistake is perceived at the moment is how it is perceived ever after. I still often recount how at a Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore in 2001, my meal came out just a little later than those of the rest of my party. Though I was utterly unmoved by the event, so concerned was the manager that my meal was free! Many times have I retold that story with genuine admiration for the Cheesecake Factory and its manager, and as many times that admiration was shared by those who heard the account. The good companies find a way to make a customer almost glad he suffered an inconvenience, while the less successful company sweeps the matter under the rug with an obligatory form letter thanking the customer for his "valuable feedback." [YOU wouldn't do that, would you, Delta???]

So I commend this letter to anyone at your airline [CEO, COO, CFO, VP, etc] in the hope that it will find its way to a like-minded person. I hope to hear from you soon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cabin Trip!

Well, it's time I update the blog. Matt has been threatening to shut it down, so I better get posting. It's been a long while. I spent the whole month of August in Utah and the first week of September in Idaho. Matt had a CRAZY schedule in August. He was gone in a different state almost every day during the week, so we decided I should get a good visit in before this baby comes (40 more days!!!). I really enjoyed my visit. I spent the first week with my friend, Kristin. She helped me make some things for the baby (pictures will be posted). Then, I headed to the cabin with my sister, Heather and her family. We went to the Rodeo one night in Logan. We got there an hour early for a "pre-show" which ended up being the tractor plowing the dirt and a few people riding their horses around. My brothers, Jon and Matt, and their families joined us Saturday and Sunday. It was so great to watch my nieces and nephews play together.

This is Brooklyn sitting across from me. She stared at me most of the way up to the cabin.
Presley stylin' in her sunglasses on the way to the cabin.

Presley and Katie pushing the mini carts at Lee's in Logan.

The girls watching the "pre-show."

Becky reading to the kids. She was amazing with them. She had them all draw pictures to post on the wall in the cabin for Grandma and Grandpa.
Baby I
Maggie enjoying the creek and the mud.
Me by the campfire.
Jess, Jon, Ira, and Beck.
We celebrated Ben's Birthday - he blew out candles on top of marshmallows to kick off the smore fest!
Ira and Beck enjoying their smores.
Steve, Brooklyn, Heather, Katie and Presley.