Happy Half Birthday, Sloan

When you are little, half birthdays mean more. In fact, I consider turning 2 and a half a bigger milestone than the whole age I will turn next month. Any guesses on who we are celebrating today?

Sloan has now reached a point that when someone asks me her age, I will no longer say “she is 2.” Although I no longer describe her age in months, I do feel it is appropriate to include half years––so when I am asked the age question, I will now respond with “she is 2 and a half.” With her new “age promotion,” a few things stand out to me.

– By the time these next six months are over, she will be a big sister.
– After today, she is more of a 3-year-old than a 2-year-old.
– I can’t believe how fast the time has gone!

For tonight’s blog post, I thought I would just share a photo from every March 17 and September 17 she has lived through (three each!). Not only is it easy on me, but it is a good way to show her development over the course of the past 913 days. P.S. – I got to mark on my calendar the day she will turn 1,000 days old (Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019).

March 17, 2017 (0 years old)

This photo was taken very soon after Sloan was born.

September 17, 2017 (a half year old)

Sloan at a half year.

March 17, 2018 (1 year old)

Sloan eating her cake during her first birthday.

September 17, 2018 (1.5 years old)

I took this photo of Sloan exactly a year ago.

March 17, 2019 (2 years old)

Sloan eating her cake on her second birthday.

September 17, 2019 (2 and a half years old).

This is Sloan today at 2 and a half years old.

Happy half birthday, Sloan! Enjoy the final 50 percent of your trip around the sun, someone will be joining you as you reach the home stretch. Don’t Blink.

An Annoying Habit

I twitch my eyes, fold my arms, and tug at my wedding ring. These are just physical mannerisms, some might call them nervous ticks, that I have. The first one gets my wife the most, who believes it is a sign of agitation (it really isn’t). But, there is one outwardly quirk that I do the most.

I rub my hands together. Obsessively.

I have rubbed my hands together obsessively for a couple of decades.

Although excitement will cause me to start rubbing my hands the most vigorously, I will do it in other instances, including for no reason at all.

I can’t pinpoint how I picked up the habit but I know I have been doing it since early high school. Well, at least that is as far back as I remember my friends mocking me for it. You see, it is not a subtle or quiet rubbing of the hands. Rather, it is a hands-tightly-clasped-aggressive rubbing that can be heard through walls.

Believe it or not, I do it so much that Sloan started to do it! Don’t worry, she is not doomed. Sidney immediately intervened and weaned her from performing the act. Not just that, but Sid taught her to actively push back against it. Now when I do it, Sloan will assertively say, “Stop rubbing your hands together, daddy!”

I think everyone who knows me well is aware of my habit and I am sure people I don’t think are aware of it actually are. Like I said, you don’t need to see me doing it to know that I do it.

Maybe in the future I will be more cognizant of it and try to stop. But, for the time being, judging by what my wife thinks it means, I should work on my eye twitching first. Don’t Blink.

Little Miss, Big Sis Thursday Rundown

So you stumbled upon Don’t Blink again, huh? Well, welcome back! You picked a good day to do it because it is time for the Thursday Rundown. Let’s go…

Big Sister Books – In my blog post on Monday, I mentioned that we are trying to slowly help Sloan understand and become comfortable with the fact that she will soon be a big sister. One way we are trying to do this is by reading her subject-related books. We recently checked out the below stories from the library. They are a lot of fun to read and Sloan actually listens to them. We love story time and when the books can actually educate her on a situation she will soon face, it is all the better.

Here are the books we currently have checked out from the library.

Mt. Dew Mystery Flavor – Last week I tweeted about my desire to try a new “Voo-Dew” mystery flavor Mt. Dew. My good friend and co-worker Geoff saw the tweet and brought in a couple cans to work on Monday. Once lunch came around, we sat at my office table and tasted Voo-Dew for the first time. For a few minutes, we thoughtfully discussed what we thought it tasted like. Geoff noticed a sweet, almost candy-like, flavor. After taking a few more sips, I said I thought it tasted like creamsicle. Around this time, another one of our co-workers, Tad, just happened to be walking by my office. He popped his head in and mentioned that it is supposed to be a candy corn flavor as a lead up to Halloween. When it was all said and done, we agreed that it was fun to taste the new soda together and share our observations.

The Voo-Dew Mystery Flavor Mt. Dew taste test took place in my office during the Monday lunch hour.

Water in Road – Hurricane Dorian didn’t seriously impact our area in terms of storm destruction, but it sure did bring some heavy rain. The street right outside of our house flooded and the below image is what it looked like at 7 p.m. on Thursday. I was convinced that the water would still be there on Friday morning and that my father-in-law would have to take me to work (I was going to walk to the entrance of our neighborhood where he would pick me up). Luckily, the water had completely receded by 6 a.m. on Friday and I was able to report to the CCU EOC in my own vehicle.

When Hurricane Dorian impacts hit our area last Thursday, this is what the street in front of our house looked like.

Reflecting on our Evacuation – Hurricane Dorian was a breeze compared to Hurricane Florence. One year ago today, Sid, Sloan, and I packed up some belongings and evacuated to Florida. Florence was supposed to pulverize Myrtle Beach and we wanted no part of it. Before we left, I published this blog post laying out our insecurities. Our evacuation to Jacksonville turned out to be awesome. The three of us bonded and made trips to Disney World and the Jacksonville Zoo. When we finally returned to Myrtle Beach, our house had suffered no damage. It was almost a blessing in disguise.

Our evacuation included a trip to Disney World!

Birthday Cake Remix Cereal – Wait, Cold Stone makes cereal? I was as surprised as you! When we went to pick up hurricane snacks last week, I couldn’t help but grab a box of Cold Stone Birthday Cake Remix cereal. The idea was better than the reality. Let’s just say the odd-tasting birthday cake flavored pieces and chocolate marshmallows didn’t exactly jibe with one another. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t edible. By the end of the weekend Sloan and I had finished the box.

A look at the Birthday Cake Remix cereal.

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It has been a pleasure bombarding you once again with five random topics. Have a fabulous weekend filled with gorgeous mid-September weather. Don’t Blink.

Never Forget, Always Educate

The anniversary of September 11 causes great reflection for myself. I always go back to the awful day and replay it through the perspective of a high school freshman who was horrified at what he was watching on TV.

But it never fails that each year something new tugs at me about the tragedy. As we mark the 18th anniversary of the attacks, the milestone itself is what has me thinking. Today, hundreds of thousands of people in the United States will become legal adults as they turn 18. A high percentage of these people were born after the second tower fell at 10:28 a.m. ET.

We now have adults in our country who were not alive during the 9/11 attacks. Guess what? This number is going to grow tomorrow and the next day and the next day….

We hear the phrase “Never Forget” whenever the anniversary draws near. I don’t think we can say it lightly, or, even worse, discount it as a cliché. We truly can’t forget and we need to vigorously educate the younger generation about what happened 18 years ago today.

It isn’t just a cliché….we truly must never forget.

Although they will never know the feeling of despair and shock that we all felt, they can at least learn about the atrocity and honor the thousands who perished. Perhaps the best way they can pick up on the magnitude of what occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, is to just observe the reverence those of us who lived through 9/11 have for the day. Saying prayers, watching the actual coverage of the event, and even looking through some of the sobering picture books that document the day are all meaningful ways we can remember the anniversary ourselves while teaching those who didn’t live through it.

Consider this: Every second, the percentage of people who lived during 9/11 dwindles and the percentage of people who didn’t live during 9/11 increases. Let’s do everything we can to make sure we never let those who come after us forget what happened. Don’t Blink.

We Are Expecting (again)

Thanks be to God!

A new family member will be joining us in February and as you can imagine, this blogger is over the moon happy. I loved fatherhood from the moment Sloan was born and for the past 18 months or so, I have had the itch to add to our Reser clan.

I love my girls and I am so excited that I will have someone else to love soon!

Sidney, the person who does the actual childbearing (you know, the hard stuff?), is overjoyed too. I think it took her a little longer to get to the point of wanting another little person, but she is on the same cloud that I am. We found out about the pregnancy after we came back from the Florida Keys in late June and have been dreaming about becoming a family of four since then. Although she had several days of feeling crummy during the first trimester, she trudged through it with strength and optimism. Now 15 weeks pregnant, we are talking names and predicting the baby’s gender.

What about Sloan? Well, when we ask her what is in mama’s belly, she will loudly exclaim, “A baby!” Just last night, she wanted Sid to “rescue it” so she could hold it. Although we doubt she fully comprehends that she will soon be a big sister, we are trying to gently introduce the idea. Whether she understands it now or not, she will in the future. That is a big reason why we are so ecstatic about having another baby––Sidney and I both believe that there is no greater gift you can give your child than a sibling. Sloan deserves it.

We waited until this past weekend to make the news “social media official” and I am not going to lie, I am glad it is now “out there.” It is hard to talk about the future or make long term plans with people when they have no idea that a certain month is going to be rather busy. Special props to Sid for coming up with our method for announcing.

Sidney announced that we are expecting this past Saturday.

Thank you for all the support we have been given over the past 48 hours. The next five months will be an adventure and we are glad to have our friends in our corner. Don’t Blink.

Hurricane Dorian Thursday Rundown

I hope everyone is staying safe. I uncharacteristically did not have a Thursday Rundown last week so I am happy to return with my most popular Don’t Blink feature. Let’s hit it…

Hurricane Update – At around 3:30 a.m., Sid and I were jolted awake by a combination of phone alerts and heavy rain/wind. As it howled outside, our phones were warning us of nearby tornados. That has been the most concerning point of the day. Over the past 14 hours or so, we have had steady rain and wind but nothing that has caused us to feel nervous. Fortunately, the hurricane is moving northeast and worst case scenarios are no longer on the table. However, it is still supposed to get nasty tonight so we aren’t completely out of the woods. In fact, our street is starting to flood.

Our street in front of our house is starting to flood.

Cookie Dough Sundae – A couple weeks ago, Sonic was aggressively promoting a cookie dough sundae. The commercials influenced a certain blogger who is a little obsessed with ice cream. I thought it was just OK. The scoop of cookie dough at the top of the sundae lacked flavor. The ice cream itself was decent. The best part was the bottom where the excess caramel sauce and cookie dough pieces congregated. If I was to make a recommendation, I would advise the cookie dough Sonic Blast over the sundae.

This was the cookie dough sundae I got from Sonic.

Old Childhood Memory – My love for magazines started when I was little. My parents kept a subscription for Highlights, a children’s magazine with iconic features such as Goofus and Gallant, hidden pictures, and the jokes page. We kept each issue and by the time I was 10 we had a bookcase full of the issues. But over the past couple of decades I have not picked up an issue…until yesterday. When we were at the library I saw the latest Highlights magazine in the children’s sections and I couldn’t help but pick it up and skim it. Did you read Highlights growing up?

I loved reading Highlights growing up.

Another Witty Marquee Message – In the past, I have spotlighted random messages put on Mellow Mushroom marquees in Myrtle Beach. I couldn’t help but do it again today. Judging by the rather light Hurricane Dorian impacts we have received up until this point, I think Mellow Mushroom is probably still open right now.

If this sign is truthful, Mellow Mushroom is most likely still open.

Don’t Be Tardy – Today is National Be Late for Something Day (I am not kidding) but you won’t find this blogger participating. As a no-frills Type A dude, my biggest nightmare is showing up late for something. I don’t think it would hurt if others adopted the same attitude.

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That’s what I got for you tonight. I hope all my South Carolinians stay safe and that things start to go back to normal tomorrow. Don’t Blink.

The Literal Calm Before the Storm

Today was kind of an interesting day. In the absolute truest sense of the term, it was the calm before the storm. The impacts of Hurricane Dorian won’t hit us until early tomorrow morning but you could feel its impending arrival. It was a gray, overcast day with an off and on drizzle. I could smell Dorian in the air.

But a dreary day with light rain is better than one with violent winds, flash flood-producing downpours, and tornado threats. With the former, you can actually do stuff. And do stuff we did.

I was fortunate that Wednesday was my least busy day in terms of work with CCU. With students evacuated and campus closed, we didn’t have too much to communicate which meant I wasn’t tied to my laptop or stationed inside the EOC. Although there was still work to be done, I was able to spend a lot of time with my family.

After an early morning workout, I prepared our yard for tomorrow’s storm. With the outside of our home ready for Dorian, it was time to do the same for the inside––which meant buying lots of hurricane snacks! Sloan and I went to the store and loaded up on sugary cereals, chips, crackers, and desserts.

Snacks on snacks on snacks.

Once we returned home and unloaded our loot, we got back in the car and drove up the street to the Carolina Forest playground. We met Sloan’s best friend, Jacqueline, and her mom, my friend and fellow CCU employee, Susannah. The girls played so well together in what will probably be their last time together until they meet again at daycare.

Sloan and Jacqueline at the Carolina Forest playground this morning.

We headed back to the house to get Sid. After I caught up on some work and took a shower, we decided to use the rare Wednesday day off to got out to lunch. Wanting to give a new place a try, we went to Chile Frito, a Mexican restaurant in Carolina Forest that opened just a few months ago. We really enjoyed it even if Sloan couldn’t stay still and dripped salsa all over her dress.

We had a great experience at Chile Frito today.

With our stomachs full, we granted Sloan’s wish to play with her cousin. Since last night, she had desperately wanted to play with Henry so we went over to Sid’s sister’s house and let the two toddlers have at it while we let our food settle.

Henry and Sloan playing this afternoon.

On the way home, we stopped at the Carolina Forest Library. We checked out several books to read to Sloan over the next few days. While we tried to find suitable reading material for Sloan, she ran around the children’s section playing with the toys and pulling books off the shelves.

Sloan enjoying herself at the Carolina Forest Library.

Sloan fell asleep on the way home which allowed Sid and I to watch the movie we checked out at the library in relative peace. “The Greatest Showman” was the film we rented and although it was decent, we both agreed that it would have been much better in the theater.

Watching “The Greatest Showman.”

Right before the credits rolled, a little voice announced that she was finished napping. We brought Sloan out with us and ate a roast dinner. As I write this, the girls are in the bathtub and I am watching Dorian news coverage. Our grand finale for the night will be “Big Brother” and mug cakes.

Well, Sloan is now out of the bath tub and watching “Mickey Mouse.” She had a great day!

With so much going on the last two weeks, it was nice to catch a breather with family. Tomorrow we meet Mr. Dorian, a fate that has me concerned but by no means shaking in my boots. When it is all said and done, I think we will be just fine. Once again, let’s pray for those who were dealt a far worst hand than us and have been devastated by this hurricane. Don’t Blink.

Ode to the Local Meteorologist

Growing up in Spokane, winters were brutal and long. The snow fell freely and we lived through some nasty storms. Aside from wearing heavy coats, driving on slick roads, and constantly shoveling our driveways, another memory I have from those seasons is watching the local news forecasts. Or, to be a little more specific, watching my parents watch the local news forecasts.

I can look back 20 years and picture my mom groaning during the local news, dreading the snow-filled forecasts from the local meteorologists. She would scan through the three local stations, catching each forecast, hoping that one would convey better news than the other. Aside from maybe an inch or two, they rarely did.
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Sidney and I watch the Myrtle Beach news stations on a daily basis. During the work week, we will usually catch a local newscast around dinner time and then I watch the morning weekend shows. But by no means do I spend an abundance of my time watching local news.

Except for when we are on a hurricane watch.

Taking a page out of the playbook of my parents, during times such as these, I will force myself to stay up and watch the 11 p.m. news. I will then watch the early shows and the plethora of broadcasts that come on from 5 – 8 p.m. Needless to say, I become a little bit of a local news junkie!

But why? As a social media nerd, I have a real time play-by-play account of every minor move these storms make. I have the Weather Channel website bookmarked on my computer. I have amateur “meteorologists” all around me and on the other side of the country (thanks, mom and dad) who are more than willing to give me the current forecast and their interpretation of it.

So, it might seem puzzling that I make the effort to be in front of my TV during certain times of the day (and put up with commercials) when I can get all the info I need just by looking at my phone.

I think I know why I do it though. No, it isn’t just because my parents did it themselves while I was growing up. Heck, who is to say that they wouldn’t have relied solely on their smart phones if that technology existed back then? Rather, it is all about the personal touch.

Maybe it is because of my vulnerability during these unsettling times, but I appreciate the comfort of a well-mannered local weather expert explaining the complexities of a potentially devastating situation in a way I can understand. To have someone on the other side of the TV screen who is in it for the long haul with me develops a special rapport (as one-sided as it might be).

These Myrtle Beach meteorologists, one in particular who is a full-blown celebrity in our area (looking at you, Ed Piotrowski), make navigating through a hurricane a little more bearable. Their commitment wins me over. These individuals work round the clock, some going live for hours on end. They serve as my trustworthy tour guide through the twists and turns of a stressful, dangerous event. They don’t take breaks, they don’t complain, and they don’t fizzle under pressure. I can respect that.

In closing, hurricane season is also local meteorologist season in the Reser household. Some people might think the local weather guy (or gal) is a bit corny, but I much rather have him in my living room than Dorian. Don’t Blink.

New Year, New Hurricane: Dorian

It wasn’t supposed to work out this way.

Unfortunately for the people of Florida, Hurricane Dorian was poised to wreak catastrophic destruction on the Sunshine State. Up here in South Carolina, we were sympathetically monitoring the situation. We wanted to be there for our southeastern neighbors while also preparing for any impacts that the Florida landfall could have on us.

This was the sentiment throughout all of last week. But then I went to sleep on Friday night…

When I woke up on Saturday morning, there was an entirely different narrative. It looked like Florida would be spared and South Carolina would take the brunt of Hurricane Dorian. Was it just bad luck or did Dorian know that she had a streak to extend? This will mark the fourth consecutive year that our area will be impacted by a major hurricane.

Myrtle Beach is now in Dorian’s path.

Since Saturday afternoon, I have been busy. I am running Coastal Carolina University’s social media response and worked all of yesterday from my living room chair. I also share the public information seat within CCU’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and spent today working from our command center on campus.

Shameless selfie taken outside of our EOC at Coastal Carolina University.

But it just isn’t the work side of Hurricane Dorian that I am worried about. As you can imagine, my family situation is what concerns me most. What will happen on Wednesday night and Thursday when the hurricane is supposed to swing by the South Carolina coast? Will our house go unscathed? Will our streets flood? Will grocery stores still have food?

Well, it is tough to say.

However, I am cautiously optimistic that we will be just fine. Although Myrtle Beach has a 76% chance of tropical storm-type winds, this weather event doesn’t scare me as much as Hurricane Florence last year. Judging by models and my own intuition (not to be trusted), I think we will escape this storm just fine. At the time, we don’t have evacuation plans. But don’t get me wrong––if Dorian’s track moves just a bit to the west (God forbid), it will be an entirely different story.

So please, don’t worry too much about us. Instead, say a prayer for those in the Bahamas and those who will face a much more violent Dorian than us. This hurricane is no joke and not everyone will be as lucky as us. Don’t Blink.

Adjusting to Fourth Grade

Well, my wife has spent more than a week as a fourth grade teacher and is starting to get settled in. After five years as a second grade teacher, the jump in grade level has provided a change of pace for Sidney. Through our conversations at the dinner table, three themes seem to stand out about her new assignment.

Sidney started as a fourth grade teacher last week. This is her today in her new “flair” shirt (you have to be a teacher to get the reference).

Dang, these kids are smart – You might be thinking duh, right? But it doesn’t just revolve around their ability to understand multiplication tables. Sure, the intellectual capacity of fourth graders is greater, but they are smarter in other ways as well. Their understanding of cultural customs and differences is superior to what it was as second graders. They also understand social principles and problem solving strategies better. The gap in overall intelligence between Mrs. Reser and her new class has closed a bit.

Same dog, same tricks – In Sidney’s class there are several students she taught in second grade. When asked how it is to re-teach these children, she famously says “I like it but I don’t like it.” These students know Sid’s style and have quickly adjusted their expectations and tendencies to conform to it. On the other side of the coin, they also know her “tricks” and aren’t as susceptible to her ploys of harmless manipulation. But make no mistake, the familiarity is more of an asset than a headache.

Starting Over – Sidney didn’t just move to a different classroom. Besides her new digs, she also has a new curriculum and a new team of teachers. She can’t rollover past lesson plans from the last half decade as fourth graders learn entirely different material than second graders. As you can imagine, developing new lessons takes time and creativity. She is also interacting daily with a different teacher team. In the second grade, Sid had the blessing of learning and working with veteran teachers who had decades of experience under their belts. She is now with a fourth grade team comprised of teachers more her age and on par with her experience level. The situation has its advantages and disadvantages but the one major reality is that becoming a well-oiled fourth grade machine will take time as Sid and her co-workers learn to work and plan together. So far, it is going great!

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I am proud of Sid for answering the call of her principal and teaching fourth grade. Change can be hard, but my wife is talented at making the most of it. Don’t Blink.