My Proud Daddy Moment

Since becoming a dad, I have not had a single instance where I wasn’t proud of Sloan. However, this past weekend I had a defining “Proud Father” moment.

Before I became a dad, I would probably respond to that opening paragraph with something along the lines of “How can you be genuinely proud of a 9-week-old?” I mean it is not like Sloan’s brain is developed enough to ace a test. She can’t even crawl at this point so she can’t accomplish an athletic feat. She isn’t talking yet so she surely can’t blow us away with her singing voice.

But when you become a parent of a newborn, you immediately realize what being proud means. It isn’t about achieving something that society deems as an accomplishment. Just the fact that your baby happened to start as a speck in the womb, grow into an actual infant, and then enter the world is reason enough to be full of pride. However, like I said, Sloan recently provided me with a specific prideful moment that I will always remember.

On Sunday, I took Sloan to church by myself. It was my first real time taking Sloan somewhere without anyone else. I walked into St. Andrew carrying a car seat with a big diaper bag draped over my shoulder. I navigated the crowds and found a seat at the end of a pew. I then crossed my fingers that my daughter would make it through the mass.

This was Sloan and I after mass this past Sunday.

I kept Sloan in her car seat for most of the service. Because she was semi-covered and because she was a perfect angel, fellow parishioners who were fixated in prayer didn’t really notice the baby at the end of the row.

After we recited the Lord’s Prayer and offered the sign of peace, I knew it would be just a couple minutes until I would remove Sloan from her car seat and take her up to the altar with me for Holy Eucharist. I knelt down with the congregation as we recited the important words of Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. At that moment, as the eucharistic ministers approached the altar, I sat back up in my pew. I then slowly and gently took Sloan out of her seat and cradled her in my arms.

The couple behind me immediately cooed and asked her name and age. I answered their questions and they remarked on what a beautiful baby she was. Little did I know that this would be just the tip of the iceberg.

By that time, the communion line had started. Sloan and I were seated in the front half of the church but we were in one of the back rows of the particular section. Not only that, but because of our location, we (well, I) would be receiving the holy sacrament from the priest himself right at the front of the church. Thus, we would be walking past a lot of rows and a bunch of people to get to Father Jose.

I had the pleasure of taking Sloan right down the aisle of St. Andrew Catholic Church and straight up to the front of the altar.

The usher gave our row the signal to ease into line. Sloan and I moved from one end of the row to the other and then took a right to head toward the altar.

At that moment, I swear I knew what Sidney felt like the day she walked down the aisle at our wedding. I kept my eyes either directly on Sloan or straight ahead but I could feel eyeballs looking right at me. Well, let’s be honest, I could feel the eyeballs looking at Sloan. It was such a beautiful feeling, one I couldn’t really even find the words to describe to Sidney when we got home. The whole way down I could sense the gazes and hear the ever so light gasps of the people celebrating mass that day. When I finally reached Father Jose he had his wide grin once again. He gave me my host and then gave Sloan her blessing.

On the way back to our seats I could again feel everyone looking at Sloan. Although I still looked mostly straight ahead, I did shift my eyes back and forth as we walked back. I could see smiles.

Upon returning to my pew I was hit with emotion from not just receiving Jesus’ body but also from the reception that Sloan got. Even though I had absolutely no scientific evidence that people actually were indeed touched by Sloan, the feeling I had in my heart was proof enough. I was one proud daddy.

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With Sloan’s presence now out of the bag (ummm…I mean out of the car seat), parishioner after parishioner came up to me at the end of the mass to say what a precious little girl I had. Although the compliments were so sweet and nice, it still didn’t beat the feeling I had walking down the aisle with her.

When Sidney and I talked when I arrived home, she told me that there is just a sweet spot that people have for a daddy by himself with a little baby. I would say her assessment is right. I know I spent most of this post bragging but it was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you God for blessing Sloan with her mama’s looks. Don’t Blink.

A Day We Were Dreading

A day came today that Sidney was dreading. After nine weeks of maternity leave, she returned to the classroom in her role as the best 2nd grade teacher in the world. Her students were overjoyed to have their teacher back and Sid was also happy to be reunited with her class. But even those with the coldest of hearts know that returning to work after two months of bonding with your firstborn is hard.

Understandably so, some tears were shed yesterday as we came to grips with the looming reality of what Monday would bring. However, as bedtime approached, Sidney impressed me. Completely motivated, she prepared Sloan’s bottles, clothes, and other items for daycare. She put things in order for her own first day back at school as well. She went to sleep with everything ready to go for what would be a tough day.

This morning, Sidney was so strong. She rose right when her alarm went off, got ready, and then got Sloan ready. She didn’t let emotions overcome her and just focused on remaining positive. When she dropped Sloan off at the home where she will stay over the next two weeks, Sid kept it together. Along with the physical logistics of packing for Sloan, it was obvious that Sidney had mentally prepared for this morning as well. I was so proud of her.

It was a tough 24 hours but our little family is reunited now and very happy.

Make no mistake about it, Sid was not the only one dreading this day. I didn’t want this morning to come either. First and foremost, it is tough to see your spouse in pain. It broke my heart to see Sidney going through such a difficult time. But to be honest, I was also battling her return to work for my own selfish reasons. My own day in the office would no longer be the same. No longer would I receive Facetime calls “from” Sloan. No longer would I get descriptive updates from mommy on how our little one was doing. No longer would I get Snapchats and photos of my daughter enjoying her day. No longer would I get the peace of mind knowing that Sloan was in the loving care of her amazing mother.

But if Sidney could get through it, so could I. The strength she has shown with this situation has rubbed off on me.

There is a major silver-lining in all of this: Sidney only has two weeks of work left before summer vacation (I can hear all my readers yelling Oh come on, that’s it?! Toughen up, Brent!). Before we know it, Sid and Sloan will be back to spending every single minute together. This is a major comfort to the two of us but it still didn’t take away the difficulty of dropping Sloan off this morning.

I truly admire the way Sidney handled this inevitable, but tough, situation. As I write this tonight, our little family is back together and we couldn’t be happier. We know these next several days will fly by and then the best summer ever will begin. Don’t Blink.

Thursday Rundown Time

Good evening to all my readers! I hope everyone had a good Mother’s Day and that your week has gone smoothly up until this point. It is now time for my latest Thursday Rundown.

Mother’s Day Recap – We had a very pleasant time celebrating Sidney’s first Mother’s Day. It started off by her walking into the living room to find her gift (Sloan and I gave her a Fitbit). We then enjoyed a lazy morning/early afternoon laying in bed and watching a few different movies. Later on in the day, we went out with Sidney’s family to one of our favorite restaurants for Mother’s Day dinner. After hanging out at my in-laws’ house for a bit, we came back home and cuddled with Sloan. What a great day!

The photo at the top is what Sidney saw when she walked into the living room on Mother’s Day morning. In the polka dot bag was a Fitbit.

Three Years – This past Tuesday marked three years for Sidney and I being together. That evening I made an Instagram collage that looked back on the four different May 16 dates we spent together. Reminiscing at the different years is fun but the best part is noticing that a third person joined us for this year’s photo.

A look at the four different May 16s we have spent together.

Movies Watched This Weekend – Although Sidney and I can’t really go to the movies that much anymore, we can still watch them at home. This past weekend we viewed “Mona Lisa Smile,” “The Ugly Truth,” and “Couples Therapy.” If I had to say which one I enjoyed the most, I think I would have to go with “Mona Lisa Smile.” I had no idea what it was about when Sid chose it on Netflix but I gave it a chance and actually liked it. Great choice by my wife!

Sloan Photos – Yesterday, Sloan became a 2-month-old. We took her to the pediatrician today for a scheduled appointment and everything looked great. Time is going by so fast! Here is the latest photo collage with images from this past week.

Here is the latest Sloan photo collage.

From the Archives – One year ago on this date, I wrote about a big controversy that centered on brownies. I weighed in with my opinion. On May 18, 2015, I blogged about a certain tragedy that happens way too often and that literally keeps me up at night. Then, three years ago, I wrote about one of Myrtle Beach’s most signature and controversial events. If I had to pick one of these three posts for you to read, I would probably recommend the one from 2015.

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Have a great weekend! For us here in South Carolina we will continue to soak in the sun. For my friends in Montana, I really hope the snow melts soon. Don’t Blink.

Eating Peanut Butter Pasta

This past weekend, Sidney made me a unique dish I had wanted to try for a few months. Back in January, I briefly wrote about peanut butter pasta in a Thursday Rundown. This delicacy became known to me when I watched an episode of Trisha Yearwood’s Southern Kitchen cooking show in which she used peanut butter as her main ingredient in all the dishes she prepared. While the peanut butter cookies, cake, and pretzel rods all looked delicious, it was the pasta that really stood out to me.

On Saturday evening after church, our little family stopped by the grocery store. As we discussed what we wanted to have for dinner, I made the suggestion that perhaps it was a good night to try peanut butter pasta. Sidney agreed! We started cruising through the aisles picking up the ingredients we needed: ramen noodles, chicken, frozen stir-fry vegetables, chili sauce, a lime, soy sauce, and PEANUT BUTTER.

Back at home, it only took Sidney about 30 minutes to prepare our special meal. Before I knew it, we were sitting at the dinner table with a bowl of peanut butter pasta in front of each of us. It was time to dig in!

My first bowl of peanut butter pasta that Sidney prepared for me.

Our initial reaction? We both liked it! However, as we continued to eat, Sidney changed her opinion. Although I was still loving the pasta as I finished off my first bowl, Sid wasn’t too crazy about it anymore. I served myself a second helping while Sidney didn’t quite finish her first.

I enjoyed the peanut butter pasta because it was spicy, nutty, and hearty. It also had incredible texture as peanut butter is an ingredient that settles well on pasta and brings other ingredients together. However, there is one dynamic with this dish that might separate those who like it from those who don’t. Even though peanut butter goes great on celery, some might not like it on other vegetables. The veggie medley we purchased had carrots, broccoli, and peppers in it. Some might believe that those items don’t go as well with peanut butter as perhaps jelly does. But it definitely didn’t deter me.

A couple final notes – I added a topping to my pasta that the recipe didn’t call for. At the grocery store, I had thrown a small can of peanuts into the cart. Before I started eating Sidney’s cooking, I sprinkled some on top. Last night when I ate leftovers I once again added peanuts along with some crushed red pepper and extra soy sauce to make up for the flavor that was potentially lost after sitting in the refrigerator.

Also, peanut butter pasta is much more of an Asian-inspired dish as opposed to an Italian one. Unfortunately, garlic bread or parmesan cheese won’t go well with it. The word “pasta” is a bit deceptive. Whatever you call it, however, I believe the combination of ramen noodles, peanut butter, and spices is a winning one! Thanks to Sid for making me a wonderful dinner. Don’t Blink.

Accepting Advice Before Buying The Ring

Two years ago on this date I walked out of the office into the bright sunshine. It was the first Friday of the summer hours schedule at Coastal Carolina University so it was just past 1 p.m. I hopped in my car and instead of driving back to my apartment to hang out at the pool I battled traffic en route to Coastal Grand Mall.

I walked inside the shopping center and went straight to a certain store. I approached the counter, pointed at what I wanted, and made the purchase. For the price and significance of the item, the quick way I went about doing my business surprised the clerk just a bit. However, I was a man who knew what I wanted.

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The buying of an engagement ring is not something a guy takes lightly. As I mentioned above, it carries with it far more than just financial implications. The act of purchasing that rock is the first step to securing a life of happiness with the girl of your dreams.

Buying the engagement ring allows you to take a huge step toward marrying the woman of your dream.

With so much riding on the big purchase, the added anxiety of wondering whether you are getting your hopeful fiancé something she actually wants to wear the rest of her life could send any dude over the edge. Because I wanted to prevent a heart attack, I had picked Sidney’s brain beforehand to gauge what type of a ring she might want.

Well, to be honest, “picked Sidney’s brain” doesn’t truthfully describe it. It was more like tell me exactly what you want.

This photo is from the night I asked Sid to marry me. Because I asked Sid exactly what she wanted, I didn’t stress over whether she would like the ring or not (instead, I stressed over whether she would say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’).

Some men are fly. They have great fashion sense, smoke expensive cigars, and speak numerous foreign languages. They also know jewelry. This type of guy can discuss the finer points of diamonds and identify a ring his partner will waste no time showing off to all her friends.

This is not me. Until my wedding ring was slipped on my finger, I had never worn a piece of jewelry in my life. Because of this, Sidney and I started talking about engagement rings the moment we thought our relationship might be heading in the direction of “til’ death do us part.”

Luckily this wasn’t an awkward discussion. Sidney was very honest and told me exactly what she wanted. At first, she had a ring picked out online that she wanted. However, fear of purchasing something so important from the internet combined with the advice we received from a jeweler friend turned us in a different direction.

This is the actual photo Sidney took inside of Zales once she put the ring on for the first time. She then sent me the photo so I knew exactly what she wanted.

Sidney found a ring she liked at Zales. She went to the store by herself, tried it on, and took photos. A short time later we went to the mall and looked at it together. The ball was now in my court.

A few weeks later on that sunny May day, I confidently purchased the ring. The moment I walked out of the store I had an overwhelming fear come over me…You better not lose that little box. After taking my own photos of it when I got home, I stuffed it into a corner of my apartment closet. About six weeks later, I presented it to Sidney.

I had a celebratory beer after I bought the ring when I got back to my apartment. I thought it was a really cool idea at the time to take a photo of the ring with the bottle.

Listen up guys, don’t be embarrassed to ask your girlfriend about her ring preference. It is imperative that you get it right. Sure you will show your cards a bit about your future plans but at the same time it will give your girlfriend reassurance. Be sure not to neglect that important conversation. Don’t Blink.

Happy First Mother’s Day, Sidney

Today is definitely a special Mother’s Day. It is the first one where I have someone to celebrate who happens to be the mom of my daughter. Talk about an important day!

Happy Mother’s Day, Sidney!

Although Sidney’s venture into motherhood would be considered short by some, she has definitely proven herself. Since finding out she was pregnant in late July up through Sloan turning 8-weeks-old this weekend, Sid has encountered her fair share of challenges. However, never once did she let her “mother guard” down. Since we started our journey as parents, I have consistently observed some distinctive qualities of a great mom in Sidney. Just a few of them…

Sidney has exhibited many great mother qualities.

She is loving. Sloan has received no shortage of kisses, “I Love You’s,” and soft spoken words from her mommy. However, it is the loving touch exhibited by Sidney in every moment she has had with Sloan that makes it clear to all that she is a mother full of adoration for her daughter. Actions speak louder than words.

She is dedicated. Sidney is the Cal Ripken Jr. of the motherhood world as she does not take a day off. Sloan never goes to bed worrying if her mom will love her with the same abundance the next morning because Sid has already demonstrated her unwavering commitment to her new role. Although a woman with a lot of responsibilities and pursuits, Sidney has left no doubt that the title of “mother” is her greatest and most important identity.

She is selfless. Reminding me much of my own mom, Sidney puts Sloan before herself at all times. There is never a question about it. Sloan eats before Sid eats, Sloan sleeps before Sid sleeps, Sloan has her needs met before Sid has her needs met. It is a given.

She is knowledgeable. Years serving as a nanny and working a job at a baby store molded Sidney for future motherhood. When we had Sloan, she took what she learned in the past and combined it with her genuine, natural intuition. This combo has resulted in a mom who knows exactly what she is talking about and acting on when it comes to Sloan. She is truly a mom beyond her years.

She is empowering. Sidney helps me succeed as a dad. She tells me I am a great father, the best compliment a guy can ever get. She also works hard to put me in the best position possible to get the best results with Sloan. Her guidance and patience continues to reinforce to me that we made the best decision ever to become parents.

Thank you Sidney for being such a great mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Sidney. Sloan and I love you so much and are very proud of you. Don’t Blink.

This Is My Thursday Rundown for 5-11-17

Welcome back to Don’t Blink. Wherever you are, I hope you are getting some decent spring weather. Here we go with my latest Thursday Rundown…

Date Nights – Sidney and I spent part of a couple evenings this past week enjoying time together. On Saturday night we attended an Alice In Wonderland-themed Kentucky Derby party where we watched Always Dreaming gallop to victory. Then, last night, we attended a Coastal Carolina baseball game. The evening was absolutely gorgeous as we chomped down on ballpark food and relaxed in the friendly confines of Springs Brooks Stadium. Although the Chants ended up falling to the College of Charleston, 6-5, it was a pleasant experience. Thanks to Sidney’s family for watching over Sloan in both instances!

Sidney and I enjoyed our date nights at the Kentucky Derby party (left) and the Coastal Carolina baseball game (right).

So Much Energy – It was revealed yesterday that LSU’S head football coach, Ed Orgeron, drinks 8-10 energy drinks PER DAY. If I just drink ONE energy drink per day my head is spinning and my heart is pounding. To think about a 55-year-old man downing 10 Rock Stars in eight hours makes my body want to explode for him.

How can a person drink 10 energy drinks in a day?

New Great Value Ice Cream Flavors – Last summer, the world was stunned when the Walmart brand of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream was judged superior by Sidney over such powerhouses as Ben & Jerry’s and Blue Bunny. Empowered by the results of the blind taste test, I no longer felt embarrassed buying the Great Value brand. Last weekend, I noticed that more flavors are now available. Great Value has stepped up its game by offering more creative options such as an I Love Peanut Butter flavor and a Smores flavor. But what captured my taste buds was the Banana Puddin’ flavor. A banana flavored ice cream infused with a whipped cream ribbon and loads of vanilla wafer pieces, you might find yourself going back for another bowl. In my opinion, it is a perfect selection for the upcoming summer season. Next time you are at the ice cream aisle in Walmart, make sure to buy generic!

Banana Puddin’ ice cream by Great Value is something that both Sloan and I really like.

The Latest of Sloan – Each day, Sloan seems to get cuter. Likewise, each day I seem to grow as a dad. It is the perfect combination! Life is good and there is no greater joy than coming home at the end of the day and seeing my wife and daughter. Here is the latest photo collage of Sloan.

The latest photos of Sloan Anne Reser

Still Enjoying Southern Fast Food – Three years ago on this date, I ate at both a Waffle House and Bojangles for the first time…talk about a calorie binge! Both restaurants offered a tasty dining experience and 1,095 days later I still enjoy both places. However, I definitely eat at Bojangles more than Waffle House. There is a location right next to our house as I am quite fond of the Cajun filet biscuits for breakfast and the chicken rice bowls for lunch/dinner. A day later on May 12, 2014, after my arteries became unclogged, I blogged about the epic day of Southern fast food cuisine.

Three years ago on this date, I ate at Bojangles (left side of collage) and Waffle House (right side of collage) for the first time in my life.

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Thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend and most of all make sure to have a very happy Mother’s Day. Don’t Blink.

Books I Can Read To My Daughter

From the time I was a baby to even after I could actually perform the skill myself, my parents read aloud to me (and my brother and sister) every night. This routine helped make me become not just a better reader as I went through school but an avid reader later in life. It also gave me great memories of a large quantity of children’s books my mom and dad introduced me to over my childhood. My siblings and I still fondly discuss our favorites.

Just like my parents did with me, Sidney and I have already started reading to our daughter. We have a modest selection of books we have purchased or been given and yesterday Sloan received her first book via Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. However, there is something missing from our story repertoire.

This week, “The Little Engine That Could” arrived in mail for Sloan via the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

I currently don’t have any books meant specifically for dads to read to their daughters. All of them seem to center on a mother figure or feature a son. I usually try my best to adjust. For example, if I read Sloan “Love You Forever” I will swap the female pronouns used for the mother out with male pronouns to represent me and I will trade the male pronouns used for the son with female pronouns to signify Sloan. I am not the best at doing this and beyond just the hassle of substituting words I would like to read a book that specifically addresses the father-daughter dynamic.

Now I know I could easily Google “father-daughter children’s books” and get a huge list of a million titles. However, I would rather get the best of the best from my readers who either are actual parents themselves and can relate or from daughters who had these type of books read to them growing up. I want personal, experience-based advice as opposed to search engine convenience.

Your suggestions will mean a lot. I have already told my family that if they dare get me a Father’s Day gift, I would like it to be a dad-daughter book I can read to Sloan. If you give me a recommendation, there is a chance I might be the owner of it next month.

But enough about Father’s Day!! We have the real holiday coming up this Sunday and I can’t wait to celebrate a certain person’s (wink wink) first Mother’s Day.

In the meantime though, I would still appreciate suggestions. Help us build our “Sloan Library” with some great stories her daddy can read to her. Don’t Blink.

Hitting the Streets to Exercise

It seems like just yesterday I was writing about a change to my cardio routine. I noted that I was departing a bit from my indoor track workout and mixing in sessions on the treadmill a couple times a week. But since January I have added a new wrinkle to my running regime: I am starting to run outside.

When Sidney gave birth to Sloan, I was able to enjoy a week off with them at home. I didn’t hit the gym during this time but I did do something to get my blood pumping. Each morning I would briefly escape and run around the neighborhood for 15 minutes. I would venture out on a course I mapped out that measured in at a little over two miles. It was a nice change of pace (pun intended).

In my opinion, running outside is in some ways easier and in some ways harder than running inside on a track or a treadmill. When you have scenery to admire as you run, it takes some of the monotony out of your workout. You do tend to forget to a degree the stress of the run and you focus more on what is going on around you. Taking note of people’s pretty lawns, watching neighbors start their cars, jetting past kids waiting for the bus, and soaking in the natural fresh air give you some diversion from the fact that your heart is beating out of your chest.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t state that running outside does have its drawbacks. When you are inside, the elements are controlled. When I walk outside my house and begin my trot, I don’t know what I am going to face. Granted, I do live in Myrtle Beach and normally the weather is excellent. But there is always some presence of a wind and if you are running against it, you are definitely exerting more energy (and feeling it too!) than if you were at a gym. Even the humidity here in our part of the country, just at small levels, will zap your energy. Besides the weather, the whole running on pavement thing isn’t ideal either. It doesn’t do our feet any favors when we stomp them on asphalt or cement, something that I am reminded of when I wake up the next day and have that trace of soreness.

But when it comes down to it, I enjoy the benefits of running outside more than the drawbacks. Why? For me, I think it is about community. When I am exhibiting my less-than-stellar running form for all to see in my Carolina Forest neighborhood, I do feel a little more connected to those who live around me. To be honest, I am not the neighbor who goes door to door introducing myself to everyone. Thus, when I run, it gives me a more comfortable way to feel in touch with where I live.

Although I am not home on paternity leave anymore, I still try to run in the neighborhood. This morning I hit the streets because the gym was closed. On weekends when I have indulged in junk food a little too much I try to atone for it by going for a run. Best of all, I now have the sense that even if I can’t get to the gym I have a great option for cardio right outside my door. Now I just need to start pushing myself to run harder and longer. Don’t Blink.

A Transitional Time

This past weekend was spring commencement at Coastal Carolina University. Our institution staged three ceremonies over the course of two days. I feel our social media coverage improved from prior commencements as we were able to pull off a couple things I had been shooting for since this past summer. But for once, this weekend wasn’t solely about social media strategy to me.

This weekend I had the pleasure of watching several students I grew close to walk across the stage and shake our President’s hand. These particular students happen to be people I pretty much met when I arrived at Coastal three years ago (I celebrated my anniversary on May 1). They served on my #CCUSocialMedia Student Advisory Group and we kept a line of communication open as the days, weeks, semesters, and academic years went by. It is very bittersweet to see them go. Congratulations to all.

Now summer has arrived. Well, I think it is more like “summer.” Students have now left campus. Activity on Prince Lawn will dramatically decrease. Special hours will start this week and I will get off on Fridays at 12:30 p.m. So yes, in a work sense, summer is here!! However, summer doesn’t really start for me in my mind until June rolls around, Sidney’s school year ends, and it starts staying light out past 9 p.m.

But that doesn’t mean I am not going to enjoy the rest of May. It will be extremely nice to have a few weeks at work to recharge, get caught up, and evaluate the past academic year. Outside of the office I get to use the rest of this month to watch Sidney enjoy the remainder of her maternity leave, witness Sloan continue to do one cute thing after the other, catch some baseball games, and enjoy Myrtle Beach before it becomes outright tourist season very soon.

A new phase has definitely started as of 10 a.m. yesterday. Time to ease into it and enjoy it.  This is the calm before the storm as the meat of the summer, June and July, will be action packed months for the Reser family. Don’t Blink.