Final November Thursday Rundown

The Thursday Rundown took a hiatus last week as I ate turkey and watched football. But have no fear, I am back to squeeze in one final blog post this November. So before the last month of 2018 arrives, let’s get to tonight’s five topics.

Most Liked Instagram Photo – It is usually a good day for me when a photo I post to my own Instagram account receives 50 likes. Well, I smashed my own personal record late last week. This photo taken at my baptism over 30 years ago garnered 284 likes, easily a new record for a single post. Father Adrian van der Heijden baptized me at St. Francis of Assisi in Walla Walla, WA. Besides Father van der Heijden and myself, you have my parents and my godparents in the photo as well.

A look at the Instagram image that registered the most likes for my personal account. I was baptized at St. Francis of Assisi in Walla Walla.

Sloan’s Christmas Tree – Tonight, Sidney’s mom (Sloan’s “Gami”) brought over a personal mini Christmas tree for our little girl. Gami and Sloan decorated the tree together, making it look beautiful. What a nice project for them to complete! Next week I hope to write a blog post about the slightly bigger Christmas tree we have in our house this year. Stay tuned!

A photo of Sloan decorating her mini tree with her Gami tonight.

Advent – This upcoming Sunday will usher in Advent. For those not familiar, this special time on the Christian calendar counts down the four Sundays before Christmas. While Advent definitely helps us prepare for Christmas itself and the birth of baby Jesus, it also helps us reflect and anticipate the second coming of Christ. During mass, Catholics will light an Advent wreath. These wreaths have four candles and one is lit each Sunday. Many Catholic families have their own personal Advent wreaths in their homes as well.

Advent begins on Sunday.

YUCK! – I am embarrassed to admit this, but here it goes…
I ate pumpkin pie with mold on it this past weekend. Not only that, but I obliviously tweeted a photo of the piece I chomped down just seconds before I ate it. I did notice the white specks, but I thought they were just flour or sugar spots. I mean, it was Saturday and the pie was opened just two days earlier on Thanksgiving. Mold can’t grow that fast, right? Sidney informed me otherwise when she looked at the pie a day later and exclaimed “Disgusting! This pie has mold on it.” After I told her that I ate a slice, she made sure I wasn’t gravely sick…and then she made fun of me profusely.

The “proof that I am actually doing it” tweet was in reference to another tweet I sent asking if it was appropriate to eat pumpkin pie in the middle of the day. I didn’t realize those white spots were mold until Sidney told me.

Respect Before Rivalry – Because I am from the great state of Washington, I follow the Apple Cup, an annual rivalry game that features Washington State University and the University of Washington. Just like all the other big time rivalry games, this series is downright bitter. However, a more tender side was on display over the weekend. The Husky marching band was traveling to Pullman (site of the game) when icy conditions led to one of the buses in the contingent overturning. Although no life threatening injuries occurred, plenty of the students on board were injured and taken to the hospital. The band decided not to continue its trip. Instead, the group stayed in the area where the accident happened in a little town called George. While Washington State fans around the area brought food to the University of Washington band, the Washington State band also did something pretty neat. The Cougar musicians stepped up in the absence of the Husky musicians and practiced the UW fight song so they could play it throughout the game. A genuine classy act of sportsmanship and compassion if I do say so myself.

Pure class by Washington State University.


Enjoy your final couple days of November! Hold your family tight and make good choices. Don’t Blink.

Our Aldi Shopping Experience

This past weekend, we went to a Christmas tree farm out in the country to get our holiday photo taken. As we were leaving town, we drove past an Aldi grocery store. It sparked the interest of Sidney and I. We had a lively discussion about what we knew about the chain as we looked it up on Wikipedia. When we concluded with our photos, the reality set in that we still needed to do our Sunday shopping. It seemed like a good week to take a break from Walmart.

“You want to try out, Aldi?” I asked.
“Sure,” replied Sidney.

A photo I took of the Myrtle Beach Aldi store we visited on Sunday.

If you have never heard of it before, Aldi is a German-based supermarket chain. In recent years, hundreds of stores have popped up on American soil. Even in the United States, all Aldi locations employ a very European grocery store model. A world traveler herself, Sid knew what to expect upon going in. Myself, on the other hand, who has never ventured to a European country before, didn’t know much about what I would encounter aside from the research I did in the car.

First, let me just list the big differences that are very well-documented about Aldi (and many other European grocery stores). Yes, it is true – you put down a deposit to use a shopping cart. Upon entering the store, you slide a quarter into a cart that is “chained up” outside. Once the coin is inserted, you are able to free the cart and wheel it into the store.

It might come as a shock to some, but you pay for your own grocery bags. Upon checkout, you choose how many you want. The price, 10 cents per bag, is added to your shopping total. The bags you purchase are of a higher quality than the typical plastic sack you get for free at a normal grocery store. Wait, you think an employee will actually pack your groceries in the nice bags you just bought? Please. The cashier, who sits down at the register, is only there to ring you up. Once you have paid, you go straight ahead to an area with a long shelf to bag your own groceries. On the way out you return your car and receive your quarter back.

Sidney bagging our groceries after we checked out at Aldi.

Alright, so now you are up to speed on entering and exiting an Aldi. Let me now tell you about what you are really interested in: the actual shopping experience.

My first thought when entering the Myrtle Beach Aldi? This place is small! It reminded me more of a large deli than a grocery store. But the store is small for a reason. Aldi locations are supplied with the company’s generic brands and typically only one premium brand. Contrast this with the overwhelming options you have for everything from hot sauce to bread to ice cream at an average U.S. supermarket and you can see how Aldi can get away with small stores.

A photo I snapped of inside the Myrtle Beach Aldi.

I also noticed the basic, no frills set up of the Aldi location we visited. Forget about elaborate displays and sensory overload – at Aldi you have aisles, shelves, and product. You can forget about bakeries, specialty delis, large produce sections, or walk-in beer coolers. Think of it as distraction free shopping.

Along the same lines of the distraction free atmosphere, you won’t lose your focus people watching. When we were doing our shopping, we weren’t fighting crowds. Even with a stroller, we had no issue maneuvering through the aisles, something that caught me by surprise since it was a Sunday afternoon. But then it made sense…Aldi prides itself on efficiency. Because customers only have a couple options to choose from and because time is saved with the store’s no bagging policy, people come and go at a quick rate. Beware, customers aren’t the only individuals in short supply – if my eyes served me correctly, I only saw a single employee in the store and she was the lone cashier on duty.

The lone Aldi employee who seemed to be working on Sunday afternoon (I could have easily missed other workers).

The last thing I will touch on are the prices. Aldi is classified as a discount grocer and I would wholeheartedly agree. I found the Aldi generic products to be very similar to Walmart generic products. However, some of the name brand offerings seemed marked up in comparison to what you would pay elsewhere. Take soda for example. Aldi only offers Coke products to compete with its own soda. I found a 12-pack of Diet Coke to be almost $5 compared to the $2.99 price that is common at Walmart. However, despite the top dollar prices for top dollar brands, you can still save a lot of money at Aldi. Although I think Walmart is probably cheaper, the efficient shopping experience at Aldi might be worth the few extra dollars you might find yourself paying compared to the zoo you would find at Wally’s World.

Our shopping experience at Aldi was unique! It definitely is not your Albertsons, Food Lion, Kroger, or Safeway. If you want low prices and convenience with an international flavor mixed in, give Aldi a try. Don’t Blink.

The Best Inexpensive Gift of the 2018 Holiday Season

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, it is full speed ahead as we approach Christmas (29 days away). As people start to purchase presents, I wanted to offer a cheap, yet useful, gift idea.

It will probably go down as the best Chinese gift exchange item we ever took home! Last holiday season, Sidney scored an LED cinema lightbox at the Mathis extended family Christmas gathering. An LED cinema WHAT, you might ask? Okay, take the fancy wording out and what you have is your own personal marquee.

An LED Cinema Lightbox is a great gift idea this holiday season.

The first time I ever saw such a thing was at my sister-in-law’s house just prior to the 2017 holiday season. I thought it was really cool! Stephanie must have read my mind because she bought an additional one to contribute at the Christmas gathering. The stars aligned and Sid was holding the item at the end of the night. It didn’t take us long to put it to use.

A look inside the Christmas celebration we had with Sidney’s extended family in 2017. This was moments before the Chinese Gift Exchange got started.

Depending on the brand and model, these personal marquees vary a bit. However, most of them have three text rows and come with a pack of characters (letters, numbers, punctuation marks). You use the text rows to insert the characters to compose whatever message you desire. You then plug the board into a power source and flip a switch to illuminate the board.

This is our personal lightbox and we love it!

These personal marquees look great in the house. Put it in your living room or in the dining room to give your space an added degree of personality. When you have visitors, nothing will make them feel more at home than when they walk in and see the marquee message welcoming them to your abode.

This message greeted my dad when he visited us in October.

But in my opinion, the greatest feature of the personal marquee isn’t just a great decoration for people to see when they physically visit your home. Rather, the LED cinema lightbox is something that can be enjoyed by loved ones and social media followers thousands of miles away. These personal marquees photograph really well and make excellent content for an iPhone group message or an Instagram post. Whenever someone in my family has a birthday or accomplishes something noteworthy, I use the marquee to document it. I then snap a photo and send it off. If I want to wish my Instagram followers a happy holiday or tell a story without using a cheesy graphic, I can turn to the marquee to offer something a bit more creative.

You can use your personal marquee to create great social media content.

Options are limitless. You can use your personal marquee for much more than welcome greetings or birthday wishes. We use ours to chronicle Sloan’s milestones, keep prayers close to our hearts, utilize hashtags, mark vacations, commemorate anniversaries, and so much more. It goes without saying that we were so happy with our marquee that we bought my mom one as part of her birthday gift. She loves it!

You will never run out of ways to use your marquee.

Ready for some good news? I wasn’t lying when I said they are inexpensive. These boards run only $10 and you will most likely get $100 worth of enjoyment out of it after the first month. In my opinion, a personal marquee is the gift that everyone should be bringing to their Chinese gift exchange this year.

When Sidney’s sister (not the one who introduced us to lightboxes) got engaged, we changed our marquee to congratulate the happy couple.

If you are gifting a personal marquee to a specific person, the only thing I would make sure is that they are the type of individual who will actually use it and update it. Think about the marquees you see in front of businesses. Nothing is a bigger eye sore than when you see an advertisement for a sale that ended four months ago or when you see a “Happy Holidays” message in June. This product does require regular maintenance but that is the fun part about it!

Sloan has a lot of fun with our personal marquee.

Hope you mark this down on your list. I thank my sister-in-law for opening our eyes to personal marquees and I look forward to using ours frequently throughout this holiday season. Don’t Blink.

Thanksgiving 2018: Family

Another Thanksgiving holiday is upon us and once again we have the opportunity to truly reflect on what we are thankful for. Sure, it is important to be thankful the other 364 days of the year as well, but I think a day dedicated to the topic allows us to dig a little deeper into our souls.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

At a loss for what to be thankful for this year? Feel free to follow my lead and dedicate Thanksgiving 2018 to family.

It is my hope that most people reading this tonight will be at a table tomorrow with some family – whether that be your own blood, the family of your spouse, or great friends who you have grown to consider as family over the years. During your time together, don’t take for granted the fact that you are surrounded by people who love you. Don’t lose sight for those few hours, that in a world of over 7.7 billion people, you are in the presence of a select number of individuals who value you and care for you more than anyone else. What a beautiful reality.

Many of us have discovered that family is everything. Without our loved ones, we would lack identity, purpose, and motivation. To have those in our lives who nurture us and inspire is the best gift of all.

Now I understand that that some folks might be a little bitter from past transgressions, but that shouldn’t stop your stream of gratitude from flowing, especially on this day. In a society where people will sometimes put greed or ego ahead of family, Thanksgiving is a time to reset. If you genuinely embrace the meaning of the day, you should have a pure holiday. Apologize when necessary, forgive unconditionally.

Tomorrow, I challenge you to do this: throughout the day, constantly let your family know how much they mean to you. Then, during the blessing before your Thanksgiving meal, take note of those around you. While their heads are bowed in prayer, thank God for placing each one in your life. Say this silent prayer of thanks with as much conviction and emotion as possible. When both the communal prayer and your personal prayer conclude, and you look up at those people who you treasure, I guarantee that you will be in the true Thanksgiving spirit.

Have a wonderful holiday, my friends. Don’t Blink.


2017 Thanksgiving Blog post

Real Apologies

Last night, I praised the example set by former Navy SEAL and Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw. The target of a savage joke by a Saturday Night Live cast member, the rising political star didn’t freak out over the nasty jab. Instead of demanding an apology, he did something refreshing and commendable. Stating his belief that political correctness has spun out of control, he said he didn’t need to be told “sorry” each time someone did something that should offend him. Bravo.

Make no mistake about it, I agree with Mr. Crenshaw’s stance 100%. As a society, we need to thicken our skin and tone down our outrage levels. However, let me make this clear: The act of apologizing on a personal, non-political level is still an act of humility that we all must do frequently.

In our lives, we have many relationships: spouses, family members, friends, co-workers, etc. Many of these people we interact with on a daily basis. We do a lot for them and they do a lot for us. Because it is only natural (unless you happen to be a saint), sometimes we do something that fails to either develop or maintain these bonds. In other words, we personally wrong someone. In this instance, an apology is necessary.

As humans, we are great at expecting apologies but not very good at giving them. Admitting fault and asking for someone’s forgiveness is a very humbling act. It is basically an admission of guilt as well as a shot at one’s ego. Who wants to own up to that?!

Well, it isn’t necessarily about us. Rather, it is about the other person. It is about re-establishing the bond by acknowledging to your spouse or friend that an act (or lack of an act) caused some unnecessary pain. It is recognizing a shortcoming and admitting to it. When we confess to this, it shows the other person our commitment to the relationship.

On a different level but with the same theme of humility, it is also important that we apologize to God. We all sin and we all need His forgiveness. It is crucial to constantly pray for God’s pardon and go to confession.

An apology that is a reactionary response to a preconceived notion of what society believes to be tasteful is empty. It is only meant to humiliate and push an agenda. Apologies that come from the heart and are delivered with conviction have meaning. They heal.

As we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, find the courage to apologize to someone who deserves to hear it from you. Free your conscience and start the healing process. Don’t Blink.

An Example That Americans Can Embrace

At first, it doesn’t seem like a big deal: A comedian on Saturday Night Live decided to make fun of a candidate running for office during the mid-term elections. What is wrong with that? Fair game, right?

Unfortunately, it was a savage, insensitive attack – even by SNL standards.

Cast member Peter Davidson shocked the country when he made an appalling joke at the expense of Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL and U.S. House of Representatives candidate for Texas’s 2nd congressional district. Crenshaw, whose political party I won’t even mention because it is not important, wears an eye patch because he lost an eye in an IED explosion during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. Davidson, in a moment of what the heck are you thinking?, quipped during his Weekend Update segment that Crenshaw looked like “a hit man from a porno movie.”

Congressman Dan Crenshaw wears an eye patch because of an IED injury in Afghanistan.

Seriously? But Davidson wasn’t done. Instead, he awkwardly followed his failed joke by saying, “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war…or whatever.”

As you could imagine, the country stood up for Crenshaw. Folks from both aisles of the political spectrum in addition to average Americans expressed desire for Davidson to be held accountable. The heat was real and Arianna Grande’s former fiancé was shriveling in it.

But then something truly remarkable happened. Mr. Crenshaw spoke up about Davidson’s vicious jokes.

Stop the outrage. Cool your jets. Relax.

The target of a hit job that went so below the belt, Crenshaw urged restraint. Instead of milking the ugly and mean-spiritedness of the failed attempt at humor, he decided to refrain. Instead, he told the people who quickly came to his defense to just take a step back.

We need to stop this culture of outrage, Crenshaw communicated. No longer should we demand apologies, no longer should we expect press conferences to remedy something that offended someone else. Our society must stop craving Twitter statements and Facebook Live confessions. Every misstep, he reasoned, is not worth a “gotcha” moment that must be atoned for.

Look, I can jump on Crenshaw’s bandwagon and admit that the hunger for public apologies and out-of-whack sensitivity levels are at an all-time high. But doesn’t the Davidson attack take it to a whole new level? Shouldn’t this be the benchmark for when you better apologize as quickly and sincerely as you can?

According to Crenshaw, the answer is no.

The wisdom and humility of Dan Crenshaw must be embraced. If he can withstand such an attack on national television, perhaps we can all lighten up when someone says something that might not come across as politically correct. Instead of throwing the first stone, we can withhold our judgement and let the person who made the comment respond on his/her own terms. If the response that we desire never comes, it might be a good idea to not waste negative energy and simply move on.

This strategy, pioneered by a war hero, ended up paying off for him…

1. He won his election (congratulations, Congressman Crenshaw)
2. He cooperated with the ultimate “be a good sport” gesture, going on SNL and brilliantly participating in the Weekend Update sketch with Davidson (and receiving an apology that he never sought).
3. He was invited to write this incredible op-ed that was showcased in newspapers nationwide. Take my word for it and follow the link — he summed up his stance in a much more eloquent way than I ever could.

Being a good sport, Crenshaw went on the program that unmercifully mocked him.

It doesn’t matter what political ideology you subscribe to, we can all learn from Congressman Dan Crenshaw. In order to move forward in this country, we need to thicken our skin a little bit. Don’t Blink.

Preparing for Turkey Day Thursday Rundown

Hey, guess what? Thanksgiving is in one week! As we start the countdown, let’s also start the rundown. Here we go…

Myrtle Beach Bowl – I have made known my love for college bowl season! Thus, it brought me much joy when it was announced that Coastal Carolina University would soon hold a game of its own. On Tuesday, a press conference was held on campus to reveal that the Myrtle Beach Bowl will launch in Brooks Stadium in 2020. The game will be played prior to Christmas and will draw teams from the Sun Belt Conference, Mid-American Conference, and Conference USA. I am excited from the vantage point of being able to attend the contest in a couple years but I was more stoked that our University once again overachieved and did something really cool. The Myrtle Beach Bowl will be the first bowl to ever be played in the state of South Carolina. Just another victory for CCU.

I can’t wait for the Myrtle Beach Bowl!

Backed Up By Dear Abby – Over the years, I have mentioned a couple times in this blog the infamous stocking stuffer story. Growing up, my mom “filled” our stockings with thank you notes. As you can imagine, us Reser kids grew up writing sentiments of appreciation to everyone who kindly gave a gift or remembered us in a special way. The practice has stayed with us through the years and all three of us still remember to write thank you cards as adults. Yesterday, the below letter appeared in Dear Abby. The person who wrote it was distraught that her grandchildren don’t compose thank you notes. It made me think of my mom and how she made sure to cement the necessity of writing them in our heads. Before you ask, the answer is yes – Sloan is already writing thank you notes (or at least scribbling in them).

Well mom, even Dear Abby backs you up. Remember to write your thank you notes!

Sloan On This Date – Two years ago, Sloan was yet to make her appearance in this world. However, that didn’t stop my co-workers from having a little fun. On Nov. 15, 2016, I took this photo of the office poll that circulated regarding Sloan’s gender. Of course, the “social baby” references gave me a good laugh. Interestingly, it was a 10-10 tie on whether Sloan would be a girl or boy. Obviously, Nov. 15, 2017, wasn’t the best day of Sloan’s first year. She looks a little upset in this image, but don’t worry – I am pretty sure she was smiling a couple minutes later.

Sloan on Nov. 15, 2016 (left) and Sloan on Nov. 15, 2017 (right).

What Do You Think? Tacky Or Not? – A year ago on this date, I wrote about whether inflatable lawn decorations are tacky or not. My stance, which I still hold today, is that they are not. However, I do concede that at this point they are a bit unoriginal. But, as long as they are fully inflated and healthy looking, I have no issue with them. What do you think?

Some holiday inflatables are pretty basic, others are more involved. I took this photo in front of a reindeer stable blow up in my parents’ neighborhood three years ago.

Looking Like A Fish – I apologize, this has become almost a Throwback Thursday blog post but I want to go back in time again. Let’s rewind exactly three years ago to one of my more memorable (and embarrassing) blog posts. On November 15, 2015, I wrote about a “celebrity” that some people tell me I look like. No, it is not a model or even a human being…rather, it is an animated character. Do you think I look like Dory from “Finding Nemo”? Well, apparently some people do. You can read the post to learn more about my struggles with this comparison. Perhaps three years later I have aged out of any resemblance there used to be?

So let me ask you a question…do you see a resemblance?


The Thursday Rundown will take an obvious hiatus next Thursday. Although you won’t get five random topics next week, you will hopefully still get a couple of poorly written regular blog posts. But first, have a great weekend! Don’t Blink.

From Medieval Times to Pirates Voyage

I remember it as one of the more magical times of my childhood. When I was in third grade, my parents took our family to Disneyland. One night, my mom and dad took us off Disney property and whisked us away to Medieval Times. I had heard about the place from friends and I had seen it in movies so I was excited from the start. Amazingly so, at the end of the evening, my wildest expectations were exceeded.

It was, to put it simply, an experience. From eating delicious food with our hands to cheering on our knight to watching the show itself, I will always remember it as a very special couple hours. I still remember vividly that we were given green crowns and had to pull for the villain of the show (who appropriately lost) but it didn’t matter. Just to be in that arena is something I will never forget.

As a chubby third grader, I had a wonderful time at Medieval Times.

Fast forward a couple decades and I don’t quite share the enthusiasm for Medieval Times that I once did. I live in a tourist town that is saturated with themed dinner shows, including a Medieval Times location practically in my backyard. With all the actors about 15 years younger than me, the show doesn’t hold the mystique that it once did. Up until last week, I had not attended one of these quote/unquote “tourist traps” since I moved to Myrtle Beach.

That was about to change.

Our area boasts a show called Pirates Voyage. Staged in an arena with ships and a deep lagoon pool, buccaneers thrill audience members as they duel it out for hidden treasure. The show is extremely popular and plays for sold-out crowds throughout tourist season. But when the visitors go home for the year, the pirates have to appeal to a much tougher demographic…locals.

Last week, needing a crowd to sword fight in front of, Pirates Voyage offered a local appreciation promotion. Those of us who call Myrtle Beach home could buy heavily discounted tickets. If there was ever the perfect opportunity for all of us in Sidney’s family to see the show, now was the time. The 12 of us (Sidney’s parents, her two sisters, their significant others, two nephews, one niece, and the three Resers) purchased a row of seats and marked our calendars for Friday night.

This is Pirates Voyage, a dinner/show concept in Myrtle Beach.

Even though attending one of these shows wasn’t high on my list, once we committed to going I started to get pretty pumped for it. I probably drove my wife’s family crazy with the hourly countdown I would send to the group message thread, complete with pirate photos. By the time we walked through the doors on Friday, I was ready to be entertained.

Throughout the day on Friday, I tried to get everyone as hyped as I was for Pirates Voyage.

And entertained I was!

Although Sloan proved to be distracting at times throughout the show, the portion I did get to see was pretty good. You had fire, diving, fighting, singing, and more theatrics than you could ever want. Much to my joy, we weren’t just watching the normal Pirates Voyage show…we were watching the Pirates Voyage Christmas show! You still had all the pirate stuff but there was also “A Christmas Carol” component woven into the plot and a beautiful Nativity scene as well. Although still a little early in my books, it did the trick in igniting the holiday spirit within my soul.

The Pirates Voyage show we watched on Friday had a Christmas component woven in.

But the show wasn’t even the best part. I gorged on the food, devouring the different courses placed in front of us. From the cheese biscuit to the creamy soup to the corn on the cob to the potato to the BBQ pork to the apple turnover at the end, it really hit the spot – so much so that I finished off portions of Sidney’s plate.

Besides the show and the dinner, I enjoyed watching the stuff I didn’t pay attention to years ago at Medieval Times. I observed the servers working their tails off as they stuck to a system that allowed them to feed the entire auditorium in an efficient manner. I watched the performers interact with each other when they weren’t the center of attention on stage. I noticed how other families reacted when pirates dove into the pool or a staff member placed a big chicken drumstick on their plate. To put it simply, this time I made sure to soak in the finer parts of the production.

Sloan watching the show…my favorite photo of the night.

In my opinion, it was a Friday night well spent. In Myrtle Beach, it is easy to write off attractions simply because they are primarily meant to appeal to the tourist. However, every now and then it is okay to embrace the tourist mentality yourself – especially when you are able to take advantage of a screaming deal. In all seriousness, I think every Grand Strand resident should experience Pirates Voyage at least once. Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s Latest Shoot

Over the weekend, Sid and I decided it was time to get professional photos taken of Sloan. Although we have thousands of photos of our little girl taken by some of the best iPhone photographers you will ever meet (haha), Sloan needed to spend time with a pro. So, just over a year since the talented Brittany Mauldin (highly recommend) conducted a “sitter session” with Sloan, we once again decided to put our daughter under the bright lights of a photography studio.

This time around, out of convenience/turnaround time/value, we went to good ol’ J.C. Penney in Coastal Grand Mall for Sloan’s session. On Saturday, I hopped online and was able to schedule her shoot the next day. Thus, it was yesterday when Sloan strutted into the studio like a true diva ready to get some updated shots. Trisha was the photographer and I doubt she realized the challenge she would have that afternoon.

Sloan in the middle of her photo shoot at J.C. Penney in Coastal Grand Mall. Trisha was her photographer.

You see, Sloan is a very busy little girl. She doesn’t stay still and isn’t the best at following directions. Although we knew that Trisha would have her work cut out for her, we were impressed with how patient and kind she was with Sloan. All in all, we got what we wanted. Even though Sloan frequently would dash out of the studio or rush the photographer for her equipment, Trisha got some great shots. In tonight’s blog post, I wanted to highlight my five favorite images from the shoot.

The Money Shot – Sloan did not have her standard head shot taken at picture day at daycare because she was too hysterical. For whatever reason, Sloan was scared and uncooperative for the daycare workers and their hired photographer. At the very least, we needed to make up for Sloan’s poor behavior and get her 1-year-old “yearbook” photo. Mission accomplished. This photo does the trick in documenting Sloan at 1 year.

This was the one shot I wanted the most as a result of her session.

Hands In The Air, Wave Them Like You Just Don’t Care – My favorite photo of the shoot! This shot was taken early during the session as Trisha prompted her perfectly to put her hands up in the sky. This is vintage Sloan – silly, happy, imaginative. This one will always bring a smile to my face.

My favorite shot of the entire shoot.

Watch Out, Here I Come – You know how I mentioned that Sloan kept rushing the photographer? Well, Trisha caught her in the act. Although this photo chronicles Sloan abandoning her pose to play with the camera, no one will ever know that. Instead, they will just see a sweet little girl with a half-wild look on her face in the middle of trying to get somewhere. I like how this is an action shot that catches Sloan doing something very natural.

Love this cute action shot of Sloan.

The Daydream – This is another natural shot of Sloan. She was laying on her back and Trisha caught her with this genuine little smile. This shot is just sweet to me, I can’t say much more than that — besides that it is one of my favorites.

I appreciate this natural shot of Sloan.

Blooper – Trisha gave Sloan a wand to use as a prop. Typical of our daughter, she didn’t use it quite as intended. I like how it captures Sloan acting goofy and showing off her little teeth.

Sloan being Sloan.

For those wanting a little more, here is a collage containing a few more photos from the shoot…

Some additional photos from Sloan’s shoot.


If you find yourself needing professional photos in a short period of time, J.C. Penney is a solid option. You won’t get highly edited photos or a post on a photographer’s social media account, but that is not why you choose this option. We thank Trisha for working with us and will treasure the images she took. Don’t Blink.

Melodramatic Thursday Rundown

Good evening my readers, I hope your week is going well. I have been fighting a minor bug but nothing that will stop me from writing my most popular blog post of the week. For those who want to view some highlights of the #CCUSocialMedia Instaween event I mentioned last week and to hear my intern Katie explain why we do it, please click here. Now let’s get started…

Josh Norman – After meeting Rachel Swindler last Thursday, I had the opportunity to be around another celebrity on Saturday. All-star NFL cornerback Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins is a CCU alumnus. He returned to campus for our Homecoming game this past weekend. However, he didn’t return just to watch some football; rather, he was here so we could properly honor him for making the largest donation to CCU ever by a former student-athlete. Our field house was renamed the Marrio and Josh Norman Field House during a ceremony between the first and second quarters (Marrio is Josh’s brother). Josh also established scholarships in the honor of two professors here at Coastal, one of them being Robin Russell. The whole time he was on campus, Josh was very humble and gracious. He interacted with fans, posed for numerous photographs, honored his family, and expressed how much Coastal means to him.

I took these photos of Josh Norman when he visited CCU this past weekend.

Sloan Update – Our daughter is growing up too fast! Sloan is now quite the talker and pretty skilled at getting what she wants. She loves books but also enjoys watching “her shows” on the iPhones of mommy and daddy. Yesterday at daycare she finger painted and the OCA staff mentioned that she was really engaged in the activity, mixing the paints and identifying the colors. She has taken a liking to saying either “stop, mommy!” or “stop, daddy!” but she will just as frequently say “love you.” She is back in the routine of sleeping well at night and is excellent at saying “thank you.”

Sloan is doing great! This photo was taken outside of Oxford Children’s Academy earlier this week.

The Election That Shocked the Nation – Two years ago the unthinkable happened. In a scenario that no one saw coming, especially the mainstream media, Donald Trump defied the odds and won the 2016 Presidential Election. I remember that night really well – laying in bed, watching the coverage as the jaws of media personalities (and American citizens) dropped. Waking up the next morning after the election was officially called, I had a surreal feeling that I can still sense inside of me. In one of my most read and memorable blog posts, I wrote about Trump achieving the improbable.

Sid and I after we voted on Nov. 8, 2016.

Food For Thought – Over the several years I have posted my Life’s Little Instructions calendar pages on Instagram, I have never had a piece of advice receive as many likes as the one I posted on Monday. Take one look below and you will know why. In a world where we obsess over material possessions and make financial gain our top priority, this instruction reminds us what true wealth is. Never underestimate the fortune of true love and never try to substitute it with “things.”

My Instagram audience really appreciated this advice.

I Love Ice Cream…But No Thank You – This week, an ice cream company on the West Coast called Salt & Straw introduced some Thanksgiving-themed flavors. No, we aren’t talking pumpkin spice or apple pie – think much more extreme. The business is boasting flavors such as sweet potato casserole, roasted peach and sage cornbread stuffing, salted caramel Thanksgiving turkey, and, worst of all, spiced goat cheese and pumpkin pie. No, no, no, and no. Even for an ice cream maniac like myself, I wouldn’t touch any of those flavors.


Let us keep those who lost their lives in the senseless California bar shooting in our prayers tonight. While we do this, let’s keep in mind how lucky we are to still be alive and happy. Don’t Blink.