A Year Defined By Three Months: 2018

This special end of year blog post is dedicated to Bill Plate, the vice president for University Communication and CMO at Coastal Carolina University. Bill was the man who hired me and if not for his offer to join the team at #CCU, my life would not be nearly as fulfilling as it is today. On Jan. 4, Bill will work his last day at CCU. He has accepted a similar position at Utah State. He will be deeply missed and I will always remember how he positively impacted my life.

Going into 2018, I anticipated a change of pace. For the first time since 2013, I didn’t anticipate a major life event defining the year. With a move across the country (2014), an engagement (2015), a wedding (2016), and the birth of a child (2017) highlighting the past four years, I looked forward to 52 weeks of simple living in 2018.

For ¾ of the year, that is what happened.

From January – June and October – December, life was routine and relaxed. We worked our jobs, watched Sloan grow, and took everything one day at a time. We weren’t really building toward one big event, which, after several years of doing so, was kind of nice.

It is kind of intriguing to see how 2018 shifted when you look at the calendar. As I mentioned, life was smooth and predictable the first six months of the year. But after June 30 passed and the second half of the year began, the stakes were raised…at least for the first three months.

July was characterized by career mobility. With no major personal milestones taking place in 2018 (marriage, birth, etc.), I told those closest to me that I wanted to focus on reaching my full potential in the higher education digital industry. It all came to a head later in the month when I had a big decision about how I wanted to do that. I ended up accepting a promotion with Coastal Carolina University, becoming the assistant director for digital media. To continue working at an institution I love while staying close to Sid’s family was a big win.

Then came August. Those scorching hot days were spent preparing for a move! With our decision to stay in Myrtle Beach for the foreseeable future, we found a beautiful house in our desired location. If you have moved houses before, you know it is a monumental task. Despite it being an extremely busy month even without moving to a new home, we managed to pull it off thanks to the help/encouragement from Sid’s parents and our friends.

Of course, we will always remember September. Hurricane Florence took us on a roller coaster. The week leading up to landfall was emotionally taxing. One day things would “look good” and the next day things would “look bad.” We stopped playing games once national weather personalities and local meteorologists put Myrtle Beach in line for a direct hit. We evacuated the state and spent several days in Jacksonville, Florida. Although our community escaped catastrophic damage, the hurricane did lead to terrible flooding. Coastal Carolina didn’t hold classes for over two weeks. Horry County Schools shut down for a total of three weeks. It was a surreal time filled with frustrations. However, we escaped unscathed and the experience brought our little family closer together.

Things slowed down once October hit and would continue at the leisurely pace throughout the remainder of the year. But don’t think that nothing worth writing about happened during the first six months of the year or the final three. While July, August, and September might have defined the year, the other months brought highlights of their own. To name a few…

Sid started her fifth year of teaching, I started with the Knights of Columbus, and Sloan started at a brand new daycare. These endeavors widened our social circle and brought great people into our lives.

We traveled out west during the summer to visit my family and we vacationed at Lake Keowee with Sid’s family. My parents visited us in the spring and my dad returned for a few days in the fall. We attended a reunion for Sid’s mom’s family in October. We capped the year off with a short but sweet trip back to Spokane.

We spent countless days marveling at Sloan’s growth and laughing out loud at her silly and loving personality. We worshipped at St. Andrew and grew in our faith. We held gatherings for our friends and attended their functions as well.

Basically, we thrived as a family and it was so rewarding.

Now 2019 is on our doorstep. I once again have a big goal that would define the year. Will it come to fruition? Only time (about 12 months of it) will tell. Thanks to everyone who played a role in our lives during 2018. We value you and hope to continue to cultivate our relationships in the new year. Nothing but the best over the next 365 days! Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018

For the fifth straight year, I am proud to continue a cherished Don’t Blink tradition. At the end of each December, I countdown my top 10 favorite posts from the expiring calendar year. Because this entry celebrates the best of the best and because I name a #1 blog post of the year, I affectionately refer to what you are reading right now as the Big Blog Post.

My blogging productivity dipped to under 200 posts this year. It was my first full year as a daddy and toddlers require plenty of attention. I still managed to publish content 190 times in 2018, meaning I wrote on more days than I didn’t during the year. Picking 10 posts out of 187 (the best 5.2%) is still a monumental task.

I hope you enjoy my 2018 Don’t Blink countdown. I think there is a little bit of everything in this year’s edition. As always, when compiling this list I rely mostly on my personal favorites but I also take into account the reader response as well. Thank you for another great year of blogging.

10. The Problem With Brent (August 7) – When you have a name like mine, you better be ready to face adversity. In this post from late summer, I explained how, because of a single letter, I am frequently called something that deviates from my birth name. I dug into the vault and offered up a couple stories from my childhood that dealt with “being a Brent.” This post was silly and carefree but it was also fun.

What could be bad about having the name “Brent”? I gave the details in 2018.

9. A Wedding Clipping to Save (July 2) – In early July, the Royal Wedding was still fresh in my mind, so when I read a newspaper clipping describing an extravagant nuptial event, I almost thought it was about Harry and Meghan. Oh, no. Rather, it was from 76 years ago when my grandma and grandpa got married. I was blown away by the detail used by the local Walla Walla newspaper when reporting on the happy day at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in 1942. In my post I dissected the tabloid-like article and shared some of the finer points. In all honesty, I learned more from writing this blog post than I did with any other in 2018. To visit a different age of journalism, be sure to read this one.

This article was written about my grandparents’ wedding.

8. My Top 5 Favorite Beers (May 23) – In 2018, I wrote “top 5” lists for everything from vegetables to ice cream truck treats to mac & cheese spinoffs. But nothing compared to the list I did on beer. I wrote from the heart and put down the beers I genuinely like best. But oh man, I got torn apart! What can I say? I am definitely not a beer snob. This post generated so much engagement that I still get made fun of on a daily basis for my bad taste in beer. Sounds like a successful blog post to me, right?

You can’t go wrong with Bud Light. Photo is of me with my cousin Cody in the summer of 2017.

7. A Disappointment for Myrtle Beach (January 3) – It was as if Christmas was about to come twice. The year was only a couple days old when Myrtle Beach forecasts started to call for snow. Local meteorologists predicted with utmost certainty that Winter Storm Grayson would bring our area something that we only get once in a blue moon.  On the night when the dump was to occur, all the area stations had news crews out on the streets and kids were bundled up in their winter clothes ready to play once the white stuff started to fall. It wasn’t meant to be. I chronicled one of the biggest disappointments of the year, explaining the weather bust through the eyes of a snow-deprived region. My post was retweeted by the popular hot-shot weatherman Ed Piotrowski and was a resource for heartbroken beach bums who just wanted to see some snow.

Myrtle Beach was supposed to get 3 inches of snow! We ended up getting absolutely nothing.

6. The Journey of Lent (February 14) – In order to truly celebrate the holiest day on the Christian calendar, we need to prepare. This was my main point when I published my first post about Lent in five years. Although I made it clear that it is important to perform our Lenten deeds in a private manner, I also made the point that we can (and should) journey through Lent as a community. In my opinion, there is no better time for spiritual growth than the 40 days prior to Easter and I used this post to explain why. Because this entry was a little deeper than most of the stuff I write and because it addressed some misconceptions that society might have about Lent, it was a no-brainer to give it a spot in the countdown.

Lent is both for the individual and the community.

5. Our Impromptu Trip to Disney World – Heading into 2018, I never thought we would visit Disney World. Then again, I never thought we would be evacuating from our home either. Because we fled to Jacksonville to avoid Hurricane Florence, the opportunity to visit Disney World presented itself. We seized it. This blog post outlines the one-day experience we had at the happiest place on Earth. From the rides to the parades to the food, I documented it all. Complete with numerous photos, this blog post spared no detail about the sweltering hot afternoon we spent at Magic Kingdom. 

In 2018, we made an impromptu trip to Disney World. I wrote about it in great detail.

4. Happy 1st Birthday, Sloan – If I wanted to be really annoying, I could have filled this entire countdown with blog posts exclusively about Sloan. Instead, I tried to limit myself. However, no self-restraint could keep me from leaving off the birthday tribute I wrote in honor of Sloan. On March 17, I expressed how she changed me as a person. I looked back on her first year and looked forward to her second. I issued gratitude to those who played an instrumental role in Sloan’s initial year of life, giving special thanks to my wife. Sure, it was a little sappy, but was it warranted? Damn right (Bonus: The Top 10 Moments From Sloan’s First Year).

Sloan sporting her new sunglasses during her birthday party.

3. Evacuating (September 12) – The time has come. We are activating our family evacuation plan. With those words, I wrote one of the more emotionally-charged blog posts in the history of Don’t Blink. The night before I published this entry, all news outlets had shifted Myrtle Beach into the direct path of Hurricane Florence, forecasting a devastating result. In a state of vulnerability, I wrote about the uneasiness of what could possibly happen to our home and city while also admitting my relief that we were getting far, far away. Florence ended up sparing Myrtle Beach and thankfully my fears expressed in this post never materialized. However, the words still remain and each one carries with it the authenticity of a regular guy who could do nothing but move his family out of harm’s way.

We prayed to God that our home would be protected.

2. Remembering That Special Moment (August 13) – A year after Sidney surprised me with the news that she was pregnant, I decided to reveal how she did it. All it took was a Curious George stuffed doll and a sign to do the deed. I was at work, completely focused on the tasks of the day, when I received a picture message from Sid. I looked at it and just about had a heart attack (out of surprise of course). I immediately called Sidney and asked her to explain, half thinking that she must be talking about getting a dog. She confirmed that we were going to be parents and it was one of my happiest and most surreal days. My social media and blogging audiences were tickled by the story and I enjoyed giving Sidney credit for what she did, thus making this post the 2018 runner up.

Sidney told me the good news with this photo.

1. Our Fierce Fighter (April 25) – At the end of April, Sidney published something significant to Facebook. For the first time, a year after the fact, she made it publicly known that Sloan was critically ill with a rare condition called Pyloric Stenosis. It took us time to come to grips with the traumatic experience but on this particular night Sid wanted to speak out. Her purpose was simply to offer support to other families who might have a baby with PS.

Using Sid’s act of bravery as motivation, I followed up the next night with a blog post. I wrote about the emotions we felt as parents as we watched our baby daughter throw up any and all food that entered her system. I testified to the undeniable fight we watched Sloan exhibit throughout the entire frightening experience. I also made sure to offer education on what Pyloric Stenosis is and how it can be treated, heaping praise on Dr. Robert Cina (the head surgeon who performed Sloan’s procedure) and his entire crew at MUSC.

My post was shared on Pyloric Stenosis social media pages and I was put in touch with parents who were going through the same thing we did with Sloan. Because I believe this blog post actually helped people (opposed to the 1,500+ other posts I have written that are just annoying), how could it not be #1 for 2018?

During Sloan’s bout with Pyloric Stenosis and for over a year afterwards, we kept it between immediate family. Sidney and I are so thankful for the support of our parents. This photo shows our moms and dads with Sloan at MUSC.


This post is always a joy to write. Thanks for looking back with me as we jumped from month to month to identify the best of the best in 2018. For those on the fence about starting a blog, consider the pleasure of going back and reviewing your work over a period of time…I love it! I hope to bring you more content in 2019 that is worthy of a countdown such as this one. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

The Holidays Are Just Getting Started

What a blessed Christmas holiday we enjoyed! We attended the Christmas vigil mass at St. Andrew on Christmas Eve and it was beautiful. We followed it up by spending Christmas day with Sid’s family. We gathered for breakfast and presents in the morning and then reunited in the evening for a delicious prime rib dinner.

It was a great Christmas day with Sid’s family.

Yes, Sloan absolutely loved all the Christmas festivities. Her playroom is now a unicorn utopia and if you are ever in our neck of the woods please stop by, Sloan would love to cook for you with her new kitchen set.

Sloan received a lot of Unicorn “stuff”, a kitchen play set, and other items.

The Christmas holiday for us is far from over. Today we make the long trip to see my family in Spokane. I have shared the logistics of getting there several times before but for those who need a refresher, this is what we have in front of us: We will leave Myrtle Beach at noon to drive to Charleston to catch a 5 p.m. flight. The plane will take us from coast to coast as we will land in Seattle. We will then do a little bit of backtracking via a short westward flight from Seattle to Spokane. My parents will pick us up at Spokane International Airport at 12:30 a.m.

We can’t wait to spend time with my family during this holiday season. I think they are going to flip out (in a good way) when they see how much Sloan has grown and what a silly, social little girl she has become. It will be a short trip, with barely enough time to shake our jet lag, before we head back to Myrtle Beach early in the morning on New Year’s Eve. But we fully intend to make every single minute count and we are just so happy to see everyone that the duration of the trip doesn’t really matter.

Watch out Spokane! We are coming for you.

The next time I post to Don’t Blink will be for my special end of the year blog posts. On Dec. 30 I will publish my Top Ten Blog Posts of 2018 and then on Dec. 31 I will publish my reflective year in review. I hope you will keep your eyes open for both of those posts.

Until then, I hope you enjoy your holiday week. If you have a couple minutes, please pray for our safe navigation across the country and for plenty of stamina for Sloan. Happy holidays! Don’t Blink.

Merry CHRISTmas

Good morning, my loyal readers! On this significant day, let me warmly wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas.

Sloan ended up on Santa’s “nice list” and had a kitchen set (and other various items) waiting for her this morning. She is an extremely happy camper and can’t wait to join her cousins as we open up more presents at Sid’s parents house a little bit later.

A look at how Sloan’s gifts from Santa were arranged in her playroom after he arrived last night.

Now I know you don’t need some annoying blogger to tell you this, but just humor me for a few sentences. The point of today is to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. It is to reflect on the fact that God allowed his son to be born of humble origins to set the stage for a major event 33 years later. It is to admire the dedication and trust of the Holy Family.

We need to remember the reason for the season.

Over time, other traditions, many of the secular variety, have developed. Sometimes they co-exist with the true reason for the season and sometimes they completely replace it. Who am I to judge those who embrace traditions such as the one I opened this blog post with (Santa)? Have you read my blog post before? I am one of the biggest nerds when it comes to Kris Kringle, Christmas movies, and Yuletide treats.

In my opinion, as long as we don’t allow the commercialization of Christmas to overshadow the birth of Jesus Christ, we can enjoy some of the mythical traditions we have grown up with. However, there must never be a doubt about the true reason for why we are celebrating.

As we mark Christmas today, take plenty of time to reflect and pray. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Don’t Blink.

Holiday Fever Thursday Rundown

Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve! Thanks for hanging out with me again on a Thursday, I hope you enjoy tonight’s five topics. Let’s go quickly so you can get back to watching your Christmas movie and eating your sugar cookies…

Sloan’s Christmas Program – It was adorable watching Sloan “perform” at her daycare’s Christmas program this past Friday. Oxford Children’s Academy did such an awesome job getting all age levels prepared to go on stage. The program was structured in a way that the 4-year-olds performed first, followed by the 3-year-olds, followed by the 2-year-olds, etc. Sidney told me that she already had tears in her eyes during the 4-year-old performance! You can imagine the state she was in once Sloan got up there. Sloan’s classroom dressed in their pajamas and she made sure to match with her best friend, Jacqueline. The night before the performance, Susannah, Jacqueline’s mom, went out and bought the same pair of Santa PJs that Sloan has. It was so cute seeing those two girls “twinning” together.

Sloan and Jacqueline dressed for the OCA Christmas program in matching Santa Claus pajamas.

Baby Shark – Sloan used her daycare performance to warm up for another singing engagement later that night. Our family went to a holiday karaoke party for people within my department at work. We had a great time, even if I did embarrass myself singing Justin Bieber. But the highlight was when Sloan performed “Baby Shark” with the other kids at the party (the “other kids” happened to be the son of Lindsi and the daughter of Brentley – people who were mentioned in last week’s post about the CCU holiday video). Any parent of a toddler has this song engrained in their head so it was actually a nice change to hear a “re-mix’ of it.

These little people brought life to the karaoke party by performing “Baby Shark.”

Fire Truck Santa – Growing up, I think one of the more magical moments from the Christmas season was when Santa would ride through the neighborhood late at night. It was always a special scene to see a procession of fire trucks with lights flashing leading Santa Claus through the streets. Last night, we were putting Sloan to sleep when I noticed red flashing lights poking through our front window. The sound of the siren confirmed what I thought it was. I grabbed Sloan and dashed outside in enough time to see the parade. Santa of course brought up the caboose as he enthusiastically waved at Sloan and threw her a candy cane.

Creative (and Delicious) Christmas Gift – Earlier this week, my co-worker gave me a unique Christmas gift. Scott presented me with a glass jar full of cookie ingredients. Attached to the jar was a tag that had baking instructions on it, displayed in the handwriting of his young daughter. I am kicking myself for not taking a photo of the jar because it was presented in such an aesthetically pleasing way that I wanted to take off the lid and chug the sugar/brown sugar/M&M mix. I did, however, get a photo of the final product. Sidney made the cookies that night and let me tell you, they were absolutely incredible. Big time props to the Dean family for coming up with something so fun.

These cookies were so delicious!

Top Five Christmas Carols – Earlier this month, I revealed my top 5 favorite Christmas movies. However, three years ago I listed my top 5 favorite Christmas carols. On this date in 2015, I made it known that although I enjoy classic carols the most, I can still have a good time with the wacky songs as well. Follow the link to find out what my all-time favorite carol is.


Can you tell I have the holiday spirit? These next 11 days are special so make sure to savor them – it really is the best time of the year. Don’t Blink.

Corn Dogs: A Culinary Delight

This past weekend, Sid and I got dinner at MOD Pizza. However, we knew Sloan would be happier with something else so on our way home we stopped at the Sonic drive-thru. We gave Sloan her options from the kid’s menu and she decided on a corn dog.

We arrived home and the adults started in on their pizzas and Sloan picked up her corn dog. As she securely held the stick and took her first bite, Sid looked at me and made a confession:

“I actually really like corn dogs.”

Sloan eating her Sonic corn dog this past Saturday night.

Well, no wonder we got married, I thought, I do too! Although I didn’t say those exact words, I confirmed to Sid that I feel the same way. That, of course, got us on a conversation about corn dogs.

We both agreed that on this planet there is no better corn dog than the one that is freshly dipped at a county fair. But that is a given. Even if you claim to hate corn dogs, you will most likely chow down on one at the fair.

However, don’t think for a moment that Sid and I are fair-weather corn dog fans. It doesn’t matter if it is a frozen corn dog from a box or one that has stayed under the glass a bit too long at the gas station, I will most likely eat it. Just three quick reason why corn dogs are so great…

1. How can you beat the combination? I have a tough time turning down a beef frank covered in deep fried batter. The two naturally go together, creating a food that is much more cohesive than a hot dog.

2. There isn’t a more convenient food to eat than a corn dog. It is the perfect item to enjoy while on a road trip. You can easily eat one without fear of creating a mess and they are easy to chew/digest. Although you have a stick to dispose of, I find that the usefulness of it easily trumps any inconvenience it might cause.

3. A corn dog can be a snack or a meal. If you are trying to hold yourself over until dinner, just eat a corn dog…it won’t ruin your appetite. Better yet, eat a couple mini corn dogs! But don’t feel bad serving corn dogs for main course either. Cook up a bag of French fries and pair it with two corn dogs for each person in your family for a yummy and filling meal.

Never have the attitude that corn dogs are beneath you. Instead, embrace them as a fun, convenient, and, most importantly, delicious culinary delight. Don’t Blink.

The Advantage of Rising Early

The magazine Inc. recently published a story that claims “the world’s most successful people start their day at 4 a.m.” The article listed the times that many successful CEOs set their alarm clocks for. As you can probably guess, most of those times range between 3:45 – 4:30 a.m. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

There is something to say about getting up early. As a consistent 4 a.m. riser myself – no, I am not a CEO nor enormously successful – I wouldn’t have it any other way (except on weekends haha). There is a psychological benefit to rolling out of bed when the rest of your neighborhood is still fast asleep. The feeling of having a head start behind the backdrop of peaceful serenity is a great way to start the day.

But, as you could probably imagine, I don’t get up several hours before the sun rises solely for the endorphins. The early wakeup call is also due to having a toddler. Sidney and I quickly found out that free time to do hobbies and personal pursuits is pretty much non-existent when Sloan is out of her crib. Thus, by getting up at 4 a.m., I give myself around 2.5 hours (we always cross our fingers that she sleeps until 6:30 a.m.) to go to the gym, write in my journal, develop blog posts, and get ready for the day.

The CEOs featured in the article all get up really early but they differ in respect to how they utilize their predawn time. About half use it for business purposes while the other half use it for leisure/self-improvement reasons (like me!). In my opinion, I don’t think it is so much how you use your time but rather that you simply use it. We have a limited number of days on this planet and those days are broken down into hours. Why spend more hours unconscious than what we really need?

Sidney and I each get a day during the weekend to “sleep in” until about 9 a.m. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy it when my morning comes to stay in bed while my wife tends to Sloan. But I think I would get discouraged and feel like I was missing something if I was able to sleep that late every day.

I wish simply getting up at 4 a.m. would automatically make me as successful as the CEOs highlighted in the story. However, I don’t do it to get rich. Rather, I do it for the opportunity to be productive and to be in control of a couple glorious hours each day. Don’t Blink.

Our Christmas Season Traditions

I recently realized I have written blog posts detailing my Thanksgiving traditions and New Year’s Day traditions. However, much to my surprise, I haven’t written about my Christmas traditions. Hmmm, I guess I should probably do that tonight, right? Well, sort of. This evening I want to identify some of my Christmas season traditions, not Christmas day traditions (a whole different ballgame). So, without further ado, let me offer up seven December traditions that I practice on an annual basis.

Christmas Light Neighborhood Tour – Every year, typically the weekend before Christmas, we get in the car and drive around a couple neighborhoods looking at Christmas light displays. We tune the radio to a Christmas station and listen to carols as we cruise. My parents did this with us as kids and I have continued it with Sidney. It is always so peaceful and beautiful!

We love cruising around neighborhoods checking out Christmas lights. This house is a Disney-themed one we see every year.

Christmas Vacation Viewing Party – By party I mean two people…me and my wife! We extended this tradition for a fourth year recently as we tuned in to AMC for one of the station’s many airings of the movie. As usual we laughed excessively at the embarrassing antics of Clark Griswold and Cousin Eddie. Although we don’t necessarily sit for the entire film (we take care of chores and tend to other holiday preparations), we do watch the majority of it together. Just wouldn’t be Christmas without the Griswolds.

If we watch “Christmas Vacation” in November, we still watch it in December as well!

Hot Chocolate and Carols – Another tradition that originated with my parents was a special hot coco session. Back in the day on a mid-December evening, my parents would make a big batch of hot chocolate. They would serve it to us in mugs and allow us to top it with marshmallows and whipped cream (but not with Bailey’s and Amaretto that they liberally helped themselves to). My mom and dad would dim the lights in the living room, turn on Christmas carols, and illuminate the tree. With the fireplace crackling and the aroma of the tree swirling around the space, we would enjoy fellowship and Christmas magic anticipation. Sid and I have adopted this tradition and we actually did it last night! My creative wife brought a new element to the tradition by making delicious s’mores.

This is how I like my hot chocolate! (I actually drank this exactly three years ago today).

Christmas Cards – I geek out over Christmas cards! It is not like we do anything elaborate, but I get all warm and fuzzy with sending loved ones and friends a holiday greeting through the mail. Our process is probably the same as yours: we get our photo taken, choose a card layout, place an order, buy stamps, address the cards, and send them off. I love it! Sidney allows me to address and write inside of each card and I just really enjoy it. Our 2018 supply was taken to the post office this weekend so make sure to check your mailboxes this week!

Holiday Parties – The holiday party circuit is a time to eat, drink, and be merry! Sidney and I have a couple annual gatherings that we try our best to attend every year. I embrace the opportunity to celebrate the season with others while making sure to always be grateful and behave.

Sidney and I definitely enjoy the holiday party circuit.

Confession – There is no better way to prepare for the true meaning of Christmas than with a pure heart. Many churches will hold communal reconciliation services in December, meaning that priests from all over the diocese will come to hear confessions at individual parishes. It is special to take advantage of the sacrament during Christmas time with your fellow brothers and sisters right there with you. When you leave the church that night, you feel rejuvenated and ready to celebrate Christ’s birth.

There is nothing that will prepare you better for Christmas than going to confession.

Christmas Eve Gift Exchange – Usually late at night on Christmas Eve, Sid and I sit down in the living room and exchange gifts. No matter how hectic the Christmas season has been, we always feel absolutely at peace during that moment. In addition to the presents we exchange, Sid drinks out of a special Santa mug that was passed down to her. The Christmas spirit, full of festiveness and love, is always in the air during that hour.


We hope to develop more traditions in the ensuing years, especially ones that pay homage to the true reason for the season. But we got a good start as our little family works toward putting our own unique stamp on this very special time of the year. Don’t Blink.

A Winning Thursday Rundown

Good evening to all! With it mid-December, I am starting to feel pretty jolly and I hope you have similar feelings as well. I am excited about this week’s Thursday Rundown so let’s get started.

First Place – Sloan’s daycare, Oxford Children’s Academy, is always offering fun events and community building activities. To celebrate its birthday (which was on Dec. 11), OCA challenged families to make a video commemorating the milestone. If you know me well, it will come as no surprise that I couldn’t resist. Sloan, Sidney, and I sat down and recorded a video from the heart. It was announced today that we won first place (and a $50 tuition credit)! To watch the video, click here. As we reflect on our many blessings this holiday season, one thing that sticks out is how fortunate we are to send Sloan to such a loving daycare.

As part of Oxford Children’s Academy birthday festivities, a photo booth was set up. We are so pleased to send Sloan to OCA and completely honored to have won 1st place in the video competition!

Sloan’s Santa Saga – As I mentioned last week, Sloan has Santa issues. This past weekend, we tried to make some progress with her phobia. We attended a delicious Breakfast with Santa event put on by the Knights of Columbus at St. Andrew. Unfortunately, the tears still flowed when we put her on Santa’s lap. But, there was a bright spot (other than the food)! The Knights of Columbus must have some type of “in” with Santa because he brought Mrs. Claus with him. It turned out that Sloan loved his better half. At the start of the breakfast, Mrs. Claus was guiding Sloan around the beautiful tree that was set up in our church’s community center, pointing out different ornaments. By the end of the breakfast, the roles were reversed! Sloan was taking Mrs. Claus by the hand and excitedly pointing at what was hanging from the branches.

Sloan didn’t warm up to Santa at the St. Andrew Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast but she did really enjoy Mrs. Claus.

Christmas Music Program – Last week, the 2nd graders at Palmetto Bays Elementary School staged their holiday music performance. Wanting to show our support, Sloan and I surprised Mrs. Reser a couple minutes prior to the concert. Sid was so happy to see us! Throughout the performance, Sloan danced her heart out and tried to rush the stage. It was pretty cute. Sloan will have her chance to be the center of attention tomorrow as OCA will hold its Christmas performance.

Sloan couldn’t be contained at the Palmetto Bays 2nd grade Christmas program! She just wanted to dance and rush the stage.

Another Holiday Comic Laugh – I can’t help but share these funny Christmas-related comics so I hope you don’t mind. Poor Santa, little does he know about the evolution of his image over the years. I just hope Amazon was able to exchange his purchase for something that will be a little more suitable for Christmas Eve.

Santa was definitely “off the mark” on this.

Interesting Articles – I wanted to share a couple of interesting articles I read last night. The first one is from the New York Times and tells the hilarious story of a Utah government worker who had an email disaster. Intending to send a holiday potluck email to her small unit of workers in the Utah Department of Corrections, she accidentally sent it to all 22,000 government workers in the state! The “reply all” responses that ensued are hilarious!

The second article was sent to me by Lindsay Hickman, a current grad student at CCU. The story describes a near-impossible assignment given by a professor at Missouri State University. The faculty member, holding the belief that it is much harder to go viral than people think (I agree!), challenged his students to do just that. He thought there was no chance that his students could succeed in reaching 7,000 people, let alone 7.75 million. To find out what this group did to get so many views, click here.


It is crazy how fast everything is going. My last day at work for the year will be next Friday! Speaking of a year that is quickly coming to an end, be sure to make these last 18 days of 2018 count. Hope you all have a great weekend. Don’t Blink.

How #TEALnation Determined the #CCU 2018 Holiday Video

Click here to watch the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video

It happened again.

A couple of my fellow University Communication staffers once again teamed up to create a Coastal Carolina University holiday video that delighted our campus and did our institution proud. And, like previous years, Lindsi Glass and Geoff Insch decided to offer something that was completely different from previous editions. However, I think they went out even more on a limb in 2018 than ever before.

In 2017, we gave our audience something they had never seen before with a holiday video by going sentimental. We took an even greater leap this year.

Can you guess what they did?…

Wait, hold off. I will answer that question in one minute. Let me start by telling you the premise of this year’s video. In an act of homage to the past 11.5 months at CCU, Lindsi, our senior director of marketing, and Geoff, one of our production managers, recapped the many accomplishments and milestones that transpired. They did this by incorporating significant Coastal Carolina moments from 2018 into a popular Christmas song – Jingle Bells! Lindsi wrote catchy CCU-inspired lyrics to the tune of the classic carol and Geoff did his magic with the camera. With a CCU student providing the vocals and a campus community eager to help us shoot the scenes, we had all the components of an awesome, memorable video.

The 2018 #CCU Holiday Video follows its predecessors as a real winner.

But, like I said, Lindsi and Geoff thought waaaaay outside the box this year. The duo wanted to let #TEALnation have an active voice in deciding what the video would look like and the story that would be told. They knew they could turn to a reliable “friend” for help: Social media.

We debuted our 2018 #CCU Holiday Video late this morning.

From the start of the project, Lindsi and Geoff wanted social media to play a major role in building the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video. Their vision was to allow our social audience to vote on the scenes they wanted to include in the production.

We used Instagram Story (IG: @ccuchanticleers) to allow our social media audience to decide which scenes they wanted to see included in the video.

They invited me to the brainstorming meetings to discuss how we could best accomplish this. We came to a consensus that utilizing Instagram Story, notably its “poll” option, would help us reach our goal. A byproduct of using Instagram Story was that it would help us “reach” something else – a very important audience at CCU…our students.

We used the poll feature on Instagram Story to gather precise results on what our social media audience wanted….yes, they wanted more cowbell.

Of course allowing our social media audience to vote on the scenes entailed twice the work. Lindsi and Geoff had to shoot scenes that would never make it into the video. For example, one day we asked our Instagram audience to decide whether they wanted to see CCU staffers hanging holiday lights in Wall Building or Academic Building II. Wall Building ended up winning, meaning that the scene that was shot in Academic Building II never made the video’s final cut.

This particular Instagram Story generated the most votes out of all the scene selections.

Quick explanation about how this worked on Instagram. Three times each week over the span of two weeks, we included video of two different scenes that were shot for the holiday video on our Instagram Story. Using the poll feature that allows users to vote between two choices, we offered the scenes for the day. The scene that generated the most votes after 24 hours was included in the video while the losing scene was left on the cutting room floor. My small contribution to this year’s holiday video was teaming with my intern, Katie, to build out these Instagram Stories and moderate the voting.

We showed all scenes in actual video in our Instagram Story, meaning that Geoff had to shoot scenes that he knew would eventually never make it in the final video.

After our last scene selection ran this past Monday, we had a video on our hands that was genuinely molded by the Coastal Carolina community. By casting thousands of votes, our social media audience decided SEVEN of the scenes that we incorporated into the final version. How about that for quality engagement?! Thanks to the work of another CCU staffer, Brentley Broughton, we have a website that documents the scenes that were selected by our social media users (and the ones that were not).

This year’s video turned out awesome…thanks to #TEALnation (and Lindsi and Geoff).

This year’s video has personality and spunk. Chauncey plays the saxophone, dancing is widespread, a central theme is evident, President DeCenzo is having fun, numerous campus groups are showcased, and the qualities that distinguish CCU are captured. Not to mention the beautiful drone footage and other campus beauty shots that really make the video stand out! Needless to say, the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video is a success.

A screenshot from the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video. President DeCenzo had a great time participating!

Although it is sometimes uncomfortable to take a chance and go outside the box, especially in higher ed, it can pay off in a big way. Much credit to Lindsi and Geoff for doing something that quite simply isn’t done in the industry that we work in. On a special note, I want to thank our #CCUSocialMedia audience for rising to the occasion and making some great scene decisions. Don’t Blink.

2017 #CCU Holiday Video Review
2016 #CCU Holiday Video Review