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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
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.