The Office Thursday Rundown

What’s the word, my friends?! Turns out a Thursday Rundown was in the cards for this week after all. For your reading pleasure, I present this week’s five topics…

St. Patrick’s Day Fun – Because Sloan was born on St. Patrick’s Day, we have to celebrate accordingly, right? People remind us constantly that this will mean something else in about 19 years. But for a 2-year-old, dressing up in green with her daddy and going to the local St. Patty’s Day parade is the wholesome way to do it. We went to North Myrtle Beach and enjoyed the Irish spirit and numerous floats. Sloan was good for the most part and perhaps we might make it a tradition.

Sloan and I prior to leaving for the St. Pat’s parade in North Myrtle Beach.

Changing Offices – A project in the making for about a year recently came to fruition this week. It was determined that it would make sense if all our University Communication media-based services were under one roof. So, the photography department and social media department abandoned Laurel Hall and moved to join video production in Hampton Hall. All of us are excited for this arrangement. We already work so closely together that it feels great to now communicate by walking down the hall as opposed to making a phone call or sending an email. It also makes it much easier on campus constituents who now only need to go one place for their media needs. My office is a work in progress but I hope to spruce it up soon.

I had the wall in the back painted teal! Excited to get my new office set up.

World Down Syndrome Day Today is World Down Syndrome Day. At Sloan’s daycare, they encouraged the children to participate in the #LotsOfSocks initiative that is associated with the day (you simply wear crazy socks). Whether you wore colorful socks or not, today is a good day to reflect on how we treat people with disabilities. All life is sacred, no matter if we have a physical or mental handicap. In society we need to treat people with disabilities, from the time they are in the womb to the day they die, with accommodation and compassion.

2019 NCAA Tournament – The Big Dance started in earnest today and I am happy to be along for the ride. I no longer watch it as obsessively as I used to, but I still follow it. I will be pulling for Gonzaga and Montana to keep winning until they would play each other in the Elite Eight. This is a great time of the year and I hope plenty of memories are made (although how do you top a #16 seed beating a #1 seed like last year?).

In 2015, I traveled with the Chanticleer men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament. I won’t be at a site this year, but I hope to watch some of the tournament on TV.

Throwback Photo – I thought I would sneak in a retro photo to end today’s rundown. This is me with my sister. We are having a stuffed animal party, much like the ones Sloan enjoys. I want to say that this might have been prior to a themed day at school based on the book “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.” I wonder if any of those bears in this photo are still around? What do you think, mom?

Chilling with our teddy bears.

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I am looking forward to a quiet weekend. Whether yours is low key or hectic, I hope it is at least enjoyable. I will catch up with you all next week. Don’t Blink.

Bear With Me

Good evening! I hope everyone is having a great week so far. I wanted to quickly check in with my readers and explain why I haven’t written since this Sunday when I published Sloan’s birthday post.

Things have been BUSY and I have been a bit exhausted. My parents recently wrapped up their visit and plenty is going on at work including an office change. Add to that a string of late nights and early mornings and I am finding myself playing catch up – both with sleep and extracurriculars, such as my blog.

However, things will eventually slow down and my fatigue will subside. At that time my blogging juices will be flowing and I will be publishing content, which is a good thing, because I have a lot to write about! Next week expect pieces on my parents’ visit, Sloan’s birthday, and my experience at Topgolf.

But you might not have to wait that long! There is a chance I might mess around and write a Thursday Rundown tomorrow. You will just have to wait and see. Thanks for your continued support of this blog. Don’t Blink.

A Year of Growth: Happy Birthday, Sloan

Today my little girl is 2. How did 730 days go by so fast? As I reflect on the latter 365 days of her life, I think I can sum it up this way: Gosh that was fun!

Having a 1-year-old was an incredible experience. Complete 180 from the first year, which was an incredible experience as well, but just so different. Instead of us managing a baby, we were being managed by a toddler. In a way, it kind of relieved some stress when it came to decisions; nothing like deferring to your daughter to make them for you 🙂  

Sloan started off her time as a 1-year-old with a birthday party surrounded by friends and family.

The development from someone’s first birthday to their second birthday is insane. Two facets really stick out to me about Sloan’s growth…

A look at Sloan and myself (notice the same shirt) on March 17 in 2019, 2018, and 2017.

First, her intellectual capacity increased greater than I could have imagined. From saying basic words like “dada,” “mama,” and “bye bye” when she turned 1 to now talking our ears off, her vocabulary and reasoning skills soared. Our little girl now says the alphabet, sings songs, and recites prayers. Her daycare teachers, grandparents, and people at church marvel at her abilities. Over the past year, at the end of each day, Sid and I would swap notes on something new she did. It was neat to watch her progress and observe the wheels moving in her head.

It has been a great year for Sloan and our family.

Second, and most rewarding, has been watching her express emotions. Sloan is loving. She makes Sidney and I feel like the most important people in the world when we walk into a room. She melts our hearts when she says “I love you, daddy/mommy.” She changes our entire day for the better when she gives us a random kiss. She energizes us when she runs from 20 feet away to give us a hug. She is affectionate and sweet, attributes I am trying to cherish, because I know the degree to which she worships us in the present won’t always be the case in the future. Her capacity to love, so passionately demonstrated over the past 52 weeks, has challenged us to love even greater ourselves.

Thanks for the laughs this past year, Sloan.

It has been a good year for Sloan. She has stayed healthy and prospered at her daycare. She has played hard during the day and slept well at night. She has become attached to a couple stuffed animals but also developed friendships with little girls and boys. She loves books but has discovered the magic of iPads and iPhones. She enjoys hamburgers, fruit snacks, pasta, and bananas but can be extremely picky at dinner. She has proven that she can sit still but prefers to be untamable 95% of the time.

Sloan has made many friends throughout the year. This is her with her best friend, Jacqueline.

Sloan’s time as a 1-year-old contained some highlights. She visited Disney World. She flew back-and-forth across the country…twice. She moved houses, changed daycares, and grew in all her teeth. She attended an air show, dressed up as a unicorn for Halloween, and played on jungle gyms across Myrtle Beach. She visited the zoo, “bowled” at the bowling alley, and encountered marine life at the aquarium. She ate at Chick-fil-A for the first time and developed a love for McDonald’s hamburgers. Aside from bugs that affect all toddlers, she stayed healthy and met all benchmarks for growth.

As evidenced by the first photo in this blog post, Sloan has changed physically quite a bit in the past year. However, her sweet heart she was born with still has not changed.

This past year, Sloan lived with happiness, curiosity, and love. She continued to endear herself to those around her. She gave Sid and I countless proud parent moments and always started and ended our day with a smile. Today we celebrate Sloan’s second birthday. We will look forward to the “terrible two” year but also reflect on what was a very special past 365 days. Sloan, your mommy and I think the world of you and are very proud of you. Happy Birthday!! Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s Second Birthday Thursday Rundown

It is an exciting time to write a Thursday Rundown. We are approaching Sloan’s birthday weekend and my parents flew into town yesterday. Why hold this up any longer? Let’s get started…

Parents in Myrtle Beach – This year, my mom and dad selected Sloan’s birthday weekend to make their annual trip to Myrtle Beach. My parents arrived yesterday afternoon and are blown away by Sloan’s development just over the past few months. Saying their goal is to spend time with their granddaughter and give Sidney and I time to spend together, we are so thankful that “grandma and papa” are here.

My parents with Sloan tonight.

Cake Heaven – This past weekend, we ordered Sloan’s birthday cake. We went into Coccadotts Cake Shop and ordered something that will fit her party theme. Next week I will explain more and publish photos of the cake. But for now, the purpose of this Thursday Rundown topic is to discuss how much fun Sloan had inside the store. As she ran from one side of the counter to the other, leaving her fingerprints all over the glass, she kept saying “birthday cake! birthday cake!” She didn’t really like being told that she would have to be patient until next weekend but I think the wait will be worth it.

Sloan got pretty excited in Coccadotts on Sunday.

Social@Coastal – A project I had envisioned for a couple years came to fruition last week. Thanks to the direction of our social media specialist, Anthony Bowser, a spotlight on the student influencers at Coastal Carolina University made its debut on Friday. Called Social@Coastal: #Influencers, this campaign features the social media innovators on campus who have distinguished themselves in the digital world by building large audiences. Senior public health student Taylor Freeman, an Instagram model, led us off. She explained how she achieved influencer status and how CCU helped her along the way. By doing this campaign, it is our hope that we can provide our audience with excellent content on some of our most creative students while also developing relationships with our influencer population. You can view Taylor’s feature by going here.

Our Social@Coastal: Influencers campaign made its debut last Friday.

He’s Not Here – About 12 months ago, I started going to a different place to get my hair cut. Although I liked the previous place I frequented, it was hard to get an appointment. They say everything happens for a reason! I now go to He’s Not Here, a barbershop just for men. Not only are the cuts great, but you get the full treatment. I am talking a scalp massage, hot towel facial, and straight razor neck finish. I had definitely not experienced something like this in my life until I made the switch a year ago. If you want to treat yourself, try out He’s Not Here on Broadway Street in Myrtle Beach and ask for Chelsea!

He’s Not Here is located on Broadway St. in Myrtle Beach (photo courtesy of Yelp).

Dear Soon-To-Be First Time Dads…  On this date two years ago, I confessed in a blog post that I had a lot to learn about becoming a dad. Anxious and nervous when writing it, I found comfort as well. How so? I knew that my wife was a baby pro and extremely excited to teach me how to be a great parent. With Sid’s guidance and the love I felt immediately when Sloan was born, the transition from childless to daddy was smoother than what I thought. Ironically, when I wrote this post, I thought I had several weeks until my daughter would come. Not so. I published this post on the eve of when Sidney would go to the hospital and the doctor would make the decision to start the induction process. Sloan would be born less than 72 hours from the blog post going live.

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Well, I got parents and an almost 2-year-old girl to tend to. When I write next, there won’t be anything “almost” about it. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t Blink.

Morning Motivation

I don’t usually post in the morning, which is a shame, because mornings are really important. I think we have all had experiences when we wake up and dread getting out of bed. It could be because of fatigue, dark and cold outdoor conditions, stress of the particular day, or a myriad of other factors. We have all been there.

But I think if we truly view each day as a gift and the morning as the opportunity to set ourselves up for maximizing its possibilities, we won’t dread our alarms as much.

I highly recommend taking advantage of the early morning to complete a self-improvement task before starting your real-life responsibilities. Whether it be going to the gym, reading a book, or working on a blog post, do something to start the day off right. Get the good vibes flowing and improve your chances of making the next 12-15 hours successful.

Things are looking up, my friends. We are entering a time of the year when mornings will be more tolerable naturally. The days are getting longer and the weather is getting better. If you are lucky, you might be able to now hear birds chirping. The dark days of winter are starting to transform into the radiant days of early spring.

Don’t just seize the day but seize the mornings. As spring approaches, challenge yourself to be motivated in those early hours. Develop a positive routine now so that when the bleaker months come around next year, you will be ready to conquer. Don’t Blink.

Returning to the Surf Dreams Foundation Mac-N-Cheese Cookoff

Three years ago, I scratched something off my bucket list: I judged a macaroni and cheese contest. An inaugural event called the Surf Dreams Foundation Mac-N-Cheese Cookoff was trying to make some noise in the community and I wanted to get involved. I participated in a social media contest and won a coveted role as one of the judges. I had a great time.

Sid and I at the inaugural Surf Dreams Foundation Mac-N-Cheese Cookoff in 2016.

After you do something as prestigious as help declare a winner in a macaroni and cheese competition, you can’t do much to top it. So, I stayed away from the 2nd and 3rd annual Surf Dreams Foundation Mac-N-Cheese Cookoffs. I figured allowing a few years to pass was a good thing before showing up again.

Just a couple days shy of the three-year anniversary of when I realized my macaroni and cheese fantasy, I returned to the festival. This time around it wasn’t an inaugural event. Instead, it was a much bigger and better organized event with numerous area restaurants participating. In fact, the 4th Annual Mac-N-Cheese Cookoff had grown so much that we had to be shuttled to the event site.

Sidney and I returned to the Mac-N-Cheese Cookoff on Sunday.

But the cookoff wasn’t the only thing that had grown; my entourage had too. Sloan joined us on Sunday to eat some mac and cheese in the sun. This year the festival was on the premises of Sara J’s Seafood Restaurant and we wasted no time purchasing sample tickets. Before we knew it, we were chowing down on different versions of my favorite dish.

The 4th annual Mac-N-Cheese Cookoff was much bigger and better than the inaugural event. This photo is of just one of the “aisles.”

Many of the macaroni and cheese dishes had some type of meat served with it. Whether it be chicken, chorizo, or ground beef, you could fill up on protein with your carbs. Multiple restaurants/vendors presented their mac and cheese offerings with fresh seafood. As someone who doesn’t enjoy most fish and crab, I saved my tickets when we passed those booths.

Many of the macaroni and cheeses at the cookoff came with meat mixed in. This sample that I enjoyed was topped with chorizo.

But there was also homage paid to classic mac and cheese as well. At one booth, the woman doing the serving said “This is simply macaroni and cheese just like your grandma made it.” I appreciated the many vendors who opted for the basic ingredients of noodles, cheese, butter, and lots of love.

The cookoff also offered good old fashioned macaroni and cheese made like your grandma made it.

This year’s cookoff evolved to include mac and cheese dishes not meant to be served in a cup with a fork. One such example was the macaroni and cheese pizza offered by Mellow Mushroom. This wasn’t a gimmick offered by a $5 buffet place. Rather, it was gourmet pizza at its finest. In hindsight, Sid and I wished we each got our own piece because it was the best thing we tried all afternoon.

The macaroni and cheese pizza from Mellow Mushroom was incredible! Probably our favorite.

We also had the pleasure of sampling mac and cheese spring rolls. These little guys were incredible and Sloan liked them too! They came from a food truck that specialized only in spring rolls. So, in addition to the obvious flavor, the vendor also offered spring roll options such as bacon cheeseburger, pizza, hot dog, taco, pulled pork, and even dessert options.

The mac and cheese spring rolls were awesome!

In my opinion, the story of our visit to Garden City wasn’t the mac and cheese pizza or the spring roll food truck – it was what I alluded to above. To see the strides made by the event was neat. My worries were unfounded that the lack of my judging expertise would negatively impact the young festival. Dumb joke, I know.

Sloan loved the Mac-N-Cheese Cookoff! This is her nibbling on a macaroni and cheese spring roll.

In all seriousness, congrats to the Surf Dreams Foundation Mac-N-Cheese Cookoff organizers for putting together a great event. My family had a nice time. Don’t Blink.

Wife is Right Thursday Rundown

Good evening, friends. I hope your first full week in March has gone great. It is that day of the week when I like to write about five random topics. Let’s get started with my latest Thursday Rundown…

Words Ring True – I listen to a Catholic podcast that is excellent. This morning while driving to work the topic was fatherhood. One of the clergy members said this: Children listen to their mothers but watch their fathers. Although Sid might disagree to an extent on the listening observation, I found the sentiment beautiful and telling. It is a great reminder to us dads to always conduct ourselves with integrity and love. Actions speak louder than words and our kids always have a watchful eye.

I need to realize that Sloan is going to be watching me hard.

Wife is Right…Again – I like to think that our marriage is successful because we agree on major topics…you know…politics, societal issues, religion, etc. But, there is one point of contention that has been driving a wedge between us – toilet paper! No, I am not talking about the fact that Sid likes premium and I can live with the cheap stuff; I am talking about how you position a roll. Sidney sets toilet paper so it hangs over and I position it so it hangs under. This week, an article was released that set the score. Over 125 years ago, a patent was issued for a toilet paper holder that clearly stated it was intended to hold the product so that you  would pull from the top. I stand corrected!

Here is the patent that illustrates how the toilet paper should be placed.

Alex Trebek – I write so much about Jeopardy in my blog that I know people get sick of it. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t address Alex Trebek’s announcement yesterday that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Using his famous wit, he stated that while the diagnosis is bleak, he has no choice but to beat it because his Jeopardy contract still runs another three years. Although it says a lot about Trebek that he can joke about it, I have to admit that I am sad. When you welcome someone into your living room every weeknight for many years, you become a little attached. I respect Trebek and feel bad for his family. I am rooting and praying for him to defy the odds!

I hope Trebek beats cancer.

To the Dance – Seven years ago on this date, the University of Montana men’s basketball team punched a ticket to the NCAA tournament. Because the Griz won the regular season Big Sky Conference championship, we hosted the conference tournament in Missoula. What a fun several days! As part of our athletic department’s marketing team, I worked every game of the tournament. It all climaxed with a wild championship game against Weber State. The Griz would claim victory and I would accompany the team to the first round of the Big Dance in Albuquerque. The best part? Wearing that sweet sweater vest!

In this photo with my boss, Christie, I am wearing the outfit (that included a sweater vest) that was provided to the table crew. I never felt more like a stud in my life.

National Cereal Day – Today is National Cereal Day and I am sure most of you won’t be surprised to learn that I have written extensively about cereal in the past. In fact, I have written a blog post about my three favorite healthy cereals of all-time and my three favorite unhealthy cereals of all-time. Because I am feeling nice tonight, I won’t make you follow those links, I will just tell you straight up what my favorites are. In the healthy category, I like Sun Belt Granola, Honey Bunches of Oats, and Cracklin’ Oat Bran. For my three sugary cereals, my favorites are Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Reeses Puffs, and Rice Krispie Treats. Nothing like straight candy for breakfast, right?

I once had Sid sample Fruity Pebbles and a generic version of the cereal.

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Sloan has 10 days left as a 1-year-old so we got to make them count, starting with this weekend! I will check in again next week. Don’t Blink.

A Life-Changing Day

On this date five years ago, I interviewed at Coastal Carolina University. I had landed in Myrtle Beach for the first time in my life the night before. After falling asleep to the sound of waves in my hotel room that overlooked the ocean, I was ready to nail the day of interviews. The next several hours would prove to be extremely crucial for my future.

A selfie I took on the balcony of my hotel room on March 5, 2014. This was moments before I went downstairs to catch my ride to campus for my day of interviewing.

Three people chaired the interview committee. One person is now the vice president of marketing and communications at Utah State, one is now the athletic director here at CCU, and the other was recently named our interim chief communication officer. I was speaking to some pretty important (but very humble) people. I get nervous for all interviews so you can imagine I was a little anxious for this one.

I talked extensively with Bill, Matt, and Martha. I had interviews with the University Communication team and a group of campus staff members who also specialized in communication. I had to submit a social media plan and present it. What a day!

My interview took place on, coincidentally, Ash Wednesday. It was a rainy and cool day, much like today. Bill drove me back to the airport in bumper to bumper traffic as the rain continued to fall. He told me I would know in a week or two if I got the position. When we shook hands outside the terminal, I wondered if I would be setting my feet on South Carolina soil ever again.

If only I knew then what I know now, I don’t think I would have accepted a ride back to the airport. I would have told Bill that he had to hire me and that I would work for free if it meant him giving me the job.

You see, accepting a position at CCU turned out to be the best decision I ever made. Of course the job itself has been incredible and more than I imagined, but it goes deeper than that. If not for the opportunity given to me by Coastal Carolina, I would not have Sidney or Sloan in my life. To think about not having my two girls is devastating.

If not for five years ago, I would not have this!!

So, on this five-year anniversary of visiting Myrtle Beach for the first time and sealing what would turn out to be a job offer, I thank God for letting the stars align. I am one lucky guy. Don’t Blink.

Re-Charged: The South Carolina Catholic Men’s Conference

With Lent starting this Wednesday, I wanted to do something that would help prepare me for the holy season. Luckily, there was an event this past weekend that did just that.

On Saturday, I attended the South Carolina Catholic Men’s Conference. Held this year in Columbia, the conference is put on by the South Carolina State Council of the Knights of Columbus in support of the Diocese of Charleston. I registered to attend about three weeks ago and had enthusiastically looked forward to the event since then.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the South Carolina Catholic Men’s Conference.

I woke up at 4 a.m. on Saturday and met two gentlemen from our local Knights of Columbus council (Myrtle Beach #5086) in the Kroger parking lot. From there we drove together to Cardinal Newman High School in Columbia where the conference was held. The camaraderie I was able to share with my brother knights from my own council was one of the best parts of the trip! I had the privilege of traveling with our Grand Knight, Tom McElligott, and Paul Jenkins. Both men have been knights for years and are so strong in their faith. I was honored that they included me.

When we arrived at Cardinal Newman we checked in and then went inside the cafeteria for breakfast. Another great part of the conference that didn’t necessarily relate to the content covered was the opportunity to meet other male Catholics from across the state. It was a joy to chat with other guys my age who are just as dedicated to the principles of Catholicism as me.

I had the opportunity to hang with some great Catholic men. Directly across from me are Knights from own council (Grand Knight Tom McElligott in the the striped blue long sleeve shirt and Paul Jenkins in the glasses). To my left is Jeff Bips from Aiken and on the same side as Tom and Paul is Crawford Melton from Columbia. I met Jeff and Crawford on Saturday (*Photo courtesy of Eric Cannon).

The conference kicked off in earnest with mass. We filled the chapel at Cardinal Newman High School to hear the holy word and partake in the Eucharist. The gospel was about Jesus rebuking the elders who tried to keep children from approaching him (Mark 10:13-16) and Msgr. Richard Harris preached about the necessity of letting God form us in the way glassmakers creatively form their own work. Although I believe women have much better voices than men, it was unique and special to hear a gathering of only males singing the hymns with sincerity and reverence.

I snapped this photo of the Cardinal Newman chapel in the middle of the day. Not only was mass and adoration held inside it, but it was open throughout the conference for people to pray.

After mass we headed to the theater for the speakers. Father Dwight Longenecker, a priest and author from the Diocese of Charleston, spoke about the root of sin. From the beginning with Adam and Eve up until now, all sins (lower case) originate from one Sin (upper case), pride. Father Longenecker explained that people base their existence on being right and persecute those who deviate from their world construct.

Father Longenecker provided great Catholic insight throughout the day.

My eyes were opened and spiritual battery re-charged when the next speaker gave his address. Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers is a celebrity in the Catholic world, appearing constantly on EWTN (total geek-out moment for me). The conference was able to book him and boy did he deliver! He spoke about how to be a better husband, a better father, and a better man. Some of what he said brought tears to my eyes and I saw Sidney and Sloan in a different light after he was done speaking.

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, aka the “Dynamic Deacon,” is an INCREDIBLE speaker. He taught me a lot about how I can be a better Catholic man.

When the morning concluded, we headed to the cafeteria for lunch. It was another chance to talk with fellow Catholics and make connections.

The afternoon portion of the conference opened with holiness and grace. Father Flores, a priest from St. Mary in Aiken, led Eucharistic Adoration in the chapel. Through word, song, and plenty of sacred silence, us men adored the Blessed Sacrament. To be in the presence of Christ during Holy Hour was the perfect way to break up the two halves of the conference.

After adoration, it was back to the theater. We were blessed to hear from both Father Longenecker and Deacon Harold again. Both men discussed ways to fight against Satan. Father Longenecker counseled us to speak truth, accept responsibility, pray, and defeat evil.

A look at the Cardinal Newman Theater as the speakers were introduced (*Photo courtesy of Eric Cannon).

When Deacon Harold came back up to the podium, he used David vs. Goliath as a metaphor for the modern man vs. the devil battle. He reminded us that the Catholic Church gives us plenty of “slingshot ammunition” to keep Satan away. Saying the rosary, receiving the sacraments, going to mass, and showing up for adoration are just a few of the “weapons” in the Catholic “arsenal” for protecting ourselves. Deacon Harold spoke about temptations that men face and reminded us of our duty to always put the women in our lives first. If only you could hear his preaching style…

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers pulled out his rosary to show us a valuable “weapon” we can use when faced with evil.

Aside from what I briefly outlined, a lot of other things went on during the conference. Confession was offered, songs were performed between sessions, vendors sold spiritually enriching materials, and the chapel was always open if you wanted to go pray. As I mentioned above, it was a day that allowed you to re-charge.

I want to thank the South Carolina State Council of the Knights of Columbus for holding the conference. I also want to thank the Knights of Columbus Council #6847 for handling the event logistics. Most of all, I want to thank Tom and Paul of my own council for allowing me to go with them to this awesome conference. I really enjoyed hanging out with both guys. I can’t wait for next year! If you have any questions about becoming Catholic, or if you have been away from the faith and want to return, never hesitate to reach out to me. Don’t Blink.