VIP Thursday Rundown

Oh July, you are slipping away. But you are certainly going out with a bang! The mercury slid past 100 degrees today and it will do the same tomorrow. Before we melt, let’s get started with my latest Thursday Rundown…

Day Worth Celebrating – Today is National Father-In-Law Day and I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize my rock star FIL––Mr. Sid Mathis. This guy has always treated me so well and taught me a lot about being patient and a team player. Needless to say, I miss him now that we are on different ends of the country!

I have a lot of respect for this guy.

VIP – Did you even have a childhood if your kindergarten class (and possibly your first grade and second grade classes) didn’t have a Very Important Person program? Man, those were the days. You sat in a special chair, showed off some of your favorite toys, and got to stand at the front of the line. This photo was my kindergarten VIP picture and it hung proudly front and center in the classroom during my reign as the most important kid in Mrs. Spangenburg’s class.

I felt like a king as VIP.

Got Chips? – Lays recently released its latest line of fun and intriguing chip flavors. This year, the company is highlighting “Flavor Icons,” which consists of signature flavors from different U.S. geographical locations. For example, you have New York Style Pizza, Philly Cheesesteak, and Nashville Chicken. I want to try them all but I can’t promise a review, which is sad, because it used to be my favorite thing to do on this blog. At the very least, I will attempt to try at least a few of them and review each one in various Thursday Rundowns.

Tomato Progression – Sloan helped my dad plant his tomatoes and he suggested I take photos of her as it grew. These photos were taken 3-4 week apart. Hopefully by the next time I get out to my parents’ and snap another picture the plant will be bearing vegetables.

I promise the two pictures on the right were taken on different days (just look at the tomato plant) but it was a coincidence that she wore the same outfit.

Golden Parental Advice – Besides parenting in a way that improves your child’s chances of going to Heaven, I don’t think there is better advice than what was stated in today’s Life’s Little Instruction. I think it is beautiful. To lead a life in a way that will have such a positive impact on your children that you come to mind when they think of those attributes is something all parents aspire to. I know I think of my mom and dad when it comes to qualities such as fairness and integrity and I hope Sloan and Beau will one day think the same of me.

As dads and moms, let’s all aspire to one day be the image of these qualities for our children.


The good thing about triple digit days in the northwest is that you actually get some relief once the sun starts to go down. I am heading outside to our back porch for some relaxation. Have a nice weekend. Don’t Blink.

Not Obsessing Over a Post-COVID World

As I have tried to deal mentally with the Coronavirus pandemic, I think I have done myself a disservice by setting perceived endpoints. When it first arrived in our country, I hoped it would be under control within a couple weeks. When much of our country shut down, I set the clock for a month or so––thinking the threat would be eliminated when we opened back up. Then I shifted my hope to the onset of summer, crossing my fingers that the warmer weather and our advanced knowledge of the disease would translate to its eradication.

Unfortunately, these checkpoints came and went without a COVID solution. Now I have shifted my sights to the development of a vaccine. Surely, once one has been identified this whole mess will go away, right?

I need to be more realistic in my thinking. I need to stop looking ahead and waiting for the day when we are COVID-free. You see, not only could that be a non-realistic event but even more damning is the notion that by continuing to look ahead I am overlooking the present. It is the whole wishing away your days concept.

The truth of the matter is that even though life is very much different in a pandemic-ridden world, we can still find joy and make a difference. If we are solely waiting on an arbitrary date in the future, we risk wasting the precious time we have been gifted. How can we justify that?

Just like everyone else, I want a return to normalcy. I want to see my brother get married, I want to watch a sporting event live, and I want to go to the grocery store without a mask. But I can’t become so obsessed with seeing these things come to fruition that I neglect the present and sit on my hands. Each day during this pandemic can still be worthwhile as long as we don’t use it as an excuse for inaction. Don’t Blink.

Back to the Gym

When you do something daily for nearly 20 years, it is unsettling to be forced to give it up cold turkey. In mid-March, the state of Washington became one of the first states to shut down many businesses, including gyms. I remember that first week being especially tough. My daily routine was rocked and I couldn’t achieve the physical well-being I craved.

I tried to adjust as best I could. I did a morning routine at home and ran the track at the local high school during my lunch hour. However, it was not the same. As the days and weeks passed, I could feel the muscle mass I developed disintegrating away. But as the weeks turned to months, a weird thing happened. I started to become complacent with not going to the gym. There was nothing I could do about it and it was nice getting some extra sleep, right?

But as that thinking started to set in, the governor introduced a re-opening plan. Soon enough, the opening of gyms, under strict social distancing guidelines, was permitted.

When the governor allowed gyms to re-open, I found a new facility to go to…Snap Fitness.

There is the psychological phenomenon of not realizing how common a certain car is out on the road until you actually buy that type of car yourself. This condition can be applied to my new gym.

It was my dad who introduced me to Snap Fitness. When Spokane reached the phase that allowed gyms to re-open, the facility that the two of us would frequent decided to remain closed. Needing to pivot, my dad knew of a gym near a neighborhood bar that was open for business. After screening the place for sound social distancing measures, my dad got us both memberships at this particular Snap Fitness. After three months of not pumping iron, I was finally working out at a fitness facility again.

I had the pleasure of going with my dad to early morning gym sessions for almost three weeks before my family moved into our new house. One of the things I did that first weekend was get my own membership at the local Snap Fitness in Spokane Valley. But you definitely have to clarify when you say the local Snap Fitness because there isn’t just one local Snap Fitness. Remember how I said sometimes you don’t realize how prevalent something is until you are actually invested in it?

I go to the Snap Fitness located on Montgomery off of Argonne.

Snap Fitness facilities are literally all over the place. There are four Snap gyms within 15 minutes of my house. The cool thing about Snap Fitness is that once you purchase a membership, you can work out at any location in the country. Thus, early last week I tested out multiple Spokane Valley Snap Fitness gyms before deciding on which one I liked the best.

The Snap Fitness located on Montgomery off of Argonne is my new fitness home. Actually, it is Sidney’s new fitness home too! I purchased a couples membership and we have a pretty good system in place. I wake up at 3:30 a.m. and get to the gym by 4 a.m. I return to the house by 5:30 a.m. and then Sid goes to Snap and does her thing, returning home well before my work day starts. Working out at the same gym just gives us another thing to connect on while staying healthy at the same time.

The Snap Fitness I go to has a studio for classes.

I wouldn’t say Snap Fitness gyms are glamorous but everything you need is provided. Cardio equipment, weight machines, free weights, classes, and more are all available. They definitely have social distancing figured out with numerous machines out of commission to prevent people from getting too close and hygienic supplies readily available. Of course, the ultimate social distancing tactic is just to get there really, really early (like me) before others arrive…yes, Snap Fitness is 24 hours.

Although I miss Iron Legacy in Myrtle Beach, my new gym is growing on me. If you are looking for a safe and accessible place to exercise during COVID times, consider Snap Fitness. Don’t Blink.

Bean Me Up Thursday Rundown

Good evening, friends. Looks like you are giving me yet another chance to entertain you with my latest Thursday Rundown. Hope I don’t bore you all to death again. Let’s go…

Free Coffee – My highlight of the week came at the very start of it. Sidney’s favorite espresso stand, Bean Me Up, chose us as the winners of a social media promotion it held. To enter you had to share something to your Instagram Story and comment on a Bean Me Up post with the name of your favorite coffee date. The winner would earn a $20 gift card and the person tagged would win a $10 gift card. Of course I entered the contest and lo and behold I won. That’s means a lot of free white chocolate mochas for Sid and hopefully a lotus drink or two for me.

A Bean Me Up barista announced that we had won the contest via the coffee shop’s Instagram Story.

Amy’s Donuts – Sure, it may have ripped off Dunkin Donuts’ colors, but it didn’t touch its recipe. How do I know? Because Amy’s Donuts tastes waaaay better than Dunkin. Since I now live in the Valley as opposed to the Northside, I had to find another donut shop to replace my beloved Retro Donuts. After church this past Sunday, my brother encouraged me to stop by Amy’s and give it a try. I got a chocolate peanut butter donut for me, an Oreo mocha donut for Sid, and an Elmo donut for Sloan. We all loved them. If you are in the Valley and need something sweet, stop by the quirky shop on Sprague.

Amy’s Donuts might look like Dunkin from afar, but it is much better.

Playgrounds – This week, the moment after I clocked off work, I would take Sloan to a playground to blow off some steam. It is a lot of fun for both of us to visit places we have never been before. We tried out a couple new playgrounds this week. We first played at Edgecliff Park, a heavily shaded large area with a charming playground, a ball field, splash pad, plenty of shelter for cookouts, basketball hoops, and much more. The next day we scoped out the playground at Sheridan Elementary. This playground was a little smaller than Edgecliff but still offered some fun elements, including two different sets of monkey bars that Sloan especially enjoyed. We look forward to continuing our Spokane Valley playground tour.

The top photos are of Sloan at Edgecliff Park and the bottom photos are of her at Sheridan Elementary.

Remote for Fall – Today, we announced that classes will (for the most part) be remote at Washington State University this fall. I feel bad for the students who won’t get a traditional on-campus experience this autumn but it is for the safety and sanity of everyone in our WSU community. The method with which instruction will be delivered at all levels of education is a sensitive and anxiety-ridden decision that parents and students are feeling all across the nation. I can only hope that administrators nationwide make the best decision for their communities.

We announced today that the majority of Fall 2020 classes will be online at Washington State University.

The Week in Movies – After writing about cutting the cord yesterday, I think it is only appropriate to report on the movies I watched via our Fire TV Stick this past week. We finally watched “Hamilton” which I thought was excellent. As an American history buff, I thought it was witty, catchy, and educational. I watched “Django Unchained” with my brother and loved the acting but not necessarily the violence…typical Tarantino film. Sid and I watched “For Love or Money” with Michael J. Fox which was a fun take on the hotel industry, especially the concierge grind. Finally, last night I finished up “Donnie Brasco,” which I found to be your pretty typical mob movie although Johnny Depp was pretty good in it.

I thought “Hamilton” was superb.


I am going to skedaddle. End your week strong and as I plea at the end of all my Thursday Rundowns, please pray for a coronavirus vaccine. Don’t Blink.

Proud Cord Cutters

We had talked about it for a couple years, but it took a move across the country to finally pull the plug…or should I say cord? When Sidney and I moved into our new house, we decided not to get cable.

In a different time, I would find such a proposition to be completely preposterous. What about my sports? My shows? My Weather Channel? But that was an era long ago and in this present age there are just too many reasons not to get cable than reasons to pay for it.

For Christmas, Sidney’s mom gave us a couple Fire TV Sticks and those things are fueling our television watching. To be honest, just having Netflix alone is probably more than enough but on our Fire Sticks we also have Disney +, NBC, and a great news app. The amount of content on these channels is enough to satisfy us for roughly the next 200 years.

We love our Fire TV Stick.

Over the past few days, I will admit it has been a little weird turning on the TV and not being able to browse a cable lineup. But just because I can’t access ESPN or CNN via a traditional cable plan doesn’t mean I can’t retrieve the gist of its content. I can easily download those network’s corresponding apps on our Fire Stick or simply pull out my phone and follow their social media channels to stay up to date in the sporting and news world. To say that a cable subscription is necessary to stay current and entertained is a straight up misconception.

There is another saving grace when it comes to these media streaming devices. It is called YouTube. If you are craving content that you normally would watch on cable, chances are you can access it just by pulling up YouTube on your TV. I am a big EWTN fan and all the programming I would watch on the cable station can be easily viewed on YouTube, including daily mass. In many ways, it is like nothing has changed. Our TV is still pumping out pretty much everything we watched on cable, we just aren’t paying for it.

If you are looking for a way to save some money each month, eliminating cable might be the way to go. Investing in a media streaming device and at least one subscription to a streaming service will save you cash almost immediately. I don’t know about you, but we are proud cord cutters. Don’t Blink.

Feeling Good

If there has been a personal positive result from the COVID-19 pandemic, and please know that I say this with the utmost sensitivity because I know this event has been so vicious to so many, it has been that my health has improved. Now I realize that statement in and of itself also sounds presumptuous given all the people who have fallen ill. But, because of social distancing and geographic factors, I have never felt better.

From March through today, I have not been sick once. As someone who develops a cold or allergies at the very least once every two months, it has been extremely nice to have lived in such physical comfort for the past 140 days. Especially since I view the symptoms that assault my immune system as particularly nasty (but doesn’t everyone?) I have tried not to take this reprieve for granted.

There really is something to be said about the effectiveness of social distancing. I attribute my longest clean bill of health in large part to the fact that I have just not been around people as much. Not reporting to an office each day or finding myself in the middle of crowds has done wonders for my health. To not have had a stuffy nose for five straight months is an amazing and refreshing feat for my body.

However, for those who think I am trying to push a political agenda with my personal success story of social distancing, I am not. Believe it or not, I also attribute my current favorable health to my physical location.

For nearly six years I fell victim to the allergens floating in the air in South Carolina. They beat my butt and made certain stretches in the spring very tough on me. Although Washington has its fair share of challenges for allergy sufferers, my body has never been impacted by them. For whatever reason, my system prefers the air of the Northwest to that of the South.

I hope that my body continues to take advantage of the current opportune conditions. At the same time, I think and pray for those who are struggling much more than I did pre-pandemic when I felt a cold was unbearable or allergies too intense. I definitely have it good now but I did back then as well. Don’t Blink.

A New Beginning

In early March, my family moved out of our house in Myrtle Beach. Until a few days ago, we had spent more than four months without a place of our own as we made a massive geographic and life transition. Thanks to Sid’s parents and my parents, we were able to spend stints of this time with them as we found and prepared our new home.

Last Thursday we officially moved into our new home in the Spokane Valley. The timing allowed us to get settled in time to have a nice weekend with just the four of us in our new abode. The four-bedroom, brand new duplex is perfect for us. With top of the line appliances, an oversized back deck, and a beautiful wooded view we are feeling very fortunate. Over the past few days we have enjoyed becoming accustomed to our new quarters.

Some photos of our new home.

But as I discovered over the weekend, we aren’t just becoming accustomed to a new house. Rather, we are getting acclimated to a whole new life that includes a new church, new neighbors, new grocery stores, new restaurants, and so much more. To be honest, it is absolutely thrilling.

Our view from the back deck.

We are now much more at ease. We have a new place of our own, we aren’t taking up other people’s space, and we are sleeping in our own beds. After transitioning and preparing, we feel like our newest life chapter is starting in earnest. What a ride it has been to get to this point.

Here’s to plenty of good times and memories! We are happy and blessed to be here and are excited to take things one day at a time. Don’t Blink.

Blue Crush Thursday Rundown

We are in mid-July and that means it is prime summertime! Sure, things feel different this year but I hope you can still enjoy the sunshine while practicing social distancing. I hope you can also enjoy my latest Thursday Rundown…

Fun with Cardboard – One of Sloan’s greatest traits is her imagination. She can have fun in any situation simply by stipulating a scenario or coming up with a game. This past weekend, my dad cut up a huge cardboard box that held one of our mattresses. He took the pieces and laid them out across the front yard as a path. Sloan loved it and soon developed a game of “Lava Monster” where the grass was the lava, the cardboard pieces a shaky bridge, and her daddy the monster. It was good for about an hour of entertainment on a late Sunday morning.

A look at the cardboard path that my dad made for Sloan.

Resemblance? – This montage shows Beau and Sloan at the same age…around 5 months. At times I can see an obvious resemblance between the two but I don’t know if I see it in these images. What do you think?

Sometimes I can see a resemblance but not always.

Supermarket Sweep – Netflix has added some good movies to its repertoire this month. In the past few days, I have watched “Million Dollar Baby” and “The Firm.” But it might be the TV show the streaming service added that has me most excited. Last night, Sid and I sat down and watched a couple episodes of “Supermarket Sweep.” That’s right, you can watch the 1990s version of the game show with David Ruprecht on Netflix. It was about as glorious as I remember. Completely outdated with old products and older hairstyles, we had a lot of fun answering the questions (which I can now answer) and holding our breath during the “Bonus Sweep” when the duo would try to find the $5,000. Although I have tried to work on limiting my commentary during TV shows, I couldn’t help but give Sidney lengthy explanations about what my strategy would be for the “Big Sweep.” Sorry!

Supermarket Sweep is pure gold.

Dollar Store Energy Drink – Recently, I have used my Thursday Rundowns to review random energy drinks (here and here and here). I continue the trend tonight and I do it with a beverage that is a little off the beaten path. I purchased this Rip It energy drink at the Dollar Tree. How good could it be, right? Turns out not that bad! The flavor was live wild lime and didn’t taste like a low budget energy beverage. Best of all, it did the trick in a smooth and alert way. Don’t want to spend $3.49 for a name brand energy drink? Head to the Dollar Tree!

This Rip It energy drink was decent and very affordable!

Blue Crush – The latest soda to try on my checklist is this brand new blue raspberry Crush flavor. I have tried a similar Jones Soda flavor before but I think a blue raspberry carbonated beverage from a can would taste especially good on a hot summer day. I will keep everyone posted.

I would like to try this soda one of these days.


As always, thank you for reading. Let us continue to pray for a COVID-19 vaccine and for those who currently have the virus. Don’t Blink.

Hospitality Beyond Words

Well, it wasn’t so bad living in my parents’ basement for four months. And when I say it wasn’t so bad, I actually mean it was incredible.

Tonight we will spend the final night with my mom and dad in what was my childhood home. It is truly bittersweet. By us leaving my parents’ house, it means that my family’s next era in our beautiful new house will finally begin. It means more independence, a better air conditioning system, and many happy memories to come. But while all that is certainly “sweet,” it doesn’t account for the “bitter.”

What a privilege it has been having my kids live under the same roof as their grandparents.

To put it in simple terms, my parents treated us like gold. But before they spoiled all four of us, they spoiled me. As I chronicled before, I spent a weird and surreal two months with my parents before my wife and children arrived. As I started a new job and the coronavirus started to shut the country down, I missed them terribly. But my parents were there to support me and keep me sane. They made sure I was as comfortable as possible and extremely well-fed. Even though I longed for Sid, Sloan, and Beau, I tried to take advantage of the opportunity I had to spend time with two people who I didn’t see nearly enough over the past 15 years. As we were locked down in the house, the three of us would watch movies, take walks, and enjoy lively dinners at the kitchen table. It was so nice to re-connect.

My dad and I in April, prior to my family arriving in Spokane.

When my family arrived on May 8, I was overcome with joy. As Sidney and I looked for housing, I told myself in the meantime to relish the rare gift of living under the same roof with the five people I love the most. That set my tone for the next two months.

But whatever that tone exactly was from my vantage point, my parents didn’t just meet it; they exceeded it. When it comes to Sidney and I, it is almost impossible to jot down everything they did for us. Rather, I think I can just give a few examples that convey how welcoming and selfless they were.

My dad with Sloan and Beau.

I am talking about things like them frequently telling us to go out on dates while they watched the kids. Or letting us park our car in the garage even though it meant they had to park theirs in the driveway. Or stocking the pantry with our favorite foods. Or preparing Beau’s changing area each night so it was ready for us when he got up in the middle of the night. Or, better yet, the numerous times when they would simply get up with him themselves. Or the weekend mornings when they told us to sleep in. Or how they took a whole day to haul all our belongings in Pullman back to Spokane. Or how they simply opened their house to us without any expectation of receiving even the smallest thing in return.

I could go on, but do you get the picture? Even with all this, the best part of the past two months was just watching my parents love our kids. The way they bonded with Sloan and Beau was an absolutely beautiful thing to watch. I seriously don’t know what my mom is going to do when we head across town to stay at our new home tomorrow night. She will finally have to hand Beau over which I know will be hard considering she has pretty much held him since the day he arrived. When it comes to Sloan, I know my mom will miss nighttime stories, making coffee together, and visiting neighbors.

The way my mom connects with Sloan and Beau makes me happy.

As for my dad, he is a softie. Every single morning before he left for work he would admire Beau as he rested in his rocker and when he arrived home he would hold him the second he walked through the door (when my mom would actually give him up). With Sloan, it has always been about making her laugh and allowing her to be his special helper. Whether it be planting vegetables, using the hose, or doing yard work, Sloan was often by my dad’s side…and he loved it.

My dad and Sloan grew a lot of vegetables together, including potatoes.

THANK YOU, mom and dad. Aside from loving us so unconditionally and authentically, you also set life examples for us that are invaluable. We will miss you, but 30 minutes away sure is a lot better than 3,000 miles away. Don’t Blink.

Beau’s New Hat

I grew up watching the TGIF show “Boy Meets World” with my brother and sister. A popular catch phrase from the show was established when Eric slapped Corey on the head and said “Life’s tough, get a helmet.” The three of us would routinely remind each other of this advice (head slap included) as we lived out our childhood days.

I never really took this advice from Eric Matthews literally, but lately it has taken on more of a direct meaning for me. Last week, Beau started wearing a corrective helmet.

It doesn’t take a trained eye to see that Beau’s head is a bit misshaped. The back of our poor little guy’s noggin is on the flatter side. This mostly resulted from him favoring certain sleeping positions early in his life. Just as concerning, his ears aren’t symmetrical with the rest of his head. We had known that a helmet for Beau was most likely inevitable and when Sid took him to the doctor upon arrival in Spokane, the medical professional confirmed it.

Thankfully, helmet therapy is extremely effective and risk-free. The technology is top of the line and the headgear is custom made to fit like a glove. Babies wear the helmet and their head is molded back to a normal shape.

A look at Beau right before he went to pick up his helmet and then right after.

Despite the positive outcomes, it is a little tough making Beau wear his helmet for 23 hours per day. He has adjusted really well but you can’t help but feel bad for him when he tries to scratch his head or struggles to keep balance with the newly added weight. As his physical therapist says, it is like a bowling ball (head) on a toothpick (neck).

Even with the helmet, Beau is still happy.

Perhaps the length of time he must wear the helmet is the most discouraging. Beau will sport his new headgear for the next five months. The average duration is three months but our son’s condition is a bit more severe than your typical case. His helmet will be squarely on his head for many milestones and special moments over the upcoming 20+ weeks.

But with anything, you have to look at the silver lining and that is what we are doing. If all goes well, Beau will be able to shed his helmet by Christmas, a holiday gift that will no doubt bring joy to us all. Also, the possibilities to decorate his helmet are endless as my wife made sure to order him a plain white one so stickers and elements will pop. Best of all, you can’t discount the end product: a normal, symmetrical head.

This little helmet is going to make a big difference.

The helmet journey has started and we are trying to make Beau feel as comfortable as possible. As long as we take it one day at a time and discourage Sloan from disforming the helmet by putting it on her own head, we all will be just fine. Don’t Blink.