Tough to Say Goodbye

Early yesterday morning, my in-laws flew back to South Carolina. It was an extremely nice five days of relaxing and chatting. We played many games of Rummikub, watched a lot of football, and ate homecooked meals. It was so satisfying to see Sid’s parents spend time with Sloan and Beau after a long five months away from them.

My mother-inlaw with Sloan and Beau this past weekend.

I have great in-laws and I am thankful we got to spend so much quality time together. We all miss them so much already, especially Sidney.

My father-in-law with Sloan.

I don’t know if you call it a bond, connection, or understanding—but there is something that Sid and I both know a lot about. It is that void that exists when you live far away from your family and the overwhelmingly sad feeling you experience when you have to say goodbye after a visit.

These two had some fun baking cookies.

The reality is that we both come from very close families that happen to live on the opposite ends of the country. The math isn’t that difficult…if we are fortunate to live close to one of our families, it means we will be living very far away from the other. It was me who was away from my family at first and now it is Sid. The love we have for each other makes the arrangement possible but it definitely doesn’t make it easy.

For those who are a thousand miles or more from your family, you get it. Being isolated from those who share your blood can be depressing. Thus, when a visit is in the works, you can’t help but countdown the days until you are once again within hugging distance. Those first several moments are complete euphoria. After that, the feelings of happiness remain but the realization starts to creep in that you will soon have to part. No matter how hard you try not to acknowledge it, the thought is there.

Beau just about crawled for his gandparents while they were here.

Then comes the awful hour when you actually do have to say goodbye. It can be an extremely deflating feeling that will linger throughout the day, possibly extending for a couple more after that. However, things do get better and while the sadness dissipates, the happy moments from the visit don’t…and those are what you truly remember.

I will remember these smiling faces when I think about the past five days.

Sidney and I understand each other, especially the very tough dynamic that we have both faced with family living far away. We support each other and respect each other when we struggle with the void. We are blessed to have each other and blessed to have caring and loving families. Don’t Blink.

If I Could Give Myself Some Advice in March 2020

Scrolling through Twitter last night, I came across a tweet that asked an incredibly thought-provoking question. This was it…

This tweet got me thinking!

It made me stop and think. As I stopped scrolling and my mind started racing, I came up with five pieces of advice I would give myself if I had a crystal ball back in March. Briefly and in no particular order, here is what I would say…

1. Be ready for the long haul. This isn’t going to be as easy as “crushing the curve.” A three-week shutdown is not going to eliminate the coronavirus. This thing is going to stretch many months.

2. Things will get tough for your industry. Prepare yourself, higher education is going to be tested like never before. You think classes will be in-person come the fall? Ha! Don’t make me laugh. Be prepared to think creatively and to do whatever you can to provide a bright spot to the students who never imagined that this is what their college experience would be like.

3. Rip up your calendar. Your brother’s wedding? That 5K you were going to run? Hoopfest? All the random stuff you planned to do during the summer? It’s not going to happen so just come to grips with it now. Learn new ways to socialize, celebrate, and dine because public gatherings are going to be severely limited, if not completely banned.

4. Expect the unexpected. This virus will take you on a rollercoaster like never before. You will think things are getting better and then a spike will hit. Your favorite restaurant will open back up only to shut down the next week. Your friend will be healthy one day and then come down with COVID the next.

5. Think critically. The truth will, at times, be tough to grasp. Everyone will have their own ideas on how to beat the virus and move forward. Political agendas and fear-mongering will try to steer you in all different directions. Be smart and see through the B.S.

What advice would you give yourself? Don’t Blink.

In-Laws In Town Thursday Rundown

It is the smack middle of October and it sure feels like fall around here! Hope this Thursday evening finds you well and that you are ready for my latest Rundown. Here we go…

In-Laws Have Arrived – Before this afternoon, the last time Sid saw her parents was more than five months ago. Thank goodness the streak is over! When her mom and dad accompanied Sid and the kids here in early May, it was a short and emotional trip. Thankfully, this time around they have time to relax and enjoy Spokane. Sloan and Beau are so excited to spend time with their east coast grandparents and I am happy to have them under the roof of our new house. But I am over the moon ecstatic for Sidney who has been counting down to this day for a long time. She is filled with joy to have her mom and dad here and I want nothing more than to see her have a fantastic several days with them.

We are so happy that Sid’s parents are here!

Halloween Cookie Bake-Off – A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my brother bringing cookies over to the house for Sloan to enjoy. This week, Sloan went over to his house to make them herself. Glen decorated his home, made lunch for Sloan, and then allowed her to frost Halloween cookies with him. When she arrived back at our place she exclaimed, “That was the best day ever!!” Sloan and Beau sure have an incredible uncle!

Thank you, Glen, for being a great uncle.

Sloan’s First Fun Run – On Tuesday, Sloan participated in the St. Mary Catholic School Fun Run. It was rainy and slick, but Sloan ran for the five minutes that was expected of the Pre-K3 class. Prior to the run, she collected pledges for her school. This was Sloan’s first time fundraising and she did a nice job asking each donor herself if they would sponsor her. At her current age she is fearless but I hope as the years go by she continues to develop her fundraising skills and always takes ownership of whatever money-raising initiative she is participating in.

The St. Mary Fun Run was a success!

Arbor Crest – On Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, a winery that is literally built on a cliff. Although I am not much of a wine drinker, I have to admit that the glass I had last weekend was probably the best I ever had. But no matter how good the wine was, the view was even better. Here are some of the photos I took of Spokane from the Arbor Crest property.

Arbor Crest has some great views and beautiful grounds.

Seven Awesome Birthdays – It is tradition that on each of my birthdays, Sid and I take a photo together with my cake (or in the case of 2016, with a pan of brownies). I have now spent seven birthdays with Sid and I am happy that I have a photo of each one to show for it.

I have spent my seven best birthdays ever with Sid.

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Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day so I ask you to say a prayer for those families who have experienced unfathomable loss. Thanks for reading tonight, my friends. Excuse me while I go enjoy my in-laws. Don’t Blink.

Two Wildly Different Movies

Two films. Two genres. Two eras.

We are still watching movies at an impressive clip in the Reser household and every now and then I like to take them from our streaming platform to my blogging platform. Over the weekend I watched two movies that couldn’t be more different from each other but are both worthy of your time….well, at least one of them is.

Hubie Halloween – I have sat through some pretty awful Adam Sandler Neflix films—and I mean really bad—and “Hubie Halloween” probably ranks right up there with them. An annoying Sandler character, crude humor, and a runtime that goes too long have all been characteristics of his past Netflix forays that are evident in this latest film. By all means, it is far from perfect.

“Hubie Halloween” will get you into the Halloween spirit.

Despite the all-too-familiar flaws of “Hubie Halloween,” it is actually watchable. In fact, it is even a little endearing. What the film has going for it is that it nails Halloween. Set in Salem, the movie tells the story of a local oddball who loves Halloween just as much as he loves his community. The only problem is that the people of the community don’t always love him back. But just in the same way that Bobby Boucher from “The Waterboy” wins his critics over, so does Hubie.

But back to the Halloween vibe of the movie. It touches on everything that makes the holiday unique and spooky. Costumes, candy, trick-or-treating, corn mazes, cemeteries, Halloween parties, fall colors, and more all help “Hubie Halloween” do October 31 justice. While watching the movie, I could almost feel and smell Halloween just because it vibrantly depicted the holiday in so many ways that I could identify with from my own experiences. For those not impressed by horror films or tired of “Hocus Pocus,” I think this Sandler flick is what you need this Halloween.

Last but not least, if you are a die-hard Adam Sandler fan you must watch this movie. References, characters, and themes from his past classics are incorporated into this film. It is pretty fun.

Mr. Holland’s Opus – While perusing Disney+, this film from 1995 came up and based on the notoriety of the title I decided to give it a try. As usual, I watched it without doing a Google search or any other research that might give me more context other than my basic understanding that the film had an obvious musical storyline.

Mr. Holland’s Opus was not what I had expected (but in a good way).

But this movie was about so much more than music. It tells the story of a man with a brilliant musical mind who decided to teach his passion at the local high school for a few years so he could work on his composition. Well, a few years turned into about 30 as he put his dream on hold to make a positive difference in the lives of youth.

What a treat this film was. The impact of teaching, familial responsibility, overcoming obstacles, and building confidence are all themes that are inspirationally related in “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Take time to watch the movie and prepare yourself for an emotionally triumphant ending scene that had me wiping away tears.

The ending scene is classic.

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Because it is a seasonal movie, you might want to watch “Hubie’s Halloween” first. But don’t sleep on “Mr Holland’s Opus,” especially if you need an inspirational push. As always, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts abut both films. Don’t Blink.

Connecting With History at the Davenport Hotel

It has always been a goal of mine to stay at the Davenport Hotel. For those not familiar, the Davenport is Spokane’s most famous and oldest hotel. Built in 1914, it was the place to stay in the city for several decades. If celebrities, sports stars, or sitting U.S. Presidents came to Spokane, there was only one place they would stay.

But as the years passed, the Davenport showed its age and fell into disrepair. In 1985, the hotel shut its doors. If not for asbestos in the guest rooms, the place would have been imploded. In 2000, an entrepreneurial married couple bought the property and renovated the guest rooms and brought the lobby and ballrooms back to their original glory.

For my birthday this year, I wanted to do something memorable. With us now living in Spokane and my parents chomping at the bit to host Sloan and Beau for another sleepover, I asked Sid if she wanted to stay at the Davenport. Wanting to help me cross off an item on my Spokane bucket list, or perhaps just wanting to spend the night in a luxurious hotel, she said yes.

Sidney at the Davenport Hotel on Saturday night.

On Saturday night, we checked into room 706. The check-in process was pleasant with the staff bending over backward to make us feel welcome. With the plan to check out the Peacock Room (one of the hotel lounges) and then eat at a downtown restaurant, we almost scrapped those plans after Sid tested out the world-famous Davenport mattress in our hotel room. But as easy as it would have been to sleep the night away, we did decide to venture out.

Our view of the Spokane streets from our seventh floor Davenport Hotel room.

We enjoyed our evening and returned to the Davenport shortly before 10 p.m. Before heading to our room for a night of uninterrupted sleep, we decided to walk around the hotel’s mezzanine. We gazed out at the elegant lobby below us and then started strolling. The mezzanine at the Davenport is an homage to its history. Large, framed photos of elaborate parties and socials from a century ago line the halls. Memorabilia cases also provide a glimpse into the hotel’s heyday.

A look at the Davenport Hotel from the mezzanine.

The mezzanine also provided us access to a couple of ballrooms rich in history and architecture. The Marie Antoinette Ballroom and the Hall of the Doges made us feel some type of way when we walked inside them, especially the former. It smelled old—but not a musty smell. Rather, it was a distinguished old smell that seemed to really convey the colorful parties and the important banquets that took place in the space over the decades.

A photo I snapped of the Davenport Hotel’s Marie Antoinette Ballroom.

Multiple times we talked about the people in the group photos that lined the walls. Many of the images were taken from the mezzanine of a packed lobby. Individuals in their primes with nice clothes and distinguished looks were captured in these photographs. One image from the 1910s showed all children packed in the lobby and around the mezzanine. We couldn’t help but think that these cute children were all now gone from this earthly world. It was kind of a weird feeling.

The famous Hall of the Doges at the Davenport Hotel.

Riding the elevator up to our room, I reflected on the rich history of the hotel and thought of the thousands and thousands of guests who stayed in the property before us. I slept well knowing that we were now connected to them in a small way. Don’t Blink.

Virtual Thursday Rundown

Well, this is something new. Although I once wrote a Saturday Rundown, I have never penned a Friday Rundown before. Because yesterday’s birthday post preempted my usual five-topic bonanza, I want to stay on the good side of my readers and still offer a rundown, even if it is a day late. I don’t like writing on Fridays so let’s get this over with…

Social Distance Trick-or-Treating – While taking the kids for a walk in my parents’ neighborhood last Saturday, I came across a home with this nifty contraption in its yard. There is no doubt that trick-or-treating will look different this year and there is already a lot of talk about what can be done to properly social distance. These homeowners definitely had a solution…a six-foot candy drop! The text in the bottom righthand corner of the board reads “Place your bag at the end of the chute for prewrapped candy.”

I came across this 6-foot candy drop in my parents’ neighborhood.

Birthday Gifts – I wanted to quickly highlight a couple birthday gifts I received yesterday. My sister and brother-in-law gave me a snazzy new Washington State University hat. I have worn my old one since high school and was in desperate need of a non-stained, vibrant version. My wife gave me this Hydrapeak water bottle. I specifically asked for it, and in the future I will explain why, but I have already filled it up a couple times today and love it.

I have already put my birthday gifts to use.

A Scare – Yesterday, my birthday got off to a great start. I couldn’t say the same a year ago. That morning, I left the gym feeling totally defeated. I had lost my wedding ring and my effort to cover every square inch of Iron Legacy Gym turned up fruitless. The sadness and shame I felt was intense. Luckily, I received an early birthday present when I found my ring on my car’s floorboard once I arrived home. You can relive my anxiety-ridden morning in 2019 by reading this blog post.

The studio at Iron Legacy Gym was one of the places I frantically searched for my ring.

Chick-fil-A Growth – While in north Spokane this past weekend, I drove by what will be the area’s first Chick-fil-A location. For someone who really came to understand the magic of Chick-fil-A while living in South Carolina, I am following the construction like a hawk. Another reason why I am obsessing over the progress is because I know how bad Spokane wants a Chick-fil-A and how it has had its heart broken before with false hope. Fortunately, I can report that the northside location is the real deal and that it will be serving spicy chicken sandwiches by December.

It is actually starting to look like a Chick-fil-A!

Laundry for Days – I had to rip off another meme from my friend’s Instagram Story for tonight’s rundown. Anyone else feel this way? I know Sid and I do, but it goes beyond just clothes—towels too! I can use the same shower towel for a week but the mountain continues to grow. Despite dirty clothes and towels that seem to grow exponentially, my wife keeps everything manageable because of her efficient laundry system that includes labeled hampers for whites, darks, and towels.

Does this meme resonate?

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Not trying to be rude, but it is the weekend! Peace. Don’t Blink.

Turning 34: As Advertised

One year ago today, before I even closed the book on my first day as a 33-year-old, I was already looking ahead to turning 34. This is what I wrote: I can’t stop thinking that next birthday will be so much different. Yes, turning 34 isn’t a “sexy” number so to speak, but it will be the first birthday that I will have TWO children helping me celebrate it.

It wasn’t just the two children thing that made today different.

When I blew out the candles on this cake last year, little did I know the changes that would come by my next birthday.

When blowing out the candles on last year’s cake, the thought of making a wish that would find me soaking up a gorgeous northwest October evening surrounded by my wife, two kids, my parents, my siblings, and their families never crossed my mind. If it had, I would have dismissed it as impossible and not wasted my wish on it.

But life happens and things become, well, different. Working at Washington State University, living near my parents/siblings, and being a father of two are all blessings I didn’t have when I turned 33 but I have now as I turn 34.

Our decorations are the same but a lot of other stuff has changed.

Of course I have to take the good with the bad. The term “COVID birthday” wasn’t in our lexicon a year ago. Remind me, what did I say turning 34 would be like? Oh yeah…So. Much. Different.

Although life as a new 34-year-old is waaaaaay different than life as a new 33-year-old, my attitude about inching deeper into my 30s is still the same—I’m not sweating it. There was a time in my late 20s when I felt anxiety about getting older but that sentiment has been replaced with contentment. There is no need to be anything but happy when you have a loving family, strong faith, and rewarding career—no matter how many trips around the sun you have taken.

So thankful that I got to stand next to this woman for another birthday tonight.

There is also no need to be anything but happy when you get to eat pizza. The whole family came over to our house tonight for a celebration. I was 18 the last time I spent a birthday in Spokane so you better believe I savored every moment of this evening’s festivities.

Sloan watching closely as Sid lit the candles on the cake.

As I spend my last year in the coveted 18-34 age demographic, I do have a wish that I hope comes to fruition before my next birthday: that our world is back to normal and an effective vaccine is widely available. That would be the best “35” birthday present of all. Don’t Blink.

Past Birthday Posts
Turning 33
Turning 32
Turning 31
Turning 30

Harvesting Spuds

Last month, I wrote about an activity that my dad did with Sloan. They planted tomatoes together in early June and then watched them grow over the summer. Early last month, they picked them together.

Some of the progression photos of Sloan and her tomato plant.

What I didn’t mention in that blog post is that they planted more than tomatoes. As a matter of fact, they planted potatoes too. Around the same time in June, Sloan and her papa planted seed potatoes in a large pot with rich soil.

My dad and Sloan preparing the pot for planting potatoes.

My dad let Sloan drop the bottom layer of the soil in the pot and then place the seed potatoes on top of that. My dad then dumped the majority of the soil into the pot, burying the seed potatoes. Over the weeks that followed, the two would monitor and water the potatoes.

Sloan planting the seed potatoes.

Exactly four months later, my dad and Sloan went back out to the pot. Both grandfather and granddaughter worked together to dump the pot over. My dad removed the pot revealing a neat mound of dirt.

Sloan and my dad dumping over the pot.

With potatoes already exposed in the soil, Sloan lived out every toddler’s dream and sifted through the dirt to find them all. After a couple minutes of using her hands, my dad gave Sloan a hand shovel that allowed her to find even more of the treasure.

Sloan finding potatoes.

The harvest was bountiful. Although most of the potatoes were on the smaller side, Sloan discovered some large ones as well. After she had found them all, we pretty much had to pull her away from the remaining dirt because she was still holding out hope that a couple more would surface in the dirt.

Sloan and my dad grew more than 50 potatoes.

In the end, my dad and Sloan grew more than 50 potatoes. Being the guy that my dad is, he wanted to give us them all. We won’t let that happen, but we do look forward to cooking with some of them. As I mentioned before, this type of activity is perfect for a grandpa and granddaughter to do AND it is a great lesson in horticulture. Make sure to read future Thursday Rundowns to learn how we end up using the potatoes. Don’t Blink.

Ace Thursday Rundown

Happy October, everyone! Hope your first day of the month went well and that you are ready to cap it off with a Thursday Rundown. Here we go…

National Homemade Cookies Day – We decided to celebrate this “holiday” a couple days early. Growing up, it was a tradition for my mom to bake cookies for my siblings and I after our first day of school. My sister has passed on the tradition with her daughter and on Tuesday it lived on with Sloan. However, it wasn’t me that kept it going. My brother showed up at the house a couple hours after Sloan arrived home with a plate of cookies AND a plate of candy. The act of kindness came with a card marking our preschooler’s milestone. Thank you, Glen and Carrie!

THis week, my brother helped us celebrate National Homemade Cookies Day.

Hiding Out – I shared some of these photos on Instagram and Twitter but I thought they were blog worthy as well. Last Sunday we went shopping at Old Navy. Upon entering the store we split up as I took Sloan and Sid took Beau. For a  second I thought I lost my daughter but then realized she had jumped into the middle of the clothes rack. I took these photos of her scoping out the activity in the store as customers oblivious to the little monster hiding in the clothes walked by.

Sloan hid in a clothing rack at Old Navy on Sunday.

October FTW – I love October and I am especially excited this year because I will get to experience it in its authentic autumn form. Besides the pretty colors and crisp air, there is much more to look forward to such as Sid’s parents coming to visit, my birthday month, Halloween, and plenty of sports. Oh yeah, it is now acceptable for you all to go crazy on your pumpkin-flavored food and drink.

Sloan loves October too!

COVID Collaboration – Despite the campuses being in different states, Washington State University is just a few miles away from the University of Idaho. In fact, the towns of the two universities, Pullman and Moscow respectively, reside in a region called the Palouse. Earlier this week a public health campaign launched titled Two Cities, Two Universities—One Community. The effort is all about the towns and colleges working together to promote and recognize responsible behaviors meant to crush the curve. The marketing and communication offices at WSU and UI took the lead on getting this campaign off the ground with the social media teams playing large roles. UI’s social media manager, our social media manager (Matt Haugen), and I collaborated a lot over the past few weeks. We each took on different responsibilities with the paid social ads falling on my plate. It sure has been fun watching #PalouseUnity come together.

The Two Cities, Two Universities–One Community (#PalouseUnity) campaign has been fun to work on.

Debate Humor – Look, there isn’t much I can say about Tuesday night’s debate that hasn’t already been said. However, I can share one of the tweets about it that made me laugh out loud. As a Full House fan, this reference from Bob Saget, aka Danny Tanner, hit home.

This Bob Saget tweet would make anybody who watched “Full House” and watched Tuesday night’s debate laugh.

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That’s it for tonight. Enjoy your autumn weekend and please remember to pray for the end of COVID-19. Don’t Blink.