Birthday Girl Thursday Rundown

Good evening, friends. Please excuse any perceived hastiness with this Thursday Rundown but it is a special day. You may see tonight’s first item to understand why. Let’s get going…

Happy Birthday, Sid – It is my wife’s birthday today and I sincerely believe she has earned a day to relax and enjoy herself. Sidney’s most recent trip around the sun was filled to the brim with significance. Giving birth to Beau and moving across the country were a couple of the highlights but it was such a blessed year in so many other ways. You are the BEST, Sid! Enjoy your day.

Happy birthday, Sid!

First Root Beer Float Experience – I like root beer. I like ice cream. I don’t like root beer floats. Soda and ice cream mixed together never really appealed to me. However, I would argue that you aren’t a real American if you have never at least tried a root beer float. Sloan took the plunge this week. I held my breath as she tasted it but she actually really liked it. In fact, she drank/ate all the contents of her glass. Perhaps I am missing something about the epic-nature of ice cream floats?

Sloan really enjoyed her first ever root beer float.

Latest Movies – I found myself watching some interesting movies on Hulu this past week. I first finished “Chaplin,” a 1993 film that stars Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin. For me, Chaplin always had a certain mystique to him just because he appeared in grainy black and white silent films. It was cool to finally see a voice given to him. Another biographical film (sort of) I watched was “Vice.” This particular movie told the story of Dick Cheney, “the most powerful vice president in history.” Christian Bale did a superb job of playing a satirical version of Cheney and you can’t overlook the performances of Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld and Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney. Finally, I recently finished “The Cooler,” a story about a struggling casino in Downtown Las Vegas that depends on an unlucky guy (William H. Macy) to pass on his bad luck to people who are on winning streaks. Out of those three films, perhaps something will inspire you to pursue it past this blog post.

Thanks to Hulu, I recently watched these three movies.

Rin Tin Tin – As a kid, I watched a show called “Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop.” I thought it was a one-off random television series. But as I scrolled through one of my favorite Twitter accounts I found out that just like Charlie Chaplin, Rin Tin Tin was a silent film star. The dog was rescued from a WWI battlefield by an American soldier and brought back to the States where he became a box office sensation. The original Rin Tin Tin may have died in the early 1930s but his bloodline lived on. The Rin Tin Tin character has played in countless movies and television shows. Did you know that?

What a picture! This is from 1927, folks.

End on a Funny Note – I always appreciate a good Dennis the Menace comic strip. This is from yesterday’s newspaper. I have some friends in the restaurant business who would be extremely upset if this happened at one of their tables.

Never snag the money left on a table.


Let me give one final happy birthday wish to Sidney. Now, if you don’t mind, I am off to celebrate with her. Don’t Blink.

Giving Tom Brady the Respect He Deserves

Let me date myself by saying that my favorite NFL football player as a kid was Drew Bledsoe. A Walla Walla native and WSU Cougar, he was my guy and the New England Patriots were on par with the Seattle Seahawks as my favorite team.

The infamous 2001 season rubbed me the wrong way. Bledsoe suffered a devastating injury and while he nursed himself back to health a young quarterback named Tom Brady took his spot. When Bledsoe was ready to rightfully assume back his position, Bill Belichick denied him. I took what was probably the greatest coaching decision in the history of the game personally. I thought Bledsoe got screwed and that Brady wasn’t half the quarterback that he was. So yeah, I kind of had it out for Brady from the beginning.

I was not a big Tom Brady fan during his New England years (photo courtesy of the NFL).

However, after a few seasons even I came around and realized that Brady wasn’t really that bad of a football player. Super Bowls have a way of validating your reputation, know what I mean? But I couldn’t bring myself to believe that Brady was ever carrying his New England teams. It was Belichick, The Patriot Way, the blue-collar supporting cast that was really bringing home those Lombardi Trophies.

Then there was Deflategate. Examples of arrogance. The pretty boy persona. The high maintenance prima donna who needed his own cook. Simply, it was all too much for me. The cheating allegations and numerous examples of a “me first” attitude made Brady the one player in the NFL who I rooted against more than anyone else. Numerous times in this blog over the years I voiced my disdain (here and here and here and here) for who I thought was the ultimate NON-team player.

Over the past couple years as my maturity level started to finally trend in the right direction, I let some of my bitterness toward Brady fall by the wayside. I found myself kind of admiring the fact that someone who was approaching his forties could still be at the top of his game.

Despite my somewhat new appreciation for Tom Brady, I would be lying if I said I was heartbroken when Belichick and Brady “broke up” at the end of last season. The Patriots were moving on from their star quarterback and he would no longer have the infrastructure to make playoff runs.

Boy, was I wrong.

In the ultimate statement of who was truly responsible for New England’s 19 seasons of success, the Patriots missed out on the 2021 playoffs and Tom Brady is going to his 10th Super Bowl as the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What Tom Brady has done this year is nothing short of spectacular (photo courtesy of the NFL).

How do you put into perspective Brady’s performance this season? He literally defied all odds by leading a new team to the promised land at 42 years of age. Not only that, but he did it the hard way by navigating through the playoffs as a wild card team.

Tom Brady, I respect you. Please excuse my childish grudges of the past. It took me long enough but at least I have come around while you are still in the league. Of course, anyone with a heart that still beats could recognize your greatness after watching this season. Best of luck in the Super Bowl. Don’t Blink.

Dollar Tree Scavenger Hunt

The idea crossed my mind last week. As I was brainstorming different activities for Sloan to do in a society that is widely shutdown because of a pandemic, my mind turned to a budget-friendly scavenger hunt. The idea would unfold at one of Sloan’s favorite places in the world—Dollar Tree.

I pitched my Dollar Store Scavenger Hunt concept to my sister shortly after I developed it in my head. As someone who is just as obsessed as I am with finding entertaining and unique activities for her kids, I knew she would give me an honest assessment. It turned out that she loved the idea and wanted to get in on the fun with us.

This was the Dollar Tree we completed a scavenger hunt at on Saturday.

So what is the Dollar Store Scavenger Hunt, you ask? It is quite simple. You present your children with five item descriptions and then turn them loose in a Dollar Tree to retrieve them.

My sister typed up the scavenger list items and printed them off for each kid.

On Saturday morning, Sloan and I met Aunt Miranda, Mikayla, and Johnny at the largest Dollar Tree location in Spokane (6416 N. Division St.). While in the parking lot we handed them their lists and watched as they sprinted into the store (video of the fun).

Sloan looking at the scavenger hunt list and then all three running into the store.

Card to Send a Friend – After running around the store and looking at a lot of non-scavenger hunt items, we finally steered the kids to the greeting card aisles. The red and pink Valentine’s Day section really stood out and all three participants found a card from that area. It got me thinking, who will Sloan’s Valentine be this year?

Sloan with the Valentine’s Day card she picked out.

Green Food – We explained to Sloan, Mikayla, and Johnny that the food item could either be green itself and/or packaged in the color. Technically Sloan found an item that fit both conditions but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed in her choice. Instead of picking up Ande’s mints or Apple Jacks, she threw a can of mixed veggies into the cart. At least she is thinking healthy?

Sloan holding her can of mixed veggies to satisfy the green food item.

Bathtub Toy – Sloan did great on this one. She found a Trolls-themed bath bomb. “Trolls” is Sloan’s favorite movie and we actually used the bomb that night and the pleasant smell and bright pink color it turned the water was definitely worth the $1.

Sloan scored big with her Trolls bath bomb.

Present to Give Family Member – Sloan and Mikayla were pretty smart on this one. They looked at each other and entered into an agreement that their “family member” would be each other. The two cousins marched to the toy aisle and gave each other “suggestions” on what item they should throw into their cart. Thanks to some inspiration from Mik, Sloan chose a stuffed yellow unicorn. Sure enough, when we exited the store the girls did a gift exchange.

Sloan “found” a stuffed unicorn as her present to give to a family member.

A Red Drink – I thought this one turned out kind of fun too. Sloan spotted a Donald Duck kiwi strawberry juice cocktail to satisfy the final item on her list. Honestly, how often do you get to enjoy a Donald Duck drink? She drank it from her sippy cup throughout the day on Sunday.

Donald Duck juice….need I say more?

Although chaotic at times, the three kids each completed the scavenger hunt. This is what Sloan’s cart looked like…

This was what the final haul looked like.

I would highly recommend this activity to those of you with young children. Not only is it something different but it is also empowering because the kids get to make the decisions. The scavenger hunt will lead to other activities once you leave the Dollar Store as well. For example, bath time was special on Saturday night because of the bath bomb. Soon we will sit down and write inside the Valentine’s Day card and mail it off to a friend. As we go through these colder months, this might be the perfect activity to add a little excitement to your child’s day. Don’t Blink.

Noah’s Thursday Rundown

I wrote hundreds of blog posts during the Obama Administration and I wrote hundreds of blog posts during the Trump Administration. Tonight I write my first post during the Biden Administration. It just so happens that it is a Thursday Rundown. Let’s get started.

Noah’s Ark – On Monday night, we were over at my parents’ house. For whatever reason, I was reminded of a jigsaw puzzle I put together over and over as a child. Thinking there was no way my mom would still have it, I asked her if she remembered the puzzle. She told me to wait a minute as she went upstairs. A few minutes later she came back down with the same 1987 Ravensburger Noah’s Ark puzzle I loved as a kid. Sloan and I proceeded to put it together as the memories came right back. Did you have the same puzzle as a kid? If so, please let me know.

Moments after Sloan and I completed a 1987 Noah’s Ark puzzle.

Go Spokane Quaranteam! – If you are reading this from eastern Washington, there is no doubt that you have heard about the Spokane Quaranteam. Led by Good Samaritan Rick Clark, the squad helps restaurants hit hard by the pandemic by giving them business. Spokane Quaranteam will purchase a high volume of meals (usually around 200) from a local restaurant and then distribute them on-site to the community free of charge. The idea is twofold. First, community members can leave donations so that the Quaranteam can continue to do its good work. Second, the restaurants hope that once Spokanites try their food that they will return in the near future. This past weekend, my dad, wife, sister, and I went to Poole’s Public House for free club sandwiches. It was inspiring to see in-person the work of the Spokane Quaranteam and the outpouring of support from the community.

After we received our free club sandwiches courtesy of Poole’s Public House and the Spokane Quaranteam, we took this photo.

Presidential Administrations – While everyone is mostly focused on Bernie memes (check out this website that will put Bernie in front of your house), I am over here reflecting on how many presidential administrations I have been alive for. My grand total? Seven. But before you call me a dinosaur, let me point out that I didn’t come around until Ronald Regan was well into his second term. How many administrations have you been alive for?

These are the seven presidents whose terms I have been alive for.

Personalized Chairs – For Christmas, Santa brought Sloan and Beau their own personalized chairs. As you can see, they are the perfect size for each…at least for now. I want to make sure they spend plenty of time listening to stories, saying prayers, and just hanging out in them before they outgrow them.

A look at the personalized chairs of Beau and Sloan.

#SquirrelAppreciationDay – Today is National Squirrel Day and a year ago I wrote a blog post to commemorate it. Squirrels seem to cover every square foot of this country and each community seems to have its own unique population roaming the streets. Every place I have been, whether it be a town or a university, seems to think highly of its squirrel culture. To truly honor this day, I might make a trip to my parents’ backyard and visit the mini pet cemetery my dad has created below the deck over the past many years. The plot is the final resting place for many squirrels.

One day I looked out my office window and saw this guy just chilling out!


Thanks for your time this evening. As my blog continues into its third presidential administration, I am very appreciative that you have read my content throughout the years. Don’t Blink.

Winning as a Parent

As a kid, the goal of a sleepover was always to see how late we could stay up. I remember around the ages of 8 or 9, the benchmark would always be 1:30 a.m. If we managed to stay awake until at least that time, the sleepover was a success. If we dozed off before then, we felt like we had something left to prove. Once the pre-teen and teen years arrived, it was all-nighter or bust.

Oh, how things change once you are an adult…especially a parent. These days, the name of the game is how early can we get in bed?

The cards are always stacked against you. For Sidney and I, first and foremost, we have two kids to put to sleep. Many times both will stay up longer than anticipated; other times, just one. But even if only one decides to come down with a case of insomnia it holds everything else up just in the same way as if both were wreaking havoc.

Can’t beat them? Sometimes you have to join them.

On some evenings, the cards will align and both children will fall asleep before 8 p.m. However, that doesn’t mean an automatic ticket to crawling in the straw. Household chores, preparing for the next day, catching up on projects, and even running errands can all delay my head hitting the pillow.

Then of course there are the times when we are our own worst enemies. We will watch our must-see shows, text non-stop in our family group thread, scroll TikTok endlessly, or find other ways to drain time on our phones. Additionally, for me, I normally write my blog post for the next day in the late evenings.

But just like a pitcher who takes a perfect game to the latter innings, sometimes it just all comes together. The kids go to bed early, there are no chores to be done, all our shows are re-runs, TikTok is boring, and all is quiet on the group thread. Although the smallest development could still derail an early evening, just like a bloop single ending the perfect game, sometimes it is meant to be.

Those nights when we find ourselves in bed by 9:30 p.m. bring a sweet sense of victory and accomplishment that only a parent can understand. Please don’t think we are lame. Don’t Blink.

Blue Monday

Today is Blue Monday, known as the most depressing day of the year. It falls on the third Monday of January when the novelty of the new year has faded away, Christmas is a distant memory, the days are still short, the weather bad, and Valentine’s Day is the only holiday to look forward to.

Today is Blue Monday but it is less than scientific.

In the past, I have not minimized the gloominess of this time of year. The January-February time period can be an especially tough stretch of the calendar for many. The fact that the supposedly saddest day of the year falls within this range is not surprising.

I do qualify saddest day of the year with “supposedly” because the designation of Blue Monday is hardly scientific. A psychologist used a very unscientific formula to invent Blue Monday for a marketing campaign in 2005. However, the promotional blitz somehow found mainstream acceptance and is now considered data-based by many.

Despite the questionable legitimacy of Blue Monday, there is no debate that this time of the year can be tough. For those who have natural cases of the blues during these less than inspiring weeks, I recommend working toward goals, performing good works for others, and doing whatever endorphin-releasing activities feasible to you.

Real or not, Blue Monday has nothing on me today. I have the day off, I am spending time with my wife and kids, and we have plenty of good stuff to watch on our streaming list. But perhaps the best course of action is not to get too caught up in this pseudo-holiday. After all, there is a real holiday today that actually carries with it meaning. Don’t Blink.

Power Outage Thursday Rundown

Hey, we are exactly one month away from Valentine’s Day! Oh, give me a break. It is all about my wife’s birthday in two weeks. Holidays and birthdays aside, let’s get started with my latest Thursday Rundown…

Breezy – Early yesterday morning I was in the shower when the bathroom went dark. Sloan, turn that light back on, I hollered. But she was still in her bed. Super strong gusts of wind had wiped out our power. Using our iPhone flashlights we maneuvered around the house for about an hour as we got ready and packed up necessities for the day. We then dodged fallen trees in the road as we made the 30-minute drive to my parents’ house. The four of us camped out there for the day as I used their in-tact electricity to work. The Spokane International Airport recorded a wind gust that topped 70 MPH, the second highest mark in the area’s history. Thankfully by the end of the day we returned home as the winds had died down and our power was back on.

Sloan using a flash light when the power went out in our house yesterday morning.

Hungry, Hungry Hippos – Sloan received a true classic for Christmas. One of the first presents she opened was Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Although she didn’t really know what it was at first, we played it that night and she quickly became obsessed. Sure, she has found ways to cheat but for the most part it is good, clean fun. The rounds we play get pretty intense and one evening after Sloan went to sleep, Sidney and I stayed up for some 1-on-1 matches.

Sloan preparing to play a game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

Soda Day – Apparently I like writing about soda on January 14. Way back in 2015, I explained why “mini sodas are the real MVP.” I reasoned that 7.5 oz soda cans help to reduce my guilt and that I would gladly pay the higher price per ounce for a serving that is smaller. I was pretty passionate. A few years later on January 14, 2018, I analyzed the rollout of the Diet Coke fruit-flavored sodas. In my opinion it was a much better play by the Coca-Cola company than its decision to rename Coke Zero. That really was a head-scratcher to me. Although I didn’t write it on January 14, if this section on soft drinks has you really interested, you can learn about my favorite sodas here.

Purchasing these smaller sodas saves me some guilt.

Easy Experiment – After being inspired by a Ryan’s World video, we did a science experiment on Saturday morning. We took a Ziploc freezer bag, filled it with water, and added some drops of food coloring. We then grabbed our freshly sharpened pencils and poked them through one side of the bag to the other. Once we pushed about five pencils through the bag we removed them and watched as perfect little spouts of water shot out from the bag until it was empty. Simple and fun to do!

Sidney and Sloan in the process of pushing pencils through the Ziploc bag.

This Week’s Meme – I once again grab a meme from the Instagram Story of my friend Lindsi to close out another Thursday Rundown. This perfectly describes the mood when Sidney and I use Google to settle our debates. When I am on the right side (which isn’t often) it sure is a sweet feeling.

Sidney and I let Google settle a lot of things in our marriage.


I appreciate your time tonight. Remember that there is never a bad time to perform a random act of kindness. Have a nice Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and I will touch base next week. Don’t Blink.

Rediscovering and Appreciating Old Sitcoms

Tonight, I just have a brief observation.

Since getting Hulu, we have watched a lot of old sitcoms. “Cheers,” “Fraiser,” and “Seinfeld” are a few that we have acquainted ourselves with. Until streaming them over the past couple months, I had never given any of them a chance. Years and years ago I couldn’t switch the station fast enough if I landed on one of them while channel surfing.

Back in the 2000s, I wouldn’t give “Cheers” the time of day if I passed by a rerun.

However, as we get older we start doing weird things that would appall our former teenage selves. We enjoy going to bed early, we eat broccoli, and we even watch shows that “are about nothing.” It’s crazy.

I started watching these programs in mid-November. Hulu would group all the Thanksgiving-themed episodes of the sitcoms it owns together so viewers could truly get in the spirit of the holiday. I took the bait and got my Thanksgiving fix by watching classic sitcoms. I did the same with the Christmas episodes and then I went beyond the holiday specials and started watching random episodes in random seasons.

There used to be a time when “a show about nothing” just didn’t appeal to me.

I used to think shows like “Cheers” and “Seinfeld” were boring, crusty, and out of touch. But once I actually sat down and watched them from the perspective of an adult, one thing became apparent—they are works of art! Funny, well-written, and easy going, these shows make for fulfilling viewing.

But what really struck me the most is how they are relatable. In the case of “Cheers,” many of the episodes were filmed nearly 40 years ago. But you know what? The characters experienced the same predicaments and funny situations that many of us face today. The same can be said for “Frasier” and “Seinfeld.” Technology changes but relationships, jobs, and family still remain. To see these sitcoms opine on many of the issues that are so prevalent today has made me really develop an appreciation for these classics.

Frasier used to bore me.

If you are like me and steered clear of sitcoms from the 80s and 90s, you might want to go back and give them a second chance. You will see that your parents weren’t so crazy after all. Don’t Blink.

What January 12 Means to Me

On this date 20 years ago, my aunt died. It was the first time in my life that someone I loved and was close to passed away. First time experiences usually stick with us and this was no different. To this day I vividly remember most of the details starting with where I was when I heard the news. The Rosary service, funeral mass, interment, and reception can be played back with relative ease in my mind. Moments like the closing of the casket and riding in the black limousine of the funeral procession are also cemented internally.

My Aunt Becky passed away on January 12, 2001.

Losing a loved one will acquaint you with the reality of death. As a kid, this lesson can be jolting and unsettling. But once you learn it, it will never leave you. This is why on January 12 I always reflect on my own earthly mortality just as much as I do on All Souls Day.

I mentioned that when we are children the concept of death can seem really scary. To be honest, this uneasiness doesn’t go away as we get older. Thankfully, the anxiety of death can at least be equalized and even trumped by trusting in what God has prepared for those who love him.

As we prepare for our own passing, let’s make sure to remember and pray for those who have already departed. Today I keep my Aunt Becky especially close in my heart and petitions. Don’t Blink.

The End of My Life’s Little Instructions Run

I am a man of quirks and traditions. Over the years I have become known for doing certain things on a consistent basis. Whether it be just writing this blog or sending out extravagant holiday greetings, I like to give people something to look forward to, no matter how small it might be. When 2021 rolled around, I laid to rest one of my longstanding daily traditions.

For the past 14 years, I have had a page-a-day calendar called Life’s Little Instructions. Each day would feature a tidbit on how to be a happier, kinder, wiser, or healthier individual. Many times these quotes were hokey or outdated, but sometimes they actually hit the mark. For the first five years of using the Life’s Little Instructions calendar, it was these occasional nuggets of wisdom that encouraged me to purchase it year-after-year.

Me holding the 2018 Life’s Little Instructions calendar. 

But after a half decade the instructions started to repeat themselves and the novelty wore off. So what would make me continue to go through the same song and dance for another nine years? Social media.

An example of a Life’s Little Instruction.

In 2009 I started to post the instructions to Twitter and in 2013 I started to post them to Instagram. I found that my followers actually appreciated them. The repeating instructions didn’t bother me enough to pull the plug on the enjoyment of others so I continued to purchase Life’s Little Instructions and post the content on a daily basis.

I didn’t know it at the time, but 2020 would be my final year with the Life’s Little Instructions calendar.

My Instagram audience enjoyed Life’s Little Instructions the most. Over the years I have had several regulars comment and share the posts. However, no one gave me more of an incentive to publish the instructions on my feed than Ellen Seder. For four years, this college gym pal of mine would respond to every post with a humorous or witty comment. Most of her replies were self-deprecating as she would analyze the instruction in context with her dating life, reality TV-watching habits, or love for Prada. Whenever I would post in the morning I would think, what is Ellen going to come up with today? Her comments always brought joy to my day.

This is Ellen Seder, the person responsible for bringing a lot of humor to my Instagram account over the years with her comments on my Life’s Little Instructions posts.

The Life’s Little Instructions calendar kept me knowledgeable about the date, provided a lot of blogging ideas, gave me consistent social media content, and helped me not to take myself too seriously. However, I guess all good things come to an end.

I planned to continue my Life’s Little Instructions run in 2021. However, when I went to purchase the calendar at the end of December, I was told that a shipment of the Life’s Little Instructions product never arrived. The store manager said that the pandemic contributed to a lack of inventory. I turned to Amazon and found it, but if I ordered it online I would not receive it until mid or end of January. I decided I would discontinue my search. So, for the first time in 15 years, I started the new year without referencing my Life’s Little Instructions calendar.

Most good things come to an end.

A couple days ago, my mom was at Barnes & Noble. She texted me a photo of the 2021 Life’s Little Instructions calendar and asked if I wanted it. After thinking about it for a moment I said no thank you. It wouldn’t have been a big deal resuming my tradition after a week hiatus but I decided against it. My social media followers were getting along just fine without the daily instructions.

My mom texted me this photo of Life’s Little Instructions calendars at Barnes & Noble. She asked if I wanted her to buy it. I passed.

It is working out just fine for me as well. In 2021, I look forward to building an Instagram presence that centers on beautiful photos that mean something to me as opposed to eyesore calendar photos. Also, my Twitter followers will no longer confuse calendar quotes as something that I said or believe. Although at first it felt weird not posting the instructions every day, I am managing.

Thanks to everyone who followed and enjoyed Life’s Little Instructions over the years. It was a great run and hopefully they resonated with you every now and then. Don’t Blink.