2022: Bittersweet

Reflecting on 2022, I categorize it as a bittersweet year. And I think for the purposes of this blog post, I need to start with the bitter portion for a few different reasons. 1. Bitter comes first in the word. 2. It is good to get the bad out of the way first. 3. The “bitter” of 2022 came at the beginning of the year for us.

So, let me be candid. In January, our family battled COVID. Later that month, as we started to regain our health, we received the devastating and unexpected news that my Aunt Nancy died. Those two events, including their ripple effects and a few other unfortunate developments, kind of put the writing on the wall that 2022 probably wouldn’t be our year. However, we persevered and ended up salvaging what seemed like a doomed 52 weeks.

My Aunt Nancy’s death in January kind of got 2022 off to a rough start.

After we made it through February, things started to look up. We found ourselves in Lent and I think that period of reflection and fasting was just what we needed. A joyous Easter followed and then many good times ensued. Sloan and her cousin, Johnny, played an entertaining t-ball season that brought my family together a couple times per week in the spring. Summer then arrived and our kids were outside every day playing with the neighbor children in our cul-de-sac. Fall brought a lot of change as Sloan started kindergarten, Sid returned to work, and Beau got his first taste of daycare. Now, as we conclude 2022, winter made its appearance in a rather grand way with subzero temperatures and plenty of snow. But this arctic weather can’t freeze the love and thankfulness we have in our hearts.

Sloan enjoyed a successful t-ball season in 2022.

I think our theme of the year might be improvement. I took New Year’s resolutions seriously in 2022 and pledged to become a more competent cook and consistent reader. Sidney will tell you I improved dramatically in the kitchen. As for reading more, a subscription to our local newspaper and the completion of many novels covered that goal. Sloan made and followed through with Lenten intentions, an amazing and admirable task for a 5-year-old. Sid set a goal to return to work in late 2022 and ended up landing the perfect job.

It was fun to read a lot in 2022. I polished off numerous novels throughout the year.

Speaking of that job, it brings us to the second theme of the year—transition. After 2.5 years as a stay-at-home mom, Sid re-entered the workforce in a new career. She accepted a position with Traveler’s Insurance this past fall. Between the job offer and her first day of work, we spent time setting up the infrastructure needed for a dual-career family. This meant enrolling Beau in daycare, purchasing a second car, creating enough “office space” in our home, and synchronizing schedules. Yes, it was a little stressful, but now we are a well-oiled machine pursuing our respective professions while our kids are thriving at their own pursuits.

We enrolled Beau at St. Paschal’s EduCare in Spokane Valley and he loves it!

On the lighter side of things, the third unique theme of the year was recreation. With COVID no longer canceling races and preventing groups from gathering, we made up for lost time. As mentioned, Sloan was an MVP on the t-ball diamond. I participated in two Spokane signature events—Bloomsday and Hoopfest. Sid and I played on our Young Adult Catholic softball team and messed around and played some flag football. I braved an icy course to run a turkey trot 5K. And, of course, Sid and I maintained our daily workouts at Snap Fitness.

On May 1, 2022, I ran Bloomsday after more than 20 years elapsed since I last participated in the event.

Although the above three themes were new this year, the same three values I touch on every year were more relevant than ever…

It sure was a great year to belong to a strong, supportive family. My Aunt Nancy’s death brought the extended Reser family together under less-than-ideal circumstances, but the way we supported each other could not have made me prouder to be a Reser. Throughout the course of the year, we had so many fun times with my parents, siblings, and their families—cookouts, holidays, games, and special occasions never get old. Sidney’s parents visited us in April and her mom returned in November to help with the transition. Finally, our nuclear family stood strong this year. Our “Fab Four” battled sickness together, enjoyed many meals at Red Robin, read 500 bedtime books, bounced at Spokane’s best trampoline parks, and so much more. We visited Charlotte, Dallas, Walla Walla, and the North Pole. Sidney and I made additional trips to Hawaii and Montana. With Sloan growing emotionally and Beau developing conceptually, the overall love in our household grew.

We had many memorable family moments in 2022.

When things seem dicey, especially at the beginning of the year, there was no better way to catch some respite than by turning to God. In 2022, we continued to grow in our faith by doing tangible things to nurture it. Sidney and I joined two ministries together, both marriage-related. We became mentors to engaged couples on track to enter the sacrament of holy matrimony and we joined a somewhat similar ministry called Engaged Encounter. The latter is an organization at the diocesan level that holds weekend retreats for engaged couples. Additionally, Sidney taught Catholic Summer Camp and I joined the St. Mary’s men’s group. Our Young Catholic Adult group thrived as our numbers grew exponentially and we became busier than ever. Whether it was attending our bi-weekly meetings, hosting the bishop for dinner, or playing softball (among other things) it was a blessed year for our tight-knit group.

Our Young Adult Catholic group surrounds Bishop Thomas Daly (center, with hands in pockets). Also pictured is Fr. Jeff Lewis (back row, tallest person in photo), the leader of our Young Adult group and the man responsible for making our visit with the Bishop happen.

Career-wise, you already know about Sid’s successes. As for me? It was the year that a digital marketer like myself moved from behind the screen to in front of it. Our social media and digital triumphs landed me some speaking engagements. I presented to the WSU President’s Cabinet, I spoke at our internal marketers and communicators conference, and I traveled to the Washington D.C. area to present with a few of my colleagues at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed. I had the opportunity to lead our social media strategy when it came to big-time collaborations with companies like Boeing and SEL. Our savvy EM marketing director allowed me to assist with new digital strategies as we aimed to reach prospective students. Our social media program earned a top 25 ranking out of 300+ schools. Other small victories came along that would not have been possible without the talented team I work for.

I had numerous speaking engagements in 2022, but none more important than my presentation with colleagues at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed.

But you know what I count as the biggest “success” of my job? That at the end of the day, that is what it is—a job. My boss is adamant about a healthy work-life balance and if it wasn’t for that grace, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate as much on the family and faith components that are the utmost importance to me. So, as I close the door on 2022, I do so with gratitude. The year wasn’t smooth sailing, but at least I had the blessing and support to navigate through it while concentrating on the important things.

The years always turn out great because I share them with these three (photo courtesy of Nicole Lynn Photos).

Sidney, Sloan, and Beau…you three are the best! Let’s make 2023 great. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2022

In life, they say three things are guaranteed: death, taxes, and the Don’t Blink end-of-year blog post. For the ninth consecutive year, I am back with my annual evaluation and rankings of the past 12 months of content. Referred to since 2015 as “The Big Blog Post,” I endearingly select my top 10 entries from the past year and rank them.

Much to my surprise, I wrote more blog posts in 2022 than I did the previous three years. The 180 blog posts I wrote this year was last topped when I wrote 190 blog posts in 2018. I feel like the higher output made this year’s list even harder to determine. But after much thought and internal debate, I have something I am ready to present to my loyal Don’t Blink readers. Just a reminder that these choices are based solely off personal preference. Here we go…

10. The Best Travel Mistake (January 10) – We thought after spending the holiday season in Myrtle Beach, we would arrive back in Washington just in time to usher in 2022. However, we read our travel itinerary wrong. We didn’t notice that we booked our return flights with a 30-hour layover mixed in. To make a long story short, we ended up spending New Year’s Eve in a Charlotte hotel and New Year’s Day in Dallas. This blog post detailed our initial shock/displeasure of our travel mistake but then explained how we made the most of our unintended extended vacation.

Sloan and Beau at the entrance to the Dallas Zoo. Our travel mistake turned into a great time!

9. Soda Hack (February 15) – In 2022, we discovered a tucked away beverage oasis. Toward the beginning of the year, we noticed a small Coke plant on a dark industrial street with four soda machines in the parking lot. After noticing streams of vehicles taking detours through the parking lot, I investigated the reason. What I found was heavily discounted beverages. This blog post shed light on one of Spokane’s best kept secrets.

I pass these four Coke vending machines every day but it is usually dark out and I don’t give them much attention. In 2022, we investigated their appeal. We hit a jackpot.

8. Moving a Couch (June 6) – This was a sentimental post. In this particular entry, I described the fate of a couch. But it wasn’t just a couch—it was the first significant purchase that Sid and I ever made together. It followed us to four different houses, including a cross country journey. The way we ended parting with our beloved piece of furniture was just as colorful as its long history under our various roofs. I won’t go as far to say that a tear was shed when writing this, but it definitely was bittersweet.

In the end, we loaded our couch and took it to a new owner. I explain everything that led to this point in my #8 blog post of the year.

7. Thankful For Our Visit to Kauai (August 17) – As 2022 kicked off, I had no idea that we would be traveling to Hawaii during the year. But thanks to a special relationship that was established (see below), Sidney and I found ourselves in Kauai for a long weekend. In this blog post, I went day-by-day to cover our most memorable highlights and adventures from the trip. Although the best part of our Hawaii excursion was attending the wedding of Kailey and Corbin, many other memories were made along the way. This post, chock-full of photos and specifics, will be something that I reference for years to come to relive the magical four days spent in a slice of earthly paradise.

Kauai is beautiful beyond belief. I snapped this particular photo at Tunnels Beach.

6. Our Hoopfest 2022 Experience (June 27) – How can you lose all your games and still call something a “positive” experience? Well, in my #6 blog post of the year I provide a convincing answer. It had been 15 years since I last played in Hoopfest but I had a lot of incentive to return in 2022. You see, I joined my sister, brother, and sister-in-law as we formed a family team. And although the Reser Puffs never won a game, we scored plenty of memories as we tried our best and bonded both on and off the court. From shared anticipation to matching uniforms to a Saturday night BBQ to playing in front of our kids, Hoopfest was one of the coolest things I did this year.

Although we failed to win a game we sure had fun.

5. The 5 Questions That Sid and I Ask Each Other Every Day (March 22) – Here is the comedic relief part of the countdown. Earlier in the year I sat down to chronicle some of the questions that Sid and I literally ask each other every day. Well, I guess this post will need some updating in 2023 because we no longer ask each other Did you do the Wordle today? But other questions such as Is the dish washer clean and Are you in a meeting? are still very much relevant. This post, which was a lot of fun to write, resonated with other couples who both related to the questions I offered and also encouraged the sharing of other questions that are common in their relationships.

Sidney and I ask each other the same questions every day. My #6 blog post of 2022  shares some of those questions

4. Softball and Camaraderie (August 7) – I wasn’t just shooting hoops this year. Another sport-related high point from 2022 came on the diamond as our Young Adult Catholic group formed a softball team. Not only did this offer one more way for us to have fun together, but it also prepared us for a special tournament. After several practices, our squad spent a Saturday morning on the Spokane Mormon temple fields. It was there that we played a couple different Latter-Day Saints teams. Our Catholic group ended up running the table but it was so much more than winning a tournament. In this blog post I wrote about the significance of two faiths coming together to both compete and socialize.

What a thrill it was to play softball with our Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters.

3. AMA 2022: Presenting With New Friends (November 9) – A professional success of 2022 was presenting at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed in National Harbor, Md. But the significance for me wasn’t just presenting for fellow marketers, it was presenting with fellow marketers. I teamed up with colleagues from USC, University of Utah, and TikTok to deliver our session. I wrote about the complexities and triumphs of presenting with a crew I had never met before (until arriving in Maryland) and the friendships that were forged by the time we hopped on our respective planes to return home.

The four of us were all smiles after we presented at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed in National Harbor (from l-r: Me, Katie Camacho Smith, Victoria Mendoza, Andy Thompson).

2. Friends For Life (June 20) – One of the biggest blessings of 2022 was when our pastor, Fr. Jeff Lewis, asked Sid and I to serve as mentors for couples preparing for the sacrament of holy matrimony. We accepted his offer and our first “assignment” was with Corbin and Kailey Schafer. Over the course of six formal sessions, we chatted with Corbin and Kailey about the joys and challenges of marriage through the context of both the Catholic Church and just everyday life. At the same time that we were making progress with their Pre-Cana development, we were also building a friendship. When the four of us met with Fr. Jeff at the end of the Schafer’s marriage prep, pictures were snapped. When Kailey posted them to her social media, she noted that her and Corbin had found friends for life. Not only did Sid and I attend their wedding in Hawaii, we continue to hang out with this special couple more than four months into their marriage. Thanks be to God!

After our final marriage prep lesson, the five of us, Fr. Jeff included, took this picture inside De Leon’s Foods.

1. Losing Our Rock (January 24) – The year started out rough for us. In January, we unexpectedly lost my Aunt Nancy. As we dealt with the shock and sorrow of her passing, I tried my best to use words to honor the woman who met so much to an extremely close family. What resulted was a tribute that detailed the amazing person that Nancy was and how she embraced her role as “the rock” of the crazy Reser clan. I also made room to describe the special relationship that we shared and what she meant to me personally. This post shares memories, stories, and thoughts about the irreplaceable Nancy Grudzinski and the impact she had on so many. Even though I wrote this post in January, there was never a doubt that it would be #1 on this list in December. I miss you, Nancy.

My Aunt Nancy and her daughter, Abby, pose with me on my wedding day. There was never a doubt that the post I wrote about Nancy’s life would be #1 on this year’s list.


That will do it for The Big Blog Post in 2022. I hope a few of the posts I highlighted struck a chord with you in some way. As I always say, if there was a specific blog post over the course of the past 12 months that made you feel some type of way, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Tomorrow I will publish my yearly reflection and then it will be 2023! Thank you for joining me on this blogging journey. Don’t Blink.

A Quick Note

Season’s greetings, my friends. I hope all is well as we are now firmly in the second half of December. My wish is that you are starting to feel that magic and anticipation of the Christmas season, especially for the arrival of our newborn king.

As we approach the arrival of Jesus Christ, I hope you are preparing for the joyous occasion. I will be taking a break from Don’t Blink for the next 10 days or so.

The time of the year when your loyal blogger takes some time off for the holidays is now here. For the next week and a half, I plan to refrain from the posting grind while I take a step away from Don’t Blink. I will wrap up the year at work tomorrow and then I will enjoy some quality time with my wife, children, and other loved ones. We are staying in Spokane this year and I am pretty excited for a white Christmas.

But unlike work, I am not done blogging for the year. Although I won’t be posting for the majority of the rest of the month, I will be back at the end of it. I will deliver my annual end-of-year blog posts—both my top posts of the year and my annual reflection of the past 12 months. You can look for those entries on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31, respectively.

Once again, I extend my warmest wishes to you and your family. Thanks for your support of my blog and MERRY CHRISTMAS. Don’t Blink.

Guadalupe Thursday Rundown

We are smack in the middle of December, AKA, one of the best times of the year! I hope all is well with you as the holidays loom. Let’s get started with tonight’s Thursday Rundown…

Christmas Light Glasses – Beau’s daycare gave him a really cute and thoughtful Christmas gift package. It came with a stuffed reindeer, a couple books, and a pair of HoloSpex glasses. When worn, these glasses add a charming snowflake pattern around Christmas lights. Putting them on and looking at our Christmas tree is a trip! Thank you to St. Paschal EduCare for “brightening” Beau’s holiday just a little bit more.

That’s Beau holding his glasses to his face while looking at the Christmas tree. The lights on the tree take on a snowflake shape thanks to the spectacles.

Newest Ornament – Many years ago, I wrote about my favorite ornaments on our tree. Since then, we have added new meaningful ornaments on an annual basis. Last night, Sid brought home the latest ornament that will no doubt carry special sentiment for years to come. She had this Christmas light-themed decoration made at a kiosk in River Park Square during her lunch break. As you can see, it already has a home on our tree.

This is the new ornament that we have added to our tree.

RIP Mike Leach – News broke yesterday that Coach Mike Leach passed away on Monday night from heart complications. What a major loss. Although I can’t say that Leach and I worked for the same employer at the same time (he left WSU a couple months before I started), I followed his career closely, especially when he was a Coug. Whenever Coach Leach would say something humorous or make a bold coaching move, my brother and I would text each other with a four-word phrase of endearment: Leach is gonna Leach. We sent this text countless times, including just a few days before his condition turned critical. My brother and I shared a Leach memory back in 2006 when we attended the Insight Bowl in Tempe. Leach’s Texas Tech team overcame a 38-7 deficit with 7:47 remaining in the third quarter to defeat Minnesota. Personal reflections aside, there is no denying that Mike Leach was a brilliant mind both on the football field and in the arena of life. May eternal rest be grant unto Mike Leach and perpetual light shine upon him.

Leach is gonna Leach. We will miss him (photo courtesy of Mississippi State University).

Our Lady of Guadalupe – Earlier this week on Dec. 12, we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It commemorates the same day back in 1531 when our Blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego over the course of five different times. The event was responsible for NINE MILLION Mexican people converting to Catholicism. There are so many miraculous components of this Marian visitation but perhaps nothing is greater than the image of the Blessed Virgin that was left on the cloak of Juan Diego. This cloak is still preserved in pristine condition today. In 1929, it was discovered that Mary’s eyes reflected figures of many people, including Juan Diego and the bishop he consulted after his encounters with our Blessed Mother. You can read more about this holy self-portrait here.

This was the miraculous image that appeared on Juan Diego’s cloak after the flowers he presented to the bishop fell to the ground.

Photo Frame Tradition – On this date two years ago, I wrote about a very unique tradition that we would do on Christmas Eve every year with my dad’s family. Essentially, we would decorate Christmas photo frames and write Reser Family Christmas on it earlier in December. Once Christmas Eve came around, we would then draw numbers and the person with the lowest number would pick a frame. Then the person with the next lowest number would pick and then on. Once we all had a frame, we would each get our picture taken with a Polaroid camera. We would then insert the Polaroid print inside our frame. I describe this tradition in much more detail in the original post but to this day we still have many of those frames hanging around my parents’ house.

One of our “Reser” frames from 1997.


That will wrap up tonight’s Thursday Rundown. Can you believe that a week from today it will be Christmas Eve Eve Eve? Thanks for reading! Don’t Blink.

Polar Express Magic

Sometimes I wonder if “kids these days” know that the movie The Polar Express was based on a book. They might be ignorant to the fact that the Tom Hanks film didn’t exist when I was a child. It’s true, people of my advancing age just had the book to enjoy as kids, which was okay…because it was magical.

“The Polar Express” was a magical book for me as a kid.

When I look back on my childhood and reflect on my elementary school teachers reading The Polar Express, I can feel a sense of that beautiful Christmas magic that lives genuinely within the hearts of kids. The concept of a train arriving in the dark of night to take you to the North Pole is a story so unbelievably special that it resonates with most kids—and many adults.

The way Santa is depicted in “The Polar Express” is perfect.

Admittedly, I stopped hearing the Polar Express bell when I grew into adulthood. When the movie came out, the jingle was still muted as I just didn’t seem to care. But then I had kids. I took Sloan to watch “Polar Express” in the theater a couple years ago as part of a special showing. The excitement and wonder within her was so authentic. I appreciated the movie immensely and I could once again hear the bell loud and clear.

It comes as no surprise that people have had success capitalizing on the Polar Express mystique beyond just turning it into a blockbuster hit. Many communities now offer Polar Express experiences where kids can board—if not a train—something that moves and depart for the “North Pole.” We actually participated in such an activity just last week…

Beau and Sloan drinking hot chocolate during their North Pole experience.

Our family took advantage of Coeur d’Alene’s Journey to the North Pole adventure. We drove to neighboring Idaho where we hopped on a boat cruiser that took us across Lake Coeur d’Alene to Santa’s workshop. To sip hot chocolate while admiring all the pretty light displays on the way to the North Pole was majestic. But the true magical moment came upon arrival at the workshop when Santa made an appearance and read his “nice list.” When he called the names of both Sloan and Beau, it was like a weight was lifted off their shoulders. Sloan rejoiced as Santa lit the Christmas tree and fireworks filled the sky.

Sloan as happy as she can be after Santa called her name for being on the nice list.

I have yet to read “The Polar Express” to Sloan. Would the actual words and award-winning illustrations captivate her in the same way that the movie did? Tough question. It usually seems like you prefer the first version—either book or film—that you see first. As for me? Now that I do hear the bell again, I think I would enjoy going back down memory lane. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2022

Ready to make another playlist? It is that time of the year when I provide my “expert” musical commentary and select my top songs from the past 12 months. Truth be told, there probably isn’t anything more comical than yours truly trying to pose as a musical authority but I can’t help myself. You see, this will be my 9th time doing this and how can I stop now with my milestone decade list just a year away?

I imagine it is more of my aging cynical self than the actual degradation of music, but for the second consecutive year I would categorize the state of mainstream top 40 hits as rather poor. That couldn’t stop me from compiling a handful of songs that I believe represent the best of the best in 2022. So sit back, fire up the following songs on YouTube, and dig deep into the chambers of my very non-musical mind.

I present my personal favorite songs of 2021.

5. Sia – “Unstoppable”

To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled with this song when it came out. Although a fan of some of Sia’s other songs, this didn’t click with me right away. That all changed when I needed a song to go with Sloan’s first day of kindergarten TikTok. As I watched her march into that initial day of school with confidence and sassiness, I needed a song to match her fearless attitude. There wasn’t a better choice than “Unstoppable.”

From that moment, the song grew on me. We have declared “Unstoppable” as Sloan’s theme song of the year and if she is in the car with me we never pass it over when it comes on Sirius. If Sloan needs just a little bit of energy to power through the day, we remind her that she is so powerful and doesn’t need batteries to play. This track with the usual powerful vocals from Sia is #5 on this year’s list.

4. Taylor Swift – “Anti Hero”

I have had a complicated history with Taylor Swift, one that I chronicled a half decade ago. In that post, I mentioned that she hit her peak with me in 2014. During that year she came out with numerous hits, including my all-time favorite Swift ballad, “Blank Space.” Fast forward to 2022 and her intriguing song “Anti Hero” reminds me of that same track that takes me all the way back to Thanksgiving 2014. So, I guess it goes without saying that Taylor is back on my top songs of the year list after last making it with “Ready For It” in 2017.

I think “Anti Hero” touches on the genius of Swift because it packs her storytelling skills, haunting vocals, and one-of-kind personality into a single track. It is the same formula that has helped her pump out hit after hit over the years. No lyric is wasted with “Anti Hero”—it seems like everything is emphasized for optimal effect. I am a fan.

3. Mae Muller, Neiked, and Polo G – “Better Days”

This song is my dish washing track of 2022. I would be cleaning the kitchen after dinner and I would ask Alexa to play it for me. I was drawn to the easygoing and smooth melody mixed with lyrics that describe the daily grind of life and the optimism for “better days.”

I like the contrast of the female vocal chorus of Muller with the rap verses of Polo G. It is a true collaboration with nothing seeming out of place…it just gels.

2. Halsey – “So Good”

“So Good” by Halsey was one of those songs that I liked from the very first time I heard it. Additionally, it holds the distinction of a song that I can listen to multiple times in a row. It is a track where I really don’t take any stock in what it is actually about but am just captivated by the three minutes of escape and listening delight that it brings.

I appreciate how “So Good” can be underestimated at first. It starts rather unremarkably with a non-distinctive intro that doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the song. But once she begins with I’m here, standing in the same dress the ride really begins. From that point it is a pleasant and energizing musical trip. When it builds up to the chorus and her crystal clear belting of the words When you left, I bet you held her body closer you can’t help but tap your hands rhythmically on the steering wheel. This is my all-time favorite Halsey song.

1. Harry Styles – “As It Was”

How do you go from not caring for an artist to suddenly declaring one of his songs your favorite of the year? Well, I think it just comes down to uniqueness. Earning top billing in my top 5 songs of 2022 is “As It Was” by Harry Styles. When it comes down to it, until this year, I had never heard a song quite like it. And in this case, that’s a good thing.

“As It Was” is a good vibes song with a laid back and quirky melody. It dominated the airwaves in spring and summer—providing the perfect track for laying by the pool. This song is simply fresh, unique, and easy on the ears. Whereas I would get annoyed by Styles’ previous work, “Watermelon Sugar” being a great example, this song hits the spot. So Harry, please answer the phone, because it is me telling you that you are plenty good alone at #1 on my 2022 list of top songs.


So there you have it, my five favorite songs of the year…and I didn’t even need Spotify to tell me what they were. If you have a favorite song of the year that matches any of the five on my list, please let me know! Let’s hope for better music in 2023. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2021
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2020
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2019
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2018
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2017
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2016
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2015
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2012

Snow Globe Thursday Rundown

Have you ate a candy cane yet this year? Do you prefer a traditional peppermint cane or do you like the bacon-flavored variety or the tutti-fruity kind? Mini canes or large ones? Okay, this Thursday blog post has absolutely nothing to do with candy canes and all those questions were rhetorical. So, let’s get started with tonight’s five topics…

White Elephant Auction – This was a first for me. Although I have done too many white elephant gift exchanges to count, I had never participated in a white elephant auction. Last Sunday I attended a Christmas party for a ministry I am part of in the Spokane Diocese. The organizers held a white elephant auction and asked all of us to bring any items from our house that we don’t use much anymore but that others might find value in. Once at the party, the items were displayed with a bidding sheet underneath each one. We then made bids on the items we wanted. I walked away with a few items, including this jumbo snow globe that now adorns our living room. The best part? All proceeds went to charity.

My $10 bid was enough to take this guy home.

Best Birthday Party Ever – Last Saturday night, Sloan attended a pretty unique birthday party. Her friend and classmate, Aminah, invited Sloan to her sixth birthday bash at the Spokane Chiefs hockey game. The party attendees got to eat pizza on the Spokane Arena concourse, play in the kid’s zone before it was open to the public, slap hands with the Spokane Chiefs players, and watch the best game of the year—Teddy Bear Toss Night! The cutest part was during the second intermission when Aminah got to ride on the zamboni. Naturally, Sloan now wants to have her birthday party at a Spokane Chiefs game.

A collection of photos from Sloan’s experience at the Spokane Chiefs hockey game on Dec. 3. Aminah is pictured in the first photo with Sloan.

Rudolph’s Mix – It was six years ago that I tried Rudolph’s Mix for the first time. A half dozen years later, I must give it another plug in this blog. Available only in Target stores, it isn’t labeled as an “indulgent” snack mix for nothing. You just have to trust me on this one. I say year after year that Rudolph’s Mix simply tastes like Christmas. In fact, it rivals Christmas Crack for my favorite Yuletide treat not on this list. We are just now finishing off our first jar of the season and you should catch up with us.

That’s my hand holding the current jar of Rudolph’s Mix we have in our house.

Christmas Archive – In the not-so-distant past, I have written a couple Christmas-themed posts on December 8 in different years. Two years ago, I offered 10 fun and easy Christmas activities to do with your children. They are all still relevant today so I encourage you to check it out. Then, just a year ago on this date, I wrote an amusing post on the differing wrapping paper philosophies of Sidney and I. Trust me, you will laugh out loud if you read it. Feliz Navidad!

A Christmas-themed pajama party is on the list.

A Laugh to End It – My friend Lindsi posted the below meme to her Instagram Story. If this isn’t the best gingerbread house hack then I don’t know what is. Hey, this might be the perfect weekend to buy that gingerbread house kit at Walmart and do some building…just make sure to have your kid’s toy dinosaur close by.

Thank you to Lindsi for this meme.


Thanks for sacrificing five minutes to read about five topics. I hope you enjoy your upcoming weekend…my family will be heading to the North Pole (sort of). Don’t Blink.

My Ugly Christmas Sweater

Earlier this week I revealed “Brent’s Gift of the Year.” A qualifier for that distinction is that the gift be under $15. If only what I am about to write about wasn’t a tad north of that threshold, it would have been featured on Monday.

Last Christmas season, Sidney brought me home a surprise. It was an “ugly” Christmas sweater that paired nicely with the one she got herself. Now, at the time I didn’t necessarily think I needed an ugly Christmas sweater but it sure grew on me fast.

Sidney and I in our ugly Christmas sweaters.

The sweater Sidney purchased for me is “Home Alone”-themed. It is red with a white snowflake pattern around and beneath the collar. When the snowflake pattern ends a quarter of the way down the garment, the fabric turns green for the remainder of the sweater. Inside the green space is the phrase “Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal” followed by the “Home Alone” logo.

A full look at my ugly Christmas sweater.

The first thing that I really noticed about it? For a $20 Walmart sweater it sure was comfortable. I sported it for the first time at a party with our Young Adult Catholic group. I would then don it a few more times during the 2021 Christmas season, including at the airport when we flew cross country to South Carolina. That day I had numerous random people comment about how cool they thought it was.

Hanging with Beau on the airplane while wearing my ugly sweater.

Yesterday I busted out the sweater for the first time this Christmas season. At work we had a holiday party luncheon and it included an ugly sweater contest. Although I was barely edged out for the top prize by someone who wore a sweater that had its stitched on Christmas lights actually light up, it was still a hit. I then wore it to my Knights of Columbus meeting later that night and my brother Knights sure got a kick out of it.

I got to wear my ugly sweater to work yesterday!

I have additional opportunities to wear the sweater at other Christmas activities this month. All I can say is that it has been well worth the investment. In fact, the value I have already received from it rivals that of my Santa suit.

My sweater is comfortable, spirited, and very well-received. Needless to say, it is a lot of fun to wear. If you are on the fence about buying an ugly Christmas sweater, I say go for it! Don’t Blink.

Trying Pilk

Tap here to watch me make Pilk

It seemed preposterous. Even sacrilegious. Disgusting, to say the least.

Above all else, at the very core, it was a marketing gimmick. And it reeled me in hook, line, and sinker.

Last week, Pepsi rolled out Lindsay Lohan in hopes that her stellar credibility would convince the world that a certain combination is a good idea. Now let me caution you, if your stomach is feeling at all weak this evening, you might want to stop reading before I reveal this absurd pairing.

Pepsi and Lindsay Lohan are trying to convince us to try an obscure combination.

Pepsi and Lohan are urging adventurous souls to try something called Pilk. What is Pilk, you ask? Alright, you asked for it…

Pilk is Pepsi and milk mixed together.

Alright, I swear I heard a few of my readers gag. Don’t worry, I had the same reaction too. I had not heard of a more disagreeable combination since it was revealed that Jim Harbaugh’s dad pours Gatorade over his cereal.

The two ingredients of Pilk resting on our kitchen bar.

But for as awful as Pilk sounded, I had to confirm what seemed undoubtedly obvious. On Sunday, Sloan and I picked up a 2-liter of Pepsi at the store and came home to mix up the concoction.

The Pilk ingredients all measured out and ready to be mixed!

We measured out the ingredients (Pepsi and milk…HA!) and then I served as the chief mixologist. I poured the Pepsi first over ice. As the satisfying popping and fizzing sound hissed as the beverage hit the cubes, I thought why do I have to ruin this? I then poured in the milk and watched as it streaked through the Pepsi, eventually turning this new drink a dirty white.

That’s me pouring the milk over the Pepsi to make Pilk.

I then took my straw, submerged it in the glass, gave the drink a vigorous mix, and then took a sip…

This is what our Pilk looked like after it was mixed.

Okay, it wasn’t that bad. I thought the taste would be much stronger. I had anticipated that the drink would still retain a carbonated punch but taste like milk. My worst fears were unfounded. Instead, what I drank tasted much more mellow. The carbonation had been diluted and it tasted like the last couple drinks of an ice cream float after everything had melted. As an ice cream float critic, this didn’t exactly appeal to me but it sure was better than what I thought.

Sloan trying Pilk. She claimed to like it.

Of course Sloan and Beau loved it. I had to wrestle the tall glass away from them so they wouldn’t guzzle the entire thing. But I am pretty sure I could have mixed soda with mud and they still would have given it a thumbs up.

Beau taking his turn to try Pilk.

If you want to try the Pilk challenge, you don’t got much to lose. Trust me, it isn’t like your taste buds will be scarred forever. Maybe—unlike me—you will find a new favorite holiday drink. If you do, make sure to thank Lindsay Lohan. Don’t Blink.

My Recommended Gift for the 2022 Holiday Season

December is here and that means the biggest month of the year for Don’t Blink. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will publish a slew of annual blog posts that always drop at the end of the year. First up is my youngest, but perhaps most creative, tradition. It is time for “Brent’s Gift of the Year.”

Every year for the past half-decade I have made a practical and inexpensive gift suggestion. In the spirit of my recommendation, I try to pick an item in the $10-$15 range that can be gifted in a versatile way—whether that be a Chinese gift exchange, stocking stuffer, or a thoughtful gift.

In 2018 I suggested an LED cinema lightbox marquee, in 2019 I championed a blanket, in 2020 I pushed a framed photo, and last year I recommended a book of stamps. Need a hint for this year?…

One word: Cheers

My gift suggestion for 2022 is a six-pack. No, I am not talking about chiseled abs, I mean six bottles or six cans of liquid delight. Anything that lands in Jeff Foxworthy’s 12 Days of Christmas must be worthy for my annual recommendation, right?

A six-pack is my recommended gift for 2022. If you want to upgrade my suggestion, you can even order a customized six-pack like my brother did for me.

But in all seriousness, I am not trying to be silly with this year’s pick. With the explosion of the craft beer industry, there are so many tasty, fun, and unique brews to choose from. With the plethora of flavors, styles, and packaging you can easily find a six-pack that will stand out.

From a Chinese gift exchange perspective, unless the final recipient is under 21 or doesn’t drink, how can you go wrong? Whether you play the version where items remain wrapped until the very end or whether the glorious sight of a good time is visible from the beginning, most people will be relieved and happy if they are holding a six-pack at the end of the night.

If you are searching for the perfect present for a family member or friend, I don’t think you can get more personalized than a six-pack. As I mentioned, there are just so many different beers available, allowing you to choose something that specifically plays to a person’s taste and personality.

Let’s not discount what a six-pack of premium beer provides to the recipient: refreshment, adventure, and plenty of good vibes. Most Christmas gifts well over the $15 mark don’t begin to even satisfy one of those qualifiers.

But I am not obtuse when it comes to the contents of the six-pack. Although beer might be preferred by many, there is nothing wrong with gifting a six-pack of soda. I will never forget one Christmas as a kid when my aunt and uncle gave my siblings and I each a six-pack of Coca-Cola in glass bottles. We thought it was the greatest thing ever. Cracker Barrel offers an extensive line of gourmet, quirky sodas in its gift shop that would be perfect for Christmas gifts.

Whether you opt for a six-pack of beer or a six-pack of root beer, there is something of true beauty with this type of gift: Recipients can indulge the moment they take it out of the gift bag or bring it back home with them fully intact. Opt for instant gratification or toss it in the refrigerator for a rainy day.

I hope your holiday shopping goes smoothly. My wish is that if you find yourself in a bind (or if you are shopping for yours truly), you will remember my gift recommendation for 2022 and head for the nearest Total Wine. Don’t Blink.