2023: WE HERE

In November, Sidney and I had the opportunity to go to Pullman to watch the Washington State University football team host Coach Prime and the University of Colorado. When we walked on campus, we couldn’t help but notice the Colorado equipment truck parked near the fieldhouse. The back of the vehicle featured an image of Deion Sanders with his arms crossed in his signature shades with the phrase “WE COMING” written boldly across it.

The Cougars pummeled the Buffaloes that night. WSU was confident, prepared, and protective of their home turf. As we passed the truck on the way out of the stadium, Sidney and I couldn’t help but say “WE HERE.”

Ironically enough, even though we quipped that phrase on behalf of Cougar Nation, there might not be two better words that explain the Resers in 2023.


The year 2023 will be remembered as the period in which we embraced our community, made a big commitment, and laid down roots. Surprisingly enough, for such a big year, things started out pretty quiet.

What a year it was for our family in 2023.

After such a tumultuous beginning to 2022, it was a smooth (and kind of boring) start to 2023. We threw my dad a retirement party in early January and then coasted through those first couple months. Probably the most exciting thing we did was upgrade from a queen bed to a king bed 😂. When spring arrived, the tempo started to pick up, beyond just my Bloomsday PR. We had our hearts set on a purchase even bigger than a new mattress. For the first time, we were seriously looking to buy a new house. So in between watching Sloan play t-ball and testing out the latest TikTok hacks, we were looking at homes. Thankfully we found something we liked.

My dad stands with the trophy that his employees presented to him at his retirement party.

Summer arrived and things heated up both figuratively and literally. While winter was laid back, summer was insanely busy. We attended multiple weddings, hosted Sidney’s parents, went on vacation, didn’t have a free weekend, and—oh yeah—closed on and moved into a new house. Autumn was also slammed. Both our children started at the same school, we traveled to Missoula for a Griz football weekend, Sloan played soccer, work was chaotic with the implosion of the PAC-12, I presented in Chicago at the AMAs, and we visited Myrtle Beach to spend Thanksgiving with Sidney’s family.

We had a ton of fun on our family vacation to Seabrook.

Of course there was much more to the year than that two paragraph rundown but I think that at least gives you an idea of the past 12 months, right?

When I truly reflect on 2023, I think of two unique themes. The first one is satisfaction. I know the popular adage is to never be satisfied, but I think we allowed ourselves in the second half of the year to be just that. With a home of our own, jobs we are fortunate to have, and both kids attending the same outstanding school, we permitted ourselves to be content. We have more goals and much to improve upon, but we took time to just be thankful.

We bought a house in 2023. During the second half of the year, we tried to be satisfied.

The second theme for us is unity. Sidney and I touch on this a lot with the engaged couples we mentor, but we specifically heeded it ourselves in 2023. The decision to purchase a home was part of other future plans that required Sid and I to be committed and united. We also had the blessing to take on some projects as a couple that required steadfast unity and teamwork. We are a force and so happy to be on the same team!

Unity was key for Sid and I in 2023.

In addition to those two unique themes of 2023, the same three values I highlight every year continued to be key for the Resers…

I start with family where it all begins with our Reser quartet. The four of us had a great collective year as we played, read, prayed, worshipped, ate, watched, and traveled together. A highlight was going on a vacation that necessitated we spend a lot of time in the car together. Driving to the other side of Washington and back gave us a lot of time to bond while the actual vacation on the beach was filled with memories. Speaking of driving, we made a road trip to Oregon for my cousin’s wedding that essentially doubled as an extended Reser family reunion. Before and after the nuptials, we stayed in a hotel where we shared a wing of rooms with my parents, my sister’s family, and my brother and his wife. When we weren’t spending time together in a random out-of-state hotel, you could usually find us all at my mom and dad’s house enjoying cookouts, celebrating holidays, and watching games. Hosting Sid’s parents in June was so nice and then flying to Myrtle Beach to spend time with Sid’s sisters and their families sure was a treat, especially after two years. Whether nuclear or extended family, we valued every moment we had together.

I thank my family for another great year.

Our journey to one day reach our heavenly home was hopefully bolstered by this past year. What a big role our faith played in 2023! Sidney and I mentored three engaged couples and continued our work with Engaged Encounter. Sidney organized a retreat for our Young Adult Catholic Group and I retained my involvement with the Knights of Columbus and our Catholic Men’s Group. We became godparents and explored a year-long theme of evangelization. I attended our diocese’s Eucharistic Revival event with Sloan and represented St. Mary at Hoopfest as our team of parishioners reached the championship game of our bracket. We had a blast at many family faith nights and enriched our prayer lives at home. I listened to the entirety of Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Catechism In A Year podcast. Through it all, St. Mary Catholic Church and School continue to be our epicenter for growing closer to God. We extend our gratitude to Fr. Jeff Lewis for his dispensing of the holy sacraments and his unwavering commitment to the St. Mary community.

Sloan and Beau stand outside St. Mary Catholic School on their first day of school on Sept. 5, 2023.

When it comes to career, Sidney definitely deserves to be mentioned first in 2023! She thrived in her first full year with Traveler’s Insurance as she continues to impress her bosses and receive high marks from her customers. She is used by the company as an example of “what to do” when it comes to training new employees. I had a very busy and somewhat tumultuous year. Our small but mighty marketing and communications team dealt with some major issues including the Idaho murder suspect, the implosion of the Pac-12, and college ranking messaging. But when I wasn’t arrow-focused on our comms efforts and was in my element doing marketing, it was another exhilarating 12 months. I ran point on our paid social media strategy for all nine installments of our #GoCougsMeans brand marketing campaign, oversaw an initiative that recognized WSU’s top senior grads, collaborated with the video team on some really cool projects, traveled to Chicago to present at a major higher ed conference, and managed to win our department’s personal trivia challenge at our holiday party this month 😂.

I presented at the American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed in Chicago in Nov. 2023.

But as I said last year, my job is so great because I am allowed to be a father, husband, and child of God before I am a WSU employee. I love being a Coug, but there is a reason why the career portion of this blog post always comes after the family and faith portions. I am extremely thankful to my boss for always making sure that this is the case.

I feel lucky that family and faith come before work (photo courtesy of Ocean Simpson).

Time to send 2023 out with a bang as we savor these last couple days. As I wrap up this blog post, I feel extremely blessed that everyone within our extended families are healthy and that everyone who started 2023 with us will join us in 2024 as well. From just about every vantage point—whether it be from a physical, mental, faith, or foundational standpoint—I feel it is appropriate to exclaim WE HERE!! Thanks be to God for the past 365 days. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2023

Another Don’t Blink tradition celebrates its 10th rendition and it just so happens to be the biggest tradition of all. Today I present “The Big Blog Post”—my annual evaluation of the top 10 blog posts from the past 12 months. This end-of-year entry aims to recognize my most memorable and best work from the calendar year in an organized and fun fashion.

But it never is easy.

In 2023 I wrote 185 entries, a figure that bests the quantity of posts I wrote the previous four years (2019: 165 posts, 2020: 172 posts, 2021: 173 posts, 2022: 180 posts). Needless to say, signaling out 5% of the posts and then ranking them is no simple task.

However, as difficult as it may be, I do try my best. And when I say “my best,” I mean that I don’t pick and rank my top blog posts on total views and other vanity metrics. Instead, I make my picks solely based on what I feel is my best and/or most impactful writings. So let’s get to it…

10. Streaks (February 27) – This post cracks my top 10 because I feel it does a great job of explaining me. As a Type A personality who craves routine and wants to make sure everything is organized/planned, I depend on streaks to keep me on-task and challenged. I find motivation in simply doing something one day because I did it the previous day (and the day before that etc.). In this post I coined my obsession as streakism and shed light on some of the current streaks I was engaged with at the time. I also was frank that streakism can be good but also harmful if you let streaks rule your life and define whether you have a good day or not.

My Timehop streak is over 2,340 days.

9. Donut or Doughnut? (September 19) – A big question deserves a spot on the big countdown. Perhaps investigating whether America’s favorite pastry is spelled “donut” or “doughnut” might not be a big deal to you, but it kept me up at night. In this particular blog post I diplomatically laid out the merits for both spellings. If nothing else came of this post it might not have seen the light of day on this countdown but here is where things got really interesting: an actual donut business owner responded! Did I give away which spelling he sided with? Jon Fine, owner of Retro Donuts in Spokane, said that most of these pastries in question should be spelled “donut” because most of them aren’t made with actual “dough.” You can check out the post for the detailed explanation but Jon’s expertise made this blog post one of the best of the year.

Raise your hands if you know how to spell “donut.”

8. Third Year at WSU (March 16) – I will forever be grateful to WSU for the incredible employment opportunity I was given so whenever I write about my job it has special meaning to me. In this blog post I recapped my third year as a Coug and summarized it with one word: progress. I described how I “wasn’t new anymore” and that my third year was also an emergence of sorts as I “crept from behind the anonymity of the screen to the front of conference rooms” thanks to the lifting of COVID restrictions.

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

7. Vanity Tipping (April 18) – If you are looking for a post where my mild-mannered self became a little unhinged, you found it. In mid-April a shameless solicitation for a tip at a Papa Murphy’s restaurant put me so over the edge that I had to sound off. I blasted the current day gratuity culture that guilts you into tipping for everything, whether it be preparing your own froyo cup or paying for bowling. The passion that I injected into this blog post and my still-firm belief that tipping has catapulted out of control lands it a spot on this countdown.

I was given the opportunity to tip at the bowling alley earlier this month. It is out of control.

6. Happy 12th Ordination Anniversary, Fr. Jeff (May 26) – A very special man had become a regular in many of my blog posts over the past few years that it made sense to finally devote an entire entry to him. When Fr. Jeff Lewis’ ordination anniversary approached in May, I jumped at the chance to do just that. I commemorated the occasion by describing the amazing impact he has had on our family. Not only has “Papa J” brought the four of us closer to Christ but he has become one of our best friends. What a blessing it is to have him in our lives!

On Friday, May 26, 2023, Fr. Jeff Lewis celebrated his 12th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

5. The Ice Cream Fruit Roll Up Hack (April 17) – One of the many TikTok hacks we attempted this year, the ice cream Fruit Roll Up hack actually exceeded my expectation. The Fruit Roll Up molded into a hard shell around the ice cream that produced a satisfying crunch and delicious taste when bit into. But the successful experiment itself is just a portion of why this blog post made the countdown, let alone found itself in a very respectable mid-spot. The reason why this post stood out is because the photography complements the writing. I wanted to make sure the photos I took chronicled the steps to pull off the hack and were also visually appealing. I think I accomplished that as this post was by far the one that used imagery most effectively in 2023.

The use of imagery played a big role in landing this blog post in the countdown.

4. Blessed By The Sacraments (June 11) – Our wedding anniversary will never be the same. This year we did more than just celebrate the date we tied the knot as we marked it by attending a baptism. And we didn’t just “witness” it as spectators—we participated in it as godparents! Ryan and Allyson Andrade made our year by asking us to be the godparents of their baby boy, Noble Josiah Andrade. This blog post underscored the even greater importance that June 11 now holds in our hearts. Whenever this date rolls around in the future, Sid and I will reflect on it as a day truly blessed in the sacraments for us with both the graces of holy matrimony and holy baptism.

Sidney and I became godparents to Noble Andrade. Fr. Jeff Lewis of St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley performed the baptism. Noble is the son of Ryan and Allyson Andrade (photo courtesy of Rachael and Josh Photography).

3. Mary Reser: A Mead High School Legend (June 16)* – At the conclusion of the 2022-23 school year, my mom retired after 21 years at Mead High School. She spent those 2+ decades in the Developmental Learning Center (DLC) helping students with disabilities. I wrote this blog post to illustrate the talent, patience, and kindness that she displayed every single day in that classroom. I also described some of the typical situations my mom mastered with absolute grace and I took the reader through her last few minutes on the job when my dad, sister, brother, and I walked her off the campus for the final time. Mead High School is not the same without her.

My mom stands with her co-workers right before she walked off the Mead High School campus as an employee for the last time.

2. Tom Reser: A Devoted and Patriotic Career (January 8)* – My dad hung it up at the very end of 2022 but this blog post in his honor was published at the beginning of January. It was a tribute for the 37 years he devoted to the federal government as he helped thousands and thousands of our country’s veterans. Whether it was making sure they received benefits, housing, medical care, and so much more, my dad was (and still is) a fierce advocate of the men and women who served the United States of America. This post traced my dad’s career, chronicled the rapport he had with his team, detailed his tireless work on behalf of veterans, and examined his impressive legacy. My dad had a great first year of retirement with many more to come which is good—because he deserves it!

Besides helping thousands and thousands of other people, this guy taught me what it means to be a professional

1. Hoopfest 2023: More Than A T-Shirt (June 26) – An unforgettable weekend transpired at the end of June with a Hoopfest experience for the ages. Even though our St. Mary team had success on the court as we made the championship, our run to the title game was but a footnote. In my #1 blog post of 2023, I wrote about how we played for more than just wins. Four of us—JJ Nazzaro, Ryan Andrade, Amy Martin, and myself—were out on the hot downtown Spokane streets to give thanks to God, pay special devotion to our Blessed Mother, and promote the Catholic faith. In addition to the four of us, Fr. Jeff Lewis and our families also played key roles in our successful tourney run by being present for every game. From the basketball action to the bonding to the testimonies of our faith to the special mass after the tournament, this blog post captured the entirety of an incredible couple of days and is by far my favorite blog post of 2023.

There was no doubt that my 2023 Hoopfest blog post would be #1.


This annual countdown is usually a challenge to put together but I must say the “top 3” was pretty straight forward for me this year. Thanks to everyone who takes time to read Don’t Blink. Your support is a main reason why I have invested more than 10 years into this project. I plan to continue to write in 2024 but I can never guarantee the frequency or quality 😂. I hope you will return here tomorrow for my final blog post of the year as I reflect on 2023. Don’t Blink.

* It was a tie between these two blog posts. Because one post had to come first, I flipped a coin to determine the order.

Past Annual Top Blog Post Entries
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2022
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2020
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

Wrapping Things Up

Today I finished my last official work day of the year and right now I am writing my last non-special blog post of the year.

Did you catch that qualifier?

Keeping with tradition, on Dec. 30 I will publish my top 10 blog posts of the year which has affectionately been dubbed The Big Blog Post. I will then follow that up with my year in review post on Dec. 31. Please stay tuned for both those entries, I look forward to publishing them each year.

But until those posts roll out at the end of the month, no new content will be published. I am excited to spend time with my children over Christmas break and make memories. In fact, the fun already started after I finished work this evening when we participated in the Christmas tree ornament craft at the library.

Sloan and her cousin, Mikayla, making Christmas crafts at the library.

I will surely thank my readers in my final two blog posts of the year, but until that time I want to thank you here as well. What a year it has been and I extend my gratitude (or my apologies? 😂) to those who lived vicariously through this blog.

I wish you a merry and meaningful Christmas. Never forget the reason for the season, friends. Don’t Blink.

A Visit From Carolers

Last weekend we had gathered at my parents’ house for a family gathering. About 16 of us were gathered in the living room when the doorbell rang. Sloan and Beau rushed to answer the door as I followed them. Someone in our Reser contingent peeked out the large living room window and saw who was approaching the door.

“Carolers!” the excited voice shrieked.

Sure enough, when Sloan opened the door there was a group of approximately 10 cheerful people clad in winter clothing standing below our front porch. They asked us if they could sing us something and when we agreed they gave us three different Christmas carols to choose from. The kids chose “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and the ensemble started to perform.

Beau, Sloan, and cousin Mikayla listen to the carolers who visited my parents’ house on Dec. 10, 2023.

The group sang on key and swayed to the notes as some of the performers waved fake candle sticks. As the 10 people on the outside emitted invisible sparks of Christmas joy, the 16 of us inside made sure to absorb them all.

That’s the thing about caroling. It is such a joyful and infectious activity. The performers are able to sing with joy which is then transmitted to the spectators. I thought about it hard and I think the last time I was the recipient of carolers was probably more than 20 years ago when a group stopped by my aunt’s house during the Reser family Christmas celebration. The magic I felt more than two decades ago returned just eight days ago when we received the serenade.

Christmas caroling—in my opinion—is an act of service that can bring palpable warmth to even the most cynical Scrooge. My children and my sister’s children teamed up to sing a carol to the elderly woman (who is definitely not a Scrooge) who lives across the street from my parents’ house. I need to forget about my terrible singing voice and stand in the back of a caroling group and do my part to spread the Christmas cheer. In fact, maybe all of us should?

By the way, I asked our carolers if they were part of a specific group. Their answer? Chick-Fil-A employees! Just another reason to visit their restaurant for the best chicken sandwich in the world. It truly was a pleasure to hear them sing. Don’t Blink.

It’s Christmas Time Thursday Rundown

That day of the week has arrived when I rant about five random topics—most of which are of no interest to you. But perhaps tonight something will strike a chord so let’s get started…

Best Modern Christmas Song – If you asked me to name my favorite modern Christmas song (past five years), I wouldn’t hesitate. “It’s Christmas Time” by Macklemore is simply superb. The lyrics are so much fun and the entire vibe of the song will put you right in the Christmas spirit. But for as good as the song is, you MUST watch the Christmas video. It is filled with nostalgia and the goofiness of Macklemore. You have my permission to quickly duck out of this Thursday Rundown and watch the video by clicking here. You can then message me and tell me how great it is (and if you don’t laugh out loud during the “Toby” verse you have no sense of humor).

Beau watching “It’s Christmas Time” by Macklemore

Blue Zoo – On Tuesday night, we had the pleasure of celebrating the 7th birthday of Sloan’s good friend, Aminah. She had her party at Blue Zoo, which is, despite what the name says, more of an aquarium than a zoo. Nonetheless, it is a cool place where the kids had the opportunity to feed stingrays, watch sharks, observe birds, play on a pirate ship, and a lot more. Sloan’s favorite part was the manicure fish pool where the little “tickle fish” would latch onto her hand and deliver a pleasant sensation. Today is Aminah’s actual birthday so I hope she is enjoying herself!

Blue Zoo was fun. Happy Birthday, Aminah!

Tillamook Ice Cream – This purchase was an impulse buy. Tillamook ice cream was on sale at Safeway and the holiday sugar cookie flavor sounded so good and delicious! Unfortunately, I don’t think I have ever been more disappointed with an ice cream. The ice cream itself lacked serious flavor and the cookie dough/sugar pieces are minuscule. Even if this dessert is on sale, I would highly recommend that you pass.

The Tillamook holiday sugar cookie ice cream wasn’t very good.

The Absurd – In a Thursday Rundown on this date from six years ago, I wrote about a ridiculous notion proposed by a Dear Abby reader. This person said that parents should go to great lengths to plan having children during dates that wouldn’t conflict with the holidays. It would avoid the awkward conundrum of a child celebrating a birthday close to Christmas and the logistical gift headache that would ensue each year. Excuse me, but who thinks like that? If you check out this 2017 Thursday Rundown I am referencing, you can also read about an ice cream donut sandwich and see Sloan at 39 weeks old.

The Not Absurd – I watched an encouraging news story on the treadmill yesterday morning. It detailed a study that said Gen Z and millennials are visiting physical libraries more frequently than older generations. This likely comes as a surprise to many of us who just assume that Gen Z considers a smart phone as the only library they need. But I think we underestimate Gen Zers and this latest finding makes me happy. Parents, take your children to the library as often as possible!

Act like a Gen Z person and take your children to the library often.


Thanks for your readership, friends. Best of luck to the University of Montana as the Grizzlies host North Dakota State in the semifinal round of the FCS Playoffs on Saturday. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Top Best Songs of 2023

Okay everyone, my annual “Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of the Year” packs an extra punch this year. No, it is not because my typical musical-illiterate analysis has improved; hardly. If anything, my picks become even more questionable as I continue to age away from the 18-34 demographic that Top 40 music targets. Rather, this year’s list is special because it is my 10th edition!

Can you believe it? A decade of badly evaluating the top songs from the previous 12 months.

Well, perhaps these annual lists are just “bad” from the perspective of anyone who has even the most remedial musically-inclined ear. Because, to be honest, I treasure these annual evaluations. Many of the songs I have chosen include some type of personal emotional appeal that last long after the year they were made. Also, whenever I need a song for Alexa to play while I clean the kitchen, I instantly reference these lists.

But let’s re-focus from “these” to “this”. The blog post you are reading is about my favorite songs in 2023. I criticized the past two years for a lack of quality songs that contrasted from the better crop of options in previous years. This year? I would say the field is more in line with pre-2021 selections. Enjoy…

I present to you my top 5 songs of 2023.

5. Give Me a Kiss – Crash Adams

The first time I heard it, I thought “This song is fresh.” Not only that, but it was positive, upbeat, and catchy, all things I value in a song. Although I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I thought Crash Adams was a single person (opposed to a duo) for the longest time, I guess it makes sense that you would need two people to make a song this fun.

If you need another reason to like “Give Me a Kiss” (I didn’t), the theme is about falling in love and the highs and lows that come with it. Totally wholesome, right? I jammed to this song all year long.

4. Is It Over Now – Taylor Swift

Did you think I would have the audacity to not include a song from the 2023 Time Person of the Year? Well, if I thought all the person’s music sucked I wouldn’t have. But this selection is all about merit, baby. I have a specific type of Taylor Swift song—the serious, echoey, mysterious variety—that I really like and “Is It Over Now” checks the box. For me, it falls into the same category as my other favorite Taylor Swift songs, some of which have made this countdown in the past: “Blank Space,” “Are We Out of the Woods Yet?,” and “Anti-Hero.”

I believe Taylor Swift is the only person who could incorporate the mouthful of a verse Let’s fast forward 300 takeout coffees later and make it sound natural/good. My only question: Why did she wait so long to release it? Swift originally made “Is It Over Now” for her 1989 album. Oh well, better late than never.

3. Waffle House – The Jonas Brothers

Could this song be on the list because of my wife’s obsession for the Jonas Brothers? After all, she made us listen to the group’s music for three months straight before she went to their concert in November. But no, that’s not the reason. I liked this song from the moment I heard it long before my wife’s Jo Bros binge. Like with “Give Me a Kiss,” it is a song that is upbeat and catchy. It is straightforward and easy on the ears with a chorus that you can shout out.

However, there is also an additional piece to my enjoyment of this song. Remember how I said that some of the tracks that make my annual list forge a personal appeal with me? Well let me tell you something…I love the Waffle House! Whenever I hear the song it always takes me back to some Waffle House in South Carolina. Sidney and I had many good times—and good meals—at the chain. “Waffle House” by the Jonas Brothers just about allows me to taste some of those covered hash browns.

2. Calm Down – Rema, Selena Gomez

I love this song for its uniqueness and collaborative nature. The melody is fire and the Rema-Selena back-and-forth simply hits the target. Then you have that chorus that is tough not to sing along to—even for a 30-something man like myself.

Like with “Waffle House,” I have a personal anecdote with this song too. When we went on our summer vacation, we were singing the chorus every time it came on satellite radio—which was a lot. Even though our “singing of the chorus” comprised of us just saying “calm down, calm down,” and then humming the rest, we got excited each time it came on. A solid song that is remembered fondly by my family was naturally going to rank high on this list.

1. Enough is Enough – Post Malone

Back in 2019, I chose Post Malone’s “Sunflower” as my #1 song of the year. Fast forward several years later and Post Malone is back in my top spot for the very same reasons. The song is contemplative. You can listen to the track and pleasantly get lost in your thoughts. Even though “Enough is Enough” is about a difficult theme (alcoholism) the dark subject matter doesn’t put you in a bad mood. It is simply a beautiful song. The way he pretty much cries the chorus is deep, powerful, and enchanting.

“Enough is Enough” is the one song on this list that I can easily listen to over and over. When it comes to this Post Malone hit, enough just isn’t enough. This song has staying power and I can see myself listening to it for years to come.


Thanks to everyone for checking out my picks for the 10th version of this countdown. There definitely needs to be a Spotify playlist or something for the 50 songs that have been recognized by me over the years. Congrats to Post Malone for becoming the first artist to claim the #1 spot on my countdown for multiple years. I know he must be very honored 😂. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2022
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

John Kost: Advocate For All

When Sidney, the kids, and I met with the McCormicks two weeks ago, our visit with our spiritual mentors went very similar to our previous reunions since our departure from Myrtle Beach. We caught up on each other’s recent events, discussed how God is working in our lives, and reported on our families.

I then pivoted to the next piece of routine business that I always ask about one particular St. Andrew parishioner: “Hey Tim, how is John Kost doing?”


Throughout my nearly six years attending St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach, SC, John Kost was a man I observed carry out God’s mission every day. He was an impactful lector, fierce defender of the unborn, and active Knight—just to name a few. Always sitting up front in the church with his dear wife, John was the epitome of a good and faithful servant.

This morning I learned that John had passed away.


During that Sunday with the McCormicks, Tim told me that John was still doing decent. Just like Tim is a mentor to me, John was a mentor to Tim. The two would meet together on a regular basis over many, many years. But we all know that when you are in your 90s, things can change quickly.

I had the blessing of getting to know John through the Knights of Columbus. He was one of many brother Knights who welcomed me so warmly when I joined the council in July 2018. During our meetings I would always look forward to when John would deliver his pro-life update. He would stand up and passionately describe the activities currently undertaken by the Grand Strand Citizens for Life on behalf of the unborn and how our council could help. He was always animated, genuine, and so well-respected.

My favorite memory of John was when we were paired together for one of our council’s Tootsie Roll drives. The two of us were stationed outside the Myrtle Beach Sam’s Club on a hot and humid day. John was just a couple months shy of his 90th birthday but the extreme temperatures and long stretches of standing didn’t faze him. As one of the oldest council members worked with one of the youngest council members, my youth held no advantage over John’s charm and sincerity. People who talked to John were contributing more money than the people who talked to me. He was a true pro.

But of course that afternoon was more than just an opportunity for me to learn how to effectively ask for money. I also had the pleasure of speaking with John for a good bit of time. Just like he was when he spoke to audiences, Mr. Kost was kind and positive. I learned a lot about him, including his service to our country. John served in the Air Force and was delighted when I told him that I was originally from Spokane because he was stationed for a period at Fairchild Air Force Base, which is just right outside the city.

What a gift it was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with John that day!

I had the pleasure of volunteering with John Kost during a Tootsie Roll drive in 2019 and snapped this photo. He will be missed.


The last time I spoke with John at length was Feb. 27, 2020—the day that Beau was baptized and Sidney was welcomed into the Catholic Church. Can you guess where John was the morning of the ceremony? Yep, in a St. Andrew pew. It meant the world that he showed up to support my family on such a special day.

Later on that evening I was at the Carolina Roadhouse restaurant in Myrtle Beach eating dinner with my wife, children, mom, and sister. My phone started ringing from a phone number I didn’t recognize. Something told me to answer the call. It was John Kost. He called to apologize for leaving immediately after the ceremony as he had an obligation to attend. Of course it didn’t make one difference to me that he left when he did, I was just over the moon that he was there. But then he spent a couple moments reflecting on what a beautiful ceremony it was and how happy he was to be there. John sure had a way of making others feel good.

John was an amazing man who did so much for everyone—born and unborn. May eternal rest be grant upon John, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Don’t Blink.

Lucky Seven Thursday Rundown

How is your December going, friends? Hope all is well with your final month of 2023 and that you are effectively managing any stress you might have. Let’s begin with my latest rundown…

Children Biographies – I throw books about people into Sloan and Beau’s reading mix every now and then. Lately, we have read some good ones. At the end of November we learned about Helen Keller and her teacher/companion Anne Sullivan. On Sunday night we read a book about John F. Kennedy and then watched his infamous inauguration address on YouTube. Then, on Tuesday, we learned about Frida Kahlo. These books are more than inspiration and history lessons for my kids—they are very intriguing for parents too! Jeopardy champions say they prepare for the game show by reading non-fiction children’s books and I totally get it…they are like CliffsNotes with beautifully illustrated pages!

Sloan holding the JFK book and the Frida Kahlo book we read this week.

Santa Letters – Last weekend Sloan and Beau wrote their annual letters to Santa. They have fun getting creative and then dropping their note in the mailbox. In their correspondence, I have the kids focus more on being thankful about past Santa gifts than asking for new ones. The great anticipation then begins as they wait for the big guy to respond!

Beau and Sloan hard at work writing their Santa letters. Beau went for a more “illustrative” approach 😂

Beau the Leader – Earlier this week, Beau was the leader in Ms. Shaurette’s Pre-K3 class. In addition to the tasks he assumed, he also had the whiteboard devoted to him. Most of what he told Ms. Shaurette to write on his behalf made sense but petting reindeer? Hmmmm. It’s the Christmas season, I guess?

A photo I snapped of Beau when he was the leader earlier this week.

2023 Person of the Year – So, Time recently announced Taylor Swift as the 2023 Person of the Year. My thoughts? I don’t think there was anyone more deserving. The world seemed to revolve around Swift this year. Her summer stadium tour was complete insanity and probably basis enough for the honor. But then you also have the movie, a celebrity romance, and a general public that is overboard obsessive with T.Swift. Suffice to say, I wasn’t surprised nor upset when I heard that Taylor Swift was the 2023 Person of the Year.

I have no objection to this choice.

Dum Dum Candy Canes – There are seemingly as many different flavors of candy canes as there are grains of sand in the world. So, I guess it should come as no surprise that Dum Dum candy canes are a thing. I passed on buying these when I saw them at Safeway but I did contemplate whether they would actually taste like a Dum Dum sucker or just a generic watermelon/root beer/pineapple/etc. candy cane. Perhaps I devoted too much brainpower to the question because Dum Dums are special to me as I chronicled in this 2014 blog post.

They even make Dum Dum candy canes now.


Thanks for reading! I hope you have a great December weekend. Don’t Blink.

Losing My Perfect Rating

I am currently watching a series on Netflix called “Super Pumped.” It is about the genesis and rise of Uber and it stars a couple of my favorite actors, Jason Gordan-Levitt and Kyle Chandler. It is really well-done and sheds light on some savvy business and marketing strategies.

Watching “Super Pumped” has caused me to reflect on my own Uber experiences. Did you know that the app allows drivers to rate their riders? In other words, at the end of every Uber ride I initiate, my driver rates ME on my punctuality, etiquette, kindness, and whatever else they want to hold me to task for.

I am pleased to say that I currently hold a perfect 5.0 rating on Uber. Thanks to all the drivers who have found me likeable enough to give me that rating!

But if I was given a rating for all the services I utilize, I don’t know if I would hold such an unblemished record.

On Sunday night, Sidney and I were completing some Christmas shopping at Target. When we went to check out, the cashier told me I had earned a bonus reward and asked if I wanted to apply it to my purchase. I told him “yes,” believing that this “reward” would give me some type of a discount on my total. When it appeared that the “reward” didn’t do as much as eliminate a single cent from how much I owed, I spoke up.

Just because I have a general dislike of Target does not mean I should project it onto the employees.

“Um, did that reward actually do anything?” I asked the cashier.

“I actually don’t know,” the cashier responded as he looked at the screen trying to find any evidence of the “reward” making any type of measurable impact on the bottom line.

Perhaps it was my general dislike of Target or my distrust of these rewards programs in the first place, but after the cashier’s confirmation that the “reward” did jack squat I looked at Sid and let my opinion be known.

“What a SCAM,” I said audibly enough that the cashier probably heard.

If that guy was able to rate me on my pleasantness, I doubt he would give me a 5.0. You better believe Sidney put me in my place.

As Advent kicks into full gear and Christmas is just 20 days away, I need to refrain from negativity, especially when it comes to instances that others can’t control. Perhaps I can improve my behavior by framing each interaction as if I were being rated. Or, on second thought, maybe I could just strive to be a kinder person without tying it to a gimmick. Don’t Blink.

My Recommended Gift for the 2023 Holiday Season

When I reflected on what item I wanted to push as my gift of the year, I wanted to choose something that made me feel happy and warm inside. So, for the first time in six years of doing this, I am going with something a little different. But before I reveal what it is, just a little background info…

For “Brent’s Gift of the Year” I choose a practical and inexpensive gift suggestion that retails in the $10-$15 range. The goal is for it to be versatile in a way that makes it a perfect choice for a Chinese gift exchange, stocking stuffer, or a thoughtful present.

For example, in 2018 I suggested an LED cinema lightbox marquee, in 2019 I championed a blanket, in 2020 I pushed a framed photo, in 2021 I recommended a book of stamps, and in 2022 I invited my readers to pick out a tasty six-pack of beer that the recipient would appreciate. 

For my 2023 pick, we have to go back to the year this tradition actually started—2018. In December of that year, I went into my office at Coastal Carolina University and waiting for me at my desk was a glass jar. The contents inside the jar were aesthetically pleasing and layered.

Do you know what it contained?

The jar was filled with layers that included sugar, flour, brown sugar, and M&Ms. Attached to the jar was a fancy ribbon and tag that included baking instructions to transform the contents of the jar into a batch of cookies. Yes, I had been gifted cookie mix!

A jar that looked very similar to this was left on my desk in December 2018. It was from Scott Dean, a CCU co-worker.

This present was from one of our photographers, Scott, and I almost skipped the baking process because the jar and its contents were so pretty. But I said almost. Sid baked those cookies and oh man, were they good! The aroma of fresh baked cookies filled our kitchen and incredibly the taste, for once, surpassed that of the smell. The whole gift was a delight to the senses as it contained visual, olfactory, and taste elements.

These were the cookies that we baked from the mix that Scott gifted us.

Bottom line, these sensory charms packed a blast of Christmas spirit when we brought the jar into our kitchen.

This year, I encourage you to gift this unique expression of Christmas cheer. It truly is a multi-faceted experience. It is one of those rare gifts that you get to admire it, work with (bake them), and then enjoy (eat it).

These cookie mixes are a lot of fun!

But the gift doesn’t just bring joy to the recipient. The giver has the gleeful task of putting together the gift with their own hands. You are also able to personalize it with the ribbon you use and how you present the baking directions. For example, Scott had his young daughter write the directions that they photocopied onto the tags they attached to the cookie mixes.

Friends, may your holiday shopping be productive and thoughtful but not stressful and all-time consuming. If you consider any of the gift ideas I have offered over the years, I am humbled. But let us put the energy we exert into gift giving into perspective when it comes to the true reason for Christmas. Don’t Blink.