Teenage Mutant Thursday Rundown

It is once again an honor to be invited into your computer or smart device. I hope tonight’s five topics don’t disappoint (although they probably will). Let’s get started with my latest Thursday Rundown…

Technology Hero – One thing I appreciated at the start of my career that I still appreciate at this point in my career are IT professionals. Many of us owe so much to technology brainiacs who have swooped in during our most critical moments of technological disaster and saved our bacon. Nearly a decade ago, I wrote about the stud IT professional that served our Grizzly Athletics staff who saved me multiple times and had a very admirable philosophy about working in technology while under pressure. Hope you are doing well, Aaron Heiner!

Aaron is a technology genius!

Turtles – My Netflix entertainment this past week was watching the two original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies from the early 1990s. I watched each at least 100 times as a little kid but I was a bit, how shall I put it, shell-shocked when I watched them just a few days ago. I didn’t realize how funny (or perhaps immature) the turtles were nor did I pick up on all the fabulous late 1980s/early 1990s pop culture references that are made throughout both films. It was a fun jog down memory lane while still gaining a new appreciation of how silly/awful those two movies really were.

It was a trip watching these two movies this week.

Wordle – I have jumped on the Wordle bandwagon. For those who don’t know, Wordle is a word game that you play on a website. A single puzzle gets posted each day and you are given six tries to solve it. I am yet to not solve a puzzle but that is probably because I have played it for less than a week. For someone like me who really enjoys word games such as Scrabble and Banana, this new game really appeals to me and I think it is genius how everyone is on the same level as everyone else (one puzzle, once a day).

My first ever Wordle puzzle…solved it with a couple guesses to spare.

RCA Television Set – This tweet just barely caught my eye because for a second I didn’t think an actual television screen actually existed on this thing. I mean if you wanted a snazzy wood fixture to display in your living room this might be cool but to watch actual TV? These days I think most of our iPhone screens are bigger than what you have here.

Just look at this thing!

Thank You Note Tip – I have mentioned before that my mom would stuff our Christmas stockings with thank you cards. This practice helped turn my siblings and I into dutiful thank you note writers. I have placed the same level of importance on expressing gratitude to my children. One tactic that has helped Sloan and Beau get excited about writing thank you notes (or at least signing the card that I write on their behalf) is by taking a photo of them playing with the item they were gifted. I develop the photos and place them inside the appropriate card. This gives my kids a better connection and appreciation of the gift they received and it also adds a little something special for the recipient.

This was a photo we took of Sloan holding the Sequence for Kids game she received. We developed the photo and included it in the thank you card we sent to her Great Aunt Debbie.

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There isn’t a special sixth topic tonight so it is time to sign off. Have a wonderful weekend and stay safe out there. Don’t Blink

All About Popcorn

Today is National Popcorn Day. Ever since my braces were removed my freshman year of high school, I have taken a liking to popped kernels. In fact, I have mentioned popcorn a time or two in this blog. Here are just five instances…

Between deciding how to ask Sidney to marry me and what to name my daughter, the other difficult decision I had to face in my life was whether to buy a large tub of popcorn or not.

I faced a BIG decision on whether to buy this tub of popcorn or not.

The coolest wedding party favor I ever received was actually popcorn! But not just any ordinary popcorn…

This popcorn was delicious and addicting.

You may have caught this recently, but I give my business to a certain Spokane barbershop solely (well, mostly at least) because they serve popcorn in the waiting room.

Popcorn while I wait to get my hair cut? Yes please!

Did you know I use popcorn to practice self-discipline? It might sound a little extreme, but I have practiced this technique since 2011.

Popcorn can be used to practice self discipline.

Does kettle corn count as popcorn? It sure does. This is my ode to the carnival treat.

Me enjoying some kettle corn way back in the day.

I said I was keeping it at five items, but I like popcorn so much I will take it as a jelly bean or as a hand soap.

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Do I even have to mention it? Pop up some popcorn tonight and enjoy yourself! Don’t Blink.

My Top 5 Leonardo DiCaprio Movies

The other day, I chatted with some work colleagues about Leonardo DiCaprio. Our discussion mirrored the general worldly debate about him—some people think he is a talented actor while others don’t think he could act himself out of a paper bag. I have a family member in the latter camp who mockingly refers to him as Leonardo DiCRAPio.

I am much more impressed by the work of Leonardo DiCaprio. In fact, I would count him as one of my favorite actors. I would even go as far to say that if a movie comes out and he is in it, chances are that I will go out of my way to watch it. I thought it is only appropriate that I countdown my five favorite Leonardo DiCaprio movies.

I am a Leonardo DiCaprio fan and for this blog post I am going to list my favorite movies of his.

5. “Don’t Look Up” – I know this recent satire film has a lot of critics, but out of the star-studded cast, Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance rises to the top. He nailed the role of a brilliant but awkward academic who understands advanced astronomy but not basic social cues. The way he developed his speaking style for the film was impressive and convincing. Also, watching his character react to the spotlight thrust upon him throughout the film was very entertaining.

4. “The Departed” – This gangster movie casts DiCaprio as a blue-collar Boston cop forced into an undercover role with more twists and turns than any viewer could bargain for. Leo has vulnerabilities but is also tough with an authentic northeastern accent to match. Perhaps this film made the list because he was opposite Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon, two legendary actors who played their villain roles well. Not all the movies on my list make it easy to cheer for Leo but “The Departed’ does.

3. “Blood Diamond” – Another movie, another accent, right? Leonardo DiCaprio developed a South African accent for this film as I learned about a conflict and war tactics (children armies) that I knew nothing about prior to watching it. The movie is intense and bloody as DiCaprio gives a gritty performance as a diamond smuggler. I really enjoyed it.

2. Django Unchained” – Leonardo DiCaprio outdid himself when he appeared in “Django Unchained.” Although he depicted the worst type of person you could ever imagine in a plantation owner, the brutality, flamboyance, and charm he did it with was shocking and yet convincing. There is a scene in this film that truly shows the type of actor that DiCaprio is. In his inner chamber at a climatic part of the movie, DiCaprio slams his hand down on the table—only he slammed it down on glass too. His hand was ripped open as blood streamed but he didn’t stop acting. Never breaking character he continued to finish the scene despite his injury that would require stitches.

1. “The Wolf of Wall Street” – Turn the absurdity and passion of the character that DiCaprio plays up to a “10” in this one. From his office pep talks to his dialogues with Jonah Hill to his narration, Leonardo DiCaprio turned in an epic performance for “The Wolf of Wall Street.” His portrayal of someone who started off honest enough but then became a money-hungry, ethics-be-damned executive couldn’t have been done better than anyone else. My favorite scene just based on acting, suspense, and awkwardness is when Kyle Chandler (who plays an FBI agent) talks with Leo’s character on his yacht when it is obvious that the agent is hot on his trail. This movie is a must-see.

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I don’t like all of DiCaprio’s movies—“The Reverant” is one example—but 8 times out of 10 I am find myself impressed. No CRAP for me when it comes to Leonardo DiCaprio. Don’t Blink.

All Pink Thursday Rundown

Cheers to you! Thanks for returning to Don’t Blink for another Thursday Rundown. I once again have five random topics to share with you so let’s get going…

Kids’ Table – When I was young and we had big holiday dinners at my grandparents’ house, I would sometimes complain about being regulated to the kids’ table. My mom would then always say that she had a particularly long tenure at the kids’ table because she was the youngest child and that I needed to suck it up. Now when we have family dinners at my parents’ house, Sloan and Beau sit with my sister’s children at the kids’ table downstairs (no complaints from them). I don’t know who loves the arrangements more—the kids who like having their own table downstairs with the TV on or us adults who get to enjoy a peaceful meal upstairs.

Mikayla, Sloan, Johnny, and Beau hold court at the kids’ table at my parents’ house.

Back In My Crazy Days – Today is the four-year anniversary of when I did something pretty wild. We were at an oceanside South Carolina restaurant known for its seafood when I ordered a very non-seafood combination. For whatever reason, I ordered spaghetti with a side of mashed potatoes. The occasion for the meal was to celebrate January birthdays within Sid’s family and I think they were pretty puzzled by the unlikely duo on my plate. Would I order that combo again? No, probably not.

Yep, this was actually my plate four years ago on this date.

Bob Saget – I think learning of Bob Saget’s death made us all feel some type of way. It is just a little somber when a TV dad passes away. Going though my blog archives, I wasn’t particularly kind about Saget’s hosting chops on “America’s Home Videos” but to be honest I have just never liked the show itself so no host was going to endear himself to me. One thing that Bob Saget did well was that he crushed the social media game. His TikTok account was fire. But the below tweet he published after one of the 2020 presidential debates still cracks me up.

This Bob Saget tweet would make anybody who watched “Full House” and the 9/29/20 presidential debate laugh.

Mel Gibson Epics – Over the past week, thanks to Netflix, I have watched two Mel Gibson masterpieces. I started with “Braveheart” and finished with “The Patriot.” I had never watched “Braveheart” before and was a little surprised by the medieval warfare violence. However, I enjoyed watching a film that centered on the middle ages and that focused on a conflict I knew very little about. As for “The Patriot,” I saw it before but it had been so long that it was basically like watching a new movie for me. I love American colonial history and it was cool that the movie was set in South Carolina. But if I had to favor one film over the other, I would opt for “Braveheart” just because it was much more believable. The scene in “The Patriot” when Gibson’s character and his two young sons kill 20 British soldiers was full of action but was hard to see past its impossibility.

Both movies were good but “Braveheart” was better.

Finally Tried It – Back in 2019, I wrote about wanting to try the Starburst All Pink drink mix. It took me about 28 months but I finally got around to drinking a glass of it. I purchased the mix at Walgreens and then came home and immediately mixed the contents of one of the packages. No complaints from me, it was pretty refreshing. Also, it is extremely affordable. I spent $1 for the box that contains six packets. Worth a try.

I finally tried the Starburst All Pink mix and found it to be quite refreshing.

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That will wrap up this latest Thursday Rundown. I hope you are starting to settle into your 2022 and that you have a nice weekend. Don’t Blink.

Fun With Banished Words

I seem to come across it via social media or the newspaper at the end of every year. The Banished Words List is a pop culture mainstay that aims to retire “overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, cliched, illogical, and nonsensical” words and terms. Lake Superior State University compiles the annual list and always has fun with the press release by sprinkling all the banished words into a single paragraph. If they can, why can’t I?…

Wait, What? You’re surprised that I took a deep dive into this year’s list with some of my work pals? No worries, it is the new normal to start Zoom meetings these days with an ice breaker. That being said, the ice breaker kind of manifested itself throughout the rest of the day as we would circle back to the list by cleverly using the banished words in opportune spots. You don’t think that’s unprofessional, do you (asking for a friend)? At least not as unprofessional as still forgetting to tap the Zoom microphone icon before speaking so everyone has to say, “you’re on mute.” Oh well, at least at the end of the day the list generated more lively chatter than depressing chit-chat about the supply chain.

The Banished Words List of 2022 contains some good ones.

That last paragraph is not a complete embellishment. I did have some lively conversations about the banished words with some of my colleagues. When you specialize in marketing and communications, a list like this can produce a lot of laughs and perhaps a wake up call.

You see, I must admit that I consistently used at least a few of the banished words/terms in 2021. What does that say about me as a communicator? I definitely don’t want to develop a reputation as someone who speaks in an endless stream of clichés.

Then again, who is to say that Lake Superior State University is the main authority on what words should be retired or not? I mean, I they have only been at this for 46 years.

As guilty as I am for using and abusing this year’s banished words, I do have a soft spot for the list. I think it is a great reflection on the cultural vibe of the past year and a fitting time capsule of the English vernacular. At the end of the day, as long as Don’t Blink never makes an appearance on the list I have no worries. Don’t Blink.

The Sweetness of a Post-Dec. 25 Christmas Family Celebration

There is a priest in the Spokane Diocese named Fr. Darrin Connall. On a couple different occasions I have heard him speak about how/when he spends Christmas with his mom and other family members. Because priests typically find themselves quite busy on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, his family will convene for a celebration post-Dec. 25.

The Connall family sets a date during the Christmas Octave (the eight days of Christmas from Dec. 25 – Jan. 1) to gather and open gifts. If you listen to Fr. Connall speak about these occasions, he will always say that they are stress free affairs without the hustle and bustle that usually come with Christmas celebrations that take place either on the eve or actual day.

In the past, we have done the same thing with our Reser Christmas celebration. When my wife and I lived in Myrtle Beach, we tried to visit Spokane for the holidays but would usually arrive after Christmas Day. Thus, my family would have our prime rib dinner and open gifts during that week after Dec. 25. Just like with Fr. Connall’s family, there was always a nice vibe of calmness and relaxation that came with these celebrations

Our family eating Christmas dinner on Saturday, Jan. 8.

This past Christmas, we had another opportunity to celebrate post-Dec. 25. Only this time around it wasn’t because we were visiting the area after Christmas but rather because we were returning to the area after Christmas…we are true Spokanites now. We departed for South Carolina on Dec. 16 (too early to celebrate before our trip) and didn’t return until January 1. This set the stage for our gathering this past Saturday.

It is kind of nice to open gifts a couple weeks after everyone else you know already did.

Just like previous late Christmas shindigs, this one was happy and special. The pressure was off and the Yuletide cheer was on. Heck, I even wore my ugly holiday sweater. While much of the world had moved on from Christmas, we got to enjoy one final dose of the most wonderful time of the year. It was a big hit with everyone, especially the kids.

My niece and I at our Reser family Christmas celebration this past Saturday.

If you ever must celebrate your family Christmas after the actual day, don’t fret. The waiting might seem tough but know that it is worth it. In fact, you will probably want to “delay” Christmas on annual basis from that point on. Don’t Blink.

The Best Travel Mistake

It may have not been the best mistake ever but it still worked out pretty well. 

When we booked travel to spend the holidays in Myrtle Beach, we were set to return to Spokane on Dec. 31…or so we thought. Our understanding was that we would leave South Carolina on New Year’s Eve at 2:30 p.m. and land in Washington around 10 p.m. in time to watch the ball drop. The itinerary called for a couple of short layovers in Charlotte and Dallas, par for the course when you are traveling commercial across the country.

A look outside our window as we flew from Charlotte to Dallas.

It wasn’t until the beginning of December that we noticed a slight mistake. Yes, we were scheduled to leave Myrtle Beach on Dec. 31 at 2:30 p.m. And, yes, we were still scheduled to land in Spokane at 10 p.m. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for 10 p.m. on Dec. 31…it was for Jan. 1.

Upon closer look at our itinerary, the a.m’s and p.m’s weren’t what we thought. Instead of landing in Charlotte at 3:30 p.m. and departing at 5:45 p.m., we were actually departing Charlotte at 5:45 a.m…the next day. Instead of landing in Dallas at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31, we were landing in Dallas at 7 a.m. on Jan. 1. And, instead of departing Dallas at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, we were departing Dallas at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 1. Yikes.

We tried to contact American Airlines and change our itinerary. They couldn’t help. We decided that we would take matters into our own hands and just drive to Charlotte early on Jan. 1 to catch our 5:45 a.m. flight. This would let us spend a little more time with family and avoid spending the night in Charlotte. Not so fast. American Airlines was going to count this as a change of reservation and charge us $700…per person.

Needless to say, we were stuck with our 30-hour itinerary. With no option to tweak it unless we wanted to shell out more than a couple grand, we decided we would make the best of it.

We decided that we would make the best of our 30-hour itinerary.

Our plan for the Charlotte leg of the trip was to get some dinner and spend the night. We landed in the Charlotte airport on New Year’s Eve, gathered our luggage (we had to pick up our checked luggage because we were going more than 12 hours between flights), and then rented a car. Because of our early flight the next morning and our heavy luggage haul, we didn’t want to depend on shuttles or an Uber.

After stopping at a grocery store, we checked into our hotel. It was the Charlotte Hampton airport hotel but our kids seemed to think it was a Disney resort. They loved the change of scenery and chance to stay in a room with a refrigerator, two beds, and microwave.

A photo of us going up the elevator at our Charlotte hotel.

We left our room for a drive around Charlotte and to pick up some fast food. We then returned to the hotel and watched NYE coverage and ate our dinner in bed.

Sloan and Beau in the hotel room watching “Sing.”

Sid and I were up early on New Year’s Day to get the car packed and the kids dressed. We made the short drive to the Charlotte airport and we were soon on a plane to Dallas. Once we landed we picked up our rental car and drove off to enjoy an adventure in a city we had never visited before.

Sloan standing next to an inflatable Dallas Cowboys helmet at the rental car center in Dallas.

We only had about nine hours so we had to stick to a tight schedule. We headed to the Dallas Zoo, one of the best of its kind in the country. Because it was the slow season for the zoo, we only paid $8 per person for tickets. For far less than what it costs to go to the movies, we were able to admire some of the most magnificent animals on the planet.

Sloan and Beau at the entrance to the Dallas Zoo. We had a great time!

After the zoo we did something that Sid and I always do if the city that we are in has one—we ate at the Cheesecake Factory! Surprisingly, we got a table right away and enjoyed a delicious lunch. Our cheesecake of choice this time was S’mores Galore. So good!

Our Cheesecake Factory experience in Dallas was delicious.

At this point our time in Dallas was starting to dwindle but we managed to squeeze in a trip to a park. With just hours before we returned to snow and freezing temperatures, how couldn’t we take advantage of the 70-degree day? We visited Flag Pole Park, a beautiful green area that recently had a new playground built by the Jordan Spieth Foundation. An all-inclusive play area dominated by cargo net structures, both Sloan and Beau enjoyed a unique experience while meeting many new “friends.”

Sloan hanging out at Flag Pole Park in Dallas.

Once we finished playing at the park we started to make our way back to the airport. On the way, I ventured into my first ever Five Below store and Sidney walked into the largest Target she had ever been in. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and with some new experiences under our belts.

Our travel adventure would not have been complete without a delay at the Dallas Airport. The kids passed the time by eating ice cream on the floor at our gate.

As Sidney and I evaluated the whirlwind extension of our vacation, we agreed that it didn’t turn out so bad. In fact, Sid even suggested we do something similar (on purpose) when booking our next trip to visit family in Myrtle Beach. I don’t know if we will go that far, but after what was a stressful time trying to rectify our mistake, everything ended up turning out great. Don’t Blink.

First Thursday Rundown of 2022

There is always something special about the first Thursday Rundown of the year. Well, actually there isn’t, but I thought that line sounded good. But if you have truly found yourself distraught because I haven’t written a rundown “since last year,” I am about to make you happy again. Here we go with my first Thursday Rundown of 2022…

Another Perfect Gift – For Christmas 2020, Sid gave me a lap desk which has pretty much been the best present ever as I use it on a daily basis. So how do you top that? Simple—you give your mostly-remote-working-social media-loving husband a ring light. It is now set up at my desk to enhance my numerous daily virtual meetings AND to occasionally allow a certain curious daughter the opportunity to play with the light’s controls (she loves the different colors it can project). Thanks, Sid!

My ring light is now fully installed at my desk. I like it!

Snow For Days – We thought we were dodging the snow by visiting Myrtle Beach for two weeks. Unfortunately for us, it never stopped snowing in Spokane as by the time we arrived home on Saturday the white stuff was still falling down. But while my attitude to the snow might be lukewarm, our kids absolutely love it. Sidney took Sloan and Beau to play in our backyard yesterday and they didn’t want to come in. We received another several inches today but it looks like the snow will go away for the weekend.

The kids play in the snow on Jan. 5, 2022, while Sid looks on. We have sooooo much snow.

Movie Reviews – I have a couple Netflix films I quickly wanted to chime in about. While in Myrtle Beach I watched “The Unforgivable” starring Sandra Bullock. Something is revealed at the end of the movie that will make a big light bulb go off in your brain but other than that I found the film average, if not borderline depressing. It came highly recommended from family members but I just didn’t think it was all that great. On Sunday we took the day to relax after a couple days of travel and I watched “Don’t Look Up.” Sure, everyone knows that the movie is a satire about global warming but I was watching it for the cast! I am a big Leonardo DiCaprio fan so I couldn’t wait to see him play an awkward college professor. Jonah Hill, another one of my favorites, was extra savage to poor Jennifer Lawrence who delivered a respectable performance. The film delivered plenty of laughs and touched on the current political landscape beyond just global warming. I recommend it.

As long as you don’t get easily offended, you will probably find yourself laughing while watching “Don’t Look Up.”

A Bit Problematic – Recently, the 2022 Banished Words list was released. It contains words and phrases that are clichés and/or don’t make sense. I really think the usage of 200% on this box of muffins could qualify. Lowe’s (not be confused with the hardware chain) is a line of grocery stores in the South. They make delicious bakery items but I don’t know how that translates to a “quality promise” of 200%…or if that is even possible. I think it is wise to recognize a 100% effort as the maximum threshold for excellence—yes, I even slightly cringe at “claiming” 110%. If the store wants to stick with its 200% “quality promise,” why stop there? Maybe when I return to Lowe’s in a year they offer a 1000% quality promise. It just doesn’t make sense to me and cheapens what it means to give 100%.

Making this “quality promise” is problematic.

Classic Mix – Over the holidays I saw this very special pack of M&M’s. It is a “Classic Mix” that contains the brand’s iconic options…milk chocolate, peanut butter, and peanut. This is the first time I had ever seen it and I had to ask myself what took them so long? I think this is a great idea and a combination that many M&M lovers like myself appreciate. Good to see that this is now on the shelves!

Couldn’t help but take a photo of these when I came across them in a Myrtle Beach Walmart.

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Thanks Be to God there was peace on this day. I appreciate you reading and I hope you have a safe weekend. Don’t Blink.

Our Christmas 2021 Trip to Myrtle Beach

Sidney, Sloan, Beau, and I were blessed to visit my wife’s family (and our old home) this past month. Myrtle Beach treated us well as we celebrated the holidays and spent time with loved ones who hold special spots in our hearts. To summarize our trip, I thought it would be wise to briefly describe 10 happenings/themes from our time in South Carolina.

Staycation – Sid’s parents rented a condo right on the beach for our family and the families of Sid’s two sisters. We spent several days playing at the resort’s water park, creating Christmas crafts, eating family dinners, and enjoying the beautiful ocean scenery. It was a great opportunity to for everyone to come together, catch up, and get into the Christmas spirit.

Beau and Sloan look out at the ocean from one of our condo windows.

Christmas Eve/Christmas Day – Ah yes, the reason for the season! We attended the 4 p.m. Christmas Eve mass at St. Andrew. After that we went over to my sister-in-law’s house to hang out and eat baked ziti. We came back to my mother-in-law’s house and I stayed up until midnight until it was officially Christmas. On Christmas morning we all gathered to open gifts and later that day we went back over to my sister-in-law’s house for a prime rib Christmas dinner.

Sloan and I after Christmas Eve mass.

Gorgeous Weather – The previous two times we traveled back to Myrtle Beach we had no shortage of rain and cold. Not this time. We basked in numerous 75 degree and sunny days over the course of the two weeks we were there. The conditions allowed me to take Sloan to the park, play basketball outside with my nephew, and go for a run through my in-laws’ neighborhood. While Spokane was being pounded with snow, I made sure the savor the sunshine and warm temperatures.

The weather was beautiful and plenty of Otter Pops were consumed.

Old Friends – In addition to spending time with Sid’s family, we also got to re-connect with some of our dearest Myrtle Beach friends. One particular day Sloan got to visit the trampoline park and go out to lunch with Jacqueline, the BFF she was inseparable with when we lived in South Carolina. The day before we traveled back home, we went over to the home of our spiritual mentors, Tim and Kathy McCormick, for breakfast. I even got to see my former Knights of Columbus brothers when they invited me to drop by before one of their meetings.

Jacqueline and Sloan were re-united again and did lunch together.

Old Places – Over the course of our trip I worked out at the gym I used to exercise at on a daily basis, Iron Legacy. It is still old school and it still has the nicest owners. Best of all, we returned to St. Andrew a few different times for mass. So many good things happened to our family within those walls and it is always special to return to worship God.

A photo I took of Iron Legacy in Dec. 2021. This was taken from inside the class studio and it spans the main workout floor.

Baby Jack – We had plenty of time to see the newest addition to the Mathis family, Jack. When we visited Myrtle in June, he was only a couple weeks old. Now past the 7-month mark, he had grown considerably but was still as sweet as could be. It was fun and hilarious to watch Beau interact with his new cousin. Sid and I each made sure to get our snuggles with our handsome nephew over the time we were there.

Sidney holding Jack and Beau.

Sing 2 – The second week we were there a group of us went to see “Sing 2.” It was a super cute film that had us singing and dancing in our seats the whole time. Just having the opportunity to watch a movie in a theater was a special experience by itself.

Sloan and her cousins at the movie theater to watch “Sing 2.”

On the Small Screen – Going to the theater was really nice but watching programming on television wasn’t bad either. I had the pleasure of watching numerous college football games. Laying in bed at night, Sid and I would watch “Fear Factor” re-runs and after she fell asleep I watched poker. Probably best of all was watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve. Believe it or not, I had never watched the movie until that point. I truly was missing out!

I watched “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the first time this Christmas season.

Good Food – We ate and we ate and we ate. The best part? It was all delicious. From the prime rib Christmas dinner to our takeout favorites to the baked ziti we didn’t obsess over calorie counting. All the baked goods available kept us munching the whole trip.

We baked Red Lobster cheddar biscuits to go with our baked ziti on Christmas Eve,

Bananagram – A game we played both at the condo and at Sud’s parents’ house was Bananagram. It is kind of like a more individualistic, faster-paced Scrabble. It was the perfect game to relax and enjoy a snack with. I had a nice time playing it and even won a few rounds.

What one of my rounds of Bananagram looked like.

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What a blessing it was to spend some solid time with Sid’s family. We were sad to leave everyone in South Carolina but thankful for the memories we were able to bring back. We can’t wait for our next visit. Don’t Blink.

How To Make 2022 Special

Do you want to do something really special this year? Do you want to do something that will undoubtedly distinguish 2022 from all other years? If so, do this: Read the entire bible.

That can seem like a daunting task but there is something (and someone) that can make it much more manageable. Friends, while it is still early in January, consider doing the Bible In A Year Podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz.

The Bible in a Year podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz is incredible.

After some nudging from a friend in mid-January last year, I started the journey. I crammed multiple episodes per day for a week and by about Jan. 20 I was all caught up. From that point on, I listened to a single podcast episode per day for the remainder of 2021 and on December 31 I had made it through the entire bible from Genesis through Revelation. It was awesome.

Don’t get too hung up on the fact that Fr. Schmitz is a Catholic priest. No matter if you are a different denomination, non-denominational, or even an atheist you will appreciate the way that he navigates through the bible and drives home key points. He is extremely inclusive, respectful, positive, and engaging. You will love him from the first episode.

Speaking of episodes, each one averages about 20 minutes. Fr. Schmitz breaks it up by reading a couple different books simultaneously in addition to a couple verses from Psalms or Proverbs. He reads the content first, offers a prayer, and then delivers a mini homily on that day’s readings. The format works perfectly and offers solid structure to an incredibly important endeavor.

If you choose to commit to the Bible In A Year Podcast, just make sure to carve out time on a daily basis to actually listen to it. I would always begin it on my morning drive to the gym and usually finish on my living room couch when I returned home. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better way to start my day. But timing might be different for you. Your ideal time to listen might be at night before you go to bed or possibly during your lunch hour. My point is that you can choose whatever time is convenient for you but just remember to do your best to listen to that daily episode.

Personally, the experience was very rewarding for me. I learned a lot about how the New Testament is a fulfillment of the Old Testament and how God wants us to worship. That’s not to say it was entirely smooth sailing. At times I was disturbed, alarmed, and confused. But Fr. Schmitz had a way of explaining a lot of the “brokenness” described in the bible.

There is just so much good stuff in the bible. When it came to the Old Testament, I especially liked the Maccabees books, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah. For the New Testament, besides the gospels, I enjoyed journeying through Acts and thought that James was beautiful. Speaking of the gospels, Fr. Schmitz does something that makes a lot of sense. Over the course of the year he introduces “Messianic checkpoints” where he will take a week to read through one of the gospels. Because the Old Testament is much longer than the New Testament, he didn’t want us to have to wait until November before we started to hear about Jesus. Thus, the gospels are sprinkled in throughout the 12 months.

Fr. Schmitz introduced his Bible In A Year Podcast last year. It quickly ascended to the No. 1 podcast in the United States. He recorded the show in a fashion that makes it timeless. You can start the podcast whenever you want and it will never seem out of date. Surprise, surprise….the podcast is once again No. 1 in the country as we begin 2022.

Take a chance and journey with Fr. Mike Schmitz by listening to the Bible In A Year Podcast. If you ever want to chat, please let me know. Whether you listen to the podcast in 2022 or not, may God bless you this year. Don’t Blink.