Water Balloon Fun

I remember some of those summer evenings pretty vividly. All the kids on my street would walk over to the neighborhood park for some unique fun. My dad and a couple other neighborhood fathers designed a pretty powerful device using common medical supplies. They used surgical tubing and a common container to make a water balloon launcher.

They would take the contraption down to a picnic shelter and tie it to the posts while us kids would gather in a field about 75 yards away. The dads would then draw from an overflowing large bucket of water balloons and let ‘er rip.

I don’t necessarily share the same passion of getting wet as I did 20 years ago, but it seemed like all of us youngins tried to be magnets for the balloons as they shot up into the sky and descended into our mob. Don’t worry, most of the water came from the balloons although some of it was of the tear-variety when impact to the face produced more of a bruise than cool relief from the sun.

Many years later, I found myself in the same park. This time, the picnic shelter was gone and so was the balloon launcher. But not the water balloons.

My parents hosted a family reunion during the summer of 2017 and my always-entertaining aunts, uncles, and cousins decided to stage an epic water balloon fight. We filled up more than 2,500 water balloons and let them fly! We owned the park that afternoon as onlookers gazed at the massive water struggle unfolding on my old childhood stomping grounds. This frenzy reinvigorated my fondness for water balloons.

A look at some of the water balloons we filled up for the water fight in 2017.

Now three years later, I have once again found myself in close proximity to Camelot Park. Over the past month, I have taken Sloan across the street numerous times. It was only a matter of time before I busted out the water balloons.

Yesterday, Sloan and I made a stop at the store to pick up an assortment of balloons. We came home and she followed me to the bathroom sink where we filled up the balloons with water, just like I did decades ago. After we had a small basket of colorful balloons filled with H2O, we took it outside. As an actual water balloon fight will come a little later in her life, I let he simply experiment with them. She popped them with a long toothpick, burst them with a plastic baseball bat, and threw them on spiky grass. It was Water Balloons 101.

Sloan enjoyed playing with water balloons the other day.

Water balloons symbolize summer as much as hot dogs or fireworks. As we approach the summer solstice, consider purchasing a pack or two of them for the long evening. Don’t Blink.

Our Fourth Wedding Anniversary

There is a Maren Morris song I am quite fond of. It is called “The Bones” and it explains that any relationship will endure and prosper despite obstacles as long as the foundation is strong.

When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter. Yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter.

As I sit here and reflect on four years of marriage to the best girl I know, I think we got good bones. I went back and read the anniversary blog post I wrote on our third anniversary and realized that the three factors I attributed to our solid marriage cultivated themselves even more over the past year…

It has been a blessed fourth year of marriage

From Husband and Wife to Parents – A year ago, I mentioned that having a baby so early in our marriage strengthened it more than the common notion of weakening it. Sloan gave us a shared love but also motivated us to make sure our marriage was strong for her. This sentiment doubled over the past year with the birth of Beau.

Our family grew and so did the strength of our marriage.

The Best Examples – I can never say it enough. Learning how it is done from parents who are in long, loving marriages is extremely advantageous. This year, we got an even greater perspective on these strong marriages because we lived with both Sid’s parents and my parents for periods of time.

It has been a blessing to learn about what it takes to build a strong marriage from our parents.

Marriage Rooted in the Church – Making a commitment to each other and to God in his sacred place guided our marriage in the right direction from the onset. But over the past year, Sid and I took a serious journey in becoming closer to God. We took RCIA classes together that resulted in Sid’s conversion to Catholicism and my own increased faith. This only increased the bonds of our holy union.

With a marriage rooted in the Church, how can’t it be successful?

But it wasn’t just the reinforcement of these three tenets that kept our marriage healthy over the past year. Rather, it was also the emergence of an additional principle.

I am talking about the need to trust each other and take risks.

Sid and I made the biggest decision of our marriage to pack up and move across the country. We had a safe, nice life in Myrtle Beach. We also had a brand new son who was adjusting to the world. But we knew an opportunity awaited.

Seizing the opportunity entailed many leaps of faith. But after manufacturing the move, saying many difficult goodbyes, living apart for eight weeks, and adjusting to a new normal, the bones are as strong as ever.

After eight weeks apart, we were re-united in time to spend the last month of our fourth year of marriage together.

Happy anniversary, Sid! I am so honored and thankful to be married to you. Four years down, forever to go. Don’t Blink.

One Epic Treasure Hunt

How come I never heard about this until today?

When scanning the paper this morning, I learned about an old man who was adventurous (crazy) enough to stage the treasure hunt of a lifetime. He buried a 42-pound treasure chest in a remote location in the Rocky Mountains and filled it with $2 million worth of gold, rubies, diamonds, and jewels.

This was 10 years ago.

Recently, a person finally found the jackpot. After a decade that motivated close to a half million treasure seekers to go exploring, the skillful new millionaire sent a photo of the unearthed chest to Forrest Fenn, the 89-year-old man who sponsored the hunt.

Fenn definitely has quite the personality. In his 2010 autobiography, he announced the treasure hunt and penned a 24-line poem that contained clues about where to find it. People didn’t think twice about quitting their jobs to become fulltime treasure hunterd. They also didn’t hesitate to sacrifice their well-being. At least two people died while trying to find the elusive treasure. Despite pleas from New Mexico Police (where Fenn lives) to call off the hunt, the old man believed people should be able to “immerse themselves in the wilderness” regardless of whether they perished or not.

This man, Forrest Fenn, staged an epic treasure hunt.

After reading the article and thinking about it off and on, I just have a few thoughts about the whole thing…

If you are looking to strike it rich and have at least remedial outdoor skills, finding buried treasure surely has better odds than winning the lottery.

The man who found the treasure has indicated to Fenn his desire to remain anonymous. When he found the treasure, do you think he was able to haul it out of there without anyone noticing?

What would have happened if Forrest Fenn died before anyone found the treasure? Did he have a sealed document (presumably in another 42-pound chest) that gave directions to where the treasure was buried?

Seriously, when is the movie about this coming out?!

In addition to all the gold and rubies, I kind of hope Fenn included a bottle of champagne and some non-perishable food as well.

Could you imagine if someone like Warren Buffet wanted to stage 100 different treasure hunts like this? He could put treasure chests containing $2 million in two different locations in each state. People would go absolutely nuts (and many more deaths would probably occur).

Is the guy who found the treasure going to trade it all in for cold hard cash?

Who do you think would be more interesting to have a beer with? Forrest Fenn or the guy who found the treasure?

Will a memorial be placed at the site of where the treasure was found honoring the people who died looking for it?

Honestly, well played to Mr. Fenn for finding a hiding spot so good that it took 350,000 people more than 3,650 days to find it.

Next time, can we make this into a reality show? Don’t Blink.

Cheesy Thursday Rundown

Good evening, one and all. Hope your first week of June is going well and that your friends and families are healthy. What do you say we rattle off five more topics tonight?…

Retro Snack – Who else loved Dunkaroos as a kid? Before I developed a taste for dipping chips in salsa, I preferred dipping cookies in frosting! Dunkaroos bring back fond childhood memories so I was happy that after a long discontinuation, the snack was brought back this year. Sloan is able to enjoy the gloriousness of Dunkaroos thanks to Uncle Glen and Aunt Carrie––they bring her a package pretty much every time they see her. Now, if only I can convince her to share with me.

Sloan eating Dunkaroos. I used to love those things.

June Summer Nights – It is that time of the year when I encourage everyone to savor these summer nights. The longest days of the year take place in June and are prime opportunity for making memories and having fun. It stays light out longer in Washington than South Carolina, something that Sid and I are trying to take advantage of with Sloan. We are enjoying evening wilderness hikes, strolls through the park, and lawn games in my parents’ front yard. Just trying to soak it up.

Sloan and Beau have spent a lot of time outside with us (and gradnma) during these early June evenings.

National Cheese Day – Today has been designated National Cheese Day, something I have no qualms with celebrating. I don’t know what life would be like without dishes that depend on cheese such as pizza, nachos, and mac and cheese. My favorite snack is cheese and crackers. I live for the cheese trays you can buy at Costco. A restaurant that Sid and I adore is called the CHEESEcake Factory. But I wanted to mark National Cheese Day on Don’t Blink by revealing my favorite type of cheese. In a world full of delicious cheeses, pepper jack ranks at the top of my list.

Even parmesan cheese is worth celebrating on National Cheese Day!

Happy Anniversary – Wanted to end tonight’s rundown by extending a happy anniversary to my sister and brother-in-law. They said their vows nine years ago here in Spokane. I hope they get the chance to celebrate tonight. Congratulations, Miranda and Jay.

Miranda and Jay are celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary today.

Rocks – Remember in a recent blog post when I described “scientific” stuff I did outside? Well, one of the things I mentioned was collecting rocks. My old habit has rubbed off on Sloan. When we go on our walks around the neighborhood and in the woods, she will pick up “souvenirs” along the way. We will then ceremoniously place them in a plastic cup I have in my office. Better cool rocks than overpriced toys, right?

This is Sloan’s rock collection.

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Get out and enjoy your evening, it is beautiful! Thanks for reading and I will touch base next week. Don’t Blink.

Tweaking Our Viewing Habits

When I was in that weird eight-week-type Purgatory between when I moved to Spokane and when my family joined me, I did something more than anything else: I watched movies.

My typical schedule during that 56-day stretch was pretty monotonous. I would wake up, work, eat dinner, and then watch a movie. During that period I watched approximately 40 films with my dad. It felt so strange at first. After I clocked out for the day, it felt like I had an endless evening with no responsibilities. This “freedom” allowed me to not think twice about setting aside two hours each night to sit on the couch and watch some random Netflix movie.

However, trust me, that freedom wasn’t worth the emptiness of not having your family with you. So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t heartbroken when my movie binge ended once Sidney and the kids arrived. Parents simply don’t have the luxury of devoting 120 minutes to the TV screen each night with multiple kids. Spending quality time with them, bathing them, getting them ready for bed, and then actually helping them fall asleep is a complex process that takes time. When you complete it, you often just want to go to bed.

But Sid and I have found a middle ground between throwing in the towel and watching a feature-length film. The two of us have embraced watching series on Netflix. Taking 45-55 minutes to watch a single episode aligns much more with our schedule than investing two hours in a film that you might not even like.

Looking back at the past 25 days, Sid and I would recommend the following three Netflix series selections…

Waco – This true crime series chronicles the final days of the Branch Davidians and their eccentric leader David Koresh. After pretty much watching everything possible on the Jonestown tragedy, I decided to learn more about a different cult. I liked this series because of the portrayals of Koresh and his right hand man, Steve Schneider. But what interested me the most were the negotiation tactics employed throughout the series. You learn a lot about how the FBI negotiates and how in-fighting between government agencies sometimes derails major crisis situations.

This series really gave you great insight into FBI negotiations.

Sweet Magnolias – A series completely chosen at Sidney’s discretion, I decided to watch because it takes place in South Carolina. The episodes follow three women who have been friends since childhood and features their various exploits and drama. It has a little bit of everything and is pretty lighthearted…not exactly my thing but Sid really enjoyed it.

Sidney loved this show.

Reckoning – We are currently right in the middle of this series. It is a whodunit as we are spinning our heads trying to figure out who the sadistic serial killer is in a small California town. The characters are complex, shocking, and unpredictable. Scandal is constantly present and cringe-worthy moments are abundant. I have noticed a lot of symbolism and dualism, so if that is your thing you might enjoy this series. Or, if you just fancy a good mystery, “Reckoning” might be for you also. We can’t wait to watch the next episode.

This show will entertain and thrill you.

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The summer is here and we still don’t have sports, so buy some ice cream and pick a Netflix series for these long June nights. Don’t Blink.

Hoping For a Better June

On May 1, I tweeted that it was going to be a promising month. I wrote it from a self-centered point of view, hoping for the best about events happening in my life. Yes, May turned out awesome for me. I was re-united with my family and we took numerous big steps toward building our life out west. Additionally, it was another positive and fulfilling several weeks at Washington State University.

I had high hopes for May. It delivered for me what about so many others?

But how good can a month be on a personal level when it is so horrendous on a national one?

You can’t really spin it, May 2020 was rough for the United States. Many things contributed to the ugly month but a big fat exclamation mark was added in the final week with the inexcusable death of George Floyd and the events that followed.

The month was another tough pill to swallow in what has been a forgettable 2020. In February you could find people joking on social media about how the year was already cursed. Well, it isn’t a joke anymore––the year 2020 has already brought enough sadness and gloom to last a decade. This isn’t funny.

I feel guilty that I have heralded 2020 as “The Year of the Resers” because it is more like “The Year of Catastrophe” for so many others. Although I can’t downplay the birth of my son, all the other blessings and milestones of this year seem absolutely trivial to the grim reality that millions of others are feeling.

I am praying that our country turns a corner in June. We need some breaks, we need some compassion, and we need people to wake up––myself included. Don’t Blink.

Routine Thursday Rundown

How is everyone doing this evening? I must say this Thursday Rundown seemed to sneak up on me a bit. Holiday weekends sure make the ensuing week go by fast! How about we get started? Here are tonight’s five topics…

Handshake 2020 – Although I mentioned that I could see the handshake “going away” post-pandemic, I don’t think the greeting my brother and I have been doing for 17 years ever will. Back in 2017, I wrote about the special handshake we made up as kids that we continue to do to this day. This past weekend, we filmed our little routine once again. For our most updated rendition, click here.

Last weekend, we filmed our classic handshake.

Update on Babies – Thought I would give a quick update on my children! Beau truly is a good baby. He is mellow and low maintenance. The little guy is doing well and will celebrate four months of life next week. Has it really been a third of a year?! Sloan is over the moon happy and will say some of the silliest things to ever come out of a toddler’s mouth. On the other hand, she will also “wow” you at times by saying some deep and loving thoughts. Every morning that I wake up with these two I can’t believe how lucky I am.

These two bring so much joy to my life.

Lotus – One of the best parts about moving to Washington for Sidney is the COFFEE. She goes to an espresso stand called Bean Me Up every day. I don’t drink coffee but she brought me back something special today. She delivered to my home office a Lotus flavored drink. Lotus is an energy drink but the espresso stand mixes it with flavoring and cream. When Sidney drove up to the window, she ordered here usual white chocolate mocha and then told the barista to make me a Lotus drink using whatever flavoring she thought would taste good. Although I couldn’t pinpoint what flavoring she used precisely, I think it may have been strawberry. Whatever it was it tasted great and gave me a boost!

The Lotus drink I enjoyed today gave me a nice boost.

Cotton Candy Kool-Aid – We didn’t get to drink soda much growing up, but we did drink a lot of Kool-Aid during the summers. My mom would let us pick several packets off the grocery store shelves to bring home but I definitely never saw a cotton candy flavor. Supposedly you can find the new flavor at CVS but I am a little out of luck because Spokane doesn’t have a CVS. Oh well, if the cotton candy Kool-Aid flavor is anything like the cotton candy Bang flavor, I don’t think I will be missing much.

Say hello to cotton candy Kool-Aid.

Hamburger Day – It is National Hamburger Day so what better time for me to say that I love myself a big, juicy hamburger? I also love a good topping to go with it! A few years ago I actually blogged about my favorite hamburger toppings and, yes, peanut butter was definitely on the list. I like my burgers cooked medium with a fresh bun and lots of cheese. My favorite burger place is River City Café in Myrtle Beach but now that I am out west a hamburger from Red Robin or the Onion will do just fine. Hope you all have fun “celebrating” tonight.

Nothing better than a good hamburger!

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So that will do it for this latest Thursday Rundown. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your May and live it up this weekend. As always, please continue to pray for an end to this pandemic and for those first responders who are actively battling against it. Don’t Blink.

A Spokane Chinese Restaurant Story

Sometimes you just feel like ordering takeout Chinese food, right? That was the sentiment of Sidney and I last Friday. After a long week, we wanted to decompress by watching Netflix and enjoying some General Tso’s chicken and egg rolls.

We opted for a place located in a mini strip mall close to my parents’ house. As a child I ate there numerous times but it had been at least 15 years since my last dining experience with this establishment.

Sidney phoned in the order and I went to pick it up. I walked through the doors and approached the owner who was at the counter. I gave her the name of my order and she started to bag my items. As she did this, I looked up at the chalk-written menu and based on what we ordered I started to calculate the total in my head.

When the owner finished putting all of our items in a couple different bags, she announced the total. I was pleasantly surprised because it was about $15 less than what I estimated. After I paid, we had a nice conversation about how business was doing during the pandemic. When I asked how long the restaurant has been open, she replied with 29 years. She was really nice and I left the restaurant with a smile on my face.

I returned home and took out our items. I immediately knew something wasn’t right. We had steamed rice instead of fried rice, almond chicken instead of General Tso’s chicken, soup instead of egg rolls, etc. On the bright side, they did include Sid’s favorite item, crab ragoons. We probably could have eaten what they gave us, but we were kind of itching for what we ordered. I called the restaurant to alert them of the mix up and to give the head’s up that I was going to return.

The owner was extremely apologetic and kind. I assured her it was no big deal and that I didn’t have to drive far to get back to the restaurant. When I walked through the doors, the owner was once again sympathetic and polite. I had realized that I paid less than I thought I would because she charged me for a different order. I asked her if I could please pay the full amount for our original order but she wouldn’t take any additional payment. Not only did they re-make our entire order, but they also let us keep the original side of crab ragoons and steamed rice. I once again walked out of the restaurant smiling.

Once I returned home, I took the food out of the bags for a second time. Everything that was supposed to be there (in addition to the free items she threw in) was there. After organizing all the food on our table, I went to throw the plastic bags away when I noticed a small slip of paper at the bottom of one of them. I took it out, flipped it over, and smiled at a $20 gift card to the restaurant.

I thought it was so nice of the owner of Mr. Wok to include this gift certificate in our takeout bag.

Although an honest mistake was made, I was so impressed that the owner went way out of her way to overcompensate for the mix up. It was a very kind gesture and I can’t wait to go to Mr. Wok again. Don’t Blink.

Memorial Weekend 2020

It was another “first time in a long time” Spokane experience this past weekend. I had the opportunity to spend the Memorial Day holiday with my wife, children, siblings, parents, and relatives. What more could I ask for?

Spending Memorial Day weekend with these guys was simply awesome.

The long weekend really allowed me to spend some uninterrupted family time with my South Carolina transplants. This was the third weekend since the big move but the previous two were filled with activity and adjustment.

Well, perhaps the “adjustment” part was more just me getting used to waking up in the middle of the night again. Truth of the matter, Sloan and Beau adjusted to the relocation better than we could have ever hoped. I have never seen Sloan happier and after a few nights of mastering the time zone change, Beau is rocking this Washington-thing like a champ.

It warms my heart to see these twp girls so happy.

With that said, the stage truly was set for a memorable Memorial Day weekend. When I clocked out on Friday evening, I was ready to take full advantage of being around the people I love. I thought I would share the best part from each day during the Memorial holiday.

Friday – After helping us so much over the past two weeks, Sidney and I kicked my parents out of the house so they could have some fun (and peace and quiet) with each other. We opted to order Chinese food and watch our latest Netflix series. Sloan and Beau hung out with us as we just relaxed like old times. Once they fell asleep, Sidney rushed out of the house and brought us home Cold Stone ice cream!

It was a sweet end to our Friday night.

Saturday – Spokane County moved to Phase 2 of the governor’s re-opening plan on Friday, allowing restaurants to open for dine-in service. On Saturday evening, Sidney and I went out with my sister and her husband to Tomato Street, one of my favorite restaurants of all-time. It was so nice to enjoy adult conversation and eat a nice meal in an actual restaurant!

Sidney and I on our date night. So nice to eat in a restaurant!

Sunday – Perhaps the best day of the weekend! Two of my aunts traveled from Walla Walla to see Beau for the first time. We celebrated the occasion by having a big cookout. It was a gorgeous evening as we ate ribs outside and followed it up by playing lawn games. With everyone over, we all just really cut loose and enjoyed each other’s company.

Sunday was so much fun! My Aunt Nancy and Aunt Judy spoiled their great nieces and nephews.

Monday – Sloan played with her cousins, Mikayla and Johnny, all weekend long––but it still wasn’t enough by Monday afternoon. So, Sidney and I took her over to my sister’s house for the ultimate play date. Miranda had prepared a couple of activities for the kids. First they made molds from color crayon scraps and then they made something called Moon-Dough. After the crafts they concluded the ultimate “cousin weekend” with a game of hide-and-seek.

It was a lot of fun watching the kids make Moon-Dough.

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It was a holiday weekend where I truly felt blessed. To spend a few carefree days with many of the people I love while watching my little ones embrace their new surroundings was special. Thanks to everyone for making it possible. Don’t Blink.

Bad Combos Thursday Rundown

Good evening to everyone. I know we are all anxiously awaiting the Memorial Day Weekend––I can’t wait to spend it with my wife and kids! Let’s get started with my latest Thursday Rundown…

Not a Good Mix – I enjoy both of these cereals, but I don’t necessarily know if I would prefer them together. A frosted cereal and a fruity cereal just don’t seem like they would mesh well together. I think Froot Loops and Lucky Charms could possibly work as a duo but for the time being how about we just keep each classic sugary cereal in its own box?

I don’t think I could do this.

Ultimate Tag – After watching the finale of the Masked Singer last night, we decided to stick around for the debut of Ultimate Tag, a show hosted by the Watt brothers. The program is literally based on the game of tag but it takes place in a small arena and has a definite “American Gladiators” vibe to it. The concept is decent and the action itself is entertaining, but it has the same cheesy production style that has turned me off from other programs. Don’t think I will watch again.

This tweet explained my thoughts while watching “Ultimate Tag” last night.

Magic Eye – At my parents’ house, they have several books in the Magic Eye series that was popular in the 1990s. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t do them back then and I can’t really do them now. Last month, my team at work had a Zoom background contest for one of our Friday meetings and I turned my background into a Magic Eye image. I didn’t consider that my big body sitting in front of the puzzle would impact the ability of my co-workers to focus on the design. Oh well, I guess I go with Magic Eyes just about as well as Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops.

A Magic Eye book that I was skimming through at my parents’ house a couple nights ago.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches – Working from home these days, my peanut butter sandwich consumption has dropped to historically low levels. Six years ago on this date, I wrote about how I ate PB sandwiches obsessively for lunch. More recently, I wrote about how I started to scale back. Don’t get me wrong, I still like them, I am just not eating them…at the moment.

My peanut butter sandwich consumption has dropped drastically from six years ago.

Cousin Love – One of the best parts about Sidney and the kids arriving nearly two weeks ago has been watching Sloan play with her cousins. The past couple nights after work, I have walked up the stairs from my office and into the living room to see Sloan running around with Mikayla and Johnny. They are a handful but watching those three interact sure is rewarding.

I took these photos over the past couple night.


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Have a safe weekend everyone. I value your readership and interest. Please continue to pray for a swift resolution to the current pandemic. Don’t Blink.