Feeling Symmetrical

At this moment, we are about as proud as you could possibly be of a 9-month-old baby boy. Yesterday, Beau received the go-ahead to cease wearing the corrective helmet he started to sport in July. The good news came about a month and a half early as medical professionals originally said he would most likely have to wear it up until Christmas. We aren’t complaining.

This was Beau’s first day in his helmet.

Pre-helmet, Beau’s head was flat in the back, most likely misshaped due to the way he slept during his first couple months of life. Additionally, his ears weren’t symmetrical with the rest of his head. The writing was on the wall and we knew he would receive a healthy dose of helmet therapy. The time to start the treatment came this summer as Beau started making visits to our friends at the Hanger Clinic.

This was Beau’s last day in his helmet.

The prosthetist at the clinic performed specific measurements on Beau’s head to build him a custom helmet. Once his headgear was available, it was our job to make sure he wore it. For 23 hours a day, Beau dutifully wore his “space helmet” (as I called it). When it was time for Beau to take a bath, the helmet would come off and Sid would scrub his little head. While my wife was washing him in the tub, I would take the helmet and clean it by scrubbing it with a toothbrush dipped in shampoo.

This little helmet made a BIG difference.

During those summer months his head would get really hot, his sparse hair drenched in sweat when we took the helmet off to give him a breather. It was also a balancing act at the start as a therapist likened the helmet’s weight on his neck to a “bowling ball on a toothpick.” Additionally, welts would form on his sensitive skin during those initial days. But despite these early challenges, the adjustment wasn’t that bad—for Beau or us.

Some photos of Beau in his helmet.

It just all became routine. Beau got used to the helmet quickly and didn’t allow it to hinder his movement, sleep, or happiness. In fact, when we would take it off, he would actually tap his head wondering where his hat went. For Sid and I, it became second nature. Of course the helmet wasn’t invisible but it never phased us. It was just part of Beau and we never thought of it as abnormal.

Beau at the Hanger Clinic on Monday getting his final scan to finalize his progress.

As for others? We would get some stares and a question every now and then, but it was never like Beau was an oddity. If anything, we quickly found out that babies wearing helmets are much more common than we thought. Much of the feedback we received from both acquaintances and strangers was that they either knew a baby who had to wear one or raised a helmet-clad infant themselves.

Beau and I moments before he went with his mommy to his final appointment at the Hanger Clinic.

The coolest part of the helmet journey was watching the progress. Within a week we could already see a difference in the shape of Beau’s head. Sid would take Beau in every month to the Hanger Clinic and they would re-size his helmet by grinding it so that his head could continue to form in a symmetrical manner. At each monthly session, the prosthetist was extremely pleased with how things were progressing. It became increasingly evident that Beau would be getting out of his five-month sentence early.

A look at the progression of Beau’s head from pre-helmet to post-helmet. The arrows point to the flat spot on his head.

And yesterday was that day. Although Beau had grown comfortable wearing the helmet and we had started to admire how it protected his head against hard appliances, we were happy to see it come off. We can now kiss his head, not worry about nasty head butts, and get that family portrait taken. Sidney is especially excited for Beau to get his first haircut.

A look at Beau’s progress. The head diagram shows pre-treatment (dotted line) and present state (solid line). Also, Beau started with a diagonal difference of 16 mm. He now has a 4 mm difference. A normal person ranges from a 3-6 diagonal difference 🙂

Beau’s time in his helmet flew by and we are thankful for that. We are also thankful for the unmistakable results. Beau’s head is now normal and we don’t have to worry about dealing with it down the road. Thanks be to God! Don’t Blink.

The Man in My Living Room: Alex Trebek

If you have read Don’t Blink for even the shortest amount of time, you know that my wife and I are diehard Jeopardy fans. For most of our years as a couple, the show was a consistent part of our nightly routine. We literally kept score.

But my fandom for Jeopardy stretches back pre-Sidney. I watched it with my college roommate nightly in our dorm room. Growing up, my family would tune in multiple times per week. Our favorite computer game for our clunky desktop was Jeopardy. We had flash cards.

What made Jeopardy so endearing was its consistency. You had the structure, you had the theme music, and you had Johnny Gilbert. But of course the undisputed anchor piece—the glue that made the show a smashing success—was Alex Trebek.

RIP Alex Trebek

Waking up to the news yesterday morning that he had passed was not surprising but it was sad. A force who had been a part of my life for three decades, albeit from my television screen, was gone. Say what you will about having a connection with someone you had never actually met, Alex was in all of the numerous living rooms I have called home over my years on this planet. He really was like a houseguest.

I admired Alex Trebek because he was fair. The man hosted a hit game show with skill, accuracy, and diplomacy. There was never any doubt that a contestant would get a fair shake or that a round would go off without a hitch. He never showed bias and he took his personal integrity seriously. Because of this, Jeopardy was a game that could be enjoyed and trusted by everyone. He was the ultimate impartial referee.

Another redeeming trait of Alex’s that I respected was his dry sense of humor. Whether it was during his interviews with contestants or his quips between clues, Trebek never ceased to amaze me with his wittiness. He had a true knack for not missing a beat. It always came across as genuine, sly, and hilarious.

But I think maybe his best quality was his tenderness. Because of pop culture portrayals, Alex Trebek might be classified by some as an ultra serious, deadpan brainiac with a robotic personality. But for those of us who watched him regularly, we knew there was much more to him than an SNL parody or a cameo on “Jury Duty.” Alex was appreciative, compassionate, and authentic—all qualities that were evident as he interacted with contestants and viewers at home.

Jeopardy will never be the same. Hopefully Ken Jennings will be the new host and he will add his touch to the show, but there is simply no replacing the person who dealt out clues for the past 37 years.

I’ll take, I miss you for $1,000, Alex. Don’t Blink.

Pink Hair Thursday Rundown

I hope Election Week is treating you well during this tense time for our country. No matter what side you are on, I encourage you to choose peace and civility. Okay, let’s get started with the Thursday Rundown…

Behind the Scenes with Poppy – I love this photo of Sidney doing Sloan’s makeup for her Poppy costume. Sid’s concentration and Sloan’s seriousness make it a truly candid shot. If you all only knew how difficult it was to finally get Sloan—I mean Poppy—to stay still!

Sidney applying make-up to Sloan.

Pumpkin Baby – Since I am giving Sloan her own photo in tonight’s post, I believe my son deserves one too. On Monday night I shared a Halloween photo of both kids together in their costumes but here is one just of Beau. His pumpkin costume made him look quite plump but he was so cuddly in it. With the few teeth he has, Beau made the perfect jack-o-lantern.

Beau sporting a pumpkin costume.

A Meme That Rings True – I had to share yet another meme from my friend Lindsi because once again I can totally relate. Sloan is now at the age where she doesn’t choose the most obvious hiding spot when we play hide-and-seek. She is also at the age where I can get away with keeping one eye open when I am counting. Why do I sometimes cheat? Is it for her safety? My competitive spirit? My desire not to look in every nook and cranny in the house? Yep, it’s that last one. Although I feel a little guilty it’s not like Sloan doesn’t do it too.

This meme was relatable

National Calendar Not Quite Right – It happens quite a bit. I will look at the quirky National Day Calendar and see what gimmicky “holidays” are being celebrated. Many times I will take notice of one and think Hey, didn’t we already celebrate that this year? My suspicions, at least in one instance, were confirmed today. It is supposedly National Doughnut Day but it seemed like I didn’t have a full 52 weeks to work off the calories from the previous year’s day. I did a quick Google search and it turns out that National Doughnut Day also took place on June 5. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think an excuse to eat doughnuts is a bad thing but perhaps if there are duplicate “national days” on the calendar, perhaps they should space them out by at least six months? Anyway, if you want to know my top five favorite doughnuts, click here. Likewise, if you want to know about the doughnut-themed 5K I ran two years ago, click here.

Cool Follow – Speaking of doughnuts, a couple months ago I was searching the location tag of Amy’s Donuts on Instagram and I discovered @katinaeatskilos. Katina is a competitive bodybuilder turned competitive eater. However, despite going from barbells to calories, she has maintained a bodybuilder’s physique. Her Instagram account led me to her YouTube page where I watched her complete challenges such as eating a 72 ounce steak and gobbling up 12 pounds of cereal. Her story is unique and her posts/videos are engaging. Katina happens to be a Spokane native and visits Amy’s Donuts frequently, which of course led me to finding her. I am sure Amy’s doesn’t mind the publicity from this major social media influencer.

Katina does breakfast too! (photo courtesy of @katinaeatskilos).

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I think all of us could use some rest this weekend. I hope you get plenty of it while still remembering to do something nice for someone else. Thanks for reading. Don’t Blink.

Let’s Pray For Peace

With an election as contentious and bitter as this one, it really is tough to find a single thing that both sides would jointly endorse. Well, perhaps there is one…

Peace?

Shoot. Even that might be stretching it.

Let’s pray for peace today.

Nonetheless, I think peace is what we should all promote and embrace over the course of tonight and the long days that could follow as results are finalized.

Today at St. Mary Catholic Church, the parish that our family attends, Eucharistic Adoration will take place from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. with one sole intention: for peace to prevail. Even for people like me who can’t make it, I will still be praying in solidarity with my fellow parishioners and people all across the country for this intention to come to fruition.

Tensions and anxieties are high as this presidential election has all the fuel it needs to blow up with just the faintest spark. I think we all need to remember that. Even though most of the people who read my blog would never engage in outward violence, I think we all still need to be cognizant of how we engage today whether it be on social media, in small groups, or at the grocery store. Will what we say aim to divide or heal?

Pray for peace. Don’t Blink.

Halloween 2020

After spending the past six October 31 dates in South Carolina, it was a nice change to enjoy it out west this year. It just seemed more like Halloween. The air was crisp, the leaves were different colors, and I didn’t have to worry about candy melting.

Tonight I thought I would just cover some highlights and themes from the 2020 Reser Halloween.

Costumes: This year, Sloan dressed up as Poppy from “Trolls.” Having watched the movie no less than 100 times over the summer, Sloan was more than happy to wear the DIY costume that Sid put together for her. Beau was insistent on being a pumpkin and since it was his first Halloween, we granted his wish. For a quick video of both children in their costumes, click here.

Sloan as Poppy and Beau as a pumpkin.

Trick-or-Treat Plan: My sister and I trick-or-treated together for the first time in about 25 years on Saturday night. Well, our kids did at least. Sid and I took Sloan over to Miranda’s house so she could trick-or-treat with Mikayla and Johnny through their neighborhood. Every house we went to did a superb job of passing out candy in a way that was compliant with social distancing. Chutes, tongs, and gloves were all common as we trekked through the streets. Probably the biggest surprise of the night was the numerous full-sized candy bars the kids scored. It was a lot of fun!

These three had a great time trick-or-treating together.

Busy Streets: Before and after trick-or-treating with my sister, we spent time at my parents’ house (my mom watched Beau when we went over to Miranda’s). We helped pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters who seemed to ring the doorbell non-stop. Although it was about 50 less than normal a normal year, 163 trick-or-treaters still stopped by my mom and dad’s.

Sloan helping to pass out candy at my parents’ house.

Haunted Maze: While trick-or-treating with the kids, we encountered a house that had turned its lawn into a haunted maze. Props, eerie sounds, fog, and socially distanced spooks provided quite the experience. Sid wouldn’t even go through it because it looked so scary! Her fear was my advantage as she and my brother-in-law watched the kids as Miranda and I weaved through it.

This haunted maze was pretty impressive.

Blasts: In our first real break from our diets, Sid and I celebrated Halloween with Trick-or-Treat Sonic Blasts. We had planned this for a long time as we looked forward to Sonic’s seasonal treat. The Trick-or-Treat Blast came with Snickers, M&M’s, and Oreo cookies. So. Worth. It.

Our Trick-Or-Treat Sonic Blasts with a bowl for Sloan.


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I hope everyone had a nice Halloween. Special thanks to Glen (my brother) and Carrie (his fiancée) for inviting Sloan and Beau over early on Saturday for a private trick-or-treating session. Let’s all have a great November! Don’t Blink.

End of October Thursday Rundown

We are on the heels of some big things: Halloween, a new month, and the election! Hope this busy time finds you well and motivated. I am pleased to present my latest Thursday Rundown…

Vote – Speaking of the election, I exercised my civic duty and voted on Tuesday night. The vote-by-mail system in the state of Washington is a far cry from the South Carolina experience I had in 2016. But whether you are dropping an envelope in an outdoor ballot drop box or going behind the curtain at an elementary school, the method doesn’t matter as long as you do the deed. Never take for granted the right we have in this country to vote.

I dropped off my ballot on Tuesday night at the ballot drop box at the Spokane Valley Library.

Pumpkin Tradition – On Sunday, my dad came over to our house to carve a pumpkin with Sloan. Considering he had traveled to South Carolina the three previous years to do the same, I don’t think he minded the 30-minute drive this time around. For every Halloween Sloan has been around for, her papa has carved her pumpkin for her…I think that is pretty cool.

For every Halloween that Sloan has been alive, my dad has carved a pumpkin with her.

Halloween Traditions – Spooky music. Photo ops. Pillow case trick-or-treat bags. Trading candy. Putting our treats in Tupperware. These were all Halloween traditions in the Reser household when I was a kid. I absolutely loved the holiday and have many fond memories of very fun nights. Four years ago, I wrote about these traditions in detail if you are interested.

That one year I dressed up as a construction worker.

National Cat Day – Today we are supposed to pay homage to our friendly felines. Although you won’t see me going out of my way to visit the pet store, this is a good time for me to reaffirm that I am a cat guy. I admire cats for their intelligence, self-dependency, tenderness, and cleanliness. I had some great cats as pets growing up and if I ever walk into someone’s house and they happen to have one it warms my heart.

Me with Nabisco. We got her at the pet store when I was probably 10 years old and she lived a nice, long life

Scary Halloween – Sorry to keep taking jabs at 2020 but I know a lot of people who feel this way. Kudos to Instagram user @teacherman91 for the creative Halloween decoration.

I know a lot of people feel this way about this year.

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Enjoy your Halloween weekend. Be safe and remember that the holiday is about the kids. As always, thanks for reading and continue to pray for advancements in the fight against COVID-19. Don’t Blink.

Thankful for Big Brother 22

When it was confirmed that “Big Brother” would air this year, I was excited and encouraged. During this pandemic nothing is guaranteed and the expectation is pretty much “canceled unless otherwise noted.” My interest was piqued even more when I learned that not only would there be a “Big Brother 22” but that it would be an all-star season.

It has been interesting watching the cast of Big Brother 22.

As a relatively new Big Brother fan, I looked forward to watching some of the legends play while also re-connecting with some of the houseguests who defined my BB experience over the past five seasons. I figured I would root for those I previously watched, hoping they would outmaneuver those who paved the way for them in earlier seasons. You just gravitate to what/who you know, right?

I am thankful for this season of Big Brother!

But my assumption proved wrong. Although some of it had to do with me not necessarily liking the more recent players they brought back, most of it had to do with the older veterans winning me over. It took maybe two shows before I realized that the season wasn’t just “all-star” in name but in actual game play as well.

It didn’t take long for the house to gang up on celebrated houseguests Janelle and Kaysar. I watched intently as the duo worked together to stave off eviction before it simply wasn’t possible anymore, even for players like them who are clearly the cream of the crop.

To see Janelle and Kaysar fend off the sharks made me like them. Even though I had no idea who they were on the first night when the cast was revealed, I started to root for them as I noticed how good they were at the game. Despite the odds against them, I hoped each would make a deep run. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards as they were both evicted pre-jury.

I then threw my support behind Memphis. Another relatively old school player who I knew nothing about prior to the season, I appreciated his no-nonsense, brash social game. He stayed around for the majority of the season before his eviction two weeks ago in fifth place. I then made Christmas my top choice to win the half million but she exited the next week after Memphis.

To be honest, I have been a little bored with “Big Brother” over the past couple weeks and I think that feeling might carry over to tonight’s finale simply because I don’t feel particularly passionate about the three remaining players—Cody, Enzo, and Nicole. Although I do want Cody to win when up against the other two choices, I just don’t have a fire burning inside me when it comes to this evening’s final outcome.

Despite a disappointing remaining trio (in my eyes), let me say this about Big Brother 22…It has been really nice to watch programming that has provided a distraction from the Coronavirus. The Big Brother house is its own bubble and inside those walls the show went on without any hint that a pandemic was terrorizing the world. Watching this season has provided an escape and a mini reminder of what life was like pre-Corona.

What are your thoughts about this season? Give me your opinion and also let me know who you hope wins tonight. Enjoy the finale. Don’t Blink.

Is This Normal?

How crazy is 2020? Well, we made a snowman and carved a pumpkin during the same weekend. Of course cutting out a jack-o-lantern is pretty typical for the fourth weekend of October but creating a Frosty is not—even in Spokane.

That was what I was trying to explain to Sidney when the snow started falling on Friday. Seriously, this does not usually happen. But our reality was a winter wonderland that surpassed the 3-6 inches that was forecast.

But don’t think we complained. Sidney got some experience driving in it, hot chocolate was made, and Sloan played in it non-stop. Perhaps our Southern belle does have some Washington blood in her.

Sid and Sloan out in the snow.

The fun started on Friday when Sid took Sloan outside with the snow still falling at a rapid clip. They wasted no time making a snow woman and decking her out in Myrtle Beach-inspired attire. Sloan couldn’t wait to take me out to the front yard to show me “Mommy” (No, not my wife. That is what Sloan named her snow person).

The snow woman that Sid and Sloan built. Sloan named it “Mommy.”

Saturday was a beautiful day. The sun shined brightly and bounced off the white snow as the snow-capped pine trees towered over us. It was my turn to play in the snow with Sloan!

Saturday was gorgeous.

We first did something that I did as a child. I filled a couple spray bottles with water and added food coloring to them. We then went out and squirted the snow as the vibrant blue and red immediately stood out.

Sloan squirted ‘Mommy” with some colored water.

Of course Sloan had to make a snow angel. While she was spreading her wings, she kept repeating “I love the snow! I love the snow!”

Sloan making a snow angel.

She then climbed the mini snow mountain…

Sloan scaling the snow mountain.

And explored the wilderness…

Sloan exploring her surroundings.

At the end of our adventure, she took time to snap a selfie with her daddy.

Snapping a selfie with her old man.

The snow has lingered through the start of this week but the temperatures will be returning to the 50s and the white stuff will soon be a memory…for a week at least. I do believe that years from now we will reflect on our first fall in Spokane and remember the snow storm that dropped several inches in October. Don’t Blink.

The Water Challenge

Today marks the exact midpoint of a 6-week weight loss challenge I am participating in. It is going well and perhaps I will share some results in 21 days when it concludes. But tonight I wanted to share with you a secondary challenge that is within the weight loss challenge itself.

Every day of this diet I am participating in my own 100-ounce water challenge. As a method to help me reach my weight loss goal, I was advised to drink 100 ounces of water daily. Of course, this suggestion came from a fitness authority. Snap Fitness, the gym I work out at, is sponsoring the weight loss challenge and the owner, Christine, is coaching me through it. When she told me how much I should drink each day, I asked her how I was going to accomplish that. She pointed to her large water bottle and said, “Just sip on one of these guys all day long.”

I have become pretty good friends with my water bottle.

And so it began. The first day was tough. I had a scoreboard in my head and was basically counting the ounces one-by-one. It took a lot of effort as I scrambled to the bathroom more times in a 12-hour period than I ever had in my life. Drinking all the ounces the next day was challenging too. So was the next. But over the next two and a half weeks things started to get easier as I settled into a routine.

Instead of mindlessly chugging water to reach the 100-ounce magic number, I decided to rely on some structure. This is my water plan…

When I get home from my workout at the beginning of the day, I drink two 20-ounce water bottles. That puts me at 40 ounces before the sun even rises. During lunch I will drink another 20-ounce water bottle. I will then retreat to my home office with my 32-ounce Hydrapeak water bottle that Sid gave me for my birthday. I will sip on that all afternoon and by the time the workday is over I have already downed 92 ounces. At dinner I will eclipse my daily goal by drinking another 20-ounce bottle. Then, for good measure, I will drink another 20-ounce bottle after the kids go to bed and Sid and I are sitting on the couch watching TV.

I use the Hydrapeak water bottle that Sid gave me on a daily basis. As for the WSU hat, I got it from my sister’s family and if you notice in the picture above I am wearing it.

So why all the water? Is sending 100+ ounces of fluid through my body on a daily basis actually good for me? Absolutely! From a strictly physiological standpoint, H20 helps regulate body temperature and flushes out toxins. It carries nutrients to all cells in our body and oxygen to our brains. Water also allows the body to absorb important substances like amino acids and vitamins. Finally, you can’t ignore the science that suggests water can suppress our appetite and boost our metabolism.

These are the 20 oz. bottles of water I drink.

But there are a few non-biological reasons why the 100-ounce water challenge is working for me…

1. Although it might seem lame, reaching 100 ounces is a daily micro goal and completing it gives me just a little bit of satisfaction.

2. In order to reach 100 ounces, I need to drink water at lunch and dinner. This ensures that I am drinking a healthy/0-calorie option at these two important meals.

3. Friendly accountability! My brother and his fiancée are also doing the 100-ounce water challenge. The four of us (Sid included) have a group text message and throughout the whole day we update it with how many ounces we have consumed.

We seriously use our group text to keep daily tabs on where we stand with the challenge.

Running to the bathroom constantly can get annoying but the positives of the 100-ounce water challenge sure outweigh the negatives. With 21 days left in the weight loss challenge, it means I have 2,100 more ounces to drink…I think I can do it. Thanks to Christine for helping me truly embrace water! I look forward to updating everyone in a few weeks. Don’t Blink.

Nutty Thursday Rundown

It is time to bust out the snow shovels because we are expecting 3-6 inches tomorrow afternoon. As I try to remember what it is like to live in a snowy climate I might as well take a stab at a Thursday Rundown as well. Prepare for these five topics…

Rummikub – My in-laws introduced me to the game of Rummikub over the weekend. It is a tile-based game that combines elements of rummy and mahjong. I enjoyed playing it because it provided a lot of opportunities to be creative when making your moves. Although luck is a big factor in winning, there is also plenty of strategy needed to keep things interesting. If you are looking for a new family game, I recommend Rummikub.

We played a lot of Rummikub when my in-laws were here. For those familiar with the game, this was my rack during one game. Sid couldn’t believe that I couldn’t lay down tiles for my initial move. Do you see anything that I could have done?

Sign – My wife is talented at many things, including sign-making. When her parents arrived last week, she had Sloan flash a sign she made the day before. From the slogan to the colors to penmanship, I give Sid an A+.

Sloan at the airport holding the sign that Sid made for her parents.

National Nut Day – Today we celebrate all the nuts in the world so I hope my brother enjoys his special day! No, no, no…not that type of nut…we are talking about the things that come in shells. I love nuts and will eat any type of mix that you put in front of me, but my favorite is the peanut. Shelled or unshelled, crunchy or boiled, topping or spread, I like it all. My favorite ballpark concession item? Peanuts. My favorite snack to enjoy with a beer? Peanuts. My favorite road trip staple? Peanuts. You get my drift? Happy National Nut Day.

While living in the South, I grew to love boiled peanuts just as much as I love crunchy peanuts

Zoom Cue – As someone who spends a fair amount of his day on Zoom, reading this tweet made me laugh. I could see a meeting nearing the top of the hour while someone is in the middle of their report and suddenly the wrap up music starts playing. Next thing you know the person presenting is stumbling through their words because they are talking so fast in an effort to finish. Zoom is supposedly coming out with major updates and new features but I don’t think a musical cue to finish up is part of it.

If implemented, this could be both funny and effective.

Stroll Down Memory Lane – How about we conclude this blog post not with wrap up music but a look into the Don’t Blink archives? Two years ago on this date, I wrote about a special birthday tradition offered by my early elementary teachers. On October 22, 2017, I wrote about our first experience with online grocery pickup. Three years later, we are still sold on its convenience. Finally, five years ago I wrote about multiple topics such as the costume I wore to a meeting, my experience at a Lee Brice concert, and Instagram’s introduction of Boomerang.

This was the gift bag I was given the first time I did online grocery pickup with Walmart

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Thanks for swinging by tonight. I wish everyone a happy and safe weekend. Please continue to pray for positive developments in the fight against COVID-19. Don’t Blink.