Cheers to 31, Sid!

Well, it isn’t the milestone birthday from last year, but 31 isn’t something to scoff at, right? After a whole year to contemplate that she is now old, I don’t think today’s birthday is as jarring as when Sidney turned the big 3-0. 😊

But my light ribbing aside, I do hope Sidney takes advantage of the opportunities to celebrate today while also taking a moment to reflect on that optimism that this latest birth year brings.

Happy 31st birthday, Sidney! (photo credit: Nicole Lynn Photography)

In my opinion, I think the biggest highlight from her time as a 30-year-old was successfully transitioning careers. After her more than half decade as a teacher and a couple fulfilling years as a stay-at-home mom, Sidney was hired by Traveler’s Insurance in October and reported to work in November. She jumped right in and has really found something she enjoys. Now that she has really settled in over the first three months, I know she is going to have a really successful trip around the sun from a professional perspective.

However, there is so much more to life than the work grind. I know this year will be a continuation of my wife doing whatever it takes to be an incredible mom, understanding/patient wife, and devoted servant of God. She has projects on the docket that she will complete over the next 12 months and I can’t wait to see the outcomes that will abound.

How are we celebrating today? Well, the four of us will enjoy a birthday lunch at noon complete with cake and ice cream. Then later tonight my parents are taking care of the kids so Sid and I can go out for dinner. Next weekend we will hold a joint birthday party for Sid and Beau with my parents, siblings, and their families in attendance.

Happy birthday to my fearless, risk-taking, kind wife. Cheers to 31 and I can’t wait to see what is in store. Don’t Blink.

French Braid Thursday Rundown

Hope everyone is feeling positive and happy tonight. If not, perhaps this blog post can improve your mood…although I doubt it. Here are this week’s random five topics…

Hair Do – To end last week, Sloan felt she needed a little more pizazz. Sidney knew exactly what to do by giving Sloan a different hair style. On Friday, Sloan showed up to school with French braids. I think she looked pretty cute!

Sloan with her French braids.

Cooking Lesson – As I mentioned earlier this week, in 2023 we are trying to introduce more non-fiction options into Sloan’s nightly reading. Not that long ago we read a book that focused on general cooking tips for the first half and creative/sweet recipes for the second half. After we read the book I told Sloan we could make one of the recipes. She thoughtfully evaluated the handful of options she had and selected the flourless chocolate cake. Over the weekend we went to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients and then made the cake in our kitchen. It turned out great and was such a fun and educational activity.

We read a cooking book and then actually used one of the recipes in it to make a chocolate flourless cake.

Now Streaming in the Reser Household – If the TV is on at our house these days, most likely an episode of “New Amsterdam” is playing. This is Sid’s latest binge-watching obsession. It falls into the category of “Sid-Likes-Brent-Couldn’t-Care-Less” as it joins other shows like “Shameless” and “Parenthood” that had many seasons and looooooong runs in our home. The good thing about a show playing on our TV that I am not fully engaged in is that it allows me to do other things, such as read. I still get to sit next to Sid and be in her company but I am just not glued to the screen.

“New Amsterdam” is on at our house on a pretty consistent basis these days.

Cat Comic – For all the feline lovers out there (I am one of them), I think you will get a kick out of this Off the Mark comic that ran in yesterday’s newspaper. Is this the truth or what?

A perfect comic for a cat fan.

Box Game – In elementary school, did you ever play the “box game” against a friend? The one where you make a playing board by drawing a bunch of dots on a loose piece of paper and then attempt to connect the dots to make boxes? You know, then you place your initials inside the box you create? Well, Sidney introduced the game to Sloan last Friday night when we had a rather long wait at a restaurant. We made a lot of boxes that night.

Sid and Sloan playing the box game at True Legends restaurant.

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I have a very special birthday to celebrate this weekend and I hope you have something to look forward to as well. Thanks for reading my blog. Don’t Blink.

Wardrobe Crime Scene

If Sidney wants to embarrass me a bit and draw a laugh, she will tell the people or group we are with one of my quirks. My wife will explain that I feel a pressing need to pick out my clothes the night before.

Sidney will then mischievously tell everyone that I don’t simply hang up or neatly fold my next day’s wardrobe. Instead, and this is how Sid explains it, I will lay them out in a way that resembles “a crime scene” when a dead person’s body is outlined in chalk. By the time she gets to this part of the story, she is always howling in laughter and the other people are usually too.

I always lay out my clothes the night before.

What can I say? One of the traits of a Type A-obsessed person like myself is to plan ahead. When I lay my clothes out, my thinking is that it will expedite how long it takes to get dressed in the morning. By placing everything in front of me, it saves time compared to if I had to take things off hangers or unfold my shirt and pants.

It just isn’t clothes. I try to do as much the night before as possible. That means making my lunch and packing any necessary bags. When the morning hits, I want to be as efficient and prepared as possible.

Of course my Type A personality goes way beyond preparing for the next morning. But some of those stories and methods are for future blogs. For now, it is just important to know that I create a mock crime scene every night. Don’t Blink.

Unnecessary Brutality

I became acquainted with it on TikTok. Apparently the algorithm that curates my #FYP feed thought it would resonate with me or deliver some type of entertainment. But even as everyone in the video cheered and laughed, I gazed at my device with a horrified gaze.

Slap fighting is the new “thing” but all I can glean from the spectacle is how disturbing it is. Two opponents take turns smacking the taste out of each other with brutal slaps to the face. The videos that introduced me to slap fighting took place in rowdy bars but there are plenty of organized leagues that stage high stakes competitions. In fact, Dana White now has his own league and on Wednesday night it was the focus of a TBS special. No, I did not watch.

Both men and women compete in slap fighting.

Personally, I ask the question Why? I can’t find any reason why someone would want to offer up their face to someone’s ferocious slap nor do I know the honor of slapping someone else’s defenseless mug. From my perspective, I see no appeal, no benefit, no prestige.

But I am at least humble enough to know that just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean that others can’t. Slap fighting isn’t my cup of tea but can’t other people enjoy it? Sure. However, there comes a point that if something is destructive it shouldn’t matter about personal preferences anymore.

Not too long ago a photo surfaced of an individual who just finished a slap fighting bout. It was from a sanctioned competition in one of the organized leagues. The image was brutal. The fellow’s face looked disfigured from the blows to the face. If this is the result of slap fighting is it really something that we want to champion?

It just isn’t about messing up someone’s face; it is about damaging someone’s brain. Slap fighting causes concussions and in a society where we are approaching the point of canceling football because of the head injuries that it causes, should we really be promoting a new “sport” that does the same?

Yes, I know I am asking a lot of questions.

But let me pause the inquires and get to the point: I don’t like slap fighting. I don’t think it has any redeemable qualities for society. I don’t think it should continue. Don’t Blink.

What’s In Your Chicken Nugget?!

There is no denying it, chicken nuggets are a staple of the diets of our children. Both Sloan and Beau love chicken nuggets and eat them multiple times per week. From a convenience standpoint, their preference sure is convenient for Sid and I. Throw some nuggets in the microwave or air fryer and Saturday lunch is set!

We buy the big bags from Walmart but, to be honest, we can’t purchase them fast enough. The kids go through them like crazy…sometimes with a little help from their parents.

We buy these chicken nuggets from Walmart quite frequently.

As part of Sloan’s reading program in 2023, we are trying to introduce more nonfiction options. So far we have read books about greyhounds, cooking, tigers, and penguins. On Sunday night, that list grew to include chicken nuggets. We opened up What’s In Your Chicken Nugget? and oh man it was eye-opening!

This was the book about chicken nuggets that we read on Sunday night.

In full transparency, I knew the book wasn’t going to be flattering. Let’s be honest, I think we all know that the making of a chicken nugget is no more glamorous than the making of a hot dog. But I didn’t know exactly the ins and outs of nugget production and Sloan was completely in the dark.

The book started innocently enough. It covered the history of chicken nuggets. We learned that a scientist named Robert Baker, who was motivated to re-use leftover chicken pieces, invented chicken nuggets in the 1950s. The food wasn’t very popular for its first three decades of existence but in 1983 McDonald’s starting selling chicken nuggets and the rest is history. Although Sloan and Beau mostly opt for cheeseburgers in their Happy Meals, they order chicken nuggets every now and then too.

Sloan even opts for chicken nuggets at non-fast food restaurants.

As the book went on, we learned more about the reality of chicken nuggets. We became acquainted with sodium, preservatives, processing, and cholesterol. When we read about chicken nugget production, Sloan squirmed just a little bit. This is directly from the book: Some nuggets are made with white meat. Others are made with mechanically separated chicken. This means that machines mash up different parts from different chickens and push them through a strainer to take out the bones. The mixture of chicken and other ingredients is then mashed into a soft paste. Next it is formed into nugget shapes and covered in breading.

“Um, daddy? We eat the white meat nuggets, right?”

For all the unsavory details about chicken nuggets, the book ended with a softer message. In the grand scheme of things, eating chicken nuggets in moderation isn’t a bad thing. In fact, they can be part of a healthy diet if consumed just one in a while. Well, I guess we can work on that “once in a while” part?

Chicken nuggets forever at our house!!

One thing is for sure, although the book did give us pause, chicken nugget dinners aren’t a thing of the past at our house. Don’t Blink.

Jumping Thursday Rundown

Greetings to everyone on this Thursday evening. I hope this blog post finds you well and that your days aren’t too mixed up from the Monday holiday. Let’s begin with tonight’s five topics…

Parent Frustration – An annoyance that only a parent would know has happened to me consistently over the last several years. It becomes low key aggravating when you take your kids to the trampoline park and they make a beeline to the arcade area. I battled this again with Sloan and Beau on Monday night at Altitude in Spokane. It’s like they don’t know that I paid a lot of money so they can jump and the very last thing I am going to do is shell out more money so they can play arcade games. It is also frustrating from the standpoint that you take them to partake in a physical activity and they want to ditch it for the exact opposite. Oh well.

On Monday night, Beau preferred sitting at an arcade game he wasn’t playing opposed to jumping.

Pullman Adventure – Last Saturday, Sloan got to experience Pullman for the first time. She walked around campus, attended a WSU basketball game, and ate at Cougar Country. She loved every single moment and couldn’t stop talking about it the rest of the weekend. This dad had a pretty memorable time too. It was nice to finally show her where I go on a weekly basis and give her a taste of the Cougar community. I can’t wait to take her (and hopefully Beau) to a football game this fall.

Some of the photos from the special Pullman trip that Sloan and I took on Saturday.

New Gig – My dad couldn’t stay out of work for long. After retiring a few weeks ago, my dad was already back at it this past weekend. He is lending his talents to Allied Universal, an event services company. In preparation for retirement, he actually started working for them a couple years ago. He has already worked a plethora of sporting events and concerts for the company but he is now available for more assignments. This gig fits him perfectly!

My dad worked the same game that Sloan and I attended in Pullman on Saturday.

Throwback – Speaking of my dad’s retirement endeavors, he spent last week cleaning out the basement. One of his goals was to round up the various photo albums and distribute them to the three Reser children. This photo was uncovered in the ocean of images my dad sorted through. I have no idea how old I was but I shared it as a #TBT Instagram post and decided I would re-purpose it for this blog post as well.

A photo of me from back in the day.

National Popcorn Day – A year ago on this date, I celebrated National Popcorn Day by reminiscing about the times I have addressed popcorn in this blog. Read that superb entry here. Earlier this month, Sid and I watched the “Food That Built America” episode about microwave popcorn. It chronicled the rivalry between brands such as Orville Redenbacher, Pop Secret, and Jolly Time. If you are a nerd like us—and you like popcorn—you might want to mark today by watching that particular episode.

Happy National Popcorn Day!

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Time to put a bow on this post. As always, thank you for reading, your interest is appreciated. Don’t Blink.

A Conversation at the Bar

On a very late Sunday evening, I found myself at a neighborhood bar (I had Monday off). Before I knew it, I was engaged in a long conversation with an animated 76-year-old Vietnam veteran. We covered just about every topic you could imagine, including politics, music, and education. However, most of our conversation centered on his military service. Just a few of the anecdotes he shared with me…

– A Los Angeles native and UCLA graduate, he didn’t have any plans of joining the military. But when he received his draft letter from the President of the United States, he tried to dodge the Army by saying he was enrolling in grad school. There was no record of his intent to do so and thus his petition was denied and he was sent to Ft. Lewis.

– Because he did have a college degree, the veteran I talked to on Sunday night wasn’t supposed to be on the front lines. But the intensity and demand of the Vietnam War landed him in the Infantry unit after he was already on tour in the country in a non-infantry role.

– He told me that his unit had many WWII veterans fighting with them. He told me they were mostly in their 40s and had lines on their uniform sleeves indicating their years of service. Obviously, these WWII vets had many lines. The vet I chatted with told me that he became good friends with one of these soldiers who unfortunately died when he stepped on a land mine.

– This vet shared with me a lot of stuff about a certain natural human activity that is inappropriate for a family blog like this one. However, one related tidbit I am comfortable sharing was what my new friend said was the chief concern among soldiers who woke up in a military treatment facility after being wounded in battle. This guy, who received a Purple Heart and went through his own awakening, said this was always the first question: Is it all still there?

But probably the most memorable and substantial part of our long conversation related to heroism. He passionately expressed that veterans should always be thanked for their service but not all should be heralded as heroes. He talked about how he believed that only those who fought bravely on the front lines or didn’t come back were heroes. He mentioned that those who performed non-combat roles, even though they were in Vietnam, should be revered with gratitude but not elevated on a pedestal.

Of course for a non-veteran like myself, I see things a little different. From my point of view, I consider anyone who leaves their family and their dreams to defend our country (in any role) a hero. But at the same time, I can understand where the veteran was coming from. This conversation spurred off into a general philosophical discussion on heroism but his specific thoughts on military heroes really stuck with me.

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Sometimes our human tendency is to withdraw in the presence of people we don’t know. I am guilty of this. Many times I might not be overly enthusiastic about chatting with the person next to me on the airplane or striking up a conversation with the man at the bar. But if we are open to getting over ourselves by getting to know our fellow brother or sister, you can walk away from everyday situations feeling much more enlightened. Don’t Blink.

Fun With Banished Words in 2023

Although I have paid attention to the Banished Words List for more than a decade, last year was the first time I actually wrote about it. A lively discussion among co-workers about the words was my inflection point for doing so. The list, complied by Lake Superior State University, aims to retire “overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, cliched, illogical, and nonsensical” words and terms.

In following the lead of last year’s post and in homage to Lake Superior State University’s own paragraph it uses to introduce the annual words, here is a little sample from me…

I am by no means the GOAT of getting young children dressed in the morning. Irregardless, I do try to accomplish the amazing by getting Sloan and Beau in their school clothes by 7:30 a.m. every weekday. Sloan tries to gaslight me by saying I am too rough pulling on her clothes but it is what it is. You see, the inflection point is always getting Sloan ready first so Beau follows her example. Does that make sense? Sidney might think my effort is akin to quiet quitting but moving forward I hope she can see that I always give 100%. Am I the corniest dude alive? Absolutely!

The Banished Words List of 2023 might contain some of your own go-tos.

To be honest, the words in the 2023 list didn’t resonate with me as much as the 2022 version. Maybe that is a good thing? However, the one word in this most recent list that I completely abused over the past 12 months was absolutely. Just like LSSU framed it, I used “absolutely” in a way that I hoped would convey enthusiasm and cooperation. But sometimes over eagerness can be a bit much.

I thought it was interesting that it is what it is made a re-appearance on the list (it was banished in 2008). I do remember when that phrase was all the rage and I can distinctly remember an NFL Films reel in which it showed coaches and players exclaiming it in a whole bunch of different contexts. I abused the phrase myself but eventually moved on. Little did I know that it made a comeback this past year.

The one term that I definitely agree deserves banishment is gaslighting. Completely overused in 2022, I consider it the ultimate buzzword that pretty much was erroneously used to encompass anything said by one person that another person did not like.

Moving forward, I think we should probably check ourselves against overusing the recently banished words/phrases in 2023. Here’s hoping for another year in which Don’t Blink makes the list. Don’t Blink.

Hoodie Blanket Thursday Rundown

So it’s Thursday again, huh? Well I guess that is a good thing because I have five topics ready to go. Thanks for joining me tonight and let’s get underway.

Honoring Dad – During my dad’s retirement party last week, I had the chance to deliver a five-minute speech in his honor. I always tell people that I am not a natural public speaker but I still seized the opportunity because my dad deserved it. The finale of my remarks is available if you want to watch it here. You might become distracted by a couple of young cousins fooling around up front.

A screenshot from video of me delivering a speech in honor of my dad at his retirement party.

Will Probably Pass – Right out of the bag isn’t the only way I like potato chips. I love layering a deli sandwich with a bed of potato chips…the taste and crunch are always excellent! However, I don’t think I would go as far as potato chips mixed in my Reese’s peanut butter cup. I saw the below product at Walmart a couple weeks ago and had to take a photo so I could include it in a future Thursday Rundown. The idea of slivers of potato chips, most likely stale, embedded in the peanut butter just doesn’t appeal to me. To be honest, I don’t know if I would even try one for free. Thank you, next.

I spotted these at my local Walmart. No thanks.

Barbara Walters – Wanted to recognize Barbara Walters. Because of the nerd that I am, I spent many Friday nights between the ages of 11-14 watching “20/20.” The program would come on at 10 p.m. with Walters and Hugh Downs at the anchor desk. I think I felt a sense of sophistication staying up late and watching an “adult” show. It definitely planted the news magazine bug inside of me. Long after my youthful “20/20” days I still enjoyed watching the work of Barbara Walters and always knew if she was covering something it must be a big deal.

May eternal rest be grant unto Barbara Walters.

Wear A Blanket – If there is one Christmas gift I am envious of, it is the blanket hoodies our kids scored. Supposedly Santa outsourced them from Costco at a pretty reasonable price. I become comfortable just sitting next to my children when they have them on…I can’t imagine the bliss of actually wearing one. For a blanket-obsessed family, this present was perfect.

These are the hoodie blankets that Sloan and Beau are now sporting.

That Must Be Uncomfortable – I think Spider-Man and the stuffed unicorn have a better idea of how to sleep properly in a bed. Several nights ago, I went to check on Beau and saw him sleeping horizontally. It didn’t bother me too much because at least he was still sleeping in his own bed—we have struggled lately with him coming into our bed. I still made the effort to turn him around so he was resting vertical and his head was actually on the pillow.

A weird position if I do say so myself.

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That will wrap things up for this evening. If you have a three-day weekend coming up, I hope you enjoy it. Don’t Blink.

Butting Heads

On Monday, Sid received a phone call while at work. It was St. Mary calling to relay the news that Sloan had suffered a minor injury. While at PE, her class was playing a game and she collided with one of her classmates. They literally butted heads.

Sloan had a little accident at school earlier this week.

Both kindergarteners were sent to the office for ice. As both girls held packs to their wounds, Sloan with a noticeable bump on the left part of her forehead, the calls were made to parents. As this occurred, Sloan and her classmate chalked up the incident as an accident and held no ill-will toward each other.

Later that night, Sloan would basically sum up the same thing for me. After she proudly showed me her battle wound, she imparted her wisdom on me.

“We cried for a little bit but we weren’t mad because it was just an accident.”

Perhaps you have butted heads with someone in a more figurative sense recently. Or, maybe you have butted heads with an individual long ago or it has been a sustained butting of heads over the course of a long period of time. Whatever the case, wouldn’t it be great to amicably address it? Wouldn’t it be nice to use the beginning of 2023 to clear the air?

Sometimes using the example of kindergarteners just makes sense. What happened has happened. The crying/arguing stage has run its course. Now it’s time to move on. Reach out to someone during this first month of the year and make things right. Don’t Blink.