Lilac Thursday Rundown

Good evening everyone and welcome back. I know a lot of us are hurting right now after the unimaginable and horrific events in Uvalde so perhaps the following random five topics can provide you a short respite if you desire it.

Happy Ordination Anniversary, Fr. Jeff – I want to start by recognizing Fr. Jeff Lewis as he marked his 11th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood today. Fr. Jeff is the pastor at St. Mary Parish in Spokane Valley and is an invaluable influence on my family. In two years since we have become parishioners at St. Mary, Fr. Jeff has graced us with spiritual guidance, his valuable time, and the holy sacraments as we try to walk closer with Christ. He is also a great friend with a spectacular sense of humor. Sidney, Sloan, Beau, and I are so thankful to have a true disciple like Fr. Jeff in our lives.

Fr. Jeff Lewis celebrates his 11th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood today. He means a lot to our family

Lilac Parade – This past weekend, I took Sloan to the Lilac Parade (also called the Torchlight Parade) in downtown Spokane where we met my sister and her children. Sloan had a blast as she soaked in her first night parade by dancing the night away and exchanging high fives with the parade participants as they walked by. For me personally, it marked another annual Spokane event that I was able to experience again after a couple decades missing out. To view a video from our adventure, tap here.

We had a great time at the 2022 Lilac Parade

Seven Years In Tibet – I spent a couple hours this week watching “Seven Years in Tibet.” The movie was made in 1997 and stars Brad Pitt who assumes an Austrian accent for the role. The film depicts Pitt’s triumph in Tibetan culture and favor with the Dalai Lama in relation to his brokenness with his own family back home. I liked “Seven Years in Tibet” for its west vs. east comparisons, historic lessons, and chilling musical score. It is currently on Hulu.

I watched “Seven Years in Tibet” this week. Decent movie.

Flashback – I took the below photo on May 26, 2020, as it was one of the first images I captured of Sid and Sloan after their move to Spokane. It also happens to be one of my favorites. We were exploring an undeveloped area close to my parents’ house and the sun seemed to shine perfectly as they flashed their million-dollar smiles. Such a nice memory!

This photo was taken exactly two years ago on May 26, 2020.

Innocence – A tragedy like the one on Tuesday hits parents extremely hard. It makes you look at your kids with even more love and protection than usual. I took the below photo last night. We let Sloan and Beau watch TV in our bed so we could devote our time to the special engaged couple we are meeting with for Pre-Cana marriage prep. When we finished up, this is how we found them. There truly is nothing more precious or innocent than the life of a child.

Sloan and Beau fell asleep in our bed last night. Observing their peacefulness had an enhanced meaning for me.

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As we conclude, I did want to say one quick thing: It is trendy these days when violence strikes for people to discount and scorn prayer. My friends, never cease to pray in the face of tragedy, especially for the victims. Prayer does help and don’t let anyone else tell you differently. Don’t Blink.

Wrapping Up Sloan’s T-Ball Season

On Monday night, Sloan wrapped up her t-ball season at Meadow Ridge Elementary in north Spokane. The forecast called for rain but after a brief shower prior to the game, the weather cleared up and allowed the kids to play under beautiful conditions. It was a fitting ending to Sloan’s first foray into organized sports.

In celebration of a successful season for the Panthers, I have five quick observations from the 2022 t-ball campaign…

Sloan enjoyed a successful t-ball season and I have a few observations to share.

Sloan’s coaches truly are saints. The Panthers were coached by Coach Dave and his two high/middle school-aged daughters. Before the season started there was some doubt Sloan’s team would even be able to play because no coach had stepped forward. Dave volunteered and we were blown away by his patience and tolerance for all team members, especially our daughter who can ask a billion questions and be a little extra.

Improvement was evident. By the end of the season, Sloan and her teammates had mastered the concept of running to first base after they hit the ball. They also started to naturally throw the ball in that direction when out in the field. Sloan’s attention span seemed to get a bit longer during the games and by last night she was actively pursuing balls that were hit in her vicinity.

It’s all about the intangibles. The t-ball itself is fun but Sloan especially enjoyed drinking out of her fancy water bottle, having us take her to the porta-potty during the middle of the game, doing her team cheer, and of course picking up her snack at the end of the game.

There is nothing like a cheering section. Sloan played on the same team as her cousin, John, so my sister and brother-in-law were at all the games (and practices). My parents also didn’t miss a game so t-ball nights turned into family nights too. It was nice to have a cheering contingent for the kids and we sure enjoyed being around each other.

All good things must come to an end. Sloan nearly cried when we told her the season was coming to a conclusion. “But I will miss my friends,” she said. Our daughter wasn’t the best player but she sure loved the social aspect of being part of the team.

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As parents, it is bittersweet to see the season come to an end. It was fun to watch Sloan but we are kind of ready to have our weekday nights back. We live in the Spokane Valley so it was quite the drive to commute to north Spokane for all of Sloan’s practices and games. But the extra miles and time were worth it for the experience that Sloan received. Don’t Blink.

A Lesson On Cheating

This past weekend, Sloan set up a game for me to play. She lined up three of her toy cups and placed a hair bow underneath one of them. She then had me guess which cup the bow was underneath. After a couple more rounds in that manner, we switched roles. I took a few turns hiding the bow while Sloan “looked away.”

I am sure you all know why I utilized the quotation marks in that last sentence. There were instances when Sloan tried to gain the upper hand by sneakily looking at me while I placed the bow. I debated whether to nicely remind her to stop cheating or take more drastic measures…

Sloan with the cups she used for the “bow” game.

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When I was a sophomore at Mead High School, I was in an honors humanities class. It was a challenging course and the students enrolled in it took the class seriously—including me.

One day there was a pop quiz on the previous night’s reading. We had two teachers in this class and the soft-spoken, reserved instructor of the pair, Mr. Hanson, was administering it. As he passed out the quiz he reminded us to put away all notes and packets.

As I mentioned, it was a surprise quiz and it had the chance to impact our overall grades. You could sense the anxiety and pressure in the classroom as we started on the assessment. Damn you, Mr. Hanson!

About halfway through the timed quiz, our world was rocked.

“One thing I won’t tolerate in this class is CHEATING,” Mr. Hanson bellowed. “Get out of here right now!”

The outburst had all of us stunned, and, quite frankly, a little scared. Our teacher was in a rage, a state we had never seen him close to reaching before. But what was even more shocking was who Mr. Hanson’s ire was directed at.

The student caught cheating, who I will call Glen, was even more soft-spoken than the teacher ripping into him. Small in stature and extremely quiet, no one would have ever expected Glen to have a dishonest bone in his body. What was he thinking?

As Glen hung his head and walked out the door, Mr. Hanson made a big display of crumpling up his paper and tossing it into the garbage can. If we thought it was tense in the classroom before this episode, there was no way to describe the terror in the air now. All of us kept our heads down and eyes locked on our papers as we finished the quiz.

When the time expired, Mr. Hanson tersely directed us to turn in our papers. Everyone was still on edge. We had no idea what was going to happen next. After a brief pause once he had all the quizzes, Mr. Hanson spoke.

“I am going to invite Glen back in,” Mr. Hanson said as his voice returned to its mild-mannered tenor although there was a sense of triumph mixed in.

Glen strolled back in with a wry smile on his face. Something was up.

It turned out that Glen wasn’t a cheater after all. Mr. Hanson announced that he had planned the whole charade with Glen prior to the class and that he would be receiving a 100% on his quiz. The whole demonstration was actually done to drive home a point from the previous night’s reading, I think it had something to do about ruling with fear, but to be honest I really can’t remember. Instead, I took away the general theme that cheating is bad and it can make even the calmest people erupt. I still think a lot about that moment to this day.

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So as I watched Sloan attempt to slyly look over her shoulder as I hid the bow, I considered going full out Mr. Hanson on her. But I figured I should probably wait until she is at least in kindergarten to do that. Don’t Blink.

122-Year-Old Thursday Rundown

It must be Friday Eve because I believe it is time for another Thursday Rundown. Let’s jump right in with this week’s five topics…

Beautiful Arrangement – Sidney and I have the unbelievable blessing of mentoring a couple for their Pre-Cana prep. I will have more to say about this beautiful experience a little further down the road, but I wanted to spotlight what the fiancée did during our session on Tuesday night. Not only did Kailey and her fiancé, Corbin, bring over dinner, but she also brought the below floral arrangement. Kailey put it all together herself, much to our amazement. It has brought such vibrancy and pleasant aroma to our dining area and we are very appreciative.

The couple we are mentoring brought us this handmade arrangement.

Lunar Eclipse – On Sunday night, I took advantage of the opportunity to view the lunar eclipse. Although clouds were present in the sky, I got pretty spectacular unobstructed views (no special glasses needed) every couple minutes when the clouds would cooperate. The peak viewing time for us was around 9:45 p.m. Everyone except for me was asleep and when I tried to wake up Sidney and Sloan, I was not successful in convincing them to come outside with me. Oh well, they will be able to see the next one which is coming up on Nov. 8.

A very primitive, non-telescopic photo I took from my driveway of the moon during Sunday’s lunar eclipse.

Oldest Person (Documented) to Ever Live – After watching a short TikTok video on a woman named Jeanne Calment, I immediately jumped over to Google to learn more about her. Jeanne lived to be 122 years old, the oldest documented age of anyone ever living. A devout Catholic, she lived in France and held off moving into a nursing home until the age of 110. If you have time, I encourage you to read about her life. One interesting tidbit I will leave you about Jeanne: She smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol and consumed chocolate on a daily basis. How’s that for healthy living?

Jeanne Calment lived to be 122 years old.

Gas Prices Continue to Climb – I have readers who live all over the United States so every now and then I like to update them on gas prices in Washington. Since the last time when I devoted an entire blog post to the topic, prices have continued to climb to record-high levels. In Spokane Valley at the gas station located in the grocery store parking lot right next to our house, you can purchase a gallon of gas for $4.79. Let’s hope prices drop very soon.

Gas prices are even more out of control than when I wrote about them in March.

Best of the Best – As part of my 10th anniversary Don’t Blink month-long celebration from last year, I reflected on some of my blogging work from the past decade. On this date in 2021, I looked back on my top 10 blog posts based solely on views. It was a fun exercise that showed what content resonated most with my readers. Later that month, I would write a more personal reflection that listed my own top 10 Don’t Blink blog posts. If you are a new reader of mine, both of these blog posts might be of interest to you as they truly chronicle some of my more distinguished writings.

This moment made my top 10 blog posts of all-time.

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I wish you a prosperous weekend. Remember to be thankful for what you have and never hesitate to convey that appreciation to God. Don’t Blink.

The End of Ozark

It took me until almost midnight, but last night I finished watching a Netflix television series that managed to keep me thoroughly engaged throughout its four-season run. I am talking about “Ozark.”

“Ozark” is an entertaining series.

Jason Bateman stars in the show about a man who becomes entrenched with a Mexican drug cartel and must re-locate to the Ozarks to launder money on its behalf. Bateman’s character, Marty Byrde, moves his wife and two kids with him and it isn’t long before the whole family is invested in the operation as well.

The entire series was bonkers. Drugs, murder, and conflict filled pretty much every episode. But it wasn’t mindless violence in the respect that there was nothing of substantial value. Quite the contrary. I found “Ozark” to be a very intelligent and thought-provoking program. It had political, business, spiritual, and relational themes throughout the entire four seasons that resonated with me even when the operations of a ruthless drug cartel didn’t.

“Ozark” was a clinic on problem solving. It seemed like every moment that Marty and his wife, Wendy, experienced a small victory, a larger issue would then present itself, forcing the Byrds to put another plan in motion. They got into some deep sh!t and it was a constant struggle to shovel out. To watch this constant cycle was incredibly entertaining.

Perhaps nothing defined “Ozark” more than the superb character development. The series is full of colorful characters from the Byrd family to the local folk to the attorneys to the FBI agents to the cartel members. Savage, sophisticated, seedy, and sardonic are just a few s-word adjectives that describe the people you meet over the four seasons. Although the series focuses on the Byrdes, they are definitely not the “good guys”—in fact, “Ozark” is pretty much a free for all between brutal, desperate, selfish people. With all that said, I loved Marty Byrde’s character along with drug lord Omar Navarro, cartel lawyer Helen, and local drug dealer Jacob.

“Ozark” had some terrific characters.

The show made for relatively easy watching and was binge-worthy, something that I usually don’t credit even the best programs with. The way it was shot really brought out the seediness of the Ozarks and made it authentic. Little things like the foreshadowing of the episode with four objects in the opening credits and some great music make “Ozark” fun and engaging.

If you haven’t watched “Ozark” but would like to begin a clever and creative show, give it a shot. After the first few episodes you will be hooked and very entertained. Don’t Blink.

Preparing to Speak

The beginning of college for many is characterized by a couple of painful, yet necessary, experiences. The first is wisdom teeth removal. The second is enrollment in a specific course…

If you ever have the desire to enter a space that is filled with anxiety and lowkey fear, sign up for a college introductory public speaking class. There is nothing like being a freshman surrounded by other equally-terrified students as a grad assistant outlines the expectation that you will deliver four speeches throughout the semester.

Public speaking class, even for us communication majors, is not something most students look forward to. It isn’t something that is particularly enjoyed while it is in session nor is it something that is missed once it is over.

But is it valuable? Absolutely.

I have mentioned before that I am not a natural public speaker. Whether I am giving a presentation for work or delivering a speech at a wedding, I need to do my fair share of preparation. For everything I soaked in from intro to public speaking about actual speech delivery, what I learned about how to prepare was most valuable.

In life, you will always have the extremely talented people who can bake a cake, ace a test, assemble a crib, or run a 5K without any preparation. The same holds true for public speaking. There are charismatic and skillful individuals who can rattle off impassioned speeches on a whim. For the rest of us, a little more thought must be given. Intro to public speaking is a course that is despised by many but can be so beneficial. The road map that was provided to deliver successful presentations and speeches is a lifelong resource that I have tapped into time and time again.

I hate it but I love it. Don’t Blink.

The 11th Anniversary of Don’t Blink

This past weekend I celebrated the 11th anniversary of Don’t Blink. Last year, I couldn’t guarantee that I would continue blogging beyond 2021. But here I am more than five months into 2022 blogging as ferociously as ever.

That’s 11 years in the book for Don’t Blink. Although I have considered wrapping things up over the years I have continued to blog.

It is just tough to give up. This blog provides me the opportunity to document my thoughts, sharpen my writing skills, extend my brand, engage with my readers, and inject some positivity into the world. On a personal level, authoring Don’t Blink is very therapeutic and it keeps me disciplined.

If it didn’t keep me disciplined, how could you explain the 2,158 posts I have written over the past 11 years? My blog has provided me with the structure and motivation that I crave. Knowing how much both of those things mean to me, this year I am wiser in the respect that I won’t prophesy the possible end of this blog. As long as I can continue to carve out time to write when my children are asleep, which usually means very early in the morning or late at night, I believe I will continue to do so.

I thank all my readers for your loyalty and engagement over the years. I also thank my wife for making this sign.

When thinking about how my blog has changed over the course of this latest year, I would point to crossover. What I mean by this is that some of my blog posts have been influenced by content and ideas I have shared on other digital platforms, especially TikTok. Some of the videos that I made on that social media channel would later be adapted in blog-form. Need evidence? Well, this blog post is actually one of them. The truth of the matter is that TikTok has introduced so many viral trends that can be further explored in a written format—a true gold mine for a content creator like myself who has a presence on multiple platforms.

I want to extend my gratitude to all my readers, both longtime and new. As I mentioned, you play an enormous role in my decision to continue blogging. Thanks again and let’s keep this train rolling. Don’t Blink.

Chalky Thursday Rundown

Welcome back! I am so happy that you decided to join me tonight for another Thursday Rundown. Let’s begin with our five topics…

Dressed Up Beau – Our son has a knack for throwing on random clothes and accessories. When I looked up from my computer the other day this is what I saw. Believe it or not, I used to do the same thing when I was his age.

Beau threw on a helmet and his mom’s sunglasses the other day.

Welcome Home Message – When I returned home from Pullman on Tuesday night, I had a nice chalk message waiting for me on the driveway. It was a simple but sweet gesture and Sloan was so excited to tell me that she helped in its creation when I walked inside. The little things.

I came home to this on Tuesday night.

Loose Tooth Drama – Earlier this week I read “Llama Llama Loose Tooth Drama” to the kids. It took everything inside of me to get through it. You see, I get queasy pretty easily and loose teeth are just one thing that will give me an unpleasant feeling. Even before we were married, Sidney and I made an agreement that she would handle all the teeth pulling of our future kids.

“Llama Llama Loose Tooth Drama” reminded me that I am not looking forward to when Sloan starts losing her teeth.

Eerie – A story that caught my eye yesterday surrounded a plane that never left the runway in Israel because of some photos that circulated among the passengers. As the aircraft was taxiing for takeoff to Turkey, many people accepted an AirDrop request and when the images popped up on their devices panic ensued. The photos depicted various plane crashes from over the years. Passengers alerted the flight attendants who notified the captain who made the decision to turn back. After extensive security checks and bag checks, nine people on the plane were arrested for supposedly circulating the images. I am really curious for more information to come out and learn why these fearmongers, who were all around 18 years old, would do such a thing.

This was one of the images that was circulated among the passengers.

Special Photo – When my dad did a Google search for some of the 1970s Walla Walla High School football teams he played on, a picture popped up that at first glance seemed to miss the mark. He landed on a site that contained several photos from a 1970 Whitman College (a small private college in Walla Walla) football game. But when he glanced at the first photo in the group, he saw something pretty crazy. The image was a crowd shot and in plain view was my 13-year-old dad sitting in the stands! To his left is my grandpa and to his immediate right is my Uncle Dick. Next to my uncle is my Aunt Debbie and next to her is my Aunt Patty. The photo quality is quite good and not many pictures exist with my dad’s father and the kids. The coincidence of finding this picture while looking for something else is pretty spectacular.

My dad discovered this Whitman College football photo while looking for something entirely different. I have added an arrow pointing at my dad.

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That’s what I got for you tonight. Thanks for your support of my blog and I wish you a fantastic weekend. Don’t Blink.

Reflections From Three Great Moms

This past Sunday, we gathered at my parents’ house in north Spokane for a Mother’s Day celebration. What an awesome opportunity it was for my siblings and our families to get together and recognize our amazing moms. Early on during the celebration, I got the three women of the hour (my mom, my wife, and my sister) to take the below photo.

My mom, Sidney, and my sister pose for a photo during our 2022 Mother’s Day celebration.

After the photo was taken, I took the opportunity to ask each mother, What do you enjoy most about being a mom? There answers were diverse but thoughtful…

My sister said the love she receives from her three kids is the best part about being a mom. Nothing beats the authentic, loyal adoration that comes from your children.

I then moved to my wife and she replied with something rather interesting. She mentioned that the best part about being a mom is reliving her own childhood through the daily experiences of Sloan and Beau. What joy it is to be reminded of your own happy youthful years via the little humans you love more than anything in the world.

Finally, I posed the question to my mom. As the most tenured member of the group, she had a different perspective. She responded that the best part of being a mom to adult children is taking pride in the fact that her daughter and two sons are all successful, happy people. Observing her children all grown up conveys to her that she did a good job as a mom.

If you want to actually watch my wife, sister, and mom give their responses, you can watch the TikTok video I created by tapping here. I am so thankful for these three incredible women and am always blown away by the great job they do as mothers. Don’t Blink.

509 Day

If you recall, last month on April 6, I wrote about 406 Day. April 6 (4-06) reflects Montana’s sole area code and thus the date is embraced by the state. In my blog post I mentioned that while the day is important to me since I lived in Missoula for eight years, you won’t see me calling in sick to celebrate it—the true Montanan spirit just doesn’t dwell in me.

Today is another day associated with an area code but this one resonates a little more with me. In eastern Washington, the date of May 9 (5-09) is also known as 509 Day. Unlike how 406 Day represents an entire state, 509 Day simply carries the banner of a specific region. But that region happens to be where I was born and where I have spent more than 60% of my life.

The mayor of Spokane, Nadine Woodward, holds a 509 Day card.

Although the 509 area code encompasses more than half the state of Washington geographically, it is claimed with the most passion by Spokane. As a born and raised Spokanite who now resides here once again after a 15-year hiatus, I have a genuine pride for those three numbers. Did that pride burn intensely in my soul when I left the state as an 18-year-old? To be honest, probably not. But after all those years of being away and noticing from afar that I didn’t live in such an awful place, the digits started to mean a little more to me. Especially when I would make the immediate association of “home” when I would receive an incoming call and “509” would be flashing on my screen.

Hell yes, I would wear a shirt with 509 embroidered across the chest if I had one. In my mind, 509 means four unique seasons. It means some of the best college basketball in the country. It means Bloomsday, which I just participated in last week. It means Hoopfest, which I will lace up my sneakers for next month. It means media outlets like the Spokesman-Review and KXLY. It means Riverfront Park, Dick’s Hamburgers, and Jack & Dan’s. It means coffee stands on every corner and pot shops in every strip mall (not that I am proud of that one). It means Macklemore’s “Downtown” music video which to this day I believe screams Spokane better than just about anything else. It means lilacs, a garbage goat, and the Davenport Hotel.

Nothing says “509” more like the Garbage Goat in Riverfront Park

It means home.

“The 509” has a certain attitude. It is realistic, knowing that Spokane is a mid-sized city that can’t necessarily compete with its big brother, Seattle. But at the same time, it is content with what it can offer. The 509 isn’t too out of touch to poke fun about itself and acknowledge its shortcomings but at the same time it clutches a deep sense of community pride. To put it simply, the 509 is down to earth.

And, just like the area code that I proudly claim, I am a down to earth dude. Without hesitation I salute my fellow 509ers and enthusiastically celebrate 509 Day. Now pass the cheap beer. Don’t Blink.