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.

Tough to Say Goodbye

Early yesterday morning, my in-laws flew back to South Carolina. It was an extremely nice five days of relaxing and chatting. We played many games of Rummikub, watched a lot of football, and ate homecooked meals. It was so satisfying to see Sid’s parents spend time with Sloan and Beau after a long five months away from them.

My mother-inlaw with Sloan and Beau this past weekend.

I have great in-laws and I am thankful we got to spend so much quality time together. We all miss them so much already, especially Sidney.

My father-in-law with Sloan.

I don’t know if you call it a bond, connection, or understanding—but there is something that Sid and I both know a lot about. It is that void that exists when you live far away from your family and the overwhelmingly sad feeling you experience when you have to say goodbye after a visit.

These two had some fun baking cookies.

The reality is that we both come from very close families that happen to live on the opposite ends of the country. The math isn’t that difficult…if we are fortunate to live close to one of our families, it means we will be living very far away from the other. It was me who was away from my family at first and now it is Sid. The love we have for each other makes the arrangement possible but it definitely doesn’t make it easy.

For those who are a thousand miles or more from your family, you get it. Being isolated from those who share your blood can be depressing. Thus, when a visit is in the works, you can’t help but countdown the days until you are once again within hugging distance. Those first several moments are complete euphoria. After that, the feelings of happiness remain but the realization starts to creep in that you will soon have to part. No matter how hard you try not to acknowledge it, the thought is there.

Beau just about crawled for his gandparents while they were here.

Then comes the awful hour when you actually do have to say goodbye. It can be an extremely deflating feeling that will linger throughout the day, possibly extending for a couple more after that. However, things do get better and while the sadness dissipates, the happy moments from the visit don’t…and those are what you truly remember.

I will remember these smiling faces when I think about the past five days.

Sidney and I understand each other, especially the very tough dynamic that we have both faced with family living far away. We support each other and respect each other when we struggle with the void. We are blessed to have each other and blessed to have caring and loving families. Don’t Blink.

If I Could Give Myself Some Advice in March 2020

Scrolling through Twitter last night, I came across a tweet that asked an incredibly thought-provoking question. This was it…

This tweet got me thinking!

It made me stop and think. As I stopped scrolling and my mind started racing, I came up with five pieces of advice I would give myself if I had a crystal ball back in March. Briefly and in no particular order, here is what I would say…

1. Be ready for the long haul. This isn’t going to be as easy as “crushing the curve.” A three-week shutdown is not going to eliminate the coronavirus. This thing is going to stretch many months.

2. Things will get tough for your industry. Prepare yourself, higher education is going to be tested like never before. You think classes will be in-person come the fall? Ha! Don’t make me laugh. Be prepared to think creatively and to do whatever you can to provide a bright spot to the students who never imagined that this is what their college experience would be like.

3. Rip up your calendar. Your brother’s wedding? That 5K you were going to run? Hoopfest? All the random stuff you planned to do during the summer? It’s not going to happen so just come to grips with it now. Learn new ways to socialize, celebrate, and dine because public gatherings are going to be severely limited, if not completely banned.

4. Expect the unexpected. This virus will take you on a rollercoaster like never before. You will think things are getting better and then a spike will hit. Your favorite restaurant will open back up only to shut down the next week. Your friend will be healthy one day and then come down with COVID the next.

5. Think critically. The truth will, at times, be tough to grasp. Everyone will have their own ideas on how to beat the virus and move forward. Political agendas and fear-mongering will try to steer you in all different directions. Be smart and see through the B.S.

What advice would you give yourself? Don’t Blink.

In-Laws In Town Thursday Rundown

It is the smack middle of October and it sure feels like fall around here! Hope this Thursday evening finds you well and that you are ready for my latest Rundown. Here we go…

In-Laws Have Arrived – Before this afternoon, the last time Sid saw her parents was more than five months ago. Thank goodness the streak is over! When her mom and dad accompanied Sid and the kids here in early May, it was a short and emotional trip. Thankfully, this time around they have time to relax and enjoy Spokane. Sloan and Beau are so excited to spend time with their east coast grandparents and I am happy to have them under the roof of our new house. But I am over the moon ecstatic for Sidney who has been counting down to this day for a long time. She is filled with joy to have her mom and dad here and I want nothing more than to see her have a fantastic several days with them.

We are so happy that Sid’s parents are here!

Halloween Cookie Bake-Off – A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my brother bringing cookies over to the house for Sloan to enjoy. This week, Sloan went over to his house to make them herself. Glen decorated his home, made lunch for Sloan, and then allowed her to frost Halloween cookies with him. When she arrived back at our place she exclaimed, “That was the best day ever!!” Sloan and Beau sure have an incredible uncle!

Thank you, Glen, for being a great uncle.

Sloan’s First Fun Run – On Tuesday, Sloan participated in the St. Mary Catholic School Fun Run. It was rainy and slick, but Sloan ran for the five minutes that was expected of the Pre-K3 class. Prior to the run, she collected pledges for her school. This was Sloan’s first time fundraising and she did a nice job asking each donor herself if they would sponsor her. At her current age she is fearless but I hope as the years go by she continues to develop her fundraising skills and always takes ownership of whatever money-raising initiative she is participating in.

The St. Mary Fun Run was a success!

Arbor Crest – On Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, a winery that is literally built on a cliff. Although I am not much of a wine drinker, I have to admit that the glass I had last weekend was probably the best I ever had. But no matter how good the wine was, the view was even better. Here are some of the photos I took of Spokane from the Arbor Crest property.

Arbor Crest has some great views and beautiful grounds.

Seven Awesome Birthdays – It is tradition that on each of my birthdays, Sid and I take a photo together with my cake (or in the case of 2016, with a pan of brownies). I have now spent seven birthdays with Sid and I am happy that I have a photo of each one to show for it.

I have spent my seven best birthdays ever with Sid.

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Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day so I ask you to say a prayer for those families who have experienced unfathomable loss. Thanks for reading tonight, my friends. Excuse me while I go enjoy my in-laws. Don’t Blink.

Two Wildly Different Movies

Two films. Two genres. Two eras.

We are still watching movies at an impressive clip in the Reser household and every now and then I like to take them from our streaming platform to my blogging platform. Over the weekend I watched two movies that couldn’t be more different from each other but are both worthy of your time….well, at least one of them is.

Hubie Halloween – I have sat through some pretty awful Adam Sandler Neflix films—and I mean really bad—and “Hubie Halloween” probably ranks right up there with them. An annoying Sandler character, crude humor, and a runtime that goes too long have all been characteristics of his past Netflix forays that are evident in this latest film. By all means, it is far from perfect.

“Hubie Halloween” will get you into the Halloween spirit.

Despite the all-too-familiar flaws of “Hubie Halloween,” it is actually watchable. In fact, it is even a little endearing. What the film has going for it is that it nails Halloween. Set in Salem, the movie tells the story of a local oddball who loves Halloween just as much as he loves his community. The only problem is that the people of the community don’t always love him back. But just in the same way that Bobby Boucher from “The Waterboy” wins his critics over, so does Hubie.

But back to the Halloween vibe of the movie. It touches on everything that makes the holiday unique and spooky. Costumes, candy, trick-or-treating, corn mazes, cemeteries, Halloween parties, fall colors, and more all help “Hubie Halloween” do October 31 justice. While watching the movie, I could almost feel and smell Halloween just because it vibrantly depicted the holiday in so many ways that I could identify with from my own experiences. For those not impressed by horror films or tired of “Hocus Pocus,” I think this Sandler flick is what you need this Halloween.

Last but not least, if you are a die-hard Adam Sandler fan you must watch this movie. References, characters, and themes from his past classics are incorporated into this film. It is pretty fun.

Mr. Holland’s Opus – While perusing Disney+, this film from 1995 came up and based on the notoriety of the title I decided to give it a try. As usual, I watched it without doing a Google search or any other research that might give me more context other than my basic understanding that the film had an obvious musical storyline.

Mr. Holland’s Opus was not what I had expected (but in a good way).

But this movie was about so much more than music. It tells the story of a man with a brilliant musical mind who decided to teach his passion at the local high school for a few years so he could work on his composition. Well, a few years turned into about 30 as he put his dream on hold to make a positive difference in the lives of youth.

What a treat this film was. The impact of teaching, familial responsibility, overcoming obstacles, and building confidence are all themes that are inspirationally related in “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Take time to watch the movie and prepare yourself for an emotionally triumphant ending scene that had me wiping away tears.

The ending scene is classic.

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Because it is a seasonal movie, you might want to watch “Hubie’s Halloween” first. But don’t sleep on “Mr Holland’s Opus,” especially if you need an inspirational push. As always, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts abut both films. Don’t Blink.

Connecting With History at the Davenport Hotel

It has always been a goal of mine to stay at the Davenport Hotel. For those not familiar, the Davenport is Spokane’s most famous and oldest hotel. Built in 1914, it was the place to stay in the city for several decades. If celebrities, sports stars, or sitting U.S. Presidents came to Spokane, there was only one place they would stay.

But as the years passed, the Davenport showed its age and fell into disrepair. In 1985, the hotel shut its doors. If not for asbestos in the guest rooms, the place would have been imploded. In 2000, an entrepreneurial married couple bought the property and renovated the guest rooms and brought the lobby and ballrooms back to their original glory.

For my birthday this year, I wanted to do something memorable. With us now living in Spokane and my parents chomping at the bit to host Sloan and Beau for another sleepover, I asked Sid if she wanted to stay at the Davenport. Wanting to help me cross off an item on my Spokane bucket list, or perhaps just wanting to spend the night in a luxurious hotel, she said yes.

Sidney at the Davenport Hotel on Saturday night.

On Saturday night, we checked into room 706. The check-in process was pleasant with the staff bending over backward to make us feel welcome. With the plan to check out the Peacock Room (one of the hotel lounges) and then eat at a downtown restaurant, we almost scrapped those plans after Sid tested out the world-famous Davenport mattress in our hotel room. But as easy as it would have been to sleep the night away, we did decide to venture out.

Our view of the Spokane streets from our seventh floor Davenport Hotel room.

We enjoyed our evening and returned to the Davenport shortly before 10 p.m. Before heading to our room for a night of uninterrupted sleep, we decided to walk around the hotel’s mezzanine. We gazed out at the elegant lobby below us and then started strolling. The mezzanine at the Davenport is an homage to its history. Large, framed photos of elaborate parties and socials from a century ago line the halls. Memorabilia cases also provide a glimpse into the hotel’s heyday.

A look at the Davenport Hotel from the mezzanine.

The mezzanine also provided us access to a couple of ballrooms rich in history and architecture. The Marie Antoinette Ballroom and the Hall of the Doges made us feel some type of way when we walked inside them, especially the former. It smelled old—but not a musty smell. Rather, it was a distinguished old smell that seemed to really convey the colorful parties and the important banquets that took place in the space over the decades.

A photo I snapped of the Davenport Hotel’s Marie Antoinette Ballroom.

Multiple times we talked about the people in the group photos that lined the walls. Many of the images were taken from the mezzanine of a packed lobby. Individuals in their primes with nice clothes and distinguished looks were captured in these photographs. One image from the 1910s showed all children packed in the lobby and around the mezzanine. We couldn’t help but think that these cute children were all now gone from this earthly world. It was kind of a weird feeling.

The famous Hall of the Doges at the Davenport Hotel.

Riding the elevator up to our room, I reflected on the rich history of the hotel and thought of the thousands and thousands of guests who stayed in the property before us. I slept well knowing that we were now connected to them in a small way. Don’t Blink.

Virtual Thursday Rundown

Well, this is something new. Although I once wrote a Saturday Rundown, I have never penned a Friday Rundown before. Because yesterday’s birthday post preempted my usual five-topic bonanza, I want to stay on the good side of my readers and still offer a rundown, even if it is a day late. I don’t like writing on Fridays so let’s get this over with…

Social Distance Trick-or-Treating – While taking the kids for a walk in my parents’ neighborhood last Saturday, I came across a home with this nifty contraption in its yard. There is no doubt that trick-or-treating will look different this year and there is already a lot of talk about what can be done to properly social distance. These homeowners definitely had a solution…a six-foot candy drop! The text in the bottom righthand corner of the board reads “Place your bag at the end of the chute for prewrapped candy.”

I came across this 6-foot candy drop in my parents’ neighborhood.

Birthday Gifts – I wanted to quickly highlight a couple birthday gifts I received yesterday. My sister and brother-in-law gave me a snazzy new Washington State University hat. I have worn my old one since high school and was in desperate need of a non-stained, vibrant version. My wife gave me this Hydrapeak water bottle. I specifically asked for it, and in the future I will explain why, but I have already filled it up a couple times today and love it.

I have already put my birthday gifts to use.

A Scare – Yesterday, my birthday got off to a great start. I couldn’t say the same a year ago. That morning, I left the gym feeling totally defeated. I had lost my wedding ring and my effort to cover every square inch of Iron Legacy Gym turned up fruitless. The sadness and shame I felt was intense. Luckily, I received an early birthday present when I found my ring on my car’s floorboard once I arrived home. You can relive my anxiety-ridden morning in 2019 by reading this blog post.

The studio at Iron Legacy Gym was one of the places I frantically searched for my ring.

Chick-fil-A Growth – While in north Spokane this past weekend, I drove by what will be the area’s first Chick-fil-A location. For someone who really came to understand the magic of Chick-fil-A while living in South Carolina, I am following the construction like a hawk. Another reason why I am obsessing over the progress is because I know how bad Spokane wants a Chick-fil-A and how it has had its heart broken before with false hope. Fortunately, I can report that the northside location is the real deal and that it will be serving spicy chicken sandwiches by December.

It is actually starting to look like a Chick-fil-A!

Laundry for Days – I had to rip off another meme from my friend’s Instagram Story for tonight’s rundown. Anyone else feel this way? I know Sid and I do, but it goes beyond just clothes—towels too! I can use the same shower towel for a week but the mountain continues to grow. Despite dirty clothes and towels that seem to grow exponentially, my wife keeps everything manageable because of her efficient laundry system that includes labeled hampers for whites, darks, and towels.

Does this meme resonate?

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Not trying to be rude, but it is the weekend! Peace. Don’t Blink.

Turning 34: As Advertised

One year ago today, before I even closed the book on my first day as a 33-year-old, I was already looking ahead to turning 34. This is what I wrote: I can’t stop thinking that next birthday will be so much different. Yes, turning 34 isn’t a “sexy” number so to speak, but it will be the first birthday that I will have TWO children helping me celebrate it.

It wasn’t just the two children thing that made today different.

When I blew out the candles on this cake last year, little did I know the changes that would come by my next birthday.

When blowing out the candles on last year’s cake, the thought of making a wish that would find me soaking up a gorgeous northwest October evening surrounded by my wife, two kids, my parents, my siblings, and their families never crossed my mind. If it had, I would have dismissed it as impossible and not wasted my wish on it.

But life happens and things become, well, different. Working at Washington State University, living near my parents/siblings, and being a father of two are all blessings I didn’t have when I turned 33 but I have now as I turn 34.

Our decorations are the same but a lot of other stuff has changed.

Of course I have to take the good with the bad. The term “COVID birthday” wasn’t in our lexicon a year ago. Remind me, what did I say turning 34 would be like? Oh yeah…So. Much. Different.

Although life as a new 34-year-old is waaaaaay different than life as a new 33-year-old, my attitude about inching deeper into my 30s is still the same—I’m not sweating it. There was a time in my late 20s when I felt anxiety about getting older but that sentiment has been replaced with contentment. There is no need to be anything but happy when you have a loving family, strong faith, and rewarding career—no matter how many trips around the sun you have taken.

So thankful that I got to stand next to this woman for another birthday tonight.

There is also no need to be anything but happy when you get to eat pizza. The whole family came over to our house tonight for a celebration. I was 18 the last time I spent a birthday in Spokane so you better believe I savored every moment of this evening’s festivities.

Sloan watching closely as Sid lit the candles on the cake.

As I spend my last year in the coveted 18-34 age demographic, I do have a wish that I hope comes to fruition before my next birthday: that our world is back to normal and an effective vaccine is widely available. That would be the best “35” birthday present of all. Don’t Blink.

Past Birthday Posts
Turning 33
Turning 32
Turning 31
Turning 30