The Best of Beau’s Newborn Photos

Shortly before I moved out west, we had a newborn photoshoot for Beau. Judy Johns, the director of photography at Coastal Carolina University and my good friend, sacrificed a Saturday to take the photos. Judy is an extremely talented photography who does a phenomenal job regardless of whether she is covering an event or taking portraits.

As I teased in last week’s Thursday Rundown blog post, I wanted to share a few of my favorite images from the shoot. Judy did a fantastic job, making the task of counting down the five I like the best quite challenging. Let’s give it a try…

Honorable Mention: I am too ugly for a photo with me to make the countdown. But honorable mention? Well, I think we can make an exception. I am proud to be pictured with my brand new son as we stand by the window.

Against my better judgment, I am including a photo that includes me.

5. Close Up – With Beau’s little cap on and with him holding up four fingers, Judy zeroed in for this shot. He looks so peaceful as he snoozes away. I also like the emphasis on his lips and nose.

Our little man fast asleep.

4. Tradition – During Sloan’s newborn shoot, a photo of her resting on my arms was captured. Sidney liked the pose and requested that it be replicated with Beau. Believe it or not, it was an awkward position for me to hold with my arms but thanks to the coordinated effort of Judy and Sidney to position the both of us just right, it turned out great.

We have a photo very similar to this of Sloan.

3. Full Body – This photo of Beau is a full length body shot…what you see is what you get! The sheets, pillow, and posts contrast just right with Beau’s gray outfit. That’s my son!

A sleeping angel.

2. Priceless – What more can I say? I will hold tight this photo of my children for a long time. This was another instance where we kind of showed Judy a photo of a pose we liked and then she went ahead and mastered it. Could she have captured a more genuine, natural shot of Sloan? Beau looks at peace as his sister cautiously watches over him.

I love the look on Sloan’s face in this photo.

Oh, you want a black and white image of this pose as well? Okay, here you go…

Same pose, less color.

1. The Love of a Mother – My undisputed favorite photo of the shoot! My wife looks beautiful and Beau looks right at home in the palm of his mommy’s hand. Judy captured both Sid’s pride and tenderness for her son in this special image. Does it deserve to be framed? You bet!

This photo captures my heart (and the top spot on this countdown).

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Once again, I just want to thank Judy for taking these photos. After some great years working with each other, this was the last time we were together…a nice memory to end on.

Let me tell you what, these photos are helping me a lot during my time away from my family. Speaking of which, only 23 days until I am reunited with Sid, Sloan, and Beau. Don’t Blink.

Worse Things Than Staying at Home

I am guilty of making a complaint that is pretty common these days: We can’t do anything.

We need to realize that just hanging at the house isn’t a bad thing.

With daily life pretty much at a standstill, many of our daily comforts and routines are no longer possible, or––at the very least––deeply frowned upon. You can’t eat at a restaurant or enjoy a beer at a bar. You can’t get your teeth cleaned or sit down for a haircut. You can’t go into work or exercise at the gym. You can’t escape at the movie theater or take the kids to the playground. You can’t worship at church or go to a ball game. Heck, you can’t even check out a book at the library! Needless to say, it can become a little overwhelming as the walls start to close in.

However, I am trying to think more positive. Yes, many pleasures and conveniences of life are limited right now. But if you think about it, the things that matter the most aren’t.

While many of us are isolated from the general public, we still have direct contact with our families. Whether it be hugging, chatting, or playing a board game with our loved ones, we are able to ride out these difficult times with those who mean the most to us.

Even the “little things” still available to us aren’t so bad…

There is no ban on praying or meditating. You can still sing and write. No one is stopping us from penning a letter or Facetiming a friend. No restrictions are in place to cease movie marathons or Netflix binge watching. Home improvement projects and yard work tasks are calling our names. How about pulling out the home videos, the photo albums, and scrapbooks?

If people weren’t getting sick and dying because of this pandemic, you could almost say that this “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order we are under in Washington is a blessing. There is something to be said about a meaningful cleanse from the outside world.

Let us continue to pray and do our respective parts to flatten the curve. Remember, it is not a matter of if but when. There will be a time when this will be a distant memory.

Tonight I remember Kobe Bryant when I respectfully say that 24 days remain until I am reunited with Sid, Sloan, and Beau. Don’t Blink.

Looking Back On My First Week at WSU

Without a doubt, there was one question that was asked of me repeatedly during my first week of work at Washington State University…

What a time to start, right?

I was greeted warmly my first day at WSU.

Although one’s first week at a new job can rarely be described as “normal,” my first five days at WSU took that notion to a whole new level.

I arrived on campus just as the dominos from the COVID-19 outbreak started to fall across the country. On Monday, I worked in Pullman. Despite the lack of students, it was an awesome first day on campus. I met my co-workers and bosses, moved into my office, and even got some work done. I was on a high and excited to return the next day.

I was all smiles my first (and only) day on campus.

Not so fast.

That Monday afternoon we received the directive to work from home starting the next day. I packed up my laptop and commuted back to Spokane, not knowing exactly when I would return. I felt bummed that I wouldn’t be working from my new beautiful campus and connecting with my co-workers in person. However, I wasn’t sweating the feasibility of working from home. A few hurricanes and numerous days taking care of a sick child had developed my skills for working from a makeshift living room office.

The four days working from home (aka my parents’ house) just weren’t smooth, they were productive. I had the opportunity to take part in numerous Zoom meetings, meet campus partners, collaborate on a couple projects, and start to build the framework for some of my specific duties. At the end of Friday, I deemed the first week a success.

I know I am really going to like WSU. I have talented people around me and job responsibilities I am passionate about. Yes, things feel different right now but I think this period of working from home will just increase my appreciation for working on a college campus once we actually get to return.

Just 25 days and counting until I get to see Sidney, Sloan, and Beau. Don’t Blink.

A Small Dose of Normal: My Thursday Rundown

During this uneasy time, people are craving any type of normalcy. In my quest to provide some routine, I want to make sure to provide my weekly Thursday Rundown. Let’s get started with today’s five topics…

Sloan’s First Haircut – Yesterday, Sidney took Sloan to get her ears lowered for the first time. Sloan sat in a police car seat and enjoyed a sucker as her hair was trimmed. Sid said that both the customer and the stylist did a great job.

Sloan got her first haircut yesterday.

Newborn Photos – We were blessed that Judy Johns, CCU’s top photographer and my good friend, took Beau’s newborn photos. When she sent us the link, we were blown away by the job she did. In the future I might publish a blog post that highlights some of the very best images, but here is one to hold you over. Judy, you are an incredible talent!! Sloan and Beau…28 days until I see you!

The photos taken by Judy were amazing!

Finding a Way to Exercise – Hey Coronavirus…you can shut down the restaurants, you can shut down the bars, and you can shut down the beauty salons (how am I going to get my manicure?) but did you have to close the gyms too?! It is rough not having access to a gym but for those of us who really want to exercise, we can find a way. For me it is going to the local high school during my teleworking lunch breaks to run. After snow and below freezing temperatures greeted me upon my arrival in Washington, the work week has ushered in plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-fifties. This has made for perfect running weather as I break up my work day with laps around the track. Although I am missing the weights, I am happy that I can at least get in some cardiovascular exercise.

As gyms are closed, I have been running at the Mead High School track during my lunch breaks.

Even Worse Than Closed Gyms – I made a big deal about exercise centers being closed but the biggest pill to swallow has been the closure of churches. When that domino fell, I realized that this virus was like nothing we have ever seen before. It is one thing to not be able to increase my physical strength but when my spiritual strength is threatened that is something entirely different. Thankfully, at least in the Catholic faith, provisions are being made to let us worship from home. Masses are being streamed just not at the diocese level but at the parish level as well. And while masses might not be public, churches aren’t necessarily closed in the sense that the doors are locked. Many parishes are allowing people to come pray. Just like with exercising, there are ways to still make things work.

It is a tough pill to swallow with public masses being cancelled.

Birthday Tradition – I have an annual tradition that entails me taking a photo with Sloan on her birthday. I put on the green polo that I wore the day she was born and Sid snaps a picture of us. Of course this year’s image was taken a few days before March 17 but you get the idea. Sloan just gets prettier and I get…well…older.

Every March, I slip on the green polo I wore the day Sloan was born.

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Thanks for reading tonight, everyone. Please make good choices and don’t forget about the power of prayer Don’t Blink.

Until Next Time, Myrtle Beach

I had a grandiose plan of penning a long ode to the Myrtle Beach/Conway community right before I left South Carolina. However, moving out of our house gobbled more of our time than expected and the simultaneous mainstream explosion of the Coronavirus froze my typing fingers for a few days.

With that said, although I won’t go north of 1,500 words, I did want to say goodbye to the community and some of the special people/places that made the last 5.5 years so enjoyable.

Sure, Myrtle Beach receives a certain reputation as a tourist town. But is that really a bad thing? I was never at a loss for things to do with major entertainment complexes, refreshing water parks, endless places to eat, some of the most insane putt putt courses you will ever see, and a beautiful body of water called THE BEACH all within 10 minutes of our house. Oh yeah, the gorgeous weather was also a perk.

This was me nearly six years ago right after I moved to Myrtle Beach. It was such a wonderful place to live!

But there was more to the community than fun activities and a favorable climate. Look past Broadway at the Beach or the Boardwalk and you will find passionate local people who take care of one another and do their best to make the Grand Strand a family-friendly place to live. I ingrained myself in the community and I can’t say thanks enough to everyone who welcomed me and treated me so well. Tonight I want to especially extend my gratitude to six different groups.

Sid’s Family – Not just “Sid’s family” but my family, I owe more than I can express to my in-laws, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephews, and niece. They accepted me into the Mathis clan and made me feel right at home. From Sunday meals to vacations to holidays to milestones in our lives, I am so appreciative of all the memories and so honored to be part of the family. I miss all of them dearly, but I have a real soft spot in my heart for Russell and Harrison, my niece and nephew. They are terrific and mature kids who never ceased to impress me. Love you all!!!

The Mathis family minus the kids.

St. Andrew Catholic Church – What a special place. The best times in my entire life have taken place at the corner of 37th Avenue and Kings Highway. Within those walls I have tied the knot with Sidney, held both my children as they were baptized, and watched as my wife was welcomed into the Catholic Church. I have learned so much from amazing priests such as Msg. James LeBlanc and Fr. Roger Morgan, met our spiritual mentors (Tim and Kathy McCormick), and became part of a holy and charitable organization (Knights of Columbus). I absolutely grew closer to God at St. Andrew.

We had so many special and holy moments inside St. Andrew

Iron Legacy Gym – Before I started working out at what was then called Gold’s Gym, I didn’t really think the people at an exercise facility could be family. For nearly three years I worked out at the tucked away gem on Jason Boulevard and quickly realized that this gym was different. The vibe was positive, the gym-goers were considerate, and the owners were the kindest and most humble people you will ever meet. The endorphins I generated from my exercise were not the only thing that got my day off to a good start––it was also the greetings and conversations I would have with owners Nancy and Tedd Capp. I already miss Iron Legacy.

There isn’t a better gym in Myrtle Beach than Iron Legacy.

Sloan’s Best Friend – The hardest part about moving, besides leaving Sid’s family, is leaving Sloan’s best friend, Jacqueline. Throughout most of their young lives they have had a special, genuine bond. Nothing brought me more joy than watching them play together, especially that first moment when they would run full speed and clasp their arms around each other in the sweetest hug you will ever witness. I will also really miss Jacqueline’s mom and my former CCU colleague, Susannah. Besides family, I don’t know if there was anyone who treated Sloan better than her. Susannah also did many thoughtful acts for Sid and I…she is truly a great friend.

I miss Jacqueline and Susannah.

Oxford Children’s Academy – When searching for a daycare, we were looking for a center that was convenient for us and comfortable for Sloan. Little did we know that we would get so much more than that at Oxford Children’s Academy. Sloan’s daycare expedited her cognitive development and improved her social skills. She was able to enjoy each day with her best friend (Jacqueline) by her side and Sid and I also got to socialize with our friends during pick ups and drop offs. Best of all, OCA cared about us!! They showed nothing but concern when Beau was in the NICU and a few weeks after Sloan’s last day the owner came over to give us gifts on behalf of OCA. If we find a daycare that is half as good as OCA in Washington, we will be in good hands.

Us at Oxford Children’s Academy birthday party. I would recommend this daycare to anyone.

Carolina Center for Advanced Dentistry – A dentist office, really? For someone who is not a big fan of the dentist, I felt fortunate to hit the jackpot with Carolina Center for Advanced Dentistry. I suffer from gum disease so that means I have to make a lot of trips to the dentist for treatments and additional cleanings. Because of this, I got to know the staff really well. The ladies in the office were always so kind and accommodating and the dentists were all down to earth. But the best part about going there was my hygienist, Vanessa. She is so talented at what she does and always made me comfortable, even during treatments that could be painful. We became friends and I literally looked forward to going to the dentist…something I never would have said before.

Hanging with Vanessa after my final cleaning at Carolina Center for Advanced Dentistry.

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Stay classy, Myrtle Beach. I can’t wait to visit again and reunite with the people and places that mean so much to me. Don’t Blink.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Sloan!

If you ever have a few weeks between jobs, I recommend you take your child out of daycare and spend as much time with her as possible. I was blessed to have this luxury with my sweet little girl throughout the latter half of February and first half of March.

Sloan made a terrific 2-year-old. Time now to be a 3-year-old.

During this span, we spent Sloan’s final weeks as a 2-year-old doing non-stop activities both inside and outside of the house. Whether it was story time at the library, fun at the trampoline park, shenanigans at the indoor playhouse, experiments at our kitchen table, or riding bikes in our neighborhood, I cherished every second of it.

Sloan and I making “Ocean Water.” She loved doing experiments.

Although it would have been the icing on the cake to continue the fun throughout her third birthday, life opportunities sometimes call you in a different direction. Today, this blog post will have to suffice.

Over the past year, Sloan developed into a smart, sassy, loving, at-times-naughty, mischievous, and playful little girl. She wowed us with her intelligence, exasperated us with her stubbornness, and melted our heart with her capacity to love. At times it was tough to be around her and at times it was tough to stop holding her.

Sometimes it was tough to put this girl down.

During the past 52 weeks, her personality grew just as much as the curls on her head. Countless times throughout the year Sloan would say things that would make Sid and I look at each other and wonder Where did she learn that from? She showed her affectionate side and she showed her “terrible twos” side as well.

Many milestones transpired during Sloan’s time as a 2-year-old. She helped her mommy bake, she visited the southernmost point in the country, she dressed up as Peppa Pig, she learned to ride a bike, she memorized books and prayers, she developed her singing voice, and she acquired a taste for salad.

Sloan dressed up as Peppa Pig for Halloween.

Oh yeah, she also became a big sister.

For all the times she tested our patience over the past year, she made up for it tenfold by the love and selflessness she has shown toward Beau. Since the day we brought him home from the NICU, all that Sloan has wanted to do is care for him. Whether it be holding him, feeding him, or helping us with a diaper change, she has stepped into that big sister role with complete grace.

Sloan has embraced her role as a big sister.

I miss my little girl so much and hate to miss out on her turning 3. I fear that she will pause and wonder where is my daddy? With that said, I know she is going to have a special birthday celebration with Sid’s family.

Sloan, I am so proud of you! As crazy as it might sound, this year might be even more monumental than the year you just completed. Based on the special girl you are, I know you will just continue to thrive. 30 days and counting. Don’t Blink.

Eve of Opportunity

It was a bittersweet weekend.

I landed in Spokane on Friday night to below freezing temperatures and a few inches of snow. But the drastic change in the weather couldn’t chill the warmth I felt from my parents and siblings who welcomed me back home after 15 years of living out of state. The “Prodigal Son” theme lasted throughout the weekend as my family celebrated my return and treated me better than I deserved.

This was the scene I entered after exiting the plane on Friday night.

However, it was a little lonely walking the red carpet that they rolled out for me. Not being with my wife and children is odd and unsettling. When asked by my parents and even Sidney why I didn’t take advantage of the past two days to sleep in, I replied that it doesn’t feel right to snooze when I know my loved ones on the east coast are up. Needless to say, Facetime calls were in abundance this weekend.

Excitement and anxiety are whirling around my head at the moment. I can’t wait to begin my new job at Washington State University tomorrow! Although I definitely have nerves about my first day, the anxiety I am referencing isn’t job related. I think my readers all know what I am alluding to. The weekend brought more shocking coronavirus developments and that “weird feeling” I referenced on Friday night is more prevalent than ever. The uneasiness jolts me even more because I am not with Sidney, Sloan, and Beau.

But I truly believe the President when he says that this will pass, just like the 32 days remaining before I see my girls and baby boy again. As this weekend comes to a close, I am shifting my focus to the fabulous opportunity that will begin in less than 12 hours. My time as a Coug is about to begin! Don’t Blink.

A Weird Feeling

As I sit in a plane that is taking me across the country, it is giving me a chance to reflect on what has been an insanely strange past few days and brace myself for a totally unique situation I am about to enter.

To say this week has been a bit stressful is an understatement. Despite all the planning we did and all the little tasks we accomplished to prepare for our move, we couldn’t quite anticipate the craziness that would take hold over the last few days in our old house. From last minute packing to the movers coming on Wednesday to the ensuing two days of clean up, it was more intense than I expected. But because of my wife’s take-charge attitude, we came out of the experience (at least the moving out of our old house experience) unscathed.

Since Wednesday night, we have lived out of suitcases at my in-laws. Now that I am gone, I know Sidney and the kids will become more settled and transition into a routine for the next 34 days––at least I hope they will. The fact of the matter is that things have been anything but normal lately, and the move is only half of it.

With things pretty crazy right now, I tried to have some normalcy by celebrating an early birthday with Sloan last night.

What can I say about the pandemic we are facing right now? I believe all commentary about the coronavirus is already out there and anything I say from a personal standpoint is just noise. There is no escaping the perpetual weird feeling I have had in my gut as this unprecedented global situation continues to rob us of any shred of normalcy we might have grasped to.

For me, it is going to get even more drastic.

I am about to land in the state of Washington, the so-called epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Minutes before boarding the plane, the Governor closed all K-12 schools in the state through at least April 24. All events of more than 250 people, including church services, are canceled. Universities are transitioning to online instruction for the rest of the semester and most campus events have been scrapped.

Soon I will be experiencing the higher education challenges firsthand. I begin my employment at Washington State University on Monday––what a time to start, right? I only hope that I can positively contribute to the great response already initiated by my new institution.

Yes, my head is spinning right now. But so are the heads of everyone else, right? We are all dealing with the impact of this virus while at the same time addressing our own internal anxieties as well. The circulating call for unity and support should not fall on deaf ears. We need to stick together. Along those lines, if anyone can help me cope with leaving 75 degrees and sunshine for 25 degrees and snow, I am all ears!

In all honesty, I am excited to return to the Inland Northwest and serve WSU. What an opportunity I am blessed with! It has been quite the week and I already miss my family but I know we will be even stronger when we reunite next month. Stay safe and healthy, everyone. Don’t Blink.

A Tuesday Update

Good morning, everyone! I hope the week is off to a great start for all.

Things are a little hectic at the Reser household as we work to move out of our house. Just about everything is boxed up and ready for the moving company, which brings up a development. The company we hired identified March 10 (today) as the most likely day for their arrival, with March 11 the contingency day. Of course we budgeted our time in a way that would have us prepared for today. Well, small change of plans…

Late yesterday afternoon, one of the moving company employees assigned to our account called me to say that the truck would be at our house on Wednesday, not Tuesday. The news generated some mixed feelings. We were working down to the hour and the notice that we would have a whole extra day to pack did relieve some pressure. It also gave us another night to sleep in our own beds in our own house. At the same time, we had mentally prepared for the movers to be here today and looked forward to our house being completely empty by this afternoon.

Regardless, we are rolling with the punches. Taking care of everything is keeping my mind occupied from focusing too much on the reality that I will soon be without my family for five weeks. I leave for Washington on Friday with Sidney and the kids joining me next month. In the meantime, they will be staying with my in-laws here in Myrtle Beach.

Speaking of the kids, both Sloan and Beau are doing great. Our daughter is handling the move well, taking it upon herself to help us pack. She is still in love with her brother, taking every opportunity possible to hold him and “help” with his diaper changes. Beau is healthy and growing! He is already too big for some of his newborn clothes.

Beau and Sloan are doing well and make great siblings!

Sidney is a rock. This is a very bittersweet time for her but she is leading the charge of packing up our house and making sure everything is in order. She has had a lot thrown at her in 2020 and has taken it all in stride.

Due to the complexities of a cross country move, I will not be writing much over the next week. Our family appreciates the support we have received throughout February and this first part of March. Enjoy your Tuesday and remember to watch those hands! Don’t Blink.

Final Myrtle Beach Thursday Rundown

Good evening, everyone! This will be my final Thursday Rundown as a Myrtle Beach resident. Next week I hope to write a post about what this community has meant to me. But until then, let’s get right to the five random topics.

Beau Turns a Month Old – Can our son really be a month old? According to the calendar the answer is “yes” although the short month of February did expediate the milestone. Beau has lived a pretty eventful initial month and has captured all of our hearts, especially that of his sister.

Beau was born on February 5. Today he turned a month old.

Unique Pancakes – I recently took Sloan to breakfast at a place called the Famous Toastery. As a pancake fanatic, I went to the flapjack section of the menu. Something caught my eye that I had never tried, not heard of, before––coconut pancakes! I ordered them and liked them well enough but I probably would get something different next time.

These were the coconut pancakes I ordered at the Famous Toastery.

Preparing to Move – As the days tick away until the moving company gets here, we are making progress. Sid has spearheaded the actual packing effort while I have taken point on administrative issues such as cancellation of services (in Myrtle Beach), ordering of services (in Washington), and document retrieval. Of course we are helping a lot in each other’s main “area” but two fronts are definitely set up. So far the strategy seems to be working pretty well.

One of our rooms filled with boxes.

Hard Ice Cream – To each their own, but I am not looking for a buzz when I eat ice cream. Recently, while perusing the aisles at a local supermarket, I came across a cooler containing a product called Proof. What differentiates it from other frozen alcohol products is that competitors usually only offer items with 3% alcohol while Proof has figured out how to freeze 80-, 90-, and 100-proof liquor. It doesn’t take the $10 price tag per pint to scare me off, I just am not interested in tequila or rum ice cream.

Alcohol ice cream? No thank you.

Archives – For those who want to play some #ThrowbackThursday, I have written several blog posts on this date. Starting with March 5, 2019, I commemorated the five-year anniversary of my on-campus interview at Coastal Carolina University with this post. On this date two years ago I wrote about a major key to the success of our marriage. Three years ago I wrote about how Sidney nested to prepare for Sloan. Finally, if you want to go waaaay back, check out this post from March, 5, 2013, when I wrote about a “hot” condiment that I was mildly obsessed with.

Read about my on-campus interview at CCU and my Sriracha obession.

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Thank you for your continued support of this blog. Let’s hope the rain tapers off just a little bit for the weekend! Don’t Blink.