A Positive Thursday Rundown

Buenos Noches, mis amigos! I hope everyone is enjoying a pleasant evening. What do you say we get down to business? I am pleased to present my latest Thursday Rundown.

Fitting Farewell to a Great Leader – I dedicated my 2018 year in review blog post to Bill Plate, the man who headed the department I work in at Coastal Carolina University. After six years at CCU as our University Communication Vice President, he accepted a similar job at Utah State. This past Friday, we had a going away party for Bill. As the luncheon drew to a close, he was presented with a large frame that contained the below graphic. This masterpiece was created by Ron Walker, a graphic designer in our department. It oozes creativity and even for those who will never understand the inside jokes packed into it, you can’t help but laugh. You can catch me in the right hand corner being “social.” Fabulous job, Ron.

This was the graphic that Ron made for Bill. It features everyone in University Communication.

Random Act of Kindness at Outback – This past weekend, something really cool happened to us at Outback Steakhouse. At the conclusion of a delicious meal, we were told that some customers on the other side of the restaurant had paid our bill. The couple had learned that Sidney is a teacher, leading to the generous gesture. In South Carolina, there is a lot of discussion right now about the salaries of teachers and the need to compensate them correctly. It is a hot button issue that will be addressed this legislative session. If this increased publicity made the diners pick up or tab, or if it was just out of a general appreciation for teachers, we will never know. Either way, we were humbled by such a kind act.

We were surprised and humble by the couple at Outback who paid for our meal this past weekend.

Encouragement and Support – It is hard being the new person at the gym. Five years ago this week, I wrote about the need to treat those patrons who are trying to get fit as part of a New Year’s resolution with encouragement and respect. It can be intimidating for these well-intentioned rookies to start an exercise routine and nothing will smash their confidence more than snobby and entitled fitness buffs. We need to embrace people who are attempting to make a positive change in their lives regardless of whether it is to get in shape, lose weight, or break a habit. Also, remember it is not too late to act on a resolution. Last year, I wrote about how the first week or two of January can be a tough time to start a goal. Don’t worry, it is still early! You can start today.

Always give those new people at the gym plenty of support!.

Snuggle Up – Yesterday, I stumbled upon an article about a “snuggling” service in Boise, Idaho. The business model is simple: Those who feel like they need some special attention from a professional “snugglist” can pay $80 per hour to be wrapped in the arms of another human being. The business is called Snuggle Buddiez and the staff is highly trained. If you need to hug it out but don’t have a willing partner, this is the place to go. I don’t have enough time or space to write about the details of Snuggle Buddiez but you can get them by reading this highly entertaining and humorous article from Michael Deeds of the Idaho Statesman.

Back When We Were Young – I thought I would end this Rundown with a Throwback Thursday photo from a loooooong time ago. My guess is that this image is over 25 years old. It shows my brother and I holding hands in our front yard, happy as can be. Of course nothing screams louder in this photo than the strange outfit I am wearing. Mom and dad, what is your explanation for that?

Just two happy brothers.

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As always my friends, it has been a pleasure. Have a terrific week and happy birthday to Sloan’s friend, Stevie Blair. Don’t Blink.

 

How #TEALnation Determined the #CCU 2018 Holiday Video

Click here to watch the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video

It happened again.

A couple of my fellow University Communication staffers once again teamed up to create a Coastal Carolina University holiday video that delighted our campus and did our institution proud. And, like previous years, Lindsi Glass and Geoff Insch decided to offer something that was completely different from previous editions. However, I think they went out even more on a limb in 2018 than ever before.

In 2017, we gave our audience something they had never seen before with a holiday video by going sentimental. We took an even greater leap this year.

Can you guess what they did?…

Wait, hold off. I will answer that question in one minute. Let me start by telling you the premise of this year’s video. In an act of homage to the past 11.5 months at CCU, Lindsi, our senior director of marketing, and Geoff, one of our production managers, recapped the many accomplishments and milestones that transpired. They did this by incorporating significant Coastal Carolina moments from 2018 into a popular Christmas song – Jingle Bells! Lindsi wrote catchy CCU-inspired lyrics to the tune of the classic carol and Geoff did his magic with the camera. With a CCU student providing the vocals and a campus community eager to help us shoot the scenes, we had all the components of an awesome, memorable video.

The 2018 #CCU Holiday Video follows its predecessors as a real winner.

But, like I said, Lindsi and Geoff thought waaaaay outside the box this year. The duo wanted to let #TEALnation have an active voice in deciding what the video would look like and the story that would be told. They knew they could turn to a reliable “friend” for help: Social media.

We debuted our 2018 #CCU Holiday Video late this morning.

From the start of the project, Lindsi and Geoff wanted social media to play a major role in building the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video. Their vision was to allow our social audience to vote on the scenes they wanted to include in the production.

We used Instagram Story (IG: @ccuchanticleers) to allow our social media audience to decide which scenes they wanted to see included in the video.

They invited me to the brainstorming meetings to discuss how we could best accomplish this. We came to a consensus that utilizing Instagram Story, notably its “poll” option, would help us reach our goal. A byproduct of using Instagram Story was that it would help us “reach” something else – a very important audience at CCU…our students.

We used the poll feature on Instagram Story to gather precise results on what our social media audience wanted….yes, they wanted more cowbell.

Of course allowing our social media audience to vote on the scenes entailed twice the work. Lindsi and Geoff had to shoot scenes that would never make it into the video. For example, one day we asked our Instagram audience to decide whether they wanted to see CCU staffers hanging holiday lights in Wall Building or Academic Building II. Wall Building ended up winning, meaning that the scene that was shot in Academic Building II never made the video’s final cut.

This particular Instagram Story generated the most votes out of all the scene selections.

Quick explanation about how this worked on Instagram. Three times each week over the span of two weeks, we included video of two different scenes that were shot for the holiday video on our Instagram Story. Using the poll feature that allows users to vote between two choices, we offered the scenes for the day. The scene that generated the most votes after 24 hours was included in the video while the losing scene was left on the cutting room floor. My small contribution to this year’s holiday video was teaming with my intern, Katie, to build out these Instagram Stories and moderate the voting.

We showed all scenes in actual video in our Instagram Story, meaning that Geoff had to shoot scenes that he knew would eventually never make it in the final video.

After our last scene selection ran this past Monday, we had a video on our hands that was genuinely molded by the Coastal Carolina community. By casting thousands of votes, our social media audience decided SEVEN of the scenes that we incorporated into the final version. How about that for quality engagement?! Thanks to the work of another CCU staffer, Brentley Broughton, we have a website that documents the scenes that were selected by our social media users (and the ones that were not).

This year’s video turned out awesome…thanks to #TEALnation (and Lindsi and Geoff).

This year’s video has personality and spunk. Chauncey plays the saxophone, dancing is widespread, a central theme is evident, President DeCenzo is having fun, numerous campus groups are showcased, and the qualities that distinguish CCU are captured. Not to mention the beautiful drone footage and other campus beauty shots that really make the video stand out! Needless to say, the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video is a success.

A screenshot from the 2018 #CCU Holiday Video. President DeCenzo had a great time participating!

Although it is sometimes uncomfortable to take a chance and go outside the box, especially in higher ed, it can pay off in a big way. Much credit to Lindsi and Geoff for doing something that quite simply isn’t done in the industry that we work in. On a special note, I want to thank our #CCUSocialMedia audience for rising to the occasion and making some great scene decisions. Don’t Blink.

2017 #CCU Holiday Video Review
2016 #CCU Holiday Video Review

Thursday Rundown in Honor of George H.W. Bush

It’s beginning to feel like the holidays! Our calendar for this month is insane with fun activities and celebrations but I am never too busy to write the Thursday Rundown. Ready or not, here are five topics…

Work Corner – Earlier this week, I was interviewed by WMBF about fake news. A recent untrue local story had made the rounds on social media, sparking the motivation for the story. Throughout my discussion with reporter Erin Edwards, my main point was simple: Yes, the social media giants are doing more than ever to combat the posting and spreading of fake news. However, spammers will always be one step ahead. We must take personal responsibility for not sharing or retweeting content that is fake. All it takes is a couple minutes to verify whether a story is real. Sensational headlines and sketchy URLs are dead giveaways about the authenticity of a story. When in doubt, find another source that corroborates the piece by doing a Google search or just asking a friend. We need to be informed, responsible citizens.

In other news, #CCUSocialMedia recently won silver in the W3 Awards. We entered our #PopCHANTet Texts campaign in the social content & marketing category. Although I prefer gold, I thought this recognition was noteworthy for two reasons. First, the trophy is really sweet. Second, the W3 Awards is not exclusive to higher education but open to marketing professionals in all industries across the country. As this was a user-generated content campaign, all credit goes to #TEALnation for enthusiastically participating.

Me holding the W3 silver award for social content and marketing.

Quick Laugh – You see jokes like this all the time. An elderly person is assumed to have co-existed with a historic figure during his/her lifetime. However, this cliché gag gets a spot in tonight’s blog post because it has a holiday twist and because I love Family Circus.

Poor grandma!

RIP George H.W. Bush – Regrettably, I have not watched as much coverage of President H.W. Bush’s life tributes and funeral ceremonies as I would have liked. However, one thing made me a bit emotional. When President Bush (#41) died, President Bush (#43) released a voiceover tribute. During it, he stated his dad’s most pressing question to his minister: When I make it to Heaven, will my daughter still be young or will she have turned old? George and Barbara had a 3-year-old daughter who died of Leukemia in the 1950s. Understandably, Bush never got over it. His question about her heavenly state made me tear up a bit as I thought about what it would feel like to lose a daughter so young and how it would be on your mind every day for the rest of your life. May President Bush, his wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin, all rest in peace.

George H.W. Bush with his daughter, Robin.

Top 5 Favorite Songs of the Year – Get ready everyone, my annual blog post listing my favorite songs of the year will drop next week. To get you in the mood, I wanted to share two previous versions that I posted on this date in the past. I published both my 2015 and 2017 lists on December 6. Do you think you can predict any of the songs I will be including on this year’s countdown? Let me know if you think you have an idea.

500 Days – Many of you might not be familiar with social media streaks so I apologize for ending this Rundown with a bummer of a topic. However, can you understand doing something 500 days in a row? Although “doing something” in this case consists of only opening an app, I am proud (or maybe a little embarrassed) to say that I have viewed my daily Timehop report for 503 straight days (I hit the 500 mark on Monday). I have had some close calls but I have been committed to keeping this streak going as long as possible. Expect me to devote an entire blog post to my streak when it hits 1,000 days on April 16, 2020.

I tweeted about my “accomplishment” on Monday morning.

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We have an exciting weekend coming up filled with church events, a birthday celebration, and other social gatherings. I hope your first week in December went well and that you are well on your way to ending 2018 on a strong note. Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s Santa Issues

Last night, Coastal Carolina University hosted one of my favorite events of the year. At the beginning of December, the President’s Office hosts the Holiday Park Lighting, an event that commemorates the start of the holiday season at CCU. Santa makes an appearance and a “switch” is flipped that activates thousands of holiday lights, illuminating Blanton Park (a signature area of campus). Our University goes all out as attendees enjoy heavy appetizers, seasonal treats, holiday activities, festive music, and much more.

The Blanton Park Holiday Lighting event is one of the best times of the year. The s’mores station is always a big hit!

Another main draw of the event is for kids to meet Santa. Graciously, St. Nick donates a couple hours of his time on this evening to sit in his chair on the steps of Singleton Building and meet all the little Chants. The experience allows our future Chanticleers to not only speak to Santa but to meet Chauncey as well.

Last night, Sloan attended the Holiday Park Lighting with Sid. After I finished my work responsibilities covering it, I was able to meet my girls and enjoy the rest of the event in a personal capacity as opposed to a professional one. We had a blast eating mac and cheese, scarfing down cupcakes, playing around the Blanton Park fountain, admiring the s’mores station, and kicking the soccer ball. As the evening started to draw to a close, I couldn’t help but ask Sid if Sloan could meet Santa. This was a loaded question for one main reason…

Our family at the Blanton Park Holiday Lighting last night.

Sloan has Santa issues.

Last year, she had a meltdown when we took her to meet Santa for the first time. We went to get our Christmas card photos taken at a tree farm. Sloan, 8 months at the time, did fine when we slyly let Santa hold her but the moment she realized whose lap she was in, the tears started to flow.

Sloan did not enjoy Santa last year (photo courtesy of Erin Dietrich).

This year, we went to the same Christmas tree farm and took photos with the same Santa…and got the SAME results. Once again, Sloan started to lose it the moment he tried to touch her (no photos of this experience until we send out all our Christmas cards).

So the third time is the charm, right? I was hoping that perhaps the different setting would make her more receptive to Father Christmas. We stood in line with our good friend and next door neighbor, Ellen, and her daughter, Riley. The duo went first and showed Sloan that there was nothing to be scared of. Would it rub off on her?

Sloan loved waving to Santa from a distance and didn’t mind standing near him with Riley by her side. But actually sitting on his lap? That is a different story.

No, no no….

It was the same story this year with Sloan and Santa.

Sloan freaked out again, helping to produce the above classic photo. Perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised. Millions of kids who haven’t turned 2 yet are petrified of Santa. After all, what about a bearded fat guy decked out in red pajamas is endearing to a toddler?

Don’t feel too bad for Sloan…Santa gave her a sucker and she was back to her normal, happy self.

I am not giving up though! My Knights of Columbus chapter is hosting a “Breakfast with Santa” social at St. Andrew after all masses this upcoming Sunday. Will Sloan overcome her fear this time around? It is worth noting that when I was a kid, it was always assumed that the Santa who appeared at these Knights of Columbus events was the real one. Will Santa’s authenticity calm her nerves? Well, to be honest, we will probably take it slow. This breakfast might be more of a chance for Sloan to simply observe at a distance as opposed to sitting on his lap. We shall see and I promise to report back on how it goes.

Do you have any tips on how to make a toddler more receptive to Santa? If so, let me know. Although there might be some really scary looking mall Santas out there, I want to communicate to my daughter that there is nothing to be afraid of. Don’t Blink.

Preparing for Turkey Day Thursday Rundown

Hey, guess what? Thanksgiving is in one week! As we start the countdown, let’s also start the rundown. Here we go…

Myrtle Beach Bowl – I have made known my love for college bowl season! Thus, it brought me much joy when it was announced that Coastal Carolina University would soon hold a game of its own. On Tuesday, a press conference was held on campus to reveal that the Myrtle Beach Bowl will launch in Brooks Stadium in 2020. The game will be played prior to Christmas and will draw teams from the Sun Belt Conference, Mid-American Conference, and Conference USA. I am excited from the vantage point of being able to attend the contest in a couple years but I was more stoked that our University once again overachieved and did something really cool. The Myrtle Beach Bowl will be the first bowl to ever be played in the state of South Carolina. Just another victory for CCU.

I can’t wait for the Myrtle Beach Bowl!

Backed Up By Dear Abby – Over the years, I have mentioned a couple times in this blog the infamous stocking stuffer story. Growing up, my mom “filled” our stockings with thank you notes. As you can imagine, us Reser kids grew up writing sentiments of appreciation to everyone who kindly gave a gift or remembered us in a special way. The practice has stayed with us through the years and all three of us still remember to write thank you cards as adults. Yesterday, the below letter appeared in Dear Abby. The person who wrote it was distraught that her grandchildren don’t compose thank you notes. It made me think of my mom and how she made sure to cement the necessity of writing them in our heads. Before you ask, the answer is yes – Sloan is already writing thank you notes (or at least scribbling in them).

Well mom, even Dear Abby backs you up. Remember to write your thank you notes!

Sloan On This Date – Two years ago, Sloan was yet to make her appearance in this world. However, that didn’t stop my co-workers from having a little fun. On Nov. 15, 2016, I took this photo of the office poll that circulated regarding Sloan’s gender. Of course, the “social baby” references gave me a good laugh. Interestingly, it was a 10-10 tie on whether Sloan would be a girl or boy. Obviously, Nov. 15, 2017, wasn’t the best day of Sloan’s first year. She looks a little upset in this image, but don’t worry – I am pretty sure she was smiling a couple minutes later.

Sloan on Nov. 15, 2016 (left) and Sloan on Nov. 15, 2017 (right).

What Do You Think? Tacky Or Not? – A year ago on this date, I wrote about whether inflatable lawn decorations are tacky or not. My stance, which I still hold today, is that they are not. However, I do concede that at this point they are a bit unoriginal. But, as long as they are fully inflated and healthy looking, I have no issue with them. What do you think?

Some holiday inflatables are pretty basic, others are more involved. I took this photo in front of a reindeer stable blow up in my parents’ neighborhood three years ago.

Looking Like A Fish – I apologize, this has become almost a Throwback Thursday blog post but I want to go back in time again. Let’s rewind exactly three years ago to one of my more memorable (and embarrassing) blog posts. On November 15, 2015, I wrote about a “celebrity” that some people tell me I look like. No, it is not a model or even a human being…rather, it is an animated character. Do you think I look like Dory from “Finding Nemo”? Well, apparently some people do. You can read the post to learn more about my struggles with this comparison. Perhaps three years later I have aged out of any resemblance there used to be?

So let me ask you a question…do you see a resemblance?

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The Thursday Rundown will take an obvious hiatus next Thursday. Although you won’t get five random topics next week, you will hopefully still get a couple of poorly written regular blog posts. But first, have a great weekend! Don’t Blink.

Unicorn Thursday Rundown

What a fun week it has been! I can say that we definitely got the maximum bang for our buck with Sloan’s $25 Target unicorn costume. Let’s get straight to the Thursday Rundown.

Instaween – Yesterday, #CCUSocialMedia presented its fourth annual Instaween. It was fun to once again put together this event. Students in costumes have their picture taken in our gigantic Instagram frame and then our social media audience votes for their favorites. However, the event just isn’t about generating cool content. We pass out candy and treats to all students, not just the ones in costumes. You see, we spend so much time communicating with our students behind the @ccuchanticleers handle that we don’t always get to interact with them face-to-face. This event helps us to bridge that gap and I couldn’t be more thankful for the assistance that my #CCUSocialMedia intern, Katie, gave me to make sure Instaween was a success.

Katie and I worked the 2018 #CCUSocialMedia Instaween event.

Halloween Night Fun – Last night, Sloan had an absolute blast trick-or-treating (as did her daddy). I had never seen a neighborhood as insane on Halloween night as ours. Think of any Halloween movie that shows exaggerated scenes of kids trick-or-treating and that was our neighborhood last night. Neighbors distributed candy from their driveways, police vehicles cruised the streets, lawn decorations were outrageous, non-traditional “treats” were passed out, and the neighborhood overflowed (people came from near and far) with costumed kids and their parents. We live on a very long street so we stayed on it the whole time as I pushed Sloan in her little car from house to house.

Sidney and Sloan hanging out on the driveway on Halloween night.

Meeting Rachel Swindler – Many of you know that I am a huge “Big Brother” fan. Thus, it was a thrill for me to meet “Big Brother 20” houseguest Rachel Swindler this morning. Rachel actually graduated from Coastal Carolina and today she stopped by campus to chat about her time as a Chanticleer and her experience on Big Brother. I ate up every word as she took us behind the scenes of the show. Once our talented team edits and releases the video, I will include the link in a future Thursday Rundown. Rachel was extremely gracious and open and of course Robin Russell was once again an absolute professional as she conducted the interview.

It was a pleasure to meet Rachel Swindler (thanks to Judy Johns for the great photo).

All Saints Day – Today is All Saints’ Day, a solemn feast in which we honor all saints who served as such dedicated disciples of God during their time on earth and who now look down on us from Heaven. I attended 6:30 a.m. mass at St. Andrew this morning and as is custom, the gospel reading was the Beatitudes passage from John. Saints lived out the Beatitudes as by Jesus Christ and we are called to do the same so that one day we can join them in paradise. Rejoice and be glad!

I attended All Saints’ Day mass at St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach today.

Delicious Pizza – Last year, I wrote a blog post listing my top five favorite national pizza chains. Well, if the category didn’t have the “national” designation in front of it, I would be updating that list. On Friday night, we tried Gino’s pizza here in Myrtle Beach. It markets itself as a place that offers authentic New York pizza and it doesn’t disappoint! If you like flavorful and fresh pizza with quality toppings, give Gino’s a try. It is now my favorite pizza restaurant in Myrtle Beach.

This pizza from Gino’s looked so good that I couldn’t wait to take a photo until I had ate a couple pieces.

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Thanks for reading my post! Time now to sign off for the evening. Have a great month of November and don’t forget that Christmas is next month. Don’t Blink.

More Bang For Your Buck Thursday Rundown

Good evening to my loyal readers. Thank you to those who reached out this week to wish me a happy birthday, you are all too kind. Let’s get started with the Thursday Rundown.

Five Great Birthdays – I shared this image on Instagram (@brentreser) but I feel it is blog-worthy as well. This collage contains a photo of each birthday I have celebrated with Sidney over the years. I have made it a point to snap a picture each birthday to not only show our progression through time but to also illustrate what an incredible baker Sid is!

This collage shows the photos from my five birthdays that we have spent together. The upper left hand image was taken on Monday night.

Hurricane Michael – I am so saddened by the unbelievable destruction in Florida caused by Hurricane Michael. It is sobering to try to comprehend the complete annihilation of communities. Not that it matters, but as a byproduct of Michael, we experienced tropical force winds in our area today. The gusts were so strong that Horry County Schools once again had to cancel classes. Just hours before the decision to shut the schools down was made, the revised academic calendar with makeup dates was released. Undoubtedly, there will soon be a new revision coming out. Not that Sidney wanted another day off, but she enjoyed the one-on-one time she had with Sloan in the morning and afternoon. Please pray for everyone in Florida.

Group Presentation – As you may know, I present to different groups quite frequently on various social media topics. Most of the time, I do these presentations solo. That changed yesterday when I had the pleasure of presenting with colleagues at a conference for the South Carolina and North Carolina Chapters of the National School Public Relations Association (SC/NSPRA and NC/SPRA). Made up of public information officers from school districts across the Carolinas, the chapters asked CCU to present on how we use video to tell our University’s story. It was a compliment that these professionals recognized the great work we are doing and it was a distinct pleasure to present with my co-workers and superiors. Our digital journalist, external communication coordinator, and our two University Communication vice presidents all shared the stage with me. I presented specifically on how we leverage video on social media.

Piecing together a group presentation was a great lesson in teamwork and our efforts paid off. The public information officers had plenty of praise and questions for us after we concluded our session.

This tweet from the SCNSPRA Twitter account captured me answering a question.

Cat and a Snake – Driving home the other night, I couldn’t help but stop in the middle of our street to watch a cat harassing a snake. Sid pleaded with me to keep driving to our house but for me it was one of those things you couldn’t turn away from. It must really be Halloween season!

A photo of the cat playing with the snake on Tuesday night. The things that amuse me!

Thursday Rundown in a Thursday Rundown –
Five quick bonus items…
– Sidney and I attended Taste of the Town on Tuesday night. It was once again a wonderful evening of delicious food and socializing. I always feel such pride in our St. Andrew community for putting on such a large and successful fundraiser.
– While I specifically asked for my Ancestry kit, I was given the perfect surprise birthday gift from my wife. Sid gave me a hammock! I mentioned to her several months ago that I always wanted a hammock but I didn’t know she was taking notes. With a big back yard with plenty of trees, this gift is going to work out great!
– We still don’t know what Sloan is going to be for Halloween but we will entertain any ideas that you might have. Speaking of Halloween, our neighborhood has some houses that are totally decked out for the holiday (much more intense than the previous neighborhood we lived in). Can’t wait to show some of them off.
Four years ago on this date, I watched a Clemson vs. Louisville football game from the sidelines of Memorial Stadium. My friend Kenny, who happens to be the nephew of Bobby Petrino, scored Sidney and I the passes. We had such a good time.
– I once again made it a point to personally respond to all of my Facebook birthday wishes. I have done this for a long time and I have actually explained in depth why I do it.

Sidney and I at the 2018 Taste of the Town. Once again, the St. Andrew community put on a great event.

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Florida. Florida. Florida. Let us continue to think about those people and pray for them. Don’t Blink.

Moving On, Learning From Florence/Flooding

Finally, some normalcy.

Today, students reported back to class here at Coastal Carolina University. A few miles away from campus, Sidney reported back to work at Palmetto Bays Elementary. Although she will be without students today, Mrs. Reser will be joined by her second graders tomorrow as Horry County Schools will resume instruction across the district.

It has been quite the 21 days, a passage of time that definitely did not fly by. But we made it. In tonight’s blog post, I wanted to share 10 quick tidbits from this unprecedented Hurricane Florence/major flooding period.

* Sid’s students have been out of class longer than they have been it. She says that they will be essentially starting over.

* Our President at CCU organized a “welcome back” gathering for our students today. Hosted on Prince Lawn, we provided lunch and had all of our campus services available to help our students get back into the swing of things. These cool #CCUStrong shirts were handed out as well  

Today we had a welcome back event on campus. We gave out these #CCUStrong t-shirts.

* The weekend that Hurricane Florence hit our area (Sept. 15-16), my parish, St. Andrew, took the extraordinary step and canceled all masses for that weekend. With the church extremely close to the ocean, it was a necessary decision. Luckily, thanks be to God, our beautiful place of worship received little damage.

St. Andrew canceled masses during the Hurricane Florence weekend. Thankfully, the church was unharmed.

* Hurricane Florence/flooding didn’t keep Sloan’s daycare out of commission for long. Seriously, Oxford Children’s Academy is the best. Although its policy is to follow the lead of Horry County Schools, our daycare opened up on Tuesday, Sept. 18, and stayed open the remainder of the month.

Thanks to Oxford Children’s Academy for offering great hours and doing what a lot of other daycare centers wouldn’t.

* Sidney’s school came to the rescue. Not wanting its students to feel disconnected from their teachers and classmates, Palmetto Bays staged an event at a Bojangles location for the school community. Families were encouraged to attend for free food and the opportunity to say “hi” to the teaching staff.

Sid and some of her other teachers back at school after the Bojangles event.

* Local and regional businesses helped out. Many hotels in the Grand Strand area offered reduced room rates to people displaced by flooding. Organizations around the South offered perks for those impacted by Florence. For example, the Atlanta Braves and Florida Gators both offered FREE tickets to North and South Carolina residents. The Jacksonville Zoo provided our family with discounted admission passes.

The Jacksonville Zoo offered us discounted tickets.

* Our football team made headlines. The Coastal football team was on the road for nearly two weeks, spending a bulk of the time in hotels in the Jacksonville area. The Chants made the best of it, winning two games, including a Wednesday afternoon matchup that was changed at the last minute. Out of all the articles written about the experience, I enjoyed the USA Today story the best.

* My relatives reached out. Things started to look pretty serious when the national news networks started to forecast a direct hit on Myrtle Beach. I had relatives and old friends reach out to check on us. When the forecast turned especially bad, my poor mom had a tough time keeping it together at work when people would ask her how we were doing.

* We were so fortunate. I can’t say enough how lucky our little family was. Things were looking pretty bleak at one point so to come away unscathed was truly a gift from God.

* We are #CarolinaStrong. I learned a lot about the resolve of this area. People and groups have gone out of their way to help others, demonstrating how special this part of the country is. I couldn’t be more proud to live here.

I am proud to be #CarolinaStrong!

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Although our family can move on, many others must rebuild. As we continue to live our lives, it is important to remember those not as fortunate as us. Don’t Blink.

Adios September Thursday Rundown

What a month it has been for our area. I know a lot of Carolinians will be happy to put the last several weeks behind them. With that said, here is the final Thursday Rundown of September.

A Little Gymnast – This past Saturday, Sloan, Sidney, and I spent the afternoon doing something pretty fun. Invited by our friend Susannah and her daughter, Jacqueline (Sloan’s friend), we attended the open gym session at Gymnastics, Inc. As you can probably tell from the name, this large facility boasts gymnastics equipment, trampolines, mats, and more. Our group of five shared the entire gym with probably only seven or eight other attendees. It was a great way for Sloan to do something a little different while burning off a bunch of energy.

Sloan enjoyed her time at Gymnastics Inc.

Update on Closures – With water sources cresting yesterday, meaning flooding levels have reached their maximum heights, services and offices are making plans to re-open. Here at Coastal Carolina, we will open our residence halls tomorrow at noon. On Monday, after nearly three weeks off, classes will resume. However, Horry County Schools is not at this point yet. There was hope that teachers would be able to report to work tomorrow but that has been pulled off the table. Sidney now has instructions to report on Monday. When students will return is still up in the air with an announcement expected from the district on Sunday.

Classes will resume on Monday for CCU!

Pool Weather – In many areas around our country, it is now autumn. When my family sends us photos through our text message thread, they are wearing jackets and long pants. Not the case here. In South Carolina, the fall season means perfect pool weather! Last Sunday, we checked out the community swimming pool in our new neighborhood for the first time. It was an ideal way to spend the late September day.

Hanging out at the neighborhood pool in the autumn.

Good Advice – This week, I had the pleasure of enjoying a one-on-one lunch with Fr. David Nerbun, a priest in the Charleston Diocese. It was so fulfilling to listen to this man of God speak on various topics. He recently tweeted (follow him here) a quote from St. Vincent de Paul that I found very timely. With so many people in our area suffering from the impact of Hurricane Florence and the flooding that followed, I hope they can find some solace in de Paul’s words. I can’t imagine the despair and uncertainty that many Carolinians are going through, but I know that a strong faith in God will help the rebuilding process.

Father David Nerbun tweeted out these words from St. Vincent de Paul this week.

Fun Memory – Four years ago on this date, I was in the audience during a broadcast of my favorite sports show. Sidney and I traveled to Columbia, SC, to watch College Gameday. Not only did I get to see Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit, but I also got to see my favorite musician and that day’s performer/guest picker, Kenny Chesney. It was an extremely early morning as we had to leave Myrtle Beach well before dawn so we could get a good spot but it was so worth it. Oh yeah, I also got on TV.

Follow the arrow…that is me during the 9-27-14 College Gameday broadcast.

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Pray for those impacted by the flooding, especially my sister-in-law and her fiancée. Things should start to improve but many people have a long road ahead of them. Water can be a very destructive force. Don’t Blink.

Zoo Crew Thursday Rundown

Happy Thursday to one and all! I hope you have had a great week thus far. Other than that, I don’t have much small talk tonight so let’s get right to the Thursday Rundown.

Jacksonville Zoo – How do you follow up a day at Disney World? You go to the zoo, of course. Last Saturday, the three of us went to the Jacksonville Zoo. We had a fun time looking at a wide variety of animals, many I had never even seen/heard of before. I specifically enjoyed viewing the monkeys/apes, tigers, and elephants. However, nothing could beat the giraffes. Seeing one of these animals in-person really puts into perspective how tall they really are. The exhibit had seven different giraffes and they would walk right over to you. In fact, if you really wanted, you could feed them. Props to the Jacksonville Zoo for giving all Hurricane Florence evacuees a major discount on admission.

We had a good time at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Happy Half Birthday, Sloan – On Monday, Sloan turned a year and a half. In my opinion, it is probably the most significant “half birthday” that we as humans celebrate. At 18 months, Sloan is happier than ever and is talking really well. She is persistent yet sweet, and loves her mommy and daddy. The below photo was taken on our way back to Myrtle Beach after we evacuated. We left a pack of cookies a little too close to her car seat and she managed to reach them and help herself. By the time we pulled over and realized what she had done, her face was a chocolatey mess.

Sloan celebrated her half birthday with cookies.

President Trump Visits Conway – Yesterday, the President of the United States was in our area ahead of the massive flooding we are supposed to experience. President Trump visited Conway, the small town that sits right next to Myrtle Beach and that is actually home to Coastal Carolina University. While I worked in my office, the Commander In Chief was walking the streets of Conway just a couple miles from where I sat. Although I wasn’t there, my future brother-in-law was. He was helping move the belongings from a house that was expected to flood when all of a sudden the President arrived. Not only was John Henry able to take the below photo, he also shook Trump’s hand. All in all, it was nice to know that the President is looking out for us.

My soon-to-be brother-in-law took this photo of President Trump yesterday.

Waiting Game – After being out of the office since last Tuesday (Sept. 11), Coastal Carolina University allowed its employees to report back to work yesterday. Although I had such a nice time with Sid and Sloan, it never feels right to me when I am out of the office unexpectedly. My wife, however, is still on standby. With roads impacted by current flooding, and with the situation expected to get even worse, Horry County Schools is shut down for at least the rest of the week. Sid will know on Sunday if she will be back to teaching on Monday. As for our CCU students? We announced today that classes will be canceled all next week as well. With the flooding threat, it is just too dangerous to have all our students return to campus.

Classes for #CCU students will be canceled through next week.

Wearing That Ring – Two years ago, I wrote about the adjustment I faced with wearing a wedding ring. No, the adjustment didn’t have to do with no longer being a bachelor! Rather, it was because I had never worn any jewelry my entire life up until I married Sid. Thankfully, it turned out to be a non-issue. Wearing the ring grew on me very quickly and I embraced the opportunity to sport a little bling. Nowadays, the ring is even more a part of me. I take it off when I exercise and when I shower, but that is it. I feel naked without it and I will immediately panic if I do my constant subconscious ring check and notice that it is not there. I love my wedding ring!

Sorry, my hand is not “model worthy.” However, I wanted to show off my wedding ring.

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Happy early birthday to my brother. His big day is this Sunday. Live it up, Glen. Have a great weekend, everyone. Don’t Blink.