My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021

The time has arrived for The Big Blog Post. At the end of each year, I always look back at the posts from the past 12 months and recognize some of my favorite writings. Most years it is quite tough to simply identify the 10 blog posts I wish to immortalize for this annual tradition—and that doesn’t even entail ranking them.

An element that makes the task hard is the volume of which to choose from. I don’t know how I did it, but I wrote more in 2021 than I did the previous two years. The 173 posts I wrote this year barely edged out the 172 posts I wrote in 2020 and the 165 I penned in 2019. Of course, nothing will ever compare to the ultra-productive (and pre-wife/pre-kids) year in 2014 when I wrote 253 posts.

As I preface every year before jumping in, this countdown is based almost entirely on my personal preferences. Very little consideration is given to “how well” the posts did in terms of total views. With that said, let’s get the 8th edition of The Big Blog Post underway….

10. Dollar Tree Scavenger Hunt (January 25) – My sister and I put our heads together and designed a Dollar Tree scavenger hunt for our kids to participate in. Writing the blog post about the adventure was almost as fun as watching Sloan, Mikayla, and John complete it. The three children had to find five items that fit certain categories such as “a red drink” or “a green food.” The blog post captured some good, clean Dollar Store fun and recapped Sloan’s discoveries (this TikTok did too).

Sloan scored big with her Trolls bath bomb, an item that satisfied one of the scavenger hunt categories.

9. Rolling Out the Modernized WSU Brand (September 21) – A post that focused on my professional career made the countdown this year and for that I am really happy! In 2021, our Office of Marketing and Communications rolled out a modernized brand at Washington State University. What made this effort so unique was that it was mostly an in-house undertaking. In this blog post I was able to discuss my role on the project while shedding light on some of my co-workers who were the real heavy lifters. I was proud to be part of our brand team and enjoyed spending time this fall giving presentations to the WSU community about how the modernized brand should be reflected on social media.

It was an honor to work on the modernized brand. This is a screenshot of our brand new Washington State University secondary logo.

8. Don’t Blink’s 10th Anniversary (May 17) – This year marked the 10th anniversary of Don’t Blink and I took time during the month of May to celebrate. This blog post kicked off the festivities as I briefly addressed the past, present, and future of Don’t Blink. Although short, the significance of this post couldn’t be overlooked when building this list.

My blog turned 10 on May 14, 2021.

7. A Montana Homecoming (October 11) – October was a month of football homecomings for me. After seven years away from Washington-Grizzly Stadium, I finally got to watch the University of Montana football team play in its friendly confines once again. The football game was a blast but the entire weekend was one that Sid and I will always remember. A week later, I traveled to Pullman with my dad and brother to watch my first Cougar football game in Martin Stadium since 2004. In both posts I wrote about nostalgia I felt but I also detailed the new memories that were made.

It was a sweet homecoming as Sidney and I visited Missoula to watch University of Montana football and to enjoy other experiences too.

6. Marriage Advice After 40 Years (August 17) – In terms of word count, this post is the shortest, but it might contain the most significant advice of the year. My parents marked their 40th anniversary in 2021 and us three kids and our families had the pleasure of celebrating it with them. As the festivities came to a close, we asked my mom on our family text thread for the secret to their success. She selflessly shared it and I re-purposed it for this blog post so that I might share it with my readers.

My mom gave some great advice based on her 40 years of marriage with my dad.

5. The Youngest He Will Ever Be (September 8) – This year I have back-to-back short but sweet posts on the countdown. Just like with my mom’s marriage advice, I got to the point with this one about my son. I articulated a thought that came to my head during a recent morning that Beau would never be younger than he was at that moment. I ran with it and realized that no matter how challenging he might be on a given day, we need to treat the present as special because he will only grow older from that point on. The post seemed to resonate with other parents and my wife even shared it on her social media (something that is only reserved for the posts she feels passionate about).

During 2021, I started to put in perspective that Beau would never be younger than each passing day.

4. Hey Southern Belle, What Have You Learned After a Year? (May 12) – Around the one-year anniversary of Sidney moving to Washington, I wrote this blog post chronicling some of the major themes my wife learned from her coast to coast move from the South to the West. From food to drink to accents to climate to politics; it is all included! It was lighthearted and fun, but definitely a testament to the fact that Sid is a rock star and made a major transition look easy.

Sidney made the adjustment from the South to the West with ease.

3. What Made #GlenGotCarriedAway Special (July 6) – A big highlight of the year was watching my brother get married and serving as his best man. So much planning and anticipation led up to the July 4 wedding. The excitement truly reached its peak the week of the wedding when family and friends of both the bride and groom converged in Spokane. Those several days were filled with wedding activities, preparation, and camaraderie. This post examined the collaborative attitude embraced by people from different geographic regions, faiths, and life experiences to give Glen and Carrie a week they would never forget. This post allowed those who played a part in #GlenGotCarriedAway to truly reflect on how special it was.

Glen and Carrie got married on July 4, 2021. This is a photo during the reception with Beau.

2. My Top 10 Blog Posts of All-Time (May 31) – If I annually call this entry The Big Blog Post, the top 10 list I wrote at the end of May should be called The Biggest Blog Post. As part of my Don’t Blink 10th Anniversary Celebration, I counted down my top 10 posts of all-time in the decade-long history of my blog. That required me to look back on approximately 2,000 blog posts and choose the top .2%. It was a lengthy and involved process but I think the countdown succeeded at representing my best work. It also showcased the evolution of my writing as the posts that appeared on the countdown ranged from the blog’s first year in 2011 all the way through 2021. In what was probably the easiest decision in terms of compiling the list, my Beau Meets World blog post from 2020 was tabbed #1 in the history of Don’t Blink.

This year, Don’t Blink celebrated its 10th anniversary and I wrote a blog post ranking my top posts of all-time

1. Gary Baskett: One-Of-A-Kind (September 25) – This was a pleasure to write. At the same time, I also felt the weight on my shoulders. Mr. Baskett was a legend and who was I to write a piece about such a special man? After all, he had molded thousands of athletes who were much more successful on the field than I ever was. After going back and forth, I went for it. Coach B was about instilling confidence in others and how would I be honoring his memory if I didn’t have the confidence to write a piece that might bring some comfort and joy to those reading it?

The post would be shared widely and I had the pleasure of hearing from former Panthers who I both knew and didn’t know. However, it became evident that what I wrote about Coach B just barely touched the surface of the amazing person he was. I attended a “Victory Lap” memorial for Mr. Baskett held at the Mead High School track several hours after his funeral. It was there that former students from every decade throughout his career spoke about the impact Mr. Baskett had on them. These testimonies were incredibly passionate and I was so touched by the multiple people who mentioned that they came from broken families and that Mr. Baskett served as a father figure to them. Coach B deserved all the tributes that came his way, including this blog post that I am recognizing as my #1 entry of 2021.

My blog post I wrote about the impact of Gary Baskett is at the top of my list for 2021.

A big THANK YOU to all my readers for your loyalty and support during this milestone year for Don’t Blink. If the posts listed above failed to pique your interest, I hope a couple of the 170 other posts I wrote in 2021 did. Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s yearly reflection. Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2020
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

Dollar Tree Scavenger Hunt

The idea crossed my mind last week. As I was brainstorming different activities for Sloan to do in a society that is widely shutdown because of a pandemic, my mind turned to a budget-friendly scavenger hunt. The idea would unfold at one of Sloan’s favorite places in the world—Dollar Tree.

I pitched my Dollar Store Scavenger Hunt concept to my sister shortly after I developed it in my head. As someone who is just as obsessed as I am with finding entertaining and unique activities for her kids, I knew she would give me an honest assessment. It turned out that she loved the idea and wanted to get in on the fun with us.

This was the Dollar Tree we completed a scavenger hunt at on Saturday.

So what is the Dollar Store Scavenger Hunt, you ask? It is quite simple. You present your children with five item descriptions and then turn them loose in a Dollar Tree to retrieve them.

My sister typed up the scavenger list items and printed them off for each kid.

On Saturday morning, Sloan and I met Aunt Miranda, Mikayla, and Johnny at the largest Dollar Tree location in Spokane (6416 N. Division St.). While in the parking lot we handed them their lists and watched as they sprinted into the store (video of the fun).

Sloan looking at the scavenger hunt list and then all three running into the store.

Card to Send a Friend – After running around the store and looking at a lot of non-scavenger hunt items, we finally steered the kids to the greeting card aisles. The red and pink Valentine’s Day section really stood out and all three participants found a card from that area. It got me thinking, who will Sloan’s Valentine be this year?

Sloan with the Valentine’s Day card she picked out.

Green Food – We explained to Sloan, Mikayla, and Johnny that the food item could either be green itself and/or packaged in the color. Technically Sloan found an item that fit both conditions but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed in her choice. Instead of picking up Ande’s mints or Apple Jacks, she threw a can of mixed veggies into the cart. At least she is thinking healthy?

Sloan holding her can of mixed veggies to satisfy the green food item.

Bathtub Toy – Sloan did great on this one. She found a Trolls-themed bath bomb. “Trolls” is Sloan’s favorite movie and we actually used the bomb that night and the pleasant smell and bright pink color it turned the water was definitely worth the $1.

Sloan scored big with her Trolls bath bomb.

Present to Give Family Member – Sloan and Mikayla were pretty smart on this one. They looked at each other and entered into an agreement that their “family member” would be each other. The two cousins marched to the toy aisle and gave each other “suggestions” on what item they should throw into their cart. Thanks to some inspiration from Mik, Sloan chose a stuffed yellow unicorn. Sure enough, when we exited the store the girls did a gift exchange.

Sloan “found” a stuffed unicorn as her present to give to a family member.

A Red Drink – I thought this one turned out kind of fun too. Sloan spotted a Donald Duck kiwi strawberry juice cocktail to satisfy the final item on her list. Honestly, how often do you get to enjoy a Donald Duck drink? She drank it from her sippy cup throughout the day on Sunday.

Donald Duck juice….need I say more?

Although chaotic at times, the three kids each completed the scavenger hunt. This is what Sloan’s cart looked like…

This was what the final haul looked like.

I would highly recommend this activity to those of you with young children. Not only is it something different but it is also empowering because the kids get to make the decisions. The scavenger hunt will lead to other activities once you leave the Dollar Store as well. For example, bath time was special on Saturday night because of the bath bomb. Soon we will sit down and write inside the Valentine’s Day card and mail it off to a friend. As we go through these colder months, this might be the perfect activity to add a little excitement to your child’s day. Don’t Blink.