Easter 2024

After a fruitful Lent that culminated in full liturgical participation in Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the sacred Easter Vigil, our family was ready for Easter Sunday 2024! What a beautiful day it was…

Sloan holds a candle during the Easter Vigil at St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley on March 30, 2024.

The early morning started with Beau and Sloan racing downstairs to find their Easter baskets. I am pretty sure both kids ran as fast as the “other” disciple when he dashed to the tomb. Anyway, the Easter Bunny definitely visited the Reser household.

Sloan and Beau pose with their Easter baskets.

The most important part of our day took place at St. Mary Catholic Church as we attended 9 a.m. Easter Sunday mass. The four of us were joined by my brother and sister-in-law as we worshiped in a full house surrounded by our dearest friends. During a mass with enthusiastic singing and powerful optimism, Fr. Jeff Lewis delivered a homily about the 8 effects of the Resurrection.

Beau and Sloan hang in the vestibule at St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley prior to Easter Sunday mass.

We returned home and ate some brunch and relaxed. The kids took the opportunity to take a closer look at their Easter baskets and probably eat a little more candy than they should have. Sidney and I? We continued to watch “Jonathan and Jesus,” a documentary on The Chosen star Jonathan Roumie. It is an incredibly inspirational doc and Roumie, a devout Catholic, proves again and again that there is no Jesus actor better than him. It was the perfect Easter Sunday show to watch.

Taking a moment post-church to take a photo with the kids.

The four of us then piled into the car and headed north to my parents’ house for our Easter celebration. My parents, my siblings, their spouses, and our nieces/nephew were all in a joyous mood. After we all caught up and the kids expelled some energy, we staged the annual “Aunt Carrie and Uncle Glen Easter Egg Hunt” in the front yard. So much fun!

Glen and the kids after the “Aunt Carrie and Uncle Glen Easter Egg Hunt.”

After the egg hunt concluded, it was time for the Easter meal. Now don’t be too surprised but we ate something a little exotic…it was called ham 😂. Everything tasted delicious but as always, the conversation around the table was even better than the food.

Easter meal at the Reser household.

Once dinner concluded, the kids went outside to enjoy the gorgeous weather and the adults gathered in the living room to play a rousing game of Chameleon. I honestly don’t know who had more fun—the young people or the old people.

The adults playing “Chameleon.”

We then gathered back around the dinner table for dessert. But before we dug into the pies, puddings, and cookies, we sang “Happy Birthday” to my sister who celebrated her 40th birthday earlier in the week! After we stuffed ourselves even more, we continued to talk with each other and enjoy the day. Eventually, it was time for everyone to head one. When my family returned to the house, we were all ready for the bed. The preceding Holy Week masses/activities and the busy Easter Sunday had us humbly exhausted.

Miranda prepares to blow out the candles while holding her son, John.

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Although Easter Sunday was yesterday, it is important to know that the Easter season extends for the next 50 days. And, although Lent is now over, I must revert back to Fr. Jeff’s homily from Ash Wednesday. Lent should not be viewed as a 40-day sprint to Easter Sunday whereupon we throw out all the holy practices we developed. Rather, we must treat Lent as a boot camp that whips us into shape for the long haul—well past Easter. Rejoice my friends, He is risen! Don’t Blink.

Easter 2023
Easter 2022
Easter 2021
Easter 2020
Easter 2019
Easter 2018

Presenting With My Wife At Engaged Encounter

This past weekend, Sidney and I strengthened our marital vocation in the most blessed way. We presented at our first Engaged Encounter retreat. 🙏

Many of you know that Sid and I prepare engaged couples within our parish for marriage on an individual basis. But in June 2022, we joined another marriage-based ministry—Engaged Encounter. This is an international Catholic organization that stages weekend-long retreats for engaged couples. Our pastor, Fr. Jeff Lewis, invited us to join the Spokane Diocese chapter.

After a year of attending our Engaged Encounter monthly meetings and serving in support roles at the retreats, we timidly told our chapter’s leadership that we wanted to present at one. In June of 2023, Ric and Cindy Gaunt came to our house and planted the seeds for doing so. They ran us through what was expected, highlighted the presentations we would be responsible for, and provided us the materials to start preparing. We circled the March 1-3 retreat on our calendar!

We told our Engaged Encounter leadership that we wanted to present.

The next eight months passed quickly, with the latter half of those months heavily devoted to Engaged Encounter retreat prep. Sidney and I had to write our presentations, build slide decks, and practice! By the time this past Friday rolled around, although nervous, we were chomping at the bit to present.

The retreat took place at the Immaculate Heart Retreat Center in south Spokane. Although the quarters were a little cramped, I sure enjoyed having the time away with Sid.

Engaged Encounter retreats are presented by two couples and a priest at the Immaculate Heart Retreat Center in south Spokane. There is a senior couple and a junior couple. We served as the junior couple and were paired with an incredible senior couple with 38 years of marriage under their belts—Joe and Natalie Schroeder.

Sidney and I at our Engaged Encounter weekend retreat. After months of preparing, we got to present!

Completing our weekend team was a priest who I had looked up to for a long time. Fr. Pat Kerst, who will celebrate his 34th anniversary of ordination in May, sacrificed a busy Lenten weekend at his home parish of St. Thomas More to serve at this retreat. As a boy, I would listen to him say mass at St. Francis of Assisi in Walla Walla while I sat in the pew with my grandparents. During my last couple years in Myrtle Beach I would listen to a podcast he contributed to. By the time I moved back to Spokane, he was the pastor at my parents’ home parish. Known for his personal and impactful preaching style, Sidney and I knew we would have to bring our “A” games to keep up with him.

We had 13 couples attend our retreat weekend, a healthy number for the current state of the Engaged Encounter ministry in eastern Washington. It was a lot of fun to meet these 26 soon-to-be newlyweds and learn about when and what church they were going to get married in. But after the introductions and the well-wishes concluded, reality set in: We now had to actually provide these couples with something useful.

Sidney and I were responsible for six presentations throughout the weekend. Using specific examples from our own marriage, we delivered talks on understanding oneself, communication, decision-making, unity, conflict resolution, and betrothal. The Schroeders presented on a host of other equally important marital topics while Fr. Pat provided his invaluable insight during each presentation. As a person who can get nervous enough just doing one presentation, doing a half dozen seemed pretty daunting. But with Sidney on my team and God’s abundant grace, it was much more of a blessed experience as opposed to a scary one.

Sidney presenting at the March 1-3 Engaged Encounter weekend while Fr. Pat Kerst and Joe Schroeder look on.

But the weekend wasn’t just about presentations. We watched videos, shared meals, and did activities. Confession was offered and the chapel was always open for prayer. On Saturday night, Fr. Pat offered mass. It was an intimate and beautiful way for our group to come together and celebrate the source and summit of Christian life.

It was gratifying to see the 13 engaged couples respond so well to everything we threw at them. Sidney and I really enjoyed getting to know the couples better as the weekend went on. We admired the overall humility, appreciation, and faith that was displayed. It wasn’t lost on us that they were giving up an entire weekend to sit inside the walls of a 1950s retreat house when they could be doing so many other things. Thanks be to God for their prioritization.

We had an incredible group of committed couples who brought plenty of faith and willingness to learn to the retreat.

Besides becoming acquainted with the couples preparing to be married, it was a complete pleasure to bond with the other members of our team. Collaborating with the Schroeders was extremely rewarding. They supported us immensely through our first weekend and we learned so much from the presentations they gave. The marriage that Joe and Natalie live out is one that Sid and I aspire to emulate. To share the stage with Fr. Pat was a thrill. Like I said, I have spent my whole life watching him and listening to him. But those nearly 34 years in front of congregation after congregation has surely not inflated his ego—Fr. Pat is as humble as they come! It was so special to see that up close.

This was our March 1-3, 2024 Engaged Encounter weekend team. What a pleasure it was to present with the Shroeders and Fr. Pat Kearst.

As I write this after allowing the weekend’s adrenaline to wear off and the significance to sink in, I just feel blessed for the opportunity Sidney and I were given. Thanks to Fr. Jeff for inviting us into the Engaged Encounter community, Ric and Cindy Gaunt for giving us the opportunity to present, Joe and Natalie Schroeder for teaming up with us, Fr. Pat for leading our weekend team, and everyone else in our EE chapter who so warmly welcomed us. Special thanks to my wife for being the best presenting partner ever! And, of course, praise to God for the grace to undertake such an intensive but worthwhile ministry. We can’t wait to present again. Don’t Blink.

Blue Cotton Candy Thursday Rundown

How lucky am I? It is Thursday and that means the pleasure is mine to offer five random topics for your reading entertainment. Let’s get started…

Beautiful Anniversary – Tomorrow will mark the 4-year anniversary of when we brought Beau home from the NICU! What a joyous day it was. Thanks to all the doctors, nurses, and staff who gave our little guy the absolute best care while he was a patient at the McLeod Health NICU Unit in Florence, SC. To learn more about Beau’s birth, the challenges he faced, Sid’s emotional ride, and the role our faith played, tap here. Thanks be to God!

This was the incubator that Beau rode in to the NICU.

Daddy/Daughter Dance – This past Friday was the annual St. Mary Catholic School Daddy/Daughter Dance. I shared photos on my social media accounts and made this video of the incredible time I had with Sloan. I will have an official dance photo to share in the near future but I thought for tonight’s post I would include some photos from dinner. Is there any question about where we went? Of course it was Red Robin (for like the 97th time since 2021).

Red Robin for the win! We double-dated with Sloan’s classmate, Colie, and her dad.

Cotton Candy Mess – My wife may have threatened my sister when she saw the mess Beau made with the cotton candy portion of his Valentine’s Day gift. The threat went along the lines of, “Miranda, if you ever give my kids cotton candy again, you will die a slow and painful death.” Verdict is still out on whether she really meant it or not 😂.

Beau made a big ‘ol mess with his cotton candy.

National Wisconsin Day – I am sad (actually, I’m not) to say that I have never been to Wisconsin before. But even though I have never stepped foot inside the state, I still feel like I have a connection. This past fall I wrote about my history with the University of Wisconsin. On two different occasions, I saw the Badgers play in the NCAA Tournament. The first time was when I was working for the University of Montana and we played UW in Albuquerque. The second time was when I was working Coastal Carolina University and we played them in Omaha. Then, this past football season, WSU hosted Wisconsin in Pullman. I had the opportunity to produce a video of Badger fans trying our famous Cougar Gold cheese. So, to the whole state of Wisconsin…I salute you.

This is me at the 2012 NCAA Tournament when Montana played Wisconsin in Albuquerque.

Lenten Anecdote – After my Lenten blog posts this week (here and here), I wanted to offer one final observation. I had the pleasure of attending the school mass at St. Mary yesterday with Sloan. These services are always a treat because Fr. Jeff Lewis always preaches so genuinely to the students. During his homily he noted that sometimes we frame Lent as simply a sprint to Easter Sunday and then afterwards we go back to our old ways. He challenged us to use Lent as a “boot camp” to prepare us for Easter but to also get us in shape for life post-Easter as well. Basically, what we do during Lent should draw us closer to God on a permanent basis—not just during these 40 days.

Fr. Jeff Lewis distributes ashes to a St. Mary student (photo from 2020 and courtesy of St. Mary).

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Thank you for your interest in Don’t Blink. Wishing you a fabulous weekend with plenty of relaxation mixed in. Don’t Blink.

Another Special Holiday Break At Home

Alright, I made it through the first couple days of work for 2024. I think we can agree that returning to the office after the holidays can be tough. But I believe that working those initial days of the new year can give you a better appreciation of what you got to experience while on break. Such is the case for me.

For the second consecutive year, I had the relaxing advantage of staying put in Spokane for the holiday break. My children completed their last school day of the calendar year on Friday, Dec. 15, and I worked my last day of the calendar year on Tuesday, Dec. 19. From the evening of that Tuesday through New Year’s Day, we had a spectacular time together. As I did last year, I want to offer up 10 of the activities we engaged in during our holiday break…

Ornament Craft – As I said in my intro, we literally started doing fun stuff on that Tuesday night. Our kickoff event was at the North Spokane County Library where Sloan and Beau joined their cousins for an ornament craft. The kids made sleigh decorations with Sloan placing a snowman in her sled while cousin Mikayla crafted a Santa to ride in hers.

Sloan and her cousin, Mikayla, making Christmas crafts at the library.

Geocache – At Sloan’s request, we ventured into the world of geocaching during break. We devoted an entire afternoon to finding them. Although we couldn’t seem to find the geocache at the first location as Beau’s bladder forced us to stop sooner than desired, we did find the capsule at the second geocache location we visited.

Sloan holds her first-ever Geocache capsule.

Flying High – After my kids expressed their desire to get strapped into a bungee and jump high, my parents told Sloan and Beau they would take them during winter break. Grandma and Papa lived up to their word when they met us at Fanorama Bungee in the Spokane Valley Mall. With cousins Mikayla and Johnny in tow, the four kids had an excellent time jumping for the stars. Wait a second—scratch that—Beau wanted out the moment he was strapped in 😂. But the other three kids definitely had fun.

Sloan jumping her heart out at Fanorama Bungee

Bowling – I took Sloan and Beau to Lilac Lanes for 60 minutes of bowling mania. We set up the bumpers and Beau had a ball ramp so they could each have the chance to actually knock down pins. Much to my surprise, we only had to call the staff over once to retrieve a ball that stopped in the middle of the lane.

We bowled a few strikes at Lilac Lanes.

The Grinch – Spokane’s old-fashioned Garland Theater welcomed the three of us for a showing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” starring Jim Carrey. Sloan and Beau had a fun time eating popcorn and “stretching their legs” as they took a couple “breaks” from the movie to walk around our section of the majestic theater. Me? I walked in thinking I didn’t like the Jim Carrey version but actually thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

I actually really enjoyed watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at the Garland Theater.

We Play – Thanks to the generosity of Numerica, Spokane’s best play center opened its doors for free over winter break. On Dec. 22, admission was complimentary for the entire community. You better believe we took advantage! My sister and her two kids (you are very familiar with them by now…Mikayla and Johnny) met us at the facility for a hardcore play session that left the kids very entertained but surprisingly (and unfortunately) not very tired.

Thanks to Numerica, the kids played free at We Play.

Baptism – On the Saturday before Christmas Eve, the three of us (Sid had to work) went to St. John Vianney Catholic Church for the baptism of Eden Rose, the baby daughter of our friends, Brian and Hailey. Fr. Kevin Oiland performed the baptism as Fr. Jeff Lewis had the blessing of being selected as the godfather! Eden did a great job remaining calm for most of the ceremony, even when the holy water was poured over her head.

Hailey looks over her daughter, Eden, during the baptismal ceremony. Fr. Jeff Lewis, Eden’s godfather, is on the left. Fr. Kevin Oiland, who performed the baptism, is on the right.

Hibachi – As a Christmas gift from me to Sid and the kids, we ate at Fujiyama Japanese Steak House. What a fun and cozy place to eat! Our friends, Dylan and Fidela, joined us for the evening as our cook entertained and amazed us. Although Beau was a little afraid of the flames at first, he warmed up to it all. And oh yes…it was delicious!

Entertainment and delicious food is a great combination. We had a lot of fun at Fujiyama.

Mobius Discovery Center – Who says education can’t be cool? To be honest, visiting this children’s museum may have been the most fun activity that the kids did the entire break. I couldn’t believe how engaged Beau was with everything from the “launch it” stations, excavation pit, bubble area, and costume corner. When it came to Sloan, I literally let her loose and didn’t see her until it was time to go.

The kids may have had the most fun this break at Mobius Discovery Center.

Trampoline Park – It wouldn’t be a winter break without a trampoline park visit, right? On New Year’s Eve weekend I took the kids to Flying Squirrel. The best part? Sloan and Beau actually honored my request that they just jump and NOT hassle me about the arcade games.

Is it even winter break if you don’t go to a trampoline park? This is Beau at Flying Squirrel.

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It was a dad’s dream to have so much quality time with his kids. I am very fortunate to have a job where I am able to take an extended period of time during the holidays to re-charge and be with family. As I predicted in my Dec. 19 blog post, memories were made! Don’t Blink.

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2023

Another Don’t Blink tradition celebrates its 10th rendition and it just so happens to be the biggest tradition of all. Today I present “The Big Blog Post”—my annual evaluation of the top 10 blog posts from the past 12 months. This end-of-year entry aims to recognize my most memorable and best work from the calendar year in an organized and fun fashion.

But it never is easy.

In 2023 I wrote 185 entries, a figure that bests the quantity of posts I wrote the previous four years (2019: 165 posts, 2020: 172 posts, 2021: 173 posts, 2022: 180 posts). Needless to say, signaling out 5% of the posts and then ranking them is no simple task.

However, as difficult as it may be, I do try my best. And when I say “my best,” I mean that I don’t pick and rank my top blog posts on total views and other vanity metrics. Instead, I make my picks solely based on what I feel is my best and/or most impactful writings. So let’s get to it…

10. Streaks (February 27) – This post cracks my top 10 because I feel it does a great job of explaining me. As a Type A personality who craves routine and wants to make sure everything is organized/planned, I depend on streaks to keep me on-task and challenged. I find motivation in simply doing something one day because I did it the previous day (and the day before that etc.). In this post I coined my obsession as streakism and shed light on some of the current streaks I was engaged with at the time. I also was frank that streakism can be good but also harmful if you let streaks rule your life and define whether you have a good day or not.

My Timehop streak is over 2,340 days.

9. Donut or Doughnut? (September 19) – A big question deserves a spot on the big countdown. Perhaps investigating whether America’s favorite pastry is spelled “donut” or “doughnut” might not be a big deal to you, but it kept me up at night. In this particular blog post I diplomatically laid out the merits for both spellings. If nothing else came of this post it might not have seen the light of day on this countdown but here is where things got really interesting: an actual donut business owner responded! Did I give away which spelling he sided with? Jon Fine, owner of Retro Donuts in Spokane, said that most of these pastries in question should be spelled “donut” because most of them aren’t made with actual “dough.” You can check out the post for the detailed explanation but Jon’s expertise made this blog post one of the best of the year.

Raise your hands if you know how to spell “donut.”

8. Third Year at WSU (March 16) – I will forever be grateful to WSU for the incredible employment opportunity I was given so whenever I write about my job it has special meaning to me. In this blog post I recapped my third year as a Coug and summarized it with one word: progress. I described how I “wasn’t new anymore” and that my third year was also an emergence of sorts as I “crept from behind the anonymity of the screen to the front of conference rooms” thanks to the lifting of COVID restrictions.

I had numerous speaking engagements in my third year at WSU, but none more important than my presentation with colleagues at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed.

7. Vanity Tipping (April 18) – If you are looking for a post where my mild-mannered self became a little unhinged, you found it. In mid-April a shameless solicitation for a tip at a Papa Murphy’s restaurant put me so over the edge that I had to sound off. I blasted the current day gratuity culture that guilts you into tipping for everything, whether it be preparing your own froyo cup or paying for bowling. The passion that I injected into this blog post and my still-firm belief that tipping has catapulted out of control lands it a spot on this countdown.

I was given the opportunity to tip at the bowling alley earlier this month. It is out of control.

6. Happy 12th Ordination Anniversary, Fr. Jeff (May 26) – A very special man had become a regular in many of my blog posts over the past few years that it made sense to finally devote an entire entry to him. When Fr. Jeff Lewis’ ordination anniversary approached in May, I jumped at the chance to do just that. I commemorated the occasion by describing the amazing impact he has had on our family. Not only has “Papa J” brought the four of us closer to Christ but he has become one of our best friends. What a blessing it is to have him in our lives!

On Friday, May 26, 2023, Fr. Jeff Lewis celebrated his 12th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

5. The Ice Cream Fruit Roll Up Hack (April 17) – One of the many TikTok hacks we attempted this year, the ice cream Fruit Roll Up hack actually exceeded my expectation. The Fruit Roll Up molded into a hard shell around the ice cream that produced a satisfying crunch and delicious taste when bit into. But the successful experiment itself is just a portion of why this blog post made the countdown, let alone found itself in a very respectable mid-spot. The reason why this post stood out is because the photography complements the writing. I wanted to make sure the photos I took chronicled the steps to pull off the hack and were also visually appealing. I think I accomplished that as this post was by far the one that used imagery most effectively in 2023.

The use of imagery played a big role in landing this blog post in the countdown.

4. Blessed By The Sacraments (June 11) – Our wedding anniversary will never be the same. This year we did more than just celebrate the date we tied the knot as we marked it by attending a baptism. And we didn’t just “witness” it as spectators—we participated in it as godparents! Ryan and Allyson Andrade made our year by asking us to be the godparents of their baby boy, Noble Josiah Andrade. This blog post underscored the even greater importance that June 11 now holds in our hearts. Whenever this date rolls around in the future, Sid and I will reflect on it as a day truly blessed in the sacraments for us with both the graces of holy matrimony and holy baptism.

Sidney and I became godparents to Noble Andrade. Fr. Jeff Lewis of St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley performed the baptism. Noble is the son of Ryan and Allyson Andrade (photo courtesy of Rachael and Josh Photography).

3. Mary Reser: A Mead High School Legend (June 16)* – At the conclusion of the 2022-23 school year, my mom retired after 21 years at Mead High School. She spent those 2+ decades in the Developmental Learning Center (DLC) helping students with disabilities. I wrote this blog post to illustrate the talent, patience, and kindness that she displayed every single day in that classroom. I also described some of the typical situations my mom mastered with absolute grace and I took the reader through her last few minutes on the job when my dad, sister, brother, and I walked her off the campus for the final time. Mead High School is not the same without her.

My mom stands with her co-workers right before she walked off the Mead High School campus as an employee for the last time.

2. Tom Reser: A Devoted and Patriotic Career (January 8)* – My dad hung it up at the very end of 2022 but this blog post in his honor was published at the beginning of January. It was a tribute for the 37 years he devoted to the federal government as he helped thousands and thousands of our country’s veterans. Whether it was making sure they received benefits, housing, medical care, and so much more, my dad was (and still is) a fierce advocate of the men and women who served the United States of America. This post traced my dad’s career, chronicled the rapport he had with his team, detailed his tireless work on behalf of veterans, and examined his impressive legacy. My dad had a great first year of retirement with many more to come which is good—because he deserves it!

Besides helping thousands and thousands of other people, this guy taught me what it means to be a professional

1. Hoopfest 2023: More Than A T-Shirt (June 26) – An unforgettable weekend transpired at the end of June with a Hoopfest experience for the ages. Even though our St. Mary team had success on the court as we made the championship, our run to the title game was but a footnote. In my #1 blog post of 2023, I wrote about how we played for more than just wins. Four of us—JJ Nazzaro, Ryan Andrade, Amy Martin, and myself—were out on the hot downtown Spokane streets to give thanks to God, pay special devotion to our Blessed Mother, and promote the Catholic faith. In addition to the four of us, Fr. Jeff Lewis and our families also played key roles in our successful tourney run by being present for every game. From the basketball action to the bonding to the testimonies of our faith to the special mass after the tournament, this blog post captured the entirety of an incredible couple of days and is by far my favorite blog post of 2023.

There was no doubt that my 2023 Hoopfest blog post would be #1.

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This annual countdown is usually a challenge to put together but I must say the “top 3” was pretty straight forward for me this year. Thanks to everyone who takes time to read Don’t Blink. Your support is a main reason why I have invested more than 10 years into this project. I plan to continue to write in 2024 but I can never guarantee the frequency or quality 😂. I hope you will return here tomorrow for my final blog post of the year as I reflect on 2023. Don’t Blink.

* It was a tie between these two blog posts. Because one post had to come first, I flipped a coin to determine the order.

Past Annual Top Blog Post Entries
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2022
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021
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

A November For the Ages Thursday Rundown

Hope you weren’t too upset that there was no Thursday Rundown last week…Thanksgiving kind of took precedence. But with Turkey Day now in the rearview mirror, I have five fresh topics coming your way…

Blast at the Cougar Game – After trips to Chicago and Myrtle Beach, it seems like time has flown by. But in between those two trips, I squeezed in another fun adventure. On Friday, Nov. 17, a group of us went to Pullman for the WSU vs. Colorado football game. Sidney and I joined Fr. Jeff and other people from our parish for an epic evening in the Palouse as the Cougs steamrolled Coach Prime and the Buffaloes, 56-14. Prior to the game we had the chance to stop by the WSU Newman Center where Fr. Paul Heric gave us a special look at the newly renovated worship space.

We joined Fr. Jeff Lewis and other St. Mary friends on a fun road trip to watch the Washington State University football team defeat the University of Colorado.

School Photos – Sloan and Beau recently received their school photos back so I figured this Thursday Rundown would be the perfect place to share them. Sidney commented that “our kids have an aversion to smiling with their teeth.” Oh well, I still think both of them are pretty cute.

The 2023-24 school photos of Sloan and Beau.

Robots – When we arrived home from Myrtle Beach yesterday, we decided to wind down by watching a movie. Sid called out to me I was cooking lunch, “Hey, do you want to watch a Christmas movie or a robot movie?” I told her I didn’t care and she played “Robots.” The movie stars Shailene Woodley and Jack Whitehall. I am a fan of Woodley so once I realized she was in the film I became a little more interested but I can’t say I recommend it. To be honest, it was a little too raunchy for me. It has an interesting concept but definitely not something I want to watch again.

I can’t recommend the movie “Robots.”

The Unexpected Spy – I just concluded maybe one of my favorite books I read this year. “The Unexpected Spy” is a memoir by Tracy Walder. She worked for the CIA and FBI and has many interesting stories to tell. Intriguingly, her beginnings are noteworthy. While a USC sorority sister, she attended a career fair where the CIA was present and submitted her resume. After an intense recruitment process, the agency hired her and a distinguished career began. Walder was working with the CIA during 9/11 and was responsible for foiling many terrorist plots after the attacks. The book is a page-turner and I would absolutely recommend it.

I recommend “The Unexpected Spy” by Tracy Walder

Advent Starts Sunday – This weekend the holy season of Advent will begin. During the next four weeks we will prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus while also looking forward to the second coming of Christ. When Advent kicks off on Sunday, Sloan and Beau will have the opportunity to do numerous related activities after mass including making an Advent wreath and building a gingerbread nativity scene. Sidney and I feel that partaking in a holy Advent is the best way to celebrate a special Christmas.

Advent begins this Sunday, Dec. 3.

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What a November it was! In fact, this month was so crazy and busy that we are going to take this upcoming first weekend in December to relax. I hope you can do the same as well. Don’t Blink.

Learning About Marriage From Bishop William Skylstad

This past Saturday I had the blessing of listening to one of my early Catholic role models speak to a small group of us at St. Mary Catholic Church.

Bishop William Skylstad, who led the Spokane Diocese from 1990-2010 while also serving as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, devoted his morning to speaking to our small group about marriage.

As some of you know, Sidney and I provide Pre-Cana/marriage prep counseling to engaged couples. We received this incredible opportunity from Fr. Jeff Lewis, our pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church. Although we should be the ones thanking Fr. Jeff for this blessing, he wanted to thank all sponsor couples in our parish with this exclusive audience with Bishop Skylstad.

I was a mere few feet from Bishop William Skylstad on November, 18, 2023, at St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley.

During our three-hour visit with the 89-year-old Bishop Emeritus, he touched on many marital points and freely distributed advice while focusing on three themes: “The Call,” sacrament, and communication. Although I could recap the intricacies of this trio of topics, I just wanted to touch on three of the finer points he made…

Help make your spouse who they are made to be. We can become so focused on trying to change our wife/husband according to our own ideal on how we think they should be. Instead, it should be our mission and duty to help our spouse realize their true, authentic self that was molded by God.

Communication is key in marriage but realize what it is comprised of. Bishop Skylstad said that 60% of marital communication is conveyed nonverbally, 20% is through tone of voice, and the remainder is the actual content. I can say unequivocally that Bishop is right. Sid and I can say whatever we want to each other but if it is expressed in a way that doesn’t match our nonverbal cues than it will fall on deaf ears.

We don’t love/preach from perfection, we love/preach from redemption. Bishop Skylstad said numerous times during Saturday morning that no marriage is perfect. We can’t become discouraged when we encounter obstacles in our marriages but we must learn from them and grow from them.

A look at our group huddled inside St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley just a few moments before Bishop William Skylstad started his third talk.

Thank you, Bishop Skylstad, for your precious time. What an honor it was to be mere feet from the man I usually saw on the news or from afar in packed churches. Don’t Blink.

High Dive Thursday Rundown

Have you walked outside in the early morning this week and felt it? By it, I mean the crispness in the air that is reminding us that autumn is on its way. Let’s take a look at tonight’s five topics…

House Blessing – Last night we had a special visitor as Fr. Jeff Lewis, our pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley, came over for dinner. Well, the evening was about much more than just eating chicken bog with us. His primary reason for dropping by was to bless our house. He went to each room in our home and sprinkled it with holy water and applied sacramental oils. The house blessing is a way to protect our home from both internal and external forces while inviting the Holy Spirit into our residence to promote family life. You are the best, Fr. Jeff!

Fr. Jeff takes a photo with our family after he blessed our house.

Bishop Fleming With Pope Francis – This photo is everything. When I attended the University of Montana, the priest in charge of the Newman Center and pastor of the parish in the University District was Fr. Jeff Fleming. Since the many years after I graduated, we have kept touch via social media. I was ecstatic when Pope Francis appointed him as the Bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings last year. Recently, Bishop Fleming visited Rome for Bishops School and met with Pope Francis. I love how authentic and joyful this photo is. Please pray for Bishop Fleming as he continues his very important vocation.

Bishop Jeff Fleming greets Pope Francis in Rome. When I was in college, then-Fr. Jeff was the priest of the University of Montana Newman Center.

Diving Act – Our family visited the Spokane Interstate Fair last Friday and besides all the rides and food we enjoyed, something else stood out. We watched an extraordinary diving act presented by Milord Entertainment. The show was delivered via a police academy theme and we couldn’t believe some of the dives these performers were making. The most memorable moment was the grand finale when the emcee climbed up 80 feet and gracefully dove into the water tank below. We were amazed!

The Top Cop high dive show by Milord Entertainment at the Spokane Interstate Fair was awesome!

Donut vs. Doughnut Explanation – On Tuesday I wrote about the great “donut” vs. “doughnut” debate. I expressed my support for the former spelling and later that night I received some major firepower to back up my preference. Jon Fine is the owner of Retro Donuts in north Spokane, my favorite donut shop in the whole world. He gave a very technical and logical response about why our favorite morning treats should mostly be spelled as “donuts.”

I mean, how do you argue with this response?

Bad Lobster Chowder – Earlier this year, I mentioned I have only seen three movies more than once in the theater. “Jurassic Park” and “Rise of the Guardians” happen to be two of them. The third? Well, “Titanic” of course. Last night I learned an interesting tidbit from the filming of the movie. One evening the crew ordered some late-night lobster chowder but it didn’t exactly hit the spot. Someone had spiked it with PCP! Numerous people were hospitalized including director James Cameron. Those working on the movie didn’t allow the sabotage to sink their film—we all know that “Titanic” went on to become a box office smash.

James Cameron speaks with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Look how young Leo is! (photo courtesy of @historyinmemes)

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That puts another Thursday Rundown in the books. A wedding weekend in Oregon awaits our family and perhaps I will have an experience or two to write about when I return. Take care, everyone. Don’t Blink.

Summer 2023

We are more than halfway through September and Labor Day seems like a distant memory so please forgive me if I bring up an outdated word: Summer.

Ah yes, Summer 😎. Because things have been rather busy around the Reser household I neglected to recap Summer 2023 in a more timely manner. I hope you can forgive me. If I do have your pardon, I figured I would rewind the awesome summer the four of us had by listing 10 themes/events from the season. In no particular order (except maybe the first item), here we go…

New Home – At the very beginning of August, we moved into our new house. This major development was felt the entire summer as we packed up our old house during both June and July. After we moved all our belongings into our new abode, it took the rest of August (and beyond) to unpack.

This is our new home by D.R. Horton.

Godparents! – In the middle of June, Sidney and I became Godparents for the first time. We were honored and blessed when our good friends, Ryan and Allyson Andrade, asked us to be the godmother and godfather of their sweet little boy, Noble.

Sidney and I became godparents to Noble Andrade. Fr. Jeff Lewis of St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley performed the baptism. Noble is the son of Ryan and Allyson Andrade (photo courtesy of Rachael and Josh Photography).

Hoopfest – A highlight of the summer was definitely competing in Hoopfest! I played on a St. Mary team that under the guidance of Fr. Jeff Lewis managed to make it to the championship game. It was a wonderful bonding experience with my teammates and we all appreciated the chance our children had to be part of it.

I felt like our team overachieved in a pretty competitive bracket. People in this photo include (from l-r) JJ Nazzaro, Amy Martin, Fr. Jeff Lewis, me, and Ryan Andrade.

Weddings – It was such a blessing to attend three weddings at St. Mary this summer. Two of the weddings were for couples that Sidney and I mentored through Pre-Cana. The other couple, Dylan and Fidela, are our friends and former neighbors from our Young Adult Catholic group.

We had the blessing of attending three beautiful weddings this summer.

Extended Fourth of July Weekend – With the Fourth of July on a Tuesday, it set up the opportunity to take a nice four-day weekend. During that time we had a picnic in Riverfront Park, went to the aquatic center, watched the debut of a friend’s band, saw big cats up close at Cat Tales, and more. Independence Day itself was a treat as we sipped gourmet sodas, enjoyed a cookout at my parents, and then watched fireworks with friends at Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake.

Sidney watches the fireworks at Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake on the Fourth of July.

Vacation – For vacation we headed to the west side of the state. We spent one night in Seattle where we watched a Mariners game and then spent several days in beautiful Seabrook. It was great to get up close and personal with the Pacific Ocean.

What a fantastic vacation it was. We took our photo at Seabrook’s signature oversized chair.

Summer Reading – All the fun we had outdoors didn’t stop us from hitting the books. Sloan and Beau participated in the Spokane County Library’s summer reading program. They logged nearly 20 hours of reading over the summer and although they didn’t win any of the drawings we sure read some memorable stories.

Sloan posing with a couple of the books we read this summer.

Fun in the Water – We didn’t meet a pool we didn’t like this summer. Scorching temperatures made the decision easy to cool off at both public and private swimming pools. Sloan is a little fish while Beau is still pretty anxious.

Just some of the pools that the kids swam in this summer.

Labor Day Getaway – We spent the traditional end-of-summer Labor Day weekend in Missoula. The kids enjoyed their first taste of Montana as they attended a Griz football game, ate Big Dipper ice cream, spent time downtown, and hiked The M.

Our family inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium prior to the University of Montana vs. Butler football game on September 2, 2023.

Pickleball – We picked up a new sport/activity this summer. Our new neighborhood has a pickleball court so we naturally purchased some paddles and balls. It has been fun to compete against Sidney while also watching Sloan pick up the game.

Sloan loves pickleball already!

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It was a memorable summer for sure! Thanks to everyone who played a role in making it so much fun, especially my wife and children. Although it is always sad to see summer go, it is hard to dwell on it when your autumn is already off to a busy and exciting start. Don’t Blink.

#QuinnTheDay

This past Saturday, our family had the blessing to attend a special wedding. We sat inside St. Mary Catholic Church as Brendan Quinn and Sarah Hiller entered into the sacrament of holy matrimony. We became part of the lives of Brendan and Sarah when Fr. Jeff Lewis asked us to provide their Pre-Cana marriage prep counseling. It was a very rewarding few months for all involved as we went through six content lessons plus an introductory meeting and then a casual debrief session at a Spokane Valley Mexican restaurant with Fr. Jeff.

A photo of us with Brendan, Sarah, and Fr. Jeff in March. This was taken at De Leon Foods in the Spokane Valley at the conclusion of our marriage prep program with the Quinns.

We were delighted and honored that Brendan and Sarah extended the relationship we had forged by inviting us to their special day. The entire afternoon/evening was beautiful but here are three quick things that I remember especially fondly from the #QuinnTheDay experience.

Sidney and I pose for a photo with Brendan and Sarah at their wedding reception.

Holy Wedding – Whenever I attend a Catholic wedding, I am always in awe at the reverence devoted to the most holy sacrament of matrimony. Saturday’s mass was incredible and such a fantastic start for the Quinns. In Fr. Jeff’s homily, he preached how God made woman as the perfect complement to man. However, he illustrated this point in the direct context of Sarah and Brendan which was pretty hilarious. Brendan was portrayed as a golf-obsessed cave man and Sarah was the woman who carried him out of the stone age 😂.

Sarah and Brendan up at the altar with Fr. Jeff Lewis. Sarah and Brendan were married at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley on July 22, 2023.

Sidney on the Altar – Brendan and Sarah humbled Sid and I by asking if one of us would do the opening reading at their wedding. Believing that the guests would be more captivated by a sweet Southern accent proclaiming God’s word instead of my boring, accent-neutral monotone, Sidney represented us. She read Genesis 2:18-24 and did a really nice job. Sidney has expressed interest in becoming a full-time lector at St. Mary for regular Sunday masses and this was a perfect way for her to get a taste of what it takes…I think she has it!

Sidney delivers a reading at the wedding of Sarah and Brendan at St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley.

Butch Appearance – The reception was at Center Place in Spokane Valley and it was so much fun! Sloan and Beau had a blast dancing the night away and the food/drink was such a treat. But what really stood out was the ultimate wedding reception surprise of all! Early on, the DJ teased that a special guest was about to make an appearance. At that moment, the WSU fight song started to play and Butch T. Cougar ran out onto the dance floor, a grand entrance indeed! Butch stayed for a couple hours as he interacted with guests, posed for pictures in the photo booth, and gave plenty of well-deserved attention to the Coug-crazed bride and groom. Both my kids were starstruck!

A big highlight of the #QuinnTheDay experience was Butch. What a surprise!!

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Sidney and I wish the Quinns a happy, faith-filled marriage. It is worth saying again: We are so blessed to be part of their lives. Don’t Blink.