An October Visit from Papa

At noon today, my dad was back in Spokane, free to enjoy the afternoon a whole country away from where he was earlier this morning. After spending the weekend with his son, daughter-in-law, and (last, but definitely not least) granddaughter, I drove him to the airport at 4 a.m. this morning to fly back home.

The time zone adjustment might make him feel a bit disoriented, but nothing will cloud the memories he made this weekend. For my recap of my dad’s late October trip to Myrtle Beach, I wanted to list and briefly (I mean it this time) describe 10 highlights from his visit.

My dad and Sloan shared many special moments together this past weekend.

Picking Up Sloan From Daycare – On Thursday afternoon, over 100 days had passed since my dad last saw Sloan. When we showed up at Oxford Children’s Academy, he immediately picked her out of the crowd when we went out to the playground. It was the beginning of some serious bonding. Thanks to the OCA staff for being so kind and welcoming to my dad!

Trunk or Treat at Geoff’s Church – On Friday night, the four of us attended the Myrtle Beach Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ trunk or treat event. My dad got to see Sloan dressed up in her unicorn costume for the first time and he smiled as he watched her enter the various classrooms of the church to trick-or-treat. After the candy grab, we went inside the church’s gym to watch my co-worker and friend, Geoff Insch, perform a concert with his band, Mr. Inch and the Millimeters. Throughtout the performance, Sloan tore up the dance floor.

The three of us outside the Myrtle Beach Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints church before we went inside for the trunk-or-treat.

Trunk or Treat at Broadway at the Beach – After we returned home on Friday night, Sloan didn’t take her unicorn costume off for long. The next morning we were off to Broadway at the Beach, a major Myrtle Beach entertainment complex, for another trunk or treat event. Although it was chilly, Sloan was in good spirits as she spun around the parking lot in her pink car. Best part was introducing my dad to several of our friends who also happened to be at the community gathering.

The Broadway at the Beach trunk or treat was another opportunity for papa to have Halloween fun with Sloan.

Sloan Carves a Pumpkin, Part II – Last October, my dad carved a pumpkin with Sloan. It was so much fun that we did it again this year. After finding the perfect pumpkin at Publix, papa and Sloan carved it last night. As spooky music played in the background, the duo worked hard to create a jack-o’-lantern that resembled a certain 19-month-old. It was a success! They say that after you do something twice it is a tradition, so it looks like my dad is booked for next October (and the next, and the next, etc.) as well.

Sloan and Papa carved a very nice-looking pumpkin.

In the Middle of the Night – The first night my dad was in town, he didn’t wait for us to comfort Sloan when she cried out in the middle of the night. He went directly into her room (our guest room is right across from Sloan’s room) and changed her and fed her. He enjoyed his special time with Sloan in the wee hours of the morning, even if he had just traveled across the country on an exhausting flight. The next evening my dad would bring Sloan into bed with him for an hour after she once again woke up seeking some TLC.

My dad would get up with Sloan in the middle of the night.

Playing in the Backyard –Although the weather didn’t always cooperate this weekend, my dad and Sloan soaked up every moment that it did. The duo spent plenty of time in our relatively large backyard as they ran around, explored the hammock, and even did some work with the gutter. For a girl who is always saying “outside, outside” she sure appreciated her papa playing with her in the grass.

These two sure played hard in our backyard.

Fun at the Mall – After the Broadway trunk or treat event, we all went to the mall. While Sidney and I looked at clothes for Sloan, my dad let us browse in peace as he took her out in the mall area to play. He let her ride the coin-operated rides, chase bouncy balls, and go up and down the escalator. Next time we return to Coastal Grand Mall, she is going to have very high expectations.

My dad and Sloan ran wild at Coastal Grand Mall.

Sunday Lunch – We had such a nice time early in the afternoon yesterday. Sid’s parents and her sister came over to have lunch with us. I always enjoy it when my family is able to get together with Sidney’s family and Sunday was another perfect example of why it is so enjoyable. Members from the Reser and Mathis families were under one roof to celebrate and enjoy a certain person who is so special to them both – Sloan. She definitely put on a show as we ate grilled hamburgers and hot dogs on a sunny and warm day.

Sloan watches her two grandpas as the hamburgers and hot dogs cook on the grill. This is one of my favorite photos I have taken in a long time.

Three non-Sloan related moments…

Lunch in the Cafeteria – I worked a half day on Friday. My dad came and picked me up at the office at noon. Before we went to pick up Sloan at daycare, we went to Palmetto Bays School to pay Sid a visit. We brought Bojangles with us and ate lunch with Sid, her students, and her fellow teachers. Not only did my dad get to meet Mrs. Reser’s 2nd graders but I got to meet them for the first time as well.

Sid and my dad at Palmetto Bays on Friday. We visited to eat lunch with Mrs. Reser and her class.

Nightly Sports – When night fell and both my girls went to sleep, my dad and I stayed up and watched sports. Whether it be the World Series, college football, or the NFL, we hung out in the living room and watched the action. These days I don’t get to watch sports on television that much so to have the opportunity to do so with my dad, something we always used to do, was something I tried not to take for granted. It was the perfect way to end each day.

Night Out for Adults – These days, it is almost impossible to take Sloan out to a restaurant – she is just at that age. However, we still wanted to go out to eat at least once while my dad was here. On Saturday night, my in-laws graciously watched Sloan for a few hours so we could attend mass and then dine out. We opted for a place we never tried before, Lombardo’s, an Italian restaurant on Kings Highway. The food and atmosphere both impressed as we had a relaxing (and very quiet) evening.

We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant called Lombardos on Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach.

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I am so thankful that my dad traveled so far to see us. He treated us so well and I can only hope that we did enough to reciprocate. Sloan can’t wait to see her papa again in December! Don’t Blink.

Yet Another Great #CCU Holiday Video

To watch the 2017 #CCU Holiday Video, click here

A true test of talent can be found in versatility. Sure, we are all good at certain techniques and areas within our respective jobs. However, are we gifted enough to produce positive results when we decide to switch gears?

I pose this question to celebrate the success of the 2017 #CCU Holiday Video.

Today at noon, we released our latest annual installment of digital cheer. This year’s holiday video came after a string of successful predecessors, culminating in our 2016 hit that took our campus by storm and smashed view records.

The 2016 #CCU Holiday Video was a massive hit and left a lot to live up to this year.

The task to follow up last year’s viral sensation fell on the shoulders of the duo who created the monster in the first place. Our senior marketing director, Lindsi Glass, and our production manager, Geoff Insch, teamed up again to produce the 2017 version.

What would these two content creator geniuses come up with this time? Having built a successful reputation for creating catchy and creative videos that go outside the norm and push the envelope, did they have another idea up their sleeves that would once again include an original song, a well-known pop culture theme, and over 200 extras?

It is to relief of many that I only appear in the 2017 #CCU Holiday Video once. My cameo comes at the very end when I hold up the letter “H” in the word “Holidays.”

Not this year.

Instead of piggy-backing off of 2016, they pulled a 180. Rather than go for the funny bone, they went for the heart. To say the least, it worked.

This year’s video stars an 6-year-old girl named Lilly. A real life member of the emerging population of young people growing up with teal blood already circulating through their veins, Lilly writes a holiday letter to President DeCenzo. As he starts to read it, a voiceover by Lilly clues in the audience about what was written. Penning the letter in a very eloquent manner for someone just 6 years of age (with perhaps a little bit of help), she expresses what makes Coastal Carolina so special while exclaiming “there’s just so much to be proud of.”

The video centers on Lilly, a natural star.

During the voiceover, our beautiful campus is showcased and some of the people who make it such a great place are featured. But between the beauty shots of #TEALnation and the images of President DeCenzo and Mrs. DeCenzo gushing over the note, there is a heartwarming dynamic that plays out between Lilly and the person who sticks close to her side throughout the video.

Caroline Smith is our university editor and Lilly’s mom. She was nice enough to stand in for a crucial supporting role in the production. The mother-daughter relationship is hinted at throughout the entire video but it isn’t fully revealed until the very end. When the connection is finally disclosed, it is done in the sweetest way; a way in which has made our #CCU community tear up all day long, a way in which makes it mandatory that you watch it, a way in which will truly make you appreciate what Lindsi and Geoff accomplished.

Lilly and Caroline work together to provide a classic and touching performance.

It was no simple task following up last year’s video, especially with a completely different concept. But our University Communication staff pulled it off and once again made our entire CCU community proud. To Lindsi, Geoff, Caroline and, last but not least, Lilly – great work! Don’t Blink.

Worth It? The Largest Deliverable Pizza in the World

I am a sucker for food dishes on steroids. In America, we have a thing for taking culinary favorites and blowing them up to sizes that could feed a small army. Except for those who practice portion control and self discipline, who doesn’t love seeing a 10 pound burrito, a 10 patty hamburger, or a 10 scoop ice cream sundae?

I enjoy outrageously sized food items.

This is me with The Big Dog at Northern Quest Casino in Spokane during the summer of 2012.

I didn’t order this hot dog just for the heck of it. However, despite my fandom for big eats, I still look at value. Something that I recently saw on social media made me delve into deep thought.

My co-worker and friend Geoff Insch recently shared a video from a popular Facebook food page. The piece of content he shared showcased the largest deliverable pizza in the world, a 54″ by 54″ pie called “The Giant Sicilian.”

This is The Great Sicilian, a giant 54″ by 54″ pizza.

Now you must watch the video (click here) to really gain an appreciation for how mammoth this thing is. It takes multiple people to make it AND it takes multiple people to deliver it. The enormous size of the pizza was really put into perspective for me when I saw the box it is placed in.

The box it is carried out in is enormous!

Do you live in LA and want to order it? The Giant Sicilian can be cut into 200 medium-sized square slices and feed 50-70 people. The price tag? It starts at $249.99.

Before I criticize the product’s price based on volume of pizza, let me say this: I understand that Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria isn’t just selling 200 slices of pizza. Rather, the restaurant is selling a gimmick…oops…I mean experience.

When Geoff shared the video, he wrote “I know what I’m doing for my birthday party next year!” You see, this pizza isn’t just meant to fill stomachs. Rather, it is meant to draw laughs at family reunions, birthday celebrations, and overnighters. The surreal sight of seeing a giant pizza box taking up an entire room is memorable and outrageous, two things that can add character to any event. You could set up a hidden camera and make a video out of the reactions people will have when they walk in the room and see a pizza that has roughly 5,000 pieces (total guess on my part) of pepperoni on it. They will freak and it will be funny. I get it.

The pizza turns into the main attraction at your party.

So make no mistake about it, the “wow factor” of the Giant Sicilian is part of what you are paying for.

How do I know?

Well, you can easily purchase a greater volume of pizza from any of the major mainstream pizza chains.

If I lived in Los Angeles and had to feed 50-70 people, I wouldn’t dial up Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria. First off, I wouldn’t want the logistical nightmare of hungry humans circling around the giant box stabbing at square slices. Secondly, I would want to get the most value for my money.

So, depending on my mood, I would do one of the following…

1. I would buy 25 large $10 carryout pizzas from Pizza Hut. Not only would the total amount of slices be the exact same as the Great Sicilian (25 pizzas x 8 slices per pie = 200 slices) but the price ($250) would be identical as well. However, not only would the Pizza Hut individual slices be bigger than the Sicilian square slices, but the variety available would be much more diverse.

2. If I wanted to go under budget, I would dial up Papa John’s. The chain is famous for its $8 large 1-topping pizza with the promo code TXT8. I would buy 28 pizzas (26 pizzas x $8 = $208) and give the the hardworking delivery person a $15 tip and use the remaining $27 to buy soft drinks for everyone. The best part about this plan is that even with the tip and soft drinks, we would still have more pizza than if we opted for the Great Sicilian.

3. The final option would only occur if I was in a bad mood. I would go to Little Caesers and buy 40 of the $5 Hot-N-Ready pepperoni pizzas. Then, because of my despicable choice, I would take the $50 remaining and give it to charity to atone for my sin.

Taking The Great Sicilian to the oven!

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Again, I completely understand that the Great Sicilian is not 100% about the actual value. However, it is fun to every now and then explore what exactly we are paying for and what is most important to us as consumers. Don’t Blink.