The Highlights of Sloan’s Spokane Grandparents in Myrtle Beach

At the end of last week and through the weekend, my parents visited our little family here in Myrtle Beach. It was great to see them and catch up. Most of all, it was special to watch them bond with Sloan. My parents arrived on Wednesday and left on Monday. I thought the best way to organize this trip recap would be to describe my favorite moment from each day they spent here. If that is okay with you, I will begin.

Wednesday, April 4: The highlight of this initial day was just watching the joy of my parents as they reconnected with Sloan after 100 days apart. We thought Sloan would be a little apprehensive toward my mom and dad since it had been so long, but she picked right back up at the same comfort level from where she left off. My mom was able to give her granddaughter all the kisses she had saved up over the last several months and you could just tell that both of my parents were at total peace in Sloan’s presence.

My parents were so overjoyed to see Sloan again that first day.

Thursday, April 5: The aspect of this day that really stands out to me is the dinner the five of us shared. We went to Rivertown Bistro, a creative and tasty restaurant in downtown Conway that is beloved by the entire Grand Strand community. If you want to treat yourself, it is the place to go. We were given upstairs seating where we sat at a booth that overlooked scenic 3rd Avenue. The food was incredible and Sloan was on her best behavior as she sat at the head of the table in her cute outfit and bow. It was a relaxing and memorable experience.

We had such a lovely dinner at Rivertown Bistro in Conway.

Friday, April 6: For obvious reasons, my parents weren’t able to attend Sloan’s birthday party on March 17. However, we made up for it. After I got off work on Friday afternoon, the five of us gathered around the table for an encore celebration of Sloan’s birthday. We had an extra smash cake stored away that we brought out. I cued up the slideshow I created for her birthday party and Sidney stuck a candle in the cake and we sang “Happy Birthday.” It was an intimate celebration that made my parents feel included in her birthday festivities and that allowed Sloan to stuff her face with more cake!

Sloan enjoying her second birthday celebration, this time with grandma and papa.

Saturday, April 7: My mom and dad kept talking about how much they enjoyed this morning so it was a no-brainer to include it as the Saturday highlight. We went to the Paula Deen Family Kitchen for breakfast, a restaurant that serves meals family style. We all ate way too much but we then walked it off by exploring Broadway at the Beach, an outdoor entertainment area in the heart of Myrtle Beach. With the weather absolutely perfect, we strolled around the premises while my parents shopped for souvenirs. Sloan enjoyed the favorable conditions as we all took turns pushing her in the stroller. It was a very pleasant way to spend the first half of the day.

My parents having some fun at the Paula Deen restaurant at Broadway at the Beach.

Sunday, April 8: The dinner we had this evening was just as memorable and delicious as the dinner we had on Thursday. We met Sidney’s parents at Greg Norman’s Australian Grille for some good food and better conversation. It was important to Sid and I that we got both sets of Sloan’s grandparents together. The fact was not lost on anyone that during those moments, the six people who love Sloan the most were all seated around her at the same table.

Both sets of Sloan’s grandparents outside of Greg Norman’s Australian Grill on April 8.

Monday, April 9: My parents said goodbye to Sloan in the morning, right before I took her to daycare. However, since their flight didn’t leave until 2:30 p.m., I was able to take my lunch break to meet up with them one final time. We convenrd at Chick-fil-A for a quick lunch. As we ate, we talked about how much we enjoyed our time together and how much we appreciated each other. We recapped our trip and my parents never missed an opportunity to tell me how lucky I am to have two wonderful girls in my life. It was the perfect way to cap off the trip.

My parents at Chick-Fil-A on April 9. Great way to conclude the trip.


My parents keep thanking us for letting them come stay at our house but they have it all wrong. Sidney, Sloan and I want to be the ones to say THANK YOU. We were spoiled and catered to the entire duration of their stay. Mom and dad, we already miss you. Sloan can’t wait to see you this summer. Don’t Blink.

The Attraction and Danger of Facebook Quizzes

Given the current state of Facebook, it is safe to say we are subjected to a substantial amount of garbage each time we “go for a little scroll.” Political rants, fake news, multi-level marketing, annoying blog links (haha), and GoFundMe scams are just a few examples of awful content we sift through.

If not for all that I just mentioned above, perhaps online quizzes would be Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to undesirable Facebook content. However, because of the proliferation of partisan venom, untrue headlines, and shameless sales pitches on our newsfeeds, spotting a quiz that promises to identify your spirit animal is almost a welcome relief. However, take it from me, Facebook quizzes are sometimes more trouble than what they are worth.

I recently sat down with WPDE ABC15 anchor Summer Dashe to discuss the dark side of social media quizzes. Summer used our discussion along with other interviews to put together an extremely well-done and creative package. It aired during the station’s big post-Academy Awards Sunday night newscast. Click here to view the story.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Summer Dashe with WPDE ABC15 to discuss Facebook quizzes.

During the interview, the major point I told Summer was that some social media quizzes are absolutely harmless – but others aren’t.

I mean come on, how bad can a quiz be that tells you which season of “Family Matters” opening credits you are?

Most of the time, at the very least, the makers of these Facebook-based personality tests are going to capture your profile information and potentially sell it to third parties so they can target you in ads. It is simply the day and age we live in. The current advertising climate places a very high premium on digital advertising and companies are willing to shell out money for lists of people who fit within their target audience. If you don’t mind the phenomenon of having a digital ad served to you that seems to read your mind, you don’t need to stress too much about this.

However, unfortunately, sometimes these seemingly harmless Facebook quizzes are a little more sinister. Some exist solely to hijack your information and make duplicate social media profiles of yourself. Selling “likes” and “followers” is a big business. Companies who specialize in this trade will provide their clients with a load of FAKE and duplicated profiles, created off of the information you consented to release before taking the quiz. Even more shocking, some quiz makers will take the information you provide entirely off the digital sphere and use it for classic identity theft purposes in the physical world.

Thank you to Summer Dashe of WPDE ABC15 for producing an educational and creative story.

Finally, some sketchy social media quiz makers will practice what is called like-farming. Think of it as a bait-and-switch – a Facebook quiz claiming to tell you what Disney princess you are appears on your newsfeed. All you have to do is click on the link to start the assessment. Much to your horror, instead of taking you to a multiple choice quiz, you are taken to a website that infects your computer with malware. The link originally started out as a legitimate quiz that garnered a lot of likes and shares. After it established credibility, the scoundrels behind the quiz edited the post and changed the link. Watch out for this dirty trick! 

I gave two big recommendations to Summer:

1. Don’t participate in Facebook quizzes that ask to access your Facebook profile or ask you to log in to Facebook. Consenting to these requests, which is usually as easy as clicking on a blue bar, will sell out your information to the entity administering the quiz.

Even though it might look official, don’t click on blue bars that ask you to login to take a quiz.

2. If you have an appetite for knowing what “Saved by the Bell” character you are or what ice cream flavor best describes your personality, take a Buzzfeed quiz. Not only is Buzzfeed the most popular option for online quizzes, it is also the safest. Buzzfeed won’t ask for any of your information before taking the quiz but will give you a safe option to post your results to Facebook at the conclusion of it.

In the most general terms, use common sense. Before clicking on a social media quiz, scrutinize it for a couple seconds. Blue bars, long URLs, misspellings, and obscure graphics are all signs to accept an F on the quiz by just not taking it.

Thanks again to Summer and WPDE for the effort they put forth to produce such a well-researched story. An important message was delivered to the Myrtle Beach area, one that everyone else in the country could benefit from. Don’t Blink.

A Disappointment for Myrtle Beach

It was supposed to be a glorious winter wonderland. Unfortunately, for many, it feels like the Grinch swooped in and stole Christmas.

Our area has been bracing for a winter storm for several days now. Our local media stations reported on the arrival of Winter Storm Grayson non-stop. Public safety outlets prepared for the collisions that would undoubtedly happen due to inexperienced winter drivers on the roads. Emergency management personnel worked around the clock to inform the organizations they work for about the intricacies of the storm so officials could make the best decisions about ceasing/continuing operations. Even social media professionals (cough, cough) worked hard to let their audiences know about closures and delays.

In terms of hysteria, this winter storm was right on par with your typical hurricane. However, instead of taking precautions to battle a tropical storm that can bring deadly winds, flooding rain, and violent destruction, we were bracing for 1-3 inches of snow.

To my friends out west, laugh all you want. Yes, we call that amount of snow a “dusting” where I am from, but I completely understand why people out here were calling it “Snowmageddon.” You see, these winter events typically don’t happen in the south. Most adults around these parts who have lived in the area most of their lives can count on one hand the amount of times they have seen snow. Most years, South Carolina is shielded from the white stuff and citizens don’t have to worry about the havoc and inconvenience it creates. Driving in snow? Removing snow? Dressing for snow? These are usually not concerns.

That was supposed to change today…

Sidney and I have listened to countless people joke with us the past two days…looks like you guys brought the snow with you from Spokane. Well, I don’t know if we can take credit for giving Myrtle Beach hope for its first actual snow accumulation in eight years but I do admit, it is kind of ironic. However, half of me kept wishing that we did leave it out in Washington. Personally, I hate snow.

In 2010, Myrtle Beach received snow accumulaton.

But many people out here don’t share my sentiment, or at least think they don’t. It was a very exciting time for Myrtle Beach residents as they anticipated a weather pattern completely out of the norm. Folks down here were straight up giddy. It looked as if a late holiday present was coming. So, while half of me didn’t want to see a single snowflake drop, the other half was hoping my friends down here would get their wish.

As the week went on, the forecast for snow kept increasing. By Tuesday night, it was a certainty that our area would be covered in a white blanket. The confidence this morning only grew. Once the day transitioned to the afternoon, our meteorologists had decided to up the ante. We would not get 1-3 inches; instead, we would get 3-5 inches!

By this afternoon, we were supposed to get between 3 – 5 inches of snow. We ended up getting nothing.

The local news told us the snow would arrive at 3 p.m. But it didn’t. They moved the time back to 4 p.m. Nothing. It was adjusted to 5 p.m. Then 6 p.m. at the very latest. Still nada. Some weather people put out a last-ditch estimate for the snow to start at 7 p.m. When that deadline came and passed with absolutely no snow fall, the meteorologists conceded that it was a “busted” forecast. After all that, Myrtle Beach would not see snow.

I found this tweet from popular meteorologist Ed Piotrowski of ABC 15 very funny and also humbling.

So even though I didn’t move to Myrtle Beach to see snow, I still feel bad for my friends and family who really hoped to experience it. There was a lot of buildup and excitement that never materialized.

I also feel bad for the meteorologists. They work so hard and put forth a lot of effort forecasting this storm. I know they wanted to deliver on the snow but no one can completely predict the crazy turns the weather will take.

The snow that was supposed to come as early as 3 p.m. never came at all.

If there is any consolation for the Myrtle Beach children who saw their hopes dissolve this evening, it is that they get another day off tomorrow. Although we didn’t get snow, we got a lot of ice. Thus, in addition to the “snow day” they got today, Horry County School students will get one tomorrow as well. Of course that means if the students don’t have school, neither does Sidney. But it won’t just be Sid and Sloan spending the day together. The Coastal Carolina University campus is closed due to the weather so I will be working remotely in the comfort of our own home. Although I am not a fan of snow days, I am doing the best I can to enjoy the time off with my girls.

As I look outside of my house right now, we have absolutely no snow.

Stay safe, everyone. I hope the people in the towns surrounding Myrtle Beach who did receive snow enjoy it. To those individuals going to bed this evening disappointed, don’t get too bent out of shape – snow really isn’t that great. Don’t Blink.

T.G.I.T. Thursday Rundown

Buenos Noches mis amigos! It is time for my weekly Don’t Blink tradition…the Thursday Rundown. Here we go with my latest five topics…

Same Shirt, Same Pose – A couple months back in a previous Thursday Rundown, I wrote about wearing the exact same shirt on the same date. I had worn the same black polo on July 6, 2017, that I had worn on July 6, 2016. However, that fashion faux pas was put to complete shame this past Sunday. I wore a multi-colored polo that, thanks to Timehop, I had worn exactly five years prior. Yes, I have clothes in my closet that date back five years that I still wear.

Taste of the Town – On Tuesday night, Sidney and I left Sloan in the loving care of my in-laws and the two of us went out on a date night that has become a tradition for us. For the fourth consecutive year, we attended Taste of the Town, an event where you can sample appetizers, entrees, and desserts from restaurants in the area. This year’s Taste of the Town was the best one yet! We enjoyed delicious food, saw lots of people we knew, and chatted with both of our priests. Ah yes, I forgot to mention, the event is put on by St. Andrew. The major fundraiser for the grade school, I am always so proud to be part of the St. Andrew Catholic community when we go to Taste of the Town just because it is such a well-done event that practically all of Myrtle Beach attends. This year was once again no exception.

Sidney and I at the 2017 Taste of the Town.

The Dethroning of a Jeopardy Champion – Last week, I boldly declared that I would continue to incorporate Jeopardy phenom Austin Rogers into my Thursday Rundowns until he was knocked off. Apparently my declaration was his kiss of death. Just an hour after I published last week’s Rundown, Austin lost to a contestant named Scarlett. I was jumping around the living room with joy as he came up short in Final Jeopardy. Although he grew on me a little bit, I fiercly cheered against him throughout his entire run. Austin, you are incredibly smart and a great Jeopardy player but I am glad I no longer have to see you at 7:30 p.m. each night.

T.G.I.F…what? – Another testament to my advancing age is that apparently college students have no idea what T.G.I.F. is/was. Our Homecoming theme this year plays off of the epic 2-hour block of programming that I looked forward to each Friday during my childhood. However, Monica, my student intern, and her friend, Ethan, had absolutely no idea what T.G.I.F. was other than an acronym for the end of the work week. Other students have admitted to not knowing about ABC’s late 1990s/early 2000s ratings bonanza as well. If T.G.I.F. has indeed completely swept by this generation, perhaps I should just get a walker and retire.

Although Ethan and Monica modeled the TGIF-inspired CCU Homecoming t-shirts, they had no idea what T.G.I.F. was.

Growing, Growing, Growing – Sloan turned 7 months on Tuesday! How did she celebrate? Well, before we dropped her off with Sidney’s parents, she got four shots (poor girl) at the pediatrician’s office. However, she took them like a champ, and was back to grabbing things and clapping her hands in no time. The comment we received the most this week has been she is getting so big! It is true, she is now almost 17 pounds and she seems to be growing right in front of us. She turns 31 weeks tomorrow.

Here is this week’s photo collage of Sloan.


I hope everyone has a great autumn weekend. Sloan has a photo shoot on Saturday so hopefully I will be sharing some professional photos of our little girl soon. As always, thanks for your support and readership. Don’t Blink.

Changing Gyms

After over three years of attending the beautiful HTC Center for my workouts, I joined a new gym last month. The contrast between the sparkling facility we have here at Coastal Carolina University versus the place I am going to now is quite striking.

In short, the former is really nice while the latter is not. But trust me, I am completely fine with it.

Because the hours of operation for both Coastal’s gym and Sloan’s day care don’t mesh well together, I had to find a new exercise center, one that was open 24 hours and preferably close to our house. It didn’t take me long to pinpoint a location.

I am now a member of Gold’s Gym (you want to lift some iron, bro?). Before I address the stereotypes let me explain why I made this decision.

I am now a member of Gold’s Gym in Myrtle Beach.

Believe it or not, I have a history with Gold’s Gym. When I would return to Spokane for holiday and summer breaks when I was a college student, I would pull together the little money I had and use it to purchase whatever promo deal the local Gold’s Gym was offering to get me through the couple weeks or month I was home. Additionally, over the last couple years, I have frequented the Myrtle Beach Gold’s Gym on days the HTC Center was closed (on holidays and when campus shut down for weather events). Thus, because the Myrtle Beach Gold’s Gym is open 24 hours during the week and because it is within 10 minutes of my house, based on the familiarity I had already established with the brand, I went ahead and purchased an actual membership.

As I said, the HTC Center and Gold’s are worlds apart. I went from working out in a spacious, top of the line facility to sweating it out in an old, cramped gym. I went from exercising in the company of fit college students to being surrounded by extremely muscular and intimidating adults. I went from enjoying brand new equipment to lifting weights that could easily be confused with inventory meant for a prison gym.

I do get in a good sweat at Gold’s (and that is all that matters). The Myrtle Beach Gold’s Gym has an actual hardwood gym that I use at the end of my workout. I took this photo a couple weeks ago.

But hold on for one second. I am being a bit dramatic. Although the above comparisons are for the most part true, I do actually enjoy working out at Gold’s Gym. Even if it feels as if I am stepping into the 1980s each time I walk through the doors, it is the atmosphere that makes a gym. At Gold’s, people work hard and treat me with plenty of respect (even the ones who can bench press 1,000 pounds). The staff is incredible. The facility and equipment might be old but it is conducive to what I need to complete my workout and feel good about myself. Most importantly, Gold’s Gym allows me to show up before 5 a.m. so I can get in my workout and get home so my wife can go to work and I can take Sloan to day care.

And, in the end, I am not turning my back on the HTC Center. Although the majority of my workouts take place at Gold’s, I still have the pleasure of exercising with the campus community twice a week. However, I have learned one thing: although luxuries are nice, it is not the gym itself that works the magic; it is the person utilizing it. Don’t Blink.

Spared by Irma

Hallelujah. Hurricane Irma decided to spare us.

On Thursday, I noted that one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to touchdown in the United States could potentially steamroll through Myrtle Beach. Thankfully for us, that won’t be the case.

Despite earlier forecasts that showed our area in the 5-day error cone of the storm and despite plenty of worry and build up, we won’t go toe to toe with Hurricane Irma. Meteorologists, who cautioned the whole time that the storm could shift, proved correct when Irma decided to take a westerly track, not only comfortably bypassing Myrtle Beach but steering clear of most of the entire state of South Carolina itself.

We are all extremely happy. After living through Hurricane Matthew last year, a storm dwarfed both in size and power by Irma, I told myself I was fine if I didn’t have to deal with another Mother Nature assault for a while.

However, as I have mentioned, Hurricane Irma is a massive storm. Because of this, although we won’t be anywhere near the eye of the storm, we will experience “fringe effects” from Irma. Starting tomorrow and lasting through Tuesday morning, the Myrtle Beach area is expecting tropical storm force winds with the possibility of tornados.

Horry County Schools, my wife’s employer, canceled all classes tomorrow. Sidney and Sloan will have the day to snuggle and rest comfortably inside our home while the wind howls. As for me, classes at Coastal Carolina University are also canceled tomorrow (as well as Tuesday) but staff will still report.

Sidney and Sloan will be safe from the fringe effects of Hurricane Irma as they stay home tomorrow.

My thoughts and prayers are with the millions of people who have and will be impacted by this nasty storm. Since my family was spared, it means another young family to the west of us who originally thought they were in the clear now will have to brace for danger. I feel for them.

Thanks to everyone who reached out over the past several days, you are all the best. Do know we are doing fine and that we are completely out of harm’s way. Don’t Blink.

Jamming Out at the Carolina Country Music Fest

Once an avid concert-goer, I have slowed down attending shows over the last few years. However, this past weekend I returned to the live music scene in a big way. To celebrate our anniversary, Sidney and I attended the Carolina Country Music Festival. A mammoth four day fest that attracts some of country music’s biggest superstars to Myrtle Beach, the CCMF is a big deal.

The CCMF was actually a first for me. While I have attended arena shows, outdoor shows, and even an awards show before, I had never went to a music festival. I was excited to sit outside, enjoy the vendors, and meet our 20,000 “neighbors”…

….I just wasn’t ready to do it for four days.

Sidney and I during the first day of the Carolina Country Music Fest.

Sidney and I attended the middle two days of the CCMF on Friday and Saturday. While we knew it would be nice to see acts that performed on Thursday and Sunday such as Jason Aldean, Montgomery Gentry, Chris Young, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, and others, the two days we did go provided us with more than enough fun.

On Friday we arrived at 5: 30 p.m. and stayed until midnight. We saw Parmalee, Kip Moore, Billy Currington, and Darius Rucker. On Saturday we showed up at 4 p.m. and watched LANco, Chris Lane, Granger Smith, Lee Brice, and Kenny Chesney. It was midnight when we left on Saturday as well. So, for those keeping count, we saw nine different acts perform over the course of 17 hours. Talk about a lot of music!

A look at where we were standing on Friday night.

Before I address who we liked best, I did want to mention the fest itself. Although the CCMF is only in its third year, I must say that the organizers seem to have it down to a science. Getting inside the event area was quick and easy. The wristband system is extremely convenient. There was no shortage of food options. Beer stations were all over the place. Different sections at the fest (such as general admission, VIP, Super VIP) were clearly distinguishable and a heavy security presence was on hand to make sure everyone stayed where they were supposed to. Large screens were set up everywhere so those who were not close to the stage could still follow the action. Except for a couple instances, I never really saw much disorganization.

I didn’t understand the magnitude of the event until I walked through the gates the first time on Friday evening. The festival was absolutely packed! However, for the most part, people were really cool. Sidney and I had the opportunity to meet new friends while also enjoying people-watching at its finest. Although we felt really young and really overdressed at times, we had a great time being part of the crowd.

Here is an aerial shot of the CCMF on Saturday night. It is a massive event (photo courtesy of CCMF).

When it came to Friday night, my favorite performer was Billy Currington. He brought a lot of energy to the stage and it was fun to sing aloud to his songs (especially “People Are Crazy”). Darius Rucker was good but I had seen him before, and like I said then, he is pretty much no frills when it comes to his shows. Currington played his set during the period when it went from day to night so to jam out as the sun went down was pretty scenic/fun.

I enjoyed the music on Saturday better. Because Sidney and I arrived a little earlier this day, we moved much closer up in our section. We brought a blanket with us that allowed us to sit and relax during the early acts. Sidney loved Chris Lane’s act. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised by Lee Brice’s set. I saw him when he performed at Coastal Carolina last fall and I didn’t think the show was anything special. However, up on the CCMF stage with the ocean behind him, Brice put on an incredible show. The crowd was really into it and he touched the emotions of most of us with both his sad songs and his party songs. Although proposals at concerts are sometimes cheesy, the couple he had come up on stage made everyone go “awwwwwwwwwwwww” when the dude popped the question and the girl responded with “I absolutely will marry you.”

Sidney and I during the day on Saturday. The second day was our favorite.

But it wasn’t even a question of who the best performer was during the two days we were there. Kenny Chesney was by far and away the greatest entertainer that took the stage. He opened by performing “Beer In Mexico.” The moment he sang the song’s opening lyrics, starin’ out into the wild blue yonder, I looked at Sidney and said WOW.

Chensey’s voice was so distinctive, so clear, so effortless. After hearing the eight previous acts, he just stood out so much. We loved his set. He stuck with his more upbeat hits (so no, he didn’t perform “Don’t Blink”) and just entertained us. His band was awesome and he tried as hard as he could to convey that he was having a good time. He told funny and meaningful stories in between playing hit after hit. After waiting so long to finally see him, I can unequivocally say that Kenny Chesney did not disappoint.

Attending the Carolina Country Music Fest was a great way to spend our anniversary weekend. If we do it again, we might opt for a VIP package and just go one night. One thing plainly obvious to Sidney and I over the course of the two nights was that we can’t hang with the young bucks like we used to. However, we did our best and had a very memorable time. Don’t Blink.

My Excitement For New Businesses in Myrtle Beach

If you get excited about national restaurant chains opening up, Myrtle Beach is a great place to be over the next few weeks. Just in time for the tourist season, several very well-known locations will open their doors. Luckily for Sidney and I, many of these places are within close proximity of our house. For tonight’s blog post, I wanted to feature five new restaurants that are within a ten minute drive of where we live. I will also rate my excitement for the opening of the business based on a 1-10 scale.

Business: Dave and Buster’s
Opening Date: June 5
Excitement Level: 9

I have watched commercials for Dave and Buster’s my whole life. However, despite being exposed to the chain’s marketing, I have never spent time in one. I am excited for that to change. I have had a ball at other establishments with the same business model as Dave and Buster’s but I have never played in the one that pioneered the concept. Located at Broadway at the Beach, a better spot in Myrtle Beach could not have been chosen. Can’t wait for those doors to open!

Business: Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen
Opening Date: June 12
Excitement Level: 7

When Sidney and I took a trip to Savannah a couple years back, we ate at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen to celebrate our one-year anniversary of dating. Sid was extremely excited to eat there while I had never really known that Paula Deen had a restaurant chain. However, after that night I would never forget it! For those who enjoy Southern cuisine, this is your place. The biscuits they bring you while you wait for your food is the best part (and the food itself is really good so that is saying something). Also, having the option to order off a menu or go for a country style buffet offers the best of both worlds. I hope the Myrtle Beach location is bigger than the one in Savannah, however, because space was at a premium and the wait list was long.

Sidney and I at the Paula Deen restaurant in Savannah. I had a chicken pot pie.

Business: Panera
Opening Date: It opened yesterday (May 23)
Excitement Level: 5

Whenever a member of Sidney’s family would go to a city that had a Panera, they would always stop and clean that particular location out of its cinnamon chip bagels. Thus, over the past few years, I have had a cinnamon chip bagel or two. In fact, in celebration of the grand opening of the Panera that is now conveniently right in the middle of my commute from work, I bought a bag of bagels to surprise Sidney with when I arrived home yesterday night. Although I have not tried Panera’s sandwiches, soups, or salads, I am sure it will happen soon enough.

Yesterday, I surprised Sidney with cinnamon chip bagels from Panera.

Business: MOD Pizza
Opening Date: Today (May 24)
Excitement Level: 9

Yes, many of you know that there is a MOD Pizza in the general region of where I live. However, as of today, there is now one that is smack-dab in the middle of work and home. In fact, every night I will have to deal with this new MOD Pizza location calling my name as I drive by. Tempted to attend today’s 11 a.m. grand opening where the first 52 people got a free pizza,, I decided to hold off because I know I will have plenty of time in the future to satisfy my MOD fix.

A photo of me with the pizza that I built from scratch. I love MOD Pizza.

Business: Carolina Ale House
Opening Date: Beginning of June
Excitement Level: 3

This place is supposed to be the real deal. The creative menu supposedly takes pub food to the next level and 60 beers are available on tap. Adding to the intrigue, Carolina Ale House restaurants are supposed to be really cool inside and the atmosphere is supposed to make you feel right at home. However, believe it or not, I am not much of a craft beer guy. Because of that, I am not counting down the days until June.

Bonus Entry

Business: Dollar General
Opening Day: Last April
Excitement Level: 10!!

Okay, this isn’t a food place. However, a Dollar General recently opened up right outside our neighborhood. In fact, we can easily walk to it! Although not a traditional dollar store, these no frills locations have everything you need at a reduced price. Since the end of April, if Sidney and I need anything from batteries to beverages to bathroom tissue, all we have to do is make a short two minute trip to our local Dollar General.


Any exciting restaurants or other businesses opening up where you happen to live? Let me know, I will share in your enthusiasm with you. Have a great evening. Don’t Blink.

Accepting Advice Before Buying The Ring

Two years ago on this date I walked out of the office into the bright sunshine. It was the first Friday of the summer hours schedule at Coastal Carolina University so it was just past 1 p.m. I hopped in my car and instead of driving back to my apartment to hang out at the pool I battled traffic en route to Coastal Grand Mall.

I walked inside the shopping center and went straight to a certain store. I approached the counter, pointed at what I wanted, and made the purchase. For the price and significance of the item, the quick way I went about doing my business surprised the clerk just a bit. However, I was a man who knew what I wanted.


The buying of an engagement ring is not something a guy takes lightly. As I mentioned above, it carries with it far more than just financial implications. The act of purchasing that rock is the first step to securing a life of happiness with the girl of your dreams.

Buying the engagement ring allows you to take a huge step toward marrying the woman of your dream.

With so much riding on the big purchase, the added anxiety of wondering whether you are getting your hopeful fiancé something she actually wants to wear the rest of her life could send any dude over the edge. Because I wanted to prevent a heart attack, I had picked Sidney’s brain beforehand to gauge what type of a ring she might want.

Well, to be honest, “picked Sidney’s brain” doesn’t truthfully describe it. It was more like tell me exactly what you want.

This photo is from the night I asked Sid to marry me. Because I asked Sid exactly what she wanted, I didn’t stress over whether she would like the ring or not (instead, I stressed over whether she would say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’).

Some men are fly. They have great fashion sense, smoke expensive cigars, and speak numerous foreign languages. They also know jewelry. This type of guy can discuss the finer points of diamonds and identify a ring his partner will waste no time showing off to all her friends.

This is not me. Until my wedding ring was slipped on my finger, I had never worn a piece of jewelry in my life. Because of this, Sidney and I started talking about engagement rings the moment we thought our relationship might be heading in the direction of “til’ death do us part.”

Luckily this wasn’t an awkward discussion. Sidney was very honest and told me exactly what she wanted. At first, she had a ring picked out online that she wanted. However, fear of purchasing something so important from the internet combined with the advice we received from a jeweler friend turned us in a different direction.

This is the actual photo Sidney took inside of Zales once she put the ring on for the first time. She then sent me the photo so I knew exactly what she wanted.

Sidney found a ring she liked at Zales. She went to the store by herself, tried it on, and took photos. A short time later we went to the mall and looked at it together. The ball was now in my court.

A few weeks later on that sunny May day, I confidently purchased the ring. The moment I walked out of the store I had an overwhelming fear come over me…You better not lose that little box. After taking my own photos of it when I got home, I stuffed it into a corner of my apartment closet. About six weeks later, I presented it to Sidney.

I had a celebratory beer after I bought the ring when I got back to my apartment. I thought it was a really cool idea at the time to take a photo of the ring with the bottle.

Listen up guys, don’t be embarrassed to ask your girlfriend about her ring preference. It is imperative that you get it right. Sure you will show your cards a bit about your future plans but at the same time it will give your girlfriend reassurance. Be sure not to neglect that important conversation. Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s Day Out

When you have a baby, especially your first one, there is a tendency to be overprotective. One way this can be acted on is by keeping him or her safe and sound in the comfort of your home. With Sloan, we kept her happy and nourished inside our Myrtle Beach home for the majority of her 6-week life.

It is true, Sidney did take her on an errand here and there. We did take her off the premises for pediatrician appointments. Our baby did make regular trips to the house of family members. But it was never like we took her out on a “SLOAN MEETS THE WORLD” day-long tour. That changed yesterday.

This past Saturday, our little family went on a series of “adventures” through the Grand Strand area. I put ourselves at the mercy of Myrtle Beach traffic (one of the greatest fears I have is something happening while we are driving with Sloan) as we embarked on a packed day for our baby daughter.

We first went to the mall. If the trend of online shopping miraculously goes out of style in the next several years, it might be a place where Sloan spends time without us. We put her in the stroller and took her from one end of Coastal Grand Mall to the other. She did awesome.

Sloan enjoyed cruising the Coastal Grand Mall.

From the mall we headed to the Market Common, an impressive lifestyle area packed with restaurants, shops, condos, and entertainment options. There is also a giant park. Yesterday, the Myrtle Beach Dragon Boat Festival took place in this particular park. Sloan experienced her first ever fest as we introduced her to the throngs of people who had gathered on the 80 degree day for the popular event. I got some great practice maneuvering the stroller in a congested area, only managing to run over the foot of one stranger. We kept Sloan in a shaded area for most of the afternoon but we did move her up to a “front row seat” for the championship races.

We made sure Sloan had a front row seat for the championship races at the Dragon Boat Festival in Myrtle Beach.

Sloan’s greatest challenge of the day still awaited her, however. After the Dragon Boat Fest we all went home where we showered and changed. We then headed off to church…

This was a big deal. We were taking Sloan to her first ever mass. I have written about crying babies in church before. Would the Lord take me to task for my prior comments and make Sloan cry out and scream the entire service? Hardly. She was a perfect angel as she rested in her mom’s arms for the whole service, gaining the admiration and hearts of everyone seated near us. When we went up for Holy Eucharist, our new parochial vicar at St. Andrew, Fr. Jose Quilcate, broke into a large smile and commented “what a cute baby” before he blessed her. After the mass concluded, we talked to Fr. Jose again. We told him he had presided over the first of many masses for Sloan and that she would be officially inducted into the Catholic faith at her baptism in June. As we walked away, he called out to us, “You have a great baby!”

Sloan wore her Sunday’s Best to mass at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach.

From St. Andrew, we headed off to a favorite restaurant of ours, Carolina Roadhouse. A large and noisy establishment (but incredibly delicious) we didn’t know exactly how Sloan would react. But she made us proud just like she did the entire day. We fed her a bottle while we waited for our food but for majority of the meal she peacefully sat in her car seat allowing her mommy and daddy to have some special time. After dinner, we troubled Sloan once more when we took her out of the car and up to a Redbox kiosk where she helped her parents pick out a movie. Her decision of “Collateral Beauty” was a good one.

Sloan hung out peacefully in her car seat during dinner last night.

Needless to say, Sloan slept GREAT last night. Even though stressful at times, it was so nice to get Sloan out in the community. She made everything so easy on her parents! Don’t Blink.