Melodramatic Thursday Rundown

Good evening my readers, I hope your week is going well. I have been fighting a minor bug but nothing that will stop me from writing my most popular blog post of the week. For those who want to view some highlights of the #CCUSocialMedia Instaween event I mentioned last week and to hear my intern Katie explain why we do it, please click here. Now let’s get started…

Josh Norman – After meeting Rachel Swindler last Thursday, I had the opportunity to be around another celebrity on Saturday. All-star NFL cornerback Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins is a CCU alumnus. He returned to campus for our Homecoming game this past weekend. However, he didn’t return just to watch some football; rather, he was here so we could properly honor him for making the largest donation to CCU ever by a former student-athlete. Our field house was renamed the Marrio and Josh Norman Field House during a ceremony between the first and second quarters (Marrio is Josh’s brother). Josh also established scholarships in the honor of two professors here at Coastal, one of them being Robin Russell. The whole time he was on campus, Josh was very humble and gracious. He interacted with fans, posed for numerous photographs, honored his family, and expressed how much Coastal means to him.

I took these photos of Josh Norman when he visited CCU this past weekend.

Sloan Update – Our daughter is growing up too fast! Sloan is now quite the talker and pretty skilled at getting what she wants. She loves books but also enjoys watching “her shows” on the iPhones of mommy and daddy. Yesterday at daycare she finger painted and the OCA staff mentioned that she was really engaged in the activity, mixing the paints and identifying the colors. She has taken a liking to saying either “stop, mommy!” or “stop, daddy!” but she will just as frequently say “love you.” She is back in the routine of sleeping well at night and is excellent at saying “thank you.”

Sloan is doing great! This photo was taken outside of Oxford Children’s Academy earlier this week.

The Election That Shocked the Nation – Two years ago the unthinkable happened. In a scenario that no one saw coming, especially the mainstream media, Donald Trump defied the odds and won the 2016 Presidential Election. I remember that night really well – laying in bed, watching the coverage as the jaws of media personalities (and American citizens) dropped. Waking up the next morning after the election was officially called, I had a surreal feeling that I can still sense inside of me. In one of my most read and memorable blog posts, I wrote about Trump achieving the improbable.

Sid and I after we voted on Nov. 8, 2016.

Food For Thought – Over the several years I have posted my Life’s Little Instructions calendar pages on Instagram, I have never had a piece of advice receive as many likes as the one I posted on Monday. Take one look below and you will know why. In a world where we obsess over material possessions and make financial gain our top priority, this instruction reminds us what true wealth is. Never underestimate the fortune of true love and never try to substitute it with “things.”

My Instagram audience really appreciated this advice.

I Love Ice Cream…But No Thank You – This week, an ice cream company on the West Coast called Salt & Straw introduced some Thanksgiving-themed flavors. No, we aren’t talking pumpkin spice or apple pie – think much more extreme. The business is boasting flavors such as sweet potato casserole, roasted peach and sage cornbread stuffing, salted caramel Thanksgiving turkey, and, worst of all, spiced goat cheese and pumpkin pie. No, no, no, and no. Even for an ice cream maniac like myself, I wouldn’t touch any of those flavors.

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Let us keep those who lost their lives in the senseless California bar shooting in our prayers tonight. While we do this, let’s keep in mind how lucky we are to still be alive and happy. Don’t Blink.

Pumpkin Pie Thursday Rundown

We have reached Friday Eve once again and we all know what that means. Let’s get things started with the Thursday Rundown…

Trick-Or-Treat Chart – I was smiling from ear-to-ear when Sidney showed me this “How Kids Judge Halloween Candy” graphic. Although I have written about Halloween candy before, this is much more comprehensive. Sid came across it on the Facebook wall of a friend and sent it to our Reser Pride 8.0 family text message group so everyone could enjoy. We dubbed my mom “The Trusty Provider” with a pinch of “Cheapy McCheapface” mixed in. How does that work out? Because my parents get hundreds of trick-or-treaters every Oct. 31, they usually run out of the Skittles and Baby Ruths by the end of the night. To last them the final hour, they usually have to retrieve the Double Bubble bucket in the basement reserved for my dad to chew on when refereeing football games.

This chart is golden.

Costco Pumpkin Pie Facts – I bit on the clickbait last night and followed the link to the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Costco’s Pumpkin Pie. As someone who loves pumpkin pie and is fascinated by Costco, I couldn’t resist. The facts are pretty interesting as they reveal the type of pumpkins used, where the seeds go, and the origin of the recipe. It is worth a read. Coincidentally, a year ago on this date I counted down my top five pumpkin-inspired foods.

The Costco pumpkin pie is a classic.

Sloan the Firefighter – Sloan’s daycare, Oxford Children’s Academy, is incredible. The latest activity the center hosted was a meet and greet with Horry County firefighters. The department sent more than just its people – a big fire truck pulled up in the parking lot as well. The teachers said the toddlers really enjoyed looking at the vehicle out the window but got a little anxious once they stepped outside. When the siren sounded and the lights flashed, Sloan was pretty alarmed. But she eventually calmed down and admired the fire fighting machine in front of her. Best of all, each child was given a hat to bring home. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday.

Sloan wearing the fire fighter hat she was given at daycare yesterday.

Chauncey’s New Ride – I have mentioned on a few occasions that a role I played at the University of Montana was mascot coordinator. Not only did I star in videos with Monte, but I organized all of his entrances into Washington-Grizzly Stadium as well. There was always pressure to come up with new and daring ways for him to make his grand appearance. I wish he had what Chauncey recently received. Our CCU mascot now has his own “Surf Turf” vehicle to get around Brooks Stadium. Efficient and eye-catching, I hope he gives me a spin in it one of these days.

Chauncey’s new “Surf Turf” vehicle is pretty cool.

Hey, Watch This – I usually don’t share pieces from news magazines on this blog, but I have to make an exception for what I saw on Sunday night. 60 Minutes caught up with National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. His job is to go around the world and take photos of the rarest animals on the planet. He says he tries to capture the emotion of each animal just as if he was photographing the senior portraits of a human. His talent will take your breath away and the dangerous situations he has found himself in will make you jump. His photos are out of this world and his subjects are as eclectic as they come. I recommend watching it.

An image that Joel Sartore took of a rare gibbon.

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Kind of an interesting Thursday Rundown, right? Well, at least I hope. Enjoy your evening and I will catch up soon. Don’t Blink.

Moving On, Learning From Florence/Flooding

Finally, some normalcy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jacksonville Zoo offered us discounted tickets.

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

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

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

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

I am proud to be #CarolinaStrong!

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

Spying on Sloan at Daycare

When a “Big Brother” season is airing, Sidney and I will supplement watching the actual episodes with viewing the live feeds of the Big Brother house that are active 24/7. Watching the unfiltered, raw content is pretty entertaining.

However, it is the month of April and “Big Brother” won’t return until June. But don’t worry about us, we have something even better to watch than the Big Brother live feeds; we have the Oxford Children’s Academy live feed!!

You can see everything that goes on within the walls of Oxford Children’s Academy, even if you are miles away!

When we changed Sloan’s daycare provider, we entered a technological renaissance. We now check her in electronically, view her daily logs online, and receive notifications the second she enters or leaves the center. But the best modern tool we have gained with the switch is the live streaming service.

Whether on a computer or from my phone, I can check on Sloan whenever I please, thanks to a camera that is set up in her classroom that pans the entire area. The Oxford Children’s Academy partners with Watch Me Grow, a streaming video system service built specifically for childcare centers. Watch Me Grow is the industry leader and for good reason. The product delivered is not a rinky-dink, convenient store black and white shaky picture. Rather it is a colorful and comprehensive clear look into our daughter’s classroom.

It didn’t take us long to start taking advantage of the resource. The first time I logged in and saw Sloan’s vibrant classroom with babies crawling all over was pretty cool. Up until that point, I had always wondered what Sloan did and how she interacted with others at daycare. I now had an idea.

I didn’t know it before, but watching babies play together and do silly things is so much more pleasurable to watch than adults cussing at each other and engaging in drunken behavior (i.e. Big Brother live feeds). Better yet, having your baby daughter as one of the stars of the production makes it that much more entertaining…

Perhaps too entertaining.

Like with all good things, moderation is key. It is easy to become preoccupied with the live feed in a way that you are constantly signing in to check on your baby. If you lack will power or are just completely obsessed with your child, the streaming option could be your own worst enemy. Nobody wins when you sacrifice all productivity to watch nap time.

Even when we can’t be with Sloan at home, we can still see her at daycare.

In my case, I try to use the daycare live feed as a reward. I will challenge myself to tackle several items on my checklist before briefly scoping out the action in the Little Clouds (name of Sloan’s age group) classroom. If I work hard enough, this incentive usually allows me to view Sloan 3-4 times per day, with the lunch hour included in that allotment. I try to look for just a minute or so but it is enough to give me a boost. When I am done I find myself more motivated to get back to work because of the peace of mind and happiness I received from viewing my daughter in a safe and nurturing environment.

The live stream at our daycare is great for spouses. Sidney and I update each other on how Sloan is doing during the day. Because we sign in at different times, we help paint a more comprehensive picture by “comparing our notes.” Usually our updates tilt toward the humorous side (Sloan is stealing someone’s snack again/How embarrassing, she is eating her socks). The live feed even allows us to monitor each other! Yesterday evening I went to pick up Sloan. I started looking in her cubbie and around the classroom for her shoes. All of a sudden I had an incoming call. It was Sidney. Before I could say anything, she told me she didn’t send Sloan with shoes today. Because she was watching the stream, she was able to put me out of my misery before I embarrassed myself too much looking for shoes that weren’t there.

Despite all the positives I listed above, the most redeeming quality of the live feed is this: Sloan’s daycare is confident and transparent enough to install cameras that allow picky and protective parents to watch every single moment that occurs in those classrooms. In my opinion, that is comforting.

The Oxford Children’s Academy show will go on! I know Sid and I will continue to get plenty more laughs and assurances out of it. Move over “Big Brother,” we are watching something much better. Don’t Blink.

Parental Thursday Rundown

Happy April and welcome to the Thursday Rundown! I have visitors so I must be quick with tonight’s edition. Let’s reveal the five topics.

Parents In Town – For the first time since last April, I have both my parents in town! They arrived yesterday and Sloan greeted them with a very warm welcome, calming the fears of my mom who thought her granddaughter might be scared after not seeing them for several months. Their trip is already off to a great start and I get to enjoy my mom and dad throughout the weekend.

My parents are loving every minute they have with Sloan.

Wild, Wild Country – I will devote a blog post to this Netflix documentary in the future but I thought it was worth mentioning in the Thursday Rundown. With one episode to go in the six part series, I am amazed and entertained at this incredible and bizarre tale. Long story short: A large group of people (the Rajneeshees) devoted to an Indian guru leave India and settle near an Oregon small town in the 1980s. An epic culture clash between the locals and Rajneeshees ensues. If you want to know what I am talking about when I write my future blog post on the documentary, I suggest you start watching it now.

It is worth your time to watch “Wild, Wild Country.”

Savannah’s Playground – This afternoon, our family plus grandma and papa went to the most popular playground in Myrtle Beach, Savannah’s Playground. An entertainment oasis for children of all ages who want to play outdoors, the playground was built for $3 million and is compatible for those with physical and mental disabilities. It is named after Savannah Thompson, a local hero who has Williams Syndrome, and someone who I actually know. We had a nice time visiting the playground on this gorgeous day as Sloan enjoyed the swings and slides.

A collage of our afternoon at Savannah’s Playground.

Change For Sloan – A big decision for any parent is where to send their child to day care. After much contemplating, we switched day care providers for Sloan. The previous one she attended had some fine teachers but an opportunity presented itself and we enrolled her in a center that makes more sense for our family. She now attends Oxford Children’s Academy, a place that is much closer to the workplaces of both Sidney and I. It also offers flexibility, modern amenities, and several parents/babies who we know. Sloan started this week and has made a nice transition.

Sloan started a new day care this week.

From the Archives – How about we look at the blog posts I have written on April 5? One year ago, I wrote about a surprise baby gift we received for Sloan. Let me tell you, it was a present that we were able to use a lot. On April 5, 2016, I wrote about how our family restaurant was finally set to re-open (by new owners) after sitting empty for several years. Then, three years ago on this date, I wrote a blog post about how creepy Easter Bunnies are. All three posts are pretty good reads so if you have time I suggest looking one or two of them up.

Sloan received customized onesies a year ago on this date,

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What am I doing pecking away on a keyboard?! My parents are here! Thanks for reading and I will catch back up with everyone on Monday. Don’t Blink.