A Thursday Rundown of Joy, Pride, and Embarrassment

It almost feels like cheating. Between last week’s Thursday Rundown and this week’s Thursday Rundown, only two regular blog posts have been published. Furthermore, I have only written one of those (Sidney took over my blog last night). But that is what happens when you celebrate the Fourth of July weekend. Cheap or not, here we go with this week’s rundown…

Wedding Pictures Back – Yesterday we received our wedding photos back after more than three weeks and we can both admit that it was worth the wait. We love the work that our photographer did. He mixed it up in a way in which about 80% of his shots were candid, exactly what we wanted. However, the posed shots of our wedding party were terrific as well. Over time I will share some of the images here on this blog. If you are in Myrtle Beach or Charleston, I would recommend Nicholas Gore Weddings.

I loved the photos that Nicholas Gore Weddings took. Most of the selection are candid shots.

I loved the photos that Nicholas Gore Weddings took. Most of the selection are candid shots.

Point of Pride – Sidney was quick to change her last name. Facebook came first. Immediately after we returned from our honeymoon she went to all the official places (social security card office, driver’s license office, etc.) to make it legal. Although she didn’t waste time making the change, I bet it was a little hard to part with the name she had used her whole life. From my perspective, it just makes me so proud. To know that someone loves me enough to change their last name is hard to describe. The fact that the newest person carrying the “Reser” last name is an amazing and kind person brings prestige to my family. We are all just so honored that Sidney is now a Reser (although she will always be a Mathis at heart).

This "R" that Sidney made decorates our front door.

This “R” that Sidney made decorates our front door.

Celebrating A Man Who Means A Lot – Last night, Sidney and I had the chance to help mark a milestone of the man who married us. Almost four weeks ago, Father James LeBlanc officiated our wedding. On Wednesday evening he celebrated the 20th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. It was our distinct pleasure to attend his commemorative mass and then enjoy the reception afterwards. After he gave a short speech, Fr. LeBlanc made the rounds to each table. When he stopped by ours, we were able to thank him for doing such a great job for us at our wedding. In a card that we gave to him we placed some photos that included the three of us on our wedding day. St. Andrew Parish is in great hands with Fr. LeBlanc as pastor.

The photo in the upper left hand corner is of Fr. LeBlanc giving his speech at his 20th anniversary of ordination reception that was held last night. The other photos are from our wedding on June 11, 2016.

The photo in the upper left hand corner is of Fr. LeBlanc giving his speech at his 20th anniversary of ordination reception that was held last night. The other photos are from our wedding on June 11, 2016.

Bad Thing to Forget – Because I work out every morning before heading to the office, I haul all my work clothes to campus with me in a duffel bag. Each night I pack my bag with what I will wear that next day. I thought I had it down to a science when it came to packing my necessary wardrobe but this morning I realized otherwise. When I got to my locker I realized I had left my dress shoes at home. Not willing to make the hour round trip to go back and pick them up, I came to terms with the fact that I would look a bit funny today. Tending to my feet last, I finished my outfit by slipping back on my work out shoes…the ones I had just sweated in for 80 minutes. If it was just the unpleasant feeling of wearing them it would be one thing but do you know how ridiculous worn out sneakers look with a collared shirt and dress pants? Luckily my awesome wife brought me my professional shoes at noon, meaning I only had to shake off the embarrassment during the morning.

It was miserable wearing my tennis shoes at work this morning.

It was miserable wearing my tennis shoes at work this morning.

Who is That Actor? – In another case of embarrassment for me, I failed to recognize a very famous actor. Last Friday, Sidney and I sat down to watch “Meet Joe Black.” I missed the opening credits of the film. As one of the main characters took on a prominent role in the plot, I asked Sidney who he was. She looked at me dumbfounded and finally got the words out to tell me it was Brad Pitt. Of course she tweeted about it. I don’t know, I guess I just think of Brad Pitt’s appearance in more of a “Fight Club” sense. As for the movie, I thought it was pretty good.

Sidney tweeted this out when I asked her who this actor was.

Sidney tweeted this out when I asked her who this actor was.

——————-

Thanks to all for giving Sidney such great support with the blog post she wrote last night. It seemed to speak to a lot of people. Have a great weekend everyone and we will catch up on Sunday. Don’t Blink.

The Proposal (Her Side)

Note: This afternoon, Sidney takes over Don’t Blink and writes a very special blog post in honor of Valentine’s Day.

I am sure you have all heard the old adage “There are three sides to every story…his side…her side…and the truth.” To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I want to share with you MY side of the story. You’ve all heard and/or read his version..but now it’s my turn…

In honor of Valentine's Day, I would like to tell my version of The Proposal.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to tell my version of The Proposal.

A very integral part of my version of this story is anything but happy. In the months leading up to the moment that Brent proposed, my grandmother was very sick. She was ailing from cancer that was found at a time when she was much too frail for treatment. She celebrated her 90th birthday in April of 2015, and for a couple years her mind had started to give way to age. Her memory was spotty. While she could recount endless stories from her childhood, she could never really remember meeting the love of my life.

Now let me be more specific. Brent had (on dozens of occaisions) been in the presence of my grandmama. He’d been introduced to her. She’d called him very handsome and well mannered, but she truly never met him. Every time we visited her, she shook his hand as if it were the first time. She never remembered him. It pained me, but Brent always made light of the situation, because he liked being called handsome each time he saw her. Now in June of 2015, her health had made a progressive decline and she was spending all of her time sleeping soundly in bed under the watchful eye of my Aunt Martha (who I lovingly call Mema) and my own mother. I knew in my heart that her days were drawing closer to the end of her fulfilled life and because of this I had been spending much of my free time at my Mema’s house with my grandma.

My grandma and I way back on my high school graduation.

My grandma and I way back on my high school graduation.

Brent and I had planned a fantastic two week vacation to the Pacific Northwest to spend some well-deserved time with his family. He had all sorts of activities planned and I was eccstatic! The day before we departed for our cross-continental flight, I was desperate for help in packing. I needed the help of my aunt and mother. My mother who is a phenom with an iron, gladly offered her assistance, but she said I needed to bring my suitcase and clothes to my aunt’s house. She couldn’t leave my grandmother’s side, but she welcomed a chance to preoccupy herself with the mindless task of ironing. So that’s just what I did. I threw all of my clothes in my suitcase, hauled it out to my car, and went to my Mema’s.

While packing and ironing, my Mema causually asked about where I saw my relationship going with Brent. I very quickly announced that I wanted to marry him. My mother and aunt both had eyes the size of saucers and asked when I presumed all of this martial bliss would come to be. I told them I thought he’d pop the question while we were on holiday in the northwest. Furthermore, I proclaimed my fear that Brent would ask me at the top of the “M” in Montana (a mountain that overlooks the campus of the University of Montana in Missoula). Why was it such a fear? Because I was afraid I would not make it to the top of the mountain, in which case Brent would realize what a helpless gal I am, and scrap the entire proposal altogether. My aunt burst into a fit of giggles, and throughout the rest of the day teased me about the mountain.

We continued packing, and as I placed my final articles of clothing into my suitcase, my mother says “Your sister is making pancakes for dinner tonight. What are you going to eat?” I glanced up and quickly replied “Pancakes sound good. Count me in.” She exchanged quick glances with my aunt and then replied very slowly “ooooooookaaaaaayyyy?” I thought the moment odd, but continued zipping my oversized luggage. My phone pinged on the coffee table—

Brent: Have you looked at the menu for Wahoo’s tonight? Everything looks so good.

Shit. I thought. I totally flaked and forgot Brent had some dumb work fundraiser at the Marshwalk (I would later learn that the “fundraiser” was something Brent made up to make me go to dinner with him). I told mama and Mema about my blunder and told them I would have to skip the pancake dinner. At which point, they both tried to push me out the door.

My mother said I needed to go home and shower, freshen my make-up, and do something with my mop of hair. Jeez mother.

I wasn’t ready to leave my grandmother’s bedside. I had been wandering in and out of her bedroom that day, taking my time laying beside her and having brief chit-chats when she felt strong enough to talk. I told my mama that I had a whole suitcase of clothes, I could wear one of my old dresses. What about my hair? I could tame it into a low bun, that would be presentable. My make-up? I had my make-up kit and would freshen it up before I left. She seemed to ease a bit with my plan, but was INSISTENT upon the fact that I NOT wear an old dress. She picked out a new one I had purchased for my trip, and I obliged. I called Brent, asked if we could meet at the restaurant instead of riding together, and he kindly agreed.

As I was leaving to meet Brent at the restaurant, mama and Mema both were fawning all over me. I would never complain of such a thing. I loved all the extra attention. They were saying I looked beautiful, they loved me, they thought my dress was gorgeous, etc. Yadda-yadda-yadda. I gladly welcomed all the praise, and sashayed out of the door floating on a cloud of compliments.

I arrived at the restaurant, parked, and waited for Brent, who called to say he was just a few minutes away. As I sat in my parked car, I saw Brent drive by and hopped out the car and walked to meet him near the door. As I walked toward B., I mentally took note of his new outfit. He was wearing a fitted collared shirt with orange trim-detail that matched my dress. He was also wearing a pair of jeans that made his tushy look nice, but I noted his pockets were bulging. I rolled my eyes. Brent and I have had many-a-conversation where I have criticized him for carrying a nonsensical amount of CRAAAAPPP in his pockets. Not wanting to ruin the dinner, I made a concious decision not to mention it.

We proceeded inside the restaurant. We waited for a while before we were seated. Brent was clearly perturbed because he’d made reservations. When we were finally seated the service was anything but spectacular. The restaurant was packed. We were sitting on the porch outdoors, where it was muggy and humid. Our food took fooooorrrreeevvver, and when it did arrive, Brent inhaled his burger. He was fervently tappinig away at his phone, to which he made off-handed apologies that he was finishing up last minute work before we left the next day. I could feel the tension radiating from Brent. He seemed anxious. I asked if he was okay, to which he responded he was excited, but in a hurry to get going, because he needed to finish packing. As we waited for the waitress to bring us the check, I tried to ease Brent’s nerves by posing for a picture. He seemed to simmer-down for a few beats, until we headed for the door.

This was the photo we posed for moments before the fireworks happened.

This was the photo we posed for moments before the fireworks happened.

As we left, we took a back door out onto a ramp that led to the Marshwalk pier. The vantage point from this ramp was unbelievable. It was such a good view that as Brent held my hand (basically dragging me) I spotted a silver SUV with a black liscense plate pulling into the parking lot. “Hey! Brent….wait. That’s mama and daddy!!” Never skipping a beat, he continued to pull me along and replied “Really? No way? Call and see.” So I fumbled for my phone and dialed my mom. Here is the transcription of our 30 second conversation:

Mama: Helllllloooo???( the dragged out the word in an unnatural manner.)

ME: Where are you? Are you at the marshwalk? I swear I just saw you and Daddy.

Mama: No honey. We’re here with Grandma. Where is Brent?

Me: He’s right here. We’re walking up the Marshwalk. We just finished dinner. It was really good. I had crab cakes..Brent had a bur—-

Mama: Okay sounds good. I have to go. I love you. Byeeeee.

Click of the reciever.

Anyway…Brent and I continued down the Marshwalk. He had evened his pace more with mine. As we strolled through the throngs of tourists, I could hear a live band across the marsh playing the song “My Girl”. I lovingly started singing along with band, and Brent squeezed my hand as we walked. As we neared the end of the Marshwalk, I noted a woman with a teal CCU t-shirt taking photos of the wild life. I asked Brent if he was going to pester her, much like he does with other people he sees in public wearing Coastal gear. He gave me a very curt “No”. We inched closer to the end of the pier.

When we reached the end of the pier, Brent took my to-go box from the restaurant from my hands and placed it on a bench. He took both my hands into his own. In that instant my mind snapped into high drive. Is he going to propose. Is this it? Is that CCU young lady taking my picture right now? Am I hallucinating? Did my mother just lie to me? Why are all of the people on the pier slowly retreating to the other end? Oh My Gosh! OH MY GOSH! OOOOOHHH MMYYYGOOOSSSH!

And then it happened. Brent shared sweet words of love and commitment, dropped to his knee, and pulled out a ring. No doubt the buldge in his pocket from earlier. My only reaction was to take his face into my hands. I needed to feel that this moment was in fact REAL. As I leaned forward and grabbed his face, my hands were quickly met with the warmth of his skin, and the unbelievable confirmation that it was real. He had asked me to marry him. I said yes!!

My recollection of the rest of the night is very much the same as what Brent has outlined before. It was indeed my parents in the parking lot, and they met us at the end of the pier to celebrate.

The next day, I woke up from a dizzy haze of excitement, and made my way to Mema’s. I wanted to share this exciting news with her and my grandma. I showed my ring to them both. Mema “oohed” and “ahhhed” and asked if I was relieved I didn’t have to climb the mountain. Ha. Ha.

I gently roused my grandmother from a nap to share with her the news, to which she was in disbelief. She told me she loved me and was happy for me. I crawled next to her in bed, and rest my head near her shoulder. I hadn’t noticed that my mama and aunt had slipped out of the room. I was laying there next to her and I told her that I loved her very much. I told her that I was going on a trip and would be back in two weeks to plan a wedding. In my heart, I knew I wasn’t telling her goodbye for my trip. I was telling her goodbye forever. I know that these were my last moments with my grandmother. She would not make it through my two weeks out west. She kissed my hand, and slowly drifted back to sleep. And I silently wept holding her hand.

When I emerged from her bedroom, my eyes met the tearfilled eyes of my mother and aunt. They had watched the whole ordeal transpire on a video baby monitor that my aunt had set up a few weeks earlier. I ran for my mama and buried my face deep into her shoulder. Both Mema and mama assured me all would be fine, to enjoy my trip and that they’d see me when I returned.

All be it tumultuous, Brent and I made the cross country trip and landed in Spokane. Upon landing, Brent’s mom, Mary, greeted us. We loaded our luggage into her car, and headed for home.

I turned on my cell phone, and was immediately greeted with the happy ping of a voicemail. I listened closely to the sound of my dad’s voice asking that I call him when I had a chance. My heart sunk. I knew what he’d say. For a split second I considered avoiding the call. If I didn’t call him back, then I didn’t have to confirm the inevitable. I decided against those thoughts, and dialed his number. On the other end of the line, on the other side of the country, he confirmed what I dreaded. My grandma had passed away quietly in the middle of the night. Her funeral service would be in the next few days. He demanded that I not worry. He assured me that grandma would have wanted me to enjoy my trip and not think twice about what was happening in South Carolina.

As I ended the call, I shared with Brent and Mrs. Mary about my grandmother. My head was reeling. What was I going to do? Return to my family? Book a flight back home? And then I raised my head from staring at the floorboard to find Brent’s hand weaved around the passenger seat into the backseat, searching for my hand. I reached out and grabbed it. I then turned to look to his mom. She was trying to very sneakily wipe tears from her cheek. I knew right then. And I will know forevermore. This was family too. I was where I needed to be. I had a new family to take care of me, and I could never have been more thankful.

So as I write today, on February 14, 2016, I am counting down the days to my wedding. It’s under four months away and coming much faster than I had ever expected. In writing this I think I’ve also found my own truth. The truth is that I have found an amazing man. And that I have not one but TWO families who will always be there to love and support me when I need it most. Happy Valentine’s Day. Don’t Blink.

My Top Ten Blog Posts of 2015

It is time for the big blog post. With 2015 coming to an end, today I countdown my top ten posts of the year. In my 2014 edition, I had 253 entries to choose from. This year I have 252. How about that for posting consistency?

I am making a small change to this year’s top ten. Instead of going in chronological order like last year, I will list the posts countdown style. Yes, this year I will name my top post of 2015. Before we reveal the best of the best, I want to give a genuine thank you to all my readers. I sincerely appreciate your loyalty and support. Each year readership goes up and my motivation to write becomes greater and greater. Thank you.

As I did last year, I went through all my blog posts I wrote in 2015. From there I wrote my favorite 20 on a piece of paper and then selected finalists. Although my top favorite was never in question, it was competitive filling out the rest of the countdown. Enjoy.

10. Top Ten Mistakes Made By Social Media Professionals (November 17): I start my top ten list with another top ten list. In November, I wrote a blog post listing the ten mistakes that plague social media professionals the most. While I thought the content itself was good and helpful, this post stands out because I got a little creative/weird. I created and starred in a meme for each blunder, an endeavor that was both fun and time consuming.

This is one of the memes that illustrated a mistake that social media professionals make.

This is one of the memes that illustrated a mistake that social media professionals make.

9. Premium vs. Knockoff Showdown (June 7): Needing a blog post idea one Sunday, I went to the store and filled my cart with name brand snacks such as Cheetos, Pop Tarts, and Fruity Pebbles. I also threw in the generic counterpart of each product as well. I then took it all to Sidney’s house and gave her a blind taste test of the real deal and the knockoff. It was a fun experiment with a very definite result.

One of the collages I included in my blog post testing the differences between generic and premium items.

One of the collages I included in my blog post testing the differences between generic and premium items.

8. A Visit From Santa and His Elf (December 23): Although I wrote this just a week ago today, it is memorable and special enough to make the countdown. My brother was nice enough to let Sidney and I come to his workplace, the Northeast Youth Center, and visit the kids. However, we channeled our alter egos for this particular appearance. I dressed up as Santa and Sid dressed up as an elf. Once at the center we surprised the children and then read to them. The hugs we received after we passed out the candy canes will be something we always remember regardless of whether I wrote this post or not.

Sidney and I reading to the kids at the Northeast Youth Center.

Sidney and I reading to the kids at the Northeast Youth Center.

7. The Best Way to Prepare for Marriage (November 25): At the conclusion of our Pre-Cana classes that Sidney and I took to prepare for marriage, I wrote this blog post about how enriching the experience was. Having a great sponsor couple in Tim and Kathy McCormick was a huge blessing and left us very happy that we took this route to allow us to marry in the Catholic church in June. I think my enthusiasm is evident in the post.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick.

6. The Fake Brent Reser (May 13): This particular blog post makes the countdown because it illustrated the power and dedication of my readers. In May, I was alerted by a friend that a fake profile of myself was circulating on Facebook. It used my name and likeness but contained loads of bogus information and corny status updates. I asked you to help me out and report the profile to Facebook. Thanks to my readers, within 24 hours the impostor social media account had been removed.

5. A Great NCAA Tournament Experience in Omaha (March 22): I had the honor of traveling with the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team to the NCAA Tournament in March. As I have said on numerous occasions, attending the Big Dance in a working capacity is a major highlight for anyone with a career in intercollegiate athletics/higher education. I had a terrific experience as I enjoyed my time in Nebraska with many great people from the Chanticleer athletic department. Every moment (except for the loss to #1 Wisconsin) was great, but perhaps my best highlight was engaging in a Twitter dialogue with the rival school that generated lots of positive attention for CCU.

Me on the court moments before Coastal and Wisconsin tipped off.

Me on the court moments before Coastal and Wisconsin tipped off.

4. Twins or Not? (March 3): I still get made fun of for this one! I hired twins to produce a commercial for Don’t Blink. Well, rather I hired a person to produce a commercial for Don’t Blink. Billed as a video ad starring two twins, Sidney immediately called “fraud” when she watched it. She bluntly told me that it was the same girl playing both parts. I asked my readers to weigh in and they overwhelmingly supported Sid. I was duped!

I had my leg pulled.

I had my leg pulled.

3. Blog Takeover: Dating a Blogger (August 9): This year, after much convincing from my fiance, Don’t Blink debuted a new feature. Each month on a Sunday, Sidney writes a guest post for my blog. Although I have loved every post she has written, her initial one will always hold a spot in my heart. She explained the “peaks and pits” of dating a blogger. It was so funny and honest that it became an instant classic in Don’t Blink history. It was after the overwhelmingly positive reaction to this post that we decided to extend the “blog takeover” concept to a monthly basis.

2. The Triumph of Sean Carty and the Community (May 22): During the spring, I blogged several times about Sean Carty, the former head football coach at Mead High School. Starting with a post titled Feeling Bad for Coach Carty, I did what I could to keep my former high school football teammates and other community members updated on the road Sean took to fight back against the screw job inflicted upon him by a few bitter parents. When the truth came out and the motives of the small number of moms and dads were exposed, Coach Carty was reinstated as the head coach. This blog post captured the sweet feeling of vindication and what can happen when the community unites together. After the battle was won and the message sent, Carty would later gracefully resign to spend more time with his family.

Standing with Sean Carty a couple years ago in MIssoula.

Standing with Sean Carty a couple years ago in MIssoula.

1. The Proposal (June 24) – There was never a doubt. By a large margin, this is my top post of 2015. When you write about the best moment in your life, the words just come easy. The Proposal was written with love and euphoria. It received an amazing social media response and it will be something that Sidney and I look back on and read for the rest of our lives. It is #1 for another reason too. Shortly after Sidney and I got engaged, her grandmother passed away. Sid’s mom told me that the family used the blog post to give them some relief and joy during the difficult time. When I write my top posts of the decade in 2020, The Proposal will probably be #1 as well.

That magic moment.

That magic moment.

—————-

It was quite the year for Don’t Blink! If you have any memorable posts from 2015 that I did not cover, please let me know. Enjoy the rest of 2015 and be sure to catch my first post of 2016. Don’t Blink.

A Few Cemetery Stories

As many of my readers know, I am a big fanatic of cemeteries. I am interested in not just walking through them but also consuming any news relating to them. Over the past several weeks, I have experienced a new cemetery and also read a couple local stories about events taking place at graveyards as well. For tonight’s post I want to update you regarding my ongoing cemetery education.

Marion Cemetery: The day after Halloween, I went with Sidney and her parents to their hometown of Marion, South Carolina. We attended the Sunday service at the First United Methodist Church where they honored all members of the congregation who passed away during the year. Sid’s grandma, Sis, died in June and a candle was lit for her on that All Saints’ Day morning. After the service concluded, we drove to Rose Hill Cemetery in Marion to view Sis’ final resting spot as well as other members of the Mathis family. It was an organized, quiet area. The history inside the cemetery was great. Many of the departed lived during the 1800’s. After paying our respects at the grandma’s grave (she is buried with her husband), we drove around for a couple minutes and I got to see the grave of Sidney Mathis Jr. (My fiancé is Sidney Mathis IV, my future father-in-law is Sidney Mathis III). Going to the service and visiting the cemetery was a great way to spend the Sunday morning.

I snapped this photo of the tombstone of Sid's great grandparents.

I snapped this photo of the tombstone of Sid’s great grandparents.

Caskets Unearthed: As most of you know, South Carolina experienced terrible flooding this past month. While the non-stop rain impacted many of us still living, it also sadly impacted some of the dead. Two towns in our state, Springfield and Ridgeville, had their cemeteries greatly disturbed by the flooding. Caskets at both locations rose up from the ground. What a grim occurrence for families who had loved ones in those spots. Nothing was harder to watch though than television footage of the coffins floating in the flood waters, drifting further and further away from the graves. I never saw a follow up story but I sure hope all caskets were retrieved and laid back to rest.

So unfortunate. This was one of the caskets in Ridgeville that was unearthed (Photo courtesy of WCBD-TV).

So unfortunate. This was one of the caskets in Ridgeville that was unearthed (Photo courtesy of WCBD-TV).

Putting the Forgotten to Rest: This morning, I read a Sun News article about something called a paupers’ cemetery. For how much I claim to love graveyards, I had not heard about one of these until today. A pauper’s cemetery is a place where unclaimed remains, unknown remains, and the remains of those who don’t have families who can afford a burial are laid to rest. This particular pauper’s cemetery I read about is in Columbia. The article chronicled the burial ceremony the coroner’s office holds a few times each year. At each one of these burials, the cremated remains of around 30 people are laid to rest. It is a very solemn, simple proceeding. Remains are put in what is analogous to a shoe box and placed in a shallow hole. Dirt is shoveled on the box and a tiny rust-colored marker is placed on each grave. It all just feels so depressing to me. However, I have to tell myself that at least something is being done with the remains of these downtrodden people. While I do love cemeteries, I don’t know if I would want to visit one of these.

A photo of the paupers' cemetery in Columbia, S.C. (Photo courtesy of the Sun News).

A photo of the paupers’ cemetery in Columbia, S.C. (Photo courtesy of the Sun News).

——————

I want to keep exploring and educating myself about cemeteries. As always, if you have any tips for me on where I should visit or what I should read, please let me know. Hope the week is off to a great start for everyone. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s 25 Things You Didn’t Know About Sidney

This past Sunday, my fiancé took over my blog and wrote a terrific post titled “25 Things You Didn’t Know About Sidney.” It was very well-received and garnered a large amount of views. I have since decided that I want a piece of that pie and tonight I will also write a “25 Things” post.

Before you start groaning let me put you at ease…I am not writing about me. Rather, to ensure that my audience receives every opportunity to really become acquainted with Sidney, I thought I would contribute an additional 25 things you didn’t know about her as well. Consider this post “Brent’s 25 Things You Didn’t Know About Sidney.”

1. Sidney has the talent of perfectly rapping every lyric to Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” like nobody’s business.
2. She saw her first substantial snow of her life when she visited me in Spokane last December.

While in Spokane last year, Sid got to see her first real snow.

While in Spokane last year, Sid got to see her first real snow.


3. Everyone in her family has nicknames. For example, she goes by Ninny. Her middle sister goes by Pookie and her oldest sister goes by Noopy. Her niece is Sissy and her nephew is Brother.
4. A container can be found in Sidney’s room that contains the cards I have given her, the tickets to movies/shows/sporting events that we have attended, wrist bands from festivals that we have enjoyed, etc. etc. She started collecting the contents when we started dating and she named it the “Boo Box.”
5. You won’t find Sid trick-or-treating this week. She hates Halloween and scary things.
6. However, she probably wins the prize for cutest Halloween costume ever. During her younger days she dressed up as a bunny.

How cute is this?! This is Baby Sid dressed up as a bunny.

How cute is this?! This is Baby Sid dressed up as a bunny.


7. The kids who have Miss Mathis as their second grade teacher are very fortunate. She genuinely loves and cares for each student and thinks about them constantly out of school hours.
8. Speaking of teaching, this is Sid’s all-time favorite teaching meme.

This is Sidney's favorite teaching meme. It makes her laugh quite a bit.

This is Sidney’s favorite teaching meme. It makes her laugh quite a bit.


9. Sidney has a talent for cooking. I eat very well. Some of her specialties include Marlboro pasta, macaroni & cheese, and chicken bog.
10. What is her favorite food? French fries!
11. Sid bought me a Curious George stuffed animal but it stays at her house and is her second best friend.

Sidney loves George.

Sidney loves George.


12. While she might not like ghosts and demons, my fiancé loves a different type of scare. She is a roller coaster and fair ride fanatic.
13. If you turn on the radio in your vehicle, Sid will sing.
14. Like reality TV? How about trashy reality TV? Let me introduce you to Sidney, you will soon be good friends.
15. Last week, Sidney swam with sting rays!

Sidney swimming with sting rays at Ripley's Aquarium last week.

Sidney swimming with sting rays at Ripley’s Aquarium last week.


16. Sidney is a self-proclaimed daddy’s girl.
17. The one liquid that powers the body of Sidney Mathis is Diet Coke.
18. No social media drama between us! Sid is not a big social media user.
19. When Sidney and I first started dating, the F-bomb would slip out of her mouth every now and then. I stated that I really didn’t care for it and now she never says it! What a girl!
20. She was born in a small town called Marion, S.C.
21. We are polar opposites on this one…Sid loooooooves dogs. She asks me constantly if we can get one.
22. The early bird gets the worm. On a typical school day, Sid rises at around 4:30 a.m.
23. She once had a roommate that would push a cart around campus to transport her books and other school supplies. Who needs a backpack?
24. Because my family always has lasagna as a Thanksgiving dish, Sid promised me that she would make lasagna for Thanksgiving weekend this year (I am spending it with her family).
25. Sidney is the most kind, loving, selfless person you will ever meet.

You now know 50 things about Sidney that you probably didn’t before this past Sunday afternoon. By this time I am sure you probably want to meet her if you haven’t yet. Lucky for me, I get to spend the rest of my life with her! Don’t Blink.

25 Things You Didn’t Know About Sidney

NOTE: Once again, Brent’s fiance, Sidney, takes over Don’t Blink for a Sunday. Enjoy today’s post where Sidney offers up some info you probably didn’t know about her.

I got the idea for this month’s blog takeover while partaking in one of my favorite weekly pastimes; reading People magazine. Yes, I admit it. I am a sucker for keeping up with anything and everything celebrity. But this blog isn’t about my mild obsession with the rich and famous. Instead I’d like to focus your attention on my favorite regularly running column in the magazine. It features a celebrity (last week was Amy Schumer and this week was Rod Stewart) and a list of 25 Things You Didn’t Know about them. Simple concept , but nonetheless interesting and entertaining.

Brent writes about me a lot but there is more than meets the eye.

Brent writes about me a lot but there is more than meets the eye.

 

Although my name appears quite frequently on this site, I realize that most of you Don’t Blink readers may not know much about me. Yes, from reading most of his posts from the last year and a half, one can gather that I am Brent’s fiancé and sidekick in most of his adventures. However, there’s a lot more to me than what meets the eye (blinking or otherwise—ha!).

In an effort to let all of you get to know me a little better, I decided to rip-off one of my favorite magazines weekly columns and tell you all 25 Things You Didn’t Know About SIDNEY.

1. I am named after my Dad. Yup. He, too, is Sidney Mathis (as well as his father and grandfather). This makes sorting the mail and Christmas presents a little complicated.
2. I can’t whistle. Never have. Never will.
3. I’m a damn good SNAPPER (a skill I developed to counteract my whistling disability)
4. In 8th grade, I won 1st place in the Sandhill’s Regional Science Fair. My project was to find out if a dog’s mouth is really cleaner than a human’s. (The answer would be a big-fat NO!)
5. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was 8 years old.
6. I wasn’t a very good student. I talked too much, and could never stay focused. I think this helps me be a more tolerant teacher.
7. My favorite TV show is Sex in the City, even though the first episode aired when I was a kid. Gotta love syndication!
8. When given the option, I would much rather write in pencil over pen.
9. I punched a nurse in the hospital once. Coming out of anesthesia, I thought she was one of my sisters holding me down, so I cold-clocked her.
10. I’m not a morning person. I am also not a night owl… so please catch me in the middle of the day.
11. I am definitely an extrovert. I could have a conversation with the wall if the opportunity ever presented itself.
12. I had my tonsils removed when I was 21. I wouldn’t recommend it to adults.
13. I love to read. My favorite author is Emily Giffin.
14. In my childhood years, I hated to read. Mostly because my sister Courtney won tons of awards for reading. I never thought I could amount to her success, so I decided to hate it instead.
15. I applied to Clemson University, and was rejected. It was a devastating blow to my ego.
16. My favorite color is purple.
17. As a kid, my grandmother always let me cheat when we played games together. So I blame her for making me the very undignified -poor-sport that I am today.
18. I gave myself a haircut when I was in pre-school. The only remedy for the horrendous hack-job I’d done to my hair, was to shave my head completely. So with the name Sidney and a buzzed haircut, people often mistook me for a boy.
19. I am a nail-biter. I bite them when I’m feeling stressed.
20. I’m also a hair-twirler. I twirl my hair around my fingers when I start to get sleepy.
21. I have perfect vision. It was confirmed by my doctor last week.
22. Although my eyesight is phenomenal, I am slightly hearing impaired. A result of tubes put into my eardrums when I was toddler.
23. I’ve seen every episode of “Full House.” My favorite is the episode where Stephanie drives the cement truck into the kitchen and then runs away to Aunt Becky’s house.
24. I’ve seen The Princess Diaries probably no less than 300 times. I can recite every line by heart.
25. I knew that I wanted to marry Brent after exactly 46 days of dating. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

So there you have it! 25 new (and hopefully interesting) facts about me. Until next month, thanks for reading. Don’t Blink.

Big Speech, Big Goodbye, Big Appeal, Big Holiday, Big Mountain of Ice Cream

Hello to all! It is that time of the week where I do a little thing I call the Thursday Rundown. What will the five topics be tonight?

Big Time Speech – This morning I delivered one of my more nerve-wracking public speaking engagements. A couple weeks ago my boss asked me to present at the Board of Trustees meeting regarding our social media efforts. I definitely felt a little tentative speaking in front of such an important and polished group. However, the honor and possibilities of such an opportunity greatly outweighed my nerves. I drafted up my presentation, sweated it out rehearsing last night, and then delivered it at around 10:30 a.m. today. I had butterflies before I went to the podium but once I reached it they all went away. At the conclusion of my presentation when a member told me the Board had taken notice of my work and then they all recognized me with applause it was probably one of the prouder moments of my young career.

This was me speaking this morning at the Board of Trustees meeting at Coastal Carolina University.

This was me speaking this morning at the Board of Trustees meeting at Coastal Carolina University.

One Talented Student – Today one of our student-workers said goodbye to us. Alexandra Morris will graduate on Saturday and I am sad to see her go. Throughout my years working with students I don’t think I have encountered someone as talented as her. A wiz in both writing and video with a deep interest in filmmaking, Alexandra has the luxury to take her career wherever she wants to. She produces amazing work and I can’t wait to see where she ends up.

I am going to miss Alexandra!

I am going to miss Alexandra!

Your Weekly Sean Carty Update – Coach Carty’s initial appeal has been presented to the principal at Mead High School and the waiting game has taken over. As the principal has five days to uphold or overturn, a decision should be coming soon. Although this level of the appeals process was never considered Carty’s strongest chance of getting it overturned (it was the principal who made the initial decision), there is always the chance. In fact, the belief is growing that the principal might just do what is right and overturn his original decision to help the district avoid further embarrassment.

Mother’s Day – This upcoming Sunday is Mother’s Day. Remember to celebrate your mom and make her feel special. Also, it is never against the rules to celebrate other moms as well. Someone taking full advantage of this is Sidney. She took the time to create a silhouette of each of her students and then displayed it in an elegant way on colored paper. The kids have a spot to write a short personal message to their mom. What a thoughtful thing to do on the part of Miss Mathis!

These are the super cool silhouettes that Sidney created for her students to give their moms.

These are the super cool silhouettes that Sidney created for her students to give their moms.

Ice Cream Mountain – At the end of the semester, Coastal hosts an event called Finals Frenzy. Our main dining hall opens up at 10 p.m. and welcomes study-deprived students inside to enjoy free food and prizes. Each year, a gigantic mountain of ice cream is created for students to indulge in. The thing is so huge that they have to prepare it in a kiddie swimming pool! Anyway, because of my love for ice cream, I must share a photo I took of it right before the first scoop was taken out.

This ice cream mountain is incredible! Now this isn't something I could do in five minutes.

This ice cream mountain is incredible! Now this isn’t something I could do in five minutes.

———-

Busy, busy weekend for me with four commencement ceremonies to work. I hope you all have a great couple days and I will touch base with you on Sunday. Don’t Blink.

Going on a Field Trip!

This morning I had the opportunity to go on my first real field trip since probably the sixth grade. After the passing of so many years, I still felt the excitement I did back then of leaving school grounds (or in this case the campus I work on) and doing something special that went against the monotony of everyday life. My gateway to this nostalgic experience came way of my girlfriend who serves as a second grade teacher at Palmetto Bays School. Sidney was nice enough to offer me a spot on the trip as a chaperone.

Sidney invited me to help out on a field trip. This is her and I this morning at Wonderworks. All students and teachers wore their Palmetto Bays t-shirts.

Sidney invited me to help out on a field trip. This is her and I this morning at Wonderworks. All students and teachers wore their Palmetto Bays t-shirts.

I don’t think I ever went on a field trip to a place as cool as where we went today. An architectural gem, the five second grade classrooms at Palmetto Bays went to Wonderworks, an “amusement park for the mind.” Please, take a look at the photo below. Yes, that is a structure completely built upside-down. Legend has it that the facility was originally located in the Bermuda Triangle but a failed experiment caused it to uproot, take off, and land face down in Myrtle Beach. Thankfully all the exhibits and fun zones remained completely intact.

This is Wonderworks, the pretty sweet place I got to experience this morning. Supposedly it came from the Bermuda Triangle.

This is Wonderworks, the pretty sweet place I got to experience this morning. Supposedly it came from the Bermuda Triangle.

Wonderworks has 50,000 square feet of space, four floors, and 100 exhibits…more than enough room to accommodate around 100 second graders. Don’t think these exhibits are corny poster board presentations you would find at a junior high science fair though. We are talking interactive, quality-constructed stations such as a bubble lab, time machine, larger than life interactive games, and a giant piano keyboard. All exhibits encourage young children to flock to them while at the same time teaching a lesson.

Wonderworks is a really cool place. A look at the giant piano, the Bubble Lab, time machine, and one of the giant interactive games.

Wonderworks is a really cool place. A look at the giant piano, the Bubble Lab, time machine, and one of the giant interactive games.

Walking through the different floors I kept running into cool things such as a mini NASA station, a robot-serviced frozen yogurt stand, a bed of nails for kids to sprawl out on, several fun rides, and so much more. I admired exhibits devoted to sharks, the Titanic, every sport you could think of, and even lite-brite. I fondly observed the endless enthusiasm of the second graders. They were having a blast while also keeping the teachers and chaperones very busy.

Can you spot the student in the costume? If it wasn't the morning and I had cash on me, I would have ordered some frozen yogurt from the robot (bottom left hand corner).

Can you spot the student in the costume? If it wasn’t the morning and I had cash on me, I would have ordered some frozen yogurt from the robot (bottom left hand corner).

Sidney and I were assigned to the indoor ropes course. Yes, in addition to the laser tag arena and theater, they also had an extensive indoor ropes course. We climbed up to the fourth floor and let the seven and eight-year-olds tackle their fear of heights. Yeah, right. These kids were absolutely fearless. They didn’t think twice about throwing on the harness and navigating through the course. As the obstacles ascended higher and higher, the second graders didn’t bat an eye. I walked on solid ground and looked up at them. Sidney, however, looked down on me as she was going through the course right with them. I enjoyed myself watching both students and teacher have fun up in the sky.

In the top image you see two student navigating the course. In the bottom left hand image a Wonderworks employee makes sure a student's harness is safe. In the bottom right hand photo you can see Sidney ascending higher and higher.

In the top image you see two student navigating the course. In the bottom left hand image a Wonderworks employee makes sure a student’s harness is safe. In the bottom right hand photo you can see Sidney ascending higher and higher.

What I enjoyed most though was just watching Sidney do her job. She is so good at what she does. As I have written about in the past, a teaching gig is by no means easy but Sid makes it look that way. Although I had a wonderful time this morning, it just reinforced to me that I could never successfully do what these teachers are able to accomplish day in and day out.

Sidney and I right before she started the ropes course.

Sidney and I right before she started the ropes course.

Spending an hour outside of work to go on a fun activity such as this was exactly what I needed. It gave me a glimpse into the lives of very young youths, a segment of the population that I sometimes forget about. It also let me get inside of Sidney’s world. Finally, it was just a fun, wholesome way to spend the morning. I am thankful to the Palmetto Bays second grade community for letting me tag along. Don’t Blink.

A Snow Wish

When my girlfriend made the travel reservation to come visit me over the holiday break in my hometown of Spokane she had one request: She wanted to see snow. Having lived in South Carolina her whole life she had never seen a meaningful accumulation of snow before. When she booked the trip a few weeks beforehand I pretty much guaranteed that there would be white stuff on the ground during her stay in Washington state. This wasn’t an empty promise on my part, for as long as I can remember Spokane has always had snow (usually a lot) throughout December. But as it would turn out I was going to sweat a little bit.

I arrived home on Sunday, December 21, to a clear ground. It didn’t bother me at the time because I hate snow. Just as long as it snowed five days later when Sidney arrived it would all be good. But as those days passed without any snow precipitation I started to worry a bit. In that span I would have liked to see a flurry or light dusting to let me know that it still had the capability to snow in Spokane. For the first time in a long time, we didn’t have a white Christmas. With one day to go before Sidney’s arrival I was concerned that she wouldn’t experience one of the things she traveled so far to see.

On the morning of December 26 small snowflakes started to fall from the sky. It was promising but it would need to do a lot more to make an impact on the ground. Sidney arrived at 11:30 p.m. that night and when we picked her up at the airport there was no accumulation. It was dark and she was tired so I knew I would get a pass on this night. However, the next day I needed to see a nice white blanket outside my parents’ oversized living room window.

When I picked up Sid at the airport there  was no snow on the ground.

When I picked up Sid at the airport there was no snow on the ground.

It is funny how sometimes things happen right when they are supposed to. When I woke up on Saturday (December 27), snowflakes danced in the sky. I could see that the snow was starting to stick. Sidney woke up about an hour later and saw the glorious sight out our window. Even though it hadn’t accumulated much by that time she still thought it was remarkable. She immediately Facetimed her niece and nephew in Myrtle Beach who had been hoping for snow as much as her.

Sidney at Camelot Park writing the names of her niece and nephew into the snow.

Sidney at Camelot Park writing the names of her niece and nephew into the snow.

As a white blanket started to develop on the ground, Sidney and I walked through the park across the street from the house. She was very surprised that the snow was “crunchy” when she stepped on it. We threw snowballs, wrote in the snow, and even shoveled mass quantities into our mouths (I am lying about that last part). My parents then took us on a ride through some country on the side roads and she got to experience what it is like to drive in wintry weather.

Sidney and I enjoying the snow together.

Sidney and I enjoying the snow together.

Later that day Sidney got to experience the real fun stuff. She built a fine-looking snowman. She attempted to make one several years back when South Carolina received a freak mini snowfall but the poor snow person was made up of so much grass and dirt that it looked more like a swamp monster. She laid down in the snow and made a perfect snow angel. She then even participated in a full out snow ball fight! She was happy.

Sidney had a good time building a snowman (upper right hand corner is my brother helping her out) and making a snow angel.

Sidney had a good time building a snowman (upper right hand corner is my brother helping her out) and making a snow angel.

Two days later and we still have snow from Saturday. The snowman is toppled over and the consistency of the snow is more icy than fluffy but Mother Nature came through. Making the snow showers on Saturday a little more remarkable was the fact my parents told me when we were driving around that afternoon. It had not snowed in Spokane the whole season until Saturday, my dad explained, an absolute anomaly for the area. And while I did give Mother Nature credit for bringing the desired weather pattern, I prefer to explain it in the words of Sidney’s mom. When Sid called up her parents and told them it snowed, her mother responded with this: “Brent definitely planned it.” I think so. Don’t Blink.

Festivus 2014

Inside our University Communication office we have a very special group. If you are drawn to interesting/nerdy/humorous dudes, you would love our graphic design department. They produce outstanding work while letting their bizarre personalities shine through. The reputation they hold around campus is one of craziness and creativity. I get to eat lunch with them every day.

Our graphics department holds a not-so-typical Christmas party each year. The story is long but to sum it all up, the graphics guys created their own holiday gathering because their twisted sense of humor and tendency to draw a little too much attention to themselves at other parties demanded they hold their own. Every year now, the graphics department hosts Festivus.

This was the brilliant graphic for Festivus.

This was the brilliant graphic for Festivus.

Inspired by Seinfeld, Festivus is a parody of Christmas. Our graphics folks use the term to create a party that is laid back, fun, and original. The past few years a different type of main event or exchange has highlighted the gathering. For Festivus 2014, the party centered on a bad t-shirt exchange. Attendees had to either create or purchase a bad t-shirt and sacrifice it up to the exchange. With the shirts concealed in gift bags, wrapping paper, and campus envelopes, numbers were drawn to determine the picking order. From there, one-by-one, participants went up and grabbed a t-shirt from the Coastal Ale House table. Drawing roars of laughter as each person opened up a package to reveal a hilarious shirt, he/she then had to put it on and wear it for the rest of the night!

Festivus attendees getting ready for the next person to pick his/her shirt.

Festivus attendees getting ready for the next person to pick his/her shirt.

By no means is Festivus exclusive to just the CCU graphic design artists. They make sure to invite anyone else who wants to forget about their reservations for a night and “nerd out like a designer.” I definitely had the evening circled on my calendar! Below is the shirt I designed for Festivus. I countered the good-natured ribbing I receive from the graphics department head honcho, Rob Wyeth, with a playful shot at his profession (he is pictured on the back). Although he told me that this means war, and even though the shirt is the exact opposite of what I truly think, everyone in attendance got a great laugh out of it.

This is my shirt that I designed for Festivus.

This is my shirt that I designed for Festivus.

Jady, one of our other graphic designers, ended up with the shirt I created.

Jady, one of our other graphic designers, ended up with the shirt I created.

Below is the shirt that I received in the exchange. Created by Ron Walker, one of the designers in the graphics department, you can put the following equation together: Walter White + Donkey + Text = Bad Ass to the Core.

This is the shirt I proudly wore for the whole night.

This is the shirt I proudly wore for the whole night.

This is the t-shirt that Ron Walker received. Designed by our graphics intern, Daniel “Scoops” Mableton, he created a Mr. Rogers shirt with the phrase “It’s All Good in the Hood.” Look closely and you will see some “enhancements” to the face of Mr. Rogers.

This is Ron Walker sporting his Mr. Rogers shirt.

This is Ron Walker sporting his Mr. Rogers shirt.

Sidney attended the party with me and got to experience the weirdness of Festivus. She had the privilege of drawing a souvenir t-shirt from a roadside attraction called South of the Border. Regarded as the biggest tourist trap destination in the state of South Carolina, the attraction’s t-shirts are just as tacky as South of the Border itself.

Sidney wearing her super tacky tourist shirt.

Sidney wearing her super tacky tourist shirt.

I want to include Director of Creative Services Rob Wyeth himself, the biggest jokester in the department and the biggest promoter of Festivus. He picked an ice cream shirt.

Rob wearing his shirt.

Rob wearing his shirt.

Finally, our Sustainability Coordinator Jennifer Sellers ended up with this t-shirt that showed it was perfectly okay to simply take a sharpie marker and go to town.

Jennifer received a homemade shirt.

Jennifer received a homemade shirt.

I think we had 18 shirts in the exchange. The reason why I am not showing more of them is because, well….some were a little inappropriate. But let me tell you what, last night was a ton of fun. Even with the weirdos in the graphics department (partly kidding of course) it was a nice evening of conversation, laughter, and holiday cheer. What a unique event I had the privilege of attending! Don’t Blink.