The Frustrating Thing About Trains

Until I moved to the Spokane Valley, I had never faced something so unpredictable on the road. I am talking about something that could immediately dash your prospects of showing up to a place on time or nullifying the promise you made your wife to be home in 15 minutes. It is something that renders you powerless and frustrated. I am not talking about snow, road construction, or traffic accidents. Nah, this is something completely different…

I am talking about trains.

Since moving to the Spokane Valley three years ago, I am not exaggerating when I say I have been stopped hundreds of times by trains. Not that railroad tracks suddenly popped up when we moved west to conspire against us. Spokane is an old railroad town and tracks used to crisscross pretty much everywhere in this area, especially in the valley where we live.

Perhaps the most frequent word used in text messages between Sid and I is “train.”

With that said, it has been an adjustment as I had personally not faced the possibility of being stopped at a train crossing for well over 10 years prior to moving here. Even growing up in Spokane, it was a blue moon when a train impeded our progress. In fact, it was a novelty that gleefully attracted my attention enough to carefully count every car attached to the train. That enthusiasm has since waned.

Now, when the red flights flash and the train crossing gate goes down, I might utter a word I usually try to avoid. You might think an extra five minutes (at least) to scroll through my phone as the train passes could be a good thing but not when you have somewhere to be. Nothing is more infuriating than when you are already short of time but manage to make all the lights and avoid heavy Spokane traffic only to have a train wipe out your efforts. The simple text message comprised of just one word (train) is understood by all Spokanites that you are going to be late.

It is pretty deflating when the red flights flash and the gate goes down.

Not all train situations are equally damning. Although you are lucky if it is just your typical five-minute wait, delays can extend far beyond that. Some trains are longer. Some trains are slower. Some trains will decide to nearly pass through only to inexplicably stop…and then go in reverse. The cruelty.

Sophisticated planners will allot more time for travel or use detours but it isn’t always that simple. Our family doesn’t always have the luxury of leaving the house 10 minutes early and not all roads lead to Rome. Despite best intentions, sometimes the best we can do is to leave the house on time and cross our fingers that we won’t encounter a train on a route that is dotted with train tracks. Luck isn’t always on our side.

I hate to use a train as an excuse but sometimes I have no other choice.

Of course I know this is a first world problem. Perhaps I should emphasize more with the train. It is undoubtedly delivering goods in a society crippled by supply chain issues. But it is easier said than done. Needless to say, gliding through a train crossing just as the gate begins to close is one of the sweetest feelings in the world. Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s 500 Book Achievement

As I browsed social media on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31, the popular topic seemed to be how many books a given person read in 2022. Granted, most of these were quantities of adults. To break through the noise a bit, I decided to share the number of books Sloan read during the year via a tweet

The tweet I sent out on Sloan’s behalf after reading her 500th book.

After reading a little more than 400 books in 2021, Sloan topped the previous year’s mark by reading 500 books in 2022. The milestone book came on the afternoon of Dec. 31 as we read What If You Had Animal Teeth?, a creative work about different animal teeth and how they would function if they grew inside a human child’s mouth.

On Dec, 31, 2022, we read the above three final books–#498, #499, and #500–of the year. The 500th book was “What If You Had Animal Teeth?”

At the conclusion of the book, we had a little celebration as we recognized Sloan for her commitment to reading over the course of the year. In a ceremonial act, Sloan added a string of emojis at the bottom of the 2022 book log we kept on my Notes app.

A screenshot of the final four days of our 2022 reading log.

Similarly to Sloan’s reading output in 2021, her success in 2022 was consistency. Every night, with the exception for some weekend evenings, we would read 1-3 books as part of our Books and Prayers bedtime routine. Her reading supply came from numerous trips to Spokane County libraries. Every two weeks, we would visit a branch—Spokane Valley, Argonne, and North Spokane were our favorites—and check out 20-25 books per visit.

Sloan poses with “Gilbert the Gnome” during her last visit to the Spokane Valley County Library in 2022.

Because of the quantity of books we read the past two years, a new issue reared its head in 2022. As we would sit down for our nightly Books and Prayers routine, we would look at the covers of the book(s) we were about to read and sometimes say, “Hey, haven’t we read this book before?” I would then search the book’s title in my log, and, from time to time, would discover that we had read that book 18 months ago. It’s okay, I think we still have many books to go before we read the entire library. 😊

In 2022, we started to inadvertently check out some of the books we had already read in the past.

Like 2021, many of the books we read in 2022 resonated with Sid and I. In the same way that the brains behind “Bluey,” make episodes with underlying adult themes, many children’s authors are just as savvy. Thus, for those of you thinking from a parents’ perspective that reading 500 children’s books must be really boring…it actually isn’t.

Sidney and I never tired of reading books to Sloan and Beau in 2022.

Then again, it wasn’t like it was just Sid and I reading those 500 books. Over the course of the year, both sets of Sloan’s grandparents joined in our Books and Prayers routine by serving as guest readers. Some of Sloan’s aunts and her Uncle Glen also assumed the honor. But it just wasn’t adults reading the books. By the time Sloan reached Kindergarten this fall, she started reading some of the books too! It has been exhilarating seeing the progress she has made. In addition to the excellent teaching she receives at school, I like to think the emphasis we have placed on books might have also contributed to her developing reading skills.

Carrots anyone? Sloan holding one of the 500 books she read in 2022.

Just like last year, I think the best part about Sloan’s reading prowess is the universal themes she has picked up on. By reading 500 books, we have learned a lot about love, death, family, honesty, self-care, friendship, hard work, preparation, sharing, diversity, and much more.

The books we read in 2022 dealt with countless different themes.

Looking ahead to 2023, we hope to introduce more books that go beyond picture books. If anyone has suggestions, please shoot them our way. Thanks to our Spokane County Library system for being such an awesome resource for our family! Don’t Blink.

2022: Bittersweet

Reflecting on 2022, I categorize it as a bittersweet year. And I think for the purposes of this blog post, I need to start with the bitter portion for a few different reasons. 1. Bitter comes first in the word. 2. It is good to get the bad out of the way first. 3. The “bitter” of 2022 came at the beginning of the year for us.

So, let me be candid. In January, our family battled COVID. Later that month, as we started to regain our health, we received the devastating and unexpected news that my Aunt Nancy died. Those two events, including their ripple effects and a few other unfortunate developments, kind of put the writing on the wall that 2022 probably wouldn’t be our year. However, we persevered and ended up salvaging what seemed like a doomed 52 weeks.

My Aunt Nancy’s death in January kind of got 2022 off to a rough start.

After we made it through February, things started to look up. We found ourselves in Lent and I think that period of reflection and fasting was just what we needed. A joyous Easter followed and then many good times ensued. Sloan and her cousin, Johnny, played an entertaining t-ball season that brought my family together a couple times per week in the spring. Summer then arrived and our kids were outside every day playing with the neighbor children in our cul-de-sac. Fall brought a lot of change as Sloan started kindergarten, Sid returned to work, and Beau got his first taste of daycare. Now, as we conclude 2022, winter made its appearance in a rather grand way with subzero temperatures and plenty of snow. But this arctic weather can’t freeze the love and thankfulness we have in our hearts.

Sloan enjoyed a successful t-ball season in 2022.

I think our theme of the year might be improvement. I took New Year’s resolutions seriously in 2022 and pledged to become a more competent cook and consistent reader. Sidney will tell you I improved dramatically in the kitchen. As for reading more, a subscription to our local newspaper and the completion of many novels covered that goal. Sloan made and followed through with Lenten intentions, an amazing and admirable task for a 5-year-old. Sid set a goal to return to work in late 2022 and ended up landing the perfect job.

It was fun to read a lot in 2022. I polished off numerous novels throughout the year.

Speaking of that job, it brings us to the second theme of the year—transition. After 2.5 years as a stay-at-home mom, Sid re-entered the workforce in a new career. She accepted a position with Traveler’s Insurance this past fall. Between the job offer and her first day of work, we spent time setting up the infrastructure needed for a dual-career family. This meant enrolling Beau in daycare, purchasing a second car, creating enough “office space” in our home, and synchronizing schedules. Yes, it was a little stressful, but now we are a well-oiled machine pursuing our respective professions while our kids are thriving at their own pursuits.

We enrolled Beau at St. Paschal’s EduCare in Spokane Valley and he loves it!

On the lighter side of things, the third unique theme of the year was recreation. With COVID no longer canceling races and preventing groups from gathering, we made up for lost time. As mentioned, Sloan was an MVP on the t-ball diamond. I participated in two Spokane signature events—Bloomsday and Hoopfest. Sid and I played on our Young Adult Catholic softball team and messed around and played some flag football. I braved an icy course to run a turkey trot 5K. And, of course, Sid and I maintained our daily workouts at Snap Fitness.

On May 1, 2022, I ran Bloomsday after more than 20 years elapsed since I last participated in the event.

Although the above three themes were new this year, the same three values I touch on every year were more relevant than ever…

It sure was a great year to belong to a strong, supportive family. My Aunt Nancy’s death brought the extended Reser family together under less-than-ideal circumstances, but the way we supported each other could not have made me prouder to be a Reser. Throughout the course of the year, we had so many fun times with my parents, siblings, and their families—cookouts, holidays, games, and special occasions never get old. Sidney’s parents visited us in April and her mom returned in November to help with the transition. Finally, our nuclear family stood strong this year. Our “Fab Four” battled sickness together, enjoyed many meals at Red Robin, read 500 bedtime books, bounced at Spokane’s best trampoline parks, and so much more. We visited Charlotte, Dallas, Walla Walla, and the North Pole. Sidney and I made additional trips to Hawaii and Montana. With Sloan growing emotionally and Beau developing conceptually, the overall love in our household grew.

We had many memorable family moments in 2022.

When things seem dicey, especially at the beginning of the year, there was no better way to catch some respite than by turning to God. In 2022, we continued to grow in our faith by doing tangible things to nurture it. Sidney and I joined two ministries together, both marriage-related. We became mentors to engaged couples on track to enter the sacrament of holy matrimony and we joined a somewhat similar ministry called Engaged Encounter. The latter is an organization at the diocesan level that holds weekend retreats for engaged couples. Additionally, Sidney taught Catholic Summer Camp and I joined the St. Mary’s men’s group. Our Young Catholic Adult group thrived as our numbers grew exponentially and we became busier than ever. Whether it was attending our bi-weekly meetings, hosting the bishop for dinner, or playing softball (among other things) it was a blessed year for our tight-knit group.

Our Young Adult Catholic group surrounds Bishop Thomas Daly (center, with hands in pockets). Also pictured is Fr. Jeff Lewis (back row, tallest person in photo), the leader of our Young Adult group and the man responsible for making our visit with the Bishop happen.

Career-wise, you already know about Sid’s successes. As for me? It was the year that a digital marketer like myself moved from behind the screen to in front of it. Our social media and digital triumphs landed me some speaking engagements. I presented to the WSU President’s Cabinet, I spoke at our internal marketers and communicators conference, and I traveled to the Washington D.C. area to present with a few of my colleagues at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed. I had the opportunity to lead our social media strategy when it came to big-time collaborations with companies like Boeing and SEL. Our savvy EM marketing director allowed me to assist with new digital strategies as we aimed to reach prospective students. Our social media program earned a top 25 ranking out of 300+ schools. Other small victories came along that would not have been possible without the talented team I work for.

I had numerous speaking engagements in 2022, but none more important than my presentation with colleagues at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed.

But you know what I count as the biggest “success” of my job? That at the end of the day, that is what it is—a job. My boss is adamant about a healthy work-life balance and if it wasn’t for that grace, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate as much on the family and faith components that are the utmost importance to me. So, as I close the door on 2022, I do so with gratitude. The year wasn’t smooth sailing, but at least I had the blessing and support to navigate through it while concentrating on the important things.

The years always turn out great because I share them with these three (photo courtesy of Nicole Lynn Photos).

Sidney, Sloan, and Beau…you three are the best! Let’s make 2023 great. Don’t Blink.

Monument Thursday Rundown

Good evening, everyone. I am back in Spokane as I try to re-acclimate to the Pacific time zone after a few days in Washington D.C. Although a little groggy, I think I do have the energy for a Thursday Rundown…

School Portrait – Sloan recently brought home her individual school photos. I am unable to download a digital file so this version taken from one of the hard copies will have to do. My 5-year-old daughter is getting older but she still has her unmistakable curly hair and that mischievous grin.

This is Sloan’s kindergarten school photo.

D.C. Night Tour – I was able to escape the conference hotel for a bit on Tuesday night. I ventured to the heart of Washington D.C. where I was given a night tour of the monuments. I will write more about this next week but I wanted to point out now that a history buff like myself didn’t squander the opportunity to explore our nation’s capital.

I took this photo, along with many others, on Tuesday night. I can’t wait to show more from my night tour in a post next week.

Special Visitor – We are blessed to have my mother-in-law currently in town with us. She flew to Spokane last Friday to visit and to assist while I was out of town. I think we were all pleased that our first snow of the season has coincided with her stay. There is nothing like experiencing the white stuff when you live in a climate that rarely sees it!

Brenda surprised Sloan when we picked her up from school last Friday.

Spokane From Above – As my flight descended on Spokane yesterday, we took a unique route. Because of the way the wind was blowing, the pilot took us for a cruise over the city, something that usually does not happen. What a treat it was. With a dusting of snow and the sun shining, Spokane sure looked gorgeous. I had an unobstructed window seat that allowed me to identify as many landmarks as possible. When we flew over the Shadle area, the famous water tower sure stood out.

I took this photo from my seat window as we flew over Spokane. Can you see the Shadle water tower?

Gourmet Mac and Cheese – How do you make an impostor upscale macaroni and cheese? Well, this was how I did it last week: I cooked some generic Great Value macaroni and cheese. I then added crushed Ritz crackers, melted shreds of string cheese, and salt/pepper. It sure hit the spot.

This was my “gourmet” mac and cheese.


Off to spend time with my wife, children, and mother-in-law! Thanks for reading Don’t Blink and make sure to thank a veteran tomorrow. Don’t Blink.

Wrapping Up Sloan’s T-Ball Season

On Monday night, Sloan wrapped up her t-ball season at Meadow Ridge Elementary in north Spokane. The forecast called for rain but after a brief shower prior to the game, the weather cleared up and allowed the kids to play under beautiful conditions. It was a fitting ending to Sloan’s first foray into organized sports.

In celebration of a successful season for the Panthers, I have five quick observations from the 2022 t-ball campaign…

Sloan enjoyed a successful t-ball season and I have a few observations to share.

Sloan’s coaches truly are saints. The Panthers were coached by Coach Dave and his two high/middle school-aged daughters. Before the season started there was some doubt Sloan’s team would even be able to play because no coach had stepped forward. Dave volunteered and we were blown away by his patience and tolerance for all team members, especially our daughter who can ask a billion questions and be a little extra.

Improvement was evident. By the end of the season, Sloan and her teammates had mastered the concept of running to first base after they hit the ball. They also started to naturally throw the ball in that direction when out in the field. Sloan’s attention span seemed to get a bit longer during the games and by last night she was actively pursuing balls that were hit in her vicinity.

It’s all about the intangibles. The t-ball itself is fun but Sloan especially enjoyed drinking out of her fancy water bottle, having us take her to the porta-potty during the middle of the game, doing her team cheer, and of course picking up her snack at the end of the game.

There is nothing like a cheering section. Sloan played on the same team as her cousin, John, so my sister and brother-in-law were at all the games (and practices). My parents also didn’t miss a game so t-ball nights turned into family nights too. It was nice to have a cheering contingent for the kids and we sure enjoyed being around each other.

All good things must come to an end. Sloan nearly cried when we told her the season was coming to a conclusion. “But I will miss my friends,” she said. Our daughter wasn’t the best player but she sure loved the social aspect of being part of the team.


As parents, it is bittersweet to see the season come to an end. It was fun to watch Sloan but we are kind of ready to have our weekday nights back. We live in the Spokane Valley so it was quite the drive to commute to north Spokane for all of Sloan’s practices and games. But the extra miles and time were worth it for the experience that Sloan received. Don’t Blink.

509 Day

If you recall, last month on April 6, I wrote about 406 Day. April 6 (4-06) reflects Montana’s sole area code and thus the date is embraced by the state. In my blog post I mentioned that while the day is important to me since I lived in Missoula for eight years, you won’t see me calling in sick to celebrate it—the true Montanan spirit just doesn’t dwell in me.

Today is another day associated with an area code but this one resonates a little more with me. In eastern Washington, the date of May 9 (5-09) is also known as 509 Day. Unlike how 406 Day represents an entire state, 509 Day simply carries the banner of a specific region. But that region happens to be where I was born and where I have spent more than 60% of my life.

The mayor of Spokane, Nadine Woodward, holds a 509 Day card.

Although the 509 area code encompasses more than half the state of Washington geographically, it is claimed with the most passion by Spokane. As a born and raised Spokanite who now resides here once again after a 15-year hiatus, I have a genuine pride for those three numbers. Did that pride burn intensely in my soul when I left the state as an 18-year-old? To be honest, probably not. But after all those years of being away and noticing from afar that I didn’t live in such an awful place, the digits started to mean a little more to me. Especially when I would make the immediate association of “home” when I would receive an incoming call and “509” would be flashing on my screen.

Hell yes, I would wear a shirt with 509 embroidered across the chest if I had one. In my mind, 509 means four unique seasons. It means some of the best college basketball in the country. It means Bloomsday, which I just participated in last week. It means Hoopfest, which I will lace up my sneakers for next month. It means media outlets like the Spokesman-Review and KXLY. It means Riverfront Park, Dick’s Hamburgers, and Jack & Dan’s. It means coffee stands on every corner and pot shops in every strip mall (not that I am proud of that one). It means Macklemore’s “Downtown” music video which to this day I believe screams Spokane better than just about anything else. It means lilacs, a garbage goat, and the Davenport Hotel.

Nothing says “509” more like the Garbage Goat in Riverfront Park

It means home.

“The 509” has a certain attitude. It is realistic, knowing that Spokane is a mid-sized city that can’t necessarily compete with its big brother, Seattle. But at the same time, it is content with what it can offer. The 509 isn’t too out of touch to poke fun about itself and acknowledge its shortcomings but at the same time it clutches a deep sense of community pride. To put it simply, the 509 is down to earth.

And, just like the area code that I proudly claim, I am a down to earth dude. Without hesitation I salute my fellow 509ers and enthusiastically celebrate 509 Day. Now pass the cheap beer. Don’t Blink.

First Thursday Rundown of 2022

There is always something special about the first Thursday Rundown of the year. Well, actually there isn’t, but I thought that line sounded good. But if you have truly found yourself distraught because I haven’t written a rundown “since last year,” I am about to make you happy again. Here we go with my first Thursday Rundown of 2022…

Another Perfect Gift – For Christmas 2020, Sid gave me a lap desk which has pretty much been the best present ever as I use it on a daily basis. So how do you top that? Simple—you give your mostly-remote-working-social media-loving husband a ring light. It is now set up at my desk to enhance my numerous daily virtual meetings AND to occasionally allow a certain curious daughter the opportunity to play with the light’s controls (she loves the different colors it can project). Thanks, Sid!

My ring light is now fully installed at my desk. I like it!

Snow For Days – We thought we were dodging the snow by visiting Myrtle Beach for two weeks. Unfortunately for us, it never stopped snowing in Spokane as by the time we arrived home on Saturday the white stuff was still falling down. But while my attitude to the snow might be lukewarm, our kids absolutely love it. Sidney took Sloan and Beau to play in our backyard yesterday and they didn’t want to come in. We received another several inches today but it looks like the snow will go away for the weekend.

The kids play in the snow on Jan. 5, 2022, while Sid looks on. We have sooooo much snow.

Movie Reviews – I have a couple Netflix films I quickly wanted to chime in about. While in Myrtle Beach I watched “The Unforgivable” starring Sandra Bullock. Something is revealed at the end of the movie that will make a big light bulb go off in your brain but other than that I found the film average, if not borderline depressing. It came highly recommended from family members but I just didn’t think it was all that great. On Sunday we took the day to relax after a couple days of travel and I watched “Don’t Look Up.” Sure, everyone knows that the movie is a satire about global warming but I was watching it for the cast! I am a big Leonardo DiCaprio fan so I couldn’t wait to see him play an awkward college professor. Jonah Hill, another one of my favorites, was extra savage to poor Jennifer Lawrence who delivered a respectable performance. The film delivered plenty of laughs and touched on the current political landscape beyond just global warming. I recommend it.

As long as you don’t get easily offended, you will probably find yourself laughing while watching “Don’t Look Up.”

A Bit Problematic – Recently, the 2022 Banished Words list was released. It contains words and phrases that are clichés and/or don’t make sense. I really think the usage of 200% on this box of muffins could qualify. Lowe’s (not be confused with the hardware chain) is a line of grocery stores in the South. They make delicious bakery items but I don’t know how that translates to a “quality promise” of 200%…or if that is even possible. I think it is wise to recognize a 100% effort as the maximum threshold for excellence—yes, I even slightly cringe at “claiming” 110%. If the store wants to stick with its 200% “quality promise,” why stop there? Maybe when I return to Lowe’s in a year they offer a 1000% quality promise. It just doesn’t make sense to me and cheapens what it means to give 100%.

Making this “quality promise” is problematic.

Classic Mix – Over the holidays I saw this very special pack of M&M’s. It is a “Classic Mix” that contains the brand’s iconic options…milk chocolate, peanut butter, and peanut. This is the first time I had ever seen it and I had to ask myself what took them so long? I think this is a great idea and a combination that many M&M lovers like myself appreciate. Good to see that this is now on the shelves!

Couldn’t help but take a photo of these when I came across them in a Myrtle Beach Walmart.


Thanks Be to God there was peace on this day. I appreciate you reading and I hope you have a safe weekend. Don’t Blink.

A Major Reading Milestone for Sloan

This past Thursday, December 2, 2021, Sloan hit an impressive milestone. We read a book called “Oh No, Mr. Snowman.” It was a slightly bizarre Frosty-esque story about a snowman who would come to life and bust into the house of the kids who made him. When he would do this, objects within the house would freeze. The children eventually would tell the snowman not to come back anymore. A couple days later, just as the Christmas Eve celebration was about to take place, all the holiday food inside the house started to melt. Despite his prior ejection, the snowman knocks on the front door to save the day and the children enthusiastically allow him inside to salvage the food with his freezing cold presence.

What made “Oh No Mr. Snowman” so special? It was the 400th book Sloan read in 2021.

What’s the big deal, right? Just another silly children’s book. Well, there was something else at play when we finished that weird snowman’s tale. It marked the 400th book that Sloan read in 2021.

We have always read to our kids. My parents read to me every night when I was a child and I wanted to make sure to do the same with Sloan and Beau. However, our personal reading program accelerated earlier this year when something finally happened.

At the beginning of March, our libraries in Spokane opened again. No longer did we have to submit a limited online book order to pick up curbside from a librarian. Rather, we could finally roam the physical library and pull all the books off the shelves that we wanted.

The Spokane Valley Library is kind of like a second home for us.

You know how you don’t realize how much you miss something until it is gone? Not being able to visit the library during the pandemic hit us hard. So, when the doors finally opened we didn’t take it for granted. Whether we were visiting the Spokane Valley County Library near our house or the North Spokane County Library near my parents’ home, we were throwing books into our oversized tote bag like our lives depended on it. Each visit we would check out at least 20 titles and would be so motivated to get back to the library again that we would read through them all in less than two weeks.

Beau grabbing books from the shelves at the Spokane Valley Library.

That’s not to say we were breezing through the books at warp speed without comprehension. It just meant that we were reading multiple books every night. After we finished a story we would log the title in the notes app on my iPhone and Sloan would add a few emojis after it to further describe what the book was about. The structure did wonders for our nighttime routine.

A look at a portion of Sloan’s very long list of books she read this year.

With that said, Sloan is a 4-year-old and would have 4-year old moments during our “books and prayers” evening period. If her attention span seemed to be running low, we would remind her that if she couldn’t concentrate on the books it wouldn’t be possible for her to concentrate on the iPad during the coveted screen time we allow her. That would usually bring her focus back (it’s all about balance).

When you read 400 children’s books, you learn a lot. Sloan has been introduced to themes such as love, death, family, honesty, self care, friendship, hard work, preparation, sharing, diversity, and much more. She has been exposed to different cultures, holidays, family structures, and ways of thinking. She has picked up on different techniques of writing and admired different styles of art through some of the magnificently illustrated books we have read.

Frequent trips to the library means frequent photos with the tree growth chart in the Spokane Valley Library. Sloan has grown a lot over the past year.

Sidney and I have learned a lot too. Although the books are written at a children’s level, many of them have underlying themes that speak to adults. We will be reading to Sloan and trade glances when a line is read that went over our daughter’s head but made all too much sense to us.

Besides Sloan just snuggling up to me when I read to her, the best part about our 400-book odyssey has simply been talking to her when reading the books. I will ask her questions, challenge her to give predictions, and encourage her to describe the feelings of characters. Watching her mind work is so interesting and rewarding.

Feeling comfortable surrounded by books at the Spokane Valley Library.

Once 2022 hits, we will continue to read like maniacs. I have no doubt in my mind that we will continue to be #1 customers of the library and that we will surpass our 2021 book total. Perhaps it won’t be long until Sloan is reading to Beau. Don’t Blink.

Splash Pads in Spokane

I discovered the best summer hack ever: splash pads.

Sloan has discovered splash pads and she loves them!

Our state is in a serious and unprecedented heat wave with numerous consecutive days of 100+ degree days. It is pretty day. Now while I realize the best course of action for many is to just stay inside, a certain 4-year-old girl has other ideas. Sloan needs to be outside and doing things.

Oh yeah, Sloan isn’t the only one who enjoys splash pads…Beau does too.

So, we have been making the rounds at various parks in the Spokane and Spokane Valley areas. As I have mentioned before, the parks in this area are beautiful, green, and spacious. They have creative playground equipment, hiking trails, designated picnic areas, plenty of shade, and more. They almost all have splash pads too.

Can you spot Sloan? She is playing on this splash pad at Mission Park in Spokane.

For parents, the splash pad is a perfect attraction because kids can cool off without getting too wet to do anything but swim. Splash pads are usually situated right next to the playground so Sloan can go back and forth between each one. On these days that are scorchers, Sloan can run through the splash pad and then hit the play equipment that would otherwise be too hot to play on if not for cold water protecting her body. She can then spend time swinging on the monkey bars and going down the slides until she needs to cool off again on the splash pad.

After getting wet at the splash pad at Edgecliff Park, Sloan will then run over to the playground equipment.

The splash pads are terrific social centers. From what I have observed, they bring kids together as they laugh and splash as water shoots up and pours down. A camaraderie develops around the shared experience of getting drenched with cool water. Sloan has met several other kids on the pads and their newfound friendship expands to the playground as well. It is like magic.

Beau scoping out the splash pad at Greenacres Park in Spokane Valley all while keeping an eye on his sister.

Splash pads help parents fend off heat strokes too. It is a way for us to stay cool during these sizzling days. Although I don’t run through the pad myself, I do put my hands in the water and cool down my neck or arms. Also, the mist that develops and finds its way to the adults standing on the perimeter of the pads is very much appreciated.

The splash pad at Riverfront Park is pretty spectacular.

From what I have seen so far, all splash pads are different in Spokane, making it even more fun. Layouts, fountains, geysers, and funnels are all unique at each park, making for a special experience at each one. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Sloan and her cousins love hitting up the area splash pads. This is at Edgecliff Park in Spokane Valley.

Perhaps I am just on such a splash pad high because we were taunted by them last summer. Sloan and I would visit all these Spokane parks and see the elaborate but roped-off pads. Damn you, COVID. You sure know how to break a little girl’s heart.

Beau doesn’t mind getting wet.

So maybe we are making up for lost time. Or maybe it is just really hot out. Or both? Yeah, both. Thank you to our area parks for installing splash pads, they sure are fun! Don’t Blink.

Hey Southern Belle, What Have You Learned After a Year?

As I mentioned in Sid’s Mother’s Day post, she has now lived in Spokane for a year. Throughout the past 365 days she has definitely learned a thing or two about the culture and quirks of the Lilac City. For tonight’s blog post, let’s review 10 of the more prominent lessons taken in by Sid since May 2020.

After a year in Spokane, Sid has learned a thing or two.

1. Coffee stands are on every corner and no aroma is more prominent on the city streets than that of fresh brew.

2. Except of course for the pungent smell of marijuana that similarly can be smelled on every corner thanks to the surplus of dispensaries.

3. From smell to taste, Sid quickly learned that for what this city lacks in fast food chicken (think Bojangles, Zaxby’s, Popeye’s, etc) it makes up for it in fast food Mexican (Say hello to Taco John’s, Taco Time, and Senor Froggy).

4. Want a drink with that burrito? No matter how often my parents have said the word, a year is way too short of a time for Sid to ever think about referring to soda as “pop.”

5. Whatever you call your soft drink, at least it has a chance to stay cold for longer than a minute when you are outside in July. When Sid asked me why we weren’t sweating in the morning one summer day I remarked simply: Fresh air.

6. The climate isn’t the only thing that is at different ends of the spectrum in South Carolina and Washington. Political ideologies are at two different extremes as well. From the red to the blue for Sid!

7. Speaking of politicians, some might compare them to snakes and roaches. Thankfully Sid was able to escape the creepy crawlers (talking about the actual creatures) and now just has to worry about black widows and June bugs.

8. One thing Sidney doesn’t have to worry about is her accent. It is adored and celebrated by the locals who enjoy a Southern dialect in a town that is dominated by accent-neutral speaking folks.

9. Although her accent is celebrated some of her South Carolina idioms aren’t—or should I say they are just misunderstood? People here don’t understand what constitutes “being ugly” beyond bad looks and if you say “going to cut the grass” people will think you are getting your personal scissors out to do some precise trimming.

10. Sid is thankful she didn’t push harder for a riding lawn mower because gas prices to fill it are much more expensive in Washington (roughly $3.20 per gallon right now) than the cheaper prices in South Carolina. It’s okay though, moving to a state with no state income tax was a welcome treat!

Two great places, two vastly different ways of doing things. We love them both. Don’t Blink.