SMOKE-an

This past weekend was a little hazy. No, it wasn’t because I hit the beer cooler too hard—heck, I am on a dental medication that won’t even let me take a sip of alcohol—but because of actual smoke that turned the Spokane air into a hazardous mess.

During this time of the year, South Carolina has hurricanes and Washington has wildfires. Although the former posed a more serious threat to my family than the latter, that’s not to say the byproduct of devastating fires is anything to brush off.

This month I have watched the local news solemnly as wildfires rage all over our state. These infernos have literally destroyed communities and burned hundreds of thousands of acres. There is no such thing as a break in 2020.

On Saturday, the Spokane Valley was reminded of the catastrophic flames in other parts of the state by hazy smoke that ushered itself in prior to breakfast. As the sun rose, I stood out on my back deck to this…

This is what it looked like outside from my back deck on Saturday.

What was supposed to be a 90-degree day never even topped 80. The sun remained a weird pinkish orb. Walk outside and the strong smell of smoke automatically overwhelmed you. Walk back in and you smelled like a campfire. Forget the bright September day, it was dark and eerie.

A look at the smoke as we drove down Sprague. Notice the sun in the top left hand corner of the image.

But for all the oddities that came with the smoke settling in the valley that is Spokane, the threat it posed was definitely most concerning. When the air category is at a “good” level, it hovers under a value of 50 on a scale of 500. On Friday, when the smoke started to settle in our area, it reached a mark of 170. By Saturday and through Sunday, it reached a staggering 499! That isn’t just unhealthy, it is HAZARDOUS.

The conditions climbed to 499!

The smokey conditions didn’t improve much today. I am still not comfortable letting my daughter go outside to play. Unfortunately, the wildfires still rage. Although Spokane will soon be spared the smoke, other towns will still be engulfed by the flames. We need to pray for favorable weather conditions, smart decisions by citizens, and the safety of fire fighters. Don’t Blink.

Have a Picnic

This summer we have made it a point to pack a picnic and go to a park. Why? Well, for one, it is a very enjoyable thing to do. And, two, we simply never had the opportunity to do so in South Carolina. The humid weather simply isn’t conducive to eating outside and the area of the state we lived in didn’t have the lush, green parks that dot the Spokane Valley.

In eastern Washington, the month of September is gorgeous and still perfect for picnicking. So, if you still haven’t embraced the outdoors while eating a sandwich on a comfy blanket, put a picnic on your calendar and let me give you five tips for a perfect experience.

We have enjoyed numerous picnics at parks this summer.

Choose the Right Park – The Spokane and Spokane Valley boast countless public parks for citizens to enjoy. But before you choose a park based solely on a Google search, do a little bit of scouting and make sure it has everything you need. Our family looks for a fun playground, plenty of big pine trees for shade, sturdy picnic benches, and lots of green space. Parks that meet all these requirements aren’t hard to find but that doesn’t mean places that lack them don’t exist. Just do your homework.

Bring Stuff – The playground and human interaction should be enough to keep your family entertained, but it isn’t a bad idea to bring some items from home that could optimize your afternoon or evening. You can never go wrong with a frisbee or football. Sidewalk chalk is a hit with Sloan. If you are like me, bringing a croquet set is a great way to take advantage of the vast space offered by a park and it also allows you to set up the course of your dreams!

Remember to bring blankets!

The Food – A picnic isn’t a picnic without the food. In fact, I feel like a picnic is an excuse to overdo it just a bit. Sometimes this means picking something up at a favorite restaurant. On separate occasions this summer we have brought food to the park from our favorite cheesesteak, sandwich, and fried chicken joints. But if you want a more traditional picnic, pack it yourself! That’s what we did for our picnic lunch yesterday. We met my sister and her kids at the park and we split up the food duties. Sid and I brought hot dogs and chips while my sister brought oranges, cookies, and drinks. It was a blast and pretty tasty.

At our picnic yesterday, we packed hot dogs.

Pack a Cooler – The drinks are just as important as the food. Grab your ice chest and throw in bottled water, soda, and some Capri Suns for the kids. Oh yes, don’t forget the beer. Just remember to bring Solo cups with you. You can empty your ice dispenser to keep the drinks cool but I prefer to pick up a bag of ice at the gas station and dump it in. When you get to the park, crack open your beverage and enjoy. Whether a soda or an adult beverage, an ice cold drink tastes incredible in the middle of beautiful scenery outside.

Be Prepared – It is important to be ready for any obstacles you might face once on-site. In terms of pests, you could encounter a member of the bee family buzzing around your picnic. Keep that in mind and bring appropriate repellent. During this time of pandemic, bring plenty of disinfectant wipes to scrub benches and play equipment. Most importantly of all, make sure everyone goes to the bathroom prior to arriving at the picnic. I have been in the park facilities and they are not pretty!

I mean it folks, don’t let this summer slip away without a picnic. With the Labor Day weekend approaching, pick a day and make it happen. Don’t Blink.

A Short But Sweet Spokane Holiday

To use a cliché, it was short but sweet. From the time Sidney, Sloan, and I landed in Spokane to the moment our plane left the city on New Year’s Eve, we had spent less than 100 hours in my hometown. The minimal amount of time we had at our disposal just meant we had to make every second count – and we did.

Sloan and her “papa” once again bonded when they were together.

We arrived in darkness at 1 a.m. on Thursday and left my parents’ house in darkness at 3 a.m. on Monday. But this was a trip that was punctuated by light. I am talking vibrant, joyful light – the type that can only be produced by love. Throughout our time in Spokane, the true Christmas spirit filled up my childhood home as my parents and siblings embraced us.

Sloan was welcomed to Spokane with a sign that her Uncle Glen made.

It wasn’t a trip that was spent cramming as many things into a short period of time as possible. Instead, most of our 98 hours were spent inside my mom and dad’s living room, the exact same place my siblings and I grew up. It was in that space where the grandchildren took center stage. Sloan joined her cousins, Mikayla and Johnny, as they played hard together (sometimes nicely, sometimes not). As the babies played, the adults talked. Our Reser Pride text message group came alive. No longer did we need iPhones to communicate with each other from thousands of miles away. Rather, the common roof over our heads allowed for simply our voices (not thumbs) to do the talking.

Sloan had a great time playing with her cousins. Johnny is the son of my sister, Miranda.

The living room also hosted our special Reser family Christmas, games of Heads Up, and plenty of delicious snacking/drinking. It was our hub for the vacation and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

My mom loved being with her grandbabies in the living room.

Not to say that we didn’t leave the house entirely. We hit a couple of our favorite spots, attended mass at St. Thomas More, enjoyed a family dinner at a popular restaurant, and capitalized on a couple of post-Christmas sales at the mall.

We attended mass at St. Thomas More and posed in front of the beautiful Nativity.

But for the most part, we stayed home. If we weren’t all gathered in the living room, you could have found us…

Our family eating at Prospector’s, a delicious restaurant in North Spokane.

– Eating a prime rib dinner and other meals in the dining room.
– Watching Washington State’s Alamo Bowl victory over Iowa State in the basement.
– Playing in the snow in the front yard.
– Stealing Christmas candy out of the freezer in the kitchen.

We had a great time playing in the snow.

Of course the best part was watching relationships continue to strengthen. Sloan loves her grandparents so much and would constantly say Grandma hold you (“hold you” being her phrase for wanting to be held) and Love you, Papa. The bond that my sister and brother have with Sidney is special and they picked up from where they left off in the summer. I continued to get to know Glen’s girlfriend, Carrie, and I had a nice time getting drinks with my brother-in-law, Jay. Everyone got along so well and it was such a warm and welcoming environment to be in – one that makes it tough to leave.

There is a special bond between my siblings and Sidney.

But we are back in Myrtle Beach now and are left to reflect on our time in Spokane. It was another special trip that exemplified how much my parents and siblings love and support our little family. At the same time, it allowed us to reciprocate the same sentiments as well. Until next time, Spokane! Don’t Blink.

Couldn’t end this blog post without a picture of the LIVING ROOM.

Kicking Off Vacation Season With a Trip to Spokane

This year, the month of July is cut into two distinct halves for our family. The first half, which just concluded, was a couple weeks of summertime bliss right here in Myrtle Beach. We celebrated the Fourth of July, made several trips to the pool, ate lots of ice cream, and enjoyed some of the most carefree days of the year. It was all about taking it easy right here at home.

We enjoyed a relaxing and fun first couple weeks of July right here in Myrtle Beach.


But, with the first day of the second half of July now upon us, things are about to change. Get ready to do some traveling because It’s vacation season!

We are off to Spokane. If you have read this blog over the past few years, you know the drill. We will drive to Charleston to catch an Alaska Airlines flight that will take us all the way to Seattle. We will then do the famous one hour “backtrack” to Spokane. We will land in my hometown at 11 p.m. with my parents waiting eagerly at the airport to see their precious granddaughter and to take us back to their house for eight days of family fun.

We are off to Spokane!

Our timing couldn’t be more perfect. My nephew turns 1 tomorrow and we will be able to attend his big birthday bash. On Saturday night, my dad’s family will be in town for a backyard BBQ (out west that means a hot dog and hamburger cookout). We will also get the chance to meet my brother’s girlfriend for the first time. And, you can bet that throughout the week we will visit some of our favorite restaurants and bars.

Nothing too wild or crazy this time around, something we are certainly not disappointed about. We are just so thankful to visit Spokane and see the people who give our little family so much support and encouragement throughout the entire year. Group texting and Snapchat are both great ways we all keep in touch, but nothing beats being physically in the presence of each other. We can’t wait.

A vacation with Sidney’s family will come later this month. More details on that later but we got to hit the road now. To all my Spokane friends and readers – feel free to reach out. It always makes me happy when I get to visit with people I have not seen in a long time. Please know that for the next two weeks it is just not me going on vacation – the blog is too. I will try to write a few times over the course of the rest of the month but no promises. Please pray for our safe travels. Don’t Blink.

A Holiday Week With Family In Spokane

It was short, but it was so sweet. Last night, my little family arrived back to South Carolina after a special holiday visit to Spokane. It was the best way possible to conclude 2017.

You can’t beat being around family during the holidays. We just got back from a great trip spent with mine.

We departed in the afternoon on Christmas Day. By the time our plane touched down in Spokane, it was the very early morning of December 26. Nonetheless, my parents were at the airport with big smiles (and a happy tear or two) to greet us. A memorable trip was underway!

Sloan and I watching a movie on the plane.

After my mom had her chance to hold Sloan and give her plenty of kisses, we all went to bed for a few hours. Perhaps not well-rested, but more than awake because we were fueled by happiness and adrenaline, we enjoyed a great first day.

My mom holding Sloan in the wee hours of the morning of our arrival.

My brother arrived at the house first that Tuesday morning. Shortly thereafter, my sister pulled up in my parents’ driveway with her daughter and baby son in tow. A big draw of the trip was to see Johnny again. We were in Spokane when he was born in July but had not seen him for six months. It was so nice to hold Johnny and to watch him play with Sloan.

Johnny and Sloan spent a lot of time together.

That first day we celebrated our family Christmas. We played games, took photos with our custom Snapchat geofilter, admired the snow, and watched over the babies and toddlers. When my brother-in-law showed up we ate our prime rib dinner, opened gifts, and looked for the pickle.

My parents with Sloan, Johnny, and Mikayla on Christmas day.

The next day, Wednesday, December 27, I woke up early to work out with my dad at a gym I have grown very fond of over the years. I returned and shoveled the driveway as Spokane had received even more snow over the night. During this all, my mom joyfully took care of Sloan, savoring every moment. After I returned to Myrtle Beach my mom told me, “I sure loved my mornings with Sloan.”

On Wednesday morning, I shoveled our driveway.

My sister and her kids soon came over. Miranda and Sidney went to Target and Glen and I went to Costco. Later that evening, Glen, Sid, and I went to the historic Davenport Hotel in Downtown Spokane where we had drinks at a place called the Safari Room with my brother’s friend, Courtney. The atmosphere and conversation were both lovely. We came home and ate with my parents (and Sloan) as we heated up the leftovers from our Christmas dinner and made sandwiches. Later that night, Glen, Sid, and I went to a neighborhood bar where we caught up with old friends.

Enjoying ourselves at the Safari Room at the Davenport Hotel with Glen and Courtney.

On Thursday, our entire crew, strollers and all, went shopping at the mall. From there we ate lunch at a place called Fatburger, a joint that Sidney had wanted to try since we visited last Christmas season. When we arrived home, Sid and I took Sloan out in the snow for the first time. We took her on a sleigh ride and even though she certainly didn’t love it, we were able to make some cool memories. We came inside and we all played a Jeopardy board game (congrats on winning, Glen). Then, we all invaded the basement to watch the Holiday Bowl between Washington State and Michigan State. The outcome was far from what we wanted but the appetizers we made for the game sure were good. We concluded the evening by watching a movie.

Sloan experienced snow for the first time.

Friday rolled around and my dad and I got in another gym session. When we arrived home, Sid and mom were having a great time playing with Sloan. My mom cooked up a big breakfast for us all which was delicious. Later in the day, my mom gladly watched over the babies as my dad, Miranda, Sid, Glen, and I went to Birdy’s, another neighborhood sports bar near our house. We had the best time. We told stories, we laughed, and we enjoyed each other’s company. It was one of the highlights of the trip. We returned home and then our entire group went out to Tomato Street, a restaurant with some of the best Italian food you will ever enjoy. We had a very nice time. Upon returning home, we watched another movie to finish off the night.

Our crew at Birdy’s in Spokane.

Saturday was our last day in Spokane and we made the most of it. The morning was spent sitting in the living room as Sid, my mom, my dad, and I chatted while watching Sloan play. Sid and I made our traditional visit to a local haunt called Selkirk and we roamed the aisles of Fred Meyer. When we returned home, Miranda and her family had arrived. I was able to play with Mikalya and hold Johnny one final time. We then went off to vigil mass at St. Thomas More, one of the moments I always look forward to when returning to Spokane. After the service ended we drove by a house in the area that is decorated in a holiday Disney theme each year. When we got back to the house, my parents prepared a steak dinner. It was fantastic as it was my favorite meal of the trip. We then watched another movie and savored the remaining time we had together.

Sidney at Selkirk this past Saturday.

We left my parents’ house at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning. They took us to the airport and we said our tearful goodbyes.

I had an amazing time in Spokane with my family during the holidays.

It was a special time in Spokane. We all stuck very close and enjoyed each other. It was nice to watch Sloan interact with her fellow baby cousin. Just as we were impressed with little Johnny, I know my parents, brother, and sister were impressed with Sloan. We were treated so incredibly well by my parents. We were also touched by how much time and love my brother and sister gave us. It was tough to leave my hometown and the people I love but we brought so many memories home with us. To my family – thank you and we love you. Don’t Blink.

The $25,000 Man 7 Years Later

Today is an anniversary that is commemorated by the Reser brothers. Seven years ago on December 11, 2010, my brother, Glen, hit a major jackpot at a seedy bowling alley casino in Spokane, Washington. On a cold and snowy night, his stroke of luck won him $25,000 on the spot. He was 21 years old at the time.

After Glen won the $25,000, we went to Vegas a few days later. This is him at the original O’Sheas playing some Blackjack.

I usually mark this anniversary by sharing on social media the blog post I wrote about the crazy night. Although over six years old and terribly written, this particular piece of content is one of the most viewed blog posts in the history of Don’t Blink. The piece chronicles the pandemonium that took place at Lilac Lanes when Glen hit it big, along with the shenanigans and gross mismanagement of money that immediately ensued.

I also commemorate the anniversary by either calling or texting Glen and asking him how much of that money is left? The question is always expressed with a heavy dose of sarcasm because practically every cent of that jackpot was sucked dry before the first anniversary ever came around.

But perhaps that sobering fact shouldn’t be met with much surprise. I mean honestly, what 21-year-old is going to make sound decisions with a large sum of money?

I am not here tonight though to poke fun at Glen or detail how the money was spent/lost. Rather, I just want to put in perspective the amount of money that was won while also reinforcing a point I have made in an earlier blog post.

Last night, Sidney and I watched “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” The grand prize was $10,000. The family that took home the top honor on that particular episode celebrated as if it was a life changing event (I would have too!!). Now, contrast that with some kid winning 2.5X that amount just for being dealt some cards.

At the time seven years ago, both Glen and I had no idea how much of a gift and blessing that amount of money was. Let me try to explain that better. We knew it was a lot of money but we didn’t appreciate it. We had no idea how it could come in handy in the future when we eventually graduated to the status of responsible adults.

(I say “we” because Glen was generous to me with his winnings and, looking back on it, I encouraged him to make one or two not so good decisions with his loot. I hold myself accountable for contributing to the squandering).

If Glen strolled into Lilac Lanes tonight and defied all the odds and won that fat jackpot again, you can bet things would be a little different. That money would stretch a little longer.

But, it is my hope that Glen doesn’t set foot in a gambling venue. Over the years, I have come to believe that gambling is a destructive activity, especially for the younger population. I feel it cultivates a distorted view of money, one that can potentially have long term consequences. Although a gambler once myself, I now identify more with the anti-casino stance.

Yes, the story from seven years ago is still a great one. Honestly, read my blog post, it will take you for a ride. But winning money is so much different from earning it, especially when you are young. Looking back on the episode from 2010, as hard as some might have trouble believing it, I don’t think it was the best thing that ever happened. Don’t Blink.

Thursday Rundown: Back By Popular Demand

So, did you miss it? It has been almost a month since I wrote my last Thursday Rundown (July 6). However, to be exact, the last “rundown” I wrote was on July 15…it was a rare Saturday Rundown. Regardless, you are probably just itching for my latest random five topic tangent. Here we go…

A New Italian Dish – As a dude who grew up eating the cooking of his full-blooded Italian mom, there aren’t many Italy-inspired dishes I haven’t tried. Well, I tried a new one last week. Our last night in Spokane we went to a downtown restaurant called Europa. The atmosphere was lovely and the food delicious. For the first time ever, I ordered a dish called a rotolo. Don’t know what a rotolo is? I didn’t either. Basically, it is an Italian pastry-themed pasta dish where a filling is rolled up in pasta sheets. Think of it as a cross between a calzone and manicotti. Anyway, the rotolo I enjoyed was stuffed with pork, cheese, ham, olives, and more. It tasted great but I was more impressed with how pretty it looks in the below photo.

This is the rotolo that I enjoyed from Europa in Spokane.

Another Sketch From Dad– Over two years ago, I wrote about a special tradition my dad carried on for us kids growing up. He would always draw sketches of us for our childhood milestones. I came across this one in the mail yesterday. It is over 12 years old and commemorates my high school graduation. Do you think it looks like me?

My dad drew this in 2005.

Water Balloon Madness – How did we prepare ourselves for hosting a major party at my parents’ house? We had an enormous water balloon fight right before it. My dad’s family staged this balloon battle at the park right across the street from where my mom and dad live. We filled up over 2,500 water balloons and then “let a rip” for ten minutes of water war shenanigans. I cut my foot and got drenched but it sure was a lot of fun. If the water balloon fight didn’t do enough to satisfy the competitive juices of my dad’s family, they made up for it by hosting a corn hole tournament after the party.

A look at some of the water balloons we filled up for the water fight.

S-L-O-A-N – It is very difficult not to love Sloan. She has discovered her feet as she will hold both of them in her hands while in her crib or rock-and-play. Her smile seems to have an even greater spark to it than it did three weeks ago. She rolled over several times for us when we were in Spokane. Our little girl will turn 20 weeks tomorrow!

Some recent Sloan photos for you.

From the Archives – I have a couple of good blog posts to share with you that I wrote on this date. A year ago, Instagram shook the social media world when it debuted Instagram Stories. I jumped right on it and wrote that Insta did it right by developing a feature that was for all intents and purposes better than Snapchat. A year later, Stories is more popular than its competitor. Two years ago, I reviewed the newest (at the time) #DoUsAFlavor Lays potato chips. I always love the posts where I am required to eat. Take a look at both if you have time!

Me holding the 2015 #DoUsAFlavor Lay’s potato chips.

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Have a great weekend. I am working the Coastal Carolina summer commencement ceremony tomorrow night and then I welcome Sidney and Sloan back home on Saturday. Blessings to you all. Don’t Blink.

What More Restaurants Should Do

Yesterday, I ate lunch with Sidney’s family out on the patio at a popular Myrtle Beach restaurant. With temperatures reaching into the 70s, it was a great afternoon enjoying the atmosphere that River City Café provides. Part of the charm of the place is the ability to use provided crayons to color on the paper table cover. My niece and nephew certainly let their creative juices flow over the course of the lunch.

Enjoying our lunch at River City Cafe during the gorgeous Myrtle Beach afternoon (photo cred to Brenda).

This reminded me of my favorite restaurant in Spokane. Tomato Street is a well-known Italian restaurant in the north part of the city that offers amazing food and, just like River City Café, a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. In addition to the cans of tomato sauce that line the walls, the chalkboard stations that are installed around the restaurant, and the servers who take “flair” to a whole new level there is another “experience building” part of Tomato Street. Whenever a family sits down at a table, it is covered in a fresh white sheet of paper. A cleaned out can of tomato sauce filled with color crayons waits upon the blank slate. Customers go nuts letting their inner artist run wild.

Tomato Street in Spokane is my favorite restaurant.

When drawing on a Tomato Street table, you always want to do your best work. Why? Well, the restaurant will take the very best pieces of dinner art and display them in a glass showcase located in the very large waiting area. When we were younger, it was always a thrill for my family to go to Tomato Street and see if the drawings we did on our previous visit made the showcase. Before social media, it was one of the very best and creative examples of user generated content.

A drawing my dad did of me a couple years ago at Tomato Street. No, it did not make the showcase.

So, what is so special about coloring on the top of a table? Thousands of restaurants across the country do it, right? Yes and yes. However, these days I am surprised that more restaurants don’t do it, primarily because of the phrase I used to end the previous paragraph.

Besides being cost effective and besides serving as a way to entertain guests, Tomato Street utilizes paper table covers as a way for customers to help promote its restaurant (aka user generated content). When someone is drawing/coloring at a restaurant, the common tendency is to create something that is somewhat related to that restaurant. It was not a coincidence that the drawings that made the Tomato Street showcase had something to do with Tomato Street. Each piece of art hung was basically a testimonial for the restaurant.

Now we are in the age of social media. No longer do these pieces of user generated content need to be sheltered inside the walls of the restaurant for people who are already customers to see. Social media can now take these ultra-creative works of art and broadcast them out to an audience that could potentially reach millions. Forget marketing slogans, forget corporate designed logos, and forget staged photos…table cover art made by actual customers is where it is at!

Sure, any restaurant that converts from a traditional table cloth to one that allows customers to draw on it is not reinventing the wheel. The ploy has been around forever. But from what I have seen, businesses have yet to monopolize on this quirky method inside of the digital world. For the Instagram or Facebook account of any restaurant looking for fresh content to post, I think a gold mine awaits with customer produced table art. Don’t Blink.

First Thursday Rundown of 2017

It is time for a celebration! Why? Because I have the pleasure of writing my first Thursday Rundown of 2017. Here we go…

A Winner – I want to congratulate Sidney for her skill and discipline at the casino. Last week, we went with my parents to Northern Quest, a resort casino just outside of Spokane. Sid played the slots and saw some success. The best part? She cashed out while still ahead! She took home an extra $16 in her pocket and it paid for our dinner after we landed in Charleston on Sunday night.

Sidney winning money at the slot machine at Northern Quest.

Sidney winning money at the slot machine at Northern Quest.

Meat Eater – One of the best parts about celebrating two Christmases is eating two prime rib dinners. We ate it with Sidney’s family on Christmas day and then we ate it with my family when we observed our Christmas celebration on Dec. 28. Sid’s family served the meat with baked potatoes and my mom served it with lasagna. Both meals were delicious.

The prime rib on the left is from Sidney's family celebration and the prime rib on the right is from my family's celebrationn

The prime rib on the left is from Sidney’s family celebration and the prime rib on the right is from my family’s celebrationn

Dinner On Me – When the dust settled on our Christmas celebrations, it became obvious that Sidney and I made out like bandits on gift cards, especially of the restaurant variety. In the near future, we will be eating at Five Guys, Outback, Chick-Fil-A, and Buffalo Wild Wings. In addition, my brother gave us a card that is good for the Darden Restaurants. Brands that fall under this family include Longhorn, Olive Garden, the Yard House, and a few other places I have never heard of. And, because it technically does serve food, can I lump in Target as a restaurant? Sid got gift cards to her favorite store from both her parents and my parents.

Oreo Truffles – As much as it pains me to admit this, the Oreo truffles I ate over the holiday break blew the Pop-Tart truffles I made out of the water. Sidney, my brother, and my sister (notice how they left me out) combined to make the truffles and they turned out absolutely delicious. They dipped some in milk chocolate and some in white chocolate. If you want an easy, fun, and yummy treat idea, go with Oreo truffles.

My siblings and wife combined to make these delicious Oreo truffles.

My siblings and wife combined to make these delicious Oreo truffles.

Baby Update – As you can probably imagine, our future baby daughter reeled in some serious loot over the holiday season. I think she now has a wardrobe bigger than her parents combined. Both of our families were very generous and thoughtful. Tomorrow, Sidney will turn 27 weeks. Then, on Saturday, it will mark exactly three months until our baby is due.

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Hope your first week of 2017 is going great. My mind is starting to shift to the big College Football Playoff championship game on Monday night. Go Tigers! Don’t Blink.

Playing Speak Out

Over the Christmas holiday, I played one of the hottest games out on the market right now. Although not super excited at first to give it a try, I knew I had to at least experience Speak Out.

The first full day Sidney and I were in Spokane, we went to Fred Meyer to purchase some groceries. We found ourselves diverted to the entertainment section where we encountered Speak Out. Sidney really wanted to try it out and because it was only $20, we threw it into the cart.

During the holidays, we played Speak Out.

During the holidays, we played Speak Out.

Later that night, Sidney and I played on a team versus my cousin and her boyfriend. Sitting in the middle of my parents’ living room, we had an enthusiastic crowd as my aunts, mom, and dad cheered us on.

Well, not exactly. The phrase “laughed at us hysterically” might be more accurate than “cheered us on.” Yes, that is the calling card of Speak Out. If you have seen the videos on Facebook or heard your friends telling you about it, then you know what I am talking about. However, if that is not the case, let me briefly explain the game to you:

Sidney and I played Speak Up against my cousin Abby and her boyfriend, Nathan.

Sidney and I played Speak Up against my cousin Abby and her boyfriend, Nathan.

Each player is given a mouthpiece. Think of it as the contraption your dentist or orthodontist gives you to keep your mouth open. You are then given a card with a phrase on it. The object is to speak the phrase to your partner so he/she can clearly understand it. If the partner correctly identifies what the player with the mouthpiece is trying to say, the team keeps the card and moves on to the next one. The team works to identify as many phrases as possible until the sand in the hourglass runs out.

After the hourglass runs out, the next team goes. Once the sand runs out, the original team goes again with the person who guessed the first time now doing the talking. The other team then reverses roles and goes again. All of this constitutes one round. The official Speak Out rules state that the game should just last two rounds. The team that earns the most cards wins.

So did I like it? Ummmmmmmm…

I think it was a fun game to play once. To be honest, the mouthpiece was a bit taxing on my mouth. I also don’t know how I felt about everyone watching me struggling to say silly phrases with dentist equipment muffling my speech.

At the very least, we did manage to get our Speak Up selfies.

At the very least, we did manage to get our Speak Out selfies.

To be honest, unless I was given a brand new mouthpiece to use for subsequent games, I couldn’t do it. When you play the game, that mouthpiece is definitely all up in your mouth. To have the vision in my mind (let alone the actual germs in my mouth) that the piece was once used by someone else just doesn’t sit well with me. Even with Sidney’s great counterpoint (Don’t you use the silverware at restaurants? Same thing!) I would not reuse a mouthpiece.

But Speak Out definitely brought everyone in my family who either played or watched some quality entertainment. And, even though I think all Speak Out selfies are hideous, I am still glad I got one. Also, even though the equipment is very minimal, I think the value is pretty decent.

So have you played Speak Out? If so, speak out (haha) and tell me about your experience. Don’t Blink.