Moving On, Learning From Florence/Flooding

Finally, some normalcy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jacksonville Zoo offered us discounted tickets.

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

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

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

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

I am proud to be #CarolinaStrong!

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

The Week of Sid Thursday Rundown

Good evening to all! I hope everyone is enjoying a nice week and looking forward to the Mother’s Day weekend. Let’s get started with my latest Thursday Rundown.

Big Shoutout to My Wife – Perhaps they should designate this week as Sidney Reser Week (even though I believe she deserves an entire month) as both Teacher’s Appreciation Day and Mother’s Day fall during it. Simply put, Sidney excels at both roles the two days celebrate. When it comes to being a teacher, she goes to the classroom each day with the goal to help her students – whether it be with academics or life in general. She is the type of teacher I would have loved to have when I was in 2nd grade and the one that parents want for their kids now. Sid is in the teaching profession for all the right reasons and is an inspiration to her students.

The same energy and passion she puts toward being a teacher is also what she uses to be an amazing mom. Selfless and nurturing, Sloan hit the jackpot when God assigned her a mother. I observe in awe as Sid does everything she possibly can to help Sloan grow, thrive, and be happy. She motivates me to be a better dad and I am so thankful I get to be her parenting teammate.

Sid is being celebrated as a teacher and mother this week. She is great at being both.

Attending Mass With a Child – Last night, Sidney and I went to St. Andrew to attend a seminar for tips on how to help your child (and yourself) get the most out of mass. Excuse the lame joke, but it was a godsend. Although we found out that we are already doing some good things when we take Sloan to church each weekend, we also learned some awesome new strategies. Preparing a mass bag, offering non-food incentives for good behavior, and methods for engaging your child with what is going on during the service were just a few of the tips we learned. Jennifer Diaz, the parishioner and parish staff member who ran the evening, also suggested that we take Sloan to church on a weekday when a service is not going on. While there, she said, allow her to freely explore the worship space. While she is looking around, explain how the different elements she comes across play a role during mass. It was a very informative evening and reinforced the point that during church there is no better place for Sloan to be than right there with us in the presence of the Eucharist.

We sure enjoyed the seminar that St. Andrew put on regarding children at mass.

The Week Of – Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about a Netflix-exclusive Adam Sandler movie called “Sandy Wexler.” Tonight, I must write about Sandler’s latest Netflix film, “The Week Of.” The movie tells the story of a lower-class guy (Sandler) who is doing the best he can with limited resources to plan and execute the wedding and reception of his daughter. He must contend with the groom’s wealthy family and his own family to pull it off. Let me say this…the movie is hard to watch. By “hard to watch” I mean it is so full of awkward and fist palm moments that you have to look away from the screen every now and then. With that said, Sidney and I laughed the whole way through. I would actually recommend the movie but this film critic wouldn’t (the most scathing review I have ever read in my life).

I personally thought “The Week Of” was pretty funny.

Graduation Cap Gold – Although most higher education social media professionals would admit that it is cliché to focus on graduation cap designs at commencement ceremonies, you really can’t escape it. However, overdone or not, I saw a cap this past weekend that truly stood out and deserved Instagram attention. This applied physics student put his skills to work to make a “lit” mortarboard.

Kudos to this student for coming up with a pretty clever idea.

Childhood Pizza Parlor Demolished – A pizza place in Spokane that I grew up going to was recently demolished so a Taco Bell could be built in its place. Five Mile Heights Pizza Parlor was a north Spokane icon. I spent many birthday parties, end of season sports gatherings, and general celebrations there. It had a huge arcade, a castle that you could go inside, and pretty decent food. Best of all, it had a ball pit! These days, ball pits are pretty much a thing of the past so for that reason it was tough for me to see this 30-year-old business close its doors (and then get bulldozed).

Bye bye Five Mile Heights Pizza.

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Thank you for giving me the time of day! Enjoy the rest of your evening and make sure to wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” to as many moms as possible. Don’t Blink.

The #SidAndBrent Wedding

Quick story. The sweetest part of our wedding day for me was when my brother, dad, and cousin came over that morning. Glen handed me a tiny gift bag. He told me it was from Sidney. Knowing it would be best to open in private, I went upstairs to see what it was. Sidney had written me a heartfelt note and knitted a handkerchief with a special message. It was a beautiful gesture and set the day off perfectly.

I will keep the note private but this was the handkerchief Sid gave to me the morning of the wedding.

I will keep the note private but this was the handkerchief Sid gave to me the morning of the wedding.

Now that I got that emotional moment off my chest, let me back up just a little bit. I woke up at our house at 7 a.m. Sidney had stayed the night at her parents. It was important to both of us that we didn’t see each other until she walked down the aisle a little after 1 p.m. that afternoon. I spent the next few hours packing for the honeymoon, writing in my journal, and just gathering myself.

I also spent time tweeting. I know this tweet is CORNY but it is how we felt. We were engaged for a year and really looked forward to this day. At the same time, most people look forward their whole lives to that day they finally get to tie the knot.

I also spent time tweeting. I know this tweet is CORNY but it is how we felt. We were engaged for a year and really looked forward to this day. At the same time, most people look forward their whole lives to that day they finally get to tie the knot.

It was at 10 a.m. when the guys came over. My brother was my best man, my cousin was a groomsman, and my dad also had a tux to match us. Kenny, another groomsman, was already with me as he stayed at our house. On the way over, my family had picked up breakfast from Bojangles. So before we started to jump into our tuxedos we all scarfed down chicken fillet biscuits. My west coast fellas couldn’t believe how good they were.

I was pretty dressed down that morning as you can see. This is me eating my chicken biscuit and Botato rounds from Bojangles.

I was pretty dressed down that morning as you can see. This is me eating my chicken biscuit and Botato rounds from Bojangles.

With breakfast completed, I hit the shower. I then got dressed with my dad helping every step of the way. He pulled my tie straight, helped me with my cuffs, and opened up the jacket for me to slip into. With my best man, my groomsmen, and myself ready to go, my dad jumped in the shower and then into his suit. There now wasn’t anything left to do except go to the site of the wedding. A little bit before noon, we piled into a rental car and made the drive to St. Andrew Catholic Church.

My dad giving me a hand with my tie.

My dad giving me a hand with my tie (photo credit to Glen).

Once inside the church we hung out for about 20 minutes. We took some photos, tested out the geofilter, and talked amongst ourselves. Guests started to show up. Our priest, Father James LeBlanc, appeared from the front of the church and walked to the back to greet me. Word spread that the bride and her bridesmaids had arrived. My groomsmen started to escort guest to their seats. We were now only about 20 minutes away from show time!

Right when I got in St. Andrew Catholic Church I tested out our own special geofilter. It worked!

Right when I got in St. Andrew Catholic Church I tested out our own special geofilter. It worked!

For the month leading up to the wedding, I fielded the “Are you nervous yet?” question over and over. Each time I said no. A couple minutes before the service started I felt the same way. Although I had to work hard to keep my emotions in check, I never had strong nerves.

This photo clearly shows I wasn't nervous, I was just focused (photo credit to Jay).

This photo clearly shows I wasn’t nervous, I was just focused (photo credit to Jay).

It was time. The organist played Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and I walked my mom down the aisle to her seat. My brother-in-law then walked my mother-in-law down the aisle to her seat. With my mom and Brenda in their pews, it was time for the procession.

This was my beautiful bride in the bridal area of the church just a few minutes before she walked down the aisle (photo credit to Stephanie).

This was my beautiful bride in the bridal area of the church just a few minutes before she walked down the aisle (photo credit to Stephanie).

I walked behind Father LeBlanc to the altar. When we arrived he shook my hand. I stood off to the side and watched as my groomsmen made it to the front of the church. Then came Russel and Harrison, our flower girl and ring bearer. Following them were four beautiful women, Sidney’s bridesmaids (my sister, both of Sidney’s sisters, and Sidney’s best friend). With everyone now in their places except for the most important person, the time had arrived for the best moment of any wedding.

Sidney appeared at the start of the aisle looking breathtakingly gorgeous. With her dad to her right they started to walk toward me. St. Andrew has a looooooong aisle so it took a minute for them to reach the point of no return. When they arrived at the fourth pew from the front, Fr. LeBlanc nudged me to go get her. I walked to Mr. Sid (Sidney is named after her dad) and gave him a handshake followed by a hug. He then took Sidney’s hand and placed it in mine. Sid and I then walked to the front of the altar where Fr. LeBlanc stood before us.

Hallelujah! We had made it this far!

Fr. LeBlanc started the service, greeted the congregation, and said the opening prayers. Sid and I then walked up onto the altar and sat in our two chairs right next to Fr. LeBlanc. Just like at a regular Catholic mass, two readings are said at a Catholic wedding service. A relative of Sidney’s, Ed Galloway, gave the first reading. Before he read from the book of Genesis he spoke a few eloquent words about the Mathis family. After Ed spoke and did the reading, the responsorial psalm was performed. Then one half of our sponsor couple, the same man who said the blessing at our rehearsal dinner, Tim McCormick, gave the second reading. Call us cliché, but Sidney and I went with the standard “Love is patient, love is kind…” passage from 1 Corinthians.

The proclamation of the gospel and the delivery of the homily was done by Fr. LeBlanc. Looking over at us as he talked, Father stressed that it wasn’t him administering the Holy Sacrament of Marriage. Rather, it was Sidney and I. It was such a powerful way of saying that the two of us, along with God, held the power for a long and successful marriage.

Suddenly Father LeBlanc switched the tone of his voice, looked at us again, and asked, “Are you ready to do this?!”

Before we knew it, Sid and I were once again up in front of the altar. Although this time our eyes were locked and we were standing directly across from each other so the congregation could see us 100% as opposed to our backs being to everyone. My brother was standing on my side and Sidney’s sisters were standing on her side. At this point, we went off script just a little…

Sidney and I just about to say our vows (photo credit to Bill Plate).

Sidney and I just about to say our vows (photo credit to Bill Plate).

As part of his best man duties, it was rehearsed that Glen would present the rings. However, Fr. LeBlanc had a better idea. He asked Harrison, our three-year-old ring bearer nephew, to do the honors. Now it would have been totally understandable if Harrison got scared or froze during this very unpredictable time; but he didn’t. Harrison took the plate that the rings rested on while Fr. LeBlanc sprinkled them with holy water. He then let Harrison bring the plate to us so we could take our rings and say our vows. The little guy did a masterful job. Word is still out on whether my brother has forgiven Harrison for stealing his most important job.

We spoke our vows with sincerity and conviction to each other. We could feel the Holy Spirit within us. Fr. LeBlanc talked about how we were now one. He then gave a blessing over us and that was it…WE WERE MARRIED!

Sidney and I right after we signed our marriage license.

Sidney and I right after we signed our marriage license.

Ode to Joy started to play and Sidney and I shared a kiss. We then walked back up the aisle. I had successfully held in my emotions for the entirety of the service but once we hit the vestibule of the church a few tears flowed. We were congratulated by family and friends but we couldn’t bask in that glory long. We had to go back down to the altar and sign our wedding papers. The photographer then took some photos of us and that sealed it. Our business at the church, very important business might I add, was finished. It was time for Mr. and Mrs. Reser to head to the reception. Don’t Blink.

* A blog post centering on the reception will come soon. Professional photos were taken at the wedding but not used for this post.

The Return of the Thursday Countdown

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday! When you think of Thursday, do you automatically say to yourself, “I can’t wait, it is Brent’s random rundown day!”? I didn’t think so. Let’s get to the topics.

Boom, Clap, the Sound of My Tires – This morning got off to a rough start. As I was driving to campus for my workout, I rammed over what looked to be a good sized log in the middle of my lane. Driving in the dark and maybe zoning out about the day ahead of me, I didn’t even see it until it was too late. A loud crashing sound went through my car and I knew I had at least one flat. Roadside assistance came to tow my car and Sidney came to the rescue and picked me up.

Later in the day the repair shop called me. They delivered the unfortunate news that not only was the front passenger tire toast but the back one was as well. This morning when I got in my car I had little idea that I would run over some random object that would force me to shell out $172 for new tires.

It’s Going Down, I’m Yelling Tinder – Last month I was interviewed by WPDE to give an expert opinion regarding online dating, specifically with popular apps such as Tinder. I decided to take the advice I gave in the interview and expand on it for my latest Coastal Now segment. To watch me give my best advice on how to play safely with Tinder, click here. Additionally, I would like to announce that I have started my own personal YouTube channel. If you would like to check that out, click here.

In my latest Social Circle segment I talk Tinder.

In my latest Social Circle segment I talk Tinder.

You’re As Cold as Ice – This past week Myrtle Beach has seen record cold temperatures for the area. Believe it or not, temperatures have dropped to (gasp) 20 degrees. No, not -20 degrees, just 20 degrees. However, for people who are not used to those temperatures it is cold. Believe it or not, the local school district actually delayed classes by two hours. Of course the schedule went on as normal at Coastal. Speaking of my work place, I took this photo of one of our fountains at the start of the week. There is your proof that it occasionally does get cold in South Carolina.

The fountain in the Edwards Courtyard was icing over.

The fountain in the Edwards Courtyard was icing over.

Short Stay – Catholic priests usually don’t stay at parishes for too long. Dioceses move around personnel every few years or so. However, this past weekend I saw an early exit that was especially brief. A few months ago at St. Andrew we received a Polish priest named Fr. Filip Wodecki to serve as our parochial vicar. This man, probably in his forties, loved to joke around and had a very sharp wit. The only problem was that his humor didn’t translate with everyone simply because they couldn’t understand him. His accent was sometimes difficult to decipher, even for me. Nonetheless, he was still a great guy who was committed to his job. It came as great surprise last Saturday evening when he said he was moving on. The bishop had assigned him to a new parish. I wish Fr. Wodecki the best of luck!

The front of St. Andrew Parish. This is the church I attend in Myrtle Beach.

The front of St. Andrew Parish. This is the church I attend in Myrtle Beach.

My Oscar Pick – So obviously you all are anxiously awaiting my Oscar pick for Best Picture. Having seen half of the nominees, I have to go with “American Sniper.” The story, the themes, and the acting make this film the best of the year. I will tell you this, there should be no way in hell that Bradley Cooper doesn’t win Best Actor. His performance as Chris Kyle is one for the ages. Dear Academy, please give him the award.

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You made it through another rundown! I hope you all have a great weekend and thanks again for reading. Don’t Blink.