A Nice 2021

As I sit here and reflect on 2021, I am thankful that it was a year to adjust. After an insane 2020 that included the birth of Beau, a move across the country, and the beginning of a new job all while a global pandemic shook our world, things slowed down a little bit in 2021. It was our first full year in Spokane and with the easing of COVID restrictions, we took the last 12 months to become familiar with our new home.

Fr. Jeff Lewis blessed our home in 2021 as we took the year to take it easy after an insane 2020.

We have no complaints. This year wasn’t about us. Instead, we had the opportunity to celebrate others. Like Sid’s sister who gave birth to a handsome little boy, Jack. Or my brother and sister-in-law who wed on July 4. Or my parents who marked their 40th anniversary in August.

I was the best man at Glen and Carrie’s wedding.

With our loved ones thriving in the spotlight, we stayed backstage and really started making Washington our home. We solidified relationships, found a couple trusty coffee shops, played at a few favorite parks, became regulars at our local library, purchased season passes at Chuck E. Cheese, joined local swimming lessons, exercised hard with our gym community, stumbled upon a couple neighborhood watering holes, and so much more.

We spent a lot of time at Spokane parks in 2021.

Like I said, we spent most of the year on Spokane soil. That’s not to say we were stationary. We spent a May weekend in Walla Walla and had a blast. We visited Sid’s family in Myrtle Beach in June and are lucky to finish 2021 right here in South Carolina as well. We went camping in the middle of nowhere with my sister’s family. We ventured to Missoula. Sid and I took our first real vacation together in five years when we flew to Las Vegas for several days in July. We found our way back to Walla Walla in August where my parents rented a VRBO for a relative’s wedding weekend. I made numerous drives back and forth to Pullman for work but also spent a Saturday there with my dad and brother for a Cougar football game.

In August, we spent a family weekend in Walla Walla as my cousin got married.

As you can tell, a lot of our travels centered around family. But most of our everyday living did as well. We had numerous Sunday dinners with my parents, siblings, and their families. Although the setting changed from my dad’s backyard deck to the dining room of our childhood home depending on the season, the good times never ceased. Nor did they stop when we celebrated holidays, marked birthdays, or attended sporting events/shows. Although we didn’t have the quantity of time with Sidney’s family that we had with mine, we definitely matched it with quality. Just a couple weeks ago, we had a Myrtle Beach “staycation.” Sid’s parents rented a condo on the beach for us and the families of her two sisters. It was a really nice five days that preceded the Christmas holiday we also got to spend with them.

We got to celebrate lots of birthdays this year!

The other “F” value that flourished this year was our family’s faith. Our first full year as parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church was blessed. We got to know our parish priest better and made friends with other church families. The relationships we started developing with our young adult Catholic group at the end of 2020 flourished in 2021. Beyond our regular meetings, we now all hang out together regularly at our homes. Sloan’s love for Jesus continued to grow as a student at St. Mary Catholic School. I committed to Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year Podcast and went through the entire book from Genesis through Revelation.

Photo we took of Sloan prior to her first day of school as a Pre-K 4 student at St. Mary Catholic School in Spokane Valley.

Professionally, 2021 was a solid year. The social media team became its own unit within University Marketing and Communications at Washington State University and I joined the department’s leadership team. My responsibilities increased and I had the privilege of taking on tasks for the first time in my career. I work for a terrific boss and collaborate with a talented and supportive team.

In March 2021, I celebrated my 1-year anniversary at WSU. So thankful to work for the Cougs!

Thanks be to God, it was a fortunate year for us. Despite a couple trips to the emergency room for our accident-prone Beau, everyone stayed healthy. We didn’t experience loss in our extended families. With a pandemic still very much impacting the world, the virus and its variants stayed away from us. Could we ask for much more?

This year was a blessing for our family.

As we close the book on 2021, I am thankful for what this year provided our family and our loved ones. I would be more than happy with another stable year in 2022 but I do know that even-numbered years usually bring our family more change and unpredictability than odd-numbered ones. We shall see. At the very least, let’s hope 2022 finally brings us some light at the end of the tunnel to the coronavirus. Amen to that, right? Don’t Blink.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2021

Another amazing Thanksgiving weekend has just passed. I always enjoy this time of the year because it provides a well-needed break and is the true kickoff of the holiday season. So much optimism and joy! As is my custom, I like to look back at the weekend and point out a highlight from each day.

Thursday – Kind of a no-brainer, right? We celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. My sister and her family plus my brother and his wife joined us for excellent food, some drinks, and games. Oh, let’s not forget the desserts either. We had pumpkin pie, cheesecake, peanut butter pie, and chocolate chip cookie bars. If you did any recent reading of this blog, you know what I chose. My fondest memory of the evening was just our conversation around the table when we ate the Thanksgiving meal.

Our family taking some time to let our food settle after Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house.

Friday – We go back to my parents’ house for Friday’s highlight where we gathered to watch the 113th Apple Cup. At the start of the game we heated up the Thanksgiving leftovers and picked our lucky spots in the basement to cheer on the Cougs. Don’t know if much luck was needed on this evening as WSU pulverized the Huskies, 40-13, to secure state bragging rights. It was so awesome to see the football team play such a complete game and put an exclamation point on the regular season. Needless to say, it was a very happy drive home for the four of us.

Sidney and I prior to watching the 2021 Apple Cup.

Saturday – Chuck E. Cheese did something pretty cool. They teamed up with Ryan Kaji of Ryan’s World fame to host a fan fest live event that extended across all of its restaurants in the country. Sloan and I showed up at our Spokane Valley location for the 10:30 a.m. free event. We watched the Ryan special on the televisions and as the story played out the Chuck E. Cheese host did interactive games and crafts with us. Sloan loved it and we were very appreciative of the free tickets they gave us after the program ended.

Sloan following along with the Ryan’s World FanFest at the Spokane Valley Chuck E. Cheese location.

Sunday – We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent by attending mass at St. Mary and then heading over to the gym for Advent Adventures Faith Time. The parish really went all out as Sloan was able to complete an Advent-themed obstacle course, make a homemade Advent wreath, create a “gingerbread” nativity scene, and so much more. We can sometimes look ahead to Christmas without proper preparation but if we take plenty of time to reflect during Advent we can be ready for Christ’s birth.

We had so much fun at the St. Mary Parish (Spokane Valley) Advent event.

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Being thankful isn’t confined to Thanksgiving nor is it limited to Thanksgiving weekend. Let us continue to be thankful during the other 361 days of the year. I hope everyone had a terrific weekend. Don’t Blink.

The Octagon Thursday Rundown

Happy last Thursday of May to everyone! Hope you have had a nice week and still have enough in the tank to make it through Friday before cruising into the Memorial Day weekend. Here are my five topics for tonight…

Thankful – The current days are some of the longest of the year and I find nothing more uplifting than my 5:15 a.m. drive home from the gym during that first full hour of daylight. As I gaze out at the mountains and trees during the commute, I can’t help but feel thankful for God’s creation and for my personal good fortune to live in this beautiful corner of the country.

A look from my driver window earlier this week as I drove home from the gym.

School’s Out for the Summer – Sloan attended her last day of Pre-K 3 yesterday. Her school year ended a little sooner than her classmates because of vacation so Sloan’s class rolled out the red carpet and celebrated her on Wednesday. We feel so fortunate to have Sloan enrolled at St. Mary. She loved going each day, met friends, and brought home impressive work. Sloan’s last day in her uniform was actually on Monday because yesterday was College Spirit Day and she made her daddy proud by sporting a WSU shirt. Next stop: Pre-K 4.

Sloan at St. Mary in Spokane Valley on her last day of Pre-K 3. It was College Spirit Day so she ditched her uniform for a WSU t-shirt.

We Need This – Last night we attended my niece’s t-ball game at Midway Elementary and the playground had something that Sid and I really want! This octagon “pen” is for a dodgeball-esque game called Gaga Ball but it might as well be a holding cell for overactive 1-year-olds. Not going to lie, it was nice placing Beau in the enclosed area and watching him play without having to chase after him. What a genius idea.

This octagon at Midway Elementary in Spokane was wonderful for Beau to play in.

Happy 10 Years – Here I am bragging about my 10th anniversary of blogging when other people are marking much more important decade anniversaries. Fr. Jeff Lewis, our pastor at St. Mary and great mentor/friend to Sidney and I, celebrated the 10th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood this week. Also, Bishop Thomas Daly, the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, marked his 10th anniversary of being a bishop on Tuesday. May we pray for both of these men as they continue their dedicated and fruitful ministries.

Bishop Daly (left) and Fr. Jeff Lewis (right) in 2017. Thanks and congrats to both on their respective 10 year anniversaries (photo courtesy of Bishop Daly’s Twitter account)

Dating Myself – Thanks to my friend Lindsi’s Thursday collection of memes, I found something that resonated with me in terms of my age. The best hack to get a malfunctioning Nintendo or Gameboy cartridge to play was obviously by blowing air into it. I have taken this trick with me throughout adulthood, whether it be blowing air into my smartphone charging port to get it to charge properly or blowing air into Sloan’s face as a last resort to get her to behave. Although this tactic may have originated in the late 1980s, it is truly timeless.

This tactic would usually work.

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I hope you have a great start to your Memorial Day weekend. It will be a BIG one for us! Before this holiday weekend is over you will hear from me again. As always, thanks for your readership. Don’t Blink.

Prayerful Thursday Rundown

Happy Thursday, friends. Thanks for your continued readership of Don’t Blink. Without any unnecessary delay, let’s jump into this week’s Rundown…

Praying For… – I always say that students who attend St. Mary School come home with some of the best crafts. Recently, Sloan made a figure that resembled her and attached a heart that contained the names of people (and…umm…things) that she is praying for. Her list included Jesus, Sid, myself, and…Muffin? Yep, that would be my parents’ cat. Sloan loves felines, especially the one belonging to her grandma and papa and felt the need to pray for it.

Sloan brought this home from school the other day.

We Remember – Speaking of people we pray for, a man named Dr. Robert Cina is always in our nightly prayers. He was the surgeon who performed corrective Pyloric Stenosis surgery on Sloan four years ago today. For those who don’t know, Pyloric Stenosis is a very rare condition in infants in which food is blocked from entering the small intestine, causing constant projectile vomiting and dangerous dehydration. Sid and I didn’t talk to anyone about the experience for a year after it happened but these days we are much more open about it. We promote Pyloric Stenosis awareness and try to support those parents and babies going through what we did. To commemorate the four year anniversary, I made this TikTok video.

During Sloan’s bout with Pyloric Stenosis and for over a year afterwards, we kept it between immediate family. Sidney and I are so thankful for the support of our parents. This photo shows our moms and dads with Sloan at MUSC.

Riverfront Park – We took advantage of the absolute gorgeous day last Saturday and met Miranda and her kids at Riverfront Park for a day of fun. We broke in the newly opened playground, admired the Spokane Falls, rode the carousel, and fed the garbage goat. Sloan and Beau absolutely loved it…and the adults did too.

It was a pefect day at Riverfront Park last Saturday.

Eating Outside – Spokane is pretty much the “Eating Outside Capital of the United States.” Pleasant temperatures and low humidity make it a great place eat dinner outside during the late spring/summer/early fall months. In fact, taking it outside for breakfast works too. This past weekend we were able to enjoy brunch and dinner out on our back deck as we ate waffles in the morning and then tried out our new grill in the evening. With a view like we have, there is plenty of incentive to eating outdoors.

It was nice to get an early start on “eating outside” season this past weekend. We ate waffles for brunch on Sunday.

National Jelly Bean Day – There is a day for everything, right? Today is National Jelly Bean Day and just like there is a day for everything, there is seemingly a Don’t Blink blog post for everything too. Back in 2017, I ranked my top 5 favorite Jelly Belly flavors. I won’t reveal my entire list in tonight’s post (you have to go here to read it) but buttered popcorn and Dr. Pepper are both on the list. If the subject of jelly beans seems redundant to you, I did write about sweeTARTS jelly beans just a couple weeks ago.

I wrote about my favorite Jelly Belly flavors four years ago.

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It is going to be tough to top last weekend but we will try. Have a great evening and we will catch up next week. Don’t Blink.

Easter 2021

You can’t call it an Easter of redemption because every Easter is one of redemption. But I think I can say it was more of a “normal” Easter in 2021 compared to what we experienced in 2020. And, to be honest, I was glad. To celebrate Easter Sunday with my family after missing them so much last year was extremely sweet. Here is a look at our day…

Sid and I were up bright and early so we were ready when Sloan and Beau awoke. Once they were up we led them downstairs to their Easter surprises. Although Beau didn’t say much, Sloan sure was excited.

Sloan and Beau on Easter morning.

Next came the most significant part of the day. We went to St. Mary Catholic Church for 9 a.m. Easter Sunday mass. After not being able to gather last year for this most holy mass it sure meant a lot to celebrate in our sacred space once again. Fr. Jeff Lewis celebrated the beautiful service and delivered a homily about the strength of the Church throughout the past couple millenniums. We sat with my brother and his fiancée and truly found ourselves in the Easter spirit.

Dressed for Easter Sunday mass!

After mass we drove out north to my parents’ house. We ate a brunch of pastries that included muffins, breads, and donuts. Sloan and Beau also opened Easter baskets that grandma and papa got them.

A look at my brunch plate.

We then took a couple hours to just relax. As is a tradition, I played some Easter hymns and we just took it easy and chatted.

Soon enough my brother and his fiancée joined us at my parents’. They were followed shortly by my sister, brother-in-law, Mikayla, and Johnny. We all gathered in the living room and chatted. That is simply what us Resers do when we gather—we talk. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It wasn’t long before we were all sitting down for the Easter meal. This year we had ham, corn casserole, mac and cheese, scalloped potatoes, asparagus, salad, and more. The dinner marked the first time that my wife and kids got to spend Easter with my parents and siblings so I made sure not to take it for granted.

A look at our Easter meal.

After we let our food settle, it was time for the annual Glen and Carrie (brother and his fiancée) Easter egg hunt. They hid a whole bunch of eggs in my parents’ backyard and then Sloan, Mik, and Johnny went out and found them after a quick pep talk from Glen. Backyard egg hunts are the best hunts.

Glen and Carrie always do a great job of putting on this Easter egg hunt.

Finally, it was dessert time. My mom made ice cream cake in honor of Miranda’s birthday (which was on March 28) and my brother made peanut butter pie. Despite eating myself silly at dinner I still managed to eat a little bit of both.

Miranda, Glen, and Carrie enjoying dessert.

We all talked for a little bit longer and then we all departed to our respective houses. It was a special day after a meaningful Lenten season. But as a priest from my past used to say, we don’t look at this present time as the end of Lent but rather as the start of the Easter. So, happy Easter my friends, let’s joyfully celebrate the resurrection of our Lord over the next several weeks. Don’t Blink.

Holiday Cheer Thursday Rundown

We are mere single digit days away from Christmas! How are you doing with your holiday shopping? If you are anything like me, your time might be better spent on Amazon as opposed to Don’t Blink. Well, at least I can make it quick for you. Let’s get started with our five topics…

Christmas Cheer – Another holiday tradition our parents introduced to us was something they called “Christmas Cheer.” On a couple different random nights close to Christmas, my mom and dad would gather us around the tree in the living room and serve us hot chocolate. They would dim the lights and play Christmas carols from the boom box. It was always a relaxing, festive, and slightly magical experience. Sidney and I have introduced the tradition to Sloan and she is hooked. For the past several days since we first did it last Thursday night, she will come up to us and ask, “Can we have Christmas cheer again?”

My cup of hot chocolate from last Thursday’s Christmas Cheer session.

Favorite Christmas Movies – I know you are curious so I suppose I will give you what you want. I have five favorite Christmas movies and this is how I rank them…#5 – “A Christmas Vacation” (Clark is hilarious), #4 – “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” (first Christmas movie I ever remember watching), #3 – “A Christmas Carol” (I love all versions), #2 – “Home Alone” (very underrated musical score), #1 – “Miracle on 34th List” (the old one). If you really want to pick my brain on these choices, I gave full analysis two years ago. Hope you watch a some of your favorite Christmas favorites this weekend!

Pull up your Santa chair and let’s watch some Christmas movies!

While on the Subject – A Twitter account I follow posted this rather intriguing question: Which movie’s version of The North Pole do you want to visit the most? (“Elf,” “Polar Express, “Fred Claus,” “The Santa Claus) Although I thought it was a creative question, I didn’t think twice about my choice. THE POLAR EXPRESS! In my humble opinion, “The Polar Express” nailed it with both its depiction of the North Pole and Santa Claus. The movie really captures the magic of Christmas that many of us had as kids. 

Interesting but easy question.

Holiday Winner – Last week we had our WSU University Marketing and Communications virtual holiday party. The staff members in charge of the party did a superb job as they put together a Zoom gathering that was about as good as you can get. A scavenger hunt, holiday trivia, a recipe book, and a discussion about Christmas traditions all made the party engaging and fun. Another component of the morning was a costume contest. Yours truly pulled out the elf costume and won the award for “Most Festive.” The social media people always have the most fun!

I won “Most Festive” at our office virtual holiday party.

A New Special Ornament – You won’t find a school that does better arts and crafts than St. Mary. Sloan has brought home some really awesome projects over the past few months. On Tuesday she surprised us with our new favorite ornament. The two candy canes on the bulb form a heart and the card that came with it was beyond precious.

If you look closely you can see the reflection of Sloan and Sid!

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Okay, get back to Amazon now. If you need my address, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Have a great rest of your week. Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s First Day of Preschool

After seven months away from school, Sloan returned to the classroom today. She is the newest student in the Pre K-3 class at St. Mary Catholic School in Spokane Valley.

This was Sloan this morning prior to Sid driving her to school.

For more than half a year, we had the pleasure of keeping Sloan home with us. After I worked my last day at CCU in February, I took Sloan out of daycare and spent the next three weeks doing fun stuff with her non-stop. I then left to work at WSU and Sid watched both kids fulltime as they prepared to make the move west themselves. Two months later in early May they joined me in Spokane. For the past five months, Sloan has spent every minute of every day with us. It has been incredibly nice—and I suppose a little challenging at times too.

But no matter how sweet it has been having our little girl at home with us, we know it is best to give her a little bit of structure with kids her own age. So, Sid dropped her off at St. Mary for her first day of preschool this morning. The primary reason why we decided to enroll her as opposed to keeping her at our house until she turns 18 is because we are extremely comfortable with the school. St. Mary School is the parochial school of our new church, St. Mary Parish (shocker, right?). This connection and the desire of both Sidney and I to have our kids receive a Catholic education made St. Mary a no-brainer for us. Sloan is in great hands…and she also looks really cute in her uniform!

Sloan is attending St. Mary Catholic School in Spokane Valley (photo courtesy of the St. Mary Facebook page)

It was still just a little sad watching Sid and Sloan drive off today. Saying goodbye to her after getting so used to having her around at all times was a bit hard for this sappy dad, even if she is going to school for just three hours per day…two days per week 😊

Sloan had a great first day at school.

Let me tell you this: If you ever have the means and opportunity to keep your child at home for an extended period of time during their toddler years, do it. I am not saying never send them to daycare or preschool, but if they are going through a major change (like we were), easing the transition by keeping them close by is good for the child and rewarding for you.

We are proud to send Sloan to St. Mary (photo courtesy of the St. Mary Facebook page).

I am excited to see how Sloan grows intellectually, socially, and spiritually at St. Mary. Thanks be to God. Don’t Blink.