Life in the Fishbowl

Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live." I want to change the world.

Life in the Fishbowl - Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live." I want to change the world.

Just in time for Christmas: An Auction for our Adoption.

Family of Six
Christy has been hard at work putting together an online auction to help cover some of our adoption fees. Generous friends, family, and businesses have donated some great items for this event. You should head on over to the auction’s facebook page and check it out.

Here’s how it works. Once you find something you’d like to bid on, write your bid in a comment under that specific picture. Please include your name and email address . If you would like to bid over a current bid, simply comment under the original bid with your name and email address! The highest bid at the close of the auction on November 24th wins! IF THERE IS SHIPPING LISTED, PLEASE COMMENT WITH YOUR BID IF YOU WILL NEED SHIPPING. We will gladly deliver in the Indianapolis area (if you’d like to ask about other arrangements, let me know).

Here are a few highlights from this auction. Hurry! The auction closes November 24th!

One of a kind elephant painting

Elephant painting
Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! We’re excited to present this one of a kind gift to the winning bidder: FOUR (4) tickets to the Indianapolis installment of the Ringling Bros. Circus plus a Certified Pachyderm Painting – what an awesome keepsake!
You can place your bid here.

Hand made paper necklace

Paper necklace
This paper necklace was hand made in Uganda. If you’d like to place a bid, you can do so here.

Silk scarf from Ethiopia

Ethiopian scarf
We bought this scarf from a small shop in Addis during our trip to bring Mihret home. Click here to place your bid.

Premier Designs Autism Awareness Spectrum Necklace, bracelet, and earrings

Autism necklace Autism bracelet
This beautiful necklace, bracelet, and earring set from Premier Designs can be bid on here.

Family Photo Session

Lantern Tree Photography

A one-hour photo session from Lantern Tree Photography ($150 value). Shannon took our first Family of Five portraits. It’s so cool that she’s part of our journey to become a family of six! You can bid on this session here. Please note that this photo session must take place within the Indianapolis area.

But wait! There’s more!

There’s so much more available in this auction. Please go check it out and bid to your heart’s content!

Thank you for your ongoing support!

We’re sending a Northpole gift to Ethiopia with love

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #NorthpoleFun #shop

The Christmas Spirit has come early to our house this year! Because our adoption agency has officially matched our family with an older boy in Ethiopia, we can start sending him emails, letters, pictures, and care packages. That means we are able to send him Christmas gifts this year.

Let me say that again.

We’re sending Christmas gifts to our son in Ethiopia!!

To Ethiopia with love #NorthpoleFun #shop

Of course, we’d prefer to celebrate the holidays with him here with us at home, but we’re going to make the most of this opportunity and share this Christmas with our son who happens to be halfway around the world. It’s tempting to want to go overboard. But we won’t. I promise. We won’t. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone involved in this story.

I’ve thought long and hard about what to send him. We still don’t know a whole lot about him. What makes him tick? What’s his favorite color? What size clothes fit him best? Does he believe in Santa Claus? I honestly doubt he’s even heard of Santa. What about snow and snowmen and snow angels and snowballs and snowball fights? Has he ever had a snowball fight?

Well, considering that the coldest month only has an average low of around 40 degrees, it’s highly unlikely that he’s ever seen any significant snow accumulation. So it’s even less likely that he’s been involved in a snowball fight.
Avalauncher #NorthpoleFun

There’s always a chance of a white Christmas where we live. So this young man is in for a pretty big shock when he finally experiences Christmas with his new family. Thanks to Hallmark Northpole toys , he’ll know exactly what to do with the snow (once he gets over the initial shock at how cold snow actually is).

Northpole Collection at Walmart #Northpole #shop

The Avalauncher is available only at Walmart. It is a handheld launcher that sends ping pong sized foam snowballs soaring into the air. It’s such a blast to play with that we bought two of them . It also comes with mini cardboard targets so you can work on your aim in preparation for your next epic indoor snowball battle.

Avalauncher targets #NorthpoleFun #shop

Based on the upcoming movie on the Hallmark Channel, the Northpole toy line is full of fun toys, decorations, and gifts for the holiday season. You’re sure to find a gift for kids and adults of all ages.

In keeping with the childlike spirit of Northpole, I can’t wait to share this little piece of holiday fun with our new son! We won’t be sending the Avalauncher itself. He’ll have to wait until he’s home with us to play with that. But we are sending snowballs and the targets so he can practice his aim and be ready for an all-out snowball battle when he finally comes home with us.

We’ve already had several skirmishes and ambushes over the past few days. I think that tend will continue throughout the holiday season – and beyond!

I can’t wait for him to receive this package. I also can’t wait to have our first video chat with him. Who knows? Maybe we’ll break out the Avalaunchers and snowballs and have an epic battle that spans halfway around the world. That would be pretty memorable. And making memories a key part of the holiday season.

 

Be a better princess with the Sleeping Beauty DVD

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #DisneyBeauties #shop

Sleeping Beauty DVD at Walmart #DisneyBeauties
With the release of the Sleeping Beauty DVD and Blu-Ray, Disney has re-introduced one of the classic Disney Princesses to a new generation. As I mentioned before Mihret is a big fan of all of the Disney Princesses. So in honor of the release of Sleeping Beauty from the Disney Vault, we dressed up in our royal best and visited our local Walmart to celebrate.

In Store #DisneyBeauties

As we were shopping for the DVD and other princess goodies, Mihret and I talked about what qualities we liked in the Disney Princesses. Sure, they’re pretty. And most of them can sing with beautiful voices. But there’s more to being a Princess than these external characteristics. To be noble requires a goodness that comes from deep within your innermost being. The beauty of the #DisneyBeauties is truly more than just skin-deep.

#DisneyBeauties shopping spree

 

We bought a few Princess related items while we walked and talked in the store. I hope these items will help reinforce the strong inner virtues that the Disney Princesses possess. They can be some pretty important role models for Mihret.

Princesses are kind-hearted.

Princess Aurora is a kind-hearted soul. She fills her parents’ lives with sunshine. That’s a pretty remarkable reputation to have, isn’t it? She lit up the room with her joy. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances (what’s more difficult than having the self-proclaimed Mistress of all Evil wanting you dead?), we can choose to live our lives in such a way hat we’re always filling other people’s lives with sunshine.

Can’t we?

Sunshine #DisneyBeauties

 

Being a Princess means you’re kind-hearted and bring cheer to others. That is certainly a Princess quality I hope my daughters display throughout their lives.

Princesses are determined problem solvers.

Do you remember when Mulan climbed that pole with those weights tied around her wrists? She was determined to solve that puzzle. She didn’t give up. She had the courage and determination to get the job done with whateveer it took.

Puzzle #DisneyBeauties

 

Mihret shows similar problem solving skills when she’s putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Much like Mulan, she is a very determined girl who refuses to listen when someone says, “You can’t do that.”

Princesses are creative.

Dinglehoppers…

Snarfblats…

Ariel’s creativity shines when she explains what all her gadgets, gizmos a-plenty, whosits, whatsits galore, and thingamabobs. Her creativity and her inquisitive nature work hand in hand, don’t they? an adventurous, curious, creative spirit is something that should be encouraged in our daughters.

I know.

Reading that might make you a little bit nervous. Free spirits like this can get into trouble pretty easily. And that makes parents like me a bit uneasy. Daughters like that can keep you on your toes. They might even make your hair turn white.

Kind of like King Triton’s hair.

Creative Coloring #DisneyBeauties

 

You know something? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love having daughters who aren’t afraid to color outside the lines a little bit. it seems like their creativity knows no bounds. And I want to do whatever I can as their Dad to keep encouraging them to be the creative and curious free spirits I know they are. It’s just a small (but important) part of what makes my daughters such beautiful Princesses. And I want to keep encouraging that spirit to grow within them throughout their lives.

It might cause some bumps along the way. But the ride is worth it. Princesses make the journey one for the storybooks. I know mine have.

Oh, and Mihret also wanted me to tell you that Ariel is pretty neat because she can swim around and around and around. So she has that going for her, too!

What’s YOUR Princess like? How do Disney Princesses inspire her?

Our daughter’s princess makeover

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #DisneyBeauties #shop Disney Princess button #DisneyBeauties

Hear ye! Hear ye! We are in the Presence of Royalty!

We celebrated Mihret’s birthday over the weekend and it looks like we have a little princess on our hands. I don’t think that should really come as a surprise to anyone, though. From Princess Sophia to Princess Merida, she loves all the Disney Princesses. Her favorite, however, is Ariel. She could watch The Little Mermaid all day, every day if we would let her. I don’t know if it’s her stunning red hair or her amazing swimming ability or her beautiful voice or her creativity or her curiosity or some combination of these characteristics, but Mihret is a full-blown Ariel fan. So we just had to give her this little gift before her birthday party. It was like she had her own little princess makeover this weekend.

Mihret the Mermaid #DisneyBeauties

She was in heaven as she wore this costume around the house all day. With Halloween just around the corner, she’s going to have a lot of opportunities to dress up as Ariel all month long! There is a wide assortment of Disney Princess Halloween costumes available, but I know which princess will be gracing our presence this year.

An event fit for a princess.

In addition to her birthday and Halloween, I’m pretty excited about another event where Ariel-Mihret will be making an appearance. As a special way to celebrate the release of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty DVD and Sleeping Beauty Blu-Ray, Walmart is hosting a special Disney Princess event this coming Saturday.

Sleeping Beauty DVD at Walmart #DisneyBeauties

Grab your favorite princess (or prince), dress them up in their royal best as you party with the princesses this Saturday. Here are the details:

When?

Saturday, October 11
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where?

Your friendly neighborhood Walmart store
(click here for a list of participating stores)

Why?

Here’s just some of the fun that will be happening:

  • Disney Princess coloring and activity sheets
  • Photo opportunities with a cardboard Sleeping Beauty
  • Disney Princess cupcakes samples
  • Disney Princess character balloons (available for purchase)

A royal deal awaits.

In addition to the fun activities, there will be a special in-store coupon available from American Greetings at participating locations. It’s good for $3 off of any $10 purchase of Disney Princess themed party supplies. You don’t want to miss out on this royal deal, do you?

Join the fun!

I’ll be there with my mermaid princess. Will you? It should be an event that dreams are made of. You can join in the fun all week long by following the #DisneyBeauties hashtag on Twitter and Instagram!

 

It’s National Coffee Day. Buy some coffee. Help our adoption

The powers that be have declared today to be National Coffee Day. If you’re a coffee drinker, I’m not sure why you need a specific date for you to celebrate coffee. I mean, every day is coffee day for many of you. Right?

So it’s National Coffee Day. And you love coffee. You also want to do good with your purchase. I’ve got a proposal for YOU!

Just Love Coffee adoption fundraiser

You can support our adoption by buying coffee from Just Love Coffee, a portion of the proceeds will go directly towards our efforts to bring our boy home.

I don’t drink much coffee, but I know this is some high qualityquality stuff. A former co-worker of mine is a self-proclaimed coffee snob. She had this to say about her purchase:

“It’s yummy.”

It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

Happy National Coffee Day, y’all! Thanks for your ongoing support! Now buy some coffee!

(please)

Our lives changed after we took this picture 5 years ago

We took this picture five years ago today. It was the last time we were together as a family of four.

Outside Indianapolis International Airport before flying to Ethiopia.

A few minutes after this, the kids drove off with their Papaw. Soon after that, Christy and I boarded a plane. Our ultimate destination was a Little Girl in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Flying over Egypt

Five years ago today, we were ending one leg of our family’s journey.

Five years ago today, we were starting another leg of our family’s journey.

Five years ago…

Wow.

How has it already been five years since we went from being a family of four to a family of five?

Our first picture as a family of five. Taken at the Indianapolis International Airport

It couldn’t have happened without the prayer and support of some pretty amazing friends and family who were with us throughout the process. And it certainly couldn’t have happened without family members taking care of Aiden and Alyson, trying to do whatever possible to keep their lives as close to normal as possible while their mom and dad were half a world away. To anyone and everyone who had some part in our journey to bring Mihret into our family, I want to say “Thank you” again. Thank you for allowing God to use you and to weave your story into our family’s story.

Because we can’t imagine our family without Mihret.

Family picture at the 2013 Show Hope Celebration in Franklin Tennessee

I bet you can’t, either.

The kids holding a sign that says

These cheap(est) wireless plans help keep our family connected

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias

walmart Best plans

The problem

Having three kids in school means you have to juggle calendars – a lot. When you add extracurricular activities like football, volleyball, student council, and other after school events into the mix, things can get a little chaotic. Throw in some doctor’s appointments and there are weeks where it feels like our family calendar teeters dangerously close to the realm of insanity. Since the majority of the school week involves rushing children from one place to another, it’s easy to lose track of who is going where. We need to be able to contact each other easily. We decided to purchase cheap wireless plans for our two oldest kids. That way they don’t have to borrow someone else’s phone if their after-school meetings end early or if we happen to forget to pick them up.

Admit it. You’ve forgotten what time your child’s after school activity was over, too. That’s why our kids have phones now. We’ll be reminded if we do inadvertently forget what time we’re supposed to pick them up.

While shopping for phones for the kids, it became very obvious that Christy was in desperate need of a new phone. My wife never complained about the quality of her phone, but it was pretty apparent that her not-quite-smartphone really wasn’t going to cut the mustard anymore. She needed something that was lightweight, durable, and could manage all of our calendars and contact information. And a good camera would be nice. Oh yeah. It also needed to be affordable. And it needed to be part of a reliable network. Dropped calls are not acceptable.

Finding a quality phone and plan that fit our budget started to feel like a tall order.

#Phones4School Walmart location

Walmart best plans to the rescue!

Just in time for back to school shopping, Walmart has an incredible rollback deal on the Alcatel One Touch Evolve smartphone. Regularly priced at $79.88, it’s currently available for $29.88. That’s perfect for your #Phones4School shopping!

It’s really tough to beat Walmart Family Mobile as your service provider. They have recently dropped the price of their Unlimited Talk, Text & Web plan to only $34.88 a month. It’s a pretty remarkable deal. One we couldn’t pass up.

Walmart #Phones4School Collage

In addition to the great deal on the phone and the lowest priced unlimited plans around, Walmart Family Mobile has also taken to twitter to share some great tips for your phone. Oh, and they also have a sense of humor…

Why not give them a follow? It’ll be worth it.

Alcatel One Touch Evolve #Phones4School

As you can see, the phone comes with your standard equipment: a battery and a charger. It feels pretty sturdy for a smartphone. It comes with plenty of apps already loaded on it, but I went ahead and downloaded Instagram so it would be ready for Christy to start sharing her amazing photography skills. Because the camera? It’s pretty good.

Photo of a Photo

Now that we have upgraded Christy’s phone and her plan, we’ll be able to keep our family connected throughout the school year. Christy and I can sync our calendars to make sure we don’t miss any important appointments. If I’m sneaky enough, maybe I’ll be able to schedule a surprise date night or two on her calendar, too. We’ll have to wait and see about that one, though.

And if we do happen to miss an appointment for some unexpected reason? Walmart’s best plans will keep our family connected all school year long.

Flash shirt sale!

Adoption fundraiser t-shirts: "We have this hope as an anchor"

A missions team has adopted our shirt design as their official team shirt! So, we are ordering another round of adult t-shirts (sorry, we are not including any of the yellow Youth-sized t-shirts with this order) this Tuesday (July 29).

The t-shirts are available in S-XXXL and cost $20 each ($22 for XXL and XXXL). They are still available in Coral, Grey, and Cadet Blue.

We have also added sweatshirts to this batch of orders. They are $30 apiece ($32 for XXL).

As we did with the previous batch of shirts, there’s a flat $5 fee to ship your shirt(s) if you live outside of the Evansville, IN or Indianapolis, IN metropolitan areas.

If you have any other questions or would like to order a shirt (or more), please contact me and we’ll add your purchase to the order.

Don’t wait! We will be submitting our order at the end of day on Tuesday, July 29!

Please feel free to share this with anyone who might be interested. Thanks for your ongoing support in our journey to bring Little Man home!

Celebrating the Power of Dad

Life lesson Keep your eye on the ball

Dad has taught me a lot of things over the years. One of the most important things, however, comes from the years he coached me in baseball.

Keep your eye on the ball.

Me the Little League player

That’s a pretty important lesson when it comes to baseball. But it’s also pretty important when it comes to life. Keep your eye on the ball. Focus on the things that matter.

Faith. Family. Friends.

Keep them front and center. Stay focused on them. If you do, your life will be full of joy. You’ll be rich in ways that most millionaires dream.

That’s what my Dad taught me.

Oh, and if you happen to catch a few fish along the way? Well, that’s even better.

I have tried to pass this lesson along to my kids. Keep your eye on the ball.

Dad was my baseball coach. I’ve tried following in his footsteps as a coach, as a mentor, and as a friend. I’m doing my best to pass along what he has taught me – especially when it comes to priorities. That’s the power of Dad, after all.

Faith. Family. Friends.

Keep your focus on them. And don’t forget to have some fun while you’re doing it.

Oral-B understands the influence that dads can have. And I’m happy to be partnering with them this Father’s Day. In a society where the impact of involved dads is getting short shrift, it warms my heart to see companies like Oral-B creating commercials like this. They truly understand the power of Dad.

See? Oral B gets it. They understand the power of Dad. And they’re even taking it another level. Oral-B has teamed up with March of Dimes and Eli Manning to honor dads everywhere. Pretty cool, right?

It gets even better, though. Since fatherhood is full of moments that make a dad smile, Oral-B wants dads to take care of their teeth. To help ensure that dads everywhere have healthy smiles, Oral-B is offering a special $7 off coupon for their Oral-B 7000 BLACK, their most sophisticated and technologically advanced brush yet. Not only is it engineered to perform, but it’s stylish, sleek, and precision-engineered, featuring 8,800 oscillations per minute and 40,000 pulsations per minute. It’s the perfect gift for the gadget-obsessed guy in your life.

Celebrate the power of Dad in your life this Father’s Day. Smile about the little things. Marvel at the amazing things. And remember to keep your eye on the ball.

Disclosure:
I partnered with Oral-B and Life of Dad, LLC for the #PowerofDad Father’s Day promotion and was compensated for my involvement.

Sorry for the radio silence.

We moved last weekend.

We didn’t move very far away. It was just down the street, actually. But it should probably go without saying that things have been a little bit busy since Moving Day last Saturday.

OK. Things have been a lot busy. There’s a lot I’m planning on posting, but I’ve just run out of time this week. It doesn’t really help that we don’t have Internet at home yet (thanks a lot, Comcast – or Xfinity – or whatever you’re called now). So the blog itself might be in a bit of a dormant stage for the next few days. But soon this blog will be back. And better than ever. Because I have SO MUCH TO SAY!

I still have access to twitter and the Life in the Fishbowl facebook page. So if you haven’t connected with me there, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?! 

Even though things are a little crazy at the Todd House right now, it’s comforting to be able to walk up to the front door and be greeted by this every day.

welcome home sign

Thanks again to everyone who helped us during the extended Moving Day! We’ll be sure to pay it forward.