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.

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.

 

Today’s the t-shirt deadline!

We have this hope as an anchor t-shirt  Hebrews 6:19

Today’s the day!

We will be placing the order for the first batch of t-shirts first thing Tuesday morning. If you want to have one of these awesome shirts in time for Summer, what are you waiting for? Get your order placed TODAY before time runs out! There’s a small chance that we might be able to order another batch of shirts at the end of Summer, but you really don’t want to risk it, do you?

Just click here and get the ball rolling.

We are able to accept other forms of payment if you aren’t comfortable using PayPal. Please email us and we’ll get it worked out!

Thanks again for all of your ongoing support!

Mihret and Her Mysterious Lost Tooth

Lost Tooth

30+ years ago
The Todd House
Evansville, Indiana

There I was, sitting at the kitchen table in our small house in Evansville. I was eating the last of my Cheerios and planning out the rest of my day without a care in the world. Sesame Street. I had to make sure to watch Sesame Street. And the Death Star was probably going to be blown up. Again. And there was a good chance I was going to wind up playing with some neighbor kids.

It was going to be an epic day. But that wouldn’t have been very much of a surprise. Every day was epic.

As I chugged down the remaining milk from my cereal bowl, I was shocked at what I had discovered. I felt a funny gap in my mouth and poked around with my tongue. Then I finally realized what had happened: I had lost a tooth! The wait was finally over. The tooth was free! I couldn’t wait to put that tooth in my Tooth Pillow for the Tooth Fairy that night. I was going to be rolling in the dough the next morning.

There was one problem. I couldn’t find my tooth. I looked everywhere and it was nowhere to be found. The tooth was gone. Heartbroken, I told mom that I had lost my tooth and couldn’t find it anywhere.

“You probably swallowed it,” she explained. “But that’s OK. We’ll write a note to the Tooth Fairy and explain what happened. I’m sure she’ll understand.”

We did.

And she did.

And all was right with the world.

Easter, 2014
The Ooley Homestead
Mooresville, Indiana

Lost tooth

“Mom! Dad! Come in here!” Aly shouted from another room. I couldn’t tell if she was happy or worried. “Mihret lost her tooth!”

After weeks of asking us every five minutes (you think I’m kidding. I’m not kidding. She was relentless) when her wiggly tooth was going to come out, Mihret FINALLY lost a tooth! With all that blood on her chin, it sure looks like it was a violent event that caused her to finally lose it. I promise, it wasn’t nearly as exciting. She just kept wiggling it and wiggling it and it finally fell out. She lost her tooth.

No. Really. It was lost.

We looked all over the place for it. It was nowhere to be found. We eventually decided to call off the search and rescue mission and came to the conclusion that she probably swallowed her tooth. Much like my mom did 30+ years ago, Christy swooped in and saved the day.

“We’ll write a note to the Tooth Fairy when we get home. I’m sure she’ll understand,” she said.

And so they did. Mihret dictated the note. Christy wrote it. Mihret signed it and they put it in the Tooth Pillow that Christy used when she was giving her tooth offerings to the Tooth Fairy.

Mihret's note to the tooth fairy

Mihret's note to the tooth fairy

The Tooth Fairy more than willingly accepted this offering. And she left Mihret a $5 bill, the going rate in the Todd household for a first lost tooth. Fortunately, she remembered to make the switch this time.

Epilogue

That other tooth that she refers to in the note is pretty wiggly. It’s ready to come out. And, just like with the first one, she’s asking when it’s going to come out. But she doesn’t stop there.

“I’m gonna CATCH IT this time!”

I wonder if I should do something like this to help make sure she does catch it this time…

Of course, if I did that, I’d be able to knock out #88 and #89 on My List. I think I may be on to something here.

Give that boy a hug

St Louis - To the Arch and back

As part of our preparation to adopt Little Man, Christy and I attended the Empowered to Connect Conference in St. Louis over the weekend. The conference was intense. It was emotional. It was well worth the time, effort, and energy it took to attend. I’m still processing a lot of the information and trying to implement some of the strategies. It’s going to take some intentionality on my part to make this shift in parenting style. But that’s OK. He’s worth it. So are the rest of our kids.

We decided to turn this trip into an extended weekend – kind of a mini vacation with the kids. While they had to endure a lot of sitting around during our time in the conference’s sessions, we tried to include some fun family activities while we were in the STL. Most of the places we visited were free, like the St. Louis Science Center, Bass Pro Shop (don’t knock it. It was as close to going to Six Flags as we were going to get on this trip), and the St. Louis Zoo. Christy and the big kids were going to go up into the Arch while we were in town, but due to time constraints and poor weather conditions, we had to skip that journey this time around. That’s OK. It’ll just give us another reason to go back to St. Louis very very soon.

While we were there, I started to wonder about our parenting style. Do you think Aiden wasn’t hugged enough as a baby? Or maybe he was hugged too much.

Elephant hug

Obviously, the boy likes hugs. And that’s a good thing. So we probably hugged him just the right amount. ;)

But just in case, you should probably give that boy a hug next time you see him. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.

 

 

Our Indiana Comic Con Quest

Our Indiana Comic Con QuestTowards the end of February, I approached Christy with this proposal:

“After Aly’s (ISSMA-related) choir concert that Saturday morning, how about I take all the kids with me to Comic Con downtown? Aly and Mihret would be free. I’d just have to pay for me and Aiden.”

I thought this was the perfect win-win-win proposition. 1.) I’d get to go to the first-ever Indiana Comic Con. 2.) Christy would get to have some time to herself, which is hard for her to come by. 3.) I’d be stepping up my effort to properly raise a gaggle of geeks. It was the best idea I’d come up with in a long time.

Here’s how she replied to my foolproof plan:

“That’s money we don’t really have right now. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Ouch.

She seemed pretty committed in her response, so I really wasn’t going to press the issue. She was probably right. There are a lot of irregular expenses coming up. It probably made sense not to spend the extra money. Besides, some family members still send me birthday money. So I figured I could use that cash to cover the admission prices anyway.

Then my birthday came. My family gave me a nice little surprise. Christy was going to take Mihret to her school’s Carnival on Saturday and I was going to take the big kids to Comic Con! Christy and the kids had already planned the whole thing out before I approached Christy with my proposal.

My family.

They get me.

A rough start

When Saturday morning finally came, it started with a potentially disastrous beginning.

That’s right. My worst nightmare came true. I slept through my alarm and Aly almost missed one of the most important performances of the year. I’m convinced that it’s only by a miraculous act of God that she got there in time. We were sure that her choir was scheduled to perform at 8:00. We pulled into the parking lot at 8:01. Our hearts sank as we approached the gym and heard voices singing. We were late. She had missed her performance. Her grade was going to suffer. All because Dad couldn’t set his alarm.

“Well,” I said, “you should support your classmates. Let’s stand at the door and listen.” We walked to the door and peeked in the window. A different school was performing! We quickly looked at the schedule that was posted on the wall and found her choir. She joined them with approximately 4 whole minutes to spare.

They finished warming up together. Aly and the choir filed into the gym to perform. And they sounded wonderful!
Aly's choir

Whew. Crisis averted.

When we got home, I threw on my Chewbacca shirt, ate the breakfast that Christy had prepared for us, and we were on our way to a day full of all-out geekness. And walking. Lots of walking.

With all of the events happening downtown that weekend, I was a bit worried about getting gouged in a parking lot. Some of those event parking prices are ridiculous. I parked in a lot that was right across the street from the Convention Center. And it only wound up costing me $7 for the whole day.

Whew. Another crisis averted.

When we entered the Convention Center, things got a little hairy.

A lot of digital ink has been spilled about what went wrong with the logistics of Indiana Comic Con. Since this was only my second ever convention like this (GenCon was my first), I’m nowhere near an expert. So I’ll just say that signs are a good thing. And if you really want to get a grasp on how many people will be there, it would be a good idea to make it cheaper to buy tickets ahead of time instead of at the door.

Now, let’s move along…

Indiana Comic Con Randomness

As you can see, we had a great time while we were there. Even though a sword fight or two might have broken out.

I really enjoyed seeing the collectibles. I honestly wish they had more.

They also had another Shockwave from Japan. He cost $350.

That’s a lot of cash. I think I’m in the wrong business. ;)

The Droid Factory was the first Star Wars toy I ever had. I remember standing in the toy aisle at Service Merchandise, trying to convince my parents to buy me a sand crawler. It was awesome. I was pretty sure that it even came with an escape pod. But there were no action figures that came with it. So my parents talked me into getting the Droid Factory so I could build my own droids to play with. It was pretty cool.

Aiden recognized the Droid Factory when he saw the box. Parts of the toy are still in my parents’ basement. He remembers playing with it. That was a pretty cool moment where we were able to bridge our generation gap.

I like to give mom a hard time about my Star Wars toys because I used to keep all the boxes. One day, while I was at school, she threw all of them away. I use pictures like this to remind her how valuable those toys would be if I still had my boxes that she had tossed out. In reality, I know that the toys are nowhere near mint condition because they were played with over and over and over again.

But it would still be cool to have the old boxes.

While I was excited to see items like Shockwave and the Star Wars Droid Factory, I was most excited about explaining the awesomeness that was Intellivision to the kids. They didn’t quite understand my excitement, but I did get them to admit that I would totally kick their collective tails in biplanes. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t have an extra $150 sitting around. I’d have been tempted to buy this.
Intellivision - $150

Aiden really enjoyed talking to some of the comic book artists, especially Ron Braun. I think he also enjoyed hanging out with Darth Vader. Unfortunately, it appears that he was seduced by the Dark Side.

There is still good in him. I can feel it…

Aly really enjoyed the costumes. She liked seeing the costumes everyone made. She also liked dressing up herself.

Aly at Indiana Comic Con 2014

 

Aly and Elsa

I think the 6(ish) year old Batman was her favorite.
Young Batman and his Batmobile at Indiana Comic Con 2014

We’ll be back

We had a good time at our first-ever Comic Con. While there were some bumps in the road, I think the overall experience was worth it (although I probably would have been a bit disappointed if we’d driven in from out of town). Aiden and Aly have both said they’d like to go back next year. So, we’ll be back, Comic Con. Hopefully it’ll be even bigger and better (with more signage) next year!

In the meantime, it’s time to get excited for Indy PopCon!* The end of May will be here before we know it! I’m pretty excited about this. You should be too, Indianapolis!

Indiana Comic Con Selfie

*I’m a member of the Indy PopCon Street Team. This is a tracked link. If you buy a ticket from this link, I get credit. So if you do decide to go to Indy PopCon (and why wouldn’t you?), I’d appreciate it if you helped a guy out and purchased your tickets through that link.