Did you forget Valentine’s Day?

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I know. It happens to the best of us sometimes. You really didn’t “forget” Valentine’s Day. You really planned on getting something amazing. And you started looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift a month ago. Couldn’t find anything. So you decided to wait and keep looking.

And now it’s the day before Valentine’s Day and you never found that perfect gift. So you’re kind of stuck. The great but not quite great enough gifts that you saw in the stores last month are all gone. And the rest of the gifts at your local store are all picked over, leaving you a choice between a cheesy gift and a corny one.

Believe me. I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. While I’ve always had grand plans for Valentine’s Day, and think I’m planning ahead, I’ve found myself stuck in this exact position on a few occasions. Maybe you’re like me. You have some great ideas but you’re lacking in the execution department.

If that’s you, have no fear. I have some last-minute ideas that should help rescue your Valentine’s Day this year. You could start off with some love notes. Not sure what to say? No worries. Here are some suggestions.

I also put together a few suggestions for some sweet, simple gifts for Sweetest Day. You could easily adapt them for Valentine’s Day. And these items won’t be picked over because you won’t find them in the Valentine’s Day section of your local store.

I get it, though. That might not be enough. You want to do the chocolates and the flowers and the whole shebang. But you definitely don’t have time to hit the stores today and shopping on Valentine’s Day is out of the question. Fortunately, the answer is right at your fingertips.

Here are some last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts you can order right now.

Roses from flowersfast.com

FlowersFast.com offers flowers delivered the very next day! This is a great resource to have for many occasions, but it’s especially great when it’s the day before Valentine’s Day and you don’t have any flowers in hand.  This beautiful My Heart to Yours bouquet  includes between 7 and 14 roses, depending on the size you choose.

According to the page, “Same-day florist delivery is available for this item, for orders placed before Noon in the recipient’s timezone.” Just be sure to check out their delivery policy first.

Shari’s Berries Chocolate Dipped Be Still My Heart Valentines Strawberries via flowersfast.com

Chocolate dipped strawberries and Valentine’s Day go together like…well, they go together like strawberries and chocolate. Am I right?

Of course I am. That’s why Shari’s Berries are so popular this time of year. And there’s still time to order them today.

You can’t wait, though. Same day delivery is not available. But why would you want to wait, anyway? Go ahead and order these.

You’ll thank me later.

Footed PJs from PajamaMania.com

Baby, it’s still cold outside!

Footed PJs are a fun gift that will help keep her warm during the cold nights that are still bound to come our way.

Of course, if footed PJs aren’t her thing, they have plenty of other styles available.

You have to hurry, though. I think next-day shipment has to be ordered by 1 p.m.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! I hope you have a memorable day celebrating this crazy little thing called love.

Happy 200th Birthday, Indiana!

Flag map of Indiana

OK, it’s not quite Indiana’s birthday. But it’s close. It’s only a few days away. December 11, to be exact. That’s the date Indiana was admitted into the Union in 1816. So we’re celebrating 200 years of being a state!

While there are many things that frustrate me about Indiana, I also have a deep, deep appreciation for the Hoosier State. I will openly criticize my home state, but I will defend Indiana with all my heart if you aren’t a Hoosier and try to say something negative about the State I love. That’s probably a fault of mine. But I’m OK with that because I really do love our state. Honest to goodness.

I have been to many parts of Indiana over the years and here is much to love about our state. As we celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday, I want to share with you some of the great things that make our state amazing. There really is more than corn in Indiana. There’s also more to this state than a race track. Amazingly enough, there are some people who don’t really care that much about the Indianapolis 500, even though it’s been part of the state’s story for more than 100 years.  And although basketball has a pretty special place in our collective consciousness, there’s more to Indiana than just basketball.

Indiana is a special place. And I want to relish in its specialness. So, in celebration of Indiana’s 200th birthday, I’ll be publishing several posts during the month of December that will hopefully remind us how great this state can be. Because that’s what happens when you wander Indiana. You find some great stories. You also find some pretty amazing people and some beautiful scenery. I hope these things are reflected in our journey through the Hoosier State. I also hope that I’m able to figure out a way to share a heapin’ helping of Hoosier Hospitality as we wander through the state together.

Sweetest Day is almost here!

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Sweetest Day #SweetestDay

What? You’ve never heard of Sweetest Day?

That’s OK. I’d never heard of Sweetest Day until a friend of mine from Chicago mentioned it while we were at Milligan.  I wondered.

Well…

Yeah. It is. It’s a made up holiday. Its roots have something to do with candy makers wanting to “bring happiness to those who were forgotten,” like the poor, old folks, and orphans. Since the first Sweetest Day in the early 1920s, the day has evolved into a day to spread goodness and cheer to everyone – especially your significant other, and especially if you decide to give away sweets. Because that’s what makes it sweet, right?

So, it might be true that Sweetest Day really is nothing more than a made up holiday in a thinly-veiled attempt to get us to buy more chocolate on the third Saturday of October, even though we’re already stocking up for Halloween. It’s still a good opportunity to make sure that Special Someone knows you’re thinking about him or her. Right? I mean, who doesn’t like being told that they’re on someone’s mind?

Go Big or Go Home?

You could choose to go all-out and do something like plan a romantic getaway with BedandBreakfast.com. Since Sweetest Day is always the third weekend in October, you might want to check out south central Indiana. It’s beautiful this time of year!

eCreamery $10 Off Banner AdOr there’s ice cream. There’s always ice cream. What’s sweeter than ice cream? That’s the perfect gift for Sweetest Day, do’t you think?

And what makes ice cream an even better treat for Sweetest Day? Personalized ice cream!

We like to say that there’s always room for ice cream, even if you’re full beyond full. That’s because ice cream oozes through the cracks. It’s proven.* Because science.

Of course, if you haven’t done it yet, you could always try your hand at writing a love note.

Or, there are a few other small gifts you could give for Sweetest Day. They’re simple. They’re corny. And they’re sweet. For Sweetest Day. Get it? And you can find many of these items at Dollar Tree (you can order them online with FREE In-Store Pickup. [Restrictions may apply]). So it’s a pretty good deal!

Socks

Sweetest Day gift

Who says you have to give food for Sweetest Day? You could give a pair of socks with a note attached that says something like “You knock my socks off!” They could be serious socks. They could be silly socks. It’s really up to you!

Corny? Yes. Absolutely. But wait. There’s more!

Donuts

Donut you know I love you? #SweetestDay Sweetest Day

Or you could always surprise that Special Someone with donuts (or some other type of snack cake) with a silly note like “Donut you know I love you hole lot?” Or something like that.

It’s goofy. I know. You might even call it punny. But it’s a simple way to celebrate Sweetest Day, don’t you think?

I know there are other simple, punny Sweetest Day gifts you can give. Share your ideas in the comments below!

I hope you have a fun day, sharing sweetness with your friends and family!

 

 

*No. It isn’t proven. This is just a joke. But it sounds good. Doesn’t it? That’s why we use it as an excuse to eat ice cream.

Happy New Year! In September. Seriously.

Remember 9/11

September 11 is a strange day for our family. I have a friend whose son was born on September 11, 2001. They named him Isaac, which I think is the perfect name for a child born in the midst of a national event like that. I’d imagine they feel a certain amount of emotional conflict every day 9/11 rolls around. That’s how things roll in our house on 9/11. But it’s not because of a birthday. It’s because of something else.

“Never forget…”

I remember. I always will. Like so many people who watched those horrific events the morning of Tuesday, September 11, I swore I would never forget where I was, what I was doing, and how I felt that day.

And I haven’t.

We remember that day every year. And I have to admit, I still struggle with how I should respond to these terrible acts, especially when I think about how messy it is when you respond to hatred with love and compassion.

Happy New Year!

But today is not only about remembering. Thanks to our family’s connection with Ethiopia, 9/11 has also become a day of celebrating. You might remember during the A to Z Challenge, I mentioned how Ethiopia has their own calendar. And based on that calendar, today, September 11, is the beginning of the New Year.

So today, we remember. We reflect. And we contemplate. But we also celebrate, dream, and eat lots of Ethiopian food. We’ve been told that Doro Wat (spicy chicken stew with boiled eggs) is a traditional dish for the New Year. So we happily had some today.

Doro wat for Ethiopian New Year today! Melkam Addis Amet! #EthiopianNewYear #MelkamAddisAmet

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

So we look back. But we also look forward. And we’ll probably hug our kids a little tighter as we spend this day remembering, reflecting, and celebrating as we encounter the whole gauntlet of emotions on this sobering anniversary/day of anticipation, celebration, and renewal in the New Year.

But that’s kind of how life goes sometimes, isn’t it? It’s a mixture of excitement and heartache, overwhelming joy and the deepest of sorrows, it’s the celebration of life and the mourning of death. It’s the good times and the bad times all wrapped up into one package that is hardly ever topped with a nice little bow. The plot is full of twists and turns and event taking place on top of event taking place on top of event. It’s ecstasy followed by unspeakable sadness followed by unsurpassed joy.

Such is the roller coaster we call the human experience.

So it may seem strange that on a day like today, I wish you a happy new year. But in many ways, it makes complete sense. Doesn’t it? Because when you look ahead at a new year, you can’t help but dream. You can’t help but work towards a better future. So in the midst of the sorrow of remembering the events of 9/11, I’m also reminded that there is hope. So. much. hope. And in the midst of the darkness that surrounds us, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Because we’re going to make tomorrow better than today. We’re going to change the world.

Melkam Addis Amet - Happy Ethiopian New Year
A banner that was hanging in the hotel when we visited Ethiopia in September, 2009. It says “Happy New Year,” in case you can’t read what it says.

So I hope you understand what I mean when I tell you that I remember. Oh, I remember. I will never forget. Ever. And in the same breath, I wish you a happy new year full of joy, happiness, and a better tomorrow.

Meklam Addis Amet, y’all!

From the bottom of my heart.

 

Love notes. They're not as tough as you think they are.

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How Do I Love Thee

Cards and love notes. Those are a big deal. Right? Well, they might not be a big deal for you, but they’re a pretty big deal for us. It all goes back to when we started dating almost 20 years ago. And while we don’t really give as many love notes to each other as we have in the past (after all, I’m no Casanova – remember?), I’ve discovered a few cool ways to share that you care through the written word.

I think the thing that keeps many people from sharing notes with each other is the misconception that you have to write some type of long sonnet similar to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. You really don’t have to write anything long. Or even profound. Sometimes the effort is the most important thing. It could be just as simple as one of my favorite poems:

The gift of a getawayRoses are red
Violets are blue.
Some poems rhyme
Some don’t.

Try it. Write your own. It might be more fun than you think.

Of course, you don’t have to try your hand at poetry. And you don’t have to write some long piece of prose that will sweep her off her feet. Sometimes, the simplest of notes will do. You can grab them from a a book of quotes about love. Or the Internet. Or the Bible. Or a combination of the three.

What if you can’t wait and want to give it a try right now? Well, you’re in luck. Here are a few quotes that would be perfectly suitable for a little love note. You can put it in a card. Or on some fancy stationery. Or on a sticky-note (or on a bunch of sticky-notes). Or you can text it sometime in the middle of the day. Or you can write it on a mirror.

No. Really. Get a dry erase marker and write something on the mirror. It wipes right off. And then you could write another note the following day. And the day after that. And the day after that. And I think you know what I mean.

And what is a kiss when all is done? A rosy dot over the “i” of loving. – Edmund Rostand

Love conquers all things: let us, too, give in to love. – Virgil

‘Tis you alone that sweetens life… – John Hervey

Look at you! You are beautiful, my true love. Look at you! You are so beautiful. Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. – Song of Solomon 4:1 (God’s WORD Translation)

Or you could copy Ms. Barrett Browning’s well-known love poem, Sonnet 43. It would probably take up the whole mirror if you decide to go that route.

These are just a few suggestions. I’m sure you can come up with your own. So what are you waiting for? Valentine’s Day? Well, that’s a good idea. I’m sure you can come up with some pretty spectacular notes for that special day. But why limit love notes to only one day a year?

My New Year’s Resolution for 2016

Happy New Year

Well, 2015 has come and gone. And what a year it was! If you didn’t get a Christmas card with a letter included, don’t take it personal. We didn’t send any this year (again). Maybe next year?

So here’s a very brief look at some of our family highlights from 2015…

Aiden started his high school football career. Aly has taken her final year of middle school by the horns and is thriving as an 8th grader. Mihret was named her school’s Spotlight Student and was presented before the School Board.

Oh yeah, and Christy met our son for the first time.

Then five months later, I met him. And Weldu officially became a Todd.

Of course, there have been some bumps along the road. But 2015 was a pretty amazing journey.

My 2015 Best Nine
Thanks for the recap, 2015BestNine.com

As I look ahead to 2016, the year we should finally fill that empty seat at our table and have all SIX of us under one roof at the same time, it promises to be an exciting year. And I can’t wait.

I’ve never really been big on making New Year’s resolutions. I know a lot of people resolve to lose weight, eat healthier, get organized, spend less/save more, read the Bible regularly, or spend more time with family and friends. You know, the usual resolutions. Some have established SMART goals they want to achieve. They planned their work. Now they’re going to work their plans.

Those are great. If you have one of those resolutions, I hope you are able to keep it. I hope you can look back on December 31, 2016, and say “Yeah! I kicked that resolution in the teeth!”

Me? I don’t really have a resolution for 2016. Sure, there’s a lot I need to change. There’s a lot of me that needs fixing in the New Year. But I’m kind of taking a longer view on the changes that need to be made. This really isn’t a resolution for 2016. It’s more like a life goal. You could say it’s a New Year’s revolution.

I want to be known as a man of grace.

I don’t mean a guy who’s graceful on his feet like Fred Astaire.

Any hope for that kind of grace has been long-gone for a long time. Have you seen me try to dance? I’m no twinkle-toes. And I’m definitely no Fred Astaire. I’m much more like Matt Foley.

No. I’m not talking about my agility. I’m talking about having grace ooze out of every pore of my being. The way I see it, I can either be a man who is judgmental, trying to find the fault in every little thing. Or I can be a man full of grace, showering it on the world around me. I could be wrong about that. But if I have to be wrong, I’m going to choose to err on the side of grace. Because that’s what I’d hope people would do for me. Because, as the song says, grace wins. Every time.

When I come to the end of my days, and people gather together to put me in the ground, I want people to share stories about my compassion. I want the anecdotes people hear to be full of grace and forgiveness. There’s a lot of things I’d like to leave as a legacy for those closest to me. But at the top of the list, it’s grace.

I want to be known as a man of grace.

And I have such a long way to go before that happens. So I’m starting today.

What are your resolutions for 2016? What can I do to encourage you to keep that resolution?

Still looking for a great Christmas gift? Try these unique ideas!

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Christmas Gifts 2015

The clock is ticking. Christmas will be here before you know it. And if your home is anything like ours, your calendar is filling up rather quickly. You’ve got school concerts to attend, ugly sweater parties to go to, and decked-out houses to admire. You barely have time to breathe. And you definitely don’t have time to fight the crowds at your local mall.

I feel your pain.

That’s usually me each Christmas. So I know what you’re going through. I also know the pressure (whether real or imagined) to give the perfect gift to your loved ones. I get it. It can be stressful.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some great places to find some unique Christmas gift ideas this holiday season.

Canvas on Demand

What’s more personal than getting a photo printed on canvas so it can be displayed for the world to see? Your loved one can be reminded of a special event or a shared memory every day.  A photo on canvas is a great keepsake that will be treasured for years.

Gold Medal Wine Club
468x90 banner

Wine delivered to your front porch every month? This is the gift that keeps giving all year long, folks!

Ozone Socks

I love me some socks. There’s nothing like putting a new pair of socks on your feet. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. Great socks are great for your feet. I know from experience how a day can be completely ruined if you’re not wearing comfortable socks. And they’re a great way to share your personality! Ozone Socks have a great variety of socks with some pretty cool designs.

And if you want to give something truly unique, you can sign your loved one up for the Sock of the Month Club. They’ll ship the first pair out within 48 hours of your order. The Club is available in six- and twelve-month memberships and you receive one pair of socks a month, plus a bonus pair of socks to welcome you to the club.

NFL Shop
Get Free US Shipping on NFLShop.com through 12/8 with code DEC15

I think we could just buy all of Aiden’s Christmas gifts here if we wanted to. He’s that big of a football fan. From gear to clothing to collectibles to tailgating equipment to jewelry, the NFL Shop has something for even the most extreme football fan.

Tackle Direct
TackleDirect.com

I’ve been fishing on occasion. And although I haven’t been able to go as often as I’d like, I look forward to the times when I can spend the weekend with my Dad on one of his fishing trips. I still consider myself a novice fisherman. But I know quite a few fishermen and would love to give them something fishing-related for Christmas. So I asked my Dad if he and his fishing buddies would ever shop at Tacke Direct. When they said they would, I knew this was a place I should check out for myself. So I did. Let’s just say that my fishing friends and family shouldn’t be surprised if they receive something from me from Tackle Direct.

Venue Kings
VenueKings.com

We’re big fans of giving experiences as gifts, not just “stuff” that eventually wears out or is outgrown and thrown away. We’ve given visits to movie exhibits, college football tickets, and concerts for birthdays and Christmas in the past. Now that I know about Venue Kings, we just might be giving even more once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

I hope these ideas help you create a memorable Christmas with your friends and family. I hope you’re able to maximize the time you have with them as you share this wonderful time together.

Oh, and one more suggestion….

If you’re still looking for some great, high-quality Christmas decorations – or if you’re still looking for an artificial Christmas tree that’ll last for years – be sure to check out Tree Classics.
World's Finest Artificial Christmas Trees

They have trees, wreaths, lights, and all kinds of Christmas decorations for your home!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your holiday is full of love, laughter, and a few magical surprises along the way!

 

F is for Final Four Fan Fest

 

F is for Final Four Fan Fest

“Basketball really had its origin in Indiana, which remains the center of the sport.”James Naismith

Rumor has it that Indianapolis received some rave reviews about this year’s Final Four. And why not? Basketball rules the roost in Indiana. And Men’s Final Four weekend is a great celebration of all things basketball. Combining the two? Well, it just makes sense. Kind of like peanut butter and jelly. It’s the perfect combination.

So we spent Sunday afternoon/evening in Indy. It was not your typical Easter Sunday for us, but at least we managed to have some ham sandwiches on the way to the festivities.

#FinalFour #Indy

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We joined 3,500 other kids in a giant basketball parade, dribbling through the streets of downtown Indy. There were a few organizational speedbumps in getting the whole thing started, but that’s probably to be expected. Once we were on the road, there was nothing to stop us.

Waiting to get our dribble on. #FinalFour #FanFest #Indy

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Mihret has mad ball handling skills #FinalFour #Indy

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We also got to play around in the Fan Experience inside the Convention Center. Then we got to ride a Ferris Wheel and hear some live music. For the whole day, we spent a grand total of five bucks. And that was to park. I’m not sure you can beat that deal!

Dunk King #FinalFour #Indy #FanFest

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Final Four Fan Fest

Final Four Fan Fest

Final Four Fan Fest

 

Lady Antebellum. Can you tell? #FinalFour #JamFest #Indy

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It was a great day full of fun, family, and music. And walking. Lots of walking.

Not a bad way to spend your Sunday afternoon, though. We can’t wait for the Final Four to return in five years!

All Star dribblers. #FinalFour #Indy #dribble

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It’s 2015. Welcome to the Future.

2015 fireworks

This is it. It’s finally the year we find out if any of the 2015 that Marty McFly experienced actually comes true. With Back to the Future Day, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the awakening of the Force on the big screen, 2015 promises to be a HUGE year for geeks like me who are into such things.

Whether you’re excited about these things or not, I hope 2015 is an amazing year for you, dear reader. I hope that the worst day of this year is better than the best day of 2014. I pray that the Divine reveals Himself to all of us in ways we can’t possibly imagine. Let’s change the world this year.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

The Future is NOW. Let’s make 2015 a year for the record books!

Happy New Year!