Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live."
Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"
This post about Christmas wishlists contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.
While I was tempted to circle every single toy in our family’s catalogs (except maybe the WWF WWE action figures, but that’s probably another post altogether), I would eventually take time to finely craft my Christmas Wish List, emphasizing the items that I really really REALLY wanted, instead of the ones that I merely really wanted. I’m not gonna lie. It was stressful. Being a kid in the 80’s was hard, y’all. With the Star Wars and the GI JOE and the Transformers and the LEGO and the Voltron and the Masters of the Universe and all things, it was a great time to be alive. And with all that awesomeness, it was almost impossible to narrow down my list to something manageable and realistic. But I did it.
If I was able to go back in time and talk to late-80’s me, I’d probably encourage him to push harder for the USS FLAG playset because…well…that thing was HUGE. And full of awesomeness.
As soon as our Thanksgiving feast was complete, our youngest began feverishly curating her wish list so she could put it in a letter for Santa Claus. She didn’t bring her letter when she got to visit Santa, but we’re dropping it in the mail very soon.
This post about the 2017 Eclipse contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.
But have no fear. You can still party like it’s 1999** in anticipation of the most visible full eclipse across the contiguous United States in almost a century. And you don’t even have to go outside or look up in the sky.
Times have changed.
I remember discussion about a solar eclipse while I was in elementary school. They made it very clear that you couldn’t look up at the sky during the eclipse without special glasses because it could blind you forever. I think we had inside recess that day.*** Just in case.
They were memorable events, for sure. But there certainly wasn’t the hype surrounding the 2017 eclipse. And there definitely weren’t any parties.
But there’s definitely a party atmosphere now. I guess you could say we’ve come a long way since the days when a solar eclipse was a reason to panic. I mean, there’s certainly a little bit of fear and trepidation about going outside, accidentally looking up without your protective glasses, and having your eyeballs melt away, not unlike what happens when you look into the Ark of the Covenant.****
But solar eclipses used to be signs of the end of the world. I mean, who wouldn’t think everything was going to come crashing down when the sky suddenly turned dark and the sun was unexpectedly blotted out? Surely it was a sign of something. And that something couldn’t be good.
I think it’s fair to mention that there will be another full solar eclipse visible in 2024. That’s right. Seven years from now. You know seven is a special number. Right?
I’m sure the prophets will have a field day with that.
But the eclipse of 2017? It’s a party, for sure. Maybe you’re late in planning this party, but that’s OK. There’s not a whole lot of preparation required, unless you want to go out and buy some Moon Pies or make some space-inspired drinks. If you want to get all fancy, you can make your own DIY pinhole camera. Or you could do what I’m going to do and watch NASA’s livestream of the 2017 Eclipse.
But I’m not going to stop there. Every party has to have music. Especially and Eclipse Party. Here’s some music that should be on everyone’s Eclipse Party Playlist. Feel free to tell me in the comments if I should add a song to this list.
THE Epic Solar Eclipse Party Playlist
Total Eclipse of the Heart.
Duh. This is the no-brainer of no-brainers.
Man on the Moon
Fitting, since the Man on the Moon is doing some funky stuff to the sun.
Walkin’ on the Sun
Speaking of the sun…
“The Man in the Moon is smilin’
Cause he’s in love with the Girl in the World.”
Kinda sweet. Right?
The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
A little nod to all the doomsday apocalyptic aficionados throughout the centuries who knew that an eclipse surely meant the beginning of the end…
OK, maybe this one’s a little of a stretch. But not really. Because maybe that’s no moon that’s causing the eclipse.*
Actually, this entry is dedicated to Aiden and his friend, Gabe. They introduced me the song.
So there you go. A great set of songs to get you ready for two minutes of awesomeness that you won’t see again for another seven years. And if, for some reason, you miss out on this year’s Eclipse, you can start planning ahead for 2024.
Assuming the sun lights back up and the world doesn’t end tomorrow.
* You see what I did there. Right? Man, I’m hilarious.
** There were two solar eclipses in 1999. But I don’t remember hearing about any solar eclipse parties.
***My memory might be a bit fuzzy on this. According to this, there was only one solar eclipse that was visible in North America when I was in elementary school. It was after Memorial Day, though. And I’m pretty sure we did not go to school after Memorial Day. But I could be wrong.
****That’s two posts in a row with Indiana Jones references. I’m on a roll, man. It’s time to go solo.
This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.
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.
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.
This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy.
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.
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?
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!
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!
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.
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 comes 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Roses are red
Violets are blue.
Some poems rhyme
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?
Of course, there have been some bumps along the road. But 2015 was a pretty amazing journey.
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?
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
Wine delivered to your front porch every month? This is the gift that keeps giving all year long, folks!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
“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.
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.
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!