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!"
While visiting the compound where Weldu lived before we brought him home, I was struck by how many clothes were hanging up to dry. They were hanging everywhere. It was like a web of clotheslines as you walked through the compound.
In my heart, each one of these clothes that I saw dangling on the clothesline represents a child who has been left dangling. I saw many of them face-to-face while we were there. They are children who have no family, but desperately want a family. They need a family. But because of a variety of reasons, from red tape to health concerns, these children have been left dangling.
Adoption in Ethiopia is unpredictable. It’s a roller coaster ride, to say the least. And there’s always a chance it might become even more unpredictable.
It’s OK. It happens sometimes. You were planning on buying something for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, but you wound up putting it off. And putting it off. And putting it off. And now you’re sitting here on the brink of Valentine’s Day and you’re empty-handed. Good luck getting a dinner reservation. You’ll need a police escort to make it to your local store’s cards aisle at this point. And flowers? Forget about it. You’ll have to take out a loan to get some now. And you probably don’t have time to order them online and get them delivered by Valentine’s Day.
It happened to me once, some 20 years ago. It was Valentine’s Day evening and I was working at an ice cream shoppe at the mall. A card store was nearby. I figured I’d mosey on over to that store during my break. I could easily buy a card and some nice little token for Christy and it all would be just perfect. I thought I was planning ahead.
I was wrong.
By the time I got there, about an hour before closing, all of the cards had been bought. There wasn’t an appropriate Valentine’s Day card in the entire store! And they had already replaced all of the Valentine’s Day gifts with St. Patrick’s Day gifts! I was doomed.
Maybe you’re in a similar predicament. You’re stuck. Valentine’s Day 2016 just might be a disaster. What are you supposed to do?
Thankfully, not all hope is lost. Here are some things you can do to rescue your Valentine’s Day…
1. Breakfast in Bed
Grab your waffle iron, a can of cinnamon rolls, and some maple syrup. In just a few minutes, you’ll have some amazing waffles. Just follow these simple directions. It’s a great way to start off the day.
Or end the day. Why not flip the script and have breakfast in bed for dinner? This is a sweet little recipe and would a perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day. Or any other day, for that matter.
You can take this meal to another level by making some mimosas. It’s a pretty simple drink to make. Here’s how.
2. Plan a weekend away.
Take the initiative and plan a romantic weekend getaway by pulling out all the stops. You can still give her a card and some candy, but why not keep the Valentine’s Day spirit alive by celebrating it at a later date? The hotels and bed and breakfasts won’t be as crowded. And you can save money doing it! If you purchase the BedandBreakfast.com Getaway Gift Card, they’ll throw in an additional gift card on qualifying purchases. That’s a great deal. It’s like they’re giving you money for procrastinating on Valentine’s Day.
3. Give Candy
I know. Candy is so predictable. But what if you grabbed your loved one’s favorite candy bars and created an amazing candy bouquet? That, friends, is going above and beyond. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of creative energy to make one. But it shows you’ve been paying attention. Right? How else would you know what candy to buy?
4. Speaking of candy…
If you have a little bit of time to get it done, you could always make a Valentine’s Day piñata. Check it out here.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is a big deal to some people. But we can do many of these things any time. Don’t limit expressing your love on just Valentine’s Day. Let’s work on finding some creative ways to say “I love you” all year long!
This is most definitely a bittersweet post, to be sure…
I have mentioned it before and I’ll say it again today: serving as an Instructional Aide in a Special Education classroom for elementary students is a rewarding experience. A challenge? Sure. Exhausting? Absolutely. And some days, when it feels like you’re doing nothing but changing diapers and dealing with one behavior issue after another, But it’s a job that I loved from Day One.
So believe me when I say that it’s with a bittersweet spirit that I announce that I have tendered my resignation from the school. I am no longer working with those kiddos. I’m no longer spending the day in a room with some pretty amazing adults who will move heaven and earth to do what’s right for those kids. I was part of a pretty remarkable team. And I’ll certainly miss working with them every day.
So if I loved working in that classroom so much, why am I leaving?
Well that was the bitter part of this bittersweet post. Now for the sweet…
I’m staying home.
After much discussion, prayer, and consideration, Christy and I have decided that I should stay home and help Weldu transition to his new life here in the States. I’ll still be working some evenings at the bookstore, but our son will be my focus. During this time, we’re going to be focusing on English and basic academic skills. Our current thought is that he’s going to enroll in high school for the Fall semester. Of course, he could say he’s ready to go to school after Spring Break.
I sure don’t. But we’re going to find out. And it’s going to be an adventure.
This isn’t the first time we’ve been involved in homeschooling. Christy did it a few years ago with one of our kids. Even so, the thought of doing this is exciting and frightening and exhilarating and worrisome all wrapped into one. But we firmly believe this is the best thing for Weldu at this time.
So I guess you could say that I’ve become a homeschooling dad. Six months ago, I would have laughed at the thought of me teaching my son. OK. Maybe I’m still laughing at the thought. Sometimes.
What’s the line? Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Right? Well that’s where we are. We’re taking the first steps of this new journey with Weldu as the two-plus-year adventure to bring Weldu home has finally come to a close.
So if you have any advice, tips, words of wisdom, or homeschool resources to pass along, I’m all ears.
It’s going to be a challenge, I’m sure. And I know it will be uncomfortable at times. And I’m positive there will be days where I wonder what on earth I’m doing.
When are you going to bring home a brother for me?
I wasn’t sure how to answer that one.
I have to admit, I was a little taken aback. I mean, we had just brought Mihret home. And the transition wasn’t exactly going well. Truth is, we were still exhausted from the flight home and from the continual lack of sleep. How could he be thinking of adding another kid to our family already? As I thought about it, though, I understood. The balance of power had shifted. He was the only boy in our family. He was outnumbered. And I started to see his point. He needed a brother.
He had me convinced. All it took was that simple, innocent question.
Some six years later, we took Aiden with us as we flew to Ethiopia to bring his brother home with us. And it was one of the best decisions we could have made.
They became instant friends. In some ways, it’s almost like they’ve known each other for years. I mean….they even have their own secret handshake.
I think Marc Brown is right. Sometimes being a brother is better than being a superhero! It’s also pretty cool to have a brother. I know both from experience.
You know, it’s taken far too long for us to be able to say this, but WELCOME HOME, WELDU! We’re excited to have you part of our crazy family. Our journey is really just beginning, but you’re already a pretty amazing brother. I now there will be some rough days in the future. That’s a given. Everyone goes through them – especially in the teenage years. But there will be some pretty amazing experiences we’ll have along the way, too. During the easy, happy times and the tough, sad times, I know this: we’re going to walk through them hand in hand.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #Tips4Trips #CollectiveBias
As mentioned earlier, a lot of moving pieces finally came together at just the right time in just the right way in order for Christy to be able to meet “W,” the teenage boy we are in the process of adopting. Late Sunday night/early Monday morning, I drove Christy to the airport. Nearly 18 hours later, she landed in Ethiopia. There were times where I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to pull the whole thing together. With my full time job, Christy’s responsibilities at her school, and taxiing the kids to and from sports practices, church activities, and camp, it just felt like too daunting of a task to get together all of her necessities plus a bag full of donations in less than two weeks’ time. I honestly don’t think we could have done it without our unlimited talk, text, and data/web from Walmart Family Mobile.
If you’re looking for the lowest priced unlimited plans with access to a network that covers over 280 people, Walmart Family Mobile is the place you should look first. Their Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data service plan starts at $29.88 a month for the first line. In addition to unlimited talking and texting, you also get access to up to 1G of 4G LTE data per month. Plus, they have a variety of phones available at some pretty incredible prices, including the Alcatel One Touch Pop Astro for only $64.88.
Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to this linkor your local Walmart for current pricing.
While we’ve taken several vacations in the States, I think it’s safe to say that we’re no world travelers. And we definitely haven’t made a habit of jet-setting around the globe. So when it was finally decided that Christy was going to make this trip by herself, life became a bit more hectic. And life was already hectic with the kids’ activity schedules.
We had travel agents to call. And social workers to call. And our adoption agency to call. We had to make sure my work schedule was arranged in such a way that I could be home as much as possible. We had doctors to call. We had family to contact. We had to collect items – diapers, wipes, educational supplies, DVDs – that we were going to donate to the Care Center. The to-do lists kept piling up, adding more and more chaos to this whirlwind.
You know what we didn’t need during this mad rush to get everything done and ready for Christy to get on a plane? A phone service that dropped all of my calls. Or a phone that was so slow that it would be easier to send documents via passenger pigeon or the Pony Express. Been there. Done that. Not going back.
That’s what I love about using Walmart Family Mobile. I don’t have to worry about wonky Internet connection. And I can be confident that I’ll be able to have an actual conversation on my phone without worrying about how many minutes I’m using. That’s pretty important when you’re in a time crunch.
And the phones are pretty cool, too.
In preparation for this great journey, I discovered some pretty cool apps. I think these are some tools that every traveler should have in their digital suitcase. They’re very helpful. And they’re free, although some can be enhanced with in-app purchases.
7 must-have apps for international travel:
Provided by the U.S. State Department , SmartTraveler gives a plethora of information about countries around the globe, including local customs and laws, political climate, and the location of the U.S. embassy. It also keeps you up to date on travel alerts and warnings that have been issued by the State Department.
You never plan on having a medical emergency while traveling. But just in case the unforeseen does happen, it’s a good idea to have iBlueButton. It keeps all of your medical information and medical history in one place so you can access it with just the swipe of your finger.
This was pre-installed on our Androids, and although it’s gotten some negative press in the past, Christy and I have been using it to communicate over the the thousands of miles between us. You can use it to send text messages. You can also use it for free video calls via wifi, too.
With over 90 languages available on this app, you can translate words and phrases in a matter of moments. With an extensive dictionary library, you’ll be able to discern contextual clues and dialects. It’s easy to use and essential for a world traveler.
Let’s say you’re overseas and you see a landmark some 30 miles away but you don’t have any idea what it is. It looks important, but that’s about all you know. With Google Goggles, you can take a picture and search the web with that image. This app has some serious potential.
FlightAware was the perfect app for me to use while Christy was up in the air. No matter where I went that day, I could check the app and track her flight. And if you’re using it while traveling, you’ll be able to keep up to date on the flight schedule and which terminal you have to go to. That’s amazingly helpful if you have a short layover.
You can keep up to date on the exchange rates with this app. It’s a great way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your currency.
It’s also helpful if you’re trying to plan and budget your trip.
There are so many apps available that are related to travel. I’m sure I’ve missed some good ones. Now that Christy’s begun her journey, I can start planning for my trip to Ethiopia, which should happen within the next few months. What apps should I add to my list? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
It’s no secret that adoption can be expensive. Of course, it’s also no secret that giving birth to a child can be just as expensive. It’s just paid in different ways by different people. So as we’re waiting to meet “W” and ultimately bring him home, we’re busy finding the funds to complete this journey. And that’s where you come in. Just like are plenty of ways you can help orphans without adopting, I’ve come up with 16 ways you can support our adoption. And most of them won’t even cost you a cent! Here they are:
1. Buy Coffee.
When you buy coffee from Just Love Coffee Roasters, we receive a portion of the profits. It’s that simple. In addition to high-quality coffee, they also have apparel, mugs, and hot chocolate available. They make special blends for different occasions, like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. And you can even sign up for a year-long subscription. You’ll have high-quality coffee delivered to your doorstep every month. Oh, and they also have single serve cups.
Just Love Coffee Roasters has all the coffee you’ll need. And it creates a win-win-win situation. You are supporting Fair Trade coffee growing co-ops around the world. You’re helping to cover our adoption expenses. And, you get some pretty tasty coffee. As one former co-worker (who claims to be a coffee snob) of mine once said:
What more do you need to convince you? If you’re a coffee drinker, please try Just Love Coffeetoday!
2. Give us your books.
If you live in the Greater Indianapolis area and have extra books sitting around gathering dust, we’ll gladly take them off your hands! We’ll re-sell them to Half Price Books for cash money. If you live in southwestern Indiana or the Louisville area, we can also arrange a pick up. It just might take a little bit of time.
Do you have books you’d like to donate? Don’t hesitate to contact me! We’ll get something worked out.
The next three have to do with an upcoming garage sale.
3. Donate items to our garage sale.
We originally planned on having a garage sale on Saturday, April 25. Because of a scheduling conflict on my end (I’ll explain in a later post. It’s a really really really good conflict), we’re going to have to host the sale at a later date.
In the meantime, we need your stuff! If you’re like us, you’ve been doing some Spring Cleaning and discovered all kinds of stuff that you really can live without. If you live in the Indianapolis area, we’ll be happy to take it off your hands. Just shoot me an email and we’ll get the ball rolling.
4. Help promote the garage sale.
Once we have the date nailed down, if you could help tell all of your friends in the Indianapolis area to come buy our stuff, that would be awesome.
5. Show up. Buy stuff.
That kind of goes without saying. Right? If we’re going to have a garage sale, we need people to buy our stuff!
Here are some ways you can provide support without any effort at all.
This is going to sound silly, but supporting this blog is a great way to help our adoption. I have had the opportunity to use this space to publish some sponsored blog posts. Over the last year, all of the money from those compensated posts have gone to help pay for adoption expenses. The more “reach” and engagement that I can show potential advertisers, the more likely they are to hire me. And that’s a good thing. So, here’s what you can do to support this blog…
6. Subscribe to the email newsletter.
Did you even know there was a newsletter associated with this blog? Probably not. I haven’t done a great job at letting you know about it. That changes today.
Keep reading posts on this blog. Comment on articles. Share posts on your social platforms. You can start by sharing this post, if you want.
12. Buy from affiliate links.
Most links to Amazon are what are known as affiliate links. That means we get a very small percentage of each purchase made from that link. It doesn’t really add up to much right now, but if you’re going to buy the product anyway, why not help us out in the process?
Prayer might be last on this list, but it’s what we need most.
13. Pray for “W.”
I can’t imagine what it’s like to know that your have a family that’s pursuing you, but you still have to wait. And while you’re waiting, having to watch other kids leave with their forever families. Please pray for his sweet spirit. Pray for his health. Pray for his safety while he waits. Pray for his transition as he makes our family a family of SIX, while moving to a strange country with a strange language, customs, and food.
14. Pray for the governments and agencies involved.
International adoption involves a lot of bureaucratic red tape and hoop-jumping. Please pray for all agencies involved, that all the ‘i’s will be dotted and the ‘t’s will be crossed and that everything will be conducted with the utmost of integrity and honesty. Pray for roadblocks to be removed and that this adoption journey will be smooth.
15. Pray for our family.
Pray for our nerves as we wait. Pray for the transition. I have no idea what it’s going to be like adding another teenage boy to our household mix. But we’re going to do it. Because he’s worth it. Please pray for our family as we get ready for this transition.
16. Pray for God’s provision.
We have applied for several grants and no-interest loans to help pay for these expenses. Many of these ministries and agencies are looking at and praying over our requests as we speak. Please pray for open hearts as they hear our story.
I know God is going to show up. In some way, some how, He always does. He provided in unexpected ways during Mihret’s adoption. I’m confident He’ll do it again. I’m hoping it’s through these grants and our fundraising efforts. But maybe that won’t be the case. However He chooses to provide, I look forward to seeing Him work through His people.
That’s all. For now.
So there you have it: 16 ways you can support our adoption. Most of them are pretty painless. Right? But I promise, if you do even a few of them, you’re going to make a huge difference.
Thank you for your ongoing support. You have no idea how much it means to us.
I started blogging 10 years ago this month. I think it’s kind of cool that I’ve reached this milestone during this month.
With an average of 200 posts a year, that’s a lot of writing. Some of you have been with me from the very beginning. Some of you are visiting for the very first time. To all of you who have shared this journey with me, thanks for being part of my little corner of the interwebs!
And I look forward to celebrating another 2,000+ posts with you 10 years from now.
This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
Do you love a good Twitter Party? I do! that’s why I’m excited to co-host a party about how you can Give a Shot when you Get a Shot at Walgreens! On Wednesday, September 17 at 1:00 pm ET, please join me for the #GetAShot Twitter Party where we’ll be discussing this wonderful opportunity to give back to children in need and giving you a chance to win prizes.
As you might know, the Get a Shot, Give a Shot program at Walgreens is something that is very near and dear to my heart. If you’re planning on getting a flu vaccine this year, I ask that you strongly consider getting it at Walgreens. Because when you get vaccinated at Walgreens between now and mid-October, you’re also giving a vaccine to a child in a developing country through the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life program. So this Twitter Party is extra-special. Not only do you get a chance to win one of the six prizes, but you will also help spread the word about this life-saving campaign. You can win stuff and change the world all at the same time. How cool is that?
Join me and RSVP for the #GetAShot Twitter Party on SoFabChats!
OK, here’s the deal. Our family has not had the best of luck with wireless service over the years. Like most families, we want access to a reliable, but cheap wireless plan. Sometimes that hasn’t turned out very well.
When we lived in Tennessee, our calls were dropped. A lot. I know the Appalachian mountains can make it tough to get a good signal. But even in open areas, we lost service quite a bit. But we managed to get by.
When we lived in Muncie, things didn’t get much better. We tried a pay-as-you-go service. And while it served its purpose, it was nothing to really write home about. There really wasn’t anything exciting about the service.
We’re using another pay-as-you-go service now. It might be my least favorite of the plans we’ve used. It’s moderately affordable. We pay $75 a month for two phone numbers. But the quality of the calls isn’t very good, and we’ve also discovered that we’re probably only receiving 85% of the texts that are sent to us. And web service? That’s kind of laughable at this point.
That’s why I’m excited to have the opportunity to try out Walmart Family Mobile. The cost is affordable. It’ll be close to the same amount we’re already paying for two numbers. It’s powered by T-Mobile, so the coverage looks pretty good. I’m looking forward to having quality service that’s affordable with no contract to sign! Unlimited text, talk, and web without being locked into a long-term commitment? Sign me up!
The availability of high-quality, affordable smartphones is an added bonus. Up until this past Christmas, I had been using a flip phone. I’ve recently made the switch to a smartphone, but it has become somewhat unpredictable. It was a refurbished phone so I really can’t complain. But after having a taste of the smartphone experience, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’m ready for the big leagues. Fortunately, it won’t cost an arm an a leg to get my hands on one of these beauties. And I’ll be able to keep my old phone number, so there won’t be any confusion with any of my family and friends.
I have high hopes for this phone. I need something to help me keep organized. I’ve looked into some of the apps that are available for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and they’re pretty impressive. It will be very nice to have all of my information and calendars and to do lists in one place. I’m also hoping that having ready access to this information will help me finally get an edge in my fantasy football league. After winning the league nearly ten years ago, I’ve been in a slump and finished towards the bottom of the league over the last few years. Hopefully, better access to up-to-date information will help me finally right the ship and make things the way they should be, with the Baby Faced Destroyers dominating my league once again.
I especially want to beat this guy. Bragging rights are kind of a big deal.
I’ll be sharing my journey to discover the best wireless for me and my family. You’re welcome to follow along.
It’s funny. I’m kind of an old man where I work. I’m definitely not the oldest person here. But I’m also definitely not the youngest. By far. The late 80s, early 90s cultural references I make either go over my younger co-workers’ heads or it leads them to say something like “Oh yeah. They were big when I was in Kindergarten.” To which I respond, “Kindergarten? I was in college!” For most of my colleagues, owning a CD is old-school. Let’s not even think about cassette tapes or vinyl albums. Their Challenger/JFK moment was 9/11. And most probably didn’t ever have to use a rotary phone. It’s amazing how things have changed so rapidly over the last few years.
I’ll be honest: Sometimes it makes me feel a little bit old. Not too old. I guess just….older.
This is the complete opposite way I felt when I pastored the small church south of Muncie. Most of the people in that congregation had children that were older than me. Several had grandchildren that were my age. And while I doubt it was ever intentional, there were several times where some of the leadership made me feel like a young pup.
A too young pup.
A looked-down-upon pup.
You Have My Permission
If anyone catches me treating someone younger than me like that, you have my permission to call me out on it. True, my “crown of glory” might be growing with each passing day, but that doesn’t mean I have any right to look down on someone else because that person is significantly younger than me.
Every day, I’m surrounded by some pretty creative, passionate, and energetic people. And you know what? It’s exhibited by everyone all across the age spectrum. I refuse to box someone into a stereotype because that person “hasn’t lived life yet” or is too “out of touch.” All of our stories are different. In the same light, there are parts of our stories that are similar. I refuse to define others by their age. Because, to twist a quote from Master Yoda…
Look at me. Judge me by age do you? And where you should not…