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!"

What are you gonna do? Shock the world.

In my post about Todd Bussey’s influence on my life, I said that he will probably shock the world in Florida. That was intentional.

Here’s why…

Shock the WorldIn high school, my summers were pretty jam-packed. Thanks to Scouting, we had a trek at Philmont and Summer Camp to look forward to. Marching band consumed many days and nights as we tried to put together a top-notch show that would (hopefully) rival those of Castle and Reitz. And our family would always squeeze in a family vacation during the Summer, too.

It was wall-to-wall action with little downtime. And it was just the way I liked it.

“Here I raise my Ebenezer…”

One of the first events of Summer was our church youth group’s annual trek to Summer in the Son at Kentucky Christian College (now known as Kentucky Christian University). Friendships were forged. Faith was challenged. Bonds were strengthened. We “koinonia-ed” all over the place. Lives were changed at Summer in the Son. When I look back on my faith journey, I see several Ebenezers – key landmarks that remind me of where God intervened in my life.

One of these Ebenezer Monuments occurred during the main worship service. A speaker, whose name I cannot remember, shared a story that changed the direction of my life. I’m going to do my best to retell it. Please note that I have made up the names and dates of this story. It’s not because I’m trying to protect the innocent. It’s simply because I heard this story back in the early 1990s and details like names and dates in this story are honestly a bit of a fuzzy memory. But I promise. It’s a good story. And it changed my life. It went a little something like this… Continue reading What are you gonna do? Shock the world.

Thank you, Peyton.

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Thank You Peyton

I have been a Peyton Manning fan ever since I was in college. He was in college, too. We went to school less than two hours away from each other. Of course, he had no idea who I am. Never did. And that’s OK.

Because I sure knew who he was.

I remember when he announced he was sticking around the University of Tennessee for senior year. It was a big deal. And the news spread throughout East Tennessee like wildfire. I also remember hearing about the giant “Thank you, Peyton!” billboard that some Vol fans had installed.

My dad was a fan of Tennessee football. So, naturally, I became a fan of Tennessee football. Growing up, I cheered for them (except when they played Indiana ). It was easy to continue cheering for Tennessee while I was at Milligan.  Continue reading Thank you, Peyton.

Cheering up a friend with some game day food

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

Game Day Food #TeamJellO

If you have spent any amount of time on this blog, you know that I’m an avid college sports enthusiast. I’m particularly fond of a particular team that wears cream and crimson and is located not too far from my home. Through thick and thin, I’m dedicated to this team. I understand what it means to be passionate about your favorite college team. That’s why my heart went out to our family friends when they had to face a very difficult sports-related decision. I’m hoping to use a Jell-O University Mold Kit to create some amazing tailgating food that will surely help ease this family’s pain.

Hook'em Jiggler #TeamJellO

My friends are die-hard fans of the Texas Longhorns. Just as I would bleed cream and crimson if you were to cut me, I am convinced that family would bleed burnt orange. As you would expect, this devotion to the Longhorns also means a certain dislike for their favorite team’s arch rival. I can understand that. I’m not a fan of the other major state school in Indiana – the one that wears black and gold. And don’t get me started on that blue and white team from the state to our south.

This rivalry between the Longhorns and that other in-state team that happens to wear maroon has been brewing for more than a hundred years. It runs deep. Very deep. So you can imagine the disappointment when my friend’s youngest son came home from his instructional league football practice with the news that their team is going to be that very same rival team. My friend’s son is going to have to wear maroon all season long.

As you might expect, they are heartbroken. There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Our friends are torn. What do they do? How do they support their son without compromising their beliefs and betraying all that they have held dear? How do they show that they love him even though they cannot imagine cheering for the maroon team all season long? I do not envy their position. I’m glad I never had to make such a decision with my kids and their instructional league teams. I did come pretty close to such a conundrum when my son was on a certain baseball team from the New England area, but that wasn’t nearly as big of a deal as this. While I cannot help them navigate the ins and outs of what colors they should wear (I can’t imagine them wearing anything maroon – ever) and when to cheer at their son’s games, I can be there for them. I can support them. I can bring a smile on their face.

Just in time for the football season, the new Jell-O Jigglers University Mold Kits make an awesome addition to any die-hard fan’s tailgating arsenal. I went to Walmart.com and bought the Hook’em University of Texas kit. These kits are available for 20 of the major collegiate athletics programs around the country. They can be found in store for your local university team, but since Austin, Texas, is more than a thousand miles away from central Indiana, it made a whole lot more sense to have them ship the kit to me.

Walmart #TeamJello screenshot

The kit arrived a few days later and I quickly went to work. This family was down on their luck. They needed some serious cheering up. This was a job for some Jell-O pie and University of Texas Jigglers.

Making the Hook’em Jigglers

Hook'em Jigglers University Mold Kit #TeamJellO

Shaped like the head of a Longhorn, these Jigglers were extremely easy to make. You simply spray the mold tray, mix the Jell-O in a bowl with some boiling water, and then pour the mix into the molds. It’s really as simple as that. The hardest part is the wait. You need to let them cool for three hours before you do anything with them. Since I love orange Jell-O, this was a challenge. But I toughed it out.

Making the Jell-O Pie

Jell-O Pie #TeamJello

While the Jigglers were cooling, I went about making the Jell-O Pie. It’s so silky and smooth and tasty, you’d think it took some serious culinary skill to create such a masterpiece. Fortunately for me, it was as easy as…well…as easy as pie. Here’s what you do to make a Jell-O pie:

Ingredients

  • 1 Pie crust. Baked. You can make your own from scratch if you’d like, but the premade, frozen variety works fine, too.
  • 1 Pint of vanilla ice cream. Softened.
  • 1 Box of Orange Jell-O mix. You can use any flavor mix that you’d like. I used orange because the Longhorns are orange and it just made sense.
  • 1 1/4 cup of boiling water.
  • 4 ounces (approximately) of whipped topping
  • 10 Jigglers

Directions

  1. Combine softened ice cream, Jell-O mix, and boiling water into a bowl. Stir until mixed through.
  2. Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
  3. Place pie in the refrigerator. Allow it to cool.
  4. Once it has cooled, add a layer of whipped topping.
  5. After your Jigglers have finished cooling, use them to decorate the top of the pie.

See? It’s amazingly simple. It might be a little time consuming, but it is definitely worth the wait!

Jell-O Pie with Jigglers #TeamJellO

I can’t wait to take these to my friends’ house. They’re going to love sharing their Texas Longhorns school spirit together! Even though they might have to endure the maroon for a short time, all of them are Longhorns to the core. This Jell-O pie and these Hook’em Jigglers are sure to knock their socks off!

Game winning combination #TeamJellO

The Hook’em University Mold Kit and Jell-O pie are a game-winning combination!

 

We showed our stripes when Navy visited IU

IU vs Navy - Aiden's first college football game
Well, the Hoosiers wound up losing again. That’s the fourth IU game in a row that I’ve attended and they’ve lost. Like most of those other games, this game should have been winnable. If only Indiana could have made a stop or two. But they really didn’t. It was kind of like they were shocked that they were facing Navy’s triple option. But the coaches had said that they had been preparing for the triple option since Spring practices.

Maybe they had taken something out of Tom Crean’s coaching playbook about preparing for an opponent when you know exactly what they’re going to do.

It was extremely frustrating to watch.

But even though the end result wasn’t what we’d hoped, Aiden and I still had a great time at our first college football game. One look at this face should tell you how excited Aiden was about this game…

IU vs Navy - Aiden's first college football game

My grandpa was in the Navy. So was Aiden’s grandpa. So it was pretty cool that we got to go to a game where they were playing Navy. It was also pretty cool  that they were dedicating the prow from the USS Indiana while we were there.

IU vs Navy - USS Indiana at Aiden's first college football game

We didn’t tailgate anywhere, but we made sure to walk around campus and check out the atmosphere, including a trip to the Assembly Hall. Aiden decided he wanted to spend some birthday money on a new IU shirt. I agree that it was a sound financial investment. The Cream and Crimson looks good on the boy.

IU vs Navy - Aiden's first college football game

I warned Aiden early on that I probably wasn’t going to be sitting down very much during the game. I don’t know if he really knew what I meant. And he took a while to get into cheering with the crowd, but by the end of the game, he was into it hardcore.

IU vs Navy - Aiden's first college football game
Not sure why they do the Gator Chomp when an opponent has a 3rd down. I get that the crowd needs to be loud, but maybe they should come up with something else.
That being said, Aiden got into the Chomp at the end of the game.

IU vs Navy - Aiden's first college football game

Probably the highlight of the evening happened during the third quarter. A frustrated Aiden was telling me what the defense should’ve been doing to defend against Navy’s offense. A grandma who was sitting next to us (I know she was a grandma because she had her grandkids sitting with her) looked at him and said, “You need to be out there on the field! You could probably do them some good. You should be playing for them!”

“Well,” I replied, “He hopes so. He’d like to do just that. You should come back and look for him on the field in about six years.”

She smiled. “I will!”

Six or seven years from now, we’ll be looking for her when Aiden plays his first game for Indiana. Who knows? Maybe that game would be against Navy. I know. That’s highly unlikely. But it would be cool.

By the end of the game, both of us had lost our voices. That’s a sign of an exciting game. And a loud crowd. It sounds like we’re not the only ones who might have lost their voices.

Of course, being the Band Geek that I am, I can’t talk about a football game without making mention of the band.

We had a great time at Memorial Stadium. Would’ve had an even greater time if the Hoosiers had managed to come back at the end. The Hoosiers didn’t give up. And neither did the majority of the fans. Most of the crowd stuck it out to the end of the game. That did my heart some good. The Hoosiers offense was so fun to watch.

I’m glad we were able to share this memory at Memorial Stadium together. I imagine we’ll be returning to Bloomington for another football game sometime in the near future.

In the meantime, we’ll be listening to Don Fisher give play-by-play on the radio and celebrating each Hoosier touchdown.

IU vs Navy - Aiden's first college football game
Touchdown, Hoosiers. Pass caught in the corner of the end zone (around the ‘I’ and the ‘N,’ I think.

Go! IU!
Fight! Fight! Fight!

Go Hoosiers! Beat Navy!

Six months ago, Aiden and I had the opportunity  to roam through Assembly Hall and to “sneak” onto the Hoosiers’ football field.

Aiden at The Rock, Memorial Stadium in Bloomington IndianaYou might recall that was so excited to be there that he unofficially verbally committed to playing for the football Hoosiers. He was amazed by the facility that he saw.

I wonder what he’s going to think today when he goes to his first game and the stands are (almost) full of people. I can’t wait to find out. I sure hope my bad IU luck doesn’t extend to the football team. They have enough history of struggling through games without my luck adding to the mix.

Let’s go, Hoosiers! Beat Navy today! 

#TwitterTuesday :: Adoption and sports and ice cream and suffering and all things in between

There aren’t many favorite tweets from the last week. It could be argued, however, that some of these tweets are worth a thousand words. Or more. I’ll let you decide.


This photo took my breath away. And gave me goose-bumps. Love everything about this. If you haven’t seen this yet, drop everything and do it now. I warn you, though. It might make you cry.


I know a lot of people who are hurting right now for a whole lot of different reasons. This tweet was perfectly timed.


Remember how we discussed whether or not you should rush the field of play? Just a friendly reminder to make sure the game is over before you do so.


What’s Summer without a creepy ice cream man?

How ’bout them football Hoosiers? [Guest Post]

I asked Aiden to share his thoughts about the new football helmets that the Hoosiers will be wearing this year. Since our visit to The Rock a few months agohe’s been determined to play both basketball and football for the Cream and Crimson. He’s talented enough that I wouldn’t put it past him.

Aiden at The Rock at Indiana University
Today’s Guest Author at The Rock

*****************************************************

Anybody hear about the new Indiana University football helmets that will be released for the 2013-14 NCAA season? They look pretty sweet. I especially like the shiny silver and red helmet. I think that it will bring more attention tot he program and it makes them look more modern (maybe futuristic).

As a (hopefully) future recruit of Indiana, I like how the helmets look in their style. They show that they are FROM Indiana with their helmet. Not watching much IU football growing up,* I never really got to see their helmets, and what I had seen is now just blurry memories. If I even have a chance to put on one of those IU helmets, I would do it in a heartbeat.

New IU football helmets for the 2013 season
image via AP

I can’t wait to see those new helmets for next season. Although I will be turning away during the many times the other team scores, I will be keeping my eyes on those helmets for a long while.

*Dad’s note: We had no access to IU games when we lived in Tennessee. And when we moved to Muncie, all the games were moved to the Big Ten Network, which still kept the games out of his reach. Fortunately, Aiden has a Dad who is dedicated to raising his son right.

What do YOU think about the new helmets? Love them? Hate them? Indifferent?

A reminder for college football….

The coaches and media experts thought Gonzaga was the best team in the land at the end of the season…
Men's basketball rankings on March 18 2013Wichita State and the tournament say otherwise…
Wichita State defeats Gonzaga

Just a reminder that it’s kind of important to let the champion be decided on the field, not by computers or voters who really aren’t as informed as they like to pretend they are. Their pick just got beat in the second…er…third…I mean…the Round of 32.

I’m glad college football is finally making a change. It can’t come soon enough.

An open letter to Penn State football

Empty space where Joe Paterno's statue once stood

Dear Penn State Football,

I am sitting here in the bleachers of our community’s youth football league complex.* We’re on our second and final day of drills as part of the three-day evaluation process. They take their football pretty seriously around here. There’s a certain amount of civic pride surrounding our high school’s football team. If I understand correctly, they’ve won a handful of state championships in the not-too-distant past. That’s kind of a big deal.

When we moved in November, we left a community that was consumed with the high school baseball team. And it made sense. The tiny school’s baseball team has been pretty successful in recent memory. One of their top players was drafted by Tampa not too long ago. I firmly believe that success is rooted in their strong youth baseball program. Countless volunteers put in countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears in order to pull it off because they’re so passionate about the game.

We know how passionate people are about your football team, Penn State. And we also know the lengths some people will go to in order to protect the Nittany Lion football brand. And that concerns me because such passion could easily be present here and in countless communities like ours. Continue reading An open letter to Penn State football

Join the Occupy BCS Movement (#OccupyBCS)

Occupy BCS (#OccupyBCS)

Everyone knows the BS “Championship” Series is broken. It has been for years. Well….everyone except SEC fans and the commissioners of the automatically qualifying conferences know it’s broken. College football needs a playoff. The teams deserve it. The fans deserve it. It would be the most-watched series of games in the history of sports on television. The postseason games would actually count and there would be real drama.

Instead, we’re left with yet another year of controversy because the champion won’t be decided on the field. Instead, we get a bunch of gymnastics by the supporters, arguing how every game really does count – unless it’s an SEC team. The argument is lame. The system is lame. It still needs to be fixed.

But the only time people seem to make noise about it is when their team is left out (like Oklahoma State this year and Auburn a few years ago). Maybe that will open their eyes and they’ll keep shouting for a playoff even after this season. I’m not holding my breath. Success and national accolades seems to make it easy to whitewash what’s really wrong with a system (read: Colts with Peyton Manning vs. Colts with an injured Peyton Manning). It’s a house of cards waiting to topple. But it’s easy to just look away when that happens. And the supporters will keep saying, “Hey – at least the right team won the championship,” even though we have no idea if the right team really did win.

But I’ve come to the conclusion that things will not begin to change unless the primary sponsors (Vizio, Tostitos, Allstate, and Discover Card) start feeling the pinch. Things will not begin to change unless the station carrying the games (ESPN for the foreseeable future) starts seeing a ratings decline. That’s the only way things will change. Since “Occupy ______” has become the  new trend, I have decided to throw my support behind the Occupy BCS movement (#OccupyBCS@DeathToTheBCS). I haven’t watched a BS game since Boise State beat Oklahoma – and I really haven’t missed anything. I invite you to join me. If there’s ever going to be any real change in the broken college football system, it has to begin with the people rising up and saying “No more!” And the only way our voice will be heard is if we stop giving the college football Fat Cats what they want – eyeballs on their games and butts in their seats. The only way our voice will be heard is if we stop watching the games!

Watch anything else. In fact, here’s a schedule of other shows on TV Monday night. Or better yet: turn the TV off. Read a book. Play Ninja Burger with your kids. Write a letter. Go to bed early. I don’t think it matters.

After all, you’re not going to miss anything on Monday night. You already saw that game once.

It’s time for the People to rise up! Join the Occupy BCS Movement!