My family needs more of everything. Including data.

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Our growing family uses more of everything. Including data. #DataAndAMovie

We’ve been home with our new son for almost a month now, and I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised at how well things have been going. Sure, every day has its share of awkward moments, but we get through them. And we’re growing through those awkward moments as we navigate through our new normal as a family of six.

One thing that has surprised us about adding a teenage boy to our family is how much more we need of everything. The amount of laundry has increased exponentially.We go through an insane amount of milk and juice each week. And, over the last month, I think I’ve flipped more pancakes and scrambled more eggs than I did during the entire year last year. OK. I might be exaggerating just a little bit. But I think you get the point. Continue reading “My family needs more of everything. Including data.”

Sorry for the radio silence.

We moved last weekend.

We didn’t move very far away. It was just down the street, actually. But it should probably go without saying that things have been a little bit busy since Moving Day last Saturday.

OK. Things have been a lot busy. There’s a lot I’m planning on posting, but I’ve just run out of time this week. It doesn’t really help that we don’t have Internet at home yet (thanks a lot, Comcast – or Xfinity – or whatever you’re called now). So the blog itself might be in a bit of a dormant stage for the next few days. But soon this blog will be back. And better than ever. Because I have SO MUCH TO SAY!

I still have access to twitter and the Life in the Fishbowl facebook page. So if you haven’t connected with me there, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?! 

Even though things are a little crazy at the Todd House right now, it’s comforting to be able to walk up to the front door and be greeted by this every day.

welcome home sign

Thanks again to everyone who helped us during the extended Moving Day! We’ll be sure to pay it forward.

 

Remembering Melissa (fireworks)

Melissa and I were teammates at work. We were paired together as a tw0-person team shortly after I started working at Slingshot. We worked pretty closely together. I think it is safe to say that we became pretty good friends.

Melissa
I found this picture on my work computer today. It’s left over from our time as teammates.

One day while we were skyping each other, one of us lamented the fact that while Skype has all kinds of crazy emoticons, they don’t have a fireworks emoticon. We agreed that Skype needed a fireworks emoticon. So we created our own.

(fireworks)

This became our go-to emoticon when something was going really well and we thought it was worth celebrating. You know how some teammates have special handshakes or high-fives or something like that? This was our special high-five.

When she left the company, the emoticon changed a little bit. Every once in a while, I’d send her a message. “(fireworks)” – that’s all it would say. It meant “Thinking of you. Hope you’re doing well.”

Then, I discovered this about a month ago:

Animal bobblehead

This was a big deal. Melissa had told me on several occasions that she wanted an Animal bobblehead. We honestly weren’t sure if they actually existed. But we did know that the very idea of an Animal bobblehead was a pretty cool idea. So I let her know about it right away.

animal bobbleheads

After my post about my Chewbacca bobblehead, I had decided that I was going to go buy an Animal bobblehead and give it to her. I was going to do that this weekend. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to give it to her.

I was saddened to discover this morning that Melissa had passed away today. I don’t really know any details. I think it’s safe to say that all who knew her are still in shock. I know I am.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to do what you can do today. Life’s too short to put things on pause. Let your friends know you care while there’s still time. Hug your loved ones a little bit tighter tonight. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. So let’s make the most of today while it’s still called today.

You will be missed, Melissa. Sorely missed.
Shoot, you already are.
(fireworks)

 

Let me tell you about the time I broke into my parents’ home

Broke into my parents house

My parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary while I was a senior at Milligan. Kevin was a freshman at Anderson. So both of us were out of town at the time. Throw in the end-of semester projects and preparations for finals and it looked like we were not going to be able to do anything special for my parents’ silver anniversary until sometime during Christmas break.

Appearances can be deceiving though.

With the help of Grandma and Grandpa Craig, we were able to pull of what had to be the biggest coup in Todd family history. It was definitely one for the record books and it took a whole lot of effort from a whole lot of people to pull this thing off. But they did. And it was fabulous. It’s amazing how a plan comes together. Because of all the planning and uncertainty and moving parts and potential for disaster, I believe this was the biggest surprise I was able to pull off. It was an even bigger surprise than when I proposed to Christy.

Before we go much further, I want to remind you of one very important thing: context. This was 15+ years ago. The Internet was still very young and not readily accessible. Yahoo looked like this. Google didn’t even exist.  Very few people had cell phones. And if they did have them, they weren’t much smaller than Zack Morris’s.

Zack Morris cell phone from Saved by the Bell
Image via 123people.com

And texting? I don’t even think we’d ever heard of such a thing.

I know. We were in the dark ages of communication technology. How did we ever get in touch with all those people in Evansville when we lived 8 and 4 hours away from everyone? Why, snail mail, of course! Grandma and Grandpa Craig printed up a bunch of invitations and we mailed them to family, friends, neighbors…anyone we thought might want to celebrate this momentous day with my parents. We may or may not have even invited the local fire department, police department, and area bridge clubs. OK, we didn’t. But let’s just agree that we invited a whole lot of people.

So after inviting almost all of Vanderburgh County, we had to use all of our creative energy to pull this thing off. I remember talking up my concern about the upcoming finals and how I was going to be spending the weekend camped out in the Library in preparation for them. Friday and Saturday were going to be nothing but study days for me. My cover had been established. Mom and dad had no idea that Christy and I were driving up to Evansville that Friday. They had no idea that Kevin, Christy, and I would be sleeping at Grandma and Grandpa Craig’s that evening.

We had recruited some family friends to take mom and dad out of town for the morning and afternoon on Saturday. Once they were on the road, they had to make a quick emergency stop. I don’t remember what the excuse was, but they had to stop so they could call to let us know that the coast was clear.

Then we broke into my parents’ house.

We grabbed whatever bags looked like they might contain gifts and gently tossed them into one of our bedrooms. Because I like to keep surprises a surprise, there was no peeking at the potential gifts. We furiously cleaned and scrubbed and cleaned as quickly as possible, hoping to make the house as spotless as possible. Grandma was worried (and rightfully so) that Mom would be mortified if she knew a bunch of people were at her house and the house wasn’t clean. That would’ve been a surprise of a completely different sort.

As we cleaned, we began preparing the food. Grandma had ordered an anniversary cake from Donut Bank, the same baker who had made their wedding cake. The wassail was simmering on the stove. And in a very short amount of time, we had my parents’ house transformed. We were ready to party like it was 1999.

We had a shuttle system established. People parked around the block or in the nearby church parking lot. We would shuttle them to the house. That way there wasn’t any chance of Mom or Dad accidentally recognizing one of the cars, which could potentially ruin the surprise. Once everyone arrived, we gathered in the Dining Room and we waited.

Patiently.

OK. Most of us were patient. I really wasn’t that patient. I was anxious. I couldn’t wait for the surprise to unfold.

As their friends’ car pulled up, Mom and Dad got out of the car. The tightly-packed room fell silent as they approached the front door. Because of the layout of the house’s main level, we could not see the door from the Family Room. And they could not see us. My body tensed as we heard the door open. I couldn’t believe we had actually pulled it off.

Mom and Dad were talking about something as they opened the front door. Then, mid-sentence, Mom said, “Wow. Something smells good.” She could smell the wassail as it simmered. I asked her about this later and she didn’t think anything of it at the time.

Then she turned the corner into the Dining Room. Dad trailed closely behind, still out of sight. As she rounded the corner, she saw us.

She froze.

We froze.

I wish I had thought to have a camera with me because the look on her face was priceless. She screamed and ran back around the corner. She whispered to Dad, “There are people in our house.” Then they both came around the corner together and they were greeted with a giant

“Surprise! Happy anniversary!”

And she didnt’ faint. I really did think Mom was going to faint. I’m sure glad she didn’t!

We had a great time with Mom and Dad, surrounded by family and friends. It was a magical evening. And I still can’t believe we managed to keep the event a secret.

So the pressure’s on our kids. What are they going to be able to do for us when we celebrate our 25th? I think we’ve set the bar pretty high. Fortunately, they have a few years to get things together. They might want to start planning now so there isn’t any pressure a decade from now.

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

This post was inspired by #ThinkKit’s post-a-day in December initiative, presented by Smallbox. Today’s prompt:  Don’t look….it’s a surprise! Yes, I deviated from the prompt just a little bit. But that’s OK. This story must be told.

Thankful on Veterans Day

Image via US Navy Imagery on flickr

Dear family members, friends, colleagues, church members, past youth ministry members, neighbors, former classmates, parents of my kids’ friends, and any other veteran with whom I have ever had contact…

Thank you.

Thank you for your service.

Thank you for your sacrifice.

Thank you for your courage.

 

Thank you.

A glimpse of Heaven at Milligan Homecoming

In I’ve heard it said that Heaven is a long “hello.” I’m not here to debate the theology of that statement, but when you take into account that saying “goodbye” is so difficult and the book of Revelation says there will be no more tears or mourning or crying or pan, it’s hard for me to say that this statement is too far off.

And if that statement is true, I feel like we had a little taste of Heaven during Milligan’s Homecoming weekend. It was a weekend full of reunions and introductions and saying “hello” to long-lost friends. Here’s just a glimpse of the people and places we said “hello” to during Homecoming…

Bays Mountain State Park

Christy used to bring the kids here while we were in our grad school era of Tri Cities living (as opposed to the BK – Before Kids –  undergrad era of Tri Cities living).  We had to go back to Bays Mountain to say hello to the wolves, deer, and predatory birds. Of course, we also had to ask the fox what he says.

Pondering what the fox say

A post shared by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

Deer at Bays Mountain State Park
These deer were so calm that they barely even noticed the small group of paparazzi who had gathered to take their picture.

The food

Although Cheers is long and gone, many of the old stand bys that have become closely associated with Milligan we still around. And it was a beautiful thing to be reunited with them.

Firehouse

We met Melissa/Bob/Miss Awissa at Firehouse for some Southern barbecue that was out of this world. I don’t think I really appreciated Firehouse while we lived there because… well… it wasn’t Shyler’s. I guess you could say my palate has matured because there’s plenty of room on my plate for both barbecue (assuming Shyler’s does eventually reopen).

Christy insists on eating her pulled pork with slaw. That’s probably the “right” way to eat it, but I don’t understand why one would want to mess with perfection.
Firehouse BBQ in Johnson City, TN

Pal’s

Not only is Pal’s tasty, but it seems they’ve hired some mind readers, too…

Misaki

I wish they would bottle that shrimp sauce so we could bring it home…
Misaki

Misaki
Unfortunately, they don’t. Oh well. I guess that just means we’ll have to go back soon.

Bojangles

No trip to the South is complete without at least one meal that includes Bo-Berry biscuits from Bojangles.
Bojangles Bo-Berry Biscuits

Church Friends

I wish we had time to meet with more people from our old Southside/Summit Church, but it was great to get together with some former members of the Wandering Church of the Nomad.
Homecoming 2013  Homecoming 2013

That’s our Goddaughter on the trampoline. She’s dressed up like a fairy princess. I think. And she’s practicing so she’ll be able to learn how to fly. Since she’s our Goddaughter, this really shouldn’t be a surprise. Should it? It’s just par for the course.

And Miss Awissa/Bob/Melissa would like for me to inform you that no, she is not pulling Mihret’s arms out of her sockets. They’re dancing to music that wasn’t playing. That’s kind of par for the course, too.

The Kids and Their Old New Friends

It was amazing watching our kids play together. Some of them met for the very first time. Some hadn’t seen each other in quite a while – and most of them probably didn’t really remember each other. But they played and played and played. It was heartwarming to see them play like they’d known each other all their lives.

Homecoming 2013

Tossing a stuffed buffalo at Milligan Homecoming 2013

football at Hoover Farm

The Hoover Farm

Heather and Randy invited us to their farm for a bonfire. It was great spending more time with everyone and it was just a little bit reminiscent of the bonfires we used to have at Milligan – without the kids running around and playing, of course.

Toasted Marshmallows - Milligan Homecoming 2013

Aly met a real live Tennessee Fainting Goat

Buffalo Creek

We walked along the banks of Buffalo Creek for some family pictures. I couldn’t help but remember and pray for the guys I had baptized in that creek more than a decade ago.

Buffalo Creek

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

I think the weekend convinced Aiden to consider attending Milligan (years down the road when it’s time for him to start looking seriously at college. I know it’ll be here before we know it though). Until I opened my big mouth and talked about the tradition of throwing a guy in the Creek after he gets engaged. Now I think we’re back to square one with him.

Aiden at Buffalo Creek - Milligan Homecoming 2013

Of course, since Milligan doesn’t have a football team, our efforts might be futile anyway.

Vespers

Milligan students of the mid to late 90s gathered with their families in Lower Seeger for a night of Vespers, not unlike the services we used to have every Sunday evening while we were students. It was moving beyond words.

I don’t know why it took us 15 years to decide to do something like this, but I pray that this will become a regular part of Homecoming weekends in the future.

Seeger Chapel

After the amazing Vespers service, we had to take a quick walk through the Chapel. The kids, however, weren’t satisfied with just a walkthrough. They had to jump on stage.

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

Milligan College Homecoming 2013

We left Tennessee’s fair eastern mountains with our hearts full and already looking forward to the next time we’ll be able to say “hello” while standing in the shadow of Buffalo Mountain.

This is dedicated to all the teachers in my life

Dear Teachers

This post is for all the teachers in my life, past and present.

Teachers like the late Mrs. Wood, Mrs. Stewart, Mr. Cates, the late Mrs. Brown, Mr. Eiffler, Frau French, Mrs. Kuhn, Mr. Briel, Mrs. Goebel, Mrs. Mautz, Mr. Hughes, Frau Blice, and

Professors like Dr. Montgomery, Terry Mattingly, Dr. Higgins, Mr. Helsabeck, Dr. Roberts, Dr. Wasem, Dr. Rollston, Dr. Ramsaran, Dr. Shields, and Dr. Blowers…

Friends like Leigh, Amanda, Alicia, Scott, Jennifer, Christy, Mark, Heather, Heather, Valicia, and Matt…

Family members like Liz, Aunt LeeAnn, and Kara…

and, of course, Christy, who is my favorite teacher ever…

Thank you for making my world awesome!

This is the End.

I love watching series finales. Even if I haven’t watched the show very much, I’m pretty likely to tune into the finale if I’ve ever had a remote interest in the show. I did that with Smallville a few years back. I had a cursory interest in the series but never really had the opportunity to dedicate much time to watching it. Even so, I still made sure to watch the finale and see Clark finally become the Super Man he was destined to become.

I remember when I was a young’un in the house we lived in before my parents’ current home. I was heartbroken because some crazy educational show on PBS that involved a woman and a green puppet – I think it was a green puppet. I remember it as a green puppet. I think they were on Mars. And they had to leave for the summer. I bawled my eyes out as their rocket took off and I had to say goodbye. I remember tugging on mom’s leg while she was on the phone. She had to get off the phone because I was in hysterics: Because I had to say goodbye to the Martian puppet for the Summer. I honestly don’t remember if that show ever came on again.

Goodbyes can be tough. They’re part of life, though. Everyone goes through it. At its core, the art of storytelling is the art of dealing with the human experience. I guess I love series finales because when they’re done right, they can be the perfect example of great storytelling. And as you know, I love a good story. A final story told well can tug at the heartstrings. It can resolve conflict. It can leave some tension unresolved. It can make you wish you didn’t have to say goodbye. It can make you want more.

Some of the finales I’ve watched do this really, really well. Others? Not so much.

With all of this talk about tonight’s series finale of The Office, I’ve been thinking a lot about the memorable series finales I’ve seen and why they’re so memorable. 

M*A*S*H

MASH Goodbye
Image via TampaBay.com

I was seven when they aired the M*A*S*H finale. I have no idea if we watched it that night. While I have a pretty vivid memory of my childhood, this is something I just have no recollection of whatsoever. That probably means I didn’t watch it, but you never know, I guess.

I have, however, watched the finale since its initial airing. Holy cow. What an ending. In my mind, this still sets the standard for television series finales. I have never really had a strong attachment to the 4077th – it was probably just a little bit before my time – but even so, I still find myself tearing up as the helicopter flies away for the last time.

Friends

We watched Friends pretty religiously in college. I was living off-campus when Ross flubbed his wedding vows and you could hear screams all throughout the apartment complex. It was pretty crazy.

I was disappointed when I had to work during the series finale. I really wanted to be curled up on the couch with Christy while we watched. Instead, I was busy delivering pizzas. It turned out that I didn’t actually watch the finale until almost ten years later.

Seinfeld 

A bunch of my college buddies and I gathered together at a friend’s house for one of our last hurrahs before everyone graduated. We had high expectations for this finale.

It was underwhelming. That’s about all I can say.

The Wonder Years

Christy’s still mad about this series finale. That was twenty (!!!) years ago this week. I guess you could say that time doesn’t heal all wounds. She happened to watch this episode again a few months ago. She was depressed for weeks. I don’t think she can watch any episode of The Wonder Years ever again because she’s still so angry/depressed about how they ended the story.

She’s convinced Kevin and Winnie should’ve gotten married. I, however, think it’s better that they didn’t. After all: how many people actually marry their high school sweethearts? I didn’t. Christy didn’t. I’m pretty OK with that. 😉

Boy Meets World

I think some of that emotional bitterness that Christy experiences with Kevin and Winnie’s breakup has been eased by the finale of Boy Meets World. The fact that Cory and Topanga actually got married and appear to be living happily ever after is a bit of a healing salve.

Cheers

Man. What a great finale. I think it’s my favorite. It’s another finale that aired twenty years ago this month.

What season finales stick out as your most memorable? Which one’s your favorite? Do you have a least-favorite?