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!"

I wrote some Thank You Notes to my children

I have partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers for this promotion. You can learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your continued support. 

An Open Letter to my Children #ThanksBaby #ad

It has been said that when a baby is born, a dad is born. Pampers believes that is true. That’s why this Father’s Day, and every day, they’re thanking babies for empowering Dad and empowering him to discover new roles as he journeys through this thing called Fatherhood.

That’s definitely true for me.

I had helped out at our church’s day care when I was in high school. I had also served in another church’s nursery shortly after Christy and I had gotten married. I’d even helped babysit some young children over the years. But when my son was born, everything changed.

Because being Dad isn’t babysitting. It’s not even close.

Me with the Kids #ThanksBaby #ad

When I held my son for the first time, my world changed. I had been warned that it would change, but I had no idea how much it would actually change. It’s unbelievable. You’re holding this little, tiny, itty-bitty human being and nothing else matters. Nothing. You’re responsible for everything. This baby is relying on you. Of course, mom’s part of the story, too. We’ve been partners in this journey since Day One. But when it hits you that you’re actually a Dad, it’s an overwhelming realization. It’s a beautiful thing. And it’s a scary proposition, too. You certainly become a new man when a child becomes part of your family.

Every one of our children has a completely different story about how they came into our family. And each journey has changed my life forever. For that, I’m grateful. So I’ve decided to write a brief note to each of them.

Dear Aiden,

Me and Aiden #ThanksBaby #ad

As the firstborn, you are the trailblazer. Everything is new. And I’m sure I’ve screwed up a lot over the years (still kicking myself for making you cry when I was coaching you on the baseball field).  And let’s not talk about the first time I changed a diaper. Let’s just say it was a comedy of errors.

I’m thankful that we’re blazing this trail together. I see your desire to help others, your natural leadership ability (on the field, at church, and in life in general), and your desire to make a difference with your life, and my heart explodes with pride, joy, and excitement. You’re going to do great things, my boy. In fact, you already are.

Even though we might disagree about which episode of Star Wars is the best.

Love,
Dad

Dear Weldu,

Me and Weldu #ThanksBaby #ad

I’m thankful that you joined our family last year. You filled the empty chair at our dining room table. You have made our family complete. Thank you.

I am proud to call you my son. I am excited to see you use your athletic gifts to the best of your ability, taking advantage of the opportunities that are before you.  Your English continues to improve and you are going to do great things wherever you are.

I may not be the biggest fan of soccer, but I’m your biggest fan. So I will continue to go to your games, even though I have no idea what’s going on half the time. Because you are worth it.

You always will be.

Love,
Dad

Dear Aly,

Me and Aly #ThanksBaby #ad

Oh, Aly.

Where do I begin?

You have always marched to the beat of your own drummer. I think you cried for the first 6 months, simply because you wanted to. That’s why some of our extended family still calls you “Waah-ly.” Thanks for growing out of that. Seriously.

Your love for animals, especially dogs and horses, is infectious. You have the biggest heart for others that I’ve ever seen. Ever. And your artistic ability? Mind-blowing. You certainly have an eye for photography.

Thank you for reminding me to explore new things and to make the most of every opportunity I have. You are our free spirit. But I hope you realize that wherever you go and whatever you do, you will always have a home right here in my heart.

Love,
Dad

Dear Mihret,

Me and Mihret #ThanksBaby #ad

You opened my heart, helping me realize that family is so much more than just blood. When it was time to leave you that first day, I had to put you back in your crib and go back to our Guest House. You cried when I put you down. It took all that was within me not to reach back down, scoop you out of your bed, and promise you that I will never ever leave you again. Ever. You broke my heart that day, but your smile makes my heart grow every time I see it.

You are the most determined little girl I’ve ever met. I think you’re the most determined little girl anyone has met.  And you have such a joy for life that it’s absolutely contagious. Thank you for challenging me with your determination. When you keep on pushing, never accepting “no” for an answer, you encourage me to have that same fighting spirit. You light up the room with your smile. And that laugh of yours? It just makes everything better. Thank you for being you and for inspiring everyone around you. You certainly inspire me.

Love,
Dad

None of my children are babies anymore, but I’m still grateful that each one of them call me Dad. It’s an honor that I do not take lightly.

I’m also thankful for companies like Pampers, who honor dads for simply being dads. They recognize dads for all of the amazing things they do – both big and small – to help little ones have a better, loving, and more fulfilling life.

OK. Now it’s your turn.

What do you have to say to your baby? What are you thankful for?

Share your gratitude on twitter by using the #ThanksBaby hashtag!

In the Limelight

It took me long enough. I was invited to participate in this project back in 2013. After dropping the ball and never getting back with my answers, I am pleased to finally be part of the ongoing “Dads in the Limelight” series hosted by Dad of Divas. I don’t really know why it took me three years to answer the questions. But it did. It was totally, 100%, completely my fault.

Hopefully it’s worth the wait. So why don’t you mosey on over there and check out what I have to say? While I don’t promise anything profound, you do get to look at some pretty fun pictures.

kisses

March Madness with my Boys

Dove Men+Care sent me complimentary tickets to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games in Louisville, KY. All thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% mine. You can learn more in my Disclosure Policy

Did you catch that? You might not have. And that’s OK. But it sticks out for me like a KY fan in a sea of Cream and Crimson. In case you did miss it, I’ll share it for you again…

” ‘I believe in you and I’m proud of you.’ …that’s the only thing you wanted your dad and your mom to say to you.” – Kevin Ollie

“What greater gift can you give someone than to legitimately care?” – Jim Calhoun

I love the way sports can bring people together. I love how being on a team and having a caring coach or teacher can make all the difference in the world. It’s no secret that my band director had a lasting impact on me. But I don’t want my kids to have to wait until a coach says “I’m proud of you” in order to hear someone say that. They need to hear it from me. Every day. And as we’re navigating the teenage years with three teenagers, I need to make sure I’m intentional about telling them how proud of them I am and how much I legitimately care. I need to keep working every day to improve the bond I have with my kids. I believe the bond between a dad and his kids is a display of real strength.

Real strength between father and son(s)

It’s a strange thing, the teenage years. And I’m not sure I would’ve successfully navigated them without the guidance of a great friend: my Dad. Growing up, we had many shared experiences. We even climbed a mountain together And although it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, I love going fishing with my dad. Our shared experiences only strengthen the friendship we already have.

I only hope to have similar memories and bonds with my kids. So I knew exactly who I was going to take when I was offered tickets to see the men’s Regional action in Louisville.

Me and Aiden - March Madness 2016

I knew Aiden would be excited. He loves all things sports and is a big college basketball fan like his dad. We had a great time on Thursday, watching Villanova dismantle Miami and Kansas take over their game against Maryland in the second half. Aiden had been to a Division I men’s basketball game before, but that was 10 years ago. And I’m not even sure if he remembers it. So he was pretty excited to get to see not one, but two basketball games in one night. We had a fabulous time.

With Weldu at Elite Eight game

Weldu is a big soccer fan. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. He’s a huge soccer fan. So he was a little unsure about going to a basketball game because he had never really watched many basketball games. But I was  pretty sure he would enjoy the sights and sounds of the greatest tournament in all of college sports. Just in case, I decided to take him to the Elite Eight game instead of Thursday’s Sweet Sixteen games so he’d only have to tolerate one game if he was bored.

Since we were surrounded by Villanova fans, he quickly became a fan of Villanova, the “black” (I know they’re really “Navy,” but you try explaining that to a guy who’s only been in the US for a month and a half and you’re surrounded by screaming fans yelling “Let’s go, Nova!” clap, clap, clap-clap-clap. So we stuck with “black”) team. It was pretty exciting to be among the fans as they cheered their teem to victory and a trip to Houston.

Villanova fans at the 2016 Elite Eight game

I had a a great time with Weldu. And I’m pretty sure he had a good time, too. Actually, I know he had a good time because he talked my ear off during the whole 90+ minute ride home. It was an experience I’ll never forget and I hope he’ll always remember, too.

A weekend of firsts.

Not only was it Weldu’s first game and probably the first game that Aiden, but there were other firsts that happened during these two games.

  • It was our first time visiting the Yum! Center. Wow! What a facility! While it doesn’t ooze tradition like a Hinkle or Assembly Hall, it is a pretty impressive place.
  • It was my first time at an NCAA Tournament game. We’ve participated in events around the tournament, but these were my first games.
  • I met Nick and Creed for the first time. I’m not sure why we had to drive all the way to Louisville to finally meet in person since we live in the same region, but it was nice to finally put names and faces together in real life.
  • I finally got to hear the world-famous “Rock. Chalk. Jayhawk.” chant. I imagine it would sound pretty cool echoing through the halls of Phog Allen.

Rock…chalk. ..Jayhawk…K…U! #MarchMadness

A video posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

It was an amazing experience. One that I won’t soon forget. And it’s one that has strengthened the bond between me and my boys. How could I ask for more?

The paper chase: A big adoption update

This whole adoption process has definitely been a marathon and it is not for the faint of heart. There have been days, weeks, and even months where it has felt like nothing was happening. That’s part of the reason I haven’t given much of an update on this blog recently. There really wasn’t much to report, other than the fact that we were still caught in the grueling process that is known in adoption circles as the paper chase. Now, we aren’t new to the paper chase. We’ve done it before. But I guess I’d forgotten how long the process actually takes. Or maybe I thought it would be quicker this time around. After all, we had all the documents from before.

Nope.

Almost everything had to be redone. And sometimes they had to be redone again because people had trouble following directions the first time (let’s not talk about how difficult it was to get the form for my physical filled out properly by the doctor’s office). I’m pretty sure it took twice as long as Mihret’s paper chase. And the stress of getting other offices to correctly do what they’re supposed to do just might’ve taken a few months off my life.

But it’s all OK now. Because it’s out of our hands.
Adoption Paper Chase Complete
That’s right. We have finished the paper chase! Our dossier is complete! After months of feeling like we’re marking time, there’s finally some movement. We’re starting to see some momentum in the adoption process. Things are starting to move a little bit quicker. Hopefully, momentum keeps going the right direction.

What’s next?

Now that our dossier is in the hands of our agency, they’ll go over it and make sure everything is there and nothing needs correcting. Then it will be translated into Amharic. Once it’s translated, it will be sent to the Ethiopian government. That’s the next milestone – the DTE (Dossier to Ethiopia) date. Once they receive the dossier, they’ll do their due diligence to make sure everything is in order. That could still take a while. After that’s completed, there will be two separate trips to Ethiopia. In the first trip, we’ll meet “W,” our son, for the first time. We’ve been communicating with each other since late last year and we’ve even been able to send some small care packages with other families who are flying to Addis, but we have yet to see each other face to face.

I have to admit, I’m having a hard time waiting for that day. I can’t wait to look into his eyes and tell him that he’s mine. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around him and welcome him to the family. I can’t wait to smile at him and tell him how loved he is. I can’t wait.

Of course, I have to wait. Because we’ll stand before the Ethiopian court the first time and they will declare “W” our son. But then we’ll have to wait some more while the US Embassy does its due diligence to make sure everything is in order. That takes several weeks. So we’re supposed to go home and wait.

That’s going to be tough. I had a hard enough time leaving Mihret at the Care Center that was adjacent to our hotel after meeting her. I can’t imagine leaving our son half a world away after meeting him. But people do it. And everyone survives. I suppose we’ll survive, too.

Actually, I know we’ll survive. Because it’s what we have to do. It’s the process we have to go through. We’ll do whatever it takes and jump through whatever hoops are necessary in order to bring “W” home to his forever family.

We’ve achieved a major milestone in our efforts to adopt “W.” But there’s much more that has to be done before he is home with us. Many of you have asked how you can help us on this journey. I’m putting together a post that answers this question. Hopefully it’ll be ready tomorrow.

In the meantime, I ask you to pray. Pray for all of the bureaucrats and diplomats involved in this process. Pray that the paperwork is correct and it is translated accurately and quickly. But most of all, please pray for “W.” Pray for his health. Pray for his spirit. Pray that he knows without a shadow of a doubt that he has a family who loves him and is working to move heaven and earth to bring him home.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Be a better princess with the Sleeping Beauty DVD

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

Sleeping Beauty DVD at Walmart #DisneyBeauties
With the release of the Sleeping Beauty DVD and Blu-Ray, Disney has re-introduced one of the classic Disney Princesses to a new generation. As I mentioned before Mihret is a big fan of all of the Disney Princesses. So in honor of the release of Sleeping Beauty from the Disney Vault, we dressed up in our royal best and visited our local Walmart to celebrate.

In Store #DisneyBeauties

As we were shopping for the DVD and other princess goodies, Mihret and I talked about what qualities we liked in the Disney Princesses. Sure, they’re pretty. And most of them can sing with beautiful voices. But there’s more to being a Princess than these external characteristics. To be noble requires a goodness that comes from deep within your innermost being. The beauty of the #DisneyBeauties is truly more than just skin-deep.

#DisneyBeauties shopping spree

 

We bought a few Princess related items while we walked and talked in the store. I hope these items will help reinforce the strong inner virtues that the Disney Princesses possess. They can be some pretty important role models for Mihret.

Princesses are kind-hearted.

Princess Aurora is a kind-hearted soul. She fills her parents’ lives with sunshine. That’s a pretty remarkable reputation to have, isn’t it? She lit up the room with her joy. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances (what’s more difficult than having the self-proclaimed Mistress of all Evil wanting you dead?), we can choose to live our lives in such a way hat we’re always filling other people’s lives with sunshine.

Can’t we?

Sunshine #DisneyBeauties

 

Being a Princess means you’re kind-hearted and bring cheer to others. That is certainly a Princess quality I hope my daughters display throughout their lives.

Princesses are determined problem solvers.

Do you remember when Mulan climbed that pole with those weights tied around her wrists? She was determined to solve that puzzle. She didn’t give up. She had the courage and determination to get the job done with whateveer it took.

Puzzle #DisneyBeauties

 

Mihret shows similar problem solving skills when she’s putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Much like Mulan, she is a very determined girl who refuses to listen when someone says, “You can’t do that.”

Princesses are creative.

Dinglehoppers…

Snarfblats…

Ariel’s creativity shines when she explains what all her gadgets, gizmos a-plenty, whosits, whatsits galore, and thingamabobs. Her creativity and her inquisitive nature work hand in hand, don’t they? an adventurous, curious, creative spirit is something that should be encouraged in our daughters.

I know.

Reading that might make you a little bit nervous. Free spirits like this can get into trouble pretty easily. And that makes parents like me a bit uneasy. Daughters like that can keep you on your toes. They might even make your hair turn white.

Kind of like King Triton’s hair.

Creative Coloring #DisneyBeauties

 

You know something? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love having daughters who aren’t afraid to color outside the lines a little bit. it seems like their creativity knows no bounds. And I want to do whatever I can as their Dad to keep encouraging them to be the creative and curious free spirits I know they are. It’s just a small (but important) part of what makes my daughters such beautiful Princesses. And I want to keep encouraging that spirit to grow within them throughout their lives.

It might cause some bumps along the way. But the ride is worth it. Princesses make the journey one for the storybooks. I know mine have.

Oh, and Mihret also wanted me to tell you that Ariel is pretty neat because she can swim around and around and around. So she has that going for her, too!

What’s YOUR Princess like? How do Disney Princesses inspire her?

Celebrating the Power of Dad

Life lesson Keep your eye on the ball

Dad has taught me a lot of things over the years. One of the most important things, however, comes from the years he coached me in baseball.

Keep your eye on the ball.

Me the Little League player

That’s a pretty important lesson when it comes to baseball. But it’s also pretty important when it comes to life. Keep your eye on the ball. Focus on the things that matter.

Faith. Family. Friends.

Keep them front and center. Stay focused on them. If you do, your life will be full of joy. You’ll be rich in ways that most millionaires dream.

That’s what my Dad taught me.

Oh, and if you happen to catch a few fish along the way? Well, that’s even better.

I have tried to pass this lesson along to my kids. Keep your eye on the ball.

Dad was my baseball coach. I’ve tried following in his footsteps as a coach, as a mentor, and as a friend. I’m doing my best to pass along what he has taught me – especially when it comes to priorities. That’s the power of Dad, after all.

Faith. Family. Friends.

Keep your focus on them. And don’t forget to have some fun while you’re doing it.

Oral-B understands the influence that dads can have. And I’m happy to be partnering with them this Father’s Day. In a society where the impact of involved dads is getting short shrift, it warms my heart to see companies like Oral-B creating commercials like this. They truly understand the power of Dad.

See? Oral B gets it. They understand the power of Dad. And they’re even taking it another level. Oral-B has teamed up with March of Dimes and Eli Manning to honor dads everywhere. Pretty cool, right?

It gets even better, though. Since fatherhood is full of moments that make a dad smile, Oral-B wants dads to take care of their teeth. To help ensure that dads everywhere have healthy smiles, Oral-B is offering a special $7 off coupon for their Oral-B 7000 BLACK, their most sophisticated and technologically advanced brush yet. Not only is it engineered to perform, but it’s stylish, sleek, and precision-engineered, featuring 8,800 oscillations per minute and 40,000 pulsations per minute. It’s the perfect gift for the gadget-obsessed guy in your life.

Celebrate the power of Dad in your life this Father’s Day. Smile about the little things. Marvel at the amazing things. And remember to keep your eye on the ball.

Disclosure:
I partnered with Oral-B and Life of Dad, LLC for the #PowerofDad Father’s Day promotion and was compensated for my involvement.

Give that boy a hug

St Louis - To the Arch and back

As part of our preparation to adopt Little Man, Christy and I attended the Empowered to Connect Conference in St. Louis over the weekend. The conference was intense. It was emotional. It was well worth the time, effort, and energy it took to attend. I’m still processing a lot of the information and trying to implement some of the strategies. It’s going to take some intentionality on my part to make this shift in parenting style. But that’s OK. He’s worth it. So are the rest of our kids.

We decided to turn this trip into an extended weekend – kind of a mini vacation with the kids. While they had to endure a lot of sitting around during our time in the conference’s sessions, we tried to include some fun family activities while we were in the STL. Most of the places we visited were free, like the St. Louis Science Center, Bass Pro Shop (don’t knock it. It was as close to going to Six Flags as we were going to get on this trip), and the St. Louis Zoo. Christy and the big kids were going to go up into the Arch while we were in town, but due to time constraints and poor weather conditions, we had to skip that journey this time around. That’s OK. It’ll just give us another reason to go back to St. Louis very very soon.

While we were there, I started to wonder about our parenting style. Do you think Aiden wasn’t hugged enough as a baby? Or maybe he was hugged too much.

Bear hug

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Elephant hug

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Gateway Arch hug

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Obviously, the boy likes hugs. And that’s a good thing. So we probably hugged him just the right amount. 😉

But just in case, you should probably give that boy a hug next time you see him. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.

 

 

My featured artist

For Father’s Day, I’d like to call your attention to this art gallery. While it features many talented artists, there’s one that soars above and beyond all others. She does in my book, anyway. Can you figure out which one I’m talking about? I’m sure you’ll be totally surprised when you see her subject matter. 🙂

I’d like to thank Designer Daddy for putting this gallery together and for giving me yet another excuse to brag about my daughter.

I guess I’m doing something right with this parenting thing

It saddens me to know that I’ve lost the Star Wars battle with my children. When ranking his favorite Star Wars movies, he continues to say that Attack of the Clones is his favorite. This really should not be. It makes me question my parenting skills, thinking I’ve failed him somehow.

There is some hope in my child-rearing skills. It might be a small glimmer of hope, but it’s still hope. Today I took Aiden to the doctor for his annual checkup. While I was waiting for him in the waiting room, this happened…

When I told Aiden about it later, he laughed. The fact that he got the reference makes me smile. The fact that he turns on Livin’ on a Prayer every time we’re in my car makes me smile, too. There’s hope for him yet.

And every time Mihret’s in the car? She wants to listen to ‘Tuba Taco’

They may have awful taste in movies, but they definitely have some good musical preferences. Maybe I’m doing OK with this parenting thing after all.