Life in the Fishbowl

Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live."

Life in the Fishbowl - Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live."

3 signs that Bella might be too bright for her own good

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BrightMind #CollectiveBiasBella Close Up #BrightMind #ad

Well, 30 days on the Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formula (plus 7 days of transitioning to the new food) have come and gone. And it’s clear that Bella really likes her new food. And I think we’re starting to see some changes in her alertness.

Purina Pro Plan #BrightMind #ad

That’s a very good thing. Because that’s the purpose of Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind. It was designed with older dogs in mind. And of the 87 million dogs in the US, it’s estimated that 44 per cent of them are seven years old or older. So there’s a large population of “Man’s Best Friend” that can benefit from the Bright Mind formula. And right now, if you spend $10 on any Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog or Cat Food* at PetSmart by October 4, you can save $10 on your next Purina Pro Plan Dry Food purchase of 14 pounds or more, on or before November 1 (*subject to availability. Transaction total is after discounts and before taxes). That’s a great deal!

Bella was already a pretty smart dog. In many ways, she was already too smart for her own good. Sometimes, she winds up getting herself into some trouble because she was a bit too smart.

Here are 3 ways Bella might be too smart for her own good:

Bella at the top of the steps #BrightMind #ad


1.) Bella is an alert watchdog.

She sits atop the steps whenever someone leaves and patiently awaits that person’s return. And if she hears any movement from anyone – human or dog – outside, she’ll bark out the window until she has successfully scared away the potential intruder.

2.) Bella has “trained” us to feed her in a special way.

Bella loves to eat. And she especially loves to eat the Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formula. Of course, she can’t merely eat her food out of a bowl. That would be too simple.

That’s right. Bella insists on being hand-fed her food.

Mihret feeding Bella by hand #BrightMind #ad

And not only that. She wants us to throw it to her.

Throwing food to Bella #BrightMind #ad

Although this makes Bella’s dinner time last twice as long as it really should, it’s a win-win situation for us. When Mihret feeds Bella, she’s able to get in some extra occupational therapy in by picking up the individual pieces of food. And Bella gets some extra exercise by chasing down the morsels.

Like I said, it’s win-win.

3.)  Bella is an expert at hiding bones.

Bella loves rawhide bones. In fact, she loves them so much that instantly tries to hide her bone whenever you give her one. We don’t have any other dogs, so I guess she’s afraid the kids are going to steal it from her.

So she wanders through the house with her bone in her mouth, whimpering at the top of her lungs until she finds the perfect hiding place.

Bella hiding her bone #BrightMind #ad


More often than not, it’s buried between the cushions of one of our couches. I’ve also found bones in our closets and hiding under piles of dirty clothes in the Laundry Room.

As you can see from the picture below, she’s an expert bone hider. It’s really hard to see that bone in the couch cushions (unless you know to look for it).There is the bone hiding in the couch #BrightMind #ad

In fact, Bella’s so good at hiding her bones, that she forgets where she hid them! And then she whimpers and whines as she searches the house in a desperate attempt to find the bone she had just buried.Bella looking for the bone she just hid #BrightMind #adIs Bella really too smart for her own good?


But I’m glad we’re able to encourage her to be mentally sharp with Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind’s enhanced botanical oils that promote attention, trainability, and memory.


Mihret in the Spotlight

You know, Christy and I think that Mihret is a pretty special little girl. I know, I know. We’re supposed to think that way because she’s our daughter. But she really is. I promise. And I have proof outside of our own objective biased opinion.

You can ask the principal at her school. And you can also ask our district’s School Board.
Mihret in the Spotlight - Title

At the beginning of each School Board meeting, our district invites a school to shine a spotlight on one of their students. The schools rotate throughout the year. That gives each school two opportunities throughout the year to present a student to the School Board as one of their Spotlight Students.

The Principal at Mihret’s school chose Mihret as her school’s representative at this month’s School Board meeting. With the help of a friend, she opened the meeting by leading all attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Mihret helped lead the Pledge of Allegiance at tonight’s School Board meeting. #SpotlightStudent

A video posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

Then her Principal shared a little about their Spotlight Student. He shared a few words about her. He said that she’s an exemplary student with a bright smile and an “I do it myself” attitude.

This really shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, she was named Most Determined in her class a few years ago. I promise. We aren’t that biased when we say she’s a remarkable little girl. It’s pretty apparent. Don’t you think?

The School Board President presented her with a special certificate for being her school’s Spotlight Student.

(Sorry the photo is a bit blurry. I wasn’t quite ready to take the picture. It all happened much faster than I expected.)

Spotlight student certificate

Don’t ask me why she’s posing like this. She insisted on doing it. I think she was just so excited about the whole thing that she couldn’t quite contain herself.

She’s definitely a remarkable little girl. And she marches to her own beat. Don’t you agree?

Spotlight Student August 2015

Just in case you weren’t convinced that her parents aren’t the only ones who are totally enamored with our little girl, she also had her own cheering section that showed up at the Board Meeting to support her. Mihret's adoring fans

I’ve had the opportunity to take Mihret to school on several occasions. It’s fun to watch her cruise the hallway with her wheelchair. She waves to everyone, like she’s in a parade. And everyone greets her like a celebrity. I’m pretty sure she thinks she runs that school.

She’s already in the spotlight while she’s at school. So it was pretty fun to see her spotlight’s reach expand to the rest of the school system.

Spotlight Student

Needless to say, we’re pretty proud of our little Spotlight Student.

Please stop running bus stop signs.

Bus Stop SignOn the day a friend of mine received her driver’s license, she took her older brothers out for a drive. As they came up to an empty intersection, her brothers urged her to drive on through.

“You can ignore the stop signs that have a white border. They’re optional,” they argued.

She was convinced. And she rolled right through that intersection.

Her brothers were shocked. They didn’t think she’d believe them. But they were the experienced drivers and she was just getting started. So she fell for their joke.

In the end, it was just a silly prank that older brothers were playing on their younger sister. And no one got hurt. So, in the end, I guess you could say it was harmless. No blood, no foul. But my friend learned a valuable lesson that evening.

Stop signs are not optional.

Even if they have a white border.

That includes Continue reading

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.



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?

Our daughter’s princess makeover

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

Hear ye! Hear ye! We are in the Presence of Royalty!

We celebrated Mihret’s birthday over the weekend and it looks like we have a little princess on our hands. I don’t think that should really come as a surprise to anyone, though. From Princess Sophia to Princess Merida, she loves all the Disney Princesses. Her favorite, however, is Ariel. She could watch The Little Mermaid all day, every day if we would let her. I don’t know if it’s her stunning red hair or her amazing swimming ability or her beautiful voice or her creativity or her curiosity or some combination of these characteristics, but Mihret is a full-blown Ariel fan. So we just had to give her this little gift before her birthday party. It was like she had her own little princess makeover this weekend.

Mihret the Mermaid #DisneyBeauties

She was in heaven as she wore this costume around the house all day. With Halloween just around the corner, she’s going to have a lot of opportunities to dress up as Ariel all month long! There is a wide assortment of Disney Princess Halloween costumes available, but I know which princess will be gracing our presence this year.

An event fit for a princess.

In addition to her birthday and Halloween, I’m pretty excited about another event where Ariel-Mihret will be making an appearance. As a special way to celebrate the release of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty DVD and Sleeping Beauty Blu-Ray, Walmart is hosting a special Disney Princess event this coming Saturday.

Sleeping Beauty DVD at Walmart #DisneyBeauties

Grab your favorite princess (or prince), dress them up in their royal best as you party with the princesses this Saturday. Here are the details:


Saturday, October 11
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Your friendly neighborhood Walmart store
(click here for a list of participating stores)


Here’s just some of the fun that will be happening:

  • Disney Princess coloring and activity sheets
  • Photo opportunities with a cardboard Sleeping Beauty
  • Disney Princess cupcakes samples
  • Disney Princess character balloons (available for purchase)

A royal deal awaits.

In addition to the fun activities, there will be a special in-store coupon available from American Greetings at participating locations. It’s good for $3 off of any $10 purchase of Disney Princess themed party supplies. You don’t want to miss out on this royal deal, do you?

Join the fun!

I’ll be there with my mermaid princess. Will you? It should be an event that dreams are made of. You can join in the fun all week long by following the #DisneyBeauties hashtag on Twitter and Instagram!


Our lives changed after we took this picture 5 years ago

We took this picture five years ago today. It was the last time we were together as a family of four.

Outside Indianapolis International Airport before flying to Ethiopia.

A few minutes after this, the kids drove off with their Papaw. Soon after that, Christy and I boarded a plane. Our ultimate destination was a Little Girl in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Flying over Egypt

Five years ago today, we were ending one leg of our family’s journey.

Five years ago today, we were starting another leg of our family’s journey.

Five years ago…


How has it already been five years since we went from being a family of four to a family of five?

Our first picture as a family of five. Taken at the Indianapolis International Airport

It couldn’t have happened without the prayer and support of some pretty amazing friends and family who were with us throughout the process. And it certainly couldn’t have happened without family members taking care of Aiden and Alyson, trying to do whatever possible to keep their lives as close to normal as possible while their mom and dad were half a world away. To anyone and everyone who had some part in our journey to bring Mihret into our family, I want to say “Thank you” again. Thank you for allowing God to use you and to weave your story into our family’s story.

Because we can’t imagine our family without Mihret.

Family picture at the 2013 Show Hope Celebration in Franklin Tennessee

I bet you can’t, either.

The kids holding a sign that says

Mihret and Her Mysterious Lost Tooth

Lost Tooth

30+ years ago
The Todd House
Evansville, Indiana

There I was, sitting at the kitchen table in our small house in Evansville. I was eating the last of my Cheerios and planning out the rest of my day without a care in the world. Sesame Street. I had to make sure to watch Sesame Street. And the Death Star was probably going to be blown up. Again. And there was a good chance I was going to wind up playing with some neighbor kids.

It was going to be an epic day. But that wouldn’t have been very much of a surprise. Every day was epic.

As I chugged down the remaining milk from my cereal bowl, I was shocked at what I had discovered. I felt a funny gap in my mouth and poked around with my tongue. Then I finally realized what had happened: I had lost a tooth! The wait was finally over. The tooth was free! I couldn’t wait to put that tooth in my Tooth Pillow for the Tooth Fairy that night. I was going to be rolling in the dough the next morning.

There was one problem. I couldn’t find my tooth. I looked everywhere and it was nowhere to be found. The tooth was gone. Heartbroken, I told mom that I had lost my tooth and couldn’t find it anywhere.

“You probably swallowed it,” she explained. “But that’s OK. We’ll write a note to the Tooth Fairy and explain what happened. I’m sure she’ll understand.”

We did.

And she did.

And all was right with the world.

Easter, 2014
The Ooley Homestead
Mooresville, Indiana

Lost tooth

“Mom! Dad! Come in here!” Aly shouted from another room. I couldn’t tell if she was happy or worried. “Mihret lost her tooth!”

After weeks of asking us every five minutes (you think I’m kidding. I’m not kidding. She was relentless) when her wiggly tooth was going to come out, Mihret FINALLY lost a tooth! With all that blood on her chin, it sure looks like it was a violent event that caused her to finally lose it. I promise, it wasn’t nearly as exciting. She just kept wiggling it and wiggling it and it finally fell out. She lost her tooth.

No. Really. It was lost.

We looked all over the place for it. It was nowhere to be found. We eventually decided to call off the search and rescue mission and came to the conclusion that she probably swallowed her tooth. Much like my mom did 30+ years ago, Christy swooped in and saved the day.

“We’ll write a note to the Tooth Fairy when we get home. I’m sure she’ll understand,” she said.

And so they did. Mihret dictated the note. Christy wrote it. Mihret signed it and they put it in the Tooth Pillow that Christy used when she was giving her tooth offerings to the Tooth Fairy.

Mihret's note to the tooth fairy

Mihret's note to the tooth fairy

The Tooth Fairy more than willingly accepted this offering. And she left Mihret a $5 bill, the going rate in the Todd household for a first lost tooth. Fortunately, she remembered to make the switch this time.


That other tooth that she refers to in the note is pretty wiggly. It’s ready to come out. And, just like with the first one, she’s asking when it’s going to come out. But she doesn’t stop there.

“I’m gonna CATCH IT this time!”

I wonder if I should do something like this to help make sure she does catch it this time…

Of course, if I did that, I’d be able to knock out #88 and #89 on My List. I think I may be on to something here.

Great news about Mihret’s eyes!

Sometime last year, Mihret’s ophthalmologist noticed what looked like cataracts forming on her eyes. While he was concerned about this development, there wasn’t really anything to be done at the time. He just wanted to keep an eye on them (no pun intended).
Mihret at the Indiana State Fair 2010

He saw her again at the beginning of the school year and her cataracts had grown quite rapidly. She could barely see because of the cataracts. I can’t imagine how frustrating it was for her to go through the first semester of Kindergarten without being able to see much of anything. But she never complained. She just kept plugging away, doing the best she could. This is one determined little girl who absolutely loves school. She wasn’t going to let some silly little thing like almost being blind hold her back.

After two surgeries, implants, eye patches, and countless eyedrops, Mihret has 20/40 vision. If she was of legal age, she could officially drive. And this is the girl who couldn’t even see well enough to do her homework just a few months ago.

That’s pretty exciting stuff.

Even the medical team that’s been working with her post-surgery was excited today. Until this check-up today, I think I had taken the ophthalmology team at Riley Hospital or granted. Yeah, I knew they were good at what they did. But I didn’t realize how invested they were in their patients until I saw the joy on their faces as they talked with me about how amazingly she has progressed. I’m so thankful for their talent and the way they have supported her while she was under their care.

The future’s bright for this little girl. And I’m glad she can finally see it!


Dear Santa: Mihret’s a big fan

Santa 2013

Mihret became a big fan of Santa’s this year. She had been talking about him and singing about him since before Thanksgiving. She got to visit Santa on at least three (!!!) separate occasions before Christmas this year. On the way home from a Christmas Eve service at a nearby church, she couldn’t hold back her excitement about the Jolly Old Elf.

I wish you could actually see her face in this video, but it was shot in our car on the way home. I think you get the idea about how excited she was by listening to the sound of her voice.

In case you couldn’t understand all of that conversation, here’s a brief transcript:

Christy: Are you excited that Santa’s coming?
Mihret: I’m glad Santa’s comin’ to town!
Christy:  He’s  coming to town?
Mihret: Yeah!
Christy: Look up in the sky. Do you see his lights yet?
Mihret: Santa (is gonna) give me toys!
Christy: He’s bring you a toy? What do you think he’s going to bring you?
Mihret: Um….a balloon!
and…um…My Little Pony…
and a purple Hello Kitty.
Christy: A purple Hello Kitty? Woah…
Mihret: ….and a Doc McStuffins ball
Christy: A Doc McStuffins ball? Wow. Did you ask him for all that stuff?
I can’t hear you.
Mihret: I’ll be Santa
Me: You’ll be Santa?
Mihret: Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!
Me: Ho! Ho! Ho!

When we got home, it was time to get ready for Santa’s arrival. Here’s the note she left for Santa (along with milk and cookies, of course).

Apparently she wants a dog in addition to all that other stuff.

When asked on Christmas Day if Santa came to see her, however, Mihret would repeatedly answer, “No. I no see him.” It took me all day, but I finally figured out that she was being very literal. She knew Santa had come. She knew he had brought presents to the family. But he didn’t actually “see” her because she was asleep in bed. So from now on, I guess we need to ask her what Santa brought her for Christmas. Because she’ll gladly answer that question.

It has been fun celebrating the magic of the Christmas season with our family this year. I hope your Christmas season has been full of wonder and hope and joy, too!

MIHRET (a poem)


Who’s the strongest of them all?
Who’s even smarter yet?
Whose smile lights up a room?
Well, that would be Mihret!
Her eyes mesmerize you, ever alert,
Her full attention you always get.
And the love inside comes gushing out
From our little Mihret.
By feet and inches, height is measured
But some know how to raise the bar.
That’s why the tallest girl in the room
Is little Mihret by far!

This poem was written on September 26, 2013, by Christy’s Uncle Steve.