Life in the Fishbowl

Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live." I want to change the world.

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

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.

Mihret’s great adventure with Sparkles the Fish

Mihret’s Kindergarten class has a pet fish. Her name is Sparkles. Each weekend, a different classmate gets to bring Sparkles home and record the adventures she has in a traveling notebook. Sparkles came home with Mihret on Friday.

Aiden and Alyson were away at a church retreat for middle and high school students. So we had already planned a post-birthday birthday day for Mihret on Saturday. Sparkles joined in the festivities. Here’s a few highlights from our day.

First stop: Qdoba for some tacos, burritos, and a quesadilla – PLUS some free chips and queso thanks to my Qdoba rewards card. Sparkles decided to dive into the tacos. Probably a good thing they weren’t fish tacos. That would be a bit awkward.

Sparkles eating tacos at Qdoba

Then we went shoe shopping. Mihret wanted to try on some sparkly shoes. So did Sparkles.

Sparkles went shoe shopping

Mihret and Sparkles trying on matching sparkly shoes

Sparkles looked a little bit homesick. So we stopped by Yankee Candles and let her get a few sniffs of the ocean…

Sparkles at Yankee Candles

Then we played at Incredible Pizza Company for about an hour. It was pretty dark, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures. Let’s just say that Mihret rode a lot of car rides. We had a blast.

Sparkles eating dessert at Red Line Frozen Yogurt

We topped off the day by trying out Red Line Frozen Yogurt. The flavors were fantastic. And sitting in a replica of a Chicago subway car while eating our dessert made it even more fun! Of course, Sparkles had to sample everyone’s sundae creations.Worn out from a long day

The ride home was pretty quiet. I wonder why…

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.

Flashback Friday :: Show Hope

Mihret at the Care Center in Addis Ababa

This weekend, we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of a ministry that has touched more than 4,000 lives – including our own. It’s only fitting that today’s Flashback Friday points back to this post, discussing how God used Show Hope to change our family and to help stretch my faith in ways I’d never imagined.

I’ve heard all kinds of adoption stories about how God provides. I half-heartedly wrote them off by saying to myself, “Yeah, yeah. I know God provides. And that’s what you’re supposed to say in this situation.” To me, it had become the expected Sunday School answer, just like how “Moses” or “Elijah” are always the answers to Old Testament questions and “Jesus” or “Paul” are the go-to answers for New Testament questions. But this was no fluke. This was no Sunday School answer that everyone expects to hear. I am convinced that God moved this mountain before we even knew it was in our way. And our family is grateful to the people who work with and support Show Hope for allowing God use them as an instrument of His grace, love, and provision.

Read the rest of the story here.