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!"

An open letter to my children: Thank you for making me Dad

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!

Just a boy and a dream about a motorcycle

When I was very young – probably five or six – my Uncle Don had a motorcycle. One day, I got to ride that motorcycle. This is the same Uncle Don who was me when I saw The Empire Strikes Back for the first time, for those of you who are keeping score. I don’t remember if I asked or if it was offered, but I do remember climbing onto the bike and flying around their yard as Uncle Don took us for a lap or two around their house.

The more I think of it, the more I’m convinced that I was the one who came up with the idea and asked for a ride. I mean, come on. Who could say “no” to this adorable kid?

Me as a Ring Bearer at Aunt Patsy and Uncle Don's wedding

I mean, let’s be honest here. I was their favorite nephew at this point in my life. Of course, that might not be saying much. I might’ve still been their only nephew at that point, other than my brother. And since Kevin was so young at that point, I’ll just go ahead and announce that I was their favorite nephew. No need to take any votes or anything. Just look at that sweet, innocent face and tell me he wouldn’t be your favorite nephew, too.

Me and Vader

While the details of who came up with the idea might be a little bit fuzzy, I can tell you this: It was amazing. I know the rush that this guy felt. I was on Cloud Nine. In fact, I was still so excited about what had happened that I ambushed Grandmama when she arrived at their house. I told her everything about it.

Bzzzzzz!

Wrong answer.

I probably shouldn’t have said anything to Grandmama. She was not happy. And she let her son know about it. I still feel bad for getting Uncle Don in trouble with his momma. I hope he thought it was worth it. Because I sure did.

Fast forward some 35-ish years…

Weldu loves talking about driving. That really shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean, he’ll be turning sixteen soon. And while he talks about driving a car quite a bit, I get the impression that his real dream is to own a motorcycle. He’s even asked me to buy him one. Of course, he doesn’t want just any motorcycle. He wants the nice, shiny, super-expensive ones. My standard answer to that request?

“Get a job.”

Because that’s really the only way he’s going to be able to get any kind of bike like that. So he can add that to the list of things he wants to use his not-yet-existent income to pay for. He already has plans to by stuff like a new phone, but he’s also planning on living in Europe for a while and he’s planning a return trip to Ethiopia. And he wants to save up some money for that.

So he probably definitely isn’t getting a motorcycle any time soon. But that doesn’t mean he can’t dream about riding one. Right? And if he could ride one? Well, that would just be fantastic now, wouldn’t it?

Enter Uncle Don. Again.

While we were in Evansville over the weekend, we helped Uncle Don move some things into storage. While we were loading the trailer, I showed Weldu Uncle Don’s bike. I told him he should ask Uncle Don if he would take him for a ride after we were done moving everything.adjusting-weldus-motorcycle-helmet

It took a little coaxing, but he did eventually ask him. And when the moving was done, we grabbed a helmet for Weldu and away they went.

weldu-and-uncle-don-leaving-on-a-motorcycle weldu-and-uncle-don-after-their-motorcycle-ride

Considering the amount of grief Uncle Don got from Grandmama about my magical motorcycle ride, there was some discussion about whether to show Christy the pictures from the ride or not.

weldu-and-uncle-don-on-a-motorcycle

I’m not going to keep something like this a secret. Weldu needed to be able to share the excitement of this moment with his mom. So of course I told Christy about the whole thing.

Or did I…?

 

Get rid of your stink with Irish Spring Signature for Men

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

Get rid of your stink #MySignatureMove

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love my job at the local elementary school. Seriously. I love it. It’s challenging. It keeps me on my toes because something new happens every day. I couldn’t ask for better teammates to work with. I’ll be honest, some days are really tough. But it’s quite rewarding. That makes everything else worth it.

It can also be a pretty dirty job.

And there are times when I wind up taking some of that mess home with me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had food smeared on my pants or my shirt or my hair. And…well…how do I say this delicately? There are times when I have to deal with some stinky situations, if you know what I’m saying. And that stink can sometimes follow me around even after I leave the school. And sometimes I don’t even notice that stink until much later.

What is that smell #MySignatureMove

Truth be told, I’m kind of inclined to initially blame my son for the stink. He’s a teenager, after all. And he works out with the football team after school almost every day. That includes speed drills. So he sweats. A lot. Believe me. I know about teenage boys and body odor. So it’s easy to point the finger at him. But once I conclude that this unfortunate smell is not him, I try to blame the dog or the sewer or some poor unsuspecting neighbor who happens to walk by our house. I do eventually accept the fact that I am, in fact, the one who brought home the stink.

Once I discover that I’m the source, I know it’s time to do something about it.

A video posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

Walmart In Store Photo #MySignatureMove

Made with natural ingredients, Irish Spring Signature for Men products are available at your local Walmart. The soap is a bigger cut, created with man-hands in mind. And the great new scents will help you banish the stink from your home.

Man sized soap for man sized hands #MySignatureMove

If you like smelling good and feeling clean, you need to give Irish Spring Signature for Men a try. If that doesn’t already convince you, maybe this will: Purchase one of the new Irish Spring Signature products and get $5 off a VUDU purchase! Take a picture of your receipt and then go here to upload your receipt. Next step, enjoy watching!

VUDU screenshot #MySignatureMove

It’s that simple. How cool is that?

Maybe you have a teenage guy at home and he smells…well, he smells like most teenage guys do. Or maybe he doesn’t usually stink, except when he’s playing sports. Instead of trying to figure out a way to dance around the issue, why not just give him some new soap? What are you waiting for? Get rid of that stink!

Soap and Body Wash #MySignatureMove

Or maybe your situation is like mine. You work at a job that has the potential of generating some serious stinkage. What are you waiting for? Man up and get rid of your stink!

Shower #MySignatureMove

This ain’t your Daddy’s Irish Spring – not that there is anything wrong with the original scent. But this is a new generation of body care products for a new generation of men. And when you decide to use it to ban the stink from your life, I’m pretty sure your family will thank you. Your neighbors might thank you. Your co-workers might thank you. Your goldfish might even thank you. And you just might discover your signature move.

#MySignatureMove mirror

Who in your life needs to banish the stink? Is it you?

 

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?

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.

 

 

A guest post about Motherhood, Romance, and Yearbooks

Christy and I met Jason and Rachel around two years ago – just a few months after we moved to Greenwood. Whether we’re serving together in our church’s Children’s Ministry or hanging out in Life Group together, I’m happy to say that they have become good friends of ours. And in a pretty cool plot-twist, we share the same wedding anniversary as Jason and Rachel do. We were married just a few hours apart! Pretty spooky, huh?

I am honored that Rachel was willing to share part of their story with you. I’m not ashamed to say that I may or may not have needed some tissues when I read the end of this.

**This post is part of an ongoing series in response to this question“What’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you?” You have a story to share? Let’s hear it! Shoot me an email at mattdantodd[at]gmail[dot]com and let’s get it started!**

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

In the world, every day, 361,481 babies are born. Many of them – the best estimates (more like guesstimates) I found are around 81% – will stay with one of their natural born parents. They will see their mothers for the first time on their birthday.  For the rest of us, the adopted ones, we may never meet those that gave us life.  That is unless you are married to this man!

Jason and Rachel Long

Meet Jason Long. He is a steadfast husband, consistent father, and great provider for his family. We were married on 8/15/1998 in the tiny church I grew up in, in Reelsville, IN. We made a home in Austin, Texas for several years while he finished college and I worked. My husband is many things; however, a Romantic? Yeah, not so much. He is kind, loving, passionate about University of Texas football, and supportive of the kiddos and I, yet I still wouldn’t call him Romantic…except this one time.

On April 26, 2000 I only became a mama for the first time. It was a girl! A dream come true! Yes, she was healthy. Yes, she was smooshy and succulent and kissable and MINE! Yes, she looked…

wait a minute…

she looked LIKE ME. ME!

This was, at the age of 25, the first time I met someone that favored me. My steadfast hubs (after almost fainting at the joy that is childbirth) noted this in his engineer brain and saved it for what would become a single gallant act of Romance.

Now you know the back story, fast forward three years. Now I am 28, I have two kiddos and we are 5 years into our marriage. I am contacted by my bio-mom’s sister (that is only 6 years older than me, another fun story for another day) and the ball is in motion to meet my bio-family. I am so excited, I can’t stand it!!!!

Thhhheeennnn tttthhhiiinnngggss sssllllooowww dooowwn.

Although Auntie and I are ready to meet, bio-mom is still dealing with the trauma of “giving-up” her only child, me. I was a source of pain to this person and that broke my heart. I decided to let it rest rather than push another person to confront their past. I would leave it, hence causing myself this empty melancholy that I didn’t know existed before I knew there was hope to see her.

The Hubs gets to stand witness to this ordeal. I hurt, so he hurts. When a man of his level of wonderfulness sees his beloved in pain, there is but one option, sooth her. He didn’t try to fix it, but did do all that is within his power apply a salve of kindness. Unbeknownst to me Jason took a day off of work and went to Franklin Central High School were my bio-mom had graduated from. He used his sly cunning (or he just asked nicely) to see the year books from the three years that surrounded my Bio-mom’s possible graduation date.  He found her. He copied every page that had her picture on it, every club, and every candid, all of them.

He got home early from “work” that day. We had dinner, we did baths, we did stories; no big deal. After the kiddos were snug in their beds, he came to the table to talk. Now, this usually meant I had forgotten a bill or we needed to cut back here or there, but tonight was different.

He pulled out a manila envelope and with love in his eyes and tenderness (and maybe a tad of fear, because, really, at this point, my reaction could go either way) in his voice explained what he had done that day and why he had done it. He slid the envelope to me and I looked upon the second face that looked so much like mine. Tears were in abundance and I have never before and never since felt more “romanced” by someone then right in that moment.

Bravo, Jason, Bravo!

 

It’s time for an awkward conversation

cancer • sucks

This post deviates just a little bit from the stuff I usually blog about. It might make you feel a little awkward. That’s OK. I do, however, believe this is something that’s extremely important. Because cancer sucks.

Someone is diagnosed with testicular cancer every hour.

Every. hour. That’s a scary number.

Did you know that Testicular Cancer is the #1 cancer in young men ages 15 to 35?
Did you know that Testicular Cancer is highly survivable if detected early?
Did you know that young men should be doing a monthly self-exam?

What can you do?

Stop by the Testicular Cancer Foundation website for more information on Testicular Cancer.

Request a FREE shower card with self-exam instructions – it just might save a young man in your life!

That’s awkward

Yes. This feels awkward. It’s uncomfortable. No one wants to talk about cancer. And no one wants to talk about private parts. But it’s time to man up. It’s honestly a matter of life and death.

And if you’re feeling just a little AWKWARD about this conversation, check out this video from some parents who feel the exact same way!

Guys: just do it.

Parents: just talk to your sons.

Let’s kick cancer in the…well…you get the idea.

I’m proud to be a member of the Team Single Jingles Man UP Monday PARENT BLOGGING TEAM! Today, I’m doing my part to spread an important message about Testicular Cancer.

#TwitterTuesday :: Baseball and a confiscated lightsaber edition

Some of my favorite tweets from the past week. They range from life-changing stories to great sports moments and all things in between…

This makes my heart sing.

All together now:

Congratulations on 25 years, Indy Zoo! Here’s to 25+ more!

Good advice even if you aren’t a parent, methinks.

In case you hadn’t heard the story, here it is. Yes…that’s a lightsaber cane. Chewbacca rocks.

+100

GO HOOSIERS!! Just keep winning and enjoy the ride!

Such a cool story.

Amen.

http://twitter.com/FoodLovesMe/status/344236129266057218

I was there. It was awesome. I’ll be sharing my experience very soon. I have about five other posts I have to finish writing first.

She’s raising them right, you know.