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!"

Sweetest Day is almost here!

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Sweetest Day #SweetestDay

What? You’ve never heard of Sweetest Day?

That’s OK. I’d never heard of Sweetest Day until a friend of mine from Chicago mentioned it while we were at Milligan.  I wondered.

Well…

Yeah. It is. It’s a made up holiday. Its roots have something to do with candy makers wanting to “bring happiness to those who were forgotten,” like the poor, old folks, and orphans. Since the first Sweetest Day in the early 1920s, the day has evolved into a day to spread goodness and cheer to everyone – especially your significant other, and especially if you decide to give away sweets. Because that’s what makes it sweet, right?

So, it might be true that Sweetest Day really is nothing more than a made up holiday in a thinly-veiled attempt to get us to buy more chocolate on the third Saturday of October, even though we’re already stocking up for Halloween. It’s still a good opportunity to make sure that Special Someone knows you’re thinking about him or her. Right? I mean, who doesn’t like being told that they’re on someone’s mind?

Go Big or Go Home?

You could choose to go all-out and do something like plan a romantic getaway with BedandBreakfast.com. Since Sweetest Day is always the third weekend in October, you might want to check out south central Indiana. It’s beautiful this time of year!

eCreamery $10 Off Banner AdOr there’s ice cream. There’s always ice cream. What’s sweeter than ice cream? That’s the perfect gift for Sweetest Day, do’t you think?

And what makes ice cream an even better treat for Sweetest Day? Personalized ice cream!

We like to say that there’s always room for ice cream, even if you’re full beyond full. That’s because ice cream oozes through the cracks. It’s proven.* Because science.

Of course, if you haven’t done it yet, you could always try your hand at writing a love note.

Or, there are a few other small gifts you could give for Sweetest Day. They’re simple. They’re corny. And they’re sweet. For Sweetest Day. Get it? And you can find many of these items at Dollar Tree (you can order them online with FREE In-Store Pickup. [Restrictions may apply]). So it’s a pretty good deal!

Socks

Sweetest Day gift

Who says you have to give food for Sweetest Day? You could give a pair of socks with a note attached that says something like “You knock my socks off!” They could be serious socks. They could be silly socks. It’s really up to you!

Corny? Yes. Absolutely. But wait. There’s more!

Donuts

Donut you know I love you? #SweetestDay Sweetest Day

Or you could always surprise that Special Someone with donuts (or some other type of snack cake) with a silly note like “Donut you know I love you hole lot?” Or something like that.

It’s goofy. I know. You might even call it punny. But it’s a simple way to celebrate Sweetest Day, don’t you think?

I know there are other simple, punny Sweetest Day gifts you can give. Share your ideas in the comments below!

I hope you have a fun day, sharing sweetness with your friends and family!

 

 

*No. It isn’t proven. This is just a joke. But it sounds good. Doesn’t it? That’s why we use it as an excuse to eat ice cream.

Love notes. They're not as tough as you think they are.

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How Do I Love Thee

Cards and love notes. Those are a big deal. Right? Well, they might not be a big deal for you, but they’re a pretty big deal for us. It all goes back to when we started dating almost 20 years ago. And while we don’t really give as many love notes to each other as we have in the past (after all, I’m no Casanova – remember?), I’ve discovered a few cool ways to share that you care through the written word.

I think the thing that keeps many people from sharing notes with each other is the misconception that you have to write some type of long sonnet similar to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. You really don’t have to write anything long. Or even profound. Sometimes the effort is the most important thing. It could be just as simple as one of my favorite poems:

The gift of a getawayRoses are red
Violets are blue.
Some poems rhyme
Some don’t.

Try it. Write your own. It might be more fun than you think.

Of course, you don’t have to try your hand at poetry. And you don’t have to write some long piece of prose that will sweep her off her feet. Sometimes, the simplest of notes will do. You can grab them from a a book of quotes about love. Or the Internet. Or the Bible. Or a combination of the three.

What if you can’t wait and want to give it a try right now? Well, you’re in luck. Here are a few quotes that would be perfectly suitable for a little love note. You can put it in a card. Or on some fancy stationery. Or on a sticky-note (or on a bunch of sticky-notes). Or you can text it sometime in the middle of the day. Or you can write it on a mirror.

No. Really. Get a dry erase marker and write something on the mirror. It wipes right off. And then you could write another note the following day. And the day after that. And the day after that. And I think you know what I mean.

And what is a kiss when all is done? A rosy dot over the “i” of loving. – Edmund Rostand

Love conquers all things: let us, too, give in to love. – Virgil

‘Tis you alone that sweetens life… – John Hervey

Look at you! You are beautiful, my true love. Look at you! You are so beautiful. Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. – Song of Solomon 4:1 (God’s WORD Translation)

Or you could copy Ms. Barrett Browning’s well-known love poem, Sonnet 43. It would probably take up the whole mirror if you decide to go that route.

These are just a few suggestions. I’m sure you can come up with your own. So what are you waiting for? Valentine’s Day? Well, that’s a good idea. I’m sure you can come up with some pretty spectacular notes for that special day. But why limit love notes to only one day a year?

Breakfast in bed. So simple. So amazing.

Breakfast in Bed

They’ve always said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Although some are saying that this might not necessarily be the case anymore, breakfast is still awesome. And you know what makes breakfast even more awesome? That’s right. Breakfast in bed! It’s a great way to show the person you love how much you care. And if your schedules don’t allow for you to serve breakfast in bed in the morning, you could always make this breakfast in bed for a late-evening snack. Right?

The thought of preparing breakfast in bed can be a little intimidating. But it really doesn’t have be. What I’m about to share is pretty simple to make but it’s oh-so-tasty. I’d say that it’s so simple it’s manproof. But when I’d be worried that you’d misunderstand what I was saying. And then I’d have to point you to this post and wait until you read it so you’d understand that it was a tongue-in-cheek reference to a stereotype that I’d like to see go away.

Believe me. It’s easy.

The menu:

Cinnamon Roll Waffles and Syrup
Yogurt Parfait
Orange Juice (or you could upgrade to a mimosa)

What you’ll need:
Breakfast in bed ingredients

1 Can Cinnamon Rolls
1 Cup Vanilla Yogurt
3 Strawberries
Orange Juice

Waffle Maker
Knife & Cutting Board
Plate
Bowl
Drinking Glass
Fork & Spoon
Serving Tray (you can learn how to make one here if you don’t have one)

What you’ll do:

Begin by making the yogurt parfait.

chopped strawberries

1. Dice the strawberries into bite-sized pieces.
2. Spoon a thin layer of yogurt onto the bottom of the bowl.
3. Cover the yogurt with a thin layer of strawberries.
4. Continue alternating yogurt and strawberry layers, ending with strawberries as the topping.
5. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

parfait

Now, grab the cinnamon rolls and get to work on your waffles! That’s right. I said cinnamon rolls. In your waffle maker. You’re welcome to try one of these recipes instead. I’m sure it’ll taste fabulous. But I doubt it’ll be as easy as this super-simple recipe.

These cinnamon roll waffles are going to blow your mind (much like this kid’s description of his first kiss). Here’s how you make them:

1. Place a cinnamon roll in a preheated waffle maker.

cinnamon roll in waffle maker

2. Close the waffle maker.
3. Cook in waffle maker for about 75 seconds.
4. Open waffle maker and remove the cinnamon roll waffle.

cinnamon roll waffle

That’s it! I promise. It’s that easy. Don’t be too worried if the waffles have a few dark areas. They might look burnt. They aren’t. It’s just the cinnamon and sugar goodness creating an awesome texture to these simple waffles.

Now your waffle has some deep pockets to hold pools of the icing that comes with your cinnamon rolls. It’s awesome.

We’re also pretty big fans of Hoosier Sugar Daddy syrup. And let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to have these cinnamon roll waffles with either their Pumpkin Spice or Persimmon syrups, I highly recommend it. It could, in fact, be life-changing.

Put everything on a tray and get ready to serve. If you happen to keep a stash of cards (like I do), it would be a nice touch to bring the whole meal together.

Like I said. It’s so simple. And so amazing. Go ahead. Give it a try! I’m sure you’ll agree.

Breakfast in bed on a tray

 

A lifetime of romance [Guest Post]

Christy and I have known Jon and Cindy for more than a decade. Cindy was at the airport when we brought Mihret home. She took some pretty amazing pictures. They have a similar heart for orphans and adoption. Oh – and they happen to have just started another amazing adoption journey. You really should check out 2000 Tutus, which is their fundraising effort. Who knows? Maybe you’ll buy a tutu

or two.

See what I did there? 😉

Cindy wrote a great post about romance. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You might laugh some more. Enjoy. I know I did. Thank you, Jon and Cindy for sharing your story.

 

Cindy and Jon - 25th Wedding Anniversary

My husband and I started dating just before Valentine’s Day.  Twenty-eight years ago.  Wow. That sure sounds like a long time ago, eh? Before you categorize us as those old folks who are about to impart marital wisdom, though, don’t. First of all, we aren’t that old.  Just so you know, we ancient ones have a one-year-old daughter waiting for us on the other side of the world.  Secondly, while we’ve learned a thing or two about marriage and relationships, either of us will be the first to tell you that we’ve probably got a thing or two left to figure out.

So back to that first Valentine’s Day.  It was our first “official” date.  It was wildly romantic.  It included flowers and candy, my favorite Mexican food and the company of a handsome young man who seemed pretty taken with me, as well.  It was perfectly perfect.  It was the beginning of the two of us spending every opportunity together.   Within weeks we were talking about our future. Within months we were shopping for rings. And on the following New Year’s Day, he asked me to marry him. On a beautiful fall afternoon in 1988, we sealed the deal.  Husband and wife.  Till death do us part.  No take backs.  We were so ridiculously giddy.

What is the most romantic gift I’ve ever received?  I could never answer that in a sentence.  I could never qualify one thing as the most romantic.  How could I pick? That’s akin to choosing the most significant moment in my life.  ONE??  No way.  For the same reason, I resist personality tests.  I prefer questions that have only one answer.  The ones where it’s based on interpretation?

Kill me now.

I can tell you we’ve lived a lot of life in the past 28 years.  Army life, wartime deployment, infertility, cross-country moves, childbirth, unemployment, loss of parents, international adoption.  These are just the biggies.  Each of these is a chapter of its own. And, as in any good story, the chapters are interwoven, with one pivotal moment evolving into the next.  In between are the everyday moments that fill you with such emotion that a chapter wouldn’t contain your thoughts.  And then you find yourselves nearly three decades down the road.  There was definitely romance at the start.  So where’s the romance now?  Wait.  Refresh my memory.  What is romance?  I’ll admit it.  I looked it up.  On a side note, back in the day, that would have meant touching an actual book.  We are that old.   Blessedly, the internet is at my fingertips because I probably couldn’t even find that book in a reasonable amount of time.  Anyway, if we’re talking the textbook definition of mystery and excitement associated with love, then, as the cliché goes, how do you keep the romance alive over the course of a lifetime?   In that regard, I can say that romance has managed to maintain its presence in our relationship in the company of one or all of these things: commitment, forgiveness, a healthy sense of humor and a willingness to take a leap of faith here and there.  And anything that falls into any of those categories qualifies as the most romantic gift ever.

Jon and Cindy Martens wedding

Let me explain.  That mystery and excitement? It definitely ebbs and flows.  It’s easy to earmark the big ones.  Flowers on holidays.  Dinners out.  Breakfast in bed.  Sweet gifts.  It’s definitely flowing on those days.  But those other things take work and a daily effort to keep on keeping on.  And those other things help you to claim that romance on the days when it’s ebbing a bit.  Like that first week of married life where we thought it sounded romantic and adventurous to drive through the night to Fort Lauderdale.   Round about 2 am, we discovered we were not drive-through-the-nighters.  Reality washed over romance in an ebbing sort of way.  Or the first Valentine’s Day after we were married.  Remember, the bar had been set high, so I had pretty hefty expectations. My sweet budget-conscious young husband came home with a little bundle of grocery store flowers accompanied by a frozen pizza with a coupon on the box for free tickets to the latest John Candy movie, “Who’s Harry Crumb?” Um, we’re ebbing here. Or the year he brought me a new blow dryer because I’d mentioned I needed one. Thoughtful, but ebbs-ville, dude. Or the year we were too sick to even consider a romantic dinner out, let alone breathe through our noses, and curled up on the sofa with our fellow runny-nosed little ones.  Blew right past ebbing on that one.

But I can just as easily name the times the romance flowed that weren’t accompanied by a gift or romantic gesture.  The day we were baptized together, incidentally on Valentine’s Day of the year we were married. The time he stuffed a tiny black puppy under his coat with an air of permanence and headed to the register to pay for her.  The card he wrote to me on our tenth anniversary, listing a significant life event for every year.  The willingness to go with me to a concert he knew nothing about just to make me happy.  The way he didn’t run the other way when I told him I heard God speak to me.

Out loud, people.

The obedience to pray about my crazy idea.  The tears in my husband’s eyes the night I knew he was in it with me. The night of our 25th anniversary in a hotel room in Florida…on the one “only us” vacation we’ve taken since becoming parents…he made sure we took the time to complete and submit our adoption application for our second adoption and our fifth child.  Mystery and excitement associated with love? You bet.

I think the frozen pizza story may be my favorite marital anecdote. I was so annoyed at his seeming lack of romance at the time.  Now it just seems silly.  There have been plenty of days since I would have knocked someone over for a frozen pizza and free tickets to any movie, let alone flowers on top of it.  More than his sense of romance, it showed a lack of my own.  Being married is hard work.  As much as we love each other, some days, I dare to say it’s hard to like each other.  But it’s still for keeps. No take backs.  This is where the commitment, the forgiveness, the humor and the faith come in.  Those things filter out our imperfect human ways and leave the one gift that’s always perfect, love.  Now that’s romantic.

p.s. If you’re wondering how we’re celebrating this year?  We’re grabbing Qdoba take-out, lighting the fireplace and curling up in our pajamas with a couple of our kids to watch a movie.  And we’re using a coupon.