Todd Family Blog

Welcome! Read below for our latest news and pictures.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Christmas, 2012

Fantastic, fantastic Christmas.  I remember Dad once saying when we were in high school, "Christmas is just best with little kids."  I definitely understand what he means now.  I loved explaining to Levi the reason for Christmas and watching him latch onto little bits of the story.  And beginning new traditions that you know will last the rest of our lives is the kind of experience you dream about as a parent.  Last year Levi was a bit too young to understand any of what was going on.  Even presents were hard for him to grasp.  This year he loved every second of the Christmas season and I was soaking it up too.  

Mom and Dad found the neatest "Advent Calendar" in England, really a little house with 24 drawers. We started out decorating a little foam Christmas tree with our daily finds.  Then we moved on to filling in a miniature nativity.  Aunt Jenny arrived on Christmas Eve just in time to help Levi deliver "Baby J," as Levi called him this year, to his rightful spot.  

Even Luke (a.k.a. Gaga, according to LT) seemed excited for the season.  He certainly loved having the Grandparents and their dogs around.  As many people/animals for him to watch over as possible is his ideal world.  What a good lookin' boy he is.  To think, when we got him one of his ears was floppy and he was 20 lbs underweight.  A rescue success story!!

Love this picture.  I'm pretty sure Dad thought was finished with the season in life when he assembled toys on Christmas Eve.  Ha!  The gas station he is putting together has been a huge hit.

Love these adorable slippers, gifts from our friends, the Twists.

We always say we are going to go "light" on presents this year, but when you add it all together it always ends up looking a bit ridiculous.  But a beautiful scene nonetheless. 

And so it begins...I learned a lot as a mom this Christmas.  I tried hard to not go overboard, which is difficult on your first Christmas with a little child.  I really thought I did a pretty good job, until we got to actually opening it.  Now that I know they will want to play with every toy the minute we open it, and that had Levi gotten only his first toy (cool crayons from Aunt Jenny) he would have been completely happy, I will definitely be reigning it in even more.  We are beyond blessed and I was definitely overwhelmed by the end of Levi's Christmas morning.

Opening his first presents in the stocking we bought him in Ethiopia....

Naturally he immediately lined up his crayons up.  He is nothing if not organized.  Also, that present below is wrapped in the annual Santa paper!  (How does Santa do it!?)

This was funny.  Dad gave Brad a vintage IU poster from when we were growing up.  Brad still roots for IU and grew up a big IU fan, but he happened to actually attend Purdue.  (And therefore roots for Purdue too - shocking!)  We all laughed when we looked at the sweatshirt he had thrown on that morning.

The Radio Flyer wagon was a big hit, of course.

As were Levi's cuttable vegetables...

...which were then placed in the wagon, naturally.

Good thing we finally got him a play kitchen for all those vegetables he needs to cut....(Thank you, Craigslist, for barely used, already assembled kids' toys!!!)

Dad found the most amazing gift for Mom.  Our Uncle Bruce called him because he had found a DVD of the exact episode of the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour on which Mom had sung as a college student!  She performed Puccini's "Musetta's Waltz."  It has been a famous family story for years.  She was understandably shocked and we were all excited to take it to the Todds' house later for a viewing.  

On our way to the Todds' for our traditional Christmas brunch.  Good thing Levi remembered his shark hat.

Ready for the lovely meal Bonnie made for us.  Bonnie also read a beautiful prayer that I think will now need to be read annually.  Way to go and make me cry, Bonnie!!

Chatting with Nana about the view and the possibility of seeing cats.  And I love the collection of Levi artwork, which Levi has sent frequently them in the mail.

The big Ted Mack viewing.  I told Mom it must have felt like she had dreamed it and now was getting to see it.  She said she couldn't even remember what her dress looked like, but she was pleasantly surprised by how she sang.

Complete with commercials....

Levi loved the tap dancer....

And there she is!  Looking and sounding fabulous.  After the viewing we followed up with a showing of Bob clogging on the National Barn Dance.  Gotta say, my family is awesome.  

Reading with Nana.

Levi's present time...A tractor and wagon!  What more could a country boy want?

And this was too sweet.  Levi got Brad's boyhood tiger, Daniel (named for the tiger on Mr. Rogers), in his stocking.  It has become the lovie he never had and he calls it Tigie (like Daniel Jr. does on the new Mr. Rogers spinoff, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.  How's that for coming full circle?).  I always wondered when he would find a stuffed animal he loved and boy does Levi LOVE sleeping with Tigie.


Christmas would not be complete without trains...This was set up immediately.

Doing a little work with the drill Nanny and Papa gave him.

A white Christmas, and then some....

Aunt Jenny braved the cold too.

I am a terrible Mom.  Jen and I didn't notice that one of Levi's boots had popped off until my Dad opened the door and told us.  Thankfully, we had doubled up on socks.  Yes, all his toes are still there.

The dogs keeping an eye on us while we worked on the "Happy Snowman" that Levi requested.

Levi loves his Aunt Jenny.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gettin' Ready for "Baby J!" (Um, that would be Baby Jesus)

I really loved this month.  I'm not sure it could get any better: wrapping up an absolutely wonderful visit to Nanny and Papa's in Florida (I've decided every Florida vacation should be 3 weeks long, obviously) and then getting ready for Christmas (my absolute and without question favorite time of the year: the trees!, the snow!, the music!, the food!, the friends and family!, the memories!...Gosh, really love me some Christmas).

On top of that, Levi continues to amaze me.  I know I say it every month, but this was the month when his words really, really exploded.  For a Mom to finally get to hear all the thoughts in their little one's head is just such a joy.  (Of course, the flip side of that is that he rarely stops sharing his thoughts.  I once asked him if we could just be quiet for a second in the car and look at all that was around us.  I timed it.  It lasted for three seconds.)  Perhaps it was the 3 weeks surrounded 24/7 by 3 or 4 adults, but when we returned from Florida we had a child with brand new verbal skills, much clearer diction, simple phrases and sentences flying out ("Mama cook Ethiopian food!" - that would be a command more than an observation, sigh.), singing along now and then to songs, showing his sense of humor, and on.  It's a whole new world.  Of course, his favorite phrase is: "Vi do it."  We're working hard on please and thank you now that he can do whole phrases.

Other Firsts, Quirks and Funny Moments:  Loves the Mr. Roger's Neighborhood spinoff, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (or "Rawrrrr" as he calls it) and "Ugamuga"-ing all of us as he says "Uguguga."; Great at I Spy and also can find Ethiopia, Indiana, the US on a map; Blows his own nose and is, unfortunately, fascinated by "Boogies"; started calling us Mom/Mommy and Daddy a lot instead of Mama/Dada; Really, really loves sleeping - even requests going to bed sometimes.  How far we've come!; Told me he wants to "Work in a building" like Daddy; Briefly obsessed with spilling things on purpose: Nanny's iced tea all over the kitchen, a coke all over our bed, the dog's water, and then saying, "Big mess."; Funny new food favorites: broccoli, Grey Poupon, smoked salmon; Calls Jacobi "Cobi" instead of "Bee"; Like his Mom he enjoys a very hot bath.  I often hear, "More hot, please!"

Our time in Florida stretched into this month as well.  God must have known that we would be moving to Germany when the idea to schedule a three week trip to Florida popped in my head!

The manitees at Blue Springs Park were incredible.  6 bucks to get your car in and then you can walk the boardwalk and enjoy the amazing wildlife.  Plus, a kids' park!  A new favorite spot.

A moderately successful craft - paints and shaving cream on foil.  As you can tell from the blurred arms, he loved it for at least a couple minutes.

On our flight home Levi got to experience headphones for the first time.  Kept him still in his seat for a chunk of time at least.  He is becoming quite the seasoned flier and does really very well.  On this trip he even danced all the way down the aisle to our seats, to the chuckles of other passengers.


As soon as we got home it was Christmas tree time!  We made our traditional trip to Dull's Tree Farm where, as you can see, Levi was very helpful in choosing and chopping down a tree.  Since we went to Nanny and Papa's in Florida last year for Levi's first Christmas, this was his first experience having his own tree.


Watts has a fantastic slide that goes down two stories of a barn.  I really don't know how many times Levi went down it, coaxing Dada and Pa to join him now and then too.

First marshmallows and hot chocolate!

In general, just a fantastic time of good ol' fashioned family fun. 

Nothing makes me feel like it is Christmas more than the smell of the trees.  Levi seems to agree.

Learning how to put on ornaments.  

Fun with dear friends, Jaden, Elias and Isaiah.  Their families live in my original home town of Zionsville.  It's really a neat full-circle moment to return to good ol' Zionsville for play dates with new friends!

Levi still talks about this - Jaden and Elias climbing in our car when we were about to leave.  He thought that was one of the funniest things he had EVER seen!

Family stay-in date night at the Motts'.  Levi, who is obviously very comfortable at their house, just loves "Miss Elizabeth."  By the end of the night, all three boys were in bare legs and diapers (as you'll see in a video below).

Helping me cook dinner for the Metzings.  With his backpack and apron on he was ready.

Dinner with the Metzings!  Lucy and Levi are quite the pair.  He can feed himself, but it was certainly a great way to get him to eat even more by having Lucy shovel in a few bites.

My FAVORITE chocolate cake to make.  And why not drizzle it with salted carmel!?

What a fun day with the Renches!  Met in Lafayette to watch the Colts and Bears and had a fantastic time cheering on our teams, catching up, and just general silliness.  Ah, old friends.

Egg carton train.  Anything with a train is a good by Levi.

Working very hard on ornaments for the grandparents.  They took quite a while to dry thanks to Levi squirting entire tubes of glitter glue on them.

Peaceful moment with the doggers in front of the fire.

Another favorite activity: The change counter I gave to Brad has become a Levi toy.  Great for learning the names of coins!

Levi's first school Christmas program!!  I COULDN'T believe the amount of people!  The school only goes through Kindergarten!  Amazing.  

The 2 year-olds started it off with a bang performing This Little Light of Mine, Away in a Manger, and Wheels on the Bus.  For the most part, Levi sucked his fingers and stared at his friends and the crowd.  The smiles below came during the applause, by far Levi's favorite part.  

After his big performance he was excited to see that Nana and Pa enjoyed the concert!

Big hug for one of his best buddies, Jacobi.

And a play date at the Children's Museum with Jacobi too!

Levi's first snow angel...

And figuring out how snow tastes....

We have a boy that loves every season - running in the rain, stomping in snow, parks in the summer and fall.  He makes us appreciate each characteristic of the four seasons.  Kids are great like that, huh?

Last but not least, putting some of his handmade ornaments on the tree.  By this point, Levi's favorite hobby was finding Christmas trees everywhere we went and announcing loudly that they are for God's birthday and "Baby J."  Spreading the word!
Now we're ready for Christmas!  
(Figured Christmas was worthy of its own separate post.  Coming soon....)


Chair Picture, Month 23:

As many of you already know, during the week before Christmas Brad and I were near Munich, Germany on a house hunt!  It felt every bit like House Hunters International.  We had our three finalists at the end, and ended up agreeing (naturally over drinks in the hotel bar) on House #2, an über-modern row house.  Very different from our current situation and possibly the only time we will want to try something a bit more urban.  (I'm a country girl at heart, gotta admit!)  We were very, very pleased by what our wonderful realtor, Theresa, found for us, and are excited about the new digs.  Please, please, please come and see us!  If you want to see the inside of a house, this website has a great tour.  The guest room (has a blue striped duvet on the bed) is right beside the sauna.  That's all I'm sayin'...Super cheap European vacation if you can get to us.

This was also the first time that we both left Levi for longer than one night.  The week was covered by all four grandparents and Levi was thrilled with all the Nanny/Papa/Nana/Pa time.  It seemed like just when we arrived home he was ready for us to to get home.  Grandparents are the BEST!

I took a day while Brad worked (unexpectedly! surprise for us both!) and took the train into Munich.  From our  new house it will be a very easy, one train, 20 min. trip right into the heart of Munich.  When I came out I was in the midst of the huge Christmas Market, which was incredibly fun.

I drank these, literally, two at a time in the hotel room.  Why are they so tiny!?!?!  I always wonder this when I'm over there.  I'm always so thirsty!!!  I would have given anything for a big ol' giant mug of good decaf coffee at the end of the night, I won't lie.  Little did I know that I was costing Roche for ever Nespresso capsule I used.  Whoops!

We took our only free day to go to my favorite city in Europe, Salzburg, where I studied for a summer during grad school.  The Christmas market there was also very fun, even if the weather gave us freezing rain. Nothing a little glühwein and a big ol' plate of venison stew in gravy couldn't cure.

Dad snapped this when they brought Levi to the airport to surprise me and Brad.  I had stopped to go to the restroom and was just thinking how I wished we had arranged for Levi to be at the airport.  And there he was!  

I think there was a reason that the outside of the house wasn't shown on the listing.  It's, um, very pink. Lovely that we have an end unit though.  No one for the dogs to bother on 3 out of 4 sides, at least.  

The dogs' new yard.  Not quite the acre they have now, but certainly big enough to throw a ball!  Think they'll be happy with it.  

Favorite videos from the month:

Working on our swimming in Florida.  He's getting the hang of moving himself in the water and kicking.  Only a couple days were warm enough for a pool visit, but I'm pretty sure we could knock out how to swim pretty quickly if I had a good chunk of time with him in the water.  

This is one of Levi's favorite videos to watch.  I can't blame him.  Those diapered baby behinds are pretty cute!  

A few of the motions in Wheels on the Bus were acceptable for Levi to do, apparently.  And love the moment where one child tries to make a run for it.

Levi's favorite part of the Christmas program - the applause.  Most of what he did was swing his legs (at least in rhythm).