Friday, March 21, 2014

2013 Christmas card and letter

Hello Family and Friends,

Here’s a little update on the adventures of each member of our team:

Danny really lived up to the title of “adventurer” this year as he found himself backpacking, camping and jumping into water in Havasupai (Grand Canyon area) for four days in the spring as well as camping and hiking in Yosemite not once, but twice. After almost 10 years with the Fontana USD, Danny has gone to work for the Riverside County Office of Education.  He travels throughout Riverside County to inform and support the 20+ school districts as they try to keep up with new laws and policies.  Although it was difficult to leave mentors and friends in the FUSD, Danny is motivated by new experiences and challenges.

Sarah continues in the daily adventure of motherhood with all the highs and lows that accompany it.  She participated in the opening of the replacement hospital of Kaiser Fontana and is excited by the constant changes that 21st century health care brings.  She still enjoys working once or twice a week and the flexibility that a per-diem position provides, especially since she has more to do every day as the kids grow up and have more activities and responsibilities.

Carter is now in 3rd grade and is still a voracious reader, budding pianist, snake collector, aspiring artist and a super soccer player.  He was on a team that made a lot of growth but not a lot of goals until the final game of the season when they pulled together and the game winning goal was scored by none other than Carter himself!  It was quite the way to finish a gloomy season and so wonderful to finally taste victory for he and his teammates. More than anything we have been pleased to hear from his coaches and teachers that he cares about others and is always happy to lift up others when they’re down. Like his dad, Carter loves to share his ideas and makes friends with everyone he meets.

Claire is a big first grader now. Academically she is doing quite well thanks to a lot of hard work and patience.  She has a teacher that “gets” her and even stuck her tongue out in response to Claire having stuck hers out upon hearing the directions and sometimes that’s just what Claire needs.  We’re so grateful for her spunk and determination since it drives her to try her best.  She is our best sleeper and played soccer for the first time in the fall.  She vacillated between apathy and athletic aggressiveness, it all just depended on her mood and that’s sort of a great metaphor for Claire Bear’s temperament.  Thankfully, she had great coaches, family members and teachers who see her for who she really is: a very intelligent and loving little girl. Oh, Claire is also taking a fabulous music class that teaches music theory, composition and understanding and it’s helping her in ways that go far beyond just music.

William is a whirlwind. He is very sweet and cuddly, but that makes up about 10% of the day, the rest is filled with persistent questions, constant messes and…joy. Will started preschool in the fall and has enjoyed his time there and generally behaves very well which is a good sign. He wants to be a “big boy” and is adamant that he’ll be turning eight (not four) in the spring, even though he knows very well that’s not true.  He is athletic, strong and healthy!  We look forward to all the future holds for Will who will still refer to as “our miracle baby.”

The biggest adventure on which our family is embarking is the introduction of our fourth baby this spring.  “Cookie Dough” (William’s name for this child) is due to arrive 4-4-14.  Although we hadn’t planned on finding out the gender of this baby we ended up discovering that we’re having…a girl! We’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we’re both ecstatic and scared to add another member to the team but we know she’ll bring blessings. 

We hope this letter finds you and yours well at this glorious time of year.  To close in the words from Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas: And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'".

Luke 2:10

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie brown.

Merry Christmas! Love, The Todd Family


December to remember

The normal December frenzy got even busier when we found an amazing deal on redoing our countertops and cabinets in the kitchen and ended up redoing it the week before Christmas.  As I look back, we don't have all that many pictures from the busy time before Christmas. We did our best to maintain our traditions of reading Christmas stories by the tree, finding opportunities to serve and most importantly, spending time with friends and family. 

Carter turned 9!  He shares an exact birthday with his friend, Aniston. We've known their family for a long time--the kids even had a combined 4th birthday party with their Primary friends :).  Aniston was having a party on their birthday and Carter really wanted to go so he saw The Hobbit in IMAX/3D with Danny and Boppie (John) and then made it to Aniston's party.  Aniston's mom was sweet enough to include Carter on the cake and he was a happy boy with his new Minecraft gear and Dell tablet! 

We have a tradition of making gingerbread houses with our dear friends the Agrelius'.  The night we planned ended up being the night our kitchen was demoed and Eric was coming up to knock down part of the counter we were lowering.  We had pizza and still had a great time--that's what true friendship is like:)

We made it to Knott's once to enjoy the Christmas fun and William watching the gun show fed his infatuation with all things guns.

Claire had a recital for her Let's Play Music Class.  It was downtown at the library so we took the chance to walk through the Mission Inn and have lunch with the family who came at Simple Simon's.  It was really fun that Jake was still in town and that he was able to come watch too! 

Christmas Eve at the Todd house was wonderful as always!  The theme this year was "Christmas in Bethlehem."  We wore Biblical attire and ate amazing Middle Eastern food.  It was really warm so the Biblical attire didn't last long but we did get some photos first. 

I did feel like Mary being "great with child."

My favorite part is always the cousin gift exchange.  We rotate who buys for who but the joy they show as they are giving is so sweet.  Here's sweet Tate giving Carter his gift.

Nana always comes up with fun and inventive games to play.  This year, there was a race to make reindeer horns:

Christmas day we enjoyed the morning at my grandparents and then had our parents and my grandparents over for dinner. It was a wonderful day but apparently I didn't take any pictures.  Here are my cute parents when they took us out downtown a few days before Christmas. 

And, me and my man from the same evening.

The day after Christmas we took advantage of the spring like weather and hiked our favorite local mountain (Rubidoux) with our friends, the Biglers.  They are new to Riverside and it is always fun to spend time with friends in nature. 

After all that fun, we still had more excitement as we met all the Carters in Central California for the Carter Christmas extravangza.  We rented a house in Arroyo Grande, just south of SLO, where Jake, Amy & Elyse live.  It definitely didn't feel like Christmas with the weather but going to the beach the weekend after Christmas was pretty cool!

Rob & Chloe

Cute cousins collecting eggs at the house we rented

Adding our gum to Bubblegum Alley in SLO...gross but a must-do when in town

The gang on the beach

Pretty tree at the house

Amy & Elyse

Having children to share Christmas memories and traditions with makes the month all the more special.  We are abundantly blessed and this time of year is wonderful to reflect on those blessings. 

2013 came and went too quickly (a sign of my age, I guess).  Here's to an amazing 2014!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014


We started out November with a weekend in Mill Valley (just Carter and I) to visit Rob, Laura, Chloe and meet our newest nephew, Hank.  As much as I dislike them living far away, I am glad we have somewhere fun to visit when we see them!  Claire got to go with my for Chloe's 1st birthday last year which is why I took Carter this year. 

On the ferry ride to San Fran

On a beautiful day with sweet Chloe

Hank is a TANK!

I love books as souvenirs!

On the ferry ride

Sweet little Elyse--I was grateful they came to visit at the same time so I could cuddle with her!

On a hike at Mt. Tamalpais

Carter is a great cousin!

Sunday evening at Grandma and Papa's...watercolor painting with two toe heads who love an excuse to be shirtless
Taking advantage of Veteran's Day off of school with a  visit to the Botanic Gardens

My loves

King & Queen of the world--although they fight and bug each other at times they really are sweet to one another.  Recently Danny asked them what they do after they get out of the van when I drop them off in the mornings.  We found out Carter walks Claire to class and gives her a hug before he heads to class every morning.  My heart melted. 

Kung fu fighting

Full speed ahead!

A rare moment when this boy was still :)

Puzzle fun

Claire in her Thanksgiving play--the highlight was that Squanto had projectile vomiting in the middle of it so the whole thing had to be moved to another classroom while Claire's classroom was cleaned up.  I talked to the custodian--he said it was the third throw-up he cleaned up that morning!!
 Pilgrim Ella and Native Claire together
                                  New bookshelves turn our front room into a reading nook;)

The text we sent our family who was not at the soccer game where we enjoyed pink doughnuts celebrating that baby #4 is a GIRL.  Most of them couldn't figure out what it means...the kids are supposed to be shaped like a "G." We weren't planning to find out but when the tech turned the monitor towards me, I couldn't resist;)

Pilgrim Ella and Native Claire together

A Trip to enjoy our passes at the zoo

Crazy outtake from our Christmas card photo shoot--taken outside the Moreno Valley Community Center where we helped serve Thanksgiving dinner with John and Annette.  It was a really great way to spend Thanksgiving.  After we all met up with my parents to see Frozen!  We loved it (besides William removing his shirt and running around the theater towards the end) and it was great to spend the time together. 
The day after Thanksgiving we continued our thanks with the Carter boys (and families) coming to town.  We ate another feast at our house that night. 
Annual photos with Great Grandparents!

These fine gentlemen all showed up in plaid so we had to take a pic--Carter and Claire went and changed because they wanted to be part of the "crew"

Getting ready to eat! 

I love November almost more than December.  It is full of thanks and anticipation and any reason to see family is always a blessing!