Todd Family Blog

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our First Christmas Tree!

Here's the 3rd installment in my attempt to catch up after the holidays! Be sure to check out the other recent posts below. Happy New Year!

So, in five years of marriage Brad and I had never bought a Christmas tree. Of course, traveling for the holidays and tiny California apartments and homes are not conducive to tree-buying. This year we were very excited to do an old-fashioned tree decorating day. The day after Thanksgiving, which happened to be beautiful, we went to Dulls' Christmas Tree Farm in Thorntown. What a great place. They set you up with a map and a saw and send you out to choose your tree. Apparently, we like a variety that no one else prefers, because we were the only people in our section. But that just meant that we had our pick! It didn't take us long to choose our tree, toss it in the back of the truck and get it set up at home. I'm looking forward to it being an annual tradition.

The trees at Dulls

They have lots of different barns there - this one was the Wreath Barn. There was also one with hot cocoa and coffee (and the Indiana Honey Queen - not kidding), one for buying ornaments, a feed-the-sheep station for kids, a fire pit and a big barn where they clean and rope your tree. Quite the operation.

Brad cutting down our chosen tree.

I got to wheel it up the hill back to the farm.

All decorated that night with our Costco ornaments. (We only had about 10 ornaments before running to Costco and buying a box of 85!) At the tree farm we also bought a star for the top, a cardinal ornament to commemorate our first Indiana Christmas in our home, and a Santa holding a tree to commemorate our first Christmas tree. I see why people like collecting ornaments!

Christmas for California Dogs

This is the second part of my massive attempt to catch up after two months away from the blog. Be sure to catch my first installment right below this one!

Our California dogs got their first snow experience before Thanksgiving. They were HUGE fans. After a bit of confusion they turned into big puppies and wanted to spend all their time outside. We haven’t had much snow since, but I’m sure they are crossing their paws for a blizzard sometime soon.

These videos are great - The first is their first look at snow. Lots of smelling the snow going on. The second was taken just a few minutes later. Snow is apparently a big hit! At the end Gracie and Cal go crazy playing. Luke usually joins in, but he was still too intrigued. The third is them just chilling and Gracie making a frozen treat bone her best friend.

We always like to say that Cal has a “sheep’s head”. Well, at the Christmas tree farm there were some sheep, and I think we’ve proved our point.

Okay. They were $1 at Target. What can I say? Gracie looks particularly "put upon", if you will.




One morning this fall I came home to a very shocking site. When I walked in the garage door, Gracie did her normal stretching and shaking to great me. It was only after I noticed her ear gushing with blood that I took a look around. Somehow she had managed to get a long rosebush thorn to go all the way (completely!) through her ear! It bled literally all day, and when she shook her head blood sprayed ALL OVER our mudroom and kitchen. It really looked like a crime scene. Well, I’d been looking for a reason to repaint some of the downstairs anyway. I still can’t believe I had to repaint an entire room because of a dog.

Not sure this picture fully captures what it looked like, but this is one of the walls in the mudroom right before I repainted it.

We found out that Costco is an unbelievable place for dog toys and beds. We got these three fabulous stuffed toys that make funny animal sounds. I can't believe they have lasted two weeks now! The sound makers are broken, but like the Velveteen Rabbit the dogs are only more smitten. I would have taken a photo of Luke cuddling with one, but he is more intent on throwing or destroying them (which we're trying to work on). He'd obviously never had toys before we adopted him, and he still is a bit confused to their purpose if you don't chase it or chew it. Fair enough.

As you can tell below, the duck was the biggest hit. The skunk also makes an appearance. The poor hedgehog seems to be used more for fetch. Hmmm.



My Favorite Things: Fall, Friends and Basketball

I know it’s over, but fall became even more beautiful just before winter arrived. Since it’s our first fall in this house I didn’t know what all our trees would look like. Late in the season the bright oranges and yellows came in and were so beautiful.

This was the sunset on Thanksgiving - hard to capture and do it justice, but gorgeous.

Bob Todd has become the somewhat official head of the Butler viewing parties at the Brewhouse in Zionsville. The alumni office even posts the gatherings on the website, announces them on the radio, gave him decorations, and Bob puts together a trivia game for half-time! We’re all so proud of Brad Stevens, doing so well with his young team, now ranked the #1 mid-major! Brad (Todd) and I have attended a couple home games and I just love going to Hinkle Fieldhouse again. It's maybe the best place in the country to watch a college game.
Go Dawgs!

Monique and Ryan Metzing

Winning an exciting game at Hinkle against Big Ten opponent Northwestern.

Everyone gathering at the Brewhouse. That's Brad Stevens' mom, Jan, in the front, and Bob in the hat.

One of my favorite things about living in the Indy area again is the ability to casually meet up for drinks with friends. We met Lauren and Jason Brown in Fishers a while back. I couldn’t help snapping a picture of Jason with his drink order – the lemon martinis were on special. Not what I expected.

We had a lovely dinner at Ali and Kyle Yancey’s this fall, too. It’s so hard for us all to find time to get together, and it was wonderful to have a whole evening to catch up. We also loved spending time with their very handsome and happy little boy, Isaac, as well as enjoying Ali’s wonderful food and their cuddly St. Bernard, Annabelle. Hope to see you guys again soon!

This November Brad and I celebrated our 5th anniversary! We had a great weekend planned downtown – lunch at Goose the Market, drinks at Palomino, staying at the 5 star Conrad, dinner at a great new restaurant,14 West, and finally a Colts game to cap it off!

I must say, the Colts game is probably the best sports event I have ever been to. The new stadium is BEAUTIFUL and a wonderful place to watch a game. They take the family atmosphere extremely seriously - crazy drunkenness, fighting, swearing, etc., just aren't tolerated. I couldn't believe how fast security showed up if someone got annoying! And EVERYONE was there for kickoff and had at least one thing on that was blue. That crowd really, really knows how to watch a game – screaming like crazy when the opposing offense is on the field (I almost lost my voice!), then so quite it is almost spooky when Peyton is calling our offensive plays. Seriously, you almost want to shush people when our offense is on the field. I could not have been more impressed or more excited to actually be watching a game at home. Now we’re approaching the playoffs! Go Colts!

Everyone walking in for the game.

I had ordered a replica of our cake top for our anniversary. It turned out beautifully and tasted SO good. I highly recommend Classic Cakes in Carmel!

The weekend before Thanksgiving we went to Nashville for the wedding of Ashley Evans, a good family friend of the Todds. (Ashley’s Dad is one of Bob’s closest friends.) If you are ever in Nashville, go to Pancake Pantry. No matter how long the wait is (and there is ALWAYS a wait), it is worth it. Bob was like a little kid – his favorite restaurant and getting to see one of his best friends! It was a fun weekend. And on the way home we got to see my great aunt Anna May, who lives in Clarksville, TN. She’s 92, lives alone, and just stopped mowing her yard herself. Crazy. I hope I have those genes! I do know that I have her accent. Brad made fun of me the whole time I was talking to her. That southern side of me is alive and well.

Bob and his good friend, Bill Evans.

Brad and me with Anna May.

We had a wonderful family Thanksgiving at the Todds’ this year. Bonnie realized it was also the first time she had hosted at that house since moving to Zionsville when Brad was in 4th Grade! And we couldn’t get over the fact that all we had to do was drive 15 minutes down the street to get to a family holiday. Quite the revelation.
The food was so good, it’s possible that Brad and Bob overdid it a bit. I like the “before and after” quality to these pictures.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend The Flying Toasters were playing at a Zionsville bar. So many of our friends happened to be in town, so we threw together a fun night out. What a great time! It was WONDERFUL to see everyone together. Now that most of our weddings are behind us, these opportunities are very few and far between. Miriam also joined us, and it always makes me happy to see how well everyone gets along – Zionsville friends, College friends, the wives, etc. It’s just a great group. Miss you all!

Me, Miriam and Monique

Ryan, Brad, Chad

Kate and me

Me, Adrienne, Amanda and Kate

Nate and Amanda Crisel

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Longest Post EVER

What a month and a half since I last posted! I think this is the longest stretch between posts that I’ve ever done. I felt bad until I started making a list of all that has happened and looked at all the pictures I have to share. What a crazy fall!

Some highlights of which I didn’t manage to snap pictures are: an audition trip to New York where I got to pal around with Elizabeth, Keith and Jenny (Elizabeth and I saw Bobby Flay at his restaurant, Bar American, and I also Jen’s adorable new apartment in Astoria!), lots of fun girls’ nights with Jen (Toering) Rawe, Ellen and Miriam, and celebrating Ellen’s birthday at Jen and Eric’s. We are certainly making the most of being back in the Indiana. I love getting to see all these friends so frequently!

This past weekend was Butler's Homecoming. I wish I had taken a picture of this, but Miriam, Nina and I had such a fun and interesting time visiting the Alpha Phi house on Friday night for a "mocktail" party. We weren't sure what to expect and were so pleasantly surprised. The house looks lovely, the girls were SO nice and outgoing, and they were all so interested in hearing what the house was like when we were there. There were also three members from the charter pledge class who shared some very interesting stories about starting the house. I will definitely have to go back for more events. It was so fun to see our old rooms, the house, and connect with the new Phi's!

I also experienced my first big-time college football game with Brad and his Purdue friends, Darin and Amanda, who now live in Orlando. They came up to visit and we all went to the Purdue vs. Penn State game. Wow! What an atmosphere and party. Can’t wait to go back for more. I’ve never seen anything like some of those tailgates that were set up.

A football game in the crisp, autumn air goes hand in hand with my general euphoria over fall itself. I’m completely in love with the season all over again. How did I live without this for so long in California?! I know, I know, I’ll pay for it in February, but it is SO worth it.

The marching band before the game with the famous Purdue drum.

The tree out our front door a month ago.

Same tree now - gorgeous!

Just to the side of our house we have all these little maples (that we are selling). They look so pretty right now!

Below are quite a few mini-entries with lots of photos. This also might end up being the longest blog entry I’ve done - Probably the reason I kept procrastinating! But I had a few lesson cancellations today and a window of time. A couple drinks at Starbucks and some time in the office at home and I’m all caught up! Feel free to spread out the fun over a few days. Think of it as a Todd Daily Devotional. Ha! And just so you know, there is yet another classic dog story at the bottom. You're welcome.

Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

The Brummett Wedding

About a month ago we went to Michigan to celebrate the wedding of our dear friends, Chad and Kate. Oh my, we had so much fun. It had been a while since the whole Zionsville group had been reunited. I’m getting sad that there aren’t many more weddings to attend among our friends! We’re going to need to start organizing our own fun, I suppose. (Hint, hint everyone – start brainstorming!)

I especially enjoyed the opportunity to go on a double date with Jim and Sarah Surber, who live in Brooklyn. We rarely get to see them for an extended period of time and I loved having a chance to talk for an entire evening. I met Kyle Hollingsworth’s wife, Rita, for the first time. She’s a singer, too, and we had so much fun “talking shop”. They live in Singapore, so it is always special to get a chance to spend time with them. Also, seeing Louis and Heather’s lovely home, enjoying a beautiful fall day grabbing brunch, walking at a park and eating way too much at a cider mill were highlights.

Then the wedding itself was a blast. I think the pictures below speak for themselves. Kate is from Australia and many of her friends and family were able to make the trip. I loved getting to know all of them at a BBQ a couple days before the wedding. It’s no surprise that Australians and Midwesterners get along so well. Quite the smiley, happy, fun-loving bunch!

Reading all of that I can’t believe how much fun we squished into four days. Thanks, Kate, Chad and your families for a WONDERFUL time. We’re so excited for you both! Miss you all!

The Zville boys and me (not sure how I got pulled in there) - um, at the end of the reception:
Nate, Tyler, Jim, Me, Brad, Louis, Jason, Kyle, Chad

Jim and Sarah Surber

Me and Brad

Out in Ann Arbor after the rehearsal dinner: Chad, Brad, Jim and Louis

The happy couple, Chad and Kate

Nate and Amanda Crisel - have I mentioned that I'm in love with Amanda? We are basically the same person and now have big plans to start our very own dog rescue someday along with Kate :)

Awwww - Louis, Jim and Tyler

Lauren, Me and Heather

Chatting with Rita and Kyle while Jim shows us his moves.

A bunch of Zionsville boys with one very pretty Australian girl!
Kyle, Tyler, Chad, Kate, Louis, Brad, Nate and Jim

San Fran Revisited

One of the great things about being a singer is traveling for auditions. I admit, sometimes it gets tiresome and expensive, but I often get to combine audition trips with a lot of fun visiting friends. (See many archived New York posts!) This time I returned to San Francisco for an audition with San Francisco Lyric, where I sang many roles during my time in San Fran. (There are lots of pictures from those shows on my website.) This was my first time back since moving away at the end of 2006. I managed to fill my short trip with a lot of favorites, including a visit with my good friend, Meghan Boots! She was kind enough to let me crash at her adorable apartment, which isn’t very far at all from where Brad and I lived for 2 ½ years.

To be back in the old neighborhood was crazy. I realized that San Francisco will always be a place that I feel like I have never left, even after years. I thought it was hilarious once I got there that I had packed my old, beat-up map. Certainly didn’t need it! Though I am INCREDIBLY glad to be back in Indiana, I will always love my favorite spots in San Fran. (Thankfully, now I don’t have to pay to live there!) First, I was sure to go to Crissy Field where I used to walk Gracie every morning. It’s my abosolute favorite spot in the city. I also got my favorite French toast at Ella’s (I used to make Brad freeze it and bring it to me in Charlottesville, VA where I sang for two summers during our San Fran years! Gosh, I love that French toast.), Boots and I got the best spaghetti and meatballs EVER at Emmy’s Spaghetti shack, which Brad and I miss dearly (it was where we chose to have our last meal out of all our favorite restaurants in San Fran), and I did a lot of driving around to see my old haunts. Not bad for a 48 hour trip!

Thank you, Boots, for being a fabulous hostess. It was great to see you and one of my favorite cities!

P.S. If anyone has travel plans to San Francisco or San Diego be sure to let us know. We still keep very long (VERY long) lists of our favorite restaurants!

Me and Boots in front of Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, maybe my all-time favorite San Francisco restaurant. Definitely top 5.

The French toast at Ella's. EVERY time I order it (which used to be a couple times a month from the same two waiters, mind you) the waiter says, "Are you sure you want three pieces?" YES!

Proving the waiter wrong - as I did every time. Yes, I ate all of it. SO good - honey oat bread in a brandy batter. Oh my gosh.

Crissy Field, where I walked Gracie every morning. It's funny, when I lived there it was just something on my to do list every day. There were even days when I just wanted to get it over with so that I could get on with all I had to get done. Now it is one of my fondest memories. I even have video of Gracie running and catching balls on one of our last days there.

Our old front door: 1801 Gough Street at California. I love that building. So much character.

The view towards downtown from the intersection where we lived (Gough and California).

Our old building. We were the apartment on the second story, right-hand side of the building, just above the smaller tree. The second story window behind the fire escape was our bedroom, and just next to it on that right corner is the living room. Fond memories! We LOVED that apartment.

Dinner at the Todds’

Earlier this month Brad and I had our first, official dinner party! It was quite the fun group consisting of: Tim, Steve, Miriam and two new friends, Elizabeth and Jed. Elizabeth is the choir director at Western Boone High School, where both Tim and I teach private voice lessons. She’s also a fellow Butler grad! It was a lot of fun to meet her husband, Jed. I mean, they live in an old farmhouse in the country and love their dog. Are those our kind of people, or what!?

I had a blast cooking way too much food, as always, and we all laughed a lot and got to know Elizabeth and Jed. It was a really, really fun evening, and I so appreciated everyone making the drive up to us in Westfield.

Now, I promise this is not the norm for our dinner parties (at least I don’t think so – this was our first!), but we ended the evening by carrying a large piece of furniture up the stairs to the loft! I swear I didn’t invite everyone over with that intention, but they offered and we were SO, SO grateful for the help. There was absolutely no way Brad and I were going to be able to carry the bar my Dad made for us up those stairs! So, thank you guys!

Can’t wait to have even more of you over. It feels so great to finally have a home in which to host these events.

Jed and Me carrying our side.

Going up the stairs with Tim and Steve as spotters! I honestly wasn't sure I was going to make it.

Miriam laughing at herself and us as she documents the activity.

We made it!

The whole crew:
Me, Brad, Jed, Elizabeth, Miriam, Tim, Steve

Luke’s Oscar Winning Performance

Should they give Oscars out to dogs (and why shouldn’t they?), I will definitely be nominating Luke. (Or, as Brad likes to call him, Luker T. Dog, short for Luker The Dog. Hmmmm. This is the boy who didn’t want a dog, period, by the way.)

Anyway, one day I come downstairs from practicing in my studio/office and find Luke to be laying, forlornly I might add, in the dining room. I didn’t think too much of it until an hour later when I tried to give him a treat. When I said, “Come”, which usually results in him barreling towards me, I got no reaction. Shocking! When I went up to him and held out the treat, he wouldn’t take it. Even MORE shocking! When I knelt down and asked him to come to me, he tried to get up and then crumbled into a sad, pathetic, nothing but big-brown-eyes pile.

Well, then I started to panic. I thought, “That’s it. He’s dislocated a hip, broken a leg, sprained something, or worst of all, it’s the first sign of hip dysplasia.” (A terrible progressive disease that is associated with German Shepherds.) I tried propping him up to sit, which he did, and then crumpled again. Suddenly I’m struck with the difficulty of this situation. Now, Luke is still pretty skinny (though he has gained 16 lbs! Five more to go!), but at 76 lbs. there is absolutely no way I can lift him into a car. But I can’t just leave him there for the next seven hours until Brad gets home from work. (What if he’s in pain!? He LOOKS like he’s in pain! Should I give him some Tylenol?! Is he in shock? Better cover him with a towel.) And by then the vet would be closed anyway.

So, I call Brad, who moves around some meetings (God bless him) and managed to get home by 3:00. At that point, Luke has been lying silent and motionless for over four hours. This is just not normal for my wiggly, talky, high-energy shepherd. Just before Brad gets home Luke gingerly gets up and creakily makes his way outside to go to the bathroom. Well, that’s a relief. At least he can stand, if necessary.

So, we get to the vet. Luke is thrilled, of course, with the private car ride. (Conversely, it took all of Brad’s strength to keep Cal in the house when we left. They REALLY don’t like to be separated!) Luke is even more thrilled to get to the vet’s and receive all the attention, treats, and watch the other dogs and cats.

And Luke shows absolutely no sign of being injured whatsoever. At all.

Now I know I should be happy and relieved by this, and I am. I swear. But seriously. Couldn’t he put on a little bit of a show for the vet? Just so I don’t look like crazy, over-protective, I’ve-rescued-three-massive-German-shepherds-lady? ‘Cause that is who I was at that moment.

$51 dollars later (not too bad, I guess) we were back home. We all go outside and I pick up Luke’s Frisbee and toss it. Guess what he does? Tries to chase it and crumbles into a ball. At least Brad got to see it for himself. Ugh!

The only proof I have of those dramatic 4 ½ hours is the picture below. Pathetic, right? Let’s hope Luke hasn’t realized that minor/faked injury = private car ride, attention from “Mom and Dad” and lots of love/treats at the vet.

And guess who has been limping the past 24 hours? Cal. I just told him to shake it off and rub some dirt on it.

Luke, putting on his show.