Todd Family Blog

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Gruezi from Switzerland!!!

Hello friends and family!

As many of you know, the Todd Family Blog (URL notwithstanding) has been a labor of love for Meagan over the past several years. I have made a grand total of one post in the entire lifespan of this forum. Well, it's time to turn a new leaf. I will take over the majority of blog posts for the next six months to document my time in Switzerland and any journeys around Europe. I even brought a camera......and plan to use it.

I arrived in Switzerland almost a week ago and if the first week is any indication this will be a great experience all around. This is a gorgeous place and the people could not be nicer. I arrived at Zurich Airport last Tuesday morning and drove south to the Canton of Zug where I both live and work. My apartment is in the town of Baar and the Roche site where I work is in the town of Rotkreuz. I am roughly halfway between Lucerne and Zurich.....about 30 minutes from either one.
My home in Baar.....I live directly above "Cafe Sunshine". Awesome.

I have a one-bedroom apartment with a balcony and more than enough space including locally unheard of luxuries such as my own washer/dryer and dishwasher. It also included my own Nespresso machine.....a coffee machine much like the Keurig in the U.S. which seems to be quite the trendy status symbol here. George Clooney is Nespresso's spokesperson in Switzerland and several cities in Switzerland have upscale Nespresso boutiques where you can buy machines and coffee capsules. I visited my local Nespresso boutique in Zug this weekend....walked in finding the whole thing quite amusing (giant picture of George Clooney on the wall) but walked out with a couple of packages of coffee capsules, a belly full of free samples of espresso and chocolate and as the newest member of the Nespresso Club. I'm on board.
Here is a view down Baar's main street from the front of my building....

I have not been to the mountains yet but I have immensely enjoyed seeing snow-capped Alps to the south from both home and work. On Sunday, my new co-workers and friends Frank & Nadine Desiere took me to Lucerne. It is an unbelieveably beautiful place.....set on a large lake, surrounded by mountains and full of history and great architecture. It was a gray and rainy day on Sunday so these pictures do not do it justice but there will be more pictures to come from Lucerne.
The Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge) was built in the 14th century.....

The water tower is original but the roof had to be reconstructed after a fire in 1993....

Beautiful panels in the eaves of the bridge drawn by Heinrich Wagmann in the 17th century....they show important events from Swiss history and mythology.
Statue with fountain in one of the plazas.....

A swan on Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstattersee in German, meaning "Lake of the Four Forest Cantons") with the beginning of the Alps to the south......

More to come soon!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brad's Last Hurrah

Brad left today for Switzerland and we have been packing the past few weeks with lots of fun. We tried to see as many friends as possible for date nights, including Ryan and Monique, Abby and Bill, and Tyler and Adrienne. Brad also had his 33rd birthday on the 9th and multiple festivities have surrounded that event. Whew! Think I'm ready for a few quite nights at home, but it was all wonderful.

Enjoy the pictures:

The stove is a huge hit! It heats all 3,100 square feet of the house SO much better than our propane tank. Unbelievable. Just that one little stove in the middle of the house - no duct work, or anything. And recently we made s'mores with Tyler and Adrienne. Multi-purpose and I highly recommend it.

We have a serious amount of wood. 10 ricks - this isn't even half of it!

Elizabeth and Keith stayed with us for Oktoberfest at Tim and Steve's (see below) and also a day of watching football. Gracie took her job of guarding them very seriously all weekend.

We've had an absolutely beautiful fall with gorgeous sunny days. We took advantage by taking a break from watching football to actually throw one!

Hanging out in the very cool, newly painted party room at Tim's for our supper club's Oktoberfest. We all had to roll home, stuffed with authentic brats, German side dishes, cake and beer.

Elizabeth prepping the massive buffet

A happy, full group of singers and spouses.

Brad and I had big plans to go to Madison, WI for Halloween to visit his cousin, Andy, and his wife, Heather. Those plans changed when Andy and Heather brought home the baby girl they adopted!!! Congrats, guys :). So, instead of Madison, we had a "stay-cation" here in Indy. We stayed right downtown and loved having the chance to enjoy some new restaurants, shop some of the downtown shops and soak in the pre-game atmosphere on Sunday before the Colts game.

Brad and I found out that we have the same favorite spot downtown. Standing at Market and Illinois you have Monument circle to one side and the capitol to the other.

We spent a lot of time on Mass. Ave, too. Great local shops, eateries and bars.

This guy was ready for some football and Halloween. I took a picture as we walked behind him. Then, while watching the game on TV later, they zoomed in on him! What are the chances out of over 66,000 people? Well, maybe the chances are pretty good if you paint your head orange.

Probably our only chance to pose with Peyton

It was such a gorgeous day, the roof was open on the stadium. You can see the Super Bowl banner hanging inside!

Love this - Peyton wants YOU.

Who knew there was such a good time to be had in Lafeyette? Well, that is unless you are a Purdue student. A bunch of us decided to go up for "Howl Night" at Wolf Park. If you live in Indiana you have to check it out! SO cool!!! This park has 14 beautiful, rescued wolves that live in their own 7 acre habitat. For Howl Night you go to the park after dark and get to howl to the wolves, literally, and they howl right back. Amazingly, they don't mind wandering right up to the fence and checking us out, too. They are very socialized and really act like huge, silly dogs. Can't wait to go back for more events.

We also had a wonderful dinner at Black Sparrow. Highly recommend it if you are in the area.
Ellen, Brad, Me, Miriam, Eric, Jen, Norm

One of the wolves. There is also a handler in right corner.

Brad's boss at Roche, Mike, threw a wonderful going away party for him last Sunday. Even though Mike is from Chicago and a big Bears fan, he obliged all of his office Colts fans and held it during the game. It was really fun to meet some coworkers I did not yet know, and chat with some I had met before. I'm always impressed how much everyone seems to truly like each other! And the Colts won - whew!

Everyone in their blue watching the game

Even a Colts cake!

It was 70 degrees and gorgeous, so some cornhole was played during halftime.

When we arrived Mike was wearing his Bears jersey, but Brad had other plans. He thought a good compromise was his old Harbaugh Colts jersey and Mike played along.

Brad's birthday dinner at his parents'. Bonnie fixed a beautiful bourbon-marinated tenderloin. So good!

One, last Chicago get together with Katherine! She's moving to London this winter, so we had to do our own last hurrah. As always, a fabulous trip. We'll miss you, Kat!

Enjoying chocolates and coffee at Voges in Licoln Park while shopping

Ready for our nights out on the town! Highly recommend Mercadito and Sunda restaurants.

My final present to Brad for his birthday/going away was tickets for the Colts/Pats game!!! We expected the game of the year, but certainly not a classic for the ages. Unbelievable. The best live game I have ever seen, and overall only behind the '06 AFC Championship game. Never doubt Peyton and the Colts. Seriously, never. What a great present!

Some friends and family gathered downtown at Barcelona Tapas, Brad's favorite spot, before we went to the game. Thanks for coming everyone! That meant a lot to Brad. It was literally a perfect night.

Getting ready to go into the game we paused for a picture. Little did we know that there was a real horse behind us. That is, until we turned around and Brad was nose to nose with it.

Enjoying all the banners hanging from Lucas Oil. The Super Bowl banner is, of course, a particular favorite.

After the miraculous, come-from-behind-in-4-minutes win!

Best anniversary (6 years!) ever!

The start of the game. Every single person was so revved up. If you are a Colts fan you better know how to watch a football game - no talking when the offense is on the field (I've even heard people be sushed) and scream like crazy when the opposition has the ball. You can't believe how loud it gets.

The atmosphere in the stands was unbelievable at the end of the game. Over 60,000 people holding their breath in the final seconds as the Pats made one more desperate play. You can tell when the clock hits 00! Just 4:00 minutes before we thought for sure we were going to loose. My favorite part is Brad coughing from yelling so loud. Ha!

15 minutes, or more, after the game ends people still can't contain themselves while exiting the stadium or just waiting for the escalators. Out in the streets the crowd spontaneously errupted in cheers our whole walk back to our car.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mostly September...and everything else...

Okay, this is it. I'm not pulling my punches this month. I'm going to lay it all out there. This is every picture I've got to post from the last month and a half. Now I'm all caught up and newly resolved to not let myself get so behind. I don't need to say much else; I'm just going to let the pics speak for themselves.

One bit of news some of you may not have heard yet (and if you did, skip to the next paragraph): Brad received a 6 month international assignment in Switzerland! Roche is sending him over on Nov. 16th and he returns in May. I will be staying here to teach all my voice students, but will go and visit, of course. We're very excited and it is a GREAT opportunity for him. A lot of people have asked how that will affect the adoption, but timing-wise it works out perfectly!

So here we go....Your prize for reading all of this is the picture at the end. Don't peak!

The fun for Ashley's wedding continued in late August and September. Here we are getting ready to try some belly dancing at the bachelorette party. Great workout! (Incase you missed it in previous posts, Ashley is one of my friends and former Alpha Phi roommates.)

Fun at the rehearsal!

Ashley's parents, Andi and Jon

Practicing the big moment!

The rehearsal dinner with Miriam and Brad

The Wedding

Having drinks on the deck. Brad had this funny habit all night of snapping a picture right before he took the "real" one. I love the before and after. Don't hate me for posting our unposed moments, girls!

With Megan Shaw, our Alpha Phi roommate for much of our time in the house. Ah, memories....

Dancing with Amy - I think I'm telling Megan to get over there for the picture. That is definitely not a dance move.

Roommates reunited!

Congrats, Ashley and Pat!

On our way home from Milwaukee we watched the first Colts game of the season at Nate and Amanda's. Isn't there something so fun about watching a game with great friends and all yelling at the TV together?

Even my toes were ready for football season to start!

Nate and Amanda's Great Dane, Harley, has a fabulous habit of sitting on the couch like a person. I love it.

Waiting for kickoff! This would have been a great picture except for....Thanks, Brad.

Meeting Norm, Ellen, Jen and Miriam (behind the camera) out in Broad Ripple.

I got to meet Lincoln Hoskins at a brunch with Abby Hoskins and Monique Metzing in Zionsville. I love sweet Lincoln's serious face. He always looks like he is really taking in everything. So cute!

Ridiculously photogenic Abby!

Reliving a favorite past-time: Going to a fall high school football game. A group of us went to watch Zionsville (Brad, myself, Bill and Ryan all graduated from ZCHS) play Westfield. Of course we still root for our Zionsville Eagles!

Ryan, Brad and Monique

It was Lincoln's first game!

Bill and Brad

Zionsville won by quite a lot. Go Eagles!

And over at Bill and Abby's to watch another Colts game. Can you tell how much of the fall revolves around football? I promise, their dog, Gus, likes me more than it looks like he does in this picture :).

We recently got back in touch with one of my good high school friends, Natalie Reynolds. We are all back in Indy now and just realized it! It was great to catch up. I would have recognized her anywhere though it had probably been, what?, 12 years since we had seen each other!

The Supper Club continues! Though we are no longer planning a concert, we can't help but gather and cook around a theme. This was Bourbon Night at Kyle and Lexa's!

Mmmmm...Bread pudding that Lexa made. Thanks for hosting guys!

Fellow soprano Jessica brought her sweet baby, Lilly. Kyle and Lexa's cat, Molly, was a HUGE hit.

As were Brad's shoes!

The Supper Club Crew (Minus our Crown Point representatives, Keith and Elizabeth)
Next up, Oktoberfest at Tim's!

The beginning of October was homecoming week at Butler. It was also my class's 10 year reunion! It was great to return to the Alpha Phi house, see old friends and catch up.

Quite a few girls from my class at Alpha Phi stopped by. Naturally, we had to pose on the stairs. Such a sorority thing to do, right? Ha!

The Phi house went all out for their lawn decoration. Definitely more effort than our class ever put into it. Nice job, girls.

What a surprise to see my good friends, Andrew and Polly! I was hoping they could come, but had no idea that they would be there. It was especially exciting to meet sweet Addie Beth, who couldn't resist trying to eat Big Bro Oliver's curls.

Proud Butler Family

Fun tailgating with Shanna and Megan, two fellow Phi's and close friends with my sister, Jenny.

Boots holding court at the "car bar" while tailgating.

Elizabeth stayed with me all weekend. Brad was on his fishing trip in MN, so it was quite the girls weekend here in Indy.

Elizabeth, Miriam, Katherine and Nina enjoying the tailgate.

Me, Elizabeth and Miriam winding down after a fun morning.

Boots posing with the giant '99 balloons during the reunion lunch.

Later that night...The 10 year reunion continues...
This section should just be called, "Me and My Girls". We had way too much fun when our class rented out the Red Room in Broad Ripple (the neighborhood next to Butler where we've all had some fun nights). Just like old times!

Absolutely adore this picture of me and Elizabeth. Must be framed:

Also love this one with Boots

Dancing with Amy - She and Meg (below) joined the party after our class's hours at the Red Room ended. I'm getting spoiled seeing Amy, who lives in Chicago, once or twice a month lately!

Kat, me, Nina, Miriam, Amy, Meg

This should be called the Chicago Crew after all our good times this past year. Thanks for always hosting us, Kat!

This should look fairly familiar to all the Butler crew out there. Yes, it's Connors. This would be the bar where my YOUNGER sister bought me my first drink on my 21st birthday. They were never much into carding back then.

It should be noted that on the way home Elizabeth was craving White Castle. So, I had my first White Castle experience. You know what? Not too shabby.

The day after the Butler reunion was a lovely shower for Ann McFarland, another fellow Phi. So many of us were in town, it was a perfectly opportunity to get together. We had a wonderful lunch at Serendipity in Carmel and I got to catch up with sorority sisters I hadn't seen in 10 years.

My table: Stacia, Andrea, a friend from Ann's P.A. program, myself and Jen with her adorable baby girl!

The whole group - about half of our original pledge class, as well as a couple other friends of Ann's and her sweet mother. Our bride-to-be, Ann, is in the middle with the black hair and adorable dress.

And happy birthday, Adrienne! We had so much fun meeting Tyler, Adrienne, some of their siblings and friends at Brugge to celebrate Adrienne's 30th.

September had some really beautiful weather. Gracie, who is now officially a therapy dog sporting her vest, loved going for walks on the Monon Trail to practice her skills. Her favorite part is sitting under the table at Bub's Burgers in Carmel and eating bits of my bun, of course.

Lest you think that shepherds are serious guard dogs, this should dispel that. Luke managed to put a hole in his frisbee. Lately, he has been enjoying wearing it as a mask. He literally will walk around for 2 or 3 minutes like this as I laugh.

Brad, the dogs and I enjoyed a trip down to Bloomington to look at new wood stoves last month. We made a day of it and took the dogs to McCormick's Creek for a hike. Cal got his first taste of tromping through a stream - big hit.

Our fabulous dog sitter, Christina, took this. Gracie and Luke jumped in her car one day when she accidentally left the door open. Any chance for a ride!

And here is Christina herself! We've met for brunch a few times at my new favorite spot in Indy, Tulip Noir. During one of our get togethers Christina showed me the photos she framed of her "faves", as she calls our monsters. Awwww.

I don't know what happened the other night. We were going to bed and Gracie had this "look" in her eye. The dogs aren't allowed on the bed/furniture and they follow this rule religiously. But I think Gracie thought I patted the bed for her. Next thing I knew she was flying over our heads and wedging herself between us. Luke and Cal were shocked and eventually joined her. I figured, what the heck for one night. Sure, I would have to strip the bed and wash it all, but it made them awfully happy. Gracie didn't stay for long (she gets hot), but Luke and Cal slept between us all night long. Luke even took up most of my pillow and kicked me in the head a few times as he stretched luxuriously.

No, it has not been repeated, nor will it any time soon.

To my left:

And at my feet:

You know I love to share my home improvement projects. Well, our landscaping in the backyard has been the bane of my existence all summer. Despite multiple weeding sessions, I simply could never keep up with the weeds that literally grew over night. So, this fall I took charge.

Before - Amazingly resilient Indiana weeds. I had no idea anything grew like that.

Laying that fabulous landscaping fabric stuff that will keep the weeds away.

And after! Looking all put together, finally.

We finally got a new wood burning stove today! Our old one wasn't even close to code or EPA standards. Our new one should be able to heat the bulk of our house this winter. Good thing since we had 10 ricks of wood delivered, too! We're excited to burn some warm and toasty fires all winter long.



So, late Monday night I returned from an audition in New York. Fall is the beginning of the crazy audition season for opera singers. I stayed with my sister, Jen, and I don't know how I didn't take a picture of us enjoying great meals and playing with her roommate's dog, Earnest! I'll be there again in Dec. and will definitely catch those. Thanks for being a great host, Jen!

I always see someone I know from school or a music job when I go to an audition. This is at Nola Studios in Manhattan where a lot of my auditions take place. (Glamorous, right? 5:00 on a Monday, lots of nervous singers crammed into a tight hallway. Fun times!) Companies from all over the country rent out rooms to use for their season auditions. This time, I saw one of my favorite people from my time at Ash Lawn Opera, my coach/accompanist Josephine! It was so great to catch up with her. One of the first things she said is, "Oh my gosh, I read your blog!" So, I had to take a picture of us so that I could put her on it!

I would like to end with this picture that Miriam found. Do I even need to say anything? Those of you that know Brad know how happy this picture made him: