It's been a busy holiday season and I'm excited to share all our news!
After Brad left for Switzerland I had some travel of my own. I first went to Baltimore for an audition. I had never been and it was fun to see the city for the first time - definitely interesting. My audition was in the Wicker Park neighborhood and there were some beautiful monuments and churches.
Thanksgiving was certainly different this year. With Bob and Bonnie in Illinois, Brad in Switzerland, and my parents in Florida, it was my first holiday on my own! I used it as an excuse to try cooking my first Ethiopian meal. I'm in love! It's the most flavorful food imaginable and really fun to cook. After my experiment, Tim and Steve invited me to join the party at their house. And the following day Miriam's family included me in their Thanksgiving open house. A different Thanksgiving, but awonderful Thanksgiving.
The Todd family (that would be Gracie, Cal and Luke) gathering for Thanksgiving dinner.
My first Ethiopian meal - beef stew cooked in traditional spiced butter and berbere spice mix, injera bread and awase hot sauce!
Ready to dig into the dessert buffet at Tim and Steve's.
Pia, Steve and Tim. (Note the AWESOME t-shirts!)
A few days later, I made my second Ethiopian meal - chicken stew. Wonderful again. And yes, there is a hard-boiled egg in there. I wasn't sure about that part, but even that was amazingly tasty.
As is true every year, the beginning of December finds me traveling to New York. As always, Jen was a wonderful hostess and fed me well. My audition went well, too!
We always find lots of time to just relax around her place with Earnest the Boxer. Ernie is quite the cuddler.
I finally got to meet Jen's good friends from IU, John and Lisa. They hosted us for dinner and are just too sweet. Later in December we all went out for drinks in Indy, too. I'm was so glad to finally get to know them!
I didn't capture a picture during the event (not really the time for pictures, I guess), but Gracie had her first experience volunteering as a therapy dog! We went to an adult day care in Broad Ripple and spent an hour visiting with everyone there. As always, Gracie far exceeded my expectations. She remembered all her training and was a fabulous therapy dog. The hour flew by and we even left a bit late. It was a great experience and we can't wait to do more.
Gracie completely crashed in the car on the drive home.
Mom and dad arrived mid-December and, as always, I put them right to work! Mom helped me run quite a few classes for my students, and mom and dad both delved into home improvement immediately. The biggest project was redoing the kitchen! After only a few days we had this amazing transformation. Thank you, thank you, thank you mom and dad for your hard work!!!
We had a wonderful Christmas this year. The Sunday before, mom and I sang a duet at both services, on Christmas Eve I got to sing a solo with harp, and Jen and I did a duet version of O Holy Night. It is not often I get to sing with them both, so it made Christmas even more special.
Christmas day was a marathon of present opening with first my family, then the Todds and then all of us gathering for a fabulous dinner. (Thank you for hosting, Bob and Bonnie!!!) We are so blessed to have such amazing families.
Singing with Mom at ZUMC.
Gracie loving her new Christmas toy.
Odie guarding the presents. No tree this year due to Brad's absence. I can't carry one myself! So, we put them around the TV. Kinda strange, but worked.
My big present this year: a piano! I've never had one of my own. I'll finally be able to really play for all my voice students and for myself as I practice!
Brad and I surprised all our parents with tickets to the final home game of the season! Yeah, the Colts didn't go for the 16-0 record, but it was still fun to take them to the stadium. It was all of the parents' first Colts game in the new digs.
Our seats looking at the skyline
Peyton working his magic at the start of the game.
Ready to go out and meet John and Lisa for a drink on Jen's last night.
One of our new favorite traditions is our Christmas Party, our gift to our friends. This year we had it after Christmas and hosted about 35 friends and family. Of course, half the fun is cooking the three days before. Mom, Bonnie and I have our menu down to a science now! The evening of the party I get to sit back, relax and visit with all our wonderful friends. Brad also was able to see everyone all at once during his one trip home from Switzerland these six months. (I know he also enjoyed the Bourbon tasting that happened with some of his friends a couple days before. Thanks for coming out, guys.)
Thank you all for coming and we hope to see everyone next year!
What we all were waiting for - Ryan revealing the Christmas sweater. He later changed into Brad's Space Camp t-shirt, as tradition dictates. The next morning I found that t-shirt in the freezer. Hmmmmm. A new part of the tradition?
Abby Hoskins, Ryan, a beautifully pregnant Megan Mills Ojala and her husband, Kelly.
Hanging out in the loft
Steve Tim, Ryan, Keith, Elizabeth, Miriam and Monique heading out sometime around 1:30? I'm terrible about remembering to take pictures during the party!
Me and Elizabeth
Brad, Amanda and Darin
New Year's found us being pretty low key after the party. Bob and Bonnie had us over for their traditional football and oyster stew. Then, that evening, Brad and I had a buffet of party leftovers, curled up and watched the ball drop. It was nice to have a quiet night after all the fun of the holiday.
Butler killed Horizon League opponent Milwaukee
On January 2nd Brad headed back to Switzerland, where he'll stay until sometime in May! He misses you all very much and would love to hear from his friends whenever possible. I'm sure he'll keep us posted on all his adventures, and I can't wait to visit in February.
Happy New Year to you all!
One last cute picture to throw in - Mom and Dad got a new dog! Sadly, they had to put down their wonderful dog, Liza, a few months ago. Odie was still moping around, but really perked up when he spent the holiday with our three monsters. Upon returning to Florida mom ran into a woman who was looking for a home for a mini schnauzer! What are the chances? Little Molly was obviously meant to be their dog and Odie once again has a friend. More Molly pics to come, I'm sure.
Odie's on the left and Molly is on the right with a very happy David