Todd Family Blog

Welcome! Read below for our latest news and pictures.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dawgs in the Sweet Sixteen

What a month for our Butler Bulldogs and our friend, coach Brad Stevens! They finished the season undefeated in the Horizon League (pics below of the final game in Valpo which I saw with Elizabeth and Keith), won the conference championship at home in Hinkle Fieldhouse (got to see that with Bob and Miriam!) and have now passed to two teams in the tournament to make it to the Sweet 16! I thought they deserved their own post as their big game against Syracuse (Yikes! We can do it though!) is tonight. Go Dawgs!

For those reading this outside of Indiana, not a Butler fan yet? Try these two articles and we might convert you!
From the NY Times

Visiting Northern Indiana to stay with Elizabeth and Keith and attend the BU/Valpo game. Bob and a friend of his, who always roots for Valpo, make this an annual event. Though Valpo come out strong, BU was able to win easily in the end. Undefeated in conference!

Horizon League Championship Game. Cheering in Hinkle as four Bulldog players are recognized as all-conference players. We also had the league player of the year, co-defensive player of the year and coach of the year. Wow! As you can see from the scoreboard, this game against Wright State was not even close.

Love this photo from their first tournament game.

The crowd was packed into the tradition BU bar, Moe and Johnny's (the old Bulldog). Every single TV was playing Butler.

The cheering as last second ticks off. What an exciting game!

Miriam arrived early and snagged the very last booth. Thanks, Miriam!

Nina, and my new friends Steve, John and Scott joined us, too. Scott (far left) just moved to Indy this winter and played basketball in Europe. He said he'd watched Hoosiers twice that week and was fully enjoying "Hoosier Hysteria". He laughed every time the Bulldogs scored - the cheer was so loud each time, you would have thought it was a final buzzer beater! Welcome to Indiana :).

I took these videos for Brad. He loves how Gracie freaks out when we watch a sporting event - I'm a yeller, just so you know. But I thought you may like to see what life is like in the Todd household living with these monsters!

Starting the game, Gracie is getting into it, as always. As soon as she hears a crowd cheering on TV, she grabs a toy and prepares. Football games are her favorite, but basketball is a close second. Then, I discuss with Gracie how the first half went.
Lastly, we get ready to start the second half and watch BU win!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Switzerland with a Pinch of Italy

During my last weekend visiting Brad we decided to try out Ticino and dip into Italy for a day. As always the pictures seem to speak for themselves!

We stayed in the lakeside town of Lugano, which is in Switzerland's Ticino canton. Right by the border of Italy, they speak, eat and act Italian, all with a clean, precise Swiss presentation. Pretty much a perfect place!

Wandering around the night we got there. The old town of Lugano is very pretty, clean and compact. Easy to wander in.

Walking along the lake in Lugano. It was a bit chilly, but a beautiful morning!

Love this picture with the father and son playing by the water

We ate at one of the many restaurants around the square. Our choices were Italian, Italian or Italian! No arguements here.
Again, massive portions, which I polished off no problem. Maybe there was a grandmother in the kitchen trying to fatten us up? (Thank God for all the walking!) One of our favorite things they do with pizza over there is serve it with a bottle of oil infused with red chili's. Mmmmm.

We took a day trip into Italy to visit one of my favorite towns, Lucca, and the neighboring Pisa (yes, THAT Pisa). Lucca is where Giacomo Puccini, who wrote La bohème, Madame Butterfly, etc., was born.

I ate at Ristorante Puccini when I was in college after touring his birthplace thirteen years ago. Looks exactly the same!

The actual building where Puccini was born

Posing with Puccini.

The home 20 minutes away where Puccini spent the rest of his life. They had it set up almost just as he left it - even his pills in a glass bottle and pens laying on a table. Very cool..

The views from Puccini's house where he did his composing. No wonder he wrote such beautiful melodies! Unfortunately, the marsh around his house has been turned into a somewhat rundown, suburban town. But when you see these views you can imagine what it must have been like around the turn of the last century.

Wandering around the tiny, ancient streets of Lucca. I thought I took a picture of it, but we found the most wonderful little restaurant on a side street. It was owned by an Italian man who lived in L.A. for 20 years and had a restaurant on 3rd street there! We had the place to ourselves and ordered from their prix fixe menu. Once again, someone had to roll me out the door, but it was amazingly good: massive pieces of homemade bread soaked in my giant crock of veggie soup, a huge bowl of polenta covered in wild mushrooms. I thought I couldn't fit it all in, but I managed to eat every bite.

The main square in Lucca

The requisite pictures of Pisa! Gotta be sure you hold the camera straight or you kinda miss the point with the tower. The tower and cathedral are kinda fun to see, but the area around Pisa is very dirty and touristy. Actually, I notice a difference just crossing into Italy. It's still beautiful, but not quite as, um, precise are Switzerland.

Before heading home on Sunday we toured the amazing forts that guarded the passage between Italy and Switzerland in the Ticino capitol of Bellinzona. This small hill in the middle of this pass has had someone guarding it for 5,000 years! There was amazing history here. We loved seeing the artifacts found over the years and learning about how Ticino became part of Switzerland instead of the Roman Empire. Fascinating.

Standing at the lower and larger of the three forts you can see the second and third forts perched on the hills in the distance, the town spread around them.

Hard to capture how large the lower fort is

The town squeezes right up against he ancient walls.

Brad pointing back to the rest of Switzerland. In the other direction would be Italy. You can literally see all of Ticino from up there!

Standing on the huge walls

Brad making fun of my timer picture efforts. This is a regular theme in our marriage.

The smaller, highest fort. You can't imagine the windy road we took up this mountain. Talk about hairpin turns!

It cracked me up that there were grape vines squeezed in every available space, right up the the fortress walls and church doors.

We also passed through Locarno and grabbed lunch. It was fun to walk around the marina. I can only imagine how great this place must be in the summer!

Yes, another timer picture.

Incase we forgot that Fasnacht was still going on (check out our last post if you missed this classic experience), sights like this and streets closed for parades were a constant reminder.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fasnacht in Switzerland

During my February trip to Switzerland we had the unique experience of going to Fasnacht in Lucerne. This is the Swiss version of Mardi Gras and is unlike anything we've ever seen. I could try to describe this until I am blue in the face, but the pictures are the only way to truly describe this experience. The big party starts Thursday night (when we went) and goes until the following Tuesday morning. (For Brad's finale to Fasnacht, a Fasnacht band played in the cafe under his apartment all Monday night until 7 a.m. Tuesday morning. That Tuesday was not a fun day at work for him.) The usually polite and reserved Swiss are anything but during this long weekend.

To enjoy Fasnacht you wear whatever costume appeals to you (the most popular are covered in some sort of fur, it seems), wander around the Swiss city of your choice, listen to the bands, buy a brat and some coffee with schnapps, and try to stay warm. Simple enough.

Brad's coworker, Heidi, lent us some costumes from a previous year. So, hippy and hop hop were us. These were by far the most normal costumes we saw. I'm going to guess that it was 15 degrees outside - maybe. That could be generous. Even with tights, socks and boots I quickly couldn't feel my feet as we walked all over Lucerne. We finally had to get some hot tea and dessert to warm up.

Brad's coworker, Martin

Brad's coworker, Heidi, and her husband in their full chicken costumes. They live for Fassnacht!

The highlights of Fasnacht are the Fasnacht bands. These are groups of people, not necessarily professional musicians, who practice all year long for this weekend. They then don elaborate costumes and march through the tiny, windy streets playing slightly out of tune music. (This could be due to playing through the costumes.) Below, I caught some bands as they marched past.

There were a few sets of risers set up around town where the bands took turns playing.

This was my favorite band. The Spacemen who played Queen. Um....Yeah....How could I possibly describe this? The best part are the chickens dancing in front of me. And the anonymous bunny to my left.

Sunday, while driving around in Ticino, we were often foiled by streets closed for parades. People in costumes were still everywhere. I don't know how they have the energy for five days of this!