Mrs. Andi tagged me (twice in one month after never being tagged) and since I am kind of bored, it was an interesting thing to think about.

Devise a list of 5-10 courses you would take to fix your life. It's more fun to be in classes with friends, so include one class from the person who tagged you that you'd also like to take. Tag five.

So here is what I would be taking:

SOC WK 530: Histrionic Personality Disorder in the Opera Singer (note, Brian is in no way Histrionic, but we occasionally run into some larger than life characters and egos.)

ANTHRO 505: Kinship and Marriage in the modern nomadic opera family

Nutrition 440: Eating strategies for toddlers who only want to eat boiled eggs, edamame, milk, and candy

Women's Studies 430: Identity issues for women pregnant, lactating, or pregnant and lactating

DES 470: Lecture Series of advanced topics in creative photography and fascinating womanhood, facilitated by Andi

PE 330: Cardiovascular training for toddler chasing and wrestling

MUS 650: Toddler Control at fancy opera functions (when wife and child are invited, as we are not always invited, which is fine too.)

SPAN 411: Conversation Maintenance for those who have have lived 2+ years in Latin America but now have very few opportunities to speak Spanish. (Goal of the course: so the Spanish speaker is not embarrassed when speaking to her 4-10 native Spanish speaking friends and to keep the subconscious Spanish up-to-date for dreams.)

AND my classes have all been organized so that I never have a class or obligation on Friday.

Since my former BYU roommates (you know who you are) maybe did not notice I tagged them recently, I tag them again. I also would like to tag Brian my husband and my sister-in-law April.

The opera opens tonight. Very exciting.

Candy Street

You know you want to live here. We took this photo in Exeter, England this summer for our friend Sue Anne. In her house she has a special shelf where she features a different candy every week as the Candy of the Week. The stranger the candy the better.
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Colin was a bit unsure about cooperating for the camera, but he warmed up a bit. We still had to work pretty fast. We sat him on a bar stool so he could not run away.

My mom made this sweet sweater for Colin's first birthday.

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Road Life

View from our hotel room

Our time in Louisville is coming to a close. The opera opens this weekend (only two shows, Friday and Sunday) then we are off for a cross-country drive to Utah on Monday. We like Louisville as there are some very cool little neighborhoods, but since we keep going to see friends in Indiana, we have not explored as much as we typically do. I am also very sick of eating out, which is how we do a lot of exploring. Since our two months away are almost up, I thought I would list a few good things about being on the road so I can remember for the next long time away. I look forward to being home in December but poor Brian has a crazy month with Messiah performances in Indianapolis and Jacksonville, FL and he is going to NYC probably three times before Christmas for auditions. It is good he is working and I am glad he can be available for some auditions. I just hope all the travel will not make him sick.

The first good thing about road life: improvised toys.

Colin loves the dishwasher, and the other day before his bath (hence the nudity) I quickly unloaded and planned to load the dishes while Brian had him in the bath. I turned my back for 2 seconds and he pulled out the whole rack and was running it along the floor. The rack even got a bath with Colin this day.

Colin also has a love of getting in the cupboards (and unscrewing knobs if he can, note the lack of knob on the left). The next photo is from North Carolina in March. He has lots of hiding places where we are in Louisville. We hope that our constant travel in Colin's infancy and toddlerhood will make him a very flexible little guy and not just a restless spirit. Brian and I knew that our children would be somewhat of a social experiment.

Other good things:
- It is nice to only have what we can fit in our little Toyota or in our airline luggage allowance. This is nice for laundry when we do not have easy access to a washer/dryer. When we do not have much, we usually have only 2 loads a week.
-The actual toys we bring for Colin really get played with, whereas at home he has so many toys it is hard to know where to start.
- We do love seeing new places and exploring. And since we are usually somewhere for 3-4 weeks, we have the time to explore.
-The opera schedule makes it possible for LOTS of family time. Colin and I are very spoiled to have Brian around a lot. The most he has rehearsal is usually no more than six hours a day,and six hour days are rare. Colin loves having both parents available to him most of the time. Since we usually do not have many friends when we travel, it is nice for me to have Brian available. Good thing Brian and I like spending time together.
-We don't mind having our hotel apartment magically cleaned when we're out. Housekeeping even does the dishes. We are very spoiled.

-Brian is making a living by singing. He has had a great year and a half since he graduated, thanks to his great agent (hi Kristin if you still read this).

I am sure there are more things. Maybe I will have Brian add to the list when he wakes up.

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Brian here- Since Pecan pie and orange coconut rolls were our addition to Thanksgiving with the Beasley family in Bloomington, I really needed my pie to be as tasty as possible. (We seem to crash the Beasley family for major holidays- last year it was Christmas eve and this year Easter and Thanksgiving). Super tasty pie depends upon the addition of a secret ingredient. Here's the secret (I'm not good at secrets): Golden Syrup. Golden Syrup is a partially inverted cane sugar syrup. It is a British product, usually found in a green tin from the Tate & Lyle's co. It has the consistency of molasses, but is a beautiful amber color and has pronounced caramel and butter flavors. It can be substituted for corn syrup (flavorless sickly sweet) in any recipe. In pecan pie, it lends an extra hit of caramel praline flavor to the filling and seems to tone down the ultra sweetness a bit. The problem: Golden syrup is not readily available in Louisville. I tried Whole Foods first. They used to carry it, but no longer. Then the calls. I googled all the international and specialy markets in the city. Call after call- no one stocked golden syrup. I asked for other suggestions from everyone I talked to. Finally, a guy at Lotsa Pasta suggested Burger's Supermarket. SUCCESS! They had 3 jars. Burger's is a cool little independent Grocer in one of the city old neighborhoods that's been running for the last 50 years. It has a fun small town feel, but stocks lots of imported and hard to find foods. Burger's saves the day!
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Happy Thanksgiving! So this photo kind of goes with the previous Fall holiday as we have yet to take any photos today. This is Brian's pumpkin from a couple of years ago. (Note, it is his own design not one of those cut out things.) We have many things to be thankful for this year and instead of listing them, I have a recipe to share.

If you have extra canned pumpkin around the house, I highly recommend the following Pumpkin Bisque, and it is super easy. (Thanks to my sister Jeanie for reading me the recipe over the phone.)

1/4 cup onions (Brian prefers it if I use shallots)
2 tbsp. butter
2 cups canned pumpkin
2/3 cup sour cream
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cream (or I use milk and half and half to make it a bit lighter. It needs some fat for the deliciousness.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
sour cream, chives, and fresh nutmeg for garnish

Saute the onions or shallots in the butter and set aside. Combine all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Add the butter and onions and blend together (I like using our little inversion blender, or pour in a regular blender). Serve cold or hot. When heating, heat slowly to not bring to a boil due to all the dairy.

This comes from Julie Jensen's first Mormon cookbook. They are great books if you ever get a chance to look at them.


I believe my sister-in-law tagged me, so six things most people do not know about me. . .

-I walked to Nicaragua. (ok, it was from Costa Rica and I was only 2km away, but I went over the border. It was after a land dispute when a group of people tried to make a new country called "Friendship". I got a grant from BYU to go back and study the effects of the incident when I was 21.)

-speaking of Costa Rica, as a teenager I was inspired by a random Daniel Day Lewis film where he was a traveling dentist in Patagonia. The movie was called Eversmile, New Jersey. (I read some interview from DD Lewis saying something to the effect that he regretted this movie.) But a few days after High School graduation I went to work with a traveling dentist in rural Costa Rica, and then spent 4 summers working on humanitarian projects in Latin America, before spending 18 months in Argentina on mission for my Church. My mom was born in Chile, so I am half Latina.

-Since I learned from Amberly, I LOVE to teach people to breathe fire. I prefer to not teach people under age 21 since only adults should play with matches. From breathing fire, I thought I had burned off my eyebrows about 4 days before my wedding.

-I have a wider variety of work experience than Homer Simpson. My past jobs include bi-lingual health educator, anthropology teacher, ESL teacher, labor and postpartum doula and prenatal educator, professional car seat installer, photographer, community/school social worker, Director of Social Services for a long term care facility, and I coordinated charity grants with lenders and Realtors to name a few. Now I try to keep my toddler from burning down our hotel.

-Although I am not an opera singer like my husband, I had a dream that I had to perform in an opera and sing an aria about how much I loved my wig. In real life I do love prosthetic hair and would love a good wig. I wish I could wear them for religious reasons.

-I fell in love with my husband when I was 18 and we got married 10 years later. It is a long story. (Ok, lots of people know that one.) For Brian's 31st birthday I finally let him see all the angry poetry I wrote about him when I was 18-19.

So I get to tag people, is that how this works? So TL, DLF, Krispy, Rusted Sun, Carolyn and Julie and any other former BYU roommates.

I had the good fortune of remembering I am a photographer by shooting these two lovely ladies yesterday afternoon. My preferred place to shoot head shots is in a glass stairwell on the Indiana University campus. As Brian is my lighting designer, he added some additional side light by hand holding the flash. Both women photographed very well.

I love photographing people in lots of different life events. Almost two years ago I shot Sally's wedding (below) so it was fun to photograph her again.

Colin was a pretty good boy since he had to be entertained in a stair well for a couple of hours after only an hour nap in the car. Sally's husband came and was very sweet to play with him, and Colin was entertained by the two bottles.
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Sue Anne and Meta-dog came for a visit the last couple of days and we had a great time getting to know Louisville's food scene a little better. The first evening we went to an excellent little Mayan restaurant. Sue Anne was very excited to try Xuitlacoche- a fungus that grows on corn. Yesterday for late lunch we went to Lynn's Paradise Cafe- a culinary establishment dedicated to riotous color. Oprah says this place has the best Mac and Cheese in America. It was very good, but we haven't had all the other Mac and cheeses in America yet.

We need to always travel with a professional artist who can entertain Colin in restaurants with pictures of trucks. Note Colin's blue toy truck on the table, which goes EVERYWHERE with us.

Thanks Sue Anne
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(not our photo, but we will get some up later.)
We arrived to Louisville on Monday after a somewhat hectic but went as smooth as possible departure from Kansas City. Brian had his last show on Sunday afternoon (which I think went as well as possible, I will have to have him comment more). We then had an 8 hour drive to get to Kentucky. We split the drive in half, getting just outside St. Louis late Sunday night and then up early the next day to make sure Brian would be available for his first commitment around noon on Monday. The drive through Southern Indiana was beautiful with the rolling hills and Fall colors and made us remember how much we loved living near here.
Poor Brian had to run right to a full day of rehearsals/patron event while Colin and I recovered from travel. We are in a lovely hotel right on the Ohio River, in a huge apartment. The apartment is seriously at least 1800 sq. feet, two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, big kitchen, washer/dryer, two other rooms, balcony looking out over the river, large dining room table, etc, etc. We keep getting a little lost here since our living space has increased by about 400%. But the large living space means room for guests! Sue Anne ( and Meta-dog came down last night and are still sleeping. We are luck because Sue Anne is relocating to Scotland in January so it is nice to have some extra time before she leaves the continent. We are SO happy to be near former friends, and we will be spending a great deal of Brian's time off in Bloomington. This time will remind us of when we lived in one place and had friends.

The last few days have been some of the hardest of my career so far- but oddly rewarding. I've never had to perform a large role right in the midst of a nasty illness before. I've done things under the weather, but it's very different when you wake up with ZERO voice and know you have to sing an opera that night which really only has 3 major characters. I'm pretty stress resistant, but THAT is stress. It's all about faith. Faith that your body won't totally betray you- Faith that God actually can intervene and save me from 3 hours of ignominy. And these last two performances have actually happened- and I've sung, not always my best, but my voice has come out and at times actually worked. It has been a blessing to go through this here with this company and cast, who have been tremendously helpful and supportive. It's funny- on Wednesday I hoped for a miracle- hoped that I would get onstage and have my voice restored through some divine intervention. What actually happened was probably way more instructive. I learned that I can get through a really tough night and that I can rely on my technique. The miracle was that I had the hardest performance of my admittedly short career, and when it was over, I felt happy. The conductor here is awesome. He seems totally pleased that I can earn my stripes during this production, and when I'm struggling to sing through some phlegm ball in my throat, I look down in the pit and he's smiling at me. I'm still holding out for a good voice day on Sunday's closing though.
In the meantime, there are a few things that distract me from paralyzing fear during the day.

There is a great playground within walking distance and we've had some nice warm fall days. I love this action shot even though it's blurry.

I love how Colin doesn't have to worry about anything. He is so unfettered by anything other than where his truck is.

Ann has also kept me together and looked out for my rest. She brings me tea with honey and tells me that my warming up sounds good, even though it's totally busted. She gets up early with Colin, and is now telling me to stop blogging and go to bed. I would be SO sad to be alone here.
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We need to re-post some photos in previous posts as they have mysteriously disappeared. Why blogger, why??

So, the opera, in English the Pearl Fishers opened last Saturday. For those unfamiliar (as I was before Brian was offered the contract about a month ago) this is the second most well known opera by Georges Bizet of Carmen fame. Bizet was quite young when we wrote Pearl Fishers. Brian has said the opera is a little difficult dramatically because the action in the story does not happen for a while, as there is lots of remembering. In the remembering portion, there is a very famous baritone/tenor duet where they are singing about an oath they took to not love the same woman and save their friendship. However, Brian's character did not live up to his side of the oath and pursued the woman, causing much trouble and his near death. Brian takes a good beating. Sadly, his bloody photos are in our small camera that does not have a transfer cable. I can individually send a bloody Brian photo to your cell phone if you want. (I sent it out for a Halloween cell phone greeting and traumatized my nephew.)

I was able to go opening night with our friend Megan (and thanks to the kind babysitting of some friends from Church). It was great to finally see what Brian had been working on, and he and the cast all sounded great. The audience went crazy for the famous duet. Brian said he and Troy could come out and do almost anything on stage to that duet and the audience would go wild. Here is a bit from the review: “Brian Stucki’s …tenor has a sweet, bell-like clarity… His and Troy Cook’s celebrated Act 1 duet was wonderfully gauged.”
Les Pecheurs des Perles, Lyric Opera of Kansas City
Kansas City Star

All was well, until Tuesday when Brian started feeling a bit sick. Tuesday night it hit him full force. He went to the ENT yesterday and he has a bad sinus infection! He made it through last night's show, but now he is on some serious vocal rest and antibiotics. It was actually a good experience for him as the cast and conductor were all extremely supportive. The senior missionaries we got tickets for said they could not even tell anything was wrong with him. He is very optimistic for Friday and Sunday's shows.
After the Sunday matinee here in Kansas City, we leave directly for the next opera in Louisville, KY. Brian's first commitment in Louisville is around noon on Monday.

A few photos from the getting ready for bed last night. I was on Skype with Juliet so Brian was in charge and got all these cute shots. We do wish more friends would get on Skype because then we can make video calls for free. It is very fun. So Colin realized how fun it would be to jump off the couch onto his bed. We got him this kids Aerobed since he has defeated the port-a-crib. He loves the moon and stars on the cover, but frequently rolls off in the night and just sleeps on the floor.

He was avoiding putting on his jammies, but they are waiting for him on the couch.

We do love the pure joy of being a toddler. Don't love the tantrums so much, but the good times make up for the bad.

Pretend nigh night, a long time before he really fell asleep.
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Choo Choo

The morning of the Opera's opening we went to the Union Station again with our dear friend Megan. We let Colin spend a lot more time with the huge model train display in the main hall of the station.

The following series illustrates how a passing train can whip Colin into a frenzy.

There was a Heartbreak Hotel village in the train display. Was Elvis a giant, or were his fans little people?

There is an old fashioned Diner in the station where we enjoyed some burger fare. The onion rings were GOOD. We love you Megan!

So, I got really into Halloween this year, and decided to dress up as a Ceylonese fisherman. Actually, tonight we had our first orchestral dress rehearsal, which went really well. I love singing this role (Nadir in Bizet's Pearl Fishers). In truth I kind of do dig this somewhat elf inspired wig (really.. the director told the designer to 'think Legolas')

Me and Troy (aka Zurga), terrific baritone who also has a very glam wig (I think it's very Linda Carter). Oh.. and Buddha too.
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Brian here. I normally carve a very scary pumpkin, but I didn't want Colin to be traumatized by his first Jack-o-Lantern (he was a little concerned even about his trick or treating pumpkin that had a face on it- until it had candy in it.) So since he likes kitties, and cats are Halloweeny, I thought this theme would do. We have another pumpkin which I will carve into something deathly tomorrow to see what he thinks.

Colin used the scoop to carry the pumpkin guts across the room to the garbage. We moved the garbage closer to avoid the guts trail across the carpet, but he liked it where it was and moved it back. He seemed to know they were some kind of guts though- he kept saying, 'ewww...ewww'

He liked the puzzle aspect of the pumkin's lid.

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