Christmas in Kansas 2016

christmas in kansas 2016

This Christmas, both the past and the future were on our minds as we anticipate the arrival of our little one. We started the holidays on the farm with my family, where we spent lots of time reminiscing over old family photos. Nostalgia hit me hard as I realized I've celebrated Christmas at the farmhouse every year of my life, and next Christmas we'll start the tradition with a new generation.

christmas in kansas 2016 christmas in kansas 2016

It's a place that feels timeless, every inch worn in with memories. Crowding around the kitchen table for barbecued meatballs and scalloped potatoes. Hand washing all the dishes before we were allowed to open presents. Eating countless dinner rolls slathered with Grandma's blueberry rhubarb jam. Leaving a plate of spritz and a glass of milk on the table for Santa. Playing with the same toys, games, and books from Dad and Aunt Coleen's childhood. Now, more than ever, I realize what a touchstone the farm is in my life.

I'm so thankful for 31 years of Christmas memories on this farm. #merrychristmas #godjul

We next headed to Manhattan (with a pit stop at Nelson's Landing with Nathan and Sara because you just can't get chicken fried steak like that in Boston) for time with Ian's family, making memories in a new home. Susan and Grandma Marilyn were able to unearth some old photos as well, and we enjoyed a friendly baby-naming competition. No promises on using the winning name, but we heard some great ideas!

christmas in kansas 2016

We then took a day to drive to Wichita to see Ian's cousin Alli, her husband Austin, and their two adorable kids. We so often miss the Overmiller side of the family over the holidays, so it was especially good to catch up with them. We also squeezed in a coffee date with our dear friend Megan, and dinner with Caleb and Kate (we now have a new favorite pizza: pistachios, rosemary, red onion, mozzarella, parm, and olive oil... soooo good).

We finished up our holiday in Kansas City to enjoy some time together before baby! We stayed at the AC Hotel and enjoyed a fancy dinner at the Reiger Hotel, where Ian has wanted to eat for years. It didn't disappoint! Their bar also came up with some deliciously complex mocktails so I still got to enjoy fancy drinks with dinner. We drove around and reminisced over our mini honeymoon in Kansas City nine years before (and retook our night photo at the Nelson-Atkins Museum).

anna and ian in front of the bloch building anniversary in kc

Next Christmas will be so different in ways we can't even imagine yet. We're savoring our last months as a family of two, but also so excited (and nervous) to welcome a new baby to the family. The grandparents can't wait!


happy adoption day, Astrid!

Dear world, meet Astrid! She's short, sweet, and braver every day. My dreams have come true. #astridkitty #ourlittlemanx

I've wanted a cat almost as long as I can remember. And someone always said no. First my mom (who got me a cat stuffed animal for my 18th birthday as a joke... Mom, I still love you!), then K-State Housing and Dining Services, then all my landlords. So when we bought the condo, high on our list was finding a cat. We knew we wanted to get settled first, but as soon as we got back from Kansas for Christmas, I started planning when we could visit an animal shelter and combed through hundreds of PetFinder profiles. (Ian firmly told me he wasn't willing to drive more than an hour for a cat, no matter how cute.)

The last Saturday in February, I mapped out five different animal shelters with adoptions hours that day, and we headed to Medfield to meet one of the cats I shortlisted.

She was incredibly skittish. She had been left behind in an apartment, alone, when her owners moved out. She hadn't been at the shelter long, and was in a kennel by herself so she'd feel a little safer. But as scared as she was, when we reached out to pet her, her purr roared to life like a jet engine, and they said she didn't have a mean bone in her body. We met all the other cats, but I knew that I couldn't leave her behind.

With a little help from the staff, we got her into the carrier (after a brief escape behind some furniture), and headed home. We put her into her own little room, per the shelter's recommendation — once she felt safe, we could let her explore more. We named her Astrid.

The first day, she wouldn't leave the carrier, but leaned into our hands, eyes closed, still terrified, yet purring. She was always in a small corner when we'd go in to check on her, but we could tell she'd been out by the decreasing level of food and the scratch marks in the cardboard scratcher. Day by day, Asteroid got more adventurous.

adopting astrid

We finally left the door open, and she staked claim to the old wooden crates we had found in the basement and brought up to use as side tables, always inside one whenever we were around. Slowly, Aspirin began venturing out in the open while we were home, and we made a startling discovery when we finally saw her not in a curled up ball of fluff. She's probably at least part Manx! Her tail is half as long as you'd expect, if that, and she's built like a race car: her front legs are shorter than her back. And we keep uncovering more personality traits that seem to be associated with manx cats.

Cute kitty to make today a little better. #yourewelcome #astridkitty #ourlittlemanx

These days, she's at ease around us, more assertive (but still so sweet), loves snuggles, and goes bananas on her favorite toy mice and fuzzy ball. Her favorite nap spots are cozy blankets left on the couch and radiators, but more and more she'll spend the night curled up by our feet (after walking all over our legs — we sometimes call her ol' concrete paws). And just last month, she started letting us sneak in a few belly rubs, although we never know how long it will last before she waltzes away.

One thing that hasn't changed is that she still loves being loved on, and she is still sweet as ever. We're so thankful for an incredible cat, and can't imagine life without her.

Happy #NationalCatDay to #ourlittlemanx. We love you, Astrid! #astridkitty


and the 2017 nominees are...

the coolidge

This is Ian and I's eighth year watching the Oscar-nominated animated shorts (our seventh at the Coolidge). It's hard to believe we've kept the tradition for so long (and next year we'll need a babysitter...), but we look forward to it every year! Our prediction record is now 3 for 6, counting just the years we've seen all the animated shorts.

Borrowed Time — A weathered old lawman returns to the scene of a tragic accident from his past, and faces the event that has haunted him his whole life. This is a heartwrenching story of a father and son, balancing beautifully between past and present, and the animation is flawless (I'm still astounded at the felt hat in the opening moments). This is our pick to take home the Oscar.

Pearl — This short follows the lives of a musician father and his daughter, exploring the tension between pursuing your dreams and raising a child. A 360 video by Google, the entire story plays out from their old beloved car, and if you watch it with Google Cardboard you're sitting in the car with them.

Piper — A young sandpiper must learn to hunt for food along the shoreline. But after a traumatic first encounter with the waves, it takes a mother's tough love and the beach-smarts of two tiny crabs to convince the little piper to brave the ocean again. With stunning animation and Pixar's talented storytelling, this is an incredible short and I wouldn't be surprised at all if it wins.

Blind Vaysha — Vaysha is born with one eye that can only see the past, and another eye that can only see the future, rendering her blind to the present. The woodblock print animation is definitely unique, but the short was very didactic. How do you choose between remaining stuck in the comforting past or seeing only the terrifying future? While the point may have been to live in the present, I felt very disconnected from the story.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes — Techno Stypes, the director's childhood friend, lives on the edge. After two debilitating accidents, he spirals out of control and winds up stuck in China, waiting for a liver transplant. A tragic story told in the style of a graphic novel, this is an impressive short (and definitely warrants the "not suitable for children" warning). 

Highly Commended Shorts
The Head Vanishes/Une tête disparaît — A woman takes a day trip to the seaside, blissfully unaware that her mind isn't quite where it should be. This is an entertaining yet poignant story about aging and dementia.

Asteria — Two astronauts plant their flag in a new planet, only to be challenged by strange beings who arrive with their own flag. The hilarious twist at the end of this short was a fantastic surprise.

Once Upon a Line — In a two dimensional world, a man's monotonous days are forever changed when he meets a woman. But when the romance fades, he has to wrestle with what he truly wants in life. The line animation and use of color in this short is utterly charming!

As always, we enjoyed all of the shorts, and highly recommend catching them if you have the opportunity. Have fun watching the Oscars, and may the best films win!

*update: we predicted Borrowed Time, but Piper took home the Oscar. I'm bummed our batting average is now below .500, but I loved Piper too so I can't say I'm disappointed. The little bird's post-wave face twitch is one of my all-time favorite animated short moments...

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