thankful list | February 2016

sunset at the office

01. soup club at the office, for the good food and the good company.
02. close proximity to a good library.
03. our community group.
04. a REUNION baptism celebration.
05. a date at Blackbird Doughnuts.
06. strolling through Niche. #crazyplantlady
07. hosting Kerwin for dinner (do you really have to move to California?).
08. hosting a Super Bowl party.
09. living so close to so many good friends
10. an apology painting from G (for missing our party because she acted up at naptime).
11. dinner at Tasty Burger.
12. our first DR team meeting (people showed up despite the snow!)
13. a weekend in Vermont with friends.
14. a big cozy lodge with a roaring fire to ward off record low temperatures.
15. Pizza at The Blue Stone.
16. a stop at Ben and Jerry's.
17. watching boiling water turn into snow when thrown outside in said low temps.
18. a Valentine's Day date at the Cabot Visitor Center.
19. a Valentine who knows my love language is cheddar cheese.
20. an evening in our old stomping ground.
21. dinner at Dorado.
22. watching the Oscar-nominated animated shorts with Ian (our oldest tradition).
23. the guys at Meat Spot.
24. a Skype with the Oaks (counting down to seeing them in person again).
25. a two-year-old birthday party (we love you, H!).
26. the Medfield Animal Shelter.
27. our new cat (she's still skittish terrified, but purrs like crazy when you pet her).
28. community group brunch.
29. the best pizza ever (with sausage and eggs, because brunch).
30. a night with friends at the Warren family taco truck.


and the 2016 nominees are...

the coolidge

This is Ian and I's seventh year watching the Oscar-nominated animated shorts (our sixth at the Coolidge Corner Theatre). While this year's nominees didn't feel as compelling overall as in previous years, we still enjoyed our continuing tradition. Our prediction record is now 3 for 5, counting just the years we've seen all the animated shorts. I'm still disappointed The Dam Keeper didn't win last year — Disney seems to be our prediction kryptonite. But especially since there's not a Disney short in the mix this year, here's hoping we're 4 for 6 after tonight!

Sanjay's Super Team — Sanjay, a first-generation Indian boy, loves super heroes. But when his beloved cartoons conflict with his father's Hindu prayers, he is forced to reconcile his western culture with his storied heritage. I can relate to Sanjay's experiences as a first-generation American trying to balance his two identities. Through an entertaining story and beautiful visuals, Pixar reminds us that a fresh perspective is sometimes all we need to bring different worlds together.

World of Tomorrow — A little girl suddenly finds herself transported to the world of the distant future, where humanity has made vast strides in the effort to extend life. The short finds laugh-out-loud humor through the juxtaposition of an innocent toddler with the strange experiences of her glitchy digital future self. This contrast also illustrates technological "progress" is not always what it seems, and the short manages to deeply explore questions of life and what it means to be human. Its minimalist but clever animation is fresh and incredibly fitting. This is our bet to take home the Oscar.

Bear Story (Historia de un Oso) — An old bear spends his days as a street entertainer, telling his life story as a kidnapped circus bear through an intricate and beautiful mechanical diorama. The diorama is a unique and impressive storytelling device, but I felt the story itself was missing an intangible spark.

We Can't Live Without Cosmos — From the director of Lavatory, Love Story, this short follows two lifelong friends as they train to be cosmonauts, following their shared dream of making it to the stars. With delightful bits of humor sprinkled in, Cosmos explores the idea of shared dreams, friendship, and failure.

Prologue — The ancient war between Sparta and Athens is brought into sharp, hand drawn detail as four warriors battle to the death. This was a graphic and intense short, noted as "not suitable for young viewers." The well composed animation with realistic human rendering was astounding, but the story itself wasn't as thought-provoking as I would have hoped, given the dark and deep subject matter.

Highly Commended Shorts
If I Was God — A middle school boy daydreams about ultimate power during a science class frog dissection. The claymation was a perfect medium for this hilariously awkward coming of age story. We've enjoyed all the selections we've seen out of Canada's NFB, which produced Bus Story in 2015 and Wild Life and Sunday/Dimanche in 2012, and this year did not disappoint.

The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse — A mouse, alone and without cover, escapes one danger only to enter a bigger predicament. But an unexpected alliance at the right moment can change everything. The pale winter scenes and bright animals were a beautiful way to tell a sweet if predictable story.

The Loneliest Stoplight — At the intersection of two local roads, an old stoplight tells his life story, from installation to obsolescence to one shining moment thanks to a pileup on the freeway. It's a classic story of small town charm versus the efficiency of progress, retold through an unexpected lens. This was another solid short from Bill Plympton, the animator behind last year's Footprints and one of our all-time favorites, The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger.

Catch It — A meerkat family has been anticipating the day they can finally enjoy the fruitful bounty of a nearby tree. When a vulture swoops in and steals their prize, the meerkats fight back, only to learn sometimes victory isn't so sweet.

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 World of Tomorrow, but Bear Story took home the Oscar.

2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015


our 2015 Christmas letter

scherling christmas 2015

2015: it wasn’t boring. In fact, it was so not boring that Ian and Anna didn’t have enough time in the year to write their annual awkward third-person Christmas letter. They kindly ask you to light a balsam-scented candle and eat sugar cookies while you read this, in hopes you won’t notice it’s kind of really late.

2015 started with snow. The week after a belated family Christmas celebration on the Cape, a thick blanket of snow landed on Massachusetts. For the next month, blizzards hit Boston every Monday like clockwork. By mid-March, the city had set a new all-time snow record with 110.6 inches. It was glorious (because Ian and Anna had no shoveling responsibilities) and stifling (because walls of snow get old after a few weeks). Between blizzards, Ian and Anna still managed to fly to Kansas to celebrate Grandma Marilyn’s 85th birthday (ask her about flopper stoppers and the fudgesicle she still owes her sister).

By May, most of the snow was gone and Bostonians could turn their sights toward warmer weather. But Ian and Anna’s dreams of spending all summer on their bicycles were crushed, quite literally, when Ian was hit while biking home from church. They are both so thankful his injuries were minimal (Anna still ugly cries whenever she hears Like I'm Gonna Lose You by Meghan Trainor). They would tell you the whole crazy story, but don’t want to jeopardize a possible $10 million payout. Just kidding! Or are they?

Shortly after Ian’s bike accident, 2015 kicked into overdrive. After years of saving (#thanksramennoodles), Ian and Anna finally were ready to start looking for their first home. They went to a few open houses with their realtor on a Saturday, and by Tuesday they had an accepted offer on a home just a mile away from their office. The timing was confirmation God wanted them to “double down in Watertown” (Ian’s new catchphrase) and invest in their community.

In the midst of navigating the homebuying process, Ian and Anna were also preparing for their fifth trip to the Dominican Republic (their first year leading the trip solo). Their week serving alongside the Vargas family was amazing, and everyone on the team made it there and back with no major medical events, which they consider a huge win.

As soon as they landed back in Boston, they began frantically packing their beloved Brookline apartment and hauling all their worldly possessions out to the ‘burbs (mostly using ZipCar). So far, their foray into home ownership has involved lots of paint, an education on steam radiators, and arguments lively conversations about proper allocation of funds for all the projects in their new home master plan. Between fall home improvement projects, they also made time to watch the Royals win the world series (they’ve never seen Grandma Judy so happy!), show Anna’s parents around the Cape (#cranberriesfordays), visit Ren and Emily in Knoxville, and host their first Thanksgiving in their new home.

Ian and Anna are incredibly grateful they were able to spend the holidays in Kansas with family and friends (but not nearly as many of you as they would have liked), and hope your holidays were equally wonderful. Happy 2016!

Want more? Read past Christmas letters here. 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2009 | 2008
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