We have our routine down for Christmas in Kansas. Find the most affordable airfare to give us roughly two weeks. Schedule those two weeks to maximize our time with both families and minimize our time in the car. Squeeze in our anniversary celebration and as many friends as possible. It's never everyone we'd love to see, but I remind myself there is next time. You can only do so much in two weeks at the end of December. And 2014, especially the fall, was overwhelming at times. A perfect storm of teaching and transitions at work and at church. We needed some of that two weeks for us, too.
We flew into Kansas City and made it a date. We wandered around Union Station, examining the details in all of the model train worlds and allowing the twinkling lights to amaze us. We had lunch at Anton's because we miss good beef (local! so cheap!). We wandered Crossroads to find things for dinner. We took a tour of Boulevard Brewery and Ian was in heaven. We made dinner for Karen and Jeremy, and chatted late into the night just like we used to (although the lateness of that night is inversely proportional to our age).
We drove to Manhattan the next morning. We ran errands and finally ate at Taco Lucha, at least a year after hearing glowing reviews from our K-State friends in Boston. And the rest of the day was all about Caleb, celebrating his graduation at Bourbon and Baker, since we weren't able to make it back for the ceremony the week prior. And then we were off to the farm.
I love the farm. It's quiet, remote, and beautiful. And Grandma is amazing. The cousins played board games. Ian and Grandma had lutfisk together. I learned how to make spritz from the master (Grandma). And we all learned about our Swedish heritage by flipping through Grandma's scrapbook of childhood and family photos.
Our next destination was Dodge City to see Grandma Marilyn and Aunt Susan. We passed the drive time with our newly discovered obsession: the Serial podcast. We also were able to turn our lunch stop into a meetup with friends we hadn't seen since their wedding almost three years prior. In Dodge, we chauffeured Grandma to her appointments, and enjoyed lots of time by the fire. It was a quick trip, but we were looking forward to the family reunion in February for Grandma's 85th birthday celebration.
On New Year's Day, we headed back to Manhattan to celebrate our anniversary. We hiked Konza Prairie, bundling against the brisk Kansas wind, had a dinner date at Old Chicago (we were thankful, because all our favorite fancy date restaurants were closed for the holiday). We spent the night at the Morning Star Bed and Breakfast, where we spent our wedding night seven years ago, and stopped by the first T on Manhattan Hill, where Ian proposed.
We headed back to Kansas City and met up with Nathan and Sara. It was K-State bowl game night, so we headed to Barley's Brewhaus to meet up with friends (hi, Megan!), then consoled ourselves from the loss with a game night back at Sara's.
The next morning, we headed to Nathan and Sara's new neighborhood, where they're halfway through a gut renovation as first-time homeowners. We met up with Amber and Veronica for brunch, then drove to the house for a tour. They're doing a great job, and we can't wait to see it as a cozy home the next time we're in Kansas. (They're only mildly terrified by the renovation process...)
Like always, our two weeks felt short but sweet, full of people we love and miss. And after a fall of stress and busyness, it felt right to unwind and spend time together under the expansive Kansas sky. Never everything we want to squeeze in, but enough for now. Until next year.
See all our Christmas photos on Flickr. And another Ian slo-mo video on Vimeo.