A Merry Christmas from the Heartland

5 years ago by in Social Media

KC's Country Club Plaza at Christmas

So much has changed over the past four months that it’s sometimes hard to keep track and to keep up. Our move from San Diego to Kansas City was full of ups and downs but overall the family is feeling great about our new home. We’re surrounded by great folks and the transition from the fast-paced California life to the Midwest has been a welcomed one. Everyone, overall, is really happy we decided to make the move.

At this time of the year, when we celebrate something as significant as the birth of Christ, we wanted to update all of you on how things are going and what’s going on with everyone in the family. Of course, since I am a digital native, I decided to bring your our Christmas update via the web! I hope you’ve enjoyed our “touch of Kansas City” Christmas cards. They depict the beautiful Country Club Plaza just over the border in Kansas City, Missouri. On to the update…

We’re thoroughly enjoying our new home in Overland Park. We finally have enough room for the entire family to be very comfortable in a beautiful home. It’s a great size in a great neighborhood with a massive yard and a great basement. It’s been tough to meet any of the neighbors (especially those with kids) due to winter having set in. We have met both neighbors on either side (older with older kids) and they are what you’d call traditionally Midwestern nice. The only issue we’ve had with the house so far is the lack of enough kitchen cabinets. It’s driving Elie batty and we’ll have to add some once we get past the holidays. Overall, the house is great and we’ll really start making it our own via decor once we get past the holidays.

The kids are all doing excellent. Despite their excitement about the move, we were still concerned mostly about Alexis and Ryan and how they’d adapt to a new school half-way across the country. Anytime you move that sort of distance, culture shock is inevitable. Despite that, they hit the ground running. The kids and their families here have been so welcoming, it’s hard to put into words how much that helped everyone with the transition. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. A big thank you to all of them for the warm welcome to Kansas.

Alexis, being in 8th grade, had perhaps the biggest challenge. The first week we were here, Alexis tried out for the volleyball team and made it! At that first practice, she walked in a stranger and by the time the practice was over, she walked out arm-in-arm with her new classmates laughing and exchanging cellphone numbers. It made Elie and I feel so much better to see she was getting along just fine. Since then, she’s developed great friendships and a close kinship with all of her classmates. All of the teachers, staff and families at Holy Cross school have been so supportive. We’ve been here for four months but already feel like we’re old friends with everyone there. Alexis particularly continues to do well both in school and now onto basketball. She’s playing hard and learning the game. She spent two days the last month “shadowing” a freshman at two of the Catholic high schools here in KC. So far, it’s between St. Thomas Aquanis and Bishop Miege. It’s hard to believe our little girl is going to be in high school next year but we’re excited for her. She’s ready both academically and emotionally. Should be fun

A look out our front door...Winter Wonderland!

Ryan is also humming right along. Since we arrived here on August 17, he’s been completely busy with school and sports. In fact, since around August 23, he’s had at least three days of sports every week non-stop. He completed his first year of tackle football in November. He did very well for his first time and learned the game. He’s such a well-mannered kid the aggressiveness sometimes wasn’t there but we’re proud of him. His teammates were incredibly welcoming and Scott also helped out on the coaching staff. All of the coaches, family and kids were amazing and we’re looking forward to being with them up until high school. Ryan’s doing great in school too (All “As” and one “B”) and has developed deep friendships there two. He’s currently playing on two basketball teams (one club team with his football friends and one CYO team at school) and recently enjoyed his first game of snow football with Scott in the backyard. He misses playing outside with the boys in our old Carlsbad neighborhood but once the weather gets warm in the spring, we’re certain he’ll find boys in our new neighborhood.

Michael continues to recover well after his Celiac Disease diagnosis last year. We were nervous about moving him away from his excellent doctors in San Diego. Once here, we met with his new specialist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in downtown Kansas City, and were put at ease. He’s a happy boy and really having fun in his new environment. His blood tests did come back with high levels of gluten despite our efforts to strictly control his diet. Elie and I felt awful as we undoubtedly failed during the move and the madness of living in a temporary housing. We ate out a lot and even though food was technically gluten free, he has been getting a steady dose. We’ve doubled down on making sure everything he has in the house is OK for him. Michael’s personality continues to develop and is just flat-out hysterical. He’s a ham and sometimes says things which give you the feeling he’s got an old soul. That’s a good thing and we love him for it. He’s also currently on a Scooby-Doo kick. We’ve bought a bunch of the seasons on iTunes and he watches them daily on the Apple TV. He’s now become a critic and will only watch seasons 1 &2. Go figure. He’s a neat little guy and looking forward to Santa’s visit.

Michael in the snow...

Little Mark is a handful, in a good way. He’s a bundle of energy that continues to keep us all on our feet and moving fast. He too has developed quite the personality. After his first birthday back in September, he started to walk and now he’s running everywhere. He also has no fear so jumping from chairs or flying down stairs is what he tries to do every day. He bumps his head a lot due to his fearless nature but he’s growing and growing and growing. His first experience in the snow last week was not so great. He seemed to love the fluffiness of the newly fallen snow but once he fell in it and his hands got wet, he was done. You can see the video here or on Scott’s Facebook page. He’s just a neat little baby and the first year, with the move and all the changes, made it go so fast. As we both get older, we realize all of this time with the kids is so precious and we’re just trying to soak it all in.

Eliete is adjusting to her first home east of Nevada. She’s – frankly – working harder than anyone between shuttling kids to school, practices, friends houses, etc., she’s been busier then ever. That hasn’t allowed much time for anything else but she’s learning a new town and building a warm and comfortable home. Anyone who knows Elie well knows she’s always cold. The winter hasn’t gotten really cold yet but Elie is learning lots about hats, scarves, jackets and other ways to keep warm in a real winter. She’s also been doing an amazing job of learning the area and finding all of the things the family needs to keep running efficiently. She’s made fast friends with the other Moms at school and is developing some great bonds. She loves her new home but does complain about how nice everyone is. That slows her down in the grocery store but she’s learning to adjust.

Ryan enjoys snow football!

Scott has been pedal-to-the-medal in his new role as the Director of Social Media & Digital Marketing at Applebee’s. It’s a fast-paced business with lots of new challenges and a whole department and discipline that must be built. He’s already found some great friends and is just starting to hit his stride. The company is doing very well and has done an amazing job of making him feel at home and did an amazing job of helping with moving the family. He’s forged a big deal that we can’t talk about right now, but it’s going to help the company and their social program tremendously. We moved out for his job and it was a great decision. He’s also continuing to coach youth sports having helped coach Ryan’s football team (a first for him) and now helping coach his clubbasketball team. Due to the requirements at work, he hasn’t had much time to get to know the families at school, but he’s hoping to do more of that in the new year.

The entire Gulbransen Family feels very blessed to be in our new home and to have all of you in our lives. We know we moved far from many of our old friends and family, but we do believe this is where we were meant to be. We haven’t second-guessed ourselves once and we’re happy to now be Kansans.

We want to wish each one of you the most blessed Christmas ever and a happy, fruitful and successful New Year.

All our Love,

Scott, Eliete, Alexis, Ryan, Michael & Mark Gulbransen


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One Response to “A Merry Christmas from the Heartland”


Jim Powers
February 24, 2011

Anthony Gwinn Gulbransen??? Congratulations! Looks like things are going fine. St James is having a cowboy gala this year. Brooke is ready for high school and Lauren is looking forward to “junior high.” Jacquie just stated at Scripps. I love the pictures. They remind me of growing up in Chicago, Detroit and Columbus. Love, Jim

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