With Kyra visiting, Pepper’s been experimenting with some new hairstyles. Today, she wore tight braids (think cornrows but not quite) and then let her hair down before we went out for a New Year’s dinner. This was the result.

It’s kind of fun, but I told her it would probably look better with longer hair. To my astonishment, she agreed. Maybe this means she’ll grow out her hair? A guy can dream.

Silly Putty art

For many years, Zaque has refined his artistic skills working with an oft-neglected medium: Silly Putty. One of his recent creations was a replica of the Iwo Jima Memorial:

This week he sent me a picture of a T-Rex wearing a top hat and monocle. Because, why not?

I admit I liked this one better:

The kid’s got talent…

Another item I didn’t know existed

I thought a mushroom brush was the pinnacle of weird but strangely useful things I had never heard of before. But I was wrong, because tonight Pepper bought a banana stand at a thrift store.

I was informed that bananas sitting on the countertop go bad so much more quickly than those hung from a banana stand. In her defense, the thing was a buck twenty-five, so it’s probably okay to let her splurge on something that brings her such joy.

Gun people

Apparently when you live in Montana, everyone has expectations about things you own. A truck, a chainsaw, and a gun are standard fare around here. We checked one of these off our list when we bought a chainsaw. And today we sort of checked off another when we opened a mystery Christmas gift and discovered a rifle.

After scratching our heads a bit, we realized that our niece Tara had sent us a BB gun as a joke. Something about being “mountain folk” and “scaring off the critters” that roam our property. After a good laugh, we went outside and practiced. I pulled out my old BB pistol from college, which had been in a box for a few decades until I’d needed it for a certain Christmas card.

Even Santa got in on the action:

Kyra and Kaitlyn were crack shots. They nailed a glass bottle and a box of eggnog, respectively. (You can even see the holes if you look closely!)

It was surprising how powerful this little guy was. We were shooting across the courtyard, which is a distance of maybe forty feet, and the BBs were going straight through our targets and landing somewhere in the forest.

Alex took out a root beer can, and posed with his trophy. He either looks like a Sears clothing ad, or some kind of NRA poster boy.

Of course we have no plans to get a “real” gun, and I still love my Honda Civic and don’t want to trade for a truck. I guess we’re not true Montanans just yet.

Elder Schroeder speaks

Three months after he left for his mission, we were able to chat with Zaque. Although missionaries are allowed to call home more frequently than in the past, he told us before he left that he’d likely only call on Christmas and Mother’s Day (the two days missionaries could traditionally call). True to his word, he dialed us up today and we had a great time talking to him. This photo doesn’t do justice to the 75-inch screen he’s on:

We swapped stories and heard about his latest adventures. We opened gifts and enjoyed the ones he’d sent to each of us– all of which he’d squeezed into a box about the size of two decks of cards. And one of the gifts was a deck of cards, so there’s that.

He’s doing a great job in Oklahoma, working hard and having fun. I’m really proud of him.

So, until Mother’s Day, peace out, Elder Schroeder!

Christmas cards

In keeping with tradition, this year’s Christmas card was a little different than most. After some thought, Pepper and I decided it was time to change the front to only include the two of us. In addition to celebrating our new empty-nest-erness, the logistics of creating a single photo of all five of us would be a challenge since we’re in three different states. I decided to go with a James Bond theme, and this is what I ended up with:

Personally, I think the shot is great. And the tag line– Christmas… Merry Christmas— combined with the little gun beside “2019” made it seem obvious it’s a play on Bond. Heck, I even used the fonts from Spectre and Goldeneye, although it would take a very distinguishing eye to recognize that. But many people completely missed the joke. A few thought we were about to have a “duel” and walk ten paces. Others thought we’re just gun fanatics showing off our firearms. Hmm.

Anyway, we packaged up 300 of these puppies and sent them to family, old friends, and neighbors. Our list seems to grow longer each year, and it’s always gratifying to get feedback from people about how they love the cards.

In return, we received a healthy number of cards from near and far:

I just saw an article about how physical Christmas cards are actually more meaningful these days, since so many people elect to send greetings via social media or email. So the tradition will continue…

Christmas Eve dinner

Since this is Kaitlyn’s first time spending Christmas away from her family, we asked if there were some traditions her family enjoyed that she’d like to share with us. After some thought, she told us about their Christmas Eve dinner. They prepare a meal similar to what the Jews might have eaten in Bethlehem: chicken, flatbread, olives, some fruits and cheeses, and wine.

Pepper and Kaitlyn spent much of the afternoon preparing everything. We sat on the floor (on cushions) at a low table, and ate by candlelight. And of course we used our fingers.

It was really cool. I think we’re going to make that a new tradition in our family as well.

Merry Christmas. Remember the reason for the season.


Today’s the day! Pepper and I are going to see the final installment in the Star Wars franchise on opening night. I saw this hilarious “spoiler generator” that pretty much sums up how the plots in the latest movies have been developed:

Four colors

I looked out the window just now, and saw a cool view of the lake. It’s been snowing all day, and now the lighting really brings out the blue in the distant water. I like how it mixes with the white, green, and brown of the trees.