A very Provo Christmas

Following up on the success of our Provo Thanksgiving, we had another family get-together in Provo for Christmas. We rented a townhouse– slightly larger than the one we had a month ago– and everyone gathered for a few days. And by “everyone” I mean “including Mom and Dad”. Or Grandma and Grandpa, if you’re our kids. Or Great-Grandma (“GG”) and Great-Grandpa, from Ollie’s perspective.

At nine months, Ollie is very fond of shoving things in his mouth.

He’s also fond of his Mickey doll, who he drags around and apparently punches when he’s in his crib just before naptime. Here he casts a wary eye at Great-Grandpa, who just wants to pick up the little bugger.

On Christmas morning there were piles of gifts, in a dizzying assortment of wrapping papers.

This year I enjoyed making labels that were more than just “To: You, From: Me”.

Everyone loved their gifts. Mom and Dad were delighted when they opened their box of “100% Authentic Flathead Lake Rocks”.

(In truth it was just a way to disguise the fact that I’d given them a gift card to Outback. Adding a bag of rocks made the wrapped present feel so much more intriguing, you know?)

New shirts were a thing.

After the boxes were opened and the wrapping was cleared, we sat down for some nice family portraits. This is the first time we’ve all been together in years!

Here’s a cool one: four generations of Schroeder men!

My amazing parents…

… and my beautiful offspring.

We played Sheephead and Skull King and Zackjongg (Zack’s mostly accurate but partly made-up version of Mahjongg). We watched a movie and went on walks and ate plenty of food. We talked and laughed and just thoroughly enjoyed a few days together. Good times all around.


As the sun was setting on a cold, foggy, grey day, I noticed the trees outside were coated with hoarfrost. I grabbed my camera and took a few shots of the magical spiky ice:

Nativity bears

Kathy sent us some cool bear ornaments, but we don’t have a Christmas tree this year (other than the foot-tall one on my desk) since we’re not going to be here. So we put the bears with our little nativity scene, and they fit right in.

Even after this guy edged a bit closer to the middle, baby Jesus doesn’t seem concerned.

I actually think these are more fun in a nativity than on a tree! I guess we’ll see what happens next year, when we actually have a tree…

One good thing

One good thing about our driveway is that it’s an awesome sledding track. Sure, it’s horrific to drive up when it’s hard-packed snow with a nice half-inch-thick layer of ice beneath it, but those very conditions make it a ton of fun to sled down. So today, Pepper and Kyra and I donned our coats and ski pants and headed outside. It’s been a while since we last used our alpine slide, but it seemed like it was time.

After a couple of runs, the wheel ruts had been smoothed out, and we were absolutely cruising.

We all agreed that the best stretch is the long straight run above the orchard, with a gentle curve about halfway down. You can really get moving on it. Of course, that presents a problem if you’re coming into the curve too hot…

Pepper bailed just after that shot above, because she was about to shoot off the side of the driveway into the ditch. Luckily the snow is pretty forgiving when you wipe out. Here’s Kyra, a few seconds later, rocketing past her.

One time I followed Kyra down, and despite her healthy head start, I caught up to her. I’d chalk it up to my superior driving skills, but one could argue it might just be an issue of weight. Regardless, I crashed into her as we both careened into the last switchback.

Hitting bumps at high speed is always an adventure, as Pepper demonstrates by catching some air:

This next picture looks completely staged and boring, but I’m pretty sure I was just about to break the sound barrier because I was going so fast. (This is the start of the cannonball run I mentioned.)

After an hour and a half, we were cold and wet, so the next order of business was a soak in the hot tub while snowflakes fell gently from the sky. What an awesome morning. Here’s a fun shot of my beautiful girl as we wrapped up.

Bear band

I don’t even remember where the idea came from, but this year’s Christmas card is one for the books…

I must say, my digital photo editing skills are maturing. I’m no expert, but I’ve come a long way since those early days of slowly tracing around a bunch of awful wigs. Last year’s masterpiece involved a lot of zombie work, although I’m not sure how many people even noticed the background.

Getting Pepper to wear that hideous outfit took a bit of convincing. Sure, the wig was familiar, but she wasn’t sure about the shirt and skirt. Confession: both the shirt and the skirt are actually mine. And another confession: I was actually holding a yardstick, not a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. Digital magic, baby!