The card

Continuing the tradition of ghastly Christmas cards, I decided this year to do something completely different. Like the last four years, there was an added challenge of incorporating one of our kids who was away on a mission (Alex for two years, now Kyra for two). Without an opportunity for a “photo shoot”, I turned to the Renaissance.

After a bit of searching, I found a painting by Charles le Brun that would work. It was a family portrait featuring an incredibly homely group, with the added bonus of Charles painting himself painting (note the creepy guy in the mirror on the left).

This particular guy had more kids than me, so I had to do some cropping. I was able to remove a daughter, Charles himself, a dog, the weird bust and globe, and the marble head on the floor. The result wasn’t half bad:

Laralee thinks “her” hair looks awful (it does), and Zaque was less than thrilled about being a chubby naked baby. But all the girls who saw the card remarked “You’re so adorable!” which lessened the trauma a bit.

I had the cards printed on “premium textured” stock, thinking it might make it seem a little more like canvas. I’m not sure the effect was really there, but it was fun to hear what people thought of the card when they opened it.

For an added bonus, as part of a 25-day Christmas gift game with Kyra and her mission companion, we were asked to send a family photo. Naturally I couldn’t resist printing this and framing it for her. Apparently her companion thinks our family is weird. Go figure!

Merry merry

Christmas was, as always, a rousing good time. We spent some time in the morning opening our presents…

“Who needs a pocketknife when you have a katana?” said Alex as he cut through the wrapping paper and packaging tape.

Laralee was a little nervous about her 12,000-piece jigsaw puzzle:

I managed to score not one, but two ties: a snowman that plays “Jingle Bells” (of course) and a cat-taco-burger-space monstrosity that I love.

Zaque enjoyed the unicorn head we took home from our white-elephant gift party; it even included hooves and a little sound machine called “Emergency Horse: providing you with horse sounds when you need them!”

As usual, Kathy won the Coolest Packaging Award with her custom name tags:

After a traditional breakfast of cinnamon bread, we talked to Kyra for a few hours. She’s still in California, with 56 days left of her mission.

A game of Sheriff of Nottingham, some homemade pizza, and watching Miracle on 34th Street completed a great day. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

BoomFlag

After spending literally hours looking at random combinations of words and figuring out which ones were (1) available as domains, (2) easy to say, (3) easy to spell, (4) short, and (5) totally meaningless, La and I settled on our new “personal” domain:

boomflag.com

Oh yeah. So now I’m going to start “transitioning” all of my personal email away from Zing, and using boomflag for everything. I figure with a six-month runway it should be okay. I’ll also eventually retire most of the other domains I own, which frankly aren’t used all that much anyway.

And that means this blog is moving from cyberschroeder.com to boomflag.com (it’s redirecting automatically). So if you’re one of my six loyal readers, it’s time to update your bookmarks!

Monkeys

Over the next few months, I’m going to have to transition away from using my @zingstudios.com email address, since I won’t be part of the company any more. So I’ve been thinking about domain names. Although I’ve had cyberschroeder.com for over 17 years now, I find that spelling it for people is a real pain. And an email on that domain is doubly bad for Laralee, since no one can spell her name either. I need something short, sweet, and memorable.

La, Alex, and I have been brainstorming ideas. Of course my first idea was thoughtmonkeys.com, based on the name of my latest business, but sadly it’s taken. Using the theme of “monkey”, which is a great word, easy to spell, and will definitely be memorable, we’ve been coming up with all kinds of combinations and checking whether the domains are available. shadowmonkeys.com, lightningmonkey.com, monkeytreat.com, and so on.

That led to talking about old 80’s TV shows, and what happens when you substitute “monkey” in the title. You end up with things like…

Mork and Monkey
Monkey, She Wrote
Monkey P.I.
The Greatest American Monkey
Little Monkey on the Prairie (or, Little House on the Monkey)
Monkey Days
Who’s the Monkey?
Quantum Monkey
Saved by the Monkey
Bosom Monkeys
Monkey Who
The Twilight Monkey
Monkey Night Live
The Love Monkey
Punky Monkey (possibly my favorite)

La and I are laughing so hard. Alex is chuckling, but since he doesn’t know the original shows, he can’t fully appreciate the jokes.

White elephant

Every year our friends host a “white elephant” gift exchange at Christmas time, and I often struggle to come up with a creative idea for a gift that’s both cool and lame at the same time. But a couple of years ago a thought struck me, and I’ve been working on it since then.

Behold, two thousand dollars in Amazon gift cards!

Because my credit card rewards program offers gift cards as an option, both Laralee and I have been cashing out our rewards as Amazon cards for years. It’s an easy way to buy books and games without feeling too “guilty” about spending the money. Well, I’ve been saving them for a couple of years now and have a stack of eighty that have all been used. I’ve slipped one unused card into the pile, so the lucky recipient of this gift will get twenty-five dollars. However, they’ll have to type in the fifteen-character codes on the backs of every one of these before they find the one that’s valid. Mwah ha HAAAA!

Cool! And lame!

Choices

I’m ordering a Christmas gift, and I have two shipping options.

Hmm, tough decision. Free, by Christmas, or pay fifty bucks and get it four days later?

Zaqueism

Today in church, we were reminded that complimenting someone can be a great way to show our love and respect for them.

I turned to Zaque and said, “I really like your eyebrows.”

He responded, “I really like how you have two nostrils. No more, and no less.”

I busted up laughing, which of course was a little awkward because we were in the middle of the church service. Thanks a lot, Z.

Lucky

Zaque frustrates me sometimes because he isn’t a very good planner, and just sort of throws things together at the last minute. My frustration isn’t necessarily with that– it’s with the fact that regardless of how poorly he plans, somehow things always work out anyway.

Take, for example, last week. College applications for BYU were due on Saturday at midnight. Something went wrong with transmitting his SAT scores, and he didn’t find out until late Friday. It was too late to do anything, so he could only hope that the scores would magically be sent. Also, one of the teachers he’d asked to provide a recommendation hadn’t completed it yet, and of course it was also too late to remind the teacher. Keep in mind that Zaque had months to get all this done, but only in the final 24 hours did he figure out that stuff was missing.

It looked like he would miss the deadline, not get into college, and end up as a hobo living under a bridge.

But nooooooo. Not Zaque! We found out today that the deadline has been extended until this Thursday. That’ll give him time to remind his teacher about the recommendation and figure out the SAT scores. And once again, his procrastination works out fine.

How does he do it?

Video game lines

When Zaque plays video games with friends, he uses a headset and a chat application so he can talk with them in real-time while they’re playing. (LAN parties are so early 2000’s!) Since we can only hear his half of the conversation, it makes for some interesting times.

He often gets, shall we say, very animated during these games, and absolutely screams as he’s playing. Some of my favorite recent lines have been:

Welcome to the Thunderdome!

(does he even know what the Thunderdome is? That was, like, early 80’s)

I can’t be stopped! (pause) I’m like a truck full of orphans!
Ohh-whoa, we’re half way there…
Ohh-whoa, livin’ on a prayer…

(sung at the top of his lungs to the tune of Bon Jovi’s song, of course)

Somebody call an ambulance, because I’m so sick!

Mom knows best

I think this sums up kids and moms throughout history.

Amazing

Today one of the kids in Laralee’s church class– a ten-year-old girl– gave her a little note after class.

How sweet! And dang it, why didn’t I think of that first?

Triple head

In computer-speak, the number of monitors connected to your computer is referred to as the number of “heads”. For many years I’ve been running a dual-head display, and when I first switched to two monitors, the upgrade was astounding. Now and then I’d attempted three monitors, but I finally “inherited” an old video card that supported a triple-head display so I figured I’d grab a spare monitor and give it a go.

Although I haven’t yet found a driving need for a third screen, I do find that it’s really nice to read the central display face-on. With dual heads, you’re always twisted slightly to the left or the right as you look at the monitors, but with three you can put non-essential things off to the sides while focusing directly on the task at hand.

So although I wouldn’t call this “life changing” in any way, it’s been kind of fun to have three 30″ widescreens glowing at me in my basement office…

Controversial

Laralee and I have a running argument (as in, a decade or more) about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie.  I, of course, maintain that it is… and much of the internet backs me up with “top 10 Christmas movie” lists.

I think getting a sweater like this will settle it.

Mathing

Zaque was preparing for his calculus test, and I asked him how it was going.

“Well, these questions just raise more questions. Like, ‘Bobby is flying a kite 100 feet directly overhead, and the wind blows it east at 10 feet per second.’
How is he flying a kite directly overhead? This is so unrealistic.”

Yep, that sounds about right.

Dream journal

Zaque is taking a psychology class this semester, and really enjoys it.  Their current assignment is to keep a “dream journal” for a few weeks, presumably to analyze those dreams. Here are a few entries in Zaque’s journal:

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and I dressed in SO much green that people literally fainted when they saw me.

Possible meaning: green=money

Kyer was a surgeon, but he ran out of organs, so we went out and stole them from people.

Possible meaning: organs=life?

I had to catch cats in an ice cream truck. The truck was to trick the cats into coming up to it. Then I’d grab them and throw them in the freezer.

Possible meaning: ice cream=tasty stuff; cats=good things

I got in an accident and ended up with a huge hole straight through my chest. Rather than fix it, we played a game where you would throw the ball through my chest hole to the other person.

Possible meaning: hole=problem, game=fun

I don’t remember my dreams, but if they’re anything like Zaque’s, I’m really missing out…

I owe HOW much?

Thanks for the helpful billing notice, CenturyLink!

I guess it’s a good thing I’m on auto-pay, because I’m not sure how much $myAmtDue would be.

Come on, CenturyLink, get it together…

It’s a good day

Laralee just sent me this:

I found the house key down the crack by the dryer and I found a King Soopers gift card in the shoebox on the dryer that has $58.52 on it. Woo hoo!

Not only did she find the house key we lost months ago, but now we’re rich, too!