December 1996

This year God decided to add an extra twist to our already full and busy lives: Mike had his "illness" (the last trimester was really a doozy), our company underwent the third name change in as many years (becoming part of Lockheed Martin, any bets on next years name?), we did a little home improvement (look out Tim Taylor), and cooked our first turkey ("NO! Cleo, Magic, put that back!").

This year, our perspective on life has changed. In mid-February, Mike was diagnosed with early stage Hodgkin’s Disease, a cancer with over a 90% cure rate. It all started with a persistent cold-like cough that developed after coming back from our 1st year anniversary. For the next five months Mike kept the cough drop companies profits soaring, received countless blood tests and drugs, visited four specialists, underwent one surgery/biopsy, and subjected to four CT scans before finally being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s. He now had a six month vacation (the worst vacation he has ever taken) while he underwent 3 months (15 sessions) of chemotherapy, 1 month of daily radiation, and a blood transfusion before the doctors finally decried his therapy complete which was promptly followed by another two months of rest and recuperation. The good news is that all of his follow-up tests have shown he is in complete remission, and after another 56 months he will be declared cured! No one, including Mike, is happier than Lori that this is almost behind us. We would like to now thank each of you for your thoughts and prayers during this educational experience.

Once again we watched too many home shows and decided on one simple project for the year: a complete kitchen remodel in just over a month, which doubled as Mike’s post-chemo physical rehabilitation. One fine Saturday, we enlisted the help of Mike’s parents to demolish the kitchen right down to the bare walls (a highly recommended aggression attenuation technique). There is no turning back now! Despite the challenges we encountered with the old wiring (I’ve cut all the kitchen wiring, how can the fridge still be running?), underestimating the time to install all new wiring, and replacing the ancient push-button circuit breaker, we still managed to get our rough electrical inspection. We gave ourselves a one day break and supervised someone else install the cabinets. Tiling didn’t look too difficult, and the kitchen was an inconspicuous place to practice hands on learning. One week later, after we finished the tiling and had the floor installed (another task left to the professionals), we were able to install the appliances, clean up the house, and move back into the kitchen! On November 26th, we received our final inspection, just in time to cook our first Thanksgiving dinner!

Cleo and Magic are still purrfectly happy! During Mike’s chemo, Cleo guarded Mike in the morning and Magic took over in the afternoon. Magic conveniently (for her) lost her bell early this year and proceeded to prove her stealth ability by blessing us daily with gifts (we didn’t mind the green leafy ones). She quickly received a new collar, and that took care of that! Cleo enjoyed the kitchen remodel and helped us verify the electrical wiring by climbing into the walls, ceiling, and attic and tracing them down.

We are looking forward to a new, exciting, and healthy new year. We wish you all the happiness in the world and may you be blessed with good health. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.