December 2003

Can you believe it? This is the 10th iteration of our annual Christmas Communique. To sum up, this year we bought three boats, a house, and a god. To occupy ourselves, we concentrated construction on our cozy cabin and floated on a family foray to five fun-filled Caribbean islands.

This year marks the first time that we did not complete (or start) any items from last years Christmas letter (see Xmas Letter '02). However, we did start working in our new venue ... Our cozy, 1 bedroom, 750 square foot chalet. The enclosed photo is taken from the deck overlooking Lake Tahoe. We completed several small endeavors (remove and replace the water heater, built cabinets, tiled counters, manufactured storage, and updated the (only) bathroom). Since the nearest Home Depot is an hour a way, premium planning takes priority ... and project execution time increases 1300% (3 months and 4 trips to complete the cabinet and tiled countertop). There was one big weekend project: re-roofing the house! Since we acquired oodles of experience from our shed (see Xmas '01), we decided covering the castle couldn't be anymore challenging. (Hee, hee!) Everything would have gone according to schedule IF it were not for three minor issues: (1) There were 4 layers of roofing - bottom three were tarred and nailed every 2 inches; (B) the typical 60-70 degree weather was no where to be found - high 80's was the norm; and (III) after we finally ripped off the roof, God decreed the rainy season ain't over, yet (see sprinkler incident - Xmas '95), and the largest thunderstorm we have ever seen dropped in. The raindrops were huge (size of Western Texas Crickets), and it was literally raining inside the house - every pot, pan, and bowl was in use. If not for the neighbor's tarps and parent's help, this project would never have completed. Given our recent track record, we have all decided to go back to our day jobs, and we're not going to predict any new projects for the coming year, although there are several potential ones in the works.

In February, we traveled to the Caribbean for a five island cruise with Lori's maternal side of the family. We visited St.Lucia - so so diving, Barbados - okay diving, Dominique - Great Diving, St Kitts - so so diving, and St Thomas (no diving). In Dominique, we chartered a "3 hour tour" for snorkeling in champagne bubbles and search for whales (we never found any). It was a great trip! We are now preparing for our 4 week excursion to Australia and New Zealand next October for our Aluminum (really, we are not making this up) Anniversary! Yes, we are going to Australia! After stating so often in past Christmas Letters (list too long to reference) next year we will say "This year we went to Australia!"

We bought the San Jose house with the plan to eventually buy a boat, and, with the place in Tahoe, we decided now was the time. Our #1 criteria was we had to be able to use it for diving and Lori could carry it. Research was easy - a Sit-On-Top Scrambler XT by Ocean Kayak - yellow for Lori, red for Mike.. Research also showed everyone who owns a Kayak seems to own more than one. Now, we thought that was kind of odd until we bought our first two. They were so much fun, we had to buy a tandem for the Tahoe cottage... Now we own three. Guess it's not so unusual after all!

Our family expanded in 2003, next year it will expand some more, and Mike will be turning the big 5 in January - a Major Milestone! (see Xmas '99 for the start of this adventure) His latest check-up shows everything is normal (well, physically), and, for the first time in 8 years, we have no scheduled doctor appointments for an entire twelve months. Woohoo! After loosing Cleo last year ?, Magic was more than happy being the only feline, however we decided she needed a playmate (or a sparring partner). Enter Apollo! He is a 1 1/2 year old, orange tabby with the biggest feet (he is still growing into them), always greets us with a purr like a jackhammer, and brings his toys into (our) bed. Magic is not very happy with the situation, but.... will have to learn to deal with it. Mike (Lori's Bro) is now engaged! His future bride, Kristin, does not know what she is in for (just ask the other spouses ?). We have learned we are going to be an Aunt and Uncle again and again! Both Rob and Caroline (Lori's side) and Julie and Kurt (Mike's side) are adding additional nieces to the family!

Next year we are adventuring to Australia and New Zealand, will frolic in freshly fallen snow at the fort, and kayak dive Emerald Bay in the summer. Feel free to email us at or visit us at or peruse our previous Xmas letters at

We hope the coming year brings peace, good health, and a safe and wonderful holiday.


Mike, Lori, Apollo, & Magic