December 2005

Hello! We don't speak Japanese). Welcome to our "Dozenth" Annual Christmas Letter. This year we traveled to two different time zones, continued our home improvement, applied for the Amazing Race (too normal to be selected), increased our family size, and Mike is about to turn a healthy age 7.

In April this year, we were asked if we had any exciting trips planned. We truthfully answered "no, just a diving trip to Cozumel, next week." That's right, our only premeditated plan was a leisurely jaunt down to this itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow sunny islandinie with wonderful warm water, fantastic fishes, delightful drift diving, and magnificent margaritas. Large lobsters and Lori finding a Sea Horse were some of the highlights. The diving was a little more challenging this time due to the currents (first time we've ever seen bubbles going down), but overall an excellent retreat from the real world.

We mentioned that we only had one preplanned vacation this year. On ten days notice, Lori found herself going to Japan on business. As we already had passports, hadn't taken a "real" vacation, and found a cheap flight for Mike, we took a 4 1/2 day sprint/marathon around Japan. On the first day, we took in a beautiful Tokyo sunrise before heading off for a tour of Mt Fuji. It was so clear, the entire mountain could be seen from the bus as soon as we left the hotel! We then headed to Hakone and partook of the famous black eggs - each egg you eat is supposed to add 7 years of life. On the 2nd day, we were off at 300 km/hr to Kyoto on the shinkanshen (bullet train). There, we visited the Sanjusangen-do Temple with all 28 guardians from the Buddhist religion, the spectacular Gold Pavilion in Kinkaku-ji, and finally to the Myoshun-ji Temple for a little rest in the tranquil Taizon gardens. The highlight of our trip was the third day when we road the rails north to Nikko. The red, yellow, and orange fall foliage was so bright, it almost glowed Lastly, we spent a day and a half traveling around Tokyo - the Akabashi Electronics District, Asakusa for the Senso-ji Temple and Nakamise-dori for some sightseeing and shopping. We capped off the trip in Shinjuku for the night lights and the next morning to the top of the Tokyo Tower before our return to the USA.

TThis year's home improvement endeavor started when we determined our house was too grey and needed an update. Of course, with any project they tend to corkscrew out of control. After 11 years, we finally removed and self installed the 3 exterior doors trimmed with shiny, brass Baldwin hardware. After perfecting our procedure on the 2 back doors, we learned the beautiful new fiberglass front door flawlessly fit the finished framing. With the doors installed, the house was transformed to a tri-colored Wise Owl house with Frost and Bravado trim. A thousand fold improvement! Right when the house painting was finished, our neighbor approached us and stated he was looking at replacing the fence. Great, well, we hadn't planned for that. After some negotiating, we have a newly installed fence with the nice privacy lattice on top.

On the family front, we are happy to report Kristin did not change her mind at the last minute, and on May 21st, Mike (Lori's Bro) and Kristin were hitched! Their wedding was at Monastery Beach in Monterey, one of the best dive sites in California, and luckily for them the seas were rough or we might have arrived for the wedding in our wetsuits : We did lose Grandma Janz this year, although we know she is now in a much better place. Julie (Mike's sister) and Kurt are expecting their 4th in the spring ... a third sister for Kyle.

We continue to report good news as Mike flew through his 7 year checkup! YEAH! We continue to pray he stays cancer free. The Doctor says 10 years is the major milestone (Mike disagrees and argues for 7). He is still employed at Lockheed Martin as well as is the webmaster for our Home Improvement Association. Lori continues her career at Intel managing the Mobile Software Program Management team and continues to stamp up a storm.

Everyone keeps asking us where our next big trip will be - we are currently considering a dive trip to Belize - warm water diving, full moons, and Whale Sharks, what could be better? (Stanley Cup, maybe?) For any other trips ... you'll just have to ask Lori's boss! No major improvements are planned for next year (well, maybe the master bath and finish the garage). We are starting to finalize our new "addition" in Tahoe - scaled back significantly from our previous idea. Depending on permits, reviews, and Intel's stock price, we may break ground in spring of '07.

Feel free to email us at or peruse our previous Christmas letters, view our favorite photos, and check out our Amazing Race Application Video at

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


Mike, Lori, Apollo, & Magic