December 2006

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas! This year we improved our primary palace, fled the country for some S&S (Sun and Scuba), added SINKS to our SOTS, welcomed a new niece, lost a god, and drafted two hockey players.

Where to start? On the home improvement front, the much maligned master bath was a must for a makeover ... it was time for the old, painted over, avocado green tile to go. We tore out tile, demolished drywall, plumbed pipe, sawed studs, and used our new router, bits and pocket joinery to craft a custom oak cabinet. We supervised the solid surface surround and sink installation. Since having someone install the shower surround really doesn't count as a full project, enter "Kitchen, numero deux". We spent many months gazing at granite until we found the piece de resistance - River Gold from Italy. Bang, bang, bang go the sledgehammers, and crash, bang, smash goes the tile. After three weeks of living off of plywood and a jury-rigged sink, the gorgeous granite graced our kitchen. Now the work really began. The perfect outlets we installed 10 years ago in "Kitchen, part 1" looked awful, the walls needed new paint (how's purple grab you? It didn't work for us either), and the ideal wallpaper (the impetus for the prior remodel) now clashed. Meticulously, inch-by-square-inch, week after week after week, eventually it was gone. Hallelujah! A little drywall magic with the new pneumatic texturing tool and a coat of paint, and we were finally finished. Our kitchen was transformed into a magazine masterpiece - Gorgeous granite, stainless steel sink, fantastic flowing faucet, and the great grey/green walls complemented the existing oak cabinets and appliances.

We flew to Grand Cayman for our 12th anniversary (since we'd already been to Hawaii). The water temperature was 84 degrees, visibility was +125', and we surpassed 100 aquatic jaunts. The time we picked was low season, evident by the lack of other guests at Cobalt Coast resort for 3 days, and the no other divers on the Dive Tech boat for 2 days. This allowed us to visit with the resort owner, staff, and dive staff on a more personal level. Mike captured some fantastic underwater photos - see his pictures (the Barracuda shot is Lori's) on our web page. Grand Cayman was such a great trip that we will keep it on our list of places to return to.

This year, we realized our Sit-On-Top (SOTS) kayaks were great for diving, but terrible for long range paddling. After much research, and a day trying multiple 'yaks, we purchased two Wilderness Systems Tempest Sit INside KayakS (SINKS). These boats are very easy to maneuver and we have taken them to Tahoe and Elkhorn Slough (a "National Geographic" experience). Next year, we are planning a kayak camping trip to Tomales Bay, and potentially, kayak camping in Alaska (no, we will not be traveling with our boats :)

Our kinfolk grew, shrank, and our feline family transformed. On April 8th, Julie and Kurt blessed us with another niece - Alana Grace Schumacher. She has big blue eyes like her mom, and reddish hair like her dad and brother Kyle. We did lose our last grandparent this year - Grandma Pantenburg. She was blessed with a full life until the very end. Last year, 4 days before Christmas, Apollo - our BIG, beautiful, shy orange tabby - did not come home. After weeks of talking to neighbors, putting up fliers, and searching the shelter, we were unsuccessful in locating him. To ease our emptiness, we drafted two kittens - Marleau and Murray (Go Sharks!). Marleau has webbed toes which are great snow shoes. Murray (aka Houdini) loves to escape outside and when happy, sucks on his baby blanket. Magic, at 12 years old, is not happy there are 2 other felines in the house, but at least they chase each other and not her. They do hover when the "Diva" is in the house.

Mike is turning eight in January. WOOHOO! We continue to pray he remains cancer free. He is still employed at Lockheed Martin and is the Cedar Flat HOA webmaster and on the Board of Directors. Lori continues her career at Intel managing the Mobile Software Program Management team and continues to stamp up a storm (see Christmas card).

Next year Lori is planning to take her sabbatical. If we cannot pull off the rough-in of a new cabin in Tahoe by that time, then we will be spending the time off traveling - we're actively considering kayak camping in Alaska, a live-aboard in Papa New Guinea and/or Great Barrier reef, a river cruise through Russia, and... Who knows what else!

Feel free to email us at or peruse our previous Christmas letters and view our favorite photos and home improvement projects at

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


Mike, Lori, Magic, Marleau,& Murray