December 2013

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!

Welcome to the 20th edition of our Colossal Christmas Communique. In 2013, we forayed to far flung lands, made merry at multiple x0th milestones, and assisted siblings in home improvements.

In April, we journeyed with Tom and Sandy to the Pacific islands of Yap and Palau (near Guam; ~ 6731 air miles from SFO, 21 hours, 53 minutes one way, but who's counting?). Yap was remote to say the least: a pickup truck delivered our bags to a folding table, the internet outage clobbered the entire island, and Yap was completely without Diet Coke for the week (Lori did survive). The highlight of Yap was an hour+ dive with 4 Manta Rays resulting in full memory cards and empty batteries. For our 1am Palau flight, the luggage inspector, exit immigration officer, security, and gate attendant were the same person (we suspect she also did air traffic control). In Palau, we boarded the Tropic Dancer for a week of live-aboard diving. Notable firsts on this trip were using a reef hook, discovering a crocodile fish, cuttlefish, colorful nudibranchs, and grouper "bowling". The Nitrox compressor was busted so we dove on air - who knew you could dive 4-5 times per day on good ole 21% O2?

For our 19th Anniversary, we finally cajoled our friends Chris and Lisa to our home away from home, Bonaire. They used the opportunity to remember how to use a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (sound familiar to our trip last year?). Much as we enjoyed Yap and Palau, it was nice to dive on our own schedule, where we wanted, and as long as we wanted. Probably our best dive was a night dive off of Buddy's Pier - this diving extravaganza included multiple swimming eels, octopi, a spotted lobster, and being mobbed by nine tarpon as we were the last divers in the water...

Amazingly, between diving and work, we found time for family. In June, we went camping at nearby Mt Madonna State Park with Mom R, Jim, Mike (Lori's bro), and our new Subaru Outback. Janelle and Alana joined us at the Intel 4th of July party - face painting, balloon caricatures and fireworks were enjoyed by all. To celebrate Mom J's x0th Birthday, it was off to Lake Shasta with the Janz clan for a week of house-boating. Water skiing, inner-tubing, kayaking, and tough relaxation was the typical daily agenda. In September, we flew to LA for Lori's Aunt and Uncle's 50th Anniversary, and in December, we celebrated both Lori's brother's birthdays (Rob - 50, & Mike - 40). With all of our travels, we didn't make it to Tahoe as much as we would have liked ... maybe next year.

This year we did not undertake any home improvement projects (Gasp!). The extent of our handy work was building eleven Christmas arches and an 8' roof-top star (we didn't want it to be too big!). We installed ceiling fans for Kendall and Morgan as birthday presents, as well as architected and helped construct a 2 story club house for the Schumacher tribe. We would have made the roof line less dramatic if we realized we would be ones measuring and cutting the compound miter cuts ?

We continue to work to play! Mike has successfully survived this year's downsizing to complete his 20th year with Lockheed Martin. Lori has been at Intel for 13 ("Fred") years, and has moved from the CPU side of the house (did not want to move to Oregon) to the Mobility and Communications Group where she now leads the phone and tablet program that will be released towards the end of 2015.

Next January 18th will mark 15 years since Mike's stem cell transplant. We guess you can consider this somewhat of a major milestone ?. Lori is still stamping when her creative brain cells are flowing. Our motorized family changed as we traded in our 1999 Spruce Pearl Outback for a shiny new, Venetian Red Pearl Outback with sunroof. Magic is now 19 1/2 years old, and continues to start showing her age (see last year's letter). Marleau still saunters at his own pace, except for when he is trotting after his brother Murray. Murray loves to be in Lori's sink when she is trying to get ready for work, walk in front of the monitors when we are working on dive pictures, and reserves "his spot" on the bed at night.

This coming year will involve ... wait for it ... diving! We're leaning towards Hawaii in the spring and Little Cayman for our 20th Anniversary. In terms of our home improvement list, candidates include remodeling the main bathroom, finishing the backyard landscaping, and installing a gas fireplace in San Jose. For Tahoe, we might actually get around to installing back deck stairs ... or not. Unless we win the lottery, we will continue to work to pay for all the enjoyable exciting experiences.

We hope you have a healthy and happy New Year. Feel free to email us at or visit us (including dive pictures!) at

We hope you have a healthy and happy New Year. Feel free to email us at or visit us (inluding dive pictures!) at


Mike, Lori, Magic, Marleau, & Murray