December 2018

Where oh where has 2018 gone? Hard to believe we are writing the Silver Edition of the annual Family von Janz Christmas letter. This year’s highlights included a Bocce Ball Bash for Mike’s “Gold” birthday, two dive trips, the building of a holiday storage shed, creeping closer to completion of the bathroom remodel, and continuing our Christmas light show for enjoyment of the neighborhood!

For Mike’s big birthday we rented out all the interior lanes at our local Bocce Ball court and threw a big soirée. We arranged for an Italian amount of food, meaning we had enough food left over for an after-party party. It was great personally reconnecting with lifelong friends Mike met in kindergarten, nearby friends, friends who have moved away, retired friends, and family (who we even consider to be friends … most days!). A great time was had by all.

For our first dive trip, in April we travelled to Anilao, Philippines, which had been deferred last year by Mike’s unexpected plumbing repair. This was an underwater photography workshop led by a published underwater photographer. We learned some great lighting and composition techniques, and quickly concluded we are divers who take photographs, and not photographers that dive. There is a big distinction. In October, for our 24th anniversary, we headed back to our “home away from home” in Bonaire for a week of decompressing. We were joined by our friends, Tom and Sandy, who we had not seen since their retirement from Intel 3 years ago! We enjoyed relaxing with the fishes, ogling Ostracods at night, 16 squid at a safety stop, two banded cleaner shrimp cleaning a moray eel, and generally just taking it easy. Mike didn’t even let a little congestion stop him

On the home front, we razed our long drained and unused spa and replaced it with a superb shed dedicated to off-season holiday decoration storage. We considered buying a shed kit or having someone else build it (gasp!), but realized we would get more personal satisfaction, a better shed, and save money by constructing it ourselves. We now have a site-specific sized shed, complete with hand-crafted custom shelves, a sky light, and motion actuated interior lighting. It easily stores all of our Christmas and Halloween (bonus!) decorations – no more climbing up the ladder and crawling around the attic to take down the decorations – Woohoo!

Given the positive reaction last year, our synchronized Christmas light show returned for an encore. We’ve upgraded the back end to spontaneously interrupt the sequence to run any specified show. No neighbors were harmed or went blind as we worked out the infinite repeating restart loop during the beta test phase. We augmented our display with a few more lights (hamster balls make perfect sized orbs for hanging in our birch tree) and now have about 18,500 bulbs. Most are LED (75%+), but the incandescent load devours 75% of the total power. That gives us something to work on next year. Of course, since electricity is “free” in December …

Work keeps us busy and continues to enable our underwater photography habit. Mike just reached 25 years with Lockheed Martin (half of his life), and his job has become busier with increased responsibilities. Lori decided that her IT experiment didn’t work out as planned, so jumped back to the product side as a Product Life Cycle Program Lead (a few days ago) – the group is fun and energetic, and she is looking forward to 2019.

The boys, Marleau and Murray, turn 14 this year. The day starts at (before) sunrise, when Marleau pesters Lori for tummy rubs. Then both try to convince us that dinner time is at 1pm, when it’s really 5pm. By 9pm, they are encouraging us to go to bed, even though bedtime is closer to 11pm…. In other words, nothing has changed!

We continue to live by our philosophy of “work to live”, don’t hoard vacation hours, and enjoy every day. Next year we are planning two dive trips – one in the spring (destination TBD) and spending 2 weeks beneath Lembeh Straits, Indonesia to celebrate our 25th Anniversary (wow, time flies). We will also celebrate Lori’s big x-0 (more AARP discounts here we come!), Mike’s 20th Cancer-free “birthday” (YIPPEE!!), and Lori’s Mom’s x0 birthday.

We hope you had a safe, healthy, and wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! Feel free to email us at or visit us (inluding dive pictures!) at


Mike, Lori, Marleau, & Murray