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Chris and Michelle's 2015 Year In Review

Hello friends and family!

It's that time of year again. Time to catch up with all our friends and family, close and far. Time for our annual year-in-review.

We think we lead pretty mundane lives, and sometimes we struggle to come up with material for this letter. But not this year. Among other events, this year was all about our big move, and the lifestyle adjustments that came along with it. We bought a new home this year in Morgan Hill, on the outskirts of Silicon Valley, saying goodbye to our San Mateo home of 15 years. We'll tell the house story in a minute. But first we'll cover the other events of the year around our family, pets, careers, and vacations...


Our immediate families remain healthy and happy. No major events this year. We spend lots of time with the close ones and managed to see all the far-away ones at least a time or two. Michelle's mother Marilyn, sister Tammy, and brother-in-law Wayne all continue to be avid photographers and we thank them for providing much of the photo content of this letter.


On the home front, our family is our doggies, and now, our chickens! Yes, in January Michelle adopted three young, productive hens and she's been enjoying their eggs just about every morning since! It also made for a fun couples project to dismantle, haul, and then re-assemble the free coup we picked up from Craig's List. Michelle is quite good with a drill!
In the canine side of the family, we said a sorrowful goodbye, and later an exciting hello. Teak had been experiencing a rapid decline in the months leading up to our move. He was losing control of his hind legs and, eventually, his bowels. After many tests, the vet said he probably had degenerative myelopathy, an incurable spinal disease. After just a few difficult days trying to negotiate the new house and all its stairs (plus he fell in the pool twice), it was clear his time had come. We tearfully had to say goodbye to Michelle's first puppy love who enriched our lives from 2003-2015.
But it wasn't long before puppy love withdrawals hit us hard. Even Baker didn't seem comfortable as a solo dog. We needed more, and in July, we found her! We welcomed an 11-month old sweetie into the family from an adoption fair in Gilroy. Since Baker is named after his home town of Bakersfield, the natural name for our new love was....Gilly! We were told she's a McNab breed, but then we decided she's a Kelpie. Only after a DNA test did we find out she's actually German Shepherd mixed with Staffordshire Terrier. For a German Shepherd though, she's tiny, at only about 30 pounds.

Gilly was so calm and laid back at the adoption fair. Boy, did she have us fooled! This girl has the energy of a cheetah and the destructive power of, well, a puppy! When she's not running, she's chewing. So far she's claimed as her own a pair of glasses, headphones, sandles, eye masks, two laptop bags, neck and couch pillows, clothing items, a remote control, belts, and "unmentionables". Eventually we got smart and started buying her more toys. Since then she's left the real properly more or less alone.

But we love her just the same. She's fun to wrestle with, and she gets us out on the bike (while she runs alongside), because walking isn't enough for her.
And Baker, well, he gets more "distinguished" with every passing year. He won't go in our new pool, but he'll guard the edge of it feverishly and attack anything going in our out.


Chris's career started off 2015 with a bang. One afternoon in January he got a rare call from his manager's manager, the VP of Software Development. "I can't really tell you why, but can you be at the Hilton San Francisco tonight at 7pm, wearing a suit?" He said it was an awards banquet for the 1000+ person sales force and Chris needed to be there. He apologized for the short notice. "Um...ok?" Luckily Chris's one suit still fit and made it to the banquet. After a nice cocktail and dinner hour schmoozing with 1000 sales people, it was time for the awards. There was one and only one award given to someone from the technology side of the company. Guess who got it! Well, watch the video...
By the way, there's also 1000+ people on the technology side of his company, so needless to say, being singled out among this group was one of the proudest moments of Chris's career. Chris has developed a motto in his job that "there's nothing more motivating than a customer in need". Apparently that's a valued trait in his company and Chris remains happy with the team and product he supports.

Michelle is thriving at her company as well. In July her company was acquired by an investment firm. This brought in more growth and opportunity, and eventually led to a re-organization that afforded Michelle a new role as a Director of Product Management. This was fairly recent so she's still adjusting, but her new role will likely involve some travel and more influence over the product direction.


With the house move, there wasn't time for a grand vacation this year, but we did make our annual visit to Oregon to meet our friends from Seattle for some camping, with some extra days spent in Brookings, Portland, and Ashland. Mostly though, there's been so much fun on the home front, there's no need to travel.

So the house...Here's the story...

Throughout the last couple years, We were watching the real estate market go crazy. Our house was appreciating 20% per year. Maybe it was time to cash in? We also wanted an upgrade, but that would be impossible anywhere in Silicon Valley (read about our attempts in our 2014 review) since the cost of a nicer house would be, you guessed it, higher! Not to mention the 10% cost of a buy and sell transaction. No, we wanted more for less! A "downgrade", price-wise...

Now, mix in the fact that Chris's job allows him to work from home much of the time, and Chelle's probably would too. What better way to get more for less than to leave Silicon Valley?

The final factor was family. Michelle's parents live in South San Jose, right on the southernmost edge of the valley. South of their house lies 10 miles of "nothing" and then there is Morgan Hill. So we'd be 15 minutes from them, versus the 45 minute drive from San Mateo.

Chris kept his eye on the listings, showing Michelle only the ones that passed his filters. He showed Michelle a few, but nothing really floated her boat. That is, until we saw the one on Oak Leaf Drive. It checked all the boxes. Gardens galore and a big updated kitchen for Chelle. RV parking, a 3-car garage, and a pool for Chris. More square footage than we could ever possibly use. And the views...OMG the views! From the front balcony you look down from 600 feet above the South Valley to the town below. From the back, you look up at the bare mountainside of the Diablo Range and Mount Hamilton.

Long story short, we made an offer, several counter offers, and got the house!

Then there was the experience of moving our home of 15 years. Well, you can read Chris's Facebook Post about that.

Then there was the experience of selling our home of 15 years. Well, all we can say is our real estate agent on both deals, Steve Larson, is awesome. And we were right about the market. We had a signed offer for more than asking price just two days after the open house!

Then there was the adventure of adjusting to our new lifestyle. We love our new neighborhood. Multiple neighbors stopped by to welcome us and we now call them friends. Michelle says it feels like living in in Tahoe. Chris, as a new "pool guy", immediately started learning about water chemistry, pump dynamics, and filtration.

The summer brought strong competition for our weekend time. Between unpacking, showing off the new digs, swimming in our new pool, and the ever-growing list of improvement projects, we're still not caught up! But its all soooo fun. We love it!

And the fall, well, the fall brought leaves. Lots of them. In the pool, in the driveway, on the lawn. We didn't really know what a tree was until we moved here.

For Thanksgiving, we had the pleasure of hosting family members from both sides of the family, and Chris cooked our turkeys on the grill! (which is adjacent to the chicken coop, poor things!)
Well, there's the long-winded story of Chris and Michelle 2015. If you made it this far, please use the form below to say hello. We'd love to hear from you!

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