Lasley Holiday Letter 2002

This is the first time in a very long time that this missive has not gone out on time. The main reason is that November and December were a bit more hectic than normal (what’s normal?).

Let’s get the ugly stuff out of the way first. After 10 years of careful medical management, Dan’s Crohn’s disease finally caught up with him, and he ended up in the hospital Jan 4th 2002 with a partial obstruction of his gut. After recovering from this, and having another flare in April, it was determined that enough damage and scarring had occurred that surgery was necessary; this was planned for the last week in June. Surgery went smoothly, and Dan’s recovery began well, but there was a small leak and so another week was lost and a drain was installed. However, this just put him back on the normal recovery path, and he was strong enough to play in the annual Riverside Jam and go sailing in August (see below), mainly thanks to Ben’s patient assistance. Unfortunately, Dan had a relapse in October which included significant inflammation and another small leak. His once “simple” disease had become more complicated. As the year ends, Dan is patiently weaning off the meds, and reviewing his options going forward. He remains optimistic, and has returned to the volleyball court, although his “leaping” is worse than ever. Crohn’s can be a nasty disease, but we think we’re back on the right path, and hopefully there won’t be any more problems for another 10 years. Many thanks to all those who have been so supportive to all of us this year.

On to the fun stuff…

Jacqui started the year with a Girls Scout camp-out (in heated cabins!) and a wrestling match. She lost the match because she didn’t expect her opponent to attack so quickly. She vows not to let that happen again. She also played basketball for the first time. Her team had several soccer players on it, so their defense was excellent. When Jacqui finally made a bucket late in the season, the entire gym cheered.

We snuck in a mini-Jam here in Westport, with David, Karen, and Greg dropping by from afar to play with the rest of the Westport Irregulars.

We then escaped to Rhinebeck for a sanity weekend, which was very nice. Note to B&B owners, just because you have actual 18th century furnishings, does not mean you should include a 18th century bed. 5’-6” squeaky and musty is NOT OK for $200+/night. However, the authentic chairs and chandeliers in the dining room were perfect. And the food was wonderful.

Dan took the 6-session soccer referees class, and now wears the Yellow Jersey with pride. Ben came home for Spring Break, and promptly left for Florida to race Flying Scots. Why should we worry - he was in the Florida Panhandle, during college Spring Break, in the company of a bunch of SAILORS!!! He returned safe and sane, with a 2nd place trophy for his boat.

This was the first Spring that we were not actively involved in a drama production, but we went to see the local school productions of “Into the Woods”, “The Wiz”, and “More Fractured Fairy Tales”. We also performed at our “old school” talent show, playing an odd mixture of new and old rock tunes.

After a disappointing soccer season the previous fall, Jacqui moved from the town east of us to the town west of us. Dan got to coach again, and this new team did very well, with Jacqui leading the way.

As reported last year, Jacqui’s 5th grade experience was not a good one, but she learned how to cope with the situation, and despite the bunker mentality, she received a very good report card and made several good friends.

June arrived, and Ben came home (with excellent grades!). We did the end of the school year stuff, which always fills every evening and weekend day for 3 weeks, and then settled down for a quieter summer. Due to Dan’s surgery, we never got the big cat sailing, but Jacqui still took lessons (next year she learns how to duck!), and Ben finally won the Racing Tactics competition at our local sailing school. Somewhere in here, Jacqui got braces.

Early August brought the annual Riverside Jam, hosted by Greg and Debra Nease in New Jersey. A large crew drove in from Chicago, and we had 5 saxophones playing at one time. We played a lot of music and ate a lot of food over those 3 days.

Immediately after that we went sailing out to Block and Newport, and adding Martha’s Vineyard to the trip. There we met up with the Wilbanks family for a fun day in the sun, and great food afterwards.

Our good friends Bob and Pam had left for Uganda in March on a missionary assignment, and returned in late August with lots of wonderful tales and a longing for sushi. They then set off for Vermont to begin their new lives, which included a new baby in early December, Catherine Laura (yup, made “Auntie” Laura proud!)

Somewhere during all this, Laura discovered Yoga, and added 2 classes to her 2 dance classes. She also finally found an allergist who convinced her that she would respond well to de-sensitizing shots. This is fortunate, as he also reported that she was now allergic to everything on the planet except food and her immediate family. Unfortunately our bird, Pern, is in the allergy category. Laura’s new goal is to be able to have dinner in a house that has pets, which includes 90% of our friends, by the Spring of 2003.

September arrived too quickly, and Jacqui started 6th grade, where she found an excellent team of teachers and a new group of friends, including one who has become her boyfriend – ACK! He’s cool though, and makes her laugh, so he can stay – for a while. Jacqui has also become a fixture in the school TV studio, working several days each week, both behind and in front of the camera.

This fall, Jacqui moved up to the big soccer field, returning to Westport on a new team. After working out their new positions (she plays Stopper), they ended up having a good season.

Ben returned to Exeter early to join the IT staff that helps all the new kids get their computers hooked up to the school network. He also made the JV soccer team as 2nd keeper. Most games he played the second half, although he did get two complete games mid-season. One month into the term, Ben’s English teacher died suddenly while jogging. This was quite a shock to the entire school community. However, it is in the nature of the school to support each other and recover quickly from any troubles, and so they mourned and moved on, ever more tuned to the vagaries of life.

Ben has really figured out Exeter, and loves being there. He gets excellent grades, has many friends, and doesn’t work too hard. He would much rather be there than at home. Now if he could just figure out the girls…

Dan’s relapse in October confounded the schedule (we sadly missed Exeter’s Parent’s weekend, and soccer games, etc!), but everyone made the best of it. And we finally found someone to do the minor re-modeling job we needed, so the back of the house has new clapboard, and the kitchen has a big new window and a new counter-top. The zebra wall-paper is finally gone form the downstairs bathroom too, thanks in part to Ben’s hard work over his summer break.

At the start of Ben’s Thanksgiving break, we finally had new portraits done (casual sample included), and then Ben left to spend the holiday with his roommate in Chicago. As luck would have it, their feast table composed a dozen interesting and creative people, including author Sara Paretsky. Dan and Laura were quite jealous; Ben had no clue, but the food was good.

Laura went to DC for her bi-annual chance to attend the big medical conference, and to do some major shopping! When she returned, there was no time left to prepare for Christmas, as we were leaving for Florida on December 21st. Many presents were either left at home, or noted as “to be obtained”, with a card and an explanation all that was packed.

For at least 10 years, Dan’s parents have owned a large power boat of some type, while we have been sailing all over the place on chartered boats, but this was the first time that we’ve ever cruised together. Ben and Jacqui stayed with G’Ma and G’Pa Lasley (and Sinbad the cat!) on their big boat, while Laura and Dan enjoyed the comforts of their smaller (and slower) sailboat. This also allowed Laura some isolation from the cat allergens. We shared several meals on either boat, depending on the menu and how cold it was, and often capped the evening with a few rounds of Rummy-Cube. We explored much of the Charlotte Harbor region, and spend Christmas Day at the South Seas Resort on Captiva. Jacqui’s favorite present was catching 6 fish off the pier, 2 big enough to eat for appetizers before the grand formal dinner. Ben decided to be as lazy as possible, and did it quite well, catching several naps. We all agreed that this was a wonderful trip, with the perfect combination of togetherness and space, sail and power, sun and beach. Hopefully we’ll do it again some year.

Thus ends the tale of the year 2002. Probably not our finest year, but we managed the problems and ended with a wonderful holiday. 2003 will be momentous in it’s own right, as for those who have been keeping score, it’ll be 20 years of matrimonial harmony this June.

Here’s wishing you health and happiness in 2003!

Laura, Dan, Ben, and Jacqui, and of course, Pern.