The Lasleys' Holiday Letter - 2003

After a relaxing holiday in Florida, 2003 started quietly. Jacqui was wrestling and playing soccer, Ben was off at school, and Dan and Laura played volleyball. We popped up to northern Vermont to visit Bob and Pam and new baby Catie, in their beautiful town. We stayed in a lovely B&B and enjoyed a field trip to Ben & Jerry's to see how they make their delectable treats.

In February, Laura and her Mom flew to Penang (Malaysia) to visit with the oldest living Uncle, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Since he was running around as usual, they had a very fun, if brief, trip. They made it home just before SARS became a household word, thereby avoiding quarantines.

After 10 years of playing in adult leagues, Dan and Laura's volleyball team finally won the League championship. The trophy is almost as tall as Laura.

Once again, Dan and Jacqui ran the sound for the Middle School play; this year they did Roald Dahl's "Witches". Similarly, Ben ran tech for "Hamlet", and later for "The Lady's Not For Burning" which was quite funny. Ben has created a separate "Theater Tech" group at Exeter, and has trained several techs and stage managers for their many productions.

Over Easter, Jacqui dragged Dan across the rocky hills of the Appalachian Trail, camping out for two nights. It was the first time she out-worked him, but it won't be the last.

In May, we all went to Exeter for Dan's 25th reunion, which he helped organize. In addition to lots of food and time to talk, Dan arranged for a Rock Jam with 6 alums as well as Laura, Ben, and Jacqui. It was weird to "rehearse" via email, but we sounded pretty good (it helped that there was a professional musician in the group). It was a great weekend.

June was more typically hectic, as Ben came home one week, and then Dan and Laura took off for Banff to celebrate 20 years of marriage! We hiked, biked and ate our way through the Canadian Rockies, including a hike up the Athabasca Glacier to the Columbia Ice Fields. Have you noticed how everything tastes better outdoors? Before we returned, Ben left for Japan for 5 weeks to attend Toin Garuken, a program through Exeter. He stayed with a wonderful host family, took hundreds of digital pictures and made new friends. Somehow, Jacqui made it to all her soccer games during this period, but we were not able to fit in our usual XMAS party.

Laura and Dan went into NYC to play at an open jam at a recording studio. It was a lot of fun, but Dan damaged his hearing when one of the amps distorted unexpectedly. After 20 years of loud rock and roll, he was quite upset to have done this in a somewhat controlled setting. However, he was able to derive another music lesson from this, as did Laura, which furthered their contributions to GuitarNoise.com.

While Ben was away in Japan, we headed out to Cape Cod, bringing a friend of Jacqui's along. Although we were staying on land, we did get in a fair amount of sailing, as well as whale watching and beachcombing. Due to all the conflicting schedules, we were not able to attend the Riverside Jam in Chicago this year.

Jacqui went off to soccer camp, but strained both Achilles, and had to cut back a lot. Ben returned from Japan with many stories to tell, and hinted at tales he couldn't share. Jacqui tried to go to a second soccer camp, but had not healed enough and had to come home early. She promptly started formal physical therapy for her ankles. In anticipation of a full recovery, Jacqui talked us into letting her wear contact lenses. We were impressed by the research and thought that went into her persuasive argument.

September arrived much too quickly, with Jacqui entering 7th grade, and Ben returning to Exeter as a Junior. Jacqui started the soccer season on IR. However, we did get to attend 4 Womens World Cup Soccer games, including one featuring the USA. We earned frequent flyer status with Exeter, as we were there thrice during the fall, once for Alumni Council Weekend, then Parents Weekend, and then for a play based on monologues about Sept 11th.

Jacqui passed her audition and joined the Jazz Band - yay! She returned to the soccer field in mid October, and played well. She also became a licensed soccer referee, and earned some serious money working both days of the weekend. She has enjoyed the freedom of spending her own money at Loehmann's and is now the 3rd generation of Kwaan women that hunts for bargains there.

Laura's 97 year-old grandmother Kwaan passed away in October, and we went back to Chicago for the service. She was the last of the kids' great-grandparents, and will be missed.

As winter approached, things began to settle down. Volleyball started up for Dan and Laura, and Jacqui started her 3rd season of wrestling, and added Jazz Dance to improve her flexibility and balance, with the hope of reducing her injuries. We all went to a fun Jam in New Jersey on the Friday after Thanksgiving - much better than shopping! The day after the Jam we resurrected a tradition from college, where we gather a large group of diverse friends and head off to Chinatown for DimSum. It was a lot of fun, and the food was great!

Ben came home for Christmas, walking into his newly renovated room. He was truly surprised and grateful for the space he reclaimed from the renovation. He and Dan built a new work area for all the computers. Dan used eBay to find guitars for Laura (12-string) and Ben (electric). Jacqui convinced Santa to get Dan the tandem bike he's wanted for 20 years - very cool!

That's about it for 2003. Dan's gut stayed healthy, which was a nice change from 2002. Laura continues to wrestle her allergies and asthma and thyroid, but with some noticeable improvement in all categories. We went to Bonaire in January 2004 for the first Kwaan Family reunion since we were married. It was great to see everyone! Laura and Jacqui learned to windsurf (Jacqui was a natural and spent a good part of her 12th birthday on Lac Bay) and Dan polished his skills. Grandpa Kwaan has been windsurfing in Bonaire for years with Jibe City and was thrilled to have the youngest generation join in. Naturally we tried a different restaurant every night, returning to a favorite, Capriccio's, on our last night. Believe it or not, there was great osso bucco in Bonaire!

We have no major trips planned in the near future, so you'll know where to find us.

Have a Healthy and Peaceful 2004!