The Lasley’s Holiday Letter – 2004

In our last episode:

We went to Bonaire in January 2004 (without Ben) for the first Kwaan Family reunion since we were married. It was great to see everyone! Laura and Jacqui learned to windsurf at Jibe City (; Jacqui was a quick learner, Dan polished his skills, and Laura enjoyed the water. Grandpa Kwaan has been windsurfing for years and was thrilled to have the youngest generation join in. Naturally we tried a different restaurant every night. Believe it or not, there was great osso bucco in Bonaire!

Continuing adventure, in semi-chronological order:
When Ben was in middle school there was an evening dinner & talent show called the “Bedford Bistro”. Our family band performed there for 4 years. When Jacqui started in the “other” middle school, they didn’t have a similar event. We finally got one organized for February and the first “Coleytown Cabaret” was quite a success; we are looking forward to next year with a bigger band.
Jacqui found herself on another (!) new soccer team. At last we have found a coach that understands both soccer and girls. He’s got the right balance of toughness and fun that the girls enjoy and respect. Jacqui practiced with older kids indoors through the Winter, and went on to play with them in the Spring.
We went to see Ben’s production of “Company” in March. Exeter really puts on a great show, even with limited time and space.
And Jacqui got her braces off two months early! Yay!
This next story is a bit complicated, and in two parts, so pay attention. Part 1: Our Summer 2003 vacation was not on a boat, which we all lamented. But we did discover the advantages of bringing playmates for the kids. So this year, we wanted to let the kids each bring a friend on a boat. To quote Roy Scheider in “Jaws”: “We’re going to need a bigger boat!” Since Ben was bringing his girlfriend Yanessa, they were going to need separate cabins (sorry Ben, not until you’re at least 21!). The closest place to find a sailboat with 4 cabins for the 6 of us was on Chesapeake Bay. So at the end of March, Laura and Dan took a 3-day trip to Annapolis to check out the catamarans. Annapolis is a very nice small city, and it was great to get away in early Spring, before the soccer madness really started.
Most of April and May were taken up with soccer, either practice or games or reffing. Grandpa Lasley came up to NYC (with Grandma!) for some medical tests (don’t get old!) and we had a nice family gathering at our house, including the cousins from Boston. In early June, Jacqui had her first dance recital since she was 3. Very cool! Ben came home from his Junior/Upper year at Exeter and slept the rest of the month. While Ben was sleeping, Jacqui flew out to San Francisco to visit her godmother Elyce. This was her first solo plane trip, and she really enjoyed it. When she returned, Jacqui picked up her sailing program right where she left off. And she started to learn the flute, too.
Since we’re still too busy to organize our annual Christmas party in June, Dan decided to host a small music jam in the backyard over the 4th of July weekend. It was a lot of fun, with new and old friends playing together, followed by a barbeque and fireworks. A new tradition is born. Pix on the website.
In mid-July, Ben went back “home” to Exeter to work with their summer theater program, and Jacqui went off to soccer camp. Dan and Laura slept well, as there was no running around to be done. The Kwaans came for a visit, and then there was the Riverside Jam, held near Pittsfield Mass. This year we played in a real bar, and the patrons begged us to keep playing past 1am! That’s a bit unusual for the bands we’ve played in…
About 10 years ago, Dan strained his shoulder playing volleyball. For many years it was no big deal, but over the past 2 years, he had given up his overhand serve and his spikes got worse (and we all thought it was just his inability to jump!). Finally, he decided to get his shoulder looked at, and started PT in August. Don’t get old!
Part 2 of our Complicated Tale: On Saturday Aug 7, we picked up Ben from Exeter. On Sunday, Yanessa arrived from Boston. On Monday morning, Beka was dropped off at our house, and we all piled into 2 cars for the drive to Annapolis. Monday evening we swarmed onto our chartered 39’ catamaran (21’ wide!), and Tuesday we set off across the Chesapeake. 10 days later, after repairing a blown engine, dodging a hurricane, and eating lots of very good food, we reversed the process and returned everyone to their proper homes. It was great to have the kids’ friends aboard, even though it was not the best sailing we’d ever done. Pix on the website.
Prior to returning to Exeter, Ben went out to San Francisco to tour Stanford (Yikes!) and visit with Elyce & John. At the same time, Dan went down to Florida to help his folks recover from the first hurricane and prepare for the next. By now, everyone knows where Punta Gorda is!
As the summer ended, we realized that Dan’s Dad was not doing well in his battle against stomach cancer. It was very tough to see him hurting when he was undiagnosed and fit only 6 months earlier. Everyone had a chance to say goodbye at his hospital bedside before he went home. On Sept 16, Jerry died quietly in his bed, looking out on the harbor, with his cat at his feet, and his wife Joan holding him close. We spread his ashes in Charlotte Harbor in a peaceful and beautiful ceremony – just before the next hurricane!
As one might expect, the world kept turning, even without one of it’s pillars. So we were quickly back to school and soccer and the rest of our busy lives, with a bit less bounce in our step.
Ben completed his early action application to Stanford, in hopes that he wouldn’t have to do any others. The scary part is that he could get in! At the same time, Jacqui interviewed at Exeter, Andover, and Loomis-Chafee, and was surprised that she liked all three! With any luck, we’ll be empty-nesters by next fall.
At the moment, Jacqui is involved in so many things that it’s getting hard to keep track. She does soccer, wrestling, volleyball, sax lessons, voice lessons, jazz band, dance, and yearbook. Unfortunately, she’s keeping her grades up, so we have no good reason to ask her to back off, except for the miles on the car.
Thanksgiving was quiet, followed by the Black Friday Jam in New Jersey, and a trip to see the frog exhibit at the Natural History Museum. Girls think the weirdest things are cute – thank goodness!
Christmas will be in Florida with Grandma – it will be a bit surreal without Grandpa.

We have no idea what next year will bring. Much depends on where Ben and Jacqui get in to school. We don’t have any major trips planned, but that could change on very short notice.

Have a Healthy and Peaceful 2005!