The Lasley Holiday Letter - 1997

As we sat to dinner on Thanksgiving eve, we marvelled at the fact that exactly one year prior, we were up to our eyes in boxes, having just completed our move to Westport. The past year has been fast and furious, and we think it’s been grand! Both Ben and Jacq have settled in well, and now have more play dates and birthday parties than we can keep track of.

As you may remember from our last missive, we were without an oven until Janary 31. Well let me tell you about all of the brownies, pies, roasts, and cookies that Laura cooked in February! And with a double oven, we could have homemade pizza for dinner and fresh pie for dessert. Marvelous!

As our ski weekend approached, Mom decided that she was tired of fighting with rented ski boots, and since the kids love to ski, she figured it was worth it to buy a set for herself. Any excuse to go big-ticket shopping! Of course Dan couldn’t be left out, so he got a set the next day. We had a wonderful time skiing at Jiminy Peak. Jacq mastered the chair lift and the small adult hill, but Ben is definitely the best of us all. We spent the down time playing StarWars Monopoly. Next year we are going to Breckenridge CO so we can show the kids the difference between a hill and a mountain, and good snow vs icky snow.

Dan enrolled in a soccer coaching clinic, which got him some exercise. Laura had Wednesday’s off (of course), and made the kaffe klatch rounds until she found an aerobics class she liked. Ben picked up his clarinet again in March, connecting with the buddy of his previous teacher. Laura and Dan went to a SciFi convention one weekend, and then took the kids to a Xena convention in NYC. Good fun with weird people! Ben lost four molars in two weeks, and Jacq was jealous of the silver dollars and promptly lost a couple of her front teeth.

The first sign of Spring was - Soccer registration! Jacq joined a kindergarten team, and allowed her Dad to coach. Ben made the U-9 travel team, but parents are discouraged from coaching the travel teams in Westport. Due to an unexpected problem, Dan was later asked to assistant coach, which he enjoyed.

In May, Ben had his first clarinet recital, choosing “Do-Re-Mi” as his piece, and he did a great job. Jacq’s kindergarten presented “Peter Rabbit”; she and her classmates were all the vegetables in the garden. The effort and focus all these kids put into their performances was remarkable. After this, Jacq asked to start piano lessons, and the arrangement was made. At the end of the month, we went to see a MLS soccer game at the Meadowlands.

After much discussion and deliberation, we convinced the public schools to take Jacq into 1st grade in the fall. She’s under the age limit by two weeks, but we all thought she was ready. She’ll join her new best friend from her private kindergarten in the first grade.

As the school year wound down, we began to search for a driver for the kids (all of the professional care titles have lost their luster). Good fortune (and the high-school network) smiled on us when Annie said she’d do it.

In June, Jacq graduated from kindergarten in high fashion, but Ben missed his moving up ceremony (on his way to middle school). Ben was at the Kennedy Space Center with G’pa Kwaan at the Space Camp Academy, which was decidedly more fun than 4 hours in an auditorium back home.

Also in June (6 months after we moved in!), the stereo was finally powered up, including speakers for the back yard - just in time for our annual XMAS party. A grand turn out, with a zillion kids, made for a wonderful day.

The summer madness started before school was out, with Ben taking his pre-sailing boating class after school. This allowed him to take beginning and intermediate sailing over the summer, in addition to his sleep away soccer camp, tennis, swimming, and outdoor adventure camp. Jacq had swimming classes, as well as a maritime camp and a science camp. As you might expect, Annie put a lot of miles on her Volvo. We also got out to a bunch of summer movies, including “MIB”, “George of the Jungle”, and “Air Force One”. We had visits from the G’pts Lasley, as well as the Reid cousins, and the Kuhn’s all the way from Hawaii. We went to a WNBA basketball game (Go Liberty!), and had dinner with the Callahan’s afterwards.

The highlight of the summer was our week-long sailing adventure to Block Island on a 35-foot C&C sloop. Block Island was great, and the kids enjoyed riding out to the lighthouse. Despite getting stuck in the mud twice and having to layover in Montauk (that sailor’s paradise) due to rain, we really had a great time. The kids have become real dock rats, and we plan to charter a sailboat somewhere every year.

School (first and fifth grade!), soccer, and the NFL all started in August, which seems too soon. Our sailing season was officially ended when the side stay broke on the catamaran, causing the mast footing to snap, all while Laura, Ben and Jacq were a mile offshore. A nice boater towed us in. That same week, our Flood Room was christened with 2 inches of salt water!

Ben made the U-10-B soccer team, but Dan was unsuccessful in finding a coaching spot this time. So he ran the linesman’s job with as much enthusiasm and flair as he could. Jacq let her Dad coach her first grade team, so he wouldn’t feel left out.

In September, Ben turned 10! We’re not old enough for this! Dan, Laura, and Ben have all begun to explore the online world, shopping, chatting, and learning lots of trivia from all over the world. As Jacq’s reading and typing improve, we know she’ll be online soon. Oh yeah, we sometimes do homework and write a XMAS letter on the computer too.

In October, Laura re-started guitar lessons, and has learned 2 Jewel songs for Jacq. Jewel? Thank goodness they both love Melissa Etheridge as well. At this point, Dan is the only one not taking any lessons of any kind. But he is good at replacing windows, which has kept him busy. Jacq and Laura went to Chicago for a family visit.

In addition to leading his soccer team, Ben has become involved in the Middle School Band and Yearbook. He has also been named one of the “mostly OK” boys according to an informal survey by the girls.

Jacq remained adamant about wanting to be a “Golden Hind” for Halloween, which is sort of a centaur but crossed with a deer, with horns and hooves of gold. (The Golden Hind was also Hercules’ girlfriend on the TV show.) So Dan engineered a chassis for the torso and back legs, while Laura found fabric and gold make-up to complete the illusion. It actually turned out pretty well, but we’re hoping for something with only two legs next year. Thank goodness Ben was happy with his Space Camp jumpsuit.

Although we have been blessed with only minor hiccups this year, somehow the tragedies have hit several friends around Laura. Two friends have died young, as well as a few babies having troubles at work. Please remember to take care of each other out there!

November was busy with the start of adult volleyball, the end of the soccer season, and the fall parties. Laura had a conference in Miami, so we all just had to meet her and go to the Lasley enclave in Punta Gorda for the weekend. They’ve got very nice digs and the service is excellent; we plan to go back and stay for a week or three.

With all of the activities, conferences, meetings, concerts, and social requirements, Laura and Dan decided that Christmas would be cancelled. However, the children pointed out that this has really been a good year for all of us, and Santa was bound to arrive fully loaded, so we’ve been scrambling to get presents and a tree! Thankfully, no one will be here to see how well we pull it off.

Next year starts out fast with our trip to Colorado for skiing in February. After that, they tear the roof off the master bedroom so Dan won’t bonk his head anymore. In the Spring we’ll go to Dan’s 20th high school reunion, followed immediately by our 15th wedding anniversary. Another boring summer (hah!), interrupted by a sailing trip, and a quiet fall should make next year’s letter very short. Riiight.

Love to all of you from all of us;

Jacq, Ben, Laura, and Dan