The Lasley Holiday Letter - 1998

Another amazing year goes into the history books… In preparation for our big ski trip, we did several day trips to local mountains (hills?). Everyone was glad to get the extra practice, and it was fun to go with some of Ben and Jacq's friends. Unfortunately, Dan tweaked his MCL and was on the verge of being benched for the rest of the winter. But thanks to his diligent rehabbing, and the miracle of Kevlar braces, he was allowed to go to Colorado and ski. He had to give up volleyball for two months, and he's noticed that he can't kick a soccer ball with his left foot any more, but otherwise he's doing fine.

So at the end of February we went to Breckenridge to ski for a week. One of Jacq's classmates was also there and we all had a really good time. Ben surpassed the rest us, and even tried snowboarding (which he didn't like). A friend of Dan's took him down the double-diamond through-the-trees powder-to-the-knees trail, for which he was forever grateful (not!). Laura figured she needed to get to know the local medical staff, and so developed acute mountain sickness for 2 days. The rest of us got to share her oxygen machine when we were tired.

In March, Dan started another new job, this time designing the specialty printers that are used in ATMs and movie theaters. He's not sure he likes the nomadic life of a contractor, but so far he's been able to keep his 30-hour work week, and he's certainly learning a lot about many different industries.

In April, we went to Washington DC to see the Star Wars exhibit, as well as the rest of the monuments. We also visited the Natural History museum, where Jacq fell in love with the Hope diamond, etc. Laura has obviously been coaching her on the fine points of jewelry – size matters!

Jacq outgrew her training-wheel bike and picked out a pastel pink 6-speed to cruise around in. She went from shaky to road-worthy very quickly, and joined the family on a couple of 4 mile trips into town.

Dan and Laura wrapped up their first volleyball season in Westport. By the end of the season, we were starting to get it together as a team, and at least we could look forward to the following year.

Jacq and Ben both continued their music lessons, and Laura re-started her guitar. Ben was first chair clarinet in the 5th grade band, and both kids did well at their recitals. Laura also excelled at her "jam session"; everyone loves that fact that she can sing and play at the same time. The prospect of a "Partridge Family" band was mentioned – Dan is getting the station wagon repainted a la Peter Max! In the spring, Ben worked on the school stage production of "The Phantom Tollbooth", which was surprisingly well done. Both kids played soccer (again/still). Ben's team got a new coach who is a bit of a drill-sargeant, but he's the first coach that Ben's approved of since his Dad.

In May, we went to Dan's 20th high school reunion. We had a really good time catching up with new and old friends. We hope to arrange some biking or camping or skiing or sailing trips with some of these guys in the near future. A week later, we celebrated our 15th anniversary with a quiet get away.

Both kids finished up the school year with flying colors. Ben had such a good report card that he said "Next year, I'm going to do even more stuff!" And with that, he picked up the tenor saxophone and began to practice hard so he could pass the fall audition for the jazz ensemble (they don't have clarinets – no Benny Goodman, no Dixie?!? – go figure).

We were supposed to start the long-delayed remodeling project in June, but the contractor bailed out on us. Given the incredible building boom, we figured it would be a while until we could get started.

Over the summer, we saw 3 WNBA Liberty games, including one featuring the Phoenix Mercury (Dan's team). It really is pretty exciting B-ball, if not the most elegant. We'll probably keep going to these each summer, since they're close and tickets are available.

Jacq took horseback riding lesson and various intellectual classes, while Ben practically moved into the local sailing school. One weekend, we had a mini-fleet of Ben and G'pa Kwaan each on a Laser, and the rest of us on our SuperCat, playing tag in and around the harbor. Since Ben passed all of his sailing tests, we got him one of the school Lasers – he earned it.

In July, we chartered a 30' sailboat and cruised Block Island Sound. It was quite a treat to watch the tall ships HMS Endeavour (from Australia) and HMS Rose (from Connecticut) trade broadsides across the harbor on Block Island. We had a wonderful time hopping from port to port, enjoying the great weather (it only rained once – in Montauk of course!). We ended the trip with two days of peace and quiet at Napatree Beach, where the kids body-surfed and played with the starfish.

Soon after our return, I was lamenting our contractor blues to a friend of ours, who said: "Is that all you want to do? Heck, I can get that done for you." And away we went! A week later Dan and Laura had moved into the study, and a week after that the roof was gone over our old master bedroom.

In September school and soccer started up again. Dan was Jacq's coach again, and he got volunteered to be the team manager for Ben's U-11 Travel team. Both teams did well; we had fun too.

Ben signed up to be the assistant sound engineer for the fall musical (a cheery version of Sondheim's "Into the Woods"), but no one volunteered to be the chief engineer, so Ben (and Dan) ended up in charge of the 8 body mics and 8 other inputs, including computer sound affects. Jacq spent so many afternoons at rehearsal that she was appointed assistant prop-mistress, and Laura volunteered in the lobby for several nights. After 4 weeks of daily rehearsals and 6 performances, everyone collapsed with a smile of satisfaction for a job well done.

In addition to the play and soccer, everyone was still involved in music. Ben was accepted into the jazz ensemble, and Jacq's piano work became strong enough that we all began to play together. Dan had to scramble to transpose song melodies for the saxophone, but after a few goofs, it all sounded pretty good. The Lasley family band can play a decent version of Van Morrison's "Moondance", complete with sax solo and counter-points.

And oh yeah – the house was a mess due to construction. It was interesting to watch as each job was completed, but frustrating to wait for each next phase to start. The tradesmen were all excellent and we could see that the final result would be better than we had hoped for – and only a little over budget.

The adult volleyball season started up again in November, and we were happy to have most of our roster returning, plus the addition of two solid players. The early scouting reports looked good for our team. This is a good thing too, since the NBA is on hold, and only Jacq's NFL team has a winning record (the other 3 teams don't have 10 wins total!); we don't have a lot of teams to cheer about. Go UConn?

By Thanksgiving, the play was over, soccer was done, and the construction was approaching completion. Thanksgiving day we unexpectedly got invited to a feast and jam session, which was wonderful. That Friday we had our scheduled Feast. Saturday the electrician hooked up the phones and the heating controls. And Sunday we moved in!!! Our new master bedroom with elegant bathroom is light and roomy (well, the closets are never big enough).

Christmas shopping has been done early this year, because we're spending the holiday in Florida with Dan's folks. Of course, it has been 70 degrees in New England during the first week of December, so it won't be all that much warmer down south.

It has been a wild and wonderful year, with so many accomplishments and milestones (both large and small) that it's hard to list them all. Ben has turned 11 (6th grade), Jacq (2nd grade) will be 7 in January, and Dan and Laura will hit 39 for the first time next year. 1999 promises to be much quieter – in anticipation of a wild and crazy 2000! Let us know if you're in the neighborhood.

Our best wishes to you and yours this holiday season.