The Lasleys’ Holiday Letter – 2006

2006 started off well, as we went to Westport’s First Night festivities for the first time ever, it was a lot of fun, and properly pretty with clear skies and snow on the ground. Ben did something similar with Yanessa in Boston. And then both kids returned to school.

Dan was promoted to engineering manager, leading a team of five. Dan enjoys being in the driver’s seat again, after 12 years of working part-time, despite having the transition complicated by two senior people retiring. At least he got to hire their replacements.

Unfortunately, Jacqui got sick again, and with wrestling, a heavier course load, and some social issues, she fell far behind. The Exeter support staff was extremely supportive, but Jacqui did not rebound. After some serious conversations, we agreed that Jacqui should come home for the rest of the school year. An important aspect of her medical leave was that she was able to work as a teacher’s aide at her old elementary school, which kept her actively involved with students and adults.

Other than that, we had a quiet winter (hah!). Ben decided that he no longer wanted to be an engineer – too much math, and began to search for alternate majors. At least Stanford is able to support almost any option. Ben continued to play for the wacky Stanford Band, entertaining the fans at the men’s and women’s basketball games, and occasionally getting his face on ESPN.

Our musical interests continued through the year, with both jams and concerts. Dan and Laura went to see Robert Cray, as well as perennial favorites, Melissa Etheridge, and Chicago with Huey Lewis. We were second row for Chicago, which was great! We jammed with David Hodge and a bunch of Neil Young addicts, but missed the annual Riverside Jam. Went to the Black Friday Jam and hope to get back in the groove more next year.

Dan became a soccer referee instructor, which was fun and educational, but late in the year they increased the requirements and he had to back out. He still referees most weekends.

During April Break, Jacqui headed to Florida to visit with G’Ma Lasley. They went on an airboat amongst the alligators – a first for both of them. ‘Girls just wanna have fun’ definitely applied to this visit!

Also in April, our dear friends and neighbors, David and Maggie, moved to NY, leaving us missing their company and Maggie’s organic garden. Maggie’s absence left Dan as President of SIOA, as he had previously been VP. Hail to the Chief. For his pains, he gets to host all the meetings and put out many of the local (figurative) fires.

Dan and Jacqui went to New Orleans in June to help clean up a couple of schools. The situation there is very complicated, and the 70 of us on the trip came away feeling good about what we accomplished, and guardedly optimistic about the future of that city. The one unwelcome benefit to us was that Bourbon Street was almost empty the entire week, so we were able to enjoy the music without the madness.

Laura and Jacqui headed out to Europe with Jacqui’s soccer team to enjoy a World Cup Quarter Final soccer match in Germany (England v Portugal), one of the highlights of their year. The atmosphere was truly electric! Jacqui’s team even made it on TV; a Basque TV station interviewed them. Jacqui and Laura had fabulous seats and spent lots of time exclaiming over David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and even Cristiano Ronaldo.

They then headed to a youth tournament in Cesnatico, a small seaside town south of Venice, Italy. The trip was wonderful, even though the girls didn’t do so well in the tournament. The shopping in Venice was good though. Dan survived alone for 10 days, which he hadn’t had to do for over 20 years.

Ben arranged to spend the summer in Boston to be close to Yanessa. He landed a job at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, applying his computer and analytical skills to find trends and concerns hidden in all the water quality data from all the beaches in the Boston area.

Jacqui was able to be a soccer camp counselor for a week, and enjoyed practicing her ‘Mom’ voice when the campers were out of line. She then went to Rochester, NY to a pre-season soccer camp as a player. She was able to catch up with some of the friends she made on last summer’s trip to the UK.

We enjoyed a visit from Laura’s parents in August, and despite some rain, got in our usual seaweed throwing contest between Jacqui and her grandparents off the swimming beach on the Island. We had lots of fun jumping off the swim platform as well. Alas, the platform was lost in the tailwind storm of Hurricane Ernesto. Power was also lost for a few days during that storm, but we were able to make good use of Maggie’s generator, which was conveniently stored in our shed.

In lieu of a family vacation, Dan, Laura and Jacqui went to Boston for a weekend in August, to catch up with Ben and Yanessa. It was refreshing to enjoy some lovely meals and a stroll around the Boston Common and Public Garden to see the ducklings (Jacqui’s favorite book as a toddler was Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings). We were also able to spend a wonderful weekend in September with Ben and Yanessa in Exeter, as it was Alumni Council Weekend. We celebrated Ben’s 19th birthday together, and it was good to see the younger generation of alumni/ae getting involved.

Ben returned to Stanford shortly thereafter, and this school year, is living in his fraternity house, Phi Kappa Psi. Due to the unfortunate suspension of some of the LSJUMB members, he became the ClarPix Sexion leader this fall, which added to his already full plate. He has a wonderful group of freshman that he recruited, and Dan and Laura were able to meet them at a picnic (Hey! It’s not supposed to be COLD in California in the fall!), as well as witness the Band’s return to playing at Stanford Stadium during a weekend in October.

We only wish the Stanford football team performed as well as the Band. Hiking Point Reyes National Park and eating a fabulous meal with Elyce and John were other highlights of our trip out West. We also got to catch up with Dan’s PEA classmate, Kathy Mahoney.

Jacqui returned to Exeter in the fall, having decided to repeat her freshman year. She has reconnected with some of her old friends and found some wonderful new ones. One of her friends, Katie, was able to spend part of Thanksgiving break with us, since her family lives in Singapore! Jacqui and Katie have written a play, which will be produced in Feb, and they were excited to cast that before leaving campus for December break. We were also lucky enough to have Eli, Ben’s roommate from Exeter, at our house for Thanksgiving. Ben spent his Thanksgiving in Boston at Yanessa’s. Grandma Lasley was able to spend the Saturday before Thanksgiving with Jacqui, Dan and Laura, and caught up with Ben in Boston a few days later.

With both kids at school, you would think that Dan and Laura enjoyed some quiet weekends together at home. Well, between visiting Jacqui at Exeter for Parents’ weekend, as well as a few other times, and flying out to see Ben in California, there weren’t a lot of weekends left. We did manage a wonderful weekend jaunt up to Shelburne, VT to surprise our friend Pam, for a milestone birthday. Her husband, Bob, did a fantastic job of planning the surprise party. An added bonus was that we got to spend time with their wonderful kids, Catie and Noah. It was our first time getting to know Noah, and both kids are just a joy.

We are looking forward to a quiet family Christmas, just the 4 of us. Ben arrived home first, and Jacqui next, after visiting Jess, one of her Exeter friends, in Arkansas (do you know you can’t really get to Little Rock from New Hampshire?). Laura has to work the weekend before Christmas, so we aren’t doing any traveling. Ben and Yanessa plan to visit Grandma Lasley in Florida, just after the New Year. And then everyone heads back to school.

Somehow, we never did manage a family vacation this year. We all went on various adventures, but never all together. Maybe next year…

Happy Holidays!

Dan, Laura, Ben, and Jacqui