The Lasleys’ Holiday Letter – 2007

Jacqui’s Story:

The year did not start well for Jacqui. She continued to have gut troubles at Exeter, and caught a nasty cough as well. These repeated and combined attacks on her health took a toll on her confidence. It became increasingly difficult for us to manage her health from a distance, despite the excellent support provided by the Exeter Health Services. So it was with much sadness that Jacqui came home at the end of January, perhaps for good. She loves Exeter, but being there requires a lot of endurance, and she simply ran out.
Returning to public school was not easy, but Jacqui made friends quickly, adapting to the classrooms more slowly. Many of her old friends didn’t know what to make of her, as she was now a grade behind them. There were many new friends to be made, which was made more difficult by their tolerance for smoking and drinking. But there were some kids who connected with her, and she got along OK.
In May, Jacqui had another bout of extreme gut pain, lasting 4 weeks. For Laura and Dan, this changed her condition from a serious problem to a visceral emergency. To see Jacqui lying on the floor, wracked with pain, was very tough. Laura called in all of her markers in the medical community and arranged for numerous tests, all with no success. Finally, she and the other doctors decided to do an exploratory laparoscopy. The surgeon looked at all of her abdominal parts, and found no signs of trouble. No Crohns, no cysts, not even an inflamed appendix. However, once inside, every doctor will remove the appendix. It was only after a thorough review by the pathologist that we learned that Jacqui had suffered from recurrent, non-infectious, appendicitis. He said “this appendix has been abused for several years.” A follow-up search of the medical literature showed that while this has been seen before, it is quite rare, and not part of the standard lexicon. Happier, but sore, Jacqui took her finals and finally completed her freshman year, with very good grades.
Through all of this, Jacqui stayed in touch with several Exeter friends, and she and Katie started to plan a tour of Asia for the summer of 2008. With this in mind, Jacqui knew she needed a job. In our area, it is tough to get a retail job at 15. Many jobs are off-limits until you’re 16, and the pay-scale in our stores is high enough to attract adults. Ignoring these obstacles, Jacqui walked down the local restaurant row and filled out 15 applications on one June day. Many of the staff acknowledged the Catch-22 of “Experience: None” but were encouraging anyway. A week later, Jacqui got a call from an upscale Japanese-fusion restaurant, had a brief interview, and was put on the schedule as a hostess twice a week, and a “food-runner” on Saturday nights. She has worked there continuously since early July, and has saved up enough to cover the expenses for her 2008 trip, and much of the airfare. She really enjoys working with the 18-22 year-old young adults, but is disappointed that she can’t go out with them afterwards.
This fall, she started her sophomore year with more optimism. She understands how the school works now, and most of her classes are fun, and some are even challenging.
With a bad case of second-child syndrome, Jacqui pointed out that while Ben had been to several NFL games, she had never attended one. So this fall she saw her Cowboys at the NY Giants, and will see them against Dan’s Panthers in Carolina just before Christmas.
We are thrilled that her gut pain did not return in October as it had the previous two years, and as of mid-December, she is still fine. Jacqui even returned to the wrestling team, and although she is a bit out of shape, she is having fun.

Ben’s Story:

Through the first half of 2007, Ben continued at Stanford, balancing school-work, the Band, fraternity life, and flights back to Boston to see Yanessa. He had already decided that enough was enough, and he was going to spend the following year or more with Yanessa. He applied to Harvard, was accepted, and then decided that he would be much happier finishing up at Stanford. Good choice.
In June, Ben and Yanessa moved into a very nice apartment in Allston, along with two other friends. Ben was able to return to Save the Harbor, and negotiated a 2-year contract at a reasonable salary. Some days he gets up at 3am to take water samples, other days he is out until 10p at town meetings. It really is a cool job, and it pays the rent!
Having survived two years 3000 miles apart, and several months in the same apartment (which is more difficult, as you know), Ben proposed to Yanessa at the Oval in Stanford, giving her his Grandmother’s ring, with her blessing. They hosted Thanksgiving with both families, and very properly served way too much food.
Their current plan is to stay in Boston until Yanessa graduates in June 2009, and return to Stanford for at least 2 years. It must be nice to be 20 and have a plan. They don’t get a lot of space here, as they’re starting to write their own story.

Dan and Laura’s Story:

While all of the above was going on, Dan and Laura still had to go to work. Work has been challenging for both of us. Dan’s company supplies printers that are usually deployed in large batches, with unpredictable timing. So while they were running at 120% at the end of 2006, things had slowed noticeably by the second quarter of 2007, which a management bummer. As the Engineering Manager, Dan goes to more trade shows (Las Vegas is less fun than I remembered) and customer visits, and he enjoys these direct interactions with customers. Still the work is fun, and there is enough flexibility for him to support Jacqui’s activities. Dan also continues to referee soccer games, and has been the center for a couple of adult games – very different than 12 year olds.
Laura’s work has also been busy, as there have been less helper bees. She really enjoys being close to the action, but is feeling her age. Either that, or the cumulative on-calls!
We postponed our planned trip to England this past Spring, with Jacqui home, and we all went to Cancun for a short week instead. For the summer we were able to coordinate a sailing trip (with Jacqui, no Ben) and the annual Riverside Jam. We returned to the Chesapeake and sailed around to the Potomac, meeting up with our friends the McDermotts (a treat to sail up to their dock!), and TC who drove down from D.C. for dinner. Jacqui found a way to meet a friend in DC, so Laura and Dan sailed the last 3 days on their own, which was a first for us, but uneventful. The Kwaan grandparents visited in August, rounding out the summer.
This year’s Riverside Jam was in western Massachusetts, and was bigger and better than ever. We played music almost continuously for 4 days, including one session from the gazebo on the town green, and one on a high hilltop overlooking a lovely river valley. Good people, good food, good music, and we raised some money for a local charity – just like famous musicians do. Laura and Dan played in a couple of other jams this year as well.
With the start of school again, we got back into the rhythm, following the kids activities outlined above, and doing our own work and community stuff. We are now playing volleyball 10 months of the year, indoors and on the beach. Laura has gone to a couple of conferences, which seem to involve more shopping and fancy dinners than professional development.
We also reconnected with an old friend from college, who is a cardiac surgeon now at Laura’s hospital. We hadn’t seen him since graduation, but now Li and his wife are on our volleyball team. Small world indeed.
We’re off to Carolina and then Florida to spend Christmas with G’Ma Lasley. The schedule for next year is already crazy, with our rescheduled trip to England, Dan’s 30th Exeter reunion, and our 25th anniversary, all piled on top of wrestling, volleyball, and soccer. Who has time to pay the bills?

Back in 1996, we signed up with AOL for email and more. Back then, they were the leaders in content, social networks, and email. For us, this is no longer the case, and we are switching to GMail. Please note the new email @ddresses below. Pix and more at www.cyberlaz.com.

We hope you have a happy, healthy, and safe Holiday and wonderful New Year. 2008 will be crazy for us, as usual, but we look forward to seeing you if you’re in the area. Remember that we’re only an hour outside of NYC.

DanLasley "at" gmail.com
babydoclaz "at" gmail.com
blasley "at" gmail.com
paxy091013 "at" gmail.com