Lasley Holiday Letter - 2008
2008 started out with a thud - that being Jacqui's head colliding with her opponent's, resulting in a concussion. Due to several injuries to her teammates, she had been wrestling at the Varsity level for several weeks. Her coach would ask her "Are you sure you want to go? You're matched with the 2nd-ranked wrestler in the State." Jacqui would say "Sure, let's see if I can last 30 seconds!" People in the stands were a bit confused when we would cheer at the 30-second mark, even though she'd get pinned 10 seconds later. She wrestled about 8 matches before her injury, and dominated her only female opponent. It should be noted that concussions are the least likely injury to receive while wrestling, usually it's shoulders and ankles. Although she was not able to wrestle for the few matches remaining, she was awarded a Varsity Letter and the award for Courage from her team. Continuing Jacqui's unusual medical karma, her "mild" concussion caused headaches and fatigue through the rest of the school year.
Jacqui continued to work at the Asian-fusion restaurant, saving up for her summer trip, and enjoying the interactions with older colleagues. Their lives more closely resembled her own, where people planned and saved, and had good times with good friends. The other high-school kids hadn't yet developed the independence and confidence that she had enjoyed for several years.
During the winter, Laura had received several generic recruiting letters, and having responded to one, she connected with a recruiter who agreed that she had the potential to run her own unit in the near future. She went through the interview process with a mix of eagerness and caution, deciding on an Asst Director's position in a community hospital outside of Philly. At Chester County Hospital, she will continue to take care of sick babies in a community hospital, while taking on additional management responsibilities, and getting to work a few weeks a year with the big boys and their fancy toys at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She signed on and set the start date for mid-July.
In March, Dan and Laura went to Manchester England to see ManUnited play against Liverpool. This was our gift to ourselves for our 25th anniversary(!). We got to tour Old Trafford stadium, and see an additional Premier League game, and hang out with a great crew of soccer fans from all over the US. While there, we met up with some musicians we met over the internet, and joined an impromptu jam one evening - in Liverpool naturally!
We made several house hunting trips to Pennsylvania. Dan also started to look for a new job for himself. Luckily, Philly and the surrounding region had not been hit too hard by the softening economy, and he was able to find several opportunities. In the end, he selected Faro Technologies, which make precision laser measurement instruments. Although it is an instrumentation company, they were very interested in Dan's broad background in more production-oriented organizations. Faro has been growing quite rapidly; the Engineering department is both smart and young - Dan is not sure he likes being considered one of the "senior" guys. Although the learning curve for Dan has been longer than he would like, he enjoys the work environment. Plus, many of his colleagues also play music. We've jammed once, and will do so again.
In April, we attended Dan's 30th Exeter Reunion. Although it was a bit rainy, it was a great time. Laura was inducted as an honorary member of Dan's class, and Dan was elected President for the next 5 years. No good deed goes unpunished. Unfortunately, we learned that Jacqui would not be returning to Exeter, as her concussion and other issues really took a toll on her grades. Although saddened, we understood their logic. We consider this "the wrong decision for the right reasons."
Through May and June, we worked to sell the house in Westport. As you probably know, it is much harder to sell a house than buy one. Thankfully, due in large part to the efforts of our realtor, we were able to sell the house before the bottom really fell out of the market. As Westport is a bedroom community for New York City, if we hadn't been able to sell by the end of the summer, we might still own two houses.
On the flip side, we found a wonderful house in West Chester PA, close to Longwood Gardens. It is almost twice as big as our Westport Cape, with lots of room for guests and music gear - and a huge deck overlooking a valley that is half forest and half horse-farm. Although it's quite rural, with horse paddocks and corn fields, we have WalMart, Home Depot, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Chicos and PF Changs, all within 5 miles of us. It's actually quite confusing. After some minor repainting and major floor work, we moved in. For reasons we still don't understand, the contents of our small house mysteriously expanded to overflow the big house. More stuff to give away!
Just prior to our move, several friends in Westport threw us going-away parties, which were wonderful. It seems that half the people we know have some connection to Philly or West Chester. We will miss our friends, and we'll miss being close to salt water, but we are excited about our new home and jobs. After some searching, we found a marina less than an hour away in Havre de Grace, MD. This is at the northern end of the Chesapeake, which will be fun to explore on our small catamaran, and we'll be able to charter larger boats from there as well.
While Dan and Laura moved, Jacqui spent much of the summer in Singapore, visiting Katie Kirtland and other friends from Exeter. They went out "clubbing" several nights - dancing until 3am - which is normal for teens over there. Jacqui and Katie also visited Japan and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, they had Jacqui's great-uncle Tiew Peng (85+?) as a guide. He would drive them to the various sights, park the car and say "Go explore, I'll wait here!" Jacqui exclaims: "He's so cute!" She had a fantastic time, and didn't even spend all of her hard-earned money. The way it worked out, she departed from the Westport house and returned to the West Chester house - at least she had a chance to pick out her room before she left.
Somehow, we squeezed a trip to Fox Lake IL for the Riverside Jam. Although we did not have enough time to prepare properly, we got to play lots of music with our good friends, and relax a bit.
As summer ended, we had several friends stop by for a visit in our new place. Then school started and Jacqui quickly settled into her new routine. Unionville is well respected in PA, but it is obvious that we are no longer in the New York metro area. There is less drinking, and both parents and kids are "amateurs" when it comes to bitchiness. Actually, it's quite nice, and slowly we are meeting some nice people. Having earned her license, Jacqui has been free to hang out with new friends and take up new hobbies, including horse-back riding and archery. She says the next step is to try and combine the two. Plus, she is playing sax in an adult big-band. Despite this major transition, Jacqui's grades have returned to their normal level of excellence, and she is much happier all around.
We had several visitors to our new home - mainly because we now have a guest room! Grandma Lasley came up to spend a weekend with Jacqui while Dan and Laura were out of town. Dan's parents spent the early years of their marriage around Philly; Dan and sister Barb were both born there. Jacqui drove G'Ma all around, checking out the old haunts. Two of three houses were still recognizable from 50 years ago.
In November, we celebrated Laura's parent's 50th anniversary in Chicago, and then came home for a medium sized Thanksgiving feast. In early December, we all trouped down to DC, accompanying Laura to a conference and meeting several friends along the way. Jacqui stays involved with wrestling as the team manager and working out with the team once in a while. We'll review whether she can return to competition next year, after her head has had a chance to recover completely.
Ben and Yanessa came down for our first Christmas in the new house. They relaxed and rested up for the final push toward their wedding. We all ate and slept well. Jacqui drove back to Boston with them early, and Laura and Dan followed a few days later. We stopped to see a few friends in White Plains and Rye Brook, and then drove through heavy snow to spend New Years Eve with David and Karen in western Massachusetts. New Years day was extremely cold, but sunny, and the weather held through the following weekend.
OK, if you've been paying close attention to these chronicles, you'll remember that Ben and Yanessa were supposed to get married in June '09. However, since most of their friends are now college seniors, they will be graduating and dispersing around the country at all different times in the Spring. However, everyone has Christmas and New Years off, so they moved the ceremony to Jan 3rd. Make sense? The brain says Yes, but the feet say No. Brrr!
After the quick and amusing rehearsal on Jan 2nd, Dan and Laura hosted dinner for the wedding party. It was a lot of fun, and you could see the anticipation in the eyes of the kids and their parents. It had been 5 exciting and difficult years, and they were about to really get married! Saturday was sunny and just above freezing, so the biggest worry was not getting slush on the shoes. The ceremony was wonderful, and you can see lots of pictures from the links on the website. Jacqui was in the wedding party, as were other friends that we have come to know over the years. Many additional Exeter friends were in attendance, and many more trekked from California and the Dominican - it was quite the party. Ben and Yanessa did much of the work themselves, and there were some special touches that were surprisingly wonderful. We'd never heard of a photo-art book as the guest registry, but it was great! Many people left heartfelt comments above their names.
We thought we were done when the newlyweds exited the reception, but they were back for brunch the next day, and then we had to assist with the load-out and reverse migration to get everyone back to where they belonged. Later, Ben and Yanessa flew out to California to see those Stanford friends who couldn't make it, and then they're off to Cancun for a real honeymoon.
This time, we can safely guarantee that this year will be a quieter than last. Anything else would be beyond ludicrous.
So if you're ever in the Philly/Wilmington area, or just passing through between NYC and DC, feel free to stop by - we have lots of space for guests!
We wish you and yours a wonderful year, despite the numerous challenges in front of us all. Remember to keep your family close to your heart.
Dan, Laura, and Jacqui
809 Nathan Hale Drive
West Chester PA 19382