FROM THE G-O-T-T-E-S-M-A-N-S
Dear friends and family,
Another year (and a quarter) has passed, and thankfully all is well with us. With the end of March almost here, we have set a new record for the timing of our annual letter. Looking out the window, instead of snow, starkness, and stillness, one sees grass and flowers and budding tree branches swaying gently in the breeze. Having just returned from Puerto Rico, it was a treat to come home to a new spring. Happy two-kay-ten and warm hugs to all of you!
Jordan is a seven year old pasta fiend with a big, gap tooth smile. Second grade has been tricky as he gets used to the weekly homework packets, but most importantly he has settled in with nice new friendships and love of learning. He is still close to Mommy, proposing marriage to her and suggesting that he not go to college so he won’t have to leave “the best mom I ever had.” J His passion for art continues, and he is attuned to the beauty of nature, especially flowers and the moon. He has also taken to dog sitting for our friend's schnoodle, and he loves the responsibility, taking it very seriously and giving the dog lots of love.
To help Jordan develop his own identity, we recently switched him to learn guitar instead of piano. He is sort of blasé about practicing, but he actively seeks out opportunities to perform for friends and family. He also loves to sing along while he plays, loudly and utterly off-key but with joie de vivre. Check him out performing When the Saints go Marching In. This summer Jordan took his first big boy swim lessons, and in his determination to keep up with his friends and big brother he got through Levels I and II. He also joined Ben’s chess class, and in his easygoing way he comes home after each one to joke about all the games he lost.
In the spring, Jordan, an early riser, was delighted to do basketball in the mornings before school. But his number one thing is still baseball. In the fall he moved to Minor B and was psyched to be able to pitch, and for Mom, Dad and Ben it was fun to watch him do so as a leftie. Any free time he and Ben have together is sure to be spent in the backyard, playing one-on-one wiffle ball tournaments ‘til dusk. Jordan has learned a lot about the game from big brother. Check him out hitting it to left center.
Our Benji (as he coined himself back in fourth grade) is a sixth grader and math enthusiast, spending his last year at school with Jordan before he heads off to the junior high. It took him a while to adjust to not having his good bud as a classmate for the first time, but he has developed a new friendship or two and is handling his heaviest workload yet independently. He became a Student Council Representative for the first time and has taken his responsibility very seriously, waking up on his own for early morning meetings (he is not a morning person). Early in the year he took a “Home Alone” class, and recently we have allowed him to bus home with Jordan and hang out for 15 to 30 minutes before Mom arrives from school. He also had his first trip away without Mom or Dad, spending a week at the Cape with his friend and his family over the summer. Our big guy is becoming our little man! Check him out posing a question about peace to Thich Nhat Hanh.
Also in the summer, after four tries spanning two years, Benji was relieved to pass Level IV swimming. He continues to play piano, but in the fall he began working with a new teacher. Benji also ran his first 5K, beating dad by two seconds. In the winter, Benji joined the "Musical Notes," a volunteer group of kids who come together to play in retirement homes. He also joined Community Ed basketball (having never done it before) and got totally into it, playing tireless defense and improving offensively. He continues karate with Dad, but with his busy schedule he can only do so as time permits. Benji has also gotten into ping pong, quickly leaving mom in the dust and regularly challenging dad. Check him out playing at the jazz club owned by Carli Muñoz (former Beach Boy and Barbara's friend) in Old San Juan.
As usual, nothing thrilled Benji more than baseball, and this year he played perhaps more than he has in his lifetime. He tried out and got into his first AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) team, spending the winter practicing indoors and playing two double headers every weekend over the spring. In the summer he tried out and played as an alternate for the Acton Baystate team, and he also played in the regular town summer league. In the fall he moved up to the majors for town ball. And this past winter he joined a better-run AAU program and has been practicing indoors, with intense workouts and lots of situational play. His favorite positions are shortstop and pitching, and he partook in a 10-week clinic to develop the latter. Check him out using his change-up on his third pitch.
Rich continues working at Monster, but in the fall he moved into a new position as a Business Intelligence Developer (Microsoft toolset). He likes the hands on work using leading-edge technology, as well as his interaction with the business side to effectively bridge communication between them and his division. But working long hours has been demanding, particularly when it involves weekends. Mostly, however, Rich likes the challenge of his new work and being plugged in and in a visible role.
Rich continued karate, participating in a tournament in the spring (something he hasn't done since 1988) and passing his green belt promotion test at the end of the year. A new experience for him has involved working with the bo, a long wooden staff used in martial arts defense. In the fall he ran a 5K in the rain with Ben for Oktoberfest. He has spent lots of fun time with the boys playing wiffle ball outside or just hanging out down in the Man Cave, whether watching the Sox or playing nok hockey, ping pong or chess.
Because of his heavy work schedule Rich hasn’t had as much time as he would like for home projects. However, he managed to continue his work for his Mom (Barbara), finishing another edition of Tables, as well as the layout and graphics of her 464-page Oral History book. He also painted the boys’ bathroom and started building and painting a custom, oversized (14-foot) Red Sox/Patriots wall mount to hang on the front wall of the basement. Early in the year, Rich decided to resume cutting the lawn himself, investing in a new mower and listening to his audio books as he works. Check out his 2009 book list.
Jacky is in her fifth year at Nashoba Brooks and loving it, although she has been sad to see some of her colleagues impacted by the recession. This year she was eligible and wrote a proposal for a mini-sabbatical, and with its recent granting she is planning to spend some time over the summer in Marbella, Spain taking advanced Spanish classes and learning to dance flamenco. Lately, Jacky has found a number of occasions to teach Latin dance, and with this new opportunity she really looks forward to learning how to move her entire body in a whole new way.
Jacky has continued her practice of mindfulness, dabbling in Vietnamese, Tibetan and Korean Buddhism before settling on Korean with her Wednesday night carpool (aka the "Dharma bus" to Jacky and friends). In the summer, Jacky spent a week with Ben and Jordan at Stonehill College in Easton for a Zen mindfulness retreat. As a parent she was invited to many of the boys’ activities, and at the end of the retreat the boys decided that they wanted to receive Dharma names and take the Buddhist vows: to develop understanding and compassion in order to live peacefully with and protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. A new hobby for Jacky is tending to her small collection of bonsai trees.
At home, Jacky took the initiative of purging all the unused “stuff” in the house, with the goal of hosting a massive neighborhood yard sale and donating some proceeds and all remaining items for good causes. With twelve years worth of possessions to go through (much of it the boys' clothes, baby paraphernalia and toys that they outgrew), the work turned into an eight-month ordeal that she undertook with help on the tail-end from Rich and her Mom (Ana), who visited over the summer. In the end the yard sale wasn’t a huge success (and Jacky got sick from all the dust), but above all she was pleased to be able to get a handle on the innards of the house, to help simplify her and her family’s existence and to donate belongings to people who could really use them. Jacky was happy to make the boys' Halloween costumes again this year. Check out her Touch and Brush® video (Part I and Part II) with the boys, as well as her 2009 booklist.
As a family we took a number of trips (mostly over long weekends) to be with family and friends. Our biggest trip was in March to Puerto Rico for the annual Chef’s Hat Awards ceremony hosted by Barbara and her magazine, Tables. This time we spent most of our time on the other end of the island, in Rincón, hanging out at the pool and beach and getting familiar with a number of the fantastic restaurants there. We also spent a day each in Mayagüez at the water park and in Ponce to meet up with one of Jacky’s uncles. For Valentine’s weekend we went away with neighbors Matt and Susan and their two boys to Camden, Maine and we had fun skiing, tubing and tobogganing at the snow bowl there (check out the video Rich put together).
In May we went up to Norwich, NY for BAM’s (Rich’s great aunt) belated memorial service, taking the opportunity afterward to continue on up to Niagara Falls with Rich’s siblings Amy and Robert, who also came up for the service. In late June we spent a week with Barbara and hubby Harry in Baltimore, visiting the zoo, going to a Sox game, visiting the sports and industry museums, and watching the harbor fireworks from Barbara’s friend’s rooftop in Federal Hill. In July we spent beautiful days on the beach with friends Steve and Edit and their daughter in Kennebunk, Maine. In August, Jacky, Ben and Jordan spent a week back at Stonehill College in Easton so the boys could do the Jason Varitek & Dustin Pedroia summer camp, which they loved. For Labor Day we stayed on Lake Champlain with friends Kitty and John and their daughters at their “Big House,” with other families from Rich’s softball team. We spent the weekend boating, water skiing, hiking and cooking, culminating in a big ole' softball scrimmage.
For Thanksgiving we flew down to Auburn, Alabama to stay with Robert and his wife Tina and their two kids, along with Barbara, Harry and Amy. Once there we took in the festivities for the big Auburn University home game vs. Alabama State. For the holidays we took a trip down to CT to be with Jacky’s family and then to NYC to meet up with Amy. Like last year, we rang in the New Year back at home with friends Marni and John and their kids and guests in their spacious warehouse offices.
As we say in Puerto Rico: mi casa es su casa. Please come visit us in Massachusetts any time! We love you and your company. Be blessed, healthy and peaceful in 2010.
Con mucho amor,
p.s. If you haven't already, please join Facebook and friend us! It's a great way for us to keep in touch!
(red is noteworthy)
(red is noteworthy)
|Charlie Wilson's War|
|Burn After Reading|
|Vicky Cristina Barcelona|
|Flash of Genius|
|Rachel Getting Married|
|He's Just Not That Into You|
|State of Play|
|The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3|
Jacky's Book List | Rich's Book List