FROM THE G-O-T-T-E-S-M-A-N-S
Dear friends and family,
The fingers on my right hand are cold as I begin to type the first few words of this letter, but it’s nice to be able to reflect on the past year now and not months later in the spring (like we did for last year's letter). We are home keeping warm, having just celebrated the holidays and feeling grateful for another good year and for our blessings, including of course you! Happy 2011!
Jordan is an active, happy-go-lucky third grader. We continue to help him stay on top of his homework and pick up after himself, but he is learning to keep better track of his backpack and belongings. In his warm way, he continues to shower mom with lots of affection (e.g., “Mom, you know what I like most about you? Everything!”) In our parent conference we learned that he’s devoted to his teacher too, inching closer to her during circle time and just wanting to be near her any chance he gets. He has taken to waking extra early on school mornings just so he can get a ride in with Benji and spend extra time with his girl friends at extended day.
Jordan’s interest in art continues but seems to be shifting to the computer in MS Paint. He’s still playing guitar, too, and he looks forward to begin performing in recitals now that he has been playing for a year. In the spring, Jordan took a bonsai class with mom and has joined her in caring for the trees. In the summer, Jordan worked really hard on Level III swim classes. In the fall, he ran in his first 5K race and beat dad by half a minute. This winter, he is thrilled to play community basketball now that he’s a big third grader. He’s also learning to watch and play football with big brother. Check him out playing a quick guitar tune with mom to celebrate the Saints' super bowl victory.
Baseball ruled, as always, with Jordan. In the spring he played town ball for the Rockies in Minor B. In the fall, he moved up to Minor A to play with the A’s. While it was much harder for him to play with mostly fourth graders, he was pleasantly surprised to be “called up” and to be on the same team as one of his close baseball buddies. Most importantly, Jordan spent lots of quality time playing wiffle ball with Ben any chance he could get. Check him out pitching, hitting, and making a play at his games.
Benji is a mature, independent seventh grader. He transitioned seamlessly into the junior high, handling a huge workload on his own and making the Honor Roll this first marking period. In his quiet way, he goes about doing what has to be done with no complaints, and he’s always seeking out opportunities to “go outside,” whether to play with Jordan or work on his own to develop his baseball or basketball skills. Benji hasn’t shown much interest in social networking with friends, preferring instead to use email or just pick up the phone and call, but we figure it’s only a matter of time before he’ll be wanting to text and such. Check him out delivering his part of the student council speech at his sixth grade graduation.
In the spring Benji got braces and, while eating was hard in the beginning, he has since gotten used to them and the responsibility that goes with having them. If all goes well, he’ll have them out just in time for high school. Piano was a little shaky for Benji for a good chunk of the year, but he has recently resumed his interest after we changed him to a more compatible teacher. In the summer, Benji took and passed Level V swimming. In the fall he ran in two 5Ks and won for his age category in the second race. This winter, he tried out for his school basketball team but was cut in the first round. Luckily, we had signed him up to play with town basketball as a backup, figuring it would be a miracle if he made the school team. At the junior high Benji tried out a couple of the many after-school club offerings, like math and engineering, but he determined they weren’t for him. While he loves math, for example, the kids in these clubs are die-hards, and Benji has learned that his passions lie in sports.
That leads to baseball, Benji’s greatest love next to his family. We spent pretty much every weekend in the spring at Benji’s games with his new AAU team (Athlete’s Edge aka AE), and he had a good season as shortstop and pitcher. He also managed to squeeze in some games with the town league and was recommended to play as an all-star at the end of the season. Recently, he again tried out and got onto the open division AE team, so he looks forward to starting practice in the New Year. In the meantime, he has been doing acceleration training to build his strength, speed and agility and has been diligently following the home workout routine assigned by his coach. Check him out pitching, hitting, stealing, making a play, and running home on a series of flukes.
Rich left Monster after almost three years. He is now working at Process Unity, a small startup company that offers SaaS risk management software solutions. In his new role as Product Manager, he is involved with product direction, sales engagements, demos, client meetings, and working with engineering. Jacky thinks his new job is more inline with his innate abilities, particularly in sales, and he has loved the challenge of learning the new business and having a big influence on the company’s direction and successes. Rich just finished his 11th year running the Acton Adult Softball League. This year he and Matt, our neighbor and assistant commissioner, devised and started their first annual commissioner's game, and Rich's randomly assigned team got clobbered.
In February Rich flew to Breckenridge to be a part of his friend Ken's annual outing. After adjusting to the Colorado altitude, he was able to enjoy three good days of powdery skiing. In July Rich flew to Vegas with his friends Eylem, Allan and their friends and played poker and hung out by the pool. In the fall he ran two 5Ks, one with Ben and the other with both Ben and Jordan, and his age became more apparent when both boys beat his time. This year he participated in a Fenway Park season ticket deal with a group of people in the town and was able to take Ben and Jordan to three Red Sox games each. They were late weeknight games in Boston, but the boys had a blast. This winter, after a six-month hiatus, Rich resumed karate workouts.
Since this was such a busy year for Rich (what with travel, long hours at Monster, and ramping up for his new job), he didn’t have time for many home projects, and that made him a little nutty. So near the end of the year, he struck a deal with Jacky to redo the family room with hardwood flooring, homemade built-in shelving, and a wood-burning fireplace insert. So far he has extended the tiling in the kitchen and started pricing out the floor and fireplace. On a really good note, the fireplace insert will help us reduce our carbon footprint (and allow us to take advantage of Obama’s energy efficiency tax credit). The big event in Rich’s family was the marriage of his nephew Kevin to Amber in September. Check out his 2010 booklist.
Jacky is in her sixth year at NBSC and working super hard, as always, performing her myriad roles in the school. Unfortunately, she started the year with some stomach issues, and she now has to watch what she eats due to acid reflux. On the plus side, the diagnosis (along with the second-hand elliptical that she got from her friend's gym) has helped her keep her weight down.
In July, Jacky (and the boys and later Rich) took off to Marbella (southern coast of Spain) for her NBSC five-year-service mini sabbatical. During the planning, we decided that the whole family should join her. Jacky's friend and colleague, Lori, also tagged along. Jacky spent the first two weeks of the trip taking Level B2 Spanish (according to RAE, the official institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language), as well as flamenco “sevillana” dance classes (the traditional, four-part dance originating in Seville and danced by most Spaniards). Both the language and dance classes really challenged her, and she felt like she really grew from the experience. She looks forward to applying what she learned to parts of her curriculum and to teaching the dance to her students this school year.
The fall was a fruitful time for Jacky. In September she became certified to teach Zumba. Unfortunately the local gym where she was planning to teach closed, but she hopes to be able to pursue opportunities at other gyms when she has time. In October she went to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark with her friend Lisa. In November, Jacky’s friend Alan (a German teacher) flew up from Virginia and together they went to the ACTFL conference in Boston. Big events in Jacky’s family included the birth of Jaylynn (grandniece) in November and the birth of Isaiah (grandnephew) in December. Check out Jacky’s 2010 booklist.
As a family, we took a number of trips this year. In February we went skiing with neighbors Matt and Susan and their boys up to Auburn, Maine. In March we went to Puerto Rico for Barbara’s chef’s ceremony. Like last year we spent most of our time in Rincón, but we also spent a day in the mountains up in Adjuntas, Jacky’s mom’s hometown. While there, Jacky was thrilled to take Rich and the boys up to Monte Guilarte, the second highest peak in Puerto Rico that she had hiked during her trip with her mom back in 2006.
In July we went to Spain for three weeks (see filmstrip). While Jacky did her thing, the boys partook in a two-week Spanish immersion camp that ran from 9am-8pm, and they loved the experience, especially getting to know kids from different parts of the world. Rich arrived after a week and with his rental car we were able to take short trips to Ronda, Puerto Banús, Estepona, and Mijas. We spent our last week in the amazing city of Barcelona, with a day trip to the Montserrat mountain range and monastery. It was great to be with our homestay family for the Spanish World Cup victory. ¡Viva la furia roja!
With the expiration of our Honda lease, we traded in our gray Odyssey for a 2011 brown one. In December, we drove it to Baltimore and on the way down and back were able to visit with family and friends in five states (NJ, MD, VA, PA, CT). It was nice to be able to spend time with both Rich’s and Jacky’s families and to see so many friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen in a long time. It was also cool to celebrate many fiftieths this year--not ours but still a sure sign that we are middle-agers. Who woulda thunk! For the first time ever, New Year's Eve saw us at home, just the four of us watching a movie and waiting for the ball to drop.
We felt so fortunate to be able to host many of our family and friends at our home throughout the year (Armand, Mel/Derek & family, Amy, Ana, Bob & Jamila, Jose & family, Alan, Jeff & family). Please come visit us in Massachusetts any time because, as always, mi casa es su casa. We love you and your company! Be blessed, healthy and peaceful in 2011.
Con mucho amor,
Jacqueline, Richard, Benjamin, and Jordan
p.s. If you haven't already, please join Facebook and friend Jacky! It's a great way for us to keep in touch!
(red is noteworthy)
(red is noteworthy)
|Shoot 'Em Up|
|Dead Poet's Society|
|In the Loop|
|Fantastic Mr. Fox|
|Eat Pray Love|
|Dinner for Schmucks|
|Boy with Striped Pajamas|
|Toy Story 3|
|Dirty Filthy Love|
|The Girl Who Played with Fire|
|Capitalism: A Love Story|
|Forgetting Sarah Marshall|
Jacky's Book List | Rich's Book List