Dear friends and relatives,
2020 will universally be marked by the all-consuming pandemic, but for us, the year will also be remembered for a joyous addition to our family. Steven got a dog. And, oh yeah, Stephanie and Blake had a baby.
photo courtesy of Hannah Drews Eggert
Gavin Price Lerdall was born in Chicago on October 23 at 7:08 pm and weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces — what a coincidence. Stephanie and Blake are experiencing the joys of new parenthood. Gavin likes to eat every 2 hours and soils an average of 4 outfits each day, so they're grateful for the many cute hand-me-downs from Gavin's 9-month old cousin in Luxembourg. While on my sabbatical, Sheryl and I spent a few weeks there to assist, and Mike and Marianne (Blake's parents) came to help out right after. It turns out that everything has changed since we did this 30+ years ago — they now make apps that track everything down to baby poop volume and color! Gavin is a cute bundle of joy, and that's how they get you. Their cuteness sucks you in, so you support them for the next 18 years.
When Stephanie was five, we enrolled her in Kindergarten. Sheryl dressed her in her finest dress and dropped her off at school. At the end of the day, when Sheryl picked her up, she asked, "How was your day?" Stephanie's response was, "I liked it. I think I will go back."
When Steven was in Kindergarten, Sheryl would dress him in what she considered adorable clothes and drop him off at school. At the end of each day, when Sheryl picked him up, she would ask, "Did anyone say you looked nice?" Steven would always say, "No." This question/answer process went on for enough days that Steven grew tired of it. Eventually, one day Sheryl asked, "Did anyone say you looked nice?" and Steven's response was, "No, they said I looked dumb." Sheryl's retort was, "They did not!"
I predict that history will repeat itself, and Blake and Stephanie will have their own Kindergarten story five years from now.
Our house in Texas is located near Sheryl's niece, Leah. Back in 2018, before our possessions arrived, Leah and her daughter, Addie (our grandniece), visited us. Since the house was empty with nothing to bang in to, Leah let Addie crawl along the floor. Earlier that day, Sheryl and I had Popeyes for lunch. We ate standing at our kitchen island since we had no chairs. Unbeknownst to us, a small piece of spicy chicken batter had fallen on the floor. Addie found this, put it in her mouth, and her face lit up. I saw that and exclaimed, "Popeyes!" Addie smiled, so, every time after that, when I saw Addie, I exclaimed "Popeyes!" to get her to smile. Addie now refers to me as Uncle Popeye. With Gavin's arrival, it was time to pick a grandfather name. I'm going with Grandpa Popeye. Sheryl opted for Grandmére.
Both Stephanie and Blake have been doing their same jobs from home since March (Blake is still managing logistics for beer and wine company Constellation Brands; Stephanie is still in Public Relations for investment research firm Morningstar). Pregnancy seems to have some perks, since Stephanie gets to use their proper desk and desk chair, while Blake works from the kitchen table.
Steven has hit his stride as an insurance broker at Goosehead. Like with most sales jobs, it was tough going at first, but now he's built a big enough network of customers and clients that he's exceeding his monthly goals. He's also being given more and more responsibility, such as management of newer hires. Now that Steven is 30, he finds that twenty-something just-graduated-from-college employees are like Marines. Some are late for meetings, and others drink too much at company functions. What a difference eight years make.
Steven got a bulldog, Bullet, a.k.a. Bullie (his prized child), this year. As he was spending more time at home (sometimes working there), he, too, has been experiencing the joys of new parenthood, including cleaning lots of poop. I am not sure if there's an app for that.
Steven's affection is not limited to Bullie, as Steven now has a girlfriend. It's not just Steven. Our entire family thinks Veronica is fantastic.
Steven and Veronica recently attended a wedding of Nick Meagher, one of Steven's old Alameda friends, and Katie Verbano, a coworker of Steven's at the Goosehead office in Dallas. Father of the groom, my friend Todd Meagher, has been part of the music industry for years. As luck would have it, one of the guests at Steven and Veronica's wedding reception table was Erik Turner, lead singer from the band, Warrant. You may not know the band name, but you've probably heard their song with lyrics "She's my cherry pie…"
Sheryl is the proud grandmother. She prods Stephanie for new pictures of Gavin every day. She was in hog heaven when we were helping out with Gavin as a newborn in Chicago and is looking forward to a return visit in January. With the pandemic, Sheryl has had lots of time off but has been sporadically substitute teaching for grades K-4 at a school that is only five minutes from our house. With four sisters and her mom all in Houston and New Orleans, she is thankful to have the life she's always wanted – one filled with family.
I had been working from home three weeks each month with one week at the Autodesk office in San Francisco since the time we moved. Autodesk has restricted travel until at least May 2021, so I've been home full time this year and am thankful my strategic foresight job (preparing the company and our customers for possible futures) can still be accomplished remotely.
Jeanene (Maw Maw, as we all call her) is doing just fine. She had a bout of colitis that sapped her strength, but medicine remedied that, and she is on the mend. She and Sheryl are co-chairs of our homeowner association's Yard of the Month Committee. Her eyesight is such that iPhones are too small, but she can judge each month's entries on an iPad. Jeanene is grateful for her children and grandchildren, who call her regularly. With the pandemic limiting out-of-the-home excursions, the phone calls add more variety to her day.
Well, that's the scoop. We look forward to visitors once the pandemic is behind us.
Scott on behalf of Scott, Sheryl, Blake, Stephanie, Gavin, Steven, Bullie, and Jeanene