The year started with our annual pilgrimage to Utah for some fantastic skiing with Karen's family. Gregory loves to go fast and has already conquered some of the intermediate hills. Julia wasn't so sure about skiing. She tried it a few times but her favorite part was getting a jellybean on the chairlift ride. She's become much more adventurous over the past year so we think she will like it a lot more in this upcoming year.
Leo teaching Julia to ski at Snowbird in Utah
In the fall of 2006 Karen was in a weight loss bet with her friend Jim from work. By the official weigh-in on Jan 1, the good news was that she had lost 15 pounds so Jim had to dye his hair. The bad news was that Jim had lost even more than 15 pounds so Karen had to put her hair in braids for a week. Heather, Katya, and Barb came over and did the braids.
Karen with braids
Springtime was full of birthday parties and presents. Julia turned 4 and Gregory turned 6.
Julia's birthday party (Julia, Ava, Erica, Annabelle, Gregory)
Our backyard certainly benefited from the birthdays as Gregory got a huge trampoline and Karen got a hammock. We spent many fun hours jumping and swinging on our new toys.
Gregory's trampoline (Miranda, Julia, Devon, Karen, Gregory) and Karen's hammock (Gregory, Julia, Jarrod's feet)
Gregory has been continuing his piano lessons and we all headed down to New York city for a special recital in June. We stayed with Karen's aunt, uncle, and cousin in Connecticut the day before, then spent the day in central park, and finally ended with the recital.
Gregory at the recital
One highlight of the year was Gregory's graduation from kindergarten. He attended private kindergarten at Kindercare so this was his final goodbye to that school. It was a really fun ceremony complete with graduation caps, a performance by the kids, and cake.
Rachel, Gregory, Vinay, and Paxton celebrating their graduation
In July we traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark with Leo's family for a wonderful week's vacation. It is really a lovely country that we would highly recommend. Despite occasional downpours we enjoyed Elsinore (site of Hamlet), Tivoli Gardens, the National Museum, Amalienborg Palace, and much more.
The family in Denmark (Clockwise from top left:
Elsinore, Waiting for a bus in the rain, Ledreborg Palace, Royal Library Gardens)
August featured a trip to Columbus, Ohio for a family reunion of Karen's Mom's side of the family. It was great to spend time with the whole family and catch up with everyone. There was a minor crisis when Gregory threw up in the rental car but overall it was a great trip. We especially enjoyed the Columbus Zoo (a really top notch zoo) and hanging out at the country club pool.
Gregory, Chrissy (their 2nd cousin once removed), and Julia having a great time playing together
At the end of the summer Karen and Leo went to a bed and breakfast in western Massachusetts with Heather and Vlad and then on for a river rafting trip with Katya and some friends from Karen's work.
Karen enjoys rafting when everyone else does all the hard work
For Labor Day we all went camping along with Barb, Jarrod, Grace, and Karen's cousin Jimmy. The next day we went to Six Flags New England which the kids thought was fantastic.
Barb, Jarrod, and the kids on our camping trip
We were lucky to be able to see a lot of Karen's parents this year now that they are both retired. On one of their trips we took a hike to The Fells along with Kevin Dill. Julia was amazing - hiking for miles.
Hike in The Fells
In October Karen was a speaker at PegaWorld (Pega's user conference) in Orlando. The whole family headed down on Friday evening and spent Saturday at Magic Kingdom and Sunday at Epcot. On Monday and Tuesday while Karen was busy with the conference, Leo took the kids to Sea World and Universal Studios. Thanks to some advice from our friend Juliet, we booked a "character lunch" at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom where we had great food and the kids were thrilled as characters from Winnie-the-Pooh came by to give them hugs and take pictures. Luckily Julia was just a smidge over the height limit so we all had a blast going on some of the exciting rides like Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Test Track, and Soarin in addition to all the classics.
We made some great Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween and the kids were dressed as a knight and Cinderella. It's funny because when I was a kid I loved getting piles and piles of candy. As an adult I think that is the scariest part of Halloween!
The kids trick-or-treating
We traveled out to San Jose, California to visit Karen's parents for Thanksgiving. We hadn't been back there since September 2001 so it was fun to see the house and neighborhood again. We had fun trips with the kids, going to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and San Francisco. One of the reasons Leo was excited about the trip was because there was a National Bridge tournament going on in San Francisco while we were there. He spent a few days playing and even managed to convince Karen and Karen's Mom (Carol) to play in a beginner event. He also convinced Karen and Carol to play with him and one other player in the midnight knock-outs. The game starts at 11:30 PM and you keep playing until you lose a round or it's over. Leo was on a roll and Karen and Carol managed to play decently enough that we made it to the finals and ended up coming in second. We were feeling pretty good until we went back to the garage where our car was parked and discovered that it was locked until 6 AM. So there we were stranded in San Francisco at 2:30 in the morning! After wandering the streets a bit we ended up getting a hotel for a few hours sleep before heading back home to Karen's Dad and the kids. It was certainly exciting for him when he woke up to find us all missing!
Another highlight of the trip was the chance to see some old friends. First we went over to visit Karen's middle school and high school friend Samantha (and her family). It was great to catch up! We also went to visit our friends Kimberly, Peter, and their 4 kids. Kimberly lived in Quincy, MA at the same time as us and we spent many fun hours together when Gregory and Julia were younger. It was great to see how her kids had grown up! Lastly we had dinner with Mandy, Rick, and Steve Dill (Karen's neighbors from her NY days).
California (Clockwise from top left: Santa Cruz, 2 scenes from San Francisco, Visiting (Julia, Sydney, Morgan, Kimberly with Zachary, Alexander, Karen, Gregory) )
We had a lot of fun activities leading up to the holidays. We went to Edaville with our friends Nathan and Bridget and their baby Noah where we rode on the train and kiddie rides, visited Santa, and marveled at their lights. We also had a wonderful Hanukah dinner with Nathan and Bridget. Gregory enjoyed shredding potatoes for the latkes. We baked Christmas cookies with Karen's aunt and cousin who came to visit for the day. We also got to meet the two new adorable kittens recently adopted by our friends Dan and Amy.
Making Christmas Cookies (Aunt Marilyn, Gregory, Grace, Barb, Julia, Uncle Jimmy)
Boston has gotten more than 2 feet of snow already this year which has been good for fun winter activities. We all went sledding, built a snowman, had a snowball fight, and made snow angels. Sometimes it's good to live where it gets cold!
Leo and the kids sledding at Borderland
For Christmas week we headed down with Leo's family to the aptly named "Paradise Island" in the Bahamas. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort near Atlantis. I'm afraid we didn't drink our share of the free booze, but we certainly ate plenty and had a great time jumping in the waves and building Mayan pyramids out of sand. All the playing in the water paid off as Gregory learned to really swim this week! The grounds of our hotel were pretty but Atlantis was really spectacular! We loved walking through the predator tunnel which is a glass tunnel that goes right along the bottom of a huge pool full of sharks and other fish, and also The Dig where we saw the giant rays sweeping through the lit-up ruins at night. And yes, Santa did manage to find us even in the Bahamas.
Bahamas (Clockwise from top left: The Cloisters, Beach, Atlantis, Outside our Hotel)
Leo continues to work for SunGard and he now manages an offshore team. He became a Bronze Life Master in bridge this year, and has continued to play at the MIT/DL Bridge Club on Tuesday nights.
Karen is still software engineering manager at Pegasystems. In October she played paintball with some friends from work. Karen's also still enjoying being part of the Unitarian Universalist church in Sharon. In the fall she became one of the teachers for the preschool class. Both Leo and Karen got private offices at work this year (although Karen's might be temporary since Pega is growing so fast). Karen even bought a massage chair for the office.
Karen in her office (the massage chair is in a corner that can't be seen)
Gregory started public school this year. So far first grade has been great! He has a really nice teacher named Mrs Cummings and has thrived. He loves to read and finished over 30 of the Magic Tree House series in the past few months and is currently working through the A to Z Mysteries series. He enjoyed playing soccer in the spring, fall, and for a week in the summer. He also just earned his yellow belt in karate.
Gregory wrote a funny story last spring
Julia is in pre-kindergarten at Kindercare. She has a wonderful imagination and loves playing with stuffed animals and dolls. Every night before she goes to sleep she likes to collect a little menagerie of animals to surround her. She also enjoys coloring and other art projects. This fall she's been taking rhythmic gymnastics and ice skating lessons.
Julia learning to skate and Gregory at soccer
Thank you for your holiday cards this year! We love reading them. We hope all of you have a great 2008 and will keep in touch! Please come and see us when you can.
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