Welcome to our 2012 holiday newsletter! This year marks over 10 years of creating these reflections on the year, so we thought we'd change things up a bit. We hope you enjoy!
Many events like our holiday celebrations, birthdays, annual skiing trip to Utah, and trip to somewhere warm for Christmas happen every year. We always have a lot of fun and enjoy this time with our family and friends. Here's a photo montage of our family traditions from 2012.
Skiing in Utah over February vacation Utah album
Hamentashen with Nathan and Bridget, and Easter with Langs (can you figure out the "Easter Egg" for this picture?)
Julia turns 9 and Gregory turns 11!
Mother's Day present from Julia and a celebration of Zelevinsky mothers Mother's Day album
Grace's mining birthday party Grace birthday album and a visit to Six Flags
Labor day VT camping trip Camping album and Halloween (Greg the skeleton and Julia the vet)
Thanksgiving at Langs Thanksgiving album and Hanukkah with the kids' great-grandparents
Christmas in Aruba Aruba album
Our cousins and close friends Heather and Vlad who also live in Sharon have started a tradition of family lunches. They invite all the 14 local family clan and serve up a delicious feast. We've enjoyed the food and company, and also seeing little William grow up.
William and the kids at a few of our family lunches
Another tradition that's emerged is that when Karen's cousin Jimmy picks up the kids they have what they call "Iron Chef Tuesday". One week the kids will pick 2 secret ingredients and Jimmy cooks for them and then the next time Jimmy will pick the 2 ingredients and the kids will cook for him. It's definitely helped developed their cooking skills and is a lot of fun! My kids don't always pick ingredients that are easy for Jimmy to combine into a single dish. For example, one week Jimmy had to find a way to combine strawberries and meatballs. Of course Jimmy's picks aren't always so easy either! Turkey bacon and cheerios was a particularly funny combination.
Some of Jimmy's pictures from Iron Chef Tuesdays
The first real excitement of 2012 was a long weekend in February when we took the kids to Orlando. We accidentally added a little extra "excitement" to the trip by forgetting all of Gregory's clothes other than a swimsuit! The primary motivation was to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. It was truly spectacular and definitely recommendeded for any Harry Potter fans out there. We also did a marathon Disney day where we hit all 4 parks in one day! We'd been to all of them before so the goal was basically to go on just our favorite rides. It was quite a day and quite a trip. Orlando Album
Hogwarts Castle at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
For April vacation we continued our cruising tradition with a Southern Caribbean cruise from Puerto Rico (cruise album). We were delighted by all the islands, with highlights being an extremely muddy but fun hike around Grand Etang Lake in Grenada (so muddy that Gregory's shoe got sucked right off!), zip lining in St Lucia, and hiking up Caneel Hill on St John. We also spent an extra day in Puerto Rico exploring and hiking in the El Yunque rain forest.
Honeymoon Beach on St John
The highlight of the year for Leo and Karen was a week and a half long trip to Japan with Leo's sister Katya and our friends Matt, Alison, and Tom. Karen's parents came from California to live in our house while we were away to take care of the kids since they had school. The Japan trip was simply amazing! We're very grateful to Alison for her role as trip planner. We started in Tokyo for a few days, with a special trip to the Studio Ghibli Museum since we're huge fans of Japanese film director Hiyao Miyazaki. We also went to a really fun huge indoor "Ramen Museum" where you could try different types of ramen. Next was Kyoto with all its beautiful temples and some great day trips to Fushimi, Nara, and Arashiyama. Nara was especially memorable because it was mobbed with both semi-tame deer and incredibly cute school children who had assignments for English class to ask questions of foreign visitors, like "What is your favorite fruit?". Then we travelled to Mount Koya to spend the night in a Buddhist temple. At night we walked through a huge, ancient cemetery that's lit up with lanterns. It was very moving overall, and only a little scary when we lost Katya for a while! In the morning we woke at 6 to participate in the monks' morning prayers. We spent one night on the town in Osaka and then finished the trip with a visit to Hiroshima and several nights spent on the nearby island of Miyajima. We rented a little Japanese guest house for the 6 of us and had a great time. Then it was back to Tokyo and finally back to Boston and the real world (Japan album). It was the trip of a lifetime and we especially enjoyed it because of the company!
In September we took a family trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon album). We loved our stop in Sedona on the way up. The drive from Phoenix and back was made easy because as a family we were listening to "The Hunger Games" so we were all eager to have a chance to listen more. September turns out to be the perfect time to visit the canyon. The weather was perfect, the crowds were light, and the views were simply amazing. Our first full day we watched both sunrise and sunset and we took an exciting helicopter ride. The next day we had a blast hiking the South Kaibob trail. We felt pretty good about our hike but it was nothing compared to a guy who ran past us who had come from the North Rim that morning, was going up to the top of the South Rim, and then was running all the way back to the North Rim the same day! Considering all the warning and books about death in the canyon from even simple hikes we were very impressed. Karen thought she had no fear of heights but Gregory was truly fearless to the point where Karen threatened to find a leash for him! But everyone had a great time and made it back safe and sound.
The spectacular Grand Canyon!
We also enjoyed many local amusements this year, many for the first time. In April we got 3 day passes for the whole family to attend PAX East, which is a huge game conference in Boston. Leo was attending in part because of his work, but mostly we spent all the available time trying out different board games! In June we walked in the Boston Gay Pride Parade with Karen's church. That was also an eventful day because it was the first time we met Karen's cousin's wonderful boyfriend Thomas! At the end of August we had a really fun time river rafting in Western Massachusetts. The damage that was still visible from last year's Hurricane Irene was pretty incredible. In September we attended Waterfire in Providence for the first time. It's a beautiful event where they light torches all along and on the river. We also went the night there was a performance from a troupe that dances on the sides of skyscrapers! Finally, in October we enjoyed a fun fall hike and festival at Blue Hills.
PAX, rafting, waterfire, and the Blue Hills
Babies and Pets
We got to meet two new babies this year! First to arrive was Leo's second cousin Lizzie, sister to little Tony. We had a chance to travel to New York City and meet her in person the weekend after Thanksgiving. The funniest thing is that we brought presents for both Tony and Lizzie and when we exclaimed to Tony that he could have some presents to open he thanked us but solemnly explained that he had recently had his birthday so he had already had presents and didn't need any more. We eventually persuaded him that it couldn't hurt to open a few more. He and Lizzie were both very adorable.
Second was our friends Dan and Amy's little daughter Cordelia who we met when she was just a few weeks old. Dan and Amy had also recently bought a house so we also got to see that for the first time too. It was great to see them again.
In the animal department we are down to two cats, two gerbils, and a leopard gecko, plus Karen recently adopted a Betta fish at work who she named after their current software release and who she now really hopes doesn't die before the release goes out!
Visiting with Tony, Lizzie, and Leo's Movember Moustache; Karen holding baby Cordelia
This year was amazing and fun in many respects, but it was also a year where we experienced some very sad losses. Leo's maternal grandparents both passed away this year within a few months of each other after being married for 59 years. They will both be missed.
Memories of Ded Mulya and Baba Zina - Leo's grandparents at his parents' wedding and our wedding
Leo loves working on Lord of the Rings Online at Turbine. He runs a Magic: the Gathering League there, and Gregory and Julia have started to play along at home! He continues to dabble in tournament bridge, the highlight of the year being when he was a part of the team that qualified to represent District 25 at the Grand National Teams Flight B Finals at the Philadelphia North American Bridge Championships. His team lost in the quarterfinals, but it was an amazing experience. He is also enjoying karate, and earned a brown belt in 2012.
Most things with Karen are pretty much the same - she's still working at Pega, enjoying attending the UU church, playing guitar with Heather (although one change is that Vlad also recently joined the band as well!), reading, and playing board games. She was encouraged by the election results this year and is hoping for significant progress on gay marriage next year. She supported a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary based on a YouTube video that she found very moving. She also had another work trip to Hyderabad, India this year with co-workers Das and Adam which was both productive and a lot of fun.
Heather and Karen playing guitar for Will, who adores music
Another exciting family event for Karen this year was that her father was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame along with 9 other inventors, including Steve Jobs. He was recognized for his inventions in magnetic storage. We are all very proud!
It seems unbelievable but Gregory started middle school this year! He thinks it's "amazing" (with only a dash of sarcastic tone). But seriously, he really is enjoying the experience. The last semester of 5th grade he tried out for and got into one of the school's marimba troupes which he loves. We got a new ping pong table and he's getting pretty good. If you come visit us, you can challenge him to a game!
Playing with our new ping pong table
Julia is enjoying 4th grade. She likes arts and crafts, reading, playing with Android games, and playing board games like Bohnanza and Dominion. She has a cute habit of adding "ish" to the end of words which results in kind of weirdish words sometimes. She gave a wonderful speech at church about being penpals with kids in Uganda. Both Karen's sister and mom play the flute, so Julia has continued the family tradition by taking up the flute in band.
We hope all of you have a great 2013 and will keep in
touch! Please come and see us when you can.
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