This year I'm starting the annual chronicle for 2013 right when the clock struck midnight! We began the year at a New Year's party hosted at Heather and Vlad's and attended by all of Leo's family (album).
The kids with sparkling cider for New Years
Our first adventure of the year was a skiing trip to Attitash in New Hampshire with Kevin, Allison, Jack, Barb, Jarrod, and Grace (album). Despite the close call with mother nature due to pouring rain the week before, Eastern snow-making saved the day and we had a great time. We even got to admire some large ice formations on the slopes that weren't open.
Skiing in Attitash
The following weekend there was an impressive blizzard where we got over 2 feet of snow! We had a great time frolicking in the snow, and we built a very cool snow cave with one of Julia's friends across the street.
Blizzard pics (these star Julia because she's more patient with pictures than Gregory!)
Valentine's Day was special this year because Karen's cousin Jimmy got engaged to his boyfriend Thomas! We're really looking forward to their wedding next year. Shortly after that we headed off to Utah for our usual week of family fun and grandpa goofiness (album).
Utah is full of skiing, laughs, and silly helmets
The spring had other fun visits with friends, including making Hamentashen with Nathan, Bridget, Noah, and Jemmy, and visiting Dan, Amy, and baby Cori.
Hamentashen and hanging out with Dan and Cori
We attended PAX East again this year, basked in the geeky atmosphere, and tried out some new board games.
Fun at PAX
Unfortunately this spring was also a very difficult time for us in other ways. Leo's Dad's health took a turn for the worse and he passed away on April 10th, much too young, at the age of 60. We lived in the same town and he was very dear in our hearts, so he left a big hole behind. We think about him and miss him often. He was a gifted mathematician and professor with a fascinating life. Here's an album in tribute to Andrei.
Andrei Zelevinsky as a son, big brother, husband, father, and grandfather
It was a difficult decision, but we decided to delay but not cancel the trip we had planned with Karen's family for April vacation. We were driving from Karen's home in San Jose to Yosemite when we heard about the Boston Marathon bombing. Luckily no one we knew was injured but we still sorrowed with our city and heaved a sigh of relief when it was all over. Yosemite was a beautiful refuge - the waterfalls were at full strength and it was good hiking weather. Karen borrowed an old pair of hiking boots from her parents' front hall closet, but apparently they were a bit too old since the soles of the shoes completely fell off halfway through the first hike! (album)
Beautiful views in Yosemite
While in California, we also had a chance to visit with some old friends: Karen's San Jose friends Sam and Liza and their growing families, our friends Kimberly and Peter and their kids (including Karen's goddaughter) who we know from our days living in Quincy as new parents, and the Dills, our lifelong, close family friends who were also next door neighbors in NY when Karen was a kid (album).
Visting friends in California
Birthday season was upon us after that (album). Julia celebrated her 10th birthday at a "paint your own pottery" place and Gregory celebrated his 12th birthday with a bowling party.
Julia's birthday party
Greg got socks for his birthday! Oh joy! But the truth is that he really needed them because he could never find any...
We had portraits taken in a local park by Ellie, a friend from Karen's church, who is a photographer and who was moving away to Minnesota. We always work best under a deadline. We're really glad we had a chance to have her photograph us before she left (album).
One of our portraits
June marked Leo and Karen's 15th wedding anniversary. We went for a romantic weekend getaway in Vermont while Leo's mom watched the kids. Awww, look how young and innocent we looked back then.
Fifteen years ago...
For Father's Day Karen and the kids made Leo a gigantic poster with pictures over the years. (album of great Leo Dad pictures that we chose from)
Father's Day poster
After school was out, we took a fun cruise from Boston to Quebec with Leo's grandparents. In preparation for the stop on Prince Edward Island we began reading Anne of Green Gables as our family book. Karen in particular likes to create funny voices for some of the characters. We've continued the series ever since and are currently on book 8, Rilla of Ingleside. The final stop for the cruise was Quebec City. Vlad flew up for a few days and we all drove back together, stopping by picturesque Montmorency Falls on the way (album).
Halifax Citadel and Gregory as Anne
The summer began in earnest and the kids attended YMCA camp and College Academy, a fun camp that combines geeky things and artsy things, which works perfectly for our kids. Gregory took classes in Magic, D&D, Chess, and Rocketry and Julia took classes in Cartooning, Photoshop, Newspaper Reporting, and Amazing Artists.
July also saw some fun weekend and day trips. We visited Hammond Castle with Thomas, Jimmy, and Barb and family as part of scoping out the area for the wedding next year.
Visiting Hammond Castle
Another fun day trip was to Cape Cod to see two of Leo's friends from graduate school days, Amy and Andy, and their son William. We also went up for a weekend visit in Waterville Valley, NH in a new condo that our friends Kevin and Allison bought. It has amazing views and will be fun in every season: we also went up there for some fall colors and we're planning to go skiing there sometime this winter. They love it up there so much that they're moving there full-time!
Beach in Cape Cod and Waterville Valley, NH
Birthday wave number 2 was up next (album), along with the 50th wedding anniversary of Leo's Great Uncle Vladimir and Great Aunt Vera. We celebrated at Heather and Vlad's place with a rousing round of croquet with family, including Tanya, Niell, Tony, and Lizzie (album).
Croquet in Heather and Vlad's back yard
Our final hurrah for summer was a fantastic cruise in Alaska with a whole bunch of family: Karen's parents, Karen's sister and family, Leo's mom, Leo's sister, and Vlad, for a grand total of 12 travellers. We started in Vancouver which was amazing by itself, then cruised Alaska and the inside passage, back to Vancouver, and then drove to Seattle for some final sightseeing (and a direct flight back to Boston). Karen was reminded of the Alaska cruise she took with her Grandmother (just the two of them) back when she was 16. Alaska is pretty spectacular and we had a great time spending time with family and seeing the amazing natural sights, including glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, fjords, orcas, and black bears. The ship had a special "Dancing with the Stars" program and both Leo and Karen made it to the finals, much to the amusement of our family. For those who want a taste of the fun, here's the videos of Leo dancing the Samba and Karen dancing the Cha Cha (album).
Emerald Lake, the Mendenhall Glacier, flightseeing, and Ketchikan
Our annual tradition of New England camping on Labor Day weekend continued! This year we camped near Freeport, Maine and we had beautiful hikes, delicious s'mores, and all the hilarity that generally ensues when you get Karen and her crazy family together. The only part of the trip that was not ideal was the pouring rain on the final night and when we were packing up - however we turned this into a positive by heading to a tasty diner for breakfast! (album)
Our Maine campsite
We had our usual fall diversions: back to school nights, apple picking, and Halloween. This year we also had fun throwing Karen's cousin Jimmy two 40th birthday parties. The first one was a Halloween and S'More themed surprise party that Karen started working on many months in advance. She thought it would be suspicious if she didn't say anything about his upcoming birthday, so she tried proposing to Jimmy a (fake) modest family party. But being the creative and fun Jimmy that he is, he rejected that idea and countered with the idea of a murder mystery party (one he had written himself quite a few years ago!) with a whole bunch of friends and family. With no ready excuse (and actually looking forward to a murder mystery party), Karen busily planned two birthdays on consecutive weekends.
Halloween and Jimmy's murder mystery party
The year has been wrapping up with holiday cheer and celebrations with Thanksgiving at Heather and Vlad's (I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them for graciously hosting and feeding us delicious food at so many family events this year!), Hanukkah (with the annual tradition of Karen (w)racking her brain for 8 days of presents - this year one of the presents was a 6-pack of rice pudding for each kid so you can see how desperate it sometimes gets, especially when one doesn't yet have Amazon Prime and the presents aren't delivered on time!), early "Christmas" at Karen's Aunt and Uncle's house in Connecticut (and our tradition of the "Attic Treasures" Yankee Swap where you bring something you already own), and our annual revels celebrations at the UU church where Julia had a leading shadow puppet role, portraying...wait for it...the left hand of "The Man" in our production of "The Man who Stole the Sun Cow"!
Hanukkah and Christmas both get their fair share of fun and presents!
For actual Christmas week we headed to Vieques, Puerto Rico with Leo's Mom, sister, and grandparents where we enjoyed the warm weather, beautiful beaches, and amazing biolumenescent bay. You visit the bay at night in kayaks and the water has gorgeous, blue, glowing sparkles anywhere it is touched, by your boat, your paddle, your hand, or even the fish swimming under water. The beaches in Vieques are beautiful but sometimes hard to get to. Here's a video of Leo's Mom driving the road (more like a giant mud puddle) to Navio Beach! One other downside of Vieques is the vicious biting sandflies (aka no-see-ums, biting midges, sand gnats, sandfleas, granny nippers, chitras, or punkies - so many names because you have to be sure to have something to call them as you curse them and all their kind!). They are very small but extremely itchy. However we still had a great time and the kids basically avoided all bites because they were always swimming.
Christmas in Vieques
Leo continues to love working on Lord of the Rings Online at Turbine. He played a key role in the Helm's Deep expansion pack. After many years of running and participating in the Magic: the Gathering league at work, he finally won the Dragon's Maze league and got his name on the plaque. He is continuing to play bridge with his partner Jay and at home with the kids. In December, he got the highest tier brown belt at his karate school and over the next few years will be working on getting to his black belt test.
Leo (and Matt) at a brown belt test
Karen is enjoying life. She appreciates her friends/co-workers at Pega who make every day interesting. Some of you may recall her pre-kid days of training her cats to jump through hoops and sit on command. She has a betta fish at work and she decided to try out some more animal training - this time teaching the fish to jump out of the water on command! Skeptical? Here's a video! She loves her weekly guitar playing and singing with the Karen/Heather/Vlad band. She enjoys visiting little William for play dates and is looking forward to meeting his little brother in February. She's also excited that the kids have learned to play bridge so now we can play as a family whenever we want. She's reading a lot, as usual, especially during her long commute on the train and subway. This year she's started scanning many of her old photo albums. Here are pictures of her and her friends from middle school and high school. Finally, she loves our continuing tradition of having Alison, Matt, Katya, and Galina (plus Tom and Alex when they can make it) over once a week for dinner and TV shows.
Jimmy and Karen enjoying their "cousin day" - a scavenger hunt in Boston
Gregory is in 7th grade now. His favorite class is French because his teacher is really fun and has lots of ways to get bonus points (including one extra point for each day early you turn in a project - this has been good incentive!).
Some of his favorite activities are playing Wizards 101 and Magic, and being part of his Marimba troupe (start at 1:18 in this video if you want to see Gregory in action at a Marimba practice - he's in the front right).
Gregory carrying Grace in Gloucester after our visit to Hammond Castle
As a 5th grader Julia is in her final year of elementary school. She likes to draw, play with her friends, play the flute (which drives her brother crazy for some reason), make cookies, swim, do extreme dot-to-dots, and read. One of her highlights this year was when as a reward for a great year in school she got to be "queen for a day" and decide what we did. She had us all go to Six Flags New England with her friend Amelia and we spent the whole day letting her decide everything. We had such a good time that when Gregory was "king for a day" we went back to Six Flags with his friend Derrick! Luckily we have season passes to Six Flags. One thing that's really special about Julia is that she's very caring and responsible. See the hilarious note she wrote for Leo when he was a parent volunteer on a field trip for her class last year. She's an adorable little mother hen.
Giant cookie baking and letter for Dad
Have a great 2014!
Previous years' sites: