The year started off with a bang in January when Karen and Barb secretly flew out to surprise their parents on their 50th wedding anniversary while they were skiing in Utah.
Karen's Mom and Dad celebrating their 50th anniversary
We were in Utah again skiing for February vacation, but this time with all the families in tow. We had the usual skiing in Snowbird and Alta, swimming in the heated outdoor pool at night, playing lots of bridge (kids too), and as usual, Oma made her famous chocolate chip cookies with Julia and Grace as helpers. Karen, Leo, and the kids also got to explore Salt Lake City sights for an afternoon.
Greg doesn't fall too often but we managed to capture him twice getting fluffy
In March Karen took a business trip to Hyderabad, India. It was great to spend time in person with the people and teams there, and she also had some touristy fun visiting Ramoji Film City with her co-worker John. Ramoji is the world’s largest film studio complex and contains both active movie sets and an amusement park. During one attraction Karen volunteered from the audience and was put in the role of Basanti from the classic Indian movie Sholay. You can see the original movie clip here (you can start around 25 seconds in) and here is the new version with Karen as the star!
On the way back to the US, Karen planned a stopover in Dubai that had her land early Saturday afternoon and depart Sunday morning. She made the most of her hours, visiting the gigantic malls to gawk at the indoor ski area and penguins, aquarium, roller coasters, and more. She also walked through the outdoor markets and took a night bus tour of the city. Karen found Dubai interesting both because of the rich blend of cultures and the over-the-top buildings.
At Ramoji and a picture of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which is the tallest man-made structure in the world
Barb turned 40 in April so Karen dressed appropriately to show her support.
Barb's birthday party
We continued our tradition of visiting PAX East, a huge local game convention. We played new board games, Julia and Grace got amazing face painting, and we absorbed all the geeky sights.
Pictures from PAX
For April vacation (and Julia's birthday), we went to Orlando to enjoy Universal Studios and water parks. Julia was finally tall enough to ride the "Dragon Challenge" coaster in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! And we took some silly pictures...
Leo with ET at Universal
May marked the beginning of us having an official teenager in the family. Karen made a tribute video of Gregory through the years. For his birthday party, Gregory had a D&D adventure run by the Dad of one of his friends.
May was also a very happy month because it was when Jimmy and Thomas got married! Karen was "best person" for her cousin Jimmy and accompanied him with guitar and back-up vocals for an original song Jimmy performed during the ceremony. It was a fantastic family weekend at a retreat center in Massachusetts where everyone was able to spend the nights, relax around the camp fire, play games, and eat together. We had an amazing time.
Scenes from Jimmy and Thomas' wedding
We took our annual camping trip in July this year, camping in Pearl Hill State Park here in Massachusetts. Karen and Jimmy had their usual s'more competition, and as usual, Karen won. Or at least, that's Karen's version of events. We got a cool, new, giant pop-up tent this year that sets itself in like 2 minutes. The poles are integrated into the tent and telescope out. Very cool.
Summer was full of camps and hanging out with family. This year the kids did College Academy again and also tried a sleepover camp for the first time. It was a two week computer camp called Emagination where Julia took Scratch (a visual programming language), 3D character animation, Anime RPG design, and tennis, and Gregory took programming basics, robotics, Magic, and field games. It was a bit nerve wracking for us parents to drop them off at the college campus and just leave, but the kids had a great time and are eager to go back again next year. Unfortunately Julia's hair was quite tangled by that point in the summer so we chopped it off. Karen threatened to do it herself with scissors but in the end we went to our usual SuperCuts.
Hanging out with Zelevinskys and Gregory with his rocket at College Academy
In August Leo also turned "30" so we had some fun for his birthday.
Leo with his beautiful balloon bouquet
Our big adventure for the year was a trip to Europe with Leo's mom and sister. We started in Iceland (Iceland album) which was originally just a ploy to avoid a red eye flight, but turned out to be a really amazing 3 1/2 day adventure! We saw beautiful Reykjavik, waterfalls, the Blue Lagoon, geysers (did you know that geysers are named after the original "Great Geysir" in Iceland?), and Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon (on the way back from that we came really close to running out of gas in the middle of nowhere but found some just in time).
Skogafoss and a cute grass-covered building in Skalholt
Next up was Italy (Italy album) where we tried to cram in as many amazing sights as we could in a week. We revisited several of our favorite places from our honeymoon (Venice and Cinque Terre), still didn't love Florence and its long lines, and finally made it to the leaning tower of Pisa which we missed on our honeymoon because our train connection time was too short. Pisa is very, very crowded, but the tower did lean as advertised!
Manarola in Cinque Terre and the leaning tower
Our final stop was Paris (Paris album), mostly because Gregory really, really wanted to go there. He's been taking French in middle school with a very charismatic and fun teacher who adores all things French. Highlights included the Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, walking up the Eiffel Tower, and the Guimet Museum of Asian Art. We stayed in a very interesting apartment with bizarre but cool decor with mirrors everywhere, including on the ceiling - our theory is that it was a bachelor pad.
The Eiffel Tower and Gregory in a see-through chair next to a weird statue and lots of mirrors in our apartment
Back home it was back to school and work, and enjoying time with friends and family. Here's a gratuitous baby shot, since we love babies.
In October we had a reunion from the Quincy days when Kimberly and her family visited from California (visit album). Lily and her kids also joined us for the day so it was full house. It was great to see how all the kids had grown.
Left: Gregory and Alexander (2001), Center: All the kids (2014), Right: Gregory and Joshie (2003)
We had our usual wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving in Connecticut with Karen's Aunt and Uncle.
And we enjoyed Hanukkah latkes and games with friends and family.
Our final trip for the year was a relaxing Christmas vacation in Aruba (Aruba album) with Leo's mom, sister, and grandparents, and Karen's sister and family. We had a little scare with Leo's grandmother but she was soon on the mend and we enjoyed swimming in both the pool and ocean, as well as a day driving around the island. We ate way too much and can barely squeeze into our usual pants. So that made picking New Year's resolutions pretty easy...
Leo survived a tough year for the game industry, losing many talented friends to layoffs. He celebrated his fifth anniversary at Turbine and became the Lead Engineer on Lord of the Rings Online. In addition to his traditional obsessions with Magic: The Gathering (mostly at work), bridge (he became a silver life master this year!), and karate, he has been driving one of our new family passions: disc golf. We discovered that we have a top notch course nearby at Borderland Park so we've been playing frequently and as a Christmas present for the kids we even got two of our own disc golf goals to put in the backyard. Leo also took some lessons and joined the Sharon Zelevinsky guitar band which is now up to 4 guitarists and our adorable little Uke player/groupie!
Playing disc golf at Borderland
It's been a busy, challenging, and rewarding work year for Karen. In January she was promoted to a VP in Engineering at Pega. Karen's also excited because Pega is making bobble heads of everyone who's been at the company for at least 15 years! One thing she's enjoyed a lot is being on the Pega Charitable Works Steering Committee. This year they started a "Sponsor My Team" program where groups of employees get a day off work to volunteer at a local charity, and the charity also receives a donation. Karen led a group that volunteered with Outward Bound (Outward Bound album). Karen's life is much the same in other realms - playing guitar weekly (she even got a "work guitar" so she can play with Das at lunch now and then), reading lots of nook books, playing board games with family and friends, doing her Unitarian Universalist churchy things (this year she's the chair of the "Religious Education" committee and joined a wonderful small discussion group), and enjoying our weekly "TV nights".
Quirky Karen - kissing a stuffed walrus at Seaworld in Orlando after seeing the real walrus show and one of her new bumper stickers
Gregory's an 8th grader now. His math skills are blossoming at math team, RSM (Russian School of Math), and with the Johns Hopkins CTY/SET. We're sad that Leo's Dad isn't around to see Gregory's successes in math, some of which are surely due to his good math genes. Greg's also enjoying playing trumpet in the band, marimba, and tennis. Sadly Gregory's adolescent attitude is also blossoming and he currently has the bad habit of saying "You're a <whatever you just said>" back to you. For example:
Karen: What should I say about you in the newsletter?
Gregory: You're a newsletter
Luckily he says it with a sense of humor rather than with spite and it is kind of funny - in fact Leo has started doing it too. Noooooo! One of Karen's goals for 2015 is to eliminate this from the family lexicon. Gregory also likes to assert his authority over little things like whether he wears a jacket in the freezing weather, what percent of the time he can keep his sweatshirt hood up in a Darth Sidious impression, and what constitutes suitable footwear.
Gregory at a math award ceremony and a picture of his "perfectly good" shoes that he was loathe to throw away
Julia is thriving in middle school (Julia: Mom, don't say that - it's so...awkward! Karen: but it's true Julia: fine, do what you need to do). She also excels at math and is enjoying her time at RSM. Earlier this year Julia was part of a group that made a video to support a local food pantry (her big line is at 2:52). Other activities include tennis, ice skating, and playing flute in the band. She played marimba for half a year but then sadly the class was discontinued. It's amazing to watch how fast Julia's been growing this past year, mentally and physically.
Julia next to Baba in August, when she had just matched her height, and in December, when she's a few inches taller!
Julia inherited Leo's old iPhone and one of her recent hobbies has been taking pictures with it. Her most accommodating models are Kisa and Oedipuss (of whom she has taken hundreds of pictures) but she also has some pretty interesting pictures of people, including one up Gregory's nose (available upon request).
Mini gallery of Julia's pictures
Have a great 2015!
Previous years' sites: