Dear friends, 

Another year has passed and we are happy to wish you Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year! 

As a nice tradition of many of our friends, we decided to write you a short letter about our most vivid memories from the past year and also some of our hopes for the future. 

During the first months of the year we were still every now and then busy with furnishing our apartment. We finally managed to finish this in March-April. So we have almost everything needed for normal life and we feel quite cozy. 

Ülle attended Family Therapy courses and got a degree in it. She was also busy with finding a job since January and finally got one in July when she became an educator in a Youth Facility, where she is responsible for a well-being of 5 teen-aged kids. 

Ain's work at Nokia has been quite challenging lately, many different deals and tenders. Some of them won, some lost. Nokia office in Tallinn expanded recently, so Ain moved to a new room and got all new furniture. Nice. There has been lots of business trips, even to Moscow. But also to much nicer locations like skiing trips with customers to northern part of Finland. (As Ain's sister was studying in the university in central Finland, he had a chance to visit her and her kids in early spring and also in June to take them back home with all their stuff.) 

Fortunately we have had chance to also travel together (Ain for business and Ülle for pleasure). So this year we visited three cities in Sweden: Kista, Uppsala and Stockholm; and again London. Being in London for the second time is much nicer, you don't have to rush from one sight to another. We had enough time to enjoy beautiful parks of London. In Stockholm we visited several museums and sights. We liked the open-air museum Skansen the most. 

In springtime we took language courses to study the Finnish language. But it was not very useful as we were too lazy to do the homework and so we did not learn very effectively. Another entertainment for last winter season was swimming twice a week. And after swimming we usually had a dinner with our friends and played cards. 

In the beginning of May we had our good friends Don and Karen with Don's parents from USA visiting us. Unfortunately they stayed only for couple of days. But we experienced something that has not happened in Estonia for 100 years-we had a heavy snowfall on 11th of May, about half foot snow. So all the roads where slippery and trees fell into power lines and we had to spend a night without electricity in an old country tourist farm. Actually this was very romantic experience. 

On May 24 Ain joined the club of 30-year-olds. To celebrate this event we went bowling and swimming with our friends. The only one who actually made it to the sea, was Ain (probably thanks to his Danish experience in 1992 when his "cruel" host family made him swim every morning in the cold Baltic sea). So Ain successfully opened the swimming season for this year. As suitable for this old man, Ülle gave him a birthday gift that filled Ain's free time for several weekends-a big two-cord semi-professional kite. 

This summer was extraordinary warm and dry. We enjoyed it immensely, although Estonian farmers didn't like this kind of weather too much. In July we made a trip to Saaremaa (big island off the west coast of Estonia) with our relatives from Canada. It was quite an experience as we decided to walk barefoot through the sea to one small island and then we got lost on the island and ended up walking for several hours on gravel roads and sea bottom. The fact that we had three kids with us made it even worse as we had to carry them on our backs. Our feet didn't like us after that. We were camping out and enjoyed making fire and cooking food in wild conditions. 

Later we visited beautiful beaches near Pärnu and south-western part of Estonia, also camping out. We spent couple of days in Kihnu Island, where we saw a wonderful sunrise. As we love bicycling, we made several bicycle tours to northern and western coast. Estonia was so nice this summer. 

All theses warm memories from summer have to give us energy for this dark and cold season we are having right now, with about 6 hours of daylight, lots of rain and snow and temperature around 0° C (32° F). 

Our closer family members are OK. Ain's father was in the hospital with prostate cancer, but the surgery went well and he is back to normal life. Ain's mom is very busy with all kinds of retired people's activities, like singing in the choir, attending exercise groups, traveling, visiting concerts, etc. Ülle's mom is still working as a doctor in the first-aid center in Tartu and Ülle's father is living in countryside where he is right now building an extension to his house to fit all the coming grandchildren. The extension will include new sauna and restrooms, fireplace, and bedrooms upstairs. 

We have also two big news to announce. 

We are expecting our first child. He/she will be born in June. 

Another news is that sometime in March or April our new location will be in Petaluma, California, USA. Petaluma is located about 60 kilometers (40 miles) north of San Francisco. It is a nice small and green countryside city where you can see cows when you look out of the window. We think this is very suitable for us and young children. Ain is negotiating of new job opportunity as an expatriate with Nokia Americas. He will go and visit the place in the beginning of January and if everything looks fine then it is a GO. 

Due to the last news, the distance between us will be much less, so we hope to meet you during the coming years more often than was possible for now. Please keep in touch and start planning a visit to sunny California. 

With best wishes and God's blessings,
Ain and Ülle