Christmas 2001

Christmas greetings from Sonoma County, Northern California! This year the spirit of Christmas seems to be as far from us as Rohnert Park is from Estonia. Pouring rain, no snow or sun, these are the words that describe our days. The little creek that flows near our house and dries out during summer months has turned into a roaring river and children's playgrounds seem like lonely little ponds. Our minds are filled with sorrow and apprehension over the war. It has been a difficult and exhausting year. 

We started the year with a trip to Lake Tahoe, Death Valley desert in eastern California and abandoned ghost cities nearby. We then continued to sparkling Las Vegas. With our six-month-old baby we felt pretty out-of-place in the midst of casinos and huge hotels. 

In March we were shocked by the unexpected - Ain lost his job. Fortunately for only two weeks, but it was enough to make us think about the unstability and unpredictability of life. Nokia, as other telecom companies, is going through very tough times. Our future here in California is also vague, as it seems that employment contracts with expatriates will no longer be extended. 

Summer was very hot this year. We celebrated two happy occasions - Iris' first birthday in June and the birth of Susanna on August 28. After the first months - Susanna didn't seem to like this world very much - we all start to get used to our growing family and new roles. Nevertheless, it's overwhelming and our lifestyle is dictated by the youngest ones. 

September remains to our memories by the terrorist attacks to the World Trade Center in New York. It has made us even more to live our lives today and enjoy the current moment, as there might be no tomorrow. This feeling has further been deepened by two losses - Ain's 100-year-old grandma passed away and Ülle's good friend perished in an accident. 

Amongst these thoughts, our baby-girls bring the sunshine to us. Little Iris has become a BIG SISTER after Susanna's birth. She is happy with Susanna and even shares her toys and pacifier with her. Iris is very kindhearted child. If someone takes a bucket from her on the play­ground, she usually offers the shovel as well. Iris' first word was Thank You (in Estonian Aitäh). Ülle is mommy and Ain papa. Susanna is definitely an English baby instead of a simple Estonian version - beebi. Lately she likes to sit on the couch, point to the TV and say Hawai'i Hawai'i, which means we should turn on the next episode of our last trip. 

Susanna has started to laugh out loud. She seems to be very delicate, and silent singing or reading makes her happy. She enjoys the days inside as the bright sun and wind have always brought tears to her eyes. 

We are at good health and filled with energy. That's primarily due to our last trip to Mau'i Island in Hawai'i. With its gorgeous sunsets, turqoise and clean water with sandy beaches, dancing hulagirls and never-ending summer, Hawai'i was the best vacation we have ever had. 

This year we had great pleasure to host several guests: Ain's former colleague Margus with family, Ülle's brother-in-law's brother Pentti with family from Finland, Virginia and Harry ("our American grandparents") from Wisconsin, Don, Karen and Alex from Michigan, friend Juhani, Ain's sister Ene and Ülle's mom Silvi, who arrived just a day before Susanna's birth and stayed for three and half months to help take care of the babies and house. We are also very grateful to all our neighbors, who have been our extended family and very helpful in both difficult and easy times. 

It's Christmastime. Another year with its joys and sorrows has become history. We wish everyone lots of sunshine and happiness in New Year, straight and smooth paths to the future. 

Ülle, Ain, Iris and Susanna
Christmas Eve 2001, California