Saturday, March 17, 2018

March update

It's been a cold and busy few months.  We're all ready for spring and it looks like the winter cold is gone for good.  Not too much is going on, but a few highlights are blog worthy.  At the end of February Estonia celebrated it's 100th independence day.  It's been a wild 100 years for Estonia, but incredible how well the last 25 plus years have gone.  Not too many places have undergone such rapid development. We had a big cake after Church and everybody loved it.  I thought it was cool how much the Russian speakers loved it.  It shows that Estonia is making good progress as a state. 

Estonia picked its choice for this year's Eurovision song competition!  Maris is a huge fan of the winner. It's a great song, good luck at Eurovision Elina!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Winter action

What have we been doing this winter?
Well, because the kids have been sick a lot then we have been stuck in the apartment (the mini rental one). We have been doing a lot of crafts, play doh, plasticine, cutting, coloring, disco dancing, (kids) taking baths (this old apartment has a bath, our old one did not...and it is only great for kids not for actually using - taking showers in a bath...not so cool), reading and every imaginable thing. I even got a fancy shape sorter so that our younger one can do well with sorting shapes when she goes back to kindergarten. We play with legos a lot, too. When we could we went outside, like for walks, sledding, into the woods, beach. Here are some photos of what we have been doing.

Cutting. Very important.

While being sick the kids watched the kindergarten kids go out sledding, like in this picture. Sad. But they enjoyed it. Then we discussed how they will go back to kindergarten and can also do that and meet their friends. Yes, our rental is on 4th floor. Yes, it is the worst. Yes, it is good for staying healthy. 

Here is a plasticine doggy I made for the kids.

And other animals. It is good as stress relief.

Peppa Pig and Peppa´s mini pig.

Sledding is a hit. The older kid always goes way up and will not believe me that is is too scary. She still would not give in. Then it is usually very dramatic for her do actually go down the hill. 

Me and my younger girl on the sledge. A pretty decent hill.

We also went into the woods, picked pine cones and sticks.

Today we went to the beach. Looks awesome. 

People walk their dogs there. The kids got to pat the fluffy little dog in the photo. Loved it.

Going back and forth and throwing chunks of snow into the water.

From these pictures it might seem we do stuff but mostly we hibernate and stay inside, usually sick. But it is February and it does not get dark at 4 p.m anymore so... there is hope.

Monday, January 29, 2018

2017- year in review

Time goes by fast, I figured I'd better get the year in review post up before January is already over!  How would I describe 2017? Busy.  nice.  awesome.  normal (normaalne for our Estonian readers).  Our lives work around the academic year so it is split up into two halves with one incredible summer in between.

Part 1- January-June:

Busy, very busy.  The kids were not in preschool so we took turns tending them, usually me in the day and Maris in the evenings.  The kids are energetic but cute and it is great to spend time with them and watch them learn and develop.  We enjoyed a visit from Mom and Dad in February.  Nothing cheers up a dreary Estonian winter like a visit from Mom and Dad.  May was a great month.  I had my birthday, Keila has it's annual fair (Keila päev), and to top it off there is Eurovision. 

Super summer:

The summer's in Estonia are short but awesome.  I had conferences in Denmark, Hong Kong, and San Francisco.  Maris took a trip to Austria. Maris had a good time at girls camp and I enjoyed participating in my first pride parade.  The summer went by fast.  My new dream in life is to take my kids to Hong Kong Disneyland!  Hong Kong was truly magical and what could be more magical than going to the Magic Kingdom in magical Hong Kong!?!?

Part 2- September-December

  The kids began kindergarten which was a big step for both of them.  We started practicing in August and slowly got them used to it.  All in all they have done very well.  It can still be difficult to take them in the morning, there are many points for discussion along the way (clothes to wear, food to eat, toys to take, ect).  One thing that I must say is that Estonian kindergartens rock.  I mean 10/10.  They are educational, meaning accredited teachers, curricula, and so on.  It's a great opportunity for the kids to learn and develop.  They even have theater days where they bring in professional actors who put on a play for the kids.  Our oldest loves the fish soup and has a good friend in kindergarten. 

Unfortunately the 2nd half of the year was also very busy.  Maris got her work load bumped to full time (she would have preferred part time) and the down side of kindergarten is that the kids get sick rather often.  When one kid gets sick they both get sick and when one is sick then they both want to stay home so the healthy one can take care of the sick one.  Great sibling love.  They keep life interesting though.  Our oldest cut off almost all her hair when Maris was in the other room.  She wanted to look like one of her friends in kindergarten who happens to be a boy with a buzz.  She now looks like 11 from Stranger Things. 

To top it off we ended the year by selling our beautiful apartment of 5 years and moved into a rental across the street.  The rental market in Keila is not great so we are grateful for a place in a good location for a good price but it's a step down from what we are used to.

What to look forward for in 2018

2018 will stay busy for the first half.  We are excited to move into a new bigger apartment, hopefully in a few months.  There will be more posts to come on that.  In the summer we'll visit Idaho which will be jolly good fun.  Top 3 things on my to do list?  Target, KFC, and Culver's. 

Awards for 2017

This wouldn't be a year in review with out my own set of awards.  

Movie of the year: The Founder.  It turns out that there is so much more to a big mac than the trans fat and special sauce!  I loved this movie.  It's a heart wrenching movie but at the end of the day McDonalds has colonized the world and we're all fatter and gladder for it.  There is a story to be told and this movie tells it well.  On a different note, I asked Maris what she would do if she knew the world were to end in 4 months.  My answer to the same question was that I would eat at McDonald's every day. 

TV show of the year: In an upset surprise: the Expanse! We loved season 2 and are eagerly waiting for season 3.  What gave the Expanse the surprise nod?  Well it is the perfectly realistic portrayal of humankind in the future.  Exploitation, colonization, othering, and even Mormon mega projects!  The best though is the character Chrisjen Avasarala, a UN undersecretary and is played by Shohreh Aghdashloo.  Excellent character, great acting.  It was so incredible that I bought her autobiography for Christmas.  Honorable mention goes to Stranger Things and Star Trek Discovery.  The new Star Trek show is unlike anything ever seen in the Star Trek Universe and (spoiler alert!) will most likely win my TV show of the year for 2018.  half way through season 1 I am completely blown away. 
Book of the year:

Person of the year: Sam Young is a former LDS Bishop who is fighting to change bishop interview policies with LDS youth.  Here is a great article that sums up his efforts.  Having middle aged bishops interview young teenagers one on one about the intimate details of their lives is a recipe for disaster and will likely get the Church sued at some point in the future.  While making a minor change in interview policies might not seem news worthy, small changes can have a big influence in the lives of many.   Good luck to Sam Young and thanks for your efforts. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

meat jello

2017 was the year that I finally tried meat jello (sült).  Meat jello is a dish usually served at Christmas time.  I've lived in Estonia for over 10 years and every year I look at the meat jello and think I should really try it this year.  And then decide not to and tell myself next year. 

This year was different.  At a work Christmas party I saw it.  I don't  know what gave me the extra gusto to put it on my plate.  Maybe I'm getting too old to keep putting things off another year.  Maybe it was the party atmosphere.  I'm still not sure.  Either way I decided that I was going to do it. It looked interesting, almost tasty.  There was a certain beauty to this meat jello.  As a Mormon I'm well versed in jello cuisine.  I've had every color with every fruit combination there is, but never meat jello.  I was expecting a mellow porkish taste but was blindsided by an extreme flavor that is beyond description.  The white topping turned out to be horse radish and I'm not sure if the meat jello was also made with vinegar.  I've been told, that this must not have been normal styled meat jello.  So I'll have to wait one more year to try the more traditional bland version. 

To all our readers out there, stay tuned for the 2018 Christmas meat jello blog post! 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas time 2017

December is a month of Christmas parties. The first party was at our kids´ preschool. They had a play where teachers dressed up as Pippi Longstocking and Karlsson-on-the-roof. I only went with one of our kids because the other one was very sick. We were sick for at least 2 weeks, one after another. 

After the play there was a bake sale to buy toys for the preschool. I took a few things there too. And then spent money to buy sweets and toys etc. Teachers of one of our kids are the ones at the last table in the photo. 

We also made some ginger bread cookies. The kids helped with cutting out and putting on the pan.

Another party was at my school. It was workers´ kids´ Christmas party. The girls got a tour in the building and all. 

They were running around the empty corridors.  

Sorting candy that they got from Santa.

Here is our Christmas dinner on 24th. We like it simple. We still had so many leftovers even though it was not a big meal. 

Our kids did not get tons of toys but compared to many they still got plenty so their stuff is not shown here. But our little piles are here.  A very expensive box of Lucky Charms from Germany and some candy. I actually got new boots this year and Matthew got a coat, both pretty costly. But I was so glad that Matthew finally went and got the coat because he has been looking like a bum with the old coat that was ripped in several places. 

Christmas morning selection for breakfast:

Moana wig our kids got as a present:

We went to visit my grandma and dad and others on 25th. They had snow there. And it melted the next day. So northern Estonia got no snow and southern Estonia got plenty of it. Like there was a line in the middle of Estonia, snow on one side. 

Yesterday I had another Christmas party. This was my work place party for all of the workers. It was in Saue manor, close by. There was a concert, a dinner, games etc.

Here are the singers. It was nice, she is an Estonian pop singer and he is a Spanish opera singer. Very interesting. 

All the workers gathering up. 

My dinner. Some of it already gone. It was nice. It was a buffet style dinner. 

Overall our Christmas time has been nice. We have been moving these past days to a rental place until our apartment gets done. It might take months. Hopefully it will be sooner...