We don't do Christmas cards because we are lazy but we got a few this year that were very nice, almost made us want to start sending them out. This blog post is the Christmas card replacement and the standard year in review.
We got family pictures taken this summer, they turned out very nice. Our first kid is running away in the background, she is very active and we love her energy and good attitude towards life. So here it goes, the Crandall family's 2015 highlights! Lowlights left out for your convenience :)
Time goes by pretty fast, how did 2015 already end? It was great celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary in March, we took a quick trip to a spa near by and we had a great time. One of my favorite things to do is go on family vacations. Since our kids are too young to go to super fun places I am already making future plans. 2017 Disneyland Paris?! Hopefully so. 2019 Canary Islands!? You better believe it. Star Trek pilgrimage to Jordan or Spain in 2020? Full speed ahead!
The biggest highlight was when our second child was born in May, the best way to describe her is a cute little bundle of joy. It is really great being a dad. Double the kids and triple the fun! In the summer I spent a lot of time with our first kid, we went for lots of walks outside, it was great. May was a crazy time, I was supervising a lot of students who were graduating and I had to get my own PhD dissertation done to meet a deadline. My parents came to help out with the baby, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to make it. The start of this academic year has been very crazy but I'm glad that I survived. Tallinn University decided to undergo large structural changes, and that meant new administrative duties for me. I submitted the final version of my PhD before Christmas, so it was good to get that done. The final defence will hopefully be in the end of February.
One special thing about 2015 was getting to see my parents four times this year and all my brothers and sisters. We went home for Christmas last year so I got to see them in January, then they came to visit in May and August, then I went home in November for my Grandma's 90th birthday party. The hardest thing about living in Estonia is not getting to see family that often so this year was definitely a treat.
I enjoyed watching a lot of Star Trek with Maris. We are watching Voyager and The Next Generation at the same time, we'll probably finish up both of them in 2016. I got an NFL gamepass to watch all the 49er games this year, they didn't do as well as I hoped but it was still fun getting to watch them.
All in all 2015 was a great year, hopefully 2016 will be equally as good. Things I'm excited for: summer trip to Idaho, conference in Istanbul, defending my PhD, and more of the good life with a nice family. Also the most amazing NFL off season in 49ers history! A potential top 5 pick, 12 total picks and 45-70 million in salary cap space depending on who they cut (Kaepernick, Brooks, Pears, Bethea the likely candidates) and how much money they roll over from the 2015 year.
Before I start it is important to say that although Matthew thinks he does not see his family much, the truth is that time wise (hours spent with them) in a year probably equals or is more that what I spend with my family. The 3,5 hour drive down to Southern Estonia is somehow just as awful as going to America. Wait... no. It is not the same. Traveling to the States is way worse. I get travel depression every time I have to stand in the passport line for a long time. I only do the entire traveling thing because love is blind and I married an American. To end on a good note - if I eventually get there it is always just super fun and when we travel back I have always packed my bags to the fullest and I have also packed something else - extra pounds on!
Here are some awesome things from my perspective:
- Baby no 2 was born. And she is super cute, the calmest, most easygoing baby and very cuddly. Yay!
She started crawling 2 days before turning 6 months old, and now, at 7 and a half, she is pulling herself up, standing and trying to stand like her life depends on it. She sits like a little teddy bear. Seriously, the cuteness meter is just off the charts. And, we usually do not post pictures of our kids on the blog but this is an exception, and these are quite old pictures too and the kids are changing constantly anyway.
- No 2 is photography madness. I have loved taking photos but this year I really got into it and all the technical knowledge like aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Before this August I knew nothing of it but now I have gulped in all the knowledge that I have gotten my eyes on. I got a couple of new cameras and lenses and it has been fun learning more. It all started when I bought a book in Estonian and then learned the technical terminology. Then, from there, I understood it also in English and started reading and watching videos on line. I tried to do it a year ago in English but it did not work. It did not make any sense. I had to start in my 1st language to move on. You can see my photos in 500px.com/mariscrandall . And I love kelbyone.com web site. Scott Kelby is a really funny guy and teaches photography very well, especially in his books. And Adorama channel in Youtube is so nice.
- Matthew thinks I have to point out our kitchen remont (or remodeling). It was a little on where our favorite handyman Märt added some tiles to the kitchen wall. It looks great, but most of all, the oil and red sauce does not splash on the wallpaper any more (who puts white wallpaper in their kitchen?).
- The very 1st Baltic Mission girls camp that started from my idea! Yay! It was pretty cool and a great success. It is most likely happen again this year. I helped last time and will do my best this time.
- Young Women CD with Church songs in Estonian (there is nothing recorded in Estonian, ever). We will use it as a fund raiser to raise money for the YW camp. We recorded half of the songs already. My girls are the best!
Updates from our older daughter: big step was starting to go on the potty! It took 4-5 days to start asking to go and we through the diapers out after a week because it was too confusing to use them at night. Water proof bed liner has been our friend. She wet the bed just some times but figured it all out really fast. She was almost 2 years old when we started the training, and after a month she was a pro. They key was being persistent from the beginning of the training, using regular alarms and "Tell me when you have to go"s million times a day, letting her run around with bare bottom and using undies right from the start and praising her like crazy, even clapping for her. Also, M&Ms and cartoons (on the phone) were great motivators. And it was so important to RUN - when ever she made a funny face we ran like wind to the potty, sometimes a trail of... behind us. She quickly understood that it was serious! It was also important to let her flush and try to dispose the stuff on her own. I used 3 days to potty train books for ideas. Preparation was important too, like showing how it is done and talking about it and watching potty books (I even wrote one myself) and cartoons in advance. She has done an excellent job!
She also talks way more and is figuring out two languages and is doing a great job.
This was our year in a nutshell! Thank you for following us on the blog! We love blogging!
Happy New Year!