Merry Christmas from Misawa, Japan! We’ve certainly been busy since our last Christmas letter! The Minear Family packed up and moved to Misawa Air Base at the end of January, courtesy of the Air Force. We moved to a small farming community in Northern Japan and love our new life here. We live off-base in a very interesting house, our kitchen and bathrooms are very different from what we were used to. We also purchased two used cars and John finally got a TV of his own, instead of the hand-me-downs we had in New Mexico. We are enjoying getting to know our Japanese neighbors, Annelise and I walked to the air show with them in October and had a lot of fun.
This year has been filled with a lot of travel, John has to leave town every month or so for work and we took a family vacation to Guam in July. We had a wonderful week there and Annelise LOVES the beach! We also made a trip to Florida this fall; John was already there for work so Annelise and I took a military flight to Seattle and then made our way to the Southeast. I had a lot of fun shopping and buying things as simple as Pepto-Bismol tablets that you don’t have to chew and my favorite scent of deodorant. We have everything we need available on base, but there are times when you want a specific brand or color or scent and you have to make do. Of course, I also bought plenty of clothes and Christmas gifts while I was in Florida as well! The best part about our trip to Florida was visiting Disney World. My parents, sisters, and brothers-in-law and John’s mom, aunt and uncle met us there and we had a blast. Annelise enjoyed all of the attention and John and I enjoyed spending time with family and not having to carry her everywhere. My parents were just here for a week over Thanksgiving and I think they really enjoyed their trip. They tried several new foods and we showed them our favorite spots around Misawa.
In between the big trips, we’ve also made several small trips around the Aomori Prefecture (our region of Japan). We went cherry picking, to a baseball game, and to a number of festivals. Our favorite festivals are the Cherry Blossom Festival in the Spring and the Misawa City Festival in the Summer. John was able to climb Mount Fuji this summer after going to Tokyo for a work trip; he was able to see the sun rise from the summit. Our favorite place in Japan, however, is Shipwreck Beach. There are five or six wooden ships there, partially buried in the sand right on Mutsu Bay. We love going to Shipwreck for picnics and to search for sea glass and other treasures. I’ve got a bunch of sea glass just waiting to be made into jewelry and other crafts, if only I had the time.
We have made many new friends here in Misawa. I learned from living in Clovis that you have to get out and get involved in order to meet people, so within our first month here I took a pottery class and got involved in the squadron and the Misawa Officers’ Spouses’ Club. We’re lucky to be in another great squadron, I was definitely worried that I had been spoiled by the Wizards and Fireballs at Cannon but was pleasantly surprised by how involved people are here. It really is true that you band together when you’re overseas and so far from family. I am now on the board for MOSC and am still wondering how I got roped into it. John really likes the people that he works with and some of them are even married! So we’ve been lucky enough to make friends in the squadron, through my adventures, and even some ‘hand-me-down friends’ that I met through one of my old friends from Clovis. We are truly blessed by this and my parents said that leaving here was a little easier knowing that we have such a great group of people who care so much about us.
My favorite thing about living in Misawa is how beautiful and colorful everything is. From the flowers that start in the spring and last well into the fall to the amazing foliage all around, Japan is such a beautiful country. John’s favorite thing about living in Misawa is exploring the country. Between ski trips in the winter and all of the festivals, we have been able to see quite a bit of this part of Japan. Annelise’s favorite thing about Japan is definitely how friendly the people are. She loves waving and saying Hi to everyone, and all of the Japanese people adore her.
Speaking of our beautiful little girl, Annelise just turned one! As I said, my parents were here for Thanksgiving and her birthday (which was on Thanksgiving Day this year) and I tried my hand at making her cake. She had lots of fun eating the cake and playing with her new toys. She is growing and changing so much, she picks up new tricks every time I turn around! Annelise and I have been going to Water Babies, a swim class on base. The class is almost over but she has had a lot of fun and is no longer scared of going under water, now we just have to keep up with taking her to the pool so she doesn’t forget what she learned. She can’t swim yet, but we’re hoping to take the class again next fall. Annelise has been walking for a little while now and we’ve had to put up baby gates to keep her off of the stairs and away from the Christmas tree. She loves Elmo and would watch Sesame Street all day long if I would let her; she was very excited to get Elmo pajamas and books for her birthday. Our sweet girl is so very friendly; she has never met a stranger. She took to our families right away when we were in Florida, even though we hadn’t seen them since January, and even waves at people when we’re driving down the street! If you are on Skype, look us up because Annelise loves talking to people on the ‘TV’.
We are planning a trip to the States in a couple of months and again for my sister’s wedding this summer. Hopefully we’ll get to see most of you while we’re out there, we certainly miss our friends and family. Please continue to check ajminear.blogspot.com and ajminear.shutterfly.com for updates and photos of our adventures and leave us comments to let us know what you think!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
John, Angela & Annelise