We had an amazing Christmas here in Misawa. We went to Mass on Christmas Eve and then skipped out on a party that some friends were throwing because we were tired and had to set up Annelise's toy from her aunts and uncles. She got a climb n slide from them that she LOVES, it's in the house right now because of all of the snow outside, but we're looking forward to moving it outdoors in a few months. Annelise also received a kitchen from Santa, it's nice to have something to occupy her while I cook dinner or check my e-mail. My parents gave her some play food and a play cookie set, she loves them and is always offering us cookies. I have to check her pants pockets for wooden cookies before I put them in the wash, but I'm so excited that she's at an age where she actually plays with her toys. Annelise got lots of other cool stuff, including a Magna Doodle that she brings to us asking us to write the ABCBs. She knows all of her letters now by sight, although she still has trouble singing the alphabet. We've started working on colors and lower case letters and we're still working on counting.
John and I got some really cool gifts, as well. He got some very nice Japanese whiskey, a new hiking backpack, and The Pacific on Blu Ray, and I got a Wii Fit, some attachments for my Kitchenaid mixer, and some great movies. Then came the gift cards... it's difficult for our families to get all of our gifts purchased and mailed to us in time so some of them send us Amazon gift cards or money. We used the money to help pay for our trip to Sapporo next month (it's also our anniversary gift to each other) and the gift cards to buy Wii accessories!
On Christmas Day we had some friends over for lunch, I made roast and rolls while our friends brought mashed potatoes and dessert. Then we went over to see some other friends and spent the evening relaxing. John took leave during the week between Christmas and New Year's, it was really nice to spend some time as a family and get things done around the house. Then on New Year's we went over to a friend's house and watched a Japanese countdown. We toasted with champagne and sparkling cider while Annelise slept upstairs and we had a great time chatting with everyone. We're very lucky to have so many good friends.
We were planning on buying a video game system this Spring after we pay off John's truck, but God had something else in mind when I won a Wii at the squadron Christmas party! John was in Alabama and had to miss the super-fun party, but he was pretty excited to come home to a Wii. We've bought a number of games and accessories for it and are pretty set except for Rock Band/Band Hero, which we'll buy in a few months. We really enjoy playing each other in bowling, wakeboarding and other games, I'm a sore winner and am always very excited when I beat John's scores. He has much better hand-eye coordination than I do, so it feels pretty good to kick his butt at something every now and then. We also use the Wii Fit to get in some exercise, it's way too cold and snowy for my liking and I don't go to the gym anymore so the Fit is really helpful. John also has a great time playing Call of Duty as a way to zone out after a long day at work.
We've been having fun with cooking lately, the attachments for my stand mixer allow me to grind my own beef and it's amazing how good freshly ground beef tastes! We don't even buy ground beef anymore, we just buy inexpensive cuts of beef and grind a few pounds a week to use in dinners. Last night I also made pizza from scratch for the first time. I used whole wheat flour and made my own dough, then topped it with pesto, chicken leftover from the night before, and some mozzarella cheese that I grated in the food processor. It takes a little longer to do all of this yourself, but the resulting pizza is soooo worth it! We're slowly moving the more processed foods out of our house in favor of things that we make ourselves, although I draw the line at milling my own flour or growing my own veggies. I am just not good at growing things so I'll keep buying locally grown produce and maybe join a co-op when we get back to the States.
Now we're dealing with lots of snow and gearing up for our trip to Sapporo for the ice festival. Sapporo is on the island to the North of us and is famous for the ice festival, so we'll take an overnight ferry there and back and spend a couple of days exploring the city. We booked our trip through the base, so there's some structure to it and we'll have a tour guide along. Also, two of our friends are coming with us so we're really excited. :)
And I guess that's that. I've finally got us updated. Even though I still haven't posted anything about Annelise turning 2. I think I'm in denial that she's actually 2 and I can't bring myself to talk about it much. I just can't believe how much my little girl has grown up!
with aching hearts, we are here
16 hours ago