I would give this leg of the road trip 3 out of 5 stars.  We made it to Asheville.

Pro: reunited with my suitcase full of coffee and wine glass.      Con: no stop for coffee or wine.

Pro: The Offspring on the radio.      Con: my offspring in the car.

Pro: Sushi sat on my lap for part of the ride!     Con:  Sushi sat on my lap for part of the ride.
We got to swing by and see the Charlotte gang one more time which was nice and helped break up this leg. But I’m glad to be out of the car and I’m looking forward to a quiet day tomorrow.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas at the ocean is a great way to say goodbye (and I do NOT mean “see ya later”) to 2016.  Something different and fun that was a little lower key than usual.
It was hard to prepar for this Christmas. First of all, our movers came three weeks before Christmas. I thought this was really there, and shopping came afterwards. So a lot of our gifts for sort of last-minute. Also everything we were giving to the kids or giving each other/receiving has to move across the world with us. So it has to fit in one of the suitcases we can take.  It’s hard to buy for nine and seven-year-old knowing that has to be small, but also really fun. It was a made a little bit more difficult by the fact that we we’re traveling for the holiday and most of their toys were already packed up for Japan. The past week has been a little rough, since I didn’t have much to play with. I think in the future, as if we do this again, we would make sure to not travel until closer to the holiday. Spending a few days in the house that’s not theirs was none of their toys was a little bit difficult. The anticipation of Christmas nearly killed them/all of us.  Or we almost killed them. Or they almost  killed us. It’s really unclear. Let’s just say it was touch and go.
We spent the last week saying See you laters to N’s  parents and our happy place, Tybee  Island.  We’ve shared  many good meals, lots of laughs and played lots of games. The rest of the family has worked on puzzles, well I’ve worked on trying to organize my thoughts and my life into getting ready for Japan. I’ve been practicing being a good housekeeper, which for those of you who know me as probably laughable. I’ve done dishes, laundry and floors almost every day while we’ve  been here. I’m pretty sure my in-laws think I’m ill. I wish it was contagious.

Sushi dogs had a good time playing with her cousin Kora, and she has mostly adjusted sleeping on the floor.  The kids have gotten in the ocean twice while we’ve been here. We were completely unprepared for this thinking it wouldn’t be quite warm enough. I would still say wasn’t quite warm enough, but they had a blast. Today on Christmas I even brought his boogie board down and spent a good hour boogie boarding.   It’s been a really great way to start the adventure.
Tomorrow we see her final see you later to Ann’s parents. We will head back to Charlotte to pick up my miss placed suitcase, and then head to Asheville North Carolina. There we will say some see ya laters to great grandma, and some aunts and uncles. That will be the final stop on this part of the tour.

Again, not a lot of wit and puns in this post. It’s really surreal to think in just 9 days we get on a plane and head to our new home.

Here are some Christmas pictures to tide you over

Also I painted.  Yes I did my best second grade art.


Sushi Dog 

One thing I’ve touched on is that Sushi Dog can’t come with us. She’s too big, the airlines won’t fly her because she’s a heathen Pittbull and we couldn’t find a house that would let us keep a dog. So she is going to live with her Mimi and Papa (my parents) where she will be loved and well cared for in our absence. Of course she’ll have to sleep on the floor LIKE A DOG and apparently Mimi has something against dressing her up, but alas I can’t control every aspect of her life. What this means for me is leaving behind my daily partner. When I was working part time and even more since I’ve stopped working, Sushi and I have spent a lot of days together, just the two of us. I talk to her A LOT (like more than a crazy person) and she often runs errands with me.

This is definitely one of the harder aspects for me. My number one concern with This move was the kids. I needed to know that my kids would be safe, happy and healthy.  Once I felt secure in that I wanted to know how Sushi would handle it. We started the process of getting her up to date on her shots and ready to go to Japan.  Eventually we discovered that it was REALLY expensive to get her to Japan.  Like $3k.  In each direction.  Like, more than a vacation.  Or Starbucks for a month. We made the heartbreaking choice for her to stay behind in Michigan.
I’m not going to lie.   I’m pretty devastated but also living in denial. She is really the sweetest dog in the whole world and has been a perfect fit in my family. She loves snuggles and the sound of the coffee grinder. She prefers red wine over white and considers popcorn a food group. Basically she’s me, but with (slightly) less hair and four legs. She even trips over her own feet.   We have had her since she turned 2 in 2011.  She and R have really grown up together. She has taken care of I through 2 broken arms.  She’s been there for me through a lot of anxiety, highs and lows. She knows my moods and helps me stay happy.
Sushi Dog was invited in the See Ya Larer tour.  She is pretty good in the car and she LOVES my father in law.  She might even switch from coffee to tea for him, she loves him that much.  She’s been pretty good on the trip considering she isn’t allowed on the furniture and she’s not at her house. There have been a LOT of new smells.  Turns out, she is made to live at the Beach.  She is so happy here even if she has to sleep on the $200 dog bed on the floor, LIKE A DOG. I really owe a lot to my extended family for letting her join us on this trip so I could spend more time with her before we leave.
I think N is probably looking forward to a bed without a dog in it, and a wife who talks to people instead of animals.  The kids are looking forward to not having to feed her every morning and put her outside.  I’m looking forward to her starting her own blog (Mimi?) but we’re all going to miss that stupid slobbery face.

Here she is in her flannel PJs.  

Ob la di ob la da. . . 

When I was in high school, our band director used to give us a speech at the beginning of every year regarding “personal problems”.  The gyst of it is “You are not the center of the universe”   It’s a concept that is hard for kids, even harder for teenagers and as it turns out, something a lot of adults still struggle with.  I’d like to pretend that’s  not me, but that’s  me.

I’m over here all “I’m moving to Japan bitch, so focus on me!” And the rest of the world is like “cool story bro”. What I mean is that it’s a little hard to wrap my mind around the fact that other people are just going to keep on keepin’ on while I go through this HUGE change.  For instance, people will have birthdays, anniversarys, parties and celebrations and I won’t be included. I’m already out of the loop in some ways having stopped working over a month ago, and in a few short weeks I’ll be 14 hours different out of the loop.  I know I’ll find a new loop (not an infinite loop for those of you wondering) but that means that my home loop might replace me too!!!!   I feel childish thinking about how sad I’ll be when my friends are all together on a Saturday watching football and I’m packing lunches to send to school on Monday, but it does make me sad.

My little family of four has created quite a wonderful life in Michigan. We’re happy there. (Except when it’s cold, so like 6 months a year. Or if we’re out of coffee). I know we are going to do the same thing in Nagoya but it’s weird to leave it behind.  There is a 13 or 14 hour time difference in Japan depending on the time of year which makes keeping in touch a bit harder than a domestic move. You really have to have an “appointment” set up in advance to Skype or FaceTime or call someone back home.  It’s something we’re thinking about as we say our “see ya laters”
The kids have had some of these same thoughts too.  R asked “what if my friends don’t remember me?” And well it sounded a little silly to hear it out loud, I actually kind of feel the same way. It’s the whole “out of sight out of mind” idea. I’m sort of hard to forget (I would like to think) when I’m around, bringing you Starbucks and texting you to tell you what the dog just did that is SOOOOOOO funny. But what if I’m not there?   What if I text you at 4 am your time?  Will you still think that text is funny when you read it at 8 am and I’m already asleep at 10 pm?  Will you reply?  Or will you just think ” that’s funny!  But she’s asleep” and go on with your day?  I mean, who among us isn’t guilty of that?
And in some ways, it’s true in the other direction too.  While we are in Japan, we’re going to make new friends.  The kids will grow up more. We’ll find new and different hobbies that interest us. So our life is going on too. It’s not so one sided. Will I remember to reply to your text too?

Anyway, all this to say: this move is a happy one for us, but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It’s a little bit foggy and hedgehogs too.  

Me and some of my party people, in a terrible pose.

See ya Later: the First Stop

Our first stop on the tour is done and we’re off on the road again.   We went to Charlotte to see N’s sister and her family.  Our only niece and nephew are there.  It’s weird to think how much they will have changed next time we see them.   It was a wonderful but short visit.
We took the opportunity to visit 2 of my favorite down south fast food chains.  I want to be clear that I’m now wearing exclusively leggings which is good since I probably gained 5 lbs in the last 36 hours.  We said our goodbyes to Cook Out and Bojangles.  Tears were shed   Waistbands were loosened. Zantac was consumed.  My brother in law and I share a deep love of food and we love to consume distgustlingly delicious food together.  It was a perfect way to say “see ya later” to him.

The kids took the chance to see their cousins and act like uncivilized monkeys. (I kid, they were pretty ok) it’s a lot of chaos to have 4 kids, 4 adults and 3 big dogs in one house, but all in all I think it went well, if not loudly.    Sushi dog had to sleep on the floor LIKE A DOG, but she handled it super well.  I didn’t handle it as well because I like her snuggles but N seemed pleased with this development. 

I wish I had something sassy or witty to say about this leg this trip but really it’s pretty hard to know we won’t see these people for a year.

Our next stop is Tybee island off the coast of Savannah Georgia. It’s pretty much the happiest place on earth. At least for me.  Something about the ocean soothes me.  Of course things that don’t soothe me include my suitcase still being in Charlotte.  I wish I was joking.  Apparently there was a miscommunication this morning and only one of my bags made it into the car.    Wanna know what was in the bag that didn’t make it?   Coffee, my coffee making components and my amazing flip flop wine glass from a dear friend. So basically, everything important.   I’m working on deep breathing and coming to terms with the fact that I will have to consume wine out of an ORDINARY wine glass this evening. Plans are in the works to get the bag to me, but nothing firm is in place.
So I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom: DON’T PACK ALL THE COFFEE IN ONE SUITCASE. I’m making notes for our flight to Japan.

2016: the See Ya Later Tour

One thing that becomes very apparent when you’re preparing for a long absence, is that you have to see everyone and say your goodbyse.  Or as I’m calling them “see ya laters” (not in the “laters” sense from 50 Shades. . . Don’t be embarrassed. We know you read it)

It’s trickier than it sounds Especially with the holidays.  You have to decide who you CAN see, who you WANT to and WHEN you can make that happen.  Sometimes things fall together easily like a night on the town singing your heart (and throat) out, or a home made meal at a friends house that has pots and pans, but sometimes you have to plot and plan.
So today we begin our journey south.   We have family and friends in North Carolina and Georgia so off we go.  Can’t say I was bummed to leave behind an impending 6 inches of snow and freezing rain, but there are events and people that we are going to miss while we’re out of town.   For instance the kids are missing the last week of school before the holiday which includes gingerbread making and celebrations.  We will be with part of the family for Christmas but not the other part.  That’s hard every year.   But part of this adventure we are about to embark on is making compromises.  It’s a learning experience for all of us.

So we’ve packed up 2 weeks worth of clothes, toys, Christmas presents, various items we need out of our house, 4 giant blankets, 2 CPAPs, eleventy billion stuffed animals, all the electronics and their cables, Sushi dog, her raincoat and 2 weeks of dog food ( which I totally almost forgot!) into the Mom Mobile and we’re off.  It only took one turn around and minimal yelling to get us out the door around 8 am.
Here’s a tidbit for you: Maybe don’t drink half a bottle of red wine the night before a road trip.

Other items of note: it’s way easy to pack for a vacation when you have nothing in your house.  We literally packed all the clothes we have. Most of the toys. And all the electronics. Plus the new coffee set up.
So we’re off. It took about 4 hours for the dog to remember how to sleep in the car. And about 4 minutes for the kids to ask when we would be there.  And about 4 minutes are 3 seconds for me to wish I had that other half bottle of wine.   

Step 1: Boil Water

We first found out  we might be going over a year ago.  Let me tell you, it’s not fun living in purgatory.  All around you people are making plans for the future and you’re all “yeah! That sounds cool!  You know. . . If we’re here”.

It felt like it was taking forever to get the ball rolling and find the info and now I’m all “holy crap, we leave in 20 some days!  Pack your crap!  Never mind, just throw it away! We’ll get new ones! Who needs underwear anyway?”  At one point in the process they told us they’d like to send us in march instead of January.   And we were like “yeah, no.  We’re going in January!” Because it seemed better for the kids and frankly we were just getting anxious to go!  But now that we are in the midst of getting ready for a move, in the middle of the holiday season and end of year stuff it seems like March miiiiiiiight have been a wiser choice.  But ya know, hindsight is 20/20 and all that.
So currently we’re living in a mostly empty house without the things that make it a home.  How is that going?   Well let’s see:

We can’t cook.

We can’t make coffee or tea.

We have to do a load of laundry every other day.

We have one tv. And it’s in my bedroom.
So it’s been an experience for sure. An unplanned snow day definitely added some excitement to the mix.

But ya know?  It’s easier to keep the house clean when you don’t have stuff everywhere.  And if you don’t cook, there aren’t any dishes to do.  And we’ve been doing a goodbye tour of our favorite resteraunts. It’s really just part of the adventure.
And my dear husband went out of his way to get me a set up to make my coffee as we travel. It involves a dual voltage electric kettle, a hand grinder (makes me feel like a cave woman!) and an aero press.  And really people, it’s awesome. So we’re going to make it.
And it beats the week we spent living like this.  

Home is Where the Coffee is

So that’s the truth.  If there isn’t coffee its just a building, not a home.  That’s really all I need to be happy.  Well that and my family.  And maybe some wine.  But really, coffee and family.

Good thing too because here we go on an adventure of a lifetime   I’m about to move my family across the world from Michigan to Japan   It’s my husband (N old), my son (I, 9), daughter (R, 7) and me (not telling).

We  leave our home of over 10 years in January and head out to seek new adventure across the ocean.  But first, we get to spend a few weeks in our home camping,  since the movers came a week ago and took away everything important.   That is how I discovered that I need coffee to be home. They took my coffee maker and my keggless! That was a rough couple of days before I found a hot water kettle and some VIA instant coffee. Thanks Starbucks!

So  this is how the next chapter in our story begins   An empty house and lots of anticipation.

And coffee   Lots of coffee

ps   That’s my dog/best friend.  She’s not coming to Japan.  More on that to come.img_0074