Life with Baby · Travel · Uncategorized

Excuse the mess!

The final countdown is on: less than two weeks until we pack up our (many) bags and haul ourselves to another country! We’ve made the move back and forth from Michigan and Japan several times, but this will be the first time making the journey with a sweet baby in tow (who also happens to get pretty fussy whenever she’s away from home!). I’m a little nervous about a lot of different things, but I just keep telling myself we can make it through anything if we’re all together! Let the packing begin! Messy, messy…!

In the meantime, we’ve been trying our best to get ready for the move in between making sure our little sweet pea’s needs are met. This may be the last time living in Japan for us (at least for a while), so we’re been doing our best to get a fill of some of the things we’ll miss the most! My top three? Friends, food and pastries! (Specifically yakiniku, ramen & rice balls for food, and amazing cakes & cream puffs from our favorite bakery for pastries!).

Wait, can I add a couple more? I’ll also really miss cute Japanese gardens and cherry blossom season! And barley tea! And…well, I guess I’ll miss a lot…!

What would you miss the most about where you’re living if you had to pick up and move? Wish us luck–things are getting a little messy around here!! 😉

xx Caitlyn

Seen/Heard/Tried · Travel

Weekend Trip to Hakone

Last weekend for our anniversary we decided to visit Hakone, an area known for hot springs and its active volcano (which will possibly erupt any day now…). I know that may same like a strange choice of local, but Chad loves hot springs and I was ready to have a getaway with pretty scenery. Little did I know that I was in for some serious uphill climbing before the relaxing part would come!IMG_2213 IMG_2218Lunch after arriving in Hakone: Tempura Soba Set IMG_2227So in the above picture, you can see a cable car that could take you up the mountain to your hotel or ryokan (Japanese style inn) of choice. Chad mistakenly thought taking the cable car was expensive, so we proceeded on foot. Later, after I almost died from climbing, we found out that the cable car was only around 170 yen… I handled this very gracefully because I am perfect. (I actually almost cried haha.) IMG_2229This was taken about a quarter of the way up, before I realized that we were only a quarter of the way upIMG_2230Finally, we arrived at our ryokan. It was pretty creepy to be honest, but the room was nice enough. We were able to relax and be together, and that was the most important thing. Well, besides dinner. Dinner, dinner, dinner. Where could we find dinner? IMG_2232It turned out that nearly the entire area around us had absolutely no restaurants or shops or anything. We found one place that was expensive, and several others that were closed, so we decided to go all the way back down to the station to see if any restaurants were open down there. I was super tired, but I tried to be positive and happy (and that part really is true). When we got to the station, everything that had been open earlier had closed. The time being only 7:00, we started to feel a bit defeated. Fortunately, we were able to make the last cable car of the day (which was at 7:05!), and we headed back up to the one expensive restaurant we had seen that was thankfully still open. IMG_2242I ordered a tempura set (I know, second one of the day! But it looked better than the other options). Above were some of the sides: delicious tofu, gel fish (which I thought had a strange texture and passed along to Chad), and tsukemono (pickled vegetables).  IMG_2243                                                   Chad ordered a steak meal.IMG_2244Here’s my tempura set. It was really nice. Once our bellies were full, we headed back to the hotel where Chad enjoyed the hot springs while I relaxed in our room before bed.IMG_2248The next day, we woke up for our breakfast at our hotel. Above you can see dried horse mackerel being reheated on a little grill.  IMG_2249 IMG_2250Here is the list of everything included in our breakfast. IMG_2253This is our hotel from the outside. IMG_2254I don’t know if this gives you a clear enough idea of how steep our climb up was, but I get sore just looking at it. After descending the mountain again, we headed to the Hakone Open Air Museum, which was my favorite part of our trip. There are loads of sculptures outside, as well as a few inside exhibits. IMG_2262 This exhibit showed music through bamboo. It was really neat.IMG_2265 Light, shadows and sound.IMG_2268From the other side… IMG_2269 IMG_2277A labyrinth! IMG_2281I really enjoyed the indoor Picasso exhibit–it reminded me of when we went to the Picasso museum in Barcelona years ago. Picasso had a really interesting life! IMG_2290Fortunately there was a foot bath located about halfway through the museum.IMG_2298This was a Symphony of Glass tower. I wasn’t super psyched to climb it, but it was really pretty in the end.  IMG_2291 IMG_2292The view from the top of the tower. IMG_2295 IMG_2296Pretty glass inside.  IMG_2305
Chad and I both really loved the Open Air Museum. We had a convenient store lunch afterwards on a bench outside, hopped on a train, and headed home to relax some more. The entire time, no matter how physically tired I got, I felt immensely thankful that I was able to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary together. There is no one for me like my Chad, who lifts me up and loves me always.

I hope you enjoyed seeing pictures from our little weekend getaway, and that you’ve been able to get some relaxing in yourself!

xx Caitlyn

Seen/Heard/Tried

Every day in January

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions because, well, I make resolutions all the time. That being said, I sort of unintentionally started some daily tasks with the beginning of the New Year that have turned into resolutions, and I have really been enjoying myself!

IMG_19351. Daily Art Journaling– You may remember that on my last Autumn Bucket List, one of my goals was to get back into art journaling. When we moved back to Japan, I thought it might be really hard to get started again without most of my supplies from back home, but I started using the book No Excuses Art Journaling by Gina Rossi Armfield, and it’s been really easy to do a little every day!

IMG_1933The concept is really cool: you basically use a planner for an art journal and spend about 10 minutes (or more or less depending on what you want!) on an entry a day that includes the color of the day, the weather of the day, the image of the day, and the word of the day. Then you do a more detailed “peek card” each week, as well as a more involved monthly page. I love it so far because it’s been helping me record things in a fun way while practicing some basic illustration and/or watercolor work.

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2. Yoga Practice– I have been doing yoga almost every day since we arrived in Japan. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s more challenging, but either way, it feels pretty nice to incorporate into my daily routine. I have been enjoying alternating between Adriene’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge, Erin Motz’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge (recommended by Ariel!), and Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown.

IMG_1925Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

3. Walking EVERYWHERE! – We have been walking for an average of one to two hours a day, with the very least amount of time being about twenty minutes. I love that you naturally walk more in Japan–even just to get from the station to work if you’re commuting by train. Today we went to Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens. It was really relaxing, and will be so beautiful come spring!IMG_1928IMG_1929This is called the Full Moon Bridge because the reflection in the water
looks like a moon. Something about that seems romantic to me

I have been having a great time adding these things to my daily life, especially because they’re all very reasonable habits to incorporate that all make me feel happy. Do you make resolutions each New Year? What are some things you do on a daily basis for yourself?

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Take care friends! xx Caitlyn

Travel

Comforts After Moving Far from Home

The first morning we woke up in our temporary apartment in Tokyo, there were some things that really made me feel happy despite being so far from home. These things continue to help me feel comforted, even when I get super homesick!COMFORTS

1. Trinkets I brought along give me a lot of comfort. For Christmas, my mom made me a charm bracelet that had a little coffee charm, an “I love my cat” charm, and more. That, along with some other precious gifts, makes me feel special from miles away.

2. Chad gave me a calendar for Christmas that has pictures of our kitties for each month. My friend Timothy took the pictures, and although I get really sad because I miss my kitties so much, I am really glad I can look at sweet photos of them all year long.

3. My French Press has been AMAZING since we’ve moved here. That first morning in Tokyo, I felt completely comforted by the smell of high-quality coffee poured into my cup, fresh from the press.

4. When we lived in Japan the last time around, I remember not wanting to hang up too many pictures or anything because I figured our living situation wasn’t permanent. I don’t know what the heck was wrong with me–having pictures all over our apartment makes me feel tons of love. This time around we’ve got plenty of pictures up around our apartment.

5. I know this may sound silly, but I am so happy to have Starbucks no matter where I go! I really found my third place when I was working for Starbucks (even though it was also my second place…!).

6. I love catching little glimpses of Michigan goods around our apartment. I have a sweet little pillow made for us by a friend, as well as the travel pillow pictured above, to list a couple items.

Other things that have made me feel at home right away? Books and crafty supplies, though I had to be quite picky about what I brought due to luggage constraints. We also brought quite a bit of–you guessed it!–coffee and chocolate.

What are some things that make you feel comforted or “at home” no matter where you are?

xx Caitlyn

Travel

From Michigan to Japan

Hi everyone! We’re starting to settle in as we start the New Year, though I’ll be honest: yesterday we fell asleep at about 3:30 PM and…um…slept until about 5:00 AM this morning. Oh jet-lag, you sneaky, sneaky disposition. We’ve been spending our time exploring the area we’ve been placed for the time being on foot, so nice big bowls of ramen for lunch and Asahi beer at night have been nice rewards. In case you’re interested, I’ve succumbed to my usual geekery and made an infographic about our transportation journey to Tokyo. Be sure to let me know if you’ve ever had a similar journey, or if you have any questions in the comments below.

Michigan to JapanNote: I don’t know why the arrows got all wonky, but I don’t have the patience to figure it out at the moment. Thank you for letting it go 😉

Sending love!
xx Caitlyn

Learning

Moving

So everyone knows that living abroad is an amazing experience that gives you completely new insights into other cultures while teaching you about yourself and where you came from, too. The actual process of moving can be overwhelming, especially if speaking a foreign language is necessary (I remember when we moved from Yokkaichi to Kobe we handled getting an apartment all by ourselves, relying completely on our Japanese…). Despite the stress that moving of any sort (whether moving abroad or just to another state) brings, there are a few good things that come from moving as well. So, without further adieu, my list of three things good about the process of moving abroad.

travel

1. You are forced to organize and clean
Nothing like moving to another country to get you to go through ALLTHETHINGS. It can be overwhelming (believe me, we’re going crazy cleaning and packing our house right now!), but at the same time it feels so good to have everything packed up in an efficient, organized manner. (I’ll post some packing tips in the near future, too!) Moving abroad is an excellent chance to get rid of a bunch of stuff you don’t need as well, which brings me to the second thing on my list.

2. You realize how much you don’t actually need.
You really have to learn to let go of material attachments when you move abroad. Shipping rates are insane, so all we’re bringing with us to Japan is what we can fit in our checked and carry-on luggage. A lot of people have asked about this, shocked that we’re pretty much only bringing clothes and a few books and random supplies. But when it comes down to it, what more do you need? Oh, wait, that brings me to the next thing on my list.

3. You realize how much you need your loved ones.
Obviously, you probably know that you love your family and your buddies and Comet and Curry. I mean, your cats or dogs or whatever. But you probably love my cats too, even if you don’t know it yet. Anyway, when you move abroad, you take the time to tell people how much you care about them in a way you don’t tend to do on a regular basis otherwise. I’ve had some experiences where I had no idea I had impacted someone’s life in an extreme way and vice versa, as well as times where I just fell apart crying all over the place because it was so important for me to show how vehemently I cared about and would miss everyone (get ready for that fun time in about two weeks, folks).

There are probably a bunch of other difficult parts of moving abroad that are also positive in a way, but these three have been sticking out to me lately. Have you ever made a big move that taught you something you could add to the list?

xx Caitlyn

Uncategorized

Letting the Cat out of the Bag…

As some of you have probably heard by now, Chad and I made a very difficult decision recently. We were contacted by our former company in Japan and asked if we would be interested in starting a new campus for the school in Tokyo. With much consideration, we’ve decided to accept their offer! We have purchased our tickets, so things are feeling very official now. It is a bit scary to leave family, friends and kitty cats behind, and we know it’s going to be especially hard to go so soon (we fly out to Japan the end of December)!movingbackWe are thankful for all of the endless support everyone in Michigan has been giving us, and we are looking forward to the great opportunity ahead. I will of course continue blogging here, so don’t go disappearing on me! Lots of love to everyone ❤

More soon!
xxCaitlyn