Urban/Rural

I am in many ways an urban girl at heart. I love the culture and diversity of the city. I love having easy access to galleries, festivals, museums, and interesting people from every background imaginable. I find it exciting to be able to take classes and workshops on just about any topic I can imagine. I like being able to walk or ride my bike to all kinds of interesting shops, bakeries and restaurants.Husband and I are foodies and the city offers no shortage of opportunities to sample diverse cuisines, and buy exotic ingredients to cook with.

My ideal social group is made up of creative, diverse, worldly, and educated people. The type of people who are always up for trying new things, being spontaneous, taking interesting classes, hosting amazing dinner parties, and traveling to exotic places. These types of people would be easy to find in the big city, which is brimming with interesting young professionals and diverse social networks.

But the city also comes with crowds, noise, pollution, a high cost of living, crime, traffic, and a whole whack of other things I really can’t stand. When it comes down to it, these factors make it a no-brainer for me to live in the country, where I can have space, fresh air, and peace and quiet.

From a social perspective, I long for the city, but from a health and wellness perspective, I long for the country.

And that disconnect is really hard to reconcile.

I mourn the fact that living in the country may prevent me from ever having the type of social life I always imagined I’d have. My visions of a future surrounded by a social network of people from all over the world, with fascinating careers and a multitude of talents, who can discuss world events and culture, who’ve traveled and seen and done exciting things, who are creative and think outside the box and love to try new things and go on adventures – are increasingly unrealistic when I look at the realities of living in a small town.

My cohorts here are friendly, but the majority of my peer group here has never traveled outside of this province, let alone outside of the country. The majority have no higher education, and while that alone isn’t really a problem, they also have no real interest in the broader world around them or a thirst for knowledge. Most of them have interests limited to hunting, shopping, television, pickup trucks, and going to the local pub. I don’t intend for this to sound snobbish, there’s nothing wrong with those interests, but it’s not the social life I want, and certainly not the life I imagined for myself.

So I guess I’m stuck. Longing for a reality that is frankly, unrealistic. I really want the best of both worlds, a rambling house in the country with lots of space, mature trees, a big garden, and quiet tranquility, within a short cycling commute of a hip urban community full of fascinating people and exciting social opportunities. And as I’m pretty sure that doesn’t exist, I’m left contemplating which of those lifestyle factors matters more to me.

I really don’t know.

Five Year Plan: 2013

Before Husband and I got married, we sat down and mapped out our five year plan. For each year, (2013-2017) we thought about what goals we hope to accomplish in that year in the areas of money, home, family, education, health, career, travel, and personal. We of course recognize that a lot can change in five years, so the goals have some flexibility, but it’s still nice to have them in writing, as it helps keep us accountable.

Here’s what we hope to accomplish in 2013:

Money

We’re both in school this year and have a very low income as a result. Our primary financial goals for 2013 include living frugally, limiting the amount of new student debt we accumulate as much as possible, and securing some bursaries and scholarships to help cover our education costs. We also plan to invest any windfalls (tax returns, etc) into our house fund.

Home

We have no plans to leave our current apartment this year. It suits our current needs well, and is extremely affordable, which helps us save money. Our other home goal for 2013 was to reclaim our spare room as usable space, but we actually already did that. One goal already accomplished!

Family

We added two new family members in 2012 (our two adorable kittens!) and we have no plans for further family expansion in 2013.

Education

I plan to graduate from my post-graduate program in April, and Husband plans to graduate from his in August. So far, we’re on track!

Health

Husband got super fit this summer working a manual labour job, and one of his health goals is to maintain that fitness level. My health goals include continuing to gradually and sustainably lose weight (about 20 lbs to go) so that I’m at my ideal weight when the time comes to start a family. I also want to get back on track with drinking lots of water (starting with a glass first thing every morning) and with eating a piece of fruit or a handful of veggies before every meal.

Career

I plan to continue working at my current job for one final season. I will be doing a work placement with a local university as part of my education this semester, and I’m crossing my fingers that that may pan out into a job in the fall. Husband is hoping to secure a paid internship at the end of his program that could also hopefully turn into a longer-term job.

Travel

Nothing too exotic this year, unfortunately. We will likely have a few road trips (mostly to Husband’s home town) but that’s about it.

Personal

I didn’t set any additional personal goals above and beyond what was covered above. Husband wants to continue to brew beer and learn more about it.

So that’s that. Nothing too groundbreaking or life-altering, but some good concrete steps towards our long-term goals.

27 Reasons I Love Mr. Jobson

Today is  Husband’s 27th birthday. In honour of this momentous occasion, I thought I’d share 27 reasons why I love him so very much.

Dear Husband:

  1. Despite your steely resolve and usual stoicism, you cried on our wedding day. It meant a lot.
  2. You are incredibly honest and principled.
  3. You always work hard to make things perfect, even the little things.
  4. Related to that, you do cute things like adding garnish to our plates when you make me a wonderful dinner.
  5. You’re a fantastic cook.
  6. You’re modest and humble.
  7. You’re stylish enough for the pages of GQ.
  8. You will occasionally watch and discuss trashy television with me, and sometimes even enjoy it.
  9. You can talk to and get along with just about anyone.
  10. You’re excited to be a dad – and I know you’re going to be a fantastic father.
  11. You’re always on the side of the underdog.
  12. You are the world’s best cuddler.
  13. You treat me like a true equal, always sharing in the household chores.
  14. You always save all the best flavours of Fruit Pastilles for me.
  15. When I’m having a rough day, health-wise, you take care of me, make sure I’m well-fed, and help me relax.
  16. You have big dreams.
  17. You’re fiercely intelligent.
  18. You’re so incredibly sexy.
  19. Despite insisting you’re ‘not a cat person’ – I regularly catch you cuddling with our kittens and calling them lovey nicknames. It’s cute.
  20. You sing in the shower.
  21. You’re a voracious reader.
  22. You’re passionately interested in the world around you.
  23. You play the banjo.
  24. You have a natural eye for design and beauty.
  25. You’re frugal.
  26. You share my values.
  27. I would be so proud if our future sons turned out like you.

I love you.

All The Things!

Vaguely related to my last post about traveling is the issue of wanting all the things, all at once.

Husband and I would like to have kids in about 4 years. Of course, we’ve got a laundry list of things we hope to accomplish before we have kids (not because we believe all accomplishment and personal advancement must immediately stop the second kids enter the picture, but just because some of these things are easier to do when you don’t have tiny little humans to care for). On that list are a few BIG things that involve either a lot of money, a substantial time commitment, or both. There’s some doozies on the list like going on at least two international backpacking trips, buying a house, and feeling stable and established in our careers before kids come into the picture.

We were not bringing in the big bucks before going to school (we were on the lower end of comfortable), but now that we’re both in school full time, we’re just barely making ends meet. We’re normally pretty aggressive savers, but with our current income, saving anything at all is pretty much impossible, as there is literally nothing left over after our basic needs are met (in fact, there’s a bit less than nothing left over). What that means is, saving for these big goals is on the back burner for a year while we further our education.

What that also means, is that once school is done, we’ll really only have 3 years left to accomplish a couple of our bigger financial goals. Our incomes right after school will likely put us firmly in the ‘lower middle class’ category (that will improve over time, we hope), and it’s overwhelming to think of how we’ll actually manage to save the downpayment for a house (we’re aiming to save $50,000, and we’re currently about 1/3 of the way there), while also saving for travel, without feeling like the goals are competing. We struggle a bit with feeling guilty that every dollar that goes towards our travel fund is pushing our goal of home ownership back a little bit more, but at the same time every dollar that goes into our house fund postpones our travel plans, which makes us feel like we’re trading experiences for stuff.

Realistically – will we be able to achieve both goals in the next 4 years? We’re really not sure. There’s definitely a strong feeling of wanting all the things, all at once, when we know that’s not necessarily realistic for us. We know we want to travel before we have kids, and I do genuinely believe we’d regret it if we didn’t fit any epic trips in before we reach that stage in life, so it’s definitely going to happen, but it’s challenging to reconcile the fact that that will impact our ability to have our own home on the timeline we’d expected. I’m learning to be patient and reminding myself that good things come to those who wait, but that is easier said than done.

I’ve never been famous for patience. Sigh.

Itchy Feet

Traveling has always been important to me, so in the past I’ve made it a priority to travel, by pinching pennies, saving every extra bit of money I received (gifts, tax returns, etc) in my travel fund, and planning out my schedule to fit trips in when I could. By the time I graduated from university, I’d been to 16 countries, but since graduating, I haven’t really traveled at all. A big part of this is the slightly tragic reality that traveling is easier when you’re a student because your schedule is so much more flexible and you get long breaks throughout the year that are perfectly suited for trips, but part of it is just that I haven’t prioritized it lately. I’ve talked about traveling, but haven’t made any real concentrated efforts to plan for any trips.

I’ve decided it’s time for this to change. Husband and I want to do at least a couple of big international backpacking trips before we have kids, so we’ve decided our first big trip will be Southeast Asia, and we’re starting to actually plan for it. We’ve set up a ‘travel fund’ account in our savings account, I’ve started a planning spreadsheet (because that’s how I roll), and the planning has begun. It will still be a couple of years before we can afford to go (although traveling IN Southeast Asia is super-affordable, getting TO Southeast Asia isn’t), but it’s exciting to feel like we’re actually taking steps towards making it a reality.

Our next trip after Southeast Asia will probably be South America, and that will likely be our last before we have kids. We don’t intend to stop traveling once kids are born though – we hope to take trips to New Zealand and Europe with our kids once they’re old enough to remember it.

 

I’m ________ Because…

I like to keep writing posts, even when I’m crazy busy and suffering from writers block, because if I don’t, I fall out of the habit. So on that note, here’s another fun post idea from Little Miss Momma’s list of writers-block blog ideas!

The general premise is that you fill in the blank above with different descriptive words (ie. weird, happy, excited) and then create a list for that category.

So.

I’m weird because:

  • When I eat rainbow coloured candies (like M&M’s or Skittles) I can only eat candies that ‘match’ or form some sort of a pattern. So, for example, if I was going to throw 3 candies into my mouth at one time, I could put red, yellow, and green in together, because that’s the colour of a traffic light, or red, blue, and yellow, because those are the primary colours. Brown, orange, and green, on the other hand, would be totally unacceptable. I would eat each candy separately instead.
  • I don’t swear. Not because I’m morally opposed to it, just because I don’t.
  • I’m a really picky eater, but unusual in that a lot of the foods I DO like are foods that many people traditionally don’t, like olives, mushrooms, and asparagus.
  • I hated pizza until I was an adult.
  • I was a mirror-writer (I wrote completely backwards, from right to left) until I was 11.
  • I haven’t had a full blown cold or flu since 2007.
  • I have double-jointed fingers, but the rest of me isn’t very flexible at all.
  • I have totally flat feet.
  • I’m severely (anaphylactically) allergic to chickpeas.
  • I’m a very dominant lefty, and I do everything left-sided, except snowboard.
  • I can’t read things written in red.

I’m happy because:

  • I’m very happily married.
  • I have an awesome family, both by blood and by marriage.
  • I like my job.
  • I choose to be happy.
  • I have a roof over my head and enough to eat.
  • Life is good.

I’m excited because:

  • We have big goals for the future, and I feel like we’re taking tangible steps to achieve them.
  • Only 2 more weeks until I get a day off!
  • We’re already at midterms at school – the year is flying by (and so far, it’s easy!)
  • In only a few more months, I’ll be eligible to write my CMP exam.

Things You Should Know About Me if We’re Going to be BFFs

Thanks to Little Miss Momma for the post inspiration!

  • I’m from a big, bustling, blended family. My parents split when I was young, so along with my two biological siblings, I also have 3 stepsisters and a stepbrother on my dad’s side, and my mom is remarrying soon to a great man who has 2 daughters and a son – so factoring them in, I technically have 9 sort-of siblings.
  • I love spreadsheets.
  • Related to that, I have a home management binder that organizes everything we need to keep our house running smoothly – it’s full of meal plans, recipes, to do lists, hostess sheets (which list house guests we’ve had and any dietary restrictions they have, as well as meals we’ve served when they’re here so we don’t serve the same thing twice), an address book, budget sheets, a cleaning schedule/checklist, exercise schedule, a listing of our current clothing sizes, and a miscellaneous lists section that includes lists of books we want to read, movies we want to see, etc. It’s probably excessive to most people, but it’s one of my favourite things.
  • I still don’t have my full driver’s license, even though I’m almost 26. I’m terrified of highways.
  • Husband and I first said I love you (and meant it) after only 2 weeks. We moved in together after just under 6 months.
  • I’ve lived abroad twice, once short-term (3.5 months) in China when I was 18, and once a bit longer term (a year) in Sweden when I was 21.
  • I’m a very structured and organized person and I love to plan things (I’m an event planner!) but I have a strong spontaneous streak.
  • I love pretty cookbooks.
  • I almost never wear pants. Even through the harsh Canadian winters, I wear dresses about 98% of the time.
  • I’m a very picky eater and I hate it. If there’s one thing I could change about myself, it would be that.
  • I don’t drink alcohol, but I would like to learn to appreciate wine.
  • I also don’t drink caffeine (often).
  • I wear sunscreen 365 days of the year.
  • I am very busty – my bra size is a 32K. Not all it’s cracked up to be.
  • I’m afraid of barges.
  • I can’t stand the sound of vacuum cleaners.
  • I’m not a strong swimmer at all.
  • My undergrad is in political science, and my primary interest area is food politics.
  • Besides one short-lived and not very serious relationship in high school, I didn’t really date at all until I was 21.
  • I have coarse, dry, frizzy hair, and I’m absolutely useless at styling it. It’s usually in a bun or a ponytail. I also have a pretty awesome cowlick right at the front.
  • I read mostly non-fiction.
  • I really want to learn how to knit and sew but I haven’t mastered either yet.
  • I read a lot of Mormon housewife blogs, despite being totally non-religious myself.
  • I’m a pretty positive, happy person the vast majority of the time. I get drained very easily being around negative people so I avoid it at all costs.
  • I hate horror movies and I can’t understand the appeal of them.
  • I cry very easily (sappy commercials, slightly sad news stories, inspirational videos, etc) but I didn’t cry at all on my wedding day. My husband, on the other hand, who never cries unless someone has died, cried 3 times.
  • I didn’t enjoy living in the city at all, and I’m much happier in the country, but I do miss the opportunity to meet interesting professional young adults easily. Finding people our age out here whose hobbies don’t consist exclusively of hunting and drinking Bud Light, and who don’t already have 4 kids, is really difficult.
  • Husband and I have the two most adorable cats in the world.

That’s a pretty comprehensive start. I’m sure there’s more I could come up with, but this is already getting a little excessive, so I’m going to stop while I’m ahead.

Bucket List

Early in our relationship, Husband and I started a joint bucket list of things we want to do in our life together. It’s an evolving list – we add new things when they occur to us, and cross things off when we accomplish them. We don’t take it too seriously, but it’s a fun way of reminding ourselves of the little and big things we want to do together over the next 50 years or so.

Here’s our list, so far (if it’s crossed off, it means we’ve done it):

1.       Go on a safari

2.       Preserve things we grew ourselves

3.       Go to South America (Technically I’ve already been, but we want to go together)

4.       Go to New Zealand

5.       Start a small business

6.       Go to the Yukon

7.       Own two goats

8.       Own a crested duck

9.       Have a house in the country

10.   Build a sauna

11.   Take an art class

12.   Make homebrew

13.   Grow a sunflower garden

14.   Travel around Scandinavia (I lived in Sweden for a year and traveled around Scandinavia quite a bit. I absolutely loved it and we want to go back together)

15.   Get married

16.   Husband: Learn to play the banjo/Mrs. Jobson: Learn to play fiddle

17.   Be self-sustaining

18.   Write a book

19.   Have 2 kids

20.   Raise above children well

21.   Go to more museums

22.   See Pop Life Exhibit

23.   Take the train across Canada

24.   Go to a World Cup

25.   Go to Angkor Wat

26.   Go to Croatia

27.   Go to Czech Republic

28.   Go to Madagascar

29.   Go to Japan

30.   Go for a hot air balloon ride

31.   Go on a roadtrip in a vintage VW bus

32.   Build a school

33.   Go to Bhutan

34.   Get a dog

35.   Raise chickens

36.   WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)

37.   Buy a record player

 

Thankful.

Given that it’s Thanksgiving Day, I figure now is as good a time as any to express some gratitude for some pretty wonderful things I’ve got going on in my life.

1. First and foremost, my wonderful, wonderful husband. I came home early from work today because I was feeling quite under the weather. Sore throat, stuffy nose, bad news. He took me out for some fresh air, and then made a big steaming pot of homemade, super-spicy cheddar ale soup. The warm soup eased my throat, and the spices cleared out my sinuses. This is just one small example of how much happiness he brings to my life every single day. Other things that make him wonderful? He’s drop-dead sexy, a fantastic cook, funny and goofy, fiercely intelligent, passionate about the world around him and learning everything he can about it, a hardcore animal lover, hardworking, creative, supportive and encouraging, and he gives me a back rub before bed every. single. night to ease the symptoms of my central nervous system disorder and help me sleep. He is my partner, my best friend, and my biggest cheerleader, and I’m so lucky to have him.

2. The rest of my family, both by blood and by law. I was born into a pretty awesome family. They are fun, supportive, loving, wonderful people, and I consider myself so lucky to have such close relationships with my extended and immediate family (although it did make for a large guest list at our wedding!) I consider myself doubly-lucky to have married into another wonderful family. I have great in-laws who have always welcomed me as part of their family, and an awesome brother-in-law too.

3. My health. It may seem odd to say I’m grateful for my health when I have a chronic illness, but considering I’ve had a lot of tentative diagnoses over the years that were a lot worse than what I ultimately ended up having, I can say I’m grateful that the illness I do have, while it does impact my daily life, does not impact my life expectancy, nor does it impact my ability to have children or care for myself. I’m also grateful for the amazing primary care team that I have, who have been wonderful.

4. Misc. I’m also thankful for a myriad of other little and big things that make my life pretty fantastic. Our cute apartment that provides us with a warm and comfortable home. Our 2 adorable cats who provide us with endless cuddles and amusement. Food on the table and the basic skills required to cook it. A quiet lifestyle, fresh air, and good friends.

Life is good.