After a truly relaxing winter vacation where we hosted our families for Christmas, skied and lounged in Whistler for four days, and watched two whole seasons of the Crown, we’ve been back at work full-throttle so far in 2018. I’ve been so busy with work that I didn’t think I’d have time to write a post about 2017. But how can I not write about 2017? Damon and I bought, renovated, and moved into a new home that we love. We both had very trying months at work that stretched and developed us. We implemented some positive changes in our lifestyle that, after some trial and error, are now the new normal. We experienced tremendous growth in our relationship with each other. It was a difficult year and a significant year. I wanted to take the moment to reflect on it like I did for 2016. I look back with a heart full of thanksgiving, and I’m so excited for everything this new year holds.
Here’s a list of 2017’s most significant memories:
1. Buying our home // We went to the open house on a Saturday in December 2016. Damon was neutral and unemotional at the open house while I texted him that I love the place with a lot of exclamation marks and nudged him a lot with my elbow. For the rest of the weekend he remained totally neutral while he ran numbers on his laptop, or maybe looked at memes, I’m not sure. At the end of the weekend he calmly told me he was going to make an offer. The sellers were accepting offers on Wednesday, which happened to be my birthday.
On my birthday, Damon gave me a flower crown at lunch and we had plans with my family for dinner. Our realtor submitted our offer in the morning and Damon grew increasingly anxious as the day progressed. He was worried that he offered too much, that the market could crash, etc. Damon put his phone on silent while we were out for dinner with my family so he could try to be present. Halfway through the dinner he excused himself so he could talk to our realtor. She said there were ten offers and that we were close but not quite there. Damon flat out refused to increase his offer but our realtor Maria convinced him to make a new offer.
After a fun birthday dinner we drove home and halfway into our underground parking lot Maria called. We put her on speakerphone and after a long pause she said, “you GOT it”. (Actually, she said “YOU ****ING GOT IT!” lol). We parked our car and immediately went out to have a celebratory drink. It was definitely one of the best birthdays ever. (I talked about what we learned from the buying and selling process here.)
2. Renovating our home. // After our accepted offer in December 2016 we immediately started planning the renovations. Our purchase closed on February 14th (so romantic) and we started renovations shortly after our possession date of April 1st. Our renovation scope increased dramatically from our original plan of doing just a few things to what was effectively a total gutting of the original place. We worked with a dream team consisting of Aleem and Sumiko of Kalu Interiors as our interior designers and Nathan Goldman as our general contractor. We couldn’t have worked with better people.
Even though we didn’t do any physical work ourselves, renovations still occupied most of our free time. It took time to find a contractor, decide on the scope of our renovation, debate the scope of our renovation, review drawings, sign off on designs, select finishings from options our designer gave us, and reply to many emails, calls, and so on. It really took a toll on us some days. There was one afternoon where we went to an awful stone warehouse to look at kitchen countertops – something I cared a lot about – during a stressful week at work and everything was so awful at that warehouse that I cried on the way home. There were other days when we’d pop by our new place on the weekend and see the light shining through our skylight, see things start to come together, imagine our life in this new place, and get overwhelmed with happiness and excitement.
3. Moving // If I can offer you some advice: pay someone to move for you. We were very fortunate to be able to continue living in Damon’s Yaletown apartment while the renovations were taking place. When we sold Damon’s place, we were super lucky that the buyers bought our furniture as well. So the reasoning was that since we don’t have any furniture to move, and since we’re only moving less than a 10 minute drive away, we can take some time off work and do it all ourselves. We moved everything ourselves in our two cars. I gained some muscle definition, lost about 5 lbs, and spent quality time with my mom cleaning and unpacking. But I was also still connected to work and had to travel during my time off, so I would lie awake at night exhausted but unable to fall asleep for over two weeks. It literally felt like we’d never finish moving. There was some miscommunication with our move-out cleaner so I ended up doing the full move-out clean myself as well. But we did it!
My point is, if you have the option of hiring movers (there are movers who will even pack and unpack for you), do it.
4. Our relationship // If you want to put your relationship to the test, definitely buy a home, plan a renovation, increase the scope of your renovation dramatically, move with no professional help, furnish a place from scratch, have very stressful jobs, and talk a lot about money. Kidding aside, 2017 was the year we very intentionally and very persistently worked on our relationship. We wanted to do everything we could to build a solid foundation. We learned a lot about each other and ourselves in 2017 and we both feel extremely confident about our future together.
Here are some cute photos of us:
5. One car family // This one wasn’t exactly a highlight. I was rear ended at the end of September last year while stopped at a red light. The impact caused so much damage to my car that it was a write-off, and I’ve been going to physiotherapy and massage therapy weekly ever since to recover from my injuries. After my car was written off, Damon and I decided we’ll try to have just one car instead of two. It has worked out so far because Damon has been absolutely amazing in being flexible and generous. He drives me to work most mornings (I still can’t believe it) and I cherish the extra time I get to spend with him on our commute.
6. Cooking at home // Cooking and eating at home regularly has been a goal of mine for years. I’ve tried different things and I’ve tried really hard, but it’s been very difficult. I don’t like grocery shopping at all. Cooking dinner at home always took too long and made me exhausted. I thought cooking at home might just not be for me when I discovered Freshprep, which completely changed my life. Making dinner at home has never been so easy, fun, delicious and healthy. We’ve been using the service since October and it’s our favorite thing ever. I promise to talk more about it in a different blog post. (You can get 3 free plates with this link or the code STUFFILOVE18).
7. Work and school // Work was challenging in 2017 but looking back, I learned a lot and I grew a lot. My best friend and I are both in our dream jobs and we often joke about how dream jobs are the worst. If we’d known what they entailed, we might have reconsidered. We don’t advise people to go after their dream jobs at all. But in all seriousness, dream jobs turn out to be very very hard, but they’re fantastic for growth.
I’ve been in a professional photography program for two years and I took two courses last year in the fall semester. They were fantastic. Both of them had heavy workloads that required a lot of careful scheduling and time management. Both of them gave me skills I could immediately apply to my own work. Continuing education is and will continue to be a big part of my life.
8. A Praying Life // During the most stressful month of my job last spring, I listened to a sermon on prayer which led me to the book A Praying Life by Paul Miller. That book breathed new life into my then-lackluster prayer life. I felt a desire to pray that I haven’t had before, and it gave me the confidence to put prayer to the test. God has answered my prayers in completely humbling, faith-building, and astonishing ways. I continue to go back to the book on a regular basis when I need a little encouragement to pray.
9. Fitness // One of my prayers was for Damon and I to have a regular and disciplined exercise regimen. I am so proud that we see a personal trainer 2x a week (I’m still shocked we can get up for 6am workouts) and stay active in other ways throughout the week.
10. Travel, or Falling in Love with the Desert // At the end of last summer, after we finished our never-ending DIY-move, sold Damon’s Yaletown apartment, and spent all our free moments in the summer on house-related stuff, I was sad that we didn’t go away anywhere. In fact, I thought we didn’t go anywhere in 2017. I hereby prove myself wrong: in 2017 we traveled to Tofino, Palo Alto, Ottawa, Whistler (more than once), and Palm Desert. Our Palm Desert trip was my first time in the Coachella Valley desert, and I fell in love with it. I loved the climate, the architecture, and the landscape. Joshua Tree was so cool and I can’t wait to go back. Long story short, we went on some great trips in 2017.
Finally, an overarching theme in 2017 was how much Damon and I both look forward to 2018 and the future. We worked really hard on our home, our relationship, and our lives. We are so thankful for our experiences and we look forward with faith and excitement to the future.