Thursday, January 19, 2006

Huge Update on 2005-2006

Looking back at 2005 and forward to 2006

Wow, this year went by so quickly, I can't even remember all the important things that happened. Here is what stands out though.

The beginning of the year Lance and I were thinking about traveling overseas together. We both would love to experience different cultures and we thought that teaching overseas for a year might help us get ahead financially. So, we started looking into teaching in Japan. We did quite a bit of research and even started taking Japanese language lessons.

However, as the year progressed we realized that the housing market was moving faster than the English teacher salaries were, and we decided to get in on the housing market. We are both ready to move on from renting an apartment to actually owning something. Shortly before this, Jenn also decided to make a relationship investment, so she popped the question to Lance on Easter weekend, and he accepted. Our teaching and travel plans got put on hold, and we got to start looking for houses and thinking about a wedding.

We soon came to the realization that we would need to seriously examine our finances to figure out what we could afford. We picked up a book by David Bach called “The Smart Couples' Guide to Finishing Rich.” It really helped us start to get organized and realize the potential power of our money.

Despite our savings and some generous family donations to our down payment fund, we still could not afford to get the spacious three bedroom house on acreage that we wanted. So, we had to set our sights a bit lower and started to look at townhouses. When we finally found a real estate agent we had already almost decided on which townhouse we wanted to buy. So, after one meeting and zero showings, we decided on a new townhouse development between our current location and Lance's family and work, and started the paperwork in motion (killing several small forests in the process). It has the three bedrooms and will feel spacious for the first few months while we can still remember our small apartment. We are also close to a new park and a couple of new shopping centers. It will also be in a nicer neighbourhood and we hope to make some new friends when we finally get to move in.

This year I also decided that I was unhappy with my current job as an ESL instructor at a private English language college. I wanted something that would be different, and the prospects of being hired by a school district were not substantially brighter than they were when I graduated 2 years ago. At the beginning of summer Lance's family expressed their interest in having me join the family insurance business.

I thought a long time about this change and finally decided that it would allow me a chance to stretch myself and learn a new industry as well as providing me with a stable job that would be very understanding about my personal situation now and in the future. I started studying and made arrangements to transition out of teaching in the fall. So part way through September I started my current schedule of working two days a week developing the curriculum I started for the private English language college and three and a half days a week as an insurance broker.

I'm still very much learning the insurance ropes, but I enjoy the job and look forward to continuing to learn about the industry. I still may go back to teaching. However, my dream ambition would be to start a writing career. We'll see what the future has in store.

Sometime during the year we picked April Fools' Day as our wedding date. It was a Saturday in the season we wanted and it was only one day after our original anniversary, which we picked arbitrarily because we couldn't remember the actual date. Hopefully, we won't have any trouble remembering our new anniversary!

As Christmas approached we started to get anxious about all the upcoming events. Christmas was going to be a budget affair for us as we were still putting away money to pay for wedding and house expenses. In early December we heard a disappointing message on our answering machine informing us that our townhouse would not be ready when expected. We would have to wait an extra couple of months before moving. So, we are currently scheduled to move the week before we are going to get married. We're trying to get ahead of everything now to minimize our stress level at the end of March and beginning of April. Hopefully we will get through everything alright.

Christmas was excellent. I enjoy spending time with family and friends and this year we got to see more of my family than we have over the last few holiday seasons. It seemed to be the year of the scarf for me. I got one from London, one from Germany, and one from Barbara. Now I have so many scarves I need a scarf rack to manage them all!

The past year Lance and I have also done a lot of personal growth and learning new skills. At the end of 2004 we took some dance lessons, which we really enjoyed. Lance took some fencing lessons, and his instructor invited him to train for the BC summer games. Unfortunately, with our busy schedules this year Lance decided not to follow up on the invitation. However, once we've gotten settled a bit more, I'm sure he can find time for more lessons, and he may be invited again.

We also started to take some boxing lessons. Most people probably don't know that I always wanted to try boxing. Well, maybe not the actual fighting, but the training portion of it. There just seems to be something therapeutic about putting on big padded gloves and hitting a heavy bag. In order to encourage me, Lance tried it too. We both loved it! It motivated us to really put our fitness training into high gear. After the beginner class we took the second level class twice. Our instructor and his dad were both great guys. We stopped in fall mostly because the instructor had just finished his teaching degree and was heading to Scotland for a year to work.

When we thought we were going to Japan we started taking Japanese lessons. Our instructor was very nice, the class was small, and it really made me admire my former students who traveled far from family and home to immerse themselves in a language they didn't know. After our two hour classes, my head was usually buzzing from language overload. We both really enjoyed learning a new language and Lance is continuing to study it during his free time and is picking up new words and phrases slowly but steadily. In my “free time” I'm just trying not to forget the stuff I've already learned, whether it's the language of insurance or the language of Nihon.

Due to our plans for travel and our language classes, we also expanded our appreciation of tv shows and movies to include anime – Japanese animated stories. We came across several shows that we really enjoy. The only downside is that they require more attention than English shows as you have to read what's going on, instead of just listening.

So, here's what we get to look forward to in 2006 . . .

In the last week of March we get to move into our brand new townhouse! It'll be an incredibly crazy week as we will both be working and trying to move before and after. Hopefully the date won't be changed again, but you never know. We are currently packing up non-essentials (and I do mean literally – Lance is filling boxes while I type) so that we are ready when March arrives.

The first of April is our wedding day followed immediately by our honeymoon to Mexico. We chose an all inclusive resort by the small laid-back town of Akumal in the Mayan Riviera. We hear the snorkeling is fabulous there! We'll also be taking time to unpack and write thank-you cards.

Hmmmm, haven't really given it much thought beyond that yet. Since Lance will be closer to work, he may get a bike and start riding to work instead of driving. If we can afford it, we'll probably also continue to take some lessons. We'd both like to take a new martial art as well as practice our boxing skills at home, using padded targets of course! I'll definitely need to continue upgrading my insurance skills, which will mean reading more binders full of insurance terminology and taking more tests.

My other goal is to try to keep you all updated more frequently. So hopefully the letters won't be quite this long every time!

1 comment:

Kim said...

Wow, great update! I'm thinking that even if you and Lance suffer from some kind of memory lapse, nobody else will let you forget that you anniversary is April 1st!