Learning to enjoy living with a boy…

Learning to enjoy living with a boy…

So here we are, at the last major challenge I mentioned in my Hello Milton… post several weeks ago. What it all comes down to is living with a boy for the first time.  That is, living with a “farm boy,” who grew up in Milton, and is the boyest boy (that should really be a term) out there. While I like to think Taylor and I have a great deal in common, our differences are immediately more obvious than our similarities. Taylor is incredibly athletic and sports orientated; I cannot throw or catch a ball for my life. I love to read; Taylor would not pick up a book and read it if his Proline picks for the week depended on it.  I do computers; Taylor does physical labour. I get manicures; Taylor works on his callouses. I enjoy the city; Taylor prefers the country. I think you get the point.  What bonds us together and what brought us together in the first place are our shared values and our goals in life, not our hobbies or interests.

So how do two people who are so different make it work? The truth is, like all things that are worth it in life, you have to work at it.

9 Tips on how to enjoy living with a boy (after moving to the suburbs):

  1. Learn to let go. Of course you have standards, and so does he, but just because something is important to you doesn’t mean it’s important to him. Yes, you go crazy if there’s toothpaste stuck to the sink, but you can’t expect him to be bothered by that too. It’s likely something his eyes just glaze over, and it’s as good as not there. It’s important to have a discussion about those things that bother each of you the most, and come to an agreement on what is most important. Let the rest go.
  1. Find your ‘thing’ as a couple. That is, find something that you love to do together. It may end up being something new to both of you, or it may be something you have always been interested in. No matter what your thing is, it has to be something you can enjoy as a couple and something you reserve for just the
    Taylor and I hiking with Dexter
    Taylor and I out for a hike with Dexter

    two of you. I grew up gardening, and Taylor is a Landscaper, so gardening easily became one of our things. As I mentioned in the Charms of the farm… post, we create a vegetable garden every year. Another hobby, which admittedly we do less often, is hiking. This is something that became a new hobby for both of us, and has turned out to be something we really enjoy doing together.

  1. Maintain your own ‘thing’. While it’s important to have activities that you do
    Kendall and I posing prior to our half marathon
    Me doing my ‘thing’

    together, it’s also important to have your own hobbies. These are likely things that you were into before, but it’s always good to be on the look-out for new ones. My ‘things’ are yoga, running, reading, and going to Toronto for good food and drinks with my friends. Taylor’s are golf, hockey, bowling, and most anything he can do with his guy friends. These hobbies are at the center of who we are and it’s important to keep them up.

  1. Have some shared friends and some friends you keep for yourself. When you come together as a couple from different places, you will naturally have different friends. While you will want to have some mutual friends, you don’t need to share ALL of your friends. He’s going to have friends that you don’t have much in common with, and vice versa. You will likely find that you end up with one group of shared friends that hangs out together all of the time (they probably live where you live), while the rest of
    Taylor with the Milton Girls, my friend Katie and me
    Taylor & some of our shared friends

    your friends are simply your partner’s acquaintances…that is it, and that’s OK.

  1. Be romantic! Make a point of staying romantic. You moved to the ‘burbs for a reason! Taylor is incredibly good at making me feel important to him, and he never misses an opportunity to tell me so. I try to do the same in return. It’s important. We also make a point of having dates on a regular basis, and I’m not talking a few hours here and there. We have date days! Usually these involve a few errands, but we always try to spend most of it doing something we enjoy together. This helps to keep our relationship a relationship, not a marathon of to do lists.
  1. Defined responsibilities. While I am all for breaking that glass ceiling and destroying gender roles, I do think it’s important to openly discuss and determine who is responsible for what on a weekly basis. It avoids that
    Taylor playing hockey in winter and croquet in summer
    Taylor doing his ‘thing’

    whole game of waiting each other out, which you inevitably feel like you’ve lost. Openly talk about what things MUST be done (refer to tip #1), and who will handle them. Living in the suburbs, this list can be long and overwhelming, so divide and conquer!  And, if you want to do something really nice for your partner, you can always surprise them by doing one of their tasks for them. They will notice and they will appreciate it.

  1. Put them first, sometimes. I know they say love is about giving up your own needs for the needs of another, but I have to say, I am not one hundred percent on board with that. You don’t want to lose yourself and give up your entire being for the sake of someone else.  If you both do that, what’s left? Two versions of the same person? Being the same is not what makes the world go round.   What I propose is something less transformational.  Instead of always thinking about what’s in it for me, try to often think of what’s in it for them? It will change your perspective and maybe you can come up with a solution that makes you both happy.
  1. Sometimes you are right. Sometimes you are wrong. That’s about it. Admit when you are wrong, and do not gloat when you are right (well, not too much anyway).
  1. When you are ready… share a new responsibility. Sharing responsibility for something that is important to you both provides a feeling of of camaraderie. Dexter as a puppy and as he looks nowBuying a new house together is a good example, or planning a big trip together, or if you really want to go big, have a baby (I am only kidding – this is not a real tip!). Our first shared responsibility was when we got our dog, Dexter. Dexter has brought Taylor and I closer, in more ways than I am sure either of us realize. He has given us the opportunity to raise him together: caring for him, training him, teaching him, and loving him. He provides endless entertainment and companionship for us both, especially when one of us is away. On top of that, loving Dexter reminds us both how much we love each other.

Of course, I can’t promise that these will come easily, or that they will make for a perfect relationship, because there is no such thing. Remembering that will help keep your expectations in check and remind you why you moved in together in the first place, and will keep what’s truly important in your heart. Now go love and be loved!

Before you go, here is just one example of the pure entertainment Dexter provides us on a regular basis. I promise, there will be more on Dexter in future posts.

New to town…

New to town…

Okay, so maybe it’s all of the feel good holiday movies on TV right now, or the number of social events on my calendar this month, but I find myself reflecting on how much Milton has truly come to feel like home, and more and more it feels like the place where I belong. One of the biggest challenges you face when moving for love is the factor of being the new girl, or as many people called me during my first year in Milton, “Taylor’s Girlfriend.” Taylor is a pretty popular guy and he knows a lot of people in his hometown, but introductions are not his strong suit.  Being new to town could have been rather intimidating, but when I started to look for the positives, I actually found myself in a very fortunate position. Here’s why.

First of all, I actually have family here! When I first met Taylor, my Aunt Joanne and Uncle Desmond had lived in Milton for several years, and it was for this reason

Me and my Grandmother
My Grandma and I

alone that I was already familiar with it. From my nervous excitement on the hour long GO bus ride to visit Taylor for the first time, to the early days of living in Milton, knowing my family was nearby was very comforting. It gave me a sense of home and an extra sense of security.  My Aunt and Uncle provided a quiet support that allowed me to make Milton my own, but they let me know they were there if I needed them. Not long after I moved to Milton, my Grandmother also moved here. As we both grow older, it has been an amazing gift to have her so close by. It was something I wasn’t expecting and has given me the opportunity to spend time with her, which I otherwise would not have had.

It is also important that I share the huge role Taylor’s family has played in making Milton my home. Taylor’s family welcomed me with open arms from the first day I met them and quickly became an important part of my life here. Taylor’s parents have a special way of making you feel like one of the family and we have a strong passion for travel in common.  In fact, we have traveled together at least once a year since I met Taylor, to places as far away as Koh Samui, Thailand. It was during this particular trip that I also became very close with Taylor’s sister Chas and her fiancé, now husband, Todd. Both Chas and Todd helped me settle into my suburban life in countless ways, from helping me buy my first new car, to helping Taylor and I get our first pet together.  I feel very lucky to have Taylor’s family as my own.  We get together for family dinners on a regular basis and I look forward to those Sundays when we sit around the table for hours after dinner talking and laughing.

Our family trip to Thailand

Aside from family, it is also Taylor’s friends that helped turned Milton into my home. The network of friends Taylor has is impressive.  Everyone knows everyone, and they all show up to support one another in both hard times and good.  It really is something special.  For me, it was Taylor’s closest friends and especially their partners that made the biggest impression. From the start, the girls were great about asking Taylor and I to hang out as couples, and sometimes they would ask me to hang out solo too. That gave me the push I needed to be brave and start doing some asking myself. In the end it wasn’t a big deal at all, and meeting up started to happen a lot more organically. We often get together over wine, take the dogs for a walk or to the dog park, and sometimes we even take in the odd Niagara wine tour. Every summer we head up to a cottage for a weekend or two, as a big group (guys and sometimes even dogs included). It’s always a blast. These are friendships that are truly built to last.

Speaking of friendships that last, another fortunate turn of events happened before
I even moved to Milton, resulting in one of my closest Milton friendships. The

The Milton Girls
The Milton Girls and I

summer before I moved to Milton I had a few of my Toronto girlfriends up to Milton for a bonfire. At the last minute, I asked my work friend, Adina, if she wanted to join us. She agreed! She needed a change of pace from the city and she wanted an evening away with the girls. The bonfire turned into a big party, with lots of Taylor’s male friends in attendance. This will not come as a shock to those of you who know the farm. So much for that girl’s night! Sure enough, Adina ended up chatting with one of Taylor’s friends, they hit it off, and six months after I moved to Milton, Adina did as well. It’s been great having a friend from my Toronto life here with me, especially someone who is going through all of the same challenges of commuting and living in the suburbs as I am. We are discovering Milton together, have learned a lot from each other in the process, and I think we both agree that the suburbs and Milton aren’t so bad after all.

In conclusion, how you handle being new to town is all about perspective. It might be easy to feel alone and feel out of place, but I’ve found that focusing on the positive works out a lot better. Look at the people you have around you and find ways to connect with them.  Is there someone else that’s new to town as well? Go talk to them! It might be hard for you and it can be intimidating, but I promise it is one hundred percent worth it.  Having a network of people who care about you and a place you can call home is what life is all about. Happy holidays everyone!

Who is home to you?

Craft beer and my evening in the city…

Craft beer and my evening in the city…

As I have mentioned before, one of the hardest things about moving to Milton was leaving behind my Toronto girls and our adventures in the city.  I have found the way to deal with this challenge is to make a point of having a full night out in the city every once in a while, and to do it up right! That means good food, good drinks, and trying something new, all in the company of good friends.

Last Friday I did just that, attending The Art of Craft Beer at the Super Wonder Gallery in Toronto, in support of the not-for-profit organization, SKETCH. It was a wonderful evening of delicious food, beautiful artwork and amazing craft beer. Check out a full rendition of The Art of Craft Beer Event – My evening in the city on Storify.

Sawdust Brewing Co. Stand at The Art of Craft Beer and their artwork
The Sawdust City Brewing Co. station at The Art of Craft Beer
Often my adventures in the city involve Ontario Craft Beer in some fashion, but the craft beer movement is not limited to Toronto. Far from it! Check out this video on the big impact of Ontario craft breweries…

“What about Milton?” you ask. Oh, we’re on it! Check out Milton’s very own Orange Snail Brewers for your taste of local Milton craft beer and follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Who’s your favourite craft brewer? 

…Hello Milton

…Hello Milton

I’ll say that my decision to move to Milton to be with Taylor was an easy one, and that is true for the most part. However, if I am honest, it was a big adjustment. Someone that knows me quite well may question this; after all I have moved MANY times and moving from London to Toronto was a gigantic leap into the unknown. But, the truth is I had become very accustomed to my comfort zone of close friends, easy access to work and my small life in the big city.

Living together the past few years, my roommate Kendall and I had blossomed into great friends. I also happened to have many other very good friends living nearby in Toronto. All of my close girlfriends from university days ended up living in various neighborhoods throughout the city. While my network in Milton was expanding and I actually had family here, it wasn’t going to be the same. But there is a bit more to it than that – Milton and Toronto could not be more different!

Some of the reasons my move to Milton was a big deal…

My new ride! (Nov 2012)

The commute… I kept my job in the city at Yonge and Bloor, so getting to work would now take two hours, rather than ten minutes and cost about $500 a month, instead of zero.  I started off my commuting life by taking the GO train; I hadn’t driven for two years and was nervous to get back on the road. But I was living in Milton! I had to have a car.  My time and money would become precious commodities and I would have to learn to be patient, finding ways to just enjoy the ride.

My new home “at the farm”… At the time of my move Taylor was living in his childhood home, a large 75 acre farm property just five minutes from downtown Milton.  Taylor lived in the farmhouse and worked out of the adjoining property next door. On paper this sounds like striking ‘suburban- living gold’ and in many ways it was, but there are aspects of farmhouse living that challenged the city in me.  Here are a few examples…

The farm ran on well water for plumbing, which could stop running (with very little warning) at any moment. Most often when my hands were good and lathered up with soap.

While relatively cool in the summer, the farmhouse ran on oil for heat, which turns out to be very expensive.  Being economical resulted in some cold mornings during the winter months, and water that felt like liquid ice coming from the taps.

And then there are the bugs. At any given time of year there is inevitably a species of critter that takes over the farmhouse – spiders, ladybugs, ants, bees, but the most annoying of them all were the flies! If you don’t know what a cluster fly is, be grateful. You can check them out here. For the record, in my experience they do not restrict themselves to unused rooms and they will make themselves quite at home in your bedroom.

The Farmhouse

Access to food… Okay, this one might sound a bit dramatic, but I’m serious! If you learn one thing about me from my blog, it should be that I LOVE food. I enjoy cooking and trying out different recipes, but I also really enjoy eating out. Toronto has endless food options and I was coming from a neighborhood with literally hundreds of options to choose from, at any time of the day. You craved it, you got it!  While Milton has some hidden gems that serve up both delicious fast take-away options and quality sit down meals (we’ll get into those later), I discovered quickly that few places in Milton are open past 9 p.m. When you commute, getting home as late as 8 p.m. sometimes, this can be a huge disappointment.

New to town… By the time I moved to Milton I was still getting to know Taylor’s friends and their partners. I definitely had some networking to do.  While I am a people person, this can still be tricky even for the most extreme extrovert. It’s kind of like dating, except that you are dating lots of people and you want to have relationships with them all! It’s difficult to meet people in a new town and I am still working at it. This American Life podcast, Episode 587:The Perils of Intimacy Act Two “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” sums it up well.

Living with a boy… While Taylor and I have some key things in common, we differ as much as we relate. Plus, I had never lived with a boyfriend before and he had never lived with a girlfriend. To add to the mix Taylor is the baby of his family with two older sisters, while I am an only child. This was going to be interesting.