Monday, August 2, 2010

A Wild, Wild Ride

One month and a day later . . .

What a doozie of a month.  One I don't wish to ever repeat again, even if I do feel like I can handle just about anything now that it's behind me.  I feel about a thousand pounds lighter today.

I'm going to do a little re-cap for myself, so that when I do get around to uploading all the pictures I can go back in time and revisit some of these moments in more detail.  While I don't wish to ever repeat the last month again, I do want to remember it!

July 1-2: trip to Utah to find a home.  Determined to rent and not buy this time, the best option (that didn't smell like cat pee or some other depressing feature), was a nice, fully furnished home in the "wrong" school district in Highland.  (We think we'd ultimately like to buy in Alpine because the schools are great like in Highland, but the lots are bigger, and it's closer to the mountains.) We'd have to put our stuff in storage, and Will wouldn't have a bedroom, but it was nice and clean, a good neighborhood, blah blah blah.  I stopped whining and got okay with it knowing there are people in this world living in cardboard boxes.  Seriously.

4th of July.  Brandon was "Born on the 4th of July", so every year he gets the same red, white and blue "jello cake" frosted with whipped cream and decorated like a flag in blueberries and strawberries.  He likes it, but I know how much he likes other desserts too (and that it's not always fun to share your birthday with a country), so on Sunday night we had a little family dinner party for him with a caramel praline ice cream cake before we headed over to my sister-in-law's grandparents' house for fireworks.  They live on a mountainside overlooking the Rose Bowl, so it's a pretty nice place to watch the fireworks.  I was getting a little sad thinking about leaving all that coolness behind, and the wonderful people we were enjoying the evening with, but - as I've told myself a thousand times in the last year - we can't stay in Los Angeles for it's coolness, and there are great people everywhere, right?  Monday we had a BBQ and swim with friends and family at my in-laws, and I brought out the flag cake.  (Pics later.)

The three older kids went to "Johnsons Camp" from 9-1 the first two weeks of July.  (Elizabeth FINALLY won a prize for crazy hair day - pics and details later.) In the afternoons we had random play dates with friends, mostly swimming like crazy at Grandma's house.

During the second week of July, I actually found another house on-line for rent that had a better layout for our family, was less expensive, and was in the "right" school district.  The lot was terrible (sandwiched between a bunch of other homes with a street for a backyard and no fence), but everything else seemed to make it a better option than the other house.  I found it the day we were supposed to sign and fax in the lease agreement on the other house.  What would you do?  Of course, I called on it.

Unbelievably, within three hours, there was another house on-line for rent in the "right" school district as well.  For just a smidge more, it was even nicer, closer to the mountains (i.e. natural gorgeousness) and on a half acre with a fenced yard and POOL!  Are you kidding me??  The minute I started hoping for it, I remembered how it felt to have my hopes dashed after losing that other "perfect" house.  Do you know how many homes in Utah have pools?  Hardly any.  (It's the craziest thing - this is high desert, people!  It's HOT!  I don't get it . . .)  Not trying to get too excited about it (unsuccessfully), I jumped on THAT rental as well.  That was probably the craziest 48 hours of the month, trying to juggle calls, faxes, and emails between all three rentals, not wanting to let any of them go until I knew which one would actually work out.  It was quite a dance, and I was on pins and needles waiting to hear about the dreamy, mountain pool house.

Because I don't really want to re-live the pain all over again, long story short: we got the great house on the dinky lot, in the right school district.  I really am over it now, but let me tell you, that was a BAAAAAD day when I got the call saying they'd rented the dreamy, mountain pool house to someone else!

During all of that time we were going through LOTS of lasts.  (Pics to follow.)  Last train ride and walk around the Japanese gardens at Descanso Gardens, last date night in Old Town Pasadena, last lunch at IchiBan, last dessert at FroYo, last day trip to Santa Monica beach and rides on the pier, a combined pool party at Grandma's for all the kids and their best school buddies for one last good-bye, last play dates with individual friends, last Sunday at church when Brandon, Kate and I gave talks to the whole congregation (THAT wasn't hard to do without crying!), Brandon and I giving our last lessons at church for the classes we teach - it just went on and on and on.  Pain and misery, tears and sorrow, days and weeks on end.  The WORST was the last night when we had to say good-bye to Todd and Shauna and their kids.  Ugh!  Poor Will had been in denial for months, but that night it really hit him.  Kate, Will and I had a cry-a-thon for over an hour after they left.  It was not pretty.  Heart wrenching, really.

(Have I mentioned I HATE moving?)

Meanwhile, we were wrapping up all the final details on our "new and improved" rental that wouldn't be ready for us until Monday the 26th, and trying to get out of the vice grip of the other rental. (The rental company managing the deal was trying to say we were "locked in" even though we hadn't signed anything yet.)  Not being able to move in until the 26th may not seem like a big deal considering we could stay indefinitely with the in-laws (and I'm sure they would have LOVED that!), but not only had we already said all our good-byes and planned to be gone by that time, there were other logistic complexities as well:

Original plan:  (We made this plan and adjusted Brandon's work schedule over a month before, assuming we would have secured a place to live sooner than a week before we wanted to leave!)

Brandon would take the last two weeks of July off so we could get moved in and settled at our new place.  I would leave the Wednesday of the second week for BYU Idaho Education Week where I would be presenting no less than NINE different classes while Brandon stayed in Utah with the kids.  (Some of those classes I still hadn't finished preparing, and that is the other GINORMOUS piece of the puzzle that was making everything even more stressful, and preventing me from ever sleeping beyond 4am due to mental stress and worry.) Brandon would stay with the kids in our semi-settled house while I was gone, I would get back Sunday, he would leave Monday for CA to wrap up work stuff, come back the third week of August to start work (assuming he had his Utah license by then - just one more "open loop" we were waiting on!), take off for the greater Reynolds reunion the following weekend, and then come back "home" for the last week of summer vacation - with the hopes of each child having met and made at least one friend before the start of school.  (And THAT is the biggest reason we were trying to hurry up and get to Utah.)  Then everything settles down and we live happily ever after, right?

That plan is crazy enough, but with all the "musical house" stuff going on, it turned out we couldn't move into our house until the second of his two weeks off, and - even better - the moving company was now booked with other jobs since we hadn't given them an address or move date yet!  So even though our house would be available on the 26th, the moving company didn't think they could get our stuff there by then.  Beautiful.

What actually happened:  We used the first part of Brandon's two weeks off to enjoy some of those "lasts" I mentioned, and we left early Wednesday morning (the 21st) for Utah, driving straight through for about 10 hours and getting in around dinner time.  Brandon's dad had a stroke of genius and thought to exchange some of their time share weeks that they wouldn't be using for a place in gorgeous Park City where we could camp out until our house and the moving company were ready. That was just what we needed - an emotionally neutral place to chill out between moving out and moving in.  It's been great.  The vacation we never would have taken this summer. That's where I'm writing from right now.  However, when we first got here I still wasn't ready for those classes so my dear, sweet husband basically played with the kids outside all day and let me work, work, work until I left the following Wednesday.

One of a million little graces - it turned out that the moving company could actually deliver our stuff the day our house was ready, Monday the 26th.  I was working frantically around the clock trying to clean up my classes, but if I wasn't working, I was worrying - especially in the middle of the night.  I was exhausted, and on moving day I seriously couldn't wake up.  I remember hearing Brandon moving around the room quietly, and then silence.  I woke up later to a note that said he had taken the kids to meet the movers and he wanted me to use the day to work. ( Could he be any more supportive?  Honestly, I am married to the greatest guy on the planet.)  I worked in my pajamas for 12 hours straight.  It was great.  (Sort of.)  I was doing Key Note (Power Point) presentations for all nine classes, so along with developing the classes themselves, I was also trying to make polished Power Point presentations.

You have to know, I've never done ANYTHING like this before, so I was feeling particularly nervous and completely lacking in confidence.  I've never even attended education week, never taught professionally, never used Key Note - I felt like I was in way over my head.

It's getting late and I'm getting tired, so I will continue this saga another day with many more details on education week, the new (temporary) house, etc. but long story short, education week completely exceeded my hopes and expectations and I came home yesterday feeling so satisfied and relieved I could hardly stand it.  That was a HUGE mountain to climb for me, even without the moving stuff happening simultaneously, so to feel like I did the best I could and that it was well received was one of the high points of my life so far.

Brandon left early this morning, and the kids and I hung around Park City, rode the gondola up the mountain, had a picnic, hiked over a mile up there (Rachael walked 95% of the way!), came back down and went swimming, showered, ate Bertoli's and fresh cherries for dinner and here we are . . .

It was funny, during our hike we ran into another family from Florida on the trail.  They had three kids, ages 12, 10, and 4, and the mom was carrying the four year old boy.  We talked briefly and the mother couldn't believe I was up there alone with four kids, especially with the youngest being two.  I didn't really know what to say because in my mind I was thinking, 'This is nothing!  This is the most relaxing day I've had in MONTHS!'  It's so interesting to me how conquering mental/spiritual/emotional challenges can empower you to take on physical challenges more easily.

Tomorrow I head back down to Highland with the kids to work on the house some more.  You should see the boxes!!

Congratulations to whoever finished reading this. :D  It's mostly for me.


  1. I'm so sad to see you guys go, but so happy for you that things are settling down. A.J. wanted to invite Will to his birthday party, but it's not for another two weeks. We'll miss you all. Be sure to let us know when you come back for a visit! We never even got to have you for a BBQ at our "new" place. :(

  2. Hi Allyson! As someone who has watched you speak and felt the enthusiasm and positivity that emanates from you I am not surprised
    at all that you did such a great job in Idaho! I'm so glad that things have settled down for you. Welcome to Utah!


  3. Yeah, welcome to UTAH!!! Even though I'm in Provo, I would still like to get together for a play date. My little girls would love your little girls. I'm sure the women loved you at Education Week. You were an amazing speaker at the retreat. A born natural. Anyways, once you get settled, leave me a post on the blog and we'll make it happen.

  4. Allyson, I am seriously out of breath right now after reading this. You rock!


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