gradually and gruelingly starting a new life

after spending most of july at bear lake, we picked up our suitcases that we left at my parents’ condo in salt lake city, and made our way to our new hometown – provo. in august we just tried to get our feet under us a little. we lived in my brother noah’s basement until ian’s grandma’s basement (where we were planning to set up shop until we found a house to buy) became available (she had some family visiting until late august). we spent time exploring our new world in provo, seeing friends in salt lake, enjoying a little more time at bear lake and also at my parents’ house in park city, and started to partake of the wonderful wonderful joy of living near family.

looking back on these photos i am remembering that there was a lot of joy in the month of august, during our first weeks as provo residents. at the same time, this slice of time was probably the darkest time of my life thus far – and truly i have a hard time really recollecting what happened as i’ve blocked out a lot of depressed haze from my memory. i’m so happy to go over the highlights here, as i also recognize that this was just a really difficult time. a few months later as i write this i have some useful perspective but phew! those first days and weeks with the gravity of the change in our family life hitting me were grueling.

okay … on to the highlights! πŸ™‚

it was such a joy to reunite with my dear friends erin and mallory – we met up at erin’s house in slc and let all the kids play on the trampoline with a sprinkler under it while we had a yummy lunch and caught up:

mallory and erin and i were super close in high school – there was a span of time where we had a sleepover every single friday night! about three years ago, we started a marco polo group and started chatting there – erin in utah, mal in texas, and me in london. it was so much fun to catch up and talk – we started marco polo-ing each other almost every day and that continued for years! we shared lots of happys and sads and thoughts on everything from important heavy life questions to frivolous tv shows. we shared scenes from trips we went on, exchanged parenting hacks, and speculated about what this new “coronavirus” would do to our world. erin and mallory were among the very first to know that i was expecting twins, and they both had babies within months of august and eve being born! our marco polo-ing is still going strong and i am so so grateful for the reconnection with these awesome friends who i adore.

we met up with a bunch of members of ian’s family that happened to be in utah on the twenty-fourth of july (a state holiday – pioneer day – in utah!). we gathered at south fork park in provo canyon and it was so wonderful to be with a gaggle of wrights in such a gorgeous spot.

that night we went to the park near my brother’s house and set off some simple fireworks at sunset. the boys were *so* into it.

by a stroke of big serendipity, we ended up next to another family on the grass that brought a ton of *huge* arial fireworks. we laid on the grass and watched them in awe – it was pretty exciting and the cherry on top of a perfect utah summer day. a really good day was needed after a string of really really hard days.

living with noah and kristi and their family for a while was such a blessing. a big chunk of the time we were there they were actually out of town but when we were all in the house it was a party. i’m so grateful we got to partake of noah and kristi’s goodness and our kids got to partake of their six kids’ goodness! auggie & cubby // charity & faithie:

my amazing friend catherine threw me a little “welcome home” party and invited a bunch of my old friends that live in utah. unfortunately so many of them were out of town but we still had a fun little group and ate my favourite utah meal and let the kids play together and caught up. i was so touched that cath wanted to do this for me. she even made a big “welcome home” banner! catherine is such, such, *such* a good friend and i’m so psyched to live only 45 minutes rather than an ocean away from her.

some snaps of the twins from a meet-up with ian’s brother hyrum and his family before they went back to pittsburgh at the end of their utah visit:

some reunions with beloved friends – our nanny lizzy (the boys had been eagerly, *eagerly* anticipating going to her house with a pool in utah since before she left london in december 2020!) and my soul sister friend dani (who was passing through utah and who has a son named august too – we had to snap a photo of us with our augusts!):

our moses was in the august edition of the friend!! the friend is our church’s monthly magazine for kids and we had submitted a photo of moses back in september 2020. a friend told me she saw our son in the magazine and i immediately looked up the digital version and took a screenshot, delighted! yes, then i went to the byu bookstore and bought a few hard copies πŸ™‚ // a random snap of auggie’s beautiful big eyes!:

while we engaged in the insane utah housing market, having been outbid on way-over-asking offers three times, there was a lot of uncertainty about where exactly we would try to bloom where we were planted in our new hometown. but one thing we knew for sure would be part of our new life was the provo rec center, which we quickly fell in love with. incredibly fun outdoor and indoor pools, a great gym with a big menu of fitness classes, incredibly fun outdoor and indoor playgrounds, and fantastic, cheap child care. we started going to the rec center almost every day that we were in provo in august. it was a haven for us.

we also started frequenting the nearest playground to my brothers’ house.

one evening my parents came down to provo to watch our kids so we could go out on a much-needed date. we went up provo canyon to sundance resort and took in some lush mountain views before eating at a cozy fancy restaurant there.

we spent a day as a family at thanksgiving point, a complex of gardens and museums that is halfway between provo and salt lake city. we bought an annual pass and that has been one of our greatest treasures in our new life. on our first thanksgiving point visit we went to the dino museum first:

and then the butterfly biosphere, where the boys got to hold butterflies!

then we went to the farm area and moses and gabriel could have done the pony rides for the rest of the day, they loved it!

another day while ian was in meetings (he didn’t officially begin work until 1 september, but had some new faculty orientations, etc) i took the kids up to salt lake and met grammie and grandfather, and my nieces etta and emmeline there. it was a hot day but i loved showing my kids the zoo of my childhood (i grew up in a house just up the street from hogle zoo! – this lion drinking fountain and gorilla “measure up” wall are seared into my memory!):

in mid-august, my brother eli and his wife julie, who had just had a baby and weren’t sure where they were going to live next (kind of a long story…), found an awesome rental in provo and decided to move to provo!!!! we were overjoyed – to live not only close to my brother noah and his family but also my brother eli and his family! moses and gabriel were especially pumped to have their cousins zara, dean and etta as neighbours. at this point we were in the negotiation phase with the house we now live in – and eli and julie’s rental was a 3 minute drive away, and then if you continued on 3 more minutes you’d get to noah and kristi’s! felt like the polar opposite of our life in london when it comes to proximity to family, haha.

my parents came down to provo one day to help eli and julie move in, and we took all the kids bowling for a few hours to accommodate kid-free unpacking πŸ™‚ all the children had a blast!

ian took moses and gabriel camping at the same exact campsite he went to every summer as a kid with his grandpa.

when ian was a young boy, his brothers and grandpa and he would take the same little hike every year near the campsite. one year they decided to bury a bottle of grape soda in a specific spot along the trail just to see if they could find it again the next year. they sure did in different summers that came, and guess what? moses and gabriel also found it on their camping trip hike! pretty cool. they also played a wright family favourite game, “don’t eat pete.”

and then took a long drive (one of ian’s favourite things, haha) to dinosaur national monument in vernal, utah and saw some sweet fossils!

meanwhile, i met my sisters (saren, who lives in ogden, and saydi, who lives in salt lake) in millcreek canyon for a hike. my parents watched the babies! it felt so, so good to get up into the mountain air (even though the views were still so smokey from the wildfires states away), and to be with my sisters during a really tough time.

back together at noah and kristi’s enjoying the trampoline:

babies chilling with cousin lyla and grandfather putting the babies to bed one night he was in provo!:

another day we went up to my parents’ house in park city and headed up to the ski resort to ride the alpine slide. we decided – what the heck let’s go all in – and did both the “mountain coaster” and the alpine slide. ian went with gabriel and i went with moses (trading off to be with the babies). we had a lot of fun. moses is fearless.

love my parents’ house. such a beautiful refuge.

i realised that august was the same age that moses and gabriel each were in these photos:

so i packed that same outfit to bring on our little overnight in park city and snapped some pictures of auggie. yes this is a lot of photos but still only about one fourth of the ones i took! hah.

i found some outtakes on my phone that mo must have taken while i was getting out my camera. i might like these ones even better πŸ™‚

we went on a little hike up toll canyon (the trailhead across the street from my parents’ house, a trail i’ve loved all my life). i’m pretty sure it was about 90% whining, but the other 10% was really great πŸ˜‰

on 12 august, i got to bring the boys to my sister saydi’s birthday party! (the babies stayed in provo with ian.) as i was driving home that night my heart was so full, and it was beating this message: this is why we moved to utah. because when a family member has a special day / event – we go. we get to just go. and that’s really wonderful.

saydi’s birthday tradition is to “float her cake.” it’s a bit of a bizarre one but definitely the most earnestly kept among my siblings’ birthday traditions. saydi has floated her cake in bear lake, bathtubs, rivers, sinks and oceans. this year she floated it in the stream in millcreek canyon and we got to gather with saren and her family, my parents, some of saydi’s neighbours, and the schwartzes who were in town from england (saydi’s best childhood friend – who is basically a sister to me – and her husband and daughters were the closest thing we had to family in england and we love them so, so much). moses and gabriel were super into the whole cake float thing and it was a perfect summer evening in the mountains.

some snaps from a different day at my parents’ in park city. on this day my dad hung out with moses and gabriel for hours and hours – swinging in the barn, exploring the gully and finding the playhouse down there, teaching how to use a real bow and arrow, and watching an old classic movie. what a blessing and a joy to have this special time with grandfather.

one weekend we went back up to bear lake – just the six of us – to stay in the little old cabin i grew up spending entire summers living in. this time at the lake was enjoyable in such a unique way. the day we went up there was also the day that evie had her very first ponytail in her hair – very very exciting! πŸ™‚

i love, love, loved putting moses and gabriel to sleep in the awesome hang-down beds that i grew up sleeping in. i told them the same bedtime stories – of “j j talmadge” and his friends in “mirror land” – that my dad told me as i laid in those beds as a little girl. it was really sweet.

we hung out at the beach, the babies splashing and eating sand and the boys kayaking together!

and just had a chill day playing tennis and games and hanging out.

the next day we hiked to bloomington lake. this is one of my favourite spots on earth. when we went up there when i was a kid, we were the only ones there usually! now it’s really popular and crowded, but still so beautiful and fun.
(may it be known that moses’s swimming trunks mark the first time i acquiesced on buying really ugly clothing at my child’s earnest request…haha)

i couldn’t resist doing the rope swing, even though it was complicated with all the kids and that water is freaking freezing. it was exhilarating!!

on the hike back to the car, mo and gabe and i made a wildflower bouquet πŸ™‚

back to noah and kristi’s house and jumping on the trampoline with neighbour cousins!! so much simple joy.

a sink bath (a new favourite thing for augs) and a splash pad visit with cousins:

we moved into ian’s grandma’s basement towards the end of august. it was a perfect space for us as we figured out all the logistics of closing on the house our offer had been accepted for (the whole process was wild), and then as we got the whole interior of the house painted. i will forever be grateful for the time we had at grandma allred’s. ian’s grandparents moved into that house in 1969 – his mom grew up there and also brought ian home there after he was born! you walk in this house and you can just feel the family memories in the walls. the basement has three bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and a tiny kitchen – bigger by quite a margin than any place we’d ever lived – not to mention the backyard!! and this absolutely darling under-the-stairs play kitchen that i’m kind of obsessed with:
(and here’s moses and gabriel doing some cosmic kids yoga in the living room, ha!)

but the best part about being at grandma’s house was grandma. she’s an amazing woman and being around her was such a blessing. and i’m so glad my kids budded relationships with a great grandparent.

an afternoon at the bean life science museum at byu:

gabriel’s preschool teacher asked for a “headshot” of our preschooler and here’s what i got … love this boy:

on 20 august, ian had a birthday! the night before my parents came to babysit and we went on a birthday date – chipotle takeout, a drive up the canyon, and a little hike until it started pouring and we ran back to the car, haha.

the next morning ian woke up to “get up dad!!!! it’s your birthday!!!” and lots of dollar store presents given by very excited little boys. then we went to noah and kristi’s house to have some cake and a little celebration!

auggie did “the trick” with uncle noah, and – of course! – uncle starburst threw starbursts from the balcony to all the kids!

on ian’s birthday, we closed on our house!! quite the birthday gift, huh? a whole house! πŸ™‚

i took the kids back up to bear lake again, just for a day – passing by park city on the way – for a little reunion with my cousins on my mom’s side.

it was a really stormy day at the lake, so we mostly stayed inside but had a great time catching up with carver cousins and enjoying the striking scenery.

one night we did a full-moon lift ride at sundance with noah and kristi! we had actually given then this experience as a gift a couple of christmases ago and they hadn’t made it up there, so we made it happen. it was sooooo beautiful, and really peaceful, and a lot of fun. noah and kristi’s daughter lyla babysat for us πŸ™‚

building legos at grandma’s // hanging out in the back yard at grandma’s:

a quick visit to the museum of art (moa) at byu, where i worked for a while when i was brieftly a byu student. i really love this place.

the twins started interacting with each other a lot more at the end of the summer. it’s my favourite thing to watch them play with each other!

eve’s first pigtails! haha. her big brothers actually requested this, and we had to take some bathroom selfies of the milestone πŸ™‚

an open house at gabriel’s preschool (which has been everything i could ever dream up for a preschool and a huge, huge blessing for our family), and the “family study room” at the byu library where we hung out a few times while daddy was in meetings:

one saturday there was a huge party / festival at rock canyon park. bounce houses, cotton candy, a petting zoo (that included a huge tortoise and … a kangaroo?!?!!), cousins and second cousins, spectacular mountain views – it was a blast and a little slice of time when i felt like i could start to embrace living in provo.

can you spot gabey rolling down the hill?

a drive up to tibble creek reservoir … so many mountain wonders to discover around our new hometown:

and to end this ridiculously long blog post … some photos of our happy babies. of the six of us, these two definitely tied for resilience in massive change – they took all the changes of our move in stride with flying colours πŸ™‚

7 comments

  1. I think it takes a full 6 months to feel at home in a new city. Over the first 24 years of our marriage, I spent many wee hours in the morning, crying and worrying among boxes and unassembled furniture, and wondering if we’d done the right thing (although we had no choice: we were military!).

    The family thing was great; but eventually we had to establish boundaries – like, we didn’t go every time a cousin, sibling, niece/nephew gave a talk in their ward. Our kids were teens and needed to bond with the new ward. It was also difficult for EVERYONE to adjust to not having our time exclusively, and we had to alternate holidays, etc. We’d never lived by both sets of parents, and they were both used to having us exclusively when we were around. I didn’t grow up around family, and we hadn’t had to compromise those first 23-24 years of marriage! I found it overwhelming on many levels.

    After a year, I began to teach – first subbing and then full time. After a couple of years, I got a job at BYU. (How sad is it it that being a secretary or administrative assistant pays more than teaching school, and is 100X easier?)
    But, I’ve not made close friends like I always did when we lived other places. Almost everyone has family around for holidays and Sunday dinner. Luckily, Salt Lake/Provo is the mother ship for LDS families, so we still get to see our “families that we chose” from faraway places that we’ve lived. . . of course, now they don’t live where we knew them, as most were military like us! We compare notes and differences in how we live now.

    All that being said, I KNOW it was the right thing to do, living here. I love our neighborhood, ward, and town. I always see people I know every time I run errands. We’ve seen kids in our ward born, grow up, go on missions, marry, and often move back to this same area. Most of the younger nieces and nephews don’t realize we haven’t always lived here. I NEVER thought I’d have that in my life. I’ve even learned to talk in cardinal directions: go in the southeast door of some building, turn west/east (vs right/left) when driving, and pretty much know which numbered streets are true, and go all the way through; and which ones are just randomly given a number.

    As I told my husband when we moved here – my next move is Provo City Cemetery!

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  2. Dear Charity,

    I’ve been reading without commenting for many years. Just wanted to say, I’m so sorry you struggled so much. I can very much relate to the surprise of discovering happy photos of a dark time blocked in memory. For me, the darkness never went fully away; some days remain grey and misty, but I’m happy to report that most days are bright again.

    I’d love to hear what made you feeling better – I could use a bit of inspiration here πŸ™‚

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  3. Last weekend, I’ve read the sentence “Life is beautiful. It was never said to be easy.”

    Look at this list of things you have survived/accomplished:
    – an ongoing pandemic
    – not just one baby, but two
    – while having two little boys
    – moving five times (so much packing and unpacking – with four very little people depending on you)
    – uprooting your life completely
    – starting a new, very different job (this was Ian obviously, but also obviously he couldn’t have done it without your support which maybe was “only” taking care of your children)
    -worrying about August
    – looking for a house and buying one and making it a home

    I don’t know if this means anything to you, since I’m practically a stranger. But I think you are so *impressive* in doing all this which sounds pretty much impossible to me!

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  4. Thans for that comment Kerstin! I so agree! Charity has been amazing through all that list…and more! This post is a treasure to help you remember all that great stuff! Sometimes that’s what it takes to get a birds eye view of what you have done! I am so blessed to be your mother!

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