Fair warning, this post is kind of long, and picture-less. It turns out I was so busy packing and freaking out during our moving process that I failed to photo-document anything.
Sometime around the second week in August, Jason got a call from someone higher up in his company asking how we felt about relocation. He asked Jason to talk it over with me and get back to him. Jason did some figuring based on the positions he knew to be available, and figured out pretty quickly that the San Joaquin Valley of California (Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto) was up for grabs. The new position meant not only a relocation, but also a significant change in salary and responsibility and really, was the whole reason that Jason joined this company in the first place. We spent the next week speculating, fretting, but really not doing anything because nothing had happened yet.
A week later, on August 17 (a Friday), he was officially offered the job. When was he to start? Tuesday, August 21! We had just four days before he left to try and get as much packed as possible, and come up with a plan for getting the rest of our family out to Fresno as soon as possible. With the help of a friend who watched Cyrus most of the day Saturday, and the nap gods, who allowed Hattie to sleep for over three hours, we managed to get about 50% of our house packed up that weekend.
By some miracle, my step-dad had already planned to come out to Phoenix for a visit that Monday. He helped me get more things packed, and then heroically watched Cyrus for four days while Hattie and I flew to Fresno the following weekend to find a house.
Let me speak for a moment on trying to find a house in Fresno from out of town. It was FAR more difficult than I thought it would be. I spent hours on craigslist that week looking for homes. Having never been to Fresno, and not knowing much about the area, I tried to figure out the best areas in which to live. Those two things, in and of themselves, were a lot of work. However, I ran into several obstacles along the way. The majority of the rental market in Fresno is managed by property management companies. Apparently, these companies have found that they do not need to show houses after 4pm or on weekends. On several occasions, I wanted to say "Hey! I have money! Right now! In my pocket! I need to find a home! Don't you want my money???" Of course, I didn't know about the showing schedule before I booked my Friday evening through Monday evening trip! I ended up having to squeeze several appointments into Monday before my flight left that night.
Another problem was that houses were being snapped up like crazy. I found several homes that seemed "perfect" for us, homes that had just been posted, only to call the next day and have them already under contract.
Finally, I had some real trouble finding homes that allowed dogs. Several properties allowed small dogs (which Jager most definitely was not), and several others allowed dogs outside only. Really? This baffled me. The summer temperatures in Fresno, while not as hot as Phoenix, can hit 110. That is not exactly the safest climate for a dog to be outside in all day. Especially a senior dog like ours.
Despite all these challenges, I ended up with about 5 homes lined up for us to see while I was in Fresno. My goal was to be able to move on or near Labor Day. That was just one week after my trip to Fresno.
After spending several hours driving around Fresno and getting a feel for the area, and touring the houses I had lined up, it finally came down to two homes, a mile apart from each other, and on the same street! One was right in our budget, but didn't quite meet all of our needs. The other was a little over budget but had everything I wanted in our home.
Ultimately, I decided that if Jason was going to be working more hours, and I was going to be at home most of the time with kids, I wanted to be really happy in my home. I decided extra space was more important than extra money.
I flew back to Phoenix and spent the next four days trying to get the rest of the house packed. Before my step-dad left on Tuesday, he called in reinforcements, and my mom flew out on Thursday. She happens to be the queen of all things organization and packing, and that woman had me whipped into shape in no time!
The rental house we chose did not come with a fridge, washer or dryer, so Jason spent the next few evenings after work appliance shopping.
Jason flew in that Friday night, and he and my mom and I finished packing on Saturday. We took her to airport on Sunday morning, and picked up Jason's mom, who flew in to drive with me to Fresno and help us get unpacked.
I have to mention at this point that without the help of several friends and family members, this move would not have happened. Several friends watched Cyrus and Hattie for hours at a time, my cousin kept him for a day and night, my visiting teacher helped me pack my kitchen, and of course, my parents and Jason's mom flew in to save the day! I counted no fewer than 10 people who helped us in some way or another.
Jason was given a substantial amount of money for the relocation, and while we considered hiring a moving company to move us, our frugal side took over and we chose to rent a Uhaul and do it ourselves. We did hire a company to load the truck, though, because it was going to be a little tight! (Several people in my ward seemed a little irritated that we didn't just have the men of the priesthood help us out, which I totally get. However, even the movers said it was kind of close, and I'm pretty sure that without professionals, our stuff would not have all fit on that truck!)
So, on Monday morning, we picked up the Uhaul, met the movers at the house, and loaded everything into the truck. At 2:00pm, Jason drove off in the Uhaul, and I drove off in the van, accompanied by my mother-in-law, both kids and the dog.
We got into Bakersfield at 2:00am, and got up bright and early Tuesday morning to drive 2 more hours to Fresno. We picked up our keys, met some more movers at the house and unloaded the truck.
In case you lost track, we were unpacking in our new home in fewer than three weeks from when Jason was officially offered his new position, and in fewer than four weeks from when we even knew moving was a possibility. That, my friends, is how we do it in the Wells family - we don't mess around! I will post pictures of the new abode shortly.