The Stolen U-Haul Story : A Year Later

Stolen U-Haul Chase

Note: This is not actual footage of our stolen U-Haul. I just liked that it had Chase in the title.

Ah, Facebook memories. I was reminded today that it has been exactly one year since possibly the craziest story of our life happened. In some ways, it still doesn’t seem real, like maybe we all dreamed it happened. Except that the sheer number of people having the same simultaneous dream is a bit unlikely and the fact that a year later we are still asking “Where is the … Oh yeah…it was on the U-Haul truck. Whomp.” Over the last year I’ve retold this story what seems like hundreds of times as continue to encounter strangers introducing themselves with “Aren’t you the family that had your U-Haul Stolen?” Indeed we are. Fame never seems to come in the packaging you expect.

The Stolen U-Haul : A Year Later

For those of you just joining this story: 

May 28, 2017 We were finally packed up ready to move from Austin to Dallas, following a long six month separation of what I referred to as “becoming the weekend wife”. Randall had been working at his new position in Dallas coming home for about 36 hours each weekend and with the school year ending we were finally able to join him. After a final goodbye party from our neighborhood the night before, we woke up early to get coffee before heading out on the stretch of highway between Austin and Dallas. We had packed all of our belongings inside the U-Haul that we had rented with the exception of a small suitcase for each of us for immediate toiletries and clothing.

I walked out into the driveway and something felt off. You would think that I would instantly realize a ginormous moving truck was missing but no…. because who has their moving truck stolen from their driveway?? Apparently, we do.

WHO STEALS A U-HAUL????!?!!

Still not dawning on me that all our truck is actually missing, I casually yell back inside asking Randall where he moved the truck. “Ha, ha. Very funny, babe.” He thinks I’m joking with him. The neighborhood we lived in was a very safe, affluent master-planned suburban community. It was the kind of place that had always felt like living inside a movie because it was so pleasant. Our neighbors had joked the night before about not letting us leave. I wondered if they’ve played a joke on us and walk to the end of the driveway looking up and down the street to see if I can see anything…… you know, like maybe a GIANT truck with all our earthly possessions.

Nope. Now I’m starting to panic a little.

As it turned out, the U-Haul really WAS stolen with everything we owned safely packed up inside. We were living a real life version of the Grinch that stole Christmas.  So many thoughts raced through our minds in the hours that followed. The toughest one was how would we wake up our children and tell them every thing they owned was gone. It was going to be a tough move for them leaving their friends and a city they loved already. We had done everything to make the move as comfortable as possible and yet through all our best laid plans, here we were. Literally starting over from zero. We had already begun to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle but this was quite a bit more minimalist that we were intending.

We posted a status update with description of the truck on Facebook in case anyone in the community happened to see it on the highway or surrounding areas. Then we went to console our children, call the police, and figure out what you do when someone steals your U-Haul. Again, WHO STEALS A U-HAUL??? That Facebook post was probably the most viral piece of social content we’ve ever had. You just never know when you’re gonna hit it big so always wear clean underwear kids.

The outpouring of love and concern we received from friends, family, strangers was overwhelming. Stitchfix reached out to offer my husband and I each a generous credit to rebuild our wardrobes. Both of us are still loyal Stitchfix subscribers to this day. Neighbors brought gift cards to Kaitlyn and Sebastian so they could buy new clothes and shoes, since they each literally only had the shoes they had packed to move in. We had people bringing food and desperately wanting to know how they could help. We felt blessed enough to have our family, health, roof over our heads and both of us were gainfully employed. Even when this Grinch took our things we still had everything that mattered most.

After we had done all we could do with police reports and calls to insurance offices, most of which were closed because of the holiday weekend, we sort of went on with life as best we could. Friends invited the kids over to swim and hangout so they wouldn’t be sitting in an empty house. Through the chaos we tried to decide if I would still attend work trip I had coming up the next week. There was a comfortable bed at a very nice hotel in Portland after all and currently we didn’t own anything more luxurious than an air-mattress. Sorry fam, you’re on your own. Kidding, sort of…. I was still going but they would be staying with family nearby who had extra beds.

Did They Ever Find the Stolen U-Haul?

The second most asked question is “Did They Ever Find the Stolen U-Haul?”  Eventually, yes. Every day for five days, we called to check in with the police investigator who was assigned to this. The had pulled the street cameras to see if they could figure out which direction the thieves had gone and no sign of the truck. Finally, the investigator being as honest as he could told us not to get our hopes up, there was little chance of it being returned. We were devastated over the loss of baby pictures, beloved stuffed animals, and sentimental kindergarten hand-print paintings gone forever.

On day five, Randall called me during my trip telling me he had received a call from someone who believed he had found our stolen U-Haul. He was going to verify and let me know soon. Sure enough, it was our U-Haul with a good deal of our belongings still remaining. The thieves had driven only about three miles from our neighborhood to an apartment complex where they broke the lock off the back. This is why the truck wasn’t seen on any major street cameras. Over the next three days they came back and forth to the truck sorting through what was of value to them to sell, pawn, etc. After that they abandoned it which when the apartment maintenance manager noticed the back of the U-Haul truck ajar.

We had to get another U-Haul truck to transfer what was left. If we had tried to drive that one we could have been pulled over and arrested for stealing our own things. For a few weeks after that we got calls from people all over Austin finding random boxes that the thieves had discarded in dumpsters. I guess the thieves were disappointed we didn’t have more valuable things to pawn. Either way, the people of Austin are really some of the best and went above and beyond to get as much back to us as possible.

Lessons Learned from the Stolen U-Haul

This weekend I surveyed the members of our family on what the most valuable lesson they learned from this was. A year later I’m still really impressed with the people I get to live with and call mine. Here were the responses:

Kaityln : “Take the time to appreciate the things you have and the people in your life. When that happened so many people donated things or gave us things to help. They treated us like family and there was no biological obligation to do so. It was really wonderful “

Sebastian “Always pack a second bag to keep with you.” 

Randall : “I’m definitely more cautious now. Haha. More importantly the actions of a couple bad people were overshadowed by the immense number of good people wanting to help. There really is more good in the world than bad.” 

Alice: “One of the most important keys to resiliency is having a strong community. Online and in person, we had developed a stronger community than I ever knew existed. We get through the hard times because of the people in our lives. People are always more important than things.” 

 

Have you ever known someone who has had a moving vehicle stolen? Would you be interested in knowing how to have a safer self-move experience? We’ve learned a lot about what to do. Would you be interested in a future post listing that info? 

 

Holiday Magic is Everywhere in Arlington Texas

Enchant Christmas Arlington Texas

Last Friday, I was invited to spend the day touring some of the things the city of Arlington, Texas has in store for us this holiday season. You already know Arlington offers so much to take part in all year-long but this season is especially fun! If you are looking for an entire day of Christmas fun you are going to want to read all the way through this post. I even found a few spots I’ll be back to visit all year-long! I’ll let you guess which ones.

Decorator’s Warehouse & Rose Garden Tea Room 3708 W Pioneer Pkwy, Arlington, TX 76013

Decorators Warehouse Arlington Texas

First stop on our tour was Decorator’s Warehouse. It has been recognized for years as the premiere Christmas store throughout Texas. Owners David and Kathy Hanson, who started the business in 1989, have pursued with great passion the design and creation of a Christmas store that would be unparalleled anywhere.

Reindeer Christmas decor Decorators Warehouse Arlington Texas

There are 20 different theme areas from snowmen, Santas and elves to rustic and woodland as well as beautiful elegant and classic themes, and so many more. Each theme area is an adventure in itself where you will see displays such as a full-size Santa’s workshop, a classic truck and life-size bears and Santas. They also feature the largest selection of Christmas trees in Texas as well as ornaments, wreaths, garlands, florals and everything else known to the imagination.

Bear photo op Decorators Warehouse

Vintage Truck Decorators Warehouse

Located in the back of Decorator’s Warehouse is the Rose Garden Tea Room. We enjoyed lunch here after shopping a bit. They have a signature Rose iced tea. I recommend making a reservation because it is a very popular destination but so perfect to enjoy a day of Christmas shopping and lunching with your lady friends.

Downtown Arlington

After shopping to our hearts content we headed downtown to visit some more local shops. You know I am a huge supporter of shopping our local small business.

Downtown Arlington Texas

Legal Draft 500 E Division St Arlington, TX 76011

Legal Draft is possibly one of my favorite new finds. It has a welcoming vibe and great selection. They have seasonal varieties that will keep you coming back and the location lends to additional shopping and eating locally too. This is a place I can see my husband really enjoying for date night or a night out with the guys.

Legal Draft Arlington Texas

Urban Alchmey Coffee

Welcome to your new living room. Urban Alchemy will be your cozy chair, your favorite meeting space and go-to place to celebrate. Arlington’s very first, locally-owned coffee and wine bar is coming to downtown in 2017. Give them a follow on Instagram to be in the know for announcements and local events.

Sleepy Cottage www.thesleepycottage.com 500 E. Front Street #150 Arlington, TX 76011

Sleepy Cottage has curated some of the most adorable merchandise I’ve seen in one place recently. I’m not really even going to elaborate. Check them out in person and online. TRUST ME.

The Sleepy Cottage Arlington Texas

Gift from the sleepy cottage Arlington Texas

Travel gift from The Sleepy Cottage Arlington Texas

Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery   

On top of being one of the best wedding cake bakery the metroplex offers, you can also stop in for an espresso, cupcake or sweet treat anytime you like.  I highly recommend the s’mores cupcake.

Sugar Bee sweets Arlington Texas

Six​ ​Flags Over Texas 201 E Road to Six Flags St, Arlington, TX 76010

Six Flags Over Texas truly outdid themselves with a special surprise for us. They day of our tour they opened the park early just for us! Have you ever had an entire theme park just for yourself? I certainly never have. It was magical. all of the grounds are decorated for the holidays and the music playing made me feel like a kids again. But it just kept getting better!

We were first in line to experience Frosty Snow Hill where you can bring your family to go sledding down a hill made of real snow. Our group had the best time. Afterwards, we stopped in to enjoy a custom-made hot chocolate. If you haven’t been out to Six Flags Over Texas now is the time!! You want to make this part of your holiday festivities!

Six Flags over Texas Arlington Texas

Bloggers Six Flags over Texas Arlington Texas

Sledding at Six Flags over Texas Arlington Texas

Enchant Christmas Globe Life Park Corner of AT&T Way and Copeland Road, Arlington TX

Enchant Christmas Arlington Texas

The annual Arlington Texas Christkindl Market, is now even grander as part of Enchant: The World’s Largest Christmas Light Maze & Market. Visit Texas Christkindl Market Lane in Enchant, November 24 thru December 31, 2017.

Ice Skating at Enchant Christmas Arlington Texas

Surrounded by millions of dazzling lights, the memories you make at Enchant will last well beyond the holiday season. Come enjoy the world’s largest light maze, gliding around the magical ice-skating pond, visiting Santa or sharing hot cocoa with your loved ones while listening to live entertainment, you’ll find enchantment around every corner. Enchant has over 100 food and market vendors, including the Texas Christkindl Market Lane. Unwrap new holiday traditions at the most scenic wonderland in Texas!

Enchant Christmas

I’m not sure I realized just how much there was to do in Arlington Texas for the holiday season but since my visit I’ve been telling everyone what a great time we had. I hope I was ably to share some new places and events that you can add to your holiday plans.

Have you visited Arlington, TX recently? Any of these you plan to go to? Leave me a comment below or on IG/FB!

 

 

Working For Peanuts: From Field to Food #TXPeanutTour17

Texas peanut Tour 2017 Peanut Plant uncovered

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until a few weeks ago the extent of my peanut farming knowledge was what I learned of George Washington Carver in elementary school history lectures. Given that peanut butter is a staple on our weekly grocery list, I was excited to receive an invitation by the Texas Peanut Producers Board to come visit several cities in west Texas to meet with current peanut farmers, tour their fields and expand my knowledge of the peanut plant.

Texas is the second largest peanut-producing state in the nation. Texas farmers produce hundreds of millions of peanuts every year and ship them around our state, the country and the world. The Texas Peanut Producers Board was founded in 1969 and has worked tirelessly since then to support research programs, provide education, develop markets and promote what they believe are the best peanuts in the world.

Day 1 : Welcome To Lubbock!

Upon arriving to the Lubbock airport, I was greeted by the shuttle driver to the Overton Hotel  who was waiting out front. I highly recommend staying here if you are in the Lubbock area. It’s the first and only four star AAA rated hotel in west Texas.

overton hotel room

I arrived early in the day so I met up with a friend to do a little sightseeing. We had a fabulous time touring the city and even though my first thought was “What’s in Lubbock?” I can TOTALLY recommend everything we did. It’s worth the trip! I’ll link up with everything we did and an itinerary of what do in Lubbock in a future post here.

That evening we were treated to a fabulous three course dinner of peanut inspired dishes at Las Brisas Steakhouse crafted by Chef Matt Lopez.

Las Brisas Texas Peanut Tour menu

Texas Peanut Tour Las Brisas

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 las brisas Tacos

Texas Peanut Tour Las Brisas Entree

Day 2: Out in the Fields and Vineyards

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 in the field

This day began early with a drive out to meet with the farmers in the field. We met up with Mason Becker, a multi-generational peanut farmer and advocate for agriculture and farming through his work with the West Texas Young Farmers Association. First it was time to really get to know the peanut plant. Did you know peanuts grow underground? If I’m being honest this was the first time I had ever seen them pulled right out of the ground before.

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 Peanut Plant

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 Virginia Peanuts

The variety you see above is the Virginia peanut. It’s one of the largest and most recognizable. Could you identify the 4 main types of peanuts? Well thanks to the Texas Peanut Board Tour, now I can. Here’s a chart so you’ll be up on your peanut name game too!

Types of Peanuts

 

Mason was open and honest with us about the current state of farming in America especially as it relates to peanut farming. We discussed the truths and myths of farming. He shared his personal story and what kind of commitment it takes to be out in the fields providing and nurturing the crops that will be harvested to stock store shelves. We learned just how important it is to support our local farmers and how difficult it can be to get into the business of farming. It takes a lot of financial backing, education and the ability to employ skilled workforce. As it turns out, finding labor with the skills required to farm in today’s fields isn’t as easy to come by as you may have thought.

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 Mason Becker

“My first tractor cost 3x the amount of my first house. Most years you’re just trying to break even.” If you haven’t gotten out in a field where your food is being grown or talked to the people who grow it recently, I highly recommend it putting that on your list. I know for me it had been too long between visits. It will give you a great appreciation for what you choose to put on your plate and they’ll be glad you came.

Our time in the fields was incredibly insightful and Mason was great to answer any questions we had. I learned a lot but there was still more to see on the tour. Following the life of the peanut, our next stop on the tour was the Birdsong Shelling facility. After the peanut is planted, grown, and harvested it comes here.

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 BirdSong

We saw the storage facilities, that house millions of tons of unshelled peanuts and geared up to walk through the loud shelling facility. It’s quite a process! Some areas were very loud, some extremely cold, and others quite dusty from all the shelling that was happening. We also met with the employees in quality control. They are checking around 1 million pounds of peanuts a day! It was truly amazing to think this location in Brownsville, TX provides peanuts for a majority of the national brands you and I enjoy. If you’ve ever eaten a Mars or Hershey bar with peanuts chances are you’ve eaten a peanut from this facility.

Time to Wine Down : Trilogy Cellars

Uncork and and Unwind Trilogy Cellars

It had been full day of learning, working and touring. While almost everyone can appreciate a glass of wine midday this location was well thought out. You see, most wine makers and grape growers are also peanut farmers. Peanuts are a fantastic rotation crop because of the nutrients they put back into the soil. Lots of crops take from the soil but peanuts give back.

We were scheduled to enjoy an outdoor patio lunch at Trilogy vineyards catered by Farm to Fork Gastro Truck. This is not your typical street foods. Farm to Fork is gourmet street food utilizing local sustainable ingredients. The Farm to Fork experience is crafted by Chef Antonio Pina and supplied by Pereira pastures dairy. They are all about supporting local farmers.

Farm to Fork Lunch

Korean Fried Chicken Farm To Fork

Trilogy Cellars

While we dined under the warm Texas sunshine and sipped on the wine that grew on the vines just feet away from us, Steve Newsome and Chace Hill retold the story of how Trilogy came to be. Trilogy Cellars, located in Levelland, Texas, is a family owned winery. In short Trilogy is three families, three vineyards united in one vision. That vision is more than just making great wine but after a tasting its easy to tell they excel at their craft. Each glass poured easily rivaled Napa. I joined the wine club on the spot. It was that good.

There is just something about hearing the stories of a person’s life and passion over a glass of wine. It was an honor to be there that day and even more so to have the opportunity to visit the vineyards right outside Steve’s personal home.

Trilogy vineyard tour

Grape growing 101 Texas Peanut Tour 2017

Grapes on the vine Trilogy Cellars

After visiting the fields, vineyards and dining establishments of West Texas it was time to return home. I had a wonderful visit and left with an open invitation to come back any time. Lubbock has given itself the moniker of “the friendliest city in Texas” and I think I’d have to agree. Everyone was incredibly welcoming. I’ll be sure to plan a trip back soon. Until then I won’t pick up a jar of peanut butter without thinking of the time spent here. I definitely won’t ever take for granted the farmers who work so diligently to produce these crops.

Something New is just around the Curve #theCurveAhead

The Curve Ahead Kia road

You know that feeling that comes over you when something incredible is just around the corner but you can’t quite see all the details just yet? It’s that mix of combined anticipation, excited energy, adrenaline and being equipped with the knowledge that you are allllmost there. You know it’s what you’ve been waiting for but you can feel it’s so much more than you imagined. Momentum and patience, on the inside it feels like watching electrical sparks bounce off the pavement.

We’ve certainly been feeling a lot of this as we wait on the arrival of our #OneTinyHumanComingSoon but this time we’re talking about the anticipation of something else entirely. Sunday Jan 8th, Kia will be unveiling itself in a form you’ve never seen from them before.

The Curve Ahead Kia Front View

Peter Schreyer – President & Chief Design Officer had this to say:

“This new vehicle is going to fundamentally change the global image of Kia. It will revolutionize the way people think about the brand and propel us upwards into a different era. You cannot believe how excited I am about this car.”

The Curve Ahead Kia side

We’ve gotten glimpses of this new vehicle revealed only through a series of four video episodes (I’ve included them below so you catch up!) I’ve been honored to be part of the Kia story for quite a while now and there is just no way I could possibly miss this event. The first unveiling will be in Detroit THIS SUNDAY and I will be there providing live coverage on site!! Want to join me???? Jan 8th, 6pm EST Kia will be streaming this LIVE as well at  TheCurveAhead.net

The Curve Ahead – Episode 1 (Twists and Turns) 

The curve ahead represents unchartered territory, or a journey into the unknown. As an exciting new paradigm of performance beckons, it’s Kia’s attention to daring design detail that makes the journey more alluring.

0-to-100 kph. A benchmark for any car operating on a higher level of performance, and the number that enthusiasts look for first. The fastest-accelerating Kia to date represents a new paradigm of performance, its heart-pounding power encouraging you to grip the wheel a little more tightly.

The Curve Ahead – Episode 2 ( The Fastest Accelerating Kia)

Curiosity is the desire, the need, to learn more. On the road, it is the fascination about what lies beyond the curve ahead.

The Curve Ahead – Episode 3 (The Silhouette)

The curve, and the sense of curiosity, is also brought to life in the concave, fastback silhouette of Kia’s long-awaited all-new car. Inspired by a concept, Kia’s newest vehicle marries heart-pounding performance with purposeful and progressive design.

The Curve Ahead – Episode 4 (Attention to detail)

Be sure to follow along on twitter, instagram, facebook, and snapchat( @alicechase) as we provide live coverage from the North American International Auto Show and mark you calendars now for Jan 8th at 6pm EST to experience CurveAhead.net LIVE!

The Brightest Holiday Lights in Austin are on the 2015 Trail of Lights (Dec 8th-22nd)

Austin Trail of Lights 2015

Seeking out the most magical display of twinkling holiday lights with your family this year? After relocating last fall, we soon came to find that we didn’t have to look any farther than the Trail of Lights Austin TX to complete our holiday tradition.  Surrounded by TWO MILLION lights, taking 15, 000 man hours to assemble, there is certainly no shortage of holiday magic here.  Our family was given early access this year to share some highlights and help you plan a wonderful visit with your friends and family too!

Austin Trail of Lights couple

This year, visitors to the Trail of Lights have a host of new reasons to celebrate their holiday in grand Austin style. Beginning Dec 8th- 15th, gates open at 7:00 p.m, admission is FREE for guests of all ages. the last 7 nights(16th-22nd) admission is $3.00 and tickets can be purchased online or at the  gate box office. I highly recommend buying in advance here or at H-E-B stores.

Trail of Lights light tunnel

There is plenty of free fun to be had on the trail but you will get one of the best views from about 90′ up. The downtown skyline view from the top of this classic ferris wheel is totally worth the splurge, each ride 6 tokens ( 1 token=$1), so plan to include that as part of your visit.

City view of Austin from ferris wheel

Inside candyland, the kids can play carnival games operated by the sweetest elves you’ve ever met and receive a sweet treat in exchange. If all this fun has you hungry for more than candy, you will find more than 30+ food vendors onsite.

Candyland Trail of Lights

We ended the night taking nostalgic carousel rides capturing glimpses of the Zilker Tree on each rotation. We all left sharing a little more Christmas spirit than when we arrived.

Trail of Lights Carousel

For more information on planning your visit, be sure to check out the Austin Trail of Lights FAQs. Make sure you are following Austin Trail of Lights on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest to join in the conversation, ask questions, and post pictures after your visit!