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? 

 

Road Trips Redefined : The Only Three Things You Need On The Road with Kids

If you’ve been following us for any amount of time, you know we love to road trip. There is not a single road trip that is too long or short for us to venture out on. We’ve pretty much had it down to a science and could get off work Friday afternoon, throw the essentials in a bag, and be out the door for a weekend away in no time. Now that we are planning road trips with a tiny human again, we’ve been rethinking our minimalist packing strategy. How much more will we really need? Thanks to a partnership with Red Tricycle and Amazon we’ve discovered there are really only three things you need on the road with kids of any age.

Amazon Fire 7 Kids edition tablet

After a lot of consideration, we’ve determined that there really are only three things you need on the road with kids. Yes, only three, really! Keep reading to see what they are. I promise it will simplify your packing and ensure a ensure a perfect road trip designed with kids in mind.

Road Trips Redefined : The Only Three Things You Need On The Road with Kids

Before year one you probably can get by with “Oh the baby will just sleep in the car.” If only it were that simple in the few years afterward. Those of you with small ones know that packing the car with the right gear can make all the difference. With our older children, a weekend away would mean a stop at the grocery store to stock up on snacks and then by the library to pick out books to be read on our trip. If the vehicle we were driving had a dvd player, we would also pick out a couple of movies to borrow as well. These movies we would watch over, and over, and over. Yes, we all remember the cross country summer marathon viewing party of Elf. It brought a whole new meaning to Christmas in July.

Entertainment

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

The Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet has revolutionized our road trip entertainment options. So much of my previous errand running is totally eliminated. It saves space in the vehicle and it’s portable. I can download their favorite movies, books, and apps at home before we go so that everything is accessible when we are on the road without wifi.  There are 15,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games to choose from and Fire Kids Edition includes a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited at no additional cost.

It also comes in this awesome kid-proof case, your choice of color, so you don’t have to worry about sitting right beside them in the car. On top of that the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet comes with a 2-year worry free guarantee. Really, you don’t have to worry!

My favorite part of this tablet is that it’s designed for ages 3-12 so it can grow with the age ranges of our family for years. We can also set up separate profiles on one device and switch users. With most vehicles having the outlet to recharge in the back we can even charge our device on the go so I’m not having to monitor power usage.

amazon Fire 7 Charging on the road

Snacks

Snacks are always going to be important because you never know when traffic will have you stalled or when other that roadside diner looks less than desirable. Also, road trips by definition require snacks. Here are a few snack suggestions and tactics to make this as easy as possible.

Amazon Fire 7 Road Trip Snacks ideas

  1. Do not go to the grocery store for the pre- road trip snack run- AMAZON PRIME will deliver it to your door!!
  2. Get a good mix of fruit, dry snacks – think easy to vacuum up- like cheerios. My favorite is the individual breakfast boxes. Also add in some pouches that are easy to hand out and have hidden veggies.
  3. Add in a few of their favorites that you reserve for luring them back into the car with. After several hours on the road, even I need an incentive to get back in my seat.
  4. Reusable water bottles. We make sure everyone has their own and we refill them when we stop for bathroom breaks. Staying hydrated is super important and this is a great way to keep track when traveling. Reusable bottles are also good for the environment.

Roadside Attractions

Roadside attractions are definitely something you should plan for. You are going to need to get out and stretch your legs or maybe the roadside attraction is just part of a day trip. Either way these make the trip fun for the kids and they are super great photo-ops for your Instagram presence. You know you’ll have to stop for bathroom breaks and to refill your water bottles so why not make it a fun one.

Roadtrippers app Amazon Fire 7

Need some help finding unique spots along the way? 

Roadtrippers.com is one of my favorite sites to help plan your trip and they even have an app in case your route changes you can find new stops along the way.

Roadsideamerica.com has several forums of user suggestions and feedback on what is worth visiting and RoadTripAmerica.com will create a map of all your stops and is available as an to download in the app store for iPhone users also.

Bonus Tip Amazon Fire 7

*Bonus idea: Life is messy.

Before you take off, loop a reusable tote bag around the headrest for trash or for items you need to locate quickly (charging cords, change of clothes, etc. When my other kids were small they hated wearing shoes in the car so once they were buckled in their car seats, I would immediately take off their shoes and put them in this bag that way I wasn’t searching the car trying to find shoes. If you aren’t in that stage anymore it’s still a great way to keep the car tidy when traveling!

In the next week or so I’ll be listing our favorite Amazon Fire Kids apps, video, and book recommendations for various age ranges so be on the look out for that! If you are considering purchasing an Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet for your family (Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet an 8” HD Display, 32 GB of storage and a kid-proof case $129.99 or the Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet 7” display, 16 GB of storage, kid-proof case $99.99) feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or on our social channels. I’m happy to share what I know! Feel free to connect with us anytime!

Thanks again to Amazon for providing the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet you’ve see in the pictures above and for sponsoring this post!! We appreciate your partnership in helping us share great stories.

 

Become Part of the Art at Museum of Illusions in Los Angeles

Museum of Illusions Bubble BlowingI’m in Los Angeles this week for a pretty impressive global lifestyle event but it would be a total missed opportunity if I didn’t share about my fun, albeit VERY impromptu visit to the Museum of Illusions last night. After dinner a couple of ladies on the trip with me extended an invite. I was feeling a bit sleepy but knowing it was near the hotel we are staying at and I am typically ALWAYS up for an adventure I decided to risk it. OMG! I am so glad I did. In just a few pictures you will see why the Museum of Illusions is such a great time. If you decide to go I highly recommend organizing a group to join you.

Museum of Illusions falling building

A visitor to the Museum of Illusions is not a passive observer but a full-fledged participant of the paintings created by the best artists. This is a place where photography is not just encouraged – it is part and parcel of the exhibition. The museum of optical illusions is intended to fill visitors’ photo albums with vivid and unusual photographs. Everyone finds something to their liking here because we tried to cover every topic of interest for the humankind. The Museum of optical illusions opens its doors for the viewers of all ages, without restrictions, and guarantees – no one will feel bored!

Museum of Illusions Space Room

Museum of Illusions Hamburger

Ready to plan your visit to the Museum of Illusions ?

Museum of Illusions front desk

Here’s what to know before you go: 

Tickets may be purchased at the door for $25 depending on availability. Get your tickets HERE.

FREE admission for children 5 years old and younger. Strollers permitted. $10 for Children’s tickets (6-12 years old)

No food, drinks, dogs, rollerblades, skateboards, or aliens allowed.

$20 Parking: 1724 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90028

30+ artworks.

Expect to spend an hour at the museum.

Photography permitted.

VIP tickets include parking, bypassing the line/individualized schedule, personal photo shooting & a special gift.

Museum is open 10AM – 12AM daily. Last Entry 11PM.

The BEST Baby Shower Gift We Ever Gave

Whether you are a brand new parent or have just welcomed a new baby into your family it can be difficult to select the right products from what can often feel like an ocean of options. Our journey with our new #OneTinyHuman introduced us to a lot of new infant products and we are so fortunate to share the ones we love with you. This January Philips Avent launched the NEW Philips Avent Anti-colic bottle with AirFree vent. The AirFree vent is truly innovative but I also want to share with you about the best baby shower gift we ever gave.

Avent AirFree

I planned to help a lot with planning Bella’s baby shower but when it came to the gift we would present I struggled. Of course, there was a well curated registry of things her parents had picked out but I wanted to select something REALLY special. Something that would be as much of a gift to them as it was for the baby. I watched the registry options dwindle down as we got closer and closer to the date of the shower.

Finally it came to me!

I remembered being so exhausted the first time I was a parent. Feeding the baby every two hours takes a toll, even if you are taking shifts with your partner. There were times where I didn’t just want sleep but I wanted the comfort of my husband next to me. You know how you just sleep better knowing your partner is there? We decided our gift would be an invitation to take the overnight shift with Bella a few times a week so they could get a full nights sleep TOGETHER.

Sleep is so precious when babies are small. It’s precious to watch them sleep and treasured because those first few weeks because sleep is in such limited supply. The quiet hours rocking her and keeping her on a feeding schedule while they rested allowed them to have a very solid start as a family. It also gave us some of the most precious memories and bonding time we could have dreamed of.

Avent AirFree fuss free

Allowing Bella to take a bottle during these late night hours was the key to making it all work. Selecting the right bottle was not as easy as we thought it. So much changes in a product industry that with each new baby it really can feel like starting all over again. Starting with brands that are recognized and trusted was important to us. For more than 30 years, Philips Avent has been listening, learning and innovating in partnership with parents– all with the mission to help give babies the best start in life. There is a tremendous amount of security there.  Bella took to a bottle with ease and with a few hours of uninterrupted sleep her parents were refreshed and ready to start another day of work and nurturing.

Philips Avent recently introduced something new to help with colic and reduce fussing: The NEW Philips Avent Anti-colic bottle with AirFree vent.

NEW Philips Avent Anti-colic bottle with AirFree vent

 

avent bottle airfree vent with milk

Stays full of milk, not air

The bottle with AirFree vent is designed to help your baby swallow less air as they drink by keeping the nipple full of milk during feeding. This reduces the amount of air your baby ingests helps with common feeding issues such as colic, reflux & gas. It makes feeding time more comfortable for you and baby. The nipple says full of milk, not air, even when the bottle is horizontal. The unique AirFree vent helps the baby swallow less air by drawing air away from the nipple. The shape of the nipple allows for a secure latch, and the ribbed texture helps prevent nipple collapse, for uninterrupted, comfortable feeding every time.

This means fussing at night is significantly reduced. The nipple is clinically proven to reduce colic and fussing due to the valve to prevent vacuum build-up. As your baby grows there are different flow rates to keep up with your baby’s growth. The Philips Avent Anti-colic bottles can be used with or without the AirFree vent. The AirFree vent is compatible with all of the Philips Avent Anti-colic bottles. This gives moms the freedom of choice to pick what is best for their baby. Moms always know what’s best for their baby.

avent bottle air vent

Easy to clean – wide neck & few parts

With its wide neck and fewer parts, the bottle is easier to assemble and to clean quickly and thoroughly. The bottle design is easy to mix and match tops and bottoms. This way you can progress easily from bottle, to training cup, to sippy cup, with fewer parts. This makes the minimalist part of ME very happy. Fewer things to clean and parts to keep up with mean getting back to snugging your baby or even having a moment to yourself.

Avent AirFree

You can keep up with everything that Philips Avent is doing on their website and social channels here :

• Twitter: @Avent_US
• Facebook: @Philips.AVENT

Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Philips Avent via Momtrends.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Philips Avent or Momtrends. 

The Day Before my Father Died

Barn Door and Pine Cones Strawberry pinesTwenty years ago, I slammed the door and walked out in a frustrated whirlwind way that only a teenager can. I can still feel the vibration of the door hitting the frame.

“You are going to regret all this work one day. You need to pay more attention to us! You need to pay more attention to ME.”

Those were the last words I would ever say to my father. It was less than six months before I would graduate high school.  I had never spoken to him that way before. He was my hero. I was frustrated that I had discovered a fatal flaw. All heroes have them but this was shaking my world. I was frustrated that he couldn’t do it all. I was more like him than anyone else on the planet. This was a mirror of my own humanity. I didn’t know how to process it. As teenagers, many of us say things we regret. None of us expect those words to be the last and we certainly don’t expect them to be foreshadowing.

I went to my grandmother’s house to cry. She listened and tried to explain the pressures of being an adult and being a parent to me. He was raising two daughters the best way he knew how. “None of us have done this before. We’re all going to make some mistakes” she told me. I listened and tried to absorb all that she said. I stayed until the tears had dried.  I was as smart and self-aware as any 17-year-old girl could be at that time in life. I couldn’t tell the future though. Most of us can’t. I had no way of knowing that the heavy workload my father choose would be the death of him.

The next morning I got dressed for school and quickly paused to consider knocking on the closed bedroom door to say goodbye. I don’t know if I was worried he would still be upset for the way I spoke to him or if I was still a bit upset that I didn’t feel heard. I quickly decided against it. If I had known how the day was going to go, I would have knocked on that door. A few hours later I stepped off the bus into chaos. There had been and accident and my father had been rushed to the hospital.

The next few hours were such a blur that none of the conversation that happened the evening before seemed to matter. There were waiting rooms, surgery, and the worst phone call I’ve ever had to make. “There’s been an accident. You need to get on a flight right away. He’s in surgery. We don’t know if he’s going to make it.” There’s no manual for telling someone their spouse may not live. Especially when that someone is your mother. Especially when you are a teenager.

“None of us have done this before. We’re all going to make some mistakes.”

My mother’s flight arrived to the hospital before the doctor came out of surgery to announce that he had not survived. Everything was a blur from that moment forward. We were all in shock and the conversation from the night before didn’t seem to be the most important thing to bring up then. I guess so many other things avalanched in the days, weeks, and years that followed it never seemed like the most important thing to bring up. Yet it has has shaped so many decisions in my own life the past twenty years. The career path I chose, the number of overtime hours I would accept, how far we are willing to commute all played into the always analyzed work-life balance.

In hindsight, I would have chosen different words that night. I would have been more understanding. I was wise enough even then to never make myself feel guilty. I loved my father and I know he loved us. That’s why he worked so hard to show his love and why I was so jealous for his time with us. Some people show their love through gifts, some through actions, some through words, some with a hug or holding your hand, and some with their time. If you have never read the 5 Love Languages I HIGHLY recommend it.  I’ve always been pretty proficient at self-therapy and I knew that a relationship is defined by more than a singular moment or conversation. We are not our successes or our tragedies. We, and our relationships, are the culmination of so many moments that matter.

My father will always be the caretaker who sat me on the hood of his truck and pulled glass from my knee when I ran too fast down a giant hill. He will always be  the first man who put on a suit and took me to dinner.  He was my Mr Miyagi who frustrated me with simple tasks that fine tuned my work ethic and muscle memory into skills more valuable than gold. He made me attend college meetings alone, knowing I was terrified because “In life there are a lot of intimidating situations you will have to face alone. Get comfortable being uncomfortable now.” On Sundays, he taught me to drive fast on back country roads and calculate clipping point. The words of “I’m proud of you” still play on repeat. He taught me a lot of life lessons:

  • A half-truth is still 100% a lie
  • Sometimes our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses
  • If you are at 90% there is still 10% you can strive to achieve
  • You are the only one who has to approve of your life
  • You can have anything you want in life depending how hard you are willing to work for it.
  • Never be afraid to speak your mind respectfully. Once you become disrespectful you forfeit your right to dialogue.

As an adult with four children of my own, I now know what an immense struggle work life balance is for most of us. This week, I’m looking forward to spending a few days in New Orleans with Dad 2.0 Summit, a community of fathers and brands who spend their efforts telling authentic stories of fatherhood. Some are balancing a traditional workplace and fatherhood. Some are solely working from home. The commonality is that they have all made a commitment to make fatherhood their business. We support the successes, struggles, and importance that fathers have. This is the community I want every father to have access too. The stories that are being told here and the community that exists for support is so valuable. It’s not that any of us have all the answers. The truth is “None of us have done this before. We’re all going to make some mistakes”. The comfort comes knowing that in community we are not alone.

%d bloggers like this: