Here We Go Again! Mamma Mia! : One MORE Tiny Human

Mamma Mia! Here we go again!

No matter your feelings on ABBA, there is a MUCH bigger announcement to come in this post than just a movie release. When I heard that Mamma Mia! was making a sequel I was honestly pretty excited. Our at home Friday night dance parties admittedly have a pretty eclectic playlist. ABBA’s Dancing Queen is definitely in the mix from time to time. Of course, there is another reason Mamma Mia!  became a favorite of ours recently.

ABBA

One Tiny Human

If you were following us right before One Tiny Human arrived, we were trying to select our parenting 2.0 names– because there was zero chance were we going use the “grandparent” term. I am WAYYYYY too young for that. For the record, we still don’t use the g-word. On occasion, it will slip out for the sake of simplicity when trying to explain the relationship.

We finally decided on Mia and Abba for a number of reasons ( you can read about that here).

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! at Mom 2.0

I was at Mom 2.0 back in May when I learned of the Mamma Mia! sequel and storyline. I picked up a few promo items, a couple of movie passes to see it opening weekend and made an absolutely terrible boomerang gif that I briefly thought about including here since it was branded with the movie. I reconsidered that because it was so terrible that my friend Vikki would unfriend me if it was ever leaked- yes, it is THAT awful.

In full disclosure, it was also that AWESOME that I still have a printed picture from the aforementioned attempted boomerang tucked away in my dresser that I pull out anytime I need a good laugh. Instead, I wore the tshirt we received as a consolation prize while I typed this post.

Mamma Mia! Here we go again! take 2

I tend to get exciting news at or around Mom 2.0. It’s where I first received the news of One Tiny Human, so it seemed fitting to receive this news the week after getting this year as well. I guess I really should have taken the movie title as a sign.

At the parent’s request, I have had to keep this a secret for a few reasons but I can finally tell you all!!

Are you ready???

Here’s the news… One Tiny Human is going to be a big sister!!

Paul & Sydney are having another baby!

There is going to be one MORE tiny human coming November 2018!!!

  • One MORE tiny human
  • Arrival estimated November 2018
  • SO EXCITED!!!

Here we go again 🙂

The Bitter and Sweet of 16 Years Together #Sweet16

Sweet 16 anniversary cake

Sometimes happiness is best celebrated with a shared cupcake, glass of rose, next to a coffee table of laptops and summer board games. ( Not pictured a.m. mimosas, dinner at III Forks, a gifted emerald necklace and a flower filled tub by candlelight.)

June 21st Randall and I celebrated sixteen years together. SIXTEEN, Sixteen seemed monumental for some reason. I mean,while that length of time is certainly a great track record it wasn’t a golden or silver anniversary. More like a coming of age, I suppose, and well let’s just say I’ve had feelings about it for months. I’ve shared those feelings with a few friends and my husband obviously. BLESS. HIS. HEART. He has endured all the feelings about it. Since I’ve made a commitment to always be transparent with all of you, not just sharing the idyllic picture perfect parts, this felt like one of those real stories to be documented here too.

sweet 16 anniversary

We are happy.

Now before you get worried things are in some sort of downward spiral and the entire internet is a lie, WE ARE FINE. More than fine honestly, we are happy. Like really happy and somehow THAT is the thing that got me worried.

Huh? Being happy is what made you worried something was wrong??

I know, I know. Just follow me on this one. Back in March, a friend and I were reflecting on the past few years and we asked each other if we were happy. We talked about where we were in our careers, our family, and our lives. It was an honest conversation, with no expectation attached. No one’s life is perfect and there is always room for growth but I could honestly say without any hesitation I was very happy with my life and my relationship.

In the weeks that followed, I began to think more about that conversation. I have been known to over analyze – shocker, I know- this trait is both blessing and a burden. I thought about all the couples we’d known, parents, friends, people who got married around the same time we had, people who had gotten married since. How many of them were still married? How many had divorced? How many are living complacent and co-existing? It was exhausting and there were very few relationships that had a lifespan equal to or longer than ours. There were even fewer that I would consider emulating.

Behind the Scenes: Real Relationship Talk

This is where I began to panic. And because panic loves to party, I shared my concerns with Randall immediately. It sounded something like this :

Me: “Heyyyyy, so, we’re happy, right? Like REALLLLy happy? ” 

Him: “Yeah. I’m happy. Are you happy?”

Me: “Definitely. I was just checking because I was thinking that I don’t know if I know anyone as happy as we are and what if everything is suddenly about to fall apart and we aren’t prepared……”

Him: ( insert head tilt, adorable gaze, and light chuckle) “Why do you do this to yourself?” 

*Note: by this time in our relationship he is used to me running worst-case-scenarios full speed ahead. It’s who I am. He is the hype man and I am logistics. Logistics people run these things through. Logistics people have your back. The Hype Men assure you everything is good and you are going to have the time of your life. Sometimes we switch positions. Both are vital. We make a really good team.

At least I’m not alone.

So things are good but I’m still not entirely convinced. By April, I am still sorting this through. I confide in another friend. “Here I am living this dream, with this human who I entirely believe is the best relationship partner on the face of the planet. ( FTR: Randall Chase is truly the best human I know and better than I deserve. Although, he tells me the same and I’m pretty sure I’m amazing also so let’s just say we both lucked out and call it even) So, because I don’t know anyone that has really made love last longer, why should we be the lucky ones? Is the proverbial other shoe about to drop at any moment? And am I going to be the one to screw it all up?  Because I believe he is so perfect, I’m clearly the obvious choice to do so. But howwwww?”

My friend responds : “You are speaking my worst nightmares and fears, but go on.” 

At least I know I am not alone.

Life goes on

A few more weeks go by and my panic begins to subside. Life goes on as normal. We parented together. I won an award and he was my biggest cheerleader. He was finishing his graduate program, things were busy at work and I took on more. Our autonomy is one of my favorite parts of our relationship. We had kitchen dance parties listening to Snoop Dogg, Beyonce, and some version of yacht rock that I can’t recall. We laughed, cried, loved, won and fussed in those weeks. It was the life we loved living. I decided it was okay to be happy.

Moral of the story

Just last week, I was recounting this relationship journey to yet another friend as we walked along. It seemed silly as I was telling it but it was honest. She reassured me that there really is no normal just let it be honest. Your love/relationship doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty. You don’t even have to be happy all the time. It was a good reminder that comparison is a terrible tool for relationships. Self reflection is totally different.

Moral of the story: Love still exists in many forms. It’s probably going to look a lot different each year it grows. Don’t panic. Sixteen years really is pretty sweet. If you haven’t gotten there yet, there is a lot to look forward to but enjoy the moment you are in because each of those can be pretty sweet too.

Oh, and keep good circle of trusted friends. I’ve got some of the very best.

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.

%d bloggers like this: