My Freeloader Experience

One of the things I really miss about Jack getting bigger is not being able to wear him in a wrap or carrier when out and about.  I really enjoyed the ease of navigating life without having to push a stroller around or worrying about a curious toddler wondering off.  I was super delighted when I found out about the Freeloader Child Carrier - it’s specially designed for bigger kids (25-80 pounds) and perfect for daily use and especially useful when on vacation or urban exploring.  I was lucky enough to receive a Freeloader to test out in exchange for an honest review on the product (this is a sponsored post, yo!) and let me tell you, this carrier is amazing!!!

In all honesty, Dennis has carried Jack around in the Freeloader much more than I have - we took a weekend trip to Nashville right after our Freeloader arrived and it was so much easier to walk around the city at our adult stride than it would’ve been at Jack’s shorter, slower stride.  Plus, Jack still wants to be carried all-the-time, and it’s much easier to just strap him to our backs than it is to carry him in our arms, both in terms of how tired it makes us and how much easier it is to have our hands free for, well, anything else.

The Freeloader’s construction is brilliant - it’s basically a high-tech backpack with a fold down seat for a kiddo on the back along with all kinds of safety and support straps.  It has a zippered compartment if you need to put something small and not bulky in it and it has fanny pack like pouches on either size for wallet or cell phone sized items, so there’s really no need to carry an additional bag along with the Freeloader.  The seat also folds up and out of the way, so if your kiddo wants to get down and walk, the seat isn’t sticking out, waiting to run into things/people.  The design is really well thought out.

Jack seemed to enjoy riding around on Den’s back, and he even pretended to carry Den around later, lol.  He didn’t want to get out and walk much (thankfully), but even when he did, the Freeloader isn’t very heavy on it’s own.  Jack liked directing Dennis where to go and kept saying, “Giddy up, Daddy!!!”  I also think he enjoyed seeing the sights from a higher vantage point and was in the perfect position to hold hands with my Mom.

Overall, we have had a great experience so far with our Freeloader.  It made our trip much easier and enjoyable.  The carrier is comfortable for both me and Dennis and for Jack to ride on.  THe construction is well thought out and very sturdy, and I like the company (and you know I like to support good companies).  Jack is pretty lightweight for his age, so I’m sure we’ll get years and years of use out of this carrier.  If you want to order your own Freeloader, click here.  They come in three different colors and are sized to fit the wearer, so make sure you take your measurements before ordering.

Freeloader Child Carrier - Sponsored

One of my favorite things in the world was carrying Jack around in a baby wrap when he was small enough.  Wearing Jack was so much easier than pushing him around in a stroller (which he hated anyway).  I was able to keep him snug and close to me while still having my hands free with the added bonus of not having to navigate places with a bulky stroller.  Which is why I am super stoked to find out about the Freeloader Child Carrier!  Jack still loves to be carried, but let's be honest here, he's getting big and it's difficult to carry him for very long not to mention the loss of one or both arms in order to carry him.  Enter the Freeloader!!!

The Freeloader the first child carrier specifically for toddlers and I can't wait to give it a try!  It's a compact and lightweight way to carry your kid that's a little too big for the usual carrier or wrap.  The backpack like unit has a seat that folds down and straps to go over your little's shoulders to keep them from falling.  The backpack design has padded shoulders and a waist belt to evenly distribute your kiddo's weight (i.e. you're not carrying them only on your shoulders - ouch!).

The Freeloader is perfect for travel, hiking, trips to the zoo or museum, or just about any place you and your toddler go.  There are also zippered compartments and pockets so you can carry your phone, keys, wallet, and any other essentials without the need for an additional bag.  The designers of the Freeloader have thought of everything!  If you want to learn more about the Freeloader, check them out on Facebook or go directly to their website!

P.S.  This is a sponsored post - I'm receiving a Freeloader for testing purposed, so check back soon for our take on using one!

Vintage Ocean Print Pin-Up Dress from SammyDress

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Ya'll, I am so obsessed with the clothing site, SammyDress.  Have you heard of it?  You've probably seen ads for them on Facebook (that's how I found them) and wondered if it's actually worth it to order clothes for that cheap online.  And let me tell you, IT IS!!!  I've placed a handful of orders (or rather, my Grandma has ordered stuff for me for Christmas) and everything I've gotten has been good quality and has fit.

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My latest purchase from SammyDress is this gorgeous Vintage Ocean Print Pin-Up Dress {affiliate}.  I wore this dress to my BIL's wedding this past weekend, and got so many compliments.  The wedding was down in Clear Lake on Galveston Bay and as soon as I saw this dress, I knew it would be perfect to wear to an oceanfront wedding.

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I've always loved vintage dresses, but finding them for an affordable price is damn near impossible and I'm a girl on a budget.  This beauty put me out a whopping $20 plus shipping.  The affordable price is what initially convinced me to order from SammyDress years ago - I figured if the item didn't fit, or was just a cheap piece of crap, I wouldn't be out that much money.  This is my first vintage style dress from SammyDress and I will definitely be ordering more vintage dresses.  The fabric is a cotton blend with a little bit of a stretch to it, so it was easy to move and dance in.  The one downside to the fabric is that it wrinkles really easily, so I'll have to iron the dress every time I wear it.

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Have you ever taken a chance on cheap clothes online?  How did it turn out for you?  Any recommendations for cheap clothes online?  Tell me about it in the comments!!!

Houston Auto Show - Sponsored

The Houston Auto Show is this weekend at NRG Center, and despite what you might think, car shows aren't just for gearheads.  I was lucky enough to go to last year's auto show and was invited back this year by She Buys Cars.  One thing I learned last year is that auto shows are a must see event for anyone who drives a car.  I even found my dream car there last year, and though a lucky turn of events, was actually able to buy my dream car last year.  So if you drive a car, ride in a car, are planning on buying a car, or have ever seen a car, head on over to the NRG Center and behold the offerings of this year's Houston Auto Show!  Get your tickets here!

April 5-9, 2017
Wednesday-Friday:   Noon - 9pm
Saturday:  10am - 9:30pm
Sunday:  10am - 7pm

So You Marched on Washington, Now What?

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Saturday.  Saturday was a beautiful day.  A beautiful day where millions of people all around the world came together to protest the presidency and to stand up for women's rights.  People on all 7 continents marched, peacefully, to say that we will not accept this administration.  We will not sit down while our rights are steamrolled.  We will fight back and we will not be quiet about the injustices in this country and world.  The Women's March on Washington and it's sister marches around the world represent the largest gatherings of people in protest the world has ever seen.  There is power in numbers, but only if we continue to speak up and to act.  The marches were amazing and beautiful and powerful and moving, but they were only one day.  We must carry this momentum forward and use our collective power to take action on the issues that matter to us.  We cannot go home, feeling all warm and fuzzy from the marches, and not act on this momentum.

I participated in the Women's March on Washington's sister march in Houston.  I've never protested before and, other than voting, I've never really taken any political action.  I feel like my silence and complacency is to blame for the current political situation we find ourselves in today.  These next four years are going to be difficult, but I'm not going to sit idly by.  I will not be a spectator to the stripping of basic human rights for so many.  I will not watch this country crash and burn without putting up a fight.  But I've never done this before, and I'm willing to bet that many, if not most, of the participants in the marches haven't taken much, if any, political actions in their lives.  So what can we do?  Where do we start?  In my quest for trying to figure this out, I've come across several helpful ideas for concrete action we can all take and I want to share them with you.

Pick Your Causes

You can't fight all of the battles no matter how much you want to.  All of the causes we're fighting for are important, but you need to pick the three, maybe four, that matter most to you.  Put your focus on those issues - learn everything you can about them, know all of the proposed legislation, policy changes, arguments for and against, counter arguments, and where  your elected officials stand, and then take action on those causes.  Volunteer for those causes.  Donate to those causes.  Argue for those causes.  Don't feel like you're abandoning the other, very valid causes, because someone else will be focusing just as much on them as you are on yours.  If we can all have laser focus on the issues we are most passionate about, the chances for affecting change increase.  When you spread yourself too thin, across all issues, then you're not able to focus and dedicate your energy and time in an efficient way.  And you can still stand behind, encourage, and support those fighting for other causes - petitions can still be signed, calls can still be made, information can still be shared - your laser focus doesn't mean you're turning your back on other causes - it means you're an expert on them.

10 Actions in 100 Days

Now that you've decided on what important issues you're going to focus on, go to the Women's March on Washington's 10 Actions in 100 Days page.  Here you will find 10 actions to take in the first 100 days in an easy to follow, step by step list.  The first one is to write to your Senators about what matters most to you and how you are going to continue fighting for those causes.  Commit to taking the other 9 actions and follow through on them!!!  Get together with some friends, once every 10 days, to work on these action items together.  Together we can make a difference!!!

Call Your Senators and Representatives

Pick up your cell phone, click here to find your Senators' contact into and click here to find your Representative's contact info.  Now add them to your contact list.  Right now.  Call them every day.  Every.  Day.  The calls take literally two minutes or less.  Check out The Shy Person's Guide to Calling Representatives for some great tips on how to dive in and get this done.  Not sure what to say?  Scripts can be found here.  Easy, cheesey.

Sign Up for an Action List

Wall Of Us Emails you 4 simple acts of resistance every week
Action Friday Provides simple actions to take every Friday
Jennifer Hoffman's Weekly Action Checklist Don't be intimidated by the size of this list!!!
The 65 Weekly action item as well as scripts for many issues

I know there are other action lists out there.  Find one you like.  Sign up for the emails.  Follow the instructions.

These are the things I'm doing to become more politically active and to make sure my voice is heard - even if it feels like my words are sometimes falling on deaf ears.  But I'm going to keep on talking and keep on taking action.  It seems so intimidating at the beginning - and I'm only at the beginning, too, but the more you practice something, the easier it gets.  So I urge you to start practicing.  Make political action something second nature to you.  Our futures depend on our collective actions.  We cannot afford to sit back and watch.  We MUST take action.  So go out there and use our momentum - don't slow down.  What are your waiting for?  Go.

Weekend Snapshots 03 - ABB 5K and Chevron Houston Marathon

This weekend was all about running!  The Chevron Houston Marathon, Aramco Half Marathon, and ABB 5K were held this past weekend, and I love all things running, so this weekend was the bee's knees!  This edition of Weekend Snapshots is brought to you by the family selfie I took when Dennis and Jack came out to cheer me on when I ran the ABB 5K - I was super grateful to get to run in the ABB 5K - one of my longest client's gifted me entry into the run for my Christmas present.  Make sure to check out the other links in our 2017 Weekend Snapshots Mega Link-Up run by yours truly and Ariana at 3twentysix, and add your link whenever you can cause this link-up lasts all year long, baby!

Sunday Confessions 01-22-17 Prove Me Wrong

I confess:  I've been feeling really politically charged lately.  I've been posting things on my personal FB expressing all the many things I'm feeling about the inauguration of Darth Cheeto and how I feel about many conservative viewpoints.  I have friends from all walks of life, and while I haven't gotten  much pushback from those who don't share my political views, one friend who is very conservative has posted on their personal FB that they feel attacked by people like me posting the things I'm posting.  I understand where they are coming from and my intention isn't to hurt anyone but I'm a bit annoyed that they're taking everything so personally and basically asking people like me with my feelings to not post things that could hurt the feelings of people like them.  I kinda want them to suck it up - I know that that person is a good person and that not all of the more negative things I post apply to them - but I strongly feel like those people who voted for Cheeto kinda have the burden of proof on their shoulders to prove me and people like me wrong.  After all, they put a misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, ignorant, sexual predator into the highest office of our nation.  They said those values are okay with them - or at least acceptable enough to overlook in hopes of what I don't really know.  Not to mention the conservative law makers they voted for that seem to consistently vote against the interest of the people and in favor of the 1%.  So I say to you, prove me wrong.  You don't agree with the ACA but claim you don't want to rob people of their health insurance, then write to your congress people and tell them not to repeal until they actually have a replacement.  You say you think Cheeto's actions towards women isn't acceptable?  Donate to a women's shelter in his name.  You say you're anti-abortion, then support actual sexual education in schools and easy access to birth control and condoms.  You say education is important to you, then demand DeVos be kept out of our education, and even if you are religious, recognize the need to keep the Bible out of science.  You say you aren't racist, then prove it by donating to the Southern Poverty Law Center or Black Lives Matter (and for the love of everything stop saying All Lives Matter).  Please educate yourselves about so-called "bathroom bills" and don't buy into the propaganda against them - there are already many laws on the books to protect you in the bathroom from predators and perverts - trans people just want to pee, leave them alone.  You say we all need to come together, but I say you have a little more work to do than I do to get us there.  Prove to me and others like me that you're not like what you think we think you're like.  We don't have to agree politically, but prove me wrong.  Please.

Linking up with United States of Becky

Sunday Confessions 01-15-17

I confess:  I never sucked my thumb as a child, but for some reason, lately I'll occasionally have the urge to suck my thumb.  Like for half a second the urge (not even a real thought, just an urge) will come over me and I'll consider doing it.  I don't do it, but it's really weird and disconcerting.

I confess:  I was supposed to write this post yesterday, but I chose to take a nap instead.  It's the first time I've slept during the day in years and it was glorious.  I should make it a thing.

I confess:  I've been on a Whole30-ish diet since the beginning of the year.  I say -ish because I've allowed myself the caveat of having a small amount of sugar and milk in my morning coffee because I'd 100% not be able to do another Whole30 if I had to drink disgusting coffee.  Well, I cheated on my diet like a mofo this weekend.  I don't feel too back about it because I planned on cheating, but like most things I like to go big or go home and I REALLY CHEATED.  Now I have to go back on the diet and I hope I can, lol.

Linking up with United States of Becky

Weekend Snapshots 02

This edition of Weekend Snapshots is brought to you by the one weekend of Winter we've gotten in Houston.  As I'm writing this, our projected high today is 76, so yeah, the one weekend is all we seem to get at a time :(  At least I got a little sample of the weather I love, right?

Saturday:  I only took one photo on Saturday - I was too busy to even think about pictures.  I had to capture the temperature when I woke up since it's so unusual in Houston.   In the morning I had my first Intro to Buddhism class at the Jade Buddha Temple - I didn't have anyone to watch Jack and Dennis was working, so I had to bring him along with me.  I was super worried that he wasn't going to behave well for a 90 minute adult class on Buddhism, but he did really well.  There's a Hindu Temple near my SIL's house, and Dennis told him that's where gods live.  When I told Jack that we were going to a Buddhist Temple, he asked if that's where gods lived and I told him just the one, Buddha.  When we got there he kept asking when we were going to meet Buddha - I guess the thought we were actually going to meet a physical being, lol.  I didn't take any pics of the temple because I wasn't sure what was appropriate.  After the class, I had to drop Jack with my MIL so I could go work, then back to pick him up, then home, then dinner, then the day was over.

Sunday Confessions 01-08-17

I confess:  I decided I wanted to learn more about Buddhism this year so I signed up for a Buddhism 101 class at the Jade Buddha Temple.  I'm not really religious or anything, but from what I do know of Buddhism, it seems to most closely align with what I already think to be true.  And I'd rather Jack learn about a gentle religion than all the fire and brimstone and fear of most Western/Abrahamic religions.  My MIL is pretty religious (in a gentle way, but still), and I guess I want to expose Jack to something else before her beliefs seep into his consciousness.

I confess:  I've never seen the Golden Globes.  I ALWAYS watch the Academy Awards, but for some reason have never watched the GGs.  I haven't even listened to Meryl Streep's speech (but I'm sure I agree with what she said - except for apparently calling out football and martial arts?).

I confess:  I had what I thought was a great idea to bring in some extra money with my business, but Dennis had some concerns and he convinced me that the payout wouldn't be worth the effort and trouble.  I don't disagree with him, but I really wish he was wrong.  Now I have to go back to the drawing board and figure something else, because I need to be bringing in more money, stat.

Linking up with United States of Becky

3 Words for 2017

The new year brings with it 365 new days, and 365 new chances.  I've been thinking about last year and how I want to make 2017 even better.  Last year, I chose three words to help me define my year - focus, structure, and discipline.  I certainly needed those three things in my life (especially suffering from untreated ADHD), and still do.  In fact, if I'm truly honest, I greatly lacked all three of those things in 2016.  I had good intentions, but, well, ADHD.

This year I'm struggling to come up with three good words for the year*.  Why three?  I'm not sure (three seems to be a nice grouping, plus it's a Fibonacci number), but I' think I've figured them out.  And unlike last year (where I came up with three great words, and then promptly put them on the back burner - classic Jessica move right there), I'm going to make them my mantra and actually remember and (hopefully) apply them to my life!!!

Determination  At the beginning of last year, I felt kinda stuck.  I wanted to break out of the patterns of bad habits I've fallen into, but I wasn't sure exactly how to do that (maybe that's why I'm still kinda stuck in them, lol).  Although I came up with three stellar words last year, I did that as a response to feeling like I HAD to do something instead of being inspired to do something.  Facing down the failure in myself to really affect change in 2016, I'm feeling less lost and depressed about it and more aware of my shortcomings, how to overcome them, and a feeling of determination to do so.  2016 wasn't a bad year for me personally, but I am determined to make 2017 a good (if not great) year.  I will be full of determination this year.

Simplify  It's finally dawning on me that if I simplify my life and my surroundings I'm going to have much greater chance at success.  I was daydreaming about some of the things I'd like to do in 2017 and the realization settled on me that one of the things holding me back from being able to just tackle a project is the fact that instead of just being able to start a project, the preparation necessary to even get started is so overwhelming that I'm exhausted and out of time just getting my space ready to work instead of doing the work.  Did that make sense?  Let me rephrase that - in order to get any real work done, I'm having to spend so much time just decluttering and making space that I'm not actually accomplishing the real work.  I'm certainly not a minimalist, and I'm not quite a hoarder, but I'm going to try to eliminate the unnecessary crap from my life this year and just let that shit go.

Bravery  Changes are really fucking scary - even changes for the good.  I resist change - it's in my nature to want to maintain the status quo even if it's not good for me.  I'm going to need to dig deep and be really brave this year in order to face down my demons and bitch slap them into submission.  I also think the political mess this country is in will also require a ton of bravery to stand up and do the right thing.  In 2017 (and beyond), I want to stand up and do the right thing.

I have 365 days to really make something of 2017.  And so do you.  What changes are you planning on making this year?  Do you have a word, words, or phrase to inspire and motivate you?  What do you want from 2017?

*I keep falling into a pit of corporate jargon because I'm trying too hard to find the right words.  Dynamic, compelling, synergy, leverage, robust, efficient - ahhhh, what is this madness?!?


Weekend Snapshots 01 - Day in the Life, January 1, 2017 - Run Houston Sam Houston Race Park

Happy New Year!!!  We all made it through 2016, so let's hit the ground running (literally) for 2017.  This edition of Weekend Snapshots is brought to you by the first of a series of five races as part of the Run Houston Race Series.  This post also kicks off a small change to the way Ariana and I are running the Snapshots link-up.  Last year, we had a separate link up for each week - that got difficult to manage because she and I are both busy ladies, so for this year, we've created just one linky that will get bigger and bigger as the year progresses.  That way, if we're running late (or if you are), links can be added at any time - you won't have to wait for us to get our posts up!  This first Weekend Snapshots post is also special for me because it coincides with my monthly Day in the Life project that I do over on Instagram.  I haven't posted any DITL posts here in a few months, so this is a nice way to start the year!!!

Saturday:  We planned a nice, relaxing day to say farewell to 2016.  So relaxing that I didn't even take a single picture - crazy, I know!  We took Den's mom out to a delicious lunch at a Chinese buffet, and then headed over to Den's BFF's new house out in the country for some hot tub time and fireworks.  We left early so I could get home and get to sleep because I had to wake up early to get ready for my first 5K of the year (and the country is a little over an hour away from us).

Sunday:  I woke up feeling like crap (even though I didn't have a single drop of alcohol to bid adieu to 2016) - Jack has a bit of a cold and was up and down all night and I was paranoid I'd sleep through my alarm and miss my race, so I dragged myself out of bed at 6 for some coffee.  I wasn't hungry.  I just can't eat that early and with that little sleep, but I packed some apple slices to snack on before race start.  I made it to the race at around 7 (things didn't start till 8:30, but I wanted to get good parking) and then back home around 10 - Jack was still asleep!!!  I didn't run a PR, but my time was faster than most of my other runs in 2016 - I was not expecting such a fast (for me, anyway) time considering how crappy I felt when I got up that morning.  The rest of the day was mostly spent in front of the TV while Dennis went to play Dungeons and Dragons with friends.  That evening, we had our traditional New Year's Day dinner of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and black-eyed peas.


Sunday Confessions 01-01-2017

I confess:  I haven't finished up all my posts for 2016, so I'm going to go back and post date them all!!!  Hahahaha!!!  It's my blog and I do what I want!

I confess:  I think I came up with a solution to having another baby - but I'm not sure if it's the right choice for our family - it would involve selling our current house (the value has doubled since we bought it) and using the profits to pretty much buy a house outright, but way the fuck out in the suburbs.  No house note (or a vastly reduced house note if we financed up to a slightly nicer home) means I would be able to stay home and squeeze out another critter.  But the suburbs.  Ugh.  And I really (and I mean really) love our house.  The idea has been brewing in my mind for a while now and I only just said it out loud - Dennis is meh about the idea, but I've been looking online.  I'm so torn.

I confess:  When I look online at other houses, I feel like I'm cheating on our current house.  I mean, at this point I'm only playing the What If game, but it's pretty enticing - but the suburbs.....could I survive the suburbs?  I mean, we'd pretty much be stuck out there forever because I can't imagine us being able to sell a suburban home and having the money to move back into the city.......ugh, my head.

Linking up with United States of Becky
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