Tuesday, April 28, 2009

He Can Move the Mountains

Right now in my life, I'm going through some personal challenges that are of such great magnitude that they will take a long time, probably my whole lifetime, to completely overcome. As glad as I am to be aware of them and working on them, and as much hope as I have that with God's help they will eventually be overcome, I still sometimes get discouraged at how far I have to go and how slow progress is. Sometimes the discouragement is so crippling that I want to just lay down and give up, not knowing if I really have the perseverance to make it through.

God used a song we sang at church on Sunday, though, to really speak to me on this subject. It's a song I know well, but this week God used it to speak to me in a fresh way. (I love it when He does that!) The chorus goes like this:
Savior, He can move the mountains.
My God is mighty to save,
He is mighty to save!
Forever Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave!
Jesus conquered the grave!
He used this to speak three things to me.

First of all, God is so powerful, He can move mountains! If moving a mountain is nothing to Him, then my challenges are so small and insignificant - of COURSE His power is strong enough to overcome them too! By my own power, I will get discouraged and ultimately defeated. But His power is enough for ANYTHING I could encounter - much more than anything I currently face.

Secondly, if God is so powerful, that means He COULD take care of my challenges in an instant with one blink of His all-seeing eye. But the fact that He doesn't means that He has a purpose in allowing me to go through it. We all know the analogy of the butterfly struggling to emerge from the cocoon - I won't go into that here, but I do think it's very applicable. I want to take it even further, though. Thinking about His purposes in my suffering and the fact that He's powerful enough that He COULD take care of them in an instant if He wanted to caused me to also think about the fact that He wants us to live on this earth at all. I mean, if He wanted to, He could just rapture each believer straight to His side the moment we're saved. But He doesn't do that. He wants us to live on this earth to face struggles and for our faith to be refined as we are conformed more into His image and prepared for the glorious day when we will see Him face to face. If anything, maybe my struggles and challenges are designed to make me less attached to this earth and more longing for that day when I go to my true eternal home.

And third, applying these thoughts to my salvation itself, my God is mighty to save. He achieved the work of my salvation once and for all in the work of the cross. And yet instead of rapturing me instantly to His side upon my acceptance of that, He chose for me to remain upon this earth for Him to pursue the lifelong work of sanctification in me. Now THAT is a daunting task if ever I saw one. Working to make ME holy and conformed to His image? Sheesh, I'll take my light and momentary afflictions over the task He has to complete in me. Yet He never gives up, never tires, never turns His back. He just patiently and persistently works, teaches, touches, refines, and molds my soul into the one that He will ultimately bring to His side.

What's so amazing is that He already knows that His work WILL be completed in me, He promises so in His Word.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6
Thank You, Lord.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Two New Tricks

My precious boy is growing up so fast! He has learned two new tricks that I managed to capture on video today! The first one he's been doing for a couple weeks, but I haven't been able to get a good video of it until now. And the second one, he just started doing yesterday!

It's hilarious how much he picks up at church! We've been trying to get him to wave for ages, but he finally started doing it yesterday after going to church! Same story with clapping. So I guess the church nursery is good for development! He's in a class with kids who are all older than him, so he watches them walk and feed themselves Cheerios... We're hoping he picks up those things too. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yard Sale Mania

This weekend, our town had its annual City-wide Yard Sale - the newspaper said that over 100 homes were signed up to participate! So we thought we'd take full advantage of the many bargains to be had this weekend. We actually went out Friday morning to hit the sales right when they first opened. Justin and I both went out separately, and together we managed to clothe Elias for the next year! We got all these clothes for this summer:And all these clothes for next winter:...all for less than $20! We are totally pumped about being able to clothe our child so cheaply. (And handsomely, I might add - these are some cute clothes!) My faves are the swim trunks and sun hat for our upcoming vacation to the lake in Kentucky... Also note the #88 NASCAR romper in the summer picture - E will be rooting for Dale Jr. this summer! I also think the brown sweater in the winter pic is about the cutest thing I've ever seen. (Notice how many striped things we got - my sweet husband knows how much I like stripes, so he got a bunch! So cute!!) All we have left that we still need is summer shoes - all he has that fit right now are some heavy, dark tennis shoes that won't look great with shorts, and they'll be hot! So maybe I can find some cute sandals or crocs in baby size 4!

We also got a new set of shelves to keep Elias' toys on in our living room. The ones we had been keeping them on were very unstable, and now that he's pulling up, we wanted something safer. So I snagged this set for a mere $7, and I even bolted it to the wall for added safety. Elias loves it, though, because he can reach all his toys and play with whatever he wants. His new favorite thing to do is pull up and kneel so he's leaning on the top shelf, and he'll just sit and look at books for hours! I remain so thrilled at how much my child loves books - the fact that he's choosing books over toys makes me so happy! (Notice in the picture he's also wearing some of his new summertime pajamas that I got at a yard sale yesterday!)

Justin also went back out today just to see what else he could find, and he came home with several goodies for all of us. His best find of the day was a GT Xpress 101 for only $1!!! We had seen the infomercial about this and thought it was cool, but we'd never pay $40 for one... But Justin found this one today - the lady said it worked great, she was just too lazy to use it. It came complete with tools and manual with recipes. Can't wait to try it out! Great find, babe!

We're definitely glad to live in the yard sale capital of the world!


God is continuing to do some major work in my life right now (first mentioned here), and I still don't have a whole lot to share about it at the moment. One thing, though, that's a big deal right now is that God is opening my eyes to how self-absorbed I am. This not only causes me to make bad choices because I'm so wrapped up in my own perspective that I miss God's, but it also causes me to miss opportunities that God may have for me to bless/help/care for others because I rarely see past the nose on my face. I'd appreciate your prayers as God is humbling me and opening my eyes to His world, which has got to be a million bajillion times better than mine.

In the vein of opening eyes to see others, there is a group of people going to Calcutta, India right at this very moment for that very purpose. They're a part of the Compassion Bloggers, and you can read more about it here. But they're all going to be closely blogging about their trip in order to spread awareness of how the lives of the children they will be encountering really are. You can click on the picture below to go to the page where all their blog posts will be, and I encourage you to check it often now until they return on May 2 - I know that I can't even imagine all that will be revealed through their experiences. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WFMW: Shopping the Sales

To continue my Saving Money series on Works For Me Wednesday, today I'm focusing on Shopping the Sales. This is where the rubber really hits the road for me when it comes to seriously saving money on our grocery and household expenses. The main goal is to take advantage of special sales that stores have and then combine them with coupons in order to get items really cheap or free. Then stock up on the items that you can get at such a great discount so that you have them ready in your pantry when you need them.

I think living in a small town makes this easier for me, since I don't have a million stores to try to figure out which ones to go to or how to go to them all in one week. We only have four stores here where I buy grocery and household items: Wal-Mart, Woods, Aldi, and Walgreens.

I go to Wal-Mart for most of my shopping. Their everyday prices are lowest, so I do the bulk of my shopping here. Where we live, Wal-Mart doesn't publish a newspaper ad, so I don't know what's going on sale until I get to the store. That just requires keeping a sharp eye for sale tags and knowing what a good price for something would be. I do make sure to check their grocery clearance aisle every time I'm in the store, because they're always putting something new there, and I've gotten great deals before!

It's the other three stores that really take some planning. The advertisements for Woods and Aldi come in the Wednesday paper, so I usually go through them and make my plan of attack while watching LOST on Wednesday nights. So I carefully go through each ad and make a note of what's on sale that I want to buy and for how much. Both of these stores often have awesome markdowns on produce, which can really add up if you're just buying it at the everyday price. So I go to the stores and stock up on whatever is on sale, making sure to use any coupons I may have for those items. If some of the items I'm getting are perishable, but not something I can freeze, I just make sure to use it in my menu plan for the next week.

One other neat resource I use is Hot Coupon World. They have a coupon database that lets me know where I can find any coupon for anything if it's available. So if there's something that I'm going to buy that I don't have a coupon for, I just enter it into the coupon database to see if one came out in a recent insert or if there's a printable coupon I can print to save me even more money!

Walgreens is where it gets really fun. Their ad for the following week comes out in our paper on Fridays, so I have plenty of time to plan and figure out what I want to get. What's awesome about Wags is that it's a nationwide chain, and so other people do the work for me - I don't have to figure out what the awesome deals are because there are people who match the coupons to the sales and then blog it. All I do is go to the blogs and decide which of the awesome deals I want! There are three blogs that I check for Wags deals: Money Saving Mom, The "Cent"sible Sawyer, and Mommy Snacks. There are many that do it, but I've found that these three have everything covered. Each of these blogs have a way that you can sort for just posts about Walgreens, so you'll see their weekly Wags post, but also any special deals they may have learned about later. I tell you what, Wags is AWESOME for FREE stuff! I always get almost everything they're offering free each week... Even if I can't use it, I can donate it.

So I hit Wal-Mart on Mondays, Wags on Tuesdays, Aldi on Thursdays, and Woods on Friday or Saturday. That way, I have a freezer and pantry full to the brim with stuff I got great deals on, PLUS bags of items that I can donate that I got really cheap or free! Works for Me!

Next week: Price Comparison Notebook

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

11 Months!

Ack! My baby boy is 11 months old already?! 11 months seems so old! In just one short month, my baby will be ONE YEAR old! Ahhhh, where does the time go? He's growing up so fast, and I'm just so proud of him! (Do you all ever get tired of hearing that?! Well, it's true!)

He's been sick for the past couple of weeks - it's just a cold, but his cough is bad enough that we took him to the doctor yesterday just to make sure. She said it's just a cold and there's not much to do to help him feel better... Soooo, we just make sure he stays hydrated, and even when he's sick he's still such a sweet, happy boy! They did weigh him at the doctor yesterday, and with his clothes and shoes on, he was 26 lbs, 3 oz! What a chunk! No wonder I can barely hold him for long periods of time!

He's so curious, and now he's getting the ability to explore, so he's ALL OVER THE PLACE! Today, I was stuffing his diapers, and he actually crawled INTO the laundry basket all by himself! Usually he crawls over to it and plays with the diapers from the outside, but today he wanted an up-close view. I told him to go ahead and stuff the diapers while he was in there - he didn't. (Note: Yes, he is wearing only one sock in the photo, and the other is half-pulled off. One of his new favorite things to do is pull his socks off and play with them or play with his toes... At least he's easily entertained!)

He's still army-crawling, not on all fours. But he's reaching up and pulling up a lot more, so I still think he's just going to go straight to cruising. Lord have mercy. Now he's pulling up on all sorts of things, not just the couch. Today he pulled up on one of our dining room chairs, and he was SO proud of himself! It's definitely time to move the heavy stone coasters off the coffee table, because they're within reach now.

He is just so fun and such a sweet, happy boy. I'm so thankful for such a strong, big, handsome, intelligent, happy baby!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

He Plays His Own Way

Elias is starting to get really creative in the way he plays with toys. He's started going beyond the way we've always done things to think up his own ways to play. For example, he got a little toy piano from his Nana and GrandDad for Easter, and he loves to play with it. But this is how he holds it:He turns it up on its back, I think because it make the little music "book" page easier to turn. How creative of him to think of that on his own! (His face in the picture makes me laugh, like he's saying "You gotta problem with me holding my piano upside down?!")

His newest favorite way to play with toys is to put them inside something else. He loves playing with the bucket that was his Easter basket - he'll just throw toys in it, take them out, throw them back in... over and over again! He also has some blocks that are open on one side, and he puts any of his small toys in that will fit! We never showed him to put his little books inside the blocks - he just thought of it himself! We ran out of tissues the other day, and so I let him play with the empty box, and he thought it was awesome to be able to put something in the hole in the top and then reach in and grab it out!

Also, he has a set of stackable cups that he likes to play with even though he doesn't have the stacking concept down. The other day, though, he was playing with Daddy, and they came up with a whole different way to play with these cups that Elias thought was BIG FUN!!! I was doing something else, so I missed it, but I could hear the ruckus all the way across the house. Thankfully Justin took some video because this is HILARIOUS! (This reminds me of our Christmas Eve video that was so funny.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WFMW: Menu Planning

Alright, to continue my Saving on Grocery Bills series of Works For Me Wednesday posts, I'm going to talk this week about how I plan menus and make my shopping list. Last week I covered Clipping and Organizing Coupons, which I do on Sunday afternoons, and this week I'm going to continue my Sunday afternoon routine. After I've finished my coupon bonanza, I pull out my lists and cookbooks and plan 7 dinners for that week.

First, I look in my freezer and see what I already have in there that I want to use. I keep a large stock of meats, chopped peppers, cooked beans, and frozen veggies in my freezer, and so I generally try to use those before buying more. (Teaser: I'll talk next week about how and why I stockpile frozen foods!) Then, after getting a good idea of what I want to use, I sit down with a few cookbooks to get ideas on how to use them. Sometimes the answer is obvious... How do I want to use a pound of steak and bunch of sliced peppers? Fajitas, of course! Sometimes I want to try something new or different. So I flip through my cookbooks for ideas, or sometimes I'll just get online and google something like "shrimp and tomatoes recipe" and see what I get. I've found some really yummy recipes that way!

So as I'm flipping through and deciding on meals, I make a list of what meals I'll be making that week. I make sure to note what cookbook the recipe is in and what page it's on, or if I found the recipe online, I print it and put it in my recipe binder. I plan not only the main dish, but any vegetables or sides that will be going with it, and I write it all together.

Also, as I decide on meals, I go through the recipes and make a shopping list of anything I don't already have. Most of the time, this is only a few ingredients because I keep a stockpile of the things we use regularly. I also keep a running list throughout the week of things we need... If I see on Thursday that we're going to need yogurt soon, I go ahead and write it down even though I won't be going to the store until Monday... I don't want to risk forgetting to write it down when I'm making the list on Sunday! Since I stick to my list when shopping, if it's not on the list, I won't think to get it, and then my husband would be yogurtless all week! Tragedy! Or I'd have to make a special trip to get it later or pay more for it at a different store! Even bigger tragedy!!

Then to finish up my shopping list, I check my list to see if I have any coupons for anything I want to buy. I go ahead and pull the coupons out and put them with my list so I make sure to use them, and I note on the list that I have a coupon for that item so I can make sure to pick up the right thing for the coupon.

It REALLY helps me throughout the week to have menus planned and to know that I have all the ingredients to make everything. For us, eating out is really a treat, never a necessity because we didn't have anything to make for dinner. That not only saves us money, but it makes eating out more fun and special too! And it makes my days easier because I already know what I'll be cooking for dinner, and I was able to put the meat in the fridge to thaw the night before because I already had a plan. Saves time and energy on my part.

So this meal-planning system really works for me!

Next week: Shopping the Sales!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I snapped a few photos of my baby boy in his church outfit today, playing with the Easter basket and eggs his Nana and GrandDad gave him. (Side note: I'm surprised at how much he LOVES playing with these eggs!) The pictures came out really cute! So here are the best ones for your enjoyment:And this last one won't make the Christmas card or anything, but I thought the expression on his face was just priceless. :)Have a happy Easter, and may the joy of the risen Christ rise anew in your hearts today.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Swinging at the Park

The weather in Missouri is about to drive me insane. Beautiful and sunny one day, cold and rainy the next. I can't seem to ever know how to dress my baby properly to go out! It's gorgeous one day, so the next day I dress him in short sleeves. But when we go out, I discover that although it's still sunny, it's 40 degrees out so we have to go back in for a coat. So then the next day to anticipate the colder weather, I put him in a heavier shirt and coat - nope, it's 70 and he's sweating! Ugh! I keep hoping that when summer comes, at least I'll know what to expect even if it is hot all the time! (Note: Justin tipped me off to the concept of checking the weather channel before dressing the baby in the morning. Honestly, it had never occurred to me. WHEN exactly will I recover from New Mommy Brain?!?!)

Regardless of the fickle friend that Missouri weather is being, we had a beautiful day last week, so Elias and I took full advantage of it by going to the park! We have a nice park just 5 minutes from our house, and it has a lake with geese and swans! So we enjoyed the sunshine and listening to the geese honk. Elias also got in the swing for the first time, so I took some pictures of the occasion.

Friday, April 10, 2009

He Did It!

My baby boy pulled up twice today! Both times it was on the couch. He was only able to stand for a couple seconds before falling down, but he definitely pulled up! Yesterday, he also crawled on all fours for two steps! Growing up so fast!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

WFMW: Clipping Coupons

I thought I'd do a series of Works For Me Wednesday posts about my routine when it comes to couponing, shopping, and saving money on groceries and household items! I thought some of you might be interested in how I do things, and maybe you can find something in the mix that will work for you too! Also feel free to make suggestions if you see a way I can make my routine better!

I'll start the series with how I gather coupons. Although I print online coupons whenever I find them throughout the week, Sunday is generally my coupon day. On Sundays, I gather all the coupons I've printed that week along with the coupon inserts from the newspapers, and I have a clipping bonanza. I cut out the printed ones, and I go through the inserts and cut out the ones I know I'll probably want to use.

Then I pull out my handy-dandy coupon organizer (a gift from my mom - THANKS!). Before filing away my new coupons, I go through each section and pull out the ones that have expired. I also pay attention to see if there are any good ones that are going to expire that week that I want to make sure to use before they do. (Note: You will NOT save money if you feel like you have to use every coupon before it expires! Only do this for ones that are really good deals or for things that you know you will eventually buy anyway!) Then I file all my new coupons into the organizer by category.

After doing that, I label the inserts with that Sunday's date, and I file them into my insert keeper - a seven-pocket binder in which I file them in order by date. (Older inserts just get lumped together in the back, and I just toss them in the recycle bin as their coupons expire.) I do this because sometimes things go on sale that I wouldn't have bought otherwise, but the sale plus the coupon makes them really cheap or free. So I never throw away a coupon before it has expired, even if it's something I don't think I'd ever want!

Note: Sometimes things are really great deals, but they're not anything I would ever use or they're things we already have a large stockpile of. If this is the case, I consider if it might be something that could be donated. If it is, I'll go ahead and get it anyway, and put it in a box that I keep in the pantry just for that purpose. I have a large collection of various toothpastes, shampoos, soaps, medicines, etc. that I was able to get at great deals, and the next time I hear of somebody collecting toiletries for the needy, I'll be able to give SO much more than if I wanted to just go out and buy a bunch right then. We also have several shelters in town that would always accept donations of items like these. This is a great thing to do with food items too!

I carry the small coupon organizer in my purse at all times just in case I spot a deal I hadn't planned on, but at home I have ALL the coupons filed away so I can clip the coupon for a sale I'm planning ahead for!

Next week: Menu Planning!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Under the Exersaucer

I tell you what. This child of mine is getting into everything these days! This evening while I was stuffing diapers, he crawled over to the laundry basket and was seriously attempting to pull up on it! He was getting close, too! What am I going to do with an inquisitive baby who can not only crawl, but also pull up! ACK! Anyways, the point of the post is that he's making so many discoveries and learning to do new things every day! He has always liked crawling over to his Exersaucer and putting his hands in it to smack the bottom, but he has never been able to figure out how to crawl inside... Until this week. Smarty-pants!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Growing Up So Fast!

It's been a big week developmentally for Elias. As I mentioned in his 10-month post, he's been spending more time on all fours. Although he still isn't quite crawling, he has now figured out how to push himself backwards and up into a sitting position! Justin first saw it on Thursday, and I finally witnessed it on Friday. So now he's extremely dangerous - able to reach things that were out of reach before. But he's also more self-sufficient and can entertain himself better, so that's awesome!

The new ability to sit up from his tummy also means that he's CLOSE to pulling up. We saw him try it for the first time today on the coffee table! He was sitting up next to it, and he just grabbed it and started pulling... If he could've gotten his legs under him, he would've been standing. He's already started pulling himself up into a kneeling position on our legs when we're sitting on the floor with him. Oh my. So then Justin actually helped him stand up and lean on the coffee table, and Elias tried to crawl right on top of it! Oh my. I'm in serious trouble. (Note: As soon as E started sitting up by himself, we lowered his crib to the lowest setting - don't want him pulling up and throwing himself out!)

So we continue to be amazed at how quickly he develops and how fast he learns. Such a smartie!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Spring Break, Part 2

In the middle of the week, while Justin was chainsawing and driving a tractor with his dad, Elias and I drove up for a quick 2-day visit with my family in Cincinnati. We didn't have much time together, but we sure did enjoy the visit! I wrote a bit about traveling alone with Elias here - I'm SO THANKFUL for such a good and cooperative baby boy!

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, and that evening we went to watch my nephew Patriot's soccer practice. (He's in a community league of 4 & 5-year-olds. Cute!) Then we went to my sister's house where we took a nice evening stroll before E's bedtime. My sis has the cutest little red wagon that we strapped Elias and his cousin Azlan (age 2) into for our walk. Here are the three boys together:The next day, it was raining and we couldn't do anything outside, so we went to Chuck E. Cheese's for lunch and spent most of the afternoon there! This was E's first time at Chuck E. Cheese's, and he really enjoyed it! They had a little section of games and rides that were just for the littles, and he did well with some of them! Here he is riding a Teletubbie ride:"Driving" a car. (We didn't need to spend a token on it - he liked just standing there, turning the wheel, and watching the screen!)Spinning a wheel and watching it rattle - this was more his speed!Standing with Mommy in front of Chuck E. himself!He also liked just walking around and seeing all the other kids and watching the lights flash and the games move and stuff.

Then we just all hung out together at my parents' house that evening and watched American Idol. (Side note: This is the first time I saw American Idol this season, and I am seriously smitten by Adam Lambert!) Elias and I went back to Kentucky the next day. Short trip, but very sweet!

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Culprit: Eggs??

We had another vomiting episode with Elias yesterday, and so now it seems like I can see a similarity between the two. They happened at the same time of day (about 3pm), and both times it was after he had eaten eggs for lunch. The first time, he had a hard-boiled egg yolk mixed in with his vegetables. The second time, it was an egg yolk scrambled with some cheese. Both times, we saw those eggs again. Yesterday was the first time I gave him eggs after the first incident, because I wondered if maybe they had something to do with his being sick the first time. So I guess they did!

What confuses me about this is that he has eaten eggs before without having a problem. I don't keep exact records of what he eats any more, but I know he's had an egg yolk at least 5 or 6 times before this, and he's eaten them in both the ways I mentioned above. So why would he be having problems now that he didn't have the first several times he ate them? Does anybody have any thoughts on this? I do plan to call the doctor to ask about it, but I thought I'd also put it out here and see if anybody has anything to add.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Spring Break, Part 1

For our Spring Break last week, we went to visit Justin's parents in Western KY. They were hit BAD by the freak ice storm in January (without power for 18 days, and their cable never came back!), and so Justin wanted to help his dad clean up all the fallen trees in their yard. Plus, we wanted to enjoy visiting with them and enjoying the weather and nature on Lake Barkley.You've already heard here how our car trip up went. Thankfully, our vacation vastly improved from there. Elias was fine the next day, and he stayed happy the whole time. We were excited that Justin's sister decided to drive up from Knoxville and bring her son Joshua to visit for a few days, too. We hadn't seen them since we moved to Missouri! (In this picture, I'm holding E and Nana is holding Joshua.) Joshua has grown into such a fine young man since we saw him last (He's now a bit over 2.), and it was so fun to see Elias interacting with him - he mostly just watched him with wide-eyed wonder. (Elias doesn't get the chance to spend much time with kids that are older than him.) They did play together some, though, and it was CUTE! They also sat in their booster seats to eat meals together, and they both seemed to get a kick out of that (although their faces certainly don't show it in this picture!).Justin and his dad did spend a few days working HARD, and they managed to get the yard completely clear of fallen trees and limbs, which was a huge undertaking. I didn't get any pictures of that, but Justin was covered head-to-toe in sawdust and ashes (from them burning the logs and branches), plus tired, sore, and sunburnt! Hope you enjoyed your Spring Break, honey!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

WFMW: Umbrella Stroller

This week's edition of Works For Me Wednesday may be another no-brainer for most of you, but it sure did make my life easier once I figured it out. The problem is that I have a young child who can't walk yet, but even if he could, I wouldn't want him wandering around stores by himself. However, some places don't have shopping carts that I can put him in, and he's getting too heavy to be able to carry him around. So for the longest time, I just didn't go to the consignment stores and small places like that because carrying him around just made it too unpleasant to actually be able to look around and shop. That's when I had the stroke of brilliance... The umbrella stroller! We have this small, collapsible stroller that we got at a consignment sale for $5 before Elias was born. It's very lightweight and easy to manipulate, and the best part is that it keeps my child safe and contained in stores that don't have carts! I just keep it in my trunk at all times now, so it's available if I ever stop somewhere that I need to be able to put Elias in it.

I also learned another very valuable use for the umbrella stroller when I was traveling alone with the baby last week. Our trip was 5 hours each way, which meant at least one stop for food and restrooms... But what to do with the baby while I'm going to the restroom or trying to place my order at the restaurant? Ahhhhhh, the umbrella stroller again! It's small enough that I could actually wheel him in with me to the handicapped stall in the restroom, so he never had to leave my supervision at all. Once he gets bigger, that may not be necessary, but he's still just a baby and I didn't feel good about leaving him outside the stall alone.

So anyways, using the umbrella stroller has made my life a LOT easier! It Works For Me!