Ways We’re Making Our Finances Healthy

This year, instead of making a resolution for the the new year, I decided to choose a theme. You can read more about this here. Because my theme for the year is healthy living, I would like to dedicate a post each month on what I am working on and how it relates to my theme. This month, Jerry and are really looking closer at our finances. We have some bills we need to pay off and we need to find ways to save money. These are some of these things we are focusing on to get our finances healthy and they have already been paying off. We are hoping some of these tips will be helpful to you as well. If you have any other ideas for us, please comment! Let’s get started Lovelies.

1. Taking my calculator to the grocery store.

Talk about a wake up call! When I am not calculating what I am spending at the grocery store, it is so easy to just throw any and everything in the cart. Before I know it, I have spent way more than I intended too. Just this simple strategy has been a huge help. Knowing exactly how much I am spending and how close I am to my budget helps deter me from overspending and adding all those little extra things that I don’t really need.

2. Eating out only once a week.

I love to eat out, I’ll admit it. With both of us in grad school, parenting, and our commitments to church, we have been eating out or getting take out way to much. Plus eating out with a family of 5 costs a fortune! Especially when 2 of our boys eat as much as grown men! Fortunately, I finished up my 2nd masters in December and Jerry will be finished with his this summer! So there has been some relief for our busy schedules, with more in the near future. By committing to eating out only once a week, we are saving a lot of money.

3. Making our lattes at home.

On top of my terrible eating out addiction, I have a coffee addiction too. A $4 latte everyday really begins to add up. For Christmas I received a little stove top espresso maker, which I love! (This is the one I got The Original Bialetti Moka Express Made in Italy 3-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker with Patented Valve) This has made making lattes at home simple and fun. I have been experimenting with different syrups and have also started watching videos on how to do latte art. So I’m saving money and having fun with this one!

4. Finding free ways to have fun.

We have had Disney passes for the last two years, which we have thoroughly enjoyed. However, we realize that in order to save money, the passes need to go. Instead we are looking for ways to have fun for free (or at least for very little). We love to be outdoors, so we are looking forward to going to parks , kayaking, and going to local events that cost little to no money.

5. Getting creative with things we already have around the house.

Finally, we are looking at ways we can reuse and repurpose things we already have around the house. For example, we are looking at repurposing some old wood to be make backdrops for product photography.

6. Keeping our bills organized with a notebook.

For this one, I have to give my mom the credit. When Jerry and I first got married, my mom showed me how she kept track of the bills with a notebook. This way she knew exactly what was coming in and what was going out. Over the years with online banking, I got away from this. However, I realize how important it is to keep better track, so I dusted off my notebook and am using it again! This has helped give me a better picture of our finances as a whole and I plan to continue to use this method for years to come!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these products, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals. Many times people ask me which products I use and where they can be purchased. I find supplying links to these products is helpful to those of you who may wish to purchase them for yourselves.

The Truth About Being a Mom of All Boys

I am a boy mom. There was a time in my life that I truly couldn’t have pictured it. I mean I love the girl thing! I loved doing my friends’ and nieces’ hair and painting their nails growing up. I’ve always loved dressing up and can’t imagine life without makeup! I love chick flicks and delving into a good Nicolas Sparks novel. In fact Lydia & Lilac began with the nudging from my husband as being a great creative outlet for me in all things beauty and fashion. The truth is, now that I’m a mom to all boys, I couldn’t imagine anything else! There are some precious truths that go along with being a mom to all boys. I’m sure some of you can relate!

My house is full of legos, bey blades, and hot wheels.

Being new to the art of blogging, I find myself on Pinterest a lot! I am constantly looking at pictures of beautiful homes where everything has a place and it all stays there! To me a house like this would be as fascinating as taking a trip to the Land of Oz! My house is lived in. If you decided to stop by, you would find traces of boys strewn throughout in the form of legos, hot wheels, bey blades, and a myriad of other boy toys. You’ll likely sit on a nerf dart. Try as we might to keep things picked up, Jerry and I are outnumbered and this can be quite a challenge at times. I’m at a point in my life now that when I look around and see the lightsaber laying on the floor next to me, I realize that time is passing by faster than I could ever imagine and there will soon be a day where I will miss seeing their toys about the house.

I know nothing about Pokémon, Star Wars, D.C., or Marvel.

But I am learning! These subjects used to be a foreign language to me. However, slowly over time I am learning and even have some of my own favorite characters and movies within these series.

I still have a guest bathroom. (Which unbeknownst to me at the very moment I was writing this was being flooded by an overflown bathtub!)

We have 2 bathrooms in our home. One is for me and Jerry and the other is for our boys and our guests. Although our boys use it, I keep it ready for our guests at all times. This means beautiful towels, a gorgeous shower curtain, and tiny little soaps that look like seashells. Although far from Pinterest worthy, it’s important for me to have a nice space for family and friends when they come to visit.

It’s so easy to get them ready!

The truth is, they don’t care what they wear. This makes it incredibly easy for them to get ready each morning. They just throw on a shirt and shorts and they are ready to go.

Getting them out the door is like pulling teeth.

Although it takes them about 5 minutes to get dressed, brush their teeth, and get their shoes on, it takes them for.ev.er. to actually get out the door. There are always a 101 little things that they need to stuff in their pockets before heading out the door (this is where we go back to the legos, bey blades, and hot wheels!), because you never know when they might get bored!

It’s fun being the only girl.

Yes, I am outnumbered when deciding which movie to watch or which game to play, but it is nice being the only one interested in buying makeup, because it saves us money. Also, when we go out I usually have the door held for me and when playing make believe when the boys were little, they always would ask me to be the princess! Plus when it is my turn to choose the movie or pick what we do, it always feels special knowing that they are going along because they love mom.

I have a ton of animals.

More than I ever imagined we would. I always thought we would have a dog. I never would have guessed we would have a hamster, a bunny, two dogs, eight chickens, and a cockatiel on the way!

We have deep talks.

I know that the thought process for me, before having children, was that moms and daughters have these wonderful moments where they talk and bond and grow close, like I have with my mom. I didn’t realize that moms of boys had this too! Now that the boys are getting older, they come to me, ask me questions, and they want to share things with me that I wasn’t sure they would. We are so close and I love that!

My heart is incredibly full.

When I look at these three incredible little boys God has blessed us with, my heart is so full it could burst. I love hearing them laugh and giggle, I love watching them run around and play outside, I love to watch them create things, I love seeing how compassionate and kind they are. Being the mom of boys is so much more than than I could have ever imagined or asked for and I could not be more thankful!

The Reasons Why I’m Shopping Small this Christmas and Why You Should Too!

I love shopping for others during the holidays. Giving gifts is a way to show someone else that you care for them. And yes, I will be dressing in my Christmas attire, heading out during the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday, and checking off a few of my boxes on my Christmas list. After all, shopping Black Friday has become a tradition for the girls in my family. However, this year I will be shopping small as much as I can! Why, you ask? Read on to find out my friend!

I get to support someone’s dream. You see, each small business represents someone dream. There is always a person, a family, a story behind each one. Our family loves these stories! We love that each time we make a purchase from the small shops we have grown to love, we are supporting someone’s dream and helping it become a reality! What a fantastic feeling!

You find unique items you can’t find anywhere else. Of course there will Buzz-Saw Louie at every store and everyone you know will be getting one (yes that is a Veggie Tales reference! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can click here.), but what about giving something different for a change? My sister is the best gift giver ever! She always finds something thoughtful and unique. I have learned so much from her over the years and have really been trying to put more thought into what I give. You know, not just giving to give. Shopping small gives me options for gift giving that I simply can’t get in department stores.

I can finally find something for the difficult ones. Let’s face it, some people are just hard to shop for. Because small businesses have unique products, I’m able to find something for those who want things in even the most unique niche.

Many small businesses are now located online. Honestly, a lot of the small businesses I will be buying from this year are online. This is great for me, because I cannot stand the traffic this time of year! Shopping online means I don’t have to worry about traffic at all. In fact I’m able to do most of my shopping after my boys are tucked snuggly in their beds and from the comfort of my couch. Score!

There are so many reasons to shop small this holiday season and we only scratched the surface. If your looking for gifts for her this year, check out lydiaandlilac.com today! What are some of your reasons for shopping small this year?

Thank You to Our Veterans

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to our veterans.  I was an Air Force wife for 6 years and personally understand some of the sacrifices these great men and women give in service to our great country.  My husband, my parents, my grandfather, and my father-in-law have all served this country and I cannot be more proud.  We cannot thank our veterans enough for their service, words just don’t seem to do it justice.  These are strong and courageous men and women we should honor today and every day.  As we go about our busy lives, they dedicate theirs to our freedoms, our safety, our nation.  From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!2D59732D-6D38-4C32-8B7B-406916B6B080.jpeg

Chickens…Never Say Never!!!

CHICKENS…Never Say Never

OK, so for those of you who don’t know, our family started raising chickens in January.  This was quite an astonishing event for our household, because I had said at least a hundred times that I would never get chickens…

I’m noticing a reoccurring theme here.  I should really learn to stop saying the word “never” (read about another time I said I would never do something here)…

Anyway, getting chickens was just another item on my “I will never list”.  Then my precious 10 year old son Donovan watched a documentary on the egg industry.  Donovan is genuinely the most compassionate child you will ever meet and loves animals so very much.  He names every animals he meets and know more animal facts than anyone I have ever met.  Try walking through the zoo with this boy and you will learn the  most amazing things!  He came to me in tears about the terrible things he had watched.  It was from that moment I began buying insanely expensive eggs with the guarantee that they were raised humanely, and trust me, with 3 boys in the house we go through eggs like crazy!

One day Jerry said to me, You know, we could always get chickens”.  HAH!  He had been trying to get me to agree to chickens for quite some time at this point, but not to fear there was no way I was going to cave!

That night I decided to look at some chickens just to reinforce my opinion that getting chickens was one of the worst ideas ever. (Am I the only person to ever Google why not to get chickens?)  So here I am looking at these chickens, reading about how much people loved them, when I stumbled on a certain type called Silkies. These adorable chickens were described as the teddy bear of chickens and I was in love!  In the end, we ended up with 4  Silkies (we also have 3 Easter Eggers and 1 Lavender Orpington…which is another story for another day!). Smokey, Dash, Sugar, and Paddington are all part of the family now, and Cloudy, Dazzle, Sunny, and Cordoroy followed behind them.  We built the most gorgeous chicken coop I have ever seen and now spend our free time tending to our 8 chickens.  The crazy part is that I love them!

By the way, I’m still buying crazy expensive eggs as they have not begun laying yet and we just recently learned that Smokey (named after our favorite vacation spot) will never lay eggs, but we love him anyway…he has the cutest roo!  I am pretty sure Sugar may begin to roo soon too, and I’m not honestly sure how that’s going to work out, but we’ll take it one day at a time.

Your Son has Hashimoto’s

F4DAB252-987D-4F38-9E3B-788AA7569619.jpegI have wondered if I should hit the publish button on this post all week.  I know others experience things that are much more difficult beyond this.  We are thankful that we now have an explanation for the things our child has been going through and for the good treatment our son is able to receive.  It was still difficult news to hear.  I have also wondered if this post would be to personal to share on the Lydia & Lilac site, but we acknowledge that Lydia & Lilac is also an opportunity for us to share what the Lord is doing in our lives.  So without further ado, here is our post originally written October 3rd.
“Your son has Hashimoto’s”, these are the words that were spoken to Jerry and I this week.  Although we had a pretty good hunch that the diagnosis was coming, preparing yourself for the news that your child has a disease that you, as the parent, cannot take away is never something you hope for.  If you are like most people I talk to, you may be wondering what in the world Hashimoto’s is.  Simply put, Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid.  In a child this manifests itself in a myriad of symptoms that include sensitivity to cold, dry hair, skin, or nails, constipation, difficulty with memory, weight gain, and lack of energy.  Hashimoto’s can also cause a stunt in growth, intellectual disabilities, and learning disabilities; which we fortunately, did not experience.
Our little boy has always been a happy and healthy kid.  In first grade he was diagnosed with ADHD.  He has a hard time sitting still, loves to chatter all day, and enjoys playing outside with his brothers.  He loves to run errands with mom and he is brilliant.  Academically, things come naturally to him and there are times I wonder if he has a photographic memory.  He has a smile that can light up a room and he is silly beyond belief.
About 3 months ago, we went to a routine appointment for ADHD.  Our little man had gained quite a bit of weight.  While talking to his doctor, we began to realize there had been quite a few changes.  He didn’t want to play outside very often, was always tired, didn’t ride his bike anymore unless his brothers absolutely begged him to, he rather stay home than go on an outing with mom, and when friends came over to play, he would play in short bursts spending most of his time on the couch.  He was having stomach problems and was cold all of the time.  We were on our way out the door of the office, when his doctor caught up with me and said she had been looking at the numbers and thought it might be a good idea to get his thyroid checked.
So off we went for blood work and we made a follow up appointment with his primary peditrician.  At this visit, his pediatrician said that he thought it was probably nothing, that no one had ever come through his office for weight gain and ended up having Hashimotos.  Then, he looked at the numbers.  Next he started to talk to us about Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism and sent us for more blood work.
Fast forward three months and here we are, a new diagnosis, one that I know very little about and am still trying to wrap my head around, I am sure in time I will come to have a better understanding of things like THS, T4, etc.  In the mean time we find ourselves here in this place of uncharted waters.  I think it finally hit me yesterday when picking up his medication.  I had a small melt down.  I realized that this is for life, I can’t take it away.  I’m thankful that it is something that we can manage with medication, but as a parent you never want your child to have any type of disease, disorder, or disability.
We know that our little guy is in the hands of God and we trust that He will take care of him.  I have been reminded again that my children are His and that He has given them to us to care for and point to Him.  Our job is to teach our son that God loves him and to take care of him.  We have been blessed with the support or family and friends.  They have been sending us information and articles and we are so thankful for any and all support as this is still very new to us.  We will face the days ahead together with compassion and a better understanding of what our son is going through.  We will face each day with prayer and will continue to let him know that he is loved beyond belief.