Bunny Bash 2017.

We didn't have a party. We didn't host an event. I had a dose of inspiration and needed to see it come to life. Yep.. the things I do for fun.

Tons of balloons on the floor = my favorite go-to for party decor. Olivia loves it! She enjoys running through it.. throwing it.. "swimming" in it. Balloons are always a hit. A balloon air pump has been one of my smartest buys ever.

Beautiful desserts from The Little Sugars.

I adore Olivia's dress. It was love at first sight. Perfect for Easter and for spring/summer. Find it here, here, or here. Bunny ears are from Target's dollar section.

Main thing swirling in my head: bunny balloon arch thing. With some pointers from The House that Lars Built, I cut up an Amazon box and got to work.

I taped the bunny frame to the wall using Frog Tape and used all kinds of sticky goods to get the balloons to stay on (double-sided adhesive, zots, photo squares, and scotch tape).

Last year's bunny favor bags were so cute that I wanted to try a different variation.

Supplies:
Treat Sacks (I purchased mine from Michael's)
Pink Vellum
Pom Poms (Cotton balls work too!)
Rope
Runner's Tape
Zots
Adhesive photo squares
Scissors

Cut the sack down to 5 inches. (If you're sticking the headband in the sack as the bunny ears, cut the sack to 5.5-6 inches.)

Use the top portion of the sack to cut out bunny ears. Use those ears to cut out bunny ears with the vellum, but trim the vellum ears about 0.5 cm all around. With clear runner's tape, stick the vellum onto the bunny ears. Attach the ears onto the sack. Draw the bunny face on.

On the back of the sack, attach the fluffy bunny tail. I used bunny pom pom stickers from Target's dollar section.

Cut white rope to about 13 inches. For a clean look, cut out a small square of scrap paper and line one side with adhesive. Stick each end of the rope onto the squares and place a zots on the opposite side; attach to the inner sides of the open sack.

 

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Worth.

10 years ago, someone told me I wasn't raised right.

I was raised in 1 bedroom apartments with my parents and 5-6 of my siblings. I was raised in section 8 housing and welfare. I was raised in 7 states and more schools than I can count on my fingers.

I was raised in a household with an on/off drug-addicted parent for 18 years of my life. Where he would ask to borrow his children's money and we would never see it back. Where he would leave for days at a time when our mother was pregnant with a sick baby. Our baby sister didn't make it.

I was raised in an environment where it wasn't uncommon to be told you are worthless. That you have nothing to show for. I was even told that having me around was worse than having a dog around.

I was raised in a world where I kind of shut down and barely spoke from middle school to early high school.

I was raised in a world where no one knew I was sexually abused by an uncle and a family 'friend' when I was just about both of my children's ages.

Growing up was conflicting for me. Maybe I wasn't raised right. But that never defined me as a person.

Jada Pinkett Smith once said that she turned the pain of her childhood into power. That was her motivation. This past year has been the most challenging of my life. Everything came crashing down. Past, present, and future. Not knowing what I'm doing. Not knowing what the future holds. Not feeling like myself. In a way, forgetting who I am. I've never felt so powerless. I've never felt so.. weak.

Being in that place made me question everything. Through it all, I think I forgot to take care of myself. It's not something I ever considered. Honestly, I'm still trying to find my way there. My saving grace is the very fact that I'm a mother.

I've spent the past 10 years of my life doing the best thing I will ever do in this lifetime: raising my kids. Raising them to have big hearts and kind souls. Raising them to respect people and to respect themselves. Raising them into good/great/amazing human beings.

As a parent, my biggest fear is to repeat the mistakes I've watched countless people around me make. It's not easy when it's all I've known. It's an internal battle that I fight every single day.. to be the mom my children deserve. To be their champion. To be someone they can turn to. To guide them and to protect them. To make them feel loved. To let them know that I will always be their home.

This is something I will never stop fighting for.. no matter how many times I think I fail.. because they are worth it.

This is something Olivia and I repeat daily. This is my hope for her and for her brother.

I am pretty.

I am pretty smart.
I am pretty kind.
I am pretty strong.
I am pretty loving.
I am pretty loved.

I respect life.
I respect people.
I respect my family.
I respect myself.

It’s okay to ask for help.
It’s okay to make mistakes.
And if I fall...
Still, like air, I rise (maya angelou).

I am worth it.
I am important.
I believe in myself.
Because I got this.
And so do you.

Gift Guide: Black Friday 2016 Deals.

It's that time of the year again! My goal over Black Friday weekend is to finish 98% of my Christmas shopping so that I can breeze through December. It gives me extra time to get the gifts where they need to be and it eliminates last-minute gift hunting stress.

Shopbop:
Spend $200+, get 15% off; Spend $500+, get 20% off; Spend $800+, get 25% off. Valid 11/22-11/28 with code GOBIG16.

Gap: 50% off everything with code TGIF50.

J Crew: 40% off entire purchase with code HOLIDAY.

Here are some other great deals (in alphabetical order)! I'll be updating as more sales are published.

Abercombie&Fitch: 40% off site wide.

AG Jeans: 30% off site wide with code BF16. Valid 11/22-11/28.

All Saints: 30% off site wide with code CYBER.

Amazon:

Ann Taylor: 50% off + free shipping with code CELEBRATE. Valid 11/23-11/25.

Anthropologie: 30% off with code LETSGO.

ASOS: 30% off site wide with code: THANKFUL30.

Banana Republic: 50% off one regular-price item + 40% off the rest of your purchase with codes BRFIFTY and BRFORTY.

Bauble Bar: 35% off with code VIP35.

Bloomingdales: Take 15% off $100-199.99 or 20% off $200+ on a great selection of items online + save up to 50% on select items.

Chic wish: Extra 25% off with code BLK25.

Club Monaco: 25% off $150+, 30% off $250+, 35% off $400+ with code THANKS.

East Dane: Spend $200+, get 15% off; Spend $500+, get 20% off; Spend $800+, get 25% off. Valid 11/22-11/28 with code GOBIG16.

Express: 50% off everything + free shipping. Valid 11/22-11/25.

Forever 21: Take an extra 50% off sale with code OHMYGOBBLE.

French Connection: 40% off everything with code F40BLF. Valid 11/21-11/29.

Gap: 40% off everything with code GIFTTIME.

Gap Factory: 50-70% off everything.

H&M: 30% off entire purchase + free shipping with code 2873.

Hollister Co.: 40% off + free shipping site wide with code FEAST.

Kate Spade: 30% off your purchase with code THANKFUL.

Land of Nod: 20% off + free shipping.

Levi's: 40% off site wide + free shipping and returns with code HOLIDAY40.

Loft: 40% off everything with code THANKS.

Madewell: 25% off your entire purchase with code THATSALE.

Macy's: Extra 20% off + free shipping at $50 with code THANKS.

Nars Cosmetics: 20% off now through 11/29 when you enter your email on the website.

Neiman Marcus: $50 off $200 with code THANKFUL. Up to 40% off designer sale.

Net-a-Porter: Up to 50% off sale.

NM Last Call: Extra 40-80% off everything.

Nordstrom: Extra 20% off selected sale items now through Sunday.

Off 5th: Up to 85% off + free shipping on all orders with code SHIP4FREE.

Old Navy: 50% off everything-ish.

Pottery Barn: 20% off your order + free shipping with code GIVETHANKS.

Pottery Barn Kids: 20% off your order with code OHWHATFUN. Valid until 11/28. Free shipping valid until 11/25.

Saks: Up to $150 off women's denim. Designer sale up to 40% off.

Sephora

Shopbop: Spend $200+, get 15% off; Spend $500+, get 20% off; Spend $800+, get 25% off. Valid 11/22-11/28 with code GOBIG16.

Sole Society: 30% off all footwear and bags.

Steven Madden: 30% off + free shipping with code BACKINBLACK.

Target

The Outnet: Up to 90% off designer labels.

Tobi: 50% off site wide.

Topshop: Up to 50% off select items.

Tory Burch: Spend $250, get 30% off with code THANKS + free shipping.

Urban Outfitters: Buy one get one 50% off all apparel. Valid 11/23-11/25.

West Elm: Buy more, save more! Up to 30% off with code SAVENOW.

The New Normal.

I've contemplated whether to write this post for awhile now (nearly a year).. How much of my personal life do I want to share with the world? This blog is a random place for me to post DIYs, our traveling adventures, and to talk about my kids every now and then. This affects every aspect of my children's lives and it definitely changes mine too.. so here goes.

My friend and I used to talk about our 30s. Most people cringe at the thought of aging, but I always told her I'd look forward to it.. That hopefully, we'd figure things out or, at the very least, we'd understand ourselves a little better.

While I do have a better sense of who I am, it turns out.. I don't think there will ever be any time in life where anyone figures everything out. We give and we take.. and we learn how to roll with the punches. I celebrated my 30th birthday this past March. Never had I imagined I would be saying goodbye to the past 10+ years of my life, moving out into an apartment, and learning how to co-parent two children.

Divorce. It's like taboo, but I don't necessarily view it as a bad thing. If we don't make each other better people and we aren't a team in that way, then what are we doing? There's a lot of history and I'm not going to delve into details, but we just don't work. It happens. That's okay. No matter how many people think it's their business to interject.. this has and always will be between the two of us.

Life as a single parent.. I don't see it that way. Our number one priority is Nathaniel and Olivia. We are still a family. Unconventional.. but we make our own rules. We respect each other as parents.. plain and simple.

All of our lives will be different. We're all learning how to adapt to this new normal. Nathaniel will be staying with his father as he finishes off his last year of elementary school. Olivia and I will be moving into an apartment.

The decision to have our children living separately wasn't/isn't an easy one. We get the inquires.. We get the heat.. but it's so much easier to judge from the outside looking in. All of this is new to all of us. What we do know is that we love both children with every fiber of our being. We are both good parents. We are going to do right by them. And we're going to co-parent the heck out of this.

 

Disneyland Paris: July 18, 2016.

The last time we were in Paris, we only explored inside the city. This trip, I knew for sure that we had to take the kids to Disneyland Paris. Disney is such a magical place anywhere in the world.

Prior to the trip, I did a bunch of research. I read that July was one of the busiest months. I was hoping the weather would be cooler, but it kept creeping up to the 80s as the days progressed. We went on a Monday because Versailles and the science museum were closed on Mondays. It would be our only day if we wanted to do all three sites. The high was 86 that day so we opted to head to Disney around 3pm. We hired a private driver to and fro because by the time Disney closed, it'd be 11:30 pm and the metro shuts down at 12:30am. It could take about an hour to get back to the city and we didn't want to have to figure things out so late in the night in a city we aren't completely familiar with.

It took an hour to arrive because of some traffic heading out on Rue de Rivoli. IS Prestige is definitely a service I recommend if you need it. It cost us 150 euros for both ways. I believe a taxi would've cost about 100 euros per way. The metro is definitely the least expensive option (from our hotel, we would've only needed to transfer once from the metro to RER A).

From the point the driver dropped us off to the entrance of the park was about a 5 minute walk. We purchased our tickets online a week prior to our trip. They were offering a 2 parks for 1 price deal (although we only made it to the main park).

It was definitely a tad hot upon arrival and we remembered to buy sunscreen before heading there. Olivia napped during the ride and walk to Main Street in the park. As soon as we woke her up, Elsa and Anna were riding by on a horse carriage. We followed them down Main Street and started our Disney adventure.

It cooled down real quick around 6pm. We waited no more than 30 minutes for any ride.


Here's an idea of the wait times:

Snow White - 10 minutes but it is kinda scary. Liv plugged her ears because most of the ride is about the queen making the poisonous Apple and turning into an old lady, running through the dark woods and the dwarves chasing the evil queen.

Pinocchio - 10 minutes and also a bit scary. 

Peter Pan - 30 minutes. This was one of our favorite rides. Such a pretty set up! You really feel like you're floating on a boat in the air.

Princess Pavilion - We skipped seeing Ariel and Aurora because it was a 75 minute wait.

Fairytale boat ride - 5 minutes at 630pm.

Casey Jr. Le Petit Train du Cirque - 5 minutes.

Alice's Curious Labyrinth - no wait. It's a maze with the Queen of Heart's castle at the end. You can climb up the castle into the two towers for an amazing view of Sleeping Beauty's castle.

Buzz Lightyear - 20 minutes. This is also one of our favorite rides at Disney World. It's interactive because you get to shoot laser guns.

Space Mountain Mission 2 - no wait at 9:05pm.

Phantom Manor - 5 minutes.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant - 20 minutes at 930pm. Liv and I went on this on our own. The view from this ride is magical. It's located near the back of the castle.

The first tower of the Queen of Hearts' castle.

For a late lunch, we ate next door to the Peter Pan ride (Marionette). We ordered the rotisserie chicken meal, the hot dog currywurst meal, a side of chicken nuggets, and two drink. It cost about 34 euros.

We headed back to Main Street around 10pm for a spot near the pavilion to watch the Disney Dreams show that started at 11pm. We didn't want to be further from the castle because leaving the park would've been a task with the crowd. Niti took Olivia to the gift shop to buy a souvenir (aka a princess dress) to remember the trip. My 10 year old is apparently too old for the Disney gift shop . Niti also went to buy some hot dogs because we wanted to make sure the kids had another bite to eat before our drive back to the hotel (which they would probably fall asleep).

The show was spectacular! It was a series of famous Disney songs with scenes being projected onto the castle. Fireworks would light up the sky during parts of each song. I read that the show would end soon after you hear Peter Pan so we left during the show at 11:15pm to beat the crowd.

We scheduled our pick up with IS Prestige at 11:30pm, but he was already there upon our exit with a name card. From there, it was a smooth ride back to the hotel where everyone knocked out!

We had an amazing time. The timing was perfect and the weather was better toward the end of the night. The wait times were short and it's still a different experience from Disney World (Orlando). It was definitely worth it. Now, we're hoping to head to all the Disneys of the world one day.