Friday, August 5, 2016

Bridal Shower Planning: 101

The key to any successful shower or party is in the details. Your guests will notice the little things you did to go above and beyond preparation. Sometimes, prep work and planning takes a team. In my case, it took me and two other bridesmaids to throw my sister an epic bridal shower. 

Make a budget. 
We started planning months before the actual bridal shower to make sure we didn’t over spend. I had to reign the other girls in a few times because, let’s face it, this gal isn’t made of money. But for the most part we stuck to the plan. 

We thought about where to get food, what we would use for favors, drinks, everything. Start planning in advance so the money for everything isn’t a shock when it’s a week before the wedding and you still have to buy meats and cheeses! 

Plan your menu
Originally we were going to try and have Chick Fil A cater everything. Sadly Chick Fil A isn’t open on Sundays. Plan B, Sam’s club for food in bulk! We decided getting lots of meats and cheeses to make sammies was the best idea to feed a large amount of people. We were able to get some of the meats on sale with coupons and manager’s specials for the Salami. (win!) 

Fruits are always a great idea! 

Just keep in mind who you’re feeding. We struggled with having a few guests that couldn’t have gluten, so obviously bread for sambas were off limits. Instead we offered gluten free crackers and popcorn. Finger foods are perfect for showers like this. 

Stay hydrated! 
Obviously we had to have a mimosa bar! We offered both OJ and Grapefruit juices to mix things up. (Hint, the grapefruit was my favorite!) 

Don’t worry, we had options for guests that might not want to day drink with us. (I swear I’m not a lush)
We got a great deal on the four drink dispensers. In addition to the mimosa bar: we had lemonade, sweet tea, and water. 

It’s all in the details 
I cannot take any credit for crafting portions of the bridal shower. That was all on one of the other bridesmaids. She essentially told me and the matron of honor what to do / how to do it and we did. 

|| Polished Brides. 
Hot glue + flowers / mini veils on nail polish = these cute little favors for guests. They were able to choose a color they loved to take home. 

|| Chocolate Sunflowers
Yes we melted chocolate. Yes we had to dye it. Yes this was a pain in the butt. 

|| Mint To Be
Mints + Hot glue / hand written decor = cuteness galore. 

|| Date Box
We painted / added pictures / decorated this cute little box from the craft store to make a date box idea for my sister and her soon to be hubby. All of the guests at the party wrote down a date idea for when they get stuck on what to do. They choose a date randomly and have an adventure! 

|| Gifts for the mom’s / Step mom’s 
Because they’re important too! We threw these little “spa” boxes together for the amazing women in the bride’s life. 

|| Letters to the bride
When invitations were mailed out, we asked everyone invited to write a letter to my sister. It could’ve been a memory, a funny story, anything. We made sure to have the letters a week before the shower so we could make a scrap book. We gave her the book as a gift. She knew nothing about this until we surprised her with it. We even had her finance type up a letter. (Everyone else’s was hand written) Her reaction was priceless. 

Needless to say, we felt like the shower was perfect. We had games, prizes, and lots of laughter. Even unwanted advice from Grandma. No one was surprised with that though. At the end of the day, we were thankful for the mimosas! 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Coping With Back to School

This time last year I was preparing to put my oldest on a school bus for the first time. He had never ridden a bus before. He was starting kindergarten. I was a ball of emotions. I was worried about everything imaginable. How he would like school, how he would do on the bus, etc. 

This year is different. 

This year I’m emotional for very different reasons. I don’t get to put my son on the bus. 

The reality is, there’s parts of divorce that no one ever talks about. Parents missing out. Split custody. Shared custody. Whatever the case may be. I’ve shared briefly here that my ex has primary physical custody of the kids (for now). We also live an hour away from each other. The distance makes it difficult to be there for a lot of activities especially when I work full time. 

Being an hour away is why I can’t put him on the bus. When you have an hourly job and you go in late without paid time off, that cuts into bills you have to pay. I’m conflicted. My company would allow me to see him onto the bus and go in late, but then I’d be missing on hours. See where I'm torn? Gotta work to pay bills, but then you miss out on things. 

Yesterday I went to my son’s open house. I got to meet his new teacher. I saw his classroom. I made sure everyone at the school had my contact information. He was extremely excited, and I am excited for him. I hid my sadness well. Sadness because I never thought there’d be a day in his life that I wasn’t there on his first day. Honestly, I’m tearing up about it. I cried about it Monday night talking with my boyfriend. 

So how do you deal with this? How do you cope? 

Remind yourself there are worse things to miss out on. 
There's going to be more first days of school. He's only in first grade. It's not like I'm missing his high school graduation. I'm not missing a major award. Would I prefer to be there? Absolutely? Is it something to get broken up about? Probably not. But if we're being completely honest, I did get broken up about it. He's my baby. I get upset about everything that I miss. I just have to remember that this isn't the worst thing to miss in his life. 

Talk everyday. 
I call my kids every night. I ask what their favorite thing about their day was. What they did, who they played with. Everything. Some nights they're more talkative than others, but they're also 3 and 6 so conversations may be limited. With Zander going back to school, I can ask him about the bus ride, his new teacher. The main thing is that they (both) know that no matter what... no matter how far away I am... that I care more than anything in the world. 

Honestly, I felt like there'd be more to it than that.... but that sums it up. Really, just celebrate the little things. I make sure he knows how proud I am of him daily. How proud I am of both kids. They know how much I love them. They know I'm there for the big stuff. And really, that's all that matters. Like I said, yes... it sucks. But this too shall pass. 

Have you ever dealt with split custody? How did you cope with missing out on accomplishments and milestones? 

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Starting Over After Divorce

It's no secret, any sort of life altering change can leave a person feeling completely turned around. Lost even. Unsure how to start over. Unsure where to go next.

Let me be the first to tell you, starting over is sometimes the greatest thing ever.

It's no secret that my "do-over" has been a result of divorce. I celebrate that the divorce actually happened. I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record, but I'm finally getting back into my groove. Or trying to at least. It's taken a lot of figuring out, and this may not work for everyone... but then again, hopefully not everyone is getting divorced this year.

Find out who you are.
Whoa. Did I ever need this one. This is the first time ever, in my whole life that I have lived alone. I've always had either my parents, my ex, or roommates. Now it's just me. I've had to really think about if the shows I used to watch with my ex were really my favorite shows. Do I really like to listen to a certain type of music, or was it just because I couldn't have my own opinion? For me, I learned I really do love to knit. There were shows and movies I had never seen before that I have fallen in love with.

I've found a new love for the library. Did you know you can check out entire seasons of shows at the library and binge for a whole week on things you haven't seen before? Yeah! I'm finally starting to adjust to living alone. (And no, there are no cats involved.) Yet.

Find out who your friends are. 
This may be in the form of a nice bottle of moscatto... whatever, no judgment here... But seriously though,
This may seem a little silly, but for me it really hit hard. Some of the people you had as mutual friends in the marriage turn out to not really be your friends. You need people who will raise you up, and, like in my case want to send hate mail to your ex. Do not be afraid to talk about how you're feeling with your friends.

I can't tell you how many times I texted Amanda and my boyfriend how insecure I have felt about everything. (Am I the common denominator about everything bad happening?) Turns out, no, I'm not... my ex is just toxic and that kind of thinking is a result of a toxic relationship. (Have some more wine). Talking about anything with your friends throughout the day can make you feel more normal than you realize. I'm thankful that my little circle has kept me so grounded. (To my blogging tribe, I'm so sorry I have been so distant.)

Real friends will be the ones to encourage you to get back into your old routines that they knew you were a constant in your life no matter the situation. Cooking for yourself, working out, etc.


Old Routines may take time. 
Once I moved into my own place, I didn't want to cook for a long time. I would rely on leftovers from when I would cook or I would just eat out. Don't feel like you really need to rush anything. I haven't worked out in MONTHS. I just now got back into it, and it took me not being able to fit into my bridesmaid dress (for my sister's wedding in Oct) that I have to get back into it. I tried a few times but my heart wasn't in it. I just wanted to sit and watch TV. (Hi, not a great idea when you're eating out and not cooking every night)

Don't beat yourself up about not getting back into old routines immediately though. This goes back to figuring out who you are. I cried about cooking for myself some nights because it was just ME. I cried about not having anyone to serve a dinner for. My solution? I invite friends over. I cook for friends. Mostly my Marcus, but a friend is better than just alone.

Just Don't beat yourself up. (Period). 
This may be the silliest advice, but I swear it really is the truth. This is the new reality. You have your own place (saying to myself). All beating yourself up does is make you feel worse about everything. It brings you down. Find something positive about the day and grasp onto it. I promise, it helps. It may be hard to find in the first few months, but it does help! Smile, it helps.

Keep moving forward. 
This isn't the end of the world. A new chapter, a change, a new life event. It's not the end of everything. It's a chance to grow and adapt and change. Drink that bottle of wine. Sing karaoke. Dance in the rain with your kids. Do what makes you happy, and don't let anyone make you feel bad for it.

Oh... and get you an amazing boyfriend that will randomly send you a "cheer up" package that includes your favorite things... including amazing prints such as this.

I kind of love the face that he knew nothing about blogging before having me in his life and now, I'm officially his llama.

What major life change have you bounced back from? How did you adapt? What advice would you share?

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