AJ: LIFE OF A TWO-YEAR OLD TODDLER PHOTO SHOOT

Ahhhh….the excitement of turning 2!!!  August 6th. Part of me was a little sad knowing that I no longer have a baby anymore – I have a full blown little boy…and he plays the role to the tee!  “AJ” (Amarii Joseph) was such a calm and low key baby.  I thought…“this is good..I have balance between him and Miss Bobbi.”  But not so fast!  In the last few months – its like he turned on the switch and is now operating on ALL cylinders.  He has such a bright personality to match his big and bright smile.  He’s super affectionate, very independent, makes his voice heard – and is willing to battle for some shine when he is around his big sister.  He started pre-school in May, and that has really helped to accelerate his communication skills…he can now speak in full sentences, knows how to count from 1 – 13 (he’s stuck…he thinks every number after 13 is…13)..he knows his ABC’s, loves books, and loves identifying animals and their sounds.  We’re still working on his colors 🙂

As has been my tradition – I once again partnered with Erica Melissa to shoot AJ in all of his glory.  She has captured every key moment including our birth journey and his first year photo shoot.  For this shoot, we went back to the location of Miss Bobbi’s two-year old shoot in Miami Lakes. FL, a shopping area that has become our little photo shoot playground…we just used different backdrops.  I also (smartly) enlisted the help of my friend/stylist, Toni Lowes to help create the looks, and we bought along his favorite bike, his favorite toy – a football…balloons…and his favorite bear…I’m in love with it all!

Amarii Joseph; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post

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Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post

Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post

Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post

Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post

Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post

Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post

Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post

Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post
Amarii Joseph Metelus; Two-year old photo shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog post

Check out photos from AJ’s Bubble Guppies Birthday Bash!

LINE UP LINE UP…IT’S BUBBLE GUPPIES PARTY TIME!!

What’s every two-year old’s favorite cartoon??? BUBBLE GUPPIES!!!!  Well, its one of many…but since AJ’s birthday falls in the summer – I love having his parties outside.  (Besides, who doesn’t love being out in all of the heat and humidity that Miami has to offer??)  In fairness to all attendees – I do plan it around some type of water activity – and this year’s venue had plenty of that.  We celebrated at TY Park’s Castaway Island where they offered something for everyone!  I rented out two funbrella’s – which perfectly shaded all of our guests (about 60 people).  Kids were able to spend time in the splash pad zone or join in the fun at the swim lagoon.  There’s even a slides area for the older kids.  There was limited décor since the pools and slides were enough to keep the kids entertained.  But I still managed to find ways to incorporate the Bubble Guppies theme.

It was a perfect summer day to gather friends and family to celebrate AJ turning two. Sharing some of the fun!

Amarii Turns Two! Bubble Guppies Party; One Balanced Mama Blog Post
What’s a party without the perfect invite!
Amarii Turns Two! Bubble Guppies Party; One Balanced Mama Blog Post
Cake designed by Divine Delicacies…they nailed the Bubble Guppies theme
Amarii Turns Two! Bubble Guppies Party; One Balanced Mama Blog Post
Even though I had cupcakes…and cake…I still got the custom cake pops – kids love these!
Amarii Turns Two! Bubble Guppies Party; One Balanced Mama Blog Post
I know Finding Dory isn’t the theme, but its all ocean based stories – so we rolled with it!
Amarii Turns Two! Bubble Guppies Party; One Balanced Mama Blog Post
I always find custom labels on Etsy to tie it all together…and the beach pails from Party City was a perfect touch to the décor.

Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;

Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;

Amarii Turns Two! Bubble Guppies Party; One Balanced Mama Blog Post
Fun shots of AJ enjoying his birthday party with friends and family…he had a blast!

 

Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;

Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;
Amarii Turns Two! Birthday shoot; One Balanced Mama Blog Post;

Happy Birthday my love!!!

A GETAWAY TO THE KEYS

I was exhausted…even before I knew that I would spend the day before our anniversary trip being delayed in a DC airport for 8 hours – coming home at 4AM…I was exhausted.  The month of March was crazy for me.  Work trips.  Conferences.  A week long family cruise (more on that later).  A week without my nanny, who was on vacation.  I was done.

I had big plans for our 5th Anniversary originally…but I was also dealing with low energy, very limited time, and definitely no desire to jump on another flight….even to a gorgeous island.  So my husband and I decided to do a quick getaway for 2 days, right in our backyard.

I’ve lived in Miami for close to 35 years…and I’ve never truly experienced the Keys.  I remember going to Key Largo a few times with my parents – but I really don’t remember its beauty.  Well, that changed on this trip. But even the 4-hour car drive all the way to Key West was too much for me to bear.  We decided to head to Islamorada, which was a short 2 hour drive from Miami.  The Keys was exactly what I needed.  Peaceful, tranquil, laid back and charming.  I just wish we had more time to spend…but we will be back soon.  I’m sharing a few of my favorite photos from our trip – shot by my personal photographer…my husband.

The Mooring Village; Islamorada; The Keys; Blue Charlotte
Let’s start here. I can’t get enough of this photo. It just makes me want to breathe! And this was our backyard…literally….Our view in the morning and all day…just steps away from the amazing house we stayed in.
The Mooring Village; Islamorada; The Keys
We stayed at The Mooring Village and Spa in Islamorada. Its a beautiful collection of 18 cottages and homes – some beachfront…some not. Thankfully we had some friends that got us into the Blue Charlotte – which is the largest home on the property!
The Mooring Village; Islamorada; The Keys; Blue Charlotte
THIS is the Blue Charlotte…we walked in wishing we had our friends with us. Its a 3 bedroom; 2 story home right on the beach. With charming decor and a full wrap around balcony…this was a piece of heaven that came right on time!
The Mooring Village; Islamorada; The Keys; Blue Charlotte
Front view of the Blue Charlotte
Islamorada; The Mooring Village; Florida Keys
Front Porch Life
The Mooring Village; Islamorada; The Keys; Blue Charlotte
I am taking it all in…enjoying my breathing space.

FAMILY DATE: PICNICS IN THE PARK

This year started off non-stop…and it shows no signs of slowing down.  And I don’t mind it because I love my job and I love traveling…but having two toddlers can be challenging when your career is demanding.  One of my challenges is to ensure that the energy that I put towards work and my passion projects – I give that and more to my kids.  And by the time I get home at the end of the day..I’m barely at 5%.  So the weekends are when I look forward to spending the most time with them. My Saturdays and Sundays are devoted to my children and what they want to do.

I had to leave town this past Friday for a quick business trip – but before I left – Miss Bobbi requested that we have a picnic over the weekend. Genius idea on her part.  Open park time (run free children – burn all that energy!!) beautiful weather, and an excuse to have wine and cheese in the park sounded great to me.  But after flying back home on Saturday morning…running home to get the kids ready to head to their big brother’s birthday party, I was really looking forward to a Sunday in bed – catching up on all of my favorite ratchet TV shows.  Wishful thinking.

I reached out to two of my mom friends.  We all have toddlers around the same age – just months apart….and there’s even a 4-month old baby in the mix.  We all lean on each other for advice, to vent, to watch each other’s kids and even pass down clothes. (With a stylist in our group – we’re winning!)  I appreciate having other moms and dads in my circle that I work with, vacation with, party with AND play date with!  It gave me a boost of energy, knowing that they would be on-site with their kids as well.

Picnic in the park; Family date
A few members from the cool kids crew: Miss Bobbi, Nyla and Prince hanging out on the rocks at South Pointe.

We went to our favorite spot – South Pointe on Miami Beach.  It’s the perfect setting with beautiful scenery of the water and lots of greenery.  There’s a CLEAN and safe playground that offers something for toddlers and the big kids.  There’s lots of space to play football or just run around…and you’re steps away from the beach if you want to take a dip in the water.

Playtime; picnic in the park

Playtime; picnic in the park
Miss Bobbi and AJ’s favorite spot
Playtime; picnic in the park
Pouches, pouches, pouches…makes life easy!

Picnics are quickly becoming one of our favorite family past times.  I created this list of helpful reminders that I thought I would share to ensure a successful picnic day!

Picnic Checklist

Picnic Blanket:  love this one from Amazon.com.  Or you can always use an old quilt that no longer works from your bedroom.

Picnic Basket:  While I love the look of a gingham lined picnic basket; its just not practical with kids.  I love the picnic backpacks that leaves you hands free to wrangle your children.

Snacks:  I like to pack a cheese board and fill up a nice rectangular sized tupperware with a variety of fruit.  My kids faves are grapes, apples, watermelon, strawberries and bananas.  Most of them can be cut up the night before and stored in the fridge so you can grab and go day of.  The pre-cut cheese cubes or cheese sticks wrapped in turkey slices are great options for snacks throughout the day.  My cheese board includes gouda cubes, brie slices and mozzarella sticks.  Don’t forget the crackers!  Mini sandwiches (Peanut butter + jelly, turkey sandwiches) are easy to pack as well.

I try to feed my children lunch before we leave the house.  That way – I just need to worry about light food and snacks at the park.  If you’re feeding your child a hot meal for lunch at the park – pre-pack it in tupperware and warm up before leaving the house!

Drinks:  My choice of drinks for the kids is Honest Kids juice pouches.  And I fill their thermos with water.

Paper goods:  Your normal paper towels, plates, disposable utensils.  And I also pack a garbage bag to collect trash throughout the day and jumbo ziplock bags for any leftovers that I want to take back home.  Sidenote:  I don’t leave home without ziplock bags – they are the perfect catch all!

Music:  We actually forgot our portable boom box at our last picnic – and interestingly enough – no one missed the music.  Between talking and hearing the families playing, kids laughing – we had enough background noise!  But next time – we won’t forget it because there’s nothing like Bob Marley playing on a beautiful breezy day.

Toys for kids:  For my son, I bought a mini-football and soccer ball to kick around in the park.  And for my daughter – I bought along her tea set so we can have a tea party on site.  Those were perfect for the moments that they actually wanted a break from the playground.  And it kept them from climbing all over me and distract me from the main event of the picnic – which is….

Wine!  For the adults who have to endure hours of playtime, don’t forget to bring a chilled bottle of white wine or Rosé for the occasion.  And I love these Govino Shatterproof Wine Glass to take on the road.

Other essentials:

  • Cutting knife
  • Bottle opener
  • Wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Trash bags
  • Sunscreen

Pack it up and enjoy a FAB picnic!