NO! IT’S NOT “JUST” A PRE-SCHOOL GRADUATION!!!

Post-pre-school graduation.  I could not stop the tears from flowing that night….and I was confused by the overwhelming emotions that came over me.  I wasn’t sure where it was coming from.  I woke up the next morning – tears still streaming down my face.  At this point – I’m getting frustrated because I’m not sure why it won’t stop.  Reflecting on the conversation with my husband the night before – it hit me.  This is life…this is changeand in a way – I am mourning this stage that I am leaving behind.

“But it’s only pre-school” my husband nonchalantly said the night before.  That was his attempt at consoling me.  Well, that just set me off even more…more tears rushing…my throat feels swollen – I can barely muster words.  Because there’s no such thing as ONLY when it comes to my children.  Looking at myself in the mirror early the next morning, as I’m rushing to get on a flight – I realized then – that’s what was bothering me.  We, humans, tend to marginalize emotions or moments simply because we don’t think that THAT moment is big enough to warrant an emotional response.  And while I understood Bob’s failed attempt to make me realize that there would be “bigger” moments with our daughter to come…what he didn’t realize was –  this was a big enough moment for me.

It’s the loss of pre-school innocence and walking into a world of older kids, responsibilities, possible bullying and teasing and everything kids face nowadays in school.

It’s the loss of community that we experienced in her pre-school, where families actually like each other – group chats are constantly poppin’ and the sense of family, that often gets lost as your child travels from grade to grade.  The kids in her pre-school had mainly been together since she started the program at 16 months old.

Ahhhh….16 months old…that’s how she entered pre-school…already knowing her ABC’s but also still toting her pacifier and walking around with a diaper butt.  At five years old – she walked away even more confident and smarter than I could have ever hoped for.  I watched her develop strong relationships with other girls and hold her own with the boys.  I saw how her teachers all loved on her and shed tears knowing that she will be missed.  That was worth some of my own tears.

Her brother’s keeper.  It was her that he seeked out when he first started school at 18 months.  And it was her that he continued to look for throughout the day, even when he was acclimated with his own class and had his own friends.  She was his go-to.  She was the big sister.  His own day could not start unless he walked her to class.  They checked on each other on the playground.  Knowing that he would miss her at school, warranted my tears.

There’s something weird about watching your child grow…its bittersweet.  I will never have those toddler years with her again.  I will never not have to worry about all the things that come with putting her in a school with 1,700 other kids.  That is worth my tears.

Having that revelation,  I stopped getting frustrated with my overflow of emotions.  Yes…maybe it was a bit much, even for me – but THAT’S OK.  I realized then that I wanted to wallow in my feelings – if but for a moment.  Because I don’t want to look up and say…where did the time go??  I want to be in that moment of time acknowledging that we are entering a whole new world *in my Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle voice.”  Moments are not “just moments”.  Its life happening. It’s shedding the old and entering new.  And that can be emotional.

Now here I am…on the eve before the first day of kindergarten – I’m calm.  Her book bag is packed – I’ve checked her school list over and over.  I am giddy as if I am the one starting my first day.  I prayed with her tonight and rubbed her head as she fell asleep.  I took time out to note that this was the night before another major milestone – and life will not be the same.  There is a transition taking place whether I’m ready for it or not.  That was important for me to do.  To be in that moment.  And now I feel ready for tomorrow.

I’m excited about her future.  I can’t wait to hear every day about what’s happening in her class.  I plan on cherishing every moment as it zips on by. I even took a moment to recognize that tomorrow is AJ’s last first day of pre-school.  I’m grateful to be part of these moment with them.  And even in my moments of excitement and gratitude – that doesn’t mean a few tears won’t roll down my face in the process.

So, no Bob and world…it’s not “just pre-school” ….and no…. I won’t wait until high school to give myself permission to cry about my children growing up.  I am giving myself permission to do it now.  And to cry all over again….when it’s AJ’s turn.

(My husband begrudgingly approves this message 🙂

Sharing a snapshot thru the years…

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Bobbi Elle’s 1st day of pre-school
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I was that peering stalker mom, watching to see how she was going to be while I was gone. I did that up until the last day.
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From snotty-nose baby with paci to a confident beautiful girl. I’ve watched her flourish and grow during these years…a beautiful transition.
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One of my favorite things was watching her develop so many amazing relationships over the years…and while I know she will make many new friends – my hope is that she will still connect with her day ones for years to come. Her and her bestie – Serena.
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They’ve been rolling thru school together for 2.5 years strong. Another reason for the tears. AJ is going to miss his big sister – they are inseparable. Plus now I have two different school pick up times, activities, schedules, uggghhh…selfish tears warranted!
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We celebrated many milestones with the same crew; including her 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th birthdays. Those were always fun parties that she shared with her school friends.
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The teachers!!! Some of her favorites….after graduation – she cried for a long time because she was already missing her teachers.
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Post-Graduation festivities at home.
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The Proud Parents
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Class of 2018 at KLA Aventura!!
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Bobbi’s Village showed up and showed out at her graduation.
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The graduate!
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Me…looking forward to doing it all over again with my favorite guy!

MOTHER’S DAY PHOTO SHOOT

Mother’s Day has taken on new meaning for me. For years, I used to stay in bed, eat Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream….and just cry – mourning the death of my own mother. While it has gotten easier over the last 14 years – last year, I found myself in that same position. Weird how the emotions ebb and flow over the years. But the reality is that my life has greater meaning now that I am a mother…and that has made facing this day a little easier.  I treasure the relationship that I have with my sister and her kids on another level because I know that we are a reflection of my mother’s love and life.

So that led me to ask one of my fave photographers – Erica Rodriquez to meet me at Greynolds Park to capture mommy moments doing one of our favorite things..us all hanging out together. I wanted to do it with my sister in celebration of Mother’s Day.  Even though I take lots of photos of my kids – I’ve never done this…and it was a special time for us. It was a gorgeous day at the park. The sun was shining so beautifully…you can see the sunrays in lots of our photos. When I first saw it…I knew then that it was my mother shining her light on us in approval of the moms we are today.

Sharing a few of my favorite pics from our day.

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This is us! Me and my two babies and my step-son Khari…My sister and her two girls and son. We come as a package deal.

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Mothers Day Shoot One Balanced Mama
Mothers Day Shoot One Balanced Mama
Mothers Day Shoot One Balanced Mama

One Balanced Mama Mother's Day Photo Shoot
AJ and his silly smiles…cracks me up!

Mothers Day Shoot One Balanced Mama

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!

AMARII JOSEPH – THE FIRST YEAR

Last year, I spent nine months carrying a baby not wanting to know the sex.  I was nervous about what I was having but also wanted to be surprised.  Part of me didn’t want to have a boy – I was scared of boys…didn’t feel I was a “boy’s mom” and that I would do much better with another girl.  Also, Bobbi Elle would have a playmate, a sister and a friend for life.  Kind of like my sister and I.  I also didn’t know if I would have room in my heart to love another child – it felt like Bobbi had all of me.

Boy was I wrong (no pun intended!),  Amarii Joseph came and rocked my world.  I wrote about our birth journey and shared personal moments from the delivery room in my blog Birthing With Fear…My Birth Journey.  And since his grand entrance – life has never been the same.  Some day I’ll share my thoughts on juggling life with a toddler and an infant…but for now – I just wanted to share a snipet of my life, my AJ.  Words can’t express the depth that my heart has opened to love a second child.  Nor can it explain the joy I feel to be blessed with a son.  It is an incredible feeling to know that I get a chance to raise a man…and its something I so look forward to.

Bobbi – well she’s still adjusting…but the one thing I know for sure – she absolutely loves her little bro…as long as he doesn’t have any of her toys or getting all of the attention.

The last few days has been a little emotional for me – just going thru old footage and seeing his delivery and moments after his birth.  I’m sad that he’s no longer a newborn…a baby.  He’s starting to take a few steps and I know it’s just a matter of time before I completely lose him to his newfound freedom. But I’m so looking forward to what’s to come.

Thanks to my husband and Edward from Elite Media Concepts for once again putting together an amazing video.  They knew how much I loved the one done for Bobbi that I posted for her first birthday Bobbi Elle – The First Year.  And a special thank you to all of my amazing family and friends that have walked this journey with me.