Playground Crawl

Playground Crawl - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Cashman Park in Newburyport

Playground Crawl - Under the Monkey Bars blog

You’ve done a pub crawl, but have you ever taken the kids for a playground crawl?

There will be no beer on this crawl. Gone are the days of stumbling from one Irish pub to the next. We have kids and jobs and schedules and no time to be *that* hung over.

But we can still experience the fun of going place to place in a crawl style. In fact, there may be some little monkeys crawling.

If a pub crawl is a tour of several pubs or bars, with one or more drinks at each, then a playground crawl must be a tour of several playgrounds, with one or more swings, slides, and monkey bar passes at each! Along with some coffee or tea, of course.

Choose an open Saturday on the calendar or make it a weekend quest. Why not put some friends up to the challenge while you’re at it? Kids of all ages will love a playground crawl. It’s all about creating your own special event and the challenge of a crawl.

Now is the time. Besides the fall, June is our favorite weather for playground time. The air is still crisp in the morning so be sure to get an early start.

If you’re motivated, plan your own workout before the crowds show up. Try this playground work out or check out this one. Be a role model for the kids and they will likely join you for some exercises, counting reps until they move on to something else.

Plot your route in advance. Travel by bicycle or car, spending 15-30 minutes at each playground, depending on how engaged the kids are and the size of the playground.

A playground crawl can be done in any town or city. Here’s an example of a playground crawl for my beloved Newburyport:

  1. Cashman Park (5 Pop Crowley Way)
  2. Ayers Playground at Cushing Park (1 Buck Street)
  3. Fuel up at Plum Island Coffee Roasters (54R Merrimac Street)
  4. Frog Pond Playground at Bartlett Mall (151 High Street)
  5. Bresnahan School Playground (333 High Street)
  6. Moseley Woods (Corner of Merrimac and Spofford Streets)
  7. Lunch at Port City Sandwich (40R Merrimac Street)
  8. Inn Street Playground (Inn Street)
  9. Fuel up at Atomic Cafe (56 State Street)
  10. The Brown School Playground (40 Milk Street)
  11. Perkins Park Playground (15 Beacon Avenue)
  12. Jason Sawyer Memorial Playground (Plum Island Beach, Northern Boulevard)
  13. Celebrate with whoopie pies at Chococoa Baking Company (50 Water Street)

Stretch the crawl into other towns to meet friends in Amesbury (Amesbury Town Park Playground), Ipswich (Pirate Ship Park), or West Newbury (Action Cove). The possibilities are endless!

Be sure to pack plenty of water in refillable bottles, healthy snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, and extra clothes in case someone falls in the river trying to feed a duck (learn from the monkeys here guys). Also consider bringing hula hoops, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, jump ropes, and balls.

Kids need time outside more than ever. Get them pumped up about a playground crawl, and exhaust those little monkeys.

Cheers to the parents after bedtime, because you deserve a drink!

I still have Lyme…with a side of Mono

I Still Have Lyme - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Lyme sucks. That’s been my motto lately. Here I am 10 months after diagnosis and I still have Lyme disease…now with a side of mono. 

It’s been a while since I wrote a post about Lyme. Frankly, I don’t like to give it any more time than it takes up already. From the moment I wake up until I turn my bedside light off at night, it’s lyme lyme lyme. Daily aches and pains combined with exhaustion is really starting to wear me down.

When Don got injured in early March, I stopped taking my antibiotics so that I could take care of him. I knew I couldn’t handle another antibiotic at the time so I started the Cowden herbal protocol shortly after that. I’m on day 53 today.

I feel much better on the herbal drops, even though I have to remember to take them 4 times a day. It’s insane how much of the daily discomfort I’d been experiencing was just being on antibiotics for an extended period. I’m so thankful I no longer have the joint pain and difficulty walking that I did back in January and February on the antibiotic Tindamax. Over the past several months, I’ve learned that different kinds of medicine brings out different symptoms. It’s really interesting but no fun at the time.

I’m still having herx reactions on the Cowden. Lately, my left eye has been twitching a lot with severe pain in the sockets of my eyes and right ear. I have neck pain, back pain, fogginess, excessive sweating, a hung over feeling most mornings (without drinking!), and I’m mixing up words or having trouble finding the right word. That’s it. Honestly, it sounds like a lot but it’s way more manageable than before. Probably because I’ve killed off some of the Lyme bacteria at this point.

A few weeks ago, I found out that the mononucleosis or Epstein Barre Virus I had in 1999 has resurfaced as a result of my weakened immune system. It’s crazy that mono can actually do that. I’m not contagious: just really, really tired. Like I can’t get out of bed in the morning tired — and I’m usually a pop out of bed and greet the day without caffeine kind of girl. It’s such a drag.

Please don’t take this as complaining. And don’t be sorry for me. It is what it is. I can’t change the fact that I have Lyme disease, but I will tell my story in hopes that it will help others get diagnosed faster.

Many thanks to those of you who have reached out to share your Lyme stories. And I’m so happy I was able to help those of you who were suffering without a diagnosis. I love hearing from you so please continue to drop me a note in the comments or email me directly. I started this blog to share information to help us live healthier lives — without even realizing I had Lyme at the time. I truly believe that helping people is what I’m meant to be doing right now. 

The ticks are really bad this spring. Please check yourself and your family for ticks daily. There are sooooo many Lyme symptoms so refer to this list and look out for friends and family who have random things popping up. Thanks so much for reading this post and supporting Under the Monkey Bars!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Naughty Words - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Dreaming :: Of going back to NYC. The picture above is from Mulberry & Vine, a favorite spot from my trip earlier this month. I love finding restaurants that are great with food allergies. They had so many clearly labeled nut free, gluten free, and vegan choices. I seriously can’t wait to bring the monkeys.
Watching :: The Bachelorette! This group of crazy guys is going to make this an entertaining season for JoJo. Dying to see what happens…
Celebrating :: 15 years of marriage tomorrow! It feels like Don and I have been together forever, but now I know we definitely have. Both of us had birthdays this month too so it’s always a fun month to celebrate!
Reading :: Just finished The The Nightingale. My favorite line is at the end: “Wounds heal. Love lasts. We remain.” It’s about living in France during the Natzi invasion from a women’s perspective. If you haven’t read it, you definitely should.
Walking :: With Don. YES!! He got the all clear to take off his brace and start walking earlier this week. I’m beyond proud of his progress and can’t wait to take a little walk together this weekend.
Planning :: The monkeys birthday parties. I can’t believe they are going to be 8 and 11!
Making :: Vegan chickpea salad. Kind of obsessed actually. Bean loves it too so we’ve been making a double batch on the weekends. Check out my Instagram for a picture.
Resting :: Not enough. Lyme has been kicking my butt lately.
Shopping :: For Birkenstocks. Of course the monkeys love theirs but I’ve never splurged on a pair for myself. If you have them, what style do you like best? Totally overwhelmed by all of the options! Thinking maybe these sandals?

Have such a great Memorial Day weekend guys! XO

Moms: Get in the Picture

Moms: Get in the Picture - Under the Monkey Bars blog Moms: Get in the Picture - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Kids Fashion
Dress :: Ragdoll & Rockets from Lively Kids
Stone bead necklace :: Pretty Little Things
Floral printed tunic :: Ragdoll & Rockets from Lively Kids
Cream knit shorts :: Mayoral from Lively Kids
Sandals :: Birkenstock Kids

Mom Fashion
Kelly Green Romper :: Pretty Little Things
Stone pendant necklace :: Pretty Little Things
Sandals :: Yokono {similar}

Moms: Get in the Picture - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Moms need to be photographed more often with our kids. Don’t you think? I’m always the one taking the pictures. We have very few of me having fun with my monkeys — like these amazing shots from our recent fashion shoot. It’s so important to not only take pictures, but also be in them as well.

It doesn’t matter if you look tired or if you have spit up on your shirt. Nor does it matter if you haven’t showered or if you have roots. In the wise words of Elsa, let it go. We’ve all learned too often that life is short. 

My monkeys love taking selfies with me. I always end up looking at the wrong place so my eyes look weird. I rarely like the shots we take, but it’s not about me. It’s about being part of the fun and having those memories for the kids to look back at and see that you were there. You’re always there whether or not you’re in the picture. So why not make the effort to join them more often?

Hand your camera or phone to a friend or set aside some extra cash and hire a photographer. Candid shots of the every day moments are my absolute favorites. I love seeing the joy and love of family life come through a single frame. It’s real and it’s life. 

Record memories with your monkeys. Life is too short to be on the other side of the lens.

Local friends: Don’t forget to stop into the new Pretty Little Things store in Newburyport. Mention “Monkey Bars” when you checkout for 10% off your purchase through June 1st. 

Shoot Details
Fashion :: Pretty Little Things + Lively Kids
Photography :: Mercy Street Studio
Salon: Beautique
Hair: Tammy Silva
Makeup: Raena Mae Mason

Life on the Sweeter Side

Life on the Sweeter Side - Under the Monkey Bars blog

My sweet tooth is fierce, especially when the clock strikes 3 and 8pm. No matter what I do, it will always be there. I’m not one to deprive myself of a treat though. So I’ve found a way to balance the cravings and still enjoy life on the sweeter side.

Do you crave sugar? Most people do because it’s sooooo addictive. It’s seriously like a drug, hidden in most of the food we eat.

Ever wonder why there’s no daily value percentage next to “sugar” on the nutrition facts of an ingredient label? Fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, and fiber all include the daily value percentage on food labels. But sugar does not. Kind of makes you think, right?

Hmmmm. Why doesn’t the government want us to know how much sugar we’re eating? I recently learned that during the low-fat and fat free craze, companies added sugar to improve taste. It seems that big business won and we lost. That’s only one of the reasons food labels don’t make the sugar count more clear. But positive changes are happening!

The latest dietary guidelines have drastically decreased the recommended sugar intake to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. This translates to 12 teaspoons for a 2,000 calorie diet which I still think is too high. The World Health Organization recommends only 6 teaspoons a day.

What are we currently consuming? The average American eats about 22 teaspoons of sugar each day and — you’re not going to believe this — the average child eats 32 teaspoons of sugar daily. Wow! No wonder why our country has a diabetes epidemic.

So, how do can you cut down on sugar and still satisfy your sweet tooth?

  • Skip the soda, bottled juices, and sports drinks. Drink more water! Add a slice of fruit, cucumber, or fresh mint to your water if you don’t like the taste. You’ll get used to it. Water is way better for you and it’s free. Look, you’re even saving money!
  • Stop buying refined, white sugar. Switch to coconut sugar or date sugar in recipes that call for sugar. Better yet, seek new recipes that use raw honey, agave nectar, or pure maple syrup as sweeteners. You won’t find white sugar in any of the recipes here at Under the Monkey Bars.
  • Bake your own goodies. When you make something from scratch, you know exactly what’s in it. It takes extra time, but it’s totally worth it. We usually bake a minimum of 2 treats a week. Start with once a week and work your way up!
  • Buy plain yogurt. Four years ago, we started buying organic whole milk plain yogurt instead of vanilla. It drastically cut the monkeys sugar intake and it was an easy change to make. We add a drop of vanilla and some raw honey to the plain yogurt. Defrosted berries create their own syrup are a great substitution for “fruit on the bottom” type yogurts.
  • Reduce processed foods. Most of us aren’t sprinkling sugar on our food but believe me, you’re eating it! The less food you eat out of a box, the less sugar you’ll consume. 
  • Eat more vegetables. Sprinkle some cinnamon on a sweet potato with blueberries and pumpkin seeds for your afternoon snack instead of a granola bar. It will satisfy your sweet tooth and provide more nutrition for your body.
  • Everything in moderation. I’m not saying don’t eat anything sweet because that’s just crazy. Aim for balance with organic fruits and dates for treats instead of what you usually grab. We all need one indulgence; mine is dark chocolate, which contains way less sugar than other varieties. I usually eat a piece a day and consider it healthy.

Start a healthier life on the sweeter side today. By reading labels and making a few changes, you’ll look and feel healthier. Promise!

P.S. If you haven’t already, watch Fed Up!