In my bag

In My Bag - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

In My Bag- Under the Monkey Bars blog

Classic tote :: Cuyana 
Wallet :: LODIS (mine’s 4 years old and still looks new)
Pouches :: One Truffle

Now that I’m tidying up my life, I need to decide which bags spark joy. This classic gray Cuyana tote I got for Christmas definitely does! It’s light as a feather, super soft, and sustainable. The company’s mission aligns with mine: fewer, better things. As I pare down what I own, I’m choosing quality over quantity. This timeless bag without flashy hardware goes with everything. It’s perfect for every day, and a great size for this busy Mom.

I’m totally in love with these pouches from One Truffle. I’ve had my eye on them for months. Everything in my bag goes into the clear pouches except my wallet, keys, phone, and sanitizer, making it super easy to grab what I need in a flash. My bag stays neat and organized with this system. 

Like most Moms, I manage to pack a lot in my bag so I'm always prepared!

Like most Moms, I manage to pack a lot in my bag so I’m always prepared!

In my Small Clarity Clutch
– The best cure for chapped lips: WAXALENE.
– Two kinds of LIP GLOSS so I always have just the right one.
– My favorite intensely thick HAND CREME.
SUNGLASSES won’t scratch in the pouch; no case necessary!
– Reusable COFFEE CUP SLEEVE because I’m super green and proud of it.

In my Large Clarity Clutch
– My bag hasn’t been without EPI-PENs since 2005.
– A REUSABLE BAG is an absolute must!
– My Great Aunt Flo’s pink leather CHECKBOOK stays close to my heart.
– Organic MINTS for the monkeys in case of emergency (you know the ones!).

What essentials do you carry in your bag?

February Vacation in Stowe

February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe- Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog
February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog February Vacation in Stowe - Under the Monkey Bars blog

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Twelve pictures must tell a hell of a story!

We managed to strike a beautiful balance between getting outdoors and downtime during our February Vacation week in Stowe with the monkeys. Highlights included bowling, ice skating, night sledding, the library, shopping, dinner with friends, and of course skiing.

The freezing temperatures gave us extra time for reading and baking. We made 3 batches of those honey biscuits

I know I speak for all 4 of us when I say that we’re well rested and recharged — and I didn’t even make it to the spa! Back to reality.

You Make My Heart Glow

You Make My Heart Glow - Under the Monkey Bars blog

YOU GUYS make my heart glow. For real! Thank you for being here and joining me on this blogging journey. I’m seriously beyond grateful. Will you be my Valentine?

The monkeys gave their school friends these super cute glow stick valentines. Our local print shop printed and cut the valentines, making it really easy this year. I ordered way too many glow sticks, but I’m sure we’ll use them for dance parties. I got the idea for glow stick valentines on Pinterest from Delia Creates. Never too early to collect ideas for next year, right? 

Homemade valentines are our family tradition. Don and I gave up on flowers and gifts years ago. I’d much rather give and receive simple homemade valentines and be with my loves than anything else. I sometimes cheat and cut up a few store bought or recycled cards. Another one of my Mommy short cuts. Shhhh! Don’t tell.

Bean wrote this poem for a heart themed poetry contest this month: 

Whenever I look at the night sky,
I see a little star-heart.
Blinking, winking, shining.
Smiling right at me.
For me.
With me.
My star.
My home away from home.
My anchor.
My heavenly friend.
I twirl and bloom under the
Protection of my heart.

Words can’t describe how proud I am of my strong, creative 10-year old. Her writing skills have really blossomed this year. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this little lady. 

What are you up to this chilly February 14th? We’re in Stowe for the week with plans for a cozy family pajama day today. Don’s going to stoke a roaring fire while we read books and play games together. No cooking for me tonight! We have a reservation at one of our favorite restaurants here in Stowe: Idletyme (owned by Chef Michael Kloeti of Michael’s on the Hill).  Fantastic prices for farm to table food — and they are extra attentive with food allergies. 

I’m super excited for a vacation with my monkeys. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for us with my Lyme symptoms starting up again. February vacation came just at the right time. Thank you Massachusetts 🙂 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope your day is filled with sweetness and love.

Tidying Marathon

Tidying Marathon - Under the Monkey Bars blog

I completed one of my New Year’s Resolutions: I finally read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Her book has been on my mental To Do list since it was published in 2014. I’ve procrastinated reading it because I knew that when I did, I’d have to start my tidying marathon.

But then Kondo pubished her second book Spark Joy, so I absolutely had to read that book before I could start, right? Just a wee bit of procrastination going on here. I just finished reading it, with tons of pages dog eared. The time has come for massive organization and tidying (insert scared face emoji). 

I come from a long line of ladies who keep things “just in case.” I remember needing odd items for school projects growing up. No matter what it was, my Mom always had it in the attic. Like magic! It was incredible. By the time my parents moved out of that house in Easton, the attic was filled with so much stuff that I’m surprised it didn’t collapse.

Since I’ve had a house of my own, I’ve never put anything in the attic. However, I have no qualms about storing things in the basement. What’s down there? 2 complete childhoods, 15 years of marriage, 5 houses, and every piece of paper the monkeys have ever created – among other things we don’t need. It’s a bit of a project to say the least.

I love to organize, but I hate to make a mess. It’s really because I don’t like to start projects that I won’t have time to finish. Aka, my basement. Every year “Clean out the Basement” is on my list of New Years Resolutions. Every year, I chip away at the stuff down there, but the amount we add is always more than I remove. Sigh.

The stuff in our basement takes up space in my head. It takes time out of my life. And now that I’ve read Kondo’s books, I know I must tidy it once and for all so that I can clear my mind and feel less heavy. I’m armed with a strategy and I’m motivated. Apparently this process can be life changing. We’ll see!

While I was reading the books, I had the urge to purge – which I normally get in January anyway. I made 3 trips to our local donation center already. I’d love to hunker down in the basement and get it done once and for all. But if I really want to use Kondo’s KonMari Method, I can’t.

According to the books, you must start your tidying marathon in your closet. The order of categories is important because if you start with easy things first, you’ll hone your decision making skills so that it becomes easier when you get to the more difficult items, like things with sentimental value. There’s a tiny problem with that principle.

Tidying Marathon - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Tidying Marathon - Under the Monkey Bars blog

My messy walk-in closet…where I stand and stare each morning.

See, I’m a collector. Not figurines or statuses. I collect clothes: sweaters, shoes, jeans, dresses, scarves, and belts. I have lots of “just in case” clothes, including items I’ve owned long before I met Don in the late 90s. The master bedroom in our house here in Newburyport has 3 closets. My super sweet and generous husband let me have 2 of them…and they’re both packed. Plus, I have coats in the coat closet and at least 6 bins of seasonal clothes and shoes in the basement (see that pile of plastic bins below?). Apparently switching your closet by the season is a big no no. Kondo says that all of your clothes must fit inside the closet and drawers in your room. I’m in trouble.

Tidying Marathon - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Welcome to my basement…it’s in dire need of tidying!

To follow the KonMari Method, you put every single item of clothing you own on your bedroom floor and bed. If you leave anything out, you have to discard it when you find it. That means I’ll have to carry up those 6 bins from the basement and empty the coat closet too. Here’s the problem: it won’t fit. And it will make a huge mess!

But I’m going to do it! I haven’t bought clothes since I started reading the tidying books. January sales are my favorite so it’s been quite an exercise in willpower. I’ve decided to reward myself with one new item in each clothing category when I’m done. I definitely need the motivation!

While my house looks organized, I know we don’t need all of the stuff we have. I spend way too much time picking up things that don’t have a place. The KonMari Method really makes sense to me — everything should have a place. It’s something my Dad always says. I’m an organized person but somehow, with all of our moves over the years, we’ve accumulated way too much stuff. I would love to live closer to minimalism and only keep what we need plus those things that truly make us happy and “spark joy.” 

Here we go! Join me in my tidying marathon. I’ll post after pictures of my closet and let you know how it goes. Have you tried the KonMari Method of tidying up? Any advice before I jump in headfirst?

A Night of Stars

A Night of Stars - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Last night’s talent show at the monkeys school was incredible! Newbury Elementary School’s A Night of Stars was much more than I expected.

I performed in the Oliver Ames High School talent show when I was in 9th grade with my friends to the song “Rump Shaker” (so not lying). I’ve never been to an elementary school talent show, nor have I been to a talent show as a parent.

To be honest, I didn’t have any expectations for last night. We left our ski day in Stowe early to be there to support friends and help raise money for the new playground. I wasn’t expecting the love and support in that room to be so contagious. I wasn’t expecting to see so much talent, creativity, and courage on that stage. I certainly wasn’t expecting to laugh myself to tears.

A Night of Stars - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Photo Credit: Heather DePaolo

A Night of Stars literally blew me away. A third grade girl courageously sung “Mean” by Taylor Swift. I may have been the only one Y-M-C-A-ing with the 3rd grade girls who brilliantly lit the stage with glo sticks! A fifth grade boy started off his comedy act with, “So I’m single.” Hilarious! More fifth grade boys acted out a skit called “The Invisible Bench.” A shy first grade girl hula hooped to an entire song! And then there were the first graders who lip-synched and danced Milli Vanilli style to Disney’s Descendants. The monkeys flipped over that act! Drummers and guitarists rocked the stage, including Bean’s teacher. The gymnastics and dance acts were great — especially the fifth grade solo above whose joy touched everyone in that packed auditorium.

What a beautiful way to bring a community together. Times like this really restore my faith in humanity. This little small town talent show is proof that our world can be a wonderful place. These kids put themselves out there and they were all stars!

The playground at their school, Newbury Elementary School, is falling apart. All of the funds raised last night at A Night of Stars will benefit the schoolyard rebuild campaign to expand and update the playground. The new schoolyard will not only extend learning outside of the classroom, supporting both students and teachers, but it will also benefit all of the children in the community when school’s not in session. 

I don’t know about you, but I survived the early years of parenting at playgrounds, under the monkey bars actually. It’s where parents take kids to exercise, make new friends, and create a community. I love being part of this little community in the north shore of Massachusetts. 

The parents on the NES GROWS PTA committee are working hard to raise money for the playground but they need our help! Another $75,000 will make these kids dreams come true and give them an outdoor performance stage they can use every day at recess. Can you help? Every donation counts, whether it’s $1 or $1,000. Check out the GoFundMe page or buy a picket or paver

Share this post and help us spread the word. It takes a village. Thanks for taking time to read this post and be part of my village!