Khaki’s Bomb Balm Skin Care Giveaway

Khaki's Bomb Balm Giveaway - Under the Monkey Bars blog

I’m super excited to share with you the most AMAZING organic skin care products for Under the Monkey Bars first GIVEAWAY! Just in time for Mother’s Day, we’re giving away a set of Khaki’s Bomb Balm ANTI-AGING skin care products.

I know. It’s so exciting I can barely contain myself. Can you tell by all the caps?!?

I’ve been using 10 of Khaki’s Bomb Balm products for 6 months now and my skin has never looked better. I actually got a compliment the other day that I’m “glowing” — and I’m not even pregnant.

I went in to see Khaki at her Face Food Skin Care Studio here in Newburyport for a complimentary consolation back in November. I was having a heat induced reaction to the antibiotics I was taking to treat Lyme. After trying at least 5 products without any improvement (including prescriptions), I was shocked at how quickly Khaki’s handcrafted products cleared up my skin.

Khaki's Bomb Balm Giveaway - Under the Monkey Bars blog

The giveaway features Khaki’s anti-aging skin care set, which retails for $85. I use all 4 of these products daily and absolutely love them: Grapeseed & Grapefruit Cleansing Milk, Anti-aging Rosehip Lavender CreamDusk Radiance Treatment Serum, and Raw Honey Almond Exfoliant. Wait till you open the cream! I can no longer buy skin care products without pressed flowers. It’s just so luxurious!!

Khaki’s Bomb Balm is a completely natural, vegan friendly line of products that you can feel good about using. She’s an esthetician who creates small batch skin care products out of real food right here in Newburyport! Plus, it warms my heart that I’m supporting a local Momma of two little monkeys.

I love winning stuff. Seriously. Did you know that about me? And I actually do win things. But you have to enter the giveaway to win! So fill out the entry form below and cross your fingers. Someone is going to win these luxurious products just in time for Mother’s Day!! The winner will be announced on May 4th.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Freedom to Art

Freedom to Art - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Always at this time of year, I start to freak out about summer. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love summers with my monkeys and the freedom of not having a schedule. But school vacation weeks are a good reminder that you need to plan ahead to keep kids busy so everyone stays sane. Am I right?

We usually line up a few camps to break up the summer months. I find it difficult to plan too far in advance…especially for camps that require early sign ups. I’ve set my alarm for midnight to sign up for camp one November a few years back, and then there was the time we waited in line at 6 am on a Saturday morning in February. No more of that insanity!

For me, springtime is the perfect time to plan for summer. Sometimes kids don’t even know what they want to do this early, and I’m not about to make that decision for them — especially now that they’re older.

Bean recently declared that she’ll die without art lessons. She’s getting so dramatic! Obviously art camp is a no-brainer. The monkeys went to Sally Lannan’s Freedom to Art camp last summer, and have continued weekly after school lessons since September. In fact, it’s their favorite activity!

It’s been incredible to see Bean and Sweet Pea's art skills progress and blossom this year.

It’s been incredible to see Bean and Sweet Pea’s art skills progress and blossom this year.

We love the nurturing home environment that Sally provides. It’s the perfect space for young artists to thrive and get messy. And it’s not my house getting messy (you know how I hate glitter). It’s so important to me that the monkeys have a place where it’s okay to be messy and really get into a creative project.

Art is such a pure way to express yourself. I truly believe that self expression through art helps kids discover themselves. I’ve been impressed with the variety of mediums the monkeys have access to during their art lessons at Freedom to Art: natural molding clay, watercolor, artist chalk, oil pastel, acrylic, colored pencil, collage, charcoal, and pencil sketch. There’s usually enough time for kids to work on a project plus free time to explore what they’re most into. It provides the opportunity for them to become more confident and grow as artists.

I love how art camp gives kids a break from the summer heat while letting their creativity flow. If you’re local, check out Freedom to Art. Sally has space in the after school lessons as well as summer art camps. On the South Shore of MA, check out Art Around the World Camp with my friend Kelly Burke. In Stowe, the Helen Day Art Center has an impressive listing of camps for the summer as well — including a Fashion Design camp where Bean will redesign old clothes into new outfits.

When you find gems like these, you have to spread the word!

What are your summer plans? What kinds of camps have your kids loved?

Sweet Pea’s Hair Donation

Sweet Pea's Hair Donation - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Just when I thought she couldn’t possibly get any sweeter, Sweet Pea donated 8 inches of her lovely, blond locks. Again.

This is the second time she’s donated her hair to Children with Hair Loss, and I couldn’t be prouder. I honestly didn’t think she would be brave enough to go through with it again. But as usual, she surprised me.

Sweet Pea first donated her hair to Children with Hair Loss in June of 2014. We chose this organization because their minimum is 8 inches, versus the 10 inches that other organizations require. Donating her hair was a little traumatic for Sweet Pea back when she was 5. I think she was shocked at the amount we had to cut for the donation, even though we had talked about it and measured out the hair.

Sweet Pea's Donation - Under the Monkey Bars blog Sweet Pea's Donation - Under the Monkey Bars blog

This time, she was inspired by everything that’s happened to her Dad. She really wanted to do something to help someone. Kids can spread kindness with simple things like making cards and helping out, but it’s hard for them to make a big impact. Hair donation is a great way for kids to give back.

When I mentioned that it had been quite a while since her last haircut (read November) and that she had enough hair to donate again, Sweet Pea decided right then and there that she’d do it. She said, “Make the appointment, Mommy!”

I wasn’t about to question her so I booked the first available appointment with our amazing hairdresser Tammy at Beautique here in Newburyport. Sweet Pea bravely walked up to the big chair and didn’t look back. Meanwhile, I thumbed through magazines with Bean hoping she wouldn’t back out.

A few tears escaped as she saw her new, short hairstyle in the mirror. But this time, it only took the walk to the car for her to decide that yes, she had done a great thing. Her hair would grow back, and she would donate it again.

We’ve been talking about the little girl who will receive the wig made out of Sweet Pea’s hair. Will she like the color? Why did she loose her hair? We think she’ll be happy to have hair that will hopefully make her feel more like her normal self. I know I already said this, but I’m just so proud of my sweet girl.

Last night when I was tucking her in, my Sweet Pea said:

Next time, I’m going to grow 24 inches of hair so that I can donate 16 of it. That way, a girl can have longer hair if she wants.

Boy, does she know how to make me melt! That’s my girl: the sweetest, strongest little love. I’m so blessed to be her Mom.

Meet Children’s Authors at the Newburyport Literary Festival

Newburyport Literary Festival - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Sweet Pea and Bean at a workshop with children’s author Anica Mrose Rissi during last year’s Newburyport Literary Festival.

For book lovers, literary festivals are akin to music festivals. Live discussions, readings, and conversations with those who inspire us with the written word are often a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Newburyport Literary Festival is just that, taking place in our historic city for its 11th year on April 29th and 30th. This year, the festival boasts an impressive line up of novelists, poets, and children’s authors. We are so fortunate to have such a comprehensive, annual literary festival right here in Newburyport!

Last April, our family attended almost all of the children’s events at the festival. We spent the day at the library together, with a stop back home to rest and eat lunch. It was our first experience with the festival, and one of the monkeys favorite weekends of the year!

We met Jarrett Krosoczcka (Lunch Lady series), Anica Mrose Rissi (Anna, Banana series), and the Newbury-Award winning author Avi. Not only were the monkeys captivated by their presentations, but we were also impressed with the stories the authors shared about their writing journeys. The monkeys even asked questions, eager to learn more. It was an engaging experience for kids and grown ups alike.

After each event, the authors were available to chat and sign books, which you could purchase through local bookstores. To be a kid and have a book that was touched by and signed by the actual person who wrote it? Priceless.

Instilling a love of reading has always been a priority of mine as a Mom. It’s so important for kids to learn outside the classroom. I go out of my way to bring the monkeys to meet authors. I’ll never forget the first author they met when Sweet Pea was 2 and Bean was 5: Victoria Kann (Pinkalicious series). They were completely star struck!

Newburyport Literary Festival - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Author Victoria Kann signing a copy of “Silverlicious” for Bean back in 2010 at Newbury Elementary School.

For children, meeting an author is like meeting a rock star. With their name across the bottom of a favorite book, they’re totally famous. Some more than others, but that’s not the point. Authors bring stories to life in your imagination, taking children to places they’ve never been before.

Literacy is even more critical in this digital age. Interpreting information from multiple sources makes growing up today much more complex. Discussing books becomes even more important than reading them. And what could be better than discussing a book with the person who wrote it?

Children learn from modeling our behavior. If we’re excited about a literary festival, they’ll be excited too. Check out the schedule and mark your calendar for the events that interest you most. Most events are free! Then head to the library to borrow some of the books that will be discussed at the event. Get excited together!

Events we’re planning to attend at the Newburyport Public Library:
– 9:00 a.m. Red Knit Cap Girl: Make origami hats with Naoko Stoop.
– 11:00 a.m. Pets With Benefits: Learn how to build a worm farm with Newburyport author Lucia Greene.
– 1:00 p.m. Let’s Make a Poem: Create and illustrate your own poem through collage with Micha Archer.
– 1:00 p.m. Families: The Good, the Bad, and the Wacky: Win door prizes and learn author secrets with Elizabeth Atkinson and Newburyport author Dana Alison Levy.
– 2:30 p.m. Writers in Wonderland: Write about your own wonderland with Genevieve Morgan.

Writing is a gift that authors share with us page by page, book by book. I hope you can make it to the Newburyport Literary Festival this year. Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something.

If you’re not in the area, stay in touch with your library to find out when authors will be visiting for local events.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home - Under the Monkey Bars blog

We’ve never been happier to see our purple front door! It’s so great to be home in Newburyport.

Reading :: The Little Paris Bookshop. Finally finished The Flood Girls; I didn’t love it or hate it.
Exercising :: Gaiam’s Yoga Studio app in my living room. Can’t wait to get back to the studio!
Reveling :: In Don’s accomplishments. He started PT last week and is moving around much better.
Finishing :: Sweet Pea’s 2nd grade ancestry project on Germany
Watching :: Parenthood on Netflix until the new Life In Pieces on Thursday night
Cheering :: For our Villanova Wildcats in the national championship tonight! #NovaNation
Digging :: Out from a mountain of laundry
Missing :: The majestic mountains in Stowe
Making :: Oh She Glows Cream of Tomato Soup with chickpea croutons for a Meatless Monday dinner
Remembering :: The 28 days we spent in Vermont…all the laughs, scary moments, and the exhaustion. We’re in recovery mode at home in Newburyport, pretending that it hasn’t been snowing all day. What happened to Spring?

Home Sweet Home. XO