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

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

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?

This and That…

This and That - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Happy 2016! How were your holidays? We had a blast skiing and sledding over winter vacation despite the lack of snow in New England. We found a balance between time with family and friends, as well as special time with just the four of us. Cuddling up by the fire with my monkeys was the best!

Who else is having trouble getting back in the swing? I’ve been busy restocking the house, catching up on laundry, and digging out of email. It was wonderful to disconnect for a week and a half, but boy does everything pile up!

January is one of my absolute favorite months. I feel the urge to purge and I have to go with it because most of the time I want to keep my stuff. I’m only a few chapters into Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I’m dying to dig my hands in. No shopping until I get this house in ship-shape! How’s that for motivation? 

Warning: this this glossary of Boston slang will cause fits of laughter whether you live in Massachusetts or not. I was shocked that Don didn’t know that “wiffle” is a boy’s short haircut, which is how we found this gem. Thank you Google!

Find out what kind of calls cops in ski towns receive in the Best of Stowe’s 2015 police blotter. More laughs, guaranteed.

What were your favorite holiday gifts? I’m in love with the little wool lamb that Bean made me (it looks nothing like the picture, which is why I love it more). Sweet Pea made us a glittery snowman plaque that we’ll hang proudly all winter. Also loving this clean eating cookbook, cozy slippers, and this tote

Turns Out Monkey Bars And Kickball Might Be Good For The Brain. Love this NPR story. Hopefully more school districts and states will jump on board. 

“A horse, a bachelorette and a unicorn walk into a mansion…” The Bachelor is back! Lots of interesting ladies, and plenty of characters. Another entertaining season ahead. I can feel my brain cells evaporating while I’m watching but I can’t look away (#addicted). Please tell me I’m not alone!