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.

Beach Days

Sand Dollar Beach Days - Under the Monkey Bars

Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island

Beach Days - Under the Monkey Bars

It’s taken us longer than usual to get into our groove this summer, not that we’ve totally found it yet. Over the past two weeks, there have been many lazy pajama mornings, play dates with friends, and Plum Island beach days in between.

Unfortunately, the girls have been fighting more often. It’s been a challenge to keep the peace sometimes. Maybe it’s the slowing down of summer or the unplanned days. It’s amazing to see how accustomed we’ve become to being “busy” with jam packed days. The monkeys seem to get lost in the laziness and then lash out at each other. Day by day, it really has gotten better but we’re still a work in progress. As I figure out what works for them in this stage, they seem to figure out each other as well.

And then there are the moments that as a Mom, I cherish and try to store in the back of my mind for those not so easy days. Cuddling on the couch reading together. Marathon Legos in the living room. Just playing on their own for a few hours. Finding bits of things to create a craft. Pretending to be spies in the backyard. Hearing a sweet hug and an “I love you.” Three little words that just melt my heart and remind me why I love being a Mom.

So far this summer, we’ve enjoyed our beach days the most. No one fights and everyone is happy. Their faces light up at the beach like nowhere else. No matter how many hermit crabs or snails they find, each one is special and unique — and worth a, “Mommy, you have to see this!” These monkeys of mine love to explore, imagine, and create. The beach is their canvas, and every day is a new masterpiece. 

Beach Days - Under the Monkey Bars

At the beach, they are free like birds. Loving life. Remembering what summer’s all about. Learning to accept each other and love each other no matter what, because that’s what sisters do. Who knew all we needed were a few beach days to sort out the bickering and relax just a little bit more?

I’m taking some of our blank calendar boxes and filing them with BEACH! Because like home cooked meals, beach days are good for the soul. Hours of sunny play time at the beach, a long shower outside, and a little downtime is the recipe for a perfect summer day for me and my monkeys. 

What’s your favorite kind of summer day?

School Is Out!

School's Out - Under the Monkey Bars

Original artwork by Sweet Pea :)

Today is the last day of school for Bean and Sweet Pea. The weeks leading up to today have been busy with so much excitement and a touch of anxiety painted in between. My monkeys tend to fight more in June. Always have. It’s such an action-packed, transitional month. But today, school’s out!

Today our summer begins. This is the very first summer since my monkeys were babies that I have not booked a single solitary camp before school ended. I did not stay up until midnight on a Tuesday in November or wait in a line at 6am on a Saturday in February. I did nothing. And it felt both fantastic and scary as hell.

I absolutely love having my girls home with me. I love the lazy days. I love the extra cuddles. I love slowing down and just being together.

But there’s always that, “Will they drive me crazy?” And that, “Will they ever stop bickering?” And that, “Will I ever exercise again?!?” Never mind trying to get something done on my To Do List. Gone!

I might sign them up for an art class or a few yoga classes. But what I really want to sign up for is day after day of empty calendar boxes. Days of staying in our pjs all day. Days of walking to the playground or to get ice lollies. Days that we can take a day trip or go to a museum. Beach days! Days to be together. Because these days and years are flying by, and I’m going to slow them down.

So today, school is out. But me and the monkeys, we’re in.

Who’s with me?

Boston Day Trip

BostonMonkeys2

One of our favorite days last week during April staycation was a day trip to Boston. I love the hustle and bustle of the city — the sights, smells, architecture, history, museums. I think these two monkeys of mine may grow up to be city girls too.

TrainRide2

In the spirit of Earth Day, we saved gas and rode the commuter train from Newburyport. Riding the train definitely added a sense of excitement to the day trip and gave us more time together. Bean and Sweet Pea got ready faster than ever and we somehow made the 7:55 a.m. train (interesting that we can barely make it to school by 8:25…hmmmm). We walked just under a mile from North Station to the New England Aquarium, timing our walk and tracking our steps.

RayTouchTank2

We arrived at the Aquarium at 9:20; it’s true that the early bird gets the worm! The Aquarium didn’t start filling up until after 10. What a treat to have so much time to explore. Both girls favorite exhibit was the Shark and Ray Touch Tank!  They loved when the bamboo shark slithered through their hands. My hands stayed dry and clean, and of course I sanitized theirs after.

GiantOceanTank2

HelloThere2

At the top of the Giant Ocean Tank, Sweet Pea walked up to a volunteer and asked lots of questions. She is typically shy and will ask me to ask questions for her…such a proud mamma moment. We found out the turtles names: Carolina, Retread, and the biggest turtle is Myrtle. We learned what the fish like to eat, how the divers feed them, and why they don’t eat each other in that huge tank.

We hadn’t visited the Aquarium since the renovation and it really looks amazing. I was impressed by all of the new interactive exhibits, like the touch screen for the penguins. You can identify a penguin based on its colored band and find out the penguin’s name, parents, and other fun facts. The girls really enjoyed it.

PenguinCombined

Our bellies were rumbling around 11:30 so we headed over to Legal Seafoods across the street for lunch. When we don’t pack a picnic, Legal’s is our go-to spot because they are great with food allergies. Unfortunately the fryer was contaminated so we couldn’t have french fries. The girls had been looking forward to fries for weeks. It’s hard to imagine being a kid and only eating french fries a handful of times a year. These girls are tough as nails, but even a grown up would have been disappointed — especially when you’re starving. Mashed potatoes just had to do! We brushed the tears off and pretended we were in Paris as we dined outside with a cool breeze blowing though our hair.

After lunch, we hit the playground near the waterfront for some monkey bar time. The sun was warm with a cool breeze — just gorgeous weather! After some cartwheels and races, the monkeys were super excited to ride the new Greenway Carousel. It’s really whimsical with owls, foxes, bunnies, and squirrels instead of the typical carousel horses. Then the monkeys zig zagged their way through the labyrinth. It’s incredible to see how Boston has transformed as a result of the Big Dig. Did you know that the Greenway is an organic park? Love that!

TeaTime2

It was just about tea time so we headed to the North End to our favorite tea shop: The Thinking Cup. We felt like we were walking into the streets of Italy with brightly colored flower boxes, restaurant windows open, people everywhere — how the North End should feel. We got our usual order: English Breakfast lattes for the girls and a chai tea for me. We talked about our favorite parts of the day while we sipped our tea and people watched at the open window. 

On our train ride back to Newburyport, Bean and I played hangman on her boogie board (light as a feather and awesome for travel!) while Sweet Pea read her book. Our day trip was just the right amount of time to have fun, explore, learn, and relax.

Day Trip Tips
– MBTA commuter train from Newburyport to Boston round trip is $21 for an adult. Kids 11 and under are free! Check your local train schedule.
– Request library passes up to 3 months in advance. The New England Aquarium pass admits 4 people at $10 per person. Call your local library to find out what passes are available. 
– Greenway Carousel costs $3 per person or $25 for 10 rides.
– Pack a backpack: jackets, tissues, epi-pen, snacks, water, books, and notebooks. I was planning to buy this backpack in grey before our day trip, but in the spirit of Earth Day, I used my old pack and it worked just fine (hint, hint: my birthday is next month).