mindful living, effortless style

(pictured: Pretzel and Cheese BroomsticksPumpkin Pie Pop TartsCandy Corn Pudding PopsHaunted Hooting Owl PretzelsPretzel Mummy TreatsGhost Milk BottlesOreo Bat Truffles)

Halloween chatter has already started around my house, with my daughters throwing new costume ideas around every few minutes.

Our neighborhood gets really into Halloween, with costumed kids everywhere and even most adults dressed in something festive.

Naturally, I couldn’t help but notice all of the fun treat ideas starting to swirl about, and have compiled a list of 31 must-try Halloween treats for kids.  I mean, you don’t HAVE to do every single one, but just think of how excited your little ones would be if you did…


Orange Jack-o-Lantern Fruit Bowls

Halloween Veggie Tray

Monster Fruit Bowl

Clementine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts

Pretzel and Cheese Broomsticks

Ghost Milk Bottles

Jack-o-Lantern Burgers


Doughnut Monsters

Gooey Monster Cookies

Easy Halloween Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts

Ghost Cookies

Gingerbread Mummies


Pretzel Spider Webs

Haunted Hooting Owl Pretzels Read More

Image Credit: © Suzette at www.suzette.nu | here & here | CC by 2.0

When I first started this little blog of mine, I never thought I’d be posting on health. In fact, when the idea first started to germinate, I thought MPMK would be all about home design. Boy, have times changed!

It didn’t take much time being a mother before my priorities started to change – big time.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love a beautiful room and a clever decor DIY (especially around the holidays), but these days I’m much more interested in ways to keep my home running smoothly, my family healthy, and our time together joyful.

Three pregnancies and a host of subsequent health issues (postpartum hyperthyroidism and herniated lumbar discs, to name a few), will do that to a girl. Plus, I have these three precious souls in my care now – providing them with good health and a happy home environment is a big responsibility!

We all want to make better health and lifestyle decisions for ourselves and those we love.

We want to lose some weight, have more energy, use greener products, create nutritious meals for our families, get fit, and feel confident that we’re doing all we can to prevent serious diseases.

But it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the masses of healthy living advice out there – to the point where we’re frozen into complete inaction instead!

That’s where The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle comes in.

So why am I bringing this up today? Because this year I’ve decide to sign on as an affiliate for a little something called, drum roll please…

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

This is SUCH an amazing home library for whole food eating, meal planning, budgeting, non-toxic cleaning and more!

…and I wanted you guys to know exactly why.

Obviously one of my motivations is revenue – this blog is, after all, how I contribute to paying the mortgage and putting food on the table and the amazing value of this bundle pretty much guarantees that it will sell, and sell well.

For 6 Days Only, $1030 worth of 70+ eBooks and eCourses PLUS $200 in free gifts for $29.97!

Also, I’m a lover of bundles in general… If you’re a regular here, you know I’ve been working hard the past few years to organize and simplify my life and home.

Typically, I rejoice more in getting rid of old stuff, then in bringing in new stuff. eBooks and eCourses, though, are the exception. I LOVE information, especially information that is going to improve life for me and my family.

I am more than happy to hoard that information at a cut-rate price when I can!

And this, my friends, is not just any bundle – It’s the mother of all bundles when it comes to living healthy.

For the ridiculously low price of just $29.97 (for the PDF version) or $39.97 (for the eReader version), you can get access to a carefully curated collection of eBooks and eCourses with a total combined value of $1,030.

The bundle contains a wealth of information from the very finest healthy living writers out there – but there’s no risk of getting overwhelmed! A useful Getting Started Guide is included with your purchase, which will help you identify the most valuable resources for your specific health priorities.

The Ultimate Bundles team has done all the hard work for you – finding the top experts across a number of healthy living fields and combining their products into one essential collection. If you want to take control of your health, there’s no better way to start!

So many great finds on whole food eating, picky eaters, meal planning, budgeting, non-toxic cleaning and more!

But most of all, I’ve found the 70+ eBooks and eCourses (that’s right, I said OVER 70) in this bundle to be exceptional both in their quality and their range.

I love that for this one low price, I can truly get a top-notch library of resources covering so many topics, including:

  • Family-Friendly Real Food, Sugar-Free, Traditional, and even Paleo Cook Books
  • Guides to Budgeting, Menu-Planning, Freezer Cooking, and Saving Money at the Grocery Store
  • Homemade Cleaning Guides for a Non-Toxic Home
  • Ideas for the Mom or Family that Wants to Get Fit this Year (Me, me, me!!)
  • DIY Beauty and Skin Care Guides (something I’d probably never spend money on alone, but such a nice bonus to have included in this bundle. Who knows, I may even get around to trying a few.)
  • The Basics of Using Essential Oils, Herbs, and Natural Remedies
  • The Art of Living Sustainably Through Gardening and BackYard Homesteading

What did I tell you – is this bundle comprehensive or what? There are so many topics I’ve been talking with my mom friends about wanting to get into here.

A few on the top of my list are the non-toxic home cleaners, getting fit with the family, growing our own food and – of course and always - ideas on getting healthy food on our table easier (and cheaper!).

This is SUCH an amazing home library for whole food eating, meal planning, budgeting, non-toxic cleaning and more!

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle




With over 70 eBooks included in The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, I couldn’t possibly cover them all (although you can read about them all here).

But here are just a few of the eBooks I’m most excited to dive into, for more info., visit the full eBooks page here. And keep in mind – this isn’t even a 5th of what you’ll be getting in the bundle.

Kids Eat Real Food

Forcing and bribing kids may work for a little while, but it doesn’t teach our kids to truly love healthy foods. You can raise children with a passion for real food, but it requires a new approach. We’ll discuss how to start early and get babies and toddlers to love real food, tips for “late starts” and getting older children to eat healthier, activities that involve children in growing, sourcing, and obtaining real food and how to make healthy eating fun for kids. Plus, get menu ideas for every meal and 29 real food recipes that kids love.

How to Become a Better Home Cook

Contains 40 pages of tips, tricks, and recipes that allow you to teach yourself how to cook. This allows for a highly individualized learning experience that will suit your tastes, needs, and learning style.

Making Organic Food Affordable

Just because organic food CAN be expensive, doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make it affordable for any family. Ideas, tips, tricks, strategies and resources to help you AT LEAST match what you currently spend on conventional food while you work your way toward ZERO organic food costs.

42 Simple & Healthy Dinners

This is a collection of nourishing, real food recipes that are easy to prepare, suitable for the whole family, and friendly to your waistline

The 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge

Designed to help you make drinking a daily green smoothie a part of your lifestyle and reap some awesome benefits, such as: weight loss, more energy, a nourished body and clearer skin.

22 Days for a Fresh Start

A 22 Day program designed to help you clean out your kitchen and tighten up your grocery budget.

Clean & Simple

With 12 green cleaning recipes you can make out of 7 inexpensive ingredients, it’s perfect for anyone wanting a more natural home.

All Natural Living: 75 Non-Toxic Recipes for Home & Living

The eBook to get you started on a toxin-free life. With 75 non-toxic and all natural recipes, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to say “goodbye” to dangerous chemicals. Learn how to make your own dish detergent, laundry detergent, all purpose cleaner, makeup remover, foundation, shampoo, conditioners, lotions, body butters and much, MUCH more.

Allergy-Free Cooking

In 27 lessons, you’ll discover the ins and outs of cooking around food sensitivities and allergies…without sacrificing nutrition or taste.

Gluten-Free 30 Day Meal Plan

This gluten free 30 day meal plan contains real foods, without special flours or gluten free packaged foods. 120 Recipes with meal plans separated by week.

Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat

All 200 recipes and Quick Meal ideas in Well Fed 2 are made with zero grains, legumes, soy, sugar, dairy, and alcohol – without sacrificing fun and flavor. The recipes are easy to prepare and were tested extensively so they work every time – and so you don’t have to spend all your free time in the kitchen.

42 Days to Fit

A realistic diet and exercise challenge to help you get fit and stay fit for life! The six-week challenge eases you – week-by-week – into a healthier lifestyle by introducing new healthy habits and exercises each week.


On top of the amazing virtual library I got, there were also $175 worth of helpful ecourses.

The one I’m most excited to dive into?

It’s a tie between two courses that I think are going to go hand-in-hand:


Are you struggling to feed your family healthy whole foods on a tight budget? Do you feel time-starved and disorganized? Are you busy working (whether in or out of the home), have a bunch of hungry kiddos at home, and NEED to save money NOW?

Grocery Savings Made Simple is what you’ve been looking for!

In this 4-week eCourse, you’ll learn how to cut your grocery budget, yet…

  • Never clip a coupon
  • Never look at store circulars or pay attention to sales
  • Save money by cooking-from-scratch with minimal extra kitchen time
  • Pay less for the healthy foods your family enjoys (no unhealthy or beans-only diets)

In each lesson, you’ll learn how to get the maximum savings with minimum effort because you’re busy and you have other things you’d rather be doing than worrying about your grocery budget.

Here’s a little more of what you can expect:

Week 1

  • Get acquainted with the simple grocery savings system that works for your family
  • Discover how to save $60 per month in 60 minutes or less (that’s $720 saved per year!)

Week 2

  • Simplify your cooking-from-scratch routine
  • Find out what you should and shouldn’t make from scratch
  • Learn how to cross meal planning off your to-do list forever.
  • Printable #1 of 4

Week 3

  • Find out where to shop and when to shop to save the most money on groceries in your locale
  • Get the grocery savings cheat sheet to start saving now
  • Printables #2 & #3

Week 4

  • Find out what to buy to save the most money on groceries
  • Printable #4
  • Start using your grocery savings system
  • Keep saving $1,000 and more year after year

Membership Bonus

  • Plus you get personal one-on-one support from course creator Shannon Brown
  • Get all of your questions answered whenever you get stuck or need encouragement
  • This course is about actually doing something to cut your grocery budget once and for all! It works because you’ll have someone helping you every step of the way.


Get out your mixing bowls, Pyrex, and freezer bags! Let’s get ahead and save time (and money) while we feed our families healthy, delicious food.

The Let’s Do This! Getting Ahead in Your Real Food Kitchen eCourse includes five simple but detailed lessons:

  1. Getting Ahead for the Day
  2. Getting Ahead for the Week
  3. Getting Ahead With Snacks
  4. Getting Ahead During Spare Moments for Busy Moments
  5. Using Your Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks

Within each lesson, you will be given loads of practical tips and information, online links, downloadable worksheets and planners, and plenty of down-to-earth encouragement. Each lesson includes a brand new, exclusive recipe. In addition, there are short videos for each lesson so that you can watch Laura in action – getting ahead in her real food kitchen.

Special Bonuses with Purchase

Last, but not least, the creators of this bundle have managed to secure some pretty rad bonuses that, frankly, make the purchase price worth it even if you never crack open any of the eBooks or eCourses.

There is one catch (you knew there would be, right?).

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is only available for 6 days OR until 30,000 copies are sold.

This bundle is available for a very limited time – 6 Days only!! From 8am EST on Wednesday, September 10 until 11:59pm EST on Monday, September 15 OR until 30,000 copies are sold.

So if you’re at all interested in some of these materials, don’t wait! I’m not in charge of this thing and as much as I’d like to, I WILL NOT be able to extend the sale to any of you after the September 15th deadline.

In fact, they’re limiting this sale to 30,000 bundles (that’s how they got all those sweet bonuses), so once those are sold, the sale is over – even if it’s before September 15th.

One final thing to know. You can buy with confidence because your purchase is covered by the Ultimate Bundles one-year guarantee: you have a full year to enjoy all the books and courses in the bundle, and if you don’t feel like it’s made a huge difference to your family’s health, you’ll get your money back in full.

To purchase your bundle, simply use the button below:

This is SUCH an amazing home library for whole food eating, meal planning, budgeting, non-toxic cleaning and more!

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle



To learn more about all the products, go here and feel free to shoot me an email if you have any further questions.

Here’s to your family’s health!

(sources clockwise from top left: 1/2/3/4/5)

So, technically, Grandparents Day was last Sunday.

But I think most grandparents out there are pretty understanding about the fact that last week was also the first week of school (what genius decided to put Grandparents Day during one of the busiest weeks of the year?!) and are willing to give us a pass.

As such, I’ve put together a great list of ways to honor the grandparents in your family.

It includes the fun crafts above, but also some really special ideas on how to spend the day with a grandparent too.

Check it out here!

Have you guys ever packed smoothies in your kids’ lunches? I’m so intrigued by this idea – it seems like SUCH a good way to get some much needed veggies into my kiddos’ lunches and I know they’d see it as an extra special treat.

But I wonder about the mess factor – is this really do-able?! 

Our food contributor, Natalie, assures me that it is and she’s here today sharing everything we need to know, along with her favorite tools and recipes.

Frozen smoothies are lunch box staples at my house. They are simple to make and easy grab out of the freezer in a pinch.

Why pack homemade smoothies?

  • Easy way to sneak extra nutrients into your kids’ lunches (especially if you have picky eaters)
  • Cheaper than buying single-serve pouches or yogurt tubes
  • You can make a week’s worth of smoothies ahead of time (or more!)
  • Customizable for school regulations and kids with food allergies
  • They save space by doubling as an ice pack

Read More

Question for you guys – do your kids put away their own laundry?

I recently mentioned in my post on our Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit that my 4 and 5 year old get themselves dressed, brush their own teeth and make their own breakfast each morning and have been doing so for over a year.

That alone created a bit of a stir on facebook and I didn’t even mention that they also put away all of their own clothes – woo hoo! (Now you know how I actually survive being a mama of 3 kids, 5 months to 5 years in age!)

Today, we’re sharing a super helpful tool we use around here to get the kids putting away their own clothes – a very basic set of printable graphic labels that go on the outside of the kids drawers

My kids really love taking ownership of this job, especially with these labels that they can color themselves. Here’s MJ to tell you all about it.

Hope you love them as much as we do.

Laundry. It’s not the bane of my existence, but it’s close. I don’t love the many steps (and hours) it takes to go from dirty to folded and back in the drawer.

This super simple step helped to streamline our process and gave my children a sense of independence. Organization is always a goal around here with three school schedules and our professional calendar as well.

Every season my children and I go through their dresser drawers together. We look at what fits and what doesn’t, as well as what clothes they actually wear and which outfits are ready to move on to an owner who might love them more.

This act of purging is a great lesson in giving.

We fold together and reorganize each drawer. Using printable labels make the process simple. We’ve created for you a set of labels that works well for even toddlers as they match pictures to their clothing and make the job a snap! Read More

I’m downright giddy today to FINALLY be sharing my bedroom space with you guys!

I’m so happy with how it turned out – clean, modern, ORGANIZED, and all with a very relaxing and peaceful vibe. Plus this room serves so many functions for me. It was designed to be a real workhorse of a space - functioning as craft-storage room, extra office, bedroom, and even work out area.

When I started out, I just wasn’t sure if I’d be able to accomplish all of these things and still have the room feel intimate and cozy, versus overly industrial and sterile. Fortunately, a few choice finds helped me achieve a truly multi-purpose room while keeping a clean and traditional aesthetic.

I’m so happy to share all of my finds with you guys today courtesy of our sponsor Dyson AND to host a giveaway of one of my favorite tools for keeping everything neat and clean. Ready?

Here we go… Unique finds for a super organized bedroom/office space. Love them all!

Storage Galore

The craft storage furniture is definitely the highlight of the room. All three pieces are from the Martha Stewart Living Craft Space collection, which can be purchased online at Home Decorators Collection or The Home Depot.

Awesome office storage furniture from Martha Stewart

For someone like me who crafts for a living, compartmentalized storage is a must and these pieces have more compartments then I know what to do with!

I really loved how I could mix and match pieces in order to get the storage I needed along with a desk and a place for my electronics (the higher than average height makes it the perfect setup for watching TV in bed too!). And we didn’t stop there for storage.

Awesome office storage furniture from Martha Stewart


We also scored a couple of Hemnes 2 drawer nightstands from Ikea in gray-brown and have been really happy with them too. The little sliding tray inside the top drawer is perfect for holding remotes, glasses, and all sorts of other things that often get lost in deep drawers.

Soft Underfoot

A couple of high pile rugs that we picked up on a whim at IKEA bring some much-needed softness to the space. (Sorry I can’t be more specific, that was a year ago and I’m not positive which ones we nabbed.) Placing one under the bed and one under the pilates machine really helped to transform the room from hodge-podge to zen retreat.

Must-Have Cleaning Tool

Of course one of the keys to keeping this space welcoming, is keeping it clean! For that, I’m dying to get myself a handy new Dyson DC59 Motorhead. No, I don’t have one yet (boo for me) but you could win one today (yay for you!).

I was at a good friend’s house the other day and we were having one of our typically crazy playdates (4 moms with 9 kids 5 years old and under) when she whipped this bad boy out. At the time, I knew I was going to be giving one away to a lucky reader soon, so I payed close attention. I was most impressed by (and envious of) the cordless, light-weight design.

There was no lugging out a big, heavy vacuum and none of our kids got tangled up in cords because there wasn’t one. It was truly impressive how quickly and easily she was able to clean her kitchen floor with so many little ones running around. S he also mentioned she loved it for her stairs because the longer handle can be swamped out for a shorter one, which makes stair-cleaning super simple. And, I couldn’t help but think that this thing could be invaluable for car cleanup too.

Ever since then I’ve wanted a Dyson DC59 Motorhead of my own for this space. I’d mount the charging dock in my closet and always have a super easy way to clean up all the crafty messiness that happens in here. Plus, it would keep my super soft carpets nice and clean.

The Big Cozy Bed

One of my main goals for this space was to make sure it was still a cozy bedroom, despite everything else it’s used for. Creating a big, comfy king-sized bed was key to accomplishing that. Because of all the electronics and exercise equipment, I wanted to go soft everything on the bed.

So I chose a quilt given to us for our wedding, a down comforter, quilted bed skirt, and upholstered headboard. After 9 years of marriage, this was the first headboard my hubby and I have ever owned! It’s from West Elm and we really adore resting our tired selves against it while watching movies in bed.

aeropilates machine

Getting My Workout On

Last, but not least, I even managed to squeeze in a home pilates machine.

This house was built in the 80s and, as such, half of the master bedroom is elevated by about 4 inches in that platform style that was oddly popular back then. At first, I was really stuck on what to do with the half of the room that wasn’t elevated (the bed and storage pieces are on the higher part).

But this machine actually fits perfectly in the space and the division kind of even makes it look intentional. (It’s like the builders of this home really want me to finally get my butt in gear and work out already).


So that’s it – what do you think?! As I said above, the only thing this room is missing is a handy-dandy Dyson DC59 Motorhead for cleaning every surface – from my hardwoods and rugs, to my ceilings. I’m saving up for now but you don’t have to wait!

Win a Dyson DC59 Valued at $549!!

Dyson DC59 Motorhead

Dyson DC59 Motorhead


Here’s all you have to do to enter:

1. Visit the Dyson homepage here and learn more about the Dyson DC59 Motorhead.

2. Leave a comment below, answering the question: What is your dream space and what Dyson DC59 Motorhead feature do you enjoy the most?

The winner will be announced Wednesday, September 24th, and will have 5 business days (by October 1, 2014) to submit their email address and claim their prize. Good luck! And thanks to Dyson for sponsoring this post.


Who says popsicles can only be a summer treat? I’m all for extending my enjoyment of this sweet treat at least into fall, and I’m pretty sure my kiddos would be up for that plan too. Today our food contributor Jennifer is here with a scrumptious salty/sweet treat that I know you’re going to love.

Helpful Hint: get yourself a Zoku Quick Pop Maker to whip up all sorts of popsicles (both healthy and not so much) in just 7 minutes – no waiting for them to freeze! We absolutely love ours.

I can feel the days of frozen summer treats winding down but I’m not ready to let go just yet.

I had the most amazingly delicious salted chocolate popsicle recently and couldn’t wait to try to recreate it at home.  It was reminiscent of a fudgesicle but somehow better – more complex, more “adult” in flavor. The version I came up with has Read More

My kiddos headed back to school last week, and I know it won’t be long before they start coming home with all sorts of papers, projects and pictures. Last year, I struggled quite a bit with deciding what to keep and where to keep it. This year, I’m starting with a plan.

My plan is intentionally simple. I don’t follow through with overly structured systems for managing household tasks, and I know it’s likely to fall to the bottom of my to-do list if it isn’t amazingly easy. Here are the basic components:

Read More

Next week is C’s first day of kindergarten and S’s first day of Montessori preschool. You know what that means – time to buckle down and set up some solid morning, lunch packing, and maybe even homework routines. It wouldn’t hurt to set up a backpack and study zone either!

Here’s Alli with 20 of the best projects out there to get you organized for Back-to-School.

My oldest son will be starting a Mother’s Day Out program this Fall. I know, I know. That’s small potatoes in the back-to-school world. But still. It has my heart in a lurch.

I’m already in a tizzy about lunch boxes and tupperware. Backpacks and nap mats. I can’t even IMAGINE the chaos that comes with kindergarten, junior high, or high school.

And my heart panics a little as I type those words, because…well…my BABY! And those days are looming. Right around the corner. Excuse me while I peel myself off the floor.

But I digress.

I’ve decided that the only thing capable of easing these back-to-school Mom jitters, is a little dose of organization. Because not only does organization make life easier, it distracts us from the worries and fears of sending our BABIES back into the trenches. Am I right?!

Without further ado. Here are 20 back-to-school organization projects to help make your educational re-entry seamless.

  1. Make a backpack and school work drop-off station
  2. Make an “over the door” school supply organizer
  3. Create an amazing computer work station
  4. Make a magnetic lunch chart 
  5. Make a portable homework caddy
  6. Organize back-to-school clothes by days of the week. 
  7. Create a school lunch packing station
  8. Create a school snack station
  9. Create a killer Mom command center
  10. Make a mini homework station
  11. Organize school paperwork
  12. Make a family calendar
  13. Plan your after school routine
  14. Make an art cart
  15. Make your own school binders (with printables)
  16. Make  a “Back-To-School Checklist (or print this one)
  17. Create an “On the Go” homework station
  18. Simplify your morning routine
  19. Organize your pantry for quick and easy meals
  20. Simplify your “Mom To-Do List” 

Need more organizational help? Don’t miss our post, 10 Best Ways to Organize Art Supplies.


Recently I’ve been doing a little much-needed updating to our facebook page. It’s becoming quit the cozy spot where MPMK readers can come to chat, to learn from one another, to laugh, and even to dish a little. I’d love for you to come join us!

Here are some of the most popular things we’ve been posting on this month:

Top 36 Photos from the Blog, “Reasons My Kid is Crying” (cover photo)

The Infamous 1st Day of School Letter

An Apology to My Second Child

A Stranger Saw What I Couldn’t

7 Differences Between Breastfeeding Your First and Last Baby

How to Stop Sibling Fighting with 6 Words

Don’t Take the Kids to a Busy Place without Teaching these Five Things

How to Organize Your Entire House with One Trip to the Dollar Store

A Simple Trick for Getting Kids to Color Longer

23 Hilarious Baby Pinterest Photo Fails

We’re back today for part 2 of our series on ensuring school success this year, plus we’ve got a great giveaway too!

Before we get to that, though, don’t forget to check out part 1: 6 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Tell Them. And please don’t forget to take part in our sponsor, Quaker’s, partnership with Adopt a Classroom.org to get some much-needed funds to a classroom near you!

If you missed it the first time around, the Quaker Up for Classrooms program is trying to address the problem of teachers across America spending more than $1 billion dollars a year of their own money stocking their classrooms.

All you have to do to help is to buy specially marked Quaker products and enter the package codes online at Quaker Up for Classrooms. You’ll get a $1 off coupon for more delicious Quaker products AND you’ll be able to enter your zipcode to make sure the donated funds are going towards schools in your own community.

Got it? Good. Now here’s former 1st grade teacher Kristin with six things teachers want parents to know to start the year off right. (Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!)

Having written about things that your teacher would like you to share about your child, I thought it would be fitting to also let parents know some things that teachers would love to share with you.

I rounded up 6 thoughts that most teachers would agree are highly important for parents to know.  Some might be new ideas or something you’ve never thought about, while others are very basic and a good reminder for us all.


1) Every great day starts off with a great breakfast.

As a teacher, I wish I could remind parents that eating a nutritious breakfast is as important and being on time to school.  We get busy as parents and sometimes kids aren’t the best at getting up on time.  Trust me, I know how hard it is to get 3 kids out the door for school, while trying to get myself ready for work.  And unfortunately our grocery aisles are packed with ‘breakfast’ foods that are full of sugar and leave us hungry in about an hour.  Around here, we love to start out our day with a bowl of Quaker oatmeal with milk and craisins.

If a child is properly fueled, they’ll be able to concentrate better.  On the other hand, if a child hasn’t been able to eat breakfast or maybe had a breakfast that wasn’t full of nutrients, chances are they will be distracted and not able to work to their potential.  Many of us know what that feels like when we arrive to work with an empty stomach or having just eaten a donut in the car.  It’s hard to work without proper fuel!

2) Teachers need for kids to be getting enough sleep every night.

We talked about this issue in one of our Happy Family Habits.  This goes along the same line as eating a proper breakfast.  Getting a solid 8 hours or more helps kids start the day with energy.  Our bodies repair themselves while we sleep, little learning minds need as much sleep as they can get.

3) A quiet area dedicated to homework will help your child in the long run.

Good study habits start young.  Creating a little corner in your home that is quiet and conducive to quality studying time helps your child take in information and remember it later.  Have you ever tried studying while the TV is on or while people are talking loudly?  It’s hard!  Teachers know that good study habits will help your child retain the maximum amount of information.

4) Don’t get hung up on grades in the early years.

It’s hard not to compare.  We live in a competitive society.  But, the first few years of elementary school have a huge learning curve.  There is so much going on that each child is going to develop differently.  Most of the time it all evens out as elementary school is coming to a close.  Of course, your teacher should notify you if he or she notices signs of a more serious issue.  But, just because another child is reading before yours doesn’t mean that your child isn’t smart. Read More

We’ve got a whole “Back-to-School ” theme going on here this week. Last week it was6 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Tell Them and on Monday I finally released our new Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit! (I’m SUPER excited about this. It’s going to be just the thing to help get your kids organized and ready to take on the school year, as well as some new responsibilities.)

Today, I’m over at eHow Mom discussing 5 easy tricks we use to calm back-to-school jitters. These tips are great whether your child is starting preschool, kindergarten, or even middle school. Check ‘em out and then tell me…

Question of the Day

Do you have any special first day of school rituals? Also, don’t forget these handy MPMK school resources:

1st Day of School Photo Printable Pack :  “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be _______”


MEGA Packed Lunch Round Up (Thousands of Ideas in One Place)


An Entire Month’s Worth of Nut-Free Lunches


9 Brilliant Ideas for Setting Up a Homework Station Anywhere


What would you say if I told you that my 4 and 5 year old get up, get dressed, and even make breakfast on their own every morning – and have been doing so for over a year? Or that they already have a strong grasp on the concepts of earning, saving, budgeting and even giving money?

So what’s my trick? In two simple words: START EARLY!!

It’s all about empowering our kids from the beginning. We’ve made it a point in our family to help our kids learn autonomy early. We are firm believers that:

It’s not what you do for your children, but what you teach them to do for themselves, that’s most important.

And today, I’m SO excited to unveil a whole new printables pack that will help you give your kids the gifts of autonomy, family contribution, money smarts, and a giving heart.

MPMK’s Kids’ Responsibilities & Money Management Kit


  • Morning Routine Checklist (2 versions – one with graphics for pre-readers and one with blanks to be filled out to fit your routine)
  • Evening Routine Checklist (2 versions – one with graphics for pre-readers and one with blanks to be filled out to fit your routine)
  • Family Jobs Worksheet
  • Money Jobs Worksheet
  • Spend, Save and Share Ledger
  • Savings Visual Goal Sheet
  • Printable “Spend”, “Save” and “Share” labels for DIY Banks

Only $7.99

Get your printable pack here:

Add to Cart


MPMK's Hands-On Holidays eBook & Kids' Responsibility Kit

Limited Time Offer: Combine with our Handmade Holidays eBook and get the Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit for 50% off!


Get BOTH for Only $13.98

Buy the discounted combo pack here:

I wanted to make sure it was extremely flexible and could be used by family‘s practicing all types of chore and responsibility systems in the home.

So we designed it to be used in a variety of ways. Take each kid to buy a special binder and fill it with some colorful stickers to make their own personalized Responsbility & Money Management Book or laminate the sheets and stick them up around the house, on the fridge or the mirror of the kids’ bathroom.

Here’s how it works…

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

First up are our Morning and Evening Routine Checklists. These are key for establishing great self-care habits with kids! Both have the activity to be checked off along the vertical column and the day of the week across the top.

For younger kids (especially pre-readers and emergent readers who like to practice), there is a version with colorful graphics and simple labels for each task.

Since each family’s routines are different, we’ve also included versions of each routine checklist with blanks that you can fill in. Sitting down with your kids and deciding on the order of morning and evening tasks together is a great way to get them invested in, and excited about, the process!

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

If you’re new to a morning and evening routine, my recommendation is to work on the tasks together in the beginning. As you and your child complete items together, make a big deal about marking it off with a sticker!

You can also make these sheets reusable by laminating them and marking each task off with a dry-erase marker. In the past, we’ve also put them on the fridge and used small round magnets, which we slide onto the appropriate circle for the day.

Once kids get in the habit of marking off their accomplishments, you can begin to encourage them to do some things on their own. It will give them a sense of pride to show you what they can do independently. Plus, kids absolutely LOVE IT when they’re allowed access to the sticker pile to check things off all by themselves.

Keep working on transitioning tasks from things you do together to things they do on their own.

You can help your kids succeed by making things in their environment as accessible as possible. For example, keep their clothes in easy to access drawers instead of hanging high in closets. If you want them to work on making their own breakfast in the morning, create a shelf low in the refrigerator with yogurt cups, berries, pre-sliced fruit, pre-filled milk cups, etc. Also, keep their bowls and plates in a low drawer that they can reach instead of in upper cabinets.

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

Getting kids to take on a few personal responsibilities is a great lead-in to having them take on some family responsibilities.

All families handle chores and allowance differently, and we’ve designed the printables kit to be flexible for that. Don’t do allowance in your house? No problem, just skip the Money Jobs sheet.

In our house we have a list of family jobs as well as a list of extra money jobs.

Since our children are young and, therefore, have different abilities, their family jobs sheets are customized to each of them. A few of the jobs are the same (putting clothes in the hamper, clearing your plate, etc.) and some are different (sorting the socks for little sister and folding clothes for big brother).

We’ve left the spots on these sheets empty so that you can once again sit down with your child and decide together what their family jobs should be. This will really drive home the idea that the family works together and everyone in the family needs to contribute. It will also give your child a sense of ownership of his or her tasks.

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

Along with the family jobs that each child completes to help out the family, we also have a list of money jobs. These are extra chores that the kids can choose to do in order to earn some money.

Why do we want our young children to have their own money? Because it’s a great tool for teaching them important life skills like saving, budgeting, and giving. It also helps to teach them the value of money in a very real-world, hands-on way.

Again, you can approach money jobs in a variety of ways. The worksheet contains a spot for the job as well as a spot for it’s value (watering the plants earns our kids less than weeding and raking leaves). Each child can have their own Money Jobs sheet or they can all work off one common list.

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

Only $7.99

Get your printable pack here:

Add to Cart

MPMK's Hands-On Holidays eBook & Kids' Responsibility Kit

Limited Time Offer: Combine with our Handmade Holidays eBook and get the Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit for 50% off!


Get BOTH for Only $13.98

Buy the discounted combo pack here:


This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

Once the kids are earning some money, they need somewhere to put it!

Enter our printable labels for making your own Spend, Save & Share Banks. You can upcycle lots of things to create your banks – we like using glass or clear plastic drink bottles. Print the labels on cardstock and use decorative twine or yarn to tie them on or print on a piece of adhesive paper and stick the labels directly to the bottles. Helpful Hint: Let the kids decide what they want to use to make their banks and spend some time together cutting out the labels and decorating each one.

The idea behind these banks is to teach kids that all money isn’t for spending. It’s also important to put some aside for saving and for giving back. Letting your child pick what she wants to save for and a charitable cause he wants to give to is yet another way to get them excited about this process.

You can decide how much to encourage your children to put in each bank. Since ours are young and don’t totally understand the value of money yet, we keep it pretty simple. Usually we give them 3 coins for doing a money chore (or $3 if it’s a really big chore) and they put one coin in each bank. You may want to do 20% of earnings in savings, 10% in giving and the rest to spend – it’s totally up to you!

To give you an example of how we’re currently using these banks – the Spend Bank has been used for small purchases such as a $.99 app or an ice cream from the neighborhood ice cream truck. It’s also being used to save up for a $20 LEGO set. The Save Bank is money that will be contributed towards a family trip to Disney Land and the Share Bank will be used to buy some school supplies for local foster kids.

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.
Another tool in the kit that the kids use along with their banks, is the Save, Spend and Share Ledger. We fill it out together and the notes section is another way of showing them how their money is accumulating as well as where it’s going.

So when my son wonders why it’s taking so long to save up for that LEGO set, he can see that it’s because he keeps buying ice cream!

MPMK Kids' Responsibility & Money Management Kit: Savings Sheet

The Savings Goal Sheet is another easy way for the kids to visualize how their savings is going. Simply pick an item the kids want to save for and fill it in at the top. Then write the total amount they need to save in the top space and fill in the incremental amounts they’ll need to save enough.

Every once in a while, get the kids to empty out their bank and color in the chart to see how much progress they’ve made.

Helpful Hint: The banks and goal sheets can be awesome catalysts for getting the kids to work together and share. Once my 4 and 5 year old saw how long it was going to take for big brother to save for the LEGO set, little sister decided they should pool their money since she’d likely want to play with it too. Similarly, my friend’s daughter recently used some of her “Share” money to buy her little brother an ice cream cone when he didn’t have enough money of his own.

That’s it! Everything you need to start raising some happy, self-sufficient, money-smart and generous kiddos!

P.S. If you buy the pack, I’d love to see some shots of your DIY banks or even the kids using the routine charts, savings sheets, etc.

Just post to your favorite social media site with the hashtag #KidsMoneyKit!


What an awesome resource for teaching kids about family responsibility, earning money, saving, spending and even giving!

Only $7.99

Get your printable pack here:

Add to Cart

MPMK's Hands-On Holidays eBook & Kids' Responsibility Kit

Limited Time Offer: Combine with our Handmade Holidays eBook and get the Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit for 50% off!

Get BOTH for Only $13.98

Buy the discounted combo pack here:


P.S. If you’re interested in the binder featured in the photos above, it is Martha Stewart and can be purchased on-line through this affiliate links:

And here is the affiliate link to the laminator I use for all my projects if you’re interested in making the pages in your kit reusable:

With a soon-to-be kindergarten in the house (what?!) I’ve been scouting out spots in the house to set up a study station for him. And, after doing a little web surfing, I became convinced that it’s impossible to set up such a space in literally any space.

So many good ideas on setting up homework stations in small spaces

So I put together a handy roundup of the most ingenious ideas I found. You can check them all out here.

Want more MPMK goodness over the weekend? Be sure to sign up for our newsletter (and get the free 6 week meal plan) and to follow us on pinterest and facebook.

Happy weekend

I know by now you are likely pretty sick of all things Ana, Elsa and Olaf. But here’s a parenting trick I learned a while back – you can use whatever your child is currently obsessing about to help foster a love of reading

It’s all about pointing out the similarities between the story they already love and some new stories worth exploring. The key, of course, is to know where to look.

So today our resident children’s librarian, Janssen, is sharing 10 books every Frozen fan is sure to connect with.

Are your kids obsessed with Frozen?

Mine too.

We listen to the music, my girls pretend they are Elsa and Ana, and if it were up to my oldest, we’d watch it for family movie night every single week (Dad put a quick kibosh to that idea).

If you need a break from the movie too, here are ten books that will appeal to Elsa and Ana’s biggest fans. Read More