mindful living, effortless style

Talking to your kids – who knew it would be this tough, this early?! I want so badly to build a relationship where they’ll come to me with the hard stuff. But how do I do that when some days even getting what they did at recess out of them is a battle?

Today, one of MPMK’s former contributor’s, Kim (who also happens to be a speech-language pathologist), is going to share with us the best ways to ask our kids questions.

Didn’t know there was a right way? Well there definitely is – it’s the difference between making your littles feel like they’re on the spot and making them feel like they’re really being heard.

This is important stuff when they’re small and becomes absolutely critical as they get older (and you’re dying to know what’s going on in their heads). So take notes now, while there’s still time!

And be sure to read all the way to the end of the post for info. on the FREE positive parenting webinar we only host a few times a year! Here’s Kim…

As adults we ask children a ton of questions. Although questions can be a great way to find out about our kids, it’s crucial that we don’t just ask about what our kids know, but instead get to know our kids.

Of course all of us want our kids to know a lot, but getting to know our kids through the right questions allows us to follow their lead, tap into their intrinsic motivation, and help them pursue their passions.

Don’t ask too many.

Too many questions can make our kids feel like the pressure is on. Especially when our children are just beginning to talk.

We tend to play with their language like a newfound toy, asking them to name things, think of animal sounds, and rattle off shapes and colors.

But we often can find out more about our kids, and not just what they know, by simply listening and watching them. If we can be comfortable with quiet and fewer (and smarter) questions, we actually give children space to tell us (or show us) what they want to share.

Build connections.

The simplest questions, like “how was that?” or “how’d that feel?” can be the most powerful questions you ask your child, because they build connection.

From these questions you learn about your child and what motivates him. With these answers you can make him feel safe, help him find his interests and use those things to take learning to new heights.

Encourage thinking.

Ask open-ended questions. They are a powerful tool for getting children to talk and share what’s on their minds and in their hearts. A question as simple as “I wonder what you liked about that story?” is a beautiful way to open the door for a conversation in a no-pressure kind of way.

And, keep in mind as children get older and begin to ask YOU a lot of questions, you can encourage thinking by answering a question with a question.

We often think it’s important to teach our kids by giving them the right answer, but knowing the right answer isn’t as important as knowing how to find answers on their own.

Instead of jumping in with an answer to “why is he doing that?” or “what is that for?” instead, you can respond with, “what do you think?”. By doing this you help your child build creativity and problem-solving skills, and also teach children that even as kids they can find answers to big questions.

Want More Expert Advice on How to Connect with Your Kids?

We’re once again teaming up with parenting educator, and TODAY Show contributor, Amy McCready to host:

Get Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling – Free, Live Webinar!

Tired of the yelling?  Tired of the whining?  Tired of being tired?

You’re not alone.  From toddler temper-tantrums to teenage talking back, parents wonder what it takes to get kids to cooperate.  If you’re tired of nagging, reminding and yelling to get kids to listen – this session is for you!

MPMK is excited to once again partner with Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions to offer a FREE LIVE training webinar on THURSDAY, JUNE 4TH at 6PM PST/ 9PM PST.

Discover proven tools for your most frustrating discipline dilemmas including the 5 R’s of Fair & Effective Consequences. This hour-long investment will lead to a lifetime of peace in your home.

We offer this webinar only 3 to 4 times a year and it’s always enormously popular, often selling out all 1,000 spots. So RSVP here and grab your spot now!

All you need is your computer – no webcam required. You’ll see and hear Amy on your screen, and you can even ask questions and she’ll make them part of the presentation. Parents rave about this session!

RSVP today and then learn from the comfort of your home. Space in the webinar is limited, so register soon.

I’ve been meaning to post this video for quite a while (we’re talking months) but – you know – life. 

Now, however, the warm weather is coming and I’m not putting it off anymore. A neatly stored disposable bag or two in the car is a must have during summer – perfect for harnessing wet clothes and suits, sand toys, impromptu picnics, etc.

And this method is pretty great just for keeping your cupboards from constantly overflowing too. Here’s our resident professional organizer, Annie, with the details…

A couple of months ago, we brought you a post about how to store reusable bags.

Since so many of us are aiming to be more eco-conscious, and because reusable bags can be fairly cumbersome, that post has turned out to be a bonafide crowd pleaser. (It’s always the littlest shifts that make the biggest differences, isn’t it?)

Given how popular the original post has been, we thought it only made sense to make the concept of taming your reusable bags even more accessible by way of a little video tutorial.

Check it out and get to folding:

Want more organizational tips and inspiration?

Check out all of our Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life projects!

Some of our favorites:

Car Hacks for Happy Kids

Free Closet Organization Printables (Too Big, Too Small, etc.)

10 Tips for Better Meal Planning

10 Best Ways to Organize Art Supplies

POYEL Quick Tips: Baskets

By this time of the school year, we tend to hit a rut in the lunch department.

Packing lunches Monday through Friday can be a little monotonous.  Sandwiches are our go-to, so when we run out of combinations of ingredients to go on the bread, it’s time to switch things up!

Meet the roll-up!  You can make a roll-up out of just about anything.

Today we’re going to show you how to make two roll-ups with a tortilla and two roll-ups with lunch meat (a great gluten-free option).

And hey, the roll-ups are a perfect idea for those times you forgot to buy bread at the store.  Not that it’s ever happened in our house. Read More

I don’t know about you guys, but sleep (or the lack thereof) is a repeated topic of conversation amongst my mom friends and I.

Thankfully,  I have been blessed with very good sleepers in all three of my kids (Aside from the first 5 or 6 months for each of them and for all naps with baby M. I love him but he totally sucks at naps.)

So while we dabbled in all sorts of sleeping arrangements and practices when the kids were babies – co-sleeping, sleep training, pseudo co-sleeping – it’s not something we have to deal with everyday anymore.

Close friends of mine haven’t been so lucky. We’re talking serious whack-a-mole/insomniac kids, a merry-go-round of sleeping arrangements, and possibly even the involvement of toddler sleep experts and sleep studies.

Here’s our contributor Jessica with her story…

First of all, I really hate that term. Co-sleeping isn’t much better, but whatever you call, it’s what we do, pretty much by default.

As idealistic parents-to-be some eight years ago, we had a plan when it came to sleeping. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl, but we did know our baby would sleep in the gorgeous crib on the organic linens and fancy crib mattress we had purchased because where else would he/she sleep?

Babies sleep in cribs. Right? We’d start with the crib in our room to make things easier for those nighttime nursings, and in a month or two, we’d move it down the hall to the nursery once the baby was sleeping through the night. That was the plan.

But, you know, life. Real life.

A real baby and a real couple who were initiated into this club of parenthood with one hell of a hazing. Because guess what we learned really fast.  Read More

As the school year comes to close, I’m looking at my personal time shrink like crazy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love spending the days with my kids at the beach or the pool.  I also love not having to pack lunches.

But, let’s admit it, having my kids home from school means that I may not get a shower before we start the day.  It also means that my hair will look less than stellar.

This summer, I’m looking for hair styles that take 5 minutes or less.

I’m also looking for styles that one-up the basic pony tail.  I want to look cute!  So, I put together…

My favorite 15 summer hair styles that take 5 minutes or less

First off we have The Gibson Tuck by Sara Lynn Paige.  It’s such a classy look and works for short or long hair.

The top knot has definitely had it’s moment for the last few years.  And it’s easy to see why.  They look effortless and cool.  The Top knot by A Beautiful Mess is a perfect example.

If you have very long hair or are looking for more of a polished look, try the full bun for long hair by Forever Amber.   It’s a little different than the traditional top knot.  I love the Audrey Hepburn inspiration.

Some of us may be growing out bangs.  The French braid at the crown by Bravi Online is a perfect solution for looking chic even in the in-between stages of hair growth. Read More

I realized lately I’ve been steadily filing away a lot of things I’ve wanted to share with you but – for one reason or another – haven’t yet.

No time like the present, right?

100 Ways to Be Kind to Your Child

First up is this absolutely fabulous poster, which was created by one of my Camp Mom: Summer Activities Kit co-writers, Alissa of Creative With Kids.

It arrived last week and now resides in a place of honor above the play kitchen in our play/family room (side note: this room looks nothing like this anymore – I will try to update you soon on the changes!)

It’s already such an important piece in our home. Multiple times a day I see it, usually while in the presence of my kids, and take just a second to reflect on the kind of Mama I want to be. Plus, the vintage vibe is really chic and looks great on our wall. Read More

I don’t mean to scare you or anything but, it’s May folks. Summer vacation will be here before you know it – do you have a plan?

Mine is to set up some sort of loose schedule. Nothing too confining but a flexible outline of how any days spent at home are going to go

I’ll have more details later this month, but for now, suffice to say, I’m gathering resources. And this list is one of them. 

Summer is the perfect time to try a science experiment or two from the comfort of your own kitchen and I plan to refer back to this list often over the next four months. Here’s Alli with the goods…

I don’t know about you, but my kids are suckers for a good science experiment. And I’ll be honest, so am I.

I can still remember “experiment day” in seventh grade science class. I mean, who didn’t love a good volcano eruption? Salt crystal formation? And flubber???

One of the best parts about being a Mom (in my humble opinion) is recreating fun memories with your children. And science experiments are the perfect opportunity to do just that.

And here’s the best part: They’re not as hard as you think!

Most experiments will work for kids of all ages, and actually make minimal mess. (Though, sometimes a mess can be a part of the fun.)

But most importantly, science experiments encourage our kids to be curious while discovering the world around them. And who doesn’t want that?

We’ve rounded up a list of 20 Kitchen Experiments your kids will love. Have Fun!

1. Make Elephant Toothpaste: Mix dry active yeast with water and hydrogen peroxide to produce elephant sized foam.

2. Make Rain from Clouds: Make a shaving cream cloud rain by mixing food coloring with water.

3. Make Invisible Ink: Write a special secret note using this mixture made with lemon juice.

4. Make a Tornado in a Bottle: Make your own swirling tornado using water and dish soap.

5. Make Spaghetti Slime: Make a colorful stringy slime. Read More

There are two things I absolutely adore about this simple kid project – No, wait, make that three!

First, it gets the kids outside from start to finish. Second, the results are so pretty you can easily frame them in any room for some easy and inexpensive artwork that will boost your kiddo’s confidence (score!). I’ve been itching to try this send-away framing service and I think this might just be the project for doing it.

And third, it’s an opportunity for learning at home, which we always love. Here’s Julee with the details…

Part nature exploration, part science and part art, making sun prints – also called cyanotypes – is the perfect spring-time activity.

Last weekend, we spent an entire afternoon collecting greenery from our yard, experimenting with making prints and, later, framing our creations for a nature-themed gallery wall in our living room.

Materials for Making Sun Prints

Here’s what you’ll need to create your own sun prints:

  • Light-sensitized paper and an acrylic sheet (we purchased this kit that included both)
  • Large flat surface such as a piece of cardboard
  • Water
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • An assortment of small objects (leaves or other flat items with interesting shapes work best)

Read More

Something I’m always on the lookout for are healthy new snack ideas that I can whip up in a snap.

My kids (and I’ve heard they’re not alone in this) are very cyclical when it comes to food. They’ll absolutely love something – it’s all carrots and hummus, all the time – and then, BAM!, they’re over it. Couldn’t entice them to eat another carrot stick or a dollop of hummus for anything.

Which is why I often find that one day I’ll be humming along, feeling good about the things I’m feeding them, and the next it feels like the only thing they’ll eat is cheese.

Today, my favorite nutritionists – the ladies from Prescribe Nutrition – are here to help.  They’ve kindly rounded up no less than twenty of their go-to healthy snacks for kids. (Hooray!)

If there’s anyone that can do it, it’s these guys. They are both wonderfully knowledgable in the field of diet and nutrition and they have kids of their own to feed so they feel our pain.

To further up their street cred, they are also the creators of the amazing on-line program built to help parents nourish their kids the right way:

New Online Course: Kids Rule with Weelicious Menus

Here’s a snippet on that program plus a 20% off discount code for MPMK readers: MPMK20

If you’re feeling challenged sneaking in the nutrients your child needs, but aren’t quite sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. Kids Rule will not only fully support you with unbelievable recipes that your kids will love (hello cauliflower pizza crust & green smoothie pops – 100% kid approved), it will also help you navigate the complicated world of food sensitivities, picky eaters and behavior concerns. Sometimes solving these issues can be as easy as eliminating some common problematic foods.

PLUS, we teamed up with the amazing works of Catherine McCord and her team at Weelicious to bring you the best of it all – delicious, kid friendly recipes, video tutorials that will help you in the kitchen, and much more!  

This session as a BIG Bonus, Weelicious is offering all Prescribe Nutrition followers a FREE 30-days of Weelicious menus for signing up for Kids Rule.

A FULL month of meal planning straight from the Wee kitchen! 

Get all the details on the latest session of “Kids Rule”, running May 11 – 22, 2015, here! (and don’t forget to use the code: MPMK20 for 20% off!)

As with many of the Prescribe Nutrition offerings, I am an affiliate for – and big believer in – this course. I hope you’ll take a second and see if it’s for you. It could be one of the most important things you do for your family this year.

Now, on to the snacks! Read More

One of my number one priorities as a mom is to do my best to stay in the moment and enjoy my three young kids as much as I can.

As they say, though, “The days are long but the years are short”. Which, in my case, means that’s sometimes that’s easier said than done.

That is exactly why I truly love my Keurig (like I’d be kind of lost without it) and why I think it would make such a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for anyone who doesn’t have one this year. I seriously don’t think I know a mom who wouldn’t be thrilled to have one of these beauties.

And to make it an even more perfect gift – today we’ve got three new must-try recipes to go with it PLUS a special discount for MPMK readers.

Now through May 30th the first 200 readers who use the code MODPARENTS will get 30% off your Mother’s Day Keurig 2.0 Brewing System Purchase!


Read on for those recipes from our contributor Kristin…

Read More

Ever since becoming a mother, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my blessings. I am so humbled to be called “Mom” by happy, curious, loving and healthy kiddos (aged 6, 4 and just barely 1).  I often wonder how did I get so lucky? Lucky in more ways than I can even count.

Lucky that they are healthy. Lucky that I don’t have to worry about how to feed them or how to afford gifts on their birthday. Lucky that I have this incredible job that helps me provide for them while allowing me to take the baby to “Mommy and Me” class or volunteer at the big kids’ field trips. Lucky that I’ve been able to find high quality childcare for them for the hours I do have to work. Lucky that I have an amazing partner to help me in the never-ending work that is parenthood. Lucky that they get the chance to play outside every day. Lucky that they go to a great school surrounded by caring teachers and bus drivers.

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky.

And when I start thinking about why are we so lucky, I naturally start to think about those that are not. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

Parenting is a busy and overwhelming task, often not leaving room for a whole lot else. Maybe you’ve thought about ways to volunteer or give back to your community but have gotten stuck trying to find the time or the momentum to get started.

I’m so proud to be a part of this wonderful project with Huggies. It’s such an easy way to take a step back from ourselves and give back to others with just a single click.

And here’s another great thing – there is so much inspiration to be found there. Maybe you want to give but just don’t know where to start. Take 20 seconds and check out the page and then the hashtag #ultrahug on Twitter. The ideas of ways you can contribute will come flooding in – I promise.

Personally, I’ve been thinking a whole, whole lot about foster children lately.

All those kids out there who haven’t been as lucky as mine. Who have found themselves in the home of a stranger with nothing but a small bag containing all that they hold dear in the world.

I want to gather each of them up in my arms, I want to hug them and tell them they are safe, that they are special, that things will get better.

Of course I can’t do that – but I’ve been wondering what I actually can do to help the children in the foster care system in my community. A little digging and I came across a truly inspiring organization called Treehouse.

This is their mission statement…

Every Child Deserves a Childhood

With fierce optimism, Treehouse invests in the lives of young people who have faced the deep wounds from a crisis of parenting. In helping them to secure the essential education, basic material needs, and social experiences they equally deserve, we help kids in foster care discover their own resilience and strength. Treehouse is committed to leveling the playing field for youth in foster care, so that each is included, may prosper in, and contribute to society.

What I find most impressive about this organization is how they strive to stand beside foster children in every facet of life. From basic needs like clothing, toys and school supplies to enriching experiences such as summer camps and Driver’s Ed – they are continually providing for kids in the foster system.

People involved in Treehouse also give a great deal of their time. The organization is always looking to grow their network of mentors and volunteers involved in all aspects of the children’s education. This might mean assistance with changing schools, tutoring, providing summer learning activities, and even setting up college scholarship funds.

I really can’t say enough about this incredible organization and I truly hope you’ll take the time to check them out, and also to check out the Spread the Love campaign and find a super simple way to give back to your community!

This campaign is brought to you by Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers, which have a new, unique quilted liner as well as a conforming, gap-free fit to keep your active baby dry throughout the day. As a mom of three – one still very much in diapers – I can attest that Huggies has long been our diaper of choice, especially for getting through the nights without a blow out! The trusted Leak Lock® System in the new Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers now has an even better quick-absorbing layers for up to 12 hours of protection – whoo hoo for no waking up to unexpected messes!

 I’m pretty excited to introduce a new feature we’re staring on MPMK today.

As a busy mom of three little ones, I find anything that can help me keep our home clean and healthy in an easy and efficient way is pretty much invaluable. So how bunch a whole collections of somethings that do just that?

“Project Green Clean Your ENTIRE House” is a series that is not only going to show you how to clean everything in your home using non-toxic, green methods – it’s also going to tell you how often to do it.

I know it’s just cleaning that we’re talking about here but I’m kind of geeking out over creating an extensive resource like this!

Here’s Kaley with our inaugural post in the series addressing something I think we can all collectively groan about, cleaning the windows…

Spring is here. The sun is shining, the days are getting longer, and things around the house are looking a little, well, dirty. It’s definitely spring cleaning time!

And what better place to start your spring cleaning than with the windows? After a long, cold winter of rain, snow, wind and mud, the outsides of your windows are probably looking pretty cloudy and spotted. And if your kids are anything like mine, the insides of your windows are covered with fingerprints and goodness knows what else.

We have french doors leading into our dining room that are constantly covered in food and splatter of milk since my daughter’s high chair sits right next to the doors most of the time. Not exactly the view I like when I’m sitting down to breakfast on a beautiful spring day.

Luckily, windows are super easy to clean using just a few ingredients you are sure to have in your cupboards right now. Read More

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that Mother’s Day is just around the bend.

Whether you’re planning to spend it being pampered or going on family adventures, you’re likely in need of a good gift or two for your own Mother and Mother-in-Law. (Not to mention any other special Moms that may be in your life.)

This year there are two ideas I’m totally excited about.

The first is the above vase of tulips. What makes this particular arrangement so special, aside from how stunning the tulips look fully submerged in the glass vase, is that the flowers are not cut.

Instead, they retain their bulbs and roots which means that, when done properly, they will continue to flourish for so much longer than traditional cut stems. Get my full tutorial here.

Second, I’m still completely smitten with these engravable necklaces. I wear my signature engravable bar necklace nearly everyday. I don’t know a mom who wouldn’t just love one personalized with the initials of the special people in her life.

More MPMK Mother’s Day Ideas

Handmade Gift Idea: Framed Heirloom Recipe & Photo of Grandma

DIY “Queen Bee Mug”

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas: Bring the Spa to Mom

Kids’ Thumbprint Jewelry Dishes


Some big news today guys – I’m so happy to announce that the Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life ebook AND the 2015 POYEL printables are a part of this year’s Ultimate Home Making Bundle!

Here at MPMK, we’ve been proud affiliates of several Ultimate Bundles in the past but this is our first time being included as an author!

Never heard of the The Ultimate Bundle before? Read More

Are you guys’ big planters? I have to admit, I never really thought about planting until we moved into our forever home. Now when spring rolls around, I just can’t wait to start adding bold, beautiful colors to the yard via a few artfully designed pots.

In the past my mother-in-law has graciously done my pots for me as an anniversary present to my husband and I. This year, though, my kindergartner’s elementary school was having a massive plant sale so he and I are going to attempt the task together.

I’ll soon be up to my neck in coleus, potato vines, petunias, and snap dragons! Keep an eye on our instagram account for updates and read on for more info. from our contributor Kristin on the method we’re using to ensure big and beautiful plant pots this year!

P.S. Along with getting excited about flowers – I also can’t wait to dig into projects from this book with the kids this summer!

The weather’s getting warm and I’m starting to focus my attention to my yard.  Winter months are great for inside paint jobs and organizing shelves, but spring is a perfect time to spice up the yard!

I used to be a little intimidated by gardening, especially mixing different types of plants AND making them look beautiful.  My thumb tends to be more black than green.

But after looking at this Patio Perk-Ups article on Better Homes and Gardens, I got inspired and turned to the internet and a few friends that love to garden to find out if there was a method to the madness.

A beautiful potted plant looks organic. It looks as though the different types of plants were found like that in nature.

Nevertheless, it turns out that there IS a method!  Seasoned gardeners typically mix three different types of plants together in a pot and the result looks effortless.

Here’s how it works:  You start with a ‘thriller’, add a ‘filler’ and end with a ‘spiller.’  Easy to remember, right?

The Thriller

Thrillers are the divas of the plant world.  They are tall and the types of plants that people are drawn to in the rows at Home Depot.

A thriller might also be structurally impressive or just unique in color.  You’ll know when you see a thriller!  Some examples are Ornamental Grasses, Tall Growing Succulents and Cannas.  Start by planting the Thriller first – typically in the middle of the pot.

The Filler

Fillers tend to be billowy and lighter in texture.  They are there to Read More