mindful living, effortless style

Now that S is nearly 5, I’m finding that the standard “half up with one barrette on each side” hairdo that I’ve been relying on isn’t quite cutting it anymore.

While she’s not overly demanding now (an especially sparkly barrette or two clips instead of one is enough of an upgrade from the norm at the moment), I can tell the days when she’ll be begging for braids and bow buns aren’t far off.

I figure I might as well get out ahead of it and start learning about such techniques now.

Plus, getting a little extra girly with your excited daughter on Easter is just plain fun! So here’s our resident braiding expert, Kristin, with her current favorite hairdos for girls. Plus a detailed tutorial of her current go-to braid

We always have so much fun picking out my daughter’s dress for Easter.  This year, she and I are taking it up a notch and bonding while combing Pinterest for some hair-style inspiration.

There’s such a great wealth of information and tutorials ranging from basic to complicated.  So, to make things easy for you, I compiled a list of my favorites.  Plus, we’re including one of my one unique braids!

1. The waterfall braid can be done a few different ways.  This style on Girly Do Hairstyles is perfect for those with short hair. Read More

I have to admit, with three small kids in the house, I don’t have a lot of time for DIY projects anymore. These days I’m more about simple activities to keep the kids entertained more than pinterest-worthy crafts.

There’s something about spring, though, that always inspires me to want to do something to spruce up my abode. Even if it’s something small. And, of course, Easter is always a great opportunity to get creative.

I love this smart little project Julie put together for us. It’s a no-fuss activity that everyone in the family can do together and the bright pop of colors make such a great impact.

Here she is with the full instructions…

I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring for what seems like weeks. It’s not just the warm weather I love about this time of year, it’s the renewed focus on making our home clean and beautiful.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a head start on the beautiful part by upgrading a few simple glass vases with leather and felt in cheerful spring-time hues. This is one of those projects that’s so simple, it barely needs a tutorial. The key is selecting a gorgeous color palette. 

I spotted the turquoise felt at the craft store and just knew I wanted to build a project around it for Easter. Read More

Image Credit: © Amy Kellogg | Tantrum (photo cropped and color edited) | CC by 2.0

I have to say I have grown quite smitten with our new parenting contributor, Jessica. (It was the poop post that did it.) Her relatable (and somewhat sarcastic) wit is right up my alley and I’m pretty sure we’d be fast friends if we lived in the same city.

Today she’s tackling the misnomer that is “the terrible twos”. Asserting that it is, in fact, threes that deserve such a moniker.

What do you think? For our son it was  2 1/2 – 3 1/2, our daughter 3 1/2 – 4 1/2.

And while I can see the writing on the wall and definitely agree that baby M is probably going to be a whole lot sassier than his siblings ever were, thanks to their role modeling, I’m not so sure I agree with Jessica that girls are easier to reason with than boys.

No matter what age was the worst for you – or if you have girls, boys, or both – I guarantee this post will make you laugh, and shake your head, and roll your eyes in commissary!

The terrible twos were a breeze in our house. Seriously, is it just the perfect alliteration that makes it a saying? And can we blame the same genius who dreamed up the term “morning sickness,” when any woman who’s ever been sick for nine months straight can tell you otherwise?

In my experience, the trouble really started when our kids all turned three. Things that were cute and forgivable at age two lose their charm fast during the third year, which we’re currently living all over again. Our third kiddo is smack-dab in the middle of his terrible threes, and so far, he’s the most terrible of them all.

If you had asked me seven or eight months ago where exceptionally naughty children learn their bad behavior, I would have waxed on about parental modeling and treating your kids as you want them to treat others.

I probably would have mentioned tone – being careful about your own so it’s not thrown right back in your face with major attitude when you least expect it – and nipping bad behavior in the bud so it doesn’t escalate and become totally out of control.

Lolololooool (sob).

Our son turned three six months ago and guess what, I have no idea what I’m talking about. For all our good-behavior-modeling and (mostly) respectful tones and (usually) swift approach to correcting bad behavior, this child is naughty. Read More

It’s March and that can only mean two things. First, it’s officially spring cleaning time. Second (and decidedly more fun), Spring Break is coming!

Whether the idea of cleaning, sprucing and organizing fills you with glee or with dread – I’ve got two awesome offerings today to help you get it done quickly AND to enjoy all the extra free time with the kids.

First on the list, MJ is here with a free “Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life” printable: our 4 week Spring Clean Challenge!

It’s a great reminder of all the cleaning and organizing tasks that are a good idea to tackle once every 3 months or so. And the layout will help you to get it all done without getting overwhelmed.

Just pick a 4 week period and start! (See below for full details.)

Second, we’re offering a new, limited time, “Save Your Spring” Bundle on our most popular PDF products - get $6 off when you buy them together!

A limited-Time Spring Cleaning & Spring Break Bundle Sale 

Three of our most popular products, each at 25% off:

Bought separately, these PDFs would be $23.97 but for a limited time you can get them all for only $17.97.

These kits are just what you need to finally get organized and have some fun this spring!

Our 2015 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and more are all designed with you in mind.

They’ll help both you and your kids get organized and even introduce the kiddos to important money management concepts including saving, budgeting, and giving back.

We know how busy you are. The goal of all of these printables is not to have to learn a whole new system but simply to help you streamline your everyday tasks. If we can do it with some cheerful colors and pretty fonts – then that’s just icing on the cake.

All that and with the Camp Mom Activities Pack you’ll already have your Spring Break activities with the kids planned too! Read More

Lately our little family has been having what I like to call “a bit of a time”.

I mentioned last week that I went to visit my parents with the baby for my great aunt’s funeral. That had already thrown our week a bit of course and then, the day after we came back, my sweet 4 year old was diagnosed with walking pneumonia.

Then, I suppose because things happen in threes, right?, the disc slipped in my back again and I now find myself unable to walk or stand up straight (let alone pick up the baby as I need to do about 10 times a day).

All that to say we’re moving a little slow around here and there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for blogging.

Fortunately, I’m blessed with a fabulous writing team and all is far from lost. While I recover, I’m excited to share with you this super fun (and green!) reusable sandwich holder project that Alli put together on behalf of MPMK over at the Van’s Blog.

This no-sew project is super simple and perfect for making with the kids. I highly encourage you to go find a fabric you love and make a bunch for picnics in the park this spring and summer!

And if you’re looking for even more simple green ideas, be sure to also check out:

Whether you typically celebrate Easter with a fancy breakfast, a traditional ham dinner, or something in between, we can all use a short cut here and there to make meal prep easier, right? And what could be easier than setting it and forgetting it in a crock pot while you go on an egg hunt with the kids?

Today we’ve rounded up a dozen delicious (and kinda genius) slow cooker dishes perfect for your Easter table.

There are some classics, like carrot cake and honey glazed ham, that I didn’t know you could make in a slow cooker as well as some sure-to-be new favorites. Personally, I can’t wait to try out the monkey bread with my family this year.

Enjoy!

Breakfast Foods

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I love the convenience of the disinfecting wipes that come in the nice little packages. But I don’t like the chemicals that come in them, the waste that they produce, or the cost. Especially when my little ones are using them.

We used to go through so many paper towels at our house. We feel much better about using these reusable kits and the kiddos had a great time making them with me - super simple.

Thankfully, the DIY versions are super easy to make and may even encourage the kids to help with the clean up.

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My great aunt passed away at the age of 101 (she almost made it to 102) last week and baby M and I made a quick over-and-back trip for the funeral yesterday. It was actually a really nice trip but it meant that things have been pretty quite around here. Read More

Image Credit: © Mandy Lackey | Potty Training Day 2 (Text added) | CC by 2.0

Jessica is back today with another tale from the parenting front-lines. 

If you have every potty trained a child, I know you will relate to this one… The things we do for our kids!!

Read on (you’ll likely be laughing and nodding your head knowingly the whole time), then tell us your most memorable potty training experience. We’d love to hear it.

When my oldest son was three, he went through a charming little phase in which he would use the potty and call everyone in the house to admire his creation. Pretty standard, right?

Then he graduated to “saving” his poops when his daddy was at work so he could appreciate them too. Since my husband worked ten hours at a pop beginning after lunch, and our son had a standing early afternoon potty session, well, you do the math.

At first, we humored him and chalked it up to this whole potty-training chapter of our lives. But after a few restaurant meltdowns, where his grandmother, to my son’s complete dismay, was unable to see the poop he had made in the men’s bathroom, and a few accidental home flushings that resulted in seriously out-of-proportion freak outs, something had to give.

And by something, I mean this poop-saving habit.

The routine usually went something like this: Read More

Life as a mom of three kids six and under can be, in a word, hectic. Which is why I really, really, really like having all of my best resources available in one spot – I just don’t have the time (or the patience) to go rummaging around all my pinterest boards seeking out what I need.

Judging by the wild popularity of this post, you guys are totally feeling me on this.

So today I’ve decided to repeat the magic, and once again round up the top 30 pins filling my feed lately. Some are our pins, some are pins I just got really excited about finding. Who knows, if this post does as well as the last one, maybe I’ll make it a series.

Enjoy!

Organize (most from our Finally Getting Organized board)

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I’ve mentioned here before that the family and I are making an attempt to eat healthier this year. (A cliche, I know, but I’ve got three kids aged 6 and under, I’m too tired to be original. Especially with the baby currently teething and up all hours of the night.)

What I’ve noticed lately is that the hardest part, my downfall really, is snack time.

Our whole family can eat the same breakfast day-in-and-day-out pretty much without complaint (steel cut oats and strawberries for me, smoothie for my husband, waffles and yogurt for the kids). I’ve been trying out a new online meal planning service for dinners and eating the left-overs for lunch. Our meals are covered.

It’s around 3:00 pm when my stomach growls and I start trolling the pantry that disaster strikes. Fruit and veggies just don’t cut it for me – I crave something salty and crunchy. 

No matter what I did, I couldn’t keep myself from reaching for the chips and crackers every day.

Then one weekend my friend, who was doing Whole 30 at the time, brought over some homemade plantain chips and guacamole.

It was the perfect snack! Just the thing to get me through my cravings until dinner time and super simple to make (a real rarity, I’ve found, amongst healthy snacks).

So today I’ve asked our food contributor, Natalie, to share her recipe for the same delicious, healthy snack. Make a bunch, they won’t last long – trust me.

I have been enjoying store-bought plantain chips for a while now, so when Steph asked me to whip up a batch of homemade chips and guacamole, I was totally on board. Thanks, Steph, for giving me an excuse to make this yummy snack! Read More

Image Credit: © Natesh Ramasamy | Why Am I in Such a Bad Mood? (text added) | CC by 2.0

I’m so very excited to introduce you to our newest contributor, Jessica, today. She is the mother of  four (yes, four!) little ones and when I read this piece she wrote about her latest pregnancy, I just couldn’t help but beg her to come write for us.

Jessica will be stopping by every few weeks to share the good/bad/ugly/funny/painful/surprising/amazing/akward parts of parenthood with her own unique voice – I can’t wait!

Without further ado…

My five-year-old daughter broke my heart tonight. She was coloring in the other room as I made dinner, and she crept in clutching her picture. She was the picture of sadness, whispering and avoiding eye contact.

For my confident, expressive little girl – the one who bursts into loud renditions of her favorite Frozen songs in the backyard and has long, animated conversations with herself in the mirror – this is telling. Then again, she does have a dramatic streak.

“Mommy. This is how I’m feeling.”

I give my sauce a stir, move the baby from one side to the other and reach down to look at her picture.

I recognize her self portrait, the blue eyes and long hair. I note the tears she’s drawn down her face and the downturned mouth. She has given herself a lovely dress and long, curling eyelashes. And she has written, “No mor luv for Genevieve!” Twice.

“What is this, baby girl? How are you feeling?”

She ducks her head and mumbles, and I tilt up her chin to catch the words.

“I don’t deserve to be loved.”

I’m speechless for a few beats, mind scrambling, wondering where this is coming from, how she’s even able to articulate such a thought. She’s five. I fall over myself trying to answer, and it’s not very eloquent. Read More

In my renewed quest to eat healthier, my husband and I have recently become totally hooked on sparkling water.

Something about the bubbles, make it seem like a treat instead of plain old water, and the health benefits of substituting it for all our other drinks have been amazing!

We’ve also found that while the store-bought, lightly flavored stuff is OK, infusing the water with fresh fruits, citrus and often some mint makes them feel even fancier. (Friends are especially impressed when we entertain with these drinks too.)

So today I’ve asked fellow sparkling water enthusiast, and MPMK contributor, Kristin to share 7 of her favorite fruit-infused sparkling water recipes. Try a new one each day this week and enjoy!

My kids beg for soda when we go out to eat.  Beverage companies are just so good at marketing soda as a refreshing drink.

Kids and adults alike crave it as a compliment to a delicious meal.

So last summer, I started making my own sodas at home I would create a fruit or citrus simple syrup and then add club soda.  It was a great alternative to artificially-sweetened soda when we wanted something sweet as the temperature rose.

7 fruit infused sparkling water recipes - one for each day of the week!

This year, I’ve been exploring the idea of fruit infused sparkling water. 

It a no-guilt way to enjoy a refreshing drink.  In-season fruit is so sweet and juicy, it makes the perfect compliment to sparkling water.

Right now berries are in-season.  Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries will all be available at the grocery store and at the peak of freshness. Read More

I’m so very excited to FINALLY get to share this post with you guys! We are partnering with our new sponsor, Delta Faucet, and their amazing #HappiMess project to bring you one of my favorite kids’ sensory activities of all time!

As part of this project, Delta Faucet has asked us to create two new “messipes”, one which we are unveiling today and one that will be available via take-home “messipe cards” displayed in show rooms nation-wide. (How awesome is that?!) So keep your eye out for them and send me a pic via facebook, instagram, or twitter if you see one!

And what exactly is a “messipe” you ask?

Delta Faucet thinks that mess is the evidence of a life well lived and means you were out there making, creating, doing and playing. (Um yes – we totally agree.)

So they are using these messy craft and activity ideas to help us all embrace the #HappiMess movement. Whether you’re getting your hands dirty in the kitchen or mixing together a mud mask, we want you to embrace your messy moment. #HappiMess moments are celebrated at DeltaFaucet.com/Happimess.

Now, without further ado, here’s Kristin with a messipe I just know your little ones are going to totally flip for

Playdough is a childhood favorite for a good reason. All that squishing, squeezing, rolling and molding is a completely engrossing tactile experience for a kid.

You’ve seen playdough kits where kids can make the dough into different types of shapes, animals or foods.  But what about changing up the dough itself right along with the tools used to play with it?

What about making a dough that’s similar to ice cream and letting them go to town with cones and sprinkles?

A dough that smells like ice cream, scoops like ice cream and even tastes a lot like ice cream but DOESN’T MELT like ice cream… Sounds like the best thing ever!

Ice Cream Play Dough. This amazing play dough looks, feels, (and smells) just like real ice cream BUT DOESN'T MELT - such a fun activity for birthday parties or other special occasions!

If you have little ones, I bet you can already visualize how excited they’d be about having free rein with this activity.

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You guys went so crazy over this idea to get the kids to put away their own clothes, that we came up with another Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life idea aimed at getting the kids (and the hubby) to do even more to get those closets sorted.

And, once again, this one comes with a free printable to help you do it!

Here’s MJ with the details…

Maybe it’s the new year or the winter snows, but my children are all going through growth spurts right now.

Their drawers and closets contain a lot of clothes that are either too warn or too small. How do you keep their drawers and closets in any kind of order? Read More