mindful living, effortless style

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

I was reading one of my favorite MPMK posts the other day, How to Maintain Your Zen When the Kids Have Lost Their Ever-Loving Minds, and I was reminded of how much we used to play with beach balls in the house when the kids were younger.

It was such a simple way to keep the kids active and happy when we were stuck indoors – plus it was super inexpensive and easy to set up (two of my favorite qualities in a kids’ activity).

Back in the day, this one was right up there with our Life-Sized Building Blocks, Construction Sensory Box and Upcycled Inventor’s Box.

The idea is so great, I just had to re-visit it, so I sent out the call to our contributor Alli to help me freshen it up a bit and, as usual, she didn’t disappoint.

Today she’s got 10 fabulously fun ways to keep your littles active and happy with our friend the beach ballEnjoy!

Will this Winter ever end? I am so ready for Spring I can taste it.

Here in Texas, we get a few warm days mixed in with the cold. So I can’t complain too much. But so many of you across the nation have been covered in snow for what seems like months.

Regardless of where you live, or what season it is, there are ALWAYS days that need to be spent inside. And those are the days that tend to drive us crazy as Moms. Am I right?

Enter the beach ball.

Such a simple toy. And the simplest toys are usually the best. Know why?

Because they’re unexpected fun. Beach balls are kind of a novelty when brought indoors so they seem to draw kids in.

They are also a great way to help those kids burn off some energy.

We’ve noticed, though, that after a while even the most enthusiastic kiddos can get bored (or it goes the other way, things get a little out of hand and a lamp or two is sacrificed in the process). But it doesn’t have to be that way –  just by adding a little structure and creativity, a once simple toy becomes one big ball of fun.

If you’re stuck inside, grab a beach ball (or any large bouncy ball for that matter) and try any one of these games to not only pass the time, but challenge your kids to get up and get moving.

BeachBall7

1. Letter/Color Smash: (Gross Motor Skills, Letter/Color Recognition)

Use colored construction paper to write letters and attach to any wall/door. The older your children are, the more complicated you can make it (using sight words, the answers to math equations, etc.). Read More

Valentine’s Day and sweet treats go hand-in-hand so today we’re offering up two options.

First, in the spirit of our renewed excitement about eating to get our energy back, we have a healthy, kid-friendly Valentine’s Day fruit & veggie gummie snack.

Second, for those of you that just have indulge on Valentine’s Day, we’ve got decadent yummy Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars.

Whichever you chose – we hope you enjoy!

Valentine’s Day Fruit Juice Gummies

I’m always looking for fun and creative ways to celebrate the holidays without heading down the candy aisle. I might go soft at Christmas or Easter, but for all the other in-between holidays, I prefer to skip the sugary treats and enjoy the day in other ways. Read More

I’m gonna go on record right now and say this is one of my very favorite Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life projects ever!

So cool, so easy, and so perfect for storing your #5RingsToStopYelling and/or a few pieces of “Not Your Mother’s Engravable Jewelry” (both of which will support keeping families out of poverty).

Here’s Julee with the full how-to…

Now that my daughter is six-going-on-sixteen, the number of necklaces, bracelets, rings, hair clips and other accessories in our home seems to be multiplying by the hour.

Our school day morning routine is hectic enough without the added task of tracking down a specific piece of jewelry, so when Steph mentioned the idea of a writing about a jewelry organization board, I couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough.

In addition to being helpful in managing my daughter’s growing collection of personal accessories, the jewelry board is also extremely easy to make and the materials cost less than $15.

Getting Started

Keep your jewelry organized and easily viewable with this super simple jewelry organization board.

The selection of materials can vary quite a bit depending on the look you’d like to achieve. I decided on the following: Read More

Yesterday I told you about my personal healthy journey as well as our exciting upcoming collaborations with the ladies at Prescribe Nutrition, and the fact that we are once again acting as an affiliate for Prescribe Nutrition and offering a 20% discount to their 20 day online course:

Get 20% Off the “Prescribe Balance” Online Course with the code: MPMK20

April 12th –  May 1st, 2015

So today I thought I’d invite one of the functional nutritionists behind the course, Katie, to stop by and share a little more of her story as well as two of her favorite recipes (you’re welcome)…

I went on vacation and lost 10 lbs.

That got your attention, didn’t it? Ok, so that’s not totally the truth but I’ll explain.

The past 18 months have been a doozie over here. I didn’t have a baby, but in a way I sort of did. I started a business. And while those two are very different in so many ways, there are some unbelievable similarities. Total lack of sleep, crazy stress, more money going out the door than coming in, hormone imbalance, and so forth.

At Prescribe Nutrition we are all about connecting the dots. Stress, of any kind, increases cortisol production. Cortisol comes from our adrenal glands, consider them our managers of stress. Increased adrenal function affects ALL other hormones, and not like a little, but a lot.

It’s my hormones that were all out of whack, and I ended UP 15. Fifteen pounds that is.

My biggest struggle revolved around not getting enough sleep (did you know sleep is directly correlated to your weight?). Oh yeah, and the wine…the wine was a struggle too.

My cortisol, directly connected to my energy, was spiking at night. This is the tell tale sign that adrenal imbalance is in full swing.

So I was tired but also wired all.the.time. I sorta felt like my body was slowly rotting. Can you relate?

Then it happened, Read More