mindful living, effortless style

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.

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…

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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!

 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

Before I became a parent, I had no idea of the role knock-knock jokes, mad libs, and the like would one day play in my home. With a 6 year old and a 4 year old – these things are the stuff of magic around here. My kids think they are absolutely hilarious and just cannot get enough – ever.

Which is why I asked our contributor MJ to put together a colorful Mad Libs style card that can be used for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, etc. Because I know the kids will want to fill them out over and over, for any and every occasion for which they might be even mildly appropriate.

These cards aren’t just fun, the large blank space left for your child to fill with their drawings makes them a great keepsake too!

Download the free printable below and enjoy!

Do you remember the afternoons of activity pads and Mad Libs? I adored the silly stories that came from putting together a random collection of parts of speech. And the fun of bringing in a friend who knew the really great adjectives and juicy verbs to include to make your story even more ridiculous.

Free Mad Libs Card printable - great for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Teacher Appreciation and anything else your kids want to celebrate in a silly and fun way!

I wanted to bring that same sense of fun to my kids. Because I love laughing with them and (bonus) using a structure like fill in the blank, allows children to explore vocabulary and express emotions that might not readily come into their writing.

Expressive writing is a skill that needs to be practiced and activities like this one sets kids up for success with it early on. Read More

It’s really too bad Earth Day doesn’t get the same fanfare as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and the like.

The shape our environment’s in these days, we could certainly use a day where every family sits down and really talks to their children about the impact (both positive and negative) that they can have on the world they live in.

Here are 14 of our favorite ideas to help you hold an Earth Day celebration at your house.

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Clockwise from top right

Make a Plantable Paper Earth – This is the project that keeps giving. It starts as a hands-on art activity and morphs into a planting activity the kids can keep an eye on for the rest of the season.

How to Create an Upcycled Inventor’s Box for Hours of Open-Ended Play – The name just about says it all but it’s also good to note that there are handy free printable idea cards to help get the kids’ creative juices flowing.

Planting with Ice Cream Cones (via Design Mom) – This method of growing from seeds is one that is sure to excite your littles. They’ll be so intrigued by the image of dirt in an ice cream cone, they won’t be able to help but get involved.

Coffee Filter Stained Glass Earth (via I Can Teach My Child) – My favorite part about this art project is that it’s appropriate for a really wide range of ages.

The Kitchen Garden Experiment: Growing Plants from Food Scraps – This one is perfect for teaching littles about where food comes from and big kids can use the free printable observation chart to experiment with the Scientific Method.

Playdough Planet Earth (via Meet the Dubiens) – Your kids will be amazed how easy it is to make a 3D model of the Earth’s crust (and it just looks so darn cool).

DIY Veggie Garden Sensory Box – Whenever I post this, I get two distinct reactions. One camp loves it right away, and the other questions why you would do this with a child instead of planting actual plants.

My answer is that you don’t do it instead of planting, you do it along with planting. Young kids learn a lot through dramatic play and this is a great opportunity to utilize that while they’re waiting for their actual plants to grow. And they’ll love the sensory component too – spending lots and lots of time digging in! Read More