mindful living, effortless style

We’ve got another fabulous guest post for your guys today while I step away for maternity leave. This one hails from one of my very favorite kid activity bloggers, Jamie from Hands On: As We Grow.

It’s an activity that has come in very handy around here lately as I’ve become less and less mobile. Set your littles up for a scavenger hunt once and you’ll be hooked – I guarantee it!

Fortunately Jamie has kindly provided us with tons of ideas and variations to keep the fun going.

I am a huge scavenger hunt nut. The kids absolutely love them and we do them routinely at our house. Many times it’s the simplest version of a scavenger hunt – but that’s what’s so fun, it can be done on a whim and the kids love the impromptu fun we have!

I have been collecting all sorts of scavenger hunt ideas for kids and have noticed they happen to fall in one of the five following categories and all put their own little twist on it. Read More

I’m away prepping for, or possibly enjoying, my new baby boy today (I’m not sure yet as I’m writing this several weeks in advance of publishing it). Either way, I haven’t forgotten you guys.  

I’ve asked Holly of the kid play mega site, Kids Activities Blog, to stop by and share her best DIYs and tips for finally getting those LEGOs under control.

This is a challenge we’re starting to face in a very real way around our house and I absolutely love all of Holly’s ideas – especially the DIY easy clean-up play mat (totally brilliant). I hope you try them all!

I have three boys ages 8, 10 and 12 which means I have nearly 7 years of LEGO brick accumulation times three.

My boys are LEGO crazy. If I removed all other indoor toys and just left the LEGO bricks, it is likely my boys wouldn’t even notice. Every allowance penny is saved for more sets. Every birthday means the invasion of additional bricks.

The bottom line is that if I didn’t come up with some sort of organization system, the playroom floor would never be seen again. It took several years of kid-testing and organization re-working to come up with what has worked for us.

How to Organize LEGO Bricks

The key is to think about organization in three areas: Read More

Making Leprechaun Traps for St. Paddy’s Day is the latest tradition being adopted everywhere by families with young kids.  For ideas and instructions on how to get in on the fun and make your own trap, check out my post this week for eHow’s Mom Channel.

The best part about these traps is that your leprechaun can leave anything behind, some of our favorite ideas include:

P.S. Did you know that facebook has recently drastically changed the way pages like MPMK can share with their followers? Even if you’re a fan of the MPMK facebook page, only a portion of our posts and updates are showing up in your feed these days.

So how do you continue to get all of our parenting, playtime, organization, and recipe ideas?  Sign up for the MPMK newsletter!

You’ll get all of our best stuff plus exclusive content just for our subscribers, including a Free 6 week meal plan.

I love celebrating the holidays with my kids – they have such a knack for getting excited about each and every one! But that doesn’t mean I want to stay up all night frosting cupcakes.

Simple but special treats that take under 5 minutes to prepare are much more up my alley. Here’s Janssen with a great one…

Last year, I made some of that rainbow jello that’s floating around on the Internet to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It looked great, but it took hours to make (because it had to set between each layer).

My girls ate about two bites and then were done with it. A week later, I finally just threw it away.

This year for St. Patrick’s Day, I’m going with this rainbow drink instead. It looks just as pretty (or even prettier!) than the rainbow jello, and it takes all of five minutes to assemble

Rainbow fruit soda -- so fun and festive for St. Patrick's Day! Definitely trying this out for my kids.

Plus, my girls are fruit fiends, so there’s no question it’ll be scarfed down. Along with some shamrock cinnamon toast, it’s the perfect festive breakfast.

You’ll need:

  • Clear glasses or bottles - you can buy glass milk bottles at craft stores or follow this tutorial for making your own from up-cycled Starbucks frappuccino bottles. Read More

We’re back today with our sponsor Ella’s Kitchen giving you the low down on how to set up a food exploration station for your baby

The idea is a simple one - let baby learn about and build an interest in food through all of his or her senses, including touch!  By encouraging your baby to explore new foods tactilely, you’re helping to foster their interest in food in general and to grow adventurous and healthy eaters.

That’s a goal both Ella’s Kitchen and MPMK can get behind – for even more great ideas, check out our collaborative pinterest board: Tiny Taste Bud Adventures.

Did you know that sensory input begins from the very beginning when you first swaddle your baby in a blanket?  Babies actually rely on sensory input to satisfy their reflexes.  And, as they grow, they start to respond to and organize that sensory input.  It’s amazing how much is happening in the first year of life.

At this stage, babies need stimulation.  They use it to learn about their world.  Incoming sensory information comes in these forms:  touch, taste, sound, sight, smells, vestibular input (the body’s position in space), and proprioceptive input (sensations from muscles and joints).

Today we’re going to focus on touch, taste, sound, sight and smell through a simple high chair activity. Not only will this help baby learn about her world, but also to:

Learn about food and start down the path of good nutrition and adventurous eating.

We started by creating three unique experiences Read More

A dress-up closet is such a great creativity tool for kids.  Unfortunately, not many of us have the space to create one in our homes.  

Today Julee is sharing her tips for maximizing your kids’ closet space to create a hybrid dress-up/regular clothes closet and I’m totally smitten with the results.

We just removed the doors from S’s closet and replaced them with curtains to free up some space in her room and give her better accessibility.  I think our next move will be to incorporate some of Julee’s ideas as S is really starting to get into dress-up (currently wearing her Christmas dress just about every day of the week)…

Playing dress-up is one of my daughter’s favorite activities. While I love the creativity and imagination it fosters, I don’t always love the cache of wings, scarves, tutus and tiara such an activity brings.

Since Jenna’s closet has more space in our new house, I decided to optimize the area to accommodate both dress-up play and storage needs.

I started by dividing her closet into zones: Read More

Did you guys know the time to adjust our clocks for Daylight Savings Time is once again coming up next week? It always catches me by surprise, which only meant a night or two of grogginess pre-kids but can now lead to some painful after-effects with the littles.

To help us all get prepared well in advance this year, I’ve compiled my top 6 tips for helping kids to deal with the time change for eHow’s Mom Channel.

Hope they help and happy weekend!

P.S. Did you know that facebook has recently drastically changed the way pages like MPMK can share with their followers? Even if you’re a fan of the MPMK facebook page, only a portion of our posts and updates are showing up in your feed these days.

So how do you continue to get all of our parenting, playtime, organization, and recipe ideas?  Sign up for the MPMK newsletter!

You’ll get all of our best stuff plus exclusive content just for our subscribers, including a Free 6 week meal plan.

Kaley’s here today with one of our family’s favorite snacks.  My littles totally think of this as dessert, which I love because it’s really nothing more than bananas.

Be sure to read to the end for some of Kaley’s favorite flavor variations as well as a list of MPMK’s all-time favorite healthy kid snacks.

I am trying to figure out why my daughter will only eat half of her banana then leaves the rest to get mushy and brown. And speaking of brown, if it has even one tiny brown spot, forget it. It will never get eaten.

After throwing one too many bananas in the compost bin, I came up with a way to use the leftover bits of banana to make a delicious and fun snack that is super healthy, too.

Read More

Today we’re once again exploring ideas for building good eaters through food play with our sponsor Ella’s Kitchen, producer of some of my kids’ favorite fruit and veggies squeezers (yes, big kids love them too) and big time believers in the importance of raising healthy and adventurous eaters.

(Be sure to also check out our previous adventures with pancake decorating and rainbow, scented glitter slime.)

I just love how these colorful fruit-filled jigglers will entice all of baby’s senses while encouraging him or her to try new foods.  Plus the rainbow theme is perfect for extending into a St. Patrick’s Day activity for older siblings too!

Here’s Kristin with all the details…

Babies and toddlers learn through play.  It’s through spontaneous play that self-confidence is gained.  This is what helps them Read More

Our post on How to Store Your Digital Photos Like a Professional Photographer was so popular that we decided to follow it up with another Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life post on how to organize print photos from our resident professional organizer, Annie.  

She’s got a fool-proof 5 part process you’re sure to love!

While the majority of us have shifted into the digital realm most households still have a stockpile of family pictures.

Printed at the local drugstore some several years ago, these pictures were meant to bring joy, were intended for auspicious photo albums, for scrapbooking, or for framing… and then, instead, were abandoned in their paper envelopes (that’s hopeful) in favor of more pressing daily tasks.

Luckily, rescuing your precious family photos from a life of clutter is easier than you might think. Here’s how to whip your pictures into shape.

Read More

Happy Thursday guys. Any big plans for the weekend?

I’ll be wrapping up some loose ends getting ready for baby – hanging artwork in the nursery, taking kids clothes to my local consignment shop in the hopes of trading in for some onesies and baby PJs, and also (finally!) packing that hospital bag. Before I do that though – a few things I wanted to share:

First, my go-to nutritionists from Prescribe Nutrition are once again offering up their online nutrition program – RESET:14 –  starting this Monday, March 3rd.

MPMK readers can get a 20% discount with the code MPMK20

You can sign up directly with the link above or read all about my experience with their program here.

Second, I’m over at eHow’s Mom Channel with a simple Spend/Save/Share Piggy Bank project as well as tips on how to raise financially responsible kids.

Enjoy and have a happy weekend!

Arranging art is tough! Actually, let me back up – picking out art and THEN figuring out where and how to hang it and arrange it is tough.  Which is why this is definitely my favorite post for The Forever Home Project ever – hands down.

For this mega informative post, I brought on two partners… First, my new styling guru and founder of Sun + Dotter, a personal shopping & styling service for design-conscious parents, the lovely Janette is back.  

You may remember that she stopped by The Forever Home Project a few months ago and shared what she had in store for my living room.  Today we’re revealing how some of it turned out and she’s also providing TONS of tips on how you can get similar results in your own homes.

Second, I’ve also partnered with Minted, who graciously sent me several pieces from their fabulous selection of limited edition art.  And here’s the best part, they’re offering MPMK readers a special deal:

Get 15% Off all Minted Art Prints for the Next Week (2/25/14 – 3/3/14) with the Code: MPMK

For me the hardest part about selecting art is narrowing it down to the good stuff – there’s a lot out there to choose from. The collection put together by Minted makes it so much easier because it truly is all good stuff.  

It’s also a surprisingly affordable option for getting large, framed pieces to fill your walls even without the special MPMK reader discount.

Without further ado, here’s all of Janette’s tips and the photos – enjoy!

AWESOME tips from a professional designer on how to arrange art on your walls, mantles, and in gallery walls... Exactly what I needed to finally make the house look like I wanted it to!

Abstract Herringbone limited edition print by Paper Dahlia

Mantel & Shelf Styling with Art

A mantel is a perfect place to show off artwork. For an easy trick to complete the styling around a large art piece (or mirror), arrange your decor in Read More

Image Credit: © Alexandre Normand | 06.09.13 & 04.30.12 | CC by 2.0

I’m so honored to have my friend Zina from Let’s Lasso the Moon  participating in our Happy Family Habits series.  I relate so much to Zina’s parenting philosophy and just adore her blog.  

Today she’s sharing TONS of great tips and resources for stopping melt-downs in both ourselves and our kids before they even start. Above all else, this post just made me feel incredibly hopeful about what I could achieve with this simple idea.  Grab a pen, you’re going to want to take notes, I promise.

Be honest… When was the last time you yelled at your kids?

Sometimes right before a major “parent fail,” I can actually see myself about to fly off the handle, yet I still can’t seem to diffuse my emotional momentum in time. Can you relate?

Most days, I’m as cool as a cucumber and can handle a tantrum like I’m Super Mom. Other days, the littlest bit of whining triggers a nasty, snapping response in a voice I can’t believe just came out of my mouth.

What if I told you, most of the time, family meltdowns can be avoided? {Ok, you can laugh now.} But, honestly, stay with me on this…

There are three main factors nearly always involved with dramatic meltdowns:

1. Hunger. A hungry child is a recipe for disaster. (And, just between us, you’re no picnic when you’re starving, either.) Click here for tips on healthy snacks, on-the-go stashes, and meal planning.

2. Physical Exhaustion. A tired child is more likely to act up. And you’re more likely to snap when they do. Click here for family-friendly ways to ensure everyone has energy.

3. Mental Unease. A child that feels “out of sorts” can quickly fall into a downward spiral. When they feel “off” from something as simple as just having “one of those days,” they can become emotionally unraveled. As a parent, when you feel drained or overloaded, everything — and everyone — around you suddenly becomes a source of frustration.

So, what’s the best way to deal with fatigue, in whichever of these three forms it hits your family? Read More

DIY cleaners and beauty products that will save me money, keep toxins out of the house, and help the environment?  Yes, please.  I’m loving this roundup Kristin put together for us.  Now I just have to decided what to make this weekend – foaming hand wash, a few two-ingredient spa treatments, toilet bombs, or all of the above.

Going green doesn’t have to mean a whole-life overhaul.  If we all make simple little changes, we can make a difference in the condition of the planet we leave for our children.  I know change is hard, but let’s baby-step it.

Subbing out products with it’s green counterpart is easier than you think.  Take foaming hand soap, for example, I go through a bottle a month in every bathroom.  That adds up!  And think of the plastic bottles I’m leaving behind.

This DIY Foaming Hand Soap by Beauty and Bedlam takes about 5 minutes to make and $1 of supplies will last a year.  I’m in!

We rounded up 15 genius ideas for going green with some easy DIYs.  Most ideas are so simple, it’s a matter of minutes to make a change and save money while you’re doing it. Read More

In other news, I’ve been having lots of fun writing about my pregnancy for eHow’s Mom Channel lately.  My latest post, Talking to Your Kids About a New Baby, is no exception.

Check it out for all my ideas on prepping my 5-year-old and 3-year-old for our impending arrival. Be sure to read to the end to find out their suggested name for the new baby – it’ll make you smile, I promise.

Question of the Day

What’s the best advice you received about prepping your kids for a new baby?