Pardon our dust! (And, yay for changes!)

We’re doing a little spring cleaning here at The Happiest Home! Sarah’s been working hard behind the scenes to switch us to a new theme that will make it easier for you to navigate content and discover gems that have gotten buried over the years. We appreciate your patience while we roll out the new changes, and – whoops! – apologize if some older content somehow winds up in your inbox along the way. Want to stay up to date on what’s happening here amid all the changes? Fill out the box below and we’ll get in touch with you via email


Looking for inspiration and real-life connection? Join me at the BEYOND Retreat next fall.

You know one of the biggest benefits of slowing down and doing less? When you step off of the merry-go-round of doing, doing, doing just because it seems like, well, the thing to do, you suddenly have all this “new” time and energy and brain space to pursue things that mean a lot to you. For years I’ve been dreaming of putting together an event bringing together awesome women in one place to dream, plan, recharge and get inspired. And now it’s time to make it happen. In October of 2015 I’ll be hosting a small but mighty group of women (is

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“Fun Parent” vs. “Boring Parent” – It’s Not Fair! But Is It True?

My husband made this lunch for my daughter last week. I know. I should have known it was coming when I caught him poring over Bento box tutorials on YouTube, watching a woman meticulously arrange smiley faces onto tiny rice-ball heads, then cap them off with pita-pocket hats. The very next day, Jon made a special trip to the grocery store for supplies. And that evening, he and Clara hovered over the kitchen island for a good half-hour creating The Lunch To End All Lunches.  Heart-shaped salami framed by heart-shaped cheese slices, people. A tiny little star cutout peanut-butter sandwich with honey and sprinkles


Delegate Like Downton: A Strategy For Managing Home Helpers

Imagine this: it’s a Sunday afternoon. One child just got done shoveling the walk, and another is unloading the dishwasher. You, on the other hand, are reading a magazine, sipping a cup of tea and enjoying the calm of a neat (enough) kitchen…that you didn’t even have to tidy up yourself. Sound like a fantasy? It’s not! It’s actually how my Sunday afternoon played out…and it’s a pretty common scenario around here. It hasn’t always been this way. Earlier in marriage and motherhood, I was surrounded by mess and chaos, and bogged down by resentment. Why didn’t other family members recognize

At Home with Meagan

5 Must-Have Kitchen Tools

I’ve been wanting to do a regular video series, like, forEVER. But when I had kids home with me during the day, I found it was just too difficult to find quiet pockets of time to shoot and edit regularly. A five-minute video may not seem like it takes much time to do, but there’s a lot of set-up and production involved, even in the most “candid” vids.  Now that my days are my own, though, I’m finding that I’ve got the space and quiet to take on some of those things I’ve been wanting to do! So, here it

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Whimsical Girl’s Bedroom Ideas

We’re moving! In less than two weeks my family is relocating to Southern California and we couldn’t be more excited. Our new house is ready and waiting for us and I’m itching to get into it and start settling in. One of the biggest differences between our current house and the one we’re moving into is the flooring. We have carpet now – lots of it – and we’re moving into a house with all hardwood floors. And while the new floors are beautiful, it’s going to be awfully echo-y in there until we get some area rugs down. One problem:


Gardening with Kids, The (Really) Easy Way

I’ve always wanted to think of myself as the kind of mom who grows herbs indoors using a DIY seed-starting kit, turning toilet-paper rolls or egg cartons into frugal mini-gardens which nurture her child’s green thumb, creativity and resourcefulness. In reality, I’m the kind of mom who intends, every year, to start seeds indoors eight weeks before the ground is warm, or start a windowsill herb garden, but always forgets to gather the supplies or set aside an afternoon for putting together a system. So this year, I decided to skip all the usual “Oh man, I can’t believe I

Introducing our Historical Motherhood series! First up: Jackie O.

Jackie O Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
If you’ve been reading here a while, you may remember that I love, love, love to dissect and analyze the experience of motherhood throughout history, and often do this via the stories of historical mothers, fictional and real, from literature and pop culture. 

Guess who else shares my obsession? One of my favorite bloggers, Kristen from Motherese. So Kristen and I are excited to partner up on a series of posts about mothers through history: the fictional and real-life, the high-profile and “regular moms.”

Kristen kicks off the series today, with this profile of a woman who experienced motherhood very much in the spotlight: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. I am so excited about this series and hope you’ll love it, too! – Meagan

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When I was little, I loved looking through the tall books that lived on the bottom shelf of the bookcase in our wood-paneled family room. My favorite of all was a slim, heavy volume celebrating the 50th anniversary of Life magazine. Among affecting photos of the Normandy landing, newly liberated Holocaust Survivors, and snow monkeys in Japan, one picture always stood out: a young woman, dressed and veiled in black, standing ramrod straight, while a girl – a little younger than I was – played with her purse and a little boy stood by her side, saluting.

I was old enough to know that the woman was in mourning, but not old enough to know the story of who she was or whom she had lost. After I read the caption and my mother filled in some of the details of her story, I learned a name I’ve heard many times since: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

As I got older and became both a student of history and a regular reader of People magazine, I learned the details of her life that have become familiar to many of us: the scion of a wealthy New York family, Jacqueline Bouvier grew up being shuttled between the homes of her divorced parents. A popular debutante, she eventually won the heart of then-Senate candidate John Kennedy. They married and had two children, he became President, and she wowed the country and the world with her elegance and style. After his assassination, she remarried, was widowed again, and lived out the rest of her days wearing big sunglasses and serving as an editor in New York City.

Until recently, I had filed “Jackie O.” in the place in my head I reserve for women from an earlier generation whom I generally like, but don’t know much about – women like Princess Grace and Josephine Baker. Despite what I later learned about John Kennedy’s extra-marital affairs, I was attracted to the fairy tale qualities of their “Camelot” years in the White House. (So enamored of her fashion sense was I that I chose my wedding dress from the “Oleg Cassini Collection” at David’s Bridal. Oolala.)

But then I learned more about Jackie Kennedy, more than the skeleton of her life that I’d gleaned from the gossip columns, and I realized how hard she’d worked to create a life where she balanced her work, her passions, and her family – and did it all despite countless personal challenges.

Before marrying JFK, Jackie worked as a photographer and journalist for the Washington Times-Herald, doing man-on-the-street interviews. Although she eventually gave up her job, she supported a woman’s right to work, later noting, “What is sad for women of my generation is that they weren’t supposed to work if they had families. What were they going to do when the children are grown – watch the raindrops coming down the window pane?”

The early years of her marriage were full of both hardship and joy. John Kennedy suffered from Addison’s Disease and from a debilitating back injury he sustained during World War II. In the span of three years, John had two life-threatening spinal operations and Jackie suffered a miscarriage, delivered a stillborn daughter, Arabella, and gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Caroline. Pregnant again in 1960, Jackie worked tirelessly during John’s presidential campaign, but mostly behind the scenes. Their son, John, Jr., was born two weeks after JFK was elected president.

Only 31 when she became First Lady, Jackie strived to retain as much privacy for her children as possible, generally keeping them out of the spotlight and trying to make their childhoods as “normal” as possible. (It’s probably not much of a stretch to assume that Jackie’s own peripatetic upbringing made her especially protective of the sanctity of her children’s youth.) Meanwhile, she used her status as First Lady to pursue a passion of her own: historical preservation. She oversaw the updating of the White House interior with pieces of historical significance and became a vocal advocate for the preservation of historical places. Her popularity at home and abroad deflected negative attention away from her husband. She served as an unofficial ambassador for the country during her trips to Europe, India, and Pakistan, nurturing her own love of adventure.

Jackie’s last days as First Lady were tragic ones. Just three months before her husband was assassinated, she gave birth prematurely to the couple’s son, Patrick. He lived only two days. In the midst of her grief, she traveled with John to Texas and sat beside him in a motorcade when he was killed and then was called upon to lead the nation in mourning. Of Jackie’s stoicism, Lady Jeanne Campbell remarked, “Jacqueline Kennedy has given the American people…one thing they have always lacked: Majesty.”

Jackie left Washington, DC not long after John’s death, relocating her children to New York City. Not long after her brother-in-law Robert Kennedy’s assassination, she felt deeply concerned for Caroline and John, Jr.’s safety and for her own. She soon married Aristotle Onassis, a second marriage that was also marred by tragedy: Onassis’s son died in a plane crash and then his own health quickly deteriorated. Jackie became a widow again at age 46.

Despite the tumult that marked her marriages, Jackie nevertheless raised two happy, successful children, both of whom had tremendous affection for their mother. No forerunner of today’s reality stars, Jackie prioritized her children’s privacy above all else. About being a mom, she said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much,” advice she seemed to follow herself. Her daughter Caroline, a writer, attorney, and mother of three, has written and spoken extensively about her love and respect for her mother. Her late son John, Jr., a journalist and magazine publisher, was equally devoted to her. In his eulogy for her, he noted her love of books, family, home, and adventure.

In addition to safeguarding her children’s lives from the increasingly prying eyes of the media, Jackie also managed to nurture independent aspects of her identity. Professionally, she started a new career as a book editor after she became a widow for a second time. She also continued as an outspoken advocate for the preservation of historical buildings and traveled widely until her death in 1994 at the age of 64.

Jackie Kennedy raised her children with privileges that many of us cannot begin to imagine. So, in some ways, it’s hard to imagine her as a role model. Then again, her life was filled with more heartache than most of us will ever have to bear. And through it all, she took care of her kids, fostered her own passions, and carved out a career – and she did it all with tremendous grace (and, yeah, okay, style).

In terms of moms to look up to, you could do a lot worse.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

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