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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

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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

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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:

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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

on happiness and parental sacrifice…

Today my good friend, writer, and very sane mom Denise Schipani let me know that she caught the tail end of a segment on the Brian Lehrer show which quoted my Babble.com essay about not paying for kids’ college. The show’s theme was parental sacrifice, and I found the examples given as well as the calls from parents (and the comments following the clip on the website) interesting. What are they willing to sacrifice for their kids? What are they not willing to sacrifice?

I find that the discussion surrounding these topics often takes a turn toward the extreme. With commenters saying things like “I really cannot think of anything I would not sacrifice for my child” and “People who are complaining that they sacrifice their body and their careers…these people CHOSE to have children” (that was pretty much a direct quote from my essay) and “Raising children is a huge undertaking…if you can’t afford it, or don’t want to lose what precious time you have for yourself outside of the 40 hour work week, then one should think twice about having kids” and even “after having heard on the BBC this morning, that children in Haiti are sleeping next to decaying bodies, perhaps this is a time to reflect on how grateful we are for our children, and not venting our gripes and frustrations?”

There is a difference between being unwilling to sacrifice anything for your kids, and being unwilling to sacrifice everything for your kids. The fact that there are children in horrible conditions in Haiti only serves to put into crystal-clear perspective that my kids instead worry about things like whether I got them the brand of cereal they want or whether they might have to take out student loans or go to community college for a year or two–in other words, by world standards they are incredibly lucky, and yet as an American parents we’re still expected to do more, more, more. Admitting that you sacrifice a lot for your kids isn’t whining, griping, or venting. It’s a simple statement. And being unwilling to sacrifice certain things doesn’t make you a bad parent…in fact, it may make you a better one.

There is nothing I would not sacrifice for my children…if it meant a difference between life and death. But it’s not my job to make my kids happy, and it’s not my job to create as easy as possible a path for them. It’s my job to give them the tools to make their own happiness, and to create their own paths. Sometimes that means I sacrifice for them, and sometimes it means I don’t. I am – gasp – a person too, and as much as I know my kids didn’t ask to be born, I also know I give them as good a life as I can, and put them first…most of the time. So on the relatively rare occasions that I give somebody else’s needs priority, I really don’t feel too bad about it.

I’m not suggesting parents should never sacrifice for their kids. I do it every minute of every day, in big and small ways, and that’s not a complaint – just a fact. But I think we have to choose our sacrifices wisely. If we sacrifice everything we are, everything we hope for and want, then who are we? I’m more than my childrens’ caretaker and the family maid. I also owe it to them and the world to be a wife, sister, friend, daughter, niece, colleague, neighbor, and citizen. But I can’t do that if my cup has emptied totally into theirs.

What about you? What will- and won’t-you sacrifice for your kids?

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