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Every Sunday morning I share a moment from my week and something it illustrated about motherhood, family life, or simply being human. I invite you to set aside a moment out of your weekend for reflection and join me for Sunday Morning Tea. -Meagan

holding hands

This week the world was abuzz with the news that Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin are divorcing, announced in what many folks on my social networks seemed to feel was the most obnoxious divorce announcement of all time. The actual notice was brief, vague, and, I thought, classy. But Gwyneth’s choice to title the post “Conscious Uncoupling” – and to follow the announcement with a lengthy description of what conscious uncoupling is and why it’s better than plain-old divorce – definitely rubbed people the wrong way.

I clicked through to the post expecting to be irritated, but reading the accompanying article – which I think it’s important to point out, was written by Dr. Habib Sadeghi & Dr. Sherry Sami, not Gwyneth herself – I actually was surprised by how much of it resonated with me.

I’m not sure I can get behind the idea they seem to be presenting that the human race has evolved past lifelong monogamy – I believe we are more adaptable and capable of long-term commitment than the article suggests – but I definitely agreed with their premise that much of the anger that surrounds divorce is caused by shame and guilt, that we lash out at the other person so strongly because we believe the dissolution of a relationship must equal failure. And the deeper we retreat to protect ourselves from a perceived battle, the more bitter and angry and even meaner we get. 

I certainly experienced that when Jon and I separated and divorced. If you know the end of the story, you know that we eventually reconciled, remarried – recoupled, if you will – and have been back together now for over a decade, with more children, strong, solid, and with all the promises of “happily ever after” that this uncertain life can offer. [click to continue…]

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RookieMoms
If you’re a new mom, you’ve probably found yourself facing some tricky questions, like: how the heck do I manage a trip to the grocery store with a new baby? And wait, once I’ve done my shopping, how do I get both the baby and the groceries back in the house at the same time?

Whitney Moss and Heather Flett started RookieMoms.com to address obstacles just like this one and help moms get out and enjoy more time with (and without!) their babies. On the show today the three of us discuss how the “rookie mom” experience has evolved over the years, the decision to add more babies to the family and how technology is changing motherhood and infancy. 

Also, Kate Hanley is back on the show to discuss simple, quick things you can introduce more serenity into your daily life. From “kitchen yoga” to easy meditation (promise!) you’ll love her tips and be able to put them into practice today. 

Listen now!

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Want to know more? Here are links to some of the things discussed on the show today: [click to continue…]

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This post is by Heather Caliri, regular contributor to The Happiest Home and blogger at A Little Yes. Heather writes about saying “yes” to little things that scare us. You can read all her posts here.

I have a morning habit that grounds me and strengthens me every day. I look forward to it, and depend on it to give me some equilibrium. I manage to make it a priority, no matter what.

What is it?

It’s reading advice columns while I drink a cup of tea.

You thought I was talking about yoga, didn’t you?

My habit doesn’t sound very productive. I spend fifteen every morning reading puff pieces in the Washington Post. I shush my kids and half-answer my husband and–you know what?

It really does me good.

I’ll be honest: I have mixed feelings about this habit of mine. Mornings are precious; I want to be present for my family. I could be using those minutes to cultivate habits related to my writing, or my faith; I could prepare for my day of homeschooling. Heck, I could simply empty the dishwasher. I could be doing so much more.

The only problem? I don’t want to. [click to continue…]

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Happy Monday! Meagan is traveling today, but we’ve been loving our Monday morning focus on one simple tip to get your week off to a better start. So today we thought we’d dust off (ha!) this post from a couple of years ago in the hopes that it helps any of you who may be struggling with the practice of cleaning and organizing. -Sarah

cleaning, organizing

Hmm, I feel like we’ve tackled this topic here before. Maybe even three or four times before. But that’s OK. As I’ve written repeatedly, I believe that getting your house clean and organized is a process – and a practice – not a project.

What’s the difference? Well, projects have specific end points. When you reach your goal, the job is done.

But there is no point at which I will be able to throw my hands in the air and say “I did it! My entire life is COMPLETELY CLEAN AND ORGANIZED!” and then just move on to some new thing, like, I dunno, knitting a sweater. [click to continue…]

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Every Sunday morning I share a moment from my week and something it illustrated about motherhood, family life, or simply being human. I invite you to set aside a moment out of your weekend for reflection and join me for Sunday Morning Tea. -Meagan

snow, winter, tree, photography

This week marked the first official day of spring. And for those of us in the Midwest and the East Coast and every other place that’s been hit with a particularly hard winter, just knowing the spring is really on its way – even though my patio is still an iceberg and my yard is mostly dingy white and the temperatures hovered in the mid-30s for much of the day – is a huge relief. 

Because let’s be real here, people: unless you’re, like, Sarah and live in the land where the sun always shines, this winter has been a doozy. My kids had eight “snow days”, and probably a few school days that really should have been snow days except that administrators realized partway through the season that they were probably going to have to tighten the criteria by which a snow day gets declared, or the kids would be in school until July.

snow, winter

There are cars in my alley still completely buried in snow, only just starting to emerge. Our front yard is made up of varying levels of frozen dog poop, marking one blizzard to the next, like a geologic record of the season’s precipitation. After all, for two months there was never a single melt. It all just kept piling on, storm after storm.

But can I admit something here? As cold and snowy and occasionally pain-in-the-butt-ish this winter has been, I have to say I kept a surprisingly good attitude about it for the last three-plus months (we got our first huge snowstorm and snow day in early November, yo.)

Sure, I’m relieved that we’re moving into spring, and am practically salivating over the idea of summer. But I never experienced that sense of lingering disappointment this year that I usually get in mid-February, when the temps usually slide up above freezing for a day or two, then drop down again, then rise, then fall.

This year, it was all just…cold. And snowy. So every day, I knew exactly what to expect: more cold, and likely more snow. And because I never expected anything else, I was never disappointed when it didn’t come. In fact, I came to rather enjoy the drama of yet another plunging thermometer, the cozy chaos of all of us getting stuck in the house together, all day, again.

The other day I realized that the difference between my attitude about this winter as compared to previous winters is not unlike the difference between the way I embraced the babyhoods of my younger children as compared to the babyhoods of my oldest.

When I was a newer mom, I was like I usually am in February: irrationally hopeful. [click to continue…]

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crocus, spring

Happy Friday, friends!

Meagan and I wanted to share a few quick updates with you. We’ve been blogging along as usual here at The Happiest Home (what do you think of the new Plan a Better Week series?), but there is a LOT happening behind the scenes you might not be aware of…

Before I share the details of what we’re working on, here’s the very best way to stay in the loop. Sign up in the form below and we’ll email you periodically with announcements and news about what we’re working on (this isn’t the same as receiving our blog posts by email – this list is just for announcements and news, not the blog content itself). 

Okay, ready for the latest? Here goes… [click to continue…]

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Monica Bhide.jpg

 

If you’ve ever wanted to add a little more spice to your cooking – or your life! – you’re going to love my conversation with Monica Bhide. In Episode 25 of The Home Hour Podcast, we discuss the influence of food on family culture, getting kids to try new and unfamiliar flavors, and the healing power of spices. We also talk about some exciting things Monica has coming up.

Also in today’s episode – Sarah Powers is back on the show, and the two of us are discussing birthday parties! Specifically, how much preparation and planning needs to go into creating a special child’s party? As usual, we don’t have the exact same approach but Sarah and I both agree that it’s usually best to do what feels most fun and low-stress for you

Listen now! 

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Here are links to some of the resources Monica and I talked about during the show:  [click to continue…]

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P1000109

I’ll never forget the first time I ate a fruit pizza. I was attending a kitchen-products demonstration about fifteen years ago, and although I really couldn’t afford to buy anything, I was so mesmerized by the combination of sweet and tart, of creamy and crispy-chewy, that I bought a pizza stone. And a spatula. And a batter bowl with a lid. (All of which I still have, by the way, and use regularly.)

I now know why they use fruit pizza to entice shoppers! It’s deceptively simple, a little more sophisticated than your typical sugar-cookie recipe, and doesn’t take much time at all to throw together.

My version is made in a pie pan instead of on a pizza pan, which results in a nice deep crust with a raised edge that can hold more of the yummy cream cheese and fruit filling than a flatter pizza would. It’s also finished with a drizzle of sweet strawberry glaze the kids love.

Of course fruit pizza is a pretty simple recipe to begin with. But I made it even easier by using pre-made filling and glaze and even – gasp! –  slice-and-bake sugar cookie dough for the crust.

Bottom line: this treat practically makes itself, and it’s fun for kids to assemble (and eat.) 

You’ll need:

Here’s how to make my “Chicago-Style” fruit pizza with strawberry glaze: [click to continue…]

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We’ve started dedicating Monday mornings to a single tip or simple idea to get your week off to a better start. This week it’s my turn! -Sarah

plan a better week
I’ve noticed something about my eating habits over the last year or so: on weekdays when I’m home with the kids, I eat my healthiest meals at the oddest times. I’ll make poached eggs and toast late in the morning when it’s not really breakfast time and not quite lunch, or I’ll fix a really healthy bowl of oatmeal and fruit at 2:30 in the afternoon. I don’t even think twice about reheating dinner leftovers at 9:00am if I’m hungry and it sounds good.

And it makes sense, given my at-home rhythm and reality. Traditional mealtimes are all kinds of crazytown with three kids five and under. In the morning it’s a mad rush to get everybody breakfasted and lunches made for school. At lunch time I’ve got a baby throwing blueberries at the dog and a very picky three-year-old requesting 42 different variations on a sandwich he will never eat anyway. And while we do sit down together for dinner most nights, it’s the typical pass-the-baby relay race to inhale whatever I’ve managed to get on the table, plus milk refills and vegetable negotiations and all the rest. It’s not that I don’t eat at all at mealtimes, but it’s often rushed and mindless and often comprised of somebody else’s crusts or leftovers.

So out of necessity, I guess, I’ve taken to nourishing myself in between meals, at “off-peak” times of day. It didn’t start out as an intentional way to eat healthier, but now that it’s on my radar I make an effort to eat more of the “good stuff” – high-nutrient, high-energy foods with an emphasis on produce and lean protein – when I have a little space to breathe during the day. Even if it makes for seemingly odd food choices at totally random times of day.

salad
If you’ve noticed that your eating habits have fallen victim to the pace of at-home motherhood, why not give this a try this week? Here are a few thoughts on how to eat more intentionally in between meals: [click to continue…]

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Every Sunday morning I share a moment from my week and something it illustrated about motherhood, family life, or simply being human. I invite you to set aside a moment out of your weekend for reflection and join me for Sunday Morning Tea. -Meagan

Very cool animated photo courtesy of my husband Jon and Flixel.com. Taken the next day, because we realized we forgot to get a good blowing-out-the-candles shot on her actual birthday.

You all know my feelings about “good-enough” kids’ birthdays, right?

I’m not opposed to fancier, more organized shindigs with themes and gift bags and bounce houses, but with five kids – four of whom have birthdays in the same season – we opt for simple, laid-back parties nine times out of ten. No theme, no elaborate decorations – just the birthday child, a few gifts, a homemade (and decidedly amateur) cake. 

But this week, Clara turned five. And five – particularly for the youngest child in the house – feels like a particularly momentous birthday. Besides, with the dreary weather we’ve been having lately, I felt like we could all use a little fun. So I decided to go a little bit outside my comfort zone by planning a party with themed decorations! And an ambitious cake! 

And what I found? A slightly more thought-out party really didn’t add any stress to the day. [click to continue…]

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