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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

shopping, showers & self-sacrifice: the lesson of the blue dress

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Let me know if you’re guilty of this, moms: you shop sales racks looking for what you can get at a good price rather than what makes your heart sing. You buy things that seem like good bargains, even if they don’t look that great on you. And then you proceed to never wear them. Or you do wear them, out of necessity, and feel schlumpy the whole time.

Sound familiar?

I have given bags and bags full of said outfits to Goodwill over the past couple of years. Tops and pants and skirts and sweaters that were just so-so, but came at what I deemed to be the right price (i.e., the lowest price I could find) and “good enough” for me, since I’m home with my kids all day anyway. I focused on quantity–how many shirts can I get for X dollars?–over quality: how awesome can I feel for X dollars? And I passed over things I loved, but didn’t feel were affordable enough. Of course, the money I spent on the “value” outfits was wasted, since I never actually wore half of them. Wow, what a bargain!

Lately I’ve been thinking about how illogical my shopping habits have been. I don’t actually save money in the long haul when I buy cheap, unflattering things. I’d been confusing frugality with some twisted, frumpy sense of virtuosity. I realized that the most value-conscious choice is to buy things that are well-made, that will last…and that I love.

So I decided to try only buying things I look and feel fantastic in. This is more challenging than it sounds.

It means pretty much staying away from places like Target and Old Navy, where the clothes tend to look great on my teenage nieces but ridiculous on me.

It means shopping a lot less often, buying fewer things when I do shop, and taking better care of the things I purchase.

It means saving up for weeks, maybe months, and doing all my shopping for the season at once so I can make smart, coordinated wardrobe decisions…instead of picking up a $10 top here and a $12.99 (clearance price) pair of pants there and trying to cobble it all together somehow…(and usually failing).

But it also means feeling great in what I wear.

It was with this new attitude that I went shopping for my New York trip. I stayed away from the discount department stores and headed to Moxie’s Boutique, a cute store downtown that carries a mix of designers–not too expensive, but still more than I’m used to spending. I saw a dress in the window: a fabulous, electric-blue dress that I could tell would cling in all the places a year-post-baby mom wants a dress to cling and hide the areas she might want to disguise. I went in and found it in my size–success!

Still. The price. It cost more than I have spent on a single item of clothing since I bought my wedding dress. It was my entire conference clothing budget, right there in one dress, and here I’d been thinking maybe I’d luck out and find some great pants and a few tops on sale to round out my wardrobe. You know, those “practical” items I’d “get a lot of use out of” because I could “wear them to other stuff too” or maybe even use them for “hanging out around the house”, only chances are good I’d actually “figure out I hated them after all” and “end up shoving them to the back of the closet”…

Anyway, I grabbed a few less expensive things, hoping that they would magically look fantastic on me and I could forget the blue dress. I tried all the other outfits on first. They were okay.

Then I tried on the blue dress. And the clouds parted and the angels sang. I absolutely loved it. I loved the color, the way it fit, and the way I felt in it. I twirled in front of the mirror. I flipped and flounced. I got the saleslady’s opinion. She agreed, the dress was fantastic. So I handed her back the other things I’d tried on, took a deep breath, and bought the blue dress.

When I got to the conference, I got compliment after compliment on the dress. My confidence shot up. At the conference, there was a booth where you could sign up for a photo session with a photographer. I’ve needed a new professional headshot for years, and with my magical blue dress on, how could I go wrong? I signed up and out into the streets we went.

Yes, I felt a little goofy hamming it up on the corner of 45th and Madison in midtown Manhattan, but the photographer, Mark Bennington, did a great job keeping me at ease and making it fun. And so, in addition to all the more traditional headshot-style photos he took, I have a few sassy ones like this.

and this….

Thank you, blue dress!

I was musing on the Lesson of the Blue Dress when I got home and learned of a Facebook status update that’s been making its way around the mom world:

“I traded eyeliner for dark circles, salon hair cuts for ponytails, designer jeans for sweat pants, long hot baths for lucky if i get a shower, late nights for early morning cartoons, designer purses for diaper bags and I wouldn’t change a thing!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Repost this if you don’t care what you gave up and will continue to give up for your children!”

Fellow moms, I have a problem with this kind of self-congratulation disguised as self-deprecation.

It’s not that I have anything against pony tails or diaper bags. I love pony tails. They’re cute and practical. Ditto diaper bags. I’m also not negating that motherhood is time-consuming and shifts a woman’s priorities (not to mention her budget) in a major way.

It’s just the idea that a pony tail is a sacrifice motherhood demands. That our kids are somehow better off if we live in sweats. The thing is, our kids did not ask us to give up our purses or our daily showers. Going without a bubble bath doesn’t make us better mothers.

Maybe designer jeans never were your thing anyway (they never were mine) or you couldn’t care less about giving up eyeliner. Then it’s no big deal. If you’re comfy in your sweats, fantastic! But unwashed hair or sloppy clothes isn’t a sign of virtuousness. Sacrificing the things that make us feel feminine or happy or heck, just human simply because we are mothers isn’t helping anyone in the long run.

I think that moms have a hard time investing in ourselves. Whether it’s spending more money on the clothes that we feel great in, or taking the time to do our hair, anything that could be considered shallow or frivolous or even overly feminine is supposed to fly out the window once we take on the Grave, Deep, and Meaningful job that is motherhood. We’re not really women anymore, we’re like asexual, frizzy-haired superheroes who live to sacrifice everything–even small things like showers, for crying out loud–for our children.

In my blue dress and fresh-from-the-salon hair and makeup, I felt pretty. Confident. Yes, even happier. I can’t dress like that everyday…in fact, right now I am wearing cords, a t-shirt, and not a lick of cosmetics–but it was a powerful reminder that what’s on the outside does effect the inside, and that I am deserving of the investment.

There’s nothing wrong with being a mom who likes designer jeans. Or who takes time for her daily bubble baths. Or who applies eyeliner. Or refuses to carry a diaper bag (ever noticed that diapers fit just fine in purses?) Or who, like me, decides to splurge on something as selfish as a dress she feels fantastic in.

We’re worth it. I promise. And you know, I think our kids would agree.

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