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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

Mom’s birthday matters, too. (Sunday Morning Coffee)

Hi everyone! Sarah here, stepping in for Meagan in the Sunday morning spot. Every Sunday we share a moment from our week and a few thoughts on motherhood or life in general. We call it Sunday Morning Tea – except when I’m writing, when it’s coffee. :)

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I turned 34 on Friday. I had a fantastic birthday – in fact, I had a really fun week that included a few different celebrations. I opened gifts I truly love, I spent time with my family, my kids, and my girlfriends. And tonight, the birthday week will wrap up with a belated Valentine/birthday date out with my husband.

And do you know what? It was by design.

Yep. This year, I took charge of my birthday and made it awesome.

I don’t usually get that worked up about my birthday one way or another. I don’t bemoan the whole aging thing, nor do I typically make big plans to live it up. Being a Valentine baby, I’ve always enjoyed the festivities (and chocolate!) that are guaranteed to accompany my birthday, but beyond the usual family dinner and well-wishes from friends, I’m pretty content letting the kids’ Valentine’s Day celebrations take center stage.

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Our Valentine’s Day breakfast scene this year.

But this year was different. It probably had something to do with the fact that on my birthday last year I had a brand new baby and couldn’t fathom the idea of going out – or even staying up one minute later than I absolutely had to. So about a month ago I decided that this year I wanted to celebrate; and I was going to put in the effort and make the plans to make it happen.

Maybe it sounds self-centered, or control-freakish, or like a total buzzkill to plan your own birthday – and maybe for some of you it would feel that way. But I know myself (which is one of the true gifts of adulthood, no?). And I knew that I’d feel more relaxed and celebratory – that I’d be happiest – if I took the lead on planning. 

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Celebrating poolside with my kids last weekend.

So I emailed my girlfriends and arranged a night out. I coordinated with my mom and planned a joint birthday celebration with the family for me and my dad (whose birthday is about a week before mine). I arranged a babysitter for our date night. I even went so far as to drop some very specific hints to my husband about some little gifts I wanted.

And it worked! I looked forward to each of the celebrations I planned – much more so than I would have looked forward to a hush-hush surprise. My sweet husband – who is, it should be clearly stated, fully capable of planning and arranging a lovely birthday all by himself – didn’t have to ask for the sitter’s number or press me for gift ideas. I felt relaxed knowing what was coming: that there would be cupcakes from Sprinkles with my family last Sunday; that I’d clink glasses with my closest girlfriends on Wednesday night; and, despite the seemingly lucky draw of a birthday falling on a Friday, that by 8:00pm I would be in my pajamas with a great glass of red wine and watching an episode of Breaking Bad – because that’s exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday.

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My dad (turning 65) and me (turning 34) at our shared family birthday celebration last weekend.

It makes sense, really. In our house I’m the keeper of the calendar. I enjoy planning things, and I dislike surprises. And while some years I may be fine not making big birthday plans, or sitting back and letting Bryan and the kids surprise me, this year I felt like taking the lead.

As it turned out, all this was a great little mini-exercise in remembering to think about what I want, as hard that is to do in this phase of life I’m in. It was a reminder that I can apply that “plan and organize” part of my brain toward my own pursuits and enjoyment, not just toward playdates and work deadlines – and that when I do, I’m not only carving out time for myself, I’m also nurturing my family and my relationships by ensuring we take time for celebrations with, and for, one another.

And finally – maybe most importantly – I think it sent a message to my kids. My kids who LIVE for birthdays, who still think cheap plastic gift bag trinkets are amazing, who sing “Happy Birthday” at the top of their lungs and count the days until it’s their chance to make a wish and blow out the candles. I hope that by taking an active role in my own fun this year, I sent the message that birthdays are more than just a colorful show grownups put on for little kids; they’re everybody’s chance to feel celebrated – including mom’s.

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Why yes, I did wear red shoes with hot pink pants on Friday.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us! If you’ve missed them, you can catch up on more Sunday Morning Tea – and Coffee! – posts right here.

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