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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

The story behind my “worst mom moment.”

Thursday night as I was getting ready to go to bed, I popped onto our Facebook page and, in the spur of the moment, decided to share this photo:

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It’s a picture of me, nearly ten years ago now, carrying my screaming son Isaac away from a photography session at my brother John’s wedding to one of my best friends, Jenna. This is the message I included with the post:

“Speaking of hard parenting moments, I wanted to share this picture I ran across in a box recently. It’s me, at a family wedding, largely pregnant, carrying my completely-freaking-out three-year-old away from the professional photo session. He was a real handful back then, but he is now 13 and a more lovely young man you could not imagine. I just want to take my old self from this picture, give her a big hug and tell her everything really WILL be OK.”

When I went to bed the picture had been shared a few times and I had a handful of nice comments. But by the time I woke up the next morning and checked Facebook, I was astonished to see that the picture had been shared hundreds of times and seen by about 60,000 people. As of this writing that number is more like 135,000.

What? It was just a simple photo. Why did it strike such a nerve?

In reading all the commentary, though, I could see why: because all moms have had a moment like this one,  either due to a day that went quickly, horribly wrong or perhaps several years that went slowly, mind-numbingly wrong.

In the above photo, I was sort of in the middle of both. Not only was I dealing with an ill-timed pregnancy, but I was in the middle of raising an exceptionally challenging child: Isaac, my sweet-cheeked second son, chubby and bright and adorable and absolutely hell on wheels.

And we got it on film. After seeing my post on Facebook, my stepmother Brenda was kind enough to scan and send me some other photos from that day, as photographic evidence of just how hair-tearingly bad parts of it were.

For example, on that sweaty, max-stress-level day, my usually well-behaved son Jacob also decided to completely lose it.

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This photo was taken about five minutes before the one of me carting Isaac away. See how sweet – and shocked by his behavior! –  his little cousin looks?

And then there was this one, taken after the ceremony. It’s me, speaking intently to my Aunt Paula, who I believe was saying something along the lines of “Honey, we’re all worried about you. This is an intervention.”

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After seeing the reaction the photo of me carrying Isaac away football-style from the photo session received, I approached the Huffington Post and asked whether they’d like an essay on the story of me, of Isaac, and the lessons that raising a difficult young boy – and watching him grow into a sweet, calm, wonderful teenager – has taught me about motherhood. And, to my delight, they said yes.

It’s up there now. Here’s a little sneak peak:

Truthfully, I couldn’t tell you why Isaac was so difficult then or why he’s so easy now. When he was a young child I got the impression that he was a mass of impulses and sensations he couldn’t control. Maybe what he needed most was simply time to grow into himself, and the acceptance of those around him while he was figuring out how to navigate the world.

I do know that I can no more take total credit for the way Isaac is today, than I can take all the blame for the way he was then.

I’d love for you to read the whole essay, but first I want you to see one last picture, another that my stepmother sent me that I’d completely forgotten about. This picture is one of me, smiling, dancing with my baby nephew Harry, holding adorable chubby-cheeked Isaac by the hand.

I guess in the red-faced heat of embarrassment over the kids’ photo-session behavior, I’d kind of forgotten this moment.

But it just goes to show you: there is always another side to every memory, isn’t there?

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas going through tough times. No matter what you’re facing, it gets better.

And maybe – though I know it’s so hard to see right now – it’s already better than you think.

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