Making Home a Sweet Home

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 7.16.53 PMI don’t care if it sounds or seems a whit outdated, I think one of the greatest things I get to do with my life is make my family’s house a home that serves up generous portions of warmth and love. No apologies.

I can live with the June Cleaver jokes, because, well, first of all I kind of like June Cleaver. But that aside, I simply very much want our home to be a place that will live in my boys’ memories as something good and right… and hope that it will serve as a foundation for the home they’ll someday live in with their families.

And I’ve come to believe that what we look for from home is a place where all of our senses are put at ease. Consider:

Sight. Candlelight, a string of tiny white lights, lipstick notes on bathroom mirrors, kids’ artwork, chalkboards and cork boards and photos and mementos, mom in the kitchen – in an apron, happy to see you, dozens of cookies under glass on the kitchen counter…

Sound. A pendulum clock, big band or Frank Sinatra weaving its way through the living area, singing, laughing, prayers before a meal, a cat purring, the big game on the big screen, a fire crackling at the hearth…

Smell. Candles burning, coffee brewing, mom’s perfume, the fire in the fireplace, countertop cleaner in lavender or grapefruit or some other kind of wonderful, dinner in the oven, fresh-baked brownies, applesauce warming on the stove…

Taste. Recipes that have found their way through generations and homesteads, combined with new favorites with stories all their own. The opportunity to share these, fresh, around a table.

Touch. Blankets and slippers and thick thirsty towels, soft chairs and throw pillows and time to simply lean on and into one another, preferably around a much-loved book or movie.

There may be much ado in this world over storming out the door and conquering new and better and higher peaks glittered with success. And some of that is well and good. But without a home to come home to… well then, to me, that seems like much ado about nothing.

That’s all I have to say about that.

I’m going to go get a cup of coffee and a cookie.

by Renata.  November 12, 2014.

My Dear Child:


Be thankful. Open your eyes and your heart to see all that you have. Let’s you and I count the blessings together. Let’s add to them every night… and remember them every morning, right when we wake up.

For in this is a secret: just as planting a seed in the ground – and caring for it – will create a beautiful flower or a yummy vegetable… planting thankfulness in your heart will help to create a beautiful, happy, yummy you.

And when you’re tempted to think about what you don’t have or don’t like, stop. That’s a sure way to hurt the goodness growing in your heart. Instead, come find me, and we’ll remember together all the many, many reasons we have to be thankful. At the tip-top of that very long list is my love for you, and yours for me.

By Renata.  October 16, 2014.


My Dear Child:


For your smile is like lemonade.  Sweet, uplifting, a simple slice of pure happiness.  (The best kind.)  Smile a hundred times a day, and I’ll smile back, so we’ll have a hundred snapshots in our heads of what it means to be happy and thankful.

And if you and I are kind and brave enough to share those smiles with the world (and I think we should be), we’ll help them have snapshots, too.  Enough snapshots to fill a hundred pages.  To help them believe the world can be a kind and good place.

It’s amazing, really, your smile.  I’ll add mine to yours, and together we can share them with the world.  Because the world is thirsty, and there’s always room for more lemonade.

 By Renata.  May 16, 2014

My Dear Child:

Squeeze every last moment, every romp and giggle out of childhood. Wake up every morning eager to tackle whatever you can dream up.  And tackle it.  With both hands and your whole heart.

What can you do today with a box of crayons?  A bucket of Hot Wheels and three cardboard boxes?  A blank piece of paper that’s bigger than you?  Can that tree be climbed?  That city in your head be built entirely of cereal boxes and tin cans?  Can you keep that balloon from touching the ground from now until dinner?

So many ideas, dreams to tackle while the sun is in the sky.  And then a whole different set to explore in the moonlight.

Sometimes, you look up, and you notice the clothes and the cars and the big world of big people… and you wonder if maybe you want or need those clothes and cars and that big world right now.  I know sometimes you wonder that.

But I want you to know something really important: That world very much needs for you to dive into and explore every single moment of your childhood.  Because that city of boxes and cans, those dreams in your head?  Someday they’ll make the big world a better place.

And if you grow up too quickly, well, you and I and the whole world will miss out.  So dream big, dear child, and play… and in doing so, may you uncover the gifts only you can give to the world.

by Renata. January 29, 2014.


My Dear Child:

Be peaceful.

Look for peace, all around you.  Find it in the rush of wind that makes the trees talk… the snow that silently falls from the heavens and blankets everything in white… the green that pushes up out of the earth with the first warm rays of sun.

Find it in music, stories, heroes. Find it in the love and the strength of those who make you feel loved and safe.

Seek peace.  Notice it.  Invite it in.

Then, give it away to others as only you can.  A smile to someone who has no smiles left.  A hug to someone who has been hurt.  A friend to someone who has none.

Use what you love to give love to others.  I’ll join you.  And together, you and I, we’ll find our own unique ways to add peace to the world.  Because that, indeed, is a very good and important and wonderful thing for us to do.

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by Renata.  December 6, 2013.