refinishing our floors

The floors are done, hip hooray! 
We ripped out that shag and were thrilled to find a beautiful birch wood floor that may or may not be original to the house (1876). It took a solid week to pull out the decades'-worth of carpet staples and even longer to sand off the stubborn varnish that a previous occupant had applied around their area rugs. Once we got down to bare wood, we sponged on a whole lot of wood conditioner, stained with a nice dark hue (Minwax Jacobean), and sealed with a couple of coats of poly. We plan to add a couple more coats in summertime, but 2 days in a hotel right before Christmas was, well, plenty.
Now we're on to drywall, trim, and (finally!) paaaaaaint.


christmas day in the morning

It was good. It was low-key. It was lovely. Santa brought a black cat named Mischief and the girls just about flipped their wigs. Richard had them close their eyes when he went to get it, and when he came back Maren accidentally peeked and couldn't contain herself -- "a CAAAT?!??!" They love that cat and she loves them.

Church was wonderful -- makes me wish Christmas were on a Sunday every year. There were beautiful thoughts and testimonies of the Savior, and wonderful music too. And just being together with our ward family, so many beloved friends, on such a special day, even for just an hour, was so wonderful.

My friends Bryn, Martha, and I sang, too. Want to hear? We recorded this a few days beforehand. Switching up the tune was Bryn's ingenious idea. And can I just say that I really really want to play the gee-tar like Martha someday. 

Merry Christmas, friends! I hope yours was a merry one, filled with hope and peace!


joyful noise

Christmas came early, WOOHOO!
For some reason I don't really blog about piano,
but it is a big and happy part of my life.
And thanks to my amazing, generous, wonderful man, I finally have my very own.
It's nothin fancy, but believe me, it's been here 5 hours 
and has already brought so much joy.
It's wedged in the kitchen between the bathroom and the pantry
until we start/finish drywalling the dining room next week.

Christmasey posts and home improvement updates coming soon, mkay? 
{hope your merrymaking has been beautiful!}


once you pop

Our dining room had some really awful white wallpaper going on. 
The other day I pulled off a piece...
and kept pulling...
and kept pulling...
and pretty soon the room looked like this.
5 layers and 12 decades' worth of wallpaper.
{you know I would have kept that retro rose wallpaper if only there was a way...}


home at last.

 Made it. 
We are here. 
Our stuff is here. 
Whether our sanity came with us is questionable. 
There's been a whole lot of ripping, sanding, painting, and uncovering going on--
as in, What do you mean we can't get the box springs up the stairs?
Hope your Christmas is off to a beautiful start.
See you soon?

sisters in service: elizabeth giuliacci

Welcome to Sisters in Service, a series designed to lift, inspire, and motivate us to celebrate the (many!) different ways we can serve our brothers and sisters while we're here on this earth. Each post spotlights a project or idea that's lifting others, serving the Lord, and changing the world for good!

Hang onto your panties, friends, 'cause my big sis Betz is here today. 
{and I had to bribe, wheedle, and whine for months to get her here. ahem.}

Can I gush for a minute?
Betz {alias Elizabeth} and I were not terribly close growing up -- she is 7 years older than me.
But as soon as I left home and was suddenly on my own...
As soon as I had a baby and realized I had no idea what I was doing...
As soon as R & I started making scary life decisions that didn't exactly please everyone...
This chick was there for me with a bottle of formula in one hand, a tissue in the other, limitless availability on the phone {despite 5 kids to raise and a billion piano lessons to teach}, and the endless assurance that "you are totally normal, I promise," whenever I started freaking out. 
She knows her beans, people.
{love you, Betz.} 

So just what is Betz's big service project? Read on...

What do you do all day?
I am a mother to 5 of the most beautiful children in the whole world.

Have you always pictured yourself as a mother?
Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be a mother. THIS is my dream job. I believe that "the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children." I know I can be with my family forever. Not just until they leave for college or they get married or until I die. This is my dream job for eternity.

And it's all peaches and cream, right?
Nobody told me how HARD it was going to be to have this dream job! It's so NOT about me. It's all about someone else ALL the time, 24/7. There is no break. Someone ALWAYS needs me, and someone is always calling "Mommy, mommy, mommy..." 
{seriously, cutest little italian babies ever, hello? and her man works for the giants, which is totally rad.}

So how do you juggle the needs of 5 kids, your husband, and yourself?

I don't know. I just do. People say they don't think they could do it. Yeah...actually, you could. This didn't happen to me all at once. I had (thankfully) one child at a time. And each time I was about to have a baby, I panicked. I was sure I wouldn't be able to do it. And each time, I was made equal to the task. 

What gets you through the hard parts?
For me, the ONLY way to make it is to read the word of God, and have a solid relationship with Him through prayer. That's when my home is blessed with the Spirit, and that's when I feel hope and peace.

What's your advice for new moms?
Don't read the mommy books! Just go to the mother's lounge at church. Everything I needed to know, my friends who had 5 or 6 children knew already...

Any last words?
I wear a lot of hats. I'm not always fabulous at all my jobs all the time (there's that one time I completely forgot to go to my child's Student of the Month assembly), but I think my cumulative score is pretty good. There are times when I look at my children and feel certain that I've known them much longer than their mortal years. I catch glimpses of who they can become and I hope I am equipped to lead them there. Motherhood includes a lot of guilt. But when I pour my heart out to my Heavenly Father about all my shortcomings as a mother, I feel a warm, gentle feeling that lets me know He will help make up the difference.

Thanks for coming over {finally}, Betz!
I think it is hard to remember that motherhood is service.
That we don't need to be beating on ourselves for not going out and saving the rest of the world all the time. Having a gaggle (or one or two or whatever) of little souls to teach and save is a big job in itself, thankyouverymuch. 
And please, let's not forget that, as a wise woman once put it, "Motherhood is more than bearing children...It is the essence of who we are as women." You don't need to have kids to be a mother. All of us can be part of "the Lord's secret weapon." Cool, huh?