Choosing busy

I read a blog post the other day about how people should stop complaining about being too busy, and just slow down. While I read the post, I found myself agreeing with it. I don’t like to be so busy. I don’t thrive on dashing from one activity to another. I’d like nothing more than a few uninterrupted days of NOTHING. Time to read a book or three, watch a movie, fiddle with a DIY project, work a little in the yard (if it ever warms up again, O Snow on the First Day of Spring). But then I started to feel guilty about the busy-ness in my life, and now I resent that article for making me resent (more) the many claims on my time and attention.

I say no to a lot of things. No to PTA meetings, no to chaperoning field trips, no to scouting and soccer and Little League. No to joining a second choir, no to Wednesday night club meetings. But there are still so many things I can’t opt out of–and wouldn’t want to–and it doesn’t do much good to anyone to resent the time they take.

Cooking dinner, doing laundry, helping with homework, sweeping up the crumbs, writing. Junior high band festivals, supervising snow fort construction, book signings with a favorite author. It’s all about choices.

Yesterday I said no to folding the mountain of clean clothes in favor of finishing the paint job in the bathroom. Little Five spent some quality time with Curious George and PBS Kids, and I spent an hour and a half painting the baseboards and giving the beadboard wallpaper a second coat of paint.

Today I skipped emptying the dishwasher, and instead framed and hung the kids’ artwork. Later this afternoon I’ll say no to folding clothes again and say yes to a playdate. But at least the bathroom is complete.


Kids’ bathroom progress part 2…almost done!

So, so close.

Since last week, I finished painting the gray walls, installed two shelves on the wall over the toilet, hung the beadboard wallpaper, scraped and sanded the old caulk off the baseboards and reinstalled the shoe moulding, caulked, and painted the beadboard wallpaper. It’s obviously not a big room, so it took 15 minutes here, an hour there. Still to do: paint the baseboards and perhaps give the beadboard a second coat, and finish hanging artwork. I was on a roll and probably would have finished yesterday, but I ran out of paint. But if you don’t look at the baseboards, it looks good!

For fun, here’s the evolution of this bathroom over the past 6 years:



This is how it looked before we moved in. Certainly not terrible, but the details became annoying after we lived with it for a while. Wallpaper, shower doors (have you tried bathing a squirmy baby when you can only reach half the bathtub?), two-toned hardware. And a toilet paper holder waaaay too far for a kid to reach when he needs it!

First attempt

First attempt

After the first major set of changes to make this bathroom more functional for three small children: removed the shower doors, installed hook rail for towels, painted the vanity and changed the hardware, moved the toilet paper holder, stripped the wallpaper, changed the light fixture. At this point I wasn’t really sure where the color scheme was going.



Now, the gray and white is a cool backdrop for the kids’ bright towels and accessories. There aren’t any heavy glass shower doors to clean or worry about safety (one fell off the track once–very scary!), and there are plenty of hooks to hang towels, robes, and wet bathing suits. The colors feel more like us, and the room functions much better.

How much did I spend on this final stage?

  • Ikea shelves: $30
  • Ikea towels: $22
  • beadboard wallpaper: $19
  • wallpaper paste: $5
  • 1 quart Heather Gray paint: $2

The rest of my supplies I already had…caulk, white semi-gloss paint, etc. I got my wallpapering tools from Freecycle! Even though I need to buy more paint to finish the baseboards, I have lots of other trim in the house that needs a fresh coat.

I’m very pleased with the beadboard wallpaper. For a novice like me, it wasn’t difficult to hang. As I hoped, caulk and paint disguised my sloppy edges and less-than-precise measuring. It only took about an hour to measure, paste and paper that half wall.

Ikea towels come with loops for hanging!

Until I get around to buying that paint, I’ll focus on hanging the rest of the artwork. Miss Seven will be pleased when I get the stack of frames out of her room and onto the wall.

Bubble prints made at the school art fair

Kids’ bathroom progress


One of the items on my New Year’s resolutions for the home is to finish the face lift of the kids’ bathroom. It already had one makeover three or four years ago, when I stripped the floral wallpaper, repainted the vanity, and changed the light fixture. Later I added a chair rail with hooks for towels and sewed a shower curtain. But once I added some colorful accessories, I decided that the wall color no longer worked.


I bought a couple quarts of gray paint from the mistake bin at Home Depot ($2/quart for Behr Premium Plus), and along with a few tester pots I already had, I slapped several test swatches on the wall. I figured that would motivate me to get it painted. It didn’t motivate me as quickly as I thought it would (maybe because I enter only to turn off the light, flush the toilet, and pick up wet towels). But yesterday I finally spent an hour prying off the shoe molding (someone put silicone caulk on it that paint won’t adhere to, so it needs to be sanded and repainted) and putting a first coat of paint on the walls.

The paint is darker than I first envisioned, but I think I like it. (It’s called Heather Gray by Benjamin Moore, according to the label on the can.) I have white beadboard wallpaper to put under the chair rail, so along with the vanity and all the white tile, there is plenty of contrast. I’ve been saving a stack of the kids’ artwork to display on the wall above the chair rail, and I’d like to put two floating shelves over the toilet.

Later this year, I hope we can have an electrician update the wiring in the bathroom and raise the light fixture several inches, so it isn’t sitting against the mirror. Then I’d like to frame the mirror, probably following these instructions.

I’m excited! I plan to finish painting today, and follow through with the wallpaper over the weekend. It will be my first attempt at wallpaper, but it’s only half of one short wall. Tomorrow might involve a mad dash to Ikea for some shelves. While I’m there, I might pick up some legs for the computer table for the living room. It’s so gloomy outside that the prospect of completing a project inside makes me very happy.

Are you in the middle of any DIY projects?