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.


Prepping for progress

So much life and work has been happening in the past week. Along with so many of you, I haven’t had much uninterrupted time to spend working on home projects. Little Five had two days off from preschool, the Hub was slammed with a tidal wave of work, and then we had the Big Snow. Even though I couldn’t get to them, two projects have lingered on my mental list: finish the kids’ bathroom, and make the computer desk for the living room.

I know I already shared photos of the nearly complete bathroom, but I’ve discovered that the beadboard wallpaper definitely needs a second coat of paint to (hopefully) protect it from little dings and gouges. The baseboards still need two coats of paint. I’ve yet to frame and hang the artwork on the empty wall. The tools and the register cover are still hanging out on the floor in the hall.

If anything, this week of busy-ness has demonstrated how useful that new desk is going to be. After the 8 or 10 inches of snow we received on Tuesday, the Hub decided to work from home on Wednesday. He took my laptop and settled at the desk in the master bedroom, which is is the most private workspace in our house. I took my work (blogging and working on a grant application for the nonprofit organization on whose board I sit) and worked at the desktop computer in the living room. I’ve complained before about the computer armoire–how the kids stash their garbage behind the monitor, how the doors refuse to stay closed and the pull-out keyboard tray has lost all its ball bearings–but working there really emphasized the lack of good task lighting and a surface to spread papers and materials while in the midst of a project.

It’s true that I didn’t get either of these projects finished, but I did take some small steps toward making them more likely to happen next week. I took Little Five to the paint store and bought more of the paint I had run out of. I bought the trestle legs for the desk, and picked out which discarded closet door I’m going to use for a desktop. I pondered and consulted the rest of the family, and decided how long to make the desk and how to finish the top (a dark stain plus furniture wax). I bought Citri-Strip so I can strip the paint on the door. The Citri-Strip will later come in handy to start on Miss Seven’s long-awaited dresser, and the paint to freshen up the trim and door in the downstairs powder room.

It didn’t feel as if I accomplished much, but it’s good to know that when that slice of time appears in my schedule, I’ll be ready to jump into these projects and finally cross them off my list.

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?