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Summer “I’m Bored” Busters

2018 July 17
by Becky

summer boredom busters

I know some of you will be sending kids back to school very soon, but to us, summer has just begun. We didn’t end until June 20th, then had almost three weeks of being out of town visiting family and friends, so really we’re in week two of keeping the kids entertained without the help of school. I’ve had some great success with some of the fun things above, so I thought I’d share!

But first, “Why not send them to camp?” one might say. Well, while we are feeling very at home here in Northern Virginia, I’m not super up on what camps are worth the insanely high prices parents in this area has become accustomed to. In St. Louis, we waded through mountains of amazing and affordable options for full-day camp fun, not to mention we always had the option to send the kids to their awesome school camp. Full of nerves about what to do, I decided to at least get my two work days covered and I hired a part time nanny. She’s a second grade teacher and comes twice a week to entertain the boys while I head to the little cafe where I’ve settled into my chef role quite nicely. So other than signing Ethan up for a couple half day camps—one is an art class at the Torpedo Factory and one is Minecraft Modding through the rec center—I’m mostly on my own this summer.

We hit the gym early, then spend mornings at museums or splash pads or parks, and afternoons crafting or at the pool we joined. We’ve hit a few items on our bucket list, including Yards Park, National Building Museum, many library trips, a hike at Great Falls Park, and we saw The Incredibles 2 (it was…incredible). Crossing Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens off our list later this week. Getting out of the house is the key to my sanity.

I’m probably royally screwing this up, but I’m giving it my best shot. I’m not one of those super patient and playful mommies, so I’m not going to lie and say it’s been all rainbows and butterflies—there have been time-outs and fights and lots of “Just give me a minute!!” Plus, I have zero time away from the kids, except for when I’m working in a sweltering kitchen (not complaining, I love it), but I’m hoping to alleviate that with a few extra hours here and there with our nanny.

No doubt I’ll crack in the next week or so. Stu would probably say that ship has sailed, especially since he was gone the entire first week I had the kids home. Words were said.

So as referenced above, I’ve accumulated an assortment of “Boredom Busters” in an old Amazon delivery box that’s been dubbed the Craft Bin, the kids always referring to it as this mysterious and magical thing. I’ve been gathering materials for months and hiding them away, knowing the boys would have the whole thing torn apart in about an hour if I let them near it. I have to say, while there’s many requests to “watch a show” or “a little ipad time”, we’re doing pretty good keeping the screen time to a minimum and staying busy, all thanks to the Craft Bin.

Here are a few things that have worked really well. Some take more parent involvement than others, some involve messes (not a fan, I’m a neat freak, but I’m doing my best to let them happen sometimes), and some are a little challenging.

summer boredom busters

  1. Rocket Copters – These have been in our family for a while and are always a hit at the park. We keep a few sets in the stroller and on trips to the park always have a few kids join in after watching Finn shoot these things up in the air. They go high, make a little noise, and even light up! They make a great gift too.
  2. Finger Weaving Loops – I got a set of these at Micheal’s on sale, in kit form (and probably overpriced) thinking they may be something fun to do with Ethan. Come to find out, both boys think finger weaving is the bomb. Finn needs help, his fingers are so little, but Ethan was unstoppable. They’ve made quite a few very long “snakes” out of a simple weaving pattern we found on Youtube. There are countless ways to use these things! Can’t wait to try more.
  3. Paint By Sticker – This jumped out as an easy project for Ethan. No mess but it still takes a little time and a gentle touch with a lovely result. Finn likes it too but doesn’t really know his double digits yet so it takes some assistance.
  4. Architek Set – These were a birthday gift to Ethan that I’d hid away for future use. Makes the presents last longer! Both boys went nuts over the little screws and nuts, Finn again needing help but Ethan really getting the hang of it. Like Legos but harder. They’d like to try out another set soon.
  5. Fluffy Cloud Dough – I pinned this with dreams of a less messy, less sticky slime recipe. Slime is such the rage right now with Ethan’s age! Sure enough, this soft, spongey dough is way easier for my ODC complex to handle. Plus it’s two ingredients, can’t get easier. The corn starch is initially messy so do this in the kitchen and help stir.
  6. Tinker/Kiwi Crate Membership – Ethan begged for the Tinker Crate after hearing another friend rave about it so I thought we’d give it a try. The first project was a spin art machine! To Ethan’s delight, he wired it and everything, then got to make artwork. Really fun and we can’t wait for the next one. Finn would be ready for the Kiwi version but I’m holding off since he hasn’t asked. :)
  7. Model Magic – You know this stuff. Just set it out and let the kids go to town. Mine love it and only get it every now and then, so it’s still special. We try to keep it in a ziplock to make it last longer, but someone (Finn) tends to leave the bags open every time he touches them. (Got mine cheaper at Michael’s.)
  8. Cardboard Weaving – All it took was some yarn and a piece of cardboard and we had Ethan off and running with this project. He’s set it down for a bit, but I plan to get him going again and introduce the skill to Finn too, I think he’ll get it quick. Love the fun yarns this blogger used!
  9. Pearler Beads – I caved and bought a ton of these things, we will officially never run out. I got the plates that will fit larger creations and fun accessories like key chains and necklaces to showcase the results. I printed off some Minecraft patterns for Ethan to follow, which he loved. They did these with our nanny for the first time and OMG was it a mess when I got home. They couldn’t find the broom and the vacuum was no use. Since then things have stayed neater, thank goodness. I put them out for a few days then put them away. Keeping it interesting.

What are your favorite boredom busters for summer? We need to keep replenishing, there’s still over a month left of summer! Or do we go back later than the rest of the entire country? Because it feels super late. 

Left in high priority on our bucket list: Climb Zone, Burning Man Exhibit , Frying Pan Park, Georgetown Waterfront Fountain, Beauvoir School Playground, Charlottesville, VA, Reston Zoo (now called Roer’s Zoofari), DC Duck Boat Tour.

What’s top on your bucket list? Did you do them all?


Our Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation – Complete!

2018 June 13
by Becky

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Herringbone Tile Wall

It took two full months and still needs a couple small finishing touches, but our master bathroom is fully functioning. It’s beautiful. We are so happy with the result! And we’re so glad we outsourced this one…wow was it a ton of work.

And now for a little peek at the before…

Tiny Ugly Master Bath


It’s the exact same size, same layout, but looks so different, so much more open. I’d talked a bit about our high hopes to rearrange everything and how those plans were quickly scrapped since we weren’t interested in tripling our already hefty costs. For the most part, we’ve always tried to do our home improvements ourselves, only reaching out to the pros for the really serious stuff. These days our only real time to tackle projects is on the weekends, but we fill those up pretty quick, meaning the parts we could have handled in this renovation would have taken us no less than 15 months to complete.

And it’s SO much more fun to watch it all happen from the sidelines.

It’s SO pretty.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Round Mirror Vanity

I think we can all agree the show stopper is the floor tile. I’ve never loved a tile more than I love this gorgeous concrete patterned hex tile. We’ve never used concrete tile before, but we’re digging the look and smooth, no-slip feel on our toes. The gorgeous blue tone in this tile assured the space wouldn’t be “too white”, as so many bathrooms are.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Blue Hex Starburst Floor Tile

We chose this particular vanity for it’s warm wood tones and sleek look, originally planning to mount it to the wall. At the very last minute everyone got kind of nervous about the stability of this plan, so we ordered the very cool legs to go with it. We absolutely wanted whatever vanity we chose to be off the floor, maximizing the open feeling and view of that lovely floor tile.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Vanity


Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Exposed Brick Wall

I saw this gorgeous faucet set months ago and couldn’t wait to get it in this space. While double sinks would have been fantastic, there just wasn’t room. And for one last touch of texture, we exposed that exterior wall. My dreams of exposed brick have come true several times over in this house, so we figured why not add a bit more? Our contractor definitely thought we were nuts for this request, warning us the bricks might be in bad shape, but I assured them, we were prepared to accept whatever condition we found. It’s glorious.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Exposed Pipes

We also exposed all the pipes along the floor. Before, the pipes had these wonky soffits built around them and once removed, we loved the look. So open and industrial, just exactly what we wanted. It runs under then vanity too (see photo above) and in this dark grey color it’s just barely noticeable in the best way. Luckily we were able to move the vanity legs out a bit to avoid the pipe.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Sconce

In addition to some recessed lighting, we replaced those god-awful vanity lights with some lovely new fixtures. I’m so glad my first choice was massively backordered because these second choice brass sconces are perfect for this space. We like that the globes are frosted—no blazing glare in your face while flossing—and they can be installed up or down. Good thing, because I chose the height before seeing how they worked. If we’d put them in the “up” position at this height, it would have been impossible to take off the globes to replace the bulbs.

Now let’s turn around in this tiny space and talk shower.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Glass Shower Herringbone Tile

This is, hands down, the best shower I’ve ever owned.

I think our hygiene habits have increased since this puppy was installed. I even enjoy cleaning this shower, it’s just so pretty. Those little shelves are very convenient and functional! No more hanging of the wire caddy on the shower head necessary.

While the space is still tight, we gained a few inches in front of the vanity by making the new shower a few inches narrower, but we gained that space back by extending the half wall side out a few inches.

Here’s a before.

So. Gross.

The old shower door never opened all the way and the new one still doesn’t. The glass installers agreed with our plan to use a little rubber stopper on the vanity top, which you can barely see in the picture below. We don’t usually need to open the door this far, but like knowing the marble is protected if we do.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Glass Shower Door

We’re new to this glass shower situation, everything right there on “display” (we even had a chat with the boys about boundaries since finishing this room), so we made sure to include a hidden nook in the half wall. It perfectly conceals our giant shampoo bottles, Stu’s loofah (yep, not mine), and our shiny new squeegee.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Shower Nook

The nook ended up a tad bigger than we’d wanted, but it works!

Our incredible rain shower was Stu’s only “demand”, one I had no problem fulfilling. The fixture had to be pieced together with Kohler parts—they don’t sell one exactly like what we wanted.

And it’s life-changing.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Rain Shower Head

Taking a shower under this is like a mini-vacation. It’s the best. We heard really mixed reviews about rain shower heads, but agree it was a most excellent decision. Plus there’s the hand held option for quick spray-downs of the kids or any tropcial-jungle-style-shower haters.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Towel Bars

There was even some wall space left empty for towel bars…whew. They fit perfectly behind the door and are easily reached from the shower.

The last piece of this puzzle is the little “dressing room” area, located right outside the bathroom. It has a window, letting in plenty of light, plus a linen closet and another large closet where Stu keeps his clothes. He has SO many clothes and needs more space than me. Plus, he gets up SO EARLY and likes not having to go in and out of the bedroom where I’m still sound asleep. It’s a great little spot! So we included it in the renovation because it needed a little love in the form of fresh paint, a new sconce, and a pretty plant friend.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Cozy Corner Sconce

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Dressing Area

Here’s the view from the top of the stairs looking into the dressing area and bathroom beyond that. All the storage in this house still shocks me…these old houses are notorious for offering very little if any and here we have cabinet space to burn.

Something else we did, which might seem super small, was replace all the hinges on the cabinet doors. After years and years of being painted over and over, they were in really bad shape. It’s amazing the difference such a little update can make.

I mentioned there were still a couple finishing touches to be made, so here is one of them.

Tiny Master Bathroom Renovation Wall Heater

That lovely wall heater seemed like an easy thing to fix. We were going to replace it, but then decided to just get new caps for the ends—the old ones were in bad shape. Here’s where I offer a tip: Don’t throw any old parts away until the new ones are IN your hands. Ours were tossed in the demo mess and new ones don’t exist. Right now our contractor is planning to have a wood cover made, but we shall see how that goes. We may just repair that gap at the top and leave it. It’s crooked and off center but it is what it is.

So there it is! I’m posting sources below and may have updated shots soon, this was a tricky space to photograph. Let me know what you think! Anyone have ideas to fix that wall heater?

Wall color: Benjamin Moore Simply White
Floor Tile: Cle Tile
Door/Drawer Pulls: Kohler
Shower Fixture: Kohler
Mirror: Target
Vanity Wall Sconces: Cedar & Moss
Hand towel bar: Kohler
Dressing Room Wall Sconce: Restoration Hardware
Plant Pot: Target
Vanity Faucet Handles: Kohler
Vanity: Kohler
Toilet Tissue Holder: Kohler
Towel Bars: Kohler