How to Paint a House in New Jersey While You Are in Iceland

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In the midst of my husband’s 50th birthday celebration, my daughter’s sweet 16, my son’s graduation from high school, and a trip to Iceland, we decided to have the entire inside of the house painted.

While some people might find this to be strange timing, we actually thought it made a lot of sense. All the messy stuff would be done while we were away and we would come home to a beautiful, newly painted house.

It seemed like a good plan in theory.

Monty the Magnificent

Monty the Magnificent

We had a cracker jack packing supervisor who made sure we got everything boxed up before we left town. He was pretty cheap (he worked for milk bones) and helped keep me from having a nervous breakdown when I ran out of boxes 24 hours before we had to get on the plane.

Of course, you never realize how much crap you accumulate in your closets and shelves until you actually have to box the stuff up. I’m not sure why I had saved 6 bottles of Elmer’s glue in the back of the closet which were now petrified and useless, or one half of a baby monitor (did I mention my kids are 16 and 18?), or three sets of sheets for a twin bed… and we have no twin beds in the house. I like to think it’s the mom in me that has the urge to keep things to re-use or pass down… but more likely, I have severe hoarder tendencies and should probably seek psychiatric help or at least try to get a gig on a reality show.

By the time we were ready to leave, everything was neatly boxed up and packed away. I even had the foresight to pack one box with some extra clothes and toiletries on the off chance the painters were not 100% done when we got back. 20130626_164601_resized


We assumed everything would go as planned. But since we were hiking on a glacier where there was limited wifi – or actually no wifi – we could not be reached and informed if things were not going as planned.

Some things we did not consider included:
1. …That the house would not be completed when we got back
2. …That some of the paint colors we chose might be terribly, horribly wrong
3. …That the painters would find:

  • a. mold
  • b. a leak in the basement ceiling
  • c. Jimmy Hoffa buried under the baseboard in the kitchen.

20130709_152420 copyAs someone who likes things neat and orderly, it did not sit particularly well with me when we got home with four suitcases of stinky laundry and found half the house in mid-spackle as well as some major home repair issues to deal with.

Fortunately we’d had the good sense to ship the dog, I mean, packing supervisor, off to a friend’s house while we were gone with the agreement that he could stay a couple of extra days if the painting wasn’t done. Somehow I’d suspected that dog fur and wet paint would not be a good combination unless I wanted hairy walls.

horseStill, as I stood in the chaos that was my home, smelling of Icelandic horses and wondering what the hell I’d been thinking when I picked out Psychedelic Purple as the color for our basement, I looked around and wondered what our next move was.

With the path to the laundry room blocked by boxes and the FBI waiting at the door to claim Jimmy Hoffa’s body, there was really only one thing we could do.

We dumped our stuff in the garage and went out for pizza.

©2013, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
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Filed under Cleanliness is Next to Impossibleness, This Old House

6 responses to “How to Paint a House in New Jersey While You Are in Iceland

  1. imnotasupermom

    The bright side is that Hoffa thing is cleared up.

  2. Oh, wow. I’m getting stressed out just thinking about it. It sort of reminds me of the time (like, last year) that we thought buying a new house (without seeing it at all) in a new city would be a good idea with a newborn. We closed on the house when I was in labor, moved a couple months later, spent weeks in boxes, in a new city where I didn’t even know where a grocery store was, had no clean laundry, with workers in and out of our new house. Chaos gives me shudders.

    • We did that too. My son wasn’t a newborn, but he was about a year old when we moved to a new city where I knew no one. I guess what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? 🙂

  3. Oh, Tracy. As soon as I read the title of this post, I saw the writing on your freshly-painted walls. Yikes! And, I am left wondering (right along with you): what were you thinking when you picked that purple for the basement? I am hoping you guys are put back together now!

  4. Wow! I’m way behind in reading blogs, so I’m hoping that by now all is completed to your satisfaction. I’m sure you can find a way to make that purple paint look great. sd