Paint Screw-Ups Anonymous

meeting-1015291_1920“My name’s Dan and I’m a recovering Prep Work Skipper.”

If there were support groups for those of us who consistently mess up paint jobs, that’s how I’d introduce myself every week.

See, I do a lot of things right when it comes to a paint job.  I take the time necessary to pick the colors I really want (usually).  I amass the necessary tools before I start.  I buy quality materials and paint.  I do many things right.

However, what I routinely screw up is this:  I skip or skimp on the prep work.  Every time.  It’s like an addiction.  An addiction to skipping prep work.  I mean really, that’s got to be one of the dumbest sounding sentences I’ve ever written, but it’s the truth:  I hate prep work when I paint and so I skip it.  And then, inevitably (and by inevitably, I mean ALWAYS) it comes back to bite me.  Inevitably (always).

And so I’m turning over a new leaf. From here on out I’m going to make the following changes to my painting methods and practices:


I will no longer simply roll around or over the nails that are stuck in my wall.  This usually messes up my roller, creating a weird divot that repeats over and over on my wall, frustrating me; or, it creates drips on the wall or floor that I don’t find until after the paint has dried.  And that always makes me profoundly sad.  From now on, I will remove those nails ahead of time.


I will patch the nail holes left in my wall when I implement Resolution Number 1 above.  And I will patch them with the proper spackling compound AND will let that compound DRY before I try to SAND it.  (Because I’ve tried to rush this and sanding only partially dried spackling results in results that make me profoundly sad.)  To give myself the proper time to accomplish these spackling and sanding tasks, I will have to tackle this aspect of the project ahead of the day that I plan to paint. This will require planning and discipline, and I resolve to practice both.


I will no longer tell myself that my walls are clean enough and do not need to be wiped down before I paint.  I will accept the fact that I do not regularly clean the top corners of every room and that even though I style myself as a clean and tidy person, there is a good chance that random cobwebs may be there.  I will take the necessary 20 minutes to wipe away those cobwebs so I don’t end up rolling into them later with paint and then spreading them over my walls.


I will no longer let myself believe that “scuff sanding” is a great idea, but that I really don’t have time to do it right now.  I will take the necessary 10 minutes to scuff sand a dresser before I prime and paint it.  I will scuff sand my woodwork before I paint it.  I will scuff sand all shiny surfaces EVEN IF I’m using a primer that says “no scuff sanding necessary.”  I will remember that there are no shortcuts.


I will no longer do everything else right–buy the right paint, buy the best tools, choose the right colors–only to screw the project up by skipping the prep work.  I will admit that an extra hour or two is worth all the extra work and frustration and money I’ve cost myself through the years by skipping prep work.  I will do the proper prep work, no matter how boring it is, so that my project looks as professional as possible when I finish. In short, I will no longer convince myself that certain prep-work projects are worthwhile, but that I simply don’t have time for them.  I will make time for prep work precisely because it is so worthwhile.

Those are my resolutions.  I’ll probably screw up from time to time, but I’m going to give it my best shot from here on out. How about you?  Anyone else out there who routinely skips the prep work stage only to be burned in the end?  Anyone else out there ready to circle up, admit your addiction to hating prep work, and start the recovery process?  The recovery group is open….

12 Screwdrivers for $1: What Could Go Wrong?

dollars-426023_1920I’m cheap.  I’ve probably written that before, but that doesn’t matter.  I’m so cheap, it’s legitimate to write it again.  But that cheapness has it’s limits.

Several months ago, I learned a tough lesson in the world of Cheapness.  I was working on a project in my kitchen and I needed a small screwdriver to unscrew and remove about 12 tiny screws.  After scrounging in my basement work room and coming up empty, I decided I needed to travel to the tool store.

Reluctantly I did.  My little wad of crinkled dollar bills was in my pocket and I planned to run in, grab the screwdriver and get back home to finish the project so I could go outside and play and have fun with the kids.

However, something happened:  on my way to the tool store, I drove past a dollar store, and my wife announced that we needed to stop there so she could pick up some this or that.  So we stopped.  And as she made a beeline for the different items she needed, I wandered.

And do you know what happened?  I wandered into the tool section.  (I hesitate to call it a “department” because we were, after all, in a dollar store).  Anyway, we wandered into the tool section and I found, sitting on the shelf in a bright, shiny plastic package, a set of 12 screwdrivers.  The price tag?   Exactly 1 U.S. Dollar.  Plus tax.

Well, if you’re me, that 12-pack-for-just-1-dollar-deal is just too good to refuse.  So I snatched it up, dropped it on the counter and promptly paid my $1.06.  All the way home, I bragged up my find to my wife.  Oh, I knew the tools weren’t the best, but all I needed to do was remove 12 screws.  And I had 12 screwdrivers.  It’s impossible that I could fail, right?

Riding on cloud nine, I pulled into the driveway and marched into the house ready to tackle my project.  And of course, you already know what happened.  The first screwdriver broke on the third twist–the shaft separated from the handle.  No problem.  I had 11 more.  And I’d planned on this.   No Sweat.

But then the second and third screwdriver broke before I’d removed that first screw.  And I started to get nervous.  I mean really?  Could I possibly break every single screwdriver in a 12 pack before I’d unscrewed 12 screws?  Could such a think happen?  Surely, no!

Sadly, yes.  They all broke.  I still had 6 or so screws to go when I threw the last screwdriver into the garbage.  Frustrated, I drove to the tool store, dropped $6, came back home, and about 2 hours after I’d started, I finally had everything done.

A project that should have taken 10 minutes max ended up taking a couple of hours (when you add in all the driving and waiting in line and so on).

In the end, it taught me a good lesson:  there’s a time and a place for cheapness.  But there’s also a time and place for purchasing quality materials.  Dropping the extra money right up front is sometimes the best money-and-time-saving decision you can make.  It was that way with those screwdrivers and it’s also that way with paint.

See, so often people think paint is paint.  Good paint isn’t any different from cheap paint.  At least that’s the thinking.  And when people who think there’s no real difference in quality see that quality paint is about $8 more per gallon, well, their decision is basically made for them.  They buy the cheapest paint they can find and then work their way through the project.  In the end, they get the walls covered, but they usually put the brushes and rollers away heaving a sigh of relief that the terrible, horrible job is finally done and they walk away assuming that painting is a pain.

However, it’s not the painting that’s the pain.  It’s the paint.  When you use a cheap paint product, you may not realize there’s a difference between it and a quality product, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is.  High quality materials roll onto your walls easier, with less work.  They don’t drip and spatter all over the place.  They cover and hide much better.  They go farther.  They wash up and hold up better and they don’t need to be touched up as often.

A good paint versus a cheap paint can often take at least 1 less coat and will usually still be looking great on your walls when the cheaper paint is begging for a repaint.

And that’s the point to think about:  buying the better paint right in the beginning is, by far, the better value.  Sure, it may (in an average living room that takes 2 gallons of paint) cost about $16 total dollars more than the cheap paint, but think of the benefits:  the paint will apply easier, cover better, hide more, drip less and last longer.  You’ll apply fewer coats, spend less time, and won’t need to deal with drips and spills.

$16 more on an average room will save you at least an hour or two of work and will provide you with a better product that will wash up, resist wear and need less touch-ups than a cheaper paint.

With the screwdrivers, I assumed there was no way to make a bad screwdriver.  I thought a screwdriver was a screwdriver–why pay $5 for 1 when I could get 12 for $1?  I learned the hard way that all screwdrivers aren’t created equal.  The same is true with paint.  Good paint will make a difference.  Sure, it will cost more up front, but the value in the long run will be worth it.  Try it.  Just once.  Pick up a high quality paint (RepcoLite, of course) for your next project and see what a difference it makes!

Basketball and Decorating

caleb2Not too long ago, we purchased a portable basketball hoop for the kids. We figured we’d all have fun shooting hoops and doing all that “basketball stuff” in our driveway. I assumed it would be a great bonding time, would provide some excercise, and, above all, give us something to do outside.

Well, shortly after we installed the hoop in its place, I realized that it was very likely one of the greatest gifts anybody has ever given to his or her neighbors.  In the history of mankind.  Allow me to explain:

See, I’m short.  Let’s just get that out on the table.  And it’s not just me.  It’s my whole family.  We’re all short.  And when we set up that basketball hoop and extended the rim of the basket until it was regulation height, I realized just how short we really were.  We just stood there and watched it go up and up and up until it finally clicked into place.  I wish I had a snapshot of that moment–all of us looking straight up from our humble little positions on earth, some of us squinting.  You would have thought we were watching a comet.  Nope.  Just trying to see the basketball hoop.

Well, the insane height of the basket only frightened me for a minute or two before I steeled my nerves, grabbed the ball and started dribbling it.  It made a satisfying “thump” on the cement.  Made me feel like a man.

Bouncing the ball, feeling cool, I stepped back a ways, gave myself some space for a good running start, and I took off. My tongue was hanging out in concentration, the ball was thumping against the concrete, my child-like hands were slapping it down, perfectly in-sync with each pattering footstep.  It felt just like what I’ve seen on TV:  real basketball players, running down the court getting ready to impress.

My little heart was pounding as I reached that point when I had to jump.  My muscles tensed, my legs coiled and I launched myself into the air.  Flight:  it’s a truly amazing thing.  I felt the air whipping through my thinning hair.  My ears popped as I reached heights heretofore never reached.  I felt like superman.  Unstoppable.  And, best of all, it happened in slow-mo.

Well, in what felt like a long instant replay, I felt myself going up, up, up and I saw the basket get closer and closer and closer.  I reached up with the ball, prepared for the “slam”, prepared for the cheering, prepared for the moment of release… and then, suddenly, I was back on the ground again.  The basket was barely visible way up in the sky.  The ball was still in my hand.  My right leg hurt and I had drool on my shirt.  I was sweating.

Standing there, unsure what to do, I threw the ball as hard as I could into the air and pulled a muscle in my side as I did so.  The ball sailed skyward until it hit the bottom of the net–nuzzling it like a soft breeze–and then it fell back to earth, making an eery, hollow thump on the cement.

And then the kids started laughing.  I was told that in my amazing moment of jumping and “slamming”, I had never once been more than 3 inches off the ground. Never once.  I thought I had been soaring, but I’d actually only been skidding along.

Needless to say, the laughter went on for a while–until they started playing.  Then it quit abruptly because they realized they were no better.

And from that point on, we’ve spent many a day running beneath that insanely high (regulation-height) basket, dribbling big basketballs that look oversized in our small, child-like hands.  We run and jump and not a single one of us gets more than 3 inches off the ground.  It’s as if we’ve got invisible rubber bands strapped around our ankles and anchored into the ground.

And that’s why I say this was one of the greatest gifts a neighbor has given another neighbor ever.  It’s comic relief.  Whenever my neighbors are feeling down or are having a bad day, they just need to look out the window and watch the Hansen family running around the 10 foot tall basket, leaping and jumping and for all that hard work, never once getting more than a few inches off the ground.  It’s absolutely hilarious.  We’re that bad.

And it’s all because we’re not basketball people.  We’re just not cut out for it.  But even though we stink at it and even though we don’t have very many skills and even though we’re physically not capable of playing the sport competitively (or even casually) . . . we still do it and we still have fun.

And that’s the decorating point today.  So many times, I’ve talked to customers at RepcoLite who are picking out a color to go on their walls that’s the same color as the color already there.  It’s just a new coat–a clean coat–but it’s nothing different.

And they’re bored with it–I can tell that–it’s the same old thing they’ve always done.  But when you ask them and try to get them to step out and try something new, we often hear the same old excuse:  I’m no good at decorating. It’s not my thing.  I don’t know how to do it.

Well, I’m not good at basketball.  I stink.  And so does my entire family.  And yet, we’ve already made some great memories running around the hoop trying to throw a ball high enough that it has a chance to go in.

Just because you don’t think you’re good at decorating, don’t let that stop you from trying.  When you step outside of your comfort zone and start trying new things, you’ll discover how much fun it can be to take those plain walls in your home and start turning them into something that reflects who you are, who your family is.  So get going and give it a try.  And if you don’t know where to start, stop out at RepcoLite and let our decorators give you some advice.  You’ll be amazed how much fun the process can be.

3 Ways to Compromise With Your Kids about Paint Colors

donuts-690281_1280Once upon a time, probably about 6 years ago or so, my wife and I walked with our kids to the Zeeland Bakery.  Caleb (who was 5 at the time) waited outside with me while my wife and the other kids sauntered into the shop and ordered various donuts and cookies and different types of bread.  (It’s always a huge undertaking whenever we go to the bakery).

Anyway, while Caleb and I were waiting outside, a lady walked by with a 1-year-old boy in a stroller.  I smiled at the lady and Caleb smiled at the lady and he even went so far as to say “Hello.”  I was proud that the little guy was so polite.  And it was this pride which eventually led to my downfall.

See, as the lady was walking away, but while she was still within earshot, I thought I’d demonstrate how polite and kind my little guy was.  So I said, loud enough for the lady to hear, “Wasn’t that a nice little boy?”

Oh, it was a question that he should have been able to hit out of the park.  It was an easy one.  A no-brainer.  All he had to say was “Yes Dad, that boy seemed very nice, indeed.”  Had he said that, the lady would have thought I was a super parent because I’d raised such a wonderfully polite little lad.  In fact, I figured there was always the off chance that she’d turn her stroller around, shake my hand and ask my advice as to how to raise her own child.

Yes, my mind was brimming with the possibilities and the glory when Caleb spoke up.  He raised his little voice to match my raised voice and suddenly, as is always the case when this kind of thing happens, the entire world quit moving.  Suddenly, there were no cars–no road noise.  The shop doors quit opening and closing.  The clocks that had been ticking ceased their workings for a few split seconds.  Even the birds and the wind and the airplanes and the fountains went silent.  A whisper at one end of Main Street would have been audible at the other.  And it was into this utter and complete silence that Caleb bellowed his answer, informing me, the lady, her poor, poor child and everybody else within earshot that, “No,” he didn’t think that kid was all that much.  “In fact,” he went on to say, “the kid was actually kind of ugly.  His ears were big and his nose was all turned up and his eyes were squinty.  Like a rat.”  As if this wasn’t bad enough, Caleb ended by informing me (and all of Zeeland) that he had only said “hello” to the kid because “he felt sorry for him.”

Well, I just stared at him in horror and disbelief as he continued to rattle off all sorts of uncomplimentary descriptions that reverberated off the buildings and up and down the silent streets.  Silent, that is, except for the wildly squeaking wheels of the lady’s stroller as she pushed her child rapidly away from that horrible father and his nasty little son….

I mention this little episode partly as penance but also because it’s the perfect example of how kids think and act.  If you ask for a child’s opinion, you’re going to get it.  They’ll typically tell you exactly what they think.  Problem is, while they’re usually honest, they don’t always exercise the best judgment.

In an earlier article (which you can read HERE), I suggested that it’s important to involve your kids in the process of decorating their rooms.  You should let them pick the colors, ask them what they like and what they hope to see in their rooms.  However, when you do that, you’re going to have to be ready for some crazy answers from time to time.  In fact, when you ask an 8-year-old what colors he’d like on his walls, don’t plan on hearing him say “Oh, a nice medium-beige with an earthy brown would do just lovely.”  No, get ready for black and orange (halloween colors).  Or bright blue and red and yellow (Superman colors).

So, with that said, if you do decide to let them help you decorate their own rooms (which I still believe to be a great idea), you better have a method in mind as to how to incorporate their ideas without completely abandoning the overall look of the room.  You both need to be happy with the outcome.  And that means compromise.  Here are 3 tips:


When your kids choose the brightest yellows and oranges, the flashiest greens and blues, a great compromise is to paint one of the walls–an accent wall–with one of those bright, flashy colors.  Have them settle on which color they like best and see if you can’t work that into a small wall–a wall with a window or a door.

Now, in most cases, when you paint an accent wall, you’d pick the focal point of the room to do this with.  In this case, however . . . well, not so much.  If you’re trying to minimize the effect of the color, then picking the focal point of the room is the last thing you want to do.  Just pick a small wall–a wall that’s not the first thing you see when you walk into the room–and see if you can’t put their color there.  They’ll be happy, feeling proud when they see their bright wall and you’ll be happy because the room doesn’t glow like the face of the sun.


Another great compromise that sometimes works in the paint store is to steer kids toward more muted versions of their colors.  If they love bright reds and yellows, maybe throw out some options like a rusty red or terracotta and a more muted yellow.  Sometimes they’ll see these new colors and be completely willing to compromise.  Again, with this type of scenario, both of you can potentially reach a mutually happy outcome.


Perhaps the best way of working wild, crazy colors into a decorating scheme is to bring those colors in with accessories.  If your kids want to see black and orange or some other funky combination of colors on their walls, but you can’t bring yourself to do it, then offer this:  coat the walls with a nice neutral color and then bring in accessories that fit your child’s desired color scheme.  Bring in lampshades with bright colors, find art prints with the colors, switchplates and any number of other accessories that will serve to fill the room with the chosen colors without overloading the walls and driving you crazy.

The bottom line is this:  when you bring your kids into the decorating picture, you’ve got to be ready to compromise.  Don’t let them decide everything when you hate what they’re coming up with.  Likewise, don’t decide everything yourself when they hate what you’re coming up with.  You both have to be happy with the outcome for this little project to work.  If you hate the room, you’re always going to feel irritated when you walk past it.  If they hate the room, don’t worry, they’ll find a way to let you know about it.

So work together, have fun, and compromise!

3 Paint Storage Methods that Don’t Work!

vicksHave you ever noticed that when you’re sick, everybody is suddenly a doctor.  Everyone has an opinion and a cure for what ails you.  And while some of the cures are very common–chicken soup cures, we could call them–others are anything but.

For example, one older gentleman I know–who will remain nameless–uses Vicks VapoRub whenever he has a cold.

Now, you may say:  “What’s so strange about that?  Many folks use Vicks VapoRub when they’ve got a cold.”

And of course, you’re right.  Many folks do.  But the older gentleman I know uses it (and has recommended that I use it) in a very unusual manner:  He eats it.  By the spoonful.

Yes.  Whenever he’s sick or feels that “under-the-weather” feeling starting up, he heads straight to the medicine cabinet with a teaspoon and downs a spoonful of Vicks VapoRub–that greasy, Crisco-ish paste.  Somehow he swallows it down and, “almost instantly” (he says) the soothing Vicks vapors make him feel better.

Needless to say, I’ve never tried it.  Nor do I recommend that anyone else ever try this.  Yes, my friend is 80+ years old, but I certainly do NOT attribute that age to eating Vicks.  I believe he’s achieved a fine old age in spite of Vicks.

At any rate, when you’re sick, everybody comes out of the woodwork with suggestions and recommendations to make you feel better.  Some make sense, others are of the “eat-a-spoonful-of-Vicks” variety.

Well, the same thing happens whenever you paint:  There are tons of different tips and tricks people recommend for everything from opening the lid to applying the paint to storing it on your shelves.  Today I want to focus on several common methods recommended for paint storage but which, in fact, actually do more harm than good.

Pound Some Nails in the Rim!

The first method I want to debunk is the Pound Some Nail Holes in the Rim Method.  Now, technically, this isn’t nails in rima paint storage tip.  It’s actually a painting application tip, but I’m including it here because it can radically affect your ability to store paint when you finish the job.

Now, the point of the method is to pound nail holes in the rim of your paint can so that all the paint that collects there as you paint, actually drips and drains back into the can.  Oh, it sounds like a great idea and many, many folks (me included at one point) have tried it.

However, the problem with the method is this:  those holes (as well as the process by which they’re created in the rim), can actually damage the rim of the paint can, dramatically reducing the ability of that rim to create a good seal with the lid.  That’s just a fancy and long way of saying:  pound holes in the rim of your can and you’ll find that you can’t seal the can very well later.  Oh, the lid may go on and may look tight, but you’ll often find, when you open it later, that the seal was very poor and your paint has dried out significantly.

So, all that to say:  don’t pound nail holes in the rim.  Instead, simply keep that rim clean of paint.  Or, if you happen to get paint into it, clean that paint out before trying to affix the lid.

Store the Can Upside Down!

upside downThe second method I’d like to address is the common Store the Paint Can Upside Down method.  The theory behind this concept is that air will leak in through the lid.  If you turn the can upside down, the air will not be able to sneak in and therefore, your paint will stay good longer.

The problem with this theory is that often, the bigger problem in a can–the reason paint can dry out so often in a closed container–isn’t so much that the air is leaking in.  It’s because the air’s already in the can when you close it.

If you’ve got a half-full gallon of paint and you pound the lid on and store it–upside down or rightside up–the air that fills up that empty half of the can will start drying the paint that remains.  If you leave the can rightside up, this air will cause a thick coating to form on the surface of the paint and on the exposed sides of the can.  If you turn the can upside down, the same thing will happen, only on the bottom.

This is frustrating enough when the can is rightside up, but at least that way, the skin is on the surface of the paint and you can see it and easily remove it before you do any stirring or shaking of the paint.  However, if you stored the paint can upside down, the skin forms on the bottom side of the can.  All the clumpy stuff, the junk, the bad, unusable paint is at the bottom of the can where you can’t see it when you open it up.

At first, you’ll turn the can over, pop the lid, see good paint and think your “upside-down storage” method worked.  But when you drop a stick in and start stirring (and break up and spread the clumped paint all through the good paint) you’ll realize the flaw inherent in the system.  Unfortunately, by then, it’s not very easy to get the clumped, dried paint out of the good paint without straining it.

So, we recommend simply storing the paint can rightside up, but taking precautions (as we wrote about here) to make sure the can is as full as possible before storage.

Use Plastic Wrap!

The third storage recommendation that is often tossed around is the Place Some Plastic Wrap in the Gallon andplastic then Pound the Lid on method.  This is supposed to create an extra seal between the rim and the lid and prevent air from seaping into the can.

That’s the idea anyway, but unfortunately this method usually fails because most often the plastic, rather than augmenting the natural seal between lid and rim actually compromises that seal.  With the plastic in there, the lid can’t seal as tightly as it could without the plastic and the result is air leaking into the container.

You’re much better off to do as we recommended above and simply clean the excess paint out of the rim before pounding the lid on.  That way you won’t need the plastic at all.

And there you go:  3 different methods recommended on the internet and home improvement shows that just don’t work all that well.  For my money, avoid these crazy solutions (and of course, avoid the earlier solution regarding eating a spoonful of Vicks) and stick to the ideas we recommended here!

Dental Neglect and Home Improvements

toothbrush-571741_640The other night, we–my family and I–were sitting in the living room, watching the Tigers.  The kids were running around, driving us a little nuts and eventually there came a point when I stood up and put my hands on my hips.  (Which really, is something I wish I didn’t do because my wife and kids always mock me and laugh and say that I think I’m a Super Hero.  Which I don’t, the picture below notwithstanding.  I just happen to stand like one.)

At any rate, I stood up, put my hands on my hips and said, “Alright!  It’s time to brush your teeth!”

Caleb, my 10-year-old son, just snickered, nudged Andrew, his younger brother, and whispered in a too-loud whisper:  “Look, Dad acting like he’s Superman again.”

I looked down and realized my hands were on my hips and my chest (or stomach) was all puffed out.  All I really

Proof that I have a tendency to stand like a superhero.

Proof that I have a tendency to stand like a superhero.

lacked was a cape and tights.  And muscles.  And height.

I thought for a second about how sad a Super Hero I would actually make before returning to the issue at hand:  “Go!  Go brush your teeth.  It’s time for bed.”

Well, they scampered off–all 5 of them–like a small heard of domesticated beasts.  But amidst the thundering of their stampede, I heard something I couldn’t believe:  I heard Andrew–in confidential and extremely boastful tones–say the following:

“I haven’t brushed my teeth in four days!”

To which Caleb responded with:  “Wow.  How do you get away with it?”

To which Andrew replied, “I fake it.”

Well, at that point, I’d heard enough.  The last thing I need with 5 kids is for Andrew to start promulgating a gospel of dental neglect.  I stomped into the room, stood with my feet shoulder-length apart, straightened my back, puffed out my chest (or stomach), put my hands on my hips and said:

“Andrew Peter!  You will brush your teeth at least twice a day or…or…” I searched and searched for the right threat, the right punishment, the right ultimatum to level at this hygiene-negligent son of mine.  Ah, yes, that will do.  “Or, you will pay your own dental bills!”

Andrew’s face clouded over and he looked down in defeat.  Then, he looked back up.  “Where am I going to get money for all of that?  I’m just a kid.”

What?  Money for…?  He was trying to get me off-topic.  “It doesn’t matter where the money comes from,” I said.  “I’m saying you’ll have to find it and pay the dentist for all the bills that you rack up because you don’t brush your teeth.”

There.  A definitive closing argument.  Now, we should be able to move on.

“You mean ‘pay him’ like when I pay at the restaurant?  When you give me money and I pay?  Like that?”

His eyes were big and innocent and I couldn’t tell if he was really curious or if he was messing with me.

“No.  Not like that.  You’ll have to earn the money yourself.”

He paused.  Looked down, thinking.  Then his face brightened:  “Dad, the only money I get comes when I get Tooth Fairy money.  So if I’d lose all my teeth, I’d have enough money to pay the dentist, right?”  I started to respond that that didn’t make any sense, but he kept rolling.  “But then, I wouldn’t have any teeth to brush or any teeth to have to pay the dentist to drill, right?”  He was picking up steam now, the clear end of his logical masterpiece in sight.  “So then, I’d have all the money and I wouldn’t have anything to pay the dentist for and, I wouldn’t have teeth to brush.  I’d be rich.”  He finished with a flourish and I half-expected the other kids to rise to their feet, clapping.

I needed to end this and I needed to end it now.  I puffed out my chest one more time, struck my pose and said, “Brush your teeth” in a very no-nonsense kind of way.

Caleb, who’d watched the whole exchange, snickered and said, “Superman has spoken–we must obey.”

Well, that kind of broke the ice and we all laughed a little bit.  But I couldn’t shake Andrew’s desire to not brush his teeth.  I mean really, who intentionally tries to avoid brushing their teeth?  Who else but a kid would ignore such a simple project–especially when ignoring that project is only going to lead to expensive and painful work down the road?

I was just thinking those thoughts when the home improvement point hit me (yes, I’ve written enough blogs and radio segments about paint to see paint-related points in everything):  I’m doing the same thing he is–with the exact same consequences.

See, there are all sorts of little projects around my home.  A hallway ceiling that should be painted.  Kitchen cupboards that need to be touched-up.  Some peeling edges on my wallpaper that should be stuck back down.

I’ve got all kinds of little projects.  Some are bigger than others, but most are really, just 10 and 15 minute jobs.  In the grand scheme of things, they take no time at all.  They cost almost nothing and they don’t require loads of expertise or special tools.

And yet I routinely ignore them.  I do.  I don’t know why.  I guess I’m like Andrew–I don’t want to take the time to do these little fixes.  I just keep telling myself that it’s not a big deal, that I’ll get to it later.

But the problem with that line of thought is that failure to act now only causes bigger problems later.  Just like Andrew and his teeth, I’m saving time now, but I’m going to have to pay the piper, later.  And I’ll have to use my own money to do it.

For example, the peeling wallpaper is a perfect case in point.  The spot I needed to fix was about 3 inches long all along a seam.  Nothing.  It wouldn’t have taken any time or money or effort at all.  (Notice I’ve shifted to past-tense to talk about this).  A little dab of paste, some safe-release tape to hold it down for a few hours and it would have looked like new.  But I left it and didn’t do it.  I ignored it.

But Tessa didn’t.  She found it and, of course, figured it should be picked at, peeled, pulled at.  Well, one thing led to another and before long, she’d created a much bigger problem that took much longer to fix.  On top of it all, the fix I managed to come up with wasn’t nearly as effective as the easier, cheaper one would have been.

So now, that’s me and my family–what’s your’s like?  Are your kids brushing their teeth?  If not, do they brag about it, too?  Is that just a kid-thing?  Or do I have bad-hygiene kids?  And how about you?  Not so much your teeth, but do you have projects at home like I do?  Easy, quick projects you keep ignoring?

Well, maybe it’s time to tackle them.  Maybe it’s time to cross them off your list and deal with them on a more regular basis–before they become bigger, more expensive problems down the road.

Give it some thought!