We've been in England the past two weeks with Erin's family and some visiting friends. This was the vacation we had booked months before deciding to uproot for the whole year (we just changed the return flight). 

I was hoping to publish the post below before we left but couldn't get it done, for reasons that will be obvious once you read it. 

The Final Countdown

The current irony of this trip to free ourselves from the incessant burdens of our narrow life is that, in the four months of preparation since Erin had this crazy idea, all of these little annoyances that pop up here and there now need to happen all at once. 

We need to get our house in tip top shape for our tenants. The last 5% that I never finished on every house project I've ever done needs to be finished. We need to deep clean everything. 

We have to sort stuff, move stuff, sell stuff, donate stuff, store stuff. We've sold or donated a car, a guitar amplifier, kids clothes, baby supplies. 

We have to buy new stuff for the tenants - linens, a toaster, a garbage can, rugs, a thermostat, a router, a toilet brush. 

We have to buy new stuff for ourselves - a laptop, a laptop lock, backup hard drives, a travel printer, a wi-fi hotspot, shoes, raincoats, medicine. 

We have to get all of our accounts paperless, on autopay, update the mailing addresses, notify of our travel. 

We have to get all of our health care squared away. Checkups, vaccines, medications, lab tests, an allergy test (grass pollen is my nemesis). 

We have to research and buy health insurance - travel medical insurance while we're out of the country, short-term insurance when we come back. 

We have to revise our homeowners insurance for a rental unit. We have to cancel the auto insurance for the car we sold. 

We set up a post office box and a safe deposit box. Erin transferred our condo banking responsibilities to the other trustees. 

We're up until midnight every night working to check all these little things off our list. We actually made a checklist spreadsheet, which has grown to 250 tasks, most of which have been completed. There are other things we've just done before they ever made it onto the list. Nothing gets done on the first try, and each resolved item generates two new tasks.

You don't realize how complex your life has become until you try to disassemble it and pack it into a suitcase. 

The saving grace of this effort is that one of the things we need to get rid of is alcohol.

We've long since worked our way through the beer and wine. Now we're down to the hard stuff. We've started a liquor laboratory each night, combining whatever booze we have with whatever other undrunk beverages we need to use up. 

Erin thinks we're self-medicating, but hey, this booze isn't going to drink itself.

Here are some daily snapshots of some of the little things we've been doing each night for our last ten days to get ourselves out the door, and what we've been drinking to get ourselves through each night. 

There's a lot more that didn't make it onto this list. There's no need to read through the whole list, but a quick browse will give you a flavor of the minutiae of to-do's. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015
10 days until liftoff

What we're drinking:

Vodka and artificial lemonade. It tastes as bad as it sounds. It's like I'm at a crappy high school party where someone raided their parents' liquor cabinet. 

What we're doing:

  • Abby and Caitlin came over to help with the kids (thanks guys!)
  • Installed the new router
  • Got stuff together to donate to Big Brother/ Big Sister (they pick up from our front steps)
  • Tagged ductwork dampers, outdoor spigot shutoff, and gas shutoff in basement
  • Changed HVAC air filters 
  • Replaced toilet flapper and adjusted flush lever arm so it doesn't stick. 
  • Changed mortgage mailing address
  • Started fall maintenance list for Tim's dad. 
  • Emailed dog walker with schedule 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
9 days until liftoff

What we're drinking:

Vodka and artificial lemonade... and ginger ale, to fizz it up. It's even worse. Way too sweet, yet the harshness of the vodka still cuts through. 

What we're doing:

  • Fixed the toilet flush arm I screwed up yesterday when I replaced the flapper. 
  • Glued a magnet back onto the cumin on our magnetic spice rack. 
  • Weighed my guitar amplifier to respond to a craigslist buyer who asked for the weight. It weighed 40 pounds. I told him I'd sell it for $4 / pound. 
  • Retexted another guy again who offered me $160 for the amp, to which I said come pick it up, to which he never responded. God I hate craigslist. 
  • Tried to submit a $100 rebate for a Nest thermostat I just installed. Rummaged through the recycling bin looking for the packaging UPC. Realized today had been trash day. Erin said I should drop my amp price to $100.  
  • Changed life insurance mailing address to my sister's house. 
  • Changed 401k to paperless. Changed mailing address. 
  • Labeled a light switch. 
  • Brought Renzo to the vet and bought a year of heartworm and flea medicine 
  • Ironed curtains
  • Tried to cancel EZ Pass account for the car we sold last week. Realized you can't do it online. 
  • Tried to submit automobile excise tax abatement form to City of Somerville for the car we sold last week. Realized this needs to be submitted in February when we get the bill. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015
8 days until liftoff

What we're drinking:

Erin crushed the rest of the vodka, with the crappy lemonade. I switched to rum with ginger ale. It's an improvement. 

What we're doing:

  • Called to cancel the EZ Pass transponder. 
  • Called to set up autopay for our disability insurance. 
  • Called about the Nest thermostat rebate. I can go to Home Depot to take a photo of the UPC I threw out. Crisis averted. 
  • Put stickers with tenants' names on the mailbox. 
  • Erin put a new cable lock on her laptop. 
  • Downloaded car seat manuals. 
  • Scanned passports and credit cards. 
  • Sorted documents for safe deposit box. 

Friday, August 14, 2015
7 days until liftoff

Russ and Lainey's wedding!
No chores tonight. We had babysitters for the night (thanks Mom and Dad!) and a designated driver (thanks Amanda!) 

We drank Chardonnay and Modelo Especial, and lots of it. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015
6 days until liftoff

What we're doing:

We have no kids for the day and got a good night's sleep, hangovers notwithstanding. It's go time. 

We go room by room pulling everything out that we don't need this week. We're preparing as if we're leaving on Monday, leaving out five days worth of clothes and take-out menus. 

  • Erin starts in the kitchen and I start in my closet. We each make two piles in each room, one to go to my parents' house in Maine, and one for deep storage. 
  • Erin goes through the remaining toys and boxes them up, leaving a handful for the rest of the week. 
  • I scan and file papers.
  • I print copies of our credit cards and passports. The printer runs out of ink. 
  • After dinner I go to Staples to get the printer ink, and I pick up headphones and a power adapter. 
  • Then it's Home Depot for the Nest UPC, recutting bad keys they had previously cut for our tenants, luggage locks, 4 more storage bins, and a key lock box. 
  • I've been wanting to replace 10 lights in our kitchen with LED fixtures, but we don't have time so I looked for dimmable fluorescent bulbs to replace the five remaining incandescents. The Depot has no dimmable fluorescents. I bought the LED fixtures. Oh well, another project for tomorrow. 
  • I get home at 10 PM and unload the Depot loot, then pack up the car for the hour and a half drive to Maine. Tonight. 

No drinks for me, hopefully Erin is back home finishing the rum. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015
5 days until liftoff

What we're doing:

  • Unloaded stuff at my parents' house for storage. 
  • Brought the kids home. 
  • Erin got the rest of the house sorted and stored. 
  • I tried installing the LED fixtures. They didn't fit the existing housings. Back to the Depot to just buy the LED bulbs instead of fixtures. 
  • Installed the new LED light bulbs. 
  • Sold my guitar amp for $190. God I love craigslist. 
  • Did a mock packing of everything. It didn't fit. We took out a few pieces of clothing, some toys, books. It fits now!
  • We weighed the big suitcase. It's 2 pounds less than the 50 pound limit. Let's hope our scale is as accurate as the airport scales. 


Monday, August 17, 2015
4 days until liftoff

My office threw a going away shindig for me at a waterfront bar in Charlestown. Erin brought the kids. Thanks everyone!

What we're drinking:
Erin had a glass of wine. 
I drank a tasty prohibition ale followed by some Harpoon grapefruit shandy. One last taste of summer in Boston before we leave. 

What we're doing:

  • Submitted the Nest thermostat rebate. 
  • Changed Erin's life insurance mailing address. 
  • Setup online access to our accounts with our financial planner. 
  • Erin wrote a list of notes about the house for our tenants. 

Tuesday August 18, 2015
3 days until liftoff

What we're drinking:

There's one bottle left. 
Everyone has some bottle of liquor in their cabinet that they've never drank, don't want to drink, and don't know how it got there. 
Tonight, we drink Ouzo. 

What we're doing:

  • I made a list of maintenance items for my Dad to close up our yard in the fall. 
  • We put the roof rack and cargo bin on top of the car.
  • I added to Erin's list for the tenants, which included figuring out how to turn the TV on. 

Wednesday August 19, 2015
2 days until liftoff:

What we're drinking:

Erin met up with some friends for drinks, to say goodbye. 
I'm stuck here with the Ouzo. Opa!

What we're doing:

  • Caulked the basement staircase to the wall to minimize bug traffic. 
  • De-spidered the basement.
  • Had a professional cleaner clean the whole house. 
  • Erin set up the security system for the tenants. 
  • Stepped in dog poo. Fresh. Both feet. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015
1 day until liftoff:

With the stress of everything we've been doing, I feel like there's going to be some little thing that we forget to do. Like today, when I forgot that I was supposed to pick up Oliver from preschool. Let's just agree to blame that on the stress. 

What we're drinking:
Ouzo. Again. For the last time. At this point we're only drinking it as comic relief for this article. I hope you all appreciate it. 

What we're doing:

  • Changed smoke detector batteries and tested them. 
  • Tested battery backup sump pump. 
  • Cleared out remaining stuff. 
  • Packed last few things. 
  • Washed sheets and quilts. 
  • The security system code Erin set up for the tenants didn't work. She's on the phone with the security company at 11:30 PM. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

After a day of running around like chickens with our heads cut off, Tim got home from work at 5:45 and we were at the airport by 6:30 PM...

...and we're off!