Friday, 26 December 2008
Well that's another Christmas over and gone. Our home currently resembles a looted toy store, with all manner of gifts littered about, plastic pieces underfoot and new supplies of day-glo play-doh stuck to various walls. In the dining room an extended Monopoly games continues on with Auntie Kenz refusing to back down and declare a draw. There is every chance this game will continue on until the New Year...
Had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner party the other night which continued on well into the early hours. When Christmas morning dawned I realized that this double festive dinner thing might have been a mistake when I found myself kitchen-bound most of yesterday, stumbling about with a horrid hangover (that's what happens when you start the day with free-flowing champagne and raucous friends) and trying to put together a big Christmas dinner single-handedly all the while operating with a mere few perfunctory brain cells and looking like the village idiot.
When at around 6pm or so six of us were seated around our cozily lit dining table, no one was more surprised than me to see the spread laid out. I'm not entirely sure how it all came together as I have only the vaguest recollection of having cooked and baked at all. However upon closer inspection this morning I see a cheesecake, mincemeat pie and various assorted foodstuffs wrapped up so it wasn't all just a dream.
Egg and Dumpie fell asleep in my arms in bed last night around 10pm as I tried in vain to watch the one-off Christmas special of 'The Royle Family' (bloody hilarious) from our king-size bed upstairs. Just as it ended and I rolled over to drift off into blissful, welcome sleep, Jay stormed in, dragged me out of bed and insisted I join the Monopoly game just starting downstairs.
I tried valiantly to stay awake, nibbling on some cheesecake and sipping a strong coffee while the others got stuck into yet more champagne and fine red wines...but it was to no avail. My throat was on fire and I could feel myself getting sick. So after a few runs around the board and some buying up of property, I eventually bequeathed all my money and property to my dear husband (who was bankrupt) and said my goodnights.
Now I am sitting here at the kitchen table, preparing for day three of festivities (what is this....a modern day version of Rome?) as a few people pop out to get supplies for Bloody Mary's (everyone in Britian treats this season as a free-for-all booze-fest and takes on the persona of a hardcore alcoholic for the duration...so don't be shocked). I however am taking it easy and sitting here with my little bowl of pomegranates, awaiting the completion of some homemade Banana Bread (little 'Nigella' that I am) and mentally preparing for todays menu, as we anticipate an onslaught of potential visitors throughout the day.
Saying that, I am tempted to do a runner in a bit - grab my library book, enough change for a cappuccino and my credit card (just in case I happen to pass an amazing sale!) and 'disappear' for a little while.
The truth is that if I don't get out of here soon, I'm in danger of losing another day to rounds of Bloody Mary's and my poor liver just ain't up to it...I have New Year's to get through after all...
Saturday, 20 December 2008
I've had a pretty bad week in all respects. You know, one of those weeks when if something can go wrong it will, and even if something should be smooth sailing, it will end up a disasater. I found myself several times staring into space quite glumly, remembering that immortal line from the 'Talking Heads' song "Once In A Lifetime"...HOW DID I GET HERE?
You see, life speeds by at such an exacting pace, and most of us are too busy surviving, escaping, enjoying or accomplishing to really notice the ridiculous amount of years that have passed since we last properly took stock of things - and hence the reality can be somewhat shocking - especially if you're not in the best place when this epiphany occurs. I certainly wasn't.
I think the last time the passage of time (and my advancing stage in it) hit home was several years ago in Topshop (a fashionistas paradise of all things trendy and glamourous). I was trying on a ra-ra miniskirt or something equally juvenile, and I think my little sister was with me, and the look she gave me was one of bemused good humor and incredulity as I twirled in the change rooms and innocently asked, 'What do you think?" Her look said it all, but naively I asked, "Is it the color? Is it too loud?" My sister is the sweetest of sweethearts, and with something akin to kind pity she replied, "Nooooo. Well Electric Blue IS a tricky color to wear...but...it's more the style."
"What's wrong with the style?" I asked. "Does it make me look fat?" She took a moment to pause and form her reply in way so as not to hurt my feelings, and in that moment it suddenly dawned on me that she thought it was 'too young' for me and probably better relegated to the messy wardrobe of a 13 year old.
She wasn't wrong, and as she tried to explain later, some things are for different stages of your life. She asked whether I would ever wear a side ponytail or plaits now? I replied that no, perhaps the side ponytail would never see the light of day on my head again, but plaits I had no problem with and had recently worn. She smiled indulgently as only a sister can, and closed the discussion by saying, "Well I suppose if anyone can wear that stuff and get away with it you can, but I never would."
So you see, this whole episode was a rude awakening at the time, to the fact that I was no longer 17, and was in fact in my early thirties, and yet had no recollection of the time passing in such cruel fashion so as to render me almost middle age. MIDDLE AGE?!!! Urghhhh....How did THAT happen??!!
Well this week I experienced another of those moments. I was standing in a trashed kitchen (the boys seem to favor that as THE PLACE to wreak the most havoc, given the absolute plethora of yummy foodstuffs stored temptingly just out of reach) and had yet again reached the end of my proverbial tether. They were scrapping about something or other, which slowly turned into a screaming competition of who could do it the loudest and longest, and amidst this chaotic hell was the puppy yelping as she was stepped on and trying to dodge angry toddler ankles whilst hoovering up assorted crumbs on the floor, and I just lost it.
My sister and dad came on ichat and were trying to talk over the loud noise in the kitchen but all I could see were their lips moving. I tried to get in range so they could see the utter despair on my face but no communication was possible due to the loud volume of the scene erupting behind me. I was at a loss. That's when I thought to myself, "How did i get here?" This was swiftly followed by the question of escape. Was it possible for me or too late? Too late. Okay then, could I carve out some peace in this current life of mine in order to keep from utterly losing my mind and turning into some scary screaming witch of a mother? Perhaps....but how?
I know that in the 'Golden Olden Daze' of the 60's and 70's it was not uncommon for women to be prescribed valium. "Mother's Little Helper's" they were called. I think the "Stones" (that's The Rolling Stones to you lot) even wrote a song about it. I wondered vaguely how I might be able to get some 'Little Helpers' and whether it would do me any good in the long term. I reckoned not.
No, I think I need help of a different variety. Oh that I were filthy rich and could have the luxury of a brilliant full-coverage health plan which would allow me to go away to some retreat in Arizona to 'get well' and spend my afternoons painting horrid watercolors, my evenings watching quiz show re-runs in a lounge surrounded by other damaged and disinterested folk, and my mornings being dosed up the eyeballs with multi-colored 'little helpers' administered by comfortingly brusque nurses who would patronizingly pat my head as they passed and leave me to sleep the sleep of undisturbed mentalists.
Is it wrong that I yearn to be committed? How far I have fallen. Will things get better? Most certainly...for that is the nature of life and time. Still, sitting here, staring forlornly at my empty cappuccino cup, and surveying my messy kitchen for the gazillionth time (which was spotless only half an hour ago), I feel trapped in an unending personal hellish version of the movie 'Groundhog Day'.
There's only one thing for it. Wine. And lots of it. However, it being only 9am (and me on heavy duty antibiotics) that is not an option. So with heavy heart I shall trundle over the stove, make my second double-shot cappuccino of the morning and munch on a yummy homemade Christmas cookie. That may not help matters in any lasting way, but the sugar rush shall surely see me through the next hour at least. And when that wears off...well...I'll just have another....and another...
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Today was Egg's nativity concert at school. The four and five year olds were divided into groups: Kings, Shepherds, Angels, Pigs, Chickens, and Narrators. So I guess as a king Egg didn't get off too badly. He was absolutely adorable, and I almost got misty-eyed seeing my little man dressed up in his misshapen crown (his was the only one pointing downwards on his head instead of sitting proudly erect) and robe. He looked ever so pleased to see his Mama, Dumps and Auntie Kenz waving wildly at the back (I should have known that there would be a horde of over-eager parents arriving extra early to nab the best seats).
Throughout the half-hour performance Dumps repeatedly pointed to his mouth and demanded a drink. I of course did not have one with me and therefore had to use every trick in the book to keep him distracted throughout the performance. In a quiet moment Auntie Kenz's mobile had the misfortune of going off and a roomful of eyes glared back at us. At any rate Egg was ever so sweet and I was very proud of my little man - especially the few times when I heard his lovely little voice soaring clearly above the others.
Anyway it's midnight and I should go to bed. Typing this is proving challenging given that Egg slammed a toy down on my keyboard earlier and broke one of the keys off. The boys had to have a makeshift dinner of beans and oatmeal (not together of course - that would be disgusting) as our oven is on the blink as well...doesn't bode well for those cookies. I wonder what else can go wrong? So far we have a broken light fixture resulting in pitch blackness on the landing, a broken stove, a missing section of fence on the terrace, a vastly soiled carpet full of dog wee, 32 cookies to bake for Egg's class christmas party on Wednesday, and a mother's coffee morning tomorrow that I'll have to be on good form for, even though I will have probably managed to just grab a mere few hours sleep again (did I mention the boys were up in the middle of the night again last night and came hurtling into my bed, turned the tv on and proceeded to have a pillow fight? Not the fun kind of pillow fight -the kind where they're actually fighting over who gets more pillow!)
Oh yeah, and tomorrow I get to dismantle our Christmas tree in order to exchange our newly purchased LED lights because tonight I noticed that there is a loose connection or something and they only work intermittently. I caught Dumpie in the act of swatting off more tree ornaments tonight in a rather petulant manner and temporarily considered setting the whole thing alight.
Sunday, 14 December 2008
Well they say 'start as you mean to go on' and as regards the day, I certainly have. Actually, let's back up to yesterday morning when my sister left for a few weeks in Florida (leaving her extremely naughty and extremely un-house-trained puppy 'Daisy' with us for the duration). Yesterday was horrid and rainy day and Jay had a car coming to pick him up at 2:45pm to deliver him to Heathrow where he was flying out to Chile for a week.
At 2pm I realised that this year I was going to be soley in charge or signing and posting our huge batch of specially ordered Christmas cards (Jake did the artwork at school and we had them printed up especially). At 2:10pm I realized that Jay wasn't going to have enough time to set up my laptop to the keyboard and mic so that I could make some music while he was away. At 2:15pm I realized that a section of our terrace fence had blown off in the blustering wind and was lying forlornly in the street below...and there it would stay. At 2:20pm I noticed that some of our light bulbs around the house had burnt out and so asked Jay if he could replace them before he left as we need all the light we can get in London in December (kind of necessity when it gets dark at 3pm these days). This request turned out to be a huge mistake.
At 2:45pm as we wait anxiously for Jay's car to turn up, he was swearing and cussing up a storm, perched precariously on a kitchen chair and trying valiantly to re-adhere our light fixture back onto the ceiling after it had come crashing down and blown a fuse throughout the first level. Eventually at 2:55pm the cabbie rang and Jay (eagerly, I couldn't help notice) jumped down and grabbing his suitcase yelled, "Just get in an electrician...you don't want to be in darkness all week!" Indeed.
To top things off, last night I had promised Egg an "Mama and Egg sleepover" in the 'Mama-Dada Bed'. He was not to be dissuaded, even though I was craving a hot bath and some alone time. So we put Dumpie to bed, who was utterly and totally affronted at such blatant favoritism, and he proceeded to scream and wail his dissent for the next hour or so. I can't imagine what the neighbors thought.
Eventually I got Egg settled after a little treat of his favorite Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice-cream, and had just climbed into bed myself when Dumps woke up and started wailing. This continued on and off for the next few hours until I stormed downstairs, picked up the tear-stained, hyper-ventilating monster and brought him upstairs to sleep with Egg and I. Not only did this not succeed in settling him, but he managed to wake Egg up and then the two of them spent the next hour or so (bear in mind this is the middle of the night) giggling, pulling my hair, poking fingers in my ears, my nose, and turning the overhead spotlights on and off...and on and off again...and generally creating an atmosphere in which it was virtually impossible to sleep. I slowly but surely lost the will to live, and sometime in the early dawn I grabbed them each under an arm and deposited them unceremoniously back into their beds and forbade them to get up.
Next thing I know it's morning, and as I crept downstairs I noticed their door ajar and discovered that their room had been trashed. Everything was everywhere and it looked like it had just been used to film a scene from 'The Exorcist'...complete with mad crayon graffiti on the walls. Even the bed and cot had been moved halfway across the room.
Downstairs it was much as I expected. Chairs had been pushed up to the counter, cupboards had been plundered and my entire jar of drinking straws had been cut up into tiny pieces and lay scattered throughout the downstairs like confetti.
Things just went from bad to worse as I discovered that Daisy had deposited poo poo under the xmas tree, as well as several small puddles of dog wee throughout the house. Nonetheless I packed the boys off to watch morning cartoons, and busied myself clearing up the worst of the mess. Sadly we had to give the carol service a miss this morning, but given the state of affairs and my worsening mood, this was probably for the best. I can't imagine a lot of "fa-la-la-la-la's" exiting forth from my mouth this morning...more like "f___f___f___f___f___'s".
In an effort to get some perspective and take a break, I typed up a cathartic blog only to lose it in its entirety just as I was about to post it. (Although no great loss to the literary world, it was simply another nail in the coffin of my day.)
At any rate, the hours have passed rather predictably and with a blunt edge. Juice has been spilled, crumbs have been scattered randomly yet thoroughly throughout the vicinity, tantrums have been flung, ornaments have been hurled off the poor tree, and Daisy continues to use our home as a giant litter box. In between I have ferried the boys over to the cold, windswept and nearly deserted playground, and had a narrow escape with Daisy nearly dashing into oncoming traffic as I was bent over trying to untangle her leash from the pushchair wheels for about ten minutes in the bitter cold.
When I finally succeeded, I looked down and noticed that the leash, my coat and indeed my hands were covered in milky white street vomit, for that is where we had had the misfortune to stop. Pretty much sums things up...
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Yesterday when I picked Egg up from school his teacher came up to me and asked whether Egg had told me that he was going to be a 'King' in the school christmas concert. I was so proud! My little Egg...a King (sigh). I had my mobile out, ready to call Jay and tell him the charming news, but as we walked home, Egg let slip that there were several kings...in fact possibly as many as 14 if he is to be believed.
I asked him if he had a speaking part, and skaking his head no, said that 'loads of boys are going to be kings' and that all you have to do is march across the stage. Ho hum. Nonetheless I am very excited to see my wee man in his first production. Being musically inclined he goes around the house singing the songs with the cutest intonation and I can't wait to see his beaming face alight as he stands proudly on stage.
We finally got our Christmas tree all decked out - if not with boughs of holly, then at least candy canes, twinkling LED lights and all the beautiful treasured ornaments my mom has procured for me over the years (thanks Mom I adore them and shall treasure them always). It's a beautiful tree, so tall and full and regal. In fact it's so giant and spectacular it just barely fits in our high-ceilinged front room. I had a 'Charlie Brown' moment when I saw it last weekend...it was standing back from the rest, perfect in every way and I knew it was 'the one'. It is by far the best one we have ever had or likely ever will have:)
I have to confess however, that there have been a few false starts with the decorating aspect of it. First of all I had to upgrade our lights to the giant obscenely expensive version after the large strands I purchased failed to make it all the way up the tree! Then, I discovered that the fantasy of 'trimming the tree' as a family, with Christmas music, big smiles and all of us doing it together was SO not going to happen. For a start, the hubby felt that shouldering the bohemouth tree down the street on his back and hiking it up the stairs and wrenching it into place marked the end of his commitment regarding festive decor. Fair enough. As for the munchkins, well they proved not only unhelpful but downright counterproductive, as they began removing my precious ornaments as soon as I placed them delicately on the Nordstrom needles. It was like a reverse assembly line. I would take a star, place it gently on a branch, step back and admire my handiwork, then turn around and bend down to get another, only to stand up again and see that the previous ornament had been removed and was tucked under one of the boys arms as they ran giggling from the room.
Eventually I cottoned on to the fact that it was a pointless effort, and so the other night while they lay sleeping in bed I did the whole tree and had a lovely evening of reflection (quite literally) as I stretched out on the worlds most comfy sofa and admired my handiwork glittering amongst the twinkling lights.
I suspect it is only a matter of days before the tree is knocked over as we are 'puppy-sitting' Auntie Mo's super-naughty dog 'Daisy' over Christmas, and she likes nothing more than to jump up and chew the tree and the various dangly ornaments jiggling temptingly just in reach. So unless the tree remains bare on the bottom then we're just going to have to deal with it. If Daisy isn't the culprit than it will be Egg or Dumps as they love crawling underneath it and scouting about for candy canes within reach.
At least we've learned a lesson from Christmas past, when one year we stupidly hung chocolate santa's on our tree and paid the consequences. I've had to also rethink the Christmas star biscuit decorations as that would just be foolishness to end all foolishness. Those chubby chickens would have the tree stripped bare faster than you could say 'hanging biscuits' and even if hung high, they would find a way to navigate the sofa armrest and likely wield a broom handle if it was called for.
Anyway, the husband is off to Chile on Saturday, Auntie Mo is off to sunnier climes, and I have to figure out a way to get through a week of solitary childcare, arrange for a total kitchen renovation in one of our flats, and puppy-sit the worlds naughtiest, untrained puppy...URGHHH. I have gotten to the stage where I am unwilling to deal with fecal matter unless it is directly resulting from one of my offspring. In the poo-stakes I am well and truly batting above my average and I am afraid that if Daisy the Dirty Dog doesn't watch her toilet habits, then she just may end up center stage at our Christmas dinner in the form of some tiny tasty kebabs.
Friday, 5 December 2008
It's 7:48pm on a Friday night, and I have a cute but ridiculous 'Benefit' shower cap on my head...doing a hair treatment before I abandon my long dry hair to the mercy of the hairdressers shears. I am so tempted to go for a cute but crazy short crop, but then I think that in case it all goes wrong I might end up looking staid instead of edgy...more mummy and less scrummy...you know? Basically I'm chicken. One day I'll get up the nerve. I will.
Both boys are tucked in bed, relatively quiet (they think that i've come downstairs to fetch a storybook) and I have a whole Friday night stretched gloriously ahead of me. Our home is decked out in manifold pointsetta's (what can I say - went a bit crazy at the gardening place today), and due to our cleaners regular Thursday slot, our place is about as clean as it can be.
Today was the school Christmas fair, and like all the other mothers there, I shepherded my excited offspring round about the stalls, buying treats they didn't need, paying for raffle tickets that didn't win anything, and generally trying to make merry despite the crowds and my afternoon hankering for a cappuccino. Dumps was in his element as he toddled hand-in-hand with Egg around the school yard, nibbling on chocolate santas, and even shoplifting two lollipops (shamefaced I had to cough up the requisite 60 pence).
Once home the boys proceeded to eat their way through an alarming amount of sweeties from their xmas goodie bags, until I put my foot down, put some dinner on the stove and demanded they hand over their spoil until AFTER they ate something mildly nourishing. They obliged.
At any rate, I could go on and on, but instead I'm going to do something radical. I'm going to go and fill up the bathtub with Laura Mercier creme brule bath essence (divine), grab a novel I've been trying to finish for, oh at least three weeks now (and me a speed reader - the shame of it), and make like that lady in the commercial who washes all her cares away after a particularly stressful day.
If I time it just right, my loving husband will come trampling in just as I sink into the hot foamy bubbles, bark at me about what a stressful day he had, and ask what's for dinner. Given that I whipped up a linguine and rocket feast the other night, only to be rewarded by a sheepish confession that he'd stopped at the pub for four pints and followed that by a bag of chips (french fries to you North Americans)...I am sorely tempted to point him toward the big box of Sugar Puffs I have hidden in the cupboard. (On impulse I bought them the other day...not entirely sure why but they are bloody delicious! We were never allowed sugar cereals growing up so perhaps I'm rebelling against all the healthy peanut butter and boring porridge that was forced upon us day after day...)
Anyway, enough mindless chit-chat. Off I pop. Have a good one peoples....
Thursday, 4 December 2008
The other day amidst all the plastic bits and bobs which make up about 90% of the surface of the boys room, I came across a lovely bright yellow envelope which I realized was Grandma's 2nd birthday card to Dumps (she has the lovely habit of sending several on a birthday so it is understandable that one might have gotten missed amidst all the rucus!) At any rate Dumps and I opened it and found a hilarious musical card with a big white chicken on the front - how fitting. Moreover, inside were two large individually wrapped pieces of gourmet chocolate.
Dumps thought he won the lottery and has been carrying around the chocolate, sleeping with the chocolate and generally lording the chocolate over Eggie. He feels special 'owning' his very own sweeties and there is no way anyone is going to take them from him - believe me I tried. Funnier still is his insistence in carrying the card around everywhere, and opening and closing it as we barrel down the street late for school with a LOUD (how can a card be that loud?) song playing and immediately turning us into a spectacle. I suppose I should be used to it by now. If it's not the avant garde outfits or make up which I often wear on the very conservative 'school runs' then it's my very vocal children with their already engrained idiocyncrasies. (For those of you with an interest, today I am sporting a black and white polka dot ra-ra skirt, high black boots and bright turquoise eyeliner...hmmm)
As you may be aware, my very existence seems to be punctuated by problems - ranging from the merely annoying (our new mortgage lender won't put the deal through until we fax our marriage certificate which seems to have gone missing) to the more worrying (last night Jay's passport fell out of his pocket at the foot of the stairs and was not there when we came down this morning. There is every likelihood that Dumps has taken it and hidden it, gleefully imagining that he has procured his very own coloring book. Jay is not much amused...especially as he is planning a trip to Chile next week...oops).
Last night Egg had his first play date at our house. It was a little boy in his class who is obsessed with Hot Wheels which transform into things (??). Egg must have told his friend that he had loads of these at home, and the first half hour of the visit was spent 'looking' for toys which clearly don't exist! Poor Egg. It was my duty to cover up for him, especially when I discovered him trying to pass off a stationary little plastic car as one of these super-duper transformers.
So I did what I do best, applied distraction techniques, and plied them with chocolates and let them trash the front room with cushions and pillows in order to build a fort. The little boys mother was horrified to see the carnage (as was I when I eventually walked in), but I brushed it off like it was no big deal, frantically flinging cushions back in place whilst maintaining friendly chatter and trying to wipe the tell-tale bits of chocolate from her sons face.
Dumpie sits beside me here at the kitchen table, spooning his second yoghurt into his little mouth while solemnly watching some weird show on telly. He's in charge of the remote control and has become quite discriminating as of late, making me turn the channel whenever this annoying male presenter comes on (which, being the childrens BBC, is 90% of the time). That's my boy. His 'cheese-o-meter' is well and truly functioning, and he's already showing signs of being 'too cool for school' before even entering. With any luck he'll not inherit his Dada's dancing skills and it should be smooth sailing through the quagmire of youth...if only he loses those earth-shattering screams....
Monday, 1 December 2008
Well it's Monday morning...again. Egg has now had two 'play dates' with little boys from his school so it's time to return the favor and invite his little friends over to ours after school. This would be okay except for the fact that i'm not entirely sure what a mothers role is to be in this circumstance. Am I to hover gently around and make sure the boys are on their best behavior? Am I to set up fun but educational games for them to play at the kitchen table, whilst baking homemade cookies and prancing around in an apron? Or do I just let them get on with it and forget that there is another child in our home, until the doorbell rings, the mother enters, asks her son what he did and he replies, "Nothing'. Hmmm...
This morning started on a high note in our home as it was the first day of December and hence the start of the beloved "Advent Calendars". Every other year Egg (and later Dumps) has seen to it that the contents of the lovingly chosen calendars have been demolished within the first few days. In a quiet moment the cardboard has been ripped off and the yummy chocs procured through questionable means. This year however we are hiding them in the highest cupboard and they shall only be brought down for a few minutes a day and then hidden again. It's the only way.
There is not a lot else to report. Had a bit of a wobbly on Saturday morning when I came down to find the kitchen demolished in such a fashion that I didn't even know where to start. To make matters worse, the night before Jay and I had between us, rid our wine rack of a few choice bottles of red. As luck would have it our espresso maker broke, and that I think was the final straw. So when I yelled for Jay to come down (he was hiding upstairs in bed with his laptop) and didn't get a response after several attempts, I did what many a disgruntled wife has done before me. I calmly went and put my coat on, and let myself out the front door, leaving the whole mess behind.
It was rather liberating to be storming down the street, each step taking me further and further away from the setting of my domestic hell. I reasoned (and rightly so) that if I wasn't there to sort out such calamities, (thanklessly I might add) time and time again, then surely they would get sorted somehow?
I wasn't wrong. A short while later, in a warm cafe sipping my much-needed cappuccino, I received a text saying, "You better be coming home with some GOOD treats!" I took this to mean divorce was not on the cards, and obliged by returning a short while later with almond croissants, and in a far better mood.
Much to my surprise (I did wonder...) the kitchen had been restored, if not to a clean state, then one typical of a single father with two young boys. So with slight reluctance, but a caffeinated heart, I picked up the hated sponge, grabbed the broom, and began doing what it seems I was put upon this earth to do...ruin my lovely cherry red manicure once again (sigh).