Against all the odds, Ray and I keep on top of things house-wise most of the time. That's to say, there may be cobwebs, but by 8pm most thing are usually back in their box and a sense of calm settles over the Harvey household. (Or to put it another way, Ray falls asleep on the sofa).
Now that crèche and school have resumed, we have a few hours a couple of days a week to get more organised (I found the bottom of my filing tray yesterday! Yes! It's true!!). And we're constantly working hard to keep things as tidy as possible.
So tell me, dear readers, WHY is it that the minute things are becoming a little chaotic, the doorbell rings.
Richard and Tim - a lovely couple from down the road - have had a long-standing 'cup of tea' invitation. And I was so pleased when they turned up on our doorstep at ten to four this afternoon.
But then my smile became fixed... I remembered that we were in a stinking mess...
This morning, we'd had to get to Limoges quite early; so we'd dropped everyone at crèche, left things a bit "muddly" and zoomed off. Ten minutes before R and T arrived, we'd come home - with time for a cuppa before the school run.
With the usual "it's not normally like this, honest" claims, I ushered R & T into the living room. They politely laughed, but I suspect they thought "I bet it's not, you filthy cow, it's probably usually worse..."
I had to rush off to get the boys and Lily, whilst Ray made a cup of tea with his filthy hands*
Then P, a friend whose son G is in Lily's class at school came round to look at a trailer we're selling.
So, picture the scene. I arrive home and Lily immediately commandeers G, dragging him up to her bedroom, from which he
emerges dressed as a witch...
The rest of the kids are running around with excitement because there are people in the living room, and, while all this goes on, Evie does the mother of all nappies... and I notice a dirty nappy ON THE FLOOR very near to Richard's foot...
"It's not always like this," I continue, "hahhahaaa."
"Of course not." (you dirty, dirty, filthy woman)
"No, honestly, by 7 things are pretty calm here, hahahahaa."
"Uh huh." (you disgust me you dirty, dirty lady)
Finally, when everyone has gone, I feed the boys, then run their bath. The kids are hanging by a thread with tiredness, as is mummy.
Lily decides to join the boys in their bath, and I don't have the strength to say no (although it's usually a recipe for disaster).
When the boys are scrubbed, Ray lights the woodburner in the living room, so I release the naked, bathed children into the warmth whilst I go to get PJs and nappies. Evie, asleep on Ray, begins to cry.
The doorbell rings.
It's P - G has left his jumper.
As he enters the hall, a naked Joe escapes from the living room and runs past, giggling wildly. The sound of Evie's screams fill the air. I look into the living room - as if through P's eyes - and see the floor near the table scattered with food from the boys' meal. The kids' armchairs are turned over; the room is a mess.
Then Timmy, who has run naked into the playroom, pees on the floor.
"See," I say, "I told you it was calmer later on."
But it wasn't over.
When P had gone, Lily, being tired and irrational, began to kick off because I didn't want to paint her nails.. Timmy did a poo on the floor next to the play garage (it had sweetcorn in it, in case anyone's interested).
Wondering how my life had come to this, I picked up the poo in a tissue and flushed it, mopped up the pee, and wrestled three reluctant bodies into nappies and pjs.
(Ray, whom I strongly suspect uses feeding Evie as an excuse, sat in the living room with a bottle of milk and a baby, watching Sky Sports). "Sorry I can't help," he said, "but Evie was hungry."
Meanwhile, in the playroom, Lily began to have a complete meltdown. In her fury, she kicked a pile of cars.
Out of the pile flew a turd...
See! I told you, it's pretty calm in the evenings...
* Ray's hands are currently completely covered in what looks like dirt. He's actually stained them with a black dye-like substance when cleaning rust off a set of chrome shelves. He's soaked them in bleach, but they still look rank. Luckily, it's glove weather...