Thomas' mother, Judy, was an amazing cook. When Katarina was little, and we visited Judy's house, she and Katarina would always end up in the kitchen together.
It usually started out simple, with Judy saying, "Let's bake some cookies!"
Bowls full of sprinkles, chocolate chips, nuts, candies, coconut, and pretty much anything else that might end up on a cookie were set out, and the cookie baking began.
After a few neatly decorated cookies, the sprinkles began to fly between giggles. I would reach for the broom or rag to clean up the mess.
"Don't worry about it," Judy would tell me, as she encouraged Katarina to throw the coconut in the air to let it land on the cookies "artistically."
Once the cookies were in the oven, they would move on to cooking other things.
Chocolate Pie. Tossed salad (literally tossed, with glee) Puff pastries. Mac & Cheese (homemade, with at least five kinds of cheese). Jam. Spaghetti.
As Judy handed three-year old Katarina the spoon and led her over to the huge pot of spaghetti sauce, I called out, "Stir it carefully so it doesn't..."
Spaghetti sauce all over the wall, counter, stove top, and Katarina.
"It's not a big deal," Judy soothed, "we'll clean it up later."
By this time I was usually kicked out of the kitchen to sit with Thomas in the other room.
Oh, yes, Thomas had been kicked out long before. Apparently parents are very disruptive to the cooking fun. We just didn't want Katarina to make a huge mess.
Every so often we would peek our heads around the kitchen door. The dirty dishes had overflowed the sink. Judy and Katarina were dancing around the center island dribbling chocolate sauce over something - and themselves, and the countertop, and the floor, and I think a few stray splashes even landed on the refrigerator behind them.
The ceiling was probably the only safe surface in that room.
Or maybe I just never looked up to check on it.
Thomas would say, "Don't make a..." but before the word mess could come out of his mouth, Judy had already shushed and shooed him back into the living room. She had a lot of fun kicking him out. And I'm pretty sure she encouraged the great mess, partly to drive him crazy, but mostly to just have fun with her granddaughter.
I sat on the couch, imagining taking a fire-hose and bottle of bleach to the whole kitchen. Surely that was the only way to get everything clean.
"I know I don't cook, but do they really have to throw the dough in the air like that?" I whispered to Thomas on our next trip to the kitchen door, "They are making bread, not a pizza."
He just shook his head, and called out to the pass-through window, "If you throw the flour, it is going to get all over everything. Don't make a..." but his words were quickly drowned out by giggles, and Judy's gleeful direction to, "Throw some more flour on it, Katie-Hope, and we'll pretend it's snowing in the kitchen."
Judy knew something that us first-time parents, who were a little too busy keeping our kid and kitchen clean, didn't know. It doesn't matter how messy the kitchen, or you, get. Things can be cleaned. It doesn't even matter if dinner and dessert preparation and eating required a full bath from which to recover.
What matters is how much fun you have, and the memories you build.
And the messy memories are especially fun.
Even if Judy's kitchen ended up pretty icky by the end of the night.
The Clorox Ick Awards
Clorox is teaming up with Chicago improve troupe The Second City Communications for the Clorox Ick Awards on Wednesday, April 9 from 6-10 p.m. ET. The #ickies will be the messiest virtual awards show ever, featuring real-time comedy inspired by real-life moments.
The Second City Communications will turn tweets into #ickies video skits throughout the awards show. You can help pick the winners by voting for your favorites, and maybe win big as they give out $2,500 in prizes.
If you have a wondrously hilarious, icky moment you want to nominate in advance, you can share it by using #ickies. Then watch the first hour of the awards to see if your moment is featured in the opening number with a surprise celebrity guest.
Visit http://bit.ly/1pAc9pq to sign up for Clorox’s email newsletter, and learn more about how Clorox can help you laugh through the mess. And don't forget to follow @Clorox on Twitter and share your “icky moment” using the hashtag #ickies to be entered to win.
What is your best messy or icky memory?
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Clorox.