Easing the transition to Kindergarten one episode at a time

You guys!!! I have eight weeks until EK heads to Kindergarten. I know it sounds like a lot of time but honestly, it might as well be tomorrow.

I know, I know, it will be exciting and fun and blah blah blah. I’m terrified. Why?

– Tardy slips. I’ve toured those schools and seen the kids lined up one second after the bell rings to get a slip and march into class. I can’t even get my kid to the bathroom on time, let alone school.

– Goodbye impromptu vacations. Fine, we never took them…but we could’ve. We should’ve. [sob]

– This is the first step in my kid moving out and only calling me on the day after my birthday. I’m not complaining; I’ll take whatever I can get but COME ON! I can’t keep up with this new pace.

But let’s focus our attention on the kid who actually is about to get his life totally upended. For months, we’ve been on the receiving end of “I’m nervous to go to Kindergarten,” and “it makes me sad that I won’t see my pre-K friends every day”. Cue knife through the heart.

We found a few books to help with the transition, but I also thought it wise to assemble a list of shows and/or movies to illustrate just how awesome school really is…we’ve got to do something on those rainy summer days. Plus he’ll sit on my lap which is extra incentive for me to turn on the boob tube.

PHASE I: Getting them through the door.

51AB2AMG6QL1. Emily’s First Hundred Days of School. Emily (bunny) starts Kindergarten and thus a countdown to rage at the 100 days of school party. Her relationships with classmates grow closer as well as her understanding of new concepts.  I hear these 100-day parties are pretty common now, so why not get the excitement going early? And you can buy the book on which this animated tale is based here.

2. The Magic School Bus is a perennial favorite in our house. Subscribers can stream four seasons of the show via Netflix and watch their kids surrender to the awesomeness that is Lily Tomlin voice-overs educational field trips that they’ll never take in real life.

PRO TIP: Leave the room when the show starts to avoid getting the opening song suck in your noggin.

3. Leap Frog Let’s Go to School.These animals seem fairly trustworthy to my kid, so this episode seemed to resonate with him. Our fair protagonists take it upon themselves to ease a preschooler friend’s angst about starting Kindergarten and hilarity abounds. Fine, it’s not that hilarious, but it is effective in calming a little dude’s nerves.

PHASE II: Keeping them interested.

Have a curious kid on your hands? I mean, of course you do? I recently read a study reporting that the average four-year-old asks 390 questions a day. So use the next few weeks to teach them that learning kicks ass…especially now that you’ll have other adults to field some of these questions..

4. Modern Marvels. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Sit down, pick an appropriate episode and you might even learn something yourself!. Our favorite episodes include “Helicopters”, “Shoes” and of course “Stink”.

nye5. Bill Nye, the Science Guy. [swoon] We all know and love this goofball. He makes complicated theories easy to comprehend and maintains viewers’ attention effortlessly. The dude is inspiring for even the youngest of scientists – Hell, he makes me want to go back to school!

6. Sid the Science Kid. Sid might ask more questions than my own kid. If that’s the case, condolences to that dude’s parents. Anyway, I like this show because it presents elementary school as a welcoming place with teachers who work with the kids to solve 12 bazillion science questions. EK recently busted out his own “hypothothisis” thanks to Sid, so it seems like some of what he’s watching is actually sinking in.

Click here to like Swirleytime on Facebook for quirky shares,  links and a lot of self-deprecating humor. Follow me on twitter @swirleytime.

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30 movies turning 30 in 2015

It’s 3:37 AM on Wednesday morning. I could blame my insomnia on anticipation of today’s arrival of FIVE houseguests; they won’t notice the “hair carpet” in the bathroom, right? Or our wedding anniversary (I FINALLY REMEMBERED!!!!) Alas, nope and nope. Instead, I think I’m just turning into an old biddy. You know what else makes… Read more »

Travel the world without leaving your couch thanks to Netflix

My husband I just returned from our first extended vacation together since our son was born in 2010. I know…WHY DID WE WAIT SO LONG?

IMG_1031Anyway, I almost ruined the vacation by using the wrong name on my ticket (maiden/married name, tomato/tomAHto), lost my voice and my husband tried to kill himself by eating tainted food. IT WAS A DREAM! Seriously!

If you have the chance to visit Montenegro and/or Bosnia-Herzegovina, I highly suggest you go!

Alas, we are back We were excited to return home and throw open the door to our sticky-handed kid. Well, I was, Mr. Swirley was still trying to kill himself.  But, in proper Annie fashion, I am now afflicted with the terrible disease known as wanderlust.

At 2 AM this morning, I totally wasn’t looking up flight prices for a trip abroad in April 2016. It was 2:30 AM. I also switched on the TV to speed up time and stumbled into some Netflix goodies that will no doubt sate my hunger to travel until just about Spring break next year. Next stop, Ghana or bust!

1. The Idiot Abroad – Ricky Gervais and friends underwrite the costs for their “token idiot friend” Kyle to travel the world. They then revel in the ensuing chaos. It’s a little mean-spirited and a lot of funny; should I admit that I often sympathize with Karl’s pessimism? Watch it for the commentary and scenery – thank me later.

294512. Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover from the Travel Channel is the perfect mix of local culture and food. The show’s quick pace keeps viewers entertained (and salivating) as “he [Bourdain] has only 24-48 hours to unleash an unpredictable story about a place, a people and their food.”

Bourdain, I don’t understand why we can’t just swap lives. The rotisserie chicken we bought this evening was PHENOMENAL…you’d totally love it here.

3. Enjoy checking out local, foreign food without having to sack up and eat it? (poor Mr. Swirley learned the hard way on our trips to Turkey and Bosnia) The Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods has you covered.

Join host Andrew Zimmern as he travels the globe from Uganda to Madagascar and all the way back to Pennsylvania (what? Yes) to introduce viewers to a wide range of regional cuisines and respective cultures.

4. In order to re-live our vacation, I strung together a bazilion shaky, three-second videos and created a rough movie of the trip. Realizing it wasn’t exactly up to par, I sought out movies filmed in Montenegro and BOOM, November Man popped up.

The formal summary goes something like…”An ex-CIA agent (Pierce Brosnan) emerges from retirement to protect an important witness, but he soon discovers that old friends can make the most dangerous enemies.”

I don’t know about all of that, but it certainly made me nostalgic for, um, last week.

5. Along the same vein, check out Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol and II. CIA moles, biological weapons, short guys…whatever. What I’m focused on is all that pretty scenery in the background. Take in England, Czech Republic, Spain, Australia and more without having to balance precariously from a ceiling harness unless you are trying to be all stealthy in eating treats before the kids are asleep.

I swear they have sonar.

screens.film.kolya6. Speaking of Czech Republic, Kolya (Eng. subtitles) is a simply wonderful film that also highlights the beauty of Prague and that whole human spirit thing.

Summary for you lazy asses: Franta Louka is a concert cellist in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia. He also loves the ladies…a lot. Alas,  Louka loses his place in the state orchestra and needs to make quick cash repay debts. How? It’s easy, marry a Russian bride in exchange for payment.  Yet she has different plans and quickly emigrates to West Germany where she moves in with her lovah. Oh, and that five-year-old? She ditches him with grams. Obviously the kid’s old babushka’s time is short on this earth and the he moves in with his step-papa, Kolya.

“…that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.’

Even if you hate looking at pretty European cities, you’ll like this movie. Also, what the Hell is wrong with you?

Click here to like Swirleytime on Facebook for quirky shares,  links and a lot of self-deprecating humor. Follow me on twitter @swirleytime.

Don’t rely on fickle Facebook for updates. Subscribe to Swirleytime below for more stories of screw-ups, caregiving and weird observations. Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

8 reasons why my husband may never let me plan another vacation

Well, we made it back from our Balkans road trip with a bag of souvenirs and a case of campylobacter. If you aren’t familiar with the latter, consider yourself lucky. However, this got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t be in charge of planning our vacations. Why?  I’ll give you eight reasons. 1. I… Read more »

My Netflix lust list…you’re welcome

Listen, I’m a happily married woman. I think my husband is a stone cold fox. But that doesn’t mean mama doesn’t like a little eye candy now and then…ON DEMAND.

Just stop.

Just stop.

1. Honestly, I could stop here with IDRIS M’FING ELBA.I loved the Wire (Netflix, you need to step up your game and carry that series) and was quite pleased to see my boyfriend Mr. Elba on Luther. He is sooooo fancy with his accent and brooding demeanor. I want to have his babies. The show’s plot and acting are stellar as well.

Dear BBC – PLEASE KEEP FILMING THIS SERIES. Forever. OK? And Netflix, don’t even think about not picking it up.

2. Fine, I’ll keep going because I care about you all. Charlie Hunnam. If you don’t know him, you are officially dead to me.

Watch all SEVEN season of Charlie, er, I mean Sons of Anarchy and enjoy. Heads up, it’s pretty rough and tumble, but totally worth it for the story and badass Jax (Charlie’s character)/


Source: Kyle Chandler’s official twitter account

3. Coach Taylor makes not one but TWO appearances on Netflix. One, the obvious, Friday Night Lights, a show filled with pretty people (dare I say one of the most attractive casts ever assembled?), clear eyes, full hearts, and good acting. And two, the recently added Netflix original, Bloodline. In the latter, Kyle Chandler (aka Coach) plays a conflicted brother (and Sherriff) who has to navigate some pretty murky waters with asshole brothers and a lot of family secrets.It’s a little slow at times, but I enjoyed watching the series as it twisted and turned.

Bonus: The show’s been renewed folks. MEOW.

4.. Captain Hilarity, er, I mean Will Arnett tops my list of skilled actors/comedians who have my heart. It makes me so sad that he and Amy split – they were my marriage dream team. Anywhoo, I thoroughly enjoy watching him throw his comedic spray all over Netflix. Arrested Development? Four seasons with another in the works, fools.The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret? Yah. Mansome? Ew. And yes. This last item is a documentary with Morgan Spurlock that “examines what defines masculinity in our modern culture of male grooming products and suave celebrities.” Plus a few other cameos.

Arnett is my celebrity spirit mate

5. And finally, Jesse Pinkman (IRL Aaron Paul).

Don’t mind Aaron…he’s JUST TALKING ABOUT HIS WIFE. Come on, how sweet is he?

That’s right, friends! It’s not past me to say that a meth-head turned meth cook and dealer is attractive. Watch as Paul’s character evolves over all five seasons of Breaking Bad and then tell me you aren’t enamored. Plus there’s that whole critical acclaim thing associated with the show.

downloadAnd I’m just going to say it: I think both Walters are cute too. So there.

Call me a pervo or say I’m objectifying celebrities. Whatever. Everyone listed above is a highly skilled actor and welcome in my house any day. You hear that? ANY DAY.

Click here to like Swirleytime on Facebook for quirky shares,  links and a lot of self-deprecating humor. Follow me on twitter @swirleytime.

Don’t rely on fickle Facebook for updates. Subscribe to Swirleytime below for more stories of screw-ups, caregiving and weird observations. Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Remembering Mom: A Cooperative Project

Last week someone asked me to describe my mom before she got sick. However, try as I might, I only have a handful of memories of her before everything went to Hell in a handbasket. Of course, this isn’t some sort of pity party. Well, maybe it is a little…but mostly for her.

We do alright.

We do alright.

Honestly, I actively work to NOT remember because it inevitably leads me to the bottom of a dark well: Ardie Ho-Ho was royally screwed in this life. I mean, that’s what it’s really about, right? She lost everything. What’s worse is that she is somewhat aware of this fact.


Keep reading at ChicagoNow…

8 reasons why I am going to lose my sh!t today

Let’s just jump in, shall we?

photo(1)1. My mom lost her dental plate. Again. Nerds Smartypants of the world, can you PLEASE, for the love of sweet baby Jesus, invent a bluetooth or homing device for dentures/plates/whathaveyou? These things cost more than the valued place on a Duggar’s v-card.

Keep reading at ChicagNow.

Dear Chicago Public Schools: Applying to kindergarten shouldn’t make me cry

The application process to enter Chicago Public School (CPS) kindergarten classes continues to wreak havoc on my simple brain.

Let me break it down for you.

1. First, I complained about the backwardness of  CPS’ application process.

2. Next, I proved myself to be a GIANT HYPOCRITE by  participating in said system (i.e., applied to 20 schools outside of our neighborhood boundaries.)

3. I then hoped, prayed and assumed that things would work out. They have to work out, because, well, I don’t know. I choose hope?


Read more at ChicagoNow…

Stream these 5 hilarious comedies while feeding your new baby

My friends Dave and Sio just popped out a fresh-baked baby. She’s sweet and sleepy and loves to eat. A lot. Sometimes I forget about the time spent pumping,nursing and bottle feeding. Or pretending to pump/nurse but really just needing a break. And then I meet a new baby and it all comes rushing back.

Read more at ChicagoNow…

Caregiving Chronicles: Medicare might give up on mom, but we certainly won’t

Guess who’s going to rehab!?!? No, not your favorite celebrity starlet. Well, maybe.  But I’m talking about none other than my mom, Ardie Ho-Ho.

Get excited, G-dammit!

Since January, Ho-Ho hasn’t walked much. We sherpa’d her to the bathroom enough times to realize that her MS was being a real bitch. Although she was hospitalized for two weeks, her admission status was in fact “under observation”, not “in-patient”. Big deal? YES, BIG EFFING DEAL!


Read more at ChicagoNow…