I recently invested in some shirts at a garage sale. Left those at a Wendy’s, on the way home, so… the economy.

Well, I finally did it. After years of close calls, climbing through windows and the like, I locked myself out of the house and had to pay a locksmith to let me in. You might say, “Hey, at least Ellis wasn’t inside”. And then I might yell in your face, “WRONG! Because if he were, he could have opened the door after being promised Jello-O and I wouldn’t be two hundred dollars poorer.” Yes, you read that correctly, two hundred dollars. Oh, and that EK will only eat Jell-O.

This isn’t like the time that I locked us out while we were moving into our new condo in DC – Big Bill and Little Bill literally holding our couch as we attempted to use a credit card to jimmy our way in. Or when I spent the day at the Bucktown library pre-Ellis reentering my password every 20 minutes since their computers there are programmed to stop people from monopolizing them; I pay my taxes, g-dammit! Or when I locked myself out while I was barefoot, seven months pregnant and wearing Mr. Swirley’s clothes. No, this was a locked out with no cell phone, wallet and a boss who was already irritated with me before being told that I am dumb. Again.

The day started bright and early at one AM with EK screaming for no apparent reason. Since he was sick yesterday, I took pity and caved in to the “mama, hug, couch?” request. An hour and a half later, he was back in his crib and I was in bed – sore from trying to support my weight on one arm since our couch is approximately two inches deep by three wide and he took up the entire space because he is a fatso. Fast forward four hours – alarm beeping, snooze button hit, late, yikes. I shove a bagel in Ellis’ face, head out the door with toddler in one arm and a big pack of diapers in the other (I stole his diapers from school last week when I ran out.) Click. Locked out. Sweet mother of pearl.

I dropped EK off at school and figured I could jimmy my way in because things always work out in the end. You might wonder why I don’t have our house and car keys sharing a ring, and let me tell you, I wonder that same thing every day. Yet nothing changes. To add salt to the wound, I have no idea what purpose four of the six keys on the car ring serve. So that is super helpful.

The entire time I was attempting to break into my home (AGAIN) I was thinking about 1) work and more importantly, 2) denying Mr. Swirley his bowling banquet tonight where he will get lots of bowling alley food and some of the $20/week spent for the past year on bowling refunded in some sort of whacked out awards ceremony. I imagine an MC is sporting a nice mustache and wears his bowling glove to add a little flair to the event. Wouldn’t it be perfect if Mr. Swirley got $200? He won the $200 back! Really I just felt guilty about making him walk a mile to the train stop in the rain at nine AM because I am a complete and utter moron. I don’t even want to hear it, Neil.

So I call a locksmith and dude shows up and told me it will cost me $250. Say what? I offered to pay him his rate in cash and we don’t have to tell his boss –  but it was a no go. What? Aren’t we in Chicago? Is he a red-blooded American or one of those communists I hear about? Freaking May Day. Then he took 12 hours to open the door with me just inches from his face offering sage advice as he jabbed random sharp tools into now busted door knob. Although visibly frustrated, he did complement Mr. Swirley’s installation of our extra security bar thingamajigs which made it virtually impossible to get in. I have to admit that it was somewhat validating he took so long to pop the lock since we paid him what is equivalent to one fiftieth of the cost of  Ellis’ 2038 college algebra book. Maybe I am aiming too low -a pre-Calc book.

While my new frenemy was busy installing our new latch , which in no way matches the existing hardware, I called the contracting company and complained about the price. He got on the phone and pretended to hem and haw when really he had already hung up. I have seen a zillion cop shoes, dude, I know the game. Don’t underestimate me you Hyundai driving locksmith – if I am willing to pay you  under the table, I am certainly going to confirm prices and called his company back. So not only was he angry with me about refusing to allow him re-key all of our locks for $45 a pop – what? I don’t mind having nineteen different keys to get into my house – he then whined about the new price since it he spent a whole 20 minute working on the lock and cracked his phone in the process. If my math is correct, he got paid $10/minute – that is what you pay to talk with Michael Lohan and he is a mega star, right? And regarding the phone, I almost offered to kiss it and make it all better.This city is turning me into a terrible person.

Then I called the cops on lazy ass movers who were parked in the 15 minute loading zone in front of EK’s daycare. I offered them a chance but they did everything but give me the middle finger, so screw them. I really am a terrible person.

I can’t wait to see what $200 mistake I make next week – as of now I am two for two.

Dustbunny Ranch

If you ever visit, you will likely receive an email similar to the one below. Basic take away is that I am the world’s worst hostess.
Dear Thornleys –

What up? So I just checked your arrival times (I like to wait until the last possible moment to know any details about people’s visit) and I see you get in at 4:25 PM Thursday. So I should expect to see you Saturday sometime in the late afternoon.

A few things you should know:
       –   Although I have known about your visit for the past however long, I will wait to clean until you are wheels down. Thus, fingers crossed Libby won’t have to wade through dustbunnies to get to her bed but I cant promise much more than that. 

        – Our walls are covered in marks. It may look filthy, but many of the marks are from me trying to clean smaller marks off. Note to shitty developers – don’t use flat paint. Note to stupid buyers – don’t buy from scumbag developers. Moreover, don’t be so stupid.

         – We have 12 gallons of milk in our fridge. Don’t ask why.

 … Santa sightings blah blah.

 John Hancock – we can go up to the top and have an 8.00 beer and take in the views.
 …. more tourism ideas.

Or we can just sit around and stare at each other.

Hugs and kisses,
Annie

Things I neglected to do prior to/during the visit:
– grocery shopping. Yes, not like it’s crucial for a hostess to feed her guests. Ellis pitched a fit in the produce aisle so that is far as we got.
– make dinner. I diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and fried up some taco meet…only to have it taste like garbage. Failure. 
– put the duvet cover on the comforter. I count this as a half-failure because I:
1. washed the duvet.
2. put clean sheets on the bed.
– use my turn signals. I am a real jerk driver.  I decided my guests should know about this as I repeatedly signaled one millisecond before it was time for us to turn. I am pretty sure they hated me for that.

I am sure they can point out more of my mistakes, but those are the one that really stand out to me. 

I did arrange for a sitter for Friday night and proudly announced that to our waiter during dinner. So that was a minor success. But in general, if you come to visit in Chicago, keep your expectations low and everyone wins.

I just gave Ellis an early Christmas present (his own pots to bang together) because he is being so annoying. Maybe he is just trying to get my attention as I am sitting at the computer.

I ride rough and tough with my gerber puffs

Our flowers in our window box are dying. I usually depend on rain to water them but might cave and throw a few extra drops their way. Last year our flowers died in mid-June and we left the boxes there, full of dead plants and dry dirt, for um, 12 months. During the holiday season I pulled out my Martha Stewart and dropped a few disproportionally small ornaments on the dirt and voila! Even if they didn’t say anything, the neighbors were so jealous. This year I planted petunias (much to neighbor and friend J’s chagrin – “they are so tacky”) and they have survived if only because we have had a very wet summer. Oh well, at least they brightened someone’s day and more importantly, successfully pissed off another person for an entire summer.

Yesterday I yelled at two separate people. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. First, I pulled over in front of our house and opened my door without looking. Brilliant. A car stopped short next to me and I apologized with a brisk “sorry”. He shook his head and scowled to which I defensively responded, “What? You’re fine. I wouldn’t have hit your car anyway!” Then, Ellis and I made our way down to the Toyota dealership to cash in on our first warranty visit free oil change magic four hour adventure (really two) and decided to walk around and window shop. Well, I obviously decided to walk around and Ellis had to follow because he still has very little say in his life. Anyway, there was a lot of digging going on in the street and all of a sudden all of the lights at a pretty major intersection go out. I notice it right away and point it out to one of the guys wearing a bright orange vest. He confusingly looks around and does nothing. I wait, since I am terrified to cross the street with a baby because apparently when people see no light, they feel it appropriate to actually speed up through the intersection. Tick tock, nothing. So what do I do? Yell at him to call his supervisor and help people cross the street.

On Tuesday I yelled at a moving truck parked in the “loading zone” at daycare because they were taking up a spot at pick-up time. I mean, seriously? How old am I in crotchety years?

I have to say Grossinger Toyota is probably the nicest dealership I have ever visited. Ellis and I really learned that place inside and out as it took the mechanics approximately three years to change our car’s oil. Not only do they have a kids’ playroom, but  I found out that Chevy Silverados make the perfect playpen for a one year old! Yes, they are filled with dust (even in a showroom) but he wasn’t going anywhere. Toyota Sienna’s are a close second.

What up ladies? Wanna go for a ride? I have a 50,000 HP hemi.Whatever that means.

 When I showed up at the dealership the guy helping asked if I was Mrs. X or Mrs. Y. I immediately panicked because I thought I came on the wrong day. My response? Complete and utter chaos is the only way I can describe it.
“What day is it? Is it Thursday? Friday? Wait, is it September? What time is it? My last name is Swirley. Crap? Do I have an appointment? Can you fit me in? I have a weird light on my dashboard. Do you have a bathroom?”…all the while beads of sweat were forming on my forehead and palms and Ellis was writhing around in my arms? The guy clearly thought I was an idiot, took my keys and shrugged me off. Oh well.

Later on, EK and I headed over to his doctor’s office for his one-year shots. I, of course, screwed up the appointment time and we were late. We ended up spending over an hour in an exam room where Ellis proceeded to pull out the urine specimen cups and stack them up into little clear (possibly no longer sterile) castles, push the MD stool around and around…in the buff, and get THREE shots and blood drawn. As you can imagine, it was not pretty. He did walk out with four band-aids, which is baby world equivalent to looking like a grade-A, prison yard badass. But he was still pretty pissed. And oddly enough I left my phone in the office.

Then we visited EK’s fiance, Ms. Ingrid, who is preparing for her first week with her nanny. I think Little Miss Krissa is doing her best to hold it together and maybe even contemplating stuffing I. into her shirt and smuggling her into work. That baby is so freaking cute.

Earlier this week Ellis also got to see his Auntie Mo-Mo again (KJY’s mama), who smothered him with kisses and spoiled us with dinner out.

 I love this woman. I essentially lived at her house from grades 3-12, where KJY and I guzzled Ruby Red squirt, wrestled on the futon  (yea, i gave her a black eye), played role-playing games (I still don’t get them but I pretended to), watched Unsolved Mysteries (banned in my house) and drank from fancy colored metallic cups. It was one of the most stable places in my life (second to the G’s) and it’s always so nice to see her and remember getting yelled at by Dan for staying up way past our bedtime on Erin street. I can still hear the sound of him coming up the stairs, scolding us while probably not even moving his teeth. Man, I loved that house. And the fact that they never made me pay for everything that I broke (glasses, windows, screen doors, you name it.) I call the statute of limitations is 20 years.

Happy Labor Day!

Hello, Pawnee. I’m Rinatta Ricotta. Freddy Spaghetti couldn’t make it today. He bumped his noodle. There was sauce everywhere. It was just streaming out of his face. It was really scary.

Yesterday I got mad at Mr. Swirley because he didn’t do the dishes while I was pumping. Instead he was processing paperwork so that we can be reimbursed for Ellis’ daycare (FSA) and not be uber poor. Just regular poor. This is my public apology for checking into the motel hotel Crazy Inn. Sorry. And I would also like to apologize for getting mad at Mr. Swirley two hours later because he wouldn’t go upstairs and get me frozen yogurt. He eventually relented because apparently the Crazy Inn isn’t a pay by the hour type of establishment. And I don’t even have a pregnancy to blame for my antics. Just genes. Which might be enought to skate by.

Sometimes when we talk to Ellis we ask him if he is making good decisions. Mainly because it’s funny but perhaps some day he will respond with a resounding “No!” as he sticks his hands into the potted plants and eats the lava rocks. Anyway, I don’t think we are really ones to judge a good decision from a bad one. See below.

Spaghetti Monday!

Fat man in a tiny bib