The word he’s looking for is sassy. He better pray he don’t find it.

Last night I dreamt that Ho-Ho left a message apologizing for spending $1000 on catheters. That’s 1694 catheters based on my Interweb search.

Today she called me to say she swallowed her crown and needs another one … to the tune of $1K. I would like to say I am psychic, but really, dropping a grand on her is a pretty common occurrence.

Tonight my friend Anand is coming over. He lives two miles away and I have seen him twice in two years. Let me know if you are in the market for an awesome friend that talks about how she is so psyched to see you all the time when you move here and then she totally sucks at life and turns out to be a terrible, worthless friend.

A stretch limo just drove by; they are so tacky.

Two weekends ago we traveled to Florida to celebrate the marriage of our two good friends, Siobhan and Dave. I spent the last six months or so stressing about my speech to be delivered at the rehearsal dinner. I talked to more people than I should have about my insecurities and wrote and re-wrote the silly thing. It all worked out in the end…mostly due to the 80s hair-metal band that hopefully drowned out my stupid jokes. Overall, the weekend was awesome;Tons of old friends, lots of sun, mixed drinks and pool time sans kids. Oh, and a wedding.

I spent much of the weekend stalking two of Siobhan’s friends who are supposed to be Apple “geniuses” (such bunk) in the hopes they would fix my Ipod. I was that person who casually said, “Oh, you work at Apple. Well I have this issue and…” – commence “the look” between the two of them and a growing shared hatred of yours truly. Apparently they were too busy vacationing to help me out. Bitches. And…I lost my wallet – CRAZY!!! I know. Good think I had the foresight to hand Mr. Swirley my ID at O’hare on our way out of town, otherwise I would be writing this poolside right now.

In case you are wondering, my blinds are still filthy and our car is still smashed in from last weekend’s bumpercar game on I-90. Spec-goddamn-tacular.

When you become roommates with friends, the things you love about them become the things that make you want to smother them with a pillow.

I am convinced that the quickest way to lower your self-esteem is to go to the dentist. You start your day by flossing 10,000 times to make up for the last six months (or in my case 14 months) of nada. Then you lie to the dental hygienist, knowing full well they are aware of your untruthyness. This fib session is followed up by sharp needlethings being jammed into your mouth while she tells you everything that is wrong with your life. Add in a screaming seven year old getting her cavities filled and you can pretty much go and jump off a bridge.

I haven’t written much over the past few weeks because things have been generally out of control. Highlights include:

– 15 year high school reunion
– first ever block party (which was AWESOME!)

Below are some fun pictures.

Block party!

Ms. Milani in all of her cuteness.


– checked mom into hospital day before reunion and released day of block party (awesome timing)
– 20000000 calls from mom ranging of informing me that “the President is going to hear my voice” to being completely unable to speak due to new drugs (we think..)
– nearly 15 messages left for her psychiatrist – all un-returned
– ten days sans husband
– call from mom this AM crying because she fell. Note she was not wearing her emergency alert necklace NOR did she call the front desk before contacting me.
– picked up Ho-Ho’s new glasses only to have them “disappear” twice…found them once in the garbage can about to be emptied. Once again missing…
– found out the cat has been peeing on EK’s chair
– now have to tuck my love handles into my pants
– p.s. I have a job that I would like to keep. I know, crazy!
– I don’t even know what else, but generally speaking, it’s been nuts and I need a vacation but am too cheap/poor to do anything about it.

Today I told Mr. Swirley to make up a to-do list with me so I can try to wrangle some control over our life.
Whine whine whine.

In other news it’s awesome outside and I don’t have any cavities.You may have better credit, Mr. Swirley, but your teeth suck more than mine.

Do you know how long someone who is as sarcastic as I am would last in prison? Suuuuuuch a long time.

This morning, after cursing Mr. Swirley for finishing off the skim milk, I considered mixing water with whole milk so I could eat my crappy cereal. I went as far as filling up a glass with water and decided to scrap the idea and ingest 45 million calories for breakfast. Followed up by a diet coke. This, my friends, is how the next ten days will likely continue.

Our awesome ride started last Thursday with a late night hospital trip with Ho-Ho. Mr. Swirley and I were able to convince to her to go in with us by gifting not one but TWO tubes of lipstick and an economy size bottle of hair gel. We are still iffy as to the duration of her stay, but the nurse said the average patient stays 30 days to ensure the med cocktail is up to snuff. I received no less than FIVE calls yesterday from Ardie; it’s going to be a long month. Plus it’s $12.00 to park at RUSH’s parking lot every time I visit. Doesn’t that seem a little insane? Although Mr. Swirley asked  me while I was between contractions if it was ok to pay to park in the Swedish Covenant hospital lot while on our way to the delivery unit, so I am probably not one to ask about reasonable prices for parking since I am pretty much willing to pay zero.

Friday we packed up the house and drove to Madison for our 15 year high school reunion. I was actually pretty proud of the fact that KML and I only had to stop once to give the kids some reprieve from the drive…and we didn’t lose either one!  The reunion went well, though the morning started out poorly with the car packed up the keys nowhere to be found. I know, you are are super surprised. Family fun picnic, followed up by a happy hour and then a very welcome night of rest sans kid thanks to Tommy D. We headed back home early Sunday morning and spent the day running errands for Ho-Ho and avoiding cleaning. When I visited her later that night with an armful of new clothes, she demanded I return the capris because she is too embarrassed to wear them due to the spider veins on her ankles, but that, according to her, is not vanity trumping comfort. Meanwhile, she has no problem sporting a soaking wet poncho around everywhere to keep cool. She also informed me that my grandfather will happily pay $2000 for saline injections to collapse the veins although my grandpa hasn’t bought new pants since 2007.

Today EK woke up at 4:30 AM and Mr. Swirley left at 6 for a seven to ten day business trip. If you are looking for a time to visit Chicago and spend time in a cat hair-ridden condo, this is your lucky weekend. Please.


p.s. In case you were wondering, swim diapers DO NOT hold liquid. So don’t run out of diapers and try to use them because you will fail miserably.

I got my first job when I was 9. Worked at a sheet metal factory. In two weeks, I was running the floor. Child labor laws are ruining this country.

– Sometimes I like to think that the cars passing our house on I90 sound like waves crashing on a beach. They don’t. They sound like cars driving on a highway.

– I know this is a double standard, but second-hand boys’ bathing suits are fine and dandy while girls’ gross me out. I draw the line at underroos.

– Yesterday a city worker sat in front of my house for two hours and spat ten thousand sunflower seeds on the ground. He then exited his car and stood on the corner for another hour spitting more sunflower seeds into the sewer that his coworkers were cleaning. Then he left. Sometimes I feel really good about how efficiently our tax dollars are spent in the City of Broad Shoulders.

– Ho-Ho called to tell me she wants to change her Medicare insurance provider (Humana) and went on and on about how they won’t cover her drugs. Then she told me the prescriptions she was complaining about being unavailable would be ready for pick-up tonight.

– Last week she told me that someone stole her over the counter medications. I opened the jar and found that the remaining pills were covered in coffee grinds. When I offered the possibility that perhaps she dumped the pills into the garbage and didn’t fish them all out she shook her head as if that was an idiotic suggestion. Then she told me the meds were still usable – “just have to wash them off”. That makes sense.

Veep is an amazing show. You should poach cable from your uncle and watch it online.

…Fool me 40,000 times, shame on my parents for bringing me into this world.

Sit back and close your eyes. Relax. Imagine sitting outside with your dog, or your kid and drinking a nice cup of coffee in your pajamas – him in his diaper (not the dog. Though I have seen some dogs in diapers) playing with his empty water table. The front door closes and BAM, you are locked out, again. No, it can’t be. You aren’t that stupid. But yes! Yes you are. You continue to drink your coffee, sure that your neighbors’ door is open so you can retrieve your set of keys, or your other neighbors are home. Your kid is starting to get a little restless; he is, after all, clad only in a diaper, barefoot like little Jayden Spears. So you scale your six foot high wrought iron fence, leaving your child to fend for himself inside his little porch prison while a neighbor looks on. “Buzzzzzzzzzzzz” – but your neighbor doesn’t answer. OH RIGHT! They left for California at 4AM today. Well, your other neighbor’s door is likely open. You get in to the shared hallway, hopeful that this situation will be quickly remedied, but no. Fools! Locking their door while they are away? Absurd. And, on a side note, you aren’t wearing a bra, are so greasy your hair appears to be wet, and your baby soiled his one and only diaper. Lovely.

What next? Sit outside all day in the sun with a naked kid and no water? Although an option, perhaps not the best. How about scream another neighbor’s name as he gets into his car and ask him to call someone with a ladder. A few minutes later, our hero emerges with a 20 foot ladder and like the three bears, the third window was just right (open. Which is so safe since you live in a city). Soon, this wonderful man has jimmied the window open and all 1XX lbs of him are shimmying through a very narrow space into your bedroom. You still are not wearing a bra but on the upside, you have yet to impale yourself while repeatedly climbing over the fence and even managed (with the help of a stranger) to lift your child over said fence.

So now you are back in the house, ashamed of your incredible idiocy and grateful to have such good neighbors. Then your phone rings four times in a row (on your day off), each time your boss wants to discuss something in the sort of distant future (far enough away to wait until next week to chat) while your kid manages to pour peach yogurt all over himself, the floor and then front porch.

Time for music class! Your get the car with Scabby McScabberson and are on your way. After stalking someone in order to get a parking spot, you successfully make it to class on time. You then must tell everyone that your kid had hand foot and mouth, but is no longer contagious…he is just covered in scabs. They all  laugh uncomfortably and say “it’s ok” but you catch them staring at his legs the entire class as he sneezes and coughs on their children.

The day is only half over – next stop is an Oak Park psychiatrist’s office with Ho-Ho.

What is wrong with me?

I’ve never been very good at letting things go. I can’t tell you how many times a fun tug of a war with a dog over a chew toy turned contentious. One of always gets mad.

Last weekend, after Ellis decided to quit it with all of this hand, foot and mouth stuff, we got down to business. Although one of us was covered in scabs, we ventured out into the world which began with a trip to Winnetka. Have you ever been? It’s amazing! You can leave your stroller outside and it’s still there when you emerge from whatever store. People don’t let their dogs poop in the park and there are no parking meters! Is this heaven? Almost. According to the ever accurate Wikipedia, Winnetka is “one of the most exclusive and wealthy suburbs in the nation.” They totally want us to move there.

Because I could no longer sit inside our house for fear I would hurl myself out a window, we also decided to: 
– Hit up the Chicago Kite Fest (underwritten by a relatively unknown group that goes by the acronym NATO)
– Engage in a a stare down
– Take EK’s first dip into lake Michigan
– Play with a new outside toys – a gift from his amazing and generous mom.
– and, venture to the zoo to look at ducks and water fountains. What? Summer is officially here.

EK and Uncle Jeff at Kite Fest. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our kite to fly. Where was dad? At an all day Frisbee tournament lamenting the aging process and making it all the way to the finals.

Game on, buddy – 30 second stare down.
First visit to Lake Michigan…Jeff and Olive lead the way.
OH MY GOD THIS WATER TABLE IS AMAZING! Papi may think it’s too big and misses his patio table…but mom doesn’t care. I think she is the best even if yesterday she held up traffic because she was too busy poking at her belly rolls.
We (and by we I mean Ellis) also spent a little time thinking about our bad decisions, picking thumbs and looking pretty pathetic. Moments before this photo was taken he was standing on a bench and ignoring his mom’s “tushy or knees” request. Next stop, no fun chair.
Like his uncle John, EK enjoys peeling his thumb like a banana.

Do you know what keywords keep bringing people to this blog”
“labyrinth trash lady”. I am actually pretty thrilled about this little fact. Not because I have anything interesting for them to read, but that people are seeking out pictures of our favorite Muppet. Other common keywords include:
– neck wattle
– goldie hawn, jamie wild, toffuti overboard. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (all separate searches)
– i recently invested in some shirts at a garage sale

Very strange people wandering around the Interwebs.

When I ask Ellis if he thinks I am fat, he responds, “yes.” There is no mistaking that response – he enunciates as if his life depends on it. When I ask him if I thinks I am pretty, I get silence.

Ho-Ho is sleeping over tomorrow night. I am sure I will have some nice updates. Last time she stayed overnight, she put her shoe-clad feet on my wall to push herself up onto our bed. I have a nice little scuff mark to remind me of this little incident and how I need to purchase espadrilles for her from now on. She also enjoys spraying my perfume all over the bathroom each time she goes in – which is 900 times/day. What else? Oh, Ellis will enjoy the TV blaring from midnight-6 AM in the room adjacent to his as that is the only way she can sleep, but then she tells me she can’t sleep. It’s all so confusing.

Then we have a psych appointment where we will experience a lot of circular logic and I will likely slam my face against a door or something. Recently she has reincarnated one of her old “stalkers” that Mr. Swirley and I laid to rest a few years ago with a fake obituary. Modern medicine! Given this fun twist with regards to her psyche,  “we” also might change her drugs which will likely cause major chaos in the short-term and general disappointment in the long. Wah wah. Upside is the G is in town this weekend for my cousin’s graduation and  family shenanigans which include yelling at the top of our lungs so he can hear us, him mocking our parenting style and probably some sort of missing tooth incident. I can’t wait.

I just heard from the Guiness rep. He’s not coming. He’s been fired in what he described as the world’s biggest mistake.

Remember that time that I booked a hotel in Norfolk for April when we were supposed to go in May? On Priceline? $90 well spent. A super deal for a fancy hotel, right? Except for when a room goes unused. Then it’s sort of a rip.

How about that time I took the MARC (local train) from DC to Baltimore and shuttle to BWI only to find out my flight was scheduled to depart from Reagan National? And it was leaving in 40 minutes? Add $100 cab fare to my tab.

And what about that Monday in March 2012 when I looked up previously purchased tickets for a May trip to LA and realized my flight left last Friday. LAST FRIDAY! United Airlines gave me the middle finger when I inquired about a credit (rightly so), but Virgin America was much more accommodating and credited me 75% of our one-way tickets. $bitch and moan later we are back on track for our LA trip and Virgin has added another loyal customer to their roster (they have mood lighting on their planes!). And then I punched myself in the face.

Seriously, I have no idea how I have managed to to survive up until now. A lifetime of lost glasses, keys, debit cards, wallets, bags, camera batteries, tickets (I am that person frantically searching through her pockets and as a result, holding up the boarding/event/bathroom, whatever, line). Even today, I simultaneously called both airlines – and representatives picked up 20 minutes later, within 15 seconds of one another. As I pushed a zillion buttons in an effort to answer one of the calls, I ended up hanging up on both agents. Then I cried a little bit and hit redial. I am starting to think Darwin might have gotten it a little wrong with his theory of natural selection.

On to bigger and better things. Like visiting Navy Pier on a Friday in spring. It’s a million times worse than Union Station any day of the year. Plus, I can’t yell at people to get out of my way like I used to in DC because they just stand around in huge groups and I can technically get by them, but it still pisses me off. Side note – Why is it that tourists seems to congregate at the bottom/top of escalators?

Anyway, we visited the Children’s Museum and ran around the Pier. EK invited himself onto a dinner boat, climbed their ridiculously cheesy spiral staircase and checked out the starlit dance floor. It was pretty awesome. We also met some teens who didn’t heed my unsolicited advice to pool their money to buy bulk tickets for the rides. Aren’t their parents teaching them basic math skills? Jesus. Perhaps they are too busy telling their children to avoid talking to frazzled, unnecessarily pushy strangers.

Big top announcer

Peanut butter man

Papi and EK

First carousel ride EVER.

The Pier.

Saturday was consignment sale day which meant Little Miss Krissa and I got up early and drove to Evanston to beat up some moms for some choice Elmo books and two piece pajama sets with the knees still in tact. You have to spend money to  make it – and I made, um, well Ellis got a sick guitar so that has to be worth something, right?

Sunday brought the extra exciting adventure of cleaning Ho-Ho’s apartment. In case you are wondering, she has 10,000 cans of soup, 100 sleeves of saltines and Ziploc bags upon bags of jewelry and other random items. I have yet to figure out why these bags seems to be the crux of her organization system, but she apparently thinks its the best option out there. Honestly, given my track record, who am I to judge?

Then this happened. Ho-Ho is holding her own while Mrs. D carries the chorus. Note the pant-less groupie (good call uncle Rich!) in the background – dude got nuts when they opened up their encore set.

Ardie set up a little Easter egg hunt for Ellis. He searched the ballroom for tiny goodies wrapped in Christmas paper. Loot collected include: sunflower seeds (planted yesterday), Ziploc full of nilla wafers, Ziploc full of saltines since she has a few to spare, Ziploc full of cheerios, individually bagged bubble accouterments and bubble “juice”, three circus peanuts (where did the rest go?) and some other stuff I can’t remember. She unwrapped the Peeps three weeks ago and was surprised that they went stale. It was a pretty cute scene.

So yea. General takeaways from the past few days:
– Don’t trust me with ANYTHING valuable. Really, anything. But come on, you already knew this.
– Ellis is a stowaway
– Ho-Ho likes circus peanuts.

Clean up, clean up. Everybody do your share. Clean up, clean up, throw your stupid phone books away.

This weekend we organized a neighborhood clean-up and threw away approximately one ton of phone books. What.a.waste. From felled trees to paper mill pollution and gas guzzled by delivery trucks – it’s such an incredible and unnecessary cost across all levels. It’s almost as egregious as the Chicago Park District not authorizing recycling of bottles and cans at Soldier Field. And when was the last time you used a phone book? 1993?* At least we met some of our neighbors and had an excuse to eat donuts. Many, many donuts.

The humanity.

All in.

Prepping for the group hug.

On Friday Ellis and I went out Oak Park to visit Ho-Ho and drop off requested sundries. I walked into her room and immediately fell into this conversation:

Me: Hi mom.
Ellis: Hi grandma bubbles (gramah bubbbbbbble). Bubble? Bubble? [he is a bit of an uptalker when he whines or is frantic].
Ho-Ho: Look at my eyelashes. Look!
Me: OK…[I examine her eyelashes.] Yep, those are eyelashes.
Ho-Ho: You don’t see it? In the middle? They cut my eyelashes while I was sleeping.

Me: No. You curl them too much.
Ho-Ho: No, dammit. They cut the middle part of my eyelashes shorter than the rest.

This is the most obvious and reasonable explanation. Someone also stole all of her mugs. Somewhere out there, the very strange collector of Ardie oddities has added halved eye lashes and coffee mugs to his museum and/or altar.

While we were in Oak Park poking and rolling eyeballs, Mr. Swirley was at an ENT’s office getting his sinuses jabbed. Since he is so stuffed up, he was ordered to take Amoxicillin for 20 days and then get a CAT scan to look all up in his business. He also might get meningitis. In 50 years. All I heard was meningitis and something about cysts, thin bone, brain explosion (great listener, no?) – so that has come up for discussion approximately 30 times since he left the doc’s office. I am 99% convinced that tomorrow he will wake up with a hole in his head.

My discussion about a lack of transition is my transition.

Ellis continues to be a huge fan of stickers. I know you are very surprised. “Ticker? Mama? Ticker?” They are everywhere. On the carpet, floors, his safety gate has an entire army of Sesame Street characters marching across its flimsy, opaque plastic walls – I can’t keep up. I find them on my face, clothing, computer. If we aren’t playing with adhesives, we are coloring or watching music videos. Generally speaking, EK eats his crayons. Again, very surprising. However, I have to give him credit since he makes an effort to appear as if he is coloring on paper while surreptitiously slipping some colorful wax into his pie hole. I can appreciate the effort.

I’m starving.

* I realize that my comment re: using a phone book assumes a certain level of regular access to the Internet. However, it would seem that yellow pages could cut costs by figuring out a way to identify those who still want books vs. those find them unnecessary. For example, could they send out postage paid post cards requesting that people return them should the want a hard copy phone book ? Those who don’t respond don’t receive a book. I am sure it is more difficult than this, but there should be some sort of compromise so we don’t just produce books to be immediately trashed, no? There does exist an opt-out list but the delivery men certainly weren’t referring to any piece of paper when slinging phone books over fences.

Just a worm

Based on reading my blog, you might think the only movie I have ever watched is Overboard. FALSE! I have memorized numerous movie scripts including Labyrinth and (most of) The Princess Bride, fell in love with Christian Slater after watching Pump Up the Volume (did I procure a life-size cardboard cut out of him? yes, indeed I did) and who can forget Men at Work and Jumpin’ Jack Flash? Today I had a little real-life taste of the garbage lady from Labyrinth. Remember her? She carried all of her memories on her back?

So accurate.

Well, Ho-Ho is slipping closer and closer to making this a reality. This afternoon she handed me a bag containing a Nordstrom catalog (requested items marked) and a shabby stuffed animal that EK loves to snuggle when he visits “Grandma Bubbles”. According to her, someone ripped the head off of the poor beast and she begrudgingly sewed it back on. Since then, she has been carrying it around in a plastic bag (along  with her corkscrew, curlers, perfume, make-up, jewelry, etc. etc.) because she doesn’t want anyone to steal her stuff. This means she is lugging four bags plus her cane/umbrella and/or her walker and a 20 lb velvet jacket around Oak Park. Dear Lord.

Our goals today were to get her bangs cut, buy a new coffee pot and have lunch. I have to say we were wildly successful in meeting all goals, albeit very very slllooowwwly. On one hand I have Ellis dismantling anything and everything as quickly as possible. And on the other, we have Arden moving slower than the Grandma shuffle and pointing out everything she would like me to purchase. It was pretty awesome in an incredibly frustrating way.

Side note – before she went in for her haircut she informed me she was going to give the stylist a .50 tip. Well aren’t we generous? I recommended 20% but am not sure how things panned out for the stylist. I find it easier to give her my credit card and meet her outside – that way I avoid weird conversations with Ho-Ho or clerks/stylists, etc. that are trying to decipher her random statements (e.g., Hi! MY NAME IS ARDEN HOWLAND AND I WOULD LIKE A HAIRCUT! SOMEONE STOLE YOUR CARD FROM MY WALLET!WHERE IS THE BATHROOM?HAVE YOU SEEN MY GLASSES? DO YOU KNOW WHERE I CAN BUY THIS BUTTON?)

Since I can’t talk about one parent without mentioning the other, Tommy D just called and requested that I call a gas station on I-90 (near a town that he thought was called Whatever, IL) to see if the clerk could run out into the rain and look for his bridge that might have fallen out of the car (front four teeth). Seriously.

And it wouldn’t be fair to mock these two without pointing out that I too am fairly ridiculous. Like how on Wednesday I dripped hot cheese on my chest and gave myself a “deep second degree burn” (according to my MD). Good news is that it didn’t hurt much since I instantly singed all nerves in the affected area. Bad news is that it will take a few weeks to heal and I can’t let the sun touch it for, oh, ever. I asked a doctor friend what I should do and she replied, “stop dripping cheese on your chest.” 

An hour later we got a PDF summary of our taxes showing we owed 2K. So there you go. Good thing Ellis has been so fun the past few days – I don’t know if it’s the weather or a new phase but I will take it!