You know what I don’t get? He never wears a shirt; he never wears shoes: Why hasn’t he died from lack of service?

Today our friends the GM and Johnny Mic moved into their new digs. It was pretty much the best move ever because:
1. Little Miss Krissa hung out with EK all day with her daughter and his future wife, Ingyboo.

Apparently he shared and played nicely with Ingyboo. And he took a nap without much prompting. Why does he hate me so much?

2. The GM aka your friendly librarian, can pack like no other. You know I didn’t even try to unpack her boxes of books.

3. This happened. And no, it isn’t ironic since he wore pretty much the SAME outfit in 1999 during our move from the East Gilman street mansion apartment to the TINIEST apartment on the face of the earth (which stayed in the FWC family for years).

4. Their new house is dope. D.O.P.E.and they have a little room under the stairs (Harry’s place) for us to hide our kids.

Following the move I showed our place to another group of potential renters and managed to make a fool of myself yet again. Imagine your mom, add a twist of intense spazziness and maybe some meth…and you get me…the newest landlord on the block. People are clamoring to sign on with us.

Hey Mikey! Come over here and give me a big wet lickery kiss.

I am currently eating potato salad out of a pyrex storage bowl and loving every minute of it. I am also resting my feet on a cooler filled with beer bottles and juice boxes. Class-ay. Why do I have all of this goodness, you ask? Because this weekend we celebrated Ellis’ birthday for the second time. AJBurke and JWaller were kind enough to open their house (and roof-top) up to us, and helped feed all of the guests. We had a great time making sliders, eating various summer salads and making babies cry. Well, just one baby. Ellis didn’t really enjoy his dinner or 30 people singing “Happy Birthday”, but the other kids fared much better on a diet of apple juice, burgers and sugary goodness.

Pre-half marathon feast.
Norm and I. She is a real snugglebug. Just not with me.

Skyline views. And a pony keg.
“Show me your tongue.” Seriously, that is what was going on.
Will.
Ms. Fi
GM’s masterpiece!
Pre-freak out.
Banner still in tact.

Ellis finally got to meet his Uncle Andy and Aunt Andrea – who traveled all the way from Dayton to watch him cry, throw his cake on the ground and go to bed without presents. We also had guests who came from Madison, Milwaukee and Oak Park. As for presents, this kid is spoiled. Books, bonds, stuffed animals and trucks to name a few. We are so lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives and I hope they know how much we appreciate them – even if I leave parties without saying goodbye (cough cough.)

Sunday wasn’t as fun of a day for obvious and not so obvious reasons. After saying goodbye to JDold et al (much too short of a visit), we picked up a house full of wrapping paper and were stoked about having a free day to roam about the city. It was also the fourth anniversary of my grandma’s passing and surprisingly enough, for the first time in years, I was able to cope. I don’t know if it’s the existence of Ellis, the time/distance from her death, or perhaps a combination of the two, but for whatever reason September didn’t bring on the darkness and anxiety as it had in previous years. I think she would be happy about that. I also think she was messing with me as I received a call at around 10 AM that Ho-Ho’s flipper (tooth) had been stolen again. If you are keeping track, this is the third time this has happened (though we weren’t charged for the second flipper) in one year. This most recent appliance was picked up LAST WEEK. At $300 a pop, this clearly isn’t working. Brimming with a level of frustration that I cannot even begin to articulate, I asked Mr. Swirley if we could go about our day as planned before we go to Oak Park to ransack her place in search of finding a tooth. So to the hipster craft fair we went.

It wouldn’t be a Wicker Park event without: 1) mustaches, 2) photo booths and 3) photo booths with mustaches.

On the way to Wicker Park.

Ellis lived it up at the park and I am sure we were judged by many of the parents present for EK’s lack of shoes. We are still learning, people. Cut us some slack.

I hate you blogger…. Ellis climbed the mini climbing wall solo. Crazy.
So happy.

Don’t get me wrong. We had a great time looking at crafty things (I’m not entirely sure I could identify a purpose for many of the items being sold) and the park was awesome. But Ho-Ho’s gap-tooth smile was weighing on me the entire time we were trying to relax and take in a lovely late summer afternoon.

Mr. Swirley was kind enough to accompany me and Ellis to Oak Park in the hopes that he could temper my reaction to the situation. It sort of worked except when I found out Ho-Ho has used the money I gave her for a haircut to instead buy perfume. Is this what it is like to have a teenager? If so, it’s time to start saving for one of those great East Coast boarding schools I hear so much about.

In tearing the place apart we found: 1) an earring, 2 ) hair roller and 3) pill box – all of which were also stolen at one point or another. After unmaking her bed, searching under furniture and going through her garbage coffee grind by coffee grind, I came up with nothing. Maybe she is right; somehow someone broke into her room while she was napping with the deadbolt and lower lock locked and chain across the door and removed the flipper from her mouth or the bedside table (she can’t remember if she took it out). BLARGH!!!

We also came across soda, french fries and an empty bag of chips her garbage – but she insists her weight gain is due to medication. And just now she called me saying that someone stole all of her batteries (I bought Costco packs and foolishly left them at her house). I try so hard to remain centered when I visit, and when I find myself snapping at her, I know that it won’t help but I can’t stop myself. This results in me not only being frustrated by the loss of material items, the general decline of her mental state, and the added work/cost any given situation will create, but I am disappointed in myself for letting it affect me to such a degree that I cannot bite my tongue. Would I yell at Ellis in the same manner when he is older? Probably not. How do you hold someone accountable while not making them feel bad about themselves? How do you accept that  things will only get worse? This is by no means a pity party – just real questions that I can’t seem to answer. And at 32 would think I would be mature enough to figure some of this out.

She obviously doesn’t mean to lose these things, and has created a  frightening world where she is a victim of a conspiracy that I can’t even begin to understand, but we have to coexist and it is getting more and more challenging to do so. A new flipper is out of the question, a bridge (which includes 3 teeth) is $2400 and an implant is over $3000. What do I do? The gap is so visible and it clearly will affect her self-esteem…but $2400 is a lot right now. And on top of that I resent her for bad choices stemming from a disease she can’t control. There are clearly a lot of decisions that will have be made regarding her long-term care and I suppose it is good to at least accept that fact now, when the issues aren’t as dire as needing 24/7 care, etc. It’s just a lot to take in. 

I suppose it’s stuff like this that makes makes me miss my grandma the most – so perhaps it is appropriate that this happened on the anniversary of her passing. Maybe that sign I saw in Wicker Park with no attribution is some divine message from her. Or from someone who knows everyone has a crappy day once in a while.

Luckily we had a little comic relief at home when young Ellis decided he was ready to eat some cake. So after my lengthy rant, I will leave you with a few pictures of a happy baby because everyone loves babies and puppies. Unless you are dead inside. Then I have nothing to offer you.

First taste.
“They’ve got Mississippi Mud and they’ve got Chocolate Eruption!”
Dad is on bath duty tonight. Sucker.

His elephun attacked earlier in the day, leaving a tiny red dot on his face. He clearly was traumatized.

Everything was a little better this AM…especially after a 30 minute snugglefest with the stinkpot pictured above.

Smudge

I finally bought a cable to pull all of my blackberry videos onto the computer. Then I broke it. But not before I transferred this little gem. I guess that is what I get from buy a USB cord from a Maxwell Street (but not located on Maxwell Street) vendor.

P.S. That isn’t our car Ellis is licking. Sorry Uncle AJB

Foot in mouth disease

I am the type of person that leaves a discombulated voicemail message and then presses every button on my phone in the hopes of being able to re-record it. I often send out one email only to be followed by a flurry of follow-up/clarifying emails because I am never as articulate as I would like to be via the Interwebs. And then there are my interpersonal communication issues. An no, the irony that I received my BA in PR (Journalism) and my MA in communication is not lost on me.

In the past five days I have inserted by foot into my mouth three times. Well, probably more than three times, but these few instances stand out.

1. Last week I was speaking with a new work colleague about boarding schools. He attended St. Somethingorother in NH and encouraged me to send Ellis away when he is of age. To which I responded, “but I love him. Er, I mean, your dad loves you too but…I don’t know.”

2. Last night we went for a walk with our neighbor that is an ad man by day and a creative entrepreneur by night. While discussing the IRS’ take on his business I asked, “…but what can they [IRS] do if you continue to fail. Err, um, (awkward laughing) not be profitable?”

3. Today, at our Gymboree class, Ellis was crawling through a tube towards a little boy named Luc and Luc’s pops. I told them, “Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite. Well, he might.” Comforting of me, I know. It was just a joke but I realized that in this context it wasn’t entirely inappropriate. Especially after Luc’s dad scooped him up and informed me that his nephew got kicked out of daycare for biting.

Good thing I have friends who accept my communication issues as quirky and stick around. Actually, I think they stick around to hang out with EK but whatever. At least that is Uncle Austin’s story. Today we met with AJBurke and walked to Lincoln Park. I got into not one but TWO verbal altercations (Post Office and random store) and won. However, I am sure my combatants are blogging about how they won an argument today too. Between fights, we went to a cookie restaurant (?), two bars (classy! we tried to go to restaurants but they were closed), a few other stores and Oz Park. It’s strange to visit a park at which you used to play when you were little; you expect time to stand still, but it doesn’t. The tennis courts are still there along  with the statues of the Tin Man and Dorothy but everything else is different. Ellis didn’t seem to notice.

Here he is being a dang old baby.

I heart Uncle Austin.

“Can I get some service?”

QT at Oz Park

Hugs and Kisses.

Smokin’ hot

Last night we welcomed a new addition to the family, Sr. Char-Broil.

This is not just any grill, oh no. Our (Ho-Ho’s) first grill was stolen off of our front porch/stoop area. Mr. Swirley is convinced that the scrap metal guys nabbed it and sold it for a pretty penny or two. We have yet to tell Ho-Ho because she will likely freak out at the loss since she grills out so much. After we realized the beast was gone (it took a while) we started to research gas grills (charcoal grills are banned) and let me tell you, it is a real challenge to find one that is as narrow as AJ Burke so that it can fit in our gated in area. We went to various specialty stores, Target, Home Depot – you name it. No luck. Then Char-Broil came out with this beauty, but it was out of stock everywhere. Needless to say, it was a very sad football season without grilled meats to compliment the Packers’ winning streak.
Then a sweet new year miracle occurred and Target started selling the Char-Broil Patio Grill. Mr. Swirley was near giddy, but I refused to pay the $50 shipping fee since that is 25% of the grill’s actual cost.  I know, I know, I am a horrible, no good wife. Finally, last week I checked the website and low and behold, le Target is offering free shipping. So here it sits in our “great room” – assembled sans propane tank. Apparently we are not allowed to use it until we get a cover, but we do have a heavy duty lock and chain to secure that sucker to our fence. Ah, classy city life.
Today I am heading downtown to meet my colleague for lunch. While there, I plan to pretend that I work in an actual office and not in my pajamajams and a nursing bra at home.

75 degrees and shweaty

At 11 PM last night our furnace stopped working. I was up during Ellis’ “Screamfest March 2011” performance and noticed how cold it was in his room. Neither Mr. Swirley nor I could figure out what was going on, so we put a space heater in the baby’s room and prayed it wouldn’t burst into flames (I have a fear that all space heaters will start on fire at some point or another. Other fears include vampires, pit toilets and vampires in pit toilets – no lie.) Ellis survived the night and the heat clicked back on at 6 AM. My BFF’s over at Fabian & Son showed up at 10 AM to take a gander. Something was wrong with the fluxcapacitor and the shimmy shimmy ya knob, or whatever. They jacked the heat up to 75 until I could smell myself, and then said it was ready to go. Only $105 later and it’s fixed, can you believe it? In Chicago. I was expecting to hand over Ellis or my deed. Or both.

What else? Oh, KJY departed yesterday. Sad face. She had a good run here in Chicago and Ellis was sad to see her go (see above Screamfest). Here they are at the park.

Did you ever flip around horizontal bars on the playground? You know what I am talking about. You put one leg over the bar and flip around to return to the starting position. We ballers used to do that all the time at Randall Elementary. Then I tried it on a bike rack at Vilas Beach. Funny thing about bike racks are that you can’t fit your shoulders through the bars (unless you are narrow like AJBurke) so you end up upside down with your head stuck between two bars. Yikes.

Aside from public park gymnastic meets, we pretty much spent the entire week harassing Ellis (aka Roy) and watching crappy movies.

Hell bent on exacting revenge, EK decided it was time for his top two teeth to pop out. It’s really really fun and conducive to a full night’s sleep.

Ho-Ho has been playing it cool lately. We are down to about five calls a day and most are fairly benign. I can’t say same for Mrs. S., who received an article (with no note) about drains and a voicemail about the hazard of heated seats. The latter is a huge concern given the fact that Mrs. S. lives in Chandler, AZ and clearly has her heated seats turned on full-force 365 days a year.

Last night I added some of KJY’s music to Itunes. After sorting and such, I came to the conclusion that I have way too much music that I don’t like or won’t listen to (they are obviously not mutually exclusive of one another). Of the 13,136 songs on file, here are some examples of some shiteous decisions:
– Badly Drawn Boy – 58 songs. I can’t name, let alone hum, one of their songs.
– Beck – 87 songs. Don’t get me wrong, I like Beck. Just not 87 songs worth.
– Bright Eyes. I refuse to even count the number of songs because I hate him so much. I don’t even know why I still have him in Itunes.
–  Jamiroquai – 56 songs. What? I mean, seriously, what?
–  Kid Koala – 35 songs. I can’t say anything about Kid Koala because I have no idea who he/she/they are. What does this say about me? That I am a music hoarder. Yes, yes I think it does.
– Manic Street Preachers – 34 songs. See Kid Koala. (Update: Listening to band now and can confirm that I hate them.)

I will stop there because I am sure you get the idea. What an embarrassment.

“Elvis King? They must be big fans”

Holy three week hiatus. We are on day 21 and it feels like young Ellis (aka Mr. Amazing) just arrived. He is currently napping in his vibrating chair and I just washed a night of spit up out of my hair. Glamorous, I know.

The quick story of his arrival: Mr. Swirley and I spent Saturday at the Chicago Art Institute, Millennium Park, Bucktown Art Festival, movie theater and out to dinner with friends.

I guess that was enough to get young Ellis on the move. I woke up Sunday morning around 4 AM, took a shower and decided to hit up the hospital. A few contractions later I was ready for an epidural and after the nurse who typed with one finger entered me into the system (it felt like it took a zillion years) we were ready to go. Fast forward to 12:34 PM on 8/29/10 and Mr. EK Swingen joined us on the outside world. I have to say our experience at Swedish Covenant Hospital was spectacular and we are so grateful to have such a healthy baby and relatively easy labor. I also would like to announce that after the baby was born, I also lost all common sense and am anxiously awaiting its return.
Grandpa Tom visited along with the Ds just a few hours after he was born. It was a big day.

Two days later (after Mr. Swirley changed all the diapers and I continuously called the nurses in to make sure I wasn’t somehow killing our baby), we were kicked out of the hospital and were astounded by the realizationn that we were actually allowed to take this little man with us. Within minutes of arriving at home, I passed out and Mr. Swirley was simultaneously spit-up, pooped and peed on. It was enough to send him in to a mini-panic attack but he has since gotten used to it. He really is a great dad and is enjoying (for the most part) this entire experience. He has even outsmarted the baby a few times.

The next day (Wed.)  Mr. Swirley’s mama arrived (much to our relief) and stayed until Sunday. It was so wonderful to have extra help – especially during my regular freak outs when the baby decided he didn’t want to nurse and I thought he was starving. Of course he wasn’t and after I slept for what felt like the first time in a few days, we came up with a plan. As a side note, he also continues to breathe normally though I am often sure he has stopped and have to put my giant face next to his tiny head (luckily he was blessed with a Swingen head) to confirm he is indeed alive.

Ellis’ namesake and great grandpa also visited three times this week, along with grandma arden, grandpa bob, lady jayne, NVS, sweet Lou, G.U.S., the GM, Johnny Mic and J&J. The kid has more friends than Mr. Swirley and I combined..

During week one, we took our first trip out of the house to the corner diner and we all survived. The great G seemed pretty pleased with young Ellis and got more and more comfortable holding him with each visit. Now I just need to be a good granddaughter and send updated pics to the old man in my spare time. Easy peasy.

Week two rolled around and our next house guest was my aunt, Mrs. D. who stayed with us for a week. Again, we were so grateful for all of her help and reassurance that the baby was not going to explode from gas at 3AM. You may laugh, but I was pretty sure this was going to happen and even went as far as calling the hospital to ask.

Mr. Swirley and I had the weekend alone and even ventured out a bit to visit the GM and Johnny Mic for brunch. Ms. Kaiksow and Uncle Austin stopped by and taught us some baby yoga positions to help Ellis avoid exploding.

Then our good friend Ms. Meghan and her sweet little man, Kaden, visited us last week and once again helped out so much.

Here are Ms. Meghan and Mr. Swirley are looking all domestic after a trip to the park.

As an added bonus to week three, Mr. Amazing decided to start nursing. This has cut my work in half since I spent approximately one bazillion hours pumping (nice image, I know) and harassing him to try to jump on the boob. It’s pretty awesome. And Mr. Swirley is a fan since he doesn’t have to get up 3x/night to make a bottle for our guy while he screams until his head just might fall off.

We visited the pediatrician on Friday (end of week three) and found out he has gained 1 lb 3 oz and 1 inch since his birthday. He is in the 50th percentile for weight and height and 25th for head size. Soon enough baby and dad will be able to share hats. Mr. Swirley may even be able to wear this little one sported by EK.

I am still amazed at all of the love and gifts that have poured in before and after Ellis was born. It it is wonderful to know how many people care so much for him and spent so much time making gifts, providing encouragement and advice and sending love.

Below is EK with his biggest fan on this three week birthday. And his dad.

Please pray for my sanity and waistline to return in good order. The snorter is awake.

"Elvis King? They must be big fans"

Holy three week hiatus. We are on day 21 and it feels like young Ellis (aka Mr. Amazing) just arrived. He is currently napping in his vibrating chair and I just washed a night of spit up out of my hair. Glamorous, I know.

The quick story of his arrival: Mr. Swirley and I spent Saturday at the Chicago Art Institute, Millennium Park, Bucktown Art Festival, movie theater and out to dinner with friends.

I guess that was enough to get young Ellis on the move. I woke up Sunday morning around 4 AM, took a shower and decided to hit up the hospital. A few contractions later I was ready for an epidural and after the nurse who typed with one finger entered me into the system (it felt like it took a zillion years) we were ready to go. Fast forward to 12:34 PM on 8/29/10 and Mr. EK Swingen joined us on the outside world. I have to say our experience at Swedish Covenant Hospital was spectacular and we are so grateful to have such a healthy baby and relatively easy labor. I also would like to announce that after the baby was born, I also lost all common sense and am anxiously awaiting its return.
Grandpa Tom visited along with the Ds just a few hours after he was born. It was a big day.

Two days later (after Mr. Swirley changed all the diapers and I continuously called the nurses in to make sure I wasn’t somehow killing our baby), we were kicked out of the hospital and were astounded by the realizationn that we were actually allowed to take this little man with us. Within minutes of arriving at home, I passed out and Mr. Swirley was simultaneously spit-up, pooped and peed on. It was enough to send him in to a mini-panic attack but he has since gotten used to it. He really is a great dad and is enjoying (for the most part) this entire experience. He has even outsmarted the baby a few times.

The next day (Wed.)  Mr. Swirley’s mama arrived (much to our relief) and stayed until Sunday. It was so wonderful to have extra help – especially during my regular freak outs when the baby decided he didn’t want to nurse and I thought he was starving. Of course he wasn’t and after I slept for what felt like the first time in a few days, we came up with a plan. As a side note, he also continues to breathe normally though I am often sure he has stopped and have to put my giant face next to his tiny head (luckily he was blessed with a Swingen head) to confirm he is indeed alive.

Ellis’ namesake and great grandpa also visited three times this week, along with grandma arden, grandpa bob, lady jayne, NVS, sweet Lou, G.U.S., the GM, Johnny Mic and J&J. The kid has more friends than Mr. Swirley and I combined..

During week one, we took our first trip out of the house to the corner diner and we all survived. The great G seemed pretty pleased with young Ellis and got more and more comfortable holding him with each visit. Now I just need to be a good granddaughter and send updated pics to the old man in my spare time. Easy peasy.

Week two rolled around and our next house guest was my aunt, Mrs. D. who stayed with us for a week. Again, we were so grateful for all of her help and reassurance that the baby was not going to explode from gas at 3AM. You may laugh, but I was pretty sure this was going to happen and even went as far as calling the hospital to ask.

Mr. Swirley and I had the weekend alone and even ventured out a bit to visit the GM and Johnny Mic for brunch. Ms. Kaiksow and Uncle Austin stopped by and taught us some baby yoga positions to help Ellis avoid exploding.

Then our good friend Ms. Meghan and her sweet little man, Kaden, visited us last week and once again helped out so much.

Here are Ms. Meghan and Mr. Swirley are looking all domestic after a trip to the park.

As an added bonus to week three, Mr. Amazing decided to start nursing. This has cut my work in half since I spent approximately one bazillion hours pumping (nice image, I know) and harassing him to try to jump on the boob. It’s pretty awesome. And Mr. Swirley is a fan since he doesn’t have to get up 3x/night to make a bottle for our guy while he screams until his head just might fall off.

We visited the pediatrician on Friday (end of week three) and found out he has gained 1 lb 3 oz and 1 inch since his birthday. He is in the 50th percentile for weight and height and 25th for head size. Soon enough baby and dad will be able to share hats. Mr. Swirley may even be able to wear this little one sported by EK.

I am still amazed at all of the love and gifts that have poured in before and after Ellis was born. It it is wonderful to know how many people care so much for him and spent so much time making gifts, providing encouragement and advice and sending love.

Below is EK with his biggest fan on this three week birthday. And his dad.

Please pray for my sanity and waistline to return in good order. The snorter is awake.

Whoever says “Don’t cry over spilled milk” has never nursed.

I should be napping right now but instead am on the Internets. Big news around here is Ellis King has arrived. Born on August 29, 2010 – he weighed in at 6 lbs 13 oz and just about 20 inches long. His first few days were quiet ones, but the kid now has a yell that can make your heart fall out. He is also very cute. 

I have a lot more to say but my eyes are crossing from lack of sleep so it will have to wait.

Dear Baby,

Happy zero birthday. Please come today as my maternity clothes are about to fall apart.

Love,
Mom

p.s. Mr. Swirley would like you to come so I can stop obsessing over dirty dishes.
p.p.s. “Soaking” a dirty dish doesn’t equate to cleaning it.
p.p.p.s. (can I even write that?) I would say this is what you missed – but since you decided to keep cooking, you probably got to eat some of these tasty treats. Neighbors, friends and uncle Austin came to over for an impromptu zero birthday celebration, except you were fashionably late. And by fashionably late, I mean you didn’t show up.

They had beer and I had baclava…so all was well.