Some flies are too awesome for the wall.

If my computer moves any slower I am going to punch it square in the screen. Good G-d, you would think I am trying to back up ten million gigs of data while removing programs, running ITunes and penning a blog entry. Shut your hole.

I don’t know if you heard about it, but members of NATO are meeting in Chicago and according to every news outlet in existance, the city might be wiped off the face of the planet. If that happens, I take back being mad at Ellis for possibly misplacing my tiny external hard drive that contains our ENTIRE music collection. I would also like to take back actually storing all of our music on a tiny hard drive that a toddler can so easily hide.

Oh, so this week’s misspending adventure- $XXX on daycare services that went unused. I am not sure if that really counts as the “getting locked out, losing the car keys, buying a security camera that costs as much as the grill you are guarding” type of situation, but it’s still spending money on “services” not utilized. Why is EK not at daycare, you ask? Because he is one giant scab. Seriously. It is probably the most pathetic thing I have seen in a while (yes, I know children are starving, puppies are drowning, etc. etc.) I would post a picture of EK vs hand, foot mouth round 2 – but it might make you cry (unless you are empty inside). We have spent the past few days consuming a diet comprised solely of ice cream/Popsicles whilst whimpering, snuggling and pretending to work (I am speaking for all three of us). And of course, we have also sequestered ourselves to the house for fear of turning every kid in Chicago into a crusty, drooling babe. It’s great. Has your kid ever told you “mama, I sad?” or “mama, mouth hurt”? If they have, you know it is pretty much the worst thing you can hear next to, ” Mom, I don’t know why my answers on my 12th grade math test look like my boyfriend’s handwriting” (cough cough). So instead of grossing you out, I will instead let you judge me on being an excellent parent by melting my son’s brain on day three of lock down (i.e., allowing him to watching Sesame Street ALL DAY LONG.) I am pretty sure his eyeballs fell out since he stopped blinking around 10 AM.

I think it is fair to say Mr. Swirley is the better parent of the two of us. And I am OK with that fact.

Luckily for everyone involved, EK was healthy this past weekend while he hung out with the Ds and we spent time with family in LA. It was the first trip since last summer that Mr. Swirley and I ditched our child and although quick (and sadly, for the purpose of saying farewell to a beloved family member), it was beyond a blessing to spend some time with family…and participate in/bear witness to conversations like the ones below.

Here is a video of me getting in trouble but I can’t tell you why.

ABCs from the sweetest Italian cousins ever! 

How many Earleys does it take to fill a bathtub? And more importantly, how often did they bathe? Really.

Facts learned/reinforced while in CA:

1. Santa doesn’t exist (whispered to me by a little pixie of a girl who shares Ellis’ name)
2. Public bathrooms are so out in LA. Having to go to the bathroom while in a public place is so in  for me.
3. My family is the best. Insane, but the best. It is actually pretty amazing how eight siblings can differ so much in terms personality yet remain incredibly loyal to one another and their respective families. Touching, actually. So many (crazy) stories that never seem to get old (e.g., tying each other to trees + firecrackers, beans up noses, driving cars from the passenger side seat, etc. etc.), and enough rolled eyes to power a small town.
3.a I need to be more active in maintaining relationships with said family members…a confusing game of dice and talking until late at night (well – 11 is late for us) is much more fulfilling than “liking” a status or a quick email.
3.b. Annual visits to Cali are in the works. Suckers.
4. My uncle Rich is rock-solid. The rest of his family isn’t too shabby either.
5. I am so very grateful to be a part of all of this.

Ms.  Shierra. I drove her crazy the entire weekend.
Uncle Pat, Aunt Donna and Uncle Henry
The entertainment.
Cooking cousins is way better (and more socially acceptable) than kissing cousins.
Hardy hargh hargh. And Dad’s sorta, kinda twin.
Cousins, uncles and “special friends”
Trouble with a capital “T” and they’re minus three.

And three more Earleys will be added to the mix when they move from Italy to LA next month. I would send prayers their way, but I have a feeling they will do just fine.

If I keep my body moving, and my mind occupied at all times, I will avoid falling into a bottomless pit of despair.

Look, I am not going to beat around the bush. I am pissed. Not pissed like “I locked myself out the house then later realized our bedroom window was open” pissed. No, I am seriously pissed. We just received our appraisal and it came in below the amount required to refi w/o PMI. What does that mean? It means I found another way to waste $250 this week…and you thought I couldn’t go three for three. Fools! You might also think I am above drinking a bottle, er, I mean glass of wine out of a coffee cup. Well, it hasn’t gotten that bad but I certainly considered it. It’s better than straight from the bottle.

In other money-spending news, we bought ourselves a little security camera for the front porch. It cost about as much as the grill, but apparently it’s the the principle of the matter. Last week I found that we didn’t calibrate it quite correctly when I adeptly (yea, I said it) climbed over the fence and tried to break in. Not one picture was taken! But I did find this one and wrongly assumed Mr. Swirley was checking out a fine little Bosworth boo at 6 AM. Instead he was examining a stain on the sidewalk caused by our recently planted (badass) planters.

Chocolate Chex are the most amazing treats ever. Three of the fourteen boxes of cereal purchased yesterday are of the Chocolaty Chex variety. Go buy some and tell me I am wrong.

When you ask EK his name he says “Ellis Svingen” which is probably how those giant Norwegians pronounce it. Always trying to show us up, that kid. Well, I know my name too, buddy. So there.

I don’t know who possessed EK when he was telling us his name, but I am certainly happy he snapped out of it when we got to the animals.

I downloaded some new apps…can you tell?

Snack time with mom aka popcorn in a sieve.

The ole’ pants off game. Players: 1.


And am hellbent on taking the worst pictures ever whenever I am near EK. Nostrils flared? Check. Weird grimace? Oh yea. Eyebrows raised? Why not? Errant wiry, grey hair? Look for yourself

Look over there Ellis! See the mom and son taking a perfectly nice picture together?

And then my heart fell out when he almost busted through the chicken wire and plunged ten million feet below into the monkey pit. They were totally monkeys, so don’t give me that crap about confusing apes for monkeys and calling me ignorant.

Chicken wire? What? Thanks Brookfield Zoo. All I could think about (aside from Ellis’ possible perilous plunge and my love for alliteration) was our faces on the 6 o’clock news and the newscasters shaking their head at our level of stone-cold irresponsibility. It’s chicken wire – completed inadequate to hold anyone over the age of fetus! This is a very long caption. Perhaps it doesn’t really count as a caption but I am not going to cut and paste it into text.

As a complete non sequitur, once I was the handler for an Iraqi delegation and they asked me, at nine o’clock in the evening, to get their clothing dry cleaned…due nine hours later. I took it home, washed, dried (in pay machines no less!) and ironed their duds, put each article of clothing on a hanger, placed them into used dry cleaning bags and delivered everything to their hotel in the morning.

I am relieved to know that chins, unlike noses and ears, don’t continue to grow throughout your lifetime. That would be terrible.

You cannot always wait for the perfect time, sometimes you must dare to jump. Just don’t let your kid fall ten feet to the ground.

Here are some fun facts about the past few days:
– Ho-Ho told me she has been using dish soap as body wash. Not that she doesn’t have body wash, but that she opted for the soap over the body wash.
– Ellis is in love with his cousins. Every time he watches the video from the weekend, he gets a huge grin across his little round face and ask “mo? mo? peecture” when it ends.

At first I thought G.U.S. was showing up some bunny ears in this picture – then I realized he was signalling he is six. What is wrong with me?
Sweet Lou. So so sweet.

– I am a stellar mother because I:

  1. Allowed my child to scream in a store and got lots of dirty looks (he was on his way to bed)
  2. Misunderstood Mr. Swirley when we talked about EK going onto playground equipment by himself and allowed him to go up, and eventually fall through a hole and down ten feet onto his face. It was terrible.

I am so glad I allowed my fear of being judged by other moms about “hovering” trump my fear that my child will hurt himself. And they judged me anyways. As a result, I loudly announced “Mother of the YEAR!” while Ellis sobbed into my shoulder. Then he asked for applesauce. I still feel so terrible about the entire incident.

Good thing I have mom friends I can talk to about my mistakes. One told me that it wasn’t my fault that Ellis fell because I didn’t push him through the hole. And another, who shall remain anonymous, told me she locked her kids in the car yesterday. That doesn’t make me feel better, but at least I know that there are two of us in the world…though that is not necessarily a good thing.

Our IM conversation went a little something like this…

Friend: so you let your kid fall off the playground and I locked both of mine in the car. I think I’ll give you some competition for that mother of the year award
Me:  they are clearly out now. Because you are writing me.
Friend: the doors aren’t even self locking so I don’t really know how it happened. I always put the keys next to L’s car seat when I buckle her in yesterday I put P in, put L in, closed her door, realized I left the keys next to her seat and BAM all the doors were locked.
Me: I do that too! Crap.
Friend: We were at the school. so I had to run inside and call D.who was pissed.
Me: Obviously. did you say “at least i didn’t let her drop ten feet onto her face”?
Friend: I did not say that. I did mention that I hadn’t done it on purpose. He said, “you should never put the keys there”. I responded, “yes, I can see now how it isn’t the best idea”. Thank you for pointing that out. [We were] in the school parking lot. I’m sure it made a stellar impression on the other parents there picking up their kids
Me: D and Mr. Swirley are the same person. As are we. It’s sort of simultaneously terrifying and comforting. I don’t think the world deserves to endure two of us.
Friend: The world wouldn’t know what to do without two of us.We keep things interesting. think how bored D. and Mr. Swirley would be without someone to judge. They are so flawless.they need someone to give them a reality check from time to time.


The mocking of our respective husbands is pretty unwarranted (at least in this case), but it made us feel a little better about screwing up.

– I thought I left my wallet at Menard’s (home improvement store) and didn’t bother to call them until about three hours after I realized it was gone. When the employee told me they didn’t have it, I didn’t believe him and just shrugged my shoulders. EK and I took a drive back to Menard’s later on in the afternoon and they still didn’t have it. Then I found it under his seat. I don’t know if I should be more worried that I lost my wallet, again, or that I didn’t seem to care. I was honestly mostly distressed about losing my movie rewards program card and the wallet itself because I got it on such a huge discount.

– Ellis now says coupon. He also told his dad that Willie (our cat) is “stressed out” after I told Mr. Swirley to stop stressing about our kid not eating. EK is like an animal and can smell fear (or stress) and totally milks it.

Bedtime for bonzo.

Wow. I didn’t think Ellis still had it in him to stay up all night. He does. All night. It went something like this.

7:00 PM – Read some books, bedtime. I made Mr. Swirley a salad since he snubbed my first attempt at dinner.
7:15 PM – Talk talk talk talk. “up and down, up and down. Mamamamamama. Dadadadada” Silence.
7:30 – Whining.
7:45 – More whining
8:00 PM – Crying. Lots of crying. I go in and both of his legs are stuck between the crib slats. Usually he yells, “stucccccckkkkkkkkkkk” but this time just a screaming, red-faced toddler flailing his arms in the dark. Dislodge EK, hug from dad, back to bed.
12:00 AM – Yelling. Again, lots of yelling and crying. Why does he hate me so much?
12:15 AM – Mr. Swirley starts to get up. Basically, I just wait until he is pushed to his limit and then volunteer to take care of Ellis since I don’t have to take a 6 AM train out to the ‘burbs.
12:20 AM – As I am about to open his bedroom door, Ellis turns silent. Back to bed.
12:25 AM – More screaming. Awesome. If you hate me then I at least get to resent you.
12:30 AM Give EK some water, hug, change his diaper while he lays belly down on the floor crying into the carpet (his choice, not mine), back to bed. EK cries and I fall asleep because I am mean.
1:40 AM – SCREAMING.. “Mammmmmmmmmmmaaa. Up? Up? UP UP UP? Dadadddddddddddaaaaaaaaa”. We pretend like it’s a nightmare and try to go back to sleep. Again, parents of the year.
2:00 AM – Mr. Swirley looks at the clock and gets mad (probably at me). I send him downstairs to sleep and go in to check on Ellis. I could let him cry for hours but I don’t think our upstairs neighbor appreciates my “hands off” parenting approach.
2:05 AM – I pick Ellis up. He asks to read Cat and Mouse. Have you read it? It’s about a cat and mouse duo. It’s really dumb. We change his diaper, belly on the floor again. Out to the living room where I lay on our love seat (its is approximately 12 inches long) and he rolls around on top of me. “Hi! Hi! HI MAMA! Mom? Mom? Hi. Brown Couch. Blue chair. Read? Milk? Water? Hi.” etc.
2:20 AM (?) We go into his room. I try to put him down and all hell breaks loose.
2:22 AM – Yes, I crawl into Ellis’s crib. It holds all cough cough pounds of me. “Hi mom. Mom? Pillow? Blanket? Cozy. Hi! Hi! Willie! Cat. Hi Willie! Outside?” etc.
2:40 AM  – EK is still awake and crawling all over me. I have contorted my body into the fetal position at the bottom of his crib and somehow I am still in his way. He is very angry and keeps hitting his incredibly thick skull against mine. My resentment level is increasing ten-fold each second I am forced to smell my own feet as I bend at the hip, knee and ankle. Good thing it wasn’t Mr. Swirley’s head getting smashed or it might have expedited the brain-exploding meningitis process.
3:00 AM – I give up (well, I think the crib incident proves I actually gave up at 2:22 AM). We get up and go to my bed. Ellis rolls around and continues to say “Hi!” – his hot stale breath misting my face. He almost falls off the mattress and I almost start to cry. Willis keeps harassing us with his obnoxious meowing. I want to die. Ellis continues to roll around and talk as I shield myself from more skull-smashing.
3:30 AM – I give Ellis milk. He pounds it while straddling me and I almost fall asleep.
3:45 AM – I put him in his crib. He goes to bed.

Could it be that easy? Just some freaking milk? He can tell me the couch is brown but not that he wants milk. That is just un-American.

And I would like to give a shout out to Graco for making such an incredibly strong crib frame. Perhaps I am not supposed to admit that I crawled in there but desperate time people, desperate times.

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.

Sametová revoluce

I am sitting here waiting for Ellis to start crying because inevitably, the moment I slip into bed I will hear the saddest “mama”s this side of the dirty Chicago river. It’s been one of those days.

So today I will write about the Velvet Revolution (sametová revoluce). It occurred in the latter months of 1989 (November-December) and ushered in a new, democratic Czechoslovakian government – farewell Husak and the rest of you fools!.  Alexander Dubček and Vaclav Havel (recently passed) were the Czechoslovak rock stars that personified this revolution for many – but we all know it wouldn’t have been possible without the popular support of the citizenry. Why am I talking about this? Because I used this analogy when I spoke to my MD about treating of my disgusting burn.

…talk talk talk…cheese…keep it moist (FYI I hate that word) 

Dr. Miller:  “It [the burn]needs to build from the ground up.” 
Me: (excitedly) “Like Democracy! Like the Velvet Revolution.” 
Dr. Millter: (hesitantly) Yes?

Next up, lustration. For the CZ/SKs, it was the removal of party hacks from positions of power. For me, gross, charred skin. Can you fire patients? Jo. (yes)

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!