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.

After the storm.

The windows are open, Ellis is in bed, Mr. Swirley is bowling with co-workers (next think you know he will be sporting a mustache) and I am listening to electro-pop remixes of hipster bands.

Summer is coming to an end; you can already smell it in the air. Too bad that is about as much insight as forecasters can offer when it comes to weather. Take hurricane Irene for example. I heeded warnings, canceled tickets and stayed in Chicago while the Goose got married in NYC. I was imagining a wedding album full of rain boots and yellow umbrellas. Here is where it gets complicated. I didn’t actually want the hurricane to hit NYC (or anywhere for that matter), but the fact that it didn’t pissed me off because I canceled my ticket in vain. Chew on that one. I feel like a terrible person for 1) missing the Goose’ s wedding, and, 2) being disappointed that it didn’t rain like they said it would. What is wrong with me?She is currently smoking long cigarettes and wearing a scarf in Paris so I don’t feel too bad. Haugh haugh haugh.

So instead of New York I spent the weekend with the family in Chicago. Tommy D came to the city on Friday and took Ellis out for some quality pappy time. Mr. Swirley and I bonded over day drinking and first birthday party planning. Everybody won! Dad even got to walk down memory lane with EK and took him past our old digs on Sedgewick and Webster across from the pastel painted mansion. Oh you know the one….they give out full candy bars on Halloween. At least they did 25 years ago.

Mansion.
EK likes long walks on the lake shore path, pinto beans and blocks.

For some reason he looks like a giant baby in this photo

Saturday was a hang around the n’hood day and Sunday marked the Chicago triathlon. Johnny Mic and Jenner were two of the approximately one bazillion people participating. Not only did they do an amazing job, but were even enthusiastic both during and after the race. I sat and ate crackers the entire time they were racing so that made me feel pretty good about myself.

proof that Ellis is a super urban baby.
I contemplated not posting this photo because it will likely embarrass Jenner, but I don’t think he reads this so whatever.

Yes, he is wearing a Schlitz biking jersey under his wetsuit.
Ellis owns exactly one more piece of Georgetown regalia than yours truly. And by one more I mean a total of one. Oh, and he plays peek-a-boo now. Suck on that.
Sunday ended up being a bit of a long day because Ellis refused to nap and I was sort of down the latter half of the afternoon. It took me a few hours to realize that I was so sad because he was turning one on Monday. I shouldn’t be so sad, I mean, he is alive and that is a huge accomplishment for us. Well, he spends three days/week at day care so they deserve some kudos too. He has learned so much – walking, babbling, peek-a-boo, how to climb into the storage cabinet under the stove – all crucial survival skills.
We have survived this whole parenthood thing (yea, yea, I know we only have one, but Ho-Ho is like 1/2 of one, right?)  which is something I honestly doubted was possible during certain points during the last 12 months. And I know it’s so cliche to say, but it’s all so fleeting. I have always been a person who is thinking about the future instead of relishing the now – but with him it’s like I can’t get enough of yesterday, let alone thinking about next week. Except when I do get enough and all I want him to do is get out of that damn oven cabinet.  I hope I don’t sound like a smug mom; I would say I am more of a desperate one.

Last weekend we went to Ukraine fest where they didn’t have one piece of literature in English and I am pretty sure we were eating kielbasa and borscht during a Sunday morning blessing. Regardless it was g-d delicious.

Uncle Austin did indeed share his platter with young Ellis. As far as I am concerned, you can’t start a kid on Slavic food young enough.

Yes.
Er, I mean tak.
The menu really helped me know what I was ordering. I just pointed at the $14.00 option and figured I would get a little bit of everything.

I was a little sad we missed the Ukrainian group that covers Katy Perry, but since I couldn’t read the schedule I figured it was a crap shoot as to what time they played. We did, however, say a prayer for our friends in Ukraine while Ellis stuck his hand in our amazing food platter and squeezed a cabbage roll…so I feel pretty good about that.

Ellis gets his one year old shots on Thursday and then we prepare for his first birthday party ever. It’s going to be sick!

Do I have to change Ellis’ blog tag from baby Swirley to toddler Swirley? This is all so confusing.

p.s. I am an aunt!! I can’s post photos but  know that 1) her mama (KML) is a bad ass and, 2) you are jealous. Ms. Mary is awesome, and chubby and really excited to meet Ellis and Homer T. Cat.

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?””

A few questions that have been nagging me….

1. Is it wrong to think Bachmann is loopier than Palin?
2. How much dirt will it take to fill the planters we just bought? I am thinking approximately 800 bags.
3 How do I put fondant on a cake without it looking like a crackhead made Ellis’ birthday caterpillar?
4. Who stole our grill? I hope it explodes. Then I feel guilty for wishing injury on the cheap bastards.
5. Why are Chicago drivers so crazy that they routinely pop their tires on our curb?
6. As a follow-up, am I a crazy Chicago driver? Should I therefore commence self-loathing?
7. When I spill something, why do I think that if I just brush over it with my foot the floor is clean?

I just stirred my coffee with a pen.

8. Why do I wait to defrost dinner until an hour before Mr. Swirley comes home? Every night. If I make dinner at all. Last night he had cereal.
9. Now that I have pretty much stopped nursing, can I no longer eat chips and/or ice cream for lunch? If so, it’s total crap.
10. At what age will Ellis be embarrassed of me? and why am I secretly excited to embarrass him?
11.Ho-Ho. Many questions – but in general I just think “Ho-Ho?”
12. Where does Jennifer Lopez get off singing about “getting on the floor”? Let’s be honest. She has twins and is getting a divorce. Last time I was on the floor was a few weeks ago when I slept next to Ellis’ crib on a pillow pet pleading with him to stop screaming. Nannies aside, she is old like me.
13. On a scale of one to drowning myself in a bowl of cat water, how much will today suck if we have to go wait at Rush Hospital for Ho-Ho’s prescriptions? One hour of being ignored? Check. Overpriced parking lot? Check. Pissed off baby? Oh, double check.

“Last week the candle factory burned down. Everyone just stood around and sang Happy Birthday.”

Today we received Ellis’ FIRST EVER birthday card. Exciting, no? No. It is from Geoffrey the Giraffe. However, it does contain a coupon to Toys ‘R Us which is pretty nice ($5 off of $25). We also received his first ever birthday gift from his CA friend, Nils. We were very excited to open it. He, in proper baby fashion, was more interested in the paper. Oh well. I hope you enjoy this little video while I enjoy my lunch…the end of the carton of chocolate ice cream. I need to live up the last of these breastfeeding calorie burning days while I stilll have ’em.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-7KkFALJ1s

LMK has a cat that goes crazy when you sing happy birthday. She might be my most favorite cat ever. Don’t tell Homenuts.

About one year ago today I was yelling at a clerk at Oberweis Dairy because their chocolate frozen yogurt machine was broken. I settled for chocolate ice cream, then changed my mind and demanded my money back. The vanilla machine was working – who orders vanilla frozen yogurt? Seriously. The manager (Ian) gave me his card so that I could call in advance since this was the third day I waddled down to the store only to find the machine out of service. I still have the card. Sweet sweet Ian. Almost as sweet as vanilla frozen yogurt.