What a display of athletic prowess. It’s like watching a beauty contest between Sam Cassell and Jeff Van Gundy.

Tonight Ellis and I had a holiday dance party. It was pretty much the best night for which I could ever ask. Cee-Lo’s Christmas album, our dancing socks wearing thinner with each step on the creaky floors and someone as clumsy as yours truly thrashing about the living room with me! Plus, I only had to offer him some milk in exchange for our powerdance session; I have a feeling it will take a lot more than that to get him to get down with his old lady mom when he is a super-hip jerkface teen. Still, I am going to miss him in 16 years. I think.

Source: Postecrets

Kooks

Merry 2012! It’s been a lively few weeks here in the Swirley household. Well, here and in ‘sconsin where we celebrated St. Nick’s visit with lots of fanfare, children shaving their faces and gluttony. Unfortunately, Mr. Swirley got sick on Christmas night and we had to forgo our annual Christmas trip to La Crosse to head home to fight a cold and wallow in self-pity. I knew he was sick when he was ok with me driving home; those yellow lines are just general guides, no?

We did have fun prior to the bout of death Mr. Swirley contracted somewhere between the eve and day of baby J’s birth. Below is just a taste of the controlled Xmas chaos.

When I first saw these two, I assumed they asked NVS to paint their faces to look like Mr. Swirley and/or Chuck Norris. However, I was wrong. They wanted to look like pirates
Family portrait!
Excitement. EK was more interested in the slide outside of the pool rather than than the pool itself.
This photo will be taken one zillion more times over the next 20 years.

Ellis lurves Guhhhh.

Lou getting rid of his noon o’clock shadow.

Swingens keep the fondue tradition going strong.

KJY arrived a day later and did her first of 10,000 loads of dishes while staying at our house. I cannot express how appreciative I am of people who do our dishes. Seriously, if you are looking for a best friend, come over and do one load and I will help you move or whatever you need. We also went shopping for sparkly New Year’s outfits and mocked each other until we were hoarse.

Ellis learned how to kiss and say “katie” just in the nick of time!

Our very generous (and preggo) neighbor volunteered to watch EK New Year’s Eve so we could celebrate with friends at a “fire and ice” party. Ice luge? Outdoor heaters (that didn’t work)? Check and check. Dance party? Oh hell yes.

Neck beard anyone?

Yowzers.

Fun times.

Weirdest picture of the night.
Second weirdest picture of the night.

We were out until 3 AM. 3!!!! I know you are seriously impressed by our stamina. I certainly am. The last time I was up at 3 was two weeks ago when EK was screaming in my face and refused to sleep anywhere but on top of me.

And now on to the main news of the day. We are scheduled to go to a parent-teacher conference on Saturday. For a second I considered joining FWC members for a day of “shooting guns and drinking beer” in Michigan, but realized that would be irresponsible. Plus, you don’t have to leave Chicago to do that. When I first heard about the conference, I assumed it was like an “all the parents are invited to come  listen to a speaker tell you how to be a better parent” conference. I even asked the school director if it was BYOB. I then realized they meant a one-on-one conference and was just a little bit embarrassed.

To prepare for said conference, today I received an evaluation of Ellis. Why did I panic? He is 16 months. It’s not like they can say he is disruptive or dumb or something. But 18 years of formal education has primed me to be simultaneously excited and terrified when I hear the word “evaluation”. I can say that the evaluation indicated that his teachers are working on helping Ellis transform from a feral animal (eating with his hands, speaking in gibberish, etc.) to a functional member of society – Thank God someone is on his side. So I will report back post-conference as to whether or not this kid has a shot in life

From David Bowie’s “Kooks”

We bought a lot of things to keep you warm and dry
And a funny old crib on which the paint won’t dry
I bought you a pair of shoes
A trumpet you can blow
And a book of rules
On what to say to people when they pick on you
‘Cause if you stay with us you’re gonna be pretty Kookie

The cat is enjoying the yuletide lights

I am flying through the city of brotherly love on yet another trip to DC. I have to say that if Philadelphians are going to stick with that slogan, they should really reevaluate how they treat people. Take this plane ride, for example. The overhead compartments filled up almost immediately so we were left with a line of people trying to figure out what to do with their bags. Add some non-native English speakers to the mix and we have a bit of a delay. Apparently that was a signal to the two jokers in my aisle to start yelling things like, “they aren’t giving out idiot awards today” and “sit down…what is wrong with these people? How could they have gotten on the plane with bags that don’t fit?” at the standing passengers. They then moved on to cruder insults delivered in a more hushed (but still very audible tone.) Wow, such comedians. They are, however, giving out dick awards today, and these guys won by a g-d landslide.
Why am I going to DC (really rural VA)? With a layover each way no less? Because we organized a staff retreat and had to use up our credit at a meeting center by the end of the year. Nothing spurs brainstorming about the future of your company and/or good morale like scheduling a meeting smack in the middle of the holidays. I guess no one else really cares since it’s a regular work day for them, but for us Swirleys (who have to travel) it cut into our celebration of baby Jesus’ birthday with the Ds and G. Oh well. At least I have a jobby-job and we will be enjoying a southern-style buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We did have a great time in St. Charles. Ellis was once again the star of the show and continued to receive rounds of applause throughout the weekend. The G drove up from Missouri and we finally figured out a way for all of us to coexist on the same floor and watch a movie – wireless headphones! Yes! No longer does the volume have to be turned up to 10 million decibels because the G refuses to replace his hearing aide. Now he can wear headphones that adjust the volume and the rest of us can enjoy our eardrums not being ripped to shreds. It’s a Christmas miracle!
And that moose was my friend…
EK loves is Auntie Tory

Ellis also peed on the floor while at Mrs. D’s. I reassured Uncle Scott that urine is sterile, but I am not sure if that made splashing around in a puddle of urine with your hand any less gross.

Santa was on the schedule for a weekend visit but the snow and my general lack of enthusiasm for standing in line with a 1.25 year old in the cold won out. Instead we took a few pictures of Ellis and Mr. Swirley running around the backyard in a hand-crafted sled.

EK and Hannah take a stroll in the fresh snow

Papi in EK in the ole’ handmade sled

“Taxi, oh taxi!”

Swingen xmas photo 2011

We of course had a few good quotes over the weekend. Maybe you had to be there to really appreciate them, but I thought I would share:
Scott: I think I am going through “the change”.  I am so hot all of the time.
—–
Mr. Swirley: Britney Spears in engaged ?!?
The G: (immediately responds) Well that dashes my hopes.(then turns a page of the newspaper)
The G: Tory, your number is associated with XXX-XXX-XXXX in my phone
Mrs. D: That’s not my number.
(pause)
Ho-Ho: One of my old nurses was named Tory. She left though. Maybe that is her number. I know lots of people named Tory
Ho-Ho: (re: Bandit the cat in a box under the tree) Leave him alone. He is enjoying the Yuletide spirit.
Me: Mom, what are you looking for? (as she poked around the pantry)
Ho-Ho: I’m hungry!
Mrs. D: No carbs, Ardie. They won’t fill you up.
Ho-Ho: I don’t want carbs! How about a pop-tart?
We enjoyed a very nice Christmas dinner, a round of gift opening and legally blonde. I think the last event was the G’s favorite. I got him a crockpot and slow cooker cookbook because he doesn’t cook much for himself (with the exception of soup). We’ll see if he breaks it out. What do they say about old dogs?
Tuesday I return to Chicago from our Nation’s Capital and hit the ground running. EK and I head up to Lake Geneva (our first time) for the night to visit KJY and the Dashos. Back Thursday and have just enough time to destroy the house before we head to Wisconsin on Friday for round two of Christmas celebrations (Madison and La Crosse). It should be and exhausting, fun and eventful few weeks.

Animal print pants out of control.

My hands smell like a mixture of urine and really bad breath. No, it’s not from a diaper or bathroom mishap. It’s due to my mom’s new Walmart candles. I am not sure who decided that vanilla hazelnut candles (which are already incredibly offensive to my olfactory sensory neurons) should include a slight dose of urine combined with halitosis to really set these candles apart…but let me tell you, it’s got to be bad if I am complaining.

I also feel terrible about not buying Ho-Ho a tree. I should get her a wreath, but that means a second trip out there this weekend and more money spent. Call me Ebeneezer if you will, however, we are hemorrhaging money when it comes to her and it’s not like there is one square inch of table/floor/seat space to set a tree. Especially with the life-size Santa sitting on her guest chair. Yes, life. size. But she doesn’t feel like her apartment is festive enough.

Ellis now says “no”.

So last week we hosted the IL visit of the Thornleys (you know my 80th cousin 12 times removed, or something). It was, as the Czechs say, tak super. We visited the Children’s Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Ms. Anna’s family farm and our basement couch. All the while little Libs (almost two years old) referred to me as “carrot” and “cow” because she had met a cow named “Annie” a week prior to their visit. Apparently she also wanted to pet me.

Tractorfun
Thornleys!

buddies.

smooching the whales

Ze meatball!

Ellis and Libs kept it real the entire time and almost convinced me that two kids under two could be sort of awesome. Libby spent much of her time showing Ellis the way of the world (“NO! Eleees”, “Watch Eleees!”, “Come Eleees!” “Eleees!”) Add the meatball to the mix (“lil” potter – 3.5 months old, 45 lbs and probably the sweetest kid this side of the Mississippi) and it was a pretty sick weekend. I even missed them after they left. I know! Crazy!

In the last week I have spent approximately one zillion dollars on Christmas gifts with not much to show for it. Yesterday we went to IKEA where I spent more money and Ellis screamed the entire time. I now can tell the difference between judging eyes and empathetic eyes..the latter are usually accompanied by a small smile and head tilt and the former  includes narrowed eyes and flared nostrils. An IKEA worker suggested I go to the family room (AKA family bathroom with a chair…gross) because of the screaming. A nap is a nap – wherever, whatever. I should have told him that I am damn patriot spending money at a foreign chain but of course I didn’t. I also didn’t go to the family room and instead kept shopping. Santa has work to do, yo.

You can pick your friends…

We are now officially big time. For real. How so? Condo? eh. Baby? Yea, we have one but who doesn’t? Chest freezer? AWWWW YEA. Mr. Swirley has been talking about this sucker for days. Weeks even. He uses the excuse of needing one to store boob milk, but I now know chest freezers are what separate the men from the boys. Even if it is only 5.1 cu. ft. of storage.

So if you have a side of beef you need stored for a few months, you know who to call.

This past week Mr. Swirley and I went out on our first date post-baby. Well, that isn’t entirely true. We went out to dinner once before but I am pretty sure I fell asleep in my pulled pork sandwich and said maybe four words total while we told each other we were having good time (in reality all we wanted to do was sleep). This time we went out hard. Remember, we now own a chest freezer; we aren’t screwing around. First, wait for it, we went to the Container Store. Then, REI. What. Then dinner where we had burgers and a beer. It was crazy. In all seriousness it was actually pretty fun and we weren’t worried at all about Ellis. We were, however, worried about our neighbors who were watching him. According to them he behaved and they volunteered to watch him again but I have my suspicions that he was naughty.

Today we had a family day at the Garfield Park Conservatory. If you haven’t been, I recommend you check it out. From our house you take Ashland Avenue to Madison Street. Take Madison past the fifth crack house and take an immediate right. Speed past the “abandoned” house with people walking in and out of it and the corner store with a big “NO LOITERING” sign that may or may not be blocked by loiterers and then you are there!

It’s actually a wonderful conservatory and just the antidote to the winter blues. We took a few pictures there – even some that don’t include Ellis. Nuts, I know.

Ellis wanted to dress to match the xmas room. He is such a prima donna
Had we planned ahead, this would have been a nice spot for an Xmas card picture. Instead we sent out a card where people think Ellis is crying. Oh well. Always next year.
I like orange. I do not, however, like the desert.

And my favorite.

We are heading to ‘sconsin for the holidays. I am currently trying to bulk up by solely eating peanut brittle and veggie straws. Screw you old man winter.