So what you call insanity, we call solidarity!

May movie madness

And a little conversation where Ellis reveals he is a Republican and I once again prove just how terrible my Midwestern accent truly is (focus on my pronunciation of the words “both” and “pony” – Hell, it all sounds ridiculous.)

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.

Enjoy winter sports at Swiss Chard…;Sunstroke Valley, Idaho. Excellent food; Oh, boy! Food! That’s my favorite dish

Home again, home again jiggety jig. We successfully returned from our CA vacation in one piece. I think Mr. Swirley sincerely doubted the viability of our plan to fly home with our 17 month old monster without drugging him/ourselves or getting kicked off the plane. Why? Because EK had TWO epic breakdowns on the way out to LA. Oh well, I think most people probably feel the same way when they fly and are just too embarrassed to start screaming their faces off. And American Airlines gave EK his own seat even though his parents were too cheap to buy one. Take that, $50 in baggage fees…we came out ahead!

While in LA, we saw family, friends, Ah-nold, that boxing dude from the Wire, and Tara Reid. It was a real Hollywood experience. However, we did severely underestimate the amount of “work” the vacation would be since Ellis doesn’t like to just lay out and relax. What’s wrong with him? A drink, a sunset and a crossword puzzle? It’s like he’s never taken a vacation.

Below are a bunch of pictures in no particular order.

Cousins Caroline and Clay pretended to not notice Ellis’ questionable behavior over a civilized breakfast in Manhattan Beach
Great Aunt Jo – such a wonderful woman. She and Caroline flew down from San Francisco for a quick visit. Amazing.
Looking at EK and Mr. Swirley from Aunt Donna’s balcony – where I enjoyed my drink and crossword. Suckers.
EK’s second job (first job was at DSW). Fired a minute after he was hired. But, he did get three Sesame Street video games as his compensation package.
Palm Springs. Priceline. Suck it, Thornleys (A&D)
Uncle Pat schooling Ellis.
Papi and Ms. Shierra

il museo. CHICKEN!

Ellis and Ellis. EK gravitated to “old ellis” like they have known each other for years.
Uncle Kert Bang!
Beach time.
New friends at Universal Studios thanks to “great” uncle Joe.
Next thing you, he will have one of those “no fear” and calvin stickers on his car.
bwahahahaha.

Apparently, when we were visiting with our friends and family, I was too busy catching up to take pictures. Trust me, they are beautiful people inside and out. I only wish we were able to spend more time with them.

Not one minute after we walked through our front door, Ho-Ho called to tell me her legs were swollen, she had bumps on her fingers and hadn’t slept in 1.5 years. God I missed her.

Today marks my first day sans soda. Again. I am 99% sure my bones are hollow due to years of soda intake, but I figured, “what the hell?” So fingers crossed I am not as wussy as I think I am and can actively choose to be a healthier person. I also ate an entire case thing of cherry tomatoes and a bowl of cream of wheat. I am on a roll! Now if we could only get EK to eat more than cheese fish and chips and salsa. Ole!

It’s curtains for you Dr. Horrible. Lacy, gently wafting curtains.

This is a boring entry. I shouldn’t post it but it’s too late now. 

Before we headed out to my Aunt Margaret’s 90th birthday party on Saturday, I tasked Ellis with making a “0” birthday card for Ms. Carmen Pickle (his future wife). She was due on the 14th, but decided to bask in the warmth of Little Miss Krissa’s belly just a little longer. However obstinant Carmen may be (I think she is playing hard to get), we still wanted to celebrate her due date. We needed a card. So I took out my magenta stamp pad and embossing powder and got to it. I rolled Ellis’ fat hand in the ink and then tried to press it on to the card. It didn’t go very well and to make matters worse, I was too concerned with fixing the print than with washing Ellis’ hand. So after making the stamp look somewhat like a hand (or elephant), I looked up and Ellis had crawled across the room. On beigish carpet. And to throw salt in the wound, he made perfect little hand prints when it didn’t matter. Whatever, Carmen will still love him.

Then we headed out to Northbrook and sat in the car while Ellis napped. Yes, we are those kind of parents. I finally poked him until he “woke up” and we trekked inside with our caravan of baby items that seems to follow us wherever we go. Upon entering, we were immediately greeted by three adoring aunts that scared the Hell out of Ellis. After a bit of lower-lip quivering and shoulder nuzzling, he finally settled in and enjoyed watching older boys run around, being cuddled by random cousins and participating in the family sing-a-long. This was my first-ever sing-a-long…we had lyric books, enlarged photos that corresponded with certain songs and a set of musical twins that led the exercise. It was a resounding success. How could it not be?

Sunday brought breakfast at our place with FWC folks and then I met up with Mrs. D and we descended upon Ho-Ho’s apartment like the two cleaning fairies you always wish would show up to your door. Mrs. D is a little crazy when it comes to cleaning. Just stay out of her way and follow directions and you will come out alive. Four hours later, mom’s place was sparkling and we found a few “missing” items that will likely go missing again soon enough.

I came home and Ellis was not only pulling himself up on any and everything, but he also has figured out how to open and close doors.

You wouldn’t think I would be so proud of this discovery; it’s like he found another planet or cured a disease or something. I am 95% sure he waved at me this morning and my head exploded.

Since returning home from DC I have become a hardline sleep-through-the-night advocate. This translates to an hour of crying Saturday night while I sat in his bedroom, 30 minutes Sunday and nada last night. I am sure last night was an anomaly and by typing this, tonight I will be faced with five hours of earsplitting, vein-pulsating crying, but what can I do? Sweet dream you lucky scoundrels.

The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.

This morning I laid in bed with Ellis as we held hands and he talked to me for fifteen minutes straight. Rewind 12 hours and replace AM Ellis with me and AM me with Lee. Poor poor Lee. I now understand what he feels like when I am a chatty Kathy and all he wants to do is sleep. Don’t worry, I will forget my sympathy by bedtime tonight and resume my incessant babbling.

Two of Ellis’ friends came over (Tate and Grace) today and they had a competition to see who could spit up more on themselves. I have to say Grace has some mad skills and gave Ellis a run for his money. I also got Ellis to sit up on his own for over two minutes and then his feet turned blue. I diagnosed him with beingtoofatitis whereby his gut cuts off his circulation. Not sure what to do about that as I don’t foresee him losing weight any time soon.

Grandpa Earley (aka Tommy D) is rolling in tomorrow so Mr. Swirley and I are going to go out on a date. Not sure what we are going to do, but trust me that it will be amazing and you will jealous at how much fun we have. We might do something crazy like go to a movie and make some returns to Crate and Barrel. We have to live it up now before Mr. Swirley gets all lame and 33 next month.

I ain’t no Martha Stewart

Holy hiatus (again). Every time I think about logging on to write some inane entry, something like laundry or vacuuming or showering seems to take precedent. Or I just stare at the wall and decompress. Regardless of the excuse, I have been fairly pathetic in documenting the past few months.

Ellis is now nearly eight weeks old and totally mature for his age. Well, he does think the blanket on the couch is hilarious – perhaps it’s the contrasting colors or he is already aware of my lack of taste when it comes to interior decorating. I am guessing it is probably the latter. He also agrees with me that sleeping is for suckers – especially during the day.

Aside from mocking our decorating scheme, I have learned a lot about young Ellis in these short eight weeks. Like what?  Well, he likes to shoot milk through his nose sometimes. The first few times this happened I was completely terrified; now it’s a parlor trick. He also enjoys projectile vomiting and could give Linda Blair a run for her money. He falls asleep when pretty much anyone but Mr. Swirley or I hold him and has honed his nuzzling skills. He loves being outdoors…taking after his uncle Austin in his affinity for the sun. Bath time is fun time. Dad is INCREDIBLY slow to put on clothes. Ellis can go from zero to 100 in less than a second (this means translates to peach to fire red in the face) and I have yet to figure out the difference between his fussy, tired and hungry cries. Gas is the enemy of all enemies and is the main culprit for me watching infomercials at 3AM. He still likes to snort. A lot.

He is also growing too fast. I know he still is a peanut, but he seems so much bigger than when we brought him home. I am pleased with his roly poly legs, but would rather he grow out more than up. Alas, short of somehow binding his appendages there is little we can do.

We found a daycare and he is excited to go to starting December 1. The first place we interviewed refused to give us references so we decided that probably wasn’t a safe bet for a pet daycare let alone our child.. Ellis agreed and told me to keep looking. We finally settled and he is thrilled to meet some new friends and show off his spit-up skills…so hopefully we will be ready to go when the day comes. I foresee the staff prying him from my hands but who knows, maybe I will be ready for him to kick it with some other people.

I  know it’s obnoxious, but I have to post pictures as I am now a mom and that is apparently what we do. I am like that woman at the grocery store who whips out her wallet to show you pictures of her kid and the little plastic case thing falls all the way to the ground. Except I am on steroids and can do it virtually. Lord, I already have approximately one million pictures to share. Annoying for sure, but get used to it.

                                           week 5

                                          week 6

                                            week 7

In other news, our cats love saltines. I woke up to crumbs on the floor this morning and teethmarks in the bag.  Part of me still thinks it’s OK to finish off what is left of the sleeve.

And dad finally got his teeth back. After a hernia operation gone awry (don’t ask), he was rendered toothless (front four) for two weeks. He really lived up to the Earley name. Unfortunately, Ho-Ho lost one the day he got his back. I am pushing for a nice, shiny gold replacement.

You don’t know how to make guacamole


Family fun in the country was the name of the game this weekend. That and sweet presents for baby Swirley. And lot’s of food. Mr. and Mrs. D (and of course Carly) hosted a baby shower for Mr. Swirley and me at their lovely St. Charles home. After an incredible amount of planning and hard work (with none of our assistance), Ho-Hos, Swingens, Earleys, Ds and close family friends came to celebrate happy babies and dimpled knuckles. We were fortunate enough to have guests travel from Wisconsin, Illinois (Chicagoland), Missouri and California to join us for a day of bbqing, yard games, frog hunting and fun in the country. Mr. Swirley and NVS also decided to call each other the night before to coordinate outfits.

Swingens!
Ds!

Ho-Hos!
Lady Jayne brought Sweet Lou and G.U.S. to show us how cute our baby will be after his alien phase.  It was a reassuring gift since all of the books keep telling us to not be surprised if he arrives smushed and baby bird-like. G.U.S. spent the majority of the day hunting toads/frogs (yes, I know there is a difference – but I don’t really care) while Sweet Lou hung out and had his face eaten by us adults (see below. That is me attempting to eat his face). 
The G made the rounds while Ho-Ho met the Swingens for the first time. It was great. In addition, T-bone attended and he and Ho-Ho even reminisced about big she got while prego with yours truly. It was nice to see them chatting it up and I even got the first family photo taken of us since ever. Well, maybe that is an exaggeration, but not by much. Look, I have proof.
My “fake” uncles Jim and Jim joined us as well. As a side note, I think the use of the word “fake” is really inappropriate since I regard them as kin – but always used it to differentiate for confused friends. Since moving back to Chicago, we have seen much more of the Jims (sometimes for not so good reasons like house floods), which has been wonderful. Uncle Rich, the man who has been present at every seminal moment in my life (from a zero birthday party to officiating our wedding) was sadly not in attendance – but talked about (in a good way) throughout the day. 
Jim & Jim!
My  aunt Jo and cousin Z traveled from the Bay area to revel in Midwest humidity and poke baby Swirley.  I cannot tell you how grateful we were to have both of them share the weekend with us. And Aunt Jo made us a lovely baby blanket to boot. Mrs. S couldn’t make it but we know she was poking baby Swirley in spirit. Other gifts included: blankets and sweaters made by baby’s great- grandmothers (Swingen and Johnson); handmade blankets by Ho-Ho, Carly and our wonderful and very thoughtful cousin in North Carolina, Mrs. T; onesies decorated by those in attendance; and, other sweet little items like clothing, toys, stuffed animals and nursery decorations. Baby Swirley is already so spoiled and he is has only just grown large enough to kick me in the ribs. Dang.

We also decided to share the name of young Swirley with our friends and family – Ellis (aka Lil Swings, “L”) and I think it surprised my gramps for the first time since his 80th birthday party. Hopefully in a good way.

Here we are explaining where the baby currently resides to G.U.S.
And here we all are – post-food, presents and fun.

The weekend ended with the moving of a storage unit and Ho-Ho telling me: “you dont know how to make guacamole. I know how to make guacamole” after I questioned her inclusion of mayonnaise in the the recipe.I suppose I still have a lot to learn before becoming a mom; good thing we have so much help.

mio cugina è ribelle

My uncle Mike (the Palos Park transcript guy) currently resides in Naples, Italy with his lovely wife and two kids. Last night, the kids performed a concert for the parents. Can you guess which one is my cousin? Think New Orleans and half-earley/breaking decorum (they are practically synonymous)…
On a side note, I support the use of whatever instrument these kids are playing in Italy. Too bad we are cutting music budgets in the public schools – I could see this blowing up in the U.S.

The sweet sugariness of first love

Today was full of adventures. The good kind. It started with a plea sent to all Chicago friends and family from my Uncle Mike for a volunteer to take a trip down I55 to Palos Park to pick up his transcripts. After a IM planning session, I jumped in the car and made my way to the south side. Upon arriving at Moraine Valley CC, I received a police escort from Officer 111 to a “faculty only” parking spot next to Building “R” (#1 awesome event of the day),  and waddled inside to negotiate with some very stern administrators (sans photo ID. I know, brilliant). There, I successfully found the three ladies with whom I needed to speak to secure Mike’s transcript. After each one peered over her half-moon shaped glasses at me and inspected my Costco ID (the only photo ID I had with me – and it didn’t even have my correct name listed), they stamped the proper forms in triplicate and finally released the one page report. Though I would like to share the transcript, I will refrain. However, I should mention that Mike must have been focusing on something other than school during the fall of 1973. I also met a girl who after asking me what I was majoring in, told me: “you don’t look that old. Like you are in your 20s or something.”

Since I was already ¾ of the way to Orland Park, I spontaneously decided to take a trip further south to check out my grandparents’ former digs. A left onto La Grange Road, a right onto 144th Place and another left onto Beacon Avenue led me straight to the locale of some of my most favorite memories – 9827 West 145th Place. The mailboxes were still at the end of the driveway and across the street. The trees that cost the three Ho-Ho girls countless hours in raking were still standing and no doubt torturing another generation. And most exciting news: a “for sale” sign was posted in the front yard. (#2 Awesome event of the day)

                                         THEN:                                                      

                                         NOW:

Yes, for a half-second I contemplated buying it. My email interaction with Mr. Swingen went like this:

“Lee Lee Lee. It’s for sale”

Mr. Swirley’s response:
“Are you going to buy it? It could be our winter home in the south (side).”

So he was considering it. Or mocking me. To sate my curiosity, I looked it up on MLS  while idling on the curb like your friendly neighborhood stalker. And BAM! There is a virtual tour available (#2 Awesomeness continued) online. The Gs moved about 15 years ago, so I assumed major renovations had taken place. After flipping through the photos, I was oddly relieved that not much had changed. Hardwood floors were installed, built-in bookshelves removed and the kitchen remodeled – but the deck and walkway the G and Mr. D. built were still in place and the fireplace looks the same as it did in the 70s /80s when the girls posed for snapshots with their high school sweethearts.

                                          THEN:                                                                          

                                         NOW:
I am working on Mrs. D to schedule a tour with me; She needs some more persuading. You can call me a nosy ninny, or freak. I just want to see if the Sugar Smacks are still in the lower left cabinet next to the fridge, great grandma’s ridged plates are in the cabinets and the smarmy-looking hand-carved sailor is still on the bookshelf. You know, normal stuff.
Since I am talking about the Gs, I thought I would share my two most favorite pictures of them. As Aunt Jo succinctly wrote last year, “Elaine was the best.” And, the G, well he is the G.
(Gram’s fave pic of the G, too)
To round out my trip to Orland Park, I decided to brave my fears and travel to the home of my first love. I continued down West 145th Place, made a quick left and there it was: 7-11. It was the first 7-11 I remember visiting and spent countless hours biking to and fro during the summers spent in IL. I parked and braced myself for the worst. Remodeling, no pina colada slurpee – sky is the limit in terms of what could go wrong. But as I entered, I realized all is right with the world. The friendly 7-11 cashier still working from an island in the center of the store, Slurpee machines to the left and magazines front and center, right where they should be (#3 Awesome event of the day). It has been 15 years since I have stepped foot inside this fine establishment and it’s like I never left.

With an absurdly large frosty beverage in hand (pina colada flavor, of course), I decided it was time to return to reality and headed home. After a quick drive-by of the old haunts (you know antique stores, G’s usual car wash, supper clubs – normal hang-outs for eight-year-olds), I got back onto LaGrange Road and battled the traffic heading north into the city. All the while I thought about how I might be able to use the money we are saving through this refinancing deal as a down payment – baby Swirley needs a yard and I miss gram’s peonies.