Is there a How to Hide Your Glaring Lack of Knowledge From Your Friends for Dummies, cause that’s one you should’ve bought.

I am finally coming up for air. Sort of. We moved on Saturday and I am pretty sure everyone who helped us isn’t talking to me anymore. Apparently the straw that broke the group’s back was the emptying of the storage unit on the THIRD van trip whereby a cork bulletin board was produced. A.J. Burke literally called bullsh!t and headed out. Whoops. I used it once and feel bad pitching stuff. Sue me. Then there were the stacks and stacks of boxes labeled “not important”; apparently that is a morale breaker. In my defense, those were labeled in 2008 when we first moved to Chicago and had to decide which boxes had to go to temporary housing vs. storage. Still…

Mrs. and Mr. D unpacked the kitchen and made a lot of repairs. Once they left I stopped unpacking and mourned moving away from Bosworth. I know, I know – grill thief, flower thief, neighbor feuds and other shenanigans aside, I finally felt like I fit in somewhere. It’s pretty much DC all over again…settling down to uproot. This time it’s only three miles, but I am so used to waving hi to folks as they walk their dogs, or watching Ellis run towards freighbors as they make their way home from work. It just felt right and yet we decided to move. Do you have any idea what it takes to maintain a house? Because I don’t and am now absolutely TERRIFIED. I have to put my garbage out on garbage day? Wha…?????

Last night I realized that this is the first time I have lived in a home without constant company since I was a tiny person. From as far back as I can remember, we have always had live-in friends…or almost live in. It started with a home daycare that ran from 7 AM to 5:30 PM. One positive take away is that is I was primed to endure children/adults screaming to the point I can still sleep right through it. Once my mom moved out we had a string of roommates include Dauin (sp?) who slurped his food like no other I have ever witnessed, John K. who got me into the Onion and recently sold out (cough cough) to drive fancy cars or something, and a bunch of others I should remember but don’t because I was a cool high school girl (again, cough cough). Then came college with roommates who clinked their bowls with every spoonful of cereal, spent years sleeping in and tried to convince me that fake meat tastes as good as the real stuff. Post-graduation included a cross country move and another roommate followed up by cohabiting with my usually-better half…all in apartment buildings. While I complained about the constant noises of people living above us, threatened to sue other condo owners in DC and listened to the video gaming, opera/band rehearsals and folks going up and down stairs, I now miss hearing other lives go on around us. It’s just so quiet here. I often imagined our life at home set in a musical where the scene was an architectural section of a building …each family living their lives while simultaneously interconnected with those around them; as an infant, Ellis used to fall asleep to my neighbor Ryan practicing his musical scales. It was somehow perfect.

When I try to communicate this odd sense of loss (I know, we are only three miles away…but in a city, two blocks is different community), people are quick to remind me that we will likely make friends with our new neighbors. While I am sure that is true, I am not anxious to replace my old friends (you know, silver and gold and all of that) and am scared that corner chats will turn to polite waves. I know I am being dramatic here – I am just not one for change…especially when I am happy.

That said, Ellis seems pleased (for the most part…he has been asking for everyone) and Mr. Swirley and I are doing are best to get back to normal (errrr…). How the crap do you hang pictures in plaster without the house crumbling around you? And we warmed up Ellis’ room by stuffing blankets in the window. Classy!

Today I moved all of the downstairs furniture and rugs around (think profuse sweating, straining and swearing…alliteration intended) and unpacked 120000 boxes. Let me suggest that you DO NOT try to drag a 10×14 rug and accompanying pad around your house before rolling it up. If you opt to ignore my advice, at least lift from the knees. Or you can be like my gimpy ass tonight and feel like your legs and back are going to fall off. Mr. Swirley came home and, after looking around the house, told me, “I guess that will do.” Oh, and he thinks the giant rug that I lugged around should go back to it’s original home in the living room. Then I poisoned his dinner. Not really, but I didn’t argue when he offered to go to the condo to clean. I am sure that once I review his cleaning job, I will respond with the same apathetic tone because that is how we do in the dirty Midwest. That’l do.

If you can visualize a rabbit riding a dragon it increases the chance of winning lotteries.

Get your clucking tongues ready, people! We have now reached a new low parenting – we lock our child in his bedroom (collective dramatic intake of breath). It’s not as bad as it sounds. Well, it sort of is. You can’t really exaggerate when you say you lock your kid in his room. But look, it’s only during the allotted sleeping periods AND we tried to be civilized. We put up his little kid gate, on which he would hang and talk to for 1.5 hours at nap time, and up to two hours at night. After a week of sleep deprivation for the three of us, something had to give. And by something, I mean we created a brightly colored jail cell in which we lock our child for up to 12 hours at night and two during the day. But guess what – he now takes five minutes to fall asleep (in his bed no less!) and the same at night. It’s a Bad Parenting magazine miracle!

In other news, the Swingens visited over the weekend – just in time to see Ellis behave like a sleepy beast. We went to the Children’s Museum, on a riverboat tour, visited the Green City market, danced a little and enjoyed some amazing weather. I was 100% sure EK was going to fall off the boat and kept shrieking and jumping around like a maimed bird every time I saw him move. It was tremendous. In an effort to take my mind off of the possibility of my son slipping through the three inch gap between the bars on the boat and into the murky Chicago river, I took ten thousand pictures.

Three sets of legs.
Walking with grammy.
A blinding hello

And although our neighborhood pool has yet to open, we enjoyed some fun in the sprinklers until Mr. Swirley (accidently?) goaded EK into sticking his face into the sprinkler. Nice.

Wicker Park fun. Seriously, he was having fun. He is just embracing the apathetic hipster n’hood vibe.
Neighborhood mural and Mr. Swirley’s characteristic clenched teeth smile.
Thanks for being a big fat jerk, dad. I still love you more than mom. Not that she notices.
Pulaski Park loving. The smile is likely due to the fruit snacks and donut fed to him mere seconds before the picture was taken.

Then we had breakfast for dinner, did some arts and crafts and finished off our water table cover thing.

God bless ‘merica.

This job’s getting bigger than my wife’s credit card bill at Marshall’s. I mean, they have great stuff, I know that.

Since EK can now climb over his crib railing we thought it a good time to transition his crib into a toddler bed. After 1.5 hours of him opening his bedroom door and waving goodnight to every appliance, animal and person in the house…

creepy spy camera

…he ended up in this position.

Cozy on the mattress.

Fast forward eight hours…

Happens to the best of us.

Happy Papi’s Day!

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.

Credit Approved!

Would you open a new credit card account just so you could design the card?

I almost did. Then I realized that would be a little much, even for me.




Guys! Last night we totally went to the 10 PM showing of the Hunger Games and loved it…if only because Tommy D came to Chicago for the sole purpose of hanging out with EK for FREE.Had we hired a babysitter, I would have initiated my mental ticker  to track the zillions of dollars spent on babysitting while we were drinking an overpriced Miller Light and watching a teen movie. And just so you know, we weren’t the oldest people in line and I sported a Katniss braid.

Tommy D volunteered to take Ellis to the zoo this AM and I did what any responsible parent would do sans kid – sleep.


In case you decide to visit in the near future, know that Ellis has a few favorite songs and if you diverge from the pre-approved list, you are on your own.


Songs OK’d by the boss:

Baa Baa Black Sheep – lyrics to remember: 1 for my dada, 1 for Willie, 1 for Homie (our cats).
Wheels on the Bus – People on the bus go up and down – OVER AND OVER

And we also enjoy counting. It often goes a little something like this:
1, 2, 3, 8, 5, PILLOW!

Tomorrow I can buy IL lottery tickets online! Saweet. Way to lead the nation IL – I know you are ALWAYS looking out for our best interests.

It is physically impossible for me to take a bad picture – I don’t know why, just ask God.

Today I decided to get Ho-Ho a new flipper. Am I dumb? Maybe. Yes. But I just can’t deal with the guilt of her looking like a pirate in every photo we take from now until forever. The new plan (suggested by Mrs. S)? Special events tooth!! Yep, I am going to keep that sucker locked up in my house and bring it with me when we have a holiday, dinner, graduation,wedding, etc. I know, we are a classy family that has to keep a tooth locked 360 days out of the year for fear of it getting lost/stolen/thrown away.

I heard on the radio they are predicting this winter to be the worst one in 10,000 years. El nina plus el crappy Chicago weather = something I am too afraid to imagine.

It is 73 degrees outside and I have the air conditioning on. Last night I had the heat on. What?

Roll out the barrels

Bad news first. Error 0146 popped up my computer screen last night. If you aren’t in the know, that means your hard drive is about as useful as a tape deck is to the kids down the street. Guess who hasn’t backed up her data in over a month. Yes, devastated is one word that accurately describes my current mental state. Baby pictures, videos, fundraising notes – you name it, I haven’t saved it. I told the IT guys that I will bake a cake for them if they can migrate my data. If that isn’t enough incentive, I don’t know what is.

A car blasting polish rock just drove by our house.

Now for the good news. Apparently I entered into some contest to cover our June-August electricity bills…and won! The amount we are to be reimbursed is almost exactly what it will cost to get a new hard drive. Serendipitous! I am still devastated, but slightly less so due to a “free” hard drive. Though yesterday it would have been cash in my pocket. Oh well.

Last week I blamed a sore in my mouth on Ellis (he always seems to get his grubby fingers into my mouth and because I am a terrible mom, has long finger nails with which to scrape me.) I now realize it’s actually a canker sore and I probably shouldn’t go around blaming my infant son for things that happen to me. I also probably shouldn’t eat/drink sugary things but I can’t help myself.

I just bought Ellis some noise cancelling headphones for this weekend’s Badger blow-out. They will be incredibly useful as I am sure we will spend the bulk of the game away from the crowd while touching very dirty objects in the hallways.

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.

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.

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.

Take that past self!

Guess who got her wallet back? With prescriptions in tact and $20 I don’t even remember being in the billfold? That’s right people! First the $100 ticket is waived and then God is kind enough to have a Bed, Bath & Beyond employee call me to tell me they had my wallet. “We’ve had it for a while,” she said. Weird that they waited a week to call me, but hey, I am certainly not complaining.

And for an extra dose of humility, while we were waiting at Rush Hospital for Ho-Ho’s scripts, I spoke at length to a woman whose daughter was being treated at the clinic. Her daughter was accepted in a ballet program at Juilliard at age 12, broke her ankle at 14 and has has chronic pain since. Last week she had her foot amputated. However, she is not letting her medical issues deter her from her professional goals of becoming a PA and is currently well into her Master’s Degree. And I complain about the wait and coffee.

I’m As Cool As A Cucumber In A Bowl Of Hot Sauce

I just drank a cup of water mixed with a tsp. of baking soda in an effort to fight a wicked case of heartburn. At least that is what my new friend Lisa suggested as a remedy. She might have been playing a cruel prank on me since nothing has changed except for the fact that I now have a tsp. of baking soda bubbling in my belleh. I feel bad complaining about heartburn because I am pretty sure it is really common based on the number of daytime ads I saw for GIRD drugs while on maternity leave. And because I am reading We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed – which is about the Rwandan genocide. I think bellyaching about a bellyache ranks pretty low in comparison.

Last Thursday Ellis and I took a trip out to Oak Park. Ho-Ho decided her drugs had been tampered with and I needed to take her to her pain specialist to get a new prescription. Never mind that Medicare won’t cover another 30 day supply when we just got the script filled. Whatever. So off we went. And sat. And sat. I have to say that I have met some pretty interesting people in the pain specialist’s waiting room. Everyone wants to share their story and most of them make you feel like a pretty big sissy for complaining about your problems. See above. And yes, I recognize the irony of stating that and then continuing on with my rant. Anyway, after a few too many personal tid bits from our waiting room friends, we headed into an exam room. Only to sit for another 45 minutes. When I say “we sat”, I mean Ho-Ho sat and I flew Ellis around like a plane and played with the x-ray light-box screen thing in order to keep him under control. I assume the light box cost about one million dollars but it was a risk I was willing to take. Finally in walks the resident. I let mom launch into her theory of why she was falling asleep in the morning. It couldn’t be the drug cocktail she takes at 6 AM or the fact that she stays up late to watch TV. So after much circuitous logic, the resident leaves and our doctor decides to take a stab at the situation. Round two.

Doctor: So, is this new sleeping pattern stopping you from engaging in every day activities?
Ho-Ho: No.
Doctor: You are able to do things you were doing before?
Ho-Ho: Yes. I walk two miles every day. (editorial note: this is a blatant lie)
Doctor: So what is the problem?
Ho-Ho: I am falling asleep all the G-D time! I can’t do anything.

And scene.I had to step out because Ellis, fed-up with the ridiculousness of the situation, was aggravating the poor resident with his writhing and incessant whining. A few minutes later, out walks the doctor. As we talked about the situation, he literally started banging his head on the wall and for some reason that made me feel better. Like if she can get to him, then maybe my fuse isn’t so short. So we got a new prescription and off we went. Well, off we would have went if she hadn’t lost my car keys. All in all, we spent three hours at the doctor’s office and I still haven’t filled her prescription because I know it will be denied. The strange things is that after Thursday she stopped complaining of falling asleep at odd times; it’s like the visit to the doctor’s office was all she needed to cure her.

Today she told Mrs. D. that someone came in and vandalized her toilet seat.

After that adventure we decided to have some family fun and went to the Museum of Science and Industry with LMK, Ingrid and Sr. Norm on Saturday morning. In addition to supporting ” our warfighters”, Mr. Swirley’s employer also supports its staff and subsidized our tickets. The museum must have recently undergone some major renovations because the last time we visited (c. 2007) it was exactly like it was in 1988. No lie. I feel a little guilty that I was a bit disappointed when I saw the new exhibits, fresh paint and sparkling John Deere tractor. Don’t worry – they still have the Mold-a-Rama machines that singe your nostrils with that strangely nostalgic, yet somewhat poisonous odor of wax melting at a very high temperature.

Ellis particularly enjoyed the kid area and managed to topple anything resembling a tower. My little Godzilla, how I love him. See how his shirt is a darker shade of blue around his neck? That is because he poured water all over himself. Like he does whenever we are around water. First try to drink it, then pour it all over. I guess that is sort of a given with babies.

Baby version of a padded cell. Much better than the “smokestack time out” behind our house that I often tell Ellis about.

Future Globetrotter

Ingrid spent most of her time eating and sleeping – both activities that are pretty legit for an eight week old baby girl. In case you were wondering, yes, she has the most perfect nose ever placed on a baby’s face.

Sr. Norm and Ellis’ future boo – Isn’t she slimming? If you could see his hands then you would know he is holding tight to a sweet, sweet churro.

 Tomorrow EK and I are heading out into the sweltering heat to pick up some gifts for Sweet Lou who is celebrating his second birthday this weekend. Good ole’ Tom Skilling is predicting another day of record breaking temps. Hopefully our faces don’t melt off.