Floating heads, dogs in costume, longing gazes: I’ll never beat this year’s holiday card

We created the best family holiday card ever this year. Plus our friends are still living with us which, in my book, is a very happy thing! Check out the card and such in my newest ChicagoNow post!

"I love Valentine’s Day. When you’re a kid everyone gets a Valentine. It’s like ‘TO TIM, NICE PANTS, LOVE SCOTT’. It’s Valentines galore!"

I was going to write about how when Mr. Swirley and I went on our second official date (Valentine’s Day 2001), he ordered an open-faced sandwich. Then I realized I wrote the whole story last year. Still, who orders an open-faced sandwich on a second date? That has to be one of the most difficult things to eat in such a setting…next to a wedge salad (which I will never understand).

So remember how I told you that I was giving up soda? Well, I made it 24 whole hours. I know, it’s so disappointing. The temptation started when I waited for my moms prescriptions to be filled at Walgreen’s. All of those cancer-filled bottles just mocking me from their ice-cold cooler. But I RESISTED! Then I got a call from Mrs. D, who told me that Ho-Ho was trying to get Ambien from her PCP. Awesome. It’s not like it can kill her. Oh wait, it can. So I got in touch with Ho-Ho and asked her to have her doctor call me when she came into the room. A few minutes later she does call and I inform her that Ho-Ho has central sleep apnea and refuses to wear one of those Darth Vader mask things. I also told her that it is my understanding that if Ardie takes Ambien, she might die. The MD agreed and said that someday I “could show up and find my mom cold in bed if we go with any sleeping pills”. Yikes….not sure if that is acceptable bedside manner but at least we are on the same page.

Ho-Ho just called and informed me she wants the mask. I predict we buy one for ten million dollars, she uses it for three days and decides: 1) she is allergic (oh yea, she will find a way), 2) it was stolen off of her face while she was sleeping, and/or 3) it doesn’t work and she NEEDS Ambien.

So we are back on the no-sleep obsession again, which I have to say is one of my least favorite arguments. We have circular conversations where Ho-Ho tells me that she won’t die and the sleep studies that she demanded she have (and we pay for) are wrong. And if she did die, it would be better than no sleep. Then she angrily tells me she recently couldn’t stay awake and that she doesn’t want to stop taking 30 mg of Ritalin per day. What? Yes.

While we had the doctor in our midst,  I took the opportunity to review Ho-Ho’s file and saw that she had listed only a fraction of medications she takes daily and made up allergies Like what? Apparently she is allergic to morphine…which she took for ten years. Then she forgot to tell the MD about her terrible fear that she was having a stroke because she had water in her leg. How scared are you if the “unbelievable pain” from your leg is easily forgotten? So there we were, two hours later, bickering while we waiting for prescriptions to print out. Ho-Ho demanded a new walker because her seat has split (purely aesthetic) while I held orders in my hand for a mammogram, various blood/lipid panels and other durable medical equipment – all requiring payment from the family bank. I am sure the lady riding the elevator really enjoyed the three never-ending minutes she was trapped with the two of us. By the time we got home (Ho-Ho lives three blocks from the doctor’s office), I was so annoyed with the general situation that I whipped Ardie’s walker out of the car, got her settled on two feet and then ran up to the apartment sans mom; I was scared I was going to shake the dye out of her hair if I stayed with her any longer.

Then I went and got a burger, fries and soda and loved it while simultaneously hating myself. As I was gorging on artery-clogging deliciousness, Ho-Ho called everyone in the family to tell them that she can handle her own medication and I need to get out of her business. I would have cared except that I don’t. I mean that in the nicest way…I just can’t take this silliness personally or I would have to be heavily medicated around the clock. I also had better things to do like hustle home to finish up Ellis’ valentines for his buddies at school. Why did I decide to make them? And why is he such a slacker?

I took this photo on my way out of the door…post-Valentine making fun. And yes, we still haven’t painted the wainscot.
Notice how Ellis is pretty much only painting the plastic photo cover inside the picture frame?
Usually I don’t really care what other people think of my  parenting style, but in this case I was a little embarrassed as all of the other kids were using their brushes and my little beast was busy squishing all of the paint onto the table.

But then I realized I was being dumb and joined in on the fun.

Track, not football!
Valentine’s wall. Instead of having EK help me put his cards in every one’s bags, I shook him off of my leg while I did it. It didn’t dawn on me until this AM that perhaps he could have helped. Or ripped down the entire wall.

After the party we came home and ate Ellis’ candy (we shared some with him…) and then ordered a pizza and watched the highly anticipated documentary, The Interrupters, on PBS. I am not sure when PBS became the go-to spot for Valentine’s Day, but I was talking about it all week. So that’s our V-Day – a real family holiday.

“I love Valentine’s Day. When you’re a kid everyone gets a Valentine. It’s like ‘TO TIM, NICE PANTS, LOVE SCOTT’. It’s Valentines galore!”

I was going to write about how when Mr. Swirley and I went on our second official date (Valentine’s Day 2001), he ordered an open-faced sandwich. Then I realized I wrote the whole story last year. Still, who orders an open-faced sandwich on a second date? That has to be one of the most difficult things to eat in such a setting…next to a wedge salad (which I will never understand).

So remember how I told you that I was giving up soda? Well, I made it 24 whole hours. I know, it’s so disappointing. The temptation started when I waited for my moms prescriptions to be filled at Walgreen’s. All of those cancer-filled bottles just mocking me from their ice-cold cooler. But I RESISTED! Then I got a call from Mrs. D, who told me that Ho-Ho was trying to get Ambien from her PCP. Awesome. It’s not like it can kill her. Oh wait, it can. So I got in touch with Ho-Ho and asked her to have her doctor call me when she came into the room. A few minutes later she does call and I inform her that Ho-Ho has central sleep apnea and refuses to wear one of those Darth Vader mask things. I also told her that it is my understanding that if Ardie takes Ambien, she might die. The MD agreed and said that someday I “could show up and find my mom cold in bed if we go with any sleeping pills”. Yikes….not sure if that is acceptable bedside manner but at least we are on the same page.

Ho-Ho just called and informed me she wants the mask. I predict we buy one for ten million dollars, she uses it for three days and decides: 1) she is allergic (oh yea, she will find a way), 2) it was stolen off of her face while she was sleeping, and/or 3) it doesn’t work and she NEEDS Ambien.

So we are back on the no-sleep obsession again, which I have to say is one of my least favorite arguments. We have circular conversations where Ho-Ho tells me that she won’t die and the sleep studies that she demanded she have (and we pay for) are wrong. And if she did die, it would be better than no sleep. Then she angrily tells me she recently couldn’t stay awake and that she doesn’t want to stop taking 30 mg of Ritalin per day. What? Yes.

While we had the doctor in our midst,  I took the opportunity to review Ho-Ho’s file and saw that she had listed only a fraction of medications she takes daily and made up allergies Like what? Apparently she is allergic to morphine…which she took for ten years. Then she forgot to tell the MD about her terrible fear that she was having a stroke because she had water in her leg. How scared are you if the “unbelievable pain” from your leg is easily forgotten? So there we were, two hours later, bickering while we waiting for prescriptions to print out. Ho-Ho demanded a new walker because her seat has split (purely aesthetic) while I held orders in my hand for a mammogram, various blood/lipid panels and other durable medical equipment – all requiring payment from the family bank. I am sure the lady riding the elevator really enjoyed the three never-ending minutes she was trapped with the two of us. By the time we got home (Ho-Ho lives three blocks from the doctor’s office), I was so annoyed with the general situation that I whipped Ardie’s walker out of the car, got her settled on two feet and then ran up to the apartment sans mom; I was scared I was going to shake the dye out of her hair if I stayed with her any longer.

Then I went and got a burger, fries and soda and loved it while simultaneously hating myself. As I was gorging on artery-clogging deliciousness, Ho-Ho called everyone in the family to tell them that she can handle her own medication and I need to get out of her business. I would have cared except that I don’t. I mean that in the nicest way…I just can’t take this silliness personally or I would have to be heavily medicated around the clock. I also had better things to do like hustle home to finish up Ellis’ valentines for his buddies at school. Why did I decide to make them? And why is he such a slacker?

I took this photo on my way out of the door…post-Valentine making fun. And yes, we still haven’t painted the wainscot.
Notice how Ellis is pretty much only painting the plastic photo cover inside the picture frame?
Usually I don’t really care what other people think of my  parenting style, but in this case I was a little embarrassed as all of the other kids were using their brushes and my little beast was busy squishing all of the paint onto the table.

But then I realized I was being dumb and joined in on the fun.

Track, not football!
Valentine’s wall. Instead of having EK help me put his cards in every one’s bags, I shook him off of my leg while I did it. It didn’t dawn on me until this AM that perhaps he could have helped. Or ripped down the entire wall.

After the party we came home and ate Ellis’ candy (we shared some with him…) and then ordered a pizza and watched the highly anticipated documentary, The Interrupters, on PBS. I am not sure when PBS became the go-to spot for Valentine’s Day, but I was talking about it all week. So that’s our V-Day – a real family holiday.

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.