You know what I don’t get? He never wears a shirt; he never wears shoes: Why hasn’t he died from lack of service?

Today our friends the GM and Johnny Mic moved into their new digs. It was pretty much the best move ever because:
1. Little Miss Krissa hung out with EK all day with her daughter and his future wife, Ingyboo.

Apparently he shared and played nicely with Ingyboo. And he took a nap without much prompting. Why does he hate me so much?

2. The GM aka your friendly librarian, can pack like no other. You know I didn’t even try to unpack her boxes of books.

3. This happened. And no, it isn’t ironic since he wore pretty much the SAME outfit in 1999 during our move from the East Gilman street mansion apartment to the TINIEST apartment on the face of the earth (which stayed in the FWC family for years).

4. Their new house is dope. D.O.P.E.and they have a little room under the stairs (Harry’s place) for us to hide our kids.

Following the move I showed our place to another group of potential renters and managed to make a fool of myself yet again. Imagine your mom, add a twist of intense spazziness and maybe some meth…and you get me…the newest landlord on the block. People are clamoring to sign on with us.

тойдың мезгілі

For a second time in five weeks, I decided to ditch my family for some fun times on the east coast. After only a few days at home following our Memorial Day weekend adventure, the Swingens rolled into the Second City and I rolled out to our nation’s capital. Of course, while I was gone, baby Swirley decided to hit another milestone and started to climb stairs (with a lot of encouragement and can only go up.) Still, what? It’s absurd. He also now (indiscriminately) waves. I missed both of these first, but did get to sleep in until 7 AM three days in a row. Jealous much?  Yea, me too. Of Mr. Swirley. However, I would like to state for the record that I left Capitol Hill. Can you believe it? I am maturing before your eyeballs.

Anywhoo, did I tell you our new office building is amazing? I did? Well I am telling you again. It is just that unbelievable. I almost want to stop working at home and set up shop in a second floor office with a private balcony. Almost. I do like eating cereal out of a box in my pajamajams a little too much to give it up (I will give you one guess as to what I am doing right now).

Blogger still sucks so I can only post vertical pictures.

Third floor walkway and rear offices

Atrium – looking up from the second floor
Atrium – looking down from the third floor
What could have been my 9-5 home.

I also visited with my friends Tim and Karin who reside just across from Barrack’s Row. Tim is a marine and slightly bonkers, but in a good way. He told me that although you can legally purchase a gun in DC, there is no longer anyone that can register it for you. Luckily Artem snuck in before the gun guy quit and purchased himself a fancy firearm to set next to him while he watches PTI. For reals. On a side note, he and his wife are heading to Kazakhstan later this summer and I could not be any more jealous.

Psycho.

On to Friday where I hit up Olney, MD to live the dream. I went to a green belt ceremony; hung out at Baskin-Robbins with a bunch of hooligan kids who refused to purchase anything from BR and were subsequently harassed by a rent-a-cop; and, got my ass kicked in a Cage Fitness class. I loved every damn second spent in the People’s Republic of Maryland except for that part where I couldn’t walk for TWO days after the fitness class. Holy hell people. Have you danced your ass off after a particularly arduous work-out? I mean, I know I am (severely) out of shape, but I imagine I felt like Barbie does when you twist her legs round and round 360 degrees at a time.

I love my co-worker’s kids. A lot. Like I would totally call them up to hang out on any given weekday. I hope EK is that cool or else we might have to start all over.

Baller Berman.

Saturday also marked an important day for my colleague and friend, big Rick (aka Richard M. H.) Dude got married to the Cat in lovely church ceremony and now they can have Jamerican babies who will likely be giant engineers with a passion for the Big Ten. Wedding summary – they went through with it and crab cakes were served at the reception. They also misspelled Rick’s name at the reception site which, combined with the crab cakes, helped me enjoy the event from soup to nuts. I can’t decide if I will continue to call Rich – Rick or Richy – I love both names so very much. I also love the couple.People shouldn’t be this nice.

Bliss. If this were a video you would see them posing for the photo, then Rick hugging me and accidentally pulling my already too short dress up a little higher…in front of Sherman (bossman). Yikes.

Richy.

The years of working with our Russian friends has rubbed off on one of the three guys pictured below. Hint, it’s not the actual Russian.

Berman, Ortiz and Sherman Flirchner

And to document the event for our newsletter – Voila! P.S. That is indeed a dress I am sporting. I wanted to clarify that fact for you, since at first glance you may think it’s a handkerchief. On a scale of zero to tramp I think it’s about a four. Fine, six. 

Apparently I cannot get enough canapes…wedding #2 was scheduled for Sunday. After the crabcake wedding, I took an hour-long metro ride back to DC and had the honor of sitting next to a girl who was telling her friends that she relies on Facebook for all of her news because the regular news is “too depressing.” Although I didn’t drink much at the wedding, I found myself wanting to vomit all over her. I didn’t because, as you might know, that would be grounds for arrest by the Metro police. Fascists. Though I have to say it is an exceptionally clean public transit system. I then took a cab ride with a driver who was texting while driving and I gave him the old one-two. Oh yea, I dropped the “I have a baby at home and don’t want to die line.” Five hours later I was high-fiving team Turner for my DCA drop-off and head to ‘sconsin for some FWC nuptials.

The wedding was perfect. Everyone says that, but it really was. WI countryside + beautiful weather + wonderful friends + super cover band = best night in ages. Plus the Hometown Sweethearts promised to learn “Pony” for the next FWC event. I love me some Ginuwine.

Could she be any lovelier?
some of the Family We Choose
Yes, we match. How ’bout it?
The Andersons roll with their handmade quilts.
What’s on tap for our anniversary weekend? Car repairs and cleaning. Oh yea, we are gabballers. Look it up.

Want a sammich?

My grandma always used to ask me if I wanted a “sammich” when we visited or were up at the cabin. According to the three sisters, grandma hated cooking. I never noticed and I think that by the time I rolled around, she didn’t mind all that much. Especially when my requests centered around Jello with sour cream on top.

Today marks the Ho-Hos’ 60th wedding anniversary (unless my math is off). Grandma passed away in 2007, but it definitely still counts. They grew up in the same CT town and the G briefly dated her sister Glo. Scandalous, I know. Gramps started hanging around the farm and met grandma while she was home from Columbia recouping from a bout with pneumonia.  He accepted the fact that her father painted a horse with shoe polish to sell it to someone who wanted a “black” horse and that her mother’s maiden name was Boyle (Mildred Dorkis). She accepted that his parents eloped and that he was an only child (eee gads!) Twenty ice cream cones later, they were married; EK was a Good Humor man, after all.

The G with Aunt Jo

The G and Wood girls

Vacations, school and baths of ice and vodka in the tiny studio in NYC (don’t ask) filled up the next couple of years.

 
A move to the Midwest and a few years later they had three lovely, albeit wild, girls. Grandma even sewed their Easter dresses. For a woman who probably wouldn’t consider herself domestic, she sure as Hell tried (when convenient).

Grams is holding Mrs. S and Mrs. D while Ho-Ho looks suspiciously into the camera.
Uh. Mazing.

Then everyone grew up and had babies and all the while the Gs put up with us weirdos.

And they went to my wedding.

This photo is up in all of our houses. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited she was for this day. She made the G buy a new suit and she searched for days for her lavender ensemble (much to his chagrin…as he was her chauffeur). CadillacJohnnyMic walked her down the aisle and everyone made a beeline for her after the ceremony. Let’s be honest, she was the bell of the ball.

It’s been 3.5 years (is that possible?) since she passed and overall the G is doing well. He makes his soup and sammich for lunch and keeps himself busy “telling lies” to his friends and flirting with his PT girls. We try to encourage him to move up to Illinois, but like any man in his right mind, he continues to refuse. So instead of harassing him today I am wishing the ice cream man and his lovely red headed bride (aka Killer and Morticia) a happy 60th anniversary.

Hey Dems! Ellis will roll over so you don’t have to!

Our household has been following the proposed WI budget legislation and Ellis has become especially infatuated with the unfolding of events in Madison. So much so that he decided to mobilize and take on the brunt of the concessions for the unions. Yes friends, he rolled over today.

In other news, last night Mr. Swirley and I went out and celebrated his birthday. We enjoyed a delicious Italian meal that included bacon-wrapped figs and Stellas. Because he is so old, he opted for a healthier dessert – a banana pudding cake thing. It sort of looks like a steak with mashed potatoes and a candle…which would be pretty sweet if you ask me.

Then we headed over the the Violet Hour and had a drink in exceptionally tall chairs. It was very fancy and hip. Weird for us, I know.

The GM and CadillacJohnnyMic babysat for us so we could get crazy and stay out until, hold your breath, nine. I got a few text message updates that I think you might enjoy:

1. He is being a bit of a jerkface* but it’s all good. I’ve seen worse.
2. He and G are reading now. Mostly he is just staring at me in a surly fashion.
3. It’s possible he is into Jason Priestly. Shannon Doherty made him cry **
*Edited for polite company
** I gave the GM some 90210 trading cards for her birthday and she was schooling Ellis on the genius that is BH90210.

Ellis is currently biting his Chief of Staff’s (aka Sophie) head off because she won’t do anything to help him battle this budget bill. He is one ticked off FIB.

"Elvis King? They must be big fans"

Holy three week hiatus. We are on day 21 and it feels like young Ellis (aka Mr. Amazing) just arrived. He is currently napping in his vibrating chair and I just washed a night of spit up out of my hair. Glamorous, I know.

The quick story of his arrival: Mr. Swirley and I spent Saturday at the Chicago Art Institute, Millennium Park, Bucktown Art Festival, movie theater and out to dinner with friends.

I guess that was enough to get young Ellis on the move. I woke up Sunday morning around 4 AM, took a shower and decided to hit up the hospital. A few contractions later I was ready for an epidural and after the nurse who typed with one finger entered me into the system (it felt like it took a zillion years) we were ready to go. Fast forward to 12:34 PM on 8/29/10 and Mr. EK Swingen joined us on the outside world. I have to say our experience at Swedish Covenant Hospital was spectacular and we are so grateful to have such a healthy baby and relatively easy labor. I also would like to announce that after the baby was born, I also lost all common sense and am anxiously awaiting its return.
Grandpa Tom visited along with the Ds just a few hours after he was born. It was a big day.

Two days later (after Mr. Swirley changed all the diapers and I continuously called the nurses in to make sure I wasn’t somehow killing our baby), we were kicked out of the hospital and were astounded by the realizationn that we were actually allowed to take this little man with us. Within minutes of arriving at home, I passed out and Mr. Swirley was simultaneously spit-up, pooped and peed on. It was enough to send him in to a mini-panic attack but he has since gotten used to it. He really is a great dad and is enjoying (for the most part) this entire experience. He has even outsmarted the baby a few times.

The next day (Wed.)  Mr. Swirley’s mama arrived (much to our relief) and stayed until Sunday. It was so wonderful to have extra help – especially during my regular freak outs when the baby decided he didn’t want to nurse and I thought he was starving. Of course he wasn’t and after I slept for what felt like the first time in a few days, we came up with a plan. As a side note, he also continues to breathe normally though I am often sure he has stopped and have to put my giant face next to his tiny head (luckily he was blessed with a Swingen head) to confirm he is indeed alive.

Ellis’ namesake and great grandpa also visited three times this week, along with grandma arden, grandpa bob, lady jayne, NVS, sweet Lou, G.U.S., the GM, Johnny Mic and J&J. The kid has more friends than Mr. Swirley and I combined..

During week one, we took our first trip out of the house to the corner diner and we all survived. The great G seemed pretty pleased with young Ellis and got more and more comfortable holding him with each visit. Now I just need to be a good granddaughter and send updated pics to the old man in my spare time. Easy peasy.

Week two rolled around and our next house guest was my aunt, Mrs. D. who stayed with us for a week. Again, we were so grateful for all of her help and reassurance that the baby was not going to explode from gas at 3AM. You may laugh, but I was pretty sure this was going to happen and even went as far as calling the hospital to ask.

Mr. Swirley and I had the weekend alone and even ventured out a bit to visit the GM and Johnny Mic for brunch. Ms. Kaiksow and Uncle Austin stopped by and taught us some baby yoga positions to help Ellis avoid exploding.

Then our good friend Ms. Meghan and her sweet little man, Kaden, visited us last week and once again helped out so much.

Here are Ms. Meghan and Mr. Swirley are looking all domestic after a trip to the park.

As an added bonus to week three, Mr. Amazing decided to start nursing. This has cut my work in half since I spent approximately one bazillion hours pumping (nice image, I know) and harassing him to try to jump on the boob. It’s pretty awesome. And Mr. Swirley is a fan since he doesn’t have to get up 3x/night to make a bottle for our guy while he screams until his head just might fall off.

We visited the pediatrician on Friday (end of week three) and found out he has gained 1 lb 3 oz and 1 inch since his birthday. He is in the 50th percentile for weight and height and 25th for head size. Soon enough baby and dad will be able to share hats. Mr. Swirley may even be able to wear this little one sported by EK.

I am still amazed at all of the love and gifts that have poured in before and after Ellis was born. It it is wonderful to know how many people care so much for him and spent so much time making gifts, providing encouragement and advice and sending love.

Below is EK with his biggest fan on this three week birthday. And his dad.

Please pray for my sanity and waistline to return in good order. The snorter is awake.

“Elvis King? They must be big fans”

Holy three week hiatus. We are on day 21 and it feels like young Ellis (aka Mr. Amazing) just arrived. He is currently napping in his vibrating chair and I just washed a night of spit up out of my hair. Glamorous, I know.

The quick story of his arrival: Mr. Swirley and I spent Saturday at the Chicago Art Institute, Millennium Park, Bucktown Art Festival, movie theater and out to dinner with friends.

I guess that was enough to get young Ellis on the move. I woke up Sunday morning around 4 AM, took a shower and decided to hit up the hospital. A few contractions later I was ready for an epidural and after the nurse who typed with one finger entered me into the system (it felt like it took a zillion years) we were ready to go. Fast forward to 12:34 PM on 8/29/10 and Mr. EK Swingen joined us on the outside world. I have to say our experience at Swedish Covenant Hospital was spectacular and we are so grateful to have such a healthy baby and relatively easy labor. I also would like to announce that after the baby was born, I also lost all common sense and am anxiously awaiting its return.
Grandpa Tom visited along with the Ds just a few hours after he was born. It was a big day.

Two days later (after Mr. Swirley changed all the diapers and I continuously called the nurses in to make sure I wasn’t somehow killing our baby), we were kicked out of the hospital and were astounded by the realizationn that we were actually allowed to take this little man with us. Within minutes of arriving at home, I passed out and Mr. Swirley was simultaneously spit-up, pooped and peed on. It was enough to send him in to a mini-panic attack but he has since gotten used to it. He really is a great dad and is enjoying (for the most part) this entire experience. He has even outsmarted the baby a few times.

The next day (Wed.)  Mr. Swirley’s mama arrived (much to our relief) and stayed until Sunday. It was so wonderful to have extra help – especially during my regular freak outs when the baby decided he didn’t want to nurse and I thought he was starving. Of course he wasn’t and after I slept for what felt like the first time in a few days, we came up with a plan. As a side note, he also continues to breathe normally though I am often sure he has stopped and have to put my giant face next to his tiny head (luckily he was blessed with a Swingen head) to confirm he is indeed alive.

Ellis’ namesake and great grandpa also visited three times this week, along with grandma arden, grandpa bob, lady jayne, NVS, sweet Lou, G.U.S., the GM, Johnny Mic and J&J. The kid has more friends than Mr. Swirley and I combined..

During week one, we took our first trip out of the house to the corner diner and we all survived. The great G seemed pretty pleased with young Ellis and got more and more comfortable holding him with each visit. Now I just need to be a good granddaughter and send updated pics to the old man in my spare time. Easy peasy.

Week two rolled around and our next house guest was my aunt, Mrs. D. who stayed with us for a week. Again, we were so grateful for all of her help and reassurance that the baby was not going to explode from gas at 3AM. You may laugh, but I was pretty sure this was going to happen and even went as far as calling the hospital to ask.

Mr. Swirley and I had the weekend alone and even ventured out a bit to visit the GM and Johnny Mic for brunch. Ms. Kaiksow and Uncle Austin stopped by and taught us some baby yoga positions to help Ellis avoid exploding.

Then our good friend Ms. Meghan and her sweet little man, Kaden, visited us last week and once again helped out so much.

Here are Ms. Meghan and Mr. Swirley are looking all domestic after a trip to the park.

As an added bonus to week three, Mr. Amazing decided to start nursing. This has cut my work in half since I spent approximately one bazillion hours pumping (nice image, I know) and harassing him to try to jump on the boob. It’s pretty awesome. And Mr. Swirley is a fan since he doesn’t have to get up 3x/night to make a bottle for our guy while he screams until his head just might fall off.

We visited the pediatrician on Friday (end of week three) and found out he has gained 1 lb 3 oz and 1 inch since his birthday. He is in the 50th percentile for weight and height and 25th for head size. Soon enough baby and dad will be able to share hats. Mr. Swirley may even be able to wear this little one sported by EK.

I am still amazed at all of the love and gifts that have poured in before and after Ellis was born. It it is wonderful to know how many people care so much for him and spent so much time making gifts, providing encouragement and advice and sending love.

Below is EK with his biggest fan on this three week birthday. And his dad.

Please pray for my sanity and waistline to return in good order. The snorter is awake.

So a polish guy walks into a street fair…

Before I begin, I would like to vent about how much I hate the new flickr format. It’s the WORST. Seriously, the worst. It’s difficult to rotate, edit, and download photos. Well, maybe not difficult, but it sure as hell is annoying. I guess they have created a lifetime customer out of me as I have 7000 photos or some ridiculous number uploaded onto the site and  thus, clearly will not be moving anything over to Picasa. But it’s still crap.

On to more fun things. Like what? Oh, I don’t know...Pierogifest? Yes – Whiting, IN is home to one Pierogifest, and let me tell you, they do it up right. In addition to offering a multitude of  delicious pierogi options, you can get your fill of kielbasa, anything on a stick and very crafty items (e.g., goose outfits). They even had a stage called “Polkahantas”.

In case you don’t know – according to Wikipedia (the GM’s favorite information source), pierogis are boiled or baked dumplings of unleavened dough stuffed with varying ingredients. Some of these ingredients include: “meat”, mushrooms, sweet cheese, kraut, fruits etc.

Below is evidence of our first foray into the pierogifest world.

And below, a dedicated pierogi c/e european food cart ( my dream food cart). Maybe this guy could find his way to the UW campus? I know they have a spot for him on Library Mall. Or, perhaps on the corner near my house next to the elotes stand. Either way, he has my vote.

Clearly I was bursting at the seams given my love for all things Slavic. The streets were lined with flags representing Slavic nations (as well as African? Whatever, that’s cool). There was Polish-themed garb for sale (and adorning visitors) as far as the eye could see and even foam pierogi hats. We also met some ladies dressed up as polish grandmas..including Polkahantas (the one with the big hair pictured below).Offensive? Naw. We are in Chicago – a city that boasts the second highest Polish population outside of Warsaw.

It would, however, be a little more accurate if they took out the curlers and carried around those plastic shopping bags that they seem to love in E. Europe.

I was disappointed that we didn’t meet any of the other pierogifest mascots like Mr. Pierogi, the Pieroguettes, Halupki Guy, and Ms. Paczki…but there is always next year.

Johnny Mic really lived it up by tasting many of the food options, and Mr. Swirley bought an obscenely large mug filled with delicious root beer. I hear it’s a polish delicacy.

And of course, to commemorate the trip, we couldn’t leave home without a little something for baby since he too seemed to enjoy the Pierogis and polka music.

The GM got herself a “2011 Polish Grandma” calendar and Johnny Mic picked up (aside from the obvious risk of heartburn) a tee for his mom and an ornament. Kitschtastic.

I can’t say we will return to Whiting, IN anytime soon – but count us in for next year. Plus, if you go, you can stop by the Horseshoe Casino on the way home…where apparently smoking is still permitted and 2 cent slot machines dominate the betting world.

Ice Ice & Babies

This weekend marked our second Memorial Day weekend back in the Midwest and was a excellent reminder of precisely why we chose to return to the promise land. We departed Chicago early Friday morning to make it to Madison before an 8 AM conference call with work. After working for a bit, we visited the usual State Street haunts and headed to the Memorial Union or some delicious Babcock ice cream and sitting. After a very energy consuming afternoon, we decided to head back to Ms. Kaiksow’s so I could take a nap while Mr. Swirley relaxed and watched an episode of Magnum P.I. Also of note, Friday marked “take your brat to work day” – more on that later.

Saturday we met up with Tbone for a walk around the Capitol’s Farmer’s Market – then with Katie Marie and One T for a little more of the same. Mr. Swirley took off to watch some ultimate and visit with old friends and we just spent time ogling pretty plants and bitching about the crowd. Later on, we all convened and headed out to Elliot and Brooke’s potluck on Lake Mendota. Given that a number of folks were running in the Madison half-marathon/10K early Sun. AM, it seemed like a great opportunity to load up on carbs, celebrate Elliot and Brooke’s engagement and harass each other in general. As was expected, it was a superb evening. Why? Because pretty much everyone we wanted to see was in one spot with lawn games, grills, a ridiculous number of potato salad options and a pontoon boat to boot. If we could only retire now life would be perfect.

Alas, Friday night had to come to an end and everyone prepared for race day. Early Saturday, Mr. Swirley, the GM, KML, the Jeff, one T, JohnnyMic and I met up and headed to the starting line with our crafty signs. I can tell you how to make one if you want to be amazing friends like us.

7:30 AM signaled the start of the race for runners and breakfast time for us spectators. We then ran to catch sight of our very fit friends at the four mile marker. We found ’em and yes, and they were still going strong (as evidenced below by Mr. Swirley’s mid-stride ultra hip thumbs up)

We then headed to the finish line to await their arrival and I am pleased (and proud to report) that not only did all four runners successfully finish, but met (if not exceeded) their respective targeted pace. They also obliged me in sporting their Madison Marathon medal (which apparently weighed about a zillion lbs) for a few pics in the thousand degree weather.

We all decided that we hadn’t sweat enough during the day and headed to the World’s Largest (only?) Bratfest. It is everything you would dream a Bratfest to be and more. It first started as a fundraiser in the Sentry Foods parking lot -$1.00 brats/hot dogs incl. soda. Pretty sweet. It has now blossomed into a full-fledged carnival with multiple music stages and record setting brat sales (world record set in 2009 with 208,752 brats sold in three days). Don’t lie, you now heart WI as much as I do. Although it was hot, my cankles were totally worth it if only to see our friends’ babies – Fi and Mr. D-K. I want to eat both of their little faces.

Once my own face melted off we decided to rest for a bit out in Sun Prarie. After another round of naps, Mr. Swirley and I headed back down to the terrace for a six hour epic sitting venture with the FWC. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Terrace, it is quite possibly one of the best places on earth. It faces the lake, offers beer, brats, ice cream and other treats and above all, an incredibly relaxed and social environment. My only complaint, and it’s a big one, is that until just recently the Rathskellar (adjacent to the Terrace) boasted the best ice on the face of the earth. I don’t even think there exists an adjective to property describe the awesomeness of the ice there. It was my gold standard to which all other ice cubes were/are compared. And last night, I found out that the machine was replaced. I know, tragic. Shook my world for about 15 minutes. I even talked to the cashier about it but he had no idea what in God’s name my problem was. So, I guess I should let it go…and I will, after I show you a picture of the new ice. I hate it.

All in all it was an excellent weekend – a recharge that was sorely needed and a chance to see friends at their best. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again for our baby shower – a Bastille day themed party to celebrate baby Swirley’s liberation from the womb.