With all do respect sir, I have zero respect for you.

Seven cool things I wish I wanted to do:

1.Drink black coffee. I think it tastes gross but it’s pretty hardcore.

Courtesy of postsecret

2. Ride rollercoasters. I always wanted to be that awesome girl who likes fast rides. Unfortunately I get nauseous riding the tilt-a-whirl and fight to not panic on a ferris wheel.

This is about as crazy as I get. Honestly, sometimes a merry-go-round is a little fast for me.

3. Stop biting my nails. My cousin was over this weekend and asked for a nail file. I realized I didn’t have one  because I rely on my snaggle teeth to rip off any shred of a nail longer than .25 mm. Did you know you can give someone a cold sore by biting their nails? You can.

4. Spend time in nature/camping. My hippie friends love it. They collect bear poop (scat) and wear waders so they can jump in FL rivers and maybe get bit by a ‘gator. They have lots of cool gear through Patagonia prodeals and are generally badass. I, on the other hand, give up after a mile and set up a tent on a hill in the rain. With my boots left outside to collect water overnight.

2001. This is what a good friend looks like. Or a defeated one.

5. Eat spicy foods. Ahh, to the be the girl that likes spicy foods AND rollercoasters? What a catch she would be. Instead I enjoy a nice bowl of plain rice and some water.

6. Boast an elephant’s memory. Honestly, I have pretty much the worst memory possible and I tend to show it off in the ditziest ways (e.g., “You know him. He has that face…he was at that thing…wearing those pants…you know?”, “POWMIA? What’s that?” and my favorite, “I did what in high school?” I have friends that recollect the most minute detail of someone’s outfit or a dream from 12 years ago and I am lucky if I remember to wash my face.

7. Breaking the rules. I didn’t drink in high school or drive before I had my license. I don’t lie on my taxes or paint curbs red (cough cough, Donna). I am so nervous of getting caught that I am paralyzed with fear when an opportunity to be a baller arises. Some day I will totally use the bathroom when the seat belt sign is lit up. Or not.

I think I just described KJY in listing everything I want to be/do. My man Vin, my friend, you are one lucky dude.



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

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

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

Ellis lurves Guhhhh.

Lou getting rid of his noon o’clock shadow.

Swingens keep the fondue tradition going strong.

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

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

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

Neck beard anyone?


Fun times.

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

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

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

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

From David Bowie’s “Kooks”

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

I ride rough and tough with my gerber puffs

Our flowers in our window box are dying. I usually depend on rain to water them but might cave and throw a few extra drops their way. Last year our flowers died in mid-June and we left the boxes there, full of dead plants and dry dirt, for um, 12 months. During the holiday season I pulled out my Martha Stewart and dropped a few disproportionally small ornaments on the dirt and voila! Even if they didn’t say anything, the neighbors were so jealous. This year I planted petunias (much to neighbor and friend J’s chagrin – “they are so tacky”) and they have survived if only because we have had a very wet summer. Oh well, at least they brightened someone’s day and more importantly, successfully pissed off another person for an entire summer.

Yesterday I yelled at two separate people. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. First, I pulled over in front of our house and opened my door without looking. Brilliant. A car stopped short next to me and I apologized with a brisk “sorry”. He shook his head and scowled to which I defensively responded, “What? You’re fine. I wouldn’t have hit your car anyway!” Then, Ellis and I made our way down to the Toyota dealership to cash in on our first warranty visit free oil change magic four hour adventure (really two) and decided to walk around and window shop. Well, I obviously decided to walk around and Ellis had to follow because he still has very little say in his life. Anyway, there was a lot of digging going on in the street and all of a sudden all of the lights at a pretty major intersection go out. I notice it right away and point it out to one of the guys wearing a bright orange vest. He confusingly looks around and does nothing. I wait, since I am terrified to cross the street with a baby because apparently when people see no light, they feel it appropriate to actually speed up through the intersection. Tick tock, nothing. So what do I do? Yell at him to call his supervisor and help people cross the street.

On Tuesday I yelled at a moving truck parked in the “loading zone” at daycare because they were taking up a spot at pick-up time. I mean, seriously? How old am I in crotchety years?

I have to say Grossinger Toyota is probably the nicest dealership I have ever visited. Ellis and I really learned that place inside and out as it took the mechanics approximately three years to change our car’s oil. Not only do they have a kids’ playroom, but  I found out that Chevy Silverados make the perfect playpen for a one year old! Yes, they are filled with dust (even in a showroom) but he wasn’t going anywhere. Toyota Sienna’s are a close second.

What up ladies? Wanna go for a ride? I have a 50,000 HP hemi.Whatever that means.

 When I showed up at the dealership the guy helping asked if I was Mrs. X or Mrs. Y. I immediately panicked because I thought I came on the wrong day. My response? Complete and utter chaos is the only way I can describe it.
“What day is it? Is it Thursday? Friday? Wait, is it September? What time is it? My last name is Swirley. Crap? Do I have an appointment? Can you fit me in? I have a weird light on my dashboard. Do you have a bathroom?”…all the while beads of sweat were forming on my forehead and palms and Ellis was writhing around in my arms? The guy clearly thought I was an idiot, took my keys and shrugged me off. Oh well.

Later on, EK and I headed over to his doctor’s office for his one-year shots. I, of course, screwed up the appointment time and we were late. We ended up spending over an hour in an exam room where Ellis proceeded to pull out the urine specimen cups and stack them up into little clear (possibly no longer sterile) castles, push the MD stool around and around…in the buff, and get THREE shots and blood drawn. As you can imagine, it was not pretty. He did walk out with four band-aids, which is baby world equivalent to looking like a grade-A, prison yard badass. But he was still pretty pissed. And oddly enough I left my phone in the office.

Then we visited EK’s fiance, Ms. Ingrid, who is preparing for her first week with her nanny. I think Little Miss Krissa is doing her best to hold it together and maybe even contemplating stuffing I. into her shirt and smuggling her into work. That baby is so freaking cute.

Earlier this week Ellis also got to see his Auntie Mo-Mo again (KJY’s mama), who smothered him with kisses and spoiled us with dinner out.

 I love this woman. I essentially lived at her house from grades 3-12, where KJY and I guzzled Ruby Red squirt, wrestled on the futon  (yea, i gave her a black eye), played role-playing games (I still don’t get them but I pretended to), watched Unsolved Mysteries (banned in my house) and drank from fancy colored metallic cups. It was one of the most stable places in my life (second to the G’s) and it’s always so nice to see her and remember getting yelled at by Dan for staying up way past our bedtime on Erin street. I can still hear the sound of him coming up the stairs, scolding us while probably not even moving his teeth. Man, I loved that house. And the fact that they never made me pay for everything that I broke (glasses, windows, screen doors, you name it.) I call the statute of limitations is 20 years.

Happy Labor Day!

You’re a superstar, yes, that’s what you are, you know it

I met KJY in Mrs. Keresty’s third grade class. We both were pretty big nerds (I had glasses the size of my face and KJY wore fedoras). I was probably a bigger dork because I bought a fedora after seeing her with one. Anyway, we went through a lot together (beans flung at the ceiling, relatively raw chicken in my grandpa’s trailer, bushwhacking up a mountain, Ho-Ho’s antics, filling pools with garbage bags full of warm water, softball losing streaks, making our own perfume from lilacs [FAIL], watching Overboard and Labyrinth on repeat, etc.) All the while we talked about our respective weddings and I promised to walk down the aisle to Madge’s “Vogue”. Well, as you can probably guess, I didn’t. But if I did, I would like to imagine it would have looked a little something like this.

ME AT NINE, PERFORMING TO MADONNA IN SUMMER ’91! from Robert Jeffrey on Vimeo.

Thanks for holding my bouquet.

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.


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.


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.

75 degrees and shweaty

At 11 PM last night our furnace stopped working. I was up during Ellis’ “Screamfest March 2011” performance and noticed how cold it was in his room. Neither Mr. Swirley nor I could figure out what was going on, so we put a space heater in the baby’s room and prayed it wouldn’t burst into flames (I have a fear that all space heaters will start on fire at some point or another. Other fears include vampires, pit toilets and vampires in pit toilets – no lie.) Ellis survived the night and the heat clicked back on at 6 AM. My BFF’s over at Fabian & Son showed up at 10 AM to take a gander. Something was wrong with the fluxcapacitor and the shimmy shimmy ya knob, or whatever. They jacked the heat up to 75 until I could smell myself, and then said it was ready to go. Only $105 later and it’s fixed, can you believe it? In Chicago. I was expecting to hand over Ellis or my deed. Or both.

What else? Oh, KJY departed yesterday. Sad face. She had a good run here in Chicago and Ellis was sad to see her go (see above Screamfest). Here they are at the park.

Did you ever flip around horizontal bars on the playground? You know what I am talking about. You put one leg over the bar and flip around to return to the starting position. We ballers used to do that all the time at Randall Elementary. Then I tried it on a bike rack at Vilas Beach. Funny thing about bike racks are that you can’t fit your shoulders through the bars (unless you are narrow like AJBurke) so you end up upside down with your head stuck between two bars. Yikes.

Aside from public park gymnastic meets, we pretty much spent the entire week harassing Ellis (aka Roy) and watching crappy movies.

Hell bent on exacting revenge, EK decided it was time for his top two teeth to pop out. It’s really really fun and conducive to a full night’s sleep.

Ho-Ho has been playing it cool lately. We are down to about five calls a day and most are fairly benign. I can’t say same for Mrs. S., who received an article (with no note) about drains and a voicemail about the hazard of heated seats. The latter is a huge concern given the fact that Mrs. S. lives in Chandler, AZ and clearly has her heated seats turned on full-force 365 days a year.

Last night I added some of KJY’s music to Itunes. After sorting and such, I came to the conclusion that I have way too much music that I don’t like or won’t listen to (they are obviously not mutually exclusive of one another). Of the 13,136 songs on file, here are some examples of some shiteous decisions:
– Badly Drawn Boy – 58 songs. I can’t name, let alone hum, one of their songs.
– Beck – 87 songs. Don’t get me wrong, I like Beck. Just not 87 songs worth.
– Bright Eyes. I refuse to even count the number of songs because I hate him so much. I don’t even know why I still have him in Itunes.
–  Jamiroquai – 56 songs. What? I mean, seriously, what?
–  Kid Koala – 35 songs. I can’t say anything about Kid Koala because I have no idea who he/she/they are. What does this say about me? That I am a music hoarder. Yes, yes I think it does.
– Manic Street Preachers – 34 songs. See Kid Koala. (Update: Listening to band now and can confirm that I hate them.)

I will stop there because I am sure you get the idea. What an embarrassment.

Carry the zero

I would describe myself as a fairly anxious person. I mean, it depends on the situation, but I am definitely a hand-wringing, furrowed brow kind of girl.. Take last night for example. KJY, the GM and I headed to the movie theater. We arrived 30 minutes early for Little Red Riding Hood (which I will get to in a moment) and I was walking about five paces in front of the girls because I was so afraid it would be sold out and we couldn’t sit together. I am like this any time I go to a movie/concert/festival. It could stem from going to movies with Tommy D and always arriving 15 minutes later. Of course in this case, the theater was basically empty (for damn good reason) and we sat right down.

A few minutes later three people came in and sat directly behind us. As soon as the lights dimmed, simultaneous interpretation took over. My job has exposed to me a lot of situations where simultaneous interpretation was required and I am cool with it. However, a movie is not the place for such activity. Nor is it a place for kicking my chair or burping repeatedly. I know I am a little sensitive at movies and sometimes open myself up to annoyances (try going to a movie at Union Station in DC), but I figured this theater seemed like a fairly civilized place where I wouldn’t want to turn around and slap the person behind me. Wrong-o.

If I had to choose one word to describe the actual movie it would be HORRIBLE. Two words? REALLY HORRIBLE. I am sure you already know this because you 1) watched the trailer and/or 2) read the reviews. I did neither. Sitting through the first ten minutes is enough to let you know you are in for a total sh!tshow. I think that on some level we were all mildly entertained by the crappy dialogue (e.g., “Get me outta here!), but overall it’s a movie you should boycott. I think my favorite parts included the town scenes where all 20 of the townspeople got together to go fight the wolf and the brooding, obviously not the wolf but wanting you to think it was the wolf, Romeo.

After we finished lamenting the loss of 90 minutes of lives, the three of us returned home to Mr. Swirley and CadillacJohnnyMic watching bad Friday night TV and drinking beer. I complained a bit and CJM told me that it was obviously a bad movie because it’s a four sentence story that cannot be translated into a 90 minute movie. He was a bit more crass, but you get the idea.

This morning we are listening to 90s rock. Here is a Built to Spill song to start off your weekend.

The early bird gets the cat litter

This morning Ellis decided that he needed to be up and moving at 5 AM. It was super. I guess I shouldn’t complain because he slept from 7 PM to 3:30 AM, but I still will. Since he seemed so eager to start the day, I got him dressed and ready and we were at daycare at 7 AM. Second time EVER. Dominick’s was just a few blocks away so I decided that it was totally reasonable to go grocery shopping before work. With my little coupon savings folder and some strategery, guess how much I saved? You can’t. It’s that much. 59%. On stuff I actually need/want, not just mass quantities of cheap Cap’n Crunch or something. So hell, idle hands, right? Now I have a pork roast cooking, dishes running and a load of laundry in. I am not sure if I should be proud of this morning’s to-do list or slightly terrified at my efficiency in completing household chores.

In other news, KJY’s scarf is four feet behind me and I can still smell its hippieness.

Eastern European Tuxedo.

What happens when you put KJY, me and a baby together? Radness.

Yes, that is a stuffed animal’s cropped denim jacket on Ellis. And wow, it does have a big gold star on the back. How did you know? Denim bloomers? They do make them. And of course the requisite baby muffintop.

A lethal combination, no doubt.