If I ever die, do me a favor. Go on Oprah and tell the world that I loved kittens.

We are back from our first trip away from Ellis and all three of us survived. I am pretty sure he didn’t notice we were gone, but as you probably expected (though I surprised myself) he was sorely missed by yours truly. Mr. Swirley and I constantly asked each other “I wonder what Ellis is doing now”…because he leads such a wild and exciting life. Apparently so do we if that is the only thing we have to say to each other. We did manage to have some fun in Boston while stepping over piles of Bruins fans’ vomit and kicking garbage into Boston’s lovely gutters. Maybe I should rewind.

Last Wednesday and Thursday were epic. I don’t even really remember them. Something to do with a two-hour trip to Ho-Ho’s, lunch at Whole Foods, class at Gymboree, packing, cleaning (sort of), picking up the car and some other stuff. You know what else I didn’t remember? Ellis’ food.

Yes. After packing up every item in the house and stuffing it all into our recently repaired RAV-4, we drove out to St. Charles (an hour away) and unpacked the car. Twenty-five outfits? Yep. Ten hats? Of course. A bag of blocks? Why not? But no food. NO FOOD. What kind of mother am I? I remember a blog post I read a while back written by my cousin. Well, really it’s my cousin’s wife but I call her my cousin because I feel like we are related. Anyway, she wrote about how whenever she felt like she had a handle on this motherhood thing, she would go and do something crazy that would take her down a few notches. Forgetting your baby’s food has to rank pretty high on the scale of screwing up. So after calling Lady Jayne and NVS and enduring a bit of ridicule, I gathered some info on formula and crossed my fingers. Evidently this is something they expect us to do and don’t know why I am surprised. Touche, NVS, touche.

Friday morning I smelled Ellis’ head one last time and headed out to O’Hare. I have a random tid bit with regard to the O’Hare bathrooms. For those of you who don’t know, the bathroom toilet seats boast a plastic toilet seat cover that changes every time you wave your hand past the sensor thing. Up until this weekend, I was 99% sure that it was a bunch of BS and that cover just goes round and round in a circle but you think it’s super hygienic because there are sensors and movement involved. So this time I decided to test my theory and ripped the plastic. I then realized that I could very well break the mechanism by doing such a thing, but it was too late. I am happy to report that the tear did not show up again so we are good to go to the loo at O’Hare without fear of trading germs with the dirty French lady that arrived an hour ago.

Anyway, on the the way to the airport, I emailed Lady Jayne and asked her to take care of Ellis if we die. I don’t really know if that type of thing would hold up in court, but since we are irresponsible parents and still don’t have a Will, I thought it was worth a shot.

Boston was nice. We figured out the T, went for a walk in Boston Common and successfully avoided most Bruins fans. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for all the Mass. fans, but they sort of ruined the colonial Boston experience we were hoping for. We did sneak a harbor cruise in because what else should you do when you are a tourist?

Swans and a the world’s shortest suspension bridge ( Boston Public Gardens)

Boston Common House backs the Bruins
Mr. Swirley following the red brick road

View from the harbor

Then we went to a wedding. It was exceptional. Markypants and RR (and their families) were lovely hosts and the venue was spectacular. Four singers, oysters and desserts as far as the eye can see. Uhmazing.

“Look at all the fun you missing, Mark!”
The lovely bride and her papa

The picture doesn’t do the tent (or the band) justice.
Mazel Tov!

And it wouldn’t be a five star wedding without a photo booth.

G’town (Law). Holla! Sort of.
Us with the photo booth guy. I thought he was as much a part of the wedding as the groom.
We made it until midnight and were the first people on the shuttle home. Then came grandparents. In that order. Dear Lord. The next morning we hiked it to the Silver Line and were at the airport an hour and a half early. According to Mr. Swirley, that is barely enough to time to get on the plane. An episode of “White Collar” later (what? don’t judge. It was a free Itunes download) and we were almost home. We picked our car up in lot E (aka Indiana) and managed to get lost on our way to Mrs. D’s house…not like we live in the Chicagoland area or anything. A swim with EK (he likes to think of pools as large cups from which he drinks), some Father’s Day dinner and back home again home again jiggety jig.

Wedding #4 is this weekend in Milwaukee. That’s Algonquin for the “good land”.

I like to see life with its teeth out.

For the third week in a row my house is once again full of sickness. I don’t want to dwell on it; this is just a general statement of fact. No, actually I am dwelling on it. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Mr. Swirley and I feel like cooked turkeys and Ellis is on his second round of antibiotics – by the end of this whole shebang he will have been on medicine for three straight weeks. To a veteran mom this probably seems as normal as breathing, but I am still easing into this whole “kid sick all the time but happy enough to play while you are sick and want to die” thing. It’s bogus man, bogus.

Last weekend we headed out to Mrs. D’s digs for some dinner, time in the sun and to celebrate the bunny. Tommy D came down from Madison with EK’s sweet new ride. We found it on craigslist and apparently the former owner could be heard wailing from her room, “No mama, no! Don’t sell my car.” Oh how I cannot wait for that day to come to the Swirley household. I hope that sweet little girl can take solace in the fact that her tiny auto went to a good home.

After a thorough inspection, Ellis graciously accepted the gift.
What? No driving gloves. Cheap bastards.

You will be happy to know that Tommy and Ho-Ho got on well and I think she has accepted the fact that although they are divorced, he is going to be a fixture at Ho-Ho holiday celebrations. I often remind her, “You had me. Now deal with the consequences. I have to see both of you regularly. Seems only fair you have to deal with each other.” Nice, I know.

On Saturday Mrs. D, Ho-Ho, Car and I set out to Old Navy to pick up some staples for mom. While we were out hunting for cotton goodies, I tasked the men with a photo shoot of my little man to document his first Easter. Here are a few of my favorites. I obviously love every photo they took but I would shut down the Interwebs if I posted them.

Shopping was as exciting as it sounds. We went round and round with clothes for Ho-Ho. She tends to like to show off “the ladies”, so Mrs. D and I are on a never ending quest to find shirts that are appropriate while not being too stuffy. That bohemian Ho-Ho…and she wonders why she gets men knocking at her door asking to see her “brassieres”.  Most were inappropriate but we did find a few items that she liked. The real excitement arrived on Easter morning like a bright sparkling chocolate egg full of that gross peanut candy some people hand out on Halloween.

Imagine a nice sunny Sunday morning. You are laying in bed with your unusually lazy baby and a large cat to boot. Your teenage cousin (who rarely is up before you) is eagerly anticipating an Easter egg hunt with said baby and your aunt has a nice holiday breakfast planned. Then you find out your mom lost something major and expensive. Yep. Unfortunately for us, we swapped out our Easter egg hunt with a Easter tooth hunt.

Somehow, between 9 PM Saturday night and 5 AM Sunday morning, Ho-Ho lost her bridge/flipper thing that sports her incisor.  Yes, that $500.00 piece of dental gold that we have had for less than three months disappeared. And let me tell you, searching for a glorified retainer on Easter morning is not that exciting. The reward isn’t little neon colored plastic eggs filled with sugary goodness. No, it’s a gross retainer that may or may not show up. And as you frantically search for this tiny piece of translucent plastic, you keep thinking about how much it will cost to replace it and what if she loses the next one and the next one. You can see this can have a real snowball effect on your psyche. Breathe. At one point I stood in the hallway and shook my fists at the sky. I even set Ellis loose in each room she had occupied during the previous 12 hours in the hopes that his weird baby super powers could find that sucker since he seems to find everything else that he shouldn’t. Mr. D took on the nasty task of sifting through the post-holiday dinner trash while we repeatedly dumped out and searched Ho-Ho’s bags, unmade beds, dismantled couches., etc. For no less than four hours we searched that house from top to bottom, but alas, no luck. So now Ho-Ho is back to looking like a pirate (belt and all) and we are praying to God to return her flipper sometime in the next week or we have to shell out another $500 and constantly worry about it disappearing again.

That was the longest paragraph ever. 

Good news is that after a bunch of faxing and research, I was able to get her March ER bill zero’d out. So, if you subtract the new retainer thing, we are still up $600. It’s like I am making money here, people. 

Ellis and I also recently checked out the new Little Beans cafe in Bucktown. Although I think it overpriced, EK enjoyed his time with buddies Tate and Grace and he didn’t make either baby cry. I deem that a successful meeting of the tiny minds.

I am now going to go cough a lung out.

Fufilling our patriotic duty

President G.W. Bush once said:
 This is my chance to help this lady put some money in her pocket. Let me explain how the economy works. When you spend money to buy food it helps this lady’s business. It makes it more likely somebody is going to find work. So instead of asking questions, answer mine: are you going to buy some food? 

Well today we bought a car salesman some food, drink and probably lined his pockets with the finest silk available in suburban Chicago. Yep, we bit the bullet and purchased a car after discussing it for, oh, I don’t know, two years? It’s exciting and all, but right now I am mourning the loss (really trade-in) of our little Rojo civic.

She was a mighty lady who endured a fairly brutal life in DC and Chicago. In her first few months with us, Mr. Swirley drove her her into a fire pit and ripped her front bumper off.  She, along with Mr. Swirley, was forced to drive to and from Wisconsin after I took in a kitten outside of our DC Devonshire Avenue apartment and was unable to find a no-kill shelter in the area. Luckily for us (and the cat), Mr. Swirley’s parents agreed to adopt Bonzo (now “Fred” as Mr. and Mrs. Swingen want nothing to do with anything quasi-Reagan…even during his pre-Presidential years). Two years later I tried to back up Pentagon City’s parking ramp and rammed Rojo into a yellow pole. She took numerous trips to the DC Polo Fields and surrounding areas for Ultimate tournaments and to and from the Naval Research Lab multiple times each weekday so Mr. Swirley could come home to eat lunch and watch ESPN with Hometown. She didn’t even judge Mr. Swirley when he blew off a stop sign by RFK Stadium and got a ticket. In 2008 she was transported via a flat bed to Chicago where she proceeded to get the living Hell beat out of her.

She was a loyal car. She safely escorted Ellis home from the hospital and allowed Mr. Swirley  to drive 15 miles under the speed limit all the way down Ashland Avenue. In the months to come, she accepted the dirty diapers I left in her with open cup holders. She hid zillions of Walgreen’s bags under her seats and her tan interior camouflaged Ellis’ never-ending stream of spit up.

So today, with the paint flaking off her front end, scrapes on the trunk from me “shoveling” snow off of the car, and dents, dings and cracks in between, we bid her farewell. Oh sweet Rojo, you will be missed.

Rojo and our new blue car yet to be named.


Amber Alert

I like babies. It’s a an undeniable fact that I can’t really control myself around them. I have been known to be ranting an raving one second, and cooing at a little one in her stroller the next. Daycare has indulged this addiction by allowing me to hold other people’s babies when I go to pick up Ellis. I am aware I have my own, but they are like a sweet, stinky drug of which I cannot get enough.  However, yesterday I was busted after I scooped up a sweet little peanut of a girl. Leila’s dad walked in as I was squeezing the dear life out of his poor child. I don’t think he was upset, but I certainly felt weird holding some stranger’s baby while my own sat idly by my side. It’s not like that interaction will stop me (especially when I just found out they have a four month old starting next week), but perhaps I should pick Ellis up a little earlier to lessen the likelihood of a parent spotting me canoodling with his/her bébé.

Put that in your pipe. Or don’t because it’s nasty.

Throughout pregnancy and the first three months of Ellis’ life, I enjoyed some seriously luxurious locks. My hair was thick and I didn’t’ have to wash it daily or risk looking like a dead, wet cat. Then everything went to hell and it all started to fall out. Not in the usual a strand here, a strand there way. More like a clump to a “Dear God, is that hair tumbleweed in the hallway” kind of way. I was sure I was going bald. But where does this hair go, you ask?  Aside from the floor, apparently a lot of the hair ended up in the sink. Slowly collecting and creating a massive blockage in the pipe. Today, while brushing my teeth, I felt a little drip drip drip on my toes and opened up the under counter cabinets to find “spit water” everywhere, lovely mold, and rust. It’s great. I am gagging just recounting this story for you. Now I am trying to mentally prepare to open up the pipe and clean it out. I am terrified about what I will see/smell, but don’t think it’s fair to ask Mr. Swirleytime to clean it out because it’s not his hair and he would hate me forever

After that grossness, here is a video of Ellis recorded this past weekend.

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.

Here’s a little ditty about Jack and Diane

That song has been in my head for ten years. This is not a lie or an exaggeration. When my mind wanders (which is fairly often), it inevitably comes to the line, “sucking on a chili dog outside the tastee freeze”. Poor Mr. Swirley has been hearing me make up lyrics (since I only know the first few lines) for ten years. Exactly. Well nine years and 364 days.

Want to know how we met? Even if you don’t I am going to tell you because ten years is a long time. It was first semester senior year of college and I first met him at a friend’s house. I decided I had a crush on him and we flirted by stuffing smarties in our respective mouths. But then I forgot. Then we met again at a birthday dinner of a mutual friend. I gave him my number (what?!) on the back of a receipt. However, it was 1) not my receipt and, 2) I accidentally wrote down a wrong digit (it was an accident, seriously). Before leaving the restaurant he dropped me on the ground. Hard. So he called and tried to look up the name on the receipt and then gave up. There was a basketball game in there where I was so nervous that I stuffed my face with peanut M&Ms and made myself sick. And a comedy show. And a run-in at the student union where he told the GM and me that he was going to a talk given by Oscar Wilde’s grandson and I told the GM I was “going to marry that man”. Turns out it was an assignment; he wasn’t going out of his own volition.

But nothing. Then second semester rolled around and KML, KJY and I decided that we had to ask a boy out before the end of the year because we were super lame and had never done that. I couldn’t think of anyone and then Sweet Lady D reminded me that I had a crush on Mr. Swirley. Bingo.

So I called him and asked him to go snowshoeing. Yes, snowshoeing. For a person who hates winter that is a bit step (no pun intended). Then the snow started to melt. So I prayed for snow (a first ever) and there was just enough to go. So on Feb. 12, 2001, Mr. Swirley picked me up in his old beater of a car and we drove to Lake Wingra where we snowshoed. I think we also went out to the Shoe Box where he purchased a God awful pair of basketball shoes, but I couldn’t tell him to pass on them because I barely knew the kid. Then he dropped me back at home at 4:00 PM. Awesome.

Two days later, (black Monday I think we called it), I came home to a bouquet of paper flowers in our mailbox. I didn’t look at the card because I assumed it was from one of KJY’s 10,000 admirers. I called Cass and screamed to high hell about how KJY is always getting the men and how I thought it was garbage. She told me to look at the card to see what putz delivered them and low and behold, wouldn’t you know our engineer friend Mr. Swirley has an artistic side. You may roll your eyes, but after being dropped off at 4:00 PM from your first “date”, it was a pretty big deal. I called him and we went to Ella’s Deli on our second date. He got an open-faced Thanksgiving sandwich and I paid. Not that he didn’t offer, I just didn’t know what to do.

Now we have a baby.

So happy nine year and 364 day anniversary (or 10 year anniversary for me since I was praying for snow ten years ago today).

I’m like a chocoholic, but for booze

Tonight I decided to drink cold “hot” chocolate because I was too lazy to warm it up. Well I have to say that I am pretty pleased with myself because it’s the closest I have come to Choc-Ola in years. Do you remember that tasty drink? They used to sell it at Ken Kopp’s for .25/can. KJY and I would scrounge around Ho-Ho’s house looking for loose change so we could load up on whatever crap they put in a can and make ourselves sick. It was the best. 

After doing some research, I found out some interesting facts about our favorite “nectar of the Gods” (I am 99.9% sure that is what we called it).
– it has it’s own facebook fan page. If that doesn’t speak to its popularity, I don’t know what does.

– there is an online recipe I am considering trying
         Choc-Ola Recipe:
           1- 15 oz Yoo Hoo Can
           6- Tsp of Non – Dairy Coffee Creamer Makes two Servings
         Take 7.5 oz of Yoo Hoo(half a can) and pour in in a glass. Put 3 Tsp of coffee creamer in. 
        Heat in  microwave for about 50 sec. take out and stir. Chill in freezer for 30 Minutes. ENJOY!!
Count. Me. In.

– Charlie Hustle endorsed Choc-ola and even had his own Chocolatey drink named after him – “Pete”. It failed. Miserably.

– Sons of Bitches – Eventually, in 1985, Moxie decided to sell the Choc-Ola business to The Chocolate Group, which was also the parent company of Yoo-Hoo; one of Choc-Ola’s major competitors at the time. Shortly thereafter, The Chocolate Group shut down Choc-Ola’s Indianapolis plant and moved the entire bottling operation up to their Yoo-Hoo bottling facility in Carlstadt, NJ.

– Amazing and sort of nutso- From 2003 to 2009 Choc-Ola sightings faded into obscurity, while conversely, its fanbase’s desire for its return strengthened. Fans constructed message boards to discuss Choc-ola, they emailed and called the company, and they wondered when, if ever, Choc-Ola would return.
message board 1 and 2

– Road trip – In 2010, a new era for Choc-Ola began. A native Indianapolis man and avid fan of Choc-Ola made it his personal mission to revive Choc-Ola. In early 2010, the owner of the Rock-Cola ’50s Cafe in Indianapolis secured the trademark and is manufacturing and selling Choc-Ola out of his authentic 50s-style cafe.

I know what Ellis is doing this summer. I don’t see anything in The First Year saying he can’t have Choc-Ola. Except for that whole can’t have chocolate thing. I think it’s worth the risk.

Icky icky pachang.

Last night Mr. Swirley and I got crazy and folder laundry together. It was super boring until we found a diaper wrapped up in a sheet. I thought it was hilarious. Mr. Swirley informed me that this is the THIRD time he has found a washed dirty diaper in the “clean” clothes pile. Looks like I should stop doing the laundry and stick to folding. Gross.

Lately I have become increasingly concerned with money. Calculating out the cost of college in 2028 – I am guessing it will be about one bazillion dollars for EK to obtain a higher education. So it makes sense that I went out yesterday and spent $30 on crafty items because we obviously need stamp pads and embossing powder. And another $30 on photos. Oh well. Live in the moment, right? And nothing says “live in the moment” like going nuts with an embossing heat tool.