You’re not coming to Annie’s party? …Sorry, I have a conflict. It conflicts with the enjoyment of my life.

Ellis is still sleeping on the floor at night. And it takes us nearly three hours to get him to actually fall asleep, but he has yet to escape from his bedroom and I consider that a coup.

Mr. Swirley had a fantastic father’s day. It started with a 5:45 AM call from Oak Park Arms telling me that Ho-Ho didn’t have any medicine. That makes sense. I went out on Thursday to drop off meds, filled the box and then took it home with me. No breakfast in bed for Papi. I decided to bring mom back to our place for the day since Mrs. S. (Ho-Ho’s sister) was flying in from Italy for a little layover in Chicago. A few hours later I left Mr. Swirley with Ho-Ho and EK while I went to O’Hare; quality family time for big Lee. Then EK decided not to nap and cried for an hour. Next up, lunch and shoe shopping with the ladies and an overtired kid. Can it get any better? Talk about celebrating dad.

EK loves his Auntie Dana

Of course I made him a special dinner…a turkey wrap since we are out of bread and spent three hours putting Ellis to sleep. And when I say I made, I mean Mr. Swirley made one for me. He really hit the jackpot when he married me. Especially when he had to remind me of our wedding anniversary this month (“you know what Sunday is, right?”)

A few weeks ago we spent a family day (that’s what Ellis calls everything we do together – family hug, family walk, family day) downtown. It was awesome. Millennium Park, Blues Fest and cell phones out of batteries.

Skyline water

College tuition fund
Trains are much more exciting than concerts.

And the Chicago pools opened up last weekend. Ellis seemed to vacillate between being absolutely terrified and thoroughly enjoying himself while swimming. I am sure I scarred him in some way but at least he kept cool.

Contraband…no treats on the pool deck.

Yesterday EK informed me that I can no longer refer to Mr. Swirley as “Papi”, only daddy. He, however, can call him Papi, Dada, Daddy and Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I call BS on that one.

I would write more about Ho-Ho but the mere thought of it exhausts me.

I bought a pair of knock-off sunglasses off of Ebay. They might looks stupid, but they have a good weight so I am going to go with them. I also bought a pair of gold shoes. Both items are perfect for our July 4 in northern Wisconsin.

“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.

This is my favorite song.

Christmas music is playing over our speakers, I have a cinnamon scented candle courtesy of the G burning brightly in the window and a little bug tucked into his bed just a few feet from me. Three years ago today I was in Tucson, AZ with Ho-Ho in the hospital, hours spent in the car driving to and fro, and wracking my brain in the hopes of figuring out how to stop the chaos. I also was searching for my ID so I could buy some beer because let me tell you, a drink at night would have made everything a little better. I know you aren’t supposed to say that, but those were very long days.Very, very long days.

If you haven’t figured it out, Ho-Ho has MS – a disease that affects her both mentally and physically. It is something we as a family have been coping with for over two decades, but she is of course the victim of all of this. Three years ago, things fell apart after the Tucson public aid system removed Ho-Ho from her court-ordered treatment. She was a 5’3″ permed hair ticking time-bomb that exploded with a bang in December 2008. Literally. She threw a lamp through her apartment window because she thought she was trapped. After a few additional incidents at her apartment building, I made the call to have her taken to the hospital where she was admitted for an indefinite stay. Soon after, I pow-wowed with the sisters, flew down to investigate our options and advocate for her within the state legal and health system.

I remember arriving, picking up my rental car and driving directly to the hospital, where I sat for nearly 30 minutes after realizing that I was alone this time. Not to sound dramatic, especially since I have visited my mom in hospitals since I was eight and found it fairly “normal”, but never alone and never with the knowledge that I had to dictate her treatment with the state. It was, as you can imagine, absolutely heart breaking. I brought her bras with the underwire removed, various sundries, make-up …the things anyone needs to maintain some sense of normalcy and dignity in an otherwise chaotic situation.

After a week in the hospital, my mom was discharged to a “step down” facility. I don’t know if you have ever been to such a facility, but you want an advocate working for you because the people who run those places are out of control. Not once but twice I stood in the middle of their office space and refused to move until they distributed PRESCRIBED medications to Ho-Ho. The psychiatrist on-call didn’t “feel comfortable” dispensing her MS drugs. What? That is just wild! How can you expect one’s mental state to improve if you don’t simultaneously treat their physical problems? I can tell you that if was in crapton of pain and couldn’t sleep I would have some major problems coping. Lord, I can’t even function when I have a hangnail.

Mom and I spent the visiting hours addressing Christmas cards and even invited her housemates to join us so they could send a few out of their own. The only activities offered by the facility was watching movies and group therapy. Again, so disappointing. I am not a social worker but it seems fairly obvious to me that if you want to reintroduce people to society after they are stabilized, you should probably provide a little more interaction and intellectual stimulation than watching Lethal Weapon 2 and playing cards with with an incomplete deck (no pun intended).

Between visiting hours, I worked on  my grandpa’s 80th birthday scrapbook (impressed? you should be. I scrap booked the hell out of that piece), met with various public aid officials who said my mom made too much money for assistance (BWAHAHAHA) and traveled across Tucson looking for an assisted living facility that could house my mom while we made arrangements for her to move to Chicago. Let me tell you, there are some very rough places out there for folks with limited income. I looked at one facility that had four women to a room – and  the main activity of the day appeared to be smoking. I mean, I guess it’s better than chewing terbaccy, but still, not the best environment for a person needing a little extra TLC. Another place reminded me of the scene from Breaking Bad where the two dudes are being held hostage out in the middle of the New Mexican desert – in a one room house lit by a bare bulb and filled with a busted old stove, a TV stuck on one fuzzy channel and a crazed meth head running around with a gun. Maybe it wasn’t that bad but you never know. I do, however, have to compliment the “smoking club” on their mad housekeeping skills as I walked right into a glass door thinking it was open.

After losing it a few times and considering stuffing Ho-Ho into my suitcase, I finally found a company that helps place folks needing assisted living. Linda drove me around we found three facilities I thought my mom would like. She was discharged on Christmas Eve and we took a look at all three where as expected, she was unimpressed. The first facility eventually won out, but we soon changed our minds after I looked at their inspection record  (yikes!)  and then began a bit of legal battle to get our deposit back (story for another day). The second didn’t work either so she ended up at an old folks home that served our purposes but wasn’t ideal. It was temporary, whatever. Plus they had a row of lazy boys in the living room which, in my opinion, is pretty sweet.

Mr. Swirley was scheduled to fly to Tucson to spend Xmas with us but was snowed in. This turned out to be a blessing as he returned home to find water pouring down through every light fixture in our house, the alarm blaring and our cats cowering under the bed. Our neighbor’s pipe froze and burst causing what we have come to call the Flood of 2008. This is of course different than the Flood of 2009 that occurred two weeks later. It’s not like we had just moved in and the place was completed rehabbed or anything. Poor Mr. Swirley spent Christmas Eve shopvaccing with my dad and ate Christmas breakfast at the Hollywood Diner. Sweet sweet memories

After Christmas, I called my grandpa and asked him to sub in for me for two weeks while I got everything in order for the move. He of course kindly obliged and spent his days sorting through zillions of books, Christmas decorations, oversize belts and hair products. While he was busy being scolded by my mother for throwing away paperclips, we signed her new lease, organized a one way truck rental from Tucson to Chicago and the Ds, Mr. Swirley and I flew down to Ho-Ho’s house to pack her life up into a 17′ truck. In a little over 24 hours we had boxed a ton of blazers donning shoulder pads, donated a ton to Goodwill and scrubbed her two bedroom apartment from top to bottom. The two men drove her belongings up to Chicago while we got her situated in her temporary home, drugged a cat and found a dirty pair of underwear under our hotel bed.

And here we are three years later. As challenging as things were, I realize how blessed (most of the time) we are to have Ho-Ho close and how wonderful she really is to command such love and commitment (sometimes begrudgingly so but commitment nonetheless) from her family.  This Christmas she is with family, crocheting, drinking half-and-half and watching Monk with the G. She has a little man who adores her and as miserable as she may make herself out to be from time to time, is thriving and all up in people’s business.

I am not sure why I shared this story. It’s so serious and probably too personal for blogging. But it’s a Christmas story that is worth remembering…if only because we convinced her to give up that damn perm.

Ho-Ho – Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas!


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?

Welcome to Fat City.

We are back from our sweet little vacation in Branson, MO – America’s Show Capital a.k.a. the G’s stomping grounds. The Branson airport looks like a log cabin. How have you not have visited this place yet?  A LOG CABIN? COMBINED WITH AN AIRPORT? Amazeaballs.

 Ellis enjoyed his first flight – and since there were approximately -2 people on the plane, he even got his own seat. Not that it really mattered since he crawled all over the entire time but it was fun to strap him in like a little man for .05 seconds. We also pumped him full of food so his head didn’t explode. And then he threw up. I guess we should have seen that coming.

 
The purpose of the trip was to spend time with the G and take care of estate matters (cue Debbie Downer “wah wah”.) Mrs. S made the trip from Phoenix to kick it with EK and high-five the rest of us. Ellis totally didn’t get any attention. 
Upon arrival Ellis spotted his new pool. I know, it’s pretty amazing and you wish you had your own pool. Unless you do have a pool. In that case he won’t trade you because he loves his pool.
Such a baller. 
While in Branson, we went to the Walmarts (a.k.a. “fat city” according to the G), got ice cream from a shop that shared a door with a residence and met my grandpa’s angels. 
The angels have been taking care of the G as far back as six years ago when both Ho-Hos were working on their bikini bodies for summers at Table Rock Lake. As expected, the winged-lovelies (RNs) had heard a lot about little EK and seemed fairly enamored (if not a little amber alerty) about the baby.
Ellis working on his guns.
Note to mom – Ellis is not so into Ozark men
I am currently eating frozen yogurt out of the carton.
Mr. Swirley worked a bit on the G’s house since it is up for sale and I did nothing except for force little EK on big EK. I don’t think the G minded too much. Especially when he had his hearing aid turned off. Which is always.
Matching shirts courtesy of L & L

Partaking in some sort of man project.
EK & EK
Friday we left for O’hare and didn’t have the easiest flight back. But our real return to reality happened when I had a little run-in with Ho-Ho Sunday night. We took a late-night family trip out to Oak Park to rescue a $300 car key I left at her place. As we left, she handed me an envelope and told me it has something to do with Roswita (her Swiss friend). I opened it up and inside was packet of Swiss-Miss hot chocolate. I knocked on her door and asked her to tell me what I was supposed to do with the packet. She gave me a knowing look and told me to “read the package.” Obviously it is a coded message about Ms. Swiss Roswita. Not a packet of hot chocolate someone thought she might enjoy and left in her little inbox next to her door. Then today she told me she stopped taking her Ritalin because it wasn’t working and now she is sleeping all the time. Who would have thunk you would be tired if you stopped taking a drug that helped keep you awake?
Oh Branson, I miss you so.
Chickie Chickie Parm Parm.

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.

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.

Come on! She’s just worried that I’m going to win the Miss Teenage Hairspray contest!

If you were going to buy Ho-Ho one thing for Christmas, what would you get? I know I would purchase a vat of hair gel. A literal vat. It would last her about a week. If I were buying her two presents it would be a toss-up between two vats of hair gel and a vat of gel and a vat of perfume. Any old perfume would really do but she is partial to very expensive perfumes. That would last about a week too.

Last night I received a call from Mrs. S. Apparently Ho-Ho went to the Consumer Value Store with Mrs. S’s credit card for some hair dye and walked out with: hair dye, spray and gel and mascara. It’s not like she brought all of that with her. Wait, she did. I packed it. I mean, if I had someone’s credit card I would obviously buy a whole bunch of stuff I don’t need with their money. It’s Christmas after all…the season for taking.

You don’t know how to make guacamole


Family fun in the country was the name of the game this weekend. That and sweet presents for baby Swirley. And lot’s of food. Mr. and Mrs. D (and of course Carly) hosted a baby shower for Mr. Swirley and me at their lovely St. Charles home. After an incredible amount of planning and hard work (with none of our assistance), Ho-Hos, Swingens, Earleys, Ds and close family friends came to celebrate happy babies and dimpled knuckles. We were fortunate enough to have guests travel from Wisconsin, Illinois (Chicagoland), Missouri and California to join us for a day of bbqing, yard games, frog hunting and fun in the country. Mr. Swirley and NVS also decided to call each other the night before to coordinate outfits.

Swingens!
Ds!

Ho-Hos!
Lady Jayne brought Sweet Lou and G.U.S. to show us how cute our baby will be after his alien phase.  It was a reassuring gift since all of the books keep telling us to not be surprised if he arrives smushed and baby bird-like. G.U.S. spent the majority of the day hunting toads/frogs (yes, I know there is a difference – but I don’t really care) while Sweet Lou hung out and had his face eaten by us adults (see below. That is me attempting to eat his face). 
The G made the rounds while Ho-Ho met the Swingens for the first time. It was great. In addition, T-bone attended and he and Ho-Ho even reminisced about big she got while prego with yours truly. It was nice to see them chatting it up and I even got the first family photo taken of us since ever. Well, maybe that is an exaggeration, but not by much. Look, I have proof.
My “fake” uncles Jim and Jim joined us as well. As a side note, I think the use of the word “fake” is really inappropriate since I regard them as kin – but always used it to differentiate for confused friends. Since moving back to Chicago, we have seen much more of the Jims (sometimes for not so good reasons like house floods), which has been wonderful. Uncle Rich, the man who has been present at every seminal moment in my life (from a zero birthday party to officiating our wedding) was sadly not in attendance – but talked about (in a good way) throughout the day. 
Jim & Jim!
My  aunt Jo and cousin Z traveled from the Bay area to revel in Midwest humidity and poke baby Swirley.  I cannot tell you how grateful we were to have both of them share the weekend with us. And Aunt Jo made us a lovely baby blanket to boot. Mrs. S couldn’t make it but we know she was poking baby Swirley in spirit. Other gifts included: blankets and sweaters made by baby’s great- grandmothers (Swingen and Johnson); handmade blankets by Ho-Ho, Carly and our wonderful and very thoughtful cousin in North Carolina, Mrs. T; onesies decorated by those in attendance; and, other sweet little items like clothing, toys, stuffed animals and nursery decorations. Baby Swirley is already so spoiled and he is has only just grown large enough to kick me in the ribs. Dang.

We also decided to share the name of young Swirley with our friends and family – Ellis (aka Lil Swings, “L”) and I think it surprised my gramps for the first time since his 80th birthday party. Hopefully in a good way.

Here we are explaining where the baby currently resides to G.U.S.
And here we all are – post-food, presents and fun.

The weekend ended with the moving of a storage unit and Ho-Ho telling me: “you dont know how to make guacamole. I know how to make guacamole” after I questioned her inclusion of mayonnaise in the the recipe.I suppose I still have a lot to learn before becoming a mom; good thing we have so much help.