So what you call insanity, we call solidarity!

May movie madness

And a little conversation where Ellis reveals he is a Republican and I once again prove just how terrible my Midwestern accent truly is (focus on my pronunciation of the words “both” and “pony” – Hell, it all sounds ridiculous.)

I’ve never been very good at letting things go. I can’t tell you how many times a fun tug of a war with a dog over a chew toy turned contentious. One of always gets mad.

Last weekend, after Ellis decided to quit it with all of this hand, foot and mouth stuff, we got down to business. Although one of us was covered in scabs, we ventured out into the world which began with a trip to Winnetka. Have you ever been? It’s amazing! You can leave your stroller outside and it’s still there when you emerge from whatever store. People don’t let their dogs poop in the park and there are no parking meters! Is this heaven? Almost. According to the ever accurate Wikipedia, Winnetka is “one of the most exclusive and wealthy suburbs in the nation.” They totally want us to move there.

Because I could no longer sit inside our house for fear I would hurl myself out a window, we also decided to: 
– Hit up the Chicago Kite Fest (underwritten by a relatively unknown group that goes by the acronym NATO)
– Engage in a a stare down
– Take EK’s first dip into lake Michigan
– Play with a new outside toys – a gift from his amazing and generous mom.
– and, venture to the zoo to look at ducks and water fountains. What? Summer is officially here.

EK and Uncle Jeff at Kite Fest. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our kite to fly. Where was dad? At an all day Frisbee tournament lamenting the aging process and making it all the way to the finals.

Game on, buddy – 30 second stare down.
First visit to Lake Michigan…Jeff and Olive lead the way.
OH MY GOD THIS WATER TABLE IS AMAZING! Papi may think it’s too big and misses his patio table…but mom doesn’t care. I think she is the best even if yesterday she held up traffic because she was too busy poking at her belly rolls.
We (and by we I mean Ellis) also spent a little time thinking about our bad decisions, picking thumbs and looking pretty pathetic. Moments before this photo was taken he was standing on a bench and ignoring his mom’s “tushy or knees” request. Next stop, no fun chair.
Like his uncle John, EK enjoys peeling his thumb like a banana.

Do you know what keywords keep bringing people to this blog”
“labyrinth trash lady”. I am actually pretty thrilled about this little fact. Not because I have anything interesting for them to read, but that people are seeking out pictures of our favorite Muppet. Other common keywords include:
– neck wattle
– goldie hawn, jamie wild, toffuti overboard. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (all separate searches)
– i recently invested in some shirts at a garage sale

Very strange people wandering around the Interwebs.

When I ask Ellis if he thinks I am fat, he responds, “yes.” There is no mistaking that response – he enunciates as if his life depends on it. When I ask him if I thinks I am pretty, I get silence.

Ho-Ho is sleeping over tomorrow night. I am sure I will have some nice updates. Last time she stayed overnight, she put her shoe-clad feet on my wall to push herself up onto our bed. I have a nice little scuff mark to remind me of this little incident and how I need to purchase espadrilles for her from now on. She also enjoys spraying my perfume all over the bathroom each time she goes in – which is 900 times/day. What else? Oh, Ellis will enjoy the TV blaring from midnight-6 AM in the room adjacent to his as that is the only way she can sleep, but then she tells me she can’t sleep. It’s all so confusing.

Then we have a psych appointment where we will experience a lot of circular logic and I will likely slam my face against a door or something. Recently she has reincarnated one of her old “stalkers” that Mr. Swirley and I laid to rest a few years ago with a fake obituary. Modern medicine! Given this fun twist with regards to her psyche,  “we” also might change her drugs which will likely cause major chaos in the short-term and general disappointment in the long. Wah wah. Upside is the G is in town this weekend for my cousin’s graduation and  family shenanigans which include yelling at the top of our lungs so he can hear us, him mocking our parenting style and probably some sort of missing tooth incident. I can’t wait.

The cat is enjoying the yuletide lights

I am flying through the city of brotherly love on yet another trip to DC. I have to say that if Philadelphians are going to stick with that slogan, they should really reevaluate how they treat people. Take this plane ride, for example. The overhead compartments filled up almost immediately so we were left with a line of people trying to figure out what to do with their bags. Add some non-native English speakers to the mix and we have a bit of a delay. Apparently that was a signal to the two jokers in my aisle to start yelling things like, “they aren’t giving out idiot awards today” and “sit down…what is wrong with these people? How could they have gotten on the plane with bags that don’t fit?” at the standing passengers. They then moved on to cruder insults delivered in a more hushed (but still very audible tone.) Wow, such comedians. They are, however, giving out dick awards today, and these guys won by a g-d landslide.
Why am I going to DC (really rural VA)? With a layover each way no less? Because we organized a staff retreat and had to use up our credit at a meeting center by the end of the year. Nothing spurs brainstorming about the future of your company and/or good morale like scheduling a meeting smack in the middle of the holidays. I guess no one else really cares since it’s a regular work day for them, but for us Swirleys (who have to travel) it cut into our celebration of baby Jesus’ birthday with the Ds and G. Oh well. At least I have a jobby-job and we will be enjoying a southern-style buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We did have a great time in St. Charles. Ellis was once again the star of the show and continued to receive rounds of applause throughout the weekend. The G drove up from Missouri and we finally figured out a way for all of us to coexist on the same floor and watch a movie – wireless headphones! Yes! No longer does the volume have to be turned up to 10 million decibels because the G refuses to replace his hearing aide. Now he can wear headphones that adjust the volume and the rest of us can enjoy our eardrums not being ripped to shreds. It’s a Christmas miracle!
And that moose was my friend…
EK loves is Auntie Tory

Ellis also peed on the floor while at Mrs. D’s. I reassured Uncle Scott that urine is sterile, but I am not sure if that made splashing around in a puddle of urine with your hand any less gross.

Santa was on the schedule for a weekend visit but the snow and my general lack of enthusiasm for standing in line with a 1.25 year old in the cold won out. Instead we took a few pictures of Ellis and Mr. Swirley running around the backyard in a hand-crafted sled.

EK and Hannah take a stroll in the fresh snow

Papi in EK in the ole’ handmade sled

“Taxi, oh taxi!”

Swingen xmas photo 2011

We of course had a few good quotes over the weekend. Maybe you had to be there to really appreciate them, but I thought I would share:
Scott: I think I am going through “the change”.  I am so hot all of the time.
Mr. Swirley: Britney Spears in engaged ?!?
The G: (immediately responds) Well that dashes my hopes.(then turns a page of the newspaper)
The G: Tory, your number is associated with XXX-XXX-XXXX in my phone
Mrs. D: That’s not my number.
Ho-Ho: One of my old nurses was named Tory. She left though. Maybe that is her number. I know lots of people named Tory
Ho-Ho: (re: Bandit the cat in a box under the tree) Leave him alone. He is enjoying the Yuletide spirit.
Me: Mom, what are you looking for? (as she poked around the pantry)
Ho-Ho: I’m hungry!
Mrs. D: No carbs, Ardie. They won’t fill you up.
Ho-Ho: I don’t want carbs! How about a pop-tart?
We enjoyed a very nice Christmas dinner, a round of gift opening and legally blonde. I think the last event was the G’s favorite. I got him a crockpot and slow cooker cookbook because he doesn’t cook much for himself (with the exception of soup). We’ll see if he breaks it out. What do they say about old dogs?
Tuesday I return to Chicago from our Nation’s Capital and hit the ground running. EK and I head up to Lake Geneva (our first time) for the night to visit KJY and the Dashos. Back Thursday and have just enough time to destroy the house before we head to Wisconsin on Friday for round two of Christmas celebrations (Madison and La Crosse). It should be and exhausting, fun and eventful few weeks.

How in the heck can you wash your neck

Turkey Day 2011 is over and I can prove it by my ever expanding waist line. Similar to tricking myself into thinking soda is healthy, I am thoroughly convinced that holiday gluttony is a requirement and all those smarmy know it all MDs nagging about saturated fat is crap. I ate pie for breakfast two mornings in a row…so you see how I have to rationalize my behavior or risk the realization that I have shortened my life by three years after consuming 12 lbs of cream cheese over the course of the past four days.

Ellis was of course the star of the weekend. It would take about ten hands to count how many rounds of applause he received for various activities. Examples? Eating gets you the laughs/claps, falling too. Picking your nose? Yep. Sharing your Sesame Street characters? Obviously. Etc. etc. He is clearly going through culture shock at home now that we don’t high five him for pulling out all of the Pyrex and slamming them together. But I can’t really complain because the Ho-Hos and Dietrichs love him so much. And they let me sleep in.

T-Bone joined us for the holiday as well as the Great G, Mikey, Kenz, G&G S&G and a few other fun members of the clan. Uncle Don even slept in the garage! And Ellis was considerate enough to wait until everyone was in bed to scream his face off. Whatever, it’s not like 14 people were sleeping or anything.

Ooh, and yes, we (me and two teenagers. what?)  did go out at 5 AM on Black Friday. However, since most places opened at midnight it wasn’t all that exciting. I did get a door buster deal on a vacuum. First, I want you stop and think about the fact that I went out at five AM to purchase a vacuum. Who am I? If anything, I struck fear into the respective hearts of an 18 and 19 year old as to what the future might hold for them.  But then I injected a little bit of “Annie” into the situation and came home with three vacuums. How is this possible? I purchased one, realized it wasn’t the vacuum on sale and tried to return it. However, in the 12 feet from the register to the customer service I lost the receipt. Sweet Baby Jesus was just laughing at me – Christmas isn’t about door busters! It’s about eating pie for breakfast with your family, fool! Carly and Kenz were out in the car wondering why I was taking an hour to get refund and I was sweating bullets because I felt so dumb and could feel all of those already embittered Target staffers judging me with their oh so sleepy eyes. So $700 something later,  I purchased two more vacuums because that is what one does when you have entered crazytown…and hoped Mr. Swirley would like one of them. Luckily Target can look up receipts by credit card number after close of business so I was able to return two of the three yesterday.  Still, seriously? I am an idiot.

Here is Ho-Ho and Carly showing off their pirate smiles. Carly is 18 and will most likely be annoyed that I posted this but how you can you let me take a picture like this and expect me to keep it to myself? Plus she and our cousin Kenz watched 41 hours of Gossip Girl in four days (this is not an exaggeration) and deserve to be called out for their ridiculousness.

EK loves his Carly

Three generations enjoying Grover

EK and EK engage in a Sesame Street face off!

But the best part of the weekend (no, not when the Great G took the Elmo and Big Bird puppets and made them fight – “I don’t like you!” ” I don’t like you”…then the sound of plastic eyeballs smacking into each other) was when I captured this little diddy from “Grandpa Peanut Song”

A few more pics to document the holiday weekend…

Mike. Say it ain’t so.

Cousins hard at work during the 12 minutes they didn’t spend watching Gossip Girl.
Mr. Swirley and EK enjoying the unseasonably warm Nov. weather.
A tiny badger in Michigan gear? An angel just lost it’s wings.
Also, on a side note, during our traditional Black Friday shopping trip, Mrs. D and I spent so much time in the changing room with a topless Ho-Ho that the image of her ta-tas are forever singed into our memories. She got her bras and we got a shared nightmare to relive until our dying days.
Gobble gobble.

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.
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.

Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend.

I found it! I found it! A few years back Ho-Ho decided to spend her hard-earned money on a choice present for the G. It is one “colored-pencil portrait, done from a photo.” With Sophie the cat. I think Diane strayed a bit from her comfort zone as a favor for Ho-Ho, but I for one am thankful she took the risk.

You like? I certainly do. Especially since the G had to frame it and put it up on his wall of photos between Mrs. S’s senior year portrait and my parents cutting their wedding cake in cut-off jeans and matching afros.

I thought you might want to see all of Diane’s info in case you want to commission her for a pet portrait. It’s a toss-up between Janna and Milton Burro for best portrait featured on her fancy Interwebs site. I can’t believe the G and Sophie aren’t front and center.

Back to Veronica Mars (re-watching all three seasons). Why do I still love Logan so much? And why can’t he and Veronica end up together? My heart hearts. Over WB TV.

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.

Who loves ya baby?

The G is known for his sunglasses. At least amongst the Ho-Hos. When I was little, he and grams sported those flimsy plastic sunglasses inserts you would stick inside your glasses.

the Gs in the Branson butterfly house. Isn’t she lovely?

I would wear them when we drove to grandpa’s Chicago office and felt pretty much like a badass.
Then he upgraded to the sunglasses that fit over your glasses. BIG HIT. In 2007, Mr. Swirley slipped them on and was sold.

As you know, Mr. Swirley’s birthday is coming up and what do you think arrived in the mail yesterday?
A brand new pair of HD VISION ULTRAS (“takes sunglass technology to a whole new level!”). They are high def people, high def! Since Mr. Swirley wears contacts, the G decided he didn’t need the bulky pair (though I would have loved it).

Does he look 33 or what?

We both also appreciate the G’s attention to detail when it comes to sunglasses care.

He is always looking out for our best interests. Thanks, G!