"Elvis King? They must be big fans"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Elvis King? They must be big fans”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whoever says “Don’t cry over spilled milk” has never nursed.

I should be napping right now but instead am on the Internets. Big news around here is Ellis King has arrived. Born on August 29, 2010 – he weighed in at 6 lbs 13 oz and just about 20 inches long. His first few days were quiet ones, but the kid now has a yell that can make your heart fall out. He is also very cute. 

I have a lot more to say but my eyes are crossing from lack of sleep so it will have to wait.

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.

The sweet sugariness of first love

Today was full of adventures. The good kind. It started with a plea sent to all Chicago friends and family from my Uncle Mike for a volunteer to take a trip down I55 to Palos Park to pick up his transcripts. After a IM planning session, I jumped in the car and made my way to the south side. Upon arriving at Moraine Valley CC, I received a police escort from Officer 111 to a “faculty only” parking spot next to Building “R” (#1 awesome event of the day),  and waddled inside to negotiate with some very stern administrators (sans photo ID. I know, brilliant). There, I successfully found the three ladies with whom I needed to speak to secure Mike’s transcript. After each one peered over her half-moon shaped glasses at me and inspected my Costco ID (the only photo ID I had with me – and it didn’t even have my correct name listed), they stamped the proper forms in triplicate and finally released the one page report. Though I would like to share the transcript, I will refrain. However, I should mention that Mike must have been focusing on something other than school during the fall of 1973. I also met a girl who after asking me what I was majoring in, told me: “you don’t look that old. Like you are in your 20s or something.”

Since I was already ¾ of the way to Orland Park, I spontaneously decided to take a trip further south to check out my grandparents’ former digs. A left onto La Grange Road, a right onto 144th Place and another left onto Beacon Avenue led me straight to the locale of some of my most favorite memories – 9827 West 145th Place. The mailboxes were still at the end of the driveway and across the street. The trees that cost the three Ho-Ho girls countless hours in raking were still standing and no doubt torturing another generation. And most exciting news: a “for sale” sign was posted in the front yard. (#2 Awesome event of the day)

                                         THEN:                                                      

                                         NOW:

Yes, for a half-second I contemplated buying it. My email interaction with Mr. Swingen went like this:

“Lee Lee Lee. It’s for sale”

Mr. Swirley’s response:
“Are you going to buy it? It could be our winter home in the south (side).”

So he was considering it. Or mocking me. To sate my curiosity, I looked it up on MLS  while idling on the curb like your friendly neighborhood stalker. And BAM! There is a virtual tour available (#2 Awesomeness continued) online. The Gs moved about 15 years ago, so I assumed major renovations had taken place. After flipping through the photos, I was oddly relieved that not much had changed. Hardwood floors were installed, built-in bookshelves removed and the kitchen remodeled – but the deck and walkway the G and Mr. D. built were still in place and the fireplace looks the same as it did in the 70s /80s when the girls posed for snapshots with their high school sweethearts.

                                          THEN:                                                                          

                                         NOW:
I am working on Mrs. D to schedule a tour with me; She needs some more persuading. You can call me a nosy ninny, or freak. I just want to see if the Sugar Smacks are still in the lower left cabinet next to the fridge, great grandma’s ridged plates are in the cabinets and the smarmy-looking hand-carved sailor is still on the bookshelf. You know, normal stuff.
Since I am talking about the Gs, I thought I would share my two most favorite pictures of them. As Aunt Jo succinctly wrote last year, “Elaine was the best.” And, the G, well he is the G.
(Gram’s fave pic of the G, too)
To round out my trip to Orland Park, I decided to brave my fears and travel to the home of my first love. I continued down West 145th Place, made a quick left and there it was: 7-11. It was the first 7-11 I remember visiting and spent countless hours biking to and fro during the summers spent in IL. I parked and braced myself for the worst. Remodeling, no pina colada slurpee – sky is the limit in terms of what could go wrong. But as I entered, I realized all is right with the world. The friendly 7-11 cashier still working from an island in the center of the store, Slurpee machines to the left and magazines front and center, right where they should be (#3 Awesome event of the day). It has been 15 years since I have stepped foot inside this fine establishment and it’s like I never left.

With an absurdly large frosty beverage in hand (pina colada flavor, of course), I decided it was time to return to reality and headed home. After a quick drive-by of the old haunts (you know antique stores, G’s usual car wash, supper clubs – normal hang-outs for eight-year-olds), I got back onto LaGrange Road and battled the traffic heading north into the city. All the while I thought about how I might be able to use the money we are saving through this refinancing deal as a down payment – baby Swirley needs a yard and I miss gram’s peonies.