I’m a good driver. Red means stop. Green means go. And yellow is the other one.

Well well well, I hate to say I told you so, but it looks like the rest of the Interwebs appreciates both Overboard and Labyrinth based on searches that landed those poor souls onto my blog page. A sampling? Don’t mind if I do –

– Jeffrey Wiseman (lots of these. Lots and Lots of these.)
– Jeffrey Wiseman Overboard
– Jeffrey Wiseman actor
– Carol Williard (aka Mrs. Rose Budd the intrepid news reporter)
– Turkey Wattle – this search is unintentional but brings people to a picture of Mona working on her gullet (is gullet a word? If not, I call it). You will also see this picture if you google “what happens when you take off neck rings” and search through God knows how many pages to find this piddly blog.)

– Jamie Wild (again, lots of these)
– Jamie Wild from Overboard
– Jarod Rushton Overboard
– Garbage lady from Laybrinth
– Rubbish lady from Laybrinth (clearly these users are NOT american but know a good USA flick when they see it).
YOU ARE WELCOME! See, don’t you feel good knowing that you have received a proper primer on the current status of all of the Overboard actors? I just might have saved your life by providing such a crucial public service.

Other random keyword activity includes:
– sunglasses that go over your glasses (surprisingly popular)
– adventurexxx (yikes, pervymagoos!) Nice thing about this search is it brings the porn seeker to an entry that includes me complaining about: traffic, the high cost of daycare, sick kids and a trip to see family. Talk about MEOW-worthy viewing.
– sametova revola
– Nebraska Jones Chicago

In other news I lost the keys to our new hours three times. Well, I lost them twice and then threw them away once. Since I can’t figure out how to lock the front door it doesn’t really matter if we have keys, but Mr. Swirley seems to think it is a problem that needs to be addressed. This does not mean we hide keys everywhere (my idea, clearly), but instead invest in a keypad entry. Fine, whatever. I still like those fake rocks that everyone knows house keys.

If I go to Home Depot one more time I am going to spray concentrated Green Clean in my eyeballs. Speaking of cleaning, I finally broke down and scheduled someone to come in and clean our condo because I am pretty sure my fingers will fall off if I clean one more toilet (long story but our house wasn’t cleaned when we signed and I couldn’t get anyone in to clean it before we moved in…so we cleaned and I have pretty much hated my life ever since.) Anyway, it took her seven hours. SEVEN! Can you believe CPS didn’t come take my kid away because we were clearly living in squalor. I mean, the place was empty and she spent an entire work day there cleaning; I can’t even spend an entire work day working! Good thing three dudes are moving in who probably could give an f about whether or not the floor area behind the dryer is clean but I am happy about it.

I also order a TV from Amazon based solely on reviews and four pictures – I didn’t even see it in action. I mean, it’s a TV…do I really care if I can see someone’s pores? Notsomuch. After ordering said TV (and having to reprocess the order 400 times because I am an idiot), I realized I accidentally had it sent to our old address. Since we were down to one set of keys (which were in my possession), I lightly suggested to Mr. Swirley that we meet up at his old train stop and stalk the UPS guy. The three of us drove around the neighborhood (side note: Mr. Swirley has become quite the backseat driver as of late…) searching for driver Billy and eventually ended up at the Kam family digs in our “old” Bosworth building. It’s basically impossible for us to actually leave. And yes, the TV eventually showed up.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I will have a lot to report. Or a little, I don’t really know. My plan is to hand my kid off to his cousins upon arrival, leave him there Saturday and avoid picking him until as late as possible on Sunday. I guess that means I am thankful for family who will endure us (help us move/unpack/take our kid) and that I can endure family (namely Ho-Ho). I am also thankful for grass. It’s amazing how much our little patch of grass can instantly change my outlook. I am not thankful for the ceiling fans in every room of the new house – they just really piss me off. Or the challenges posed by repairing plaster walls. But, at least we have walls to repair. Taking everything into account, we are incredibly fortunate people with good friends and family. Still, no one really likes ceiling fans, do they?

Happy Turkey Day!

I am also thankful for the Interwebs and how I can “borrow” and share fun stuff like this,

Is there a How to Hide Your Glaring Lack of Knowledge From Your Friends for Dummies, cause that’s one you should’ve bought.

I am finally coming up for air. Sort of. We moved on Saturday and I am pretty sure everyone who helped us isn’t talking to me anymore. Apparently the straw that broke the group’s back was the emptying of the storage unit on the THIRD van trip whereby a cork bulletin board was produced. A.J. Burke literally called bullsh!t and headed out. Whoops. I used it once and feel bad pitching stuff. Sue me. Then there were the stacks and stacks of boxes labeled “not important”; apparently that is a morale breaker. In my defense, those were labeled in 2008 when we first moved to Chicago and had to decide which boxes had to go to temporary housing vs. storage. Still…

Mrs. and Mr. D unpacked the kitchen and made a lot of repairs. Once they left I stopped unpacking and mourned moving away from Bosworth. I know, I know – grill thief, flower thief, neighbor feuds and other shenanigans aside, I finally felt like I fit in somewhere. It’s pretty much DC all over again…settling down to uproot. This time it’s only three miles, but I am so used to waving hi to folks as they walk their dogs, or watching Ellis run towards freighbors as they make their way home from work. It just felt right and yet we decided to move. Do you have any idea what it takes to maintain a house? Because I don’t and am now absolutely TERRIFIED. I have to put my garbage out on garbage day? Wha…?????

Last night I realized that this is the first time I have lived in a home without constant company since I was a tiny person. From as far back as I can remember, we have always had live-in friends…or almost live in. It started with a home daycare that ran from 7 AM to 5:30 PM. One positive take away is that is I was primed to endure children/adults screaming to the point I can still sleep right through it. Once my mom moved out we had a string of roommates include Dauin (sp?) who slurped his food like no other I have ever witnessed, John K. who got me into the Onion and recently sold out (cough cough) to drive fancy cars or something, and a bunch of others I should remember but don’t because I was a cool high school girl (again, cough cough). Then came college with roommates who clinked their bowls with every spoonful of cereal, spent years sleeping in and tried to convince me that fake meat tastes as good as the real stuff. Post-graduation included a cross country move and another roommate followed up by cohabiting with my usually-better half…all in apartment buildings. While I complained about the constant noises of people living above us, threatened to sue other condo owners in DC and listened to the video gaming, opera/band rehearsals and folks going up and down stairs, I now miss hearing other lives go on around us. It’s just so quiet here. I often imagined our life at home set in a musical where the scene was an architectural section of a building …each family living their lives while simultaneously interconnected with those around them; as an infant, Ellis used to fall asleep to my neighbor Ryan practicing his musical scales. It was somehow perfect.

When I try to communicate this odd sense of loss (I know, we are only three miles away…but in a city, two blocks is different community), people are quick to remind me that we will likely make friends with our new neighbors. While I am sure that is true, I am not anxious to replace my old friends (you know, silver and gold and all of that) and am scared that corner chats will turn to polite waves. I know I am being dramatic here – I am just not one for change…especially when I am happy.

That said, Ellis seems pleased (for the most part…he has been asking for everyone) and Mr. Swirley and I are doing are best to get back to normal (errrr…). How the crap do you hang pictures in plaster without the house crumbling around you? And we warmed up Ellis’ room by stuffing blankets in the window. Classy!

Today I moved all of the downstairs furniture and rugs around (think profuse sweating, straining and swearing…alliteration intended) and unpacked 120000 boxes. Let me suggest that you DO NOT try to drag a 10×14 rug and accompanying pad around your house before rolling it up. If you opt to ignore my advice, at least lift from the knees. Or you can be like my gimpy ass tonight and feel like your legs and back are going to fall off. Mr. Swirley came home and, after looking around the house, told me, “I guess that will do.” Oh, and he thinks the giant rug that I lugged around should go back to it’s original home in the living room. Then I poisoned his dinner. Not really, but I didn’t argue when he offered to go to the condo to clean. I am sure that once I review his cleaning job, I will respond with the same apathetic tone because that is how we do in the dirty Midwest. That’l do.

I wouldn’t go to this toilet with my big sister’s toe.

We still haven’t moved. I know. However, despite my best efforts, I think we landed renters. I told Mr. Swirley that I morph into another person when I show the place. I start to speak very quickly in a high- pitched and tend to bargain with myself. The most awkward showing was last Friday. Ready? Here we go.

Ellis refused to nap which clearly really pissed me off. I opened his door to find this.

If you can’t tell, EK dumped the contents of his bureau on the floor. This is better than the time I opened the door to find him naked from the waist down and stomping in his pee (two weeks ago),but worse than the time he was a total angel and slept for three hours. The latter never happened.

Anyway, I packed him up in a hurry and rushed out the door to neighbor Kosy’s house for fear I was going to yell at him so loudly the neighbors would worry. As we stepped outside, I saw four people standing on our corner just sort of looking around. They creeped me out by talking about Ellis to me in that weird stranger way and just loitered there as we snaked through their group. We walked/ran four houses down, called Kosy and told her we were coming over – like it or not. At precisely the same moment that the group walked up to me, my neighbor opened her door. It quickly became apparent that they were looking to rent our condo and instead of responding like a normal person (i.e., “Come back in an hour”), I threw Ellis at Kosy and showed them in while profusely apologizing for the state of my house.

Imagine your place messy, multiply that by five, throw it in a tornado and add a few dirty diapers. That is a clean day. They walked in to the first bedroom (our room) which is filled with boxes, and started to laugh. That made me feel really good about myself; cue high-pitched, fast-paced voice.  “Umm, we can take the bike holder things down or leave them up, uhhhh, it’s pretty quiet, uhhhhh.” [SHUT UP ANNIE! STOP TALKING! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHY ARE YOU SWEATING? WHY IS YOUR PIE HOLE SO DRY AND WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO SLAP YOUR TONGUE AROUND IN THAT GIANT BLACK HOLE IN A DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION?] To make matters worse, after conversing with each other in Chinese (no doubt admiring our dust bunnies), the main dude asked if the boxes “were all ours” followed up with a big, fat wry grin. My response? Similar to the Qtip incident, I quickly said, “Pshhh, NO! That’s crazy!” I mean, why would all of these boxes in my own house from which I am moving be ours? Why did I feel the need to lie to these strangers? They continued to snicker at whatever they were snickering at (I don’t speak Mandarin) and never called me to follow up. I can’t really blame them as I have been cast in that incredibly sought after role of “crazy cat lady landlord”. Yessss!


Today Ellis and I visited the Farm in the Zoo (because I didn’t know his gymnastics class was cancelled…I never read anything they send me), the recycling plant, a play date with our man, Tate, a painless (!!?!) haircut and Clybourn Park (aka the El Park because its proximity to the El train is pretty much its only redeeming quality).

A man and his ladies.

I’m smelting.
He sort of reminds me of Braveheart in this little montage or whatever you call it.
All in all I am back to liking him. I can’t tell if he feels the same but I am sure a few more Halloween treats will do the trick. Pun wholeheartedly intended.

If you have anything else do say, say it in a high-pitched voice while walking backwards.

A few days ago I texted my friend that I was “excited to spend some alone time with EK” while Mr. Swirley is on a two week business trip. I made it exactly 12 hours before I stuffed those eight words back into into my big, fat mouth. It’s not that I don’t love being with Ellis, I just don’t always like it. I feel semi-guilty about this fact, however, I can pretty much bet that anyone reading this would be 100% annoyed if they woke to a shrill scream circa 4 AM  followed with by demands for ham and puzzles.

 He is bonkers. Examples include:
– EK: I want milk. I WANT MILK!!.
   ME: How do you ask?
   EK: May I please I WANT MILK!
   ME: Here you go.
   EK: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! (throws milk and himself on
   the ground). I WANT WATER! (repeat scene with water)

– EK: (pointing to pictures on door:  MAMA!! Look, Gus.
  ME: Yep.
  EK: Actually mama, it’s Ellis.
  ME: Actually, you are a jerk. (inaudibly muttered)

  (like it’s a shot or something)
  ME: Fine, let’s go.
  EK: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO POTTY. Mommy, sit there. Ellis go to potty. NO POTTY. I don’t like
  this. Treat? Flush? I want diaper. NO NO NO DIAPER MAMA. I WANT MAMA. MAMA!!! NO! I
  want DADA….HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMER. Where is Homie? Meow. NO DIAPER! and I open the next bottle of wine.

He also repeatedly attempted to kick and eight month old in the face while executing a bizarre gymnastics routine.

Nine days left, friends! And I have yet to start cleaning and prepping our house to rent.


I’ve loved you since there was only one Soviet Union and one Damon Wayans.

2010 – Year 1 of Bucky at Will’s Northwoods Inn
2011 – In shock of Bucky’s awesomeness
2012 – Solo mission to see Bucky. EK told me, “Mama, I love Bucky.”

Since EK is an August baby, it seems obvious that the best way to document his annual growth is via Bucky’s late summer annual trip to Chicago. My hope, of course, is that one day he and Bucky will be one in the same…at least for one season.

Clean up on aisle busted.

I am terribly behind in posting banal details about our life. Apologies.

Here is some news, Ellis now only responds to the name, “Charlie”. You can attempt to get his attention by calling, cooing, yelling, etc. “Ellis” and you get nothing. You say, “Charlie!” and he responds immediately. It works at stores AND at home. He also told me he is going to be 16 in August.

We spent July 4 up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. We had a great time except for the fact that Charlie has learned how to escape from his pack and play which means he tried to kill himself pretty much every night. Cabins are a little more difficult to childproof, so we spent one to two hours each night trying to get him to sleep AND bid farewell to naps for the holiday weekend. I suppose it was fitting given it was Independence Day, but let me tell you, we ripped that freedom right out from under his feet the second we returned home.

Our favorite Finnish cousins spent the weekend with us asking millions of questions including: “Why do you live in Chicago?” – “Why is your hair so soft?” – “Is that your bathing suit?”(it’s a tankini and apparently the most foreign thing they had ever seen) – “Why is he crying?” (this was a common one) – “Why won’t he let me hold him?” – “Have you heard of this Britney Spears?” – “How do you change Ellis’ diapers?” Unfortunately they didn’t volunteer to help out with the diaper changing but were continually fascinated with the process. And, they did try to squeeze the ever living life out of him for 72 hours straight…much like Looney Tunes’ Elmyra Duff

It was hilarious. Plus they were incredibly helpful with keeping him occupied.  As with any other event post- August 2010, I neglected to take into account the work involved with transporting and entertaining a child while constantly trying to prevent his demise. I was semi-successful with regard to my duties as a parent; EK got a swift smack in the face with a regulation weight horseshoe. I was worried about the post-shoe release and completely forgot about the windup. Yikes.I felt pretty great about myself after that.
G.U.S. and the rest of the kids basically lived in the pier. I tried to stay away because, as indicated above, I was SURE that something terrible would take place. I never thought I would be one of those moms, but I totally am. So I lived in my bubble of ignorance and freaked out every other minute or so. Everyone survived and I looked like a jackass. What’s new?
Night fishing. I can tell you that life could not get any better for these children that this moment right here. A dirt cake came in a close second, but couldn’t beat this.
This is what happens when you give a kid a smartphone. You are welcome, Lady Jayne.
You know you are up north when…
Cabin reading
Grandpa’s escape vehicle
Twin 1 tries to push twin 2 into lake. Twin 2 retaliates. Uncle Bob laughs.
Safety first.
Johnson ladies!


Cousins and probably some ticks.
Do you ever watch Storage Wars? It’s the best show ever.

Thanks but I’ll have to get a second opinion from someone in my basket weaving class.

A brilliant plan has been hatched in the Swirley household by one Mr. Swirley. It goes something like this.

– Pack everything for our trip “up North”. Like the entire house into our RAV-4, in 12 minutes at 4 AM.
– Mr. Swirley drives to work and loves his life.
Then the fun begins.
– EK and I take the bus to school. I take the bus home and make it to my desk by 8 AM…and hate my life.
–  Fast forward four hours and I am on the Ashland bus again – by this point, probably full of rage.
– Wake EK up from his nap and walk in 1200 degree heat to the Metra.
– Take a double decker (read staircases EVERYWHERE) train 45 minutes with a cranky toddler and get picked up by Mr. Swirley.
– Drive one hour and fifty-nine minutes with EK falling asleep at 1:58.
– Arrive at the Swingens’ door two hours into the trip.
– Play with cousins until Ellis’ eyes fall out. Go to bed.
– Get up early and drive four years to get to the cabin.

This is how I predict things will go:
– Pack the entire house minus the essentials in 20 minutes.
– Mr. Swirley takes the train to work.
– EK and I drive to school and back
– I pack the car so no one can see out any window and passengers must use their body as leverage to open and/or close any door.
– We drive, like the civilized middle class family that we are, to pick up Mr. Swirley.
– Mr. Swirley sucks it up and take two hours off of work instead of getting to work at 4 AM.
and the rest of the night will go on as laid out above.

Will I criticize Mr. Swirley’s plan to his face? No. I have agreed to this hair brained scheme. BUT, I did lay a little egg of doubt in his baby head when I inquired about the status of food left in a cooler in the car (on blacktop) for 12 hours. Passive aggressive much? Or merely rational? I know, it’s rare I am the rational half of our little duo, but this just may meet my quota of one decision per year.

With all that being said, I am really pumped for the holiday weekend. Happy America day!

You know what Mr. Bag? I will have a nice day. I’m gonna hang you in my kitchen and fill you with other bags. You will eat your family.

Ellis is currently taking a nap. I should be happy because:
1. He is actually sleeping. In his bed.
2. I have been mad at him all morning for getting up so early.
    2. a. This is pretty unfair of me because he is a child AND because I went to bed at 6:30 PM last night. No lie.
But I am unhappy because he will be up in 15 minutes (11:45 AM) and it’s 12,000 degrees outside so we are stuck messing around inside all day. We have six hours to fill until Papi comes home and I pretend like he hasn’t worked for 12 hours..and hand off Ellis. Stellar attitude, I know.

Today, we went to a coffeeshop and hung out for an hour. It was awesome. I haven’t visited Filter since Ellis started walking because I was scared he would go on a rampage and break 22 hipsters’ Macs. However, not only is the owner really friendly, but the place cool with kids wreaking havoc. Plus, he and his family are neighbors. So while Ellis bothered a girl studying to be a Physicians Assistant (at one point he had her reading him an Arthur book), we talked about neighborhood shenanigans that I don’t want to repeat here and our upcoming bombass block party.

EK looking like how I feel. And are those eyebrows growing right before our eyeballs?

Guess who is awake. Told you.

p.s. Today I got a new (to me) office chair off the back of a truck. Literally off the back of a pickup truck. For free. My legs are itching a little, but I am trying to ignore the possibility that I might have welcomed someone/thing terrible into my home.

UPDATE: We got out to the pool and ice cream shop today – lost a billion calories walking but it was worth it. Especially because it was the only way I could keep EK in a diaper/pants. In an effort to fulfill every toddler boy cliche,  his two new favorite things are telling me no and stripping down to his birthday suit.