Some flies are too awesome for the wall.

If my computer moves any slower I am going to punch it square in the screen. Good G-d, you would think I am trying to back up ten million gigs of data while removing programs, running ITunes and penning a blog entry. Shut your hole.

I don’t know if you heard about it, but members of NATO are meeting in Chicago and according to every news outlet in existance, the city might be wiped off the face of the planet. If that happens, I take back being mad at Ellis for possibly misplacing my tiny external hard drive that contains our ENTIRE music collection. I would also like to take back actually storing all of our music on a tiny hard drive that a toddler can so easily hide.

Oh, so this week’s misspending adventure- $XXX on daycare services that went unused. I am not sure if that really counts as the “getting locked out, losing the car keys, buying a security camera that costs as much as the grill you are guarding” type of situation, but it’s still spending money on “services” not utilized. Why is EK not at daycare, you ask? Because he is one giant scab. Seriously. It is probably the most pathetic thing I have seen in a while (yes, I know children are starving, puppies are drowning, etc. etc.) I would post a picture of EK vs hand, foot mouth round 2 – but it might make you cry (unless you are empty inside). We have spent the past few days consuming a diet comprised solely of ice cream/Popsicles whilst whimpering, snuggling and pretending to work (I am speaking for all three of us). And of course, we have also sequestered ourselves to the house for fear of turning every kid in Chicago into a crusty, drooling babe. It’s great. Has your kid ever told you “mama, I sad?” or “mama, mouth hurt”? If they have, you know it is pretty much the worst thing you can hear next to, ” Mom, I don’t know why my answers on my 12th grade math test look like my boyfriend’s handwriting” (cough cough). So instead of grossing you out, I will instead let you judge me on being an excellent parent by melting my son’s brain on day three of lock down (i.e., allowing him to watching Sesame Street ALL DAY LONG.) I am pretty sure his eyeballs fell out since he stopped blinking around 10 AM.

I think it is fair to say Mr. Swirley is the better parent of the two of us. And I am OK with that fact.

Luckily for everyone involved, EK was healthy this past weekend while he hung out with the Ds and we spent time with family in LA. It was the first trip since last summer that Mr. Swirley and I ditched our child and although quick (and sadly, for the purpose of saying farewell to a beloved family member), it was beyond a blessing to spend some time with family…and participate in/bear witness to conversations like the ones below.

Here is a video of me getting in trouble but I can’t tell you why.

ABCs from the sweetest Italian cousins ever! 

How many Earleys does it take to fill a bathtub? And more importantly, how often did they bathe? Really.

Facts learned/reinforced while in CA:

1. Santa doesn’t exist (whispered to me by a little pixie of a girl who shares Ellis’ name)
2. Public bathrooms are so out in LA. Having to go to the bathroom while in a public place is so in  for me.
3. My family is the best. Insane, but the best. It is actually pretty amazing how eight siblings can differ so much in terms personality yet remain incredibly loyal to one another and their respective families. Touching, actually. So many (crazy) stories that never seem to get old (e.g., tying each other to trees + firecrackers, beans up noses, driving cars from the passenger side seat, etc. etc.), and enough rolled eyes to power a small town.
3.a I need to be more active in maintaining relationships with said family members…a confusing game of dice and talking until late at night (well – 11 is late for us) is much more fulfilling than “liking” a status or a quick email.
3.b. Annual visits to Cali are in the works. Suckers.
4. My uncle Rich is rock-solid. The rest of his family isn’t too shabby either.
5. I am so very grateful to be a part of all of this.

Ms.  Shierra. I drove her crazy the entire weekend.
Uncle Pat, Aunt Donna and Uncle Henry
The entertainment.
Cooking cousins is way better (and more socially acceptable) than kissing cousins.
Hardy hargh hargh. And Dad’s sorta, kinda twin.
Cousins, uncles and “special friends”
Trouble with a capital “T” and they’re minus three.

And three more Earleys will be added to the mix when they move from Italy to LA next month. I would send prayers their way, but I have a feeling they will do just fine.

Credit Approved!

Would you open a new credit card account just so you could design the card?

I almost did. Then I realized that would be a little much, even for me.




Guys! Last night we totally went to the 10 PM showing of the Hunger Games and loved it…if only because Tommy D came to Chicago for the sole purpose of hanging out with EK for FREE.Had we hired a babysitter, I would have initiated my mental ticker  to track the zillions of dollars spent on babysitting while we were drinking an overpriced Miller Light and watching a teen movie. And just so you know, we weren’t the oldest people in line and I sported a Katniss braid.

Tommy D volunteered to take Ellis to the zoo this AM and I did what any responsible parent would do sans kid – sleep.


In case you decide to visit in the near future, know that Ellis has a few favorite songs and if you diverge from the pre-approved list, you are on your own.


Songs OK’d by the boss:

Baa Baa Black Sheep – lyrics to remember: 1 for my dada, 1 for Willie, 1 for Homie (our cats).
Wheels on the Bus – People on the bus go up and down – OVER AND OVER

And we also enjoy counting. It often goes a little something like this:
1, 2, 3, 8, 5, PILLOW!

Tomorrow I can buy IL lottery tickets online! Saweet. Way to lead the nation IL – I know you are ALWAYS looking out for our best interests.

Just a worm

Based on reading my blog, you might think the only movie I have ever watched is Overboard. FALSE! I have memorized numerous movie scripts including Labyrinth and (most of) The Princess Bride, fell in love with Christian Slater after watching Pump Up the Volume (did I procure a life-size cardboard cut out of him? yes, indeed I did) and who can forget Men at Work and Jumpin’ Jack Flash? Today I had a little real-life taste of the garbage lady from Labyrinth. Remember her? She carried all of her memories on her back?

So accurate.

Well, Ho-Ho is slipping closer and closer to making this a reality. This afternoon she handed me a bag containing a Nordstrom catalog (requested items marked) and a shabby stuffed animal that EK loves to snuggle when he visits “Grandma Bubbles”. According to her, someone ripped the head off of the poor beast and she begrudgingly sewed it back on. Since then, she has been carrying it around in a plastic bag (along  with her corkscrew, curlers, perfume, make-up, jewelry, etc. etc.) because she doesn’t want anyone to steal her stuff. This means she is lugging four bags plus her cane/umbrella and/or her walker and a 20 lb velvet jacket around Oak Park. Dear Lord.

Our goals today were to get her bangs cut, buy a new coffee pot and have lunch. I have to say we were wildly successful in meeting all goals, albeit very very slllooowwwly. On one hand I have Ellis dismantling anything and everything as quickly as possible. And on the other, we have Arden moving slower than the Grandma shuffle and pointing out everything she would like me to purchase. It was pretty awesome in an incredibly frustrating way.

Side note – before she went in for her haircut she informed me she was going to give the stylist a .50 tip. Well aren’t we generous? I recommended 20% but am not sure how things panned out for the stylist. I find it easier to give her my credit card and meet her outside – that way I avoid weird conversations with Ho-Ho or clerks/stylists, etc. that are trying to decipher her random statements (e.g., Hi! MY NAME IS ARDEN HOWLAND AND I WOULD LIKE A HAIRCUT! SOMEONE STOLE YOUR CARD FROM MY WALLET!WHERE IS THE BATHROOM?HAVE YOU SEEN MY GLASSES? DO YOU KNOW WHERE I CAN BUY THIS BUTTON?)

Since I can’t talk about one parent without mentioning the other, Tommy D just called and requested that I call a gas station on I-90 (near a town that he thought was called Whatever, IL) to see if the clerk could run out into the rain and look for his bridge that might have fallen out of the car (front four teeth). Seriously.

And it wouldn’t be fair to mock these two without pointing out that I too am fairly ridiculous. Like how on Wednesday I dripped hot cheese on my chest and gave myself a “deep second degree burn” (according to my MD). Good news is that it didn’t hurt much since I instantly singed all nerves in the affected area. Bad news is that it will take a few weeks to heal and I can’t let the sun touch it for, oh, ever. I asked a doctor friend what I should do and she replied, “stop dripping cheese on your chest.” 

An hour later we got a PDF summary of our taxes showing we owed 2K. So there you go. Good thing Ellis has been so fun the past few days – I don’t know if it’s the weather or a new phase but I will take it!

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.

Dad, are you and Uncle Billy really gonna open a miniature golf course?

The Lollapalooza line-up was released today and let me tell you, I am a little disappointed. Well, for $90 per ticket I am a lot disappointed. What does that have to do with my day? Absolutely nothing. Another non-sequitur? Mr. Swirley just pulled a totally frozen bottle of milk out of the freezer. Not in a bag. In a bottle. Excellent.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. We spent Memorial Day weekend in Madison where Mr. Swirley, Pughbert and Susie Q ran a half-marathon in record time, spicy cheese bread was consumed on the square, we picnicked on Kathy’s back porch, celebrated the last few days of Ms. Kaiksow’s bachelorhood and I ruined our new car. Let’s just say the early bit of the weekend involved a trip on the Beltline, an adult entertainment store, an exchange of cash (including two $1 coins), a conversation in broken Spanish and a disbelieving husband. Then we went to the Plaza.

New Union South and some fancy leg work.
Ahh. Home sweet home. Er, I mean the Plaza.

Kids’ table at Kathy’s. Clearly the place to be.
Hippies in Madison? On the Capitol Square?  Weird.

After the race EK hung out with his gramps and Mr. Swirley and I rested. I know Mr. Swirley ran a race and all, but I had to run just to make sure I met up with him to take a few pictures. Can you imagine? And I didn’t even train. I would post said pictures but blogger sucks. Here are some pictures from Tommy D.

EK seemed to enjoy his time at the Children’s Museum with gramps which is a good thing since we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to convince him to nap so we could go to bed. Aren’t we good parents? You know you would do the same.

I recently found the script for Overboard online. Call me if you want in.