Thursday, June 28, 2012

Old emails

I decided to add all my old family emails so that they're all documented here on my blog.  So, you can ignore these--it's more for my own reference.

I've been meaning to start doing family letters for about 6 months, and every time Whitney sends one it reminds me that I still haven't done it!  Sometimes I can't think of anything interesting we're doing so I'm not sure what I would write about anyway...

However, it's been a busy, busy fall.  We miss Grandma Ludlow and Nana (Grandma Fiebiger), who were only 29 days apart and passed away within a couple weeks of each other.  I think our bosses thought we were lying when we took off work so close to each other for two grandma's funerals.  It was nice to be with so much family and know that both amazing ladies are back with their sweethearts and relieved from so much physical pain they had been experiencing.  Our only regret is that we never got to have Alexa meet Nana before she passed.  We were planning on going down in October to visit.  I wish we had a picture of Alexa with her sweet Nana.  It was a really neat experience for us to be with Grandma Ludlow over these past 2 1/2 years, and especially to see her face light up with Alexa.  She would be completely unresponsive, not want to eat, not open her eyes all day, etc. and then I would bring Alexa up and she would just glow.  Her eyes would open right up when she heard Alexa coo, and I would lay in bed with Grandma and put Alexa in between us.  Grandma would reach out and stroke Alexa's head and smile, and Alexa would suck on her fingers and make her smile.  It was really tender, and I'm so glad that our sweet little girl was able to bring a little bit of happiness into those final weeks of Grandma's life.  It's been quite the roller coaster, and we learned a lot and treasured our time being there with her.

Another big change is that we bought a house the last week of September.  We love it, and are already doing lots of fun projects.  Kyle learned how to winterize a swamp cooler last Saturday, we started painting, and we have spent many hours and bucko bucks at Lowe's.  Our room is now "Spa" light blue, Alexa's is "blackberry jam" deep purple, and Craig's is "barefoot beach" tan. We literally bought like 18 cans of paint, so we now have only 14 to go....the living room will soon be "guacamole" green, the kitchen will be "calypso berry" red, downstairs bath will be "abracadabra" grey, etc. etc.  It's a cute little 1600 sq ft duplex in Orem.  You walk into a living room on the main floor, and then upstairs there are two bedrooms (us and Alexa), a bathroom, and the kitchen and dining room.  There's a family room / study, another bedroom and bathroom (Craig's), and patio access to the yard downstairs.  We have a tiny little fenced in yard -- just the right size to play in, run around, and get Kyle a puppy, but not too much to take care of.  The lady who lived here before us had a tiny, needy-for-attention dog, who left some beautiful presents on the carpet before she left.  She says that she wasn't giving him enough attention while she was packing, and so he showed her what he thought of that. What we don't understand is why she didn't put the dog outside in the enclosed backyard while she was packing. Anyways, she hired a carpet cleaner to come in after she left, but needless to say we have an ugly stained carpet.  So, new carpet has been moved up on the to-do list from a maybe in a year or so project to a within the next few weeks project.  We've already ordered it and had the rooms measured, but will probably wait to have it put in until we get back from Indiana.  I'm excited because we found a great deal on the snap-lock fake wood flooring, so we'll put that in the hallways, kitchen, dining room, and living room.  It is beyond me why some people choose to put light tan carpet (or white shag in our last place) in a dining room??  It gets so unbelievably gross and stained.  I can only imagine the fun that Alexa would have had with that carpet under her high chair, and the countless hours I would have to spend cleaning it!  So wood floor it is!  Anyway, expect pictures soon.  Our goal is to finish up the flooring and painting, as well as new light fixtures, before the Swingle clan comes for Christmas.

Some people in my family may not even know that Kyle's brother, Craig, is living with us.  I apologize that I'm really bad at calling, but hopefully I can get this email thing down and send more regular updates!  Anyway, Craig is 18 and he moved in with us the first week of June, right after he graduated from high school.  He's working full-time, and saving up for a mission next summer.  He is great to help with Alexa, make macaroni and cheese for dinner, and give us rides around town when one of us has the car at work.  The whole house now works at Shelf Reliance doing completely different things.  I'm still in Accounting / HR, Kyle is in the Warehouse doing Inventory Control, and Craig is in the food production area doing canning and such.  Kyle is now working the morning shift as of last week, so he goes in at 6am, I work from home in the morning, and then we swap the car and baby in the parking lot at 2pm when I go into the office.  It's been nice to have evenings together again, and Kyle is so good with Alexa in the afternoons.  It's fun for them to have some daddy-daughter bonding time.

Kyle was put into a BYU Bishopric back in June, so we are having fun with lots of student activities and learning lots from his great bishop and mentor, Keith Longmore.  We knew that he would be a good guy when we learned that his name was Keith, right Sweenys?

We're excited to go to Indiana on Thursday and see everyone!  I'm also really excited for everyone to meet Lexi.  We're completely unbiased in saying that she is the world's cutest baby!  She's so stinking happy and smiley.  You just look at her and she gives you a huge toothless grin and shrieks with joy.  Yep, she's adorable.  Can't believe she'll be 6 months old next week.  She now thinks that real food, especially bananas, are God's gift to babies.  She will eat your hand off if you are holding a banana and don't share it with her.  She pretty much eats anything, and tries to dive out of her chair or swing to get to nearby food.  She's very curious and wants to be involved in everything happening around her. The other night Kyle made rice bowls for dinner and  I put some rice in Kyle's bowl once he was finished eating to feed to Alexa. Now Kyle likes this spicy chili sauce when he makes rice bowls... I didn't realize that it still had some hot sauce in it, and that poor girl went crazy.  She turned sooo red/purple!  We tried to put anything else in her mouth but she would have none of it.  You could tell her little tongue was on fire.

Kyle will ditch independent study and start up with full-time classes again in January.  Lots to do and never enough time to do it!  Love all of you lots.  Write back and let me know what you're up to!

Kyle, Jenny and Alexa

Hello again!  What a busy two months it has been.  

We had a fantastic time visiting Indiana in November, and wish that it was closer and we saw everyone more often.  It was great to have some one-on-one time with each of my siblings and their kids, and to finally meet baby Roan!   We were glad that we were able to plan it to come out at the same time as Ben and Maria.  We got to stay with Brendan and Whitney for the first few days, and loved playing with those cute kids and seeing their beautiful new home.  Chase, Jeffrey, and Carra were all really great with Alexa and loved getting her to laugh and smile.  The girls had a fun day of shopping at the outlets and lunch--we'll have to make it an annual tradition.  I was lucky enough to get the stomach flu the day before Thanksgiving, but I was grateful to be off of work and have Kyle and Mom there to take care of Alexa while I crawled into a corner of the basement.  While everyone ate Thanksgiving dinner, I used some of Mom's scrap fabric and made our family stockings!

We have loved having so much of the Swingle family around for Todd's wedding last week, and are missing all of Kyle's siblings, nieces and nephews, parents, cousins, and aunts and uncles who have been staying with us or visiting over the holidays.  It was especially great to be able to see Kyle's grandparents from Arizona--it was a lot of work for them to make it up here, and we were so glad to be able to visit with them.  Again, wish we were closer to Kyle's parents and siblings so we could eat more good food, laugh, and play more together during the year.

Kyle starts a new semester tomorrow, and will be taking Drafting, Materials, Dynamics, and Math for Engineers.  Sounds like fun, huh? He will continue going in early to work each morning for a few hours before class.  The BYU Bishopric is keeping him very busy with the start of a new semester and new move-ins.

My (Jenny's) job has changed a little again.  I will now be working for and reporting directly to the two owners of Shelf Reliance.  I will continue to work some in Human Resources until our new Director gets a hold on things, but have already passed on my Accounting responsibilities to someone else so that I can help the owners with some projects right away.  It will definitely be a new side of the company, so I'm excited but do have mixed feelings.  I really enjoyed working with our CFO, have started some big projects that will be hard to pass on, and will miss having daily contact with all of the employees in the company by working so much in HR.  It will come with a raise and new projects though, so it will be great I'm sure.  Both of the owners are great to work with, and they are being very generous and flexible to let me work so much from home and adjust my hours around Kyle's class schedule.  I continue to teach Sunday School (temple and marriage prep) at the BYU Ward we are attending.  The start of the semester is kind of quiet because no one is engaged yet.  I had one student in my class today compared to 15 before the break. 

Alexa is growing fast and is still the cutest, happiest little girl ever.  She now has a cute, two-toothed grin.  She got her first tooth the week before Christmas, and then her second came two weeks later (the two bottom middle).  She loved playing with her cousin Olivia from Wisconsin, who is only 3 months older.  They were great to sit next to each other and share toys, babble, etc.  They wore matching, fancy dresses and headbands for the wedding, which was obviously adorable.  She is close to crawling, but for now just continues rolling all over the place and scoots her way to anything that she can get her mouth and hands on.

It was wonderful to go pick out a tree and decorate for Christmas in our own home this year.  We wanted to support the local tree farmers, but their live Christmas trees were $50 more than Lowe's!  Ouch.  Kyle once again went above and beyond for Christmas and got me a Bowflex home gym so that I can work out from home before Alexa wakes up in the morning, painting lessons with a local artist--which I thought was so creative and awesome, and a beautiful hand-painted canvas of the San Diego temple where we were married.  I got him a big tool chest that he wanted, a Dremel saw (thank you Lowe's Black Friday sales), some seasons of Psych, and my personal favorite--a hoard of Bill Cosby CDs.  Alexa got a savings bond, a savings account for college, and a door jumper so she can get out all her wiggles and stay in the same place--which works great for both of us while I'm showering, cooking, etc.  As expected, she loved the lights on the tree, the wrapping paper, and a nativity that she can throw around and chew on.

The house is really coming along and I love it!  We, or actually really just Kyle, has finished the wood flooring in the kitchen, dining room, hallways, and living room.  We replaced the carpet in the 3 bedrooms and family room downstairs, have done lots of painting, and replaced some light fixtures, etc.  I love, love, love it.  Well, on that note, enjoy the attached pictures and keep in touch!  

Kyle, Jenny & Alexa

Happy day after Valentine's Day everyone!  February started off great for our family with a quick weekend trip to DC.  A friend had a flight voucher that she generously gave me before it expired the first week of February, so we took the chance to visit my brother Ben and tour the sights.  I went to DC about 15 (?) years ago, but Kyle had never been.  We spent Friday going to museums and such - National Archives, Natural History, American History, and Air and Space.  On Saturday we saw lots of great memorials, including Arlington Cemetery (tomb of the unknown solider and Kennedy's grave), Iwo Jima, Jefferson, Lincoln.  I was really impressed by the powerful religious quotes etched in at both the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials.  We also hit up the National Gallery of Art on Saturday and drove past the White House, Capitol, new MLK Memorial.  We ran over to the DC Temple on Sunday before heading to the airport to fly home.   Alexa stayed on Utah time, so she slept in until about 10 every day, which made for a great vacation!  We had LOTs of fun staying with Ben and seeing the sights.  

Alexa had her 9-month appointment on Monday and she is growing big!  She got her toe pricked and squeezed for a hemoglobin test, and didn't even blink.  Just smiled right up at the nurse.  I was blown away.  However, she was relentless about trying to get the bandaid off afterwards!  She still army crawls and rolls her way around the room, only doing "actual" crawling for a little while before she decides that she likes her belly better.  She will often get up into crawling position and just hang out there for 10 minutes, sometimes even pushing herself up so her knees are off the floor and she has her butt straight in the air.  Crazy girl.

Kyle is loving his classes this semester, especially drafting/AutoCAD, and he is doing really well.  He took lots of pictures in DC for some Humanities research papers that he has to write in the next couple of months.  He is on an intramural basketball team with some friends from high school, and scored his record-high number of points last night.  Kyle and I are currently addicted to Psych, and wish there was more time in the day to be lazy and watch it!  We got the first four seasons for Christmas, and are slowly laughing our way through them.

I've made a goal to read at least one book a month for fun, and I'm loving it.  It's been way to long since I've done that, and I have a big stack from Kyle's mom that have been staring at me for months.  I started out with The Secret Life of Bees, then The Girl with a Pearl Earring, and just finished The Help this week.  It's been nice to leave the mindset of work and things to do at home and just enjoy reading a good book here and there.

This has been a pathetic winter, although it's nice that I haven't had to shovel a single time.  We got a lot of snow Sunday morning, but by the afternoon it turned to rain and melted all the snow.  Anyway, we love you guys and hope you have a great week!

Kyle, Jenny and Alexa

p.s. you should write back because I'm awful at calling to stay in touch!

DC Temple

I've decided that some day maybe I will start a blog and just email you all when I update it...but today is not that day.  Mom and dad commented tonight that whenever they call I seem to be on my way somewhere, so I guess that sums up a busy month.  We have been doing lots of running around.  It was great to see the Swingle side of the family in Monticello for Jason's mission farewell -- so nice to have a weekend with family!  I was really impressed by Jason's great talk.  Alexa loved having a house full of people to play with her.  

On that note, it was GREAT to have mom out visiting in the end of February / beginning of March to play with Alexa, too!  It always goes too fast, and this trip was no exception.  She brought us some fun things from Thailand, and I especially love Alexa's Thai elephant dress :).  We enjoyed every minute with her visiting and playing games.

Shelf Reliance has their big annual convention coming up in a  couple weeks, so work is busy for Kyle, Craig and I.  It's perfect timing because we leave just a few days after the convention for Israel, which is also coming faster than we have time to prepare for.  

Kyle and his brothers did a boys night (plus Alexa!) and sent Melissa and I out to a movie last weekend.  We chose This Means War, which was absolutely hilarious.  It's funny for guys and girls alike.  We've also been having a monthly dinner with Todd & Melissa, so it's nice to see them and hang out while we're living close to each other.  Tonight we had a delicious BBQ and watched Hunchback of Notre Dame with them.  I completely forgot most of that movie to be honest--it's been a long time since I've seen it.

A couple days after I wrote last month's note, Alexa decided that she was done with army crawling and has been getting across the room with ease ever since.  Immediately upon crawling, she conquered stairs, pulling herself up to things, and getting into trash cans and toilet paper rolls, etc.  She's LOTs of fun!  We've discovered that she loves puppies, chimichangas, standing up, and wrestling with other kids her age.  I will never get sick of her adorably contagious smile.  We love her!!
Craig is getting ready for his mission with visits to the doctor and dentists last week and this coming week as well.  We're excited to find out when and where he goes!

I think that pretty much sums up the last few weeks.  Oh, and I can hear Kyle throwing up and groaning in the bathroom right now, so I better go take care of the poor sicko :(.  I think he ate something that didn't settle well.  Love you all!

Kyle, Jenny and Alexa

I love that the park right next door has a baby swing!

With Marmie and Grandpa Swingle at Jason Andrews' farewell in Monticello

Kyle's favorite PJ's on her

She LOVES puppies!


One of our really good friends is having a baby in July, and she loves penguins, so I decided to make her little guy a penguin towel. It was super easy and turned out really cute.  Alexa was my model after I finished it:

I also made Alexa a quiet book for church out of scrap fabric lying around, some velcro, puffy paint, and magnets of course:

velcro snowman

mail the little hearts and take out sparkly coins (painted with sparkle nail polish) from the pot of gold)

Easter eggs and button flowers (you can button them on and off)

magnetic fish and a velcro flag

catch the butterflies and pick the apples and put them in the basket

velcro pumpkin face and turkey feathers

velcro tree

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June update

We got tickets to the Parade of Homes from our realtor a couple weeks ago, and had lots of fun looking at cool houses in the area.  Kyle used to go to POH as a kid and has always loved it.  Imagine that, a wanna-be-architect loving Parade of Homes?
This was our favorite!  Ironically, not in the parade,
but next door to one of the Parade Houses
One of the houses had a slide from upstairs
down to the first floor behind the garage and kitchen :)
We had a GREAT time in California last week visiting family.  Sara and Emily (plus spouses and kids) flew out for Craig to go through the temple on Friday.  We drove out Wednesday night after work with Todd & Melissa and came back Sunday.  It was really special to have the whole family there at the temple.  Alexa did really well in the car considering that she was strapped down for ten hours, although she didn't go to sleep on Wednesday until 2am!!! Crazy baby.  On the way back, she was fighting a nap until sweet Uncle Todd starting singing to her with "Mr. and Mrs. Oats" the granola bars, which he had dancing on her feet.  It was hilarious, and it totally put her to sleep!  Go Todd.  We went to Knottsberry Farms on Thursday, which was lots of fun.  I had never been there, and I love that it still had tons of fun stuff to do at a fraction of the normal amusement park price!  Alexa even got to ride a couple of rides.

I talked to Grandma Sweeny and she said that they used to go to Knottsberry Farms all the time when they lived in CA.  She says she loves their chicken dinners and it's too bad I didn't get one while I was there.
Swimming at Grandpa & Marmie's

Craig chose Chewy's to celebrate

Alexa was the only girl at the RISK table

Fun new game we tried out with the Haskins and Richy--6 Word Memoirs
Alexa made me laugh really hard yesterday--I caught her trying to hide her stuffed animals under the vents in our rooms!  She would lift them up off the floor and try to shove puppies, etc. underneath and put the cover back.

One more quick story--I can tell that I was tired from our drive because on Monday morning I was making her a bottle and was trying to screw the bottle nipple on top of the milk jug.  I kept wondering why it wouldn't catch and it kept going around and around without tightening?!!  Oh, because I'm an idiot, that's why.

I'll end this post with some pictures of the cutsie baby girl.

ahh!  her feet after walking around at church last sunday!  gross!!!
she won't keep shoes on, but we're going to need to enforce that.

she totally prefers eating watermelon off the rind just like grandpa ludlow

LICKING her tray to get all the watermelon juice up!  Haha

Walking with daddy

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What we've been up to...

I'm going to try and do more regular (*shorter) posts so that it doesn't take hours to read our blog!  Some funny Alexa stories in the last week or so...

1) I was sitting in our kitchen eating breakfast while Alexa was crawling around and getting into things as usual. She likes to climb into our pantry and bang on our 5 gallon buckets filled with rice and flour, but this time she also thought it would be fun to open and close the accordion pantry doors repeatedly...until she closed them on herself and couldn't get them open again!  Come to find out that she had closed them and then knocked over the 10 lb bag of potatoes in there so that the door was jammed shut.  She was quite traumatized by the whole thing, I laughed because I saw the whole thing and thought it was so funny how she had accidentally trapped herself in, and then she happily went on her merry way to go grab some of her books of the bookshelf in her room.

I'll take a quick story break to post cute pictures of Kyle and Alexa swinging at the playground next door!

2) I was reading a parenting article on my laptop in Alexa's room about childproofing your house while she played next to me.  I was going through the checklist to make sure we were safe and sound, and literally while I was reading this article and feeling good about everything we had done in the house to protect the wee one, she opened her dresser drawer to pull all her clothes out (a favorite pastime) and then closed the drawer on her fingers and started crying!  The irony...

3) We have an amazing community season pass thing that gets us into tons of free stuff for a year, including a fun park (w/ mini golf, batting cages, go carts, etc.), a big water park, local sporting events (basketball, pro soccer, baseball and volleyball), skiing, ice skating, etc. for $29!!  We love it!  Anyway, I took Alexa to the water park this week because she loves swimming, and she hated it the first time!! However, I think it was due to lack of sleep, because she did much, much better the second time.

Alexa: I don't like this....
Dawson: I'm so happy with my cool hat on!

Look at that fat lip!
Feed me!

All was well when she hired Dawson as her personal slave to feed her yogurt bites.

using our pass to go mini golfing!

Dad didn't realize that she was trying to eat the golf ball while he posed!