Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 2014 - Nebraska, Honduras, and Mexico

Kyle left me alone again in September and drove the kids to Nebraska.  When I told Alexa she was going to drive to Nebraska with Uncle Todd tomorrow, she turned to Kyle and said, “Daddy, guess what?!  We’re going to drive to Indiana tomorrow!  For Christmas!!!”  I am either a horrible communicator or she’s a 3-year old...  I wasn’t able to take time off of work, so I was really, really glad that Kyle had Todd there to drive with him.  Especially since it turned into a 17-hour one-way drive (including stops), so that would have been especially difficult to do alone with the kids.  Sweet Aden was baptized and I’m so glad that so much family was able to be there.  I really wish that I could have been there with everyone.  It was really great for Kyle to be with his sisters.  He misses them a lot, and I know a highlight of the trip was being able to stay up late and talk to them about life.  Like in Indiana, the kids loved playing with cousins and I wish we had some closer!

Craig drove home with Kyle and Todd and moved back into his old room at our house.  He started work at Thrive the next day and I’m hoping it will be a great fit.  We’re glad to have him back and the kids are loving having an uncle in the house.  Tyler often goes to the top of the stairs and yells “Caaaiiiggg!!” until Craig responds from his room with “yes, Tyler?”  And then Tyler smiles and runs off to play again.  It’s pretty adorable.

Some random photos of their cuteness...

Alexa: "Mommy, I was cold so I cuddled
with Daddy and now I feel all better."

And her favorite hair request--an Elsa braid.
Before and after playing in the neighbor's sprinklers--

Matching pedicures with Granny--

The boys at our weekly lunch on Wednesdays.

We can’t seem to stay at home.  We had California for two weeks, Indiana the next week, Nebraska two weeks later, and then a cruise the week after that.  The only things we actually planned on were a few days in California when Craig came home and then the cruise a month and a half later, but everything else filled in the cracks and it feels like we haven’t been home in a long time.  And I haven’t had enough time with the kids!  I miss them!

I’m writing this as we fly home from our wonderful cruise and I must say that we will have to do that again.  Maybe for every 5th anniversary.  Or sooner if we can justify it.  We took a 5-day cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale that stopped in Roatan, Honduras and Cozumel, Mexico.  We enjoyed the wonderful food, incredible staff, other people doing our dishes and laundry, the sunshine, and most especially the time we got to spend together.  We were thrilled to have Jonny and Michelle on the cruise with us, and we’ve decided that next time we need to have all of the Swingles and Sweenys on board.  I was impressed at the diversity on the ship, and I was reminded of how much I love being surrounded by different ethnicities and cultures.  Of the 800-person crew, only 25 were from the U.S.  Our waiters were sweet men from India who argued about whose mother was a better cook, and they even brought us a special Indian meal one night because we had bonded with them.

While on the boat, we sat in the sun, stuffed our bellies, and played a lot of cards with Jonny and Michelle.  In Roatan, we took a taxi to the white, sandy beach and walked around the local village on foot.  We tried iguana—delicious!—and met some neat people.  I was glad to be able to use my Spanish, and also surprised by the British and African influence there on the island.  Our taxi driver said that he drives the car on Wednesdays and Thursdays when cruise ships are there, but the rest of the week he hunts for armadillo and iguana with his dog to sell to local restaurants.

Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
Walking through Roatan
In Cozumel, we took a morning excursion to some Mayan ruins that were mostly destroyed by dynamite in the early 1900’s.  It was interesting, but we kind of regret taking that excursion to see blown up ruins and wish that we had instead rented scooters for the day to drive around the island and go to the beach.  However, our afternoon excursion was amazing!  A friend recommended that we do the “mini submarines” through the reef and I’m so glad we did.  The two of us dove in these mini subs that feed oxygen into a bubble for you to breathe.  It’s basic physics, but it still blew my mind because there’s absolutely nothing blocking your head from the water.  The water just doesn’t come in because of the bubble—like putting a cup upside down and under water in the bath tub.  Crazy.  Anyway, it was just Kyle and I and then two scuba divers who helped find incredible things for us to hold and who took pictures.

View of Cozumel Port from the ship

Standing on corral at the beach on the North side of Cozumel island

 Our mini sub adventure:

A ginormous thank you to Mom and Dad for watching the kids (and Craig for watching Roxy :) while we were gone.  Couldn't have gone without all of your help!!

Oh, and a random thing that I finally finished this month was a photo family history book to teach our kids about the Sweenys and Ludlows.  It goes back four generations and was a lot of fun to learn about our family and sort through photos.  Here's the link.

We welcomed sweet baby Dean at the end of the month!  Now every baby we see is "baby Dean!!" according to Tyler.  He was a whopping 10 pounds 6 ounces--Melissa is amazing for pushing that boy out!


To close this post, I just wanted to say how much I love Kyle.  He has been such a support and comfort lately, and it’s been really nice to have some alone time with him this week.  He is wonderful, which I’m sure all of you already know.  Continuing on that thought, we were watching a TV show last week that we both like but that has kind of gone downhill the last couple of episodes much to our despair.   It left me with a bad feeling the last time we watched it.  An hour after we watched that episode we were getting ready for bed and Kyle said that he thought we should stop watching the show.  I felt such peace and gratitude that we both received that prompting and then acted on it.  Together.  I love that man and the fact that he is worthy and inspired.  The end.

August 2014 - Craig's homecoming, Ben's funeral, Alexa starts overall exhausting month

Craig came home from his mission!  Kyle went out to California a week early to help with some projects around the house, mainly redoing the kitchen cabinets.  He bravely drove out alone with the kids and they all miraculously survived.  Tyler had a hard time being away from mom for a week.  I thought Face Time would be a great idea, but it just made him cry.  A lot.  He didn’t understand why he could see me but I wasn’t there.  So he just kept crying.  I missed them so very much while they were gone and I was thrilled to fly out and join them a week later!

It was exciting to welcome Craig home.  We all made fun of his European haircut and obsession with European fashion, but he looks happy and it’s great to have him back.  Alexa was barely a year old when he left and I was only a couple of months pregnant with Tyler. 

Tyler read lots of books on the drive home
The week that we got back from California we took a sudden trip to Indiana for Ben’s funeral, which I won’t even begin to discuss in this post.  There’s too much to say and too much emotion to mention that here, but I will include some photos of the cousins being together.  The kids really helped to keep all of us grounded during an otherwise horribly painful and difficult time.  It was a special blessing to have Maria with us Friday night and most of the day Saturday.  Adam informed me that our blog was one of the last websites Ben was on before he passed away, and my heart aches daily from missing him and wishing we could continue to share experiences and updates on life with each other.  It is hard to be away from family and this has been a therapeutic way for me to capture a glimpse of our lives and a simple way to keep in touch with those we love.  Though I’m terrible at calling most of you, know that we think of you often and love you more than we express and you may realize.  How we wish we lived closer to all of you and that we could be together more often to hug each other and laugh together.

Brendan and Whitney and company stayed at Adam and Karen’s house with us in Indiana and it was nice to have so much family in one place.  Karen was the undisputed MVP of the weekend who cooked, cleaned up after, and otherwise took care of a ridiculous amount of Sweenys for days on end.  We visited Anne’s house on Sunday and spent Sunday and Monday night at Brendan and Whitney’s in Indy.  Next time we need to see Jonny & Michelle’s place.  Alexa chased Carra around most of the time and wanted to copy Carra’s hairstyle every day no matter what.

This trip to Indiana marked Tyler’s first airplane flight.  Although the flight times were terrible (arrived to Adam’s house at 3am and then left for the airport Tuesday morning at 5:30am—or 3:30am Utah time), the kids did amazingly well.  We forgot Alexa’s shoes at Brendan and Whitney’s due to a miscommunication and leaving so early in the morning, so she just ran around in socks all day.  And Tyler did in fact poop through his diaper and his clothes while we were going through security at the airport.  I stepped aside to strip him right there on a bench at security because poop was leaking through his pants at the moment.  Let me tell you, the early 20-something security guards weren’t sure whether to be startled, disgusted, or amazed.

Alexa started preschool the day we got back from Indiana.  To say that she loves it is an understatement.  She is having the time of her life.  They do a different craft each day—currently all bug related, so she has made dragonflies, caterpillars, ants, spiders, etc.—generally out of paper plates, brown paper sacks, sparkly glue, beads, pipe cleaners, and crayons.  They also study a letter of the alphabet each week and practice words that start with that letter, as well as writing workbooks to learn how to write the capital and lowercase versions of that weekly letter.  They read books every day and she has lots of fun with her 4 other class mates (all girls except for one).  The woman who does her preschool is only a couple of blocks from us, so it works out really well.  She goes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings for 2 hours.

It was so hard for me not to be there to get Alexa ready and then drop her off for her first day of school!  Man, I love that little girl.  I think the first day of school is always one of those monumental days for a mom and I was so sad not to be there.  Kyle picked her up and came straight to work so we could have lunch together and she could tell me all about her first day.  As I said earlier, she absolutely loves it and would go all day every day if given the chance.

Some other milestones in July (sorry, forgot to mention those earlier) and August include the fact that Alexa stopped sucking her thumb.  We painted her thumb with nasty tasting polish and talked about not putting it in her mouth before bed one night and she never went back.  Way easier than I thought it would be.  Also, while in California, she learned to swim by herself (with a floaty).  She now happily kicks herself around the pool like she’s been doing it forever.  Lastly, she only wants to wear our t-shirts to bed for pajamas these days. 

Here are a couple of fun quotes I’ve captured lately—

Alexa (while getting dressed up): “Tyler, when you grow up you can be a girl and you can wear tights and dresses.”  Umm, I think not.

Me: “Alexa, you’re so heavy.”
Alexa: “It’s because of all my muscles.”

I was cutting up apple slices and tossing them into a snack bowl for Alexa per her request.  Her response: “Mom, don’t throw my apples in.  Put them in nicely.  Like this (demonstrates).  Try again.”

While driving in the car one day—Alexa: “I love Target, sun flowers, dandelions, red flags, and Ring Around the Rosie.  Mom, those are the things that I love.”

A little back story on this one—Alexa and Tyler call soda “juice” because it’s this mysterious sweet drink they can only associate with being something similar to juice.  We went out to eat a couple weeks ago and Tyler saw someone carrying a soda to their table.  His immediate response was to yell “juice!!” at the top of his lungs and point at the person, followed by sobbing because he didn’t have any to drink for himself.  His pronunciation isn’t great and it just sounded like “Jew!!” being yelled repeatedly while pointing at a stranger and crying.

Tyler is obsessed with music and dancing.  He loves singing to, acting out, and clapping to Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Book of Mormon Stories, Follow the Prophet, and will even sing along to Let It Go.  He also loves to color way more than Alexa.  He’s our little artistic music boy and we love it.  Oh, and he devours salad like it’s the best thing ever.  Who is this kid?!

Tyler learned how to get out of his pack and play in California (uh oh), but would only do it to lay down in bed with Alexa (or wake her up, depending on the time).  So sweet.

I think that sums up the most exhausting month I can ever remember experiencing.