Sunday, January 13, 2008

Family Update - All you wanted to know and more

It seems to be about time for a full update again. I am trying to keep a little gratitude journal, but other than that this is my journal. Even though a picture tells a thousand words there are some key elements of our life that are missing from the events that I have posted. The kids are the most fun to write about so I will start with them.

CARA is now 22 months. This week she gave away her bottles much to her displeasure. She loves her bottle, but I just couldn€™t rationalize her keeping it any longer. It has been a painful week without it, but I am certain it will get better. She has never really had a pacifier (as hard as I tried to get her to take one), which has made it harder to live without the bottle. To get rid of it we packed them all up in a bag and took them to €œbaby Henry because the baby needs the bottles and she is a big girl.€ Amazingly she did great the first day, but she has had a hard time the last couple of days. Mostly she struggles when she is going to sleep or waking up. There are three reasons for taking it away. The first reason is her ears. We are monitoring her ear infections very closely. The week before Christmas she was stinky. I washed her hair at least twice a day for three days. I washed her bed and all of her cloths. I just couldn€™t figure out what could possibly be so stinky. I finally figured out that the smell was coming from her ears. Even with her tubes she had gotten so much infection that when I took her to the specialist the next day they had to suck the infection out. With ear infection problems like that she shouldn€™t be laying down to drink a bottle nor should she be consuming so much milk. The second reason why she has to give up her bottle is because she needs to be potty trained desperately. She is already so close. Sometimes she tells me she needs to go €œca-ca€ and she will go in the potty, but usually she just takes off her dipper after she goes. If you can imagine this can be a huge mess and we are going through truckloads of dippers because she takes them off after she wets too. This week we are giving up the bottle, next week we will give up the dippers. The third reason is that her big brother loves the bottle too. It will be nice to not have him begging for a bottle. It is when he says, €œIf you give me a bottle I will go take a little nap€ that I get really tempted.

We are keeping a close eye on Cara€™s ears and speech. She is part of a government program called Up to 3 or Baby Watch. She has speech therapy once a week as well as many other classes we can optionally attend. She baffles her therapist, as she doesn€™t follow any of the early speaking rules. She doesn€™t throw tantrums if she wants something. Her self help skills are so strong that she just gets whatever it is she wants. The words that she does say are totally random. Some of her most random words are, bubble, Aggie, Connie, and Grandma. You can see what motivates her. We have quarterly hearing test and right now they say she can hear well enough to learn to talk, but they feel that her delay is due to not being able to hear before she had tubes. I just ache for her to be able to talk. She is so darn cute.

CALEB is all boy. I can€™t believe he turns four next month. He continues to live and die for ball (whatever sport) and now he is getting into video games. He loves where there are hundreds of simple, free video games. It is amazing how he can concentrate on video games but sitting in church or school is not an option. Even though he is all boy he still really likes me to hold him and he seems to be more needy now then when he was two. I think it is just to test my patience.

Caleb says really funny things. I always think I should record them, but I never do. Of course I can't remember anything now. The other day an older gentleman who we do not know well was at our home. Caleb approached him, put his hands on his hips and said, €œWould you like to buy a horse.€ Of course he was referring to one of the neighbors horses. He proceeded to tell this man that he is trying to get money to buy a motorbike and he needs to sell a horse. Where do kids get these ideas? Caleb is just like his dad. He is not scared of anyone and he is always trying to strike up a deal. He says to me many times a day €œis that a deal mom?€

SAMI has been a great addition to our family. It has been interesting to have our parenting skills tested over the past four months that she has been with us. I am hoping that we are to the bottom of the problems and that it is only up from here. We have a testimony of the power of the word of God so we have issued a challenge to her to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the school year. We have even started a blog for this challenge at The Book of Mormon Challenge. You are welcome to join us in the challenge. You can see the rules on the link. We have offered her a trip if she meets the challenge. She has never been on an airplane before, and if she does the challenge she also gets to pick the location (of course within a budget.) Sami has also started her own blog in order to link to the challenge. You can learn more about her by reading her story on her blog at Samantha.

The hardest person for me to write about is myself. I guess that is why I haven€™t been keeping a journal. I have had a discouraging fall/winter, and I like to keep my blog positive. I am sure that anyone who reads this would be interested in knowing about some of the sad things too. First, in the past five months I have had two miscarriages. They were both very early so I am grateful for that, but it is a test of my faith in the Lords timing and my willingness to be happy with the blessings I do have. It has been an emotional rollercoaster for me. The good thing is that I don€™t feel like I am in a huge hurry to have another baby, it is just hard to be patient when things aren€™t going as planned.

Another discouragement this fall has been the close of the Investment Lending branch that I opened here in Logan a year ago. With the crash of the secondary mortgage market and the end of sub-prime lending our branch was too new to withstand the blow. Luckily we were able to find someone to take over our lease, but the financial cost has been tremendous as we have liquidated furniture and covered other overhead expenses. 2007 was not a great year for investing for us in general. We built a spec home in a partnership and with the market shifts we are now hoping to sell it even at a huge loss. Unfortunately the cost of experience and learning can sometimes be huge. Even though we are loosing a small fortune on this spec home I have never felt like it was a mistake. We involved the Lord with the decision from the start. It has been a huge test of our integrity and our character, and I believe that we are passing. I wish we didn€™t have to loose money, but in the long run we know that we will recover. On a happier note we have found one investment that we think is fantastic. We have been investing with a loan servicing company that meets all of our investing requirements, security, liquidity, and rate of return. Having had some bad investments this year (even more than I have mentioned) it sure makes it easier to recognize good opportunities. If you are interested I would love to tell you more about the loan servicing. If you are new to investing we have lots of tips if you want to avoid learning some things the hard way. I can€™t wait to apply some of the things that we have been learning in 2008.

Josh seems to be doing fantastic. He loves his new carrier and the company he works with, NAI. Commercial real estate seems to be a perfect match for him. He loves working with business owners and investors. He loves to network with these interesting people. He was able to enter NAI in a sweet deal. Don Schroeder, a dear friend of his parents, took him under his wing and Josh is essentially apprenticing under Don. It has made the transition a little smoother for us because Josh is now a part of deals that Don has been working on for years. We feel very fortunate. I am so glad that Josh has found something that makes him so happy, and something that he doesn€™t have to track his billable hours in order to get paid. His broker told him a few weeks ago that you can make great money in his field working part time, his broker continued, €œyou can choose whatever twelve hours a day you want too work.€ Josh loves to work, but I have tried to tell him that his broker was joking. It is a treat for all of us when he is home which isn€™t enough between work, young men€™s, and his other projects. We just love to have him around.

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