Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What? WHAT??!!!?? What did I do to deserve this?

Ever noticed how sometimes life seems to magically "gang up on you"? You know its true.....admit it!! There are even phrases for this magical occurence. Like, "When it rains, it pours." The person that came up with that one was feeling seriously ganged up on.

Well.....I am SO there. Its Tuesday, and I am wishing it was Friday. Before a summer vacation and I am in the 7th grade. So I could be a sloth all summer like Dane is being. Still too young to have real responsibilities, but old enough that you've got some options on what you do with your free time. Ahhhh.........that sounds so good. I think I'll go spend five hours riding my horse. Dream on.

So here's the deal. 99 days out of 100, I really like my choice of careers, but the last few weeks I have had a number of really tough assignments. The kind where you go to bed at night and stare at the ceiling and wonder if there is some valuation angle that you have forgotten, and then you get in the shower in the morning and feel yourself questioning your opinion of the highest and best use of the property. And you think about it some more every minute of every day. You finally get the darn thing submitted, and then the phone calls begin. Why is this or that stated such -and-such way? Did you consider this or that? All while you're trying to move on to the next three complex reports....AAAHHH.

So my neck has been in knots, I've been fighting stress headaches, and I'm trying to convince myself that "this too shall pass". And then Jennica decides not to sleep last night and we're up and down with her from 2:23 am to 5:15, when Tiersten decides to join the party. Sleep deprivation does not help me out.....

And then something happens like this morning. I'm happily pulling out of our driveway, and see a squished black kitty in the road. I'm pretty darn sure that it is our kitty, but I keep driving as I don't really want to get the girls upset and I don't think there is anything I can do anyway. I will be back home in 15 minutes and go take care of the cat. So, 15 minutes later, I'm driving back and cat is still in the same place in the road, but sort of sitting up. Oh......GREAT!!! Cat is badly injured and didn't even have the courtesy to die instantly. Now Beth has to make the "life or death" decision on the cat. Thankfully, I'm good friends with our vet and she gave me the honest-no-holds-barred opinion that kitty has massive head injuries and deserves to die with dignity. So now.......when the girls get home, we get to break it to them that Daisy has passed away and is buried in the backyard. Sigh........

Jennifer was here this morning and I'm so tired and stressed that I was barely completing sentences when I was speaking to her. I am WORN OUT!!! I have stopped accepting orders in anticipation of clearing the desk before vacation, but the phone continues to ring. And ring. And ring.

So this is a GRUMPY post. Bah Humbug! 10 days until vacation.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Crazy Busy

For some reason, I seem to go week after week telling myself that life will be quieter and more relaxed NEXT week, or after some specific event in the future. I think it must be my brain's coping mechanism, because when next week gets here, or we get past whatever the specific event happens to be, things are never more relaxed...we're simply on to the next series of activities, things to do, and places to be. I'm feeling the need right now for some "down time", and the frequency of my headaches tells me that I'm pushing too hard. But I'm not sure what I'm supposed to remove from the schedule, as its already about as bare-bones as its going to get. Oh well! Onward and upward and trying to be grateful that I have the opportunity to be so involved in life.

The boys are home from camp and had a really great time!! There were about half as many kids as attended when I went years ago, but that doesn't seem to have dulled the fun any. Dane has been quiet, while Grant has been the storyteller so far. This is a bit of a role reversal for them, so its been fun listening to Grant jabber. I had no idea that Grant had an ability to blow Kix cereal out his nose for great distances, but he was a member of the championship team. Yep...I'm serious. Gotta love Junior High Camp!! :)

I've gotta hit the road here shortly, as I'm in the field all day today with the usual odd mix of properties. Maybe in my next life I will be one of those lucky appraisers that works in some area with a whole bunch of identical housing developments with an abundance of truly comparable sales. AAAAAHHHHHhhhhhhh....What a soothing thought that is......

Have a good day out there!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ahhhhh.........Camp Bethel

This past Sunday, we dropped the boys off at Junior High Camp. I attended the same camp as a kid, and later counseled there for several years. I have some great memories and, oddly enough, several of my old friends are directing/counseling my boys this week, or have children that are attending as campers. Like a magnet, Camp Bethel seems to draw us all back eventually, in one way or another.

In any case, I hope the boys are building the wonderful friendships and memories. I haven't heard from them, and I'm sure I won't until after they are picked up on Saturday. They are doing what they should--being boys and enjoying life away from home to the fullest.

For me, camp always went far beyond the basic activities of rafting, swimming, and campfire. When I tell old camp stories, I find that I often describe the schedule and what we spent our time doing, but that is not truly what Camp Bethel was to me. It was so much deeper, but something that I can't really put into words. To say that I grew up with my fellow campers sounds silly when said aloud, as we truly only spent one week together each year. But in many ways, they had just as much influence on my life growing up as my school classmates, with which I spent nine months each year.

This is a story that portrays my innocence at age 15 or 16. I have never told the boys this story, so I'll have to let them read this when they get home. Here goes...

Almost all teenagers arrive at camp with some expectation that they are going to stay up all night, or sneak out, or do some other "something". I was no different. I had been attending camp for several years, but I was now a teen and liked to think of myself as slightly rebellious. Living in a small town where I was highly recognizable did not give me much opportunity for rebellion, as I was totally convinced that if I so much as spit on the sidewalk, my parents would find out. But here I was......an hour from home with no parents for an entire week.

So, one evening, another girl in my cabin and I decided that we were going to sneak out in the middle of the night. She was also a girl from my hometown, and someone that also harbored an inner rebel. (Yeah right!) We made an arrangement that one would wake up the other at a certain time, and we discreetly set out our clothes and shoes so we would be able to dress quickly and quietly. The time came, and we slipped quickly out of our cabin. Now on the front porch, we exchanged big grins and tiptoed down the stairs, quite pleased with our success thus far.

Now.......this had been fully pre-meditated and we're feeling quite smart. We have outsmarted our cabin counselor and all the other girls in our cabin, and we are outside at 2 a.m. with no adults in sight. We are REBELS.

However, we forgot a few things:
1) Its dark, heavily wooded, and the cabins are approximately 30 yards apart with virtually no exterior lighting. It is so dark that we can hardly see the myriad of paths that wind the way through the camp to the main complex.
2) Its cold and foggy. We are on a large chunk of property located at the south end of the Olympic Rain Forest--a solid 20 minute drive from the nearest town. Isolated ocean beaches are not too far to the west. At two o'clock in the morning, its none to warm. Mosquitoes like this environment and they are hungry.
3) We are ALONE and without a plan. So........we go and throw rocks at a boys cabin until a couple of boys come out. Of course, they ask what we are doing. We tell them, "Sneaking out." Brilliant.
4) We stumble around on the dark paths for approximately 10 minutes with said boys, trying to come up with some entertainment that will not involve waking up any adults. We're avoiding the main complex, so as not to get seen by someone who may be up moving around. However, by avoiding the main complex, we are also without light, heat, and any activities that may be slightly amusing at 2:00 am.
5) One of us finally caves in and mentions that we are cold. Three other heads nod in agreement. We go back to our respective cabins and back to bed.

We are teenagers. We have successfully rebelled.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

For Mike and his Dad

This has taken me a few weeks to get posted, but here it is!!

For Father's Day this year, Mike sent a plane ticket and Mariner's tickets to his Dad. His Dad flew into Seattle one afternoon in late June. They went to the game together, spent the night in the city, ate out, and Wayne flew home the next morning. They had a great time together and, since Mike and I never seem to see any of our parents without our herd of noisy children, it was nice for the two of them to get to spend some rare father-and-son time together alone. Of course, the girls weren't real happy about missing out on hugs from Grandpa Wayne, but they saw he and Grandma Sharla in May and will be seeing them again soon. I think its good for them to learn that Daddy gets time with his Dad, too.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Its 4:30 pm on FRIDAY!!!

Okay.........Gotta get something out of the way here right off the bat....For any of you lenders out there that may be checking this blog because it is linked to my business web-site, I know that this is my THIRD blog of the day, but I do not owe you or anyone else any reports today. I am officially caught up with all deadlines (wahoo). I realize that Monday is coming fast, and the deadlines start all over again next week, but I purposely scheduled some "screwing off" time for today, and I have actually spent most of it working. So don't be sending me any of those internet-transmitted guilt trips.

Back to the subject at hand...Since it is 4:30 pm on Friday and I'm screwing off, I just checked the blog of one of my favorite internet blogger cohorts. I'm either very tired, or it is truly THAT funny. Not sure which, and I don't really care. So anyway, the list below is extracted from the Beast Mom. And since I just listed her name here, I'm not breaking some copyright laws, am I?

So here it is!!! Editor's Note: The comments in red have been added by me, myself and I, and are not to be blamed on Beast Mom.

Top 10 Children's Books That Didn't Make The Cut
1. Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and Other Urban Legends
2. Pat the Cockroach
3. Guess How Much I Loathe You (Never liked that stupid rabbit anyway. I know some divorced people that could have written this one...)
4. Green Vegetables? Who Needs 'Em? (Amen. 'Nuff said.)
5. A Kids' Guide To Slothfulness (I think Dane did a book report on this in 7th grade.)
6. How To Become The Favorite Child (Hmmm. Marj & I know who wrote this book--LOLOL)
7. Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Whiners (I wrote this one!!)
8. If You Give A Grizzly A Cookie
9. Flushing Goldie (I forced my mother to help me bury a goldfish or two...)
10. Winnie-the-Pooh & Piglet Go Hitchhiking

Anyway, Happy Friday and thank you, Christina the Beast Mom, for tickling my funny bone!!

The stupidest marital argument in the world

Mike and I got into a really stupid marital argument last night. So all you married people out there--top this one!!

We had a brief war of words arguing over who got to rock Jennica last night at bedtime. Not who HAD to rock her, but who got the privilege of rocking her. Now...keep in mind that this is OUR CHILD. She's not going anywhere!! We've been doing this for 3+ years, for heaven's sake, and she still really craves this 10-minute rocking session each evening to help her unwind before we lay her down. It was not like this was the last rocking session we were going to get...

Now, we don't argue over this subject every night, but it is something we both enjoy doing. Yesterday, it just happened that Jen and I had spent a long afternoon in Olympia at an eye appointment, and I was hoping to end the day with her, since it had been a rather special one-on-one day for us. Mike's point was that I had gotten to spend the majority of the day alone with her and he wanted a little time with her while I spent some time with Tiersten, who he had picked up at Day Care and taken out for dinner. He had a rather good point, so thats how it went, and I enjoyed chatting with "T" for a few minutes while he rocked Jen.

On a separate but related note, we have sorted entire boxes of photos recently. It has been a BIG job, even though the majority of our pictures are stored on CDs. In the process of sorting pictures, I found the attached photos among the menagerie. I had completely forgotten about this picture of Mike with Jen, and it made me smile to remember what a chubba-bubba baby she was at that age. The picture of Jen and I was taken by one of my sisters last summer at our parent's home. Even though that photo is only a year old, its amazing how much our littlest girl has changed in that relatively short period of time.

Great Flaming Marshmallows!!

The boys have been bugging us for about a year to build a firepit in the "back forty." Due to the location of where we wanted to put it and the work involved with clearing and levelling that area, its kind of been a lengthy process. I think the boys forget that two years ago, there were thirteen huge hemlock trees on this portion of our property that are no longer standing.

In any case, my sister and her family are coming from Minnesota for their annual two-week Washington summer vacation. The boys have had a big goal since last winter to have the firepit completed before their cousins arrived. So...we buckled down, moved the dirt, cut the last of the brush, hauled the pea gravel and the bark, put up the fence and the blocks, and its done--complete with a nesting family of chickadees in the birdhouse on the tree. We've even got enough room to set up our tent on one side.

I have to admit that we're pretty pleased with the final result and have already used our firepit quite a lot. Its very peaceful to sit back there around a fire, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, smelling the woodsmoke, and just spending time as a family.

So, Erik and Matthew--beware!!! Dane and Grant have got plans for you and this firepit involving a tent, sleeping bags, and lots of marshmallows. We're looking forward to having you all here!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Oh, de doo-da day...

This past Saturday, we ran away to the races!! For several weeks, we had been planning a day at Emerald Downs with friends, and it turned out to be an absolute BLAST! We left all of our many children at home, and had a grown-up day of nothing-but-fun!!

Now...Mike and I have been to Emerald Downs before, but it has been several years. And for those of you that might not know, I spent 20 years of my life consumed in competitive horse sports, so this is right up my alley......

We all wagered small amounts, after careful scientific analysis of the racing programs and horses in the paddock, of course. (Yeah right!!) The program helps, and so does viewing the horses being saddled, but there is still a LOT of luck involved. Just ask Kelli about the lame horse that won the race!! (So much for my "expert" advice...)

In any case, the HUGE highlight of the day was when I won an EXACTA!! I bet $4.00, chose two horses that I believed would win first and second place in the race, and they finished first and second as I had predicted! For the really thrilling part.......I won $395.80 on my $4.00 bet! Now thats some serious winning!!! WAHOO!! Several other small wins added up, and we came home with a lot more money than we took!

Most of all, it was great to get away and spend the day with our friends. Good food, good company, and good fun! Even on the ride home in the Suburban. :)

Oh, de doo-da day!!!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day

We had a GREAT 4th of July!! Spent the majority of it at home, with a quick dash to Tokeland so the kids could play in the sand on the beach for awhile. (The boys would still be there digging if we had agreed to leave them...Not sure how we got such beach-loving kids!!)

In any case, it was hard to get back to work today. We stayed up too late BBQ-ing and laughing around our new firepit, and then the boys set off a ton of fireworks once it got dark. Tiersten enjoyed the fireworks immensely and thought that was some serious fun. Jennica fell asleep on my lap in complete exhaustion before it even started. :) Even the dogs were hoarse today, as they barked even while crated.

Some photos above of the kids at the beach! Hope you and yours had a great day!!
Top Photo: All four hooligans, digging to China.
Middle Photo: Tiersten, dancing with her shadow
Bottom Photo: Jennica, trying to get warm....bbbbrrrr