Saturday, March 29, 2008

A small problem with a yellow pill...

Today is one of those Saturday's where we need to do a massive grocery shopping trip. The kind of shopping trip where first you clean out the refrigerator and cabinets, and THEN you make the list. Spring is always a challenging time for us and this year is going to be no different with Dane in track, Grant in baseball, and Tiersten in t-ball. On top of that, the girls and Mike all have birthdays in April. In order to not constantly eat at McDonald's, its time to get organized! So......the renegade-box-of-brown-sugar-that-escaped-to-the-back-of-the-cabinet-and-is-now-hard-enough-to-cut-glass is in the garbage, all wilted and bruised produce is in the garbage, the list is made........and I'll head to the grocery store shortly.

But first, a Jennica story:
On Thursday, we headed back to the naturopath in Olympia. We reported that things were going well (right up until we temporarily let her have milk products last weekend) and that the dietary changes seem to have really helped her moods and general health. We can just tell she feels better, in every way!! expected, the doctor told us to continue the current diet. Duh. She also gave us a new multi-vitamin for her, and a Vitamin B6 capsule to go with it. No biggie, right?

When we opened the bottle of B6, we discovered capsules full of bright yellow powder. We're supposed to sprinkle the powder onto some food, and she's supposed to munch it right down. At this point, I'm still not seeing a problem.....

So Friday morning, I put a little applesauce in a bowl for her, dump in this yellow powder, and mix it all up. The applesauce is now bright yellow, but I'm still naively convinced that this won't bother Jennica. I approach her at the breakfast table, where she is munching down rice krispies, and hand her a spoon of applesauce. Big brown eyes solemnly look at the spoon, look at me, look at the spoon, and look back at me, "It's yellow."

I decide to play dumb, "Yes.....applesauce is yellow."

She's not convinced, "Not THAT yellow." She's still very solemn, and I'm somewhat impressed that she's not whining yet.

"Yeah, not usually." I throw in a little honesty here. "But this applesauce is yellow because it has extra vitamins in it."

She's happy with that explanation, and opens her mouth and takes the teensy-weensiest of bites. Instantly, the jaw clamps shut, she hops off the chair with her hand over her mouth, and runs over to the family room and buries her head in the couch. Brilliant parent that I am, I follow her.

"Jennica, you need to eat this." All I see is the back of her head shaking no, while her face is still buried in the couch.

"JENNICA!" My voice is rising. The fun is beginning to diminish, as I have a million things to do today, and a million places to be. They need to finish breakfast so I can run them to the Day Care. "Lift up your head and have a bite of this."

She sits back and looks me straight in the eye, and very calmly says, "I'm.........not.......eating........that."

All-righty then. My brain is registering that there is NO whining here, no screaming, no yelling, no temper tantrum. She is just very emphatically stating her stance. This is a new behavior for her, so I have to ask myself, could it really taste THAT bad? So I take a bite, and watch her grin from ear-to-ear as I make every effort not to grimace and spit it out! I honestly would rather drink a bottle drano than ever eat that stuff again!! The look on her face was absolutely priceless, as she knew that she had won this battle. It took me half of the day to get the taste of chemicals out of my mouth.

So last night, Mike concealed a capsule-ful of B6 in a glass of chocolate soy milk, and unbeknownst to her, she guzzled it right down. But its fascinating to see the changes occurring in her, right before our eyes. The ability and willingness to communicate at a much higher level went right through the roof. And all because we removed milk from her diet? Who ever would have "thunk" it???!!!???

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Where is the time going?

My 14-year-old son and several friends took advantage of the time off from school last week to go snow-boarding. Dane has skiied quite a lot, but this was his first adventure on a snowboard. They had a great time, and say it is quite a lot easier than skiing. On a humorous note, they had responsibly informed their track coach that they were going to miss practice on this particular day--and he still made them do some extra running at the next practice, which none of them were real happy about. :)

In any case, they're growing up too fast! From left to right: Levi, Dane (my son), Molly, Aaron, and Chelsea.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New idea for Reality Game Show

Come.......on.........DOWN!!!!!!! And "ABUSE THE APPRAI$ER!!

The game goes something like this..........A lender and/or property owner show up and state how totally stupid and insane the appraiser is that recently completed an appraisal for them. (Can you believe that they only think my house is worth THIS much??!!???) They present photos, video tape, whatever to make their case that the property is worth much more.

And then, they bring out the poor brow-beaten appraiser, who is bashed with verbal comments, while he presents his findings and supports his opinion of value.

At the end, the audience casts their vote for who they think is correct. If the lender/property owner team wins, they get some big prize. If the appraiser wins.........well, they get a pat on the back, as federal regulations prohibit an appraiser from collecting any fee related to the amount of the final opinion of value. (For clarification on that, appraisers get paid an established fee that can not be based upon the amount of the final opinion of value. This is crucially important, as a commission-based payment system could influence an appraiser to "inflate" a value for their own gain. Most people don't think about it.......)

So what do you think? Is this show going to make me million$$$???

Yeah.........I don't think so either, but it is the reality of life as an appraiser in a floundering economy. Thousands of appraisers across the nation are taking daily "verbal-beatings" for correctly reporting property values which are thousands of dollars below the value that property owners need to sell their homes, refinance their homes, or in the worst-case scenarios, retain their homes. Foreclosures are still climbing, so the pressure continues to mount. Some clients are stressed to the point that they don't want to order a costly appraisal without a "guarantee" that a loan will result, but it is unethical (and against federal regulations) for an appraiser to provide any sort of opinion of value without performing the time-consuming task of actually appraising a property. I suppose an appraiser CAN perform that process for free, but that is a pretty lousy business practice.

Honestly......I get tired of the "up-front" requests for value before I have a chance to do my job, but I don't really mind the verbal beatings that sometimes come after the job is complete. When I've done my analysis correctly, its pretty easy to support my opinion of value with factual data. Unrealistic expectations are not my problem. Providing an accurate opinion of value IS my problem.

Ahhh..........its so much fun being ethical sometimes. Of course, if there had been more ethical lenders/brokers/realtors/appraisers/etc., perhaps so many property owners wouldn't be in financial trouble to begin with? And the beat goes on.........

Sunday, March 23, 2008

An Easter "shiner" for Jennica

Happy Easter to all!

This weekend has proven, once again, that there is never dull moment at our house. Saturday morning, Jennica was standing on the toilet dancing and fell off, hitting the right side of her face on the bathtub on the way down. She's got one heck of a "shiner." The attached photos were taken this morning in her Easter finery on the way to church.

Which brings me to another point--Some of you that read my blog know that Jennica has always been a very heavy milk drinker, and can be a "challenging" kid at times. With much skepticism, we visited a naturopathic doctor a month ago. (I only say "skepticism" because this is not a medical path that Mike and I had ever really considered before, and have virtually no experience with. We only considered this option because I have recently spoken with several parents who have seen significant health and behavioral improvements with relatively minor dietary changes suggested by this doctor.) In any case, the doctor suggested that we cut ALL dairy products from her diet for a month, just to see what would happen.

To make a long story short, the first week was a disaster and its pretty easy to say that things got worse before they gradually began to improve. Late in Week #2, Jennica and I declared war on each other one day, and out of sheer stubborness and an absolute will of iron, I won. (Neener neener neener!) Between this re-establishing in her mind who are the parents, and the diet change, Week #3 was the absolute best that she's ever been! Perfect?-----No. But she was rational and reasonable, far less whiny, and much less argumentative. A glimpse of success!

Now, with any diet change, at some point you have to "test" to see if there is really any dietary relationship to the changes in mood and behavior. So on Friday, she had some cheese and on Saturday morning, she had a tall glass of milk. Late yesterday and today, the child from H-E-Double Hockey Sticks is back with a vengeance. YIKES! Its rather amazing to me how quickly I had forgotten just how bad it can be!!

So.....its unanimous here at home that the dairy products are right back out the window. That is the only dietary change we have made, along with the addition of just a couple of low-dosage supplements, but it sure seems to have had a drastic effect. Without consistent and appropriate discipline, I'm sure it wouldn't be a solution, but we're committed there also, so we'll see if things improve again as we change her diet back to no dairy. I also had a chance to talk to an old friend this morning at church that has pursued far more aggressive dietary standards for her son, who is just a couple of months older than Jen. It was fun to hear her stories! We briefly contemplated switching kids for a week, but ended up deciding that no matter what your problem is, there is an advantage in "knowing" your problem. :)

This week, we have a one-month appointment with the naturopath. I'm looking forward to going and reporting our progress! Its going to be interesting to see if she says to continue status quo, or if we gain something "new" to try. I'm sure she'll be impressed with Jennica's black eye.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I usually try not to post political stuff....

........but this was too good to pass up!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday Wisdom

I figure that every day I learn (or re-learn) something is a day not wasted. These are the things I learned today:

1) Allowing Tiersten to pick out her own hair doo-dads in the morning is like letting Mike put out a movie at the Video Store...........Its a long, painful process and you generally end up with the first thing they saw anyway. (I love you anyway, Michael! )

2) Just because a Toyota Highlander has a total of six seatbelts does not mean that our family of six is going to all fit in this temporary-rental-vehicle-while-the-suburban-gets-fixed-from-the-afore-mentioned-fender-bender. I have to admit that I'm rather enjoying the smaller rig and the girls think its great, too. Its the long-legged males of the family that seem to be struggling with where to put their legs. And when they finally get the front seat back far enough to be comfortable, the girls are squealing in the backseat about being cramped in their carseats. Rather funny!

3) Track meets in Western Washington in the month of March require multiple layers of clothing. If you think you're dressed warm enough, add two more layers and take two blankets and you'll be good! Dane's first track meet was today and we FROZE, even in the covered stands. I have no idea how the participants survived down on the track in the driving wind and rain. Dane came up and actually snuggled with Dear Ol' Mom in the stands under a blanket between events! was THAT cold. :) In any case, he threw the discus and the shotput, and ran the 800m and the 1600m. His shot "toss" was a personal best ever, and both running events are new to him this year, as last year he only ran shorter distances. The discus was wet and he was frozen by then, so we can count on definite improvement for the next meet there.

So..........tomorrow is Thursday and there is no school for the rest of this week due to Teacher's Workshops. Almost enough to make me wish I was in school again! Or not.........

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

They're putting my braces back on!

Years and years ago, I got kicked in the face by my horse. (Total accident.........she didn't TRY to kick me. Long story. Too hard to explain.) Seven stitches and a plethora of skull x-rays later.......I left the ER with a delightful black eye and some disbelief from the doctor's and nurse's that my cheekbone had not been crushed. Obviously, the black eye went away, I went back to riding horses, all was well, and life went on.

But unknown to anyone at that time, the blow to my face and subsequent swelling most likely caused the very slow contraction of my lower jaw that has been taking place in the last 15-20 years. It has very gradually moved my lower teeth just slightly out of alignment, and there is some concern that it may continue to contract indefinitely, if we don't stop it.

So..........I get BRACES on my bottom teeth in a few weeks!! The orthodontist has assured me that I will only need to wear them for 3-4 months, followed by a nighttime retainer for another 6 months or so. The really funny part? Grant is getting his lower brackets put on the same day. What a mother/son activity to share, huh?

Since this is injury-related, do you think I can send a bill to my horse? I don't own her anymore, but I know where she lives......... :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

After an extremely busy week, we've had a rather relaxing weekend at home! After the continuing turmoil of the financial world, which is more-than-slightly running over onto the appraisal business, it was a much-needed break. Unfortunately, its back to the grind tomorrow.

One of the things that I've missed lately, with being so busy, is the random opportunity to snap photos of the kids. So.........we loaded up today, went for a short ride up to the courthouse to feed the ducks, and took time to capture the moment. For whatever reason, it is always more noticeable to see how much the kids are changing (and how quickly) when I see photographs.

In any case, enjoy St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, and check out the pictures below!