Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The "cooker"

The last few months, Jennica has developed a fun fascination for everything that goes on in the kitchen. She likes to climb up on the counter and help stir and mix. She is fascinated by everything that goes into a pot or bowl, and why. Tiersten is going through the normal phase of what she's going to be when she grows up (she says a veterinarian), and Jennica always says that she's going to be "a cooker".

Today at preschool, Jennica got to participate in making (and eating) a pizza. She also got to make a hat, and came home with a new word--CHEF!!! She has worn her new hat the entire evening!! I just had to post a photo!!
She also had a visit to the doctor today on a minor matter. To nobody's surprise, she is above the 99th percentile on height, and just below the 90th percentile in weight. She's going to be a very TALL chef. :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Living in the moment......

October is always wild. Football. Appraisals. School. More football. Halloween parties. Birthdays. More football. This year has been no different.

But we've had a lot of fun this month, and its not even over yet. Mike's parents visited for a weekend, and its always great to see them. Mike was gone for four days on a business trip, and returned just in time for he and I to take off for three days for my birthday. (The new Tulalip Resort is a great place!!) Both boys have played a ton of football, and Grant was a big part of a big win last night against their biggest rival, Willapa Valley. (20-0!!!) They will both transition into wrestling in the next few weeks, which is a slower pace for all of us and will be a welcome downshift.

And surprisingly enough, I continue to be buried in appraisal work. I'm grateful to be seeing continued success, despite the worsening economic conditions. With the election now just a short distance away, I'm not even going to fathom a guess at what is to come. I have my own opinions, but will keep them to myself at this point.

Tomorrow night, I'm throwing a big bash here at the house for 20 or so of my nearest and dearest friends. It promises to get a little rowdy, and I'm looking forward to laughing a lot, and enjoying a rare chance to catch up with everyone.

Happy Fall!!!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I have been humbled today

Today, my oldest dear aunt is having surgery for a very serious medical issue--an issue that could shorten her life tremendously.

To me, she has always been "my crazy aunt." She is a mother of six, and the youngest is a few years older than me. As a young child, my home was typically quiet, respectful, clean, orderly, and we were expected to follow the rules. Aunt Betty and Uncle Clyde's house was chaotic and loud, with what seemed like a gazillion noisy kids and pets constantly coming and going. They had cats with funny names, like "Daisy Mae Lulubopper" and "Miranda." And my aunt "collected" chiquita banana stickers on the insides of her cabinet doors. Her older children always seemed to be moving from home to college or somewhere else, but there always seemed to be furniture in a truck parked somewhere nearby. When I was still quite young, she moved to a little place in the middle of nowhere "to grow herbs." And she ran for some political office once. I remember seeing signs with her name on them, and she was in a parade...........big things to this little girl.

In any case, I haven't "had time" yet to send my Aunt Betty a card since her diagnosis. My intentions have been good, but the follow-through hasn't been there. My excuse is that I've been too busy, running kids here and there and working.

Today, I went to my mailbox and, lo and behold...........there is a birthday card for me from my Aunt Betty. More than a week early, and filled with her usual humor. Not a single mention of the surgery she faced today. I would imagine she sent it early, not sure if she would feel well enough next week to get it done. But I have been too busy to make a thoughtful gesture?

And, so I have been humbled by a wonderful and thoughtful lady. I will be getting that card in the mail, letting her know I'm thinking of her, too.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Who knew we needed a crash helmet to watch the news?

Turning on the news these days is a scary event. Regardless of what you choose to watch, if you change the channel enough times, you can hear predictions that are completely opposite. For every well-reputed speaker declaring doom and gloom, there are just as many well-reputed speakers stating that, "Its all up from here, folks!" It's enough to drive the sane to......well......insanity.

Some people tend to think that appraisers have a special knowledge. Like we can crunch a bunch of numbers, sprinkle them with some pixie dust, and KNOW what your house will be worth six months from now. While I rather like the thought of being gifted with a crystal ball, or Yoda-like powers, appraisers base everything on historical analysis. Sometimes that historical event occurred 5 years ago, sometimes 1 year ago, and sometimes only yesterday, but it has always already occurred. Hence, it is historical. Do we sometimes utilize that historical analysis to "predict" values? Yes.......but only very rarely in something called a "prospective value," and it is full of risks..........which is why it is so rarely done.

Ninety-nine percent of an appraiser's job is determining a current market value based upon sales of similar properties that have already occurred, known factual data of what it costs to build the same property, and/or lease a similar property. When the market is stable, its not such a tough job--check your data and statistics regularly, and work away. But when there are numerous external influences to value that are changing rapidly.......it gets a whole bunch tougher. What happens when someone's down payment goes "poof" in the stock market? What happens when someone relies on income from an annuity to make their house payment, and all the sudden that annuity is worth 50% of what it was worth last month? These things ARE happening in a lightning-fast manner.

So.......I'm donning my crash helmet and forging ahead. This might just be a bump in the rollercoaster ride, or it might be a plunge to the bottom. Until my crystal ball shows up, I'm just going to keep analyzing the data as fast as it arrives. And bracing myself every time I turn on the news.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Busy busy busy....

A couple of weeks have gone by since I last posted here, but I've been BUSY. Despite all the economic scramble, I'm still extremely busy with appraisals. Add the four kids and all of their activities........and I feel like I'm operating at a dead run some days. I'm not complaining, as its great to have a life full of purpose and activity.

In any case, amid appraisals, parent-helper day at preschool, kindergarten open house, football games, and all the other chaos, we've been having some fun.

First, a cat moved in with us. Uninvited. She just showed up one day and hasn't left. I'm not a big fan of cats, and after the unplanned demise of the last two, I swore we weren't getting any more cats unless they came with an "Automobile Avoidance Safety Class." I refuse to get attached to this one, but she doesn't seem to care. In the first 24 hours she was here, she got a bath in the kitchen sink, treated with Advantage and ear-mite meds, and wormed. She still didn't leave. So........we unaffectionally refer to her as "The Mooch," and she sneaks in the door whenever possible and roosts in whatever warm lap is holding still at the moment. She's gaining weight and her skin problems are improving. We'll take her in and get her spayed in the next week or so. At which point, after the investment of funds, she will probably "meet" a car. Sigh.......

Second, this past week was Homecoming at the school. Grant came home from Wednesday's football practice with a new haircut, which we "decorated" for game day. See photo. Dane went to school on "Decade Day" looking like Hyde from "That 70s Show." See next photo. :)