Sunday, October 19, 2008

Exciting Sunday morning...

We have had some excitement at the Cunningham household this morning...

Skylar woke us up with the news that Ryobi was under her bed, and she couldn't get her out. Next thing we know, Skylar is yelping about a mouse. Danny went in to investigate, and you wouldn't believe the mess he found. He said the toys and games under her bed were piled so high that the bed could sit there without the frame. : ) He didn't know where to start to try and catch the little mouse. They started digging and filling a garbage bag with the toys Skylar forgot she even had from under her bed. The mouse kept trying to hide, and they kept throwing the hiding places out. A few minutes later the mouse was found and Skylar's room looked like a tornado hit it!!! She spent the next 3 hours filling 3 garbage bags. It is amazing the mounds of stuff we accumulate! Just amazing! I think every sock she owned was under there too. No wonder she never has any to wear. Why is it so hard for the kids to use a hamper?!?!

More drama. While Danny was arming himself with a broom and dustpan to deal with the mouse, he noticed the garbage bags in the garage had a hole in them much larger than a mouse would create. He noticed that things were knocked off shelves and a few other things were pushed over in the garage. He wondered if a small dog got in our garage when it was open for a couple of hours last night. He opened the door in case it still hadn't left and started investigating. He moved a couple of items and suddenly jumped back! "It's a possum!", he said. The girls and I slammed the garage door and left Danny in there to shoo him out on his own. We ran to the front door, so we could see when the creature left the garage. We were cracking up listening to Danny. "You're going the wrong way...Get out of here...Don't go that way." As if possums speak English... A minute or so later, Eliza says, "I see it." We all watched the front yard as the little gray butt scurried out of our yard and across the street. His little gray waddle and skinny pink tail were actually kind of cute. Danny yelled, "Did you see the size of that thing? I think we have R.U.S.s in our yard. " (RUSs are monstrous Rodents of Unusual Size from the Princess Bride movie). Too funny. Never a lack of drama at our house...never.

We have some news on a lighter note too. Eliza read a couple of sentences to me today. The first one was: Eliza is on the rug. The second one was: It looks like a giant tooth. She was so proud, and we were squealing with delight. What a big girls she is getting to be. My littlest one is a reader now!

Hopefully, the rest of the day is less eventful.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Strange Pepperoni Dream.

I remembered one of my crazy dreams this morning. ( I always have crazy dreams after eating Pepperoni Pizza)

I will try to make a long story short, but I could write an action adventure film with the basic plot. A large group (about 1/2 of total plane) of friends and family were on a plane in Kansas City or Omaha (could only tell the relative size of the airport, but not the actually city). We were told that the captain had to make a quick right turn maneuver after the plane lifted off in order to clear the airspace properly from the runway we were at. We were on a runway technically too small for our plane, but the captain was experienced, and we would be OK per the flight attendant. She turned out to be correct. After the captain succeeded with the right turn, the whole cabin started clapping! We relaxed and began talking about our vacation.

Next thing we knew, the plane was touching down again. We landed and taxied to an area of the airport with the maintenance hangars and fuel lines. Everyone was looking at each other and whispering about , "What Now?" The cabin doors opened, and we were all told to disembark the aircraft, but to stay close. The plane turned out to be low on fuel, and we were refueling before taking off again. "Nothing to worry about", they said. Strangely, we did as we were told and stayed together in an orderly fashion waiting for the signal to reboard the aircraft. Well, as we were waiting several black windowed Surburbans drove into the area and dozens of TSA guards and US Marshalls arrived on the scene. It was explained to us that since we were already screened by airport security, they had to make sure we were still not a safety concern as we were back on the ground. Again, we listened, trusted, and stayed together in an orderly fashion. Hours passed...people got restless...but no chaos ensued. Crazy, unbelievable, really... Next thing we know, we are reboarding and all will be we thought.

We couldn't get over the feeling that we were missing one person on the aircraft, but the flight crew couldn't find anyone missing on the crew or passenger list. We were soon given clearance to taxi back to the runway, and we started moving with all of the black windowed Surburbans following. Next, the captain announced that we would not be landing in S. Carolina as planned. The delay in leaving had made our original flightplan obsolete, and we had to take a new path of clear airspace to another airport. However, a fellow passenger soon started whispering that the captain wasn't telling us the whole truth. "I just heard on the radio that the terror threat was increased in S. Carolina. That's why we aren't going there." said the passenger. We started wondering why the captain would be lying to us. Do they suspect the threat is on this airplane? Is that why the Surburbans are following us? Are they watching for the passengers to start reacting to the news about the change in flight plan? Do they think there is a terrorist on our plane?....

I guess I will never know. This is where the dream ended. Crazy imagination I have sometimes... : )

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's been awhile....

Well, it's been awhile since I have posted. Life has been chaotic to say the least mostly due to work. I have been working until 10pm or later most every day starting 9-28 due to quarter end and the current market situation.

Starting the first week of September or so, the US financial markets began a downhill spiral. It all started last year or even earlier with the subprime mortgage market starting to boom. These subprime mortgages had adjustable rates or no principal due clauses that eventually became unaffordable to many home owners, therefore, causing foreclosures and bankruptcy. Since many of these mortgages were sold to the secondary market to large investment banks and counterparties and even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the declining economy had far reaching effects on these large entities that seemed too stable and dependable to fail prior to these financial times. Soon the failure of these investment banks started. The government stepping in to save Bear Stearns and allowing a buyout was the first indication, next came Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, next was the failure of Lehman Brothers, and finally, the buyout of Merill Lynch by Bank of America. Now there are really no investment banks and only 3 of 5 of the largest banking firms remain. (Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs)

The insurance sector is in trouble as well as the financial sector. AIG had to borrow $20 billion of its own reserves and borrow an additional $85 billion from the US government. Next, Washington Mutual fails and Wells Fargo buys Wachovia.

Here is a link to the timeline:

What does this mean to me and my job and life?

1) Aviva has many investments in Lehman and Lehman sold derivatives and structured bonds. These are now only valued at $.34 on the dollar, and I spent several days processing write-downs, deleting receivables, and checking and re-checking pricing before we closed the books.

2) The liquidity markets are also closing down, so the Aviva cash dept. had to get creative in order to invest its cash at quarter end in money markets.

3) The credit markets are closing as well, so as we had to record losses in Aviva's investments due to Lehman holdings and general poor market conditions, we received capital from our parent to keep our capital reserve levels up. ( I am very thankful that we have a UK parent with conditions in US markets the way they were at quarter end!)

4) No matter how prepared we were for quarter end, these and other crazy things seemed to come out of the woodwork.

5) Finally, I don't even want to look at my 401 K balance. I am sure I would be sick!!!

I have never seen the government need to step in to the private financial sector so much in my lifetime, but I am sure we will be stronger for it when the dust settles. Hopefully, we have a few strong financial institutions when all is said and done rather than many, many mediocre ones. Hopefully, we will learn from our mistakes of the subprime investments and a market like that will not exist again. Hopefully, our government will actually make money on the loans and investments it has made. Most of all, hopefully, the economy will soon begin taking care of itself again and confidence and strength will return.

Pray with me for our leaders and those citizens most affected by this financial crisis to make the right decisions and get through this crisis quickly!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

David's wedding.

We spent the day with the family at David and Sandra's wedding on 10-4-08 in Rippey, IA. The ceremony was beautiful, and it was wonderful witnessing the day David had been waiting for for several decades. He has loved Sandra since Danny was a little boy, and I was so happy to see his dreams come true on their wedding day.

We celebrated with some dancing at their reception in Jamaica, IA afterwards. Danny served as the DJ and took his job quite SERIOUSLY. He bought a light pole with several laser lights and rotating disco lights. He also bought a fog machine...I gave him quite a hard time, but they actually made the party! We had a lot of fun, and the girls were so happy to be included in the party. Here are a few photos.