Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Move to Arkansas


When I was young, "Little House on the Prairie" was in prime time and I would never miss an episode, so when my folks announced at dinner (that's supper for us Ozark Mountain folk) one night that we were moving to Arkansas, well, some of the eleven of us were happy, but some were less than happy. I was one of those that was pretty okay with the idea, since I was young, nearly 13, and thought it would be a grand adventure! We actually thought Arkansas was full of hillbilly's who sat on porches of old broken down homes, with their guns and scratching coon dogs. Ok, yes, you can find a bit of that here, but it's not ALL like that.

It took us five days to travel from California to Arkansas and this is pretty much how it went...

June 27, 1977

My mom started a journal of our move to Arkansas. I have that journal. I love reading her recordings of our experiences. The 27th was a Monday, and we had everything we owned loaded up in a huge trailer that was to be towed by a friend of my Dad's, Dave Walker, who was a Californian, but should've been an Arkie. He was a mountain man if I ever met one.

The people who had bought our house were supposed to move in that day and my parents had let us kids sleep at friends and neighbors houses. I think Dave was supposed to have been ready to leave out by midday or so, but he didn't show until about 4:00 PM. So, we sat on the lawn across the road for hours watching the new occupants of our house move in... that was the only home I'd ever lived in so I didn't much like watching. But, we finally got on the road with a Ford van (pulling a camping trailer), a Volkswagen beetle, and Dave and the big trailer with all our furniture and belongings in it... oh, and two dogs. We settled at Yuma, AZ for the night at around 4:00 AM ... I slept in the front seat of the Volkswagen (I remember that for some reason... probably because it wasn't very comfortable for sleeping!).


June 28, 1977

We left Yuma, AZ and made it as far as Deming, NM. That day was memorable because our dog, Mo, decided he liked Tucson, AZ, and jumped out of the window of the Volkswagen on the interstate and ran for freedom. We never saw him again. He's been affectionately called "Kamikaze Mo" ever since. I believe that is the same day that I was riding along with Dave in the truck and he had to stop at a weigh station. He had a loaded pistol in the cab and before we got out he shoved it in my very large purse I was carrying (I'd never carried a purse before that, but it was a traveling gift from my grandmother). He warned me to not "play with it, or let anyone see me with it." I was Bonnie to his Clyde!

Bonnie Clyde

June 29, 1977

I rode with Dave again that day, because I'm sure I never told my parents about the gun. So, we set off on the road again... Bonnie and Clyde. This was a big day for me because Dave was getting a bit tired from all the driving so he took a little side trip to a bar in El Paso, TX. It didn't take the bartender long to let Dave know he couldn't have this minor in the bar, so I believe he got it "to go". Now, remember that I was just 13 and a lot has changed in my life since then, but I will admit now that I did smoke unfiltered Camel cigarettes and drank a couple of cans of Pearl beer with Dave during my Bonnie & Clyde spree!

My sister, Suzanne, rode with us for a while that day. I think this was the day we got tired of being without modern conveniences and so when we stopped at a little diner, Suz and I went in to the bathroom and sat on the counter top and washed our feet and basically took a modest sponge bath. Pretty tacky, I know.

While we were traveling, Dave started getting sleepy again, and decided to pull off the road to take a NAP. So, he kicked Suz and I out of the truck and slept while we STOOD out on the interstate... with truck drivers honking at my 16 year old sister in short shorts for an hour or so. Suz kept trying to lift me up so I could grab the CB and try to reach my parents, but Dave caught us and locked us out. Needless to say, that was the last time I road with Dave. So long, Clyde.


June 30, 1977

We left Abilene early in the morning and stopped at Lake Weatherford around noon. We all swam and took a break from all the traveling. We left there around 6:30 PM again and drove for several hours. Dad decided to stop for an hour or so for a nap during the wee hours of the morning. After hitting the road again, we lost Dave (again), so my parents decided they would just keep driving on without him assuming he'd catch up at some point.

Arkansas sign

July 1, 1977

We crossed the Arkansas border, I believe, at Fort Smith around 6:30 AM. We stopped at a tourist information center where we fixed breakfast and stayed for about 3 1/2 hours. My brother, Robert, and I went inside the center and a nice southern lady spoke to us asking, "what's you'ens names?" and something like "do y'all want an Arkansas Traveler sticker??" We honestly couldn't understand a word that woman said. We had to ask her to repeat herself several times (and she actually did a bit of sign language) before we could fairly interpret. She might as well have been speaking french, because we couldn't understand her "accent". It was so funny! (Robert and I had a good laugh about it today when we were recalling it!)

Dave finally caught up with us and we made it to the realtor's office in Yellville about 4:30 PM that day and then finally arrived at our land in Pyatt around 6:30 that evening. My Dad pulled into a big empty field and parked... and this is where the adventure begins... our pioneer days ... our very own "Little House in the Ozarks".

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Putting on the Dog

I must've been tired, because David woke me up at 9:47 this morning!! We had a large thunderstorm come through around 5:00 AM, and that hindered some quality sleep, but I got a pretty good night's rest nonetheless.

I went to my parent's today and had lunch with my mom.  I always enjoy getting to visit with her and catch up.  She's the best! 

They've lived in their huge house without central heat and air for about 30 years now and are in the process of having it installed.  I remember when we first moved in to the house there was a barrel wood stove in our basement that was responsible for heating all three stories... that's all we had.  It looked something like this (the stove, not the surroundings):

Barrel stove

The "kids" all slept on the top floor and in the winter it was FREEZING and in the summer it was SWELTERING.   My BFF, Jodi, would occasionally spend the night (I spent more nights at her house - she had older siblings that were pretty much moved out - so she was like an only child.  Plus, her Dad would have a fire in their wood stove in the winter that would run you outta there!!  They'd have to open windows.).  Anyway, I remember my Dad waking us up on school mornings and we'd get out of bed and put our jackets on.  He'd say, "What's wrong with you girls?" And when we told him we were freezing, he'd laugh and tell us that it was 56 degrees in the house and that we were wimps.  Fifty-six degrees was tropical compared to the temperatures in the tent in the winter... more on that in coming days.

I got a fun email from my sister, Kristin, this week and I loved this newspaper clipping:

Ad in paper

Yep, us country folk put on the dog when we go to "town".

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kool-aid Smiles and Sweet Little Waves

church VBS june 08 002 - Copy

In the absence of (at least new episodes of) what I consider good TV (American Idol, 24, Biggest Loser, Amazing Race, Big Brother, House), there is little to do once I plop down on my couch in the evenings (well, except for reading too many blogs, of course)! I just heard this week, though, that Season 10 of "Big Brother" starts July 13!! Yippee!

So, tonight I took time to go back through the pictures our pastor's wife emailed to me from our Vacation Bible School we're having this week. The kids have had so much fun. It's been a great week! Here are a couple pictures of our "Kool-aid smiles" ...

church VBS june 08 054 church VBS june 08 041 church VBS june 08 025

church VBS june 08 061

church VBS june 08 052

My little eight year-old nephew has been there this week and he's so funny. While I'm up in the sound booth running the slide show during our Worship Rally, he keeps turning around to grin and wave at me. Gotta love him!!

Hunter at VBS

Oh, and believe it or not... THIS is our Associate Pastor (aka VBS Director):

church VBS june 08 039church VBS june 08 100He rented a dunkin' booth to let the kids dunk him. Tomorrow they're aiming for our "Preacher."

If it wasn't so much work, I wish we could have Bible School all summer long!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Well, isn't that special??

church lady

Being a church secretary, I'm always at least a week ahead on my calendar.

Hard to believe since I'm late for everything!

As soon as I start work on Monday, I'm preparing for Sunday. So, when I publish our weekly newsletter I am typing as if it is the coming Sunday and listing activities that are actually a week or two ahead of the week I'm in. (You church secretaries out there know what I'm talking about.) For me, it gets confusing and sometimes, I just totally botch it. Just ask anybody.

Well, Saturday night, David and I had a date... dinner and Wal-Mart! If you live in a small town, you know you've had one of those!

I had an ulterior motive for dragging him to Wally World (other than for visitin' all the town folk) - I had a bridal shower gift I had to buy for a shower on Sunday. We printed off the gift registry and started hitting the isles for the perfect (pre-picked out) gift. I found a few things and we went home for the evening.

But, when I got to church Sunday, I realized it was only June 22 and not the 29th... which is when the shower actually is! At least I got my shower gift bought early.

So, what did I do with my newfound free time on Sunday afternoon? Instead of my normal carb- induced post Mexican food nap, I decided to sit down with my laptop and read blogs. I read people's blogs from the very beginning! Do you know you could actually spend perfectly good weekends on the couch reading this stuff?!

Dave says I'm obsessed. Is this normal?

There are so many interesting, funny, soul-stirring, heart warming and heart breaking blogs out there! God's even teaching me a bit about myself between the lines...

I did break long enough to go back to church and for a second Free Day meal at McDonalds (of all places), but I finally quit around 10:00 PM because we're having Vacation Bible School at FBC this week and this night owl needed to get up early. (The beauty sleep couldn't hurt either.)

It wasn't a totally wasted day - I did manage to get fresh sheets on the bed. There's nothing like clean sheets!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What a Blessing!

Today all I've thought about is a precious family that we love very much and how God is blessing them. I am just so grateful for the answer to prayer in their lives and the joy set before them. They have watched their daughter go through a series of difficulties and it has been painful for them as well. They live their lives with praise in their hearts and on their lips no matter the circumstance... BUT, today they are celebrating, because HE said "YES!" We are so happy and praising God with you!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Playing "Tag"

I'm a new blogger, and when my friend, Judy, tagged me, I didn't know what that meant, so as far as I can tell, I need to answer this quiz and tag someone else (that'll be a tough one for this newbie!).

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

Let's see - 1998.  Kale was 11 years old and Tyler was 9.  I was in my 4th year working as the secretary at our church (still am today).  I was celebrating 15 years of marriage to my husband, David.  In May, Tyler and I went with Kale and his "Odyssey of the Mind" State Championship Team to World Finals at Disney World.  (That was great!!)  We were just in the beginning phase of team sports ... and yes, I was one of those Moms you wouldn't want to sit near!

1998 World Finals

2. My favorite snacks

Hmm, most people know that I'm kind of a health nut, so I'll list what I love to snack on when I'm not behaving.  I love chips and salsa, chocolate covered peanuts, mint chip ice cream, chocolate fudge pop tarts, and POPCORN with parmesan cheese on top. YUM!  But, when I'm behaving, I eat yogurt with Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal with a banana or strawberry sliced in it.  That does me good!!


3. Five things on my to-do list today

  • Lunch date with a sweet friend
  • Get ready for Vacation Bible School starting next Monday
  • Pick up a few groceries
  • Treadmill
  • Wash a load of towels


4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire

I would give money to my church to build a family life center. I'd make sure my parents were "taken care of" and of course, I'd have to spend a bit on my kids.  We would build or buy a home for our retirement years.  And, a shopping trip to NY City would probably not be out of the question.  Any takers?? (I'll be stopping by Nick Arrojo's salon to get a hair cut while I'm there!)


5.  Five jobs I've had

I've actually only worked for 3 employers since graduation, but I can break them down a bit:

  • Clerk at the local County Health Unit
  • Ranger Boats - Sportswear (Monogramming and Sales)
  • Ranger Boats - Accounts Payable
  • Ranger Boats - Secretary
  • First Baptist Church - Secretary/Treasurer

I am most blessed  to have had very godly bosses in my current job and in my last job at Ranger.  It makes going to work enjoyable!


6. Five places I've lived

(This is sad.)  I lived 13 years in my childhood home, and then we moved to Pyatt, Arkansas, where I lived with my parents until I turned 18.  I then moved to Yellville, AR (yes, there is a Yellville!).


Then, after David and I married we moved back to Pyatt for about six years, then back to Flippin where we live now (yes, there is a Flippin!).

Flippin sign

  I'm not sure you can count that as five, but it's the best I can do. 

7. Five random things people wouldn't know about me

Oh, hard!  I'm an open book ...

  • I've read everything I can find on Abbot H. Thayer (painter).  I found a reproduction at auction of a sketch of his daughter, Gladys, and it intrigued me.
  • I think Gerard Butler is the cutest thing, ever!
  • I have every Country Living magazine I've ever owned
  • When I was young I wanted to be a nun
  • Since I'm not a billionaire, I'd love for Judy to come redecorate my house on a budget for me

Gladys Thayer

8. Five CD's I would take on a desert island

I haven't bought a CD in a long time... and I'm just now figuring out how to fill my BlackBerry with music... but I'd have to have some praise music!  Of course, I'd have lots of the stuff on my playlist.  Tyler says it's people like me that American Idol gets rich off of!!


9. People I tag

There are only a few people I know who blog.  So, if you haven't already done the quiz, I tag you KELLY.

That was fun, Judy!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Second grade

I went through some old photos at my parent's house the other night and here are some that I found:

Those are shots of my parent's at their first communion. They are probably around 7 or 8 years old in those pictures.

And this is my first communion in 1972. (Any of you who know me probably could tell that's me by the knees!!) My Mom used to tell me that I could make a face like Ruth Buzzi... I can see why from this picture.

Here's a group shot (again, we're not all here). I'm holding one of my Disney watches that I received as gifts; one from my Uncle Bruno and Aunt Carol, and one from my parents (Snow White and Sleeping Beauty watches!) My Mom sported a wig for the occasion... and she said Dad never even noticed it WAS a wig! I'm not sure if someone was squeezing Dennis' arm, but he looks to be in pain and Jim (far left) has the Greg Brady thing going. Tell me those styles won't be coming back!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Our Swing Set

I tell people all the time that we had a MASSIVE swing set in our back yard growing up. But, I don't think they realize how big. My Dad got it from a park that was being renovated or replaced with construction or something. The slide was so big that if we climbed to the top we could see in everyone's back yard... and that we did! Poor neighbors couldn't have a get-together without all the Goulet kids joining the party from the top of the slide.

One of the fun things about that slide was when we used to take old potato chip bag inserts (remember the days chips came like a box of cereal ... with an inner wax bag that held the chips??) and slide down the slide over and over and slick that baby down! We used to FLY down that thing!

I got my head stuck between the hand rails once and had visions of living the rest of my life with my head stuck until my brother, Jim, came and pulled me out - HE SAVED MY LIFE! I was so grateful I cleaned his room for like a month! (It was just like a scene from the Brady Bunch.)

This is our dog, Skeeter. My Mom sent me an email reminding me about how much Skeeter enjoyed the slide. Skeeter used to line up with the kids to take a turn sliding down the slide. He'd climb the ladder up the slide and slide down just like one of the kids. When he slid down, he'd get right back in line behind the kid that slid before him!! I guess Skeeter enjoyed the view of the neighborhood as well because when there were no kids in the back yard, Skeeter would sit at the very top of the slide. Mom said some mornings when we woke up ... that's where he'd be.

My sister, Valerie, and (I think) Kristin

Those were the days when playing in the back yard was about all there was to worry about!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Kale, my oldest, lives a couple of hours away in Fayetteville where he goes to college and works. Every chance I get to go visit , I jump on it!! He has a nice little apartment and is always gracious enough to put up his mama for the night. We usually eat big and have a grand time. This weekend was lots of fun because not only did I get to go see Kale (and his girlfriend, Kayla), but Tyler went with me. Our plan was to go looking for a new car with LOTS of gas mileage. I've been driving my Pathfinder, which only gets about 15 mpg. We started on Friday evening testing cars - and car dealers - ugh! We got up Saturday morning and went to Bentonville and ended up at a Nissan dealer. We got there around 10:00 AM and left around 5:30 PM! We were worn out... but here's my grocery-getter!!

Before we left the lot, Kale traded in his SWEET Mazda CX-7 ...

for this...

We did our best to help put food on that poor car dealer's table.

My good friend, Melody, lives in Bentonville, so we decided to make a stop by her house before heading for home. She recently bought a beautiful historic home built in 1887... she's about done doing her renovations, so we got the grand tour. It's simply amazing. The architecture is so detailed and beautiful. I don't know how they did such detailed work way back then. I don't have any pictures of the inside of the house, but it's 5,000 square feet of loveliness!! Here's a shot from the outside...

Her neighborhood is filled with old historic homes. I'd love to go through the neighborhood knocking on doors asking for tours of their homes! I doubt they'd appreciate that!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Catcher's Mitts and Photo Albums

I love old things! Old houses... old pictures... old books... old songs... old classic cars... old friends... lots of old things. The older I get, the more I like old things. The older the better! When I go into an antique store I begin to yearn for the past and wonder about the history of the item and the people who owned it. I want a window into their world...

That catcher's mitt, all tattered and worn... how many little hands had used it?

That photo album with pictures and an old war-time letter still tucked inside, sitting on the store shelf as if it never meant a thing to anyone. A gift to Coralie Wimer from her grandfather on Christmas Day 1901. How does that make its way to an old dusty store shelf? (Yep, I bought it ... for some reason it was precious to me.)

I'm sure many of my posts will include old photos. I treasure them and want to preserve them for my children and their children. They tell a story that is unique and precious to our family. They speak of times gone way too fast... and remind me to slow down and be thankful for the moment I'm in.

This sweet picture is one of my favorites. It was taken on a day in 1944 of my mother and her siblings (well, my Aunt Karen wasn't born yet). That's Mom on the far left - she would've been around seven years old. I love the hair bows. (Notice the trademark curly hair.) What some beautiful kids!

Take a picture of your loved ones today!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Father's Hands

My father is quite a handy man. He has always been able to do anything he set his mind to. When I was little I remember having a conversation with my Mom about what Dad COULDN'T do... we used to try to find something, anything that my Dad couldn't do.

He builds things ... homes, decks, furniture, patios, room additions.

He fixes things ... automobiles, tractors, road graders, motor homes, plumbing, you name it.

He's even done some upholstery and created some impressive Halloween costumes over the years.

One of my favorite things Dad built was our "camper". (That's what we called it.) He took a 1955 Cadillac and cut it in half and made this camper out of it in our back yard. That's how it was for us... if my Dad wanted something, he would work to make it happen.

Can you see all the kids in the windows??

My parents always saw to it that we got to take family vacations and our camper made it possible. We had some great times in our camper!! We would all pile up top and ride down the road from the upper bunk. That was fun.

The camper also served as a "babysitter on wheels". I remember times that we'd all load up in the camper (remember we had 11 kids - or, depending on the year, however many were born at the time) to go visit relatives or friends and when it came time for bed... we'd all get put to bed in the camper. Mom and Dad would then have the rest of the evening to enjoy in relative peace.

We sold our beloved camper before our move to Arkansas, I sometimes wonder whatever became of it. Where is it today? At 53 years old... I'm sure it's seen it's last camping trip.

Camping seems to be a bit of a trend in our neck of the woods these days. Someone asked me if I liked to camp, and I have to say that while I cherish those childhood camping trips, all that pretty much changed in 1977 when we moved to Arkansas and my Dad pitched a great big ARMY tent that we would call "home" for the next year and a half. I'll have to leave that for another blog entry!!!

One of our favorite camping spots - Rock Creek, California

Sunday, June 15 is Father's Day

Thank you, Dad, for being the kind of father we can all look up to. You've given so much of yourself and sacrificed so much to provide for us all. The greatest gift you have given to me is the way you love Mom. I'm honored to call you my father. I love you!

Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The House Where I Grew Up

This is the house I grew up in... and that's my mother and my youngest son, Tyler. I got the chance to go back to California in August 2006 with Tyler. (We found out just before leaving for the trip that my parents were driving out to California and would be there while we were there... which was great!)

It was the first and only time I had been back to California since moving in 1977. Almost 30 years. I had for years literally had dreams of being in my old home, my old neighborhood, with my old friends. So, the chance to go back was awesome to me. It was especially sweet since I was going to get to share it all with Tyler. Tyler LOVES the fast lane. He loves life. He loves people. So I knew he'd get a kick out of California. The freeways, the beaches, the endless amount of relatives he would meet for the first time.

I got to go inside my old house and take pictures. The people who bought it from us still live there and were gracious enough to let me in. My dad did all the brick work that you see.

Kale got me to go on to Google Maps the other day and type in my old address... they have a "street view" now and you can actually go up and down your street and see camera shots of the neighborhoods. Try it some time... it's lots of fun and a great trip down Memory Lane!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

An Introduction

I am new at this blogging thing, but I've been reading so many blogs lately and have found them to be a source of encouragement, laughter, tears, and strength. I hope that by doing this blog, I will record some memories for my family, leave bits of my heart for others, and share the blessing it has been to me to be a part of a large family.
I have two wonderful parents who I've come to love and appreciate more and more throughout my adult years. They have been married since October 1956. Almost 52 years! That's a testimony in itself. By now you know that throughout those years they created 11, count them 11, children! I can rattle their names off in long or short form in a matter of seconds...


(Cath, Jim, Sue, Val, Den, Jacq, Dar, Rob, Shar, Kev, Kris)

I am the middle kid ... five older than me, five younger than me. I used to try to use that to make my Mom feel bad about whatever ailed me at the time... "It's cuz I'm the middle kid," I'd say. And she'd reply that just about all of us were "the middle kid" at one time or another and that was not the reason I wasn't getting my way about whatever it was.

My parents were both born in Canada and moved the same summer during their teen years to California where they met. My Dad and Mom both have pretty large families. Dad has six siblings and Mom has five. When Mom was largely pregnant with me, they moved to Placentia, California, where I was born. I lived in the same house for 13 years, until my Dad made the decision to move all of us to Arkansas - to the Ozark Mountains! They are still living in their house on the hill ... it's just the two of them now in the big house, but there's plenty of room for our family get-togethers.

I married in 1982 and my husband, David, and I have two sons. Kale is our oldest and Tyler, our youngest. They bring us so much joy and we look forward to all the blessings they will bring in our future.