Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Oldest

Today is Kale’s 22nd birthday. I’ve always been big on making family birthdays a special day.  It’s their day and I like to make a big fuss.  But, now that they’re not even children anymore, birthdays are a little different than they once were.  Since I can’t see my boy, or give him a big hug on his birthday, I want to just say a few things about the birthday boy.

David and I were married nearly four years before Kale came along.  When we got to the point that we felt “ready” to start a family (I was ready MUCH sooner than Dave), it seemed like it took forever to get pregnant.  In reality it was only 4 or 5 months.  Each month, I was just so sad when it didn’t happen.  Finally, one night as I laid in bed, I prayed to a God that I learned about as a little girl, but never really had a relationship with as an adult.  I asked Him to just give me a child and I would give him back to Him.  I didn’t know the story of Hannah (1 Samuel 1) – I just simply wanted a child to love.  But, I will say that at that very moment, I KNEW I was pregnant.  I KNEW it.  The next day, I told David that I was pregnant.  He asked me how I knew and I told him he couldn’t tell anyone, but God just let me know. We weren’t in church at the time and I just couldn’t quite explain it.  Dave, I’m sure, thought I was out of my head, but as it turned out… I was pregnant. Me at 6.5 months with Kale

Me at 6.5 mos with Kale

That begin a really special time in my life.  I was reading my Bible and talking to God in a way I never had before.  I was filled with joy and happiness and having Kale growing inside me was simply amazing.  I LOVED being pregnant.


Kale at the hospital

Kale came along 3 weeks after his due date.  A whopping 9 pound, 8 ounce baby boy.

And I realized what love was.

Kale's first doctor appointment

(What was with those glasses??)

Kale reading

Kale was always interested in learning, we noticed that from early on in his life.  When my kids were crawling age, I did a little experiment with each of them.  I placed a ball, a truck and a book in front of them and I watched to see which one they would go to first.  Every time without exception, Kale crawled to the book.  He never went to the truck or the ball. Tyler, on the other hand, NEVER went to the book, but pretty much equally went to the truck or ball.  They are still that way today. Kale is my book kid – Tyler is my active kid.

Kale at science fair 6th grade

Kale spent a lot of time in his elementary and middle school years studying the game of basketball, working on science experiments, and staying after school to visit with favorite teachers. (Jamie and Micaela’s dad used to say that Kale was the kind of kid he used to like to beat up in school. Ha!)

During his high school years he was never one to run the roads hot.  He spent most of his time tinkering with gadgets (we should’ve seen it coming)…

Kale crawled up to the TV

… and learning all about computers. When he was fourteen, he started playing piano and became quite good, even writing his own classical pieces.

Kale and birthday piano

He shares the love of the Arkansas outdoors with his Daddy and loves to hunt and fish.

Kale fishing on front steps

On New Year’s Day of his senior year. he bought two baby grand pianos.  One had been painted antique white and he decided he wanted to restore it to ebony and sell it.  And that he did. 

Top being stripped Back before Front before Keys before Leg before Side being stripped

He spent several months working on it and the night before he graduated he sold it.  We were so proud that he started a BIG project and followed through… and he’s done that in every area of his life.  Here’s the final product…

Kale and restored piano

He is now 7/8 of the way through college studying to be a Chemical Engineer.  He works hard to keep his scholarships, he’s held a job through most of his college years and makes time for Kayla and his family.

He makes us proud. I’m not only proud to call him my son, I’m also proud to call him my friend.

Happy Birthday, Kale David. 

Kale's first birthday

We love you with our whole hearts!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Let’s Talk About the Budget


Every year at the first of the year, I get a little OCD and reevaluate and refresh our budget. I think tax time throws me into it.  For about twenty years I’ve used financial software to track our spending and I’ve done some unorthodox things to try to make ends meet.

Back in our young married (and not so intelligent) years, we spent what we made and whenever a “big” bill came due (like quarterly auto insurance), I’d have to figure out a way to come up with a chunk of money that I had not prepared for.  Same thing with Christmas, etc.  So, my first attempt at being budget-minded included opening a separate checking account that I would transfer money to each month (just like paying a bill) that included:

  • Utilities
  • Christmas spending
  • Auto insurance
  • Property and Real Estate taxes
  • Clothing budget
  • Gifts (other than Christmas)

I took yearly averages (that’s what’s great about having tracking software – you can see in an instant what you spend in any given time) and came up with monthly amounts to transfer.  When the bills came due… I had no worries, because the money was just there!  It’s basically “the envelope system” – Jacquie’s way.

A year or two ago, I opened yet another checking account that promised a great interest rate… so I started filtering most of the money there and adding as much savings money as I could put back.  I added a new “envelope” for short-term savings (an item I wished to purchase that I would save for, or for a vacation or something of that nature.  I saved for a year before buying a TV.  In a year, you pretty well know it’s not an impulse buy. I’m learning self-discipline, too).

Well, since the economy has gone south, so has our great interest rate. From 4.0% to .33%.  You did notice that has a POINT in front of it, didn’t you?

Once again, I’ve decided it’s time to regroup.

So for the past couple weeks I’ve been spending countless hours reworking the budget and the envelopes and even the bank accounts.  I’m purging all of our accounts into two.  One for our home expenses and one for Dave’s farm expenses.  The new account is currently earning 3.42%APR (down from 5.0+%APR, but this account is set up to try to stay above current CD rates at any given time).  It will be MUCH easier to keep track of “envelopes” having only one general account to operate from. And hopefully, it won’t take near as long to reconcile three accounts or to pay bills.  Simplicity.  It’s a beautiful thing.

I’m learning a few things in my research as well.  I had decided using Quicken to track envelopes (which I don’t think many people are doing) was a bit tricky, so I spent a week or two researching “budget software for the envelope system”.  I heard an advertisement for one on Shawn Hannity’s radio show one day and that piqued my interest.  I decided on a free 30-day trial of one called "MVelopes".  It does exactly what I wanted to do, but seems a bit cumbersome as well, plus it doesn’t track categories for taxes as accurately as Quicken does. (If you use it, PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong).  MVelopes charges a monthly fee – which is something I’d like to avoid since all this is about using our finances wisely.

If anything, I’m stubborn and set on figuring stuff out by myself, so after a few weeks with limited sleep, I ended up devising a way to use my current Quicken system having to make just a few changes and so far it’s working PERFECTLY! I can just hit a report button and see how much money I have in the bank at one time and how much is allocated to each envelope.  It’s simple.

Do any of you obsess like this over finances? Do you use financial software or budget similarly?  I’d LOVE to hear what you do and how it’s worked for you.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Special Day on the Calendar

March 26 is a special day on the calendar…

Today is my Dad’s 74th birthday. I’ve talked a lot about my father in my blog. I wrote this post for him for Father’s Day last year that tells a lot about how talented he is. Here are some more “Dad facts”.

My Dad has always been a hard worker.

He can do whatever he sets his mind to.

He is a political junkie.

He likes to stay busy.

He enjoys gardening.

He lost his leg nearly 6 years ago and has never let it stop him from getting around. (I’ll have to post someday about the trip he took to New York to buy a bus off eBay a week after he got out of the hospital after losing his leg!!)

He was the disciplinarian in our home – and we actually hated to hear the words “just wait til your father gets home.”

He loved his parents and cared for them until they were gone – even when he had a large family of his own to take care of.

He loves my mother and has modeled that love throughout my entire life.

He is a great Dad!

Dads familyDad is in the front row, 3rd from left. Cute!!

Dad 1957

Dad and Mom at fund raiser

Happy Birthday, Dad.

I love you!!

My Dad shares a birthday with someone who is also very special to our family, “Grandma Mo”. Ramona is a dear friend from our church. My children were very young (Kale was in 3rd grade and Tyler was in the 1st) when David’s mother died. Ramona came to my children and told them that although she could never replace their grandma, she’d sure like to be a grandma to them. And she meant it! From that day on, she was called “Grandma Mo” and she loved my children like her own. They would never believe she wasn’t their “real” grandma. She was their grandma in every sense of the word. A few years ago, she moved a couple hours away to be near her “real” family and we miss her so much!! We could never repay her for giving so much of herself to mend my children’s hearts and make them feel special. We love you, Ramona. You’re the BEST!

And – Jamie is having her baby (Crosby) today!! Can’t wait to see the photos!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It’s Not Even My Birthday

When I went to Kale’s a couple of weeks ago, the first thing he did (after I got my hug) was show me his new Dell laptop computer.  A while back he bought a new Mac desktop computer and generously brought me his laptop to “use” thinking he didn’t have a need for it.  But, later decided he could use one again and didn’t have the heart to tear me away from my newfound “friend”, hence the new laptop.  He let me tinker with it a bit.  It had the neatest little Bluetooth mouse that I thought would be pretty handy to have.

Well today while I was working, the UPS man came in (don’t y’all just love the UPS man?) and brought in a couple packages.  I asked Steve if he’d ordered something and he hadn’t and we saw it was a box from Amazon with my name on it  (so he accused me of buying and forgetting). Because, let me tell you, Amazon is the “gettin’ place”!! Love it!

Well, I tore into my package – and look what I found!

Microsoft Bluetooth mouse

Have I said lately how happy my boys make me??

Speaking of boys, the pictures of Baby Stellan in this post and this post by MckMama today completely tear at my heart and make me weep.  I find it so hard to concentrate while my mind is so often thinking of this sweet family and praying.  Please continue to lift them up!

Monday, March 23, 2009

We Interrupt This Episode of 24…

I wasn’t planning on posting tonight because… well, Jack Bauer is busy saving the country from terrorists.

But, I wanted to take a moment to ask for prayer for Baby Stellan


I found MckMama’s blog sometime last summer when Stellan was a sick little baby in-utero. The doctors said he would never survive outside the womb.  As with Baby Harper, people EVERYWHERE prayed and God did a miracle and today Stellan is a precious nearly 5 month old baby.  He’s had an unexpected turn of events and is in need of our prayers.  I feel for his momma and the worry she must be feeling.  This song, by Mark Shultz, has been on my heart all day.

Please, please pray for this sweet baby and his parents as they sit at his bedside begging God for their son.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

One Gone, One Home

Tyler is on a camping trip with Courtney and her family.  They’re riding dirt bikes and 4-wheelers and having an all-around good time – I may never see him again.

But, I did get to see my oldest this weekend.  Kayla went home to see her folks and Kale came home to see us.  The weather wasn’t altogether great, but he and his Dad did go on a “hog hunt” yesterday afternoon with his Aunt Carla (Dave’s sis) - which was probably the highlight of his weekend. 

(He’s got a little of his Dad in him.)

He brought his laptop and the two of us spent several hours sitting side-by-side on the couch with our computers.

(He’s got a little of his Momma in him, too.)

The weekend was way too short, but he and Kayla will be back in a few weeks for Turkey season.

And… Tyler just texted me to let me know he’s alive and not in a hospital somewhere.

That’s music to a Momma’s ears…

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sharon #9

Yesterday was the first day of Spring! I’m so excited about the prospect of warmer temps and the season’s colors.

Today is my little sister, Sharon’s birthday. 

Goulet family 1973 - Sharon

She is 39 and holding!

I remember the day Sharon was born.  Her birth is the first one I really remember much about.  I was almost 6 years old.  I recall standing in the kitchen watching my father call person after person saying “It’s a girl”.  You remember the days when people didn’t know “what” they were having?

Sharon is all grown up now, a nurse by trade, and a momma by heart.  She has four children who are highly entertaining.

I think she gets all the medical-related phone calls from our family members (I’m guilty of seeking info myself).  Her days are filled with sports and dance and all the things that come with being a mom.  Her oldest is graduating from high school and heading to college this year, so she’s entering new heart territory.

If you asked Sharon what being my sister was like… one thing she’d tell you was how I used to be obsessed with getting the supper dishes finished before people were pretty much even done with their last bite.  I was all about sleep during my high school years.  I’d be asleep most school nights by 7 or 8 PM – depending on whether or not “Magnum PI” was on. Magnum in 1980 was akin to Jack Bauer in 2009 to me.  Anyway, when Sharon didn’t respond as eagerly as I hoped… she’d get pelted in the face with warm soapy water from the dish brush.   I’m sure she can recall lots of other sisterly things I did that my memory has selectively erased at this stage of my life.

I love being from a big family… and I’m blessed to have five sisters.

The girls at Moms

August 2008

L-R: Valerie #4, Me #6, Sharon #9 (the birthday girl), Mom, and Suzanne #3 (she just had her birthday on March 15) Sisters not pictured: Cathy #1 and Kristin #11

It’s so hard to believe so much time has passed…

Sharon and Mom  Sharon and Memere Sharon on teeter totter Sharons first birthday


Happy Birthday, Sharon.

I love you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fique Tranquilo

My Photo

I would like you to meet a sweet, talented young lady who I’ve had the opportunity to begin to get to know in the last couple of months.  She is Tyler’s girlfriend, Courtney.  Courtney has just started blogging (again) and I wanted all my blog friends to meet her. 

She is a great photographer… and she takes lots of pictures of my cute son.

Her blog is titled “Fique Tranquilo” – which she tells me means “No Worries”. Yep, she and Tyler have lots in common!!

If you get a chance, hop over to her blog and welcome her.  Oh, and her birthday is this Sunday! Happy Birthday, Courtney!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Girl Time

Jodi and I needed a little “girl time”… so after church yesterday  we headed off to the movie theater.  Tyler’s girlfriend (Hey, Courtney!) works at one of our movie theaters and since he’s seen about everything… he gave us some advice on what we should see.  We wanted a fun movie, nothing too heavy, so he recommended…

Mall Cop

Mall Cop

Jodi and I both really like Kevin James… and we thought this movie was just so cute.  We don’t laugh out loud often at the movie theater (in fact, we elbow each other a lot when women are laughing raucously at not-so-funny stuff in theaters)…  but we did laugh out loud several times at “Paul Blart”. 

That Kevin James is hilarious!!

And after seeing the movie, we’ve decided we each want a “Segway”.  We’re thinking we could get some serious gas mileage using one of these babies in the Spring and Summer months!!

Paul Blart Segway

Can’t you just picture us riding along together, side by side, on our way to the gym??

After the movie, I got a yummy Chocolate Extreme Blizzard and Jodi took over the driving responsibility so I could thoroughly enjoy the calories.  Because that’s what friends are for.

It was a fun  day… made even more enjoyable by the fact that Jodi stayed AWAKE during the entire movie!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Suzanne #3

Goulet family 1973 - Suzanne

Today is my sister Suzanne’s 49th birthday!! She is the third child and the second girl in our family.

Suz and I grew up very close even though there are four years between us.  We’ve been through a lot together and we have a lot of laughs remembering how goofy we were as kids.

Growing up, she was my “partner in crime”.  When I was up to something mischievous… Suz was usually not too far away.  I think it’s safe to say we’ve both learned a lot since then, though.

She and I share a passion for health and fitness. However, she inherited more domestic genes than I did.  Over the years, she’s learned to work with her hands from both of my parents.  She is an avid gardener and loves to cook and bake and try out gourmet recipes.  (I’m all about recipes that call for a maximum of five ingredients!!)  She can sew and upholster, too.   When she and her husband built their home, Suz did a lot of the work herself, including tile work.

I remember when she got her first car in high school (an AMC Hornet, I believe)… you could find her often with her head under the hood working on it.

She’s been there for me throughout my life and I’m blessed to call her my sister!




Happy Birthday, Suzanne!

I love you.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fun with K & K

Thursday evening I went to Kale’s.  The weather turned out just fine!! I had hinted pretty hard to Kayla that I wanted to try to stay on diet, so  we went to eat at TGI Fridays and I had the Sirloin and Broccoli.  Afterward, we picked up a few groceries at the store and went back to Kale’s and made some protein pudding for dessert.  I also got some hummus for them to try – which didn’t go over all that well – and some Joseph’s pitas for Kayla to try… since I love them with my whole heart!

Friday morning, she and Kyla and I all went to the gym for a workout.  Kayla’s got a nice gym at her apartment – lucky her!  It was fun and I was so glad to get to meet Kyla in person. (Shout out, Kyla!!)

After our workout, we took my car by the dealership for a service appointment and Kayla and I went to get showers… and get ready for Kayla’s hair appointment that was at noon.  She wanted a big change from the long hair she’s had for a long time, so she took pictures for the stylist to see and it turned out so cute.  Go check out her blog to see “before” and “after” pictures!! She’s adorable!

When we got to the salon, James greeted us warmly.  He is a really nice and friendly guy.  His shop is cute… it’s decorated nicely and he’s got some artwork on display.  As we were visiting, he mentioned that he had worked in Eureka Springs before coming to Bentonville.  I asked him what salon he had worked in and he said “Vintage Cargo”… which is where I had my hair done several years ago (another referral from Melody) while I was at a women’s retreat there.  I said, “Did YOU do my hair??” and he said, “I thought you looked familiar!!”  Same guy.  It was hilarious!

If you’re looking for a stylist in the Bentonville area, James Evans (J Evans Salon) is really good!  (He’s actually in Rogers.)

He had a little 92 year-old woman come in to have a cut/style while we were there and she fell asleep in the chair.  It was precious!! (Made me think of Ms. Charlsie)

Kayla and I went shopping today… and I left early this evening to come home.  It’s always hard to leave… they treat me so well when I’m there.

Can I just say to you, young mothers… enjoy your babies while they are young.  Enjoy them when they become school-age.  Enjoy those DIFFICULT middle school years.  Enjoy their budding (and fun) personalities in the teen years.  I have LOVED every age my children have been – even the middle school years – which were the biggest challenge for me. (You have to be the parent, not the friend, and some days that’s REALLY hard!)

But, being a mother is such a blessing. And when you get “done” with your job, and your children have become adults… that’s when you get your wages!  They’re not only your children, they’re your friends!

Kale and Jacquie 031409

Jacquie and Kayla 031409

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No Snow, Please!!

I have/had plans to go spend Thursday and Friday nights with Kale at Fayetteville, but now the weather man is calling for SNOW!! It’s March 11th, already!  I really want to go! Kayla, Kyla, and I have plans to workout together Friday morning.  I also have a car appointment Friday morning – and Kayla and I have BIG plans for Friday afternoon.  More on that later.  Please pray the roads will stay safe enough to drive tomorrow.


As for my reality TV fix for the week…

Amazing Race

The U-Turn got ‘em this week:

That may come back to haunt the Mom and Son team.

 24 Season 7 I am officially mourning the loss of Bill Buchanan. Although, he could still come back to life.  However, I’ve learned to not get too attached to any character on “24”… because they think NOTHING of offing them.

Aaron Pierce is still my favorite Secret Service agent! (Ok, Writers, I AM attached to Aaron!)

Renee Walker did me proud.

And… once again, Jack is in another “scrape” (as David puts it).

Could we call it “48” and have two hour episodes each week, please??

 Biggest Loser Couples

This was one strange episode.  So far this season, I’ve felt that these were some of the nicest people they’ve ever selected.  Then you have the Black team getting 24 hours of luxury and ending up with 24 hours of revelry.  Of course, Jillian flips out over that… but then Filipe loses his temper because Jillian never worked him one-on-one in the gym in at least a 2-hour period.  (What was up with that?  Why would Jillian not work one-on-one with him? They didn’t reveal that.)  She was, however, pretty relieved to see them go… which makes me think they never got over losing their trainer “Bob”.  In the end, poor Mandi went home.  Someone from the Black team really should have made an exit.

I like Ron… but I hate to tell the Blue team, they’ll probably not win many challenges with him still on their team… he’s a bit handicapped.  Just sayin’.

 after-american-idol-its-time-for-vietnam-idol_14 I haven’t watched the results show, yet, but there were some good performances last night on American Idol.  I’m still pulling for Danny and Kris.

Here are some of my thoughts:

Adam would make a good lead singer for a heavy metal band… can you say Axl Rose??

I’m just not that into Lil.

Michael Sarver had a little bit of Michael English going on.

For a 16 year old – that Allison has a voice.

Rockin’ Robin – Megan, that was just uncomfortable to watch.

And, please, please, no more Michael Jackson stuff!! I wish they’d let them choose their own songs each week.


Is this time change still whoopin’ y’all?  I’ve been dragging all week!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Branson, Bee, Boats and a BABY!

Friday at noon, Jodi and I decided to take a quick trip to Branson to visit T.J. Maxx (a huh!), Target (Jodi’s fave), and the Gap.  Branson is about an hour and a half drive from home and we planned on being back by supper… so it was a QUICK trip.

We stopped at Subway in Harrison (about half-way there) for a lunch salad and as we were going in, I grabbed the door handle and got stung on my right ring finger. I saw something fly out from behind the handle, I don’t know if it was a bee, wasp, or what, but it was capable of setting said ring finger on FIRE!  I got in line with Jodi trying to pretend I didn’t want to cry – or pass out – like a real trooper.  I stood there shaking my hand at a rapid pace and even tried to suck the venom out (bitter, I tell you).  It was a picture of grace.

We were thinking I may have to put my arm in a sling or something and Jodi had a couple of layers on, so she offered to make one out of one of her shirts.  I was wishing I’d worn a scarf for an easy sling – or to use as a tourniquet if necessary.

Last night it started itching and today I’ve got the hyde nearly scratched off… here’s a shot of my now ring-less ring finger…


From the looks of it, you’d think it stung me on the knuckle, but actually it got me right below my fingernail.  It’s a good thing I took my ring off or they may have had to amputate!

(I hate my hands… I can’t believe I just posted this picture on the WORLD WIDE web.)

On our way home from Branson, Gary called Jodi and told her that they needed to take a couple of boats to BRANSON for an upcoming tournament.  So, he called David and as soon as we got back to Flippin, we turned around and headed back to Branson.  It was as it should be - Gary and Dave in one vehicle chatting away (as men do), while Jodi and I towed the other boat and we couldn’t find a thing in the world to talk about!  Yeah. Right.

We dropped off the boats about 9 PM, and decided it was time for supper.  So, we found a Chili’s that was close and had supper at 9:30. (For those of you trying to eat healthy, try the Guiltless Grill menu at Chili’s.  I had the black bean burger with grilled broccoli and black beans and it is SO good!  Jodi got the grilled chicken platter.)

Howards 030609 at Chilis

You can tell we’re TIRED – it was way passed our bedtimes!

Us at Chilis 030609

We got home around midnight.  Total Friday driving time = 6 hours!

Saturday my niece, Lindsey, was in with her brand new baby for a baby shower.  Several weeks ago, Kayla and I went to Branson to buy her baby gift and I finally got to give it to her. I fell in love with Gymboree! And little GIRL stuff!



Her first bathing suit


Since Lindsey and her husband, Jessie, live a couple of hours away, we hadn’t seen baby “Rylee” yet… so Carla (David’s sister) invited us for supper so Dave could meet his new grandniece.  Carla fixed a great supper and we had such a good time getting to visit and HOLD THE BABY!

Us and Rylee 030709

Rylee 030709 (3)

Can I just say how much I want one these??? Yes, I know I’m almost 45 years old.  But, still.  Either I’m bound to have another – or God’s preparing me to be a grandma. (No pressure, Kale!)

Hope y’all had a great weekend. I’m off to elevate my ring finger.