|Happy New Year! It's been
a really long time since we've done a family newsletter — maybe 2003. In
July 2003, Carrie started her company, Soar with Eagles, and that has pretty
much consumed every free moment. However, it's given us an option to go
paperless with it. Now with social media tools like Facebook, we are able to keep our friends updated more frequently. However, it's still nice to do a year in review type of thing like a family newsletter.
After a nine-month home search that involved offers on five different houses, we ended up buying a short sale that needed some work. We closed on it in May and moved in in July. We finally ended up renting the Mallard house in late October. The new house has great bones but needed updates and repairs. It's mostly cosmetic but things like new heat and air systems are really expensive. This house gives us the extra space we needed to keep our business at home. We were writing off 20% of the old house for business use, plus we had a storage unit across town full of the Black Dog DJ and Sound equipment.
Here's just a quick overview of our businesses. Soar with Eagles is Carrie's business. She books professional speakers, trainers, and consultants for companies all over the country. She also provides a suite of services for speakers, trainers, consultants, and authors. Most of that is book publishing but she can do things like one-sheets (a speaker or author marketing too), CD covers, and business cards. She also can put together a full branding package that includes video, photography, and websites, thanks to great third-party relationships).
Tom's business is Black Dog DJ and Sound. His target market is Baby Boomers. He can deejay all kinds of events because his music collection is large. However, his real expertise is the music of the 1960s and 1970s. He is set up to do conferences and business meetings too. He can also bring in karaoke too.
Tom has been playing in a band called Paper Jam for awhile. The band has been around for several years. Their playlist includes tunes from the 1950s to the 1970s. When they lost their backup singer late in 2011, Carrie stepped in to help. Her only rock band training includes singing in the car with the radio and watching the Partridge Family. She's coming along though.
We still live in Rogers. We moved from the northwest part of the city (just four miles from Tom's office at Walmart) to the southeast part of the city. It's now a 10-mile commute which we whine about. I know, you're probably thinking that 10 miles is nothing. For the last fifteen years, we've never had a commute more than four miles. Most of that was a two-mile commute because our offices were located even close to the house at one of Walmart's satelite locations.
Carrie celebrated her 10-year anniversary of leaving Walmart in April. Tom still works for the company. It was 28 years in the summer. He works in the training area where he has spent most of his post-store operations life. For the last several years, he's been a country host at the Walmart Shareholders Meeting. They bring in a few thousand people from stores around the world. He's responsible for people from a particular country. The last couple of years, he's been responsible for the visitors from Chile. He had a few visitors from South Africa because the Walmart was in the process of buying a company there.
Tom started working with an initiative that helps new acquisitions get up to speed quickly on things like information systems, training, culture, merchandising systems, and more. It was in addition to his regular responsibilities. Tom worked extensively with South Africa on the training and culture piece. It's perfect for him and he really enjoyed it. South Africa is eight hours ahead of us in Arkansas so they work a full day before the day even starts here.
Tom spent a total of six weeks there the last part of the year. He would work there all day and then come back to the hotel to handle things he was responsible for in Bentonville. Longs days but a good experience. It has accounted for about 30 to 40% of his job but is starting to become less as South Africa gets up to speed on everything. It's a big sacrifice for his department because they have to pick up when he's tied up with the work with South Africa. While he'd like to take on the next country too, he's unsure that his deparment could spare the time.
Tom's parent have been gone a few years now. We've finally liquidated most of their items except for the Deck of Chords inventory and the extensive library of music his dad wrote. I don't know if we'll ever be able to do anything with it but maybe there's some chance with the band now. Deck of Chords is his dad's invention. It's a guitar-teaching tool. It is basically an deck of playing cards with guitar chords. He and a partner invented them in the mid 1960s. (www.deckofchords.com).
All Carrie's hard work on the business is finally paying off. You can bounce around the site to learn more about the business. Basically, Soar with Eagles offers consulting, training, publishing, and conference design services which includes a professional speaker bureau. The speaker bureau is really the cornerstone of the company and but has taken a backseat to the publishing portion of the business. About half of what we do is for the Christian book market.
We still have the office in our home. Tom and Carrie shared an office and then she had to take over another bedroom in the house for the world headquarters of Soar with Eagles. Two offices and four closets contain stuff for the business. In addition, we use the dining room often too. Carrie had a marketing coordinator for four months in 2005 and his office space was in the dining room. We thought we might buy a house to covert into a retreat facility last year but the business needs to be a bit more profitable first. We still have some equipment to buy for the conference business and then maybe we'll consider it. Carrie would rather have a housekeeper and lawn service more than an office outside the house.
Darcie's son, Robert, will be two February 20.
We have had four dogs for a long time. Our house was described by the neighbors for many years as the house with the black dogs. We've named it the House of the Black Dogs. We still have four: two litter mates, Speckles and Snapper (age 14), Jazmin (age 11), and Midgieboy (age 5).
Carrie has done a lot of volunteer work over the years.
Carrie's parents are still in Tulsa. Wayne is now retired and Phyllis is still working for Wal-Mart. Wayne had quintuple bypass surgery in October and is doing pretty well. He's managing to eat better and get some exericise now. That's good for his diabetes too. He's still selling his Book of Jasher (www.jasher.com/) on the internet and spends time in his music studio composing. Phyllis spent a good deal of time over the last several year's caring for the elderly and sick in her family as well as aging dogs. Now, that they've all passed on, she relaxes some and works around the house.
Carrie's brother Kevin and his family live in Worcester, MA. There are four kids so scheduling and travel make it difficult to see them as often as we'd like. I don't think I've seen all the kids in three or so years.
Tom's sister, Kathy, and her husband, Dana, live in Pennsylvania. Dana builds log cabins and Kathy now has a successful miniature horse breeding farm called Willowell Farms. They are so, so cute. She also has some regular-sized horses. It's a good thing they live far away because we'd probably end up with one of those too.
That's about all we have to report right now. I hope you'll check back frequently as we hope to add photos and updates periodically.