The Board BBQ

Our Board BBQ last night was delightful! I got home from the Henderson Regional moments before our first guests arrived, so I was ready when the party started!

We only get together as a board with spouses once a year for a little gathering, and this is the first year that everyone has made it! I was thrilled! And since we have two relatively new board members (they joined us last year), it was nice that everyone could have a chance to get to know each other in a casual setting.

We did something a little different this year for dinner. Shanna “catered” the meal, and had all the makings for shish kabobs ready and waiting. Everyone got to make their own shish kabob, with their favorite meat and fixings, and it was delicious.

Shanna had also made a gorgeous cake. It was so beautiful, in fact, that someone asked who was getting married! Check out the photos on Shanna’s blog, and you’ll see what I’m talking about!

I’m not a game girl, so every year, instead of playing games, I ask the board members and their spouses one question. Last year the question was: What is one thing that no one in this room (except maybe your spouse) knows about you—and would be surprised to find out?

This year the question required less thought: How did you and your spouse meet?

We had a wonderful discussion, with both spouses chiming in and adding bits and pieces to the story. Everyone got to ask questions, and it was a great way to get to know everyone a little bit better!

 

Where It All Started

Being in Nevada the past two days for our Henderson regional has brought back a lot of memories—Stampin’ Up! was born in Nevada! I saw a lot of demonstrators from those early days (LOVED it!), and enjoyed meeting new demonstrators as well . . . we had lots demonstrators joining us from nearby Arizona and California as well.

I have quite a few family members who live in the area, so on the rare occasions when I visit Vegas, I try to see them. I was happy to have dinner both nights (Thursday and Friday) with relatives. When I say I got to spend time with family, this time I mean both my Stampin’ Up! family, as well as my own family!  That was a personal highlight for me.

I am really enjoying the new demonstrator booths at regionals (if you haven’t see them yet, just wait!). They change every day, kind of like Workshops Wows, and it’s fun to see the demonstrators’ creativity and their enthusiasm as they share with everybody.

My project this regional was another Halloween one, similar to the one on page 10 in the Holiday Mini Catalog, only this one is almost twice as large. It’s not a project you’d demonstrate at a workshop, but it could be a class project, I think. . . not too hard but kind of detailed. (These aren't the best photos . . . sorry, but I took them in the hotel and the lighting wasn't great.)

These are this years’ Halloween home décor gifts for my girls, and I’m thrilled that I was able to do two of them this week (one for each regional) . That means I only have a couple left to do, and they’ll get their Halloween gift before Halloween. . . there’s a shocker!

I had to leave the regional a little early . . . we had a Stampin’ Up! board BBQ scheduled tonight at our home, and even though they are all wonderful people, I didn’t think Sterling would want to host them all alone! I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow. . .

Another Summer BBQ Success

Yesterday was our annual summer barbecue and volleyball tournament at the home office. We’ve done this for several years now, and I’ve blogged about it for several years, so forgive me if I repeat something. . . .

I do love this summer celebration. Years ago, we used to sponsor a family day at an amusement park, and while that was enjoyable in a different way, I have to admit that I like what we do now much better! When we went to the park, I didn’t see very many of the employees because they were off with their families. And while that was definitely a good thing, I just really enjoy visiting with the people I work with!

Today I sat and watched several of the volleyball games and chatted with others who were doing the same. I enjoyed seeing a different side of our employees—a much more casual (and in some cases more competitive) side. We all get to dress casual, so everyone was wearing capris or shorts, T-shirts, flip flops. . . the type of thing our dress code normally doesn’t permit. And the more casual style created a more lighthearted mood. . . there was plenty of laughter and fun!

Every year our volleyball tournament gets a little more exciting. We put up the nets a week or so ago so teams who had signed up could practice on their breaks or after hours, and I know several teams did exactly that. In addition, I heard that at least one team practiced offsite. Now that’s dedication—or competition!

I enjoyed watching the games, and while I knew I couldn’t have a favorite (that just wouldn’t be right!), I did watch one team with particular interest. Each team has a name, and one team had dubbed themselves the So Shelli Collection! I was quite proud of them for making it all the way to the challenge round, finally losing to our perennial champions, Team Zilla.

It was a very hot day—almost 10 degrees warmer than our average temp for this time of year, and I was very grateful for the occasional light breeze. But I’d rather it be warm than stormy. . .  and we’ve had plenty of that weather this summer! The food was, as always, delicious as well. I just can’t think of anything that could have been improved on. I would definitely call it another successful summer BBQ!

 

Whew! Glad That's Over!

I taught the Relief Society (which is a group of women in our church) lesson yesterday, and it was a great experience!

I have to admit I was a little out of my comfort zone . . . I speak in front of hundreds (at regionals) and even thousands (at convention), but this was different. When I’m on stage at Stampin’ Up! events, I’m not wanting a back-and-forth discussion; in fact, I think that would be called heckling . . . definitely NOT what I’m looking for! At Church, I was actually hoping the women would participate and we could have a meaningful discussion.

And they did, thank heavens! Our topic was family responsibilities, and I had done all I could to prepare. . . reading the lesson several weeks ago, gathering information and quotes, reading supplemental articles, identifying  what flower arrangements and tablecloth to take (yes, even at church I want to “set the mood”). Sara helped me brainstorm a little bookmark handout, and Shanna had made them while I was at regionals. I had even thought about what I was going to wear! (I know, I know. . . it’s the Type A coming out in me.)

We talked about responsibilities of parents generally, as well as mothers and fathers specifically, and even of children. We didn’t get through half of what I had prepared, but that’s OK. I knew going into it that I had more information than I needed, but I’d rather have too much than not enough!

The one regret I had was not ending the lesson with a one- or two-sentence recap of the message I really wanted them to take home—which was that a loving, happy family doesn’t happen by accident; the family that prays together, plays together, eats together, and works togethers . . . stays together. We must be willing to sacrifice for our families and give them what matters the most, which is almost always our time!

I mentioned the concept and idea several times throughout the lesson, just not quite as concisely and succinctly as I would have liked. Oh well. I don’t think any of the women noticed; hopefully, they thought it was a fine lesson without that short little recap at the end. But I learned something, and next time I teach, I’ll definitely have a short re-cap sentence or two highlighted in my notes!

In the meantime, I’m hoping that the bookmark handout will be a good reminder of the idea of spending time with our families. It’s simple—probably the most simple project I’ve done in a long, long time!—and Shanna, who was working on them for me, kept asking me if I was sure that this is what I wanted. But sometimes simple is best, and it felt right for this project!

Teaching my first lesson to adults in years (I’ve been working in Primary, which is for children ages 18 months through 11 years) was a great way to start the day, and we ended the day perfectly as well. Phoebe celebrated her 3rd birthday with a fairy party (read Shalae’s blog for the details), and Shanna created a fairy cake that was darling (see Shanna’s blog for pictures).

A Different Show

The first regional of the year is always exciting, and this year, the minute I walked into the room, I knew it was going to be new and different. I won’t go into details (don’t want to give it away for those who will be attending this year), but it was a fresh, fun event that kept many of the great things about regionals that people love, while adding elements that made it a wonderful new experience!

 The energy in the room was high, which is great if you’re one of the presenters! The presenters were all fabulous—I learned new things listening to each of them. The weather cooperated perfectly. I loved chatting with our demonstrators and guests . . . the whole regional felt more relaxed.

Demonstrators who I talked to agreed . . . we think it’s because of the changes in the agenda. Several demonstrators mentioned that they were able to finish their Make & Takes (one demonstrator told me she calls them Take & Never Make . . . I laughed), which almost never happens. Overall, it was just a comfortable, casual atmosphere.

I left the minute we ended our Saturday regional—literally. I walked off the stage grabbed my luggage (which was backstage) and headed for the airport. I have some Church responsibilities tomorrow morning, so I had to get home tonight. (I’m teaching adults for the first time in years. . . .feeling a little nervous!) I’m sad to miss helping out cleaning up and hanging out with our home office staff; that’s always a highlight for me.

Here’s my regional project—our Halloween treat for the grandkids. It was kind of fun being a little bit ahead of the game this year. Typically I show a project for an occasion that is only a few days away, and so, while people might like it, they often can’t actually use it. Since it’s only August, several demonstrators mentioned that they were going to do this project at a Halloween workshop or class . . . I’m glad I could help out! And I’m also glad that I’ve got our grandchildren’s surprises done; all I have left to do is buy the surprise inside!

This was made using the Petal Cone die for the bat’s body and the Perfect Pennant die for his wings. Notice the veins on the bat’s wings? Made using the spider web embossing folder  . . . I thought that was a nice touch. I also embossed tiny bats (from the Wicked Cool Set) on the bat’s body and finished the project with a light (very, VERY light) spray of adhesive and sprinkling of Dazzling Diamonds.

It’s easy, although not necessarily quick. But there are several steps you could eliminate to simplify the project. Our grandchildren won’t necessarily appreciate the time and effort that went into this, but I know their moms will confiscate this little fellow as soon as the candy is gone to use as Halloween  décor!

A Good Week. . .

This has been a good week so far!

I’ve been able to have lunch one-on-one with two of my daughters—that alone would have made the week great!

I loved being back in the office again . . . I feel such an energy and enthusiasm there that always rejuvenates me!

I’ve even got my three days of yoga in already (which rarely happens), but there’s no Bikram yoga in Charlotte, so I had to get it done here.

And I’ve gotten quite a few things checked off my to-do list, both at work and at home.

Nothing particularly spectacular, but just a nice balance of work and family and personal, without a lot of stress or pressure.

Of course, as I write that, I’m working tonight on finalizing my projects and packing for our first regional of the year (here I come, North Carolina!), so I guess I’ll be feeling a little pressure tonight. (smile)

But it’s all good, and I’m looking forward to visiting with our demonstrators in Charlotte this weekend. While I don’t love the traveling, it’s worth every minute to be with people I love!

Our Strawberry Ride

Every year we try to get together at least once with a group of riding friends—we call it our Strawberry Ride, because we usually camp near Strawberry Reservoir here in Utah, a short hour-and- a-half drive from our home. 

Because it’s so close, those who ride (and that's everyone but me) have time for a short ride in the evening, and then there’s time for a longer ride the next day.

We also enjoy visiting over the campfire and catching up.  It’s a quick trip, but it’s one I look forward to because I enjoy the company, as well as the chance to relax a bit.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t ride on these outings. I take work with me, as well as try to catch up on reading. This trip Shanna came as well. She went on the short evening rides, but stayed back at camp with me on the long ride (she was banged up in a moped mishap and was taking it a little easy), so we got to chat as well. 

Those who ride always come back to camp talking about how beautiful the ride was, and I enjoy the scenery at camp as well! Taking the time to enjoy and appreciate nature always seems to bring peace to my soul, and I think others feel that way as well. So it was definitely a peaceful trip! 

Keeping Things Interesting

I’ve mentioned before that I send out birthday cards to our Stampin’ Up! employees, so that means I sign (including a short, personal message) several hundred cards a year. I love honoring our employees, so I enjoy sending the cards, BUT I do get tired of signing the same card over and over. . .

So, we create a new “male” and “female” card every month or so, just to keep things interesting for me! Once we create the first card, Shanna makes a batch of 25 or so of each, and then I’m good to go for a month or two.

Spoiler alert: If you’re a Stampin’ Up! employee, stop reading here if you want to be surprised when you get your card! (smile)

Here’s the newest batch. . . .

 

Best Vacation Ever!

Earlier this year we were at a fundraising event, and one of the items that came up for auction was a week at a vacation home on the beach in Cabo. The house had six rooms and six bathrooms . . . just enough for each of our six adult families to have some privacy. We bid on the vacation and were thrilled when we won it—we were helping out a great cause, plus we had a great excuse to plan a Gardner Grown-Up Gathering!

So last week we flew off to Cabo—Sterling and I and each of our girls and their husbands. We have wanted to get away with just the grown-up Gardners for years (the last time we did it was eight years ago, when only two of our girls were married), but this was the first time we’ve been able to make it happen.

It definitely won’t be the last! It was the best vacation ever! I LOVE spending time with our family, and I adore our grandchildren. But guess what? I discovered that when you travel with all adults, you don’t have to worry about entertaining people, or cleaning up after people, or taking care of people. Imagine that!

We arrived in Cabo on Saturday afternoon, and spent the evening getting settled in. On Sunday, we headed into town to attend church. We had kind of a hard time finding the church; I even wondered if we’d miss the meeting. But then Shanna got out and showed off her Spanish-speaking skills with the locals, and we found the building. The meeting was wonderful—even though it wasn’t in English, we felt the Spirit and loved participating in song and prayer. It was a perfect way to start off the week. 

The rest of the week was routine—we did the same thing every day, which was pretty much nothing! (smile) We got along perfectly, spending lots of time together, relaxing by the pool, riding scooters, reading and visiting. Yet when we wanted to have a break, there was plenty of time and space to do that as well. No one was offended if one or two of the couples went into town, or went snorkeling, or took a nap, or went for a walk down to the beach (it was a rocky beach, not sandy. . . offering a breathtaking view but definitely not for swimming or sunbathing!).

In the evening, we went into town for dinner, then came back to the house for dessert and a movie. Utterly, completely relaxing! It was so refreshing—I came back feeling rejuvenated and absolutely spoiled!

It was fun to watch our children (I always count the husbands as our children) interact as couples and adults rather than as parents. They are wonderful parents, and we’re very proud of them and their children, but what a treat to be able to spend a few precious days together in a setting that we had never experienced before!

So we came back this weekend, ready to tackle anything and everything life has to offer! We’re all rested and relaxed, we’ve made some great memories, and we’re committed to doing it again!