Back in the Studio. . .

Guess what I did this morning? Woke up at 5 a.m. (because I wanted to, believe it or not!) Set my alarm for that early so I could go to yoga for the first time in four months. . . so excited!

One of my favorite instructors was teaching (and agreed to a photo to mark this happy occasion) and was so encouraging and helpful in giving me suggestions for modified poses. The class went well, and I did better than I thought I would. It felt great to be back in the studio again. . .I’ve definitely missed it!

What a wonderful way to start out a new week—and (almost) a new year!

Wishing You a Happy Holiday!

Thought I’d check in really fast and wish  you all a happy holiday. Our Christmas was pretty nontraditional and very low key. Typically we have a traditional Christmas Eve dinner at home with family. . . we did have a family dinner this year, but it was at a restaurant (no cooking, no dishes—a win for everybody!). Christmas Day we hung around all day in PJs and sweats (hence, no photos). . . Christmas dinner was frozen pizza and green salad. Can you get less traditional? But again, low key, no prep. A win!

We’re anticipating the rest of the holidays to be equally unplanned, low key, and enjoyable. We’re working on on some photo albums, catching a few movies, and just taking it easy. Basically we’re in denial—we know the first of the year is coming all too quickly, and then it will be time to get serious about eating healthy and exercising, preparing for Leadership, and getting back to work again.

But for now, a few more days of the holidays. . .

I hope your Christmas was enjoyable and that the rest of your holidays are full of fun, love, peace, and joy!

 

 

Grandma Pat's Party--2013

Another amazing Grandma Pat Christmas party, come and gone. We look forward every year to this opportunity to gather together and celebrate our family, as well as the holidays.

Because we’ve been doing this so often, there’s not much that I haven’t talked about before. It’s mostly the same thing every year—same place, same menu, same assignments, same schedule. Some come on Friday, the rest arrive on Saturday, and we wrap things up Sunday morning after breakfast. People come and go all weekend long, coming to as much as they can. We miss those who can’t make it, and love seeing those who can.

One of the highlights every year is definitely the family program. Grandma Pat always plays an inspiring video about the birth of Christ, we share talents and sing carols, and then end with the year-in-review slideshow. It’s fun to watch everyone react (the teenagers whoop and holler, the younger kids giggle and point) to the slides of the year’s highlights captured to share with everyone in the family.

The other highlight (for me at least) is the visiting—I love my family and this is the only time all year long that some of us are able to get together. Now that we’ve had the party and enjoyed a fun family tradition, I feel like Christmas can officially come!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kanab Holiday Celebration

Today was part 2 of our annual Stampin’ Up! holiday celebration—this one is our potluck Christmas celebration in Kanab.

Sterling and I drove down yesterday, and several CT members came down today. We had our company update meeting (we aren’t always able to do this in person, so it’s always fun when we can conduct this meeting face to face), celebrated service awards, and then enjoyed lunch together.

Kanab is, of course, a smaller group; there are fewer service awards (two 5-year, four 10-year, and four 15-year employees), and it’s more intimate. I loved recognizing these hardworking employees and giving them a personal thanks and a warm hug.

Because of our size, we couldn’t have a potluck in Riverton—just too many of us—but I look forward every year to the Kanab potluck and tasting what everybody brings! Many of them bring their favorite dishes, and there’s always a great variety. I’ve known many of these people for years, and it’s nice to chat with them and get caught up, as well as get to know others better.

Spending time with people I care about is one of my favorite holiday activities, so today was definitely a wonderful day! Merry Christmas to our Stampin’ Up! Kanab family!

 

Riverton Holiday Celebration

We had our annual holiday celebration today at the home office—it’s always a holiday highlight for me.

This year things kicked off with a choir of schoolchildren from the elementary school across the street. They come caroling every year, but I’ve missed it the past several years, and I didn’t realize until this morning how much I enjoyed watching and listening to them. I teared up as I watched the cute kids singing with all their heart, happy and cheerful and innocent. . . a sweet way to start the day. And I knew they’d trudged through the storm (a storm they’re calling “historic” here) to sing for us, and it made it even more meaningful. . 

After that we gathered for our company update. As we walked in, we were greeted by live holiday music performed by an employee band. Loved that. . .We ended the meeting with our annual service awards, recognizing employees who have been with us five, ten, and fifteen years.

I’m always thrilled to see how many people have stayed with our Stampin’ Up! family. In today’s world, people don’t always stay with their jobs for years, so it makes me happy to see how low our turnover is. We had 17 employees who celebrated five-year anniversaries, 33 who celebrated their ten-year, and 9 who reached their fifteen-year milestone. Congratulations!

 

 

One of my favorite parts of the service awards is giving hugs. . . love the opportunity to give these amazing people a personal thanks and a warm hug. Rich asked me if he should tell everyone to be gentle when they hugged me and I said, Heck no! It was nice to get normal hugs. . . Then as we left, again accompanied by the live employee band, everyone received a tasty little white-chocolate covered pretzel treat bag. 

We have wonderful employees at Stampin' Up! And I wish them all a merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

A Leadership Dry Run

Sterling and I love to go to Hawaii, especially when it’s freezing here! We’ve enjoyed all our visits and find it’s one of the few places where we can get away and truly relax.

Most of our visits there, especially recently, have been purchased at charity events—it’s always a treat when we’re able to bid and win on a trip to Hawaii and support a worthy cause at the same time.

This is one of those trips, but after my accident, I didn’t think I’d be up to it, so we called to postpone and were told nope, use it or lose it. So almost from the beginning, my goal was to be well enough to make this trip.

And I did.

We just got back on Sunday from a wonderful week in Hawaii.

We weren’t really sure I’d be ready until the last moment; we didn’t make flight arrangements until the week before we left! And it was harder than I anticipated. . . I’ve become pretty comfortable with my arrangement here in my own home and car and office. But in different circumstances, there were some unanticipated challenges, and I considered it a great dry run for leadership (which I am SO looking forward to. I MISS our demonstrators!)

The flight was tiring, but when there’s nothing to do on the other end but read, relax on the beach and around the pool, eat great food (we discovered a wonderful gelato place so had to take turns—shaved ice one day, gelato the next), and enjoy fabulous company, you recover pretty fast! I did work a couple of hours every day to stay on top of things, but overall, it was another amazing Hawaii vacation!

Jon and Shalae went with us this time (most of the couples have had turns), and it was a fun surprise to discover that Vonna and Sean were there for a few days as well. I had no idea they had planned a trip until Vonna texted me one day and said, “Wanna do lunch?” It was great to spend a couple hours with them.

And now we’re back, missing the gorgeous weather but feeling refreshed and renewed. We landed Sunday , and I had a board meeting first thing Monday morning, so it was business as usual. I haven’t seen our board members for months though, so I enjoyed catching up with them. And with the holidays looming right around the corner, days will be pretty packed for the next little while. It was nice while it lasted. . .

 

Perfect Packaging

Christmas is getting closer. . .I hope you’re more ready than I am!

Ready or not, though, it’s coming!

I thought I’d quickly share these three gift-wrapping ideas with you.  Brick Canvas is offering gift-wrapped gift cards this year, and these are the three packages that people can choose from. They’re super simple (the hardest part was actually finding the pine cones and berries) and very festive.

They’re perfect for gift cards or any other smaller-sized items (jewelry, candy, etc.). As you can see, each one starts with our Kraft box, and then we’ve added a different belly band. I love them all, and thought you might enjoy them too!

 

Kona's Baptism

We gathered together as a family yesterday afternoon to celebrate a special event: Kona was baptized by his dad, Jason.

It was stormy and cold, and we all had to allow extra time for traveling because the roads were so bad. But while the weather was cold, the spirit was warm—the music was beautiful, the talks were inspiring, and watching Kona get baptized was awesome. We had a wonderful afternoon together.

Kona was excited to have his family there to support him. . . most of our family was there, as well as most of Jason’s. We are proud of Kona and his decision to be baptized, and are so grateful that he’s part of our family!

Congratulations, Kona!

 

A Brick Canvas Holiday Party

Attended the first of several holiday gatherings last night. . . we got together with all the employees at the Brick Canvas studios and kicked off the holidays with a simple but fun holiday party.

 

We had a nice dinner, some giveaways, and one of our employees sang for the program. (She performs in community theater and is incredibly talented. . .she did a great job!)

 

Santa even showed up briefly; he was at another party in the building and just dropped in to wish everyone a merry Christmas.

I love the people who work at Brick Canvas, so it was wonderful to spend an evening with them. . . am looking forward to spending time with more amazing people in the coming weeks as we continue to celebrate this special time of year.

 

 

Sara on TODAY

Note: Stampin’ Up! was  invited to appear on The TODAY Show again this year as part of the show’s annual Holiday Toy Drive. We’ve donated as part of a group of DSA companies for years, and we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to be represented. I’ve been several times, and last year, it was Sara’s turn. She went again this year, and I am so proud of her! I invited her to share the experience. . .

Like Mom said, this wasn’t my first appearance on the TODAY Show, and it was nice that this time wasn’t as nerve wracking as last year. It felt a little more familiar and comfortable. . . I knew where to go, who I would be talking to and meeting with, the way things would go down. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous—I was PLENTY nervous! I don’t know how you can’t be when you’re on live TV (there’s always the possibility of bombing it), but it definitely felt better than last year.

It was fun to chat with everyone. I even got to do a little sales pitch for our kits off camera when I was chatting with Kathie Lee and Hoda about how people like to make things that are quick and easy.

The actual appearance was short and sweet (click here to check it out), and afterwards, I thought of all the things I wanted to say and didn’t get to mention, and then overanalyzed the things I did say, and basically just had a little emotional letdown. But that’s probably pretty typical for anybody who has that kind of an opportunity.

I was especially excited about the gifts we gave this year—some scrapbooking kits and stamp sets that I think kids can really have fun creating with. As part of our 25th anniversary, we’ve focused on making a difference this year more than ever before. As a company, we’ve donated approximately $1.5 million worth of product this year to different organizations—not to mention the personal efforts of our demonstrators all around the world who have been supporting various causes of their own choice. Ending the year with our annual TODAY Show Toy Drive donation (which was more than $650,000 worth of product this year) was an ideal way to cap off our celebration of 25 years of making a difference!

 

A Weekend of Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful weekend holiday of thanksgiving—I hope you did too!

This year was our year to gather together for Thanksgiving, so we all headed to the cabin. People came and went at different times all weekend long, but we were all together Thursday (along with some friends we invited who didn’t have any family living nearby).  

Thanksgiving was a relaxed, laidback day. Christmas music playing in the background, bustling in the kitchen, playing among the cousins. . . just a great day. We had a kids table and a grown-up table, plenty of great food, and then the highlight of the day (at least for me)—our thanksgiving circle, when we all gather in a circle and mention one thing we are grateful for. No repeats allowed! Even the younger grandchildren participated, and I loved that part of the day best. . .looking around at (almost) everyone I love gathered together in one room and feeling so blessed.

Of course, we were missing the Bridegans, so there was an empty spot—in the thanksgiving circle, as well as in our hearts. We were able to FaceTime with them, which was not as good as the real thing but certainly better than nothing!

 

 

The rest of the weekend was equally casual. There was constant activity in the stamp room—always at least a few grandchildren making Christmas ornaments or cards or drawing or doing something else fun and creative. The other big hit was weaving rubber band bracelets on a loom that Megan and Nate brought—almost everyone was wearing at least one or two handcrafted bracelets. . .some of the kids had even more than that. We left the loom out on a kitchen table, and I don’t think it was left alone very often.

Other than that, we watched a Christmas video, built tarp forts, read, chatted. . . a few of the kids went to a movie on Friday, and Sterling and I stamped Christmas tags for our neighborhood gifts. Basically we all just hung out and chilled. It was a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving and family!