A Somber Day

Yesterday was an interesting day. . . I had been looking forward to it because Sterling and I had planned my first outside-of-the-arena ride since my accident. We’d been watching the weather forecast, and the day was supposed to be beautiful—temps in the sixties. Then it was supposed to get overcast and rainy starting today. We knew the window of opportunity was narrow, and yesterday was the day.

So we planned it and I was looking forward to it.

Then we got a call yesterday morning that my sweet niece Jayci  passed away.

While the news about Jayci didn’t change our riding plans, it certainly made the mood a little more somber, and I was hesitant to blog about the ride because Jayci’s life and death is certainly much more important.

After thinking about it, I decided both are worth mentioning.

The ride was a milestone for me, and one I want to remember. And since this blog really is my personal history, I want it recorded. I got in and out of the saddle all by myself, we rode around (even trotted a bit), and I absolutely enjoyed being back on Kadie. I was, understandably, a little nervous but not scared. And Sterling kept everything safe and conservative; I even told him that we could go faster, but he said no. I’m sure we’ll step up the speed a little in the future. . .

It was a gorgeous day, and I reflected throughout the day on how important it is to enjoy each moment, to spend time with our loved ones, and to live our lives with as few regrets as possible. Jayci touched so many people in her short life, and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned from her.

Sterling and I, and several of the girls and their families, will be going to southern Utah this weekend for the funeral. We were actually planning on going down anyway for some much-anticipated family time, and this will be an opportunity to spend time with our extended family as well. I’m sure I’ll blog about that too.

In the meantime, thank you for your sweet thoughts about Jayci and your continued prayers for her family.

 

 

A Weekend with the Bridegans

Spent a long weekend in Connecticut with the Bridegan family—it was perfect!

Three months was a long time to go without seeing my babies! I know other people go much longer, so I won’t complain, but I was so excited to finally see them. Thankfully we have Facetime, but that’s nothing like snuggles from little ones who want “Up! Up!”

And you can bet that anytime they asked for “Up!” we picked them up!

The weekend was pretty low key. We didn’t do much—went out to eat a couple of times and spent some time at a nearby park; the weather was nicer than we had anticipated.

Sterling and Jared kept busy doing home improvement projects, and I spent a lot of time just visiting with Shanna, reading books on the couch with little ones in my lap, and marveling at how busy those two little bodies are! I’d forgotten how exhausting it is taking care of little ones; if Shanna doesn’t get things done during naptime, it’s not going to get done!

Sterling and I watched the twins on Sunday while Shanna and Jared went to church together—for the first time since they moved. They can’t take Liam to church until the RSV season is past, so they take turns going to church. They were so excited to go together—it was almost like a date!

Liam seems to be doing well. He has a sleep test and a surgical procedure next week that will provide a little more information and let them know if the medication is working. But he looked great, and Jared and Shanna like his doctors. There’s no doubt that they’re where they should be—even if it’s across the country from us!

I was just excited to be with all of them. I cried when we left, but I tried not to let Shanna see. It was so nice to see them; we’ve already planned our trips back to the Bridegans for the rest of the year. I am counting down the days. . . well, it’s actually months, but I know it will go by fast.

 

Something Extra

We had our quarterly company update meeting at Stampin’ Up! this week, and the corporate team wanted to do a little something extra to thank everyone for all their hard work.

We spent most of our corporate team meeting this week putting together treat bags (hundreds of them!) as we discussed our agenda items—we used the sweetheart bags from our Valentine’s Day promotion, filled them up with some candy, stamped a tag and tied a bow.

It was pretty simple, but we hope that our employees in all our offices know how much we appreciate all that they do!

 

A Douglass Weekend

Sara and Sean went on a couples’ retreat this past weekend with some friends and asked us to keep the kids for a few days—we were thrilled! We don’t get that opportunity very often, and it was a delightful weekend.

The kids (plus Sadie, the dog) arrived on Friday evening and stayed through Monday evening, and we had lots of fun. In addition to the Douglasses, cousins came and went all weekend long, so the house was busy and full.

We planned a few fun activities (bowling, laser tag, swimming, a movie) and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. They are a little older and independent, so we didn’t have to entertain them or keep a constant eye on them. . . very low maintenance.

It was kind of nice to give them directions (come and eat, get ready for bed, check on Sadie,etc.,) and then just watch them do what we asked. (Sadie stayed in the barn and it was cute to see how well they took care of her.) All in all, they were simply awesome to have around!

When Sara and Sean picked up the kids, they said they had a great time, and we definitely did too!

 

 

Sleeping Beauty--Ballet Style

Saturday afternoon all the Gardner girls (daughters PLUS granddaughters) who live in state headed to Ballet West’s performance of “Sleeping Beauty.” It was a fabulous performance and a wonderful afternoon!

Utah’s Ballet West always does a great job—we don’t get to the ballet often, but when we do, I really enjoy it. And I was looking forward to sharing the experience with all the girls. We were a little worried that the whole performance (two and a half hours) might be a little long for the younger girls, but they sat quietly and said afterwards that it was fun. (The snacks probably helped. . . )

After the performance was over, we even hung around a little longer for a quick photo op with some of the dancers. That was fun as well, a nice little memento of the evening.

We missed Shanna—she’s our one daughter who actually did ballet, and it would have been fun to have her with us. She Facetimed us as we were leaving the theater though, so we got to share a little bit of the experience with her.

I kept thinking that we would go out to eat before. . . or after. Or sometime, but the whole adventure actually took up most of the afternoon, with driving time and photo ops, and we didn’t get our Gardner Girls lunch/dinner in. Now we have a good excuse to get together again soon!

 

 

That Time Again . . .

Can’t believe it’s Valentine’s Day already!

I enjoyed my yearly tradition of walking around the home office and handing out hugs and kisses (of the chocolate kind!) to all the employees. It took me several hours today, and I was exhausted! I figured I could count lugging around the basket and being on my feet so long as today’s occupational therapy!

But it was so great to connect with so many of our wonderful home office staff. I didn’t see everyone; many were in meetings and involved in other projects, but I loved the chance to connect with those that I caught at their desks.

 

I’m not a fan of taking photos all alone, so I invited a few employees to be in this one with me. They represent all the happy faces I got to see today!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

I [Heart] This Tag

I haven’t passed the chocolate hugs and kisses around at the home office yet—waiting until it’s closer to Valentine’s Day. Those hugs and kisses are delivered in person, but the hugs and kisses for our international offices and Kanab are mailed in cello bags and tied up with a tag.

I love this year’s I [Heart] U tag and wanted to share it—simply and easy!

A Tender Day

I had planned to post a project idea this morning on my blog, but as the day unfolded, I knew that I had to do something different. Today has been a tender day as I’ve watched from the sidelines as an entire community—and beyond—have reached out to love and support a 13-year-old girl, the granddaughter of my sister, Leslie.

Jayci lives in Kanab and was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of cancer last year. She has spent the last year fighting for her life, and experiencing the terrible ups and downs that come with that. (Her mother has shared their story here.)This week the doctors told her and her family that they had done everything they could. . . Jayci’s cancer is terminal. They told Heather and Coby (Jayci’s parents) to take their daughter home and enjoy as much as possible the time she has left.

Heather and Jayci left Primary Children’s Hospital today and headed home to Kanab. Leslie reported that local policemen had been told they were coming home, and about 70 miles outside of Kanab, Heather and Jayci were joined by a police escort.  As they entered town, they were greeted by people lining the streets, holding banners and waving and cheering for Jayci. Schools had been dismissed (Heather is a schoolteacher, so are both of her parents, as well as Leslie), and everyone was out in full force, showing their support and love.

The community has been so supportive throughout the past year, holding fundraisers and reaching out to Jayci and her family in so many different ways. I have been amazed—but not surprised. That’s what the people in Kanab do. . .that’s why I love that place so much.

My heart goes out to sweet Jayci and her family; we are praying for them in the coming days. I invite you to join us in sending prayers and loving thoughts their way. . .

 

 

 

An Anniversary Away

So, it’s like this. . .a couple weeks ago, we found out that over our anniversary we have to watch our grandkids. . . .er, I mean, we have the glorious opportunity of spending time with our grandchildren. (There, that’s better, right?) I’m just joking. Sean and Sara are going to be out of town and we volunteered to watch the grandchildren—and I’m looking forward to it!

That said, when I found out that we wouldn’t be able to celebrate on our actual anniversary, I had heard about a Buck Brannaman Training Clinic in Las Vegas, so I suggested to Shelli that that might make a great anniversary weekend. She agreed, so last weekend we headed to Vegas.

The clinic itself was great. I knew a lot of the information that was shared, but it was a valuable refresher for me, and Shelli says she learned a lot. We watched a lot of presentations, and even though some of them didn’t pertain to us (we aren’t necessarily wanting to jump or rope or anything like that), it was still fascinating to watch the talents and skills of the horse trainers who were there.

In addition to the clinic, Shelli and I had a great time just being together. Our first evening, we decided to try the Italian restaurant that was in the casino. I’m pretty sure that in a previous life I was an Italian—I could eat (and HAVE eaten) spaghetti for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Shelli was a little reluctant, noting that in her experience casino food usually leaves a lot to be desired. (Terrible and yucky were a few words that I think she threw out there. . .) We were both pleasantly surprised when they brought the bread out—it was scrumptious. The bruschetta came next, also scrumptious!  By the time the main course was served (spaghetti for me, of course, and chicken marsala for Shelli) we were both already full of bread but eager to check it out. We weren’t disappointed—it was just as delicious!

We were so full, we couldn’t finish our meal, but we also couldn’t refuse the dessert they claimed was “the best”—wild cherry ice cream. Once again, it lived up to its reputation. We ended up going back there again a second time, it was that good!

As is often the case, we ran into a demonstrator who recognized Shelli, so I took a photo or two of them together. We also decided to spend one evening visiting an aquarium on the strip. We got a little turned around and landed at the wrong casino—along with thousands of other people! We realized it was Super Bowl weekend and also realized we weren’t really interested in fighting the crowds, so we went back to the hotel. Good thing we enjoy each others’ company!

On Sunday, we went to Boulder City to attend church with family, and enjoyed spending much of the day with them. It’s always nice to see them and get caught up. On Monday we headed home—and actually made it after three flight delays! That didn’t dampen our spirits though. . . the weekend was great, and Shelli was a good sport to spend our anniversary celebration at a horse training event!  (Of course, she got me back by making me blog, so it all evens out, right?)

 

Q&A Time

Time (actually past time!) for another question-and-answer post. Thanks for reading my blog, and thanks for comments. I like to keep track of the questions you ask and answer them every few months. As always, if you’ve made product suggestions, I’ve passed them on to our product development team. And if you’ve got questions or comments about Stampin’ Up!, please e-mail ds@stampinup.com. Our DS agents are awesome, and they’ll help you more quickly than I can! Also, occasionally one of you will ask if you can e-mail me directly. You’re welcome to send something to Demonstrator Support to my attention—the agents always forward those to me. Confession time though—I’m terrible at reading my e-mail; sometimes it takes me weeks to wade through it all. It’s actually faster to send a letter to my attention; I always get those as well. In my case, snail mail is usually the way to go!

I had an amazing time at Convention and you've done an amazing job  portraying the fun through pictures. I have been looking for pictures of Sara's projects—the ones she shared using banners and kits from the Holiday Catalog—and the approach of using those kits for monthly events. Does she have a blog where she would post that? Or will Stampin' Up! post photos of these projects?

I actually had Sara guest blog here a few days after convention, where she shared both the projects and the outline for the monthly events.

Why was your grandson crying in the pool?  

This was in reference to a back-to-school blog I posted when most of the grandchildren came to the house and rode horses and went swimming. Although the photo looks like he’s crying, he’s actually not—he had major allergies and had been outside riding horses. When I took that photo, we were waiting for the Benadryl to kick in. (smile) Nobody ever cries at Grandma’s house if I can help it!

What kind of horses do you have?

They are Arabian—aren’t they’re beautiful? Several of you also asked for an update on Kadie following our accident; we did blog about that here.

So glad you’re recovering so well from the accident. Do you think you’ll ride again?

Absolutely—I can’t wait! I’ve already been back up on Kadie; read about that here. I’m focusing on gaining my strength back right now and taking it baby steps, a little ride (walk) here and a little ride there.

Also, in one of his “hacker” blogs, Sterling mentioned that he thought one of the things I’d appreciate the most was if you reached out to others by sending a card to someone who may need it or share Stampin’ Up! with someone. So many of you mentioned specifically what you did (Shelli Gardner Day on World Cardmaking Day, organizing fundraising, sending cards, etc.). Every time I read those comments, I smiled and felt so blessed and grateful to be working alongside such amazing, unselfish people. Thank you!

Also, thanks for the many suggestions you’ve given regarding the various health challenges I’ve faced (dizziness, pain, walking, etc.). I’ve read them all, tried many of them, and felt your love and concern. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and concern!

Seems like you usually have a pajama party during the Advisory Board Retreat. Are those matching pajamas that the board members are wearing <link>? 

Every board decides among themselves whether they’ll have matching pajamas and things like that; they often present me with a pair at the party. This year they chose to do T-shirts and yoga pants. Although I was recovering from the accident and couldn’t spend the time with them I wanted to, I definitely enjoyed their visit to my house during the retreat!

How do you choose which quotes and phrases to use on stamps? Can demonstrators make suggestions? 

Of course! So can customers—or anyone else, for that matter. We received suggestions for greetings, as well as images, fairly regularly. They are all sent to our stamp development team for evaluation. If you’d like to make a suggestion, you can post it here and I’ll forward it.

Someone posted a picture of the granola that was given out at Founder’s Circle. Is it the same recipe that Sterling made a few years ago at the employee appreciation breakfast?

I wasn’t at Founder’s Circle, so I’m not sure. I know that we have that recipe floating around in the home office, so it’s likely. It’s delicious, by the way! If you’re looking for an awesome healthy, homemade granola recipe, check it out!

What is a Rising Star? Who are this year’s Rising Stars?

Rising Stars are new demonstrators who have been with Stampin’ Up! 18 months or less and hit certain significant milestones in building their businesses. We bring them into the home office and honor them for a few days—it’s a great way to thank them for their great efforts and encourage them to keep it up!

Do the million-dollar achievers get to stamp with you in your home studio?

Our million-dollar achievers get to do whatever they want! (smile)

And yes, so far they have each chosen to spend some time with me creating in my stamp studio. I’ve loved it because it’s such an amazing opportunity to get to know these demonstrators better and feel of their passion and commitment. We work closely with each million-dollar achiever to create a home-office experience that is perfect for that specific demonstrator, including food and activities.

 

How is Liam doing? I miss reading Shanna’s blog. . .

For a short time, when Shanna and Jared first received Liam’s diagnosis, Shanna made her blog private, but she has since started a public blog; you can read it here. They have moved back east to be close to medical care, and I MISS THEM! But Liam is doing well, and Sterling and I are heading out to visit them soon! I can’t wait!!!

I think you should be aware though that the two-fingered salute your grandson is doing in one of the photos could be seen as a bit of a rude insult in Britain. I know it is only a British thing and am sure he wouldn't know this but thought you would want to!

You’re correct—he had no idea (neither did I), and several of our UK demonstrators even commented that they weren’t offended. But I’m always appreciative of demonstrators who share cultural insights with me; that’s one of the very fun things about being an international company! I love learning about different cultures and traditions.

I love the scarf and head warmer you’re wearing on your blog header. Where did you get them?

I got those years ago and can’t even remember where they came from. So sorry. . .