A Heavenly Glorious Weekend

Not much to say about our wonderful weekend family reunion other than it went exactly like I planned—lots of vegging and visiting!

On Friday I hardly moved from my chair! In fact, my biggest regret of the whole weekend was that I didn’t pull out my camera at all on Friday, so I missed out on getting pictures of a handful of people who were only able to come that day. Bummer!

However, you’ll see that once I pulled out the camera, I managed to get plenty of pictures. I did want to get at least one photo of everyone who came, so hopefully you’ll have fun scrolling down and seeing how happy everyone looks!

There were more than 70 of us, and we filled 14 camping spots. We’d reserved the spots a year ago, and we had one entire section of the campground all to ourselves; it was fun and cozy.

In addition to a lot of chatting, I read a couple of magazines, went to church on Sunday (our whole family doubled the size of the small local congregation), and got at least eight hours of sleep three nights in a row (that was heavenly glorious)! I didn’t take a single hike (very unusual for me) and didn’t pull out a single project that I’d brought.

And I loved every minute of it! I really haven’t slowed down for a long time, and the entire weekend was completely therapeutic for me.  Surrounded by nature and family. . . it just doesn’t get better than that! 

 

Vegging and Visiting

I’m typing this as part of a Gardner family caravan, as we’re heading to our summer family reunion.  We didn’t originally plan on caravanning; we were all leaving today, but we had different times in mind. However, in true Gardner family fashion, we all left later than planned and found ourselves coincidentally hitting the freeway within five minutes of each other, so we’re caravanning!

Most of our girls will be there, and all my siblings are coming, along with most of their children, plus other extended family.  Usually I bring a craft for everyone to do, but I’ve been in solid meetings all week and haven’t completely recovered from convention, so something had to give. That something was a craft; I think we’ll live. (Although Sara did bring her computer and offered to show everyone how to use My Digital Studio. . . )

To be honest, I’m looking forward to a whole weekend of vegging and visiting!

 

 

Convention 2012: I am. . . .

. . . so grateful and thrilled and happy and. . . well, I was tired last night, but I’m feeling pretty refreshed tonight after a good’s night sleep and a dream day of rejuvenation! 

Convention 2012 is over, and once again, I feel like it was a wonderful few days spent with amazing people.

Our convention theme this year—I am—is by far my favorite theme in recent memory. It was so far-reaching and offered so much possibility; you could make it personal as well as professional, and everybody could find it meaningful in some way. Our convention theme song was also wonderful. The lyrics and music were upbeat and fun. . . definitely not one I’ll get tired of! 

I also loved our opener; if you didn’t see it, you can watch it here. What a fabulous way to involve so many of our home office employees, and most of our employees were at the opening session as well, something that has become a valued tradition for me.

I love the opportunity that our demonstrators and employees have to meet face to face, to feel of each other’s genuine love and enthusiasm, to see the people who make it happen, both at the home office and out in the real world. And that only happens at convention, during our home office tours and that opening session. That’s one of the reasons I love convention, because it’s a “touch and feel” opportunity to gather together as both demonstrators and employees and share what we love.

Our closing session, which included a half hour of live streaming, was extra scary. I have to admit that both Sara and I were back stage, hyperventilating a bit. Not sure why. . .  it’s not like we’re not live during a general session anyway. But somehow, having it streamed to thousands of additional demonstrators around the world made it seem much more overwhelming.

I am so excited about our 2014 Global Grand Vacation—what a thrill it will be to have demonstrators from around the world gathered together to celebrate their accomplishments all in the same place! Already looking forward to that!

Although I didn’t get to attend all the classes, the ones I did attend were amazing, and I heard great things about the others. As always, I heard demonstrators talk about returning home, eager to try new things and share new ideas. I heard more than one demonstrator mention that she’d originally come to convention just because it was fun, but somewhere along the way, whether it was in a class or watching someone march across the stage or whatever, she caught the vision of what her business could be, and she was excited to make it happen! (One demonstrator said she found one class so inspiring that she went to it twice!)

And while sales and growing a Stampin’ Up! business are certainly important, we always try to make our events meaningful on more than a business level. I think we accomplished that this year too, because I heard many demonstrators mention that they felt like their buckets were filled.

For example, Jason Dorsey, our awesome keynote speaker, talked about Gen Y. And while he was great from a business perspective, many demonstrators mentioned that their relationships with their children were changed after hearing his remarks—I love that we can offer an event that helps people not just with their businesses but with their personal lives as well. 

The Awards Night was amazing, as always! Seeing everyone dressed up in fancy clothes and march across the stage, celebrating their accomplishments is simply indescribable—I LOVE it!

Another highlight for me was our Canadian march, especially watching those founding demonstrators march! That was very touching for me because I remember meeting a lot of those ladies as they took a chance on us 10 years ago! What a great decade it’s been!

Our Artisan Team dinner was fun too, the chance to meet with a small, creative group who will be shouldering a little bit more responsibility this year! It was fun to hear the things they’ll be involved in; I look forward to seeing their inspiring creations.

Not to mention the bag (it’s not every year I want a bag, but this year? Definitely!), the fun things in Memento Mall, the great Make & Takes, the Demonstrator Resource Center, and . . . .well, the list goes on and on.

It was a fabulous few days, and I am so grateful to have had the chance to share it with so many demonstrators and staff members. After the last session was over, the Gardner family gathered together for Sage’s birthday dinner and reflected on the whole experience—and it felt great! While we were definitely all exhausted, we were so overwhelmed with the privilege and honor of spending time with such wonderful people!

Thank you to all those who were part it!

Tomorrow. . . .

I checked into the hotel this morning, had my rehearsals and mic check, browsed through the Memento Mall (Wow!), and strolled through the convention center. Now I’m back at the hotel, working feverishly to finish all the last-minute details.

Convention 2012 is almost here! The facility looks wonderful; I love our décor this year. . .simple, warm, welcoming. I wanted to just sit down at one of the tables in the Gathering Place and relax. Loved the photos, the sparkling lights, the look and feel. . . the only thing that’s missing is our amazing demonstrators.

And they’ll all be here tomorrow. Can’t wait!

More Excited than Ever!

We had our convention prebrief meeting this morning, and all I can say is that I’m even more excited for convention than I was before—and I didn’t think that was possible!

We looked at visuals of the stage, the photo-op area, and the Gathering Place. We talked about all the great things we have planned for our demonstrators, the great classes and Make & Takes, the Memento Mall and product displays. . . the list of fun things goes on and on! As always, I was amazed by the amount of planning and effort that goes into our events, and felt an overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who are doing all of this for our demonstrators.

They invited me to share my feelings at the end of the meeting, which I’m always happy to do. I thanked them all for being there, told them how great I knew convention was going to be, and then I asked them why they thought we kept having convention here in Salt Lake City. I get asked that every year, you know. Other places may be less expensive to fly into, they may offer more things to do during free time. . . there are lots of reasons that people mention for having convention at a different place.

But as I looked around at that roomful of people and listened to the many reasons they thought we stayed right here in Salt Lake (there were lots of them, and they were all valid), I was struck again by the main reason I choose to continue having convention in Utah—there’s no other way for our demonstrators to meet the many employees who devote their entire working lives to making Stampin’ Up! the best place to be.

Our demonstrators can feel our genuine love and concern for them the minute they walk in the convention door. They are greeted with smiles and hugs, they meet people they’ve only talked with on the phone, they share an incredible feeling of enthusiasm and passion for the one thing we all have in common—Stampin’ Up!

You can’t find that anywhere but right here in Salt Lake City, Utah. And we’ll all be feeling it next week.

I can’t wait!

 

Convention Crunch

Every year this week (and for some many weeks prior!) is a wonderfully hectic week at Stampin’ Up! Our North America convention starts next week, so we are finalizing all the details and making sure everything is in order; we call it the convention crunch.

Personally, I’m working on my stamping presentation and my remarks, as well as making sure that anything else I’ve been asked to do is done. I’ve got a hair appointment on my calendar, and I’ve scheduled time with Shalae to help me make final decisions on what I’m wearing. (I stress about things like that!)

Elsewhere in the company people are finishing all kinds of other projects. . . way too many to mention. You could never guess the thousands and thousands of details that go into planning an event like this. I adore our employees always but feel a special appreciation for them at a time like this. Our Stampin’ Up! events are amazing, and every employee plays a part.

If you're a demonstrator planning on joining us in Salt Lake City next week, you’ll love every minute of it! And if you can’t make it, we are streaming a portion of our Saturday session live this year for our demonstrators! You’ll see a stamping presentation, hear an exciting announcement, and get a taste of a Stampin’ Up! event. You can find out more on the demonstrator website.

Now I’ve got to get back to making those final preparations—see you in Salt Lake!

A Miracle in Alpine

 

Two days ago, this was the view from my front porch—a fire burning in the mountains just a couple of miles from our home.

Parts of Alpine were evacuated, and incredible firefighters were on the scene in minutes, but Utah is in the middle of a dry patch (more than 80 days with no measurable precipitation), so the fire burned steadily through the night and into the day yesterday. We watched it creep up one peak and down into a valley and up onto the next peak. . . away from our home, so we weren’t worried for our safety, but so concerned for our neighbors and friends. And knowing that with a shift in the weather and wind, it could be us evacuating just as easily.

We’ve been praying for rain even before the fire started, but I have to admit, our prayers have taken on new meaning since Tuesday. And we’ve heard from concerned friends and family from around the country, telling us they were praying as well. But after looking at the weather forecast (small chance of rain), I really didn’t expect much. . . .

You all know I’m a sunshine girl, but when I woke up this morning to little “spits” of rain, I felt such gratitude. And when those spits became a soft but steady rain that lasted for hours, I was overcome. Tears have come to my eyes several times today, and I had to acknowledge an answer to prayers and a miracle in Alpine.

The sun is supposed to return tomorrow, along with the heat. And our Alpine fire isn’t completely contained, but amazing progress has been made today, and hopefully a fire that could have lasted for days and had disastrous consequences will be out very soon.

Thank you, all, for your thoughts and prayers, and know that—even when our answers aren’t as swift or recognizable as our Alpine rain today—there is a loving God watching over us.

 

The Blessing of Twins

I meant to post this earlier, but I’ve been in nonstop meetings the past two days. We had a wonderful weekend. . . we blessed our twins on Sunday. It was the perfect day to spend with family and friends, celebrating the many wonderful blessings these two babies have brought into all our lives.

I won’t go into any more detail than that; you can check out Shanna’s blog to hear all about it. But I’m definitely grateful for my family, and particularly grateful for Liam and Abigail right now.

The Perfect Patriotic Evening

For the second year in a row, we celebrated the Fourth of July with a community celebration, which included entertainment, music, food, and fireworks.

The first thing on the agenda once we arrived last night was face painting; the kids had waited in line last year for quite awhile, so they wanted to get that out of the way.

After face painting, there was a clown and balloon animals, food (the kids remembered the macaroni and cheese from last year, and the fried chicken was killer, which is really saying something because I’m not a fried chicken fan), music, and then the fireworks.

The grown-ups enjoyed just relaxing and watching the kids run around. The crowds were just right, the weather was pleasant (except for a few smoky skies from the fires that we’ve been experiencing—a huge thanks to firefighters!), and the fireworks were the perfect ending to the evening.

Pretty sure we’ve got a new family tradition. As we left, Sage remarked, “Why would we ever do anything else? Everything about the whole event is pretty much perfect.” And I think we all agree!

Happy birthday, America!