Where Women Create

The last two days have been very good for me. First, while on the airplane to Houston yesterday, I read a brand new magazine called Where Women Create from cover to cover--something I rarely do! But with the launch of this new magazine and my studio being one of the creative spaces featured in the premiere issue, I thought it best to read about the women who I would be "signing" with--and about their creative spaces. I absolutely enjoyed soaking up the stories of these women and studying the details of their spaces!

Let me give you some history. It started months ago when a friend of mine, Jo Packham (over the years she's written several popular books that my Mom Heather adored), called and asked if my studio could be featured in a new magazine she was planning.

Of course I was pleased and honored she would ask and was happy to share one of my favorite places with other creative women. I love my studio--a place I go to stamp and relax, to play and create, and sometimes just to be. When I'm in my studio, time slows down and I'm surprised at how filled I am when I leave it. That's another entire entry...

Back to my story. Jo also asked if I would be willing to join her and some of the other women featured in the magazine in launching Where Women Create at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Again, I was more than happy to oblige. It was a pleasure visiting with and getting a glimpse into these women as we signed hundreds of copies of the magazine together.

I also enjoyed visiting with women from around the world who quilt and craft--a group of women that I'd love to introduce to stamping...

Another thing I had the opportunity to do during these couple of days was to walk the show and view all the beautiful quilts--works of art, every single one of them. I found myself strolling up and down the aisles with tears welling up in my eyes, because my Mom Heather (who passed away last December) also quilted and had a collection of fabrics and notions that still amazes me. I was glad to be walking alone among the crowd so I could just wander through the memories of my mom. In fact, I enjoyed rummaging through and buying vintage ribbons that reminded me of her. Someday I'll make little gifts for my girls--like Mom used to make for me--using those precious pieces of the past.

Well, I could write so much more about my trip to Houston and the feelings it evoked...maybe some other time. I'm on the plane ride home as I write this (tears streaming down my face--the guy next to me must think I'm a nut case), and I've promised myself that I'll read more magazines (Mom loved to pore over magazines), and I'm going to make more time to create. Mom would be so proud!

Oh, by the way, if you want to see my studio in its most pristine condition (a rare thing indeed!) and be inspired by other women's creative spaces, go to www.stampington.com and order your copy of Where Women Create. You should also be able to find the magazine quarterly at Barnes and Noble, Borders, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Joanne's, Lowe's. . . .. Enjoy!

 

My Sole Responsibility

I've heard that a few of our Stampin' Up! demonstrators have expressed some concern that I mention religion on my blog and the blog is linked to the Stampin' Up! site and sometimes mentioned in Stampin' Up! material. I'm not sure if people are offended by my mention of religion, or if they're concerned that I'm mixing personal thoughts and feelings with professional, but I thought this was a subject worth bringing up.

I want to make it very clear that this blog is my personal blog, and I am solely responsible for the content of the blog. Stampin' Up! doesn't endorse my blog or any contents on the blog. While some companies do have "official" blogs, soshelli.com is not an official Stampin' Up! blog at all. It's all mine--good or bad!

I hope it's mostly good. If I've offended anyone by mentioning religion, I'm sorry--that is not my intention at all! My religion is at the heart of everything I am. It's what has made me who I am. I can't imagine sharing anything personal without my beliefs and values being brought up fairly frequently because they are so much a part of me. I've tried to be careful about what I've said; I think I've only mentioned the name of the church I belong to once. Most of the time I talk about my church and my beliefs in general.

I don't want people to feel like I'm preaching or teaching or promoting any specific religion or belief. But if I felt like I couldn't mention general thoughts and feelings about what is such a huge part of me and my life, I don't think I could share much.

I hope that clears up my intent behind talking about things of a religious or spiritual nature. I hope most of you aren't bothered when I mention religion. In fact, one of the things I value when I meet demonstrators is our conversations about our shared faith in God.

I also respect diversity and the fact that some of you may be uncomfortable when I mention religion. It won't bother me at all if you choose not to read those postings, or even choose to ignore my blog altogether. I learned long ago that we can't please everyone all of the time, and that diversity is what adds spice to life!

Heading Home from San Antonio

Well, I'm heading back to Utah tomorrow, after a wonderful regional seminar experience in San Antonio. San Antonio is one of my favorite places to visit, partly because it's almost always warm, partly because the river walk is so beautiful, and partly (mostly) because the people are so wonderful.

And this weekend was no exception. I left colder weather in Utah for beautiful weather in Texas, and the demonstrators were fabulous! They were so warm and friendly; they made us feel right at home. Our regionals went well, and-as always-I loved meeting with the demonstrators.

As promised last week, here's the project I showed--a fun little Halloween game.

  

These are is based on those hand-held toys we played when we were younger where you flipped up a ball on a string and tried to catch it in a cup. Only, as you can see, in this instance, you flip up a pumpkin (or a skull) on a string up and catch it in a pennant cup.

I'm planning on filling the cups with candy for our grandchildren, and after the candy is gone (which won't take long!), they'll have a little game to play. You'll need something to weigh down the pumpkin or skull; I used a dime, but it's a little heavy. If you can find something a tiny bit lighter, I think it will work better.

I thought this was a darling little game, and I was thrilled to demonstrate it at the regionals. However, wouldn't you know it, while I was there, a demonstrator gave me a gift--another Halloween game. I think I like it even better than this one! If I have time, I'm going to make a few to add to the Halloween treats I'm putting together for our grandchildren. If I do that, I'll be sure to post it for you to see too!

TV Spot

On Tuesday I appeared on "Studio 5," a morning talk show on KSL, our local NBC affiliate. I loved the projects I showed-beautiful table settings for three different holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's), all made from one package of our new Ski Slope Designer Series paper, along with a variety of different accessories.

I planned on providing the link for you on Tuesday but was on the run from morning ‘til night and completely forgot until now.

Here's the link: http://studio5.ksl.com/?nid=61&sid=4573672. If link doesn't launch automatically, copy and paste it into your browser.)

You can watch the appearance itself, as well as see the projects. We also provided supply lists and basic instructions for each of the table settings.

Happy Holidays!

Oops!

Oops! I was reading your comments a moment ago and realized the entry I thought I'd posted Sunday evening didn't get posted. When I checked to see what happened, it was obvious I didn't click the "published" button, so the entry was sitting out in LaLa Land. You should now be able to find Part Two in it's proper place. I'm so sorry!

A Date Night and Grandpa Gardner

My sweetheart and I went on a date last night, one of the few that we've been able to fit in lately. We're both busy, and it's even more difficult since we've had Sterling's father living with us. Grandpa Gardner is nearly 95 years old, and his body is very healthy for a man his age. His mind, unfortunately, isn't nearly as healthy, and six years ago it became clear he could no longer live alone, so he came to live with us.

He's changed our lives. We love this man, of course; we just didn't anticipate having to find babysitters at this point in time. (smile) Grandpa needs to have someone watching him all the time, and Sterling has assumed that responsibility wonderfully.

Because Grandpa loves to do errands, Sterling takes his father almost everywhere with him. That means that when I'm in the car, I get to sit in the back seat! Not exactly where I thought I'd be when I'm riding in the car with my husband, but the patience and love Sterling shows his father is inspiring, and I am grateful that we are in a position where we can take care of him. But we aren't as free as we had thought we'd be, so our dates are less frequent than either one of us would like.

Sterling has to go out of town today, and I'm leaving for regionals later this week, so Sterling actually took his father to our friend's house yesterday afternoon; they sometimes watch Grandpa when we have to go out of town. That meant that last night we could go on a date! I actually felt giddy when Sterling suggested it.

The humor in the situation is what we planned for our date. Initially, we talked about dinner and a movie, but then common sense set in. Sterling had several errands he needed to do before leaving town, and I hadn't been to the hospital to visit my dad yet. So for our "hot" date we had our glasses tightened, stopped at Wal-Mart, and visited Dad. We did manage to fit in a delicious dinner. And in between it all, I got to sit in the front seat with Sterling and hold his hand. That was enough to make it a date for me!

Dad and Edmonton, part 2

I landed in Salt Lake this morning from Edmonton and went straight to the hospital to see Dad. I haven’t seen him since Thursday, and he looked lots better—but he also looked very tired. It’s exhausting to have his dressings changed. When I got there this morning, that’s what the nurse was doing, and it broke my heart—and made me smile at the same time—to hear him ask if it was OK if they just changed the dressing every other day.

After changing the dressings, they whisked him off to physical therapy, where he rode a bike for 20 minutes. Again, he was so tired. He kept wondering if he was almost done, and I thought about asking if he could just have a quick 15-minute cat nap, but I didn’t. . . . I knew that would have been a welcome treat, but we want to follow the prescribed schedule and regimen.

Dad still needs oxygen and he’s still got a feeding tube, but he is starting to eat a few solids, which is a wonderful step forward. And his hands look great too. Like I mentioned yesterday, they’re good enough that he can handle a phone! They got his left hand into a glove today, which is a good thing. His right hand is still way too swollen, but it has more healing to do (all 5 fingertips on the right hand were amputated, while the left had only 2, although they're still watching the others).

The doctors aren’t willing to commit to when he’ll be able to go home, but we’re crossing our fingers and hoping soon. Dad is 6’4”, and let me tell you, those hospital beds are not made for people that tall! He is anxiously looking forward to sleeping in his own bed again.

Anyway, it’s been hard to watch Dad suffer like this, but he’s a fighter and I’ve been very proud of him—and so grateful for his progress. It’s been delightful to spend so much time with him, and I will miss him when he heads back home, but it will be a much-anticipated milestone.

As promised, here are the photos of my Edmonton projects. I forgot to mention that I also demonstrated Halloween bookmarks, and I’ll show them first since they are so simple and don’t need much explanation.

I’m making a bookmark for each grandchild, and Sterling and I will sign the bookmarks, laminate them, and then include them with a book. I love to read, and I’m hoping to pass that favorite pastime on to my grandchildren, so books are frequent gifts from us.

The second project is a Laffy Taffy pennant.

This project is also pretty straightforward; the only thing that really needs an explanation is what I call the “double-pennant” fold. You’ll notice that it looks like there are two pennants, which there are, but I only ran the die through the machine once because I folded the Designer Series paper (DSP) a nifty way before cutting the pennant.

First, I cut a 12x12 piece of DSP in half, so I had a 6x12 piece of DSP. Then I folded the left side of the paper over to the center plus ¼ inch. Next I folded the right side of the paper over to meet the left side, so it’s actually folded ¼-inch less than halfway.

Next I unfolded it just enough to form the “w” that shows in the next photo, then I folded the two sides back to back.

Finally, I laid the paper on the die with the slightly longer fold lined up along the fold line on the pennant die cut. When you run it through the Big Shot, you’ll have two pennants, one slightly smaller than the other. It sounds kind of complicated, but if you look at the photos carefully and experiment a little, I think you’ll get it.

I’m making these candy pennants for our younger grandchildren. The older ones are getting a game, which I’ll be showing at San Antonio next weekend, so be sure to check that out!

Dad and Edmonton

We just wrapped up the Edmonton regional, and it was a great day.

After I got back to my hotel room, I made two phone calls before writing this--one to my sweetheart (he's always the first person I call) and one to my dad. I called Dad's wife, Justine, first, but she didn't answer, so then I called my dad's cell phone, thinking she might have that. I was completely surprised when Dad answered the phone!


You have to know that not having a phone in his hands has been so hard for Dad; he lives with a phone to his ear. As a child, I remember he was always on the phone talking to his customers; that's how he ran his business. So the invention of the cell phone was a wonderful thing for him, and he has never been without one--until this past month. You could tell he was pretty happy to have it back in his hands. I'll update you more about him tomorrow, but I did just want to mention that exciting milestone.

As always, I loved visiting Edmonton--because of the people, of course. I'm sure the city is great, but I've never really explored it. And on my previous visits, it's been pretty cold and windy--and you know how much I like being warm! This time was actually a bit warmer, which was nice. I didn't spend much time outside, but I glimpsed daylight a few times out the window.

Our demonstrators more than made up for the fact I couldn't be outside though. They are always warm and welcoming. We had a lot of first-timers, which was fun. They were curious and excited about everything we were doing, and I felt their enthusiasm. And those who were coming back are always so supportive and appreciative as well!

The project I showed was another Halloween treat; I'm making one for each of our grandchildren. I think they'll love waving the banner around, and the fact that there's a little candy attached only makes it even more fun.

You're probably wondering where the photo is, right? Well, I carefully packed my camera because I knew I'd want to share the project with you. However, I wasn't so careful to pack the cords that connect the camera to the computer. So the project will also be posted tomorrow after I get home.

I guess we can call this part one of a two-part posting on Dad and Edmonton. Check back tomorrow for more!

A Fabulous Event

Well, we just wrapped up our first-ever Leadership Summit, which was a special event for our highest-achieving Stampin’ Up! demonstrators, and I have to say that it exceeded my expectations. I thought it was a fabulous event.

We met for two days, and we had wonderful presentations from all the speakers, great dialogue (on occasion it was a little intense, but there’s nothing wrong with that—we asked for openness and honesty), and valuable interaction with a group of very influential demonstrators. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, and I think we gained insight that will be very valuable as we move forward.

This event was different from our other Stampin’ Up! events. We intentionally kept it fairly small (about 120 demonstrators were invited, and almost 80 attended) so that we could have discussions where everyone could participate.

We also asked everyone to sign nondisclosure agreements, which means they promised to keep the information shared at this event confidential. We value our relationship with every demonstrator—and I mean that—and we are trying to work together as partners with our demonstrators more than ever before. We believe we took a significant step toward that with this meeting, where we discussed several very confidential topics, and I think those who were there appreciated our vote of trust.

We also kept the summit simple, without most of the fancy frills (decorations, stage, fancy presentations, music, etc.) that occurs at most of our other events. There were no swaps (gasp!) and no Make & Takes, although we did do a Make & Share, which were baby albums that we donated to a local nonprofit organization that takes care of young mothers.

There were also not a lot of gifts, although Pam Morgan (Stampin’ Up!’s vice president of Demonstrator Development) and I (along with a couple of other friends) spent many, MANY hours hand-stamping a Live with Passion journal and Kind Works bookmark for every participant. While they were quite time-consuming, they were certainly gifts from the heart, and I enjoyed the time I spent on them—as well as the hours of visiting while we stamped.

And tonight at dinner we were talking, and a couple demonstrators mentioned that they wanted to go to Dear Lizzie, which is just a couple of miles down the road. If you haven’t heard me mention Dear Lizzie, let me just say it’s one of my favorites stores in the whole world!

Well, before I knew it there was quite a group of demonstrators who wanted to go. We had chartered two buses to transport the demonstrators to dinner, so I ran outside and asked the two drivers which one felt the friendliest. They were both good sports, and after a few minutes of negotiations, we had worked out details for one of the buses to stick around for an extra hour to take those demonstrators who were interested to the store.

I loved sharing Dear Lizzie with some of my favorite friends. What a treat for me to see them wander around and check everything out. The boutique usually closes at 7 p.m., but I had called yesterday and mentioned that I thought a few demonstrators might be coming, and Laura (the owner, front row in the photo) said she’d stay open a little longer for us. She was surprised at the number of visitors, although I don’t think she minded the extra business at all. She told me right before we left that she was celebrating the store’s third anniversary today, and I was happy that we could be part of that special day.

So, while I’m certainly tired—the two days were packed—I feel so rejuvenated. I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better. I’m just hoping everyone else agrees. I guess we’ll have to wait and see before we start planning for next year. . .  

  

  

Our Spanish Missionary

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on our missionary, Shanna. She’s in Spain and is loving it! It’s finally starting to cool down a bit—those 110-plus-degree days didn’t sit very well with her—so that’s a nice thing, and she’s catching onto the language, which makes a huge difference in how comfortable she is and how much she enjoys interacting with the people she meets.

We get letters (usually e-mails) from Shanna once a week. She can only write—and receive mail—on her “P-day,” which is short for preparation day. That’s the day missionaries from our church have to do all the stuff they need to do to “prepare” for the upcoming week, stuff like laundry, cleaning their apartments, writing letters, and even a little sightseeing when they can fit it in. Their schedules during the rest of the week are pretty structured, so P-day is a much anticipated day!

Shanna’s P-day is Wednesday, and she’s eight or nine hours ahead of us, so I’ll write her an e-mail on Tuesday night before I go to bed, and she’ll get it when she wakes up on Wednesday. Then she’ll write an e-mail back, and I get to read it first thing when I get up on Wednesday, and it’s practically real time—everything is only a few hours old. So you can see why Wednesdays are one of my favorite days!

Her e-mails are full of news and stories and her testimony, and quite often requests. Before she left, she tried to stock up on things she would need that she might not be able to get over there, like skin care products and toothpaste and things like that. But she’s starting to run out of some of those things, as well as identify other things she’s missing that she didn’t realize she would, like WalMart Light packets for water and cake mixes and peanut butter. Of course, candy is always welcome too!

As I mentioned, missionaries only get their mail once a week, and she sent us a picture recently that showed how excited she was when she received three packages in one week!

 

I thought it was touching to see how excited she was about receiving things that are really very simple and basic, things that I take for granted. Nothing like living a simple life focused on serving and teaching others to make you realize how blessed you are!

This other picture shows her and her companion (missionaries for our church always work in pairs and are never supposed to go outside without their companion) on a P-day doing a little sightseeing.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for her to be in Spain, and she loves meeting the people and experiencing the country on a much deeper level than tourists are able to.

So that’s our Shanna update! She’s only got about a year left—but who’s counting? (smile)

Our Spanish Missionary

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on our missionary, Shanna. She’s in Spain and is loving it! It’s finally starting to cool down a bit—those 110-plus-degree days didn’t sit very well with her—so that’s a nice thing, and she’s catching onto the language, which makes a huge difference in how comfortable she is and how much she enjoys interacting with the people she meets.

We get letters (usually e-mails) from Shanna once a week. She can only write—and receive mail—on her “P-day,” which is short for preparation day. That’s the day missionaries from our church have to do all the stuff they need to do to “prepare” for the upcoming week, stuff like laundry, cleaning their apartments, writing letters, and even a little sightseeing when they can fit it in. Their schedules during the rest of the week are pretty structured, so P-day is a much anticipated day!

Shanna’s P-day is Wednesday, and she’s eight or nine hours ahead of us, so I’ll write her an e-mail on Tuesday night before I go to bed, and she’ll get it when she wakes up on Wednesday. Then she’ll write an e-mail back, and I get to read it first thing when I get up on Wednesday, and it’s practically real time—everything is only a few hours old. So you can see why Wednesdays are one of my favorite days!

Her e-mails are full of news and stories and her testimony, and quite often requests. Before she left, she tried to stock up on things she would need that she might not be able to get over there, like skin care products and toothpaste and things like that. But she’s starting to run out of some of those things, as well as identify other things she’s missing that she didn’t realize she would, like WalMart Light packets for water and cake mixes and peanut butter. Of course, candy is always welcome too!

As I mentioned, missionaries only get their mail once a week, and she sent us a picture recently that showed how excited she was when she received three packages in one week!

I thought it was touching to see how excited she was about receiving things that are really very simple and basic, things that I take for granted. Nothing like living a simple life focused on serving and teaching others to make you realize how blessed you are!

This other picture shows her and her companion (missionaries for our church always work in pairs and are never supposed to go outside without their companion) on a P-day doing a little sightseeing. It’s a wonderful opportunity for her to be in Spain, and she loves meeting the people and experiencing the country on a much deeper level than tourists are able to.

So that’s our Shanna update! She’s only got about a year left—but who’s counting? (smile)

Oh, Happy Day!

I haven’t shared an update on my dad for almost a week, but I’m thrilled to do it today! We got a call from the hospital this morning, and I got my birthday wish—Dad is no longer intubated. Sterling and I went and visited him tonight. Truly I had to keep from laughing at some of the things he was saying, but it was so good to see him without the hand restraints and that nasty tube in his mouth. He was a breath of fresh air for me!

Just to make you smile, I’ll share some of the things we talked about:

Dad wanted to know where the Ritchie Brothers sales brochure was so he could decide what to buy at the auction.

He wanted to stop the nurse and find out what the plan was for dinner. He was tired of buying all the dinners and wanted a free one!

At one point in the day, he was distraught because of the fire in the hospital.

He mentioned he didn’t get much sleep last night because he was sleeping in the street.

Basically, some of what he talked about made complete sense, but most of his conversations were hysterical and totally crazy! I’m pretty sure the doctor’s orders to lessen his medication is a good thing (smile).

The grafting on Dad’s hands looks excellent, and the staples will be removed during the next dressing change. We found out earlier this week that all of Dad’s fingertips (just below the nail) on his right hand will need to be removed (the word amputated seems too harsh) and at least two of the fingertips on his left hand will also need to be removed. They aren’t sure about the other fingers yet. The doctor is going to operate sometime next week in order to let the grafting really take hold and give those fingers every chance to show new growth.

When Dad learned about his fingertips, he just said that he was 66 years old and didn’t need all those fingers anyway. Maybe that was the drugs talking, but since Dad is the most positive person I know, I think he’ll probably handle things pretty well.

Thanks for your continued prayers and well wishes. I appreciate it more than you may know!

China Clarifications

OK, I just read your comments on Monday’s blog, and I want to clarify a couple of things. 

First, we are not thinking about opening up a market in China for selling at this point in time. The regulations in place for direct selling are so different there than most other countries, it’s just not possible for us right now. Maybe someday, but not anytime soon.

Second, I will always choose US-made products whenever feasible. Just last year I opened our new rubber stamp manufacturing facility to produce our core product--not overseas--but in Kanab, Utah. For years, I bucked the notion of going into China for product, but there came a point a few years ago when it became very evident that if we wanted to stay in business, we would have to make that move. That is the reality of doing business in today’s world.

Even today, when we choose manufacturers, we look at more than price. We look at quality, shipping time, order quantities, and other issues. We don’t always go with the lowest bid prices. In addition, there are some products that we can’t even get anywhere but China. And other products made in the United States whose quality is so inferior that we couldn’t in good conscious offer them to our demonstrators and customers. 

Our decision to hire staff members in China was based on two main desires. First and foremost, we wanted to ensure that the products we are getting from China met our standards of quality and safety. Steve and Fayer will do onsite inspections—inspecting both the facilities and the products that are manufactured in those facilities. We have not had that ability before. We’ve always inspected products once we’ve received them here, but we have had no control over the environment where the products are being produced before.

Second, currently we are working through third-party vendors who are brokering the manufacture of these products, and we are paying premium prices (which are still much lower than the prices we can find anywhere in the United States, by the way). If we can work directly with the manufacturers, we can negotiate lower prices when possible and better control the quality. 

We have hired people we know and trust, and people who have years of experience. We brought them over here so they could understand more completely our culture and our commitment to quality and safety. Steve and Fayer are not consultants; they will not be working for any other companies. They are working exclusively for Stampin’ Up!, and they are completely dedicated to us—and our demonstrators and customers.

I hope that clarifies some issues. I understand the concerns you’re expressing and thank you for your honest feedback and concerns. I am proud and honored to be associated with people who genuinely care about the world around them. 

Welcoming New Employees

Meet Fayer Lee and Steve Chan, our new Stampin’ Up! employees—in China! Is that cool, or what? (Steve’s new wife is also in the picture.)

We’ve been working on this for several months, ever since four of us from the home office spent more than a week in China, visiting a huge manufacturing exhibit, contacting vendors, and exploring the possibilities. We met some fantastic people (including Steve and Fayer), made some great contacts, and came back very excited about the possibilities.

Steve and Fayer visited us at the home office, receiving training and getting to know everyone better. I had lunch with them, which is when we snapped this picture. Their main job at this point is to help us find the best pricing--and quality--for the products we offer that are made in China. So, I guess I need to start learning to speak Chinese now. . . . 

An Update on Dad

It’s been raining here all day, and I’m not sure if I’m mellow because of the dreary skies (I do love the sunshine) or if I’m heavy-hearted because of my dad’s condition; he came down with pneumonia earlier this week, so he's not progressing as quickly as we'd hoped. Either way, if I sound a little negative, I’m really not. It’s just that watching my dad with tubes going in and out of his body and unable to effectively communicate makes me feel so helpless. And you all know how I like to solve the world’s problems and “make it all better.”

The doctor says that Dad’s chest x-rays still don’t look good. He assumes the smoke damage is what caused the pneumonia and is hopeful that Dad will start to improve so the skin grafting on his hands can take place on Monday or Tuesday. That means I will be blessed to spend time with him every morning (I take the morning shift and his wife, Justine, takes the afternoon shift) for a couple more weeks.

Dad’s hands look good (or as good as they can look after being badly burned) with no signs of infection, and his faceimproves amazingly every day. Because he’s on a ventilator and has more tubes attached to him than I can count (filling him with all kinds of medication, nutrition, and sedatives) most of his time is spent sleeping.

We (I) visit about simple things, and I massage his head and rub his feet with lotion in between periods of rest. Other than playing “twenty questions” and Dad nodding yes or no, it’s pretty quiet when someone isn’t torturing (that’s what the nurses call it) him when they re-dress or perform therapy on his hands, give him a cold bed bath, and a dozen or so other minor procedures.   

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers on my father’s behalf. My family and I are grateful for your love and support.  

A Utah Fall


I hope you like the new web design; I thought it was fitting for this time of year. I love fall; it’s one of my favorite times of year! It would probably be my favorite season, but it never lasts long enough and I know what’s coming as soon as fall is over—winter. And winter is NOT my favorite season, so that kind of puts a damper on my feelings for fall. (smile)

One of the reasons I love fall is the changing of the colors, and Utah is known for its fabulous fall colors. Almost every year we head up the canyon (only a 10-minute drive from our house) to enjoy all the colorful leaves, and this year was no different. Sterling and I actually went up the canyon on Sunday, and it was so breathtaking, we knew we had to invite the kids to go with us. So yesterday we took everyone in the family who is close enough to come, and we had a family Dutch Oven dinner, surrounded by Mother Nature’s own creative decorating.

It was a wonderful evening, and the colors were incredible. It was a little colder than we thought it would be—it probably dropped 15 or 20 degrees in the short drive from the house to the secluded little campground we selected. While Sterling cooked up his normal delicious Dutch Oven treat, the boys hiked the trails, I snuggled with Phoebe, Grandpa tried to keep warm, and we made a fun family memory.


A few highlights (although every minute was great!)—three-year-old Ashton dragged the kids’ chairs over to the picnic table bench, saying that could be “their table” (I thought that was adorable); Sterling, Jon, Jason, and Shalae tried to break up a large log into firewood by parking the truck on it and jumping up and down on the bumper, while Ashton looked on, as if wondering how many Gardners it takes to cut firewood with a truck (I thought that was hilarious); and the chance to take several family photos that will help us remember Fall 2008.