A Stampin' Up! Halloween

Note: Halloween is always a fun time at Stampin’ Up!, and I was sorry to miss it this year, but I asked Sara to tell us about it!

Happy Halloween!

It was fun to come in to the office today. . . music was playing, people were hanging out, a lot of people were dressed up, and we were having fun.

You all know we have a lot of creative people working at Stampin’ Up!, and Halloween is the perfect opportunity for many of them to express that creativity. I love to see the original and unique ideas that people come up with!

We have a costume contest every year—even have a walkway for everyone to strut their stuff. Some years, we have entire departments that dress up in group costumes; this year we didn’t have as much of that, although our HR team did do the Duck Dynasty thing.

Another highlight for me is seeing the kids that come in to trick or treat. A lot of the employees bring in their young children or grandchildren to trick or treat around the office; plenty of employees have candy stashes set aside for these cute kids.

This year we also had a Halloween breakfast. . . bagels, juice, yogurt, and fruit. Pretty healthy, which was good considering all of the candy floating around.

I left a little early, because like many other moms out there, I was helping out with a classroom Halloween party. . . when you’re a mother, it’s just one thing after another on Halloween, right? But it was fun while it lasted! I hope you had a fun day as well!

 

 

 

 

I'm Walking. . . Kind Of

I wanted to share a few highlights from the past several days.

As Sterling mentioned—I’m walking. . . with the help of a cane and someone holding my arm or hand. Woohoo! I never would have thought that walking would feel so great! I’m still using the walker inside the house when I’m alone and the wheelchair for any walking that requires long distances or longer periods of time (see the company meeting highlight below), but I used the cane when I went to all three hours of church this weekend, and also for our family photo shoot.

That’s another weekend highlight.

Like many families, we try to take an annual family photo, and we did that this weekend. Jon took the photo, and he did a great job! The kids are getting older, the outtakes are getting funnier (see the photos below), and it was wonderful to be with everyone. The grandchildren were all excited to see Grandma walking with a cane instead of in her wheelchair (now that makes me sound older than I want to be!), and I was as happy about it as they were!

I’m not sure, but I think the family photo will be unveiled in the next annual catalog. If they end up not using it, I’ll share it with you.

Finally, a high point for me was my first visit back to the home office, which happened last Thursday when I attended our quarterly company update meeting. It was on the two-month anniversary since the accident, and it was such a thrill to be back with my Stampin’ Up! family. Sterling pushed me in on my wheelchair, and it was a surprise for everyone—they didn’t know I would be there. I was so touched by everyone’s welcome, and I was especially grateful for the opportunity to stand (yes, I STOOD. . . didn’t take any steps, but I stood!) and thank everyone their for their amazing support and encouragement and continued hard work.

So, progress continues. . . I hope your weekend was as good as mine!

  

 

 

 

I'm Baaaack!

I thought I was being so careful, but someone found out that I had hacked Shelli’s blog. And they asked me to hack it again and give a quick update, so here I am. . .

Before I update you about Shelli, though, I thought I’d share an update on me. I noticed that Shelli’s last post was about the Gardner Girls Gathering, so I wanted to tell you about my weekend activities as well. Since the girls took Shelli away for a few days, it was the perfect opportunity for me to complete a service project I’ve been wanting to do for weeks—fix up a road that leads into the camp where we stayed on the Grand Canyon ride (it wasn’t the fire road where Shelli had her accident).

We noticed how terrible the road was when we arrived at the camp—four big mud holes that made the drive into camp pretty ugly. The land is forest service land, and we knew the forest service didn’t have the resources to fix the problem. So I told the ride manager that I’d come up one long weekend and take care of the problem.

Well, we all know I’ve been pretty busy taking care of other very important things, so the Grand Canyon project had to wait.

Until this weekend.

I headed down south on Wednesday, and worked Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—it was glorious and wonderful—for several different reasons. It always feels great to do hard physical labor, it’s wonderful to be involved in a service project, and it was definitely quiet. On Thursday, eight or nine cars came down the road. On Friday, four cars drove by, and one came by twice, so that doesn’t count. Then on Saturday, only one truck drove through! When I turned off the tractor, it was completely silent except for the breeze coming through the trees! Nothing more sublime than that. . .

A friend from Kanab hauled in seven loads of road base and gravel and then left me in solitude. Between loads, I took the harrow I had brought and drug up the meadow where 90-95 campers and trailers camp for the ride. Filled in the ruts and holes so it looks nice.

The winter weather will compact the dirt down and in the spring that meadow will look pretty.

I took a few pictures, including one right before I headed home Saturday evening. Shelli always tells me that to be interesting, a picture has to have people in it. I tried to ask a few deer that came dashing through camp if they’d take a picture of me, but they wouldn’t stop—pretty nervous with the deer hunt, I guess.

Eventually I settled for this photo of my working buddies off in the distance: Bertha (the Chevy Duramax), Bubba (the trailer), and Juan Puablo (the John Deer tractor)—ya gotta name your vehicles, don’t you? They were great workers and great weekend companions. . .

So, enough jabbering about me. . .

Let’s get to Shelli.

She’s doing exceptionally well.

We went to the doctor yesterday and hetook some new X-rays, and based on the results, he gave her permission to put full weight on her right side. That means she can start learning to walk again. Today, her PT put a belt around her waist and she walked for the first time in weeks.

She texted me afterwards (I wasn’t at home at the time) and told me that there would be a new woman at home waiting for me when I got home. . . hmmm. . . she was feeling pretty thrilled about finally being able to walk.

Other than that, things are pretty routine around the Gardner house. It takes us about an hour and half to get ready in the morning—even though she’s walking, there’s still a lot of things she can’t do on her own. I have to be honest, the last eight weeks have been kind of nice in a way because it’s slowed Shelli down to the point where I can actually keep up with her! She’s chomping at the bit now and is starting to get a little spunky on me, wanting to get up and go, and I can see that I’d better start getting back in shape again!

We are both grateful that so many prayers and well wishes have been offered in her behalf—we are convinced that they’ve had a huge impact on her speedy recovery. Her spirits have been consistently  high, and she’s so positive—to the point that it’s been rather frustrating to those of us (meaning me) who aren’t quite as positive.  And honestly, we (meaning me) wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

Gardner Girls Gathering 2013

I’m not sure when the last Gardner Girls Gathering was. . . we were trying to remember, and I think it’s been at least a couple of years, maybe longer. We were definitely due—so this weekend the Gardner Girls gathered!

Of course, we knew heading into it that it would be pretty low key, not a lot of going or doing for me. The girls were all on board, and this was definitely our most relaxed Gardner Girls Gathering. A few of us headed up earlier to the cabin on Thursday, stopping to have dinner and get groceries, and everyone else arrived later that evening, around 9 or so. The late start didn’t stop us from having fun. . . we stayed up until the wee hours visiting. I was the first one to check out, heading to bed around 1 in the morning.

I’m not sure what time the girls called it a night, but late enough that we all got a fairly late start on Friday morning. Which was perfectly fine because that’s what this Gardner Girls Gathering was all about. . . no agenda, everyone doing whatever they feel like doing and just hanging out together.

Friday we spent the entire day in our jammies. Everyone got up at different times, and we had a late breakfast, late enough that you could probably call it lunch. (smile) Yummy French toast with to-die-for syrup, berries, and whipped cream. We all had our books to read and projects to work on, so most of the day was spent in the living room. Because everyone had their own space, they could take a cat nap if they wanted to (I was a good girl and took one) or enjoy a little peace and quiet, but we spent most of the day together.

Friday night we ordered Café Rio to go, and after dinner, we did online personality profiles. We ended up profiling our husbands too. It was fascinating, pretty accurate, and lots of fun. Once again, I was the first to call it a night (about 2 a.m.!). . . not sure when the girls followed me.

Saturday morning was another late morning, with another noon (or later) breakfast. We did get dressed on Saturday, because we had places to go and things to do. Well, actually just one place to go and just one thing to do.

We headed to Sage Leaf Spa at Brick Canvas for massages—I can’t have a massage, so I enjoyed a facial. After that, we had dinner at a Gardner family favorite (Tsunami) and ended the evening with a movie at the house. It was a wonderful weekend, and I definitely hope we don’t have to wait another few years for our next Gardner Girls Gathering.

I did want to share the pillow gifts—I know, I know, silly me wanting to do pillow gifts at something like this. But I’ve tried to always have gifts for the girls, and this year was no different, even though my capacity was a little diminished. I called a dear friend, who helped me out with the packaging—an adorable detachable magnet tag that reminds the girls how very much I appreciate all they’ve done for me the past few weeks, along with a hand-stamped CD holder. I asked Shanna (I know, she had to help out with her own gift!) to burn a CD of some of my favorite inspirational songs and then pick up some Amazon gift cards, because I know all the girls love to read and they all have e-readers of some sort.

As I mentioned, the entire weekend was pretty simple and low key, as was the gift. But that’s kind of how I roll these days. I’ve learned a lot from this accident (I keep promising to post some of those life lessons, and they’re coming), and I’m sure I’ll learn much more. And trying to keep life simple tops the list. . .

 

All about Perspective

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I wanted to post about some of the thoughts and experiences I’ve had since my accident, and today I wanted to share a little bit about perspective.

By nature, I’m pretty optimistic and positive—so grateful for that instinctive tendency I have. It has served me well throughout my life, including the past few weeks. As I’ve talked to people since my accident, many have expressed their concern and support and mentioned how sorry they are. I appreciate so much their sweet thoughts. . . this definitely hasn’t been easy.

That said, from the very beginning, I’ve recognized that things could be so much worse. While painful and serious, my injuries are short term, and I expect a full recovery, even though it may takes months of patience (not my strong suit!) and hard work. Recently, however, our family has experienced something that has made this perspective even more of a reality.

Shanna and Jared have two adorable eighteen-month-old twin babies, Liam and Abigail. Liam has had heart and breathing problems since birth, and in the past month has been diagnosed with Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension, a disease that may be terminal. Jared and Shanna are finding out more and more every day about their options, about available treatments, about the prognosis. We don’t have definitive answers as of yet. . .Liam is still undergoing testing and various treatments. But it looks like his life will likely be a difficult one, and perhaps a shorter one. . . but definitely a happy one, knowing our little Liam.

Our hearts are breaking as we watch the Bridegan family deal (extremely admirably!) with this news, and we are doing all we can to support them. In the meantime, my accident, and the resulting challenges, have obviously paled in comparison. What I am going through is a blip on the radar. . . not chronic or lifelong or relentless. Shanna and Jared and Abigail and Liam will deal with this challenge every day, it will impact where they live and how they live, it will impact many of the decisions they make moving forward.

So, it really is all about perspective, isn’t it? On the day I found out about Liam’s diagnosis, I remember thinking, “If anyone hears me whine or complain about pain or physical therapy or not being able to get where I want to be when I want to be there again, slap me!” We all struggle with challenges, and I don’t want to underestimate the strength and courage it takes to face any of them—even those that are temporary and seemingly “easier” when compared to others. We are all here to do our best, regardless of our circumstances. And we cannot compare various challenges and think that some have it “easier” than others.

What we can do is focus on being grateful, regardless of where we are in life. And we can reach out to others. I have mentioned before how overwhelmed I’ve felt as so many of you have reached out to me. Sterling and I were just talking the other day about how absolutely sure we are that the prayers offered around the world in my behalf have had an effect on my recovery. I know and have felt them, and have recommitted myself to making sure that I pray for others around me, knowing that those prayers truly make a difference.

We are particularly grateful right now for the power of prayer, and for the knowledge we have that our family will be together forever, regardless of how long we have Liam in this life. Thank you for your prayers, and I do hope you’ll add the Bridegan family to your thoughts and prayers in the future. When we pray for each other, reach out and help each other, do what we can for each other, the world is definitely a better place. . .

 

 

Our Halloween Tree

At Brick Canvas we have a tree in the lobby, and people are always asking the guest specialists why we have our Christmas tree up year round. What they don’t understand it it’s not a Christmas tree, it’s a holiday tree! I love holiday décor and love the festive flair that the tree provides when people walk in the building. Hence the tree. . .

Here’s what the holiday tree looks like for Halloween. It’s pretty simple; I’m sure we’ll add more decorations in coming years. In particular, I wanted to show off two of the hand-stamped projects from the tree—our garland (you can see how quick and easy it is to make!) and our skull tree topper.

Typically I’m not a fan of skulls and skeletons, but it’s hard to resist anything covered in glitter! Even a skull. We added Designer Series Paper hat and bow, plus a few fun accents, and even a scary skull starts to look adorable.

Happy Halloween!

 

The Best Birthday Present of All

Wrapping up a birthday that was one of my most memorable, given the events of past few weeks. It’s been a happy day with lots of texts, phone calls, and visits from family and dear friends, wishing me a happy birthday. Each time I received one, it made me smile.

Plus Sterling announced this morning that we were going out tonight for a family dinner, and going out is a treat these days as well. . . although it takes a little work and effort, it’s well worth it!

And we ended the day with most of the family (minus the twins and the Douglass family, who are out of town) at the Harvest Restaurant, one of my favorite places to eat. It’s peaceful and quiet. . . well as quiet as it can be with 19 Gardners gathered together to celebrate.

And while all that was wonderful, the best birthday present of all came this afternoon when my PT (physical therapist) announced that I could start putting weight on my right leg. That means I can start learning to walk again with my walker. HUGE. . . so excited!

And now I’m going to fall into bed. . . it’s been a fabulous, full day!

General Conference Weekend

Just wrapped up one of my favorite weekends of the year—LDS Semiannual General Conference. Members of my church spend the weekend listening to Church leaders speak to us during five different two-hour meetings that are broadcast over the Internet, as well as on numerous TV stations. Some people call it pajama church, because we get to listen at home, in our living rooms, dressed however we want. No wonder I like it, right?

We headed to the cabin for the weekend, and the drive was gorgeous! These photos don’t do the scenery justice at all—it was breathtaking.

It was especially interesting because it had snowed the night before, so for the first time ever, I saw stunning fall colors (red, oranges, greens, and browns) juxtaposed with amazing winter colors (pine trees laced with snow and ice)—absolutely incredible! We drove through the canyon with our windows down and just enjoyed the clean, crisp fall air.

And that was only the beginning of a great weekend.

I was inspired by the many talks. . .several stood out for me. I should have written down one line from each of the talks that were most memorable, but I didn’t. . . I’ll try to remember to do that next time.  One of our leaders listed all the things the Church asks us to do, and then asked, “Why would anyone join this Church?” Then he talked about the importance of a church asking its members to do more than just listen. . . to also do and serve. Another leader talked about the reality of emotional illness, especially depression. Still another talked about enduring and running patiently the race set before us. There were talks on missionary work and tithing and faith and God’s law vs. man’s law. I could go on and on about what I learned. I loved listening, and will enjoy studying and reading the talks again in the months to come—they truly did inspire me to become a better person.

Another reason the weekend was so great was because the Hoops and Browns joined us. We enjoyed some fun snuggling time with grandchildren and lots of peaceful introspection as well. In between conference sessions we did puzzles, enjoyed great company, and just loved being away from the house after being cooped up for several weeks.

Which leads me to a quick health update.

Many of you have asked how I’m doing—I’m doing great! I can go to the bathroom by myself and sit on a regular toilet. . . is that too much information? Hope not—it’s pretty huge for me! I am off prescription painkillers, only needing Tylenol; I can get out of bed by myself; I haven’t used my blue thing-a-ma-jig in over a week; I got a shorter splint on my wrist that gives me a little more movement (still can’t fix my hair by myself, but it’s coming). . . and the list goes on and on.

I continue to receive cards (thank you) and visitors and well wishes. I am finally feeling like I can maybe sit in on a conference call or two, although I’m probably still a few weeks away from making it to the office for the first time. I’d like to make it to a meeting, but I just don’t think I’m quite ready. And one thing this whole experience is teaching me is patience, which hasn’t been one of my strengths. I’m learning. . . and along the way am feeling so very blessed and grateful for all that I have!