The Bridegans' New Home

We just got back from a great weekend with the Bridegans!

Things started off a little hectic and stressful—knowing we were coming, they had scheduled family pictures. They scheduled them on purpose so we could be there to help out. In fact, both sets of grandparents were there helping, and it was probably a good thing; it took all of us to keep tabs on those two little two-year-olds! (Although we did manage to snap a few quick pics to share with you here; official photographs are Shanna's to share.)

 

Watching Shanna this weekend reminded me that being a mom of a two-year-old is a handful, but being a mom of two two-year-olds is absurd! (That’s Sterling’s word.) Whether we were home (which was most of the time) or eating out or grocery shopping, those two were always going! They’re adorable, but you can’t let them out of your sight! They’re up and down and all over the place. . . they’re climbing and playing and pushing and pulling. . . . they just never stop!

We loved the time we spent with the babies (toddlers now!), but we also really looked forward to naptime and the evenings after they went to bed. It was nice to just catch up with Shanna and Jared and see how happy they are.

Both Sterling and I commented when we left this morning how much easier it was to leave them this time. All four of them picked us up at the airport (the twins were so cute—the minute we climbed into the van, you could tell they were thrilled to have us there) and dropped us off. In the past, saying goodbye has been heartwrenching; I’ve sobbed as we’ve left. This little family has moved three times in eight months, and it’s always felt so unsettled when we’ve said goodbye. I’ve felt like we were leaving them all alone.

This time was different. Shanna and Liam went to the specialist a week or so ago, and she’s thrilled with the progress Liam is making. They love their new house and their new neighbors, and they are close to Jared’s family. We can tell they finally feel like they’re in a place that they can call home! As a parent, you’ve gotta love it when your children find their home.

 

In Good Hands

I know I say this every year—but I MEAN it every year! Just finished our annual Advisory Board Retreat, and all I can say is it’s going to be a fabulous year and our demonstrators are definitely in good hands!

It was a pleasure to get to know these six new board members better. They are bright, thoughtful women, and I could tell as we interacted that they’ve already established great relationships as a group, that they share a desire to do all they can to help Stampin’ Up! and their fellow demonstrators and that they want to make a difference.

Much of our time during the two-day retreat was spent in a variety of meetings. We meet with individuals from the corporate team, demonstrators training, product development finance, and sales; board members also got to spend time on the pickline and chat with call center and business development agents.

While I enjoyed it all, one of my favorite parts of the retreat was, of course, My Favorite Things. I typically host board members at my home for a casual (we’re usually wearing jammies!) dinner, and following dinner, we usually spend a few minutes getting to know each other by sharing our favorite things. What a great way to gain insight into these amazing demonstrators—I love seeing this personal side of them. 

Home for the Holidays--Founder's Circle Retreat

Best Founder’s Circle Retreat ever!

At least one of the best, that’s for sure. And everyone I talked to agreed.

I think one of the reasons it was so amazing was because of the theme. I mean, who doesn’t love the holidays?

The minute we walked into the welcome dinner, I knew we were in for something special. The room was simply amazing—bright and golden and elegant, a formal atmosphere. Hopefully our demonstrators felt special when they walked in.

And that holiday feeling continued throughout the week. The gathering place (called The Holiday Lodge) created a warm, welcome environment where we gathered together throughout the entire retreat. Wreaths on the windows, leather couches, cozy pillows and blankets, pine boughs and Christmas trees, holiday music playing in the background. . . every minute I spent in the Lodge just got me more and more excited for the holidays!

All the gifts that we gave (and that was a LOT of gifts) were gift wrapped—can you imagine the time it took for our staff to wrap all those gifts? There were pillow gifts every day, as well as daily gifts that demonstrators received in the lodge. The hand-stamped tags and festive packaging on the gifts were definitely a heartfelt expression of appreciation for our demonstrators.

And all that wasn’t enough, the opportunity to visit with demonstrators while stamping was the perfect finishing touch. Sara and I spent most of our time in the lodge, chatting with whomever was around. Many of the demonstrators took excursions, went shopping, and relaxed by the pool during the free days (Thursday and Saturday), dropping in to have a holiday treat, stamp, and just relax whenever they could. I loved the opportunity to chat with just about everyone (I think), although I never get as much time as I want with everyone!

Thursday night was our swap and business share. . . cozy (everyone wears jammies) and warm and casual. Lots of treats and lots of sharing of great projects and business ideas!

Friday was the visit to our manufacturing plant in Kanab—always a highlight for me. This year the demonstrators had a special surprise for our Kanab employees—they had created and signed a thank-you banner and brought gifts. The employees gather together to welcome the demonstrators as they get off the buses, and they were so touched when the demonstrators handed them favors and scrapbook pages and other thoughtful gifts. Demonstrators took a tour, ate lunch with the employees, and did a Make & Take. That night, most of us went to “The Wizard of Oz” at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre, a simply amazing outdoor theater! It was unusually warm (the weather cooperated throughout the entire retreat); I even took off my light cardigan because I was warm, which is unheard of for me.

On Saturday, Sara and I invited everyone who was around to go to lunch with us. . . kind of a spontaneous demonstrator lunch. A couple dozen of us walked to the restaurant, and Sara and I got to introduce many demonstrators to a Utah favorite—Café Rio.

Last night was the closing event—another group dinner (this one was more traditional, with plaid and pine and wood),  a white elephant gift exchange, and an evening spent stamping and decorating trees for the Festival of the Trees, a popular philanthropic event in Salt Lake City that benefits the Primary Children’s Medical Center.

I enjoyed ending the event with a service project because it tied in so well with the theme—sharing and caring and giving. That’s really what the holidays are all about. The entire retreat captured that idea so well, and everyone I talked to said they had enjoyed it so much and didn’t want it to end!

All I can say now (except thanks to our amazing Special Events team and home office staff who helped out) is bring on the holidays!

 

Sara and I are at Founder's Circle in St. George this weekend and are having a delightful time with many of our leading demonstrators! I'll post more about this weekend, but I thought I'd share the swap that we (Sara and I went in together on them) handed out at Founder's Circle. 

Enjoy!

The Outlaw and Virgin Pioneer Ride

Sterling wanted to go on the Outlaw and Virgin Pioneer Ride this year, an endurance ride through Mt. Dutton and the Red Canyon. He’s never done this ride, but we both knew it would be beautiful because it’s in southern Utah—and that’s all we needed to know!

The ride was scheduled for the same week as Founder’s Circle, so I decided I’d ride down with him, help him set up camp, and spend an enjoyable first evening at camp with him, then I’d bid him a fond farewell the next morning as he headed off for the first day and before I headed to St. George for Founder’s Circle.

And that’s how things went. . . .kind of.

We headed off yesterday morning several hours later than planned—many of you may know how that goes. . .  And then, even once we got on the road, things didn’t go as planned; we spent two hours on the side of the road with a broken-down truck. Sigh. . .

However, eventually, we did roll into camp as the sun sank. We set up camp in mostly darkness and then enjoyed what was left of the evening. This morning, we got up early and I helped Sterling get ready for the ride. There was anxiety and eagerness in the air. . .  he’s never done this ride and he wanted to make sure he had everything he needed. Ultimately he waved good-bye and headed off astride Dakota on time, and I’m sure he’ll have a great ride.

After he left, I put on my hiking boots (misnamed for me because I’m definitely not up for any hiking) and took a slow walk around the camp. We knew it would be beautiful, and I wasn’t disappointed; I was also grateful that I’m feeling well enough to even take the walk in the first place!

After my walk, I packed up and got ready to meet Sara, who had agreed to drive a couple hours out of her way to come pick me up on her way to Founder’s Circle. I actually felt up to walking a mile or so up the dirt road to meet her. . . I enjoyed that as well.

So Sara picked me up, and we got here to St. George a few hours ago, and we’re looking forward to Founder’s Circle festivities starting in just an hour or two. . . can’t wait to see our Stampin’ Up! leaders and spend the next few days with them!

 

A Board BBQ Like No Other

We had our annual Stampin’ Up! board member BBQ last night—it was a wonderful adventure.

Typically we have just the board members and their partners attend, but we decided to switch things up a bit this year and invite entire families, so we had 28 people last night, ranging in age from one year old to. . . well, older than some of us would like to admit.

It felt a lot like our monthly family dinners in terms of size; when everyone comes to those, we have about the same number and similar age ranges. Sterling and I kept busy all night, making sure everyone had plenty to eat; we did a taco bar with fresh peaches and ice cream for dessert. In fact, we were so busy that I completely forgot about taking photos. I was bummed about that, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re hosting the event.

We didn’t plan any games or activities—I hoped that everyone would enjoy simply chatting and getting to know each other. And they did!  It was fun to see everyone mingle and chitter chatter; even the teenagers seemed to enjoy themselves. (And that’s definitely saying something!)

The last guest left a little before 9, and as we closed the door, my first thought was how grateful I am that I get to interact with such amazing people! I hope our guests enjoyed it as much as we did!

 

Sidney's Sixteenth

Yesterday morning we received a text from Sara, inviting us to join the Douglass family at dinner last night to celebrate Sidney’s 16th birthday.

We were thrilled to be invited, moved a few things around, and made it to the party!

The celebration was mainly for immediate family and us; grandparents are pretty immediate, don’t you think? They scheduled dinner at Tsunami and made reservations for the large round table. Sid was as excited to eat at the “special” round table as she was to open her gifts.

It was so fun to see how excited she is to be 16—it represents a significant milestone. . . driving, dating, a big step toward growing up. She’s a beautiful young woman—happy birthday, Sid!

A Weekend Highlight

Had a great weekend, with the highlight being Cooper’s first soccer game. He was so excited about the game that he invited everyone he saw to come watch, including Sterling and I. And how could we miss it, right?

We sat in the shade of a tree watching him. . . Sterling and me, along with Ashton, Shalae, and Jon. (Phoebe was at a football game with her cousins.) Cooper’s team only had one extra player, so they took turns rotating in and out of the game. Cooper was as excited to be on the sidelines as he was to play the game; he ran up and down the sidelines, cheering and clapping for his teammates. He was so into it! It was cute to watch him, and I was glad we were able to be there to support him.

We try to go to all the games and performances of our grandchildren when we know about them and when we’re in town. We’ll attend Cooper’s game next weekend too—we can’t wait to see him in action again. We’ll be out of town the next couple of weeks after that, so we have to get all the seven-year-old soccer in while we can.

We also had a nice time Sunday evening with our monthly potluck family dinner. Everyone came (except for our East Coast Bridegan family—and we always miss them!), which is rare these days with all the comings and goings of everyone as the grandkids get older. It was great to see everyone—we even had a couple of guests join us.

Hope your weekend was wonderful too. . . .

My First Party

I attended a delightful stamping party yesterday—in my own home!

At convention, I mentioned that I was going to “get out there” and hold a few parties, classes, or workshops, and I held my first one yesterday. Guests were all family members of a business acquaintance of mine; I’d call her friend now, after spending an afternoon stamping together!

She and her family members  came from all over (one guest came from as far away as Brigham City) to make a couple birthday cards, eat lunch, and just enjoy each others’ company.

And we definitely did that!

In fact, when they left, I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe what time it was—the time flew by so quickly! They brought the food, and I supplied the stamping supplies and ideas. I was pretty straightforward with them from the very beginning, telling them I didn’t want them to feel any pressure to purchase anything, I just wanted to share with them my love for stamping.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a stamping event, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed getting to know the guests better, and I especially enjoyed watching them discover the joy that comes from creating something with your own hands. I watched them smile and laugh and was reminded, as I always am, about the many wonderful things that happen when we gather together to stamp.

We made the cards that I showed in my August CASE convention presentation. We tried to schedule this party in August, but we were a few days late. . . what are you gonna do, right? (smile) I had several projects on display; one of the purposes of the party was to show them how many projects they could create from one stamp set. Several of them commented on the versatility of the stamp set, and I did get an order (woohoo!), even though that wasn’t my main objective.

I also got a rebooking—we’re planning an early November party, and we’re going to make neighbor gifts (one of the guests makes potpourri) and stamp tags to put on the bags. I’m already looking forward to spending some more time with this fun new group of friends.

 

 

Perfect Weather, Good Turnout, Great Time!

Celebrated (can you call it that?) the one-year anniversary of my riding accident this weekend by returning to the Grand Canyon for the annual ride; I didn’t participate, but Sterling did—he set a goal to do three 30-mile rides over three days, and he did it! Yea, Sterling!

We actually had gone back a couple of weeks ago—a short down-and-back trip to check on the status of the road Sterling worked on last year; he wanted to see how it had survived the winter and if it was ready for the ride. It looked great!

The first night of the ride, the ride organizer acknowledged the anonymous benefactor who had done so much work to improve the area. We hadn’t arrived yet, and he didn’t mention Sterling by name, but we heard later that he was extremely appreciative, as were many of those involved in the ride. No trucks got stuck this year, the road was less muddy, and the meadow was smoother and, as always, peaceful and pleasant. I’m proud of—and grateful for—my husband, who quietly saw a need and worked to fill it; he sets such a great example of service. . . 

And as for the weekend itself. . . well, the text I sent out to everyone afterwards the ride was: Perfect weather, good turnout, great time!

As I mentioned, Sterling did amazing . . . set a goal and met it! Woohoo! And I had a wonderful time as well. I was a “crew” member (everyone who doesn’t ride is crew); I helped Sterling where possible, meet him at the vet check on day 2, and cooked dinners. I had a little truck problem on my way to meet him, but other crew members helped me out and everything worked out fine. The rest of the time I relaxed, worked a little here and a little there, and read a book!

I don’t read books a lot, so the fact that I read—and finished—one is definitely worth noting. It was a great book too—“My Name Used to be Muhammad.” I kept thinking I’d just quickly skim it, but I found myself drawn into it. When I do read, I like nonfiction books, and this story of a Muslim man’s journey to becoming a Christian was simply fascinating.

I had wondered if it would be hard to be at the Grand Canyon, considering what happened a year ago, and although I did feel a little bit of anxiety, it really was just great to be there, supporting Sterling. If I had actually been riding, I’m sure there might have been a little more stress and anxiety (maybe that’s a small benefit to the arthritis?), but since I knew I was there in a support capacity, it was really just a great long weekend with almost all good memories.