Welcome to my personal blog!

Just as I share some of my personal thoughts and views, I invite you to share yours. All I ask is that you keep your comments appropriate. I won’t feel badly about removing comments that are offensive. That doesn’t mean you can’t be honest—I want honest feedback—but I like to fill my life with positive people and positive things. I guess that means that if you have to say something negative, say it nicely!

More than anything, I want you to leave here feeling inspired and valued—and like we've had a nice visit!



Kicking My Feet Up in Kauai

We planned this trip over a year ago, and I had hoped to do the usual sightseeing and basking in the sun on the beach. Instead, I really just kicked my feet up in the condo. My RA has been acting up—more about that in a blog post soon—and although I wished the warmer and humid weather would do me some good (it didn’t!), I figured I could take it easy in Hawaii with family as easily as at home.

We flew with the Browns to Honolulu for a couple of days to see friends from our mission, took the kids to a few of our favorite food places (because vacations for the Gardners is all about the food…well a lot about food!), and then headed over to Kauai for a week.

Aside from an herbal tea farm tour, where I got bit in my mouth by a centipede…funny story (thank goodness for mulberry leaves!), one trip to the beach, and a couple of shorter sits by the pool, Sterling and I pretty much stayed in the condo and enjoyed the view and warm breeze from the lanai.

We were also thrilled to keep Owen while Shalae and Jon and their three older kids went to the beach, the pool, and tubing. It was a win-win. Most evenings, we all ventured out for dinner to enjoy the Hawaiian hospitality, yummy food, and charming atmosphere.

It may not have been the trip I imagined, but it was an enjoyable and relaxing vacation. I loved being with family, and it was Hawaii—warm and beautiful—and one of my favorite places!




Confetti (and money) Shooter

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted. How time flies!

For Zach’s birthday, I wanted something fun and celebratory, since his birthday is so close to the first of the year, and he's our only January baby...and a pretty darned cute and grown up one! I think this packaging fit the bill (we always give money) nicely…pun intended!

As you can see from the photos, a large, trimmed balloon secured to a toilet paper roll shoots the gift and confetti out nicely…as long as you don’t tie the tulle too tightly. Imagine the possibilities!


The Card Never Sent

I mentioned last post that we didn't send Christmas cards, but I want to share the "master card" that wasn't duplicated as planned because I think the message is appropriate for the season and all year long. Happy New Year!


Gifts Delivered

We didn’t mail Christmas cards this year, and we didn’t make neighbor and friend gifts either, but we did deliver these awesome tree ornaments to our family members. The ornaments are made using the Cutie Pie Thinlits and are just the right size for cash (our gift of choice so everyone can choose their own gift) and some chocolate hugs and kisses. As usual, we also included a practical gift for the family…an emergency roadside kit (boring!), but the hit was definitely the tree ornaments!


The Tradition Continues

We were trying to figure out how many years we’ve been gathering together the weekend before Christmas, and we can’t remember when it all started. Our children were young, and now their children are nearly grown. It doesn’t really matter though. We just know that after each gathering, we always comment on how much we enjoyed seeing everyone and being together.

Very few family members were unable to make it this year, which made for almost 80 people coming and going from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. Six babies joined the family since last December, and it was fun to see them being passed around and cuddled. It was also fun to watch the young children play together and the teenagers hang out with cousins they only see once (maybe twice) a year.

Grandma Pat decided to do something a little different for the Christmas program. She thought it would be fun (and I suppose it was for those watching!) for her and us seven siblings to lip sync and dance to a Christmas song. It brought back memories of my childhood, performing at church and community events, and I’m glad to know it’ll be another group’s turn next year! Sorry, no photo. Only a video, and I don’t know how to post videos…lucky for you!

I wasn’t feeling well the day we drove down, and I asked Sterling if he would be okay to go without me. I just didn’t know if I was up to it, but I’m so glad I went. It turned out to be a great few days relaxing and visiting with extended family!