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Archive for August, 2008

As promised, let’s do a giveaway!  I talked to you in my last post about Finding Good.  I asked you to take the challenge to start identifying the good – the little things or big things – every day in our lives.  I encourage you to jot down what you find each day that is good in yourself, others and in your life itself.  If you don’t have a chance to write it down then just think about it every day.

I am headed to Creative Escape on Wednesday and will be home one week from tonight.  Let’s take this week to try out the challenge.  Sometime between now and Sunday evening at 8 pm leave a comment on this post about your experience of Finding Good this week.  All comments received from now until then will be included in the drawing for a set of 10 clear stamps from Hampton Art (Studio G – katie & co.)

As you can see, they are darling designs by katie & co., each in a 2″x3″ pack.

Find good this week, leave a comment and I’ll announce the winner on Monday, September 8 when I return from Creative Escape.  See you then!

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Jason and I are busy getting all of the last minute preparations ready for Creative Escape in Arizona next week.  For those of you that going – LUCKY!  For those of you not – I have learned already that it is an event like no other and if you have any desire to attend next year then I encourage you to go for it!

Heidi Swapp and Bazzill Basics Paper are the ones who make this event possible and I am flattered that Heidi would include me in her list of teachers presenting this year.  Then to make it even more fun, she shared our vision of “The Jason and Kolette Hall Team” and is utilizing Jason’s skills for the keynote speech on the final evening.  Over the years, Jason has proved to be amazing with all the scrapbookers out there so I think it is fitting that we do this event together – and don’t worry, we’ll have his DVD and Quote Cards available for purchase for anyone interested.

As I put together the project for the class I really wanted to focus on something meaningful to me.  I figured that if it had made an impact on my life then it would have a better chance of impacting those in the class.  A couple of years ago I was given an assignment by BPS to do something interesting with the new “MyBook” calendar by Per Annum. I decided to create a gratitude journal because I am not a very good journal writer and I wanted to take the time each day to find something to write down – just a sentence or two was all I wanted and the calendar’s small daily spaces gave me “permission” to not have to write more than that.

I kept that gratitude journal all year and added photos in the photo page inserts that came with the book.  The experience had such an impact on me that I count it as one of the major growing times in my life.  Because of that, I like to share the idea as much as I can.  I have already used the actual gratitude journal in my BPS classes but my project for Creative Escape was founded on this same concept – with a twist.

Here is a sneak peek at one part of the project – I don’t want to give anything away to all of you Creative Escape goers out there!  I’m very grateful for the generosity of Crate Paper, Hampton Art, Making Memories and Bazzill for making the project possible.  I am looking forward to creating the project with all of you who will be at the event because I know that you will catch the vision of what is possible with a project like this.

Just do me a favor, and this goes for everyone reading this post.  Start thinking about the good things in your life each day.  The little things.  The things that might not seem big to others but make a difference to you.  Think about becoming an expert at noticing the good and ignoring the negative.

Here’s a little challenge: for the next week, think about the good in your life, in others and in yourself.  I want to know what happens to you when you make a concentrated effort to find the good.  For those of you that we will see at Creative Escape – I would like you to share your experience with us during class.  For those of you who won’t be there, share what you find here on my blog.  I’ll mention this again in my next post and you can comment there.  I might even rustle up a give-away for a random comment-leaver so watch for that post!

Finding Good.  That’s what gratitude is all about and that is what is on my mind this week before Creative Escape.  Let’s face it – it’s not possible to find too much good in our lives.

And now’s the time to start looking.  Happy Good Hunting!

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It’s true!  After 16 years of marriage we are finally adding a new little one to our family!  I know, I can hardly believe it myself.  I feel like when I look at the ultrasounds that I am watching a movie of someone else.  Not quite real yet.

I took me a long time to feel like Jason was healthy enough that I could handle taking on this challenge – that’s what caused the delay.  I admit.  It’s all me.  But when my OB said, “Well, if you’re going to do it, you better hurry because you’re getting old,” then I figured it was time to dive in.

I am due February 15 – practically the same day as my friends Ali Edwards and Alanna George.  We found out we were having little matching babies at CHA about 6 weeks ago and it is fun to have a friend in it with you.

I have to say that I am totally out of my element here and feel like I have experienced every emotion on the scale – mostly hanging out on the “scared to death” mark.  We started the invitro process in October (IVF) and had our first bump in the road when Jason was admitted to the hospital for an elbow infection for five weeks in December/January.

Once he was out of the hospital, we pretty much maxed out every option for retrieval, fertilization and transfer that they have available at the Reproductive Care Center in Sandy, Utah.  Our philosophy was to do all we could and let God take care of the rest.  Dr. Heiner was fabulous there and we felt very blessed to have such good, competent resources so close to home.  Many people come from much further away than we did to use their facilities.

Invitro is interesting.  It is a science – yes.  But I came to understand and appreciate the art form as well.  Every step is analyzed, tested, and researched before moving forward because each person is unique so the process becomes unique as well.  Dr. Heiner’s creativity as well as his knowledge was so apparent as we progressed through the experience.

What does IVF entail?  Little shots in my belly (easy to do myself), deep tissue shots in my hips (hard to do myself but I did it nonetheless) and pills, pills, pills.  I feel like we have been counting calendar days since October – this baby should be 12 by the time it gets here!

The first time we tried we got 12 eggs and 8 were viable for fertilization.  Then came the challenging part – Jason’s contribution.  But after a series of miracles (literally) they were able to fertilize 7.  We transferred the best three in February but none of them were successful.  (And YES, I was ok with twins or triplets!!!)

Luckily, we were able to freeze the other four embryos and after a month of getting my body calmed down again, we started the whole injection/medication process over. In May we did a frozen transfer – 3 out of 4 of the embryos survived the defrosting so we transferred all 3.  I had a feeling that even the little 5-cell embryo should be transferred.  I still think that is the one that took – it’s a fighter.

Two weeks later we found out that I was pregnant with a small chance that it was twins.  Two weeks after that we saw one little brine shrimp in there with a strong heart beating furiously.  It worked!  We couldn’t believe it.  We’re actually having a baby!  Again, I was really open to the idea of multiples but there is just one.  Jason breathed a sigh of relief at that!

It’s hard to explain how I feel.  Very blessed and excited for sure – I know that there are so many people who have to try much longer than we did and some never have it work.  We are very lucky.  But then I also feel very overwhelmed with the idea of being able to do this.   When I was sick for the next 6 weeks I kept thinking, “I can’t believe I actually paid good money to feel like this!”

I have now reached the 15 week mark and have had multiple ultrasounds and heard the heartbeat (strong and steady) again last week so I feel like it’s time to get the word out.  I know it will be a major life adjustment for us and I’m really nervous about my ability to handle everything that I will need to do.  I keep thinking, “OK, it worked.  Now what do I do?”  But I have to have faith that I can do it.  I know that this was the right decision for us and I have seen God’s hand in the process.  If all of that is true, then I must be able to do it.  I have to have faith in that.

I can’t believe it – we’re actually having a baby!

Thank you to eveyone who left their congratulations, words of encouragement here.  We are so blessed to have such fabulous support as we enter into this new life venture!  Check back for updates!

Kolette

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Registration has officially opened for my next Big Picture Scrapbooking class: Giving Well 2008 (still in 2 hours or less)!   This was a hit last year and so of course, we’ve come back with all new project and gift ideas.

Yes, this is a great opportunity to get ready for the holidays and that is Purpose #1.  However, most of the gift ideas are fabulous for any occasion – all year long.

You get a new gift project idea (with color instructions) every other day – tons of ideas.  Plus, I love designing artwork exclusive to my classes which is included with the downloads (the “Merry & Bright” label is one example).  Digital, hybrid and traditional scrappers love it.

Enough of all that…here’s a sneak peek of what you will find in the workshop:

So, grab your Gift Resource File from last year or start a new one and join me for this totally affordable 4-week workshop.

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Yes, we are home again after a week of being away – home to the repairmen that are still working on the elevator, phones, internet, and everything else that was affected by the lightening.  But I can’t help thinking that for the last week we have been at home as well.

We went to New York City for a couple of days. We’re Broadway junkies and when we lived back in New Canaan, Connecticut we used to head to the city for a show any chance we got.  It made it even more fun when the theaters instituted half-price or better deal for wheelchair tickets.  Loving that!

So, we relived old times and did what we used to do for our anniversary each year and went to as many shows as we could in just a few days.  Since Jason’s wheelchair was still getting repaired we used his old one that wouldn’t hold any charge in the batteries.  We carried his charger with us and charged up at various places in Times Square on the way to each show – Sephora and Ann Taylor Loft (the biggest one I’ve seen!) while I shopped, McDonald’s or whatever restaurant had an outlet handy.  Pause, plug-in, juice up and go!

In the Heights came first as we rushed from the airport to the show on Tuesday night – just in time to hear the first rap come from Usnavi’s mouth.  That show is so unique and hip and modern.  We loved it – Jason’s parents didn’t (they couldn’t understand the rapping and the Spanish) – over their heads.

Wednesday afternoon sent us to Mary Poppins where the giggling children that were sitting nearby made us laugh.  Next came Jersey Boys on Wednesday night – I didn’t grow up in that era but knew all the songs and you couldn’t help but sing along and cheer like crazy.

We rounded it off by getting Jason to Wicked since he had missed it both of the times I had seen it.  What’s not to love about that show?

The weekend was spent at Jason’s brother Clint’s wedding on Long Island. Family, friends, great weather – it was perfect.

Brian and Krista Blair

Matt and Toni Taylor

So many of our dear friends from Connecticut were there.  There are so many things we miss about living in Connecticut – the winding cow trails that become roads, the daffodils growing in the middle of lawns, being close to NYC, quaint towns, no need for lotion because of the humidity….and of course, the people.  We weren’t always near family when we lived there so our friends became our family.

The whole trip was…like coming home.

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Lightening Fast

Two nights ago our house was hit by lightening…or at least lightening struck very, very close to us  We’re not quite sure which.  After we heard and felt the loudest “BOOM” I have ever heard and leaped out of bed to shut off the elevator alarm and security alarm that immediately started blaring, I sat in bed with the comforter pulled up to my chin and my heart beating like mad!

I told Jason, “I’m kind of freaked out right now!”

House Still Intact

House Still Intact

When we assessed the damage the next morning, we realized that it could have been much worse.  Our house was still standing.  No one was injured.  But that lightening bolt still managed to create hidden havoc in the wires and cords that run through all of our lives these days.

Our elevator repairman (Salvador – it means “to save” and that’s what he does…saves us on a regular basis) stayed until after 7 pm trying without any luck to get the elevator working.

Our computer-programming neighbor finally got the internet working again after a few hours of patiently trying every option.

The home security guy replaced every contact to get our alarm up and running again.

And in the meantime, wheelchair repairmen worked till 10 pm to fix a motor in Jason’s chair that had gone out (unrelated to the lightening but unfortunate timing to say the least).  Without having any luck, they are now following him home so that we can move Jason to his old wheelchair and they can take his current one with them to their shop.  They are going to try and fix it while we are gone for a week in New York.

We decided to deal with getting the Direct TV boxes working later.

Just a few short days ago everything was normal….It’s amazing what can happen lightening fast to change that.  To throw a kink in our well-laid plans.

So, what do we do when life goes awry?  We can complain.  We can cry.  We can get angry.  Although none of those things seem to make it better by any stretch of the imagination.  Doing all of that often times doesn’t even make me feel better.  Mostly they just make me feel worse with the problems still hovering, waiting to be dealt with.

I was lucky today.  I didn’t have a lot of places I had to go that couldn’t wait till another day. I didn’t have a huge to-do list that couldn’t be rearranged to make room for service people to arrive.  It was a little easier today to deal with a lightening bolt than it might have been some other day.

But no matter the day, I want to remember that I have the choice of how I handle inconveniences and headaches and roadblocks.  I get to decide how I will react to my circumstances – not the other way around.

And we’re lucky.  We had many gifts given to us today – gifts of time and knowledge and hard work.  I’m not sure how to express adequate thanks to those who have stepped up and pitched in so, I’ll just say, “Thank you.  Thanks for making an irritating and complicated day a little easier.”

And thanks to my neighbor who got me on the internet again so I could share this with you.

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It’s after midnight and Jason just got home from NYC. I have to wait up for him because we have an aide who helps him with his care at night and in the morning. Being a quad, he can’t lift himself out of his chair, get undressed, etc. so someone has to help him. We decided long ago that it would be healthiest for our marriage if I was able to be wife more than nurse so having an aide has always been very high on my priority list.  I can do all of his care when it’s necessary but we just try to make those times as few as possible since I take care of all the in-between hours already.

We’re lucky because we have good insurance that pays for the care that Jason receives. I recognize that it is a luxury. I admire those who do not have such circumstances but rise to the occasion to help those whom they love anyway. I’ve heard many stories over the years – stories like mine but so different at the same time.

Each situation is so unique. Even those who also have a spinal cord injury at C5-C6 don’t have the same mobility as Jason – sometimes more where they have use of their thumbs, sometimes less where they can’t move their wrists. Each situation has it’s own set of challenges that may seem similar to ours but I know are totally different.

So, I’m writing while I wait for our fabulous night aide, Brian to help Jason get ready for bed. I’d rather not be sound asleep on the other side of the bed while all that happens so I get up and let them do their thing. I’ll go to bed when Brian leaves. That’s the routine.

But after 16 years of living with Jason, we planned for this in our new home. Through these double doors is my space.

It’s the area where I can have privacy while the aide is here. It makes them more comfortable. It makes me more comfortable. I love my “area” when our bedroom gets crowded and I love my bedroom when the aide has gone.

Conventional? No. But I have found that life with a quadriplegic is anything but conventional.

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I picked up my copy of Breaking Dawn last night and sliced up some luscious fresh peaches from the Farmer’s Market. Curling up with a book and tasty peaches is the sweet treat I decided to give myself this weekend as Jason is out of town.

I predicted the first part of the book but anyone get to page 451 yet? Didn’t predict that one…

Now I’m off to cook up some sweet corn.

“O the green things growing, the green things growing…” -Walt Whitman

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My friend Jeana and I just went to a bridal shower for Chris. It took me an hour to get there but I really wanted to go because she has been connected to me for years. Chris literally was my first employee when I started my Memories Complete business back in 1999. At that time, we were creating high-end custom scrapbooks for people out in Connecticut – the “Tiffany’s of Scrapbooking” is what it became.

Chris was just starting college and had been referred to me by a dear friend as someone who could help put the pages and albums together. This and many more of her admirable qualities proved to show themselves over the course of those first years.

Chris then went on a year and a half mission for the LDS church to Japan (can you believe it!) and after she finished riding her bike through monsoons and learning a new language she returned home to the US to find that my brother, Kent and I had expanded Memories Complete and were now manufacturing our own product for the craft industry.

I relocated to Utah to run this business and Chris stepped right in as an invaluable resource and worker as we worked to get our fledgling business off the ground.

Years have passed since then and she was with us through every stage of Memories Complete – from working out of the garage at my apartment building to finding a warehouse and choosing scratch and dent furniture to fill it. She’s sold product like mad at trade shows, met impossible deadlines, learned to be a graphic designer and created new product for us.

Chris has always been by my side, connected to all the major events and the insignificant day to day happenings that entail building a business from scratch. We have a history.

And when I think of our history together, I am simply grateful that we were lucky enough to have someone stick with us, work hard for us, and often save us when we needed it.

She doesn’t work for me anymore. I decided I wanted to focus on my licensed design work so we sold off the manufacturing side of the business a year and a half ago. Chris had graduated with a graphic design degree and had a great new job so it worked out positively for everyone.

But it doesn’t discount the fact that I have a connection with Chris. A saving connection, quite honestly. She made my life easier in so many ways and I’m lucky to have known her.

Do you have a person that has connected to you? Maybe you haven’t known them for as long as I’ve known Chris. In fact, many meaningful connections can last just a moment and still make an impact. Who has been a saving connection for you? Someone who has made things just a little easier. Someone who you think of fondly when your memory travels back to them. Was it a stranger or a long-time friend? A family member or a neighbor? Is there anyone that you can view in a new light and recognize their saving connection to you?

Take a minute today to think about this: Who is your saving connection?

Consider forwarding this post on to your “saving connection” and let them know that they had an impact on your life.

Let me know how it goes…

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