Behind the Scenes – Elevate

Lisa here! One of the perks of being Ashley’s right hand gal? Attending conferences and special events. I LOVE them! When I couldn’t attend Snap in Utah this year because of a conflicting event I cried like a baby. Seriously, I did. I love meeting new people, listening to inspirational and informative speakers, oh and the swag, so much awesome swag. My favorite part? Why listening to Ashley speak of course! I feel like I’m hearing her for the first time, every time. I cried during her presentation at Elevate. It was very moving.

I usually have my camera on me throughout the day. Yes, it’s a little paparazzi like, but I don’t care. Ashley will give me these looks like, “Are you seriously taking a picture of me doing this?” Ok, she is probably right, I can see how it would get annoying, but look at this picture! Very Kate Middleton-esque, greeting a blog reader.

(Editor’s note: Really?! Kate Middleton? Maybe Kate’s awkward older sister that they’ve never told anyone about.  I want to make sure the readers can sense your sarcasm here Lisa……)

Elevate Conference via lilblueboo.com

 

Back to Ashley’s presentation. It rocked. Oh and I’m not just saying that. I hope many of you get the opportunity to hear her speak one day. It really is a treat, and you walk away feeling inspired, encouraged and motivated.

 

Elevate Conference via lilblueboo.com

 

She told a story about pre-k graduation. I will let her go more in depth about the story here on the blog, if she chooses to. As we sat in the pews watching our girls get their pre-k diplomas, it was hard not to picture what that day would have been like if Ashley’s journey had taken a different turn. I know we shouldn’t think so much about the what ifs but it’s kinda hard not to sometimes. This could have been a very different photo. I’m thankful Ashley was there, looking beautiful and healthy! I’m also thankful these antsy girls who only had cake on their mind (Ashley included) gave me this photo op.

 

Elevate Conference via lilblueboo.com

Elevate was so much fun. Although, I actually got a little case of anxiety when Summer and Jen explained that we would be doing a craft project and making wood signs with vinyl. Arts and crafts are not my thing. I paint like a 2 year old.  I didn’t want people to see how badly I suck. I would rather they just assumed I was a DIY genius because I work for Ashley.  We both chose to make the Choose Joy signs. The technique used to make these is similar to the one used in the Subway Art tutorial. Obviously, I didn’t listen to the instructions or read Ashley’s tutorial, lol!

Craft Fail via lilblueboo.com

Ashley even used sandpaper to give her sign a more vintage feel…show off.

 

(Editor’s Note: Ok, Ashley here. Lisa I think it’s awesome…..if maybe a 5 year old did it?  Just kidding, vinyl stencils can be deceiving….you think they are working when they really aren’t. I’m proud of you for participating! Wait, you don’t read my tutorials?)

 

The one celeb I was dying to meet – sweet baby “Cookie” of Whippy Cake! She and I chatted about accessories. She taught me all about #armcandy and how to accessorize. Yes, Cookie knows all about hash tags. I sent a text to my mom with this pic and told her I was getting my baby fix on at the conference. She texted back, “Can we keep her?” No mom. Becki, watch out for a crazy baby lovin’ grandma named Cathy in cute heels ;-)

 

Elevate Conference via lilblueboo.com

All in all, it was a fabulous day shared with fabulous people!

 

Hugs,

Lisa

 

Facebook Stalker

Lisa here! Last week I asked everyone on Facebook if they had any questions about Lil Blue Boo or Ashley they might want me to talk about in my next post. Let me tell you I received some really great ones. I love sharing little bits of info that no one would ever know unless they were a fly on the wall.

Question from Jessica: How did you and Ashley meet and what was your first impression of her?
Answer:
Ashley and I met at a party (but I secretly “met” Ashley somewhere else).

In 2009 our mutual friend Amber was hosting a game night at her house  and I knew everyone on the evite but Ashley. I was excited to meet someone new, but a little curious as to who she was. What does one do when you want to find out more about someone?? You look them up on Facebook of course! She is going to die when she reads this! I swear Ashley, you did not hire a stalker. Really, I just wanted to see if I recognized her from her profile photo. Please tell me I’m not the only one to ever look someone up on Facebook!? A side note: make your page PRIVATE people (so I can’t stalk you, lol!)

 

Photo bomb: Ashley and Lisa of Lil Blue Boo via lilblueboo.comI don’t think Ashley has the capability of being serious. She is always photo-bombing me, making fun of me, or making fun of herself.  Never a dull moment.

 

Just for fun, lets go back to ’09. Thanks to the new Facebook timeline it was easy to grab some of her old status updates (remember when status updates were in third-person!?).

Ashley Swenson Hackshaw:

…thinks 10 inaugural balls sounds like a nightmare. I’d want to hang out in my new White House digs in my PJs.
…thinks whoever invented the laser level is a genius.
…loves Costco rotisserie chicken.

…thinks an earthquake while changing your child’s diaper is NOT COOL.

Still sounds like the same Ashley!

My first impression of Ashley when I met her…pretty, tall, long blonde hair, witty, smart, knew a heck of a lot more about politics then I did. Ugh, I hated her (but actually really loved her).

We quickly discovered that we had a lot in common. We were both stay at home moms that liked to make things for our daughters. We  traded bows for handmade clothing. Oh, the good old days. We both had teeny tiny blogs and a love for photography. We clicked. Eventually, her blog started to take off, mine, not so much, ha! About a year later I went back to work full time, and Lil Blue Boo continued to grow.

When she asked me to join her at LBB I jumped at the opportunity. I knew LBB could be something really special, and there was no way I wasn’t going to be a part of it. Fast forward to today…and I’m sending out autographed photos of Ashley. Yes, she really does get autograph requests. When I ask Ashley to sign a photo we try and act all serious, but then start giggling like school girls.

Ashley: Why would anyone want my autograph??
Me:
I was thinking the exact same thing…hee hee, kidding.

 

Ashley of Lil Blue Boo via lilblueboo.com

 

Here is one of  my favorite questions.

Question from Anonymous Reader: You and Ashley seem to get along so well! Is there anything that she does that really annoys you??
Answer:
Why yes Anonymous Reader, thank you for asking! Gosh, where do I begin!?

Lets start with the cords. Those gosh darn cords! You see, a while ago the Mac crashed. After it was repaired, rather then restoring all of her main files back on to the desktop computer, she started working primarily from her  laptop at the conference table. This spot at the table has become her desk, DIY workspace, and kitchen. I have to step over the pile of cords that lay in my way EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  I don’t know, maybe she is lazy, or maybe she just wants to sit closer to me. I’m going with the former. Sorry Ash.

Behind the scenes of Lil Blue Boo with Lisa via lilblueboo.com

 

Then there is the fan. The infamous mini fan. Let me tell you a little story about the fan.

Ashley: We need a fan in here.
Me: Seriously! It gets hot in here with that chandelier.
Ashley: Yeah, and these hot flashes I’m having are killing me!

A few days later I notice the office got a new fan…

 

 

Behind the scenes of Lil Blue Boo with Lisa via lilblueboo.com

 

Hmmm…not what I was expecting. So, does she ever point that mini fan that plugs into her computer in my direction? That would be a no. Brett tried to point it in his direction while he was eating lunch  and was met with a harsh glare. Ashley told us where we could get our own, lol!

Now, this little fact doesn’t really have anything to do with Ashley, but with Ashley’s beloved dog. You all have seen Diesel appear in many pictures on the Lil Blue Boo blog. Well, did you know that I often times have to edit out a little something?? Yes, I have to Photoshop out Diesel’s teeny tiny (sorry D) wee wee. Ugh, annoying, and gross.

 

Behind the scenes of Lil Blue Boo with Lisa via lilblueboo.com

I will now leave you with that image stuck in your head. Have a fabulous day!

Hugs, Lisa

P.S. Any questions you have feel free to comment! Will work them into future post.

 

 

Leading by Example

Lil Blue Boo has been buzzing with excitement lately! New things are happening every day.  The kids are on spring break. Getting things done here at LBB when the girls are around can be a little bit of a challenge. Is there any sound more annoying than two little girls in plastic princess shoes walking around on the tile?

 

 

 

Shipping has gotten out of control, lol!  We have started using a new system which has been an incredible time saver and Gicela has started packing orders for me which has been a tremendous help! Thank you G!! What would I do without you!?

 

 

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since Ashley received “The Best News.” The news that we all had been praying for! I took a photo of a note Ashley had scribbled. I think this wonderful news is still sinking in for everyone. We have all become so used to bad news, it’s hard to know how to react to good news!

 

I had really grown to hate the days that Ashley would come home from an appointment where she received results from a test or scan, or an update on her chemo progress. You get so pumped that maybe this week is going to be the week that things finally take a turn for the better, and then wack! You get totally shut down. Now, this is just from a friend’s perspective. I can’t imagine what it felt like for Ashley. So, when she came home that beautiful 8th day in March and gave me the big news on the tumor shrinkage, spots on the lungs being gone, and the liver improvement, I was a little overwhelmed. First I gave her husband a huge hug, then walked over to Ashley, and started weeping like a baby. I drove home that night and felt at peace. Relieved to know that there was an end in sight, and thankful for the nasty Cisplatin that was healing my friend.

 

Watching Ashley live a more healthy lifestyle and incorporating these items into her daily regimen has been pretty fun to watch, and encouraging! The whole enema thing is hilarious. I don’t think a day goes by where we don’t talk about poop. She now hands out enema bags like party favors. I get asked a lot if Ashley has convinced me to start using them. I will save that for another post ;-)  What I can tell you is that I have taken away a lot from Ashley’s experiences. I know many of you have as well. I started hiking on the weekends. It has been a great way to burn some calories, spend time with my family and get out in nature. Feels great up there! If Ashley can do, while on Chemo, then I can do it!

 

I haven’t quite gotten the hang of the farmer’s market. I left with bread, organic coffee and pasta. I somehow managed to skip the veggies. Oh, and the coffee was for me to drink and not for…well, you know!

 

I HAVE grown to love the Green Juice. I kinda feel like I have super powers after I drink it. This juice from the market was so much better than that stuff Ashley served me when she first got her juicer, sorry Ash. I couldn’t even get that stuff down. Her recipes have improved since then.

 

 

I haven’t been able to give up my biggest vice, M&M’s. I ate every last Choose Joy M&M. I think they might have been for decoration, oops. I have zero self control around them. I will give up M&M’s when Ashley gives up donuts ;-)

 

 

Hugs,

Lisa

 

Cucumbers and Celery

Lisa here! Ashley is at Chemotherapy all day today, so the girls and I are here working hard to get the Spring line finished and photographed. Diesel could care less that I’m on a deadline…

 

 

 

Oh Diesel…how I love you so. This is D and I this morning. When Ash is at Chemo it’s just he and I in the office. I’ve been here over a year and he still bites my ankle every time I answer the door. I remind him every morning that I’m not going anywhere so he better just get over it.

 

Mommy…please hurry home and save me from her. -Diesel

 

As I was photographing the spring line I started thinking about how things have changed over the last year. It used to be Ashley up on the ladder taking photos of the clothing, and now it was me. I will never forget the one-of-a-kind Christmas dress photography disaster of 2010.

We did a large upload of one-of-a-kind/limited edition Christmas dresses, over 30 different styles. She asked me to photograph them. At that time we were using a white door as a background.  Ok, so we all know Ashley is  self-proclaimed obsessive compulsive, right?  Well, the dress had to line up perfectly with the indentations on the door. I could never get it right. Never. I shot every single Christmas dress and two hours later presented her with my photos. She retook every.single.one.

I wasn’t hurt that she decided to retake the photos. I kind of expected it (I really did suck at getting those lines to match up). She likes things a certain way, and well, that’s what makes her great in my opinion. I reminded her of this story yesterday. We laughed, a lot. Mostly, because it’s nothing like that anymore!  Ashley has had to let go of some of the control and delegate more.  I’m thankful she was able to hand over the photography and product listings to me, even after the Christmas dress fiasco, lol!

From the moment I met Ashley I knew she was strong. I never saw any weakness. When she got sick, she had to start relying on others, and she did so begrudgingly. For me, Ashley has been my pillar of strength. I go to her for advice and encouragement. If something is causing me anxiety she helps get me focused and eases my fears.

Last Friday was a rough day for Ashley. The chemo really kicked her bum. She came out to the kitchen to prepare a snack, and in a quiet voice she said “Hey Lisa, can you please finish making this, I’m not feeling too good. I need to lay back down.” Well, let me tell you, I sliced her cucumber and celery with tears in my eyes. She rarely asks for help, so to say I was thrilled is an understatement.

When your friend is sick, you kinda feel helpless. You want to do as much as you can to make their life a little easier so that they can focus on getting better. The hard part, getting your friend to accept your offer(s) to help. I think we are finally at a place where Ashley knows she can ask me for help without feeling weak, or a burden. What is the point of having friends if you can’t rely on them once in a while, right?

Even when she is stuck in bed, body weak, she is still that same pillar of strength for me. Even more so actually. I can’t wait for all of you to see the Spring line. It is very Ashley. Fun, unique, colorful, and full of life.

Hugs,

Lisa

 

Please Comment or Lisa Will Cry

Lisa here! For those that may be new to the blog, I am the director of operations here at LBB and Ashley’s right hand gal. I’m not much of a writer. I enjoy writing our sponsor and giveaway posts, but a personal post is a little out of my comfort zone. Ashley and I thought it would be kinda fun for our readers to get a little behind the scenes account of the last several months, so I got on board with the post. When I was hired on, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I certainly didn’t expect to become the poster girl for “Girls Who Poop at Work,” either. I think it was meant to be though and I love my job so much.

 


I will do pretty much anything for Ashley.

 

From time to time I see emails come in from readers that have a hard time believing that Ashley is so positive and able to find joy in the hand she has been dealt. They want her to be more honest about her anger and fear. I have to laugh a little when I read these emails.  Don’t get me wrong, after the death of her father, the miscarriage, then finding out the 2nd pregnancy wasn’t actually a baby but a tumor, like many of you I thought to myself, “How much more can this girl take!?”

 


Yes, she really is this positive.


Little did I know how much more she would end up facing, but I can say without a doubt, Ashley is not afraid. She has not and will not let fear rule. We all can learn something from her. I admit, up until Ashley’s emergency surgery, I let fear rule my life. It had taken over. If it was me that had been diagnosed with cancer I would have probably crawled in bed and never gotten out. That was until I watched how Ashley handled life’s curve-balls. I think we can all relate to her story in some way. Whether you have cancer, anxiety, depression, money problems, whatever! You can Choose Joy.  From her example I have learned to let go of the reigns a little and just live. I try and take all of that time I used to designate towards worrying about the WHAT IF’s, and have made a conscience effort to replace it with happy thoughts, like how lucky I am to be healthy, have a roof over my head, food on the table, a caring and supportive husband and a daughter who lights up my life.

 

 

In heels and I’m still short.

 

Ashley and I have a unique relationship. She is my friend and she is my boss (we were friends first). I work out of her home so I have been a passenger on Ashley’s crazy ride from the beginning. Working with a friend can be tricky. Although, I think I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing when Ashley needs her friend Lisa and when she needs her assistant Lisa. Well, I haven’t been fired yet, so I  must be doing something right. I think it’s important to know a little bit about me so that you can truly understand the dynamic that is Ashley and Lisa. I don’t think we could be more opposite. Maybe that’s why we work so well together.

I love hospital food.
I worry about anything and everything.
I have zero problem calling the doctor. In fact, I call them all the time. If they don’t call me back within 2 hours, I call again…and again.
I loved co-sleeping and breast feeding!
I love leggings but I look nothing like Ashley does in them.
I’m horrible at math and still use my fingers.
I’m not a crafter! It would take me weeks to make something Ashley can create in minutes.
I HATE to fly. In fact Elle doesn’t even want to sit next to me on a plane because I’m so obnoxious.
If I’m sick I want to be waited on hand and foot.
I don’t like to drive anywhere by myself.

Oh, and here’s the kicker! If I hesitantly say something looks “interesting,” Ashley will put it in our next line and it’s always a bestseller. She says “interesting” is my way of saying nicely that I don’t like something. I guess this is why I take care of all the administrative work and not the designing, lol! I laugh so much when I’m with Ashley. We joke that Lil Blue Boo would make for a great reality TV show. Although it would be WAY too embarrassing. We think we are so much funnier then we actually are I’m sure! We laugh through the happy times and we laugh through the hard times. We have had far too many hard times…one of those times was her miscarriage.

 


She is my hero.

 

So what was it like when Ashley found out she was miscarrying? Here’s what I remember:

Ashley ran to the office where I was, she was wearing white shorts, there was blood everywhere. She didn’t have to say anything. I knew what was happening. She was having some spotting the prior week.

Ashley: Does this LOOK like spotting to you!!?
Me: No, that’s definitely not spotting.

I followed her to the bathroom.

Me: Let me take you to the hospital.
Ashley: I don’t think I need to go to the hospital, what can they do about it now?
Me: Ummm…I’m pretty sure you need to go to the hospital. I’m dialing the Dr. right now.

The Dr.’s office confirms that she needs to go to the hospital.

Me: I’m taking you to the hospital.
Ashley: I can just drive myself. I’ll take a towel.
Me: Are you F ing kidding me!? You are not driving! Please call Brett right now.

Her husband did come home and take her, but she would have gone to the hospital all by herself if I had not insisted someone else take her. That’s Ashley though!  She would much rather take care of herself and not trouble anyone. I find this to be one of the most frustrating things about Ashley! All I want to do is take care of her sometimes and she always turns me away…grrrr!

 

Sometimes I feel like I have Ebola. She follows me around with Lysol spray if I have a sniffle.

 

And then there was the day she found out about the molar pregnancy…..

I remember when the Dr. called and said he wanted her to come in to his office so he could speak to her. It was almost 5pm and he said he would wait for her. He explained over the phone that he had consulted with another doctor any they determined that the 2nd pregnancy was a molar pregnancy. She would need to have some scans to make sure there were not any cancerous cells. My stomach sank when she told me that. When she left I immediately ran to the computer and Googled molar pregnancy and cancer. Yes, I Google everything! I read as much as I could in about 3 minutes. From what I understood in those few minutes was that this type of cancer is rare but very curable! I immediately called her…

Me: Hey. I just Googled molar pregnancy cancer. Even if you have it, don’t worry! It’s very curable, so everything is going to be just fine.
Ashley: So, I’m not going to die?
Me: No, you aren’t going to die. Promise.

I was working late that night because of Fall shipping so I was there when she got home. Brett was there too. We were asking her all kinds of questions about her meeting with the doctor. Ashley was very nonchalant about the whole thing. Typical Ashley. I have to read the blog to get all of the facts sometimes…..she shares much more in her writing than she ever does verbally.

 

And then there was the day that she found out about the cancer…..

The day after her scans she met with the doctor. I was leaving the dentist and I gave Ashley a call. I knew she would have news for me.

Me: Well, I have periodontal disease, hahaha (fancy name for hasn’t gone to the dentist in ages)!
Ashley: Well…. I have CANCER….so I win.
Me: Ok, you win.

How do you respond when your friend tells you they have cancer? I’m probably not the one to ask. I try and find the humor in everything. I’m sure I said something really stupid. I know there are lists out there of what NOT to say, and I’m certain I’m guilty of a few. Although, Ashley would never have the heart to tell me. I know I told her somewhere in between the bad jokes that I would be there for her. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Soon after Ashley found out about the cancer, my daughter was rushed to the hospital on the night of her 4th birthday because she was having trouble breathing (really bad croup). She was admitted to the hospital the next morning for just one overnight stay to monitor her. Right around midnight I got a a text from Brett. They were downstairs in the ER. Ashley was having severe abdominal pain. We find out later that her tumor had broken through her uterus.

 

My two favorite girls – both sick and in the hospital at the same exact time.

 

Seriously, what are the odds!? They admitted Ashley to the hospital and I snuck down to see her around 1am while a sweet nurse kept an eye on Elle. It took me about 30 minutes to find her room. I was on the phone with her while walking through empty halls trying to find her. I was totally lost and kept going to video cameras hoping someone would come and rescue me. Apparently no one was watching the security cameras that night. Finally, Ashley had her nurse come out to find me. When I arrived in her room, I didn’t even say hi to her. I was too overwhelmed by her amazing suite (a gift from her sweet in-laws)!! Hello, she had a stocked fridge in her room!! I took a ton of pictures. I considered calling the nurse upstairs to tell her I wouldn’t be back for several hours. It was like a spa in there.

 

I took a few drinks for the road since Ashley wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything.


I sat with Ashley for a little while. All she wanted to talk about was Lil Blue Boo, and not her health. Here she was lying in a hospital bed, in horrible pain, not knowing what the hell was going on with her body, and all she wanted to discuss was business. I actually think the only thing she has ever really worried about during the past several months was business. She has an amazing husband and so many supportive friends and family that she never had to worry about the needs of her daughter being met, so I don’t think that was ever a concern. We talked fabric, we talked shipping, and we talked about keeping the girls in the studio busy cutting and sewing. Lil Blue Boo employs 5 people. I know she felt pressure at that time to keep all of us working. She has such a huge heart and always puts everyone else first. She kept saying, “Lisa, you are in charge.” The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint her. She gave me the greatest gift a little over a year ago: a job that allowed a lot of flexibility. When you are a working mom, flexibility is such a blessing. I will never be able to thank her enough for that.

 


“That’s it! If you don’t lower your voices so Miss Ashley can rest I’m going to start throwing away toys.” I never did, but I sure wanted to.

 

So, it was business as usual at Lil Blue Boo, but with two little munchkins in my lap a little more often.  These little faces sure did help us appreciate life a little more though :-) The office was not the same without Ashley. She had to spend a lot of time in bed, not as much as I would have liked though. After her emergency hysterectomy she was always trying to push the envelope. It was like trying to keep a toddler in their bed! We eventually got her all hooked up in her bedroom. She was able to craft and write. We communicated via walkie talkies.

 

Oh how I missed the back of her head.

 

I don’t like to talk much about the night we almost lost Ashley. It was a nightmare come true. When Ashley was in the ICU she was hooked up to a breathing machine. You could tell her body had been through so much during that surgery. I took a picture of her. Yes, I really did. The funny part was no one in her family thought I was strange for doing it! They all know how much Ashley loves to document everything. I knew she would want to see it. Ashley’s good friend Todd drove me home that night from the hospital. I had to have him pull over so I could throw up. I was so embarrassed but he was so kind and understanding. It had been a long night for everyone.  I thank God every day that she is here with us today.

 


Just because you had major surgery a few days ago doesn’t mean I can’t dress you up in these cute kitty cat ears for Halloween.

 

So, here we are today. Ashley will start a new, more aggressive chemotherapy next week. I know we are all ready for this to be over, but unfortunately these things take time and we have to be patient. I know she will be healed. In the meantime, I will keep trying to mother her, and ask her if she needs anything. Can you believe she refuses my foot and scalp massages!? In fact, I get shot down all of the time. Although, she did let me help her to the bathroom once at the hospital. She was really drugged up though ;-)  Seriously, she can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, but I still love her. We all love her.

 

Hugs,

Lisa

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