Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Charity Quilts for Foster Children

It's after midnight here, and I can't sleep because there is a problem that is really eating away at my heart lately and has me angry and sad all at the same time. A few months ago one of my mother's friends had gotten temporary custody of her two nieces because the child protective services had removed them from their parents' care. My mother's friend has a houseful of children of her own, and she found herself a little overwhelmed with all the kids, but if she didn't keep them then her nieces would have to go into foster care. My mother's friend asked if my mom would watch one of the girls over the weekend, and of course, my mother agreed. She stayed with her that weekend and on a couple of more occasions, and all of our hearts opened up to the girl because of everything she had been through in her short 4 years. For reasons I don't know or understand,  the girl and her older sister were taken out of her aunt's home, and now they are living in a shelter until a foster home can be found. The social worker told my mother that the 4-year-old cries every day and all night. It really breaks my heart. My mother is now getting her emergency foster care license so that she can take the girls, but it could take up to four weeks. I'm praying that somehow the system moves a little more quickly and my mother can get them sooner, and they won't have to stay in the shelter any longer. I wasn't aware that shelters for foster children even existed, and once I heard this, I called my sister Cayla, who is a case manager for Grace Manor, an adoption agency in East Texas.

My sister told me that it is common for children to be placed in shelters until a foster home can be found. Children awaiting a foster home can go into the shelters with just a few personal items and they might not even have a suitcase or backpack to hold their belongings--there have been children who have showed up carrying their things in garbage bags. Some cities have shelters that are specifically set up for displaced children, but there are some places where the children could be in a shelter that can be occupied by anyone in need--homeless families, abused women, etc. They can be left in the shelter for up to 30 days (depending on the state), after which, they will be moved into a temporary home until a permanent foster home can be found. For about the next year their lives are in a state of limbo until the court decides to let them go back to their parents or  put up for adoption. But as you know, it could take years to get adopted, especially for the older children. I decided that I really wanted to do something for these kids.

I asked my sister if I could donate quilts and other items to Grace Manor, and she said that the donations would be welcomed, and she and the other case managers could distribute them for me. She said she would make sure the right gift got to the right child. I would like to make a quilt, and a this duffel bag by 627 Handworks for one of the kids. And I would like to extend this offer to anyone who reads this. I don't know if this is overstepping any boundaries, but I also know quilters have lots of love to give and lots of fabric they need to use up. I know that making a quilt can't take away the pain of everything these children are going through, but it could bring them a little happiness or comfort.

If you think you would like to possibly make a bag, a quilt, or even a single block, please leave a comment or send me an email at sewberrysweet@gmail.com

Other charity quilt organizations to get involved in: Margaret's Hope Chest, Project Linus, do. Good Stitches, and Siblings Together. All of these are great organizations, and a handmade gift would be appreciated anywhere you decided to give.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Going to Grandma's Quilt Block Free Pattern

vintage luggage suitcase quilt

I've had this quilt finished for a few weeks and have been waiting for some good weather to take pictures. Monday through Friday the weather is gorgeous but the clouds roll in just in time for the weekends. I finally just decided it was time to give up and just take a picture because you can't put your life on hold for a few clouds, sometimes you just have to hope there's a rainbow, or silver lining, or something like that.

There's been another cloud that's been hanging over me lately that I had to get over. Early in January my family and I were waiting to find out where my next assignment would be. In July we will have to move back to the States, and we worried and excited to find out where the military would send us. While I was daydreaming about possible places we might go, I also started planning out our summer vacation travelling around the States visiting all the family we haven't seen in a few years. And that's when the idea of this quilt came to me.

As I designed it I was daydreaming about sunshine and going hiking with my sister in Arizona. And as I was cutting fabric I imagined taking my kids to Disney World, and then driving up to Ohio to visit my husband's family and eating Handel's ice cream. When I pieced it together I hoped we would be able to settle in Texas, wear flip-flops year round and eat tacos every night for dinner. And I started dwelling on that dream specifically. And it came as a big disappointment when I found out we would not be settling in Texas or wearing flip-flops year round. When the assignment notification dropped it was to Maryland--just outside of Washington D.C.

And then all I could imagine was traffic jams, sketchy neighbourhoods and metal detectors and drug dogs at the kids' schools. But I know it's not going to be that bad, and I just had to find that silver lining.

My kids have never seen the Capitol and it's just a short trip to Philadelphia, New York city, or Colonial Williamsburg. And even if I won't get to eat authentic Tex-Mex, the second best food I've eaten in my life was in D.C.  But the best thing about this relocation is we will that we will be closer to my husband's family. I'm not very good with geography, but apparently, all the eastern states are so small, that nothing is too far away. We will still be a few hours away from them, but it will be the closest we've ever lived to family in the last 16 years. They are amazing, and his grandmother is one of the most wonderful, selfless, and beautiful people I have ever met. She is an absolute saint. Before I met her, I had never known a person to be so happy and at peace, and I have never been so at peace as when I'm around her. She taught me what it means to be a truly good-hearted person. She doesn't worry, complain, or gripe. And instead of getting stressed out when her house is full of her kids, grand-kids, and great-grand-kids, that's when she is her happiest.

My 5-year-old has only met her a couple of times (most recently 3 years ago--the last time we were all in the States) but he proudly carries a picture of her around and tells everyone how much he likes "his grandma". And my oldest son is completely indifferent to everything I cook, but we'll wolf down everything she makes and begs me to get the recipe. And now we'll be able to see her all the time, she'll be able to watch the kids grow up and we'll finally have family close by to spend the holidays with. So, in her honor, I am naming this quilt Going to Grandma's. Because really, even if moving to D.C. is not what I wanted at all, it will be wonderful to live near someone who means so much to me, and who I want my children to grow up with.

Many times in life you don't always get what you wish for, but sometimes what you get turns out to be better than what you wanted in the first place. I'm hoping and thinking that now is probably one of those times.

If you want to make a quilt block, you can download the PDF pattern here.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Sweet Surrender: A Free Valentine's Day Quilt Pattern

Sweet Surrender Valentine's Day Quilt Pattern

I love Valentine's Day. It's not the idea of romance that keeps me interested because, believe me, when you've been married for 15 years the most romance you can hope for getting control of the TV long enough to watch The Notebook before the family begins to riot. No, what I love about Valentine's Day little heart stickers, white paper doilies, and those cheap little cards with cheesy sayings that kids exchange at school. Valentine's Day still retains the same magic today as it did when I was a kid, whereas some other holidays--cough--(Christmas!!!) becomes overshadowed with frenzied stress.

Sweet Surrender Valentine's Day Quilt Pattern

Lately I have been so much in the V-Day spirit that a couple of nights ago I shot out of bed at 3am with the idea for this banner quilt. And I wanted to share the pattern with you, so hopefully, if you want to make it, you'll have enough time before the 14th. The quilt is only about 36in x 48in, so it makes a cute wall-hanging. I made the quilt with all solids, but I think it would be so cute made-up with some prints, or maybe colorful banners instead of all white ones.

To download the free PDF version of Sweet Surrender, click here.

I hope this Valentine's Day you get lots of candied hearts, flowers, and Ryan Gosling!!