100 Wishes


In December, I mentioned that I was helping my SIL, Lesley, make her first quilt.  It is a 100 Wishes quilt, for the son they adopted from China just before last Christmas, my sweet nephew Caleb.

In Northern China, where Caleb hails from, it is customary to invite friends and family to contribute a patch of cloth with a wish for the baby. Part of the patch of cloth goes into the quilt, and the other part of the cloth is kept in a scrapbook along with the wish for the child. The quilt contains the luck, energy, and good wishes from all the families and friends who contributed fabric; hence the name, a 100 Good Wishes Quilt.  Great idea, right?  Well, many adoptive families carry on this tradition to commemorate welcoming a new little one into their family.

Lesley had never made a quilt before, but she was determined to make one of these for their son.  She started collecting fabric about six months before they traveled to China to meet him and bring him home.  I helped her decide on a block, and a layout, and answered questions for her as needed (usually via the telephone).  Her project is an ambitious one, Caleb has a full size bed, so this first quilt is a LARGE quilt.

She had cut and sewn every block herself with fabric donated from friends and family, and while they were in China last December, I squared them all up for her, and got them ready for piecing.  I also made the two special embroidered blocks to surprise her with at Christmas.

Last month, I agreed to help Lesley with the layout of the quilt, and instruct her on the next step — piecing the rows together.  We realized we needed a few more blocks to make it the size we wanted, so we pulled out the fabrics and pieced 13 more blocks.

Caleb is fascinated with how things work.  Once he saw the sewing machine come out, he was not the least bit interested in playing with his brother and his cousins — he wanted to know more about this strange looking machine, and more importantly, use it himself!  Above, I am explaining to him how the sewing machine works, and he did not leave my side for the rest of the afternoon.  He even sewed a few seams, pressed blocks, and the best part — helped us decide on the layout of his quilt:

He loved this task, and he was so proud of his work:

and see the border fabrics being auditioned in that photo?  That was Caleb’s doing.  Somehow he knew that is what you do, take your big pieces of fabric and try them out along the sides of the quilt to “audition” borders:

This day was a treat for his Mom and I; neither of us had any idea that Caleb would be involved in the making of his own quilt top.  But like I said, his natural curiosity for learning new things, especially when there is any kind of technology involved, kept him with us all afternoon.  I am so proud of this boy, he might actually be the one I get to teach how to quilt and sew!

His Mom, Lesley, has since sewn her rows together, and she needs to add the borders, piece a back out of the leftover fabrics, and have it quilted.

On December 16th, it will be one year since he came home, and became a citizen of the United States.  Since that time; he celebrated his 5th birthday, attended a semester of pre-school, had surgery to fix his cleft palate, began speaking English, started kindergarten this fall, and joined a soccer team.  I’m sure there are a hundred other important milestones I haven’t mentioned here. He loves his big brother, and Daddy and Mama, adores his grandparents and other extended family members. It’s hard to remember that just one year ago, he was only a little boy in a photograph, from the other side of the World, that we all looked forward to meeting.  He fits so well, it seems like he’s been a part of our family forever.


100 Good Wishes

For 4 or more years now, my brother’s MIL has made gingerbread houses and people for us to decorate with the kids.  This is something my SIL and her sister did every year with their mom, Marlene (our gingerbread baker!).  Here is my post from 2008, which includes a gingerbread recipe link if you want to make your own!  This year, we had a brunch get-together, because our evenings were getting full too soon.  It also happened to be this little guys birthday…

So his Aunt Lesley gave him four candles in his donut hole (don’t worry, he had birthday cupcakes with his supper later that day!).

I had help with my house this year, 3-year-old Jonah decided this was “our house” and he was determined to cover every bit of gingerbread surface while packing his chipmunk cheeks as full of candy as he possibly could…


The boys were way into the activity this year, typically they only last about ten minutes then head off to play while the adults finish up decorating houses (Easter Eggs, etc.) but all three stayed with it the entire time…

Here are our finished houses…from the front:

and the back:

You can probably tell, but Jonah and my house is the one in the back by the Pepsi can, I told you he was determined to leave no surface uncovered.  And here it is from the front, the house on the right:

I’m not sure how that gingerbread girl avoided being covered in candy and icing…

Next year we will have two new helpers, my niece Zoe will be big enough to be at the table, and my 4 1/2 year old nephew from China, who will be coming home to the United States for the first time three weeks from now will both be a part of this tradition.

I’ve been helping Caleb’s new Mommy, my SIL, Lesley, make her first quilt, a 100 wishes quilt for Caleb.  I’ve only instructed her up until now, answering questions for her as needed.  She has cut and sewn every block herself with fabric donated from friends and family.  I have the blocks at home now, while they are in China, because I offered to square them up for her, so she can piece the quilt when they return and finish it up for his new bed. 

We welcomed Caleb into our family in May–having never met him, we already love him and claim him as our’s.  My brother, his wife, and their 6 year old son left Iowa, for Beijing, this morning.  Next week they will meet and adopt their son and brother, Caleb.  And our family will become just a little bigger, and a little more complete.