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.


To market, to market

But not to buy a fat pig… (fabric, more likely!)  Do you know that nursery rhyme?  We had this “much-older-than-us” hardcover nursery rhyme book as kids, it had to be the size of an encyclopedia volume, and it had all these ancient, sometimes bizarre, nursery rhymes.  Many of the old favorites that we all know, but many wacky ones, too.  I still have that book tucked away somewhere, I’ll dig it out and share some of those gems with you one day soon.

So, yes, too busy to find time to blog, but piecing and designing new patterns is happening almost daily… (I even have two cats supervising my every move!)  Headed to Kansas City for International Quilt Market this week– hoping to see some old friends, and meet some new ones.

An update on Caleb, from the last post, THANKS to all of you for the prayers and well wishes.  He is doing wonderfully, had his follow-up appointment with the surgeon yesterday, with a good report.  Still on a liquid diet, and his entire family is joining him on the liquid diet in solidarity (even his 7 year-old brother!).  That’s love and some serious empathy!  They had pureed spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner one night last week.  Thank you, but no, I’ll pass.  This is a shot of Caleb from Saturday, when we were setting up our garage sale (as you can see, he’s doing pretty well!):See you on the other side of Market!

happy sewing,


One in a Million…or so

This is my nephew, Caleb.

Caleb has the best smile.

He REALLY likes Mickey Mouse.

Caleb turned 5 years old last week.

He was abandoned near a toll booth when he less than 24 hours old.

He spent his first 4.5 years being cared for by some wonderful people at an orphanage and in foster care, in Changchun, China.

He joined our family officially on December 5, 2011–FIVE MONTHS ago this week.

Caleb has brought immeasurable joy to our family in five short months.

He was born with a cleft palate.  At some point, he had surgery on his upper lip, and at least one other surgical procedure. As a result, he has a fear of doctors and hospitals like no other.

But Caleb has gotten braver since coming to live with his forever family, visiting the doctor for many exams, shots, tests, etc.

Caleb is having surgery TOMORROW to repair his cleft palate.

Caleb could really use your prayers and happy thoughts TODAY for his pre-Op visit with the doctor…

This summer, Caleb will work to learn English, and speak without any kind of defect.

In August, Caleb gets to go to kindergarten, just like all the other five-year-olds.

Caleb is a lucky boy, but I am lucky, too.  Because I get to be his Aunt Doris.  Forever.


***The United Nations reports that the number of orphans around the world waiting for help is more than 140 million.

There are more than 46 million orphans in Africa.
There are more than 71 million orphans in Asia.
There are more than 10 million orphans in Latin America.
There are more than 120,000 orphans in the United States.