A Michigan “Night to Shine” story

I have been following Tim Tebow and his awesome foundation for about a year now. The guy is doing amazing work in the world of special needs. If you have a few minutes, you should read his story and find out all the good things he is doing.

It was why when my son and awesome daughter-in-law, Kate, told me they were volunteering for the 2018 Night to Shine held on Friday, February 9, my ears perked up. Kate’s lovely mom, Aleta, and dad, Bruce, also volunteered. Southridge Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan sponsored the event. Heck, it almost was cancelled due to a snowstorm but the show must go on!

First a little background on the special night. 2015 was the very first “Night to Shine” event. It was supposed to be a one-timeĀ event and happen just one time. This now yearly event is held the Friday before Valentine’s Day each year. Same night all over the world. It is a prom for people with special needs ages 14 and older. Basically, a church sponsors, supported with lots of volunteers, those with special needs who are greeted like rock stars down the red carpet. They are given corsages or boutonnieres. Lots of planned activities from limo rides, karoke, dancing is involved, dinner, photo booth and probably the best part … all the special needs guests are crowned king and queen of the prom on stage.

In 2018, 90,000 special needs guests attended “Night to Shine,” sponsored by 537 churches in the United States, and 16 countries, supported by 175,000 volunteers. Let those very large numbers sink in. Each year the event grows.

This was Southridge’s second year to host the event. The pastor announced they would be hosting again next year. Southridge had 125 special needs guests attend. Twenty-five special needs guests didn’t make the event due to the weather. A video link is also provided of Southridge’s event. Trust me … it will put a smile on your face!

Aleta told me she had been paired with the perfect buddy. Kala and Aleta were both wearing red shoes.

“My buddy was so sweet. After I introduced Kala to Ricky, and he walked away, she cupped her hand over her mouth and said, ‘Now he’s cute! I’m happy for you!'”

Aleta told me that each buddy was given a card with hints on the back with likes and dislikes. On Sunday, Southridge’s pastor remarked that he heard one young special needs man comment, “Look at this crown. I will keep this forever.”

I went to the Houston Car Show … by myself!

Yep … I’m a rebel. I went to the Houston Car Show yesterday all by myself. There is a good reason for that! We are in the market for a wheelchair accessible vehicle to take our special needs daughter on adventures. The car show seemed like a great place to check out accessible vehicles. Follow link above to find out everything you need to know about the car show!

So for the past four years, hubby and I have been lifting Mimi out of her wheelchair and securing her in the back seat of our normal “not accessible at all” car. Then we break down her wheelchair and collapse it, stow it in the back, and off we go. Some time over the past few years we got older … which kinda sucks … and Mimi packed on a few pounds so I could no longer lift her by myself into the car.

I don’t know when they came up with the technology, but they now lower floors on minivans and have manual ramps that even I can use all by myself! I’m thinkin’ this may be the way to go! Mike Murphy, with Adaptive Driving Access, showed me around and we chatted about the process. Thanks Mike! Hopefully, in a five or six weeks Mimi will have some new wheels!

So since I was there anyway, I decided to take a gander at all the really cool cars. Lots of eye candy! The last day for the Houston Car Show is Sunday. Be there … or be a square, rectangle or a triangle.

Excited about a Christmas party!

Our special needs daughter is so excited about the big Christmas party at her day center today! They are having an ugly Christmas sweater contest and exchanging little gifts at The Village Learning Center. Since it will probably hit 80 degrees today, I opted to hang Mimi’s “ugly” sweater off the back of her wheelchair. No sense in her sweating all day.

Mimi’s little elf is a party animal and decided to come along and watch the fun from her little perch. Oh … to be a fly on the wall!

Village Learning Center’s gala quilt is ready!

This weekend is the big gala for The Village Learning & Achievement Center, the awesome day center Mimi, my sweet special needs daughter, attends. The theme this year is a Texas-themed “Rhinestones and Ropers.”

Every year I donate a quilt to their silent auction. This year I came up with a quilt that has the best of both worlds … cowboy fabric with lots of Texas wildflowers thrown in. I hope it makes a bunch of money!

I used the Disappearing Four Patch pattern out of a magazine from a few years ago that contained 20 projects by Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Co. It is a great quilt for charm packs. For this quilt, I dove into my stash of fat quarters, rotary cut a bunch of five-inch squares and sewed them together. I also purchased a great “lasso” fabric to really make the cowboy and wildflower fabrics pop.

If you are going to make this quilt, now is the time to invest in a rotating cutting mat. Made my life so much easier! After the four patch is assembled, place your ruler one inch to the right of the seam line and cut. Repeat one inch to the left of the seam line. Then just rotate the mat and repeat. It makes cutting the four patch so much easier. You will wind up with nine blocks of assorted sizes. Next just swap the large squares at the top. Repeat the swap on the bottom. Then take the small center block and rotate one quarter turn. Join the cut pieces into rows and then sew the rows together. Now just repeat this process until you have 42 squares. Trimming the blocks makes it so much easier to sew the quilt into rows. I also used 2-1/2 inch strips for top and bottom borders.

Kim Norton of A Busy Bobbin is my go-to longarm extraordinaire lady. She had a great all-over machine quilting pattern that was cowboy-themed. See if you can pick out the boots and stars machine quilting. I also use Personalize It Kingwood to stitch up my quilt labels. And yes … I know … as the quilt name suggests … two-stepping through the bluebonnets would probably get you arrested if you did that in an actual field of bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas. But you have to admit it fits the quilt!

A quilt for Emma

This is a story about Emma’s Autism quilt. If you look close, you will notice there are only two kinds of fabric in the quilt top. The one fabric brightly-colored with a puzzle piece design, the symbol for Autism. The other fabric, a solid, used to quiet the other. Emma is like the solid fabric in her quilt … quiet and encouraging. She has always offered practical ways to apply behavioral and social training encouraging those with Autism to thrive and belong.

It was earlier this year when Mary came to me with the idea for making Emma a quilt and two yards of the puzzle fabric. She wanted to in some small way thank Emma for years of encouragement, friendship, and her willingness to share her expertise while working her daughter, Michelle. Actually, Emma has over the years touched many lives in our community. How do you thank someone like that?

While my own daughter, Mimi, doesn’t have Autism, we have our own happy memories with Emma. Years ago Emma came to our home to care for Mimi so my husband and I could go on a date. Emma gave Mimi the nickname of “Meemers,” which is what many at the day center still call her.

Of course I was “all in” on the project! It took me a while to figure out a quilt block to complement the busy Autism fabric. I figured whatever quilt block we used, the black fabric would make it pop. The churn dash quilt block was simple enough and worked well with the busy Autism fabric.

Mary and I even scheduled some time together so I could show her how to piece a few of the blocks. Once the quilt top was finished we went to a local quilt shop, Quilts & Creations, and picked out a backing. The bright green worked perfect! Next we met with Kim Norton, of A Busy Bobbin, to pick out a machine quilting pattern. We all loved the variegated thread and swirly quilt pattern. Personalize It Kingwood made the quilt label and we were finally ready to give Emma the quilt.

After bouncing lots of options off each other, Mary came up with the perfect name for the quilt. “Emma’s Gift of Hope” was our way to say thanks to a very special lady who has spent a lifetime giving to people with Autism.

Light-fingered Mimi

At least once a week some little playing piece, wooden block, colorful wedge, or animal shape comes home from the day center Mimi attends in the crevices of her wheelchair. Over the past few years I’ve probably collected enough stuff to fill a five-gallon bucket.

I used to wait until there was a large handful of pieces, enough to fill a plastic baggie, before returning them. Mimi’s bus driver was then entrusted with the treasure trove to make sure the stash made it back to Mimi’s teacher. That was until I found a great new way to return the items. What do you think?

Latest quilt top finished!

Every year I make a quilt for The Village Learning Center’s gala which occurs in early November. Among other endeavors, they run an awesome day center for adults with special needs that my daughter, Mimi, attends. I try and make them something each year I’ve never done before … either with color, design or pattern.

When I saw this quilt top made up at last year’s International Quilt Festival, I thought it would be perfect … eye-catching and a little wacky! Certainly not for everyone but I really liked it. Surely someone would love it … and 10 hours of quilt lessons to the person that purchases the quilt!

The quilt show booth offered a kit and I was hooked. The pattern is called “Urban Cabin” and is by Atkinson Designs. The directions were great and it sewed up nicely and fast!

Visually, it is stunning the way Kaffe Fassett’s fabric (purchased in a collection of 2-1/2″ strips, we call them “jelly rolls,” with the kit) pops like a bag of microwave popcorn in the microwave. And it was the first time I’d worked with so much black, so there you go.

I’m also using a Kaffe Fassett fabric for the binding.

And now that a few yards of quilt backing fabric is purchased, I’ll have it professionalled quilted in a couple of weeks by my favorite longarm quilting lady, Kim Norton, of A Busy Bobbin!

Mimi’s ‘Adventure Wall’

My three babies
Finally took down the baby pictures in our hallway to the kid’s bedrooms. I mean … Ricky and Katie are married and one of them is having our first grandbaby in a few weeks. It’s time. Life is a transition, so I decided to get with the program! But what to replace them with … hmmm.

I’ve been plotting and planning an “Adventure Wall” in the family room for a while now with photos of world travels. I’ve finally got our favorites all picked out with about half of the photos blown-up. My engineer/husband has the large wall they will rest on plotted out on paper like a blueprint. Heck, I even know how many vertical and horizontal pictures I can fit on the wall before it blows up.

Carrying on with the same theme, I wanted something different for the walls vacated by my babies. It was earlier this year I decided Mimi should have her own “Adventure Wall.” She has been going to a special needs summer camp (Camp C.A.M.P. near Comfort, Texas and Camp for All in Burton, Texas) since she was eight-years-old having her own kind of adventures. Mimi will be thirty years old in July. Every year a disposable camera went with Mimi to camp for her “buddy” to take photographs. We’ve gotten some interesting photos of her fishing, petting boa constrictors, in a canoe and even hanging from a zip line. A couple of times they even got her in the pool. I think it is the splashing she detests. But by far Mimi’s favorite activity has always been horseback riding.

Obviously, Mimi on the horse is the first photograph she sees as I wheel her down the hallway to her room.

2013 … a look back

I only managed to complete two quilts in 2013. I have loftier quilting goals for 2014! The first completed 2013 quilt was a Christmas present for one of my husband’s many, many lovely sisters. Dipping into my collection of Christmas fat quarters, I used a disappearing nine-patch pattern (future blog alert) that I learned to make at our church’s prayer quilt ministry. A real stash buster and lots of fun to make! Did I mention that Becky is one of nine sisters in the family? She lives in San Antonio and runs a soup kitchen. I finished the quilt in the nick of time … only one year late!

The other quilt went to a charity gala for The Village Learning Center (www.villagelac.org). I make one every year for them. It’s the least I can do. Among other wonderful things, the Center runs an adult day program that my special needs daughter attends. Mimi’s favorite day of the week is Tuesday when her class goes bowling! Life should be so simple.

Just so you don’t think I was a total slug in 2014, I did manage to make coordinating pillow cases, dust ruffle and a little skirt for under Mimi’s television. It goes nicely with the quilt I made for her wall in 2012 with a collection of Kaffe Fassett fat quarters. The fabric on one side of the pillow cases is blue and the other green. The pillow cases were a booger to make until I learned the “hot dog bun” method of making pillow cases from my friend Angela. Now I just gotta figure out what to do with Mimi’s curtain-less window!