It’s the second third Friday of the month, and you know what that means: Time for another Correspondence Kit Giveaway! (And also time to get those letters out to your sponsored kids – click here to read about how sponsors all over the world are connecting and writing the second Friday every month). We’re running a week late this month due to my trip to Ecuador – sorry for any inconvenience.

What is it?

Simply put, a Correspondence Kit is, as the name suggests, a kit to help you with correspondence; specifically letter writing to Compassion Sponsored children. Each kit includes a variety of paper, letter templates, and goodies all for you to personalize and send to your sponsored child. I give away 2 kits on the second Friday of each month.

Types of Kits:

I currently offer 4 gender & aged based kits – Young Boy, Young Girl, Older Boy, & Older Girl. I also offer a neutral Birthday kit. The photos below show one girl kit, one boy kit, and the birthday kit.

GirlKit

Each kit will come with an assortment of pattered papers & color copies of the templates I’ve designed and featured on this blog. In the boy & girl kits, there will be enough paper & templates to write your child at least once a month for an entire year. In the birthday kit, there will be enough paper & templates to send a very special birthday packet as well as six months worth of letters.

Each kit will also feature and assortment of goodies that will be age & gender appropriate. These might include: stickers, paper puzzles, coloring sheets, activity pages, gospel tracts, etc.

How to enter:

To enter, simply leave me a comment and let me know that you’d like to win. Easy Peasy!

For an additional entries, follow me on instagramfollow me on twitter, tweet this giveaway, and/or share the giveaway on facebook (you can use the social media buttons at the end of this post). Leave one comment per task you complete to let me know. That’s a total of 4 possible entries.

This giveaway will remain open all weekend, and winners will be announced Monday night, April 20, 2015.

Please note, due to postage costs, this giveaway is limited to those with a mailing address in the United States or Canada.  

Good Luck & Happy Friday!

I also offer these kits outside of giveaways – and ship them all over the world. Click here or on the button in the side bar for more information.

If all goes to plan, in just a few short hours I’ll be hugging my sponsored kids and dining with them at the hotel. I am beyond giddy! When I traveled with Compassion International to meet my two Ecuadorian sponsored children, Josué & Emily, in 2013, I had no idea what to expect. No idea how I would react or what I would see. And so, when I returned, I ended up having a long list of questions I wished I had asked my kids while I was with them. I first shared this list back in May of 2014, but I thought it would be fitting to re-share and review it, today. This time, I’ll be ready. I’ll be prepared to delve deeper into their everyday – and hopefully, I’ll gain a better understanding of their family and their lives.

EcuadorFunDayBus3

Back in 2013, they, our group leaders, did tell us to be thinking of questions to ask our kids – they warned us that we would get caught up in the moment and forget what we wanted to know if we didn’t write it down. They did tell us, and I did ignore them. I couldn’t think of anything in particular that I wanted to know – I just wanted to know my kids. I just wanted to see them, hug them, and tell them I love them. I didn’t have anything to ask them. I am, by nature, a quiet person, an extremely introverted person. Small talk tires me – it was enough, in those few moments, to simply hold my kids. To just be there with them – to be completely there. To breathe in the air and know that this moment will never happen again.

And so, like they warned me, I forgot anything I wanted to ask. I stumbled over the small talk- amazed at simply being there. I had no idea what to say or what was appropriate to ask. Fortunately, I was blessed with an amazing translator who kept the conversation going as me and my kids are all quiet, reserved souls – and there were so many new people. Only when I had said my “bye-for-nows” did I realize there was so much that I didn’t ask.  So much more that I wanted to know.

Below are the questions I forgot – the ones that I’m now including in my letters, but wished I had included in my face-to-face conversation. Some of them don’t seem like much, but they are gold to me. Let me encourage you, if you are ever taking a trip to meet your sponsored child, take a notebook with you. Write down your questions for them, and their answers to you. Write down all the names of all the people you meet. Write everything down. Memories are frail and fleeting when it comes to small details – notebooks, pen, paper, cameras – invaluable.

Things I wish I had asked both Emily & Josué:

  1. How are your father & siblings?
  2. What did you do when you found out I was coming to visit you?
  3. What kind of “extras” do you like to get with the letters? (do you still like stickers? Do you like the paper planes better? What makes you most excited to open the letters?)
  4. Which letter is your favorite, and why?
  5. What size clothes do you wear?
  6. Exactly how tall are you?
  7. What is your shoe size?
  8. What is your home like?
  9. What does an average day for you look like?
  10. What is the hardest part of your day?
  11. How many kids in your project get regular letters from their sponsors?
  12. Do any of your friends/siblings not get letters?
  13. How old is your Compassion Project?
  14. How long have your tutors been working with Compassion?

Things I wish I had asked for Emily specifically:

  1. What is your favorite part of the Compassion Program?
  2. What kind of lessons does your mother teach for Sunday School? Does she have a favorite lesson?
  3. Has your father found stable work? Did he get his teach accreditation?
  4. Does your mother still work with Compassion at the Project? What does she do there?

Things I wish I had asked for Josué specifically:

  1. How did you get started with your baseball team?
  2. Tell me more about the service projects you and your friends do for your neighborhood.
  3. Who is your best friend, what do you like most about them?
  4. Of all of your baked goods, what have you been most proud to make?

What would you ask your sponsored child, if you could ask them anything?

ElephantQuiltBlock

I’m sharing my 8″ block created as part of the 52 Quilters Project over here today. Won’t you join me?

KarenColors

“The soul is healed by being with children.”

English proverb

 

52QuiltersLogo

Back in January I came across a call-out on instagram (where you can always find me – I swear I’m addicted to it!) for bloggers who quilt and jumped at the chance to participate. It’s been on my “big goal” list for several years now to guest-post at least 6 times on various blogs in the course of a year, and so far, I haven’t been able to reach that goal. Specifically, this project looks for 52 different quilters – aiming to highlight one a week for the entire year. The 52 quilters blog tag explains it best. This is “a social experiment in quilty communication and collaboration. Discover a virtual patchwork of quilters throughout 2015: each week a new quilter will take over the 52Quilters twitter, blog and instagram. The goal of this project is to document the collective crafted life of quilters.”

There was an overwhelming response to the call, and I wasn’t sure I’d make the cut, but I’m so excited that I did. And when signing up for weeks to host and share, I though what better week to take a look at my life than when I’m flying to another continent?

So today, while I’m enjoying the splendor of Ecuador, I’m also posting over here. Won’t you join me?

OneDayEcuador2015

I have one day until I get on a plane and fly back to South America. One day. Less than 24 hours until I’m in Miami with my dear friend Deb, and we’re meeting with the rest of the group. This is so surreal. The last trip still feels like a fantastic dream – it’s so out of the ordinary that I cannot believe it actually happened…. and is happening again. One day. One day until I see the beautiful mountains, taste the fresh fruit, and begin the process of having my heart ripped wide open. One day until the poverty and the joy mix in such a profound manner that you can’t help but feel God around you. One day until I meet other sponsors who pour love into words and mail them to far off places, praying simple letters and mere dollars change the lives of children and families around the world. One day until I haul near-overweight luggage 2621 mile from northeastern Arkansas to Quito, Ecuador, to give gifts to my kids and the kids of several other sponsors. Just one more day. 

And so, today as I’m wrapping up the few items left on my to-do list (i.e. homework, laundry, errands, and final bathroom/shower prep) I’m also taking some time to let it soak in – let it hit full force – this is really happening. I’m really going back. I really get to see that girl that smiles a mile-wide at mere water and the boy whose sincere love tore me in two in 2013. I get to see them, talk to them, hug them, and love them all over again. And it all starts in just one day.

This is what my bedroom looks like right now. Right now there is a 32″ deep shower stall just hanging out in 2 pieces. Just hanging out. Why? Because it’s goal is to stress me out – and I think it’s winning. ShowerPart1Now, you may be wondering how I ended up in this predicament. Let me back up a few months. Remember that time I announced I was going to Ecuador this month? Well, about that same time, we decided to replace my old (i.e. original to the bathroom) metal shower stall. And, knowing how much it would stress me out to have to deal with people in my space, construction, the issues that arise from construction, and everything that goes along with that process, I decided Dad could have it all done while I was out of the country – and then I wouldn’t have to deal with it. I’d leave to the old shower and come home to a brand new shower. Simple, right?

Wrong. Clearly I did not get my neurotic planning and anxiety from my father – because, even though he knew this needed to be done – and he knew months ago – he failed to plan any….ANY… of it until last weekend. And so – discovering this – and feeling that it might be a good idea to have a shower to replace the old one, I agreed to go with Dad to Home Depot to pick out & bring home the new base. It wasn’t until we got it home that he began to doubt the thing would fit up the stairs to my bathroom.

And so, when I expected to be able to avoid the stress of this new shower, I find myself knee deep in it. Thankfully, we have a helpful neighbor who offered his assistance in getting the shower unit up the stairs – and, in an effort to keep my own sanity, I left the house while they dismantled the door frame, handrail, and bottom carpeted step to make room for the shower. I left mad – and it still frazzles me a bit. In fact, until I sat down to write this post, I was still very deeply frustrated at the entire situation.

But in writing, I started thinking. I was horribly angry at how stressed the situation made me on my last “free” day before my trip. But how selfish is that? I am blessed beyond measure – and yet, I sit angry at my blessing? I am getting a new shower. A shower that will not leak, and will provide me with fresh water a mere 9 steps from my bed. I have a healthy father who wants to provide me with the new shower, and who will oversee its installation while I am away. I have kind neighbors who offered their help and skills. I am blessed. And so, no, the situation is not as I had hoped it would be. But it will be alright. There is no way that this stress is in any way beneficial to me – or to my trip. So, instead of focusing on the stress, I’m going to remember blessing of being in Hot Water, and acknowledge that this is just the Devil’s way of messing with me in an attempt to close my heart to further blessings.

So this is me, sitting at the computer, typing these words, and acknowledging the stress. And this is me telling the stress to stand aside, because I am committing to enjoying the trip, being open to blessings, and enjoying the process. This shower mess is simply the “can’t find a flight” of this trip. And if that’s any indication, I’m in for a beautiful ride.

StashBeeMarch

This past October, I signed up to participate in a year-long quilting bee in an effort to grow my sewing skills and continue to use some of the fabric in my stash. The appropriately named StashBee2015 is quite different from the last quilting bee I participated in. This time, each bee member is responsible for posting once a month on the bee’s blog, sharing their selected tutorial on their assigned month, and posting progress photos on instagram/flickr. (You may have seen my instagram photos of the block I made for March yesterday.) Today, I’m sharing my March Block over at the bee’s blog.

Won’t you join me over here?

 

 

01. April 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Sewing · Tags:

Today I’m sharing the final quilt I made to take to my sponsored child Josuè in Ecuador week after next. (To see the other quilts I made for this trip click here or here.)JosueQuilt_5 First off, I love this quilt. It is busy and happy and so Josuè. I cannot wait to give it to him in just a few days. Following this pattern I used 2 sets of jelly rolls (one red and one khaki) and 7 fat quarters (3 baseball and 4 blue) to piece the top. I was originally not going to add the blue border, but after looking at the finished size, and thinking of my super-tall Josuè, it was clear that the quilt sans-borders was too small. JosueQuilt_3Like both Valeria’s and Emily’s quilts, I embroidered Josué’s name front and center. This one was a bit trickier because of the way the blocks are pieced, but I’m still thrilled with how it came out. For the actual quilting, I stuck to stitching in the ditch every 6 inches or so – I had planned to quilt both vertically and horizontally, but, when I got the verticals finished it felt like enough. Since Josuè lives on the coast, I didn’t want this quilt to be too heavy. (Plus, I’m not sure I can fit a heavy quilt in my bags at this point.) JosueQuilt_1Finally, I finished off the quilt with a custom label and red binding. I’m so happy with it! JosueQuilt_6

What have you been working on lately?

DuffelBagsAs part of the many gifts I’m taking to each of the three awesome kids I’m visiting in Ecuador, I sewed each child a Duffel Bag. When I visited in 2013, I took Emily and Josué a backpack filled with goodies – and that was the plan this year – but it didn’t quite work out. The backpacks we purchased back in August were deceptively small – and didn’t open wide enough to hold the amount of gifts I’m taking. Enter the Duffels.

DuffelBags_6I started by using this pattern and leftover fabric from each of their quilts. I thought it would be good for each of the kids to have a quilt and duffel matching “set” with their name embroidered on each piece.

DuffelBags_5The bags are fully lined and quilted with light-weight batting to give some support without being too structured.

DuffelBags_2Plus each bag has two end pockets, one zippered and one open, and a trolly sleeve for use in attaching the duffel bag to other rolling-luggage.

DuffelBags_4I was honestly surprised at how easy these bags came together – and I plan to make more of them in the future. The nylon strapping was easier to sew than I expected, and the supplier recommended in the pattern was fantastic. On a side note, I also got intimately familiar with how to thread my serger while sewing these. I have a love-hate relationship with the serger. I love how the finished products look, but man is it a pain to thread.

EmilyDuffel_6I’m actually using Emily’s Duffel as my “personal item” for my trip – and honestly, kind of want to keep it. It’s such a great bag! Plus, me carrying it, full of other items, is just about the only way I can get all the luggage issues resolved.

Have you crafted any thing fun lately?