My Name is Sarah

MY NAME IS SARAH. I am a quilt designer and the sewcial director of Sarah's Sewcial Lounge. I also have a business called Down Right Charming. I sell my quilts mostly on etsy and I make pillowcases to donate to patients in the hospital in memory of my friend Kristen Kirton. I am a young adult living with Down syndrome. I hope you enjoy reading about my life journey.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Buckeye Legacy

By Joyce Hillick Ely:

It was late fall of 1977 when a neighbor asked if I would be willing to consider a position as a teen clinic coordinator for a local non profit organization in Canton, Ohio. I was just seventeen years old and the possibility of learning something new was exciting. So I agreed.

My supervisor in this position was a social worker named Betty Pedrotty. I adored her. She was warm, encouraging and despite my young age and lack of experience, she believed in me. As a senior in high school that was a great motivator and had me changing the direction of my future. Soon I was a registered student in the College of Health and Human Services at Bowling Green State University with Social Work as my declared major. Just like it had been for Betty.

Upon graduation, I knew I needed to go to graduate school.  Although I adored Betty, the person I ultimately wished to be was Louise Saffron, the Executive Director of this organization. As a teen, I watched her lead and direct in the most positive manner to bring about change. I also quickly observed that funding was critical to the success of any human service entity.

In 1981, the library was our best resource. I spent hours pouring over catalogs and school directories looking for the best places to apply. The adventurous side of me wanted to take off for parts unknown, yet the program that I kept coming back to was in my home state at The Ohio State University. It was there that I would be able to earn a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Policy and Planning and at the same time earn a second graduate degree in Public Administration.

I had only ever been to OSU once before. While in high school a chemistry teacher had selected me to attend a one day event held in Mershon Auditorium. Today it would likely be described as a STEM event, but that was not a term used back then. It was enough though for me to recognize that Columbus was a place I could call home.

I found a quaint efficiency suite in a home on East 18th Street. It was easily accessible to Stillman Hall and also had a dedicated parking place for my car. In addition to my studies, I often worked from midnight to 8:00 a.m. at the battered women's shelter.  It was a unique position because most of the time the residents were sleeping, so my tasks were minimal. I did need to stay alert though in case a call came in from an abused woman looking for shelter.

So I often took a quilting project with me. It was a skill I learned as a teenager after discovering a new quilt shop shortly after learning to drive. It was a portable activity and it brought me comfort and joy. I found it was also a useful conversation starter when a new admission came in during my shift. It was often times difficult to begin a conversation with someone who was scared, scarred and frightened.  Soon I was asked to come in during the day to teach the residents how to quilt. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my talents and learned I also really liked teaching others the use of needle and thread.

Shortly upon my arrival at Ohio State, I was asked to meet with my faculty adviser, Dr. Gwendolyn Gilbert.  As much as Betty and Louise shaped my future, so did Gwendolyn. It was she who suggested I consider a field placement at the Ohio United Way, although it was then called The Ohio Citizen's Council. She thought it would combine all my interests and would easily dovetail with my studies in Public Administration.

She was right. My immediate supervisor, Judith Bird, had a tremendous grasp of the workings in the State House and all the bills that were being considered having some effect on Health and Human Service in Ohio. I also was able to work very closely with Shirley Rhodes who's task was to follow all the workings of Title XX, which at that time was the Federal body of funding that flowed thru the State then to many organizations. It is hard for us to fathom this today but the only way of communicating in the early 80's was through phone and mail services. She wrote a newsletter named the Title XX Exchange that was mailed weekly to all the United Ways in the State. Soon I was writing the newsletter.

The Ohio Citizen's Council hosted an annual event for all the United Way CEO's in the State. I was able to help organize and participate in this event. It was there I met a gentleman named Mark Balson, also a graduate of the OSU College of Social Work. He had worked for the United Way in Franklin County for a number of years, yet had just been named the Executive Director of the United Way of Delaware County. He was looking for his first intern.

Ohio State at that time was on a quarter system and classes did not begin until mid September, yet I recognized in order to see an entire fundraising campaign play out I needed to be involved much earlier.  So I started the drive north early summer. By the official kick off in the fall, I was hooked. The energy and excitement surrounding a campaign was like nothing I had ever experienced. I also recognized that fundraising in the workplace was much easier than going door to door to solicit funds as I had done the previous year with the Rape Crisis Center in Columbus. Or hosting a Mother's Day offering at local churches.

At the conclusion of the campaign, the really important task began with committees of many volunteers who worked long hours to determine the best use of that year's campaign funds. I was asked to visit each agency and chat with them about their program mission, their financial strength and their long range goals. I was surprised at the time that many could not answer that last question. Yet recognized that being smaller in scale than their counterparts in the larger county to the south, they did not have the number of staff nor perhaps the expertise required to carry out such a task. So I set out to develop a model for strategic planning for smaller organizations. It would become my Thesis.

At the conclusion of my time with Mark, he suggested that I apply for an Internship with United Way of America. It was highly selective with several hundred applicants for just ten positions each year. My faculty adviser suggested I also apply for the Presidential Management Internship. I knew that both programs would take me to Washington D.C. if selected. To my surprise, I was chosen for both.

It was perhaps one of the most difficult decisions of my lifetime. One would take me down a path of non-profit and the other the path of public service with the government. What ultimately helped me choose was the difficulty I had experienced making change in a state system. I had worked very closely with the Ohio Department of Health on a project to alter the way they administered funding to children with handicapping conditions. I had sought out and spoken with families who were grossly frustrated with the red tape involved. I felt their frustrations personally, yet could not really understand why.



A very short time after graduation, my parents drove me to Alexandria, Virgina. I'm sure I didn't recognize it at the time but I was a small town girl in a big city now. Everything was different. Life had a way of speeding along in Washington. Yet I enjoyed it immensely. During this internship you are twice sent out into a local United Way to work for a few months. I was matched up with Cleveland, Ohio. I could have gone anywhere in the United States, yet I asked for this city just an hour north of where I grew up because they were well known for having the largest number of $10,000 donors in the country. I wanted to see just how they did that, with the thought that I could somehow duplicate it in another city.



What I learned was there was something very unique and special about philanthropy in Cleveland. I learned from Bill Kerrigan the President of United Way Services at 3100 Euclid Avenue that personalization was key. I also met a Loaned Executive by the name of John Ely, Jr.

John was an Ohio State grad and an avid Buckeye fan. That fall he invited me to a rally in Cleveland hosted by the alumni club before the Michigan game. To his surprise, I had no understanding of the significance of this rivalry. He was even more shocked to know that I had never sat through a football game while on campus. Despite my scarlet and gray shortcomings, we remained friends.

As fate would have it, at the conclusion of my internship and John's graduate studies in Public Administration at Cleveland State, we were both hired by United Way in Cleveland. Our friendship blossomed and in the spring of 1986 he asked me to marry him. I said yes, with one caveat, I was not planning on staying in Cleveland for long. I had a career mapped out that would take me to other cities. He agreed.


In January 1988 our first son was born, followed by Sarah on August 9, 1989. Our pregnancy had been perfect, yet the morning following her arrival, a doctor who I had never met before suggested she had markers for Down syndrome. I was alone when this news was delivered and truthfully did not know much about the chromosomal abnormality, but I sure gathered from the tone of disclosure it was not favorable. That evening I had to share the news with John. We were momentarily devastated.

After several hours of additional testing the next day they determined we could take her home as they found no medical conditions warranting a longer stay. I returned to work in my role as the Regional Director for United Way. Sarah and her brother went to daycare near our home while John worked as the campaign director for the American Cancer Society. At about four months of age we started to notice Sarah was more lethargic than we thought she should be. After many trips and disappointments at various doctors appointments, a pediatrician at an urgent care discovered a heart murmur, so significant he wanted her at the Cleveland Clinic immediately. It was then determined that Sarah was missing the wall between her ventricles. The diagnosis was a ventricular septal defect.

We were advised that surgery was risky, yet without it she would have a month or two perhaps three, before her body would collapse from the over exertion on the heart and the improper blood flow would not allow the necessary levels of oxygen to get to her brain. Surprisingly, the surgery went well. The recovery did not. There were setbacks, infections and frustrations. The few days we thought she'd be in intensive care turned into weeks.

Then the day before Valentine's we were asked to meet in the family waiting room. It was disclosed that Sarah's body was not responding to medications like it should and her lungs were growing weaker and weaker. They were preparing us for the worst. A social worker asked if she could get us anything. She suggested coffee. Instead I asked for white fabric and a receiving blanket. I had already made Sarah her first Valentine's dress, yet it was now apparent she would not be able to wear it with all the tubes and wires still connected to her tiny six pound body. So using a pair of surgical scissors, I cut the dress apart and hand appliqued hearts to the fabric that had been found.  I used the hospital receiving blanket as batting and the fullness of the dress to create a backing.

Shortly after midnight on February 14, 1990 I placed the tiny make shift quilt upon her. Almost instantly monitors and alarms were beeping. A nurse came running over to her bedside wondering what I had done. Terrified that something awful had just occurred, I pointed to the teeny tiny quilt where I had embroidered her name in red thread that the social worker had found for me. As it turned out, the quilt had let Sarah feel our love and she was responding in a way that was positive. It was a turning point for all involved. She showed us not to give up on her.


It would still be several months before we were together at home. We did have a few trial runs but they ended in needing a return to the hospital. When Sarah finally did come home she had a permanent tracheotomy and was dependent on oxygen. For the first time I now felt that frustration I had once written about in seeking funding from the Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH). Thankfully just a month earlier John had left his job as the Development Director for the American Heart Association where he had started just a few weeks before Sarah was born because the demands of his boss were too difficult with Sarah in the hospital. Therefore he was now home to care for our medically fragile daughter when we were informed we did not qualify for nursing assistance.

I do not believe I had completely internalized this at that time, but the career plan that had been mapped out for me was coming to a screeching halt.

~ * ~

For the next seventeen years Sarah was in and out of the hospital so many times we lost count. Her lungs and airway were her enemy. Yet despite her chronic health conditions, I was able to further my career with United Way in Cleveland, ultimately being name Vice President of Community Resources which at the time oversaw all the regional offices in the area, the Information and Referral System which eventually became known as 211 and the Management Assistance Program providing consultation to start up non profits in the area. I was often charged with pulling out the documents I had written in grad school helping small 501(c)3 organizations conduct a strategic plan. 

While I was out working, John continued to care for Sarah at home. He drove her to numerous therapy appointments every week. He also decided he needed to find something he could do from home to provide additional income to help pay for the extra help she needed. After a bit of research, he decided medical billing might be a good fit. It was 1991 and electronic filing was just becoming popular. In May of that year, American Medical Computing was incorporated. In 1993, I left United Way to join John in growing the business, yet remained active in the non profit environment, working for a few years as the development director for The Cleveland Institute of Music. I left the position with the arrival of our third child.  

Soon after I returned to United Way as a consultant to help member agencies create outcome based measurements, a new requirement for funding. During that assignment on a very cold frigid day while standing in a parking lot, I learned that the American Heart Association was looking for an Executive Director. Remembering that had ultimately been a dream of mine, I sent in my resume. Of course the personal connection I had with my own daughter having had open heart surgery made me a strong candidate.

I'll never forget the day I started in that position. My office was once the master suite of a beautiful mansion in University Circle, in fact I had worked closely with the family who once owned it while at the CIM. I sat in the large leather chair left behind by my predecessor with tears rolling down my cheeks. Never did I think this would come to be.  My time there was short as the national office had changed things dramatically. Travel to and from Dallas was becoming too frequent for my personal life, yet I made it. I will always be able to look back knowing I achieved what I set out to do.  

I spent the next few years working full time with John and the medical billing company. We had moved the operations out of our home in 1997. It was quickly growing as the need for electronic filing was become more of a necessity for small medical offices. 

It was during this time that Bill Meezan, the Dean of the Ohio State University College of Social Work came to Cleveland to visit with me. He had a vision that I fully supported. In Autumn 2006 I became a member of the newly formed Dean's Development Circle. I quickly learned that although OSU had a reputation for excellence in fundraising, each College was charged with their own development goals and the College of Social Work was lagging behind.

This newly acquired knowledge lead my husband and me to start thinking how we might be able to help. We were also keenly aware that Sarah was living on borrowed time. Soon the framework for the Sarah Ellen Ely Endowed Scholarship was forming. Our vision was to help students who wanted to pursue a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in either developmental disabilities or pediatric medical social work. It was also important for me to know a little bit of Sarah would be walking the campus that her father and I walked as students many years before.

We publicly unrolled our vision for the scholarhip on September 9, 2007 at the College of Social Work's annual tailgate party. Afterwards, we hosted a more intimate party celebrating Sarah's 18th birthday. The Dean brought Sarah a large box containing a social work sweatshirt and an OSU bear. She cherished both.


  

During my early involvement with this committee, I returned to United Way for the third time as the Director of Strategic Planning, IT and Government Relations. Likely the strangest combination of duties, yet a perfect job description for me. Only moments after arriving in my new office on the fifth floor of 1331 Euclid Avenue, flowers arrived from my friends at the College of Social Work, almost twenty five years from the day I graduated. For the second time in my career I sat in my chair with tears of gratitude rolling down my cheeks. 



In September of that year, Sarah and I attended our first football game together. She was having the time of her life. For a short few hours neither of us had a care in the world. Life seemed grander that day than it ever had. And of course, I would now be able to admit that I had finally sat through a football game.




As it turned out, our excitement would be short lived. Sarah now nineteen, was in a job training program at the Cleveland Food Bank. She was loving her tasks and responsibilities, yet unfortunately I was often getting called because she was having trouble breathing. By November it was apparent her body was failing. We had to withdraw her from her duties and she soon was spending more nights at the hospital than at home. Always with her was the bear that Dean Meezan had brought her for her birthday.

By December the doctors were telling us to get our affairs in order. Secretly, I thought perhaps her scholarship, not yet fully funded, would turn into a memorial for our friends and family to contribute to. In January with her health further deteriorating, I submitted my letter of resignation solely for the purpose of spending as much time with Sarah as we had left. 

For months, I focused all of my energy to helping her get better. Winter turned to spring, then summer, until it was game time once again. Sarah begged to attend another football game. So we packed up and made the drive from Cleveland to Columbus. This time she was so weak and fragile we needed a wheelchair to safely get her to the stadium. Once there we locked it to a stairwell railing and walked into the Shoe.




She was thrilled the Buckeyes were playing Navy that day. What neither of us knew is they had arranged to do a flyover with large military jets. I'll never know if it was the intense sound of those planes which did bother her terribly,



the hot sun shining on us, or simply too much activity, but she collapsed in our bleacher seats. I remember saying a quick prayer asking for strength to handle what was happening and then scooped her into my arms making our way to the aisle. I was quickly met by a few ushers who started to call for medical assistance. I asked them to hold up and help me get her to her wheelchair. I was carrying with me her emergency medication to help open her airway in my bag.

As I was doing what I had learned so many years ago in helping with these episodes, I half jokingly, half truthful, said to the people standing around with me, how many people dreamed of taking their last breath in this stadium. I will never ever forget what happened next. This usher who unknowingly before the game had joined our photo, put his arm around my shoulder and said, "Mom don't even think like that. You and your daughter have a lot of purpose left."

 ~*~

Sarah continued to improve. She even returned to her job training program working internally in a small snack shop onsite. She was thriving in this small retail operation, yet we had been given our warning that she would likely never be employable in a regular place of employment with her health condition.



I was now unemployed and Sarah was gone for a few hours each afternoon. I was floundering. I just wasn't sure what I should do next. Then out of the blue the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2009, our landlord at our medical billing office asked to see me. She had a boutique wedding shop on the first floor of the building and asked if we wanted the space as she was ready to retire.

Without any type of a plan in hand, with no idea where I was to come up with the money, and certainly with little experience in retail, I said, "Yes! I think I will open a quilt shop."

Not too long after, one evening at dinner time, I could not find Sarah. She had escaped into my sewing room in the basement and was playing with fabric squares I had spread on the cutting counter. This would be the first time ever that she had shown any interest in my love of sewing. Soon I had her stitching a pillowcase for a friend also born with Down syndrome waiting for a bone marrow transplant. She had such enthusiasm for the project I soon recognized that it was not I that would be opening a quilt shop, rather it would be WE!



From that moment the focus changed considerably. No longer was this simply going to be a shop selling quilt fabric, it was going to be a place of employment for Sarah and perhaps some of her friends. We opened the doors of JEllen's house of fabric on Sarah's 21st birthday. It was a day of celebration for so many reasons, yet the most significant was Sarah was alive!! And how grand to be my business partner.

Within a very short amount of time our shop was being recognized by Better Homes and Gardens as a Top Ten Quilt Shop. They titled the article featuring our shop, "On a Mission," and that we are. At first we hoped to stitch 50 pillowcases to donate to sick kiddos at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital where Sarah had spent so much of her earlier life. Then it grew to 100, then 250, then 1,000. Just this past November Sarah delivered her 10,000th pillowcase to the Ronald McDonald House in Akron. With each pillowcase donated she includes a card about the very first case that she stitched for her friend Kristen Kirton who unfortunately passed away from cancer.

Today we are in a new location closer to a home we built for my father to live with us. Now named Liberty Green Quilt Shop, Sarah continues to inspire families with young children also born with Down syndrome. She is happy and thriving! For which we are so grateful.

~*~

Yet perhaps the greatest gift of all was watching Sarah with the very first recipient of the scholarship bearing her name. Olivia Pfister first met us for lunch at The Blackwell along with Dean Tom Gregoire and Amy from the Development office in the summer of 2017. She had just begun her Social Work field placement in the Emergency room of Nationwide Children's Hospital. I often wondered how that first meeting would go. It was splendid. Sarah was so excited to meet Olivia.


After eating, Amy presented Sarah with the official document signed by The Ohio State Board of Trustees. Sarah insisted we go over to the front doors of the Stadium to take her photo. It was at that moment I recognized this scholarship was as important to Sarah as a diploma is to others. She was so proud, which melted my heart.




Later in the school year Sarah and I were able to attend the scholarship dinner where Olivia was recognized. There really are no words adequate to describe the feeling of knowing you've helped someone else be able to help others like we've been helped and nurtured over the years. The circle of life is so very grand.





And of course having Sarah with me to publicly congratulate this first recipient brings tears of joy beyond description. We just could never allow ourselves to fully have that part of this dream.


~*~

With the new school year upon us it's time for the second recipient to be identified. Megan Vance is a first year graduate student. She has been extremely involved in Students Supporting People with Down Syndrome, a student organization on The Ohio State Campus. As we were corresponding we learned that Megan has a brother with Down syndrome. I can't tell you how overjoyed we were to learn of this connection. Never in our preliminary discussions about Sarah's scholarship did we think there would be someone so closely aligned. This December while on break, Megan came to the quilt shop so we could all meet in person. Sarah was thrilled to share the newest collection of fabric to arrive. 



As a donor, it's so heartwarming to see a little bit of Sarah spreading across campus. As a mom, I'm overjoyed.    

Friday, November 2, 2018

Hello Houston!

It's 5:00 O'clock in the morning. We are leaving for the airport. The Akron/Canton Airport is only four miles from our new house. That is really close. It used to take us more than one hour.


We love this airport because the lines are shorter and they are very friendly.


Look at this. I am outside. I had to climb up the stairs to get to the plane just like I'm a Princess. It's really windy up here.


I get to be the first one on. This is a tiny plane.


It's a little cold in here. Good thing my mom had my blanket in the medical bag. 


Ok, here we go!! 


It's so early it's still dark outside.


Where is Sarah? Lol! 


Here I am!


Someone just put the hand sanitizer on. I do not like that smell. Good thing we have our scarves.


Oh that's better. The camera says we are flying over Dayton right now.


Haa...everytime we take a picture of our feet. Our shoes match.


Oh yea! We are heading down. I can feel it.


Yep, Lake Houston.  


Bump! I'm always happy when the wheels touch the ground.


Ahh Mom, I think we have to go outside again.


Ok so this is a little scary. I just walked across this really narrow bridge from the plane.


Oh yikes. I've never done this before. 


It's like getting off a ride at Cedar Point. I have to be careful.


That was fun. The sun is shinning in Houston.


Oh good. They had my chair waiting for me outside. Now I'm happy.


Mom!! Turn here. I see a sign.


It says Quilt Market. I saw it.


Here's another one. They must really be glad to see us. 


This is me. Covering my face because there are always people smoking outside of airports. I hate it.


There is only one taxi here and my mom is going to scope it out. Nope that guy is a smoker. Blah!


But then she spotted the really nice looking Super Shuttle van. So she went over and sweet talked the guy into taking us even though we don't have a reservation. This van is so clean and the guy is so nice. He and my mom are chatting away.


Not me. I'm taking a snooze.


I remember this. That is the convention center. I've been here before.


Oh this is the best. The overhead walkway. We don't even have to go outside. That is good for me.


Ok here we are at the registration desk. This lady is so nice.


We have our name badges. Look it says Liberty Green Quilt Shop. Yep that's us.


We made it in time for a few Schoolhouse sessions. My mom took a few pictures and then her phone died. This quilt is in a new book called Scrap Basket Bounty by Kim Brackett. We already have it at the shop. My mom wanted to bring this quilt home. It's our colors.


And here is one from my friends Barb and Mary from Me and My Sister Designs. Hey I have a whole bin of their fabric. I love it.


All of a sudden my mom said, "Sarah I am so tired. I have to go back to the hotel to rest." Good idea. I have a plan... 


Room service!!! My favorite thing about hotels. I had grilled cheese.


My mom had this. Creme brulee. She loves it. Then we took a long nap.


It's dinner time. We are at the restaurant in the hotel. We are at the Hilton Americas Houston. It is huge!


Just like this glass of milk they brought me. I can hardly hold it.


My mom is so happy. She ordered a cheese board for dinner. Look at it. I had salad and chicken with mashed potatoes.


My dinner came with dessert. I don't like it so much. So my mom ate it. She said it was yummy. Lok how cute that bowl is.


It's time for bed. See you tomorrow!

Good morning! It's Saturday.


I talked to my dad last night. He said order the room service so I did!


I am so happy. I love room service!!


Oh man. This is so good!!!


LoL! Look at this. My mom always orders a waffle. It's never looked like Texas before.


Ok time to get dressed. Now what should I wear today?


LoL! Our new selfie mirror. 


We're here! This place is so big my mom says we will have to take a few days to see it all.


First stop is at blend fabrics, llc. Oh gosh they use little letters just like my mom. I like this fabric by Ana Davis. I think it would make cute pillowcases because it has little animals and birds.


Hey, hey! It's my friend Michele Merin-Campbell. She has a travel guide. It is called Needle Travel and she lives really close to us in Ohio! Check out our listing here.


You know how I love to sort buttons. Well look at this...Buttons Galore & More!


I love this timeline. It is the history of American Patchwork & Quilting.


They are the one's who have the One Million Pillowcase Challenge that we participate in.


"Mom, leave that bag alone. You can't take it home." Geeze.


My mom spotted these quilts. She really likes them... 


...but I spotted the baby first. I love babies. He is only four weeks old. This is Annelise Johnson of Eye Candy Quilts. She has a great website. 


Oh this booth looks really nice!


This is Heather Valentine and Amy Ellis of Inspiring Stitches. They have a really cute calendar that is a block of the month program. My mom loves it.


I love this. It is their credit card reader. It fits in my hand.


Ok we are all signed up. Wait for the details. It is going to be fun.


Wow look at this. Those are balloons covered in fabric.It is the 40th anniversary of RJR.


I like this booth. The fabric collection is called Betty's Luncheonette by Voilet Craft.


Here is Elizabeth Hartman. I love all her quilts. 


Look at these Gnomes.


Her booth is always so well done. My mom loved the mushrooms. She said they reminded her of the 70's when she was in school.


I liked the bees. Her new collection is called Berry Season. It will be in our shop.


Oh you know we love Best Press. Look how cute these little shirts are hanging from a clothes line.


Wow what's going on here?


Now I see. It is Tilda. 


Everything is so cute!


I especially love the dogs.


I am fascinated. Oh my gosh her website is incredible.


This is the founder of Tilda. Her name is Tone Finnanger. She is from Norway.


It's Mickey!!! Hey I saw you at Disney on Ice. 


Then he showed me some of his best skating moves. 


I told him he did a good job.


Camelot Fabrics has come out with a Disney collection celebrating 90 years of Disney magic.


This is Philip Stromberg from Camelot. He gave me this bag filled with all fun things.


We have been here for four hours and we are tired. So we are taking a break.


There is an arts & crafts show going on outside. But we are not going. I am too tired.


A little bit of dancing and then some pampering.


It's like being in a spa.


My mom said I was asleep and snoring in no time.

Ok stay tuned for the party tonight.


Here we go. We have to go from the Hilton to the Marriott.


Do you know what? Everything is bigger in Texas!


It's nice outside. Perfect weather for me.


We are here. That was a long walk.


We are here for the Moda customer appreciation party. The theme this year is Under the Big Top. Look at this...I have a tiger by his tail. Lol!


Nope. Not staying. I hate it. There are clowns in there. A lot of clowns. Big scary clowns. I do not like clowns.


So we are parking right over here. I don't want to leave though.


Some really nice lady came over and took our picture. I'm not leaving until I see Moda Mark.


Here he comes. He is leaping to see me!


Mark Pytel is our Moda rep. I really like him. He is so nice.


Ok I am ready to go now.  I can't be in that ballroom. Clowns make me so nervous I shake, turn blue and tremble in my chair.


But before we go I am taking a picture with the lion. Grrrowl.


So my mom said since we were all the way over here we should take a stroll through the lobby of this new Marriott. So we did. And all of a sudden I have three new friends. Meet Kymberly, Emilia and Jessica. We had fun talking. I told them about my friend Kelly who works for Marriott in Cleveland, but she used to be here in Houston. 


It's very pretty in here.


And then guess what happened. Jessica came out with chocolate chip cookies for me. That was so nice. 


So it's getting late and we are heading back to our hotel, the Hilton. But first I spotted this railing. Jack, Jack...LoL, I am pretending I am on the Titanic!


Look at this. I can see down into Market from here. I see the Moda house. We are going there tomorrow.


I like these windows.


Here we are back at the Hilton. This wall is a waterfall.


It's very quiet. And I'm not even getting wet. 


Time to go up for bed. My mom is addicted to taking this selfie in the elevator.

Ok see you tomorrow. Oh don't forget to set your clock back. I found this letter under our door.


Good morning!! It's Sunday.


Mom! Really!!


This is weird. Last night when we went upstairs there were hundreds of people in this corridor. Now it's just me. 


No time for a real breakfast. We have an appointment to get to. We stayed up way to late last night watching movies.


This is Joy. She works for Moda. Last night she was a clown. She came to make sure I still like her. Of course I do!! And she is from Canton. That's where my mom grew up.


Ok It's time to get busy. I have to buy some fabric today. Moda Mark is giving me a gift. That is so nice.


Then he took me over to introduce me to Melody Miller. I love her dress! 


She is part of something really big. It is going to be called the Ruby Star Society


Next I saw my friend Corey Yoder. She lives in Ohio. And guess what? We were on the same tiny plane coming to Houston. 


Look how cute her stuff is. We have a collection that will be arriving any day and then in the spring this new one will be coming. I know just where I am going to put it.


Oh this is so sweet. Chantilly by Fig Tree & Co. Do you know we have an entire Fig Tree room at the new shop. This will fit in perfectly.


Hey this is like Old McDonald had a Farm. That was the very first song I learned in sign language when I was a little girl with my trach. Lori Holt designed these quilts.


Oh it is my friend Jill of Jillily Studio. I am always so glad to see her. 


Hi JoJo. That is her son back at home. I think he really misses his mom when she is gone.


Oh my gosh. It is Dumbo. On fabric. And Little Mermaid is coming too. I can't wait.


My stomach was growling. So we found a place to eat. I had salad with turkey and ranch dressing.


It was so good. My mom had a baked potato with cheese and bacon.


After we were done eating she sent our friend Marc Jacobs a message to see where he was. He was in the Dill Button booth with the President of Dill. But he said he could leave if we needed him to.


Yes we did. I want to order this fabric from Michael Miller. It is designed by my friend Tamara Kate.


So Marc said, "Sure Sarah we can write that up for you." So he did.


And I got this really nice bag with a fat quarter bundle inside. How lucky I am!


Oh this is pretty fun. Pinkerville by Tula Pink.  


My mom loves this quilt! The pattern was designed by Sharon Mcconnell of Color Girl Quilts. She lives in Columbus, Ohio. 


I found the books. We really like Martingale books. My friend Jennifer Keltner is the Chief Creative Visionary. 


Ahh mom..."There is a donut on this Christmas tree."


"Oh this is Alison Glass. I love her fabric," my mom said. Andover. Hmm...that's a company we need to get some more info on.


Oh I really like these bags. They are design by Jessica VanDenburgh of Sew Many Creations. We really liked her booth. Well it is almost 6:00 and we are out of time! We will have to come back tomorrow.


Oh my gosh it is dark already so the fountain lights are on. This is called Wings over Water. It is pretty cool.


It's a little muggy out here. I think we better go back inside.


What in the world...some man is in our selfie. That's a little strange. He works for a fabric company so we had to tell him all about our shop.  


We needed a snack. So my mom gave me money and told me to go get whatever I wanted. Do you see me? I am in the cooler.


Well that was fun. I got cheese crackers and apple juice.


LOL! Look who is in my chair. She went over and got Starbucks. Now she won't be able to sleep tonight.


She is out of control with these pics. And I have the coffee!


Here we are. This is our room.


It is a mess. Quilt market stuff everywhere!


Here we are working on this blog. Tonight I am telling my mom what to type. Sometimes I do the typing. Not tonight. I am too tired.


I really miss my puppies. And Grandpa. So my mom said, "Sarah why don't we call them." So I got out my cell phone and called them.


Grandpa had Jackson and Nicky bark for me. I loved that so much. See you tomorrow Puppies. I am coming home.

Good morning! It is Monday.


Lol! You knew this was coming. We are heading downstairs for breakfast.


There is a Starbucks in this hotel. And I love their egg sandwich. So we got them.


Oh this is so good. Do you see that Minute Maid apple juice. I got it last night in the gift shop. I knew we were coming here today and I wanted Minute Maid. Do you know why? You will see...


Oh here we go. We have to go up to level two to get to the overhead walkway. We really never have to go outside. That is good for me.


So we started right where we left off yesterday. This is Jessica Vandenburgh behind me. Her collection is called Gypsy.


Oh my gosh. It's just like being back at Girl Scout camp.


Another Christmas tree! This fabric group is by Amanda Murphy.


I went back to place a big order of buttons today. This is Lisa Hagenman from Buttons Galore & More. She liked hearing about how much I like buttons.


"Mom, I really like this quilt." "That is a nice one."


Oh it's Valori Wells. And look who is here too. Jennifer Keltner. It must be an important meeting. I think I will join them.


Some of this fabric has birds on it. I really like it.


Next stop is at Camelot Fabrics. I was not leaving Houston until I came here and ordered Disney fabric.



Oh my gosh. I am in love. They have Little Mermaid too!!


This is my new friend Steve Haupt. He knows all about Disney. And fabric. He is the President of Camelot Fabrics.


My mom said I can have the table closest to my quiet room for a whole Disney display. This is going to be so awesome! We picked fabric so perfect for pillowcases. The little kids are going to love them!


A few weeks ago I was sorting Auriful thread in the shop. So my mom said I had to meet Alex Veronelli. He is like Mr. Auriful. He was so nice and funny too.


This is Trixie, It's a cute fabric line by Heather Ross for Windham.


Well that's about all the time we have for Market this year. I have had such a good time.


Oh wait. One more very important stop. We have to stop at Sue Spargo's booth. She is not here at the moment but this is her family. Do you know she is in Green, Ohio too. Yes! We are very close now.


There is something special about Houston. They also have the International Quilt Festival. It is a huge show open to the public. Here are two of the quilts hanging. They were made by Carl Hentsch from Saint Joseph, Missouri and quilted by Teresa Silva.


I can't show you all of them because there are hundreds. And some of them even have tags that say no photography.


I can show you this one though. I really like all the little houses. It is called Student's Village and was made by Cecilia Koppmann and 70 of her students in Buenos Aires in Argentina. That is so cool.


Really you should try to come to Houston to see this show. It is really grand.


Well that is it for the Convention Center. See you again one year. Not next year though. I am going to Disney World for my 30th Birthday!!!


One last stroll into our hotel. My mom reeeeaaaaallllyyyy loves it here.


And here she is. This is officially our last selfie in the elevator. See we even have our suitcases with us.


Look at this lobby. It is fancy schmanchy.


Oh here it is. Remember my apple juice?  Lol! Minute Maid Stadium.


What? Jack in the Box!! Why didn't anyone wake me up. I want to try that place. 


There is nothing better than sleeping in the car.


Thank you for the ride Super Shuttle. I like your blue Ford Transit vans.


Oh my gosh. We are so early. That means we have time for some Chick-Fil-A!


There are a lot of people at this airport tonight. We are hiding in the corner because my mom has to charge her phone. Not me. I did that last night.


I knew it. I am going to have to climb up that ramp.


Here I go. There is a beautiful sunset.


The flight attendant is waiting for me in the plane.


Good bye Houston! It has been fun!!


I am so happy we have landed.


I can't wait to see my puppies. First I have to walk done these steps. Tonight I have an escort.


There's our van. Right outside the door. My mom says we will be home in minutes!


Sure enough. And here are my puppies!


Kisses! and more kisses.


I couldn't wait to show Grandpa all my goodies.


I am so happy to be home.