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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sew Hooked on Sweetness

A while back we wrote a post about the Hook family. They wanted to adopt a sweet little girl named Evan.  While they were traveling to bring her home, I was busy sewing. You can read about it and see pictures here.  Then some things happened that made us very worried about Angie & Clark being able to adopt her.  In the end, everything worked out and Eva Noel Hook came home to be with her forever family.  That's when I got busy again.

I wrote her a little note.  It said "Welcome home Eva."

I got it all packed up and took it to the post office. Remember this post

Now look at this sweetness...

Evan with her very own quilt.  This one is really special to me because it includes some of the fabric that Kate Spain sent to me from her collection named Verna.  She is so sweet I could just squeeze her right through the screen. I am so happy she likes it. Here is what her momma wrote to us...

Joyce, please tell Sarah thank you for the quilt and pillowcase!! It was such a beautiful surprise and Evan LOVES it! I told her it was hers and she'd point at it and then point at herself with a HUGE smile! She carried it around all night and is sleeping with it!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

Oh that makes my heart swell. I included a pillowcase from our One Million Pillowcase project in memory of Kristen too.  Now I have to get busy making another quilt. I have a sweet little boy to send it to. And I know just the perfect fabric I am going to use.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Sometimes I think my mom is joking. Like today, when she said we were going to put the Christmas tree up. 

But guess what?  She wasn't kidding.  She just meant at the store. 

I decided if we really were going to put up a tree we should be listening to Christmas music.  So I put in my favorite holiday cd.

Before you know it, my mom has me holding lights. I think this is so funny.  It is July.

Then she got out the box of ornaments we brought with us.  Look what I found in the box. Pictures of us at Christmas time. I love looking at old photos.


Oh man, I should have known when I put in that NSync cd my mom would be singing and dancing.

I was so happy when I found this. It is an angel sitting on a spool of thread. I think it is Kristen and that made me happy.

I am going to put it right here under the tree.  When I turned back around my mom had tears rolling down her face.


That made me sad too.  Then she told me she was not sad, just so happy with how this is all coming together.  And she was so thankful for all the people who have helped us get here.  Then we were back to laughing and being just us girls. 
Ok, here is a video of what we were doing to get ready for our big Christmas sale at the store...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sewing In Action

I love making pillowcases.

And sewing on the machine.

I have to take the pins out.

And now I turn it right side out. It looks like a sausage doesn't it.

Now I am taking the final pins out.  Then I start all over again.

 Opps, the thread came out. My mom helps me get it back in.

Starting another one.  This one has a blue top.

Turning the sausage. I love this part the most.

And another one. Brown and orange.

Ok that's all for today. I made a total of six pillowcases in memory of Kristen.  More tomorrow.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Brotherly Love the 2011 Way

We had a really, really, really, really, really bad storm come through Cleveland around 4:30 yesterday afternoon.  It got very, very dark and windy outside. I was scared. So I called my mom at the store.  She told me Matt was home and to go into his room. So I did.

I took my laptop and headphones with me so I could be just like my little brother.  This is what my mom found when she came home.  She thought it was so cute she had to get the camera.

Here's a picture with the flash on so you can see just how alike we are.  Matt's headphones are bigger than mine though.  And he drinks Gatorade. I only drink Mott's apple juice. The end.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pillowcases for Kristen

I was making pillowcases yesterday. So were our customers. I think we are up to 57 right now. Thank you.

I was concentrating on cats and dogs. On fabric that is. We need more pillowcases for boys we decided.  So I better get busy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Miss You Kristen

One year ago today, my mom came into my bedroom and told me my blogging friend Kristen was in Heaven. I cried. I can't believe it has been one year already. I miss you Kristen.

Today we are making pillowcases in the store in memory of Kristen.  If you don't know about our story you can click here and here to read about it. 

This past May while I was at quilt market in Salt Lake City, I was able to visit Kristen's house and meet with her family.

I even got to spend some time in Kristen's bedroom.  How do you like her tree?  She loved that tree.

I sat in her favorite chair. That made me a little sad.

And I got to see all her favorite trinkets. Here's the thing. Kristen and I lived thousands of miles apart, but we both loved the same stuff. Like Disney, and beads, and Minnie Mouse.  Do you see the picture of Kristen on the wall.  She is an angel now. 

After we left their house, we were driving down the road and I said, " She's here." My mom said, "Who's here Sarah?" "Kristen. She's here mom." "Ok, Sarah." "No mom, I mean it. Kristen is here. I know she is here."  My mom kept her eyes on the road because there was construction.  After we got out of the way, she said, "Sarah, Kristen is in heaven honey. With the angels." I said, "No mom, she is here."

When we got to the cemetery, I did not want to get out of the car.  So my mom and Kristen's mom were talking together.  Then I decided to get out and walk over.  Polly told me all about the day they buried Kristen.

I brought something I wanted to leave next to where Kristen is resting. A purple butterfly. My mom likes purple butterflies and I thought Kristen would too.  A few days earlier it was Kristen's birthday. As we were leaving I said, "Happy Birthday Kristen. I miss you. I will see you soon."

A few weeks after we left Utah, they put Kristen's picture on her heart. I think it is beautiful. I know Polly and her family will be here today.  They will be very sad. Please pray for the Kirton family today.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trust and Transparency

by Joyce:  As the events were unfolding regarding the iPad and money scam I wrote about a view days ago, my greatest concern was for the families that are working so hard to raise funds to bring precious children home from countries who do not embrace the extra chromosome like we do.  So many of them have giant enormous hearts for these kiddos, yet need our financial assistance as international adoption is so very expensive.  The easiest way for them to fund raise is through their blogs.  I was so worried this one unfortunate situation would deter some from doing so.

Last night I received an email that helped me separate the difference between the two. 

A legitimate organization will issue a thank you letter.  In this case, they even identify the family fund my donation has been applied to.

It will contain specific information as to where I may contact them if I have any questions.

And it will contain their tax ID as well as state they are a registered 501 c 3 charity.  If you would like more information regarding non profit status and ways to identify a legitimate organization, clink this link on Ellen's blog

In my opinion, it's all about transparency. Without crystal clear disclosure, there is little to trust. And trust is so important. Unfortunately, one thoughtless person can create this mistrust.  Please do not let it deter you from seeking out the organizations who are working so hard to gain your trust.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Money, Money, Money...

Remember this picture...

A few of you were correct. Don't you just hate it when you're all dressed up then have to walk past the smokers hanging at the door of the building you're going into.  My mom calls it the tunnel of death. It's a bad asthma attack waiting to happen. So I just whipped my jacket off and covered my nose and mouth trying not to inhale.

Once I was inside I put my jacket back on. I was downtown for an important meeting at Skylight Financial.  They have a division called the Michael Carter Group.  The people there specialize in working with families who have someone like me.

My mom says it is really super important to make sure all my money is handled correctly.  That is why I have something called the Sarah Ely Special Needs Trust.  Really smart lawyers over at Hickman & Lowder set it up for us.  It will take care of all my future needs, but still allow me to collect my monthly SSI check. 

After the meeting, I decided I wanted to look out the window.  It was a little scary though. I inched over very carefully and then I...

looked down.  Yikes, that is a big fall.  It is sorta freaking me out a little bit.

That's better.  Down the elevator we went to check out one of the guitars on display.  This beauty cost  $10,000. Wow, that is a lot of money.  But it went to a really good cause, the United Way of Greater Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And speaking of rock and roll...look where we went for lunch.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Missing Money, Invisible iPads

This is Joyce.  Please allow me to begin by thanking you, our readers. I truly never expected the out pouring of support to come through so loud, clear and quickly.  Please know this situation will not deter Sarah and I from blogging. Quite the contrary. We have so many amazing new things to talk  about.

But for now, the truth.  This blog was being used last evening by a team of folks much smarter than I am in the underworkings, innerworkings and outworkings of computers and the internet.  They were searching for various IP addresses, map locations, comment patterns, etc. Why? All in the efforts to catch a predator. A viper. The devil in disguise. Unfortunately, there has been a very ugly situation playing out that many of our blogging families got caught up in.

I am going to very briefly summarize what happened. I am only doing this as a learning tool. A platform to help get a message out. I do not want comments here about who was wrong, who is to blame, or who is supporting whom. This is not the place.

Let's not forget this is Sarah's blog and she does not really understand what is going on.  She was not happy that I put a frowning face up. So this next picture is for you Sarah...

Here is a quickie version...
1. Person A writes a blog about a girl.
2. He claims she is his daughter.
3. She suffers from infantile spasms.
4. She needs surgery that insurance won't cover.
5. He puts up a Chip-in widget on his blog. 
6. People start giving money.
7. Ipads become popular as a tool for youngsters who need a little extra help with tasks such as speaking.
8. Person A offers a few iPads for "special needs" children who could use them.
9. Person A has a boss who is a generous kind of guy.
10. The boss decides to offer iPads to worthy families.
11. They select a handful then nice boss offers more iPads for the families as he is moved to tears by the stories he has read.
12. More worthy families send him applications with personal info.
13. Some families get emails to put money into chip-in account to help cover postage.
14. Some do. Some don't. Some ask a relative to give for them as they have little money which is why they thought this offer of iPads was so generous.
15. The kind boss offers up more iPads if chip-in reaches a certain level.
16. Chip-in reaches $29,000+.
17. Person A now claims there will be 40 iPads to give away.
18. Person A claims seven iPads are mailed.
19. A month or so goes by.
20. No families have received iPads.
21. They start searching out other families who won.
22. Pattern is starting to develop and become known to certain families this might be a scam.
23. Person A receives an email demanding certain things such as taking down the chip-in, and mail the iPads.
24. Person A uses this as a great blogging material, tells us all his family has been threatened. He has called authorities.
25. Not sure if Person A knows this but authorities are already working behind the scenes to validate the funds he has collected and his true whereabouts.
26. Many iPad "winners" start emailing about Person A. (This is where I got involved)
27. Person A blogs that his boss and he have determined that the shipping department at their company screwed up with the mailing of said iPads.
28. Emails fly between Person A and others.
29. Person A blogs that an employee in the mailing department is fired.
30. Bloggers blog and a website goes up called SNAvenger demanding more answers.
31. Person A claims if he divulges his boss or the company he works for, he will be fired and they will loose their health insurance for sick daughter.
32. Ellen at Love That Max does a post. The comments go berserk.
33. Person A after much pleading admits there are no iPads.
34. Person A offers to refund money.
35. Person A blogs that he wants to refund money, he really does, but PayPal won't let him.
36. Two bloggers, Ken and Heather, go live with a plan to attempt to truly get iPads in the hands of those families that were expecting them.
37. Person A claims he has now been fired from job. 
38. Authorities are zooming in on the real identity of Person A. 

It does sound like the outline of a primetime television movie, doesn't it?  Unfortunately, there are many real families and businesses who were taken in with giving money. And there are forty families who were living under the impression that an Ipad was coming their way.  Some even changed appointments with speech therapists in anticipation of it's arrival. One even turned down a communication board from her school district, thinking her son would be getting his iPad soon.

I will let you draw your own conclusions. Your own moral of the story.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sad State of Affairs

This is Joyce.  I truly never thought the day would come when this blog would cause more stress than pleasure.  Yet that day has come.

What is the most comes from within. Within our very own special needs community. What used to be a source of inspiration and support has become divisive. People are choosing sides, lashing out, being quick to judge. I'm not sure we will ever know for sure what truly transpired.  Lies, deceit, greed. Those words never make for a good story line unless your writing a script for prime time television.  I'm sure hoping there will be some true apologies, a few refunds and lots of folks stepping back to assess and learn from the scenario. I know I sure will be.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Needed: Headline Writers

I need a caption for this photo. What do you see? What would you call it? What would you write?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Master of the Mail Machine

I am off with an important task.

I am heading to the post office.

I have some packages to mail.

My mom says I am a master of this mail machine. I can do the whole process by myself.  I have to answer some questions then I type in the zip code where the package is going.

If I've done everything correctly, a big sticker comes out to put on the box.

I have to repeat that step for every box I am mailing.

Here's my sticker for this one. 

Somebody just came in. I told him, "I'll be just a minute. I have one more package to mail."  He said, "Ok, no rush. Thank you." 

The last package goes in the bin.  That was a successful trip.