Tuesday, April 19, 2016


#heartsforpenny.... a hashtag that I saw for the first time just minutes after hanging up from a phone call with the state medical examiner, the day after Don had died.  "Your husband died from a dissected aortic aneurysm" he had said, "It was his heart."  I hung up the phone and heard it ping.  I looked down and saw that I had been tagged in a post on Instagram...with the hashtag #heartsforpenny.  A closer look revealed that my quilt community...having no idea of the phone conversation I had just had with the medical examiner....were on a mission to collect heart blocks to create a quilt for me...to comfort me in my loss. My heart had just been shattered...and here they were planning to send me their own hearts of love.

Tonight I got to open two boxes....each with a quilt inside... I don't even know how to put into words how magnificent they each are.   I haven't actually counted how many blocks there are in total...I'm still searching each quilt over and over again and I feel like I see something new every time.  Each block is so unique...but each contains a heart.  My heart overflows tonight with love from my quilt friends.  My eyes overflow with tears....I am so thankful for every single one of you who made a block for me.

I'll share a few pics here of getting to see the quilts....at some point I will photograph each block....but for now...I'm going to wrap myself up in some amazing love.

The Quilts

This week will be eight months.  Sometimes I really hate that I apply a number to it...and yet I can't seem to not do that. Every day brings its challenges...but I'm doing my best to keep going. 

A special thank you to Teri Lucas, Michelle Banton, Jamie Mueller & Mandy Leins for taking time to piece, quilt & bind.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The gift of life....

On a previous blog post, I know that I had shared that my husband had chosen to be a donor.  It was something that we had openly discussed on occasion, so I knew his wishes as well as it being marked on his driver's license.  Even so, within moments of receiving the worst news imaginable, it's something that surviving family members still have to be asked...and it doesn't stop there.  Saying yes, means that at that moment that all you want to do is curl up in the fetal position in the corner...you have to stay strong and answer a multitude of questions regarding your loved one.  Your mind...is still not your own in those moments...your heart is breaking with every answer...and yet you know you have to do this.

I can't say enough wonderful things about the Iowa Donor Network and their system for handling this process. Their communication with me did not stop that day.  I've received several phone calls...just checking in to see how I'm doing or if I have any questions.   There is also regular communication by mail...offering grief resources for any of the family members.  In September we received a letter stating that two people with serious eye issues had been given the gift of sight after receiving cornea transplants from Don's donation gift.   

On Thursday I received another letter from the Iowa Donor Network. As I opened it, I saw a brochure and at first thought it was likely marketing materials.  Upon reading the enclosed letter, I realized that we had just received our first communication from a donor recipient.  That letter...tucked inside its own sealed envelope...with instructions to open it at a time that's best for you.  I was instantly in tears. Not the quiet ones...full on raging sobs hit me within seconds. 

Our letter, was from a 71 year old gentleman, who had suffered a very bad broken leg and ankle that had been complicated by infection.  "Because of your family's donation, I have a chance to save my foot and leg and to walk again", he wrote.

I'm not sure how to describe what it's like to have a heart that feels so broken and yet rejoices at the same time.  This is exactly the type of patient that Don spent his entire life dedicated to treating as a Physical Therapist.   There is a great joy in knowing that his work in helping others is continuing because of his donation.

If you'd like more information on becoming an organ donor, I encourage you to click here to be redirected to one of the national Organ Donor sites.  

To honor Don's dedication to working with others as a Physical Therapist, our family has also started a scholarship  in his name at North Iowa Area Community College, specific to the Physical Therapy Assistant Program.  We are so very thankful for recent donations from Iowa Specialty Hospitals in Clarion and Belmond, Iowa where Don was employed.  Anyone wishing to donate is encouraged to contact Andrea Mujica at mujica@niacc.edu.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Terrific T-Shirt Quilts

So thrilled to have received copies of this new publication for Martingale called Terrific T-Shirt Quilts.

I was pretty excited to spot the book at the Bear Patch Quilting in White Bear Lake, Mn.

Even more thrilled that my design "Got Spirit" appears beginning on page 21!  I used t-shirts from Iowa State University and created a design that formed the letter "I".   That design gave me some great negative space on both sides to do some fun quilting.  I traced out the letters "I S U" and added a bit of wool batting underneath before quilting to allow them to stand out amidst the quilting.

I also added some design inspiration using other letters that might represent your school too!  There's great information for you in prepping those t-shirts if you'd like to make a quilt of your own!
Here's a sneak peek at a few other t-shirt quilts you'll find in the book.

Checkmate by Jackie White

Winning Combination by Jamie Mueller

Road Trip by Melissa Kelly

Once again, I'm giving away a copy of this book and I'll be choosing a winner from comments left here on the blog.