A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Sunday, September 30, 2018


It’s the last day (really a few hours) of childhood cancer awareness month, and I want to share an idea of a one-of-a-kind CAPS quilt that I am in the process of starting to make. It will include T-shirts, jerseys, and other Caps paraphernalia that I can get my needle through and it’s going to be awesome for one lucky Caps winner!

I would like to raffle it off to the the highest bidder (and, hopefully, a huge hockey fan),  and donate the proceeds to the childhood cancer organizations my family has been involved with for the last 20 plus years. (More details to follow). 

I will post the progress as I work on it, and since I’m waiting for a couple of items, will show a photo of the "start" for this post. Shirts ready to get started...

The Caps are the 2018 Stanley Cup Champions so this can be a very meaningful OOAK quilt for one lucky bidder (working on the bidding info too).

Let’s Go Caps!!!



Saturday, September 29, 2018

Aslan Project Gala

I am so happy and thankful to enjoy the evening at the Aslan Project Gala in Washington DC with my family, Dr. Aziza Shad, Marilyn and Tom Eichner and Patty, Juliana and Jeff Lubin, and the many other folks that came to help support Dr. Shad and her mission  in helping pediatric cancers in Ethiopia. 

The stellar evening with perfect temperatures and clear skies was simply an amazing backdrop to take in the Capitol skyline and this wonderful event on a roof top building (caddy corner to near Union Station). 



#CelebratingOthers with The Most Winning Life Attitude - Jarvis Kuo a Childhood Cancer Survivor

Jarvis Kuo, 43, is one of the most positive persons I know, and he has an incredible story of being a long-time child cancer survivor compounded with other life-threatening events (heart attack and stroke most recently) and still chooses happy!

Let me start by revealing Jarvis comes from a large Chinese family (Cantonese), and he is the baby of five kids. When his parents wanted a better life for themselves, and ultimately their children, they emigrated from Shanghai, China to Hong Kong, and then finally to the United States on 8/4/1985, settling in Norfolk, Virginia. His Dad happened to be a merchant seaman and settled in Norfolk about 10 years prior to when Jarvis, his mom, and 17 year old sister immigrated. The second wave of  siblings came 14 years later in 1999 because they were all over the age of 18 for the initial wave and could not obtain visas to get into the US in 1985.

Thankfully, his parents had a good friend that had a successful Chinese restaurant in Norfolk, so that is where they both worked, lived and raised their family. Everything was going smoothly for Jarvis and his "partial" family unit in the States until he was diagnosed with childhood cancer - Osteosarcoma (tumor in the bone) in his right leg on 1/20/1986.

Jarvis reported that his parents spoke no English, and he was only slightly ahead of them in learning the language initially, so he had no idea that it was cancer that was affecting his right leg. He said he was placed in the 5th grade upon arrival to the USA, and picked up English fairly quickly by watching TV, but really it was watching cartoons that his fluency kicked in. He then remembered his mom trying to explain to him that he was going to have his leg amputated  two weeks before it happened in March of 1986 at Children's Hospital of King's Daughter in Norfolk, VA. Can you even imagine the panic, for Jarvis, and his whole family?

By August of 1986, there was no way Jarvis was even remotely "healed" from the leg amputation and the chemotherapy, but somehow, someone convinced this grateful 10 year old and his non-English speaking parents that he "must" go to camp...a camp that changed his life: Special Love's Camp Fantastic! Jarvis fondly recalled that his English speaking skills were not up to speed, but that it never mattered at camp. He was just like all the other kids, and his counselor, Dave Smith, was best gift Jarvis could have received. Dave Smith practically "carried" Jarvis figuratively and literally around that 4H Center all those years ago. They have a deep bond that continues to this day, and Jarvis is forever grateful whoever recommended that he go to camp in the first place! He also mentioned that he cried his eyes out that last day because he did not want to leave; he was having that good of a time...and did not speak a lick of English to boot!

When Jarvis was 12 years old, he managed to go on his Make-a-Wish trip to Disney World, and loved every minute of it. Once back he settled in and continued his schooling, his "new normal" with one good leg, and looking forward to Camp Fantastic each summer.

In 1993, an all grown up Jarvis graduated 5th in his class at Lake Taylor High School; "smartypants" is what he called himself during our conversation. He then went on to Old Dominion University where he graduated with a degree in Human Science Counseling in 1997.

Jarvis has worked since he graduated. His first job was with Eggleston Services; then the City of Portsmouth, and now for the UPCenter (though on FMLA currently). He has loved all his jobs and is delighted and honored to work in the field of intellectually disabled humans (he has a brother that it intellectually disabled as well).

Again, life was sailing along for Jarvis, and by 2012-2013 had a girlfriend named Sarah (a nurse) and a swirling romance was blossoming. However, on 5/10/2013, Jarvis suffered a totally unexpected heart attack. They were home and Jarvis told Sara that "he did not feel right". When she left the room for a few minutes, she came back to an unconscious Jarvis and performed 15 minutes of CPR until the ambulance arrived. He said he was literally dead, and he was shocked several times to gain back some heart rhythm as they speedily got him to the nearest hospital. He was placed in an induced coma for four days, and once out of the coma, he proposed to Sarah and she accepted! Love even with one "bad heart". But wait...

In May of 2015 the doctors all realized that Jarvis's heart was in very bad condition (due to his chemo as a child) and he could no longer stay at home. His heart function was at 10% and declining. They delivered the news that he needed an heart transplant and immediately began prepping him for this life-saving "rescue". Now, one could get down on themselves about this, but not Jarvis. No, he went full steam ahead with a band of brothers, friends and family, his wife Sarah, and a plethora of warriors to get him through this terrifying procedure. His new heart transplant was on 8/4/2015 which is also his "new birthday",

He was hospitalized for three and an half loooong months. I asked him how he persevered, and he replied that he is a CAT...and has nine lives (but loves dogs, and missed his terribly while in the hospital). But that's not all...

Life went on once again, and Jarvis, gratefully, was able to return to work to a career he loves.

Then another shoe fell, and Jarvis woke up with a stroke the morning of 8/28/2018 (a month ago). He said he simply could not see and called his sister to take him to the hospital. (he and his wife divorced in September of 2016). The MRI showed a "large hematoma with hemorrhage". How can one person take all of this I ask?

Jarvis is currently in recovery mode, and cannot drive due to no peripheral vision on the left side of both eyes. This guy is one tough warrior, don't you think?

For this yellow loving heart of gold soul, who by way takes over 30 pills per day, draws tremendous joy in helping others. He loves to joke around and put smiles on faces of everyone he meets. He mentioned that since he cannot drive, he has taken a liking to cooking, and now tries an cook for others when he can.

Jarvis also described that the organization of Special Love has carried him through the most tumultuous moments in his life; and that he's fighting now to get back to snuff to work the camps, volunteer at weekends and help make the Special Love "family" what it is for so many. He said he can never repay what Special Love has done for him, because it has enhanced his life beyond measure. The love there is how life should be, and he is the embodiment of what that camp and group of people are all about!

Jarvis is an inspiration to many, and our family has known him over 18 years, and are in awe of him and what he has gone through, I hope you are too!

BSoleille! Please help me with #CelebratingOthers with Jarvis Kuo and his WINNING LIFE ATTITUDE!


Photos from Jarvis:

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Quilt Historian - Polly Mello and her Red Work Quilts

Quilting education is all a part of the entire quilting world, and this evening, Polly Mello gave her presentation on Red Work which was all the rage from 1880-1935 or "sew." It was the same time period the "Crazy Quilts" were also very hip back in the day.

Polly is an award winning appliqúe quilter, and past president of the Baltimore Appliqúe Society. However, most quilters and quilt enthusiasts know Polly through her 40+ years of collecting quilts; and the crazier and more unusual, the better for Polly. She even has a name for them: "quilts that go bump in the night".

Tonight's program was all about red work quilts, some dating back to the early 1800's and very cool to observe up close and personal. Some of the quilts shown were breathtaking due to the excellent skill some young lady (and one man) wielded with a sharp needle and red thread!

Polly "dared" the oohing and ahhing crowd that we could/should all start a red work project, but that's not on the agenda for me at this time. But I do appreciate all the meticulous work involved with each quilt; pillowcase or mourning quilt that was shown.

My photos below indicate the red work; and really, other color threads have also been used through the years. They are referred to as: red work with blue thread etc.



Tuesday, September 25, 2018

National Museum of African American History and Culture

How many times do we say to family and friends that we "never" go visit ______ , even though we live that close? I am thankful to live in an area with beautiful museums and historical places of significance, and decided to take advantage of one today; the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian's newest museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Usually, the tickets are timed, and need to be reserved at least a day in advance (more like days or weeks than one day) because this museum is quite new (about two years old). From what I learned, "everyone" wants to get in and see it.  For the month of September, the NMAAHC began offering walk-up weekdays, allowing museum-goers to go to the museum without advance passes.

Even more exciting on this rainy Tuesday was that I found a parking space right across the street from the museum, and possibly a little "fate" that there was no line when I arrived around 10:20am. I snuck right in to explore this spectacular museum. The lower three levels are quite sobering, as you can imagine, with meaningful topics covering the years of slavery and freedom (1400-1877); the era of segregation (1876-1968) and a changing America (Civil Rights); 1968 and beyond. It was thoughtful in presentation and thought-provoking at the same time.

The upper few galleries were much more interactive with culture, music, community and exploring ancestry. The sports gallery was fantastic, as well as all the wonderful music dating back many generations including the blues, country, big band/jazz, Motown, hip hop and all the latest music playing on the radio today.

I was thrilled to spend several hours viewing a lot of the exhibits (lots of reading I must admit), and I especially loved the temporary Oprah Winfrey gallery called: "Watching Oprah." The gallery had many of her dresses and outfits from her shows; costumes from the movies she "starred" in, and artifacts from the set of her talk show. It was a "small" glimpse of Oprah's 25 years hosting 4,561 shows! It was Oprah who gave me, and millions of viewers around the world, the "permission" to live an authentic life and to "just be you." Shouldn't we all Live Our Best Life? I think we do....

If local, please take a day to check out this brilliant and impactful Smithsonian Museum (hey, it's free!); and if you need to travel to DC, please try to visit when you get the chance. It's that good and not to be missed.



Below photo: my sister Kimberly Kocan and I were in the audience for the taping of Oprah’s last two shows in Chicago, IL.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Punkin's For Sale

It's that time of year again, and fall ushered in quite quick like a flip of the switch. I know there will be warmer days ahead, and am looking forward to "Indian Summer" like "everyone else." Or, at least, that is my hope, for Indian Summer, that is. But I'm okay with adding another quilt to the bed(s) as the nights are a bit cooler now and it's a comforting feeling to be snuggled under a warm quilt...or two.

So as the fall decorations are busting out in the stores, as well as Christmas (egads!),  I "enhance" the house by decorating with quilts and wallhangings, including: Punkin's For Sale!

BSoleille! The bright side of ushering in the Autumnal months...


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ethiopia Reflection #3 - The Orange Harbinger

While on an "excursion" in the northern part of Ethiopia, my guide had to "hire" a driver to take us out about 50 miles to the cave rock-hewn church. It was a longer drive than expected due to the road(s) that are not all paved, or several animals in the way as well as people, so it's kind of a tough drive (at times I felt like I was in a video game). Thankfully, our 19 year old driver did very well in navigating the roads, and I figured he had driven this particular road many times for various tourists since he got his driver's license. And since not many own cars or vans, this young man worked for someone who owned the vehicle and therefore most of the payment went toward the owner of the van, not the driver.

However, knowing that little tidbit enabled me to give him an extra tip (like 100 birr, or $4), but once I jumped out of the van, he noticed a small orange harbinger hanging from my backpack and asked me if he could have it. At first I was confused (his English was good, but with an heavy accent), wondering if he was asking me what that was (the harbinger). Apparently he knew, because in perfect English he said he wanted it for his keys. I never hesitated, and took it off my backpack and handed it over to him. I do believe he liked this small "gift" more than the tip, and it just reminded me...it's the "little" things that make the difference!


Friday, September 21, 2018

#CelebratingOthers with Ryan Darby - Childhood Cancer Survivor and Thriver

What a breath of fresh air it was interviewing 15 year old Ryan Darby; who just so happens to be "The Ryan" in the kids triathlon - JUSTTRYANIT. https://justtryanit.com/ Incidentally, my family has volunteered the past few years at this event right along with Ryan Darby and his family. They have a huge network of friends, along with the racers in each event in raising funds to help families financially when childhood cancers wreak havoc for far too many kids and their families, and Ryan LOVES to help other kids! The kids are Ryan's inspiration after all!

Ryan articulated that he was diagnosed at age six with ALL "B" Cell (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) on 12-23-2009 at Georgetown University Hospital. The devastating diagnoses two days before Christmas certainly created panic and anguish, not only for Ryan and his parents, but also his two brothers, Brennan, who was nine years old, and Sean, who was three years old at that time. Can you even imagine? But Ryan says they were "lucky" because they had an amazing support system from their community and his parents' many friends and family that took care of "everything for them." And from all the caring from folks near and far, they noticed others in the hospital were not as fortunate, or "lucky", in Ryan's parlance. It was Mollie's running/tri group that brainstormed and came up with the idea of this incredible foundation in the spring of 2010, and to date, has raised close to 1.7 million dollars to help others! 

This super friendly young man was born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland, to Chris and Mollie Darby, along with his brothers, and is currently a freshman at Walt Whitman High School (and playing sports; lacrosse, basketball and wrestling) . He confessed that his cancer effected everything, including the fact he had a difficult time eating, and that the drugs and chemo made him very weak. He said it was so bad some days that he couldn't get out of bed. He jokingly referred to that time as "house arrest." 

I then asked him how his brothers were affected by his diagnosis, and he mentioned they did great and tried everything in their power to keep him safe. For example, they would change their clothes in the garage so they wouldn't bring foreign germs into the house, and went "light" on rough-housing that boys like to do...especially with three brothers. Thankfully, Ryan reported that his brothers never felt "left out" (of attention) despite his three and one-half years of cancer therapy due to all that love and community support, and I could tell, Ryan is very proud of them (and, they in turn, must be of him too!)

Interestingly, Ryan, who loves the color red, is a huge sports fan with basketball being his favorite sport. In fact, Ryan's Make-a-Wish was to be a Washington Wizard for the Day. It was a "dream come true" for this sport nut who met the team and his favorite player, John Wall; plus shot around in practice before the game; and then sat court side to cheer on his team! Excellent choice for the Wizard's "biggest fan!"

In addition to all the above, this super positive kid was selected as the Hyundai Hope on Wheels National Youth Ambassador for 2016-2017, and it couldn't have been awarded to a nicer kid. Ryan said he loved traveling around the country and meeting lots of kids in the hospital where he gave hope to young cancer patients and their siblings. Ryan felt wholeheartedly that every young patient he met can survive and thrive and that they will get better. I just love his positive attitude, don't you?

I am honored to share Ryan Darby's story during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and the fact this running-shoe-collecting (five pairs to date; favorite - Addidas Ultra Boosts) young man is going places; there is no doubt in my mind. 

Lastly, this amazing Ryan is an inspiration for all, not just kids fighting cancer. I gathered from our conversation that his heart is pure gold. At six, he told me he realized so many kids he saw in the hospital did not have the support he had, and that he told his parents that he wanted to do something to help them. Well, Ryan, I'd say, you, and JUSTTRYANIT have certainly helped "them" and continue to do so each day! 

BSolielle! The bright side of #celebrating others with Ryan Darby! Now, isn't this unquestionably a great human being and that we are all thankful for his vision in kids helping kids?


Dr. Shad, Ryan, and Mollie Darby (Ryan did the Triathlon 3 years in a row and had a best finish of second place in his age group in one of those years).

Mollie and Ryan

Sean, Mollie, Brennan and Ryan

Ryan the day after diagnosis (getting his port put in)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

InstallNET Crab Feast 2018

A Maryland crab feast is a wonderful thing, especially if you like crabs. So with great delight, the yearly InstallNET company's crab feast was held at Jimmy Cantler's Riverside Inn in Annapolis on a spectacular summer evening. No flies or pesky mosquitoes either, which made sitting outside on the water just that more pleasant!

A big shout of thanks to Dale and Karen Ewing who have graciously invited their employees for an evening of cracking crabs and all the accoutrements that go with them. Yummy...and my fingers are still tingling while typing this post from all the Old Bay...

BSoleille! The bright side of crackin' crabs at Cantler's.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ethiopia Reflection #2 - The Lady Beggar

While sitting and eating my lunch on the outdoor patio area at my Lalibela hotel, an Ethiopian meal at that, an "older" woman stopped by once she saw me sitting alone. Other kids passed by me and asked for money, but I pointed for them to keep moving. This woman started to talk to me every so softly, all in Amharic, which I do not speak (but figured she was about to start begging). There also happened to be two tables of three men each on the patio as well. One table was comprised of men over 30, and the other table was comprised of younger men under 21 or so.

It was suggested to me to ignore all pleas, and not to look the beggars in the eye or offer them anything. The lady began raising her voice to me as I continued to ignore her. This went on for several minutes. Then without "warning", she began screaming (or was it screeching?) at me, but I held my head down and continued to eat my food without looking up. It was very uncomfortable for me, and I thought the manager on duty possibly heard the commotion and would come out on the patio to "shoo" her away. No such luck at that point.

However, while she continued screaming at the top of her lungs, one young man got up from his table and walked over to the beggar and gave her some coins (Birr) so she could move on...and did. Whew! He did that for me I know, and as he walked by my table, I mouthed "Thank You" and bowed my head. He nodded his acknowledgement of the awkwardness we all felt during that lunch hour, and I was so thankful he stepped up to diffuse this mortifying situation, because now thinking back, it must have been written all over my face. Honestly, I was a "sitting" duck and a prime target for the begging brigade while on that lovely patio. Minutes later my guide returned to pick me up for the rest of the day, and all was "forgotten."



Photos of the patio area (past the table in forefront) and my hotel.

Monday, September 17, 2018

It Takes a Long Time to Grow a Friend

We couldn't be more thankful yesterday when our friend, Bill Gawne, stopped over for a visit. He is in the area on business, and carved out a few hours to stop in and say, "hello." Of course, the quick visit also included Sunday dinner and a toast to friendship though the years. I've known Bill since our college days when we worked on the playgrounds for the City of Cleveland, and Bill T. knew Bill G. when they ran against each other in cross-country and track while in high school. And, let me tell you, they were competitors through and through by "reliving" some of the big races back in the day that Bill T. could simply not "keep pace" with the speedy Bill G.

We are thankful for the laughs (and many tears too) and all of our friendships that have lasted over 40 years. Bill and his wife, Colleen, and their family, have quietly stood beside us through many trials while Ryan and our family battled childhood cancer, and we are forever grateful for their unyielding and loving support.

"A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature." Ralph Waldo Emerson



Sunday, September 16, 2018

When a Picture Says It All...at Just Trying It

The alarm went off very early this morning so we could quickly get dressed and head to the Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA, to volunteer for the fifteenth race of Just TRYAN It, a kids triathlon: https://justtryanit.com/. It's kids helping kids and supporting families fighting childhood cancer. It's an awesome event and everyone had a great time; from the racers, to the parents, to the set up crew and lastly, the throngs of enthusiastic volunteers, many from the Episcopal High School. A little cloudy and misty at the start, but it then turned out to be a beautiful morning!

I believe the photos below capture the morning quite well. It is definitely an undertaking, and races are held in a few other places now (Chapel Hill, Bethesda, and looking to expand), but the mission is all the same: to help families with financial burdens while their loved one is battling childhood cancer. It's a win-win for all involved, and I am/we are thankful to help in any capacity needed (Bill did the announcing, and I helped him with the athletes crossing the finish line). Ryan worked his favorite: the transition area (where the bicycles are stationed and the need to buckle helmets and tie shoes is paramount for each participant).

So a big shout out to The Darby Family and Carrie Sloan Norry and her "staff" and volunteers who made this JTI event wildly successful!

BSoleille! The bright side of kids helping kids...


A Volunteer emphatic in cheering on one the racers, and helping her to cross the finish line!

Carrie Norry, Ryan, Bill, Terri and Mollie Darby

Ryan Darby - the RYAN the triathlon was named after

Just a fraction of the volunteers on hand today...at the finish line cheering on the racers!

Friday, September 14, 2018

#CelebratingOthers with Leslie Sumner - A United Flight Attendant and Quilter Extraordinaire

I guess I have always been dazzled by travel and adventure, and after college applied to a couple of airlines to be a "reservationist"; though not a flight attendant, for reasons unknown, even to me! Of course, I never got hired, then found a career in my field of study, and that was that.

So I have always been curious about the career of a bona fide flight attendant, and thankfully, I've known one for over 15 years; Leslie Sumner. What is most fascinating to me about Leslie, is her seniority ranking with United Airlines, and the fact she currently ranks in the 97th slot of over 24, 000 flight attendants. You see, Leslie has been flying with United for almost 51 years! That means there are 96 people in front of her that have been with United longer. Her kids want her to work until she reaches #1! She's not sure she can live that long to reach that slot, but she is still flying the friendly skies nonetheless.

Leslie was born in Washington, D. C., and raised in Falls Church, VA; Palo Alto, CA; Geneva, Switzerland and Stamford, CT. In 1965 she graduated from Rippowam Senior High School in Stamford, CT., after all that travel and living in various places due to her father's job, she was glad to come back to Stamford to graduate. She has one brother that is an astrologer that lives in Minneapolis, MN, today.

At the tender age of 18, and the "need" to separate from the family home, Leslie decided to hit the road and attend college at the University of Denver. This was because of it's location, of course, but  truthfully, it was far from home. She was not sure about a major, but knew she liked international relations, and in a way, found her calling as a flight attendant, because the college gig did not work out for her. After two years of college life, and meeting wonderful lifelong friends, she left Denver to pursue other options and never looked back or regretted her decision.

She did a short stint at Sunset Books in Menlo Park, CA; and while working there, applied for a flight attendant job with United Airlines and got hired fairly quickly. She felt this job was her true calling because she loves to fly and help others, especially during long international flights. She's got stories galore of the thousands of passengers she has taken care of during her long career, most of them very funny indeed!

Leslie also loves the fact that as a flight attendant, all her travel arrangements are done through the airline, so she never has to worry about meals, a hotel, or any type of transport. Everything is pre-arranged while she travels. She typically flies international trips, so she is in the air quite a lot (or whatever is regulated by the airlines.) Interestingly, Leslie is not fond of regular "travel" when not in the capacity as a flight attendant, though has taken her husband and her children on several trips throughout the years (Got to use those perks, right?).

As for her family today, Leslie married her husband, Tim, (a former Merchant Marine/and retired Engineer for Naval Facilities) on father's day in 1978 in Bethesda, MD. They have three grown children, but currently live with three cats.

Besides her career in flying all over the world with United, Leslie has been a crafter since aged 9 when she learned garment sewing. Other hand-work followed closely behind with knitting (aged 10) and cross-stitching and needlepoint in her 20's. She has always sewed and loved that the best.

In 1980 when Leslie "discovered" quilting, she found another "calling." Intending to make a quilt for her then nine year old niece, she shifted to making a quilt for her nephew instead, a Log Cabin pattern that she tied instead of quilting it. (Incidentally, Leslie finally finished that "first" quilt for her niece when her niece turned 38 years old!). She also mentioned that as a "newbie" quilter back in the day, she made her own patterns (she did not realize there were books and patterns on the market); but looking back, creating her own patterns only strengthened her skill set where today Leslie is an award winning quilter. She simply loves color, and coupled with the combinations of patterns and color choices in fabric, makes her heart sing. She claims she is a precise piecer, and that is definitely reflected in all her quilts. To date, she has made close to 200 quilts, but has given most of them away. (Quilters are a giving lot.) Her favorite quilts are the ones she tackles that are far from her 'comfort zone' - as she typically works in brights and jewel tones.

This creative 71 year old dynamo has about a dozen projects currently in production; and teal is her favorite color for the moment. She revealed to me that she and her daughter both have: synesthesia - a "condition" where you associate numbers and letters with colors. For example: The letter "A" = red; "B" is yellow and so on.

Lastly, Leslie is also philanthropic with many of her quilts. She and her husband, Tim, have been involved with Home of the Brave (for both men and women in the military going through Andrews AFB), where Leslie has provided many quilts to the soldiers coming home from war; plus other assorted charities as they come up, and, of course, making quilts for community quilts that get distributed by the Southern Comforters Quilt Guild. And every year, she makes a blue and white quilt for a silent auction at Duke University Hospital to raise funds in benefitting their brain tumor research programs.

She is one busy and productive lady for sure. Beautiful inside and out!

BSoleille! The bright side of celebrating Leslie Sumner!


Photo of Leslie and one of her award winning blue ribbon quilts.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

We are Happy to Help...at Georgetown University Medical School with Dr. Aziza Shad

A couple of weeks ago our family was asked to join Dr. Shad on her Hematologic Disorders lecture to second year medical students at Georgetown University Medical School in Washington DC. It's like, ahem, "going home" when in or near the hospital, but this was a blessed occasion to enhance (or add color commentary, if you will) the lecture about Late Effects with Ryan's/our family's journey, or Survivorship Care, of Childhood Cancer.

Dr. Shad did her most articulate task of lecturing on the very sobering statistics on Childhood Cancer, as well as the Late Effects that truly effect about 75% of survivors. Ryan and our family are living proof that these services and Late Effect Clinics are definitely needed for the masses of children surviving and thriving into adulthood today.

Our team panel of Dr. Shad, Ryan, and I set the bar for students to ask questions, and for Ryan and I to give them a small "glimpse" into our lives today. (I had previously given the lecture hall a brief synopsis of our story at the top of the hour.) But you know who really knocked it out of the park? Ryan! He was truly amazing in sharing his story with kids his own age sitting in that hall as second year medical students...most of them about 24 years of old, same as Ryan. He then had them on their feet with his straight talk from the heart that included his feelings, his friendships, the Special Love Camps he loves so dearly, his education, and his medical needs in 2018. He was swarmed by many afterwards to thank him for being so frank in his disclosures, including one male student that Ryan went to high school with that no idea about Ryan's journey while they were in school...until today.

It was one of the most powerful moments to witness with my son "teaching" others of his vast experience as a five-time cancer survivor, and I was one proud Mama Bear of his moving answers to the questions posed to him. I am/we are also extremely proud of who Ryan has become today, as it was so evident in how he handled himself this morning and was: "happy to help!"  From this poignant day, we can hope that perhaps one of the students gleaned something in their educational journey today that will stick with them as they become the medical doctors of the future.

BSoleille! The bright side of making the most of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Quilt Bingo in Bowie, Maryland

It's that time of year again, where our quilt guild members have been hard at work making beautiful quilts and other prizes for our 12th Annual Quilt Bingo:

12th Annual Quilt Bingo
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Doors Open at 12:00 – Games begin at 1:30
Boswell Hall, (K of C Rt 3 North of US 50)
6111 Columbian Way, Bowie, MD 20715
Admission $20
Food Available, No children u 18 allowed

You can purchase tickets at the door; all welcome. It's a great time and we will also have our great bake sale as well. Good food and bakery for a hungry crowd!

If local, why not come out and join in the fun, and have the possibility to win a great prize: a handmade quilt! 

The photo below is a sneak peak of one of the prizes...(Pat Scully the designer and quilter).


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A T-Shirt Quilt for the "Record Books" on 9/11

Over the summer, I was commissioned to make two T-Shirt memory quilts for a family, one for a brother that passed away, and one for their father. I tend to work in pairs, but one of the quilts stood out to me, because it so happens that the quilt for the brother, Jim White, died on September 11th, 2001. (I only figured it out last week). He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and was one of 658 employees working on the top five floors of the World Trade Center North Tower. Interestingly, I worked on Jim's quilt all day and finished it 17 years after that maddening day. I felt it was kind of divine intervention on how it all played out for me today; in that,  I felt I was led to work and finish it for the family today. A full circle moment, perhaps...

I will work on the father's quilt, or the second one of the pair, tomorrow. I'm grateful to have the privilege to work on Jim's quilt for his remaining family. And, lastly, Jim was the only Clemson Alumni to die on 9/11.

Our hearts still hurt from that day over a decade and an half ago.

United We Stand!


Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday Memory

Meeting up with my friend Rosalie and her daughter, Bridget, last summer in the Narrows in Zion National Park was super fun, and very serendipity. So she sent me this photo today and I felt I wanted to share it as well. For Bill, "The Best Daughter" and I, Zion is our favorite park so far, and this hike through the passage was awesome!



Sunday, September 9, 2018

Serafini/Maxwell Wedding 

Eleven years ago, the InstallNet "magic" enabled two young teenagers, Julia Serafini and Trey Maxwell, to meet at a Bowie Baysox game when the company had a corporate outing there. They were accompanied by their parents, but both their moms worked at InstallNet (Karen Serafini and Janet Maxwell). I guess it was love at first sight, even for two young teenagers!

Fast forward through high school and college (they attended the same ones) and today they became husband and wife! It was a beautiful wedding day and a huge shout out to Mike and Karen Serafini and Bill and Janet Maxwell for the throwing a wonderful wedding and reception party! Bravo!

May their love continue and grow each day forward and wishing them a lifetime of health and happiness!



The bride and groom. 

Bill, Ryan, Mike, me and Karen Ryan with the sisters: Karen on left who he works with at InstallNet and Leanne on right who he worked with at Crofton Swim and Tennis Club for several years. Karen and Bill, team finance at InstallNet