Tuesday 30 September 2014

Morning Tea on HMAS Success and Grati-Tuesday 30 September

Well, I don't know about you but I have had a good day.  This morning Caroline and I were invited to HMAS Success for morning tea with the current Captain, CAPT Allison Norris.  What a privilege. This is actually the view from the deck outside the Captain's quarters.  Don't you wish you had a view like this outside your office door.  That is Fort Dennison you can see in the background.

No guest likes to turn up without an apppropriate thank you gift and of course the natural thing for me to do was to make CAPT Norris a laundry bag.  HMAS Success and Melbourne are CAPT Norris' two commands, hence the two badges on her laundry bag. 

In case you have not already put two and two together, HMAS Success will be the next ship that deploys later in the year.  They will have a different role from the ships we have looked after to date, but rather than I try to explain that, I will see if I can get them to explain that closer to time. 

It was particularly generous of CAPT Norris to host us on the ship as she will not be deploying, given that she will be handing over command in the coming weeks.    We were also joined by the Ship's Warrant Officer who I won't name as, unlike the Captain, she will be deploying to the Middle East.

Before leaving we had a quick look at the Captain's quarters(relatively spacious) , the Warrant Officer's quarters (smallish by land based standards but still quite roomy and comfortable) and one of the accommodation areas for the girls - nine girls share this cabin.  I would not call it "spacious"  though I expect it is better than some.  I tried to get Caroline to demonstrate climbing in to the top bunk but she declined. I know I certainly could not get up there.  We also saw one of the bathrooms and let's just say, the bathroom is shared by 20 girls, mostly young, all wanting showers, access to a mirror for make up and so on..........let's just say I bet their people skills all improve with a few stints of living aboard.  Must be quite an adjustment for anyone not used to growing up with siblings.

Just in case you don't think you have enough wardrobe space at home, this is the wardrobe space each girl has - one of these cupboards which is hanging space and then three drawers!  And bear in mind that has to hold ALL their uniforms, including their dress uniform, civilian clothing, and any personal property they want to take with them for their 6-7 months away!  Seriously, I take more than that for a weekend!!!  (And my husband need not comment!!!)

A very big thank you to CAPT Norris and the Ship's Warrant Officer for their time and hospitality this morning.  Caroline and I both really enjoyed ourselves and, as always, it is wonderful to establish a relationship with the ship before they deploy.

And now to some great thank you messages as per usual on a Tuesday.

Good Evening Debbie,

I received your wonderful laundry bag which you have made, thank you for that.  
it looks great and will work a treat.  Look forward to the Quilt arriving will, come in handy for winter and yes, even with the aircon on, look forward to your letter with it. Once again thanks from myself and the other guys receiving their items.

Kind Regards,

Dear Joan,

I would just like to say a big thank you for my wonderful laundry bag. You would not have believed the smile it brought to my face when I received it through the mail. It has already been used and is very much appreciated.
The Kombi vans are great and always cheer me up in the morning when I see them. I have been fortunate enough to own both a Kombi and a Beetle both a lot older than myself. The Kombi was a 1979 Panel Van that was repaired and repainted to a lovely sky blue colour. I done a majority of the work but was really pleased with the way it ended up. The Beetle is a 1967 sedan and is a work in progress (will keep me more than busy when I return home to Australia).
Thank you once again for your continued support.


Hi Joan,

thank-you for the latest delivery of laundry bags. I am sure we can find just the right people who will appreciate them during their deployment.

Thank-you as well for the post card. It is so nice to receive a message from home.

I hope you are well and the weather is starting to get a bit warmer back in Australia. It is starting to cool down here in Afghanistan - only about 36 degrees now lol. We are expecting some snow on the mountains for Christmas though.

Thank-you again for the care and thought that goes into the laundry bags. The troops here really appreciate everything you all do with Aussie Hero Quilts.



Good Afternoon Jan,

I Just wanted to take the time to thank you for my Aussie Hero Quilt and Laundry bag,
I can't describe how it feels to know that a group of Australians are taking time out of their own lives to thank us and give something to the serving members of the ADF.
This quilt will follow me on my Naval career, This quilt will remind me of my Middle East deployment and the memories I have had whilst being deployed.
Its amazing what something can mean to someone when it has been give with love and gratitude.
To me, yourself and the people alongside you are the real Aussie Hero's.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Kind Regards,

Dear Jenny and Gale

I am a section commander here in Afghanistan. I was the happy recipient of one of your quilts the other day. I would like to say thank you.  It has come at an especially good time as the weather here is cooling and its a nice for that little bit extra comfort. I though you did an absolutely fantastic job - it really was nice. I love the ocean and this quilt will come home with me when its time and probably end up living on my son's bed as he too likes all things to do with fish and the ocean.

Once again thank you for not only the quilt but also the support you have shown to all of us here.

Kind regards

This is a message on my Facebook page from a recipient who received a Supergirl themed laundry bag made by Hilary.  I can't show you the pic of the bag she sent as it has her full name on it but you can imagine the supergirl theme well enough.

“How amazing is this personalised laundry bag?! Thank-you Aussie Hero Quilts for everything you do to support troops all over the world. You really do make such a difference. I love the colour scheme and the Super 'S'. Absolutely perfect. This bag will see the world in my travels and always remind me that there are people back home who care about those who serve. It really makes you appreciate home so much more and so proud to be an Aussie.”

The following photo and message were published on our facebook page but are repeated here for our non-facebook followers.    Anna N made the quilt and the laundry bag.   Enjoy

"Two packages arrived! What could it be? Tim-tams? Coffee? No, something much more special and long lasting. Thank you very much Aussie Hero Quilts, for my Broncos laundry bag and military vehicles/aircraft inspired quilt. They will go everywhere I go. This is a great idea from the best people in the world -Aussies!"

Till next time, keep spreading the word and happy stitching.  
Jan-Maree xx

Monday 29 September 2014

Our Little Warrior - one of my favourite stories

Sometimes I have to wait a while before I publish a story. This is one of those times.   Actually I meant to publish this story earlier this year just after I went to Melbourne but must have been distracted with lots of of other things happening so now is the time. 

In the middle of last year, while Tarin Kowt was still active, I received a request from a fellow called Lyndsay.  

Hello Ladies, 

I was hoping you could make a quilt that might be a out of the order of your charter. 

My niece and her husband are expecting their first child soon; however, there will be some significant complications. The boy will be born with his bowel outside his stomach and there is a lot concern around the family. 

I was hoping to show Allison and her husband the love and support the Army's extended family can provide with an Australian Army themed quilt. Their stresses and needs are far greater than anything I am experiencing, and as I  tell them, 'Focus on your battles and not mine, I've been doing this job long enough to keep myself safe and well enough"

I hope you can make an exception for Allison.

Thank you, 

Well we didn't really need to make an exception as the recipients are welcome to ask for a quilt to be made for themselves or for someone else if that is what moves them.  If that is how we can show them that we support them then it is no problem.  

I put out a call and before long Emma and her mother Sarah put their hands up to make this very special quilt.  This was a team effort and Debbie sent down a length of suitably army themed fabric and work began.  

As time went by Lyndsay kept us posted with updates 

The baby was due late July; however as I've found out this morning, he is being induced on 04 Jul.   I have kept the quilt quiet from Allison, but I have spoken to her sister and she will keep it "Mum"  about it too. 
Once again, thank you very much for your huge hearts and help. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further info, 
Warmest thoughts, 

Then on the night of the 2nd of July my phone rang with an NO CALLER ID Number.  It was Lyndsay with great news.  The baby had been born, corrective surgery performed and both mother and baby were doing well.  As luck would have it there was just time to add the baby's name to the quilt before it was quilted.    As you can see the quilt is double sided. 

He was called Oscar which means "Little Warrior".  

Lyndsay and I agreed that it would be appropriate that Sarah and Emma deliver the quilt in person.  Sarah and I had discussed this as an option but had held off until we knew all was ok. Now arrangements were made for both Sarah and Emma to visit the hospital and new mum, Allison, the next day. The way I remember Sarah telling me the story is that she and Emma walked into Allison's room and told her they had a present for her from her Uncle Lyndsay.  

Allison was incredulous and exclaimed "What?  From Afghanistan?".  

Sarah and Emma explained the story and gave Allison the quilt.  They spent a short while talking to Allison and then after a couple of photos they left her to rest, still with the quilt spread over her.   These photos were sent to Lyndsay.

Any involvement with this quilt had been a privilige but receiving Lyndsay's email was the icing on the cake.

Hi Emma, Sarah and Jan-Maree. 

Yesterday I was so gob smacked and so choked up I was without words.  I had to wait 'til today to email a response because last night I just wanted to say so much that it would have come across as a jumbled mess!

The quilt is magnificent, even Jason's coat of many colours would be pale against it!  I harangued all the soldiers who came into the office to show them, all had the same resounding response of  'Awesome', and' wow'.   Emma, you 'nailed it' for sure -  the notion, the material gathering, the design, the effort, the time you have put into the quilt must have been enormous  to achieve this astounding outcome. Sarah, thank you for supporting Em and with the delivery to the Hospital. Jan-Maree, what can I  say?  I bet you feel particularly fortunate to have such able and wonderful members in your group. 

Allison's husband sent me a message last night expressing his and Alli's appreciation. I'll get to chat with Alli probably when she gets out of hospital. 

Allison's sister sent me an email this morning:      

'I spoke to Allison on the phone late last night and she was thrilled with the quilt and all the work done by so many people to make it. She said Sarah and Emma were lovely and that she is hoping to place the quilt on Oscar's crib today for a photo. I am going to visit tonight and am very excited to see it too :-) I am glad the delivery went to plan - wasn't the personalisation of the quilt lovely and the fact they hand delivered.  Now I'm tearing up too!'  

When I get a copy of the pic I will forward it to you asap. 

Ladies, I have to head off for some tasks now, but I will get back to you soon. 

Thank you again from all of my family, 

We loved the pic of the quilt on the humidicrib.

6 July 

Lyndsay spoilt us with lots of photos of Oscar's progress. 

The quality of the photos is not always great but they are good enough to see Oscar making gains.

15 July

15 July 

Sometimes we received some of Allison's updates as well 

Oscar is doing so well- so much has been happening! He's up to 33 ml every 3 hours, which is increasing every 6 hours by 3 ml (he's allowed to breast feed for two sessions a day and the rest through the naso-gastric tube), he no longer needs to be aspirated, or have a saline drip, they are taking him off IV TPN (Total Parental Nutrition) today and he has been putting on weight too. Also changed doctor teams yesterday so now he's in the Special Care Nursery Team instead of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit- which is for less serious babies. 

Bill and I are spending as much time as we can at the hospital but came home early last night for a 9 o'clock dinner. We are able to change nappies (up to 4th poo now) and can take his temperature, and feed him through the naso-gastric tube, burp him and most importantly cuddle him and read and sing to him. 

We're staying cautiously optimistic but things are progressing quite quickly -he needs to be on about 60ml every 3 hours to be feeding enough. We're beginning to think its time to have the car seat installed - just in case : D

22 July 

Hi Guys,

Just a couple of updates - All's going very well!

Busy week at the hospital - Oscar's on full feeds now but is having some troubles tolerating them so the doctors want to keep monitoring him. It's pretty up and down and changes from feed to feed, but we knew this would be the tricky part and it will take time. It is great that his long line is out and we can dress him properly now. Cuddles are the highlight of our days : )

Oscar is doing really well.  The naso-gastric tube had been out a couple days and is tolerating his feeds with only a couple not so colourful vomits. We've just had news that I can 'room in' at the hospital for a couple of days : ) Great to be close to my son!

On 24 July we received my favourite photo with this caption!

OMG! I can't believe I'm finally at home

And one final update and photo from Lyndsay from Tarin Kowt.  

I thought you might like this sweet picture.

 Work is quite busy at the moment with remediation deadlines looming. You may have seen the PM on TV today. He was in TK yesterday, with Therese and the CDF (LT GEN Hurley). I was able to have a brief chat to Therese.

Anyway, back to the grindstone, will chat a bit later.

Warmest  thoughts,

When I knew I was heading to Melbourne and would be catching up with Sarah for coffee I emailed Lyndsay, now home in Australia and asked him for an update on Oscar. He was pleased to hear us and passed our message on to Alli.

I was a little afraid that I had left it too late but Alli's email arrived just in time for me to share the update with Sarah.  

So good to hear from you and have a chance to update you, Sarah and Emma on how everything is going. Oscar is doing great - chasing me around the room while I try to write this and even managed to delete Lyndsay's email. 

Oscar's initial surgery was an absolute success and he recovered really quickly - record time in fact. We were able to bring him home at three weeks but had a set back at 5 weeks when he became quite unwell and had to have emergency surgery for a suspected bowel obstruction. Thankfully they found the issue but the recovery was much tougher that time. 

The email was accompanied with a gorgeous selection of photos.

And a last word from Allison...

Since then we've had a couple of scares but he is going great. He's crawling everywhere and is a happy, gorgeous little boy that's just celebrated his first birthday with the news that we're expecting a little brother or sister for him in January!

Thankyou again for the beautiful quilt- it's very special and Oscar will learn how all about its story as he grows.

I think this will be one of my favourite AHQ stories for a while.

Till next time..............keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  
Jan-Maree  xx

Friday 26 September 2014

Weekly Dispatches 26 September

G'day all.  

Here is hoping you have something nice planned for your weekend.  I certainly do -my husband is away so I will be sewing, sewing and sewing.  

830 quilts and 1107 laundry bags for 2014.  

3192 quilts and  4955 laundry bags in total.

Berrima Patchwork jumped on board recently and these are their first five quilts to go off.
Great to have you on board ladies.  



Carolyn M



(This quilt was made with BOM blocks made by Dorothy


Elaine and Pauline




Jacqui P



Julie Ann


How cute is this little fellow!


Linda F


Nerida (front)

And the back



Rita M (back)


Robyn B, quilted by Wendy B


Stephanie D


Till next time........................keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  
Jan-Maree xx