Friday, October 14, 2011

Letter #277 from Massachusetts

Letter #277 comes from Michele in Massachusetts.Michele actually found out about our project through postcrossing when she was matched up with Brian from Jefferson City,MO who wrote to us months ago and had our project in his sweet of him to do that!Michele loves to write letters and has over 60 penpals around the world.She is also penpals with a writer for Home Education Magazine that wrote an article about us,but I haven't been able to find the issue,not even at our library,so if you have the issue (Sept/Oct),please let us know,we'd really like to have it to keep.I have even emailed the writer but haven't heard back. :(

Michele lives twenty miles south of Boston.Her small town has a population of 17,000 people and a total area of 10.1square miles.The terrain is very rocky,which they learned the hard way when they had their swimming pool installed.They often see deer,coyote and turkey roaming around their yard.Their dog,named Niko,who weighs 140 pounds (yikes,that's one BIG dog!) usually scares off the animals....well,who would want to mess with a dog that big?

She says that they don't visit Boston as much as she'd like to,even though it's less than thirty minutes when taking the ferry,then going by car or train.She also said that she lives 45 miles north of Cape Cod,which is a very popular tourist destination for people near and far.When she wrote the letter,the Obamas had been there the week before.She said that the Cape has beautiful homes and landscaping,and her favorite flower,which is the hydrangea....that's one of my faves,too. :) You can also see white sand beaches,shellfish and lighthouses.There are also said the stores are so quaint.Those are my kinds of shops.The only way to get to the cape is by crossing the Sagamore or Bourne Bridge or you could take a small,but inconvenient back road if you don't like bridges.

Michele has two daughters and she told us that her oldest was getting her first job at The Paper Store.That would be a dream job for me...I would probably spend all my money at my job since I love pretty paper.It must be a fun job,I hope she is enjoying it.She plans to go to cosmotology school after graduation.Her second daughter is very active in cheerleading and does competitive cheerleading.I actually wanted to be a cheerleader so badly when I was younger but I couldn't even do a split and I was scared of heights,so I decided against even trying out. :) She hopes to attend school for nursing.

Michele works full time as a legal assistant and wishes she had more hands to help her juggle her job,family,pets,and the house.She lives close to work so at least she doesn't have to spend a lot of time commuting back and forth.In February they were a host family to two boys from Austria.Seh said it was an awesome experience!She said they were there for a hockey tournament.They had a blast showing the boys around,meeting other host families and watching hockey.She said their native language is German and at age 10,they start learning English.It must have been an experience just having boys in the house since they are so different than girls.

Michele loves the fall season and loves to buy apples to make apple crisp.She said she loves fall and everything to do with it.I know we love the crisp cool air and the brightly colored fall leaves.

Thanks Michele for your lovely letter and postcards.She included two postcards of shows the Public Gardens,which our previous writer from MA talked about and also a print out of the popular ducks,which can all be seen below:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Letter #276 from Pennsylvania

Letter #276 comes from Rossana in Pennsylvania.Yes,another lovely letter from that great state!Rossana is a homeschooler like us and has four daughters.She has always homeschooled all of her children.

She said that they recently had a relative visit them and he rode bicycles with the girls and it got her started riding bikes around again.She bought a trailer to attach to her bike so she could take her youngest daughter with her since she is too small for a bicycle.They plan to ride to local places together,which is a great way to spend time with family,get exercise and save gas and money.One of the places they like to ride to is the library...while we live really close to our library,it's on a major highway so it's not safe for us to ride anywhere,which is a real bummer.

They spent their summer swimming and visiting the library.She says they had just finished doing a flat stanley project with a library in Wisconsin.When we were on our first round of homeschooling,we used to participate a lot in flat stanley projects and I actually still have them after  9 years!It was a really fun project that my girls really enjoyed.I think it's great that the libraries joined together to do this....wish ours did something fun like that.They also have participated in postcard projects and have received postcards from Spain,Germany and London.She said that they are also planning to do a leaf exchange but didn't have the details about it at the time she wrote the letter.

Rossana was very creative with her letter and wrote on various pieces of paper,such as receipts from the library,a chuck e cheese photo paper that didn't print a picture.She also wrote on a postcard from a sculpture garden they visited and also another postcard from another event.She also included a lot of stickers from fruit and veggies that they have collected.She said that they are edible,but I still would rather not eat them on purpose. :) I had to do a double take for the sticker on the bottom corner because I thought they actually were able to buy and then eat black bear,but then I realized it was black bear turkey. :) She even recycled their children's museum brochure and used it as an envelope. :)

Thanks Rossana for your lovely letter and goodies,which can be seen below:

Letter #275 from Pennsylvania

Letter #275 comes from Phoebe in Pennsylvania.Phoebe is a live -in nanny for two children,although one just left for college.She has been with the family for eighteen years.She lives just outside of Philadelphia.They also have a yellow lab dog named Winnie and also a fluffy orange cat named Snicklefritz (I wonder if they got the name from the kids show called "The Big Comfy Couch"). :) The dog loves to chase the cat around,but the cat doesn't like it and tries to hide from him.

Phoebe has been able to travel to different places with the family.She has been to different places in the US,Europe,and also Anguilla,which is a small island in the western Carribean.She loves to travel and see new places.One of her favorite things to do when she is in a foreign country is visit the grocery store....she loves to see their different foods and packaging.

Phoebe's hobbies include papercrafting (mostly making cards and a little scrapbooking),making baby quilts,reading,baking,and sending postcards through postcrossing.She also enjoys sending letters,cards and care packages to deployed troops.She belongs to a couple of military support organizations,such as Tell Them Thanks and Soldiers' Angels.

When Phoebe wrote our letter,she had recently visited the Philadelphia Zoo.They try to visit once a year,but didn't make it last year.She loves seeing all of the animals,her favorite animals are the cats.There is a baby jaguar at the zoo that was born in the beginning of June,so she was very excited to see the new baby and thought it was so cute!Of all the cats,tigers are her favorite because of their coloring.She did say that she doesn't like reptiles,so she never visits the reptile house when they go. :) She asked us if we are near any zoos.We actually never visited our zoo,but have enjoyed the National Zoo in Washington,DC and plan to visit it again when we go back to DC next year since we really loved that zoo and the admission price is great-it's free! :)

Along with Phoebe's lovely letter,she included some stickers,confetti that came out when we opened the envelope (that's always a nice surprise),a brochure and postcard from the zoo,pics of her and the kids which I will leave out for privacy reasons and a pic of her cat and dog.Thanks Phoebe for the great letter and goodies,which can be seen below:

Letter #274 from California

Letter #274 comes from Everett in California.Everett is named after his great-great-grandfather and lives in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.He is fifteen years old and a sophomore in high school.He has one sister and one brother and a chihahua named Jane Doe. :)

He likes to read,write,travel,write letters,act and learn languages (he thought that it may sound bizarre to us as a hobby,but we don't think so at all).Everett can speak German and is learning Swedish on the side and will be taking Russian in school next year.Go Everett!I think all kids should be encouraged to learn another language,it will definitely make travelling to another country much more enjoyable and less stressful when you know the native language.Plus, you can communicate with the people that live there and find out things that you may have missed out on if you didn't speak the language.It will also open the door to many great jobs if you can speak several languages.I find it fascinating when people are tri-lingual (or more) because I think it's great when people do something extra they don't have to do,but do it to gain more knowledge.

Everett likes to collect coins,banknotes (he even graciously gave us a $2 bill!) and stamps (we love those,too).He says he was in four plays last year and had another audition...hope he got the part!The play was Robin Hood....wonder if he was trying for the lead role?

He says that he lives in the desert,where the temps have been in the 100's!He talked about it cooling down and that was to 102°! :) He also mentioned that he lives where there are Joshua Trees,which grow nowhere else in the world.The only thing I know about them was from Pearl Jam,I think,or was it another group that had the cd called The Joshua Tree.

Everett typed our letter on his grandfather's old typewriter from the 1950's.He calls it a dinosaur. :) I happen to love typewriters,too and have a small collection myself.I think they are great for letters since it's something people don't expect others to use anymore.Everett loves writing letters so much that he thinks that half the mail that comes out of Southern California is from him!Way to go....wish everybody was as loyal a letter writer as him so we can save our beloved postal system.I love letters and writing so you won't see me tweeting or texting (never did both) and I don't really care for email as my main communication with people.I think when you write a letter to someone it shows a real concern about that person and that you can form a deeper relationship with that person than by reading emails which can sometimes be interpreted incorrectly,unless you were to put a sad or smiley face by the comment to help the reader know what you meant. :)

Everett included a picture of a Joshua tree,another one that shows the area he lives in,one of the state flag,a $2 bill for us to start our own collection,some bubble wrap for us to have fun with and his little sister wanted us to have a beautiful green feather.Thanks Everett for your letter and goodies...we love them all!Also,best of luck to you in school and learning different languages.Keep working hard,you sound like you will be a very successful adult!Enjoy pictures of his letter and goodies below:

Letter #273 from Massachusetts

Letter #273 comes from Stephanie in Massachusetts.She lives just ten minutes outside of Boston.She was born and raised in Weymouth,a large town about ten minutes north of where she currently she hasn't gone far. :) She says that she feels very lucky to be living in the birthplace of America.I couldn't agree more,it must be a great place to live since there is so much history around you all the time....who could get bored there?

She recalls school field trips including one to the Swan Boats in Boston's Public Garden,where you can see a bronze replica of the ducks from the children's book titled,"Make Way for Ducklings".I believe,if I read it correctly,that the ducks were decked out in Bruins gear when they won the Stanley Cup.I wish I could have seen that....too cute!There is also another popular place called The Boston Common,a large grassy park area enjoyed by many when the weather is nice.It includes a frog pond that becomes a skating rink in the winter...all of this in the shadow of the golden dome of Boston's State House.Stephanie says that their original state house,just down the hill from there was replicated by their own Weymouth Town Hall.

Other interesting places she noted that must be seen upon a trip to Boston is The Freedom Trail,a walking path through all the historic sites including Paul Revere's ride,down to Plymouth Plantation and Plymouth Rock.They are also rich in culture and museums,such as Symphony Hall and The Hatch Shell.She also noted that they are home to some of the best colleges,universities and hospitals in the country.

She says that the four seasons there are wonderful.Winter can be extreme,but she wouldn't trade it for anything.It was a wonderful place for her to grow up and has fond memories of the beach,snow,fall foliage, beautiful spring flowers,rich history and beautiful,old homes.Every where you go,there is something to see.I think Stephanie did her state and country proud because you can tell she truly loves where she lives and tries to take in everything the area offers,which is amazing.

Thanks Stephanie for your lovely letter,which can be seen below:

Letter #272 from Australia

Letter #272 comes from Helen in Australia.Helen lives in a rural area in Southern Tasmania.Tasmania is the island off the south coast of the mainland of Australia.Tasmania is a very popular tourist destination as most of the island is a National Park,with one-fourth of the state being inhabitable wilderness.

Tasmania is also the native home of the Tassie Devil and Helen says that he is just as bad as his cartoon namesake. ;) She says they make a screeching noise when they get angry....probably like in the picture below. :)

Helen has enclosed some photos of Tasmania for us,including the beautiful beach of Wineglass Bay on the east coast,one of the typical rainforest terrain in the west coast area,a picture of the town she lives in (looks like the view of a beautiful!) and also a picture of the lovely Tasmanian Devil that looks like someone has just made him angry! :)

Thanks Helen for your lovely letter and photos,which can be seen below:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Letter #271 from Canada

Letter #271 comes from Melissa in Southern Alberta,Canada.She loves to travel and sometimes has to travel for her job.She really enjoys travelling by car since it's a slower journey where you can actually absorb and enjoy the beauty around you as opposed to flying to another destination.Isn't there some saying like it's not the destination,but the journey that counts,so I would agree.It's always fun driving on the roads and enjoying the landscape of new places you have never seen before.

Melissa works for a steel company as a material analyst/warehouse supervisor,where they manufacture pipes for the oil and gas industry.She was originally training to be a professional artist at an art school,then trained as an emergency medical responder.She then worked at her current employment as a medic,which then led to her getting the current position she is at now,so you just never know where life will take you.

She has lived in Northern Canada for six years now.She lived in the Yukon Territory at Watson Lake then at Dawson City,Yukon.In Dawson,she worked at a saw mill,elementary school,a casino and as a dog mushers assistant for four years.As a dog mushers assistant she had to cook dog food and train 36 sled dogs to take travelers out on the trail for a sled dog ride.She told us that we could google Fishwheel Chartered Services to find out more about dog sled rides.

This will come as a shock to many people,but she says she does not have a computer in her house.She says that she already has to spend 8 hours a day on the computer for work,so she rather spend her time at home reading a good book or handwriting letters,etc.She says that if she had a computer in her home,she fears that she would spend more time on it,which would take her away from the things she loves to do,plus she is close to her job,so her computer isn't very far away. :) She also told us that her preferred method of transportation to her job is on her 1974 Kawasaki Motorcycle since getting her motorcycle license just last year.

Thanks Melissa for your lovely letter and postcards,which can be seen below:

Letter #270 from Montana

Letter #270 comes from Malinda in Montana.Malinda was also homeschooled and graduated only tow years ago.

She says that her city of Bozeman is the best place on earth and that she feels like she lives where people want to vacation at.Wow,Bozeman should really have her be their spokesperson for the area after reading that great slogan! :) How many of us can say the same about where we live?

Some of Malinda's favorite activities include ultimate frisbee,reading fiction books,making up new words,cooking (especially soups),finding funny quotes,such as this one - "the average person thinks he isn't". :) Oh,and she also likes meaningful quotes,like this one from Maya Angelou- "I've learned that people will forget what you said,forget what you did,but people will never forget how you made them feel".I would definitely agree with that quote because I know for myself I always think about how a person made me feel when I visited them,did they make me feel like I was family or did I feel more like I was there to take up space.I'm sure we can all relate to that at some point and recall how someone could have done something else to make us feel better.

Bozeman is surrounded by mountains that have white peaks all year long....sounds like a postcard doesn't it?She says they have about nine months of winter each year,so if you are going to Montana,you better like snow and cold weather. :) She said that the coldest day she could remember was when it was -43°.I can remember in Michigan when the wind chill was around
-32°.... our eyelids had frozen and even the insides of our noses were frozen...that's how cold it was and when your eyes would tear up from the wind,it would just freeze,so we know how cold that is and I don't think temps that cold are any fun at all and neither does she. :) She does mention that they get beautiful summers and that the sky is always blue there.Didn't I tell you she needs to work for the tourism department of her area?

She also enjoys knitting warm things for winter.At least with 9 months of winter,they will definitely be used.She is currently working on a sweater.I hope it gets done before the temps drop too low.I'm sure it will start getting cold there soon,if it hasn't already.

She also told us some of the craziest things she has done...remember,she is only 18,so I'm sure she will have many more to add to this list soon. ;)

-rode an elephant when she was 10 years old
-she collected and sold worms when she was,she must have great neighbors if they bought worms! :)
-she read 200 books in one summer for the summer reading program-super!
-she ate raw squid...don't want to ask how it tasted :)
-she stuffed 18 marshmellows into her mouth and was able to say "chubby bunny" coherently. lol!
-she's had dreadlock for two years
-she sat within 5 feet of a black bear
-she played paintball and loved it

She also wanted to share her list of crazy things she plans to do: (I don't find most of them crazy at all,but maybe to others)

-pierce her nose
-get married
-save her first kiss for her wedding day (wow,is she one in a million guys!)
-have/adopt 6-10 kids
-homeschool her children
-learn several languages
-sing in public
-go on a mission trip
-publish a work of fiction
- bring a little heaven to earth (maybe that can be done by adopting like she wants to do. :) )

Thanks so much Malinda for your creative letter.She also made us a cute handmade card,which can all be seen below:

Letter #269 from Georgia

Letter #269 comes from Carissa in Georgia.This was yet another unusal letter.When we opened it,it looked like one of those renewal cards you always find falling out of magazines,so we were really confused why this would be in an envelope.We then realized after turning it over that Carissa's mother had these printed out for her after finding out about her project.

Carissa is also doing a wonderful letter project where she is writing 365 letters in a year- one letter a day to a unique person,so we felt very honored to be chosen as a unique person to have a letter written to by her.On the card her mother printed out,shows pictures of Carissa doing some of her favorite things,such as baking .She said that she works for Williams Sonoma,so she gets to do some baking for her job,too.Ok,I hope she gives me more details about that job because my children and I love to bake and to have a job involving baking,well,that just wouldn't be a job,but I'd take the money and bakeware for it anyways. :) Since Carissa enjoys eating things that may not be good for us,she is happy that she also enjoys running,so she is able to burn off all those calories she earned in the kitchen.She currently runs about 25 miles a week to keep her fitness level high,in the event that she wants to train for something like a marathon.Carissa is a huge Atlanta Braves fan and even had season tickets a few years ago,so they mostly watch it on tv now,although they have gone to two games this year,but she said it was really hot.

Carissa was preparing for a trip to Miami to visit relatives and also spend a few days at Disney World,so she was really excited about it.She is probably back by now,so I hope she had a great time!You can see her lovely letter written on the back of the card that her mother had made for her.Check out that cake she made...isn't it awesome!?!

Letter #268 from Indiana

Letter #268 comes from Marti in Indiana.At first,when we saw the envelope and the return address was from a college,we thought some college was trying to recruit my oldest daughter who is a senior this year,so we were quite surprised to find out it was actually a letter for our project!I'm just glad I didn't decide to tear it up before opening it.Marti lives in a small town and works for the college she graduated from...Franklin College.How cool is that to work where you graduated must be a great school if she wanted to stick around after graduation. :)

Her favorite local restaurants are Benjamin's Coffee House,Richard's Brick Oven Pizza and El Nino's Mexican restaurant.She always requests her favorite dish each time she visits each place.I do the same thing...I rarely order anything different than my fave dish,it's the reason I eat out,so I can get my fave dish. :)

She says that they have four branches in their library system and that their local one will soon be moving and expanding...we are still waiting for our new library to open in December,so we know how exciting it is waiting for a new one to open.She also said that their schools have four levels: elementary,intermediate,middle and then high school.That's so different from the three levels we are used to,but I guess it's nice if you don't like a certain school,then at least you know you won't be there that long. :)

Thanks Marti for your lovely letter,which can be seen below:

Letter #267 from Pennsylvania

Letter #267 comes from Marian in Lancaster,Pennsylvania,which is most known for their Amish population.She is a college student near Pittsburgh,but when she isn't in school,she's at home in Lancaster.She says that even though she lives in a neighborhood,she is surrounded by farmland and that down the road from her house is a farmstand where they buy their produce.

Marian says one of the great things in Lancaster is their old covered bridges that have a lot of history to them.I can recall seeing plenty of them in books....I always wanted to drive through one of those....especially during the fall as the leaves on the trees are golden colored.She also told us that a traditional dessert from the area is called Shoo Fly Pie.It's a pie crust filled with cinnamon sugar and molasses,with crumbs on top.She says it is very tasty....I have never had Shoo Fly PIe before but should definitely try it sometime.She says she tried making one at home before with her friends,but it burned. :(

Thanks Marian for your lovely letter!Hope you are doing well in college!Her lovely (and colorful) letter can be seen below:

Letter #266 from Virginia/DC

First off,I apologize for the delay in much has been going on,not to mention my keyboard likes to stop working a lot these days...maybe because there is always somebody needing to do work on it so I think it figured it has worked hard enough and needs a break. :)

Now back to regular programming.We received this lovely package from Laura in Virginia filled with wonderful postcards of DC,a map (which will definitely get used when we go back in April for the Science fair...can't wait) and a lovely magnet.She didn't include a letter and I tried emailing her to see if she had forgotten it,but I have not heard back from her,so I don't have anything to share except the photo of her goodies below.If you are reading this Laura,thanks for the great package and we hope to hear from you soon!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Letter #265 from Oregon

Letter #265 comes from Danya in Oregon.Danya typed us a lovely letter on the most beautiful paper that we'd love to know where she got it from with a beautiful stamp on it.Danya lives in Portland where it is filled with greenery all year.Most of the year it is quite rainy,which is why it stays so green.On fall and winter mornings,you wake up surrounded by fog on all sides and it is really beautiful.She says that summer is the most beautiful in Portland because it is very sunny and warm and always perfect weather for picnics and bike riding along the river,the Willamette.She said that Portland is a very outdoorsy city,people love doing outdoor activities since the weather is so beautiful.People enjoy biking,kayaking,hiking,camping,rock climbing,rafting,etc.She also said that she is not far from Mount Hood,the highest peak in Oregon at about 11,000 feet.On clear,sunny days,you get a beautiful view of the mountain.

Portland is also a very artsy city,with lots of musicians,writers,artists,DIY hobbyists and crafters.They are also well known for the most famous bookstore,Powells,where you can spend days searching their different rooms of books.We would love to stay there for a few days and absorb the smell of new books and turn the pages of all those great books.We do not want to embrace the kindle....we love the feel and look of books too much. :) There are also many great coffee shops (which is a great place for most people to go when it's raining).Her favorite coffee shop is Stumptown's,which is one of the most widely served coffees in the city.

Along with Danya's lovely letter,she enclosed some tickets and postcards of Powells and Mount Hood,which can be seen below:

Letter #264 from Italy

Letter #264 comes from Nicole in Italy.She told us that she sent us a letter a while back,but unfortunately it never arrived,so I am really glad that she decided to send another letter that was finally received by us.Nicole also goes by the nicknames Nikki or Nicchan.Nicole is 17 years old and lives with her parents and younger brother.She also a three year old kitty named Tom Tom and even though she acts like a little devil,she always makes Nicole laugh,especially when she sleeps and the cat goes into all these strange positions while asleep.

Nicole loves listening to music,drawing,reading books and comics and photography and of course,snail mail.I think she requested to be penpals with my oldest daughter,so I will have my daughter write to you as soon as she can.

Along with Nicole's lovely letter,she sent us a beautiful postcard of her hometown,which was founded in 268 B.C. by the Romans as a colony and is now a tourist area.On the postcard is the Arch of Augustus that the Emperor Augustus had built in 27 B.C. to celebrate a battle he won.It  must be an amazing thing to see in person!Thanks so much Nicole for the lovely letter and postcard,which can be seen below:

Letter #263 from Australia

Letter #263 comes from Jaime in Australia.Jamie is located in Bendigo,which is in the region of Victoria,just over two hours northwest of Melbourne. (Just want to say that we love Australia's rocks!!) Back to the letter... They are currently having their winter season so it is quite cold there now and she says she will be so happy when spring arrives.

Jaime was born and raised in Wisconsin....cheesehead! ;) She moved to Australia in 2006,where she lives happily with her husband,cat and beloved puppy.

She also shared some Australian slang with us that we found amusing...(I will list the US English version first,then Australian):

trunk of a car - boot (??) of a car
hood of a car - bonnet (is this a pioneer one?) of a car
have a look  -  have a captain cook,these just make us giggle :)
have some tea or coffee - have a cuppa.... ok,this one is more what we would expect
have a good afternoon- have a good arvo.... huh? :)

I think we would love listening to the Australians speak....I have heard that they call cotton candy "fairy floss" and popsicles "icy poles" ,which we think is really cool.Thanks Jaime for your lovely letter,which can be seen below:

Letter #262 from California

Letter #262 comes from DeeLee in California.DeeLee's real name is Deandra and she is half Chinese,half Caucasian.She was born in Vancouver,Canada and moved to California as a child.That's so funny because our previous writer lived in California but moved to Vancouver,so it's just the opposite. :) She said that her favorite childhood memory is camping up in Big Bear Mountains.

She says that the area she lives in currently started out very rural and unknown,but is now becoming a new "hot spot" in southern California.It's full of lush vineyards,pretty views and well kept agriculture/gardens.There is also a marvelous school system there and a lot of nice trails to walk on.It's also home to the biggest casino in California- Peehanga.DeeLee saw the musical, "Hairspray" there and one of her fave bands,the Goo Goo Dolls play there.

Thanks DeeLee for your lovely letter,brochures and goodies,which can be seen below:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Letter #261 from Canada

Letter #261 comes from Shaylin in Canada.Her mother wrote us the previous letter and Shaylin was interested in writing and becoming penpals with my youngest daughter,Semeeah.Shaylin has one brother and will be going into 8th grade next September.She enjoys playing the piano,playing soccer and dancing.

She said that while we were having a heat wave,they were getting cold weather.She also shared some facts with us about Canada:

* There are 10 provinces and 3 territories
*It's the 2nd largest country in the world
*It's very cold! :)
*There are lots of beaches,forests and mountains.

Along with Shaylin's lovely letter,she sent us a beautiful postcard and said that you can see in the background of the postcard where they live,on the side of the mountain.

Thanks Shaylin for your lovely letter and postcard,which can be seen below.Semeeah will be writing back to you soon!

Letter #260 from Canada

Letter #260 comes from Susan in Canada.She lives in North Vancouver with her daughter (her letter will be posted next),son and her husband.Susan works from home as an editor,researcher and writer.They have three cats named Little Bit,Jamie (also known as Mr. Trouble) and Dottie.

In her spare time she enjoys all kinds of crafts,reading,walking,gardening and spending time with her family.She also said that she likes to do anything with mail...who doesn't?

She told us that North Vancouver is just across the Lions Gate Bridge from Vancouver,on the North Shore Mountains.They live 680 feet up one of the mountains,so steep hills are a part of their everyday lives....steep hills really scare me and I don't know how they deal with snow on the mountains...scary!They have a forest in their backyard and get a variety of wildlife visiting quite often,with the most offensive visitor being the skunks,then there are raccoons,coyotes and even black bears!She says that they don't live in the country,yet there was a cougar in their neighborhood.From her deck,she can watch a bear roll around on the lawn and also see the view of massive skyscrapers downtown.When her kids were in school,the teachers had to check out the playgrounds to make sure there weren't bears out to attack the kids.I don't think I would ever play outside if I thought there were bears.

Vancouver is a beautiful city and she says you can literally go sailing and skiing on the same day!There are forests,beaches,farmlands and all the things that come with a big,multicultural city.But it's also a rainy city,and not very snowy where people live.She says that they don't get as much snow as the rest of Canada does,so that's a good thing.

Susan is originally from the San Francisco area and says that life in Canada is very similar to life in the states.She says they get books,tv and music from the US and Britain,so they get a variety of choice.She also said that the stereotype that Canadians are very polite is absolutely true!

Thanks Susan for your lovely letter and postcards (we love olympic mascots),which can be seen below:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Letter #259 from Michigan

Letter #259 comes from Kate in the great state of Michigan.When I looked on the map,she doesn't live too far from where we used to live.Maybe if we ever go back,we can stop by and say hi to her. :)

Kate will be a senior this year.Kate has one younger sister and also a Shetland Sheepdog named Blaze.She enjoys dancing at the dance studio where she does all types of dance,including ballet,tap,and jazz.My dream in middle school was to be a ballerina,but I was never able to take classes,so I wonder if I would have been good at it.Kate also says that she is the family photographer since she is the only one who likes taking pictures.She also enjoys travelling and has a blog with the pictures she took on her travels,called Kaitlyn's Travels.

She says there isn't much to do in her town called Davison since it's a small,quiet town,but has recently been buidling up a lot the past few years.During the summer they have a festival called  The  Festival of Flags.They have a carnival,art fair and fireworks.There's also a great pumpkin festival in the downtown area in the fall.

Her favorite places to go in Michigan are in the northern part of the state.She enjoys places like the small towns and cities on the coast of Lake Huron,such as Tawas and Oscoda.Her family enjoys camoing up north every summer since it's so pretty there.The day before she wrote this letter,she had gone to Port Huron and says it was so fun.She got to see the Blue Water Bridge,which connects Port Huron to Ontario,Canada,She says she has never been so close to another country before.She says they plan to go back since they live so close and they had so much fun.There are so many great places to see that we did not get to visit while living in Michigan,but if you are thinking about visiting Michigan,here are a few places that people over the years recommended we see:Holland (especially during the tulip season),Sleeping Bear Dunes,Mackinaw Island (we went to the city,but the ferry ride for all of us to the island was too expensive so we stayed in the city,which I also recommend).There are a lot of great places farther up north,too,such as waterfalls and of course you could stay in a cabin and enjoy the great weather since Michigan truly has the best of all four seasons.Yes,I am the advocate for travelling to Michigan...we consider it to be our forever home even though we are here.Oh,before I forget,Kate and her sister were so inspired by our project that they started their own project to collect 365 letters in one year...we wish them the best on their project,too!

Thanks Kate for your lovely letter and two postcards that we love,which can be seen below:

Letter #258 from Florida

Letter #258 comes from Michelle in Florida.She says she just had a birthday in did I,but we won't reveal our ages. ;) She's been living in Florida the past six years and lived in Illinois previously,in a suburb west (about 30 min) of Chicago.Chicago was one of our fave places to visit when we lived in Michigan,so we went quite a few times,it's a great city,but too much traffic,but you still gotta love it!She used to work at the Art Museum in downtown Chicago and told us about how the workers would eat lunch at the park and the squirrels would come and take food from your hand.She once even fed them a powdered donut...wonder how he liked all that sugar? :) Now she lives in a small town,right across the river from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.She could even see the shuttle and rocket launches from her backyard!That must have been pretty amazing to see and to not even have to leave home...prefect!Unfortunately,we have seen the last space shuttle launch so a lot of people in the area have lost their jobs.Michelle works as a guidance counselor for  a jr./sr. high school in the area and has seen the enrollment go down because of the loss of jobs.

Michelle's town is also near the ocean and is also about a 20 minute drive from Port Canaveral where the Disney Cruise ship and other ships go out to sea.Next to Port Canaveral is Cocoa Beach (reminds me of I Dream of Jeannie),where tourists like to visit.

Unfortunately her town was only busy during the space shuttle launches,people would line the streets along the river to watch the take-offs,like people waiting to see a parade.She also lives 40 minutes east of Walt Disney World,Sea World and Universal Studios.She recently went to Sea World during her summer break.She hoped to sit in the splash zone where Shamu splashes,but there was no room.She enjoys seeing the Florida Manatee and touching the sting rays and dolphins.

She also told us that the area she lives in doesn't usually get hit by hurricanes very often,so that is a good thing.She also says that are further from Orlando,so they don't get as much rain as they do there.

Michelle also has four dogs,two goldfish and one small turtle.She enjoys teen books and fishing.Sometimes at the beach,she catches small sharks,but they always throw them back.Thanks Michelle for your lovely letter,which can be seen below:

Letter #257 from Australia

Letter #257 comes from Jemma in Australia.Jemma wrote to us from Queensland on a warm and sunny day,even though it is the middle of winter there.When she wrote the letter,the temperature was 22° C.The part of the country she lives in has a sub-tropical climate,so it never gets really cold there.But, in Victoria,they are probably having their ski season in full swing.She also said that none of the cooler weather ever seems to last as long as in her home country of England.And she also said that she finds the summers in Australia to be really hot since she is used to cooler weather,of course. :) Like she said,it's possible for us as human beings to adapt to most things,we just may never really enjoy it.

Jemma says that before November of 2009,she had spent all her life in Oxford,which is well known for Oxford University,one of the UK's most prestigious and oldest universities.She says that it's not a campus based university like here in the states,but it is formed out of 44 separate colleges.Many of the beautiful old buildings that make up Oxford's skyline belong to the university.But there is a also a lot of history there that doesn't belong to the university,such as the Castle Mound site (the remains are from 1070 AD).Also,there is the Saxon Tower of St. Michael at the North Gate,which is 1,000 years old that is still standing!That must be amazing to see!

She really misses the history from her home city since Australia is a newer country,in terms of being populated widely,so there isn't as much history to the area.She also misses her family and friends,but is thankful for the technology that allows her to keep in touch with them,so she wonders how people years ago coped with only letters from their loved ones and the fact that they may never have seen one another again.

She moved to Australia she could be with her partner who is Australian and in the army there.They do hope to live in Europe some day soon though.She never imagined she would live there as she had always lived close by her family and says that everybody in the family thought she would be the one who would never move so far away....looks like they were all wrong.You just never know where life's adventures will take you.

Jemma studied Geography and Sociology at Oxford Brooks.You need to be an exceptional student to get into the Univeristy of Oxford,so she went to the city's second univeristy.

One of the things Jemma has come to learn moving overseas an starting from scratch is that life doesn't come to you,you have to go and actively find it!With her partner in the army,she has move around a lot.When her partner had to leave her alone for two months,she realized that she could shut herself in her house and miss him terribly or she could push herself out the door and join some local groups to meet people and not feel so lonely.She says that she is not the type of person to just go out and join in,but she took the plunge and found it to be well worth it.She says that how one little thing leads on to lots of other little things,like the snowball effect.She joined the local singing group,which helped her meet wonderful people of all ages and backgrounds.She also got the opportunity to sing at many places.She also helped with the community newsletter,made cards to sell for charity,volunteered at two vineyards,which led her working for three months bottling wine...quite different from her office jobs in England. :) Her advice to anyone moving to a new place is to join some sort of club in your area an if there are none,she says to start  your own.She also says to be willing to try anything (within reason) once and be open to new experiences and have a sense of adventure.

She has recently moved again,this time to a busy suburb,but she says that even though cities have more people,it's always harder to meet new people and that there are less local groups,although she has just found a papercraft group and possibly a choir,so she takes what she learns from her previous home and adapts it to her new home and it has worked for her,so far.I'm glad to see that she is having so much success at finding new friends to keep her busy since it must be so hard to be so far away from loved ones.

Thanks so much Jemma for your lovely letter and beautiful postcard,which can be seen below:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Letter #256 from Canada

Letter #256 comes from Carrie in Canada....say that fast five times. :) Carrie describes herself as a champion procrastinator,even though she has managed to get two university degrees and a college diploma by age 37.She gets things done,but it just takes her a little longer.

She even said that she was a little worried about how she would represent her country or city.She has lived in Edmonton,Banff,Calgary,Montreal, and currently lives in one of my favorite places I want to visit,Vancouver.She has a graduate degree in library and information studies,so she is an arccivist and librarian.She takes care of historically important documents,but with the current state of the economy,her job hasn't been a permanent one as of yet.

Carrie told us that it was because of the love for her sister that she moved to Vancouver and wanted us to know that life doesn't always turn out how you hope or plan,so basically always make room for the unexpected to happen in life.I'm so glad to hear that she made the decision to be with her sister to take care of her in her time of need and think that she sets a good example of how families should act.She says that her sister is getting better,I'm sure with time she will heal more and more.

Carrie has been with her partner for eleven years now and doesn't plan to get married since she's not one for traditions.She also told us that she has many tattoos,used to shave her head and dyes her hair various punk colors,with blue being her favorite.She currently has long dreadlocks and says the plus to that is not having to brush your hair,so I guess wind is not her enemy. :)

So to sum up Carrie,she has moved around a lot,sometimes writes reviews for money,edits and proofreads for money,watches a lot of tv,reads a lot of books (her favorite writer right now is Amelie Nothomb),watches a lot of movies,prefers walking to any other form of transportation,listens to a lot of music,writes letters,makes cards and bookmarks (and is thinking about selling them).Whew,that was a lot,but that is what she listed for us to know about her,yet she feels like even all those descriptions doesn't really tell us who she is.I hope Carrie is happy with this posting and how she comes across here.

Along with Carrie's lovely letter,she included some postcards,stickers,ticket stub,and their business cards,which can be seen below:

Letter #255 from California

Letter #255 comes from Samantha in California.Samantha says that she will be moving to the east coast soon to start college,where she will be studying journalism.When I was in high school,that was one of the things I wanted to be in the future since I loved writing.She says she also loves to read and do creative things such as crocheting.She loves vintage things and even typed her letter on a vintage typewriter that belonged to her great-grandfather.I think vintage typewriters are so cool,I have a small collection myself,but they need some new ink ribbons,so we haven't been able to use them. :(  Samantha also enjoys swing dancing and the "big band" music that goes with it.She goes dancing at least once a month with her friend and they have a blast!

Samantha is a wonderul mix of Cuban and Italian and grew up speaking Spanish and knows more about the Cuban culture.Her family went to California after the Communist Revolution in Cuba in the 1960' ince it wasn't safe anymore.One of her favorite things about Cuban culture is the food and she is worried about missing her food when she goes to school.Hopefully she won't be too far from any Cuban stores or restaurants so she can have her fave foods such as natilla,a dessert that is similar to creme brulee,which she even gave us the recipe to,so that should be fun to make.

Samantha describes her family as being very big and loud...sounds like a fun family to me. :) She said that on Christmas Eve,the whole family gets together for a big dinner party with traditional Cuban foods like lechon,platanos fritos,frijoles negros and cafe con leche (roasted pork,fried bananas,black beans and coffee with milk).They also enjoy playing their favorite Cuban music,such as Celia Cruz,who enjoyed living life and was very optimistic.

Thanks Samantha for your lovely letter and recipe,which can be seen below.We also want to wish her the best when she starts college.

Letter #254 from Singapore

Letter #254 comes from Qinyi in Singapore.This is our first letter from Singapore so it was quite exciting.Qinyi (pronounced Chin-yee) is a Chinese girl born and bred in Singapore.She says that her home country is full of migrants since a lot of their ancestors moved there from the 1800's.Singapore is an island state,meaning that technically they are geographically smaller than Manhattan,NY,but still considered a country.Her country has about four million citizens and other expatriates there.Most of them live in either public or private apartments due to land scarcity.To give us an idea of just how small the country is,she says that if you were to drive 2-3 hours in any direction,you would be out of the country.

There is a diversity of people from different ethnicities and the four major races found there are - Chinese,Indian,Malay, and Eurasians.The national language us Malay,or to be more precise,Behasa Melayu,which is different than the Indonesian Malay that they call Behasa Indonesia.Despite the fact that Malay is the national language,English is the "lingua franca" there and is taught as a first language,due to the fact that they were a British colong until the 1950's.The British educational system is still used in their country to this day.

Qinyi speaks English and Mandarin and can understand a little Malay and Cantonese - a Chinese dialect.She lives only 20 minutes from the city,or main shopping area.She says that you can find food at almost any time of the night.Since the country is so small,many people spend time travelling around the region.She has travelled to China,Malaysia,Indonesia,Thailand,and Hong Kong.She also lived in Brisbane,Australia for just over two years,where she studied art history at the college there.

Qinyi currently works as a curator at a university art museum and her job consists of researching about art and also to conceptualize and put up art exhibitions.It is a very challenging job,with little pay,but is something she enjoys doing.She also enjoys writing letters since it is much more intimate than an email....I couldn't agree more.I definitely think you can learn a lot about people from a handwritten letter that you could never get from an email.She noted  how her city is so hectic yet she is trying to slow down and enjoy life as it is.Letters are indeed a nice way to relax and not have to worry about the outside world.

Along with Qinyi's lovely letter,she enclosed a postcard of an art exhibition,which can be seen below:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Letter #253 from California

Letter #253 comes from Jennifer in California.Jennifer lives in southern California and works at Disney so she let us know ahead of time that the letter will include a lot about Disney since it is her life. She has been collecting Disney items since she was four years old,so I guess it makes sense that she should have a job there. :) Jennifer is the ultimate Disney do we know that?Well,she wrote to us on Mickey Mouse stationery using a Mickey pen on top of a Cars lapdesk while wearing Buzz Light Year socks...ok,maybe that was a little too much info,but I told you she was a true fan,right? :) She is even fortunate enough to have an annual pass to Disneyland so she goes often.She says she tries hard to be a grown up,but she loves cartoons and Disney too much.I'd like to know who said adults can't watch cartoons because I still love cartoons,too. :)

Jennifer also enjoys cooking,writing letters,hanging out with friends and family and reading biographies.She also loves to travel and has recently visited the Grand Canyon,which is only a six hour trip from her house.She said that when you stop and look out at the canyon,it looks like a huge painting because it seems to never end.We've never been there but it's on our list of places to visit one day.

She loves where she lives because there are countless places to eat at.Within just 10 minutes of her house,she can get any type of food you can imagine.Her favorites are Japanese and Italian,while her fiancé prefers Mexican food.

Jennifer also gave us a quick run down on how close she is to everything....

20 minutes to the beach
20 minutes to Hollywood
55 minutes to Disneyland
1 hour to see snow
3 hours to Las Vegas,NV
20 minutes to downtown L.A.
15 minutes to the zoo
3 hours to San Diego
4 hours to Mexico
6 hours to San Francisco
6 hours to Sacramento...the state capital

Along with the letter,Jen sent us a couple of postcards,which can be seen below.Thanks Jen for the letter and postcards! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Letter #252 from England

Letter #252 comes from Gavin in the capital of England and of the United Kingdom,which is London.The United Kingdom consists of four seperate countries - Scotland,England,Wales and Northern Ireland.Gavin is originally from Scotland,but moved to London at age 18,which is when he discovered a city with a population that was larger than his whole country,which was quite shocking to him.

Gavin lives in a flat (apartment, for us in the US),as most people there do.Above him is a family from Bangladesh,below him is an Englishman and below that man is a couple from Nigeria.That goes to show you how diverse London really is because you can find people from almost any country living there.He lives in the central part of the city,where the neighborhood is predominately Bangladeshi,with a mix of white British.Gavin says it is quiet difficult to find someone born and bred in London that actually lives in London since it is so diverse.He says that it is a very cosmopolitan place and it shows that everyone can,on the whole,live together and get along together no matter where they are from.

They also have lots of little squares that are live parks,but smaller.The places he sees on his walk are some well known places,such as St. Paul's Cathedral,Tower of London,Bow Church,Big Ben and Covent Garden.He says he is fortunate to live within walking distance to all of those great places.Makes me really wish I was there.The downside,he says,is that he lives where the tourists come to stay,by the thousands.Less than a minute from his flat are six large hotels and two youth hostels,so it can be quite noisy,but since it is the noise of people having fun,he doesn't mind.

Gavin's are is called Bloomsbury and is famous for a literary and artistic community called the Bloomsbury Set.The most famous person from there would be Virginia Wolf.She wrote a book titled,"Orlando" and Gavin says they have turned it into a fanous movie and he recommends both highly.

There are many museums in his area,the most famous being the British Museum,which is where he used to work as a book buyer.His favorite museum is The Tate,which he says is worth looking up online.He says the British Museum would most likely be helpful for homeschooling since it covers world heritage....he also noted to check out the Assyrians artifacts on their website since it is lovely stuff and very dramatic.I will definitely have to check that out since he made it seem really interesting.

When Gavin was at school in Scotland,all children were taught to knit,but that has sadly stopped just this year.Hmm,wonder if the internet is the cause of that?Anyways,he has started knitting again since it is very relaxing to do,unless you make a mistake,then you might want to rethink that. :) He likes that you can make something useful.He also told us that they call yarn,wool over there.I would love to learn to knit and crochet one day,too because I love the thrill of making something handmade.I always wished I had a crafty family that would give me all handmade gifts because I truly love handmade gifts the most.They are always unique and of good quality.

Gavin also told us that he loves to cook.On the weekends,they have a farmers market where farmers from outside London bring their wares to sell to the city folk.He tries to shop this way,but it is not convenient or cost effective.The city also recycles a lot and is very craft and food oriented.I think this may be my dream place to live. :) He also doesn't own a car since many people use buses,trains or tubes.The public system is very good there and most people in the UK use their services,but there are still a lot of cars in the city.

The main shopping street in London is Oxford St,which is best to avoid, if possible.He says that it is so busy that you would never believe there is a recession going on if you saw all the people there.Each different area of London has their own shopping areas.He also told us that London is made up on small towns and villages that have joined up in what they call an urban sprawl.Oxford St. was originally built about 150 years ago to provide shops for the whole city in a central location.

He ended his letter with some random facts,such as his flat was built in 1830 and that if you read any of Charles Dickens's novels set in London,then it is likely to be where he lives.His (Charles Dickens) former home is now a museum with a good cafe that is within five minutes of his flat.

Thanks Gavin for such a wonderful letter.... I can tell you are very proud of where you live and I really felt like getting on a plane to go and visit the areas you mentioned!Gavin's lovely letter can be seen below:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Letters #206-251 from Slovenia

Letters #206-251 come from a great group of students (grades 4 and 5) in Slovenia at a primary school called Stara Cerkev.Letter #129 came from one of the teachers there and she was kind enough to have some of their students write to us.The children have written some outstanding letters with such beautiful penmanship!We were truly amazed by their letters.Most of them even decorated their letters with beautiful artwork and photos so we could see what they looked like,which was so fun!They told us their favorite foods....many listed pizza and pasta as their favorite. :) They also told us about their favorite toys and about their best friends.We were so thrilled to get these great letters.They should all be proud of themselves for writing so neatly,with great grammar and with such great creativity!We always love all the letters we get from children and hope to get many more.I believe I am allowed to list their names to say thanks,so a great big thanks to all the students below:


Thanks to all of you that wrote us such great letters,you should be very proud of yourselves!We really enjoyed reading all of your letters and really enjoyed the pictures and artwork,too. All of the letters made us smile. :) Please enjoy the lovely letters,which can be seen below (including a picture of their school):

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Letter #205 from Texas

Letter #205 comes from Kayleen in Texas.Kayleen is a wife and mother to seven grown children.She currently works as a locksmith for a casino owned by the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma.Both her and her husband enjoy making quilts,cooking and even share in the hobby of penpalling...that is a first,usually only one spouse enjoys penpalling and mail,so that must be nice to be able to share the joy of letters with a loved one who gets it. :) They both also enjoy reading books and she said that her favorite book is called, Silas Marner,she said it's definitely a must read for a mature audience.

Kayleen is also a published poet and enclosed one of her poems for us to enjoy.She ende her letter saying that mail in the mailbox from an individual to another is a marvelous gift when compared to other less personal pieces like bills and dental appointments.I think I will have to agree with her on that thought.

Thanks Kayleen for your wonderful letter,poem and also a "how to" paper for making envelopes.She did note one thing that maybe someone can help answer for us,she said that envelopes that cannot be machined are charged extra and they do charge us extra at the post office,but when we get handmade envelopes in the mail,they put $.44 on and it gets to us without postage due,so my question is this,is there any ruling on this,what exactly do they mean when they say it cannot be machined?Is is the thickness or type of paper?Thanks in advance for your help!Enjoy Kayleen's letter below:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Letter #204 from Pennsylvania

Letter #204 comes from Marguerite in Pennsylvania.She is a stay-at-home mom to three lovely daughters.Both her husband and herself were born and raised in the same city and both of their parents still live there.She is so glad that her children have the opportunity to see their grandparents so often.They live in a small city,but their arts scence continues to grow.

Marguerite studied Art History at Rosemont College near Philadelphia.She previously worked at the Pennsylvania Museum Commission during the summers of her college years.She also worked at local museum sites,including Landi Valley and Ephrate Cloister.Although she isn't interested in facts and dates,she does love artifacts from everyday life,espcially epherma like letters,books,journals,and advertisements.In her spare time,she also enjoys creating her own works on paper.Who knows,maybe her works of art could one day be in a museum for future generations to examine. :)

She also told us that during the American Revolution,Lancaster was briefly the capital of the colonies on Sept. 27,1777, when the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia.In 1812,the capital then moved to Harrisburg.

She has written her letter to us in parts on the back of the postcards,so I will go over each letter from each postcard.

James Buchanan,who was the only president from Pennsylvania was the only bachelor president,so his niece,Harriet Lane served as his First Lady.

Franklin and Marshall College is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the U.S.Franklin College was founded in 1787 with a generous financial gift from Benjamin Franklin.Marshall College,named after Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, was founded in 1836 in Mercersburg,PA.It moved to Lancaster in 1853 and merged with Franklin College.James Buchanan,the 15th president,was the first President of the Board of Trustees of the newly formed Franklin and Marshall College.It hosts many academic and cultural events that are open to the public.

She also couldn't resist sending us a postcard with three Amish girls since we both have three daughters. :) The Amish are a religious sect from Germany who retain many traditional customs.They make their living almost solely by farming,without the use of any modern conveniences like electricity and gas engines.They also don't drive cars or have computers.They are widely settled in Eastern Pennsylvania and still speak a German dialect,often referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch.The Amish are also known for their detailed quilts and heirloom furniture.There are many Amish and Mennonite farms in Lancaster County.Marguerite enjoys their fresh produce and admires their discipline and hard work,as well as the strong sense of community that they have.

Thanks Marguerite for your lovely letter,postcards and map of Lancaster County,which can be seen below:

Letter #203 from Ohio

Letter #203 comes from Bethany in Ohio.Bethany is also homeschooled,so she was glad to help us with our project.She enjoys art,most crafts,basketball,snail mail,and more.She says her town is pretty boring and that their courthouse looks more like a post office.

She has 5 brothers and sisters.She also loves penpalling and making her own postcards (she included one for us),stationery and envelopes.She says she has been penpalling for five or six years now.

She asked us a few questions that we will answer.She wanted to know what we do with the letters.Currently their home is in some decorative boxes,but their final destination is for them to be incorporated into a scrapbook.She also wanted to know if we have received letters in any other language.Yes,we have,we have received some letters from children in Germany who wrote their letters in German.It was so fun to see letters in another language.We also get letters that have some phrases written in another language.It's always exciting to compare their language with ours to see if there are any similarities or if we can figure out what the words could be.Sometimes we really have no idea until we look at the translation.

Bethany said she will be sharing our project with her penpals,thanks so much for helping spread the word.Her lovely letter and homemade postcard can be seen below:

Letter #202 from Texas

Letter #202 comes from Sharon in Texas.She has lived in Texas all of her life,except for the time when her husband was in the Air Force.Sharon has been married for an amazing 33 years!She also has a son who is in the Air Force and plans to make a career of it.She says in order to do that,he has to stay a minimum of 20 years,so he has already completed half of that term.Unfortunately,his wife died last year,leaving behind three small children.Since her passing,he was able to transfer to be closer to home so Sharon could see the grandkids more.I can't even begin to imagine how hard it must be for the children since they are so small.She gets to drive up to Oklahoma once a month to visit them and she loves it.She says the kids are so funny and a joy to be around.She also told us that her only sibling had passed away days after her daughter-in-law had passed.I can't even imagine having to go through so much so quickly,but I always hear it gets a little better day by day.She says that since then she has been finding heart shaped rocks and heart shaped clouds and it helps her feel a little better.I know I have said this before,but I will say it again,I think the best thing we can do is try to live the best we can because I don't think our loved ones would like seeing us on earth so sad.Yes,it's good for us to get our emotions out,but we also need to be able to pick ourselves up and make the most with the loved ones that are still with us.Life is too short,so we should cherish every moment we have with our loved ones.

Sharon lives on just over 27 acres in a cedar log home that her father built.There is even an abandoned cemetary on her property that dates back to the 1800's.The only remaing headstones are of a father and his two young boys.She found out the history of the cemetary  by searching recors at the library.While searching,she found out that her property used to be a stagecoach stop in the 1850's.

She also shares her property with an array of wildlife.They have deer,skunks,armadillo,opossums,raccoons,rabbits,foxes, and recently has been having wild hogs,which she is not happy about.They also have a variety of birds,such as cardinals,blue jays,mockingbirds (the state bird),wrnes,black capped chickadees,mourning doves and various finches,woodpeckers and owls,just to name a few.She has also seen roadrunners,a pileated woodpecker and her husband spotted  a golden eagle that was in the dog pen one morning.

Sharon says she is really a city girl so it was hard for her to live in the country,but after almost 20 years,she's almost adjusted to it. :) There are many things she enjoys about the country,such as the open space,wildlife,no neighbors close by to hear and she also loves the sounds of the cicadas.Living out in the country does have its drawbacks,such as no big libraries,limited variety of stores,and no sidewalks,just to name a few.Oh yeah,she also doesn't like the many scorpions that have been really bad this year,also the occasional poisonous snake which trapped her in her own laundry room...yikes!She also doesn't like that her husband has to drive 60 miles one way to work,but like everything in life,you have to make some sacrifices to enjoy some other things in life.

Sharon has many hobbies,one of them is quilting.She now focuses on making mini quilts or art quilts.I love quilts,but don't have relatives that do any type of crafting,so I really need to learn it one day.My daughter has been wanting one for her doll.She also enjoys beading and selling her items on etsy.She also enjoys taking photographs and turning them into postcards.She is also a beginner painter and knitter....I told you she has many hobbies. :)

Thanks Sharon for your lovely letter,postcards and mini moo cards of photos she took,which can be seen below:

Letter #201 from Alaska

Letter #201 comes from Millie in Alaska.She is actually an Alaskan native,Alutiiq,to be exact,which is a mix of Aluet and Athabascan.She is a stay at home mom to a wonderful daughter.On the weekends she makes balloon animals at local restaurants.She says it's a lot of fun and an easy way to make money.I bet it's even more rewarding to see the smiles on the kids faces....who doesn't love a balloon animal?

Millie's family is originally from a tiny village called Perryville,which is on the Alaskan peninsula.As a child she spent her days fishing,playing on the beach,or playing outside with her many cousins or brothers.Millie learned to bake and crochet when she was merely three years old...yes three years old!How amazing is that! ....I can't even crochet so I'd feel really bad seeing a three year old do it. :)

She told us of how most people think Alaska is a cold,dark,dreary place,but that is only true in the winter season.She told us about how when she drives to work in the morning,it is dark and when lunch time comes,the sun has already set,so she might not see light when she has to work.Right now though the temperature is really great at around 60°.She was at the lake when she wrote this letter and says it gets pretty packed with people when the weather is nice.

She also said that they do have a lot of the same things that we have down here in the lower 48.They have fast food restaurants everywhere and they recently got another IMAX theater.She is patiently waiting and hoping that they get an Olive Garden restaurant so she can see if it's as good as people say it is.She also says she prefers to eat at a place called Moose instead of Arby's or McDonalds.I doubt we'll ever get a fast food place called Moose over here. :)

Thanks Millie for your lovely letter and postcards,which can be seen below:

Letter #200 from Pennsylvania

Letter #200 comes from Laurel in Pennsylvania.Laurel lives in the state capital,Harrisburg.She says that they have the most beautiful capital building.... Theodore Roosevelt said so. ;) Laurel works as a librarian.... wow,we really can't wait to tally up just how many librarians have written us,it's just amazing! Their summer theme this year is,"One World,Many Stories".She asked if we were participating in our summer reading program and I will proudly say yes,we never miss a summer reading program.My daughters have won some great prizes over the years,my oldest even won an ipod when they first came out.She,(I mean "Mr. El Geckito") mentioned she likes Jack Prelutsky's poems,especially the one about him saying, "he wants to eat a pizza the size of the sun".

She lives close to Hershey,where the Hershey Kisses were invented.She lives to visit the Hershey Gardens as opposed to the rollercoasters.Mrs. Hershey loved roses,so Mr. Hershey built a huge rose garden for her.Her letter ended with a question asking us what is interesting about our area.I would have to say the Blue Ridge Parkway,although we've never seen it,it looks amazing in books!

Thanks Laurel (and El Geckito) for the lovely letter,which can be seen below,along with a sticker from their summer reading program:

Letter #199 from Florida

Letter #199 comes from Carmen in Florida.Carmen is 19 years old and lives in Miami,but is from Honduras.She says that even though Miami isn't very big,there is so much to see.There are numerous different cultures living  in that one city.She said there are many Colombian carts and a lot of Cuban food.Even though everyone there loves the beach,she doesn't.

In Miami,it seems that everyone speaks Spanish.Carmen attends a church with many Brazilians.Of course,there are many Cubans there,too since Cuba is only 90 miles away from the lowest point in Florida,the Florida Keys.She says that you can actually see the island from there... I guess that is why so many people make the trek by boat since it is so close.I can't even begin to imagine being on the other side and seeing freedom so close and wanting your family to have a better life.She also noted that Disney is only 4 hours from where she lives.

Thanks Carmen for your lovely letter,which was written on an origami paper that gave directions on how to turn it into a heart. ♡ Her letter can be seen below:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Letter #198 from Finland

Letter #198 comes from Iina (pronounced ena) from Finland,home to the fabulous cartoon,The Moomins,which is one of our fave foreign cartoons!Iina loves history so she starts her letter off by telling us about the history of her country.The location of her country has had a real impact on the history of her country.Until 1809,they were part of Sweden,but after Sweden lost a war against Russia,Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy within Imperial Russia.In 1906, Finland was the first European country to give women the right to vote.Finlamd became independent on December 6,1917 after things changed in Russia,such as WWI and the Febuary and October Revolutions.The first half of the 20th century was filled with wars in Finland.There was a Civil War in 1918,which left the nation badly scarred and clearly divided.During WWII decades later,Finland fought in three wars.Their first war was the Winter War (1939-1940) against the Soviet Union,which she says had a major role in uniting the country.That war was then follwed by the Continuation War from 1941-1944,which was also against the Soviet Union.Finland was the underdog and the main goal was to remain independent.In the Continuation War,Finland got help from the Nazis,but after an armistice was reached with the Soviets,Finland was forced to begin its third war,known as Lapland War,which lasted from 1944-1945,which was a war to get the Nazis out.Wow,that is some history for a country I always think of as quiet since you never hear about Finland in the news,so it's amazing to hear that this country had such a rough start.

Finland is also home to some very talented composers and painters who were in the middle of some key points of the country's history.Akseli-Kallela painted many scenes from their national epic Kalevala (which she says is a very interesting book,which at times can be very difficult,but it's a big part of Finnish culture).He is also impossible to ignore when speaking of Finnish Romantic Nationalism.He is their most internationally known painter.

In music,the most internationally known Finn would be the composer Jean Sibelius.His music had an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity.His most important composition was called Finlandia,which was written as a protest against the quickly increasing censorship from the Russian Empire.Sibelius was also inspired by Kalevala.Sibelius' home,Ainola (which mean Aino's land and was named after his wife Aino) is a popular tourist attraction,which is located on the shores of Lake Tuusula,which is where many artists lived in the early 1900's.

Now on to some facts about Iina.She has mentioned how her name is very hard for foreigners to pronounce since her name starts with two i's,but as I showed earlier,it's pronounced like e-na,which is actually so easy,buy the i's throw us off.She says it's a popular name for her age group.Anyways,she's a rather typical 18 year old girl.In August,she will be a high school Senior,so she will be very busy with school and having many exams.After reading about school life in other countries,we sure have it easy in the U.S.Seniors here have it made,it's actually the easiest year and filled with more fun things and not really many tests.Iina wants to study English at the university and she will be applying to both Finnish and Scottish universities.Anyways,Iina was born during a recession,which was one of the history's worst economic crises and even worse than the one in the 1930's.Two years later her family moved to Heinola and they have lived there ever since.A few months before that,she says that Finland had won the ice hockey world championships for the very first time....  this recent win made it their 2nd world championship.Finland is a true ice hockey country,but Iina doesn't really understand ice hockey,but she does know that it means a lot to her country.My oldest daughter and I enjoy hockey and think it's so fun to play,well,floor hockey since we don't skate. :) Our fave team would be the Redwings since we moved from Michigan,where hockey is big.

Iina's hometown of Heinola is a relatively small countryside with about 20,000 people,in the south of Finland.Heinola is a summer town and life there isn't very lively after the summer season ends.She says she is quite lucky that their capital,Helsinki is nearby,just 1km south.Heinola is known for the Sauna World Championships,which is just a contest about who can sit in a sauna the longest.Saunas are a big part of Finnish culture.She said that in the old days,women gave birth in saunas.She says that in the championships,they steadily increase the temperature to see who can take the heat the longest.Unfortunately,last year a man died in the finals and another one was badly burnt because they stayed too long in the sauna.She really doesn't understand why they do this.... neither do we,it's pretty crazy to risk death for a championship.Aside from that,she says that saunas are pleasant and relazing.I wish we had one when we lived up north,it would be so nice after a long day in the cold.

Heinola is also home to Apulanta,one of Finland's most popular rock bands.The city has also meant a lot to Finnish literature as well.Two members of a literary group in the 1920's,known as Tulenkantajat,were from Heinola and a third studied for her teacher's degree there,too.The word Tulenkantajat means "the fire bearers",which describes their philosophy rather well.They wanted to introduce the very old-fashioned Finland of the 1920's to the lively modern Europe and its literature.Their writings pictured  the "Roaring 20's" really well and introduced "a new feeling of life".A decade later,the group was disbanded due to political conflicts (some members were strictly on the left,others on the opposite),but the young people who started the group and its magazine in their twenties ended up being rather important characters in Finnish cultural history.

Along with Iina's lovely letter,she sent some beautiful postcards,one is a Finnish winter scene and the other is a summer theme,and the last card is a Moomin card of the charcater Little My,which she says was her favorite as a little girl.She also included some cute Moomin stickers and we also loved the Moomin envelope....yes,we are crazy over the Moomins...they are so cute,you must google their cartoons if you have never seen them! :) Thanks Iina for your lovely letter and goodies,we wish you all the best for a great senior year with less stress.We hope you achieve all your goals in life!You can see her letter and goodies below:

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