Saturday, February 26, 2011

More letters arrived...

Looks like I will be be busy with posting letters for a few days...just look at Friday's mail.This is the most letters we have received in one day!Plus I have some more letters to share from another day,so please keep an eye out to see if your letter is one of them that has arrived.We have been busy reading them and enjoying all the goodies sent to us.Thanks again to those of you who have sent or sending letters.You all are great! :) My daughters get so excited every time we get a letter for the project.We really do enjoy reading them.Also,thanks to those of you that have posted it on your blogs,posted it on facebook,tweeted it & told your friends via email/snail mail.We continue to get many sign ups daily because of all of you helping spread the word & are really encouraged about reaching our goal.Thanks to everybody for helping us try to achieve our goal. :) Enjoy a picture of Friday's mail....amazing isn't it?!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Letter #30 from Canada

We are now on day 53 of our project and now have 30 letters!We are so happy!This letter is from a woman simply named "snailmailfan".She lives in Winnipeg,Canada.She also noted that she is hoping to find her prince charming,so if you are him,you need to contact her now,she may not be available for long. ;)

Winnipeg is a city in the province of Manitoba and is a little under an hour's drive from the border of North Dakota.It was discovered in 1738 by Europeans.It was used as a trading post since it was where three rivers meet-the Red River,the Assiniboine River and the Seine River.She said the only place in the world with more extreme temperature swings than the prairie lands the city sits on is Mongolia.Even with the extreme temperatues,700,000 people live there in Winnipeg,which is Canada's eighth largest city.

Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba.Most people who live there work for the federal or provincial government or at the air force base.She says there is a strong transportation sector there with lots of big trucks,two major railways and an expanding airport.She also noted that Winnipeg is nearly the southern middle of Canada,geographically,so a lot of things pass through their city.

Winnipeg has lots of rich soil,which is really great for growing different crops."Snailmailfan" said there is a famous bakery in the downtown area that has it's own flour mill inside the shop.That would be really fun to watch them mill the flour that they use in their pastries.Winnipeg is home to two universities and many colleges,including a college for those who study in French and a religious university for Mennonites,who go to Manitoba to escape religious persecution or for financial reasons.

She also says that Winnipeg is an 8 hour drive from Minneapolis,which is the nearest big city.She says that the people are so helpful that the license plates read "Friendly Manitoba".They will go out of their way to help people because they can get some pretty brutal weather,so they need to be able to rely on each other for help.Winnipeg also has a diverse population,although people of European decent are the majority.

''Snailmailfan" has told us so many great things about her area and I wish I could share everything with you all,but it would just take too long,so I will share a few more facts she shared with us really quickly about Winnipeg:

-home to an art gallery holding the world's largest collection of art by the Inuit people
-home to the Living Prairie Museum
-has a minor league hockey team- The Mooose and football team- The Blue Bombers,baseball team-The Goldeyes,which is also the name of their local fish
-future home of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Below is a picture of "snailmailfan's" lovely letter,a picture of the prairie land she mentioned in the letter,some pages from a magazine featuring my fave kind of place-a book store and some wonderful pins!Thanks a whole lot "snailmailfan" for the great package!

Letter #29 from Washington

This letter comes from Katie in Washington state (not to be confused with Washington,DC as she says many people do).She lives in the state capital with her husband and works in transportation.Olympia is a slow paced city of about 130,00o inhabitants and a "cute little downtown".She says there are many stores and retaurants to visit but it isn't such a busy city that you can't find parking,it's just right.She also said that Puget Sound dips into her town and that it's a great place to go sea kayaking with beautiful views of Mt. Ranier and the Cascades,which are also called Olympic Pennisula Mountains.On one side she has the mountains and ocean and on the other side is the high desert.

Her city is 1 hour south of Seattle (it's one of my must visit cities) and 2 hours north of Portland.So she seems to live in an excellent location.Her and her husband like to visit the city for shopping and to try new restuarants.She mentions her list of fave food is Indian (my fave,too),Thai,Japanese and all kinds of pizza. :)

Katie hasn't always lived in Washington,as a child her father moved around due to his job so she has lived in quite a few states.One of the things she mentioned which we thought was so cool,was that her memories of their vacations were not vacations at all,they were just moves to new locations.For example,they passed the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore on their way to their new house.She talks about how her parents made scary moves for a kid so much fun and I thought that was just fantastic!Can you imagine a move feeling like a vacation?I wish our moves felt like that!She has never lived in any place more than 3.5 years and she loves that because she loves exploring new places and meeting new people.Oh,she also mentioned that she drove a semi and lived in it for one about an exciting life!

One of the most interesting places she has lived in was Japan (one of our fave countries),where she taught English for 2 years.She had a Japanese boyfriend so she was able to do more things since that was his home.She got to go to a sumo wrestling event,which she thought was really exciting.She also mentioned an awkward event when an older woman invited her to dinner and the meal arrived....whole fish on sticks (cooked), but as she said,not many people here in the U.S. eat heads of animals so she didn't know what to do.Should she eat the entire head...eyes,teeth,etc?She decided to bite off the head so as not to offend her host and it turned out to be the best fish she ever ate!I think we all would consider Katie to be quite brave here. :)

Katie's hobbies include making art dolls with paperclay (I really need to see what this is,it sounds interesting) and is part of a quilt club.She also enjoys reading and has given us these book recommendations:"Dr. Zhivago", "West with the Night",and "Weep Not for Me,Dear Mother".

Below is Katie's lovely letter.We forgot to include the cute Japanese stickers she included that we loved!Thanks Katie so much for the letter and stickers!

Letter #28 from The Netherlands

This lovely letter from Marianne came all the way from the Netherlands! She is married with two children,a boy and a girl.She says that her country has +/- 16 million people and it's well known for wooden shoes,tulips and windmills.She assures us that she does not live in a windmill,just a normal house. :)

Marianne works as a nurse who helps midwives with home births.She says it's really wonderful to be able to see someone enter the world.I can agree it must be so wonderful to see the first reactions when there's a new living being in a family's life and for it to be in the comfort of their own home must be really nice.She says that her daughter would like to grow up to be a nurse just like her mom.That's really nice.

Her family has a pet cat and rabbit.Her hobbies include spending time with her family,writing/receiving letters,reading,cross stitching and more.She also collects birth announcements,which she says is common in her country.

Below is her letter with some wonderful Diddl paper (how did you know we love Diddl?).She also decorated the envelope with stickers of one of my daughter's fave characters...I don't know how she knew what we like? :) Thanks Marianne for the wonderful letter!

Letter #27 from Arizona

Wow,I can't believe we are getting close to 30,that's a good number.I know at first we weren't sure how many we would get,but so far things are looking good.Letter #27 comes from Chris in Tucson,Arizona.He lives about 60 miles from the Mexican border with his wife and step son...congrats on the recent marriage!He says that Tucson is a metropolitan city with a population of about 1 million people.There are even some cowboys in the area.He says it's a very diverse area and that the community feels much smaller than it really is.One thing that he mentions that I know many people are talking about is the hispanic population.He says that while they are a big part of the population,most people don't even think about it, that "people are just people,really".He said that the media has made it into a bigger issue than the people there make it.That is something the media is always good at doing...dividing people on very personal issues.

Chris works for the local University as a network engineer to make sure that the University's network and its connections to the internet work as they should.That is definitely an important job since everybody relies on the internet for information and communicating.

He has also enclosed a wonderful souvenir that we love from Washington,DC that he got last summer (maybe we saw you there?).It's a gallery pass to the House Chamber for the 111th Congress.He told us that you can ask your representative for the gallery appointment needed or anything,you just go and get the passes.I can't believe we didn't even think of this when we went,but will definitely check this out the next time we go.I think it's very important for us all to see our government at work and to show our kids.I think it would definitely be an experience my kids wouldn't forget,so thanks for telling us about this!I might not have thought about it when we go again,but now I will remember to do this.

Here is the letter from Chris below.I didn't get a picture of the back,but it was sealed closed with a wax seal...we all thought that was cool. :) Thanks Chris for the great letter!

Letter #26 from Michigan

Letter #26 arrived on a cute handmade card from Alannah in Michigan.If you recall in earlier posts,we just moved from Michigan,so hello old neighbor. :) I think she may live further up than we did....will have to check out the map.She says it's super cold there & it seems like Michigan has gotten its fair share of snow this winter season.Hope she has lots of hot chocolate to keep her warm.

She is married with two children,ages 5 and 3 months old...congratulations!She shared the story about the Michigan and Ohio War from 1835-1836.They had a dispute over the boundary lines called the Toledo Strip.There were no fatalaties in this war,but since it put Michigan in a financial crisis,they let Ohio have the disputed land in exchange for statehood and part of the Upper Peninsula.

Alanah enjoysbeing creative.She loves scrapbooking,quilting,knitting and crocheting.I have tons of scrapbooking stuff but too scared to start,would love to quilt myself a blanket,but again I don't know how to start.I have tried crocheting,which I love but somehow my chains don't come out right when I add on top...I'm always a stitch or two short,so I give up. :)

Thanks Alannah for the cute card and for writing us a letter!Here is her cute card below:

More letters to come...

We have two more wonderful letters to share later today (maybe even more after today's mail arrives) so please check in later.We hope everybody likes the new layout better.I had some other ideas but it didn't work out,so I gave up and settled for this.I hope everybody is enjoying the blog and as always,if you have any advice about the blog,etc., please share them with me,so I can improve it to make you all enjoy visiting.Thanks again to everybody that has joined and for all you wonderful people that have posted it on your blogs and in forums.I have emailed my 2 local papers over a month ago and have never heard back.If you know anybody that writes about penapals,letters,etc. and you think they would like our project,please let me know so that I can contact them to get the word out.We continue to get participants on a daily basis,but I really need to reach a bigger audience since we know there are many letter writers out there that can help us reach our goal.Our success depends on all of you.Thanks again! :)

Letter #25 from Ohio

This letter really surprised us because it arrived in an amazon package at our front door.I didn't think I had another order coming in,so we were really confused until we saw that it was labeled for the letter project.We were then really anxious to open it once we saw it was for the project.As soon as we opened it we saw a can of chili and were really dumbfounded as to the reason for this until we read the letter.Shannon lives just northeast of Cincinnati,Ohio,where this chili is made.There seems to be a big debate as to which brand is better,Skyline (the one she sent us) or Gold Star.I hope it doesn't seem like we have picked sides,although one could maybe entice us with some wonderful Ohio buckeyes. :) I wouldn't want to have Gold Star lovers mad at us.

Shannon grew up in Ohio and still lives close by her childhood home,which she shared with us in the pictures below.It's so weird how I can find something in the letters that I can relate to.Shannon says she went to St. Cecilia school as a child,I used to attend catechism as a child at St. Cecilia (in Louisiana)...small world. :)

She also says that Cincinnati had the nickname "Porkopolis" because of the number of slaughterhouses in the 1800's.She says that even today,they like to keep the "pork" identity.For example,when a commons area called Sawyer Point was renovated to celebrate the bicentennial,a sculpture was built with four smokestacks and atop each one was a winged pig.She said it was quite controversial for a while,but now people have grown to love it.They even have a marathon there called "The Flying Pig Marathon", where people put on pig masks and pig noses.There are also various events such as "The Final Mile" for kids.From Jan.-April kids keep track of how many miles they walk at home or in gym class on a "Hog Log".The goal is to accumulate 25 miles,with the last mile being walked in the downtown area before the actual marathon.So then the kids have walked a whole marathon (26 miles),just not all at once.

She also mentions a wonderful museum at Union Terminal.It used to be a train station in the 1930's - early 1970's. A lot of soldiers leaving for World War II went through that terminal.There is a huge mosaic in the rotunda showing Cincinnati's history.She said that once the train station was closed,many businesses tried locating there with no success.Then in the 1990's someone got the idea of moving the Natural History Museum there and turning it into a museum complex and it has been very successful.One of the exhibits features clothing and how rooms looked during the war and much more.Her family enjoys visiting the many exhibits there.Her son is currently studying Egyptian history,so they will be visiting an exhibit on Cleopatra.Sounds fun and very educational....just our thing.

She also mentioned that they have a wonderful zoo in Cincinnati that is known throughout the country.Correct me if I'm wrong,but I think Jack Hannah works there,too.She says the zoo is installing special solar grids over a renovated parking area to keep the cars cool while absorbing solar rays to convert to power.That is very cool.

Below is Shannon's awesome letter,along with some brochures and a print out of pictures that featured them at the Pig Marathon,her childhood home,her current home,Museum Center,Skyline Chili factory,and the Great American Ballpark and of course,the can of chili she sent us.Thanks Shannon for the great letter,brochures & chili.We really enjoyed your package!

Letter #24 from Washington

This letter comes from Kristina from the west coast.She lives in Washington state with her Navy husband.I'm sure that must be difficult in these times,but I'm sure she focuses on the positive and not the negative.We all hope they they are all safe.She lives on a miltary base with their three pets.

She loves to collect postcards but has us beat...she has almost 400 postcards.I thought having just over 100 was something to write home about,but 400 is really amazing!She is a member of postcrossing,which is where she gets most of her postcards from.We joined postcrossing a few months ago and it's really addicting when you join the forums.My oldest daughter has made some great penpals from there.It's a great place to get to learn about other people and countries.

Kristina has been to England and is planning to visit Germany this fall with her husband for the honeymoon they never had. ( I'm also a member of that group.)I hope if Kristina has a blog,she shares some photos as we'd love to see some pictures of your trip.My youngest daughter loves Germany.I even bought some dvd's of the German cartoon Krtek for us to watch. ;) I wish you a fun and safe trip.

Sorry for the delay with the picture.Please enjoy Kristina's lovely letter and postcards (some funny) below:

Letter #23 from Maryland

Letters are coming in daily now and it's so exciting!Here is what the lovely Cyndel from Maryland shared with us.She lives in a suburb of DC,but came from a small town in Indiana with less than 500 people....I'm sure that must have been a big change to get used to.She wasn't exposed to much diversity but now gets to enjoy living around people from all over the world.I can definitely relate to you as we have moved from the south,to the north & back down south again.When we lived up north,we lived in a very diverse area, but now we don't. :( I actually just read in our paper that our county is the whitest county in the state at 90%. (We were told before moving here that it is very diverse,but I haven't seen much diversity myself.) It's a big change from here to Arlington,VA which is 3.5 hours from us.I feel that living in a diverse area is very important to our children.I see many kids here that are racist because they haven't grown up with kids of different races like they have where we came from,so it makes a big difference.I think people are always afraid of what they don't know,so they need to expose themselves to different things so that they can learn and realize that there is no need to fear others different than themselves.

Cyndel met her boyfriend is college and told me that his mother is from Swaziland,which sounds so exotic.She enjoys her food (you better...wink,wink!) :) and her stories.It's so wonderful to know somebody from another country that can share such interesting things with you that you might never know about otherwise.

Cyndel is a wonderful model citizen.She has spent a year as an AmeriCorps Vista,worked full time as a program assistant in an Adult Education and ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) and has done many volunteering jobs.She also mentions that the illiteracy rate in adults was quite high and didn't even know that until she started volunteering.Many times we have "tunnel syndrome" and think that everybody is like us,whe in reality there are many people needing our help.I do think we all should try to do some form of volunteering...even if it's just helping your elderly neighbors.We should be examples for our children.If we all chipped in,the world would be a much better place to live in.

If you love horses and the beach,Cyndel says that we should visit Assateague Island off the Eastern shore of Maryland.It's home to many wild horses.I think it would be amazing to see wild horses.She also loves to visit the museums in DC.We went to a couple of museums last summer and it was truly amazing.We stayed a few days,but that's not enough time to enjoy all of DC,so we have been back a few times.Even if you went only to walk and admire the buildings,it's worth the time because Washington,DC is absolutely beautiful!Cyndel loves living in her town because she doesn't need a car at all.She is in walking distance to the stores and a lovely park...what more do you need,right?I hope she is close to a library,too...we love libraries. :)

She recommended two books for us to read. ( I LOVE book recommendations for both myself and my children,so send them in)She has recommended The Secret Life of Bees (we saw the movie) & Three Cups of Tea (we bought the book,but haven't read it yet).Thanks for sharing!

Below is Cyndel's lovely letter along with a cute pic of her and her boyfriend,her fave place to eat Chili and 2 from Indiana and one from DC (we actually visted the World War II Memorial but didn't get a postcard,so thanks so much...we thought it was such a beautiful memorial....if you haven't seen it,you must go!Thanks again Cyndel for the letter,pictures & postcards!Maybe we could meet when we go to DC next time. :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blog under construction

Please excuse the mess while we try to change the blog to make it easier on the eyes and still appealing.Thanks and look for pictures to follow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our Scrapbook...

We have been keeping all our letters in a pretty box picked out by my daughter but while at the store yesterday we came across this great scrapbook and thought it would be a great way to store our letters.We really want to have a nice way to display them for us to look back at and to share with visitors.Now we just have to figure out how to make them look appealing inside. I think it will be so fun filling up the book.Of course this book will need many more pages and we will most likely have to buy more books as we get more letters,but that's going to be the fun part,having books filled with letters.My daughters all agreed that this was the best scrapbook for storing our letters in since the picture represented various places across the world.We will share the progress of the album as soon as we start.

Letter #22 from Canada

Letter #22 comes from April in Bay Bulls,Newfoundland,Canada.She works as a substitute teacher.Seems like we are getting a lot of teachers sending us letters.We'll have to take some statistics to see if most of our letters come from teachers.April also has a degree in Theatre...I think that could come in handy to make for one fun teacher. :) She has been to Scotland and in April she's going to Wales to visit a penpal.My daughters always hope to be able to meet their penpals one day.

April loves to read books and has sent us a list of books she recommends.I actually love when people recommend books to us because we actually try to find them to read them.One of her favorite books is Jane Erye...our favorite movie is Jane Eyre.We have the one that was original with parts missing but you wouldn't know it because they fixed it so good that you can't tell parts are missing.We truly love it...I don't think we'd like the other ones that are out,though.She says they are making a new version,but since Orson Welles won't be in it,I don't think it could be as good.

Becky has shared quite a bit about her city.Bay Bulls has been burned down eight times...six times by the French and twice by the Dutch.It has a deep harbor and close to the capital so it was a great military's the most often attacked and captured town in Newfoundland.This harbor was one of the earliest known harbors to European fishermen who came following Cabot's voyage of 1497.She also told us about the potential origins of the name of her town: 1.) The presence of bull walruses and bull birds that used to frequent the area
2.) Corruption of the French "Baie de Bois" or "The Wooded Bay".

Becky has shared so much great information in her letter but unfortunately I cannot type everything.Thank you so much Becky for sharing so much about your town with us.We really enjoyed reading it as we do with every letter we received.

Below is Becky's letter along with some pages that tell us even more about Newfoundland,which contains some interesting information for my girls.Thanks Becky!

Letter #21 from Pennsylvania

Now we are on to letter #21 which comes from Becky in Pennsylvania.She is new to the state but has lived near Chicago in NW Indian for the past 5 years.We love Chicago.We have visited the city at least 6 times when we lived in Michigan.I think it's a great city.You can see the lovely lake while driving around, you'll see people taking horse drawn carriage rides along the lake.You see so many people that are just so happy (in the spring and summer,never been there in the winter....maybe the people aren't so happy then). :) Anyways,she lived south of Lake Michigan.We don't swim but she said the lakes can be dangerous.She says that several people die every year in Lake Michigan from the rip please stay safe if you swim in that lake.

Becky grew up swimming in Lake Erie and loves it because it's shallow,so it's safer and it's the most predictable of all the Great you remember all the Great Lakes? Here's a clue if you don't remember the names,just remember the word HOMES.

She also told us about some islands on Lake Erie called Kelly's Island,which is home to the Kokopelli carvings.Kokopelli was a Native American god/spirit of music and dance.Thanks Becky for your lovely letter.Even though we lived in Michigan for 10 years,there is a lot we didn't know or get to see during our time,like sleeping bear dunes...wonder if Becky went there,too?

Here's Becky's lovely letter and card below...the flowers on the letter make me wish it was spring.

Letter #20 from Ohio

Letter 20 comes from Gabi in Cleveland,Ohio...not far from our old home in Michigan.Gabi attends the university there and is in her third year of school.She is studying Art History and also Asian Studies.She also enjoys studying French and Japanese in school,too.As you can see below,she loves taking photographs and sent pictures in representing each season in her area.I can remember the snow storms like that in Michigan...even though I hated it while we lived there I now miss it after being away almost 2 years. :( The snow can be so lovely,yet so dangerous.I think that's why Gabi says srping is her favorite season.

She likes to visit her friend that lives in the state capital,Columbus, on the weekends.She says in a city near there you can find Indian mounds that were built before the Europeans came to America.Some were used as burial grounds,while archaeologists believe some were used for astronomy.Pretty interesting.What is saddening is she said that the people who own the land put a golf course on it so people could be playing golf on top of burial mounds.I think we should try to preserve more of our history here in the U.S.

Gabi also mentions another thing we know Ohio is well known for- it's Amish community.We had planned to go shopping at their stores but never got around to it.She says they have amazing food.Her mother loves to buy their cheese and pastries.They are also well known for their crafts and furniture.In case you didn't know,the Amish people live without modern technology-no electricity means no ipods,computers,etc.They like to live off the land and make everything themselves....I often dream of being able to make everything myself but by the time that happens,I guess I'll be too old to do anything. ;)

Thanks Gabi for your wonderful letter and pictures!Please enjoy Gabi's letter and pictures of the four seasons below:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Letter #19 from North Carolina

This is so exciting to see that we are up to 19 letters.I know we have a long ways to go but I still think even 19 letters from perfect strangers is a big accomplishment and we are just beyond thrilled at the response!Thanks again to all of you for contributing!

Our 19th letter comes from Judy in North Carolina.I think she lives about 4 hours from us,so not very far.Her oldest daughter is named Carolina...yes,she is named after their state.I guess Carolina is thankful her mom wasn't in Hawaii when she was born..that could be an awkward name to have. :) Judy is an airline reservationist for a major airline....I hope people are being kind to you.If you make a reservation through Judy,you better be nice to her. :) I'm sure it can sometimes be a terrible job when people hold you responsible for cancelled flights,etc.

Anyways,she is going back to college...yeah for Judy!She wants to get her degree in Creative favorite subject.I hope she is very successful.Maybe she'll be a famous writer one day.At least we can say we heard from her first.

She told us that their state capital,Raleigh is named for Sir Walter Raleigh,who was given the land grant by Elizabeth I. Judy and her family are part of their local Renaissance re-enactment group.I think that must be very interesting to play the role of people from history.She is also a seamstress and makes some of the costumes.I would just love to see the costumes she sews...I bet they are amazing!

North Carolina has a really interesting history.She recommends us look into the "Lost Colony",she says it's a mystery involving the first English child born in this country and when the ship left for supplies,it returned only to find all the people gone.I will definitely be looking for the book for my children to read.I am really curious to see what happened to the people.She didn't want to give us too much info,she recommended us do what I always tell my children to do....look it up!Haha,she must really know me.

Also in Raleigh are Duke University and the University of North Carolina.They are well known for many reasons,which include,of course,basketball.My husband watches the games,so we are familiar with these 2 teams.They also have 2 large medical hospitals and research centers..

Judy also told us that Raleigh is close to both the beach and mountains.If you drive 1.5 hours east,you can visit the Atlantic Ocean and if you drive 2 hours west,you will arrive in the Smoky Mountains.The Appalachian Trail also passes through her state.She also gets to enjoy all 4 seasons,with no extremes....just enough to enjoy the season.They do have to worry about hurricanes,but have been lucky to avoid them for the past few years.Judy,I would like to keep in touch with you because we do plan to visit Raleigh,so I would love some help with the area.Thanks!

Thanks so much Judy for your lovely letter that has really taught us so much about the area...when we go to Raleigh,I'm sure we will be referring to your letter and remembering what you told us when we see those places.We also loved the postcards.Thanks for writing!Please enjoy Judy's lovely letter and postcards below:

Letter #18 from Virginia

Letter #17 has come from Jill in Virginia.She tells us that there are several shipyards in her area because it is a big Navy and shipping area.She is close to Norfolk,which is home to the Chrysler Museum,Chrysler Hall and ODU.She is also close to Virginia Beach,which is a very popular tourist place.I know many people from our city visit Virginia Beach often.Virginia Beach is home to the Francis Lord House,The Lynnhaven House and The Adam Keeling Thoroughgood House which still exist from when Virginia was just a colony.She also lives close to some other historical cities such as Jamestown,Yorktown and Williamsburg.We are hoping to visit some of those cities this summer.Thanks Jill so much for your letter and beautiful postcards...they are appreciated.Enjoy her letter and postcards below:

Letter #17 from Colorado

Ok,here is another amazing letter we received.When we saw this letter,my daughter and I thought it might have been from someone like Benjamin Franklin because of the fabulous penmanship!This is definitely the best writing I have ever seen in a letter!This letter is from Troy in Colorado.He lives in the northeastern corner of Colorado with his lovely family.Both he and his wife are teachers. (I hope I don't make any grammar mistakes) ;) He teaches agriculture and his wife teaches English.His oldest is in college in Louisiana (my children and I were born in Lafayette,LA).He has shared some interesting facts about Colorado's history.About 30 miles north of his town is the South Platte River,which was a major route for furtrappers,mountain men and settlers to follow to the mountains.Since everybody was using this same route,conflicts arose,so explorers developed the Overland Trail,which they took to avoid the other route,which is close to Troy's town.Also north of his home is the Pony Express Route.I wonder if our letter took that route...ok,maybe not. :)

He also told us that their main industry is agriculture and that their crops are irrigated with huge circular sprinklers called pivots and that if you fly over the crops,you will see thousands of circles.I bet that must look pretty weird if you didn't know what they were.

Colorado's major crops are corn,wheat,sugarbeets,birdseed and sunflowers.They also have beef and dairy cattle.Colorado seems like such a beautiful place to visit that is rich in history.I believe Mesa Verde is there,too.I would love to take my family on a trip there someday.Thanks Troy for the truly beautiful letter!Your handwriting is beautiful and the stationery was lovely,too.We have actually gotten some fountain pens because I always encourage my kids to write and thought it would be nice to have them write with a nice pen,not some cheap ball point pen that doesn't allow for much creativity in penmanship.We can't wait to get some ink to start using truly makes writing look like art.We enjoyed reading your letter and admiring the beautiful calligraphy,so thanks again for writing!We appreciate it!Here is Troy's lovely makes me feel like I'm in the 1800's.

Letter #16 from California

The mail has been amazing! Letters and sign ups are coming in abundance and we are thrilled!Yesterday we had 4 amazing letters sitting in our that's what we call a good mail day! This letter comes from Kimi in California.She is a teacher (one of my dream jobs).She teaches 4th grade and she will actually have her class write to us...isn't that so cool!She really loves her kids...she says this is the best class she ever had,so they must be pretty special kids.Thanks Kimi for taking the time to write us a letter and to have your students participate.We are looking forward to their letters!Here is her letter below:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Letters #14 and 15 from Brazil and Spain

Sorry about the delay.Here are the 2 letters that arrived yesterday:
Did you guess the origination of the first letter?If you guessed Brazil,you were right.(Did the brazil nuts confuse you?).....

This lovely letter came from Andreia,who lives in Sao Paulo.She loves studying and learning so much that she graduated from 2 colleges.To be honest,if I was rich,I'd go to college and get many degrees,too because learning different things is so exciting to me.She is also a teacher.She enjoys reading,music,learning about other cultures,geography and much more.She also wrote that she doesn't enjoy all the horrible news broadcasted on the tv,either.I just mentioned the same thing earlier....great minds think alike. ;) She also noted that their cuisine is much like Italy...lots of pasta.We just had lasagna for dinner last night...does that mean we ate Brazilian? :) Thanks so much Andreia for sharing your life in Brazil with us.It is greatly appreciated!Here is her letter below along with some beautiful postcards:

Next, we have another very creative letter from Spain...I think the clues are too easy for you all. :) Sandra lives in beautiful Barcelona.She has put a lot of thought into this amazing letter.Not only did she include postcards, but she explained each postcard on each page.We really liked that,because we always get these lovely postcards but don't know anything about the picture.Sandra is originally from Holland, but has been in Spain for 8 years.Her and her boyfriend have a collection of guitars.She also works for a printer company,but finds it rather dull. The first postcard she wrote about was Barcelona's most famous building- The Sagrada Familia (Holy Family).It's quite interesting because they have been building it for 150 years and it is still not complete because Spain does not fund religious buildings,so they must get private donations....who knows how long it will be until it is completed.

In these postcards below,she describes the architecture of Gaudi,who also designed the Sagrada Familia above.He has designed many buildings such as the ones below,which she lives close to.That must be so nice to live by beautifully designed buildings.She even said some people live in the building you see up close on the right side below.Can you imagine living in such a place!

She also noted that Barcelona has 1,600,000 inhabitants.That's a lot of people. :) Tourism is a major source of income for their city.As you can see below,cruise ships arrive daily with many tourists.As you can also see on the right side below,she drew us a map of her city that shows us how her city has the Collserola Mountains on one side,the Mediterranean Sea on another side,the Besos River to the west and finally the Clobregat River to the east.It seems like they have a lot of privacy. :) The picture of the man is their mayor,Hereu.....when my daughter first saw it,she thought it was Sandra's!

Below she has explained how Spain has several autonomous (this happens to be one of our SAT words that means independence or freedom of will) provinces.She says that Catalonia is one of them and that they have their own language called Catalan,which is similar to Spanish.For example: In Spanish "Thank you very much" would be "Muchas Gracia" but in Catalan it would be "Moltes Gracies". The stamp on the left features the king,Juan Carlos.The royal family does not govern the country,that is done by their prime minister and his government.As you can also see below,sports like soccer are very popular in Barcelona.

The pictures below continue with the sports theme.I think everybody knows their famous tennis player shown below-Rafeal Nadal. :) On the right you see the typical architecture of southern Spain...white houses to fight the heat and narrow streets so the sun doesn't enter.Doesn't it seem like such a lovely place to live.I bet everybody knows each other.

Below is Spain's most famous dish- Paella.It consists of rice,seafood and vegetables.I'm from Louisiana and this looks just like our jambalayas. :) She says it taste better when it is cooked on the fire as opposed to the stove....I agree with her 100%! To the right is Barcelona's traditional meal called Calcot,it's only available from January to March...she was on her way to eat some the day after she wrote this letter.I hope it was delicious!She also noted that you will get your hands dirty eating this since it involves you doing some work to get to the inner part.

As a special reward,she included her favorite tea.

Thanks Sandra for putting so much effort into your letter and telling us so many great things about Barcelona and Spain.We really enjoyed it...much better than any brochure!Again,we truly felt like we were on a personal tour of the area.We truly loved it! It was so great to read about it and see pictures of what you were describing!Thanks so much for helping us learn about another lovely place.This project has definitely been a success already!

PS-We also realized there was no postage on this lovely envelope....I wonder how that got past the post office? :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2 more amazing letters arrived today....

Here are some clues to the 2 letters that arrived today....I will try to get pictures posted later this evening.Stay tuned. :)

First letter's clues (they will be pictures only as we are quite busy today):
See if you can figure them out. :)

Below are the clues to the second letter:

Have you guessed the countries.I think these are some good clues.Check back later today to see if you were correct.

Thank you all!

I just wanted to give you all a great big thanks for making this such a success already.Even if we don't reach our goal of 2,011 letters (which I'm still sure can be accomplished),we have still accomplished the bigger goal,which is for my children to learn about others.My children have been greatly rewarded with the knowledge of other people and places through this project.I think this is the best idea we could have come up with that has benefitted us all.It has been so fun reading about the places where you were born and live and we can often feel the love you have for your home which comes out in the letters.These letters have been so positive.Even though there is so much negativity in the world right now,when we read your letters,we feel such happiness and hope for the future.Every letter has been so kind and positive.I am glad that my daughters have gotten to know each and every one of you through your letters and I wish we could meet you all because you all are truly the best of people.

We have had a great surge of sign ups over the past weekend and are anxiously awaiting many new letters from all over the world.Thanks to you all!We hope that our blog has been enjoyable for all of you that are reading this.If you have any tips or advice for us,please do share as we want this project to be enjoyed by all.I am sure that we will look back through these letters in the future and have such great memories of this project.When we are able to open our eyes,we can see more clearly and we have definitely seen the best of people through this project.I am so thankful to have technology such as the internet to allow me to show my kids that just because you don't see any good where you are at,there is good somewhere else,so we must not think that there is no hope just because you don't see the good.There is good everywhere if we open our eyes just a little more.We are so bombarded with evil people on the news that my kids often wonder if there is any good in the world sometimes.So,again thanks to each and every one of you for showing my kids that there are so many wonderful and caring people in the world.We always hear the negative,but don't get many chances to show our kids the positive.I can definitely say that my kids have learned a lot about people around the world,so this has definitely been a positive experience. :)

PS-Posts of pictures have been and will be a little slow due to us getting our kitchen remodeled (well,parts of it) don't want to see the before....ugly! :)

Lucky 13th letter from Belarus

Yes,today is a good day for posting letters,so I hope you are all enjoying it.The 13th letter arrived from Christina in Belarus.One of the first things we noticed was her creativity.We loved how she framed the letter with a newspaper from her country.Quite unique.I have never seen this done before and we loved it.We also loved the pretty stamps.We love when letters arrive with a variety of stamps.About Christina,she is 16 and trying to enter the university.I hope she is successful in her goals.She has a wide array of interests,some of which include:opera,castles and medicine.The town she lives in is called Brest and she says there are over 300,000 people living there.She describes it as quite a lovely place with wide and green streets,shady parks and gardens.Doesn't it make you want to sounds like a great place to relax and unwind after a long day.She also mentioned the most famous sightseeing place was Brest Fortress so I have found a picture of it to share with you all.It does indeed look like a great place to tour...the architecture is so lovely.Here is Brest Fortress below:

image from here

And here is Christina's lovely letter below.Thanks Christina for the letter that shared so much about your lovely town.After looking online at it,I agree it's a lovely place.Thanks for writing!

Letter #12 from New York

Here is our 12th letter,which come from the Bronx in New York.Trish is 17 years old and already quite successful..she has received acceptance letters to college along with 3 scholarships....way to go Trish!I'm sure her parents must be so proud of her!She says that many people have misconceptions about the Bronx.I agree with her.I'm sure it's a great place to live.I have a bil and sil living close by so maybe I will get to visit the Bronx this summer.She is also a vegetarian and enjoys working at the hospital.She wants to be able to use her talents to help other people...kudos to you Trish!So many people need our help and I'm glad to see a teenager wanting to help others.Whatever path you choose,I'm sure you will make the best choice.It seems like Trish has a good head on her shoulders.Thanks Trish for writing and sharing your life with us.Congrats again on your scholarships and continue the great job you are doing...I'm proud of you!Here is Trish's letter below with a postcard:

Letters #8-11 from Virginia

This envelope arrived with letters from a mother and three of her kids,so we count each letter individually since they were written by different people.These letters come from a homeschooling family in the same state as us-Virginia.I would like to thank Shelenea and her three kids-Anna,Jacob and Taylar (I hope I spelled it right).These were our very first letters from kids and we loved them.Jacob is almost 10 and is a boy of few words,but knows what he likes-hunting fish and trapping.Anna is 6 and has great penmanship...she loves to smell do we Anna! :)
Taylar is 14 and is the oldest.Her favorite color is turquoise...that's mine,too.It's so calm and soothing.She is a very good sister...she loves to spend time with her siblings.She also enjoys literature and writing,among other things.Keep up the hard work Taylar and you will be successful in life. :) Shelenea is the mother and enjoys spending the summer with her large extended family...I've always wanted a large can never get bored.She also loves taking care of her family which is something we all value.She is currently hard at work chasing around her 10 month old,so she is quite the busy mom.Thanks to you all for writing and sharing a part of your life with us.We really enjoyed it! Here are their letters below:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Another good mail day today! :)

Hello again!We are so happy to report that 2 more letters arrived all are amazing people for taking part in this...thank you!I will be posting pictures later of the letters,but for now I will leave you with clues to guess where these letters are from.I have to make this educational,too. ;) Here are the clues:

First clue is the flag below:

Here are some more clues if that one isn't familiar:
-It's located in North America ;)
-It's the birth place of 8 presidents (therefore nicknamed the "Mother of Presidents") you know which ones?If so,you know more than I do. :)
-The Blue Ridge mountains are found here
-It was named in honor of Elizabeth,the Queen of England...why?
-This state has a very famous city, which housed the first permanent English settlement in North America.( I will tell you the city is Jamestown.)

Now on to the second letter's clues:

First is the flag:

Here are the rest of the clues:
-It shares a popular waterfall with another country.
-It's often referred to as a big fruit. ;) .... (I'll give you a hint,it's red)
-It was the first state to require license plates on cars...didn't know that,did you. :)
-Home to the Catskill Mountains
-It's home to the oldest running newspaper in the's name gives away the state.
-The Woodstock Music and Arts Fair was held in this state.
-It's the home to a national monument found in a harbor and was given in friendship from another's very important to many people,especially immigrants.

Well,I hope you enjoy these clues.I like to make this a little more fun while you are waiting for the pictures to be posted.Maybe you will learn something new,too.I know we didn't know some of these facts until doing the research.We hope you are all having a great day!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The value of writing...

Hi.I just found this article through my homeschooling group.Since this project is all about writing letters,I thought it would be great to talks about the value of getting kids to write instead of texting,etc.I hope you enjoy it:

Letter #8 from Russia

This is the last letter (as of today) that we have to share with you.Boy was this an amazing letter to get in the mail.This came from Maria all the way from Moscow,Russia.I must admit I have been having a fascination with Russia lately,so this came at the perfect time.Maria really went all out to make us feel like we were in Russia by including a beautiful assortment of tickets and pictures of herself,her mother,her friends and her home.We felt as if we've been knowing her for years just by reading her letter and looking at her pictures.She is 15 years old and seems like such a sweet girl.(The kind of person you'd want your daughter to have as a friend) She was so kind to share so much with was like being on a trip to Russia without leaving home.This is what this project is all my daughters a glimpse into lives that are so different than our own so that they can appreciate all the differences we have throughout the world.It's amazing what a letter (and pictures) can teach you about others.We may never get to travel the world but at least I can teach my children that there are wonderful people outside of this wonderful country that we live in.As a child,I can remember us all feeling so partriotic to the point that we felt we were so superior and that we never really needed to learn about other countries so I,myself grew up closed minded and it was not until I was an adult that I realized that other countries and other people have so much to offer and that I was missing out on some great things!So once again,thanks to each and every one of you that has joined this literally means the world to us! I hope that we can get more letters like Maria's that shares her life with us.It was very exciting to read while looking at her pictures and wondering what she was doing at that moment.Maria,I will definitely have one of my daughters keep in touch with you so we don't lose contact with you.Thanks for your letter!Here is Maria's lovely letter,tickets & pictures below:

Letter #7 from Arizona

Wow,we are getting so close to having double digits which makes it seem so much least we are getting farther away from 1 letter & moving up. :) This letter is from Semeeah's friend Tracey who lives in Arizona.She has a cat and dog.She became penpals through a wonderful site called Postcrossing.If you love meeting people from all over the world,this is a great place to go.After meeting so many wonderful people there,we decided to come up with this letter project since it was quite easy to meet so many people,so we felt that our goal could easily be achieved since there are so many people on the forums and the regular site.But I must warn you,you will become addicted to this site.Thanks to postcrossing,we have many happy mail days! :) Enjoy Tracey's letter and super pretty stationery (isn't it cute?) below:

Letter #6 from Tennessee

This letter arrived a few days ago as we were just getting over our colds here.We were so excited to see this brightly covered envelope among stacks of junk mail in plain white envelopes.It's always so exciting to see pretty envelopes in the instantly makes your day so much happier.So,did you guess where this letter came from?It was a state in the US.It was Tennessee. :) Enjoy Anita's letter below:

Anita is also a homeschooler.We appreciate her sharing all the facts about here state with us.It was really nice to learn about our neighbors. :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2 more letters arrived....

We have gotten a letter the other day but have been sick and are remodeling our kitchen so we apologize for not updating.We also received a lovely letter today.I will try to get pictures taken later,but as I said, we are having our kitchen worked on at this very moment so I have to keep my eyes on things around here.Since they are on break,I will leave you with clues to figure out the 2 places the letters came from.Once again,thank you all for the many sign ups...there was 2 days where nobody was joining,so we were getting a little upset, but then the third day we got 2 sign ups,so thanks for cheering us up again.This has been such a wonderful project for my children to learn about others.I wish we could continue this project forever so that we could continue to learn about other people,countries,etc.There is always something new one can learn.

Now I leave you with the clues:
First letter's clues:
-it's a state
-it's motto is "Agriculture and Commerce"
-The origin of the state's name came from a Cherokee village in the region that is called "Tanasie."....I think this clue is a dead giveaway for sure....sound it out & you can figure it out. ;)
-Below is the state's flag:

Second letter's clues...along with some pictures to help you out ;)
-Red Square
-Saint Basil's Cathedral
-Victory Park
-Izmaylovo Market
-Located on both Europe and Asia
-popular cartoon called on it to see a short cartoon...
We love that character so much!We would love to collect books or stuffed animals of him since we think he's so us if you can help us,thanks.

Have you figured the out yet?Did I make it too easy for you? ;) Stay tuned for photos.If you have not joined in,yet,please do so,we have a lot of followers that have not signed up yet,so please consider sending us a letter,we'd love to hear from you! Our email is to the right of the page.Thanks and have a wonderful day!

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