You know, since I left the job, things have been busier than ever. We just haven't been home all that much, lately, and when we are home, I'm usually too occupied with other things to sit down and write. I'm going to have to work on that.
Yesterday, the first of our expected Flat Travelers arrived in the mail. Percy the Penguin from Cheshire in the UK joins our two permanent guest, Flat Prince Mat from Southampton, UK, and Flat Kevin and Jason from Illinois. Percy will be staying with us over the Christmas season.
For those who don't know, flat traveling is when you exchange paper dolls with other families around the world. It's a project inspired by Flat Stanley, written by Jeff Brown. Flat Travelers, however, is almost entirely made up of home schooling families. Also, the paper dolls are all different. Some families print out paper doll templates from websites, others make them entirely from scratch. We've done both. The dolls have contact info written on the back, then they usually get laminated somehow (we just buy the rolls of clear ConTac paper) to protect them. Through the email list, we find families to exchange with, then send them off, sometimes with something the host family can use as a journal. Usually, the exchanges last for a week or so. The dolls would then be sent back with their journal and anything else the host family is able to send. Sometimes, it's just the journal of the visit (which is perfectly all right - the whole point is to learn how people live in different areas of the world), sometimes with postcards, pamphlets, fridge magnets, or anything else they can think of that will be easily mailed, and they can afford to send. We found the weekly visits to be too short, so we started hosting for a month or more, and I would do email journaling as close to daily as I could manage.
We started doing flat travelers quiet a few years ago, but have been on a long break from it. I was starting to wonder if we were going to stop entirely when Eldest asked if we could start up again. She and her sister both made new travelers, even though there are two in the binder I use for record keeping that have never gone out. Eldest even wants to do the journaling herself, too, which is great. I'll still journal, too, but I always do, so nothing changes there. *L*
We finally got the girls' travelers mailed out today, and as I was recording their destinations, as well as our guest's info, in the binder, I began to see just why we stopped exchanging for so long. Looking over the pages, we've got about 14 flatties that have gone missing over the years. Now, some I can understand. The very first flattie we sent out never came back, but the family we exchanged with was an another email list we were on, so I knew from there that they were experiencing some major tragedies. Some were sent back to us, but never arrived. What's discouraging is the number of families I've written to a few times - we're going back to 2002 with some of them - and it's as if they've dropped off the face of the earth. We can understand if the flatties got lost, if there was some sort of family emergancy, etc. Things happen. But when the people refuse to answer, not even to say "oops - we made a mistake" it's disheartening. What's interesting is that I've discovered on the group's account, there's a "recommended families" list - and a family that hasn't returned one of our most traveled of flatties is on it. We've made "passports" for each of our flatties. The host families fill in the "passport," and sometimes include stamps, stickers or drawings on the blank space provided. Some of our flatties have been to rather far-flung places, and it's always harder when those ones go missing.
Still, it's a worthwhile project, and one we've gained a lot from. After all, they're only paper dolls. We can always make more of them.
Here's some of the countries/provinces/states our flatties have gone to over the years, in no particular order.