Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ugly Christmas Stocking Swap

*****THIS SWAP IS NOW CLOSED*****
We have all seen them: the Ugly Christmas Sweaters. There are parties dedicated to their existence and I am sure in our youth we have all donned an ugly sweater or two.

This season I am hosting an Ugly Christmas Stocking Swap in an effort to spread fun and loads festive joy to one another! Stockings must be handmade from scratch (no pre-made stockings allowed). How you create this is entirely up to you but keep these rules in mind:

1. It must be durable. Your swap partner will want to hang this on their mantel for all to see and it must be able to withstand being filled year after year as this Ugly Stocking will surely become a most treasured heirloom.

2. It must be stocking shaped. What materials you choose is up to you. Knitted or sewn or even duct tape.... the field is wide open....

3. Ugly can be interpreted many ways. This is to be a fun, tongue-in-cheek swap therefore, your stocking must not contain any of the following: swear words, violent scenes, weapons, insults to any religion, race, & gender, nothing political, or nudity. 

4. Fill your stocking with holiday cheer!

5. You must, absolutely, without any excuses post your package no later than December 15th if you are shipping domestically and no later than December 10th if you are shipping internationally. It must have time to make it to your partner's doorstep in time for Christmas. You are not required to ship internationally however, keep in mind an international partner will most likely not be assigned to send to you. 

6. There will be prizes. A Grand Prize Winner will be announced, possibly other winners as well depending on how many sign up. I am still working out the prize details.  

7. This is a secret swap. You will make, fill and send a stocking to someone far away and someone else will make, fill and send a stocking to you. The more information you can provide the easier it is for your partner to create something tailored to your likes however ugly the stocking may be! 

Now, are you ready to sign-up?
Use this form: CLOSED

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Sign-ups will be open until October 15th. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2nd Grade.

I sent P off to second grade this last week. She was giddy and ready to go back. Our summer had been busy. It included a 9 day trip to visit with family and friends across the country. Lots of flying and driving which translates to lots of family bonding time. Back to school for P is a nice bit of independence for her.

P is so full of confidence and has ongoing friendships with peers she attended preschool with. Our town is small and we frequently see friends out and about. At the park, store, or library we usually run into a few. It is rare that we venture out without someone shouting out her name to say hi.

I don't remember finishing first grade. We moved. Our house was packed up, garage sales were had, things given away or put in storage. Giant crates arrived and what we were taking was loaded. Our dogs were left in the care of close friends and we, along with my cat, made the long voyage across the country to Tennessee. Our journey didn't end there. 

My cat was left in the care of my grandparent's neighbor and my dad took off to New York and then to our new destination while my mom, brother and I waited. I spent the next month or so just hanging out with family. I had so much fun. I joined my older cousins in their classrooms at school, I played, I caught lightening bugs, played dress up in my grand mothers clothes. She had these gold strappy sandals with a chunky heel. They were grown up princess shoes and they had been made just for me! 

When our time in Tennessee ended, we boarded a plane for NYC then connected a flight to Heathrow. It was an overnight flight. They served us food. My brother and I ate two hotdogs a piece! Then we fell asleep with our arms and legs sprawled over our mother. Upon waking we had little busy bags from our aunts and cousins to open, a hot breakfast then landed. I walked off the plane with a cockney accent and we met my dad just beyond customs. 

Our stuff didn't arrive for a very long time. We began school and I was now in "level 3/4." It was a private Catholic school. The gray wool uniforms were different from the red and blue plaid jumpers I wore back home. The children stared at me. I looked down. They laughed at me when I talked. I kept quiet. They all stopped eating when I held my fork in my right hand. I still hold it in my left hand to eat today.

The milk had cream on too, they drank tea all the time and weird cakes with jelly on the bottom, they had strange names for everyday things. I missed my cat. I missed my friends. I missed home.

Our stuff finally arrived. It spent roughly two months docked while waiting for customs clearance. When the crates were finally opened a bunch of our stuff had succumbed to mold. Including my new Strawberry Shortcake purse I had received for my birthday.

The mold wasn't the only thing to take up residence in our personal goods while we waited for their familiarity to ease our homesickness. Cockroaches all but poured out of the crates when the lid was lifted.

I had my family. We are close. I had my beloved blanket my grandmother made with I was little and that was a great comfort. She joined us for quite an extended visit while we were there.

Friends called and wrote, we attempted to stay up late for the Superbowl, we started drinking tea more often, we rode double decker busses and trains, we shopped at Harrod's and Hamby's toy store, we fed pigeons in Trafalgar Square, we were tourists to the Tower of London, Picadilly Circus, and Carneby Street, we tried to make the guards smile, We saw Michael Crawford on stage in "Barnum." I made my First Communion and learned how to ride a bike without training wheels.

We had a little shop up the street from our big house with the green door that sold hotdogs and Lucky Charms cereal. We rescued a lost hedgehog. Santa came at Christmas and we still celebrated Thanksgiving. One night it even snowed.

We loved abroad for almost 2 years and created happy memories where we were which also included touring many other countries in Europe. We had no control over that relocation. If an over seas opportunity opened up for my family today I would not hesitate. We moved back to the states sometime during third grade and I had my first taste of public schools and another happy memory filled time in a place that was still not back home.