Do you have or know elementary school kids? If you do, you may have come into contact with Flat Stanley, a children's book by Jeff Brown. The plot low-down is that Stanley gets crushed by a falling bulletin board while he's asleep. In his flattened state, Stanley goes on many adventures, the best one being that his parents mail him in an envelope from New York to California. He meets new friends and connects with family, eventually returning home where his little bro helps to turn Stanley back to his 3-D self.
One of the common elementary school projects in America is to have each student send a flat version of themselves to adults in their lives. The adults then take the flat child around and report back in the child's passport book. Eventually, the flat child is mailed home, full of wonderful stories to share with his/her classmates.
I have eleven (11) nieces and nephews. Over the years, Rory and I have hosted Flat Cynthia and her brother Flat Michael in our home. Over the weekend, Flat Colin arrived via FedEx from New York City. He'd already ventured from his house in Los Angeles to his Japanese grandma's place in San Gabriel then to my parents' home in San Clemente. My folks took Flat Colin to a local clam chowder cookoff and took snapshots. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, Flat Colin went to New York, Milan, and then back to New York. My sister says that he overextended his European and Big Apple sojourn and needs to get back home. Flat Colin can't go home till his passport is full. (Read: My nephew is behind on his assignment!) He needs help.
To rescue Colin and his worrisome mom, I'm putting my flattened nephew on the fast track by giving him a virtual trip. Colin in his 3-D self is a little rascal -- always teasing his mom and giving her grief. He loves to poke fun at others, like his cousin Peter in the photo above.
After being at our home for just a couple days, he got himself into trouble. During the raging winter storm on Tuesday, a giant tree branch fell on our roof and ripped off part of our new gutter. Flat Colin tried to survey the damage but got tangled up in the branches. He's flat, after all. Then he messed around with the few remaining hot chiles in the yard, thinking that they were Christmas ornaments. Back in the house for lunch, he tried to get in on the Viet food action, whether it was messing with my banh gio steamed rice pyramid dumplings or beef pho noodle soup. Flat Colin and I had a minor struggle with the hot pho broth and I got some on his hand. Now his hand is blackened and looks like gangrene or frostbite. Ouch! Sorry for the travel-related injuries.
I'm going to have Flat Colin around for a few more days. Would you like to help him have the BEST TRIP EVER? Simple give a quick shout-out in the comment section of this post so that he knows that he has virtually traveled to you! Tell Flat Colin your location, and maybe your favorite Vietnamese food to eat or make. Let's make him a flattened armchair traveler. Thanks for pitching in!
1/26/10 Update: Colin and his mom posted a comment to say thanks to everyone for helping out! Click through the comments below or on this short post.