Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

My nieces in Wisconsin.  They're unbearably cute.

I've found the most adorable way to stay in touch with my chitlins on the other side of the country.

Have you heard of the children's book Flat Stanley?

Basically, this kid Stanley gets mushed by a bulletin board and then, after the requisite period of despondence, realizes his flatness actually makes for a pretty cool way of seeing the world. He proceeds to travel the world, envelope-style.

So my old friends Matt and Sarah have three cherubs out in Delaware, one of whom, Josephine, is my goddaughter. They're fab. Sarah reached out last week to see if I'd be game to help Charles (the eldest of the three, and old indeed, at almost 7 y.o.) with a wee school project.

See, he's supposed to send a flat version of himself out to someone he knows who lives relatively far away to learn a bit about your climate, what activities you do there, what y'all wear, etc. 

Naturally I was nerdily excited about this. What a crackerjack means of teaching kids about the world beyond their horizons. I wanna do this with every little flat child in my life now.

Flat Charles arrived in the mail on Thursday. I got home late that night and fell into bed after a heart-wrenching day, so his first sight of California came early Friday morning. We built a sleepy fire and tried to figure out some Cali-appropriate clothes for him, lest the nudity become a little awkward.

Flat Charles' first morning in Cali
The Mister thought it'd be clever to dress Flat Charles in a Miami Heat uniform, courtesy of the NYTimes. The newsprint-tall-African-American-headless-cut-out dude was an unfortunate miss, in spite of his remarkable scissors skills. So, early Friday evening, while we watched basketball and ate frou-frou local cheese, we set Flat Charles up with a nice comfy little shirt from Chinatown, trousers made out of cable car lines, good strong hiking boots for climbing Mt. Tam (and tall San Francisco hills), and a hip fedora for keeping warm and stylish on cold, foggy nights.

Flat Charles has been kicking it with us for the last few days. (Obviously I'm having a little too much fun with this to be normal.) We're hosting him til Thursday or so, when he goes back in the mail to Delawrae. He'll be a killer yogi by the time the week's out. At this rate, he'll also have learned a helluva lot about Eastern religious icons, and about what happens when you mix Tanqueray with pink lemonade.

Here are a few pics of our adventures.

Must admit, this feels like such a charming, creative way to connect with all those little guys who live too far for regular visits. Between Google+ video hangouts and Flat Charles-style photo essays, I'm realizing there are always new ways to cultivate long-distance relationships, especially with the wee ones (like godchildren, for instance) for whom you really want to be presence in the long-term.

Highly recommend to anyone with small children in their lives.

You can expect more where this came from.

Until then, here you go:

Ripping into some legit Cowgirl Creamery cheese
and watching NCAA basketball.  Go Blue Hens.

Meeting Ganesha, the Hindu elephant god

Kickin' it with Buddha.
Oh, and scoring a sweet wardrobe.

Chilling with Amanda G's Hindu goddesses

Getting to know the Big Buddha at Yoga Toes

Doing a little wedding planning with us on a cold, rainy Easter Sunday.
Oh, and raiding the leftover candy aisle.

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