Month: August 2008

discover turks and caicos

Turks and Caicos is a peaceful Caribbean destination for families with small kids. Our week of vacation was spent on the island of Providenciales, where most Turks and Caicos resorts are to be found. Here’s a run-down of our top activities and outings with Grace, our 10 month old at the time. Although Grace would have been content to stay on the beach and eat sand all day, we got out and did quite a bit. We think these activities would be enjoyable for kids of all ages.

1. Iguana Island – This uninhabited island is a national park just a short boat ride from Providenciales, but with no domesticated cats and dogs the native iguanas have no predators and have taken over the island. They are harmless but fascinating and a short walk around the island’s boardwalk reveals interesting fauna as well as these dinosaur-type lizards.
2. Snorkeling – Obviously at 10 months Grace wasn’t up for this activity, but thankfully we had grandparents along. Our entire group (grandparents, Grace’s aunt and uncle, plus the three of us) took a boat trip to one of the incredible reefs off the island. We chose a glass-bottomed boat so even those who weren’t snorkeling (namely Grace and Grandma) still got a peek at the sea life below. The rest of us enjoyed some of the world’s best snorkeling in the warm clear blue waters.
3. Sapodilla Bay – Our resort was on the north side of the island on Grace Bay Beach. We rented a car for one day and drove to the south side of the island to experience the tranquil waters of Sapodilla Bay, affectionately called “Children’s Beach” by some. We had a little trouble finding the unmarked beach but finally found a small parking area which led us to the clear still water of the Bay. Unlike Grace Bay, which experiences small but constant waves, Sapodilla Bay is perfectly calm. The water is incredibly clear and shallow as well, making it possible to both see and touch bottom even 200 feet from shore. We floated, snorkeled, splashed, sat and soaked up the sun and the quiet of this hidden gem of a beach.
4. Conch Festival – Our visit to Turks and Caicos happened to coincide with the annual Conch Festival in November. Here all the best restaurants in town cook up their best conch (pronounced “conk”) recipes and for one price you get a ticket to try and vote for them all. Let’s just say there’s good conch and there’s really nasty conch. It was a packed event with live music and a conch blowing contest, in which my brother-in-law won second place!
5. Beach time – While there are diversions such as those listed above, the real reason to go to Turks and Caicos is for the beach. The sand is white and soft as flour. The water is warm and the waves lap the shore, never crash. Grace Bay Beach stretches for miles in either direction which makes for great walks. We saw families with kids of all ages and they all seemed to be having a wonderful time. For our family it was a tranquil, rejuvenating experience.

fall 2008’s inspiration: norway

flying into NorwayIn May 2007, Emily and I headed north to explore the vast country of Norway in search of inspiration for Tea’s Fall 2008 collection.

This was my first visit to a Scandinavian country and I was expecting clean and modern aesthetic. Upon landing in this rich country, I was instantly taken by the enveloping evergreens and the woodwork, immaculate even in the airport.

I knew that this was a country that respected its natural resources and proudly celebrated them through craft. I could not wait to see what we would find…

We began our trip in Oslo, visiting museums and taking in Norwegian metropolitan culture.

One notable stop was the Norsk Folkemuseum, which featured 150 reconstructed townhouses, farm buildings, and churches from Norway’s past.

Here, we discovered a style of folk painting called Rosemaling (see below). This style of painting emerged in Norway around the late 18th century. Artists from the more rural areas in Norway would travel from home to home, painting interior walls and furniture. The homeowners would provide warm shelter and food for these artists in return for their services.

The color and detail of these scroll-like floral designs were captivating in beauty and impressive in coverage.

Later, we found that this painting style influenced embroidery in Norwegian folk costume. This discovery inspired us to come up with our own modern interpretation.

(Norwegian Folk Embroidery and Tea’s Inspired Print)

(Below from left to right: Tea’s Rasmussen Floral Dress and Elina Embroidery French Terry pants)

We also found that hand and loom weaving have been a native tradition in Norway, often done by families in times of celebration. There are many different types of traditional weaving, but 2 examples stood out, Billedvev (pictured here), a pictorial tapestry…

…and Rutevev, a geometric style (below).

These flat woven textiles were typically done in village homes found amongst the fjords. We were fascinated by the textures and colors in these textiles, so we headed north in search of some to make our own.

By chance and through a little help from friends that we met along the way, we ended up at the Stalheim Hotel.

A beautiful hotel set atop a 300 meter high cliff, not only does this hotel boast amazing views, it also has a spectacular collection of Norwegian crafts and a reconstructed folk village.

The varied patterns and color we found in Stalheim’s collection of textiles inspired us to interpret them in rich sweaters and bright plaids.

(above: Norwegian woven textiles)

(Above from left to right: Tea’s Stalheim Fairisle sweater, Aurland plaid shirt, and Ingrid Jacquard sweater)

(Emily and me at the lookout from the Stalheim Hotel)

It is hard to be in fjord country without going on a fjord tour. We were in luck as we were close to one of Norway’s most famous, the Sognefjord. It is of the longest and deepest in Norway, an inlet jutting over 100 miles into the country and over 4000 feet deep.

You can’t deny the beauty and massive landscape surrounding you in Norway. We tried to capture this feeling through voluminous silhouettes in this Fall’s collection like the Aurland Plaid Dress and Fjord Coat (both pictured here).

my own little citizen of the world

Adam with Justa and Andrew\'s Baby BrotherMy blond haired toddler might not look like an expected little citizen of the world. And he certainly doesn’t have any understanding of countries or nationalities.

But he does tell us “no más” when he wants us to stop talking. He’ll ask for “nai nai” when he wants milk. He chows down on hummus with enthusiasm, and his favorite meal is plantains and pupusas.

Adam’s grandpa is German. His nanny, Justa, is from El Salvador. He spends his weekdays with Justa and his friend Andrew who is half Chinese. His aunt reads him stories in Tibetan from her journeys to India where she studies Buddhism. We have pictures in our home from our travels together to Thailand, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, and Italy. Before my husband and I met, each of us had lived abroad: London, Prague, Berlin, Paris, and Sydney. We support the Global Fund for Children both personally and through the partnership with Tea.

It is important to us that Adam grow up aware of the world. We want him to understand his connections to many different cultures and to be curious about other countries and their people. But we want him to be more than a tourist. We want Adam to be a citizen of the world. We want to raise him to respect, honor, and nourish his role in the world, and to contribute to its progress.

That’s a big responsibility for us as Adam’s parents and my personal reason for wanting to get a blog launched. I dreamed of starting a conversation with other parents who are thinking about raising little citizens of the world and we’ve finally made it happen. Already I have been inspired by not only the interesting activities people have posted here but also the perspective that comes through reading them. By staying aware of the world around us and beyond us, we remember that the little things in our day to day lives shouldn’t get to us.

The parents who have written so far are warm, mindful, global, and inspired. Their stories have not only inspired me to start planning an international trip, but they also have made me feel more connected to places and people outside of my own neighborhood. When we started Tea Collection six years ago, we believed in the importance of making the foreign familiar. Now that I have my own family, this belief is much more real and much more personal.

I hope that the conversation on our blog will continue to inspire us – and many parents – as we raise today’s little citizens of the world.

welcome to the tea blog

Welcome to the Tea Blog, a conversation about raising a growing generation of global citizens. We hope you stay and explore all the wonderful stories Tea parents are sharing about their little citizens and the world they’re growing in.

At Tea, we’ve been talking about these little citizens of the world since the company started six years ago. Season after season we bring a little bit of the world into our collections, sending our design team around the globe to find inspiration that makes the foreign a little more familiar.

This summer, the Tea team is excited that so many people are joining us in this conversation about raising little global citizens.

Need help navigating your way through our writer’s inspiring stories? Our blog is divided into several categories:

CURIOSITY includes articles about how parents are introducing a global perspective into their children’s lives. Wander on into CURIOSITY to learn about Katherine Bose studying Mandarin with her toddler.

HERITAGE explores where we come from and how our family roots can reach far and wide. Check out Africa Fine’s stories of raising a bi-cultural family and Kathleen Cantrell’s post on keeping her Italian heritage alive in her kitchen.

INSIDE TEA is a place where you can get to know our Tea family a little better. Here people in our company contribute their perspective on life at Tea. Tea offers an international travel allowance that has sent our team far and wide. Read all about Leah’s trip to Greece, especially idyllic because it was her honeymoon!

In RECOMMENDATIONS, I will post your recommendations for things you’ve found help you raise your little citizens of the world. So far, we have a book recommendation from Stephanie Precourt and a bassinet Cindy McLaughlin thinks is great for travel. We hope to make this a go-to place for anyone looking for tips for globally-minded parents!

STYLE is all about children’s clothing. At Tea, we believe that because children’s clothing is a part of everyday life it has the power to reflect both our values the beauty found across the world. In STYLE we will post stories of our globally minded clothes and how they’re shaping the stories of little citizens everywhere.

TRAVEL is all about travel. We at Tea have found these stories so inspiring! Beware: they may move you to take out a notebook and start planning your next international adventure right away! The postings here include everything from travel tips to reflections on globe hopping with little citizens. We hope TRAVEL will become a rich resource for parents looking to share the globe with their kids.

We are so excited to have you join our conversation! Feel free to comment on articles that move you, contact us with ideas on how we can grow, and raise your hand if you’d like to become a writer. We’d love to have you share your stories with the Tea community!

We can’t wait to see this conversation flower, unfolding into a space where parents can share their ideas and experiences and ultimately enrich the lives of the little citizens everywhere.

The Editor

choosing a birth announcement

I found selecting a birth announcement overwhelming. It was my opportunity to show off my son to friends and family and I wanted to make sure it was just right – the perfect picture, the ideal card. The selection and styles of birth announcements is vast. I knew I wanted to include a picture, wanted the style to be more elegant than babyish, and that I prefered a more simplistic style. The Longevity Birth Announcement designed by Tea, available through fit my criteria just perfectly. I have received several calls from friends and family about how amazing the birth announcement is.

global fund for children’s guides to raising little citizens

At Tea, “For Little Citizens of the World” says it all. The “for” is at the heart of our work – it reminds us about the why.

At Tea we believe raising our children to be familiar with other cultures shapes them into better world citizens, conscious, aware, and mindful members of the global community. When we started Tea, we aspired to work toward this goal through our collections, bringing globally inspired designs to the world’s little citizens.

After a few seasons, we wanted to make our philosophy more tangible. We searched for a partner that had a similar point of view and found the perfect match in the Global Fund for Children.

The GFC’s inspiring work includes financing grassroots organizations that transform the lives of children around the world. They also publish beautiful books that make the foreign a little more familiar for our own children through pictures and stories.

The GFC’s books below are great ways to begin talking to your little citizens about the great big world:

Children from Australia to Zimbabwe

And the companion guide for parents: Raising Children to Become Caring Contributors to the World

exploring new zealand

We took our son Luke to New Zealand for seven weeks of exploring when he was 13 months old. I don’t know how much of the Kiwi culture he absorbed during that time, but he did display an innate ability to take long naps in a backpack during six hour hikes, to snooze through a helicopter ride with glacier landing, and to make it just fine sleeping through the night in any manner of pack-n-play, port-a-cot, or whatever sort of crib the bed and breakfast of the day could provide – so long as he was nuzzled in with his favorite blanket. And his parents learned that babies require a lot less gear than they previously had thought, that they are remarkably adaptable to drastic time changes and the obliteration of the daily routine, and that journeying to new parts of the globe with the newest member of the family only enhances the sense of adventure and camaraderie that motivates us to travel in the first place. Oh, and that those pull-down swinging bassinettes are an absolute God-send on overnight flights… as are portable DVD players… and the ability to breastfeed a toddler on a mountaintop or in a pub with minimal embarrassment. And the trip was enough of a success that, three months later, we took him to the Italian Alps for more of the same.