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:
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.
I have to admit I am suffering from “summer dress fatigue,” and I am really ready to put some new colors on my little girl! There are too many gorgeous new styles available in Daily Tea to wait for cold weather so I scooped up a few pieces to get me through the next few weeks. Lizzie debuted her Fall Daily Tea ensembles this past weekend to rave reviews! The amethyst paper- cut print comes in a short sleeve top that is a great match back to the dry rose legging. Even though it’s still warm here, the leggings are perfect for playground and indoor gym play. Lizzie still stumbles and needs to protect her knees! I also had to get the new short sleeve dress style, which is great to wear-now, and to hold onto for colder weather, with the addition of the re-designed Daily Tea layering tee (slim fit and stretchy rib to be layered under all short sleeve styles) and those cute leggings.
I realized then and there that our then-23-month-old, Milo is a true Little Citizen of the World. We were in a (perfectly engineered for strollers) taxi in London, heading for Heathrow, about to take the final leg of our 5-week journey back home to San Francisco.
“Milo”, I said, “do you know where we’re going now?”
“AIRPORT!” he cried (we had discussed this at length previously).
“That’s right honey, but do you know where our plane will be going?”
“No sweetie-pie, we’ve been there already. Where do you think we’re going now?”
“Nope, not this time! We’re going home to see Penelope (our beagle).”
“Uh..no. We live in San Francisco. Remember?”
“Airplane go Denver?”
“No Milo. We’re going home to San Francisco. Remember your bed there with the monkey mobile?”
“Mino’s hotel big bed?”
“Not exactly – we’re going to our house in San Francisco with your own big-kid bed. Remember that?”
Milo wide-eyed, “No.”
My boys will try anything at least once, when it comes to food. Because my husband and I have a wide range of favorite cuisines (most often of the Thai or Middle Eastern variety) there is always a new opportunity to sample something new with chopsticks and little fingers. We do most of our dining at home, so the kitchen is where much messiness and bonding and learning takes place. They all are great at adding spices and helping with the veggies. And often they invent their own, ahem, unique edible creations. And since they are good sports to try what we make, Mommy & Daddy go along and try what they make, too!
Choosing restaurants that offer the not-so-usual American kid’s menu fare has allowed us to introduce delicious opportunities for our sons to taste. Not only are the entrees part of the experience, but the atmosphere and artwork representing culture and lifestyle different from what we know is all part of the adventure.
A favorite book of ours is Mama Panya’s Pancakes, A Village Tale From Kenya. Not only does it have a recipe and take the young reader along as Mama and her son shop for their evening meal, but it also teaches about sharing and turning what might seem like a little bit to some into something very big afterall.
My parents have joined a group of doctors and their spouses to build a partnership with a hospital and an orphanage in Cajamarca, Peru. They visit every couple of years, and over time they have developed quite a list of vendors of medical supplies that donate excess inventory for the hospital and a variety of donors who provide all types of supplies for the children in the orphanage. The doctors, including my father, go and train the local doctors on how to use the latest techniques and employ the latest in materials and medications in their surgeries at the local hospital. My mother has become involved in working with some of the spouses to build a relationship with an orphanage. The group over the years has provided the children with many supplies, including clothing, computers, books, etc. And they always manage to have a little fun during each visit. For example, this most recent trip they took all of the kids out to a movie and had a cake and ice cream party.
It all started when a friend of my father, originally from Cajamarca, had a vision of wanting to not only help his home town, but also to share his culture with his friends and colleagues in St. Louis. Over time it has built to be quite an operation, and they have set up a non-profit to accept the donations, etc. The trips have become for my parents much anticipated and cherished vacations full of music, laughter, dancing, and great food.
I was delighted to be able to facilitate sending some of our excess inventory from Tea’s Peru Collection from Fall ’07 on the trip that happened this summer. Alpacas are featured on a few of the pieces, including a fun graphic tee. The kids were incredibly excited to show the American ladies that they had some actual alpacas. The picture above features two of the boys from the orphanage posing with their local alpacas. Their house mother is in the background talking with the alpacas to ensure that they behaved for the cameras.
It has been a joy for me to watch my parents celebrate Peru so enthusiastically for many years, and it warmed my heart to see the kids with their alpacas.
Our most recent family holiday was a long weekend in Holland to see the tulips in bloom. We arrived a little too late in the season to see all the tulips in the fields, but we had a wonderful day at the Keukenhof gardensjust southeast of Amsterdam. It’s a great place to visit with kids. There are tulips from all over the world, as well as a wonderful petting zoo and fun playground for the kids. Olivia loved taking photos of everything and both kids are pretty silly when we take photos of them! Our favorite tulip was the ‘ice cream’ tulip. We took our bikes along and went riding every day. Holland is the perfect place to cycle, especially with young children. It’s flat, easy riding and there are bike lanes and trails everywhere. We stayed along the coast and were able to do some beautiful rides each day along with our daily ride into town to do our grocery shopping. We even got to watch some gliders taking off and landing. Olivia just received a new bike with gears for Easter and was really excited to be able to ride along next to us. She declared she loved Holland because she got to ride her bike on the streets in town like an adult. D and I ride our bikes through Brussels, but there are not as many bike lanes and it is too dangerous for us to let Olivia to the same. When cycling in Brussels, I use my Dutch made “Bakfiets” which allows both kids to sit in a box in front of the bike. It’s big and heavy, but very secure and I take the kids to school in it as long as it’s 10 degrees centigrade (about 50 degrees F) outside…and not raining!
We had a wonderful time in Holland and plan to return next year with all of D’s family. We want to go at the time of the Tulip Parade which travels through the entire tulip producing region and is held when all the fields are in bloom. And of course, we’ll take our bikes!
We’re off now for a two week camping trip to the Italian Dolomites. It will be the first time we’ve taken the kids camping and they are so excited. It’s already been an adventure getting all the gear and figuring out what to pack. But no more time to write about that now. It will have to wait for our return!