February Activity Book Winner

We’re thrilled to honor Izzy as February’s Activity Book Winner!  We absolutely adored all the bright colors she used on the giraffes!

Browse all the entries and honorable mentions on our Flickr page.

Interested in entering the contest for next month? Take a picture of your child’s completed activity book picture and send it to us at blog@teacollection.com with “Activity Book Entry” in the subject line. We pick one winner each month to receive a $100 Tea gift certificate. To get the new activity book, simply make a purchase at Tea and we’ll send you one with your order. You can also download the activity book pages here on our Studio T blog.

Download all of our activity book pages by visiting our activity printouts blog tag.

 

Fun in the sun (Part 1)

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).
Emilynne, our excel whiz , traveled to her home away from home to the sunny and humid group of islands in the Pacific.

Last October/November I took a short hike halfway across the world to visit my sister for her semester break in the Philippines. A lot of the school holidays in the Philippines do fall,slightly suspiciously, during major Catholic Feast Days. This means that the Triduum of All Hallows, Christmas, and Holy Week are all holidays that the children may observe with family.

Traveling pictures in the airport.

Look at the handwritten plane ticket.

Once I heard about this break, I jumped at the opportunity to visit my mom and my sister, travel a bit of my parents’ home-country, and (most importantly) soak in some sun and warmth!

We did a small amount of traveling, but kept it relatively simple for this go-around as two of my friends (pretty much my sisters by everything but blood) were flying in and out of Manila via slightly different itineraries. My friend Radhika and I got in one evening and our first stop was Taal Vista Resort in Tagaytay, about an hour south of Manila. The resort has a stunning view of the Taal Volcano.

Taal Volcano in the distance

Look closely and Taal Volcano is the island in the middle of the lake.

Yes, that is an active volcano. In fact, people are not allowed to settle on the island, and even the resort we were staying in is technically within the danger zone. It’s hard to believe that this is an active volcano, which had quite a bit of activity as recently as July 2011, when you look at all the lush foliage surrounding it.

Key Layering Pieces

Take key pieces from winter into spring.  Make them work extra time by mixing and matching.  Double up on layers for the colder months and when it starts to get warmer, leave the long layer at home.
Here is one of our favorite layered girls outfits:

Girls Layered Look

Flower Petal Sunset Outfit

Polokwane Hoodie
Flower Petal Top
Sunset Stripe Twirl Skort
Saltwater Sandals in Yellow

For the little guy in your life, shop our Rhinos and Stripes boys outfit:

 

Boys layered outfit

Rhino and Stripes Outfit

Sharp Sharp Chinos
Grazing Rhino Polo
Ubuntu Stripe Hoodie in Cayenne
Vans Authentic Checkboard

Passport to Rocky Mountain Kids

Each month Studio T features one of our retailers.  This month we chatted with Stephanie from Rocky Mountain Kids.  We invite you to learn about the mother-daughter duo that are here for their customers day in and day out in their 3500 square foot store.  Come learn about Rocky Mountain kids!

Behind the scenes at Rocky Mountain Kids

Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?
Stephanie: How does anyone get into their own business?  Big ideas, a leap of faith, and a wing and a prayer.  The chance to be your own boss?  Yes, please!  We’ve been in business for 15 years- all in one location. We have been carrying Tea since the days when the entire line consisted of maybe a dozen pieces.  Lily (our daughter/granddaughter who has been raised with our family at Rocky Mountain Kids) is now 9 and has been a wearing Tea since she was a newborn (pink footie with red trim — anyone remember that?) and every season since.
Tea: She’s an original little citizen.

Tea: What is something that your customers would be surprised to learn about you?
Stephanie: We (mother and daughter) get to work together every day and we still like to hang out together outside of work.  A lot!  (Although I don’t know if that would really surprise any of our customers).

Tea: What is your favorite part of your day at the store?
Stephanie: Receiving new shipments.  It’s like Christmas every day.  Putting new, exciting product out on the floor is like having chosen the perfect gift for a friend.  You can’t wait for them to open it.

Tea: What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? What are people coming in for?
Stephanie: Well, Tea is now its own trend.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery right?  We see other brands trying to imitate the Tea look and style as their own.  The trend is quality, fashion, color, and affordability all with a story.

Tea: What do you do in your “spare” time?
Stephanie: Family, friends, and a couple of cocktails on Friday nights.   When we’re lucky and Cristy is in town, a visit to Zolo Grill and an ice cream cone.

Tea: How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?
Stephanie: Balance?  Even if things are balanced, would they ever really feel that way?  You’re at the store, you feel like you should be at home.  You’re at home, your thinking about the store.  Home is work, work is home.  But that is why we love it.  Right?  My best advice- Love what you do, love who you are, love who you’re with (family, friends, staff).

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Visit Rocky Mountain Kids at 2525 Araphoe, H12a in Boulder, CO 80302.

 

The Global Fund for Children in South Africa (Part 2)

To learn more about the experiences of children and families in South Africa, we spoke with Emmanuel Otoo, program officer for Africa at The Global Fund for Children (GFC). If you’d like to donate to The Global Fund for Children to support their work in South Africa and beyond, visit their website or add a donation at check-out when making an online purchase from Tea Collection!

If you missed part one of the interview with Emmanuel, you can see it here.

Photo taken at the Sophiatown Community Psychological Services in South Africa.

 

 

What inspires you about the South Africa region?

Despite their painful history, South Africans exhibit strong unity and determination to succeed, and that inspires me a lot. I am also inspired by the South African constitution, and the vision and passion that went into its making. The vision and bravery of Nelson Mandela, his selflessness, and his willingness and ability to sacrifice his freedom for humanity have always been a source of inspiration as well.

Photo taken at the Sophiatown Community Psychological Services in South Africa.

Describe a day in the life of a typical GFC-sponsored child in South Africa.

Chipo is the 14-year-old son of Angela, who fled with him and his two siblings to South Africa following a gruesome attack on their home by rebels in a war-torn country.

Chipo sleeps in a kitchen that his family shares with another family in an overcrowded apartment in a huge slum building. In the morning, Chipo gets up and eats a bowl of porridge. He helps his mother with some household chores and assists in taking care of his younger siblings before leaving for school. After school, Chipo drops off his schoolbag at home and goes to the market in search of leftover food or work to bring some money home to supplement his mother’s income.

When he returns home, Chipo goes with his mother and two siblings to Sophiatown Community Psychological Services, a grassroots organization supported by The Global Fund for Children. There, his family participates in art therapy and counseling, receives food, and plays games. Chipo is one of hundreds of refugee children who are being supported by Sophiatown to help them recover from their traumatic experiences.

Passionate about animals, Chipo loves to hold and care for them, and he hunts for abandoned kittens on the street. His dream is to be a teacher when he grows up—it is our hope that GFC and Sophiatown will help give him that chance.

Photo taken at the Sophiatown Community Psychological Services in South Africa.

What does Ubuntu mean to you?

Ubuntu is an Nguni word that has its origins in the Bantu languages of Southern Africa. While it has no direct translation in English, it is used to describe a particular African worldview that focuses on people’s allegiances to and relations with each other. Ubuntu describes a situation in which people can only find fulfillment through interacting with and supporting other people. It represents a spirit of kinship across both race and creed that unites people for a common purpose.

Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, defined Ubuntu as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a South African activist, said, “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”

That said, Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. It means you need to think and act beyond your immediate personal needs—you will benefit from doing so, in addition to benefitting others. The question, therefore, is: Are you going to enrich yourself in order to promote the well-being of your community? If the answer is yes—that is Ubuntu.

 

 

The Global Fund for Children in South Africa (part 1)

To learn more about the experiences of children and families in South Africa, we spoke with Emmanuel Otoo, program officer for Africa at The Global Fund for Children (GFC). If you’d like to donate to The Global Fund for Children to support their work in South Africa and beyond, visit their website or add a donation at check-out when making an online purchase from Tea Collection!

A child at the Teboho Trust, a GFC grantee partner in Soweto, South Africa. Teboho Trust makes sure orphans and other vulnerable children get the support they need to succeed in school–sometimes that means going to school on the weekend to stay ahead! But the hard work pays off: last year, 100 percent of the students were promoted to the next grade level. Congratulations, kids!

What is the major need in the South Africa region at the moment?

According to our partners in the field, the major need is to systematically and practically promote social inclusion and improvement in the education system, especially at the early-childhood and elementary stages.

There is also a major skills shortage in South Africa—a significant number of youth have not received relevant education or acquired the appropriate skills to be competitive in South Africa’s job market. To that end, development of small businesses, social enterprises, and community entrepreneurship is another area that needs reengineering and support.

What’s something special about South Africa that most Americans do not know?

Perhaps what many people are not aware of is that migration is an integral part of South African history and its present reality, and that cities like Johannesburg owe their existence to migrant laborers. Also, in spite of the country’s extreme levels of poverty compared to the United States, South Africans come together and make efforts to support one another.

More of the students from the Saturday Academy run by Teboho Trust.

What are some games that the kids like to play in South Africa?

Most boys in Africa are passionate about soccer, which they often play in school or on practically any field they can find. The same is true in South Africa, where boys make their own soccer balls out of rolled, stuffed, and string-tied plastic bags. Kids also make their own toys, such as cars made out of scrap metal and wire, which they often play with on the sidewalk.

Young girls in South Africa play skipping, clapping, and jumping games. One favorite game for girls is jumping through and over elastic bands made from old pantyhose. At school, girls often play netball because equipment for this game is usually available on the playground.

How is playing different in South Africa from playing in America?

The average American kid plays games on computers, tablets, iPods, and video game consoles like Wii and Xbox. There is also a strong culture of play at amusement parks such as Walt Disney World, Six Flags, and Busch Gardens during warm months and in warmer states like Florida and California.

Kids in South Africa, especially those who are part of the populations GFC serves, do not have easy access to technology, are unfamiliar with “gaming” as a form of recreation, and also do not have access to playground equipment or amusement parks. They improvise by creating innovative toys made out of scrap materials and leftover fabric. They often do not have designated play areas and resort to playing on sidewalks and in empty fields.

But kids in the United States and in South Africa are perhaps more similar than they are different—they all love to play, have fun, and make mischief.

Stay tuned for the rest of our interview with Emmanuel later this week—he’ll tell us about Chipo, a South African boy served by one of GFC’s grantees. Emmanuel also shares his own understanding of Ubuntu.

 

Through the Eyes of Children

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Cathy and her family traveled to Zimbabwe this winter to visit family. Cathy is a teacher who took leave from her position during the birth of her twins. When her children were toddlers, she filled her time by acting as a founding parent of a charter initiative to open Birchtree Charter School, a Waldorf-inspired school in her  hometown of Palmer, Alaska. Since the school’s opening in fall 2010, she has acted as the treasurer on the Academic Policy Committee. We outfitted Cathy’s family with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part three of their adventure.

travel with kids

I’m often asked if I believe there is true benefit in traveling abroad with young children. Will they remember their experiences? Couldn’t we simply take them to any beach or pool and they’d have an equally fantastic time? My answer – well, yes and no. Children are typically quite perceptive and are often more cognizant than we assume. Sure, my children love any beach at any time, yet my motivation for taking them abroad and exposing them to new cultures, beliefs, and attitudes is primarily because I believe that these experiences broaden perspectives in children (and adults).  Through each and every traveling adventure, we are challenged with all that is new and different.

travel with kids

So, what do we do with all the newness?  How do we process it both during the trip and after- to extend our understanding and to ensure that the experience of traveling abroad does not end when we unpack our suitcases and settle, once again, into our daily lives? Like many travelers, our family takes photos, utilizes travel journals, and we purchase works of art that transport us back to our time abroad.  These mementos enable us to deepen reflections and observations once home.

Travel with Kids

On our latest adventure through Southern Africa, we decided it was time for our children to take a more active role in documenting their experiences in order to help solidify their individual memories and give them an avenue for sharing our trip with others. To help with the documentation endeavor, we provided each of our six year old twins as well as our six year old niece with a camera. The cameras were given well in advance of our departure to ensure that our children knew how to use them and be responsible for general care. Additionally, a blank journal, colored pencils, watercolors, and crayons were provided to allow freedom in documenting daily experiences through stories, words, or simply drawings.

travel with kids

Watching the documentation process throughout the trip was a fascinating experience.  When happening upon large African beetles, we would have predicted running and screaming from our children, but found that they chose to photograph collect, analyze, and draw these strange creatures. Massive thunderstorms, which are rare in Alaska, were also documented with photos and later drawn with great detail. Our children drew pictures of an African woman transporting a fifty pound load on her head. They painted a double rainbow over Victoria Falls, and pictures of elephants and giraffes filled their SD cards. No doubt, these kids were recognizing an abundance of unique stimuli.

travel with kids

Now that we have returned home, our children are working to turn their photos into books, and have enjoyed sharing both the pictures drawn, stories written, and photos taken with friends, classmates, and family. With each sharing, I’m certain our children deepen their memories of this adventure.

As we’ve begun to unpack our memories and experiences, we recollect the many differences along the way; weather patterns, food, dress, language, customs, and routines- that were very different from those in our daily lives. Yet, we find the differences both curious and fascinating. Our children have begun to recognize that differences are neither good nor bad, but always mentally stimulating. Perhaps, they are also recognizing the commonalities we have as humans and that we can work to respect differences and learn from one another. And perhaps, we can use our broadened perspectives in our daily lives.

travel with kids