Posted by: nuala
Time: 4:30 AM
Kimberly Brambilla is guest posting on Studio T this week, telling the story of traveling with her three young children to Spain, Italy, and Morocco. Read part one of her journey here!
From Barcelona, we flew to Italy. My husband grew up in Mezzago, a small town close to Milan. He’s from a large family so there are many aunts, uncles and cousins. It wasn’t the first time our girls had been to Italy, but it’s always a bit of a culture shock at first. They’re greeted with tanti baci (many kisses), hugs and tears. There’s a constant flow of family members and neighbors that come to see us. It can be a bit overwhelming even for an adult, but it didn’t take long for the girls to warm up. We were so proud of their willingness to communicate with the family. Their Italian is rough but they sure try. My oldest, after playing and having fun with cousins, told us “I like speaking in Italian”. That brought quite a smile to my husband’s face! It is one thing to tell the girls about their Italian heritage, but it’s another to let them experience it firsthand. It was sad to say goodbye after being smothered with much love, affection and pasta, but in the end we set off for Morocco.
Morocco is unlike any place I’ve ever been. Many of our friends and family were concerned about us traveling there, but I am so thankful we did, because we learned so much. We took a short flight from Italy to Tangier, Morocco. When the doors on the plane opened it felt like we were a million miles from home and from everything familiar. The short cab ride from the airport to the hotel confirmed for me that the world is so much larger than the small space I occupy in my little Florida town. My girls loved seeing stop signs written in Arabic, hearing Arabic on the radio and holding Moroccan coins. Upon arriving at the hotel we went to the rooftop terrace for mint tea and cookies. The girls loved this! Chiara began making plans of how she would make her own tea once we returned to Florida with mint leaves from our garden.
The next day we toured the medina (city) as well as the outskirts of Tangier with our guide Cherif. Our first visit was to a rug store where we were able to see the process of Moroccan rug-making. The girls loved the experience of being given mint tea and their own “magic carpets” to sit on. We also rode camels, an experience which my daughter Olivia had been patiently waiting for!
The next day we visited the quiet town of Assilah. In Morocco you can hire a taxi not just for one trip, but for the day. The driver will wait for you while you explore, or accompany you, but most of the drivers speak little or no English. Our driver Unes was wonderful. He showed us around Assilah, ate lunch with us, and taught the girls a few Arabic words. He even bargained for Moroccan slippers for the girls at the marketplace, and we were all a little sad to say goodbye at the end of the day! It’s amazing how quickly you can connect with people even if you don’t speak the same language. The next morning as we packed our bags to leave, Chiara sat at the window looking out onto the street. She got so excited when she spotted Unes as he picked up more tourists in his taxi, and I was thrilled when I heard her say to him “Ahlan (hello) Mr. Unes”! I knew in that moment that the goals I had set when planning this trip were becoming a reality. My kids were learning about new cultures & peoples and embracing them as well. Beautiful!
Posted by: nuala
Time: 4:30 AM
This week we’ll be featuring three posts by guest blogger Kimberly Brambilla. Last summer she and her husband took their three young daughters to 2 Continents and 3 Countries in 2 weeks! This is Part One – stay tuned for Parts Two and Three.
“Are you crazy?” I’ve become used to being asked this question as I’ve planned trips and traveled with my 3 small children. Having children doesn’t stop me from doing what I love most– in fact having children has actually made me more determined to continue traveling, so that I can share this love with them. I wish to instill in them a sense of adventure, an openness and appreciation of other peoples and their cultures and a love of exploring the world.
Last summer we embarked on a journey of a lifetime. We traveled to Spain, Italy and Morocco. I knew that traveling with a 7, 5 and 2-year old would present many challenges, but it would also undoubtedly be an incredible experience for my daughters Chiara, Olivia and Gisele. We were going to Spain to vacation, but were also headed to Italy to spend time with “la familia”. My husband’s family lives there, and the girls do not get the chance to see them often. Since Morocco is only 9 miles from Spain I couldn’t pass up the chance to expose my children to a culture very unlike their own.
To prepare and get them excited we read library books about places we would visit, looked at maps, made art projects and learned simple words and phrases in Arabic and Spanish My husband also speaks Italian with the girls, so going to Italy would be an opportunity for them to practice.
With bags and camera packed we were off, and began the adventure in the colorful and vibrant city of Barcelona. We were thoroughly exhausted after traveling by plane, train and automobile to reach our apartment rental in the city. After dropping off our luggage, we began the search for a place to eat dinner. We were so tired that we stopped at the first place we found. It didn’t look like much, but boy were we surprised! Chiara wanted to order spaghetti but we reminded her that we were going to try new food on this trip. Once the paella, green olives, manchego cheese and fresh bread arrived at the table we were 5 very happy travelers. Although the girls were a little shy about using Spanish words with the waiters, they loved their first Spanish meal.
The next couple of days we toured the city in double-decker buses, which we found was the perfect way to see a city with kids. We saw many of the famous sites such as Sagrada Familia Church, Casa Batllo, Park Guell, and also spent time at the beach. Our time in Barcelona was short but the memories we made are long lasting. Next it was time for the girls to experience and learn about their Italian heritage and roots. Italia here we come!
For our recent Vosges/Tea Sweepstakes we asked the question “What do you love about being a mom?”. Although an answer wasn’t required to enter the contest, over 2/3 of the participants chose to share their stories. The responses were funny, touching, and sweet and we wanted to share some of our favorites here.
I love that in my boys’ eyes I am the one with the answers, they look to me to show & tell them about everything from a tiny little frog in our backyard to how to write their names! Every day is a new adventure with them & I wouldn’t change that for anything. - Shannon G.
One of my very favorite things about being momma to Lucy (age 3) is that I get to raise my child in the greatest city in the world – New York. I relish the joy that our city adventures bring us! - Ashley D.
I love watching my daughter become her own person. Seeing her figure things out, express herself, and develop her personality brings me great joy. - Wendy W.
Everything! My favorite is waking up next to my daughter on our days off and laying in bed laughing and talking. -Christina B.
I am holding my new baby, so at the moment I love everything about it. - Vilfreda C.
Feeling those tiny little arms give me a big hug, even if the hug is around my leg! – Jessica R.
I love seeing my daughter become the clever, level-headed little comedian I recognized the moment the doctor laid her on my chest. – Karen S.
I love the way my kids have reminded me what is so wonderful about life. It’s not just a walk to the grocery store; it’s a treasure hunt. It’s not just popping in a DVD; it’s hosting a full-fledged movie night. It’s not just baking a cake to satiate a sweet tooth; it suddenly becomes the best un-birthday cake ever made! - Yen R.
The moments when my little guy puts his head down on my shoulder and snuggles into me. – Candace B.
The chance to raise socially aware children who are not just focused on themselves but give back to help their neighbors and community. – Faith K.
On a daily basis my view of the world, how it works, and what words we use to explain it are questioned by the comments or observations my children make. – Heather C.
It is the most challenging thing I have done. I have traveled the world, rafted many rivers and being a mom is much harder and rewarding then all those things. But I can’t wait to show my girls the world and teach them how to kayak and all the other adventures out there. - Tracy D.
I love the simple, everyday moments that sometimes go unnoticed or undocumented. I love the “it’s morning” shouts from down the hall, the little snuggles before bedtime, the kisses that make boo-boos all better…and so much more. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, we forget to enjoy life’s simple moments!- Melissa S.
Being a mom is like having a second childhood- it’s discovering the world around you with an enthusiastic partner! – Christi S.
And this one – not by a mom, but representing the Grandparents of the world:
Being a Grandpa, not a Mom, is awesome. You get to spoil the kids, watch them grow, and still get sleep at night. I wish I could put into words the desire to live longer so you might be at their College graduation, Marriage, and birth of their children. Power to Grandparents! – Mark D.
Here at Tea, we love the excitement of welcoming new little citizens into the world. With our 9th Birthday happening this week we also wanted to say Happy Birthday to all of the Tea babies born in the past five years- and there are quite a few of them!
Lauren in Merchandising welcomed Lauchlin
Tim. the VP of Sales, had Ty
Kristine on our Wholesale Sales team had Maisie
Sarah, a Wholesale Rep, had twins Maya and Sasha.
We feel so lucky to have so many cute (and well-dressed) babies at Tea!
Posted by: Kathleen Cantrell
Time: 1:12 PM
Labor Day recently passed us all by. The picnics, parades, fireworks , and endless speeches always seem to be interpreted as the final celebration of summer. It’s a day that encompasses hard work and play at the same time; it wakes us up to the reality of another school year, another year of hard work while we barbeque and party to our hearts content . It made me wonder: Are work and play really that different from one another, and should they be compartmentalized as such?
In the mind of my toddler, work and play are one in the same; it is hard work to build a stack of blocks or attempt to color a picture within the lines, but she loves to do these things as well. It made me realize that work, and play both have something immensely important in common with one another: passion. I began to think about the different jobs people in my life have, and whether they were happy in their jobs or not. Those who chose their jobs on account of intense passion for their vocation are extremely happy, while those who simply want a paycheck see their jobs as a means to an end. It made me think of how I want my child to view a job. I want her to be passionate about what she accomplishes in life, to find meaning in her daily tasks. I want her to find a job where she can ‘play hard.’ I don’t believe that a job should be laborious; it should fill the soul.
It’s hard to live by such a manifesto as a parent. I not only have to reach for my dreams, but I have to teach my little one to reach for hers, which might mean she has to take risks, which might mean she falls flat on her feet a few times, and it is quite hard to watch your child, no matter how old, fall flat on his or her feet. I intend to remind myself on this past Labor Day, and the others that will come, that my child is the only person who knows her dreams, goals and aspirations. Whether that means she wants to be a lady on a flying trapeze, a policewoman, a doctor, or social worker…I cannot say. I only need to guide her to listen to her inner voice, to give her the confidence to follow her dreams, like a tiny Don Quixote reaching for stars that everyone else tells her are beyond her grasp.
Can you read that? It says “56 in a 35″
All because I lost focus.
More importantly, I had quite the humbling moment with my middle kidlet in the car.
At first he panicked and asked …
… if we were going to jail (when he saw the light bar).
Then Tony asked why the policeman was mad at his momma.
I explained that I was going too fast.
(i.e. not paying attention, a million and one things running through my mind, late for the next activity, trying to figure out X, Y and Z, trying to find the right song on the radio, handing Tony his Bakugan that he’d dropped, adjusting my seatbelt … )
The nice officer smiled ever so sweetly and asked for my license and registration. I’ve always had pretty good luck with ‘getting away with warnings’ but today was not that day.
He returned to the car (after what felt like ages while I impatiently drummed my fingers on the steering wheel) and handed me my ticket.
A ticket that equals about 50 McDonalds Happy Meals or 130 RedBox movie rentals (I say 130 because I never return them on time).
That ticket also equaled several relaxing massages or a whole case of nice wine.
That ticket equaled more than that though. It equaled a costly reminder to stay focused. To try a bit harder to leave my to-do list at HOME when I get in the car.
To block out the mental tornado that is currently going on in my head when I’m responsible for other people while behind the wheel.
To keep my phone secured safely in its cute little holster and maybe even stop communicating while I’m driving.
As I was writing the check out to pay the fine, I showed Tony and explained that I was having to pay alot of money for my ticket. Alot of money for not paying attention and for failing to follow the rules.
You wanna know what he said?
“Momma, you should’a told the ociffer that we were moving to India. He would have let you go if you had told him THAT”
I am starting to realize that when I give my all to ONE thing, my efforts are much more magnified than when I multi-task and attempt to spread myself (too thin, most times) across the board. I am writing this post “out loud” as more of a reminder to myself in the coming weeks and months.
If you see me flying down the road in the coming days, or I seem to be losing focus and getting distracted from something you know I want to devote myself to, remind me, ok?
Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets. ~ Nido Qubein
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.
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.
Stephanie Precourt writes daily at Adventures In Babywearing.
We had been in Istanbul, Turkey, for only a few days and already knew that we stood out. When the carpet sellers who lined the streets of the Sultanahmet, the city’s ancient historic district, saw us from the back, they took note of my husband’s close-cropped hair and yelled out, “Soldier! Soldierman! Mr. Army, Mr. Navy! Come inside and see a carpet. Maybe your pretty wife will like one, you buy it for her! Maybe not. You don’t like, you need not buy, but come look!”
But when they got a good look at our fronts, with the small, wriggling bundle strapped to my husband’s chest, they changed tactics. As soon as they saw our infant son held fast in his baby carrier – his eyes open wide and bright, taking in the extraordinary and beautiful city surrounding him – they took a slightly less aggressive approach.
One man walked toward us with his arms open wide and asked, “Please, excuse me, may I kiss your baby?” Others pulled photos of children and grandchildren from their wallets and invited us into the shop to see still more. Yet another seller asked us to come into his shop to see some carpets that he was sure our son would adore.
“Your son,” the man said, giving us his best sales pitch, “he may not remember Turkey. I don’t think so. But you will help him remember. Maybe the carpet will help him remember. I think, maybe yes.”
Memory. This was a small point of contention with us. When we told friends and family of our plans to travel with our son to Turkey, our announcement was sometimes met with disapproval – and always with many questions: What will he eat? Where will he sleep? Won’t the plane bother his ears? And the most-asked question: Why go through the hassle of taking the baby at all, when he won’t remember the trip?
It was only this last question that we had some difficulty answering, wondering a bit about the answer ourselves.
On our last full day in the city, we went to explore the Aya Sofya basilica. The baby had thus far been fascinated by Istanbul and, on this day, was just as intrigued with the immense interior of this building.
Enchanted by the history and majesty of the former church/mosque, none of us saw the schoolchildren approach. But all of a sudden, there they were – 20 or more – swarming around my husband and son, reaching for my son’s hands and kissing his face.
At first, I was a little worried that the baby would be unable to handle the onslaught. As a typical 8-month-old, he is fairly accustomed to being adored. But not like this. Still, when I looked over at him, to see if I needed to intervene, he was laughing so hard his whole body shook. He reached out his hands to touch as many of the children as he could reach. His delight in seeing so many smiling faces looking up at him was palpable.
All of a sudden, a young boy in the crowd noticed me and asked in heavily accented English, “You are mother? Excuse me, thank you, what is the baby name?”
“His name is Chet.” I replied.
“Chet.” He repeated the name a few times, working it around his mouth as if trying a new, intense flavor. “My name is Kerem. Hello, Chet Mother.”
The other children took note of the introduction and followed suit. I soon heard shouts of other names.
“I am Nazim!”
“My name is Berol.”
“Hello, my name is Alev, thank you, goodbye.”
“Kadifah, hello, how are you?”
And then a little girl with gorgeous dark eyes looked up at me and mischievously said, “My name is … my name is Jennifer Lopez!” The children laughed wholeheartedly at the joke, and my son laughed with them, the echoes joyfully reverberating in the great dome of the building. I couldn’t help but smile, knowing that my son’s first trip to Istanbul had offered him more than many – and even we – had thought possible.
True, he may not remember the specifics of the mosaics in the Aya Sofya or the grounds of the Topkapi Palace. But I believe that the most important aspects of any journey like this stay with you whether you are 8 months or 80 years old.
This trip included children’s laughter, the same as at home and yet still able to make a powerful impression no matter where you happen to hear it. Add the sublime mystery of ancient buildings, full of colors and echoes that stir the heart and mind. And, most importantly, the spirit of adventure that wells up inside as you stare out on a new and fascinating landscape – perhaps even better when held aloft in a baby carrier – and anticipating the magic of whatever comes next.
No carpet is needed to remind my son of that.
One recent Sunday morning, my son, husband and I were gathered around the breakfast table enjoying pancakes. The television was on across the room, and a new show came on called “Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe.” Wolfe, as I learned later, is an internationally acclaimed photographer, and of course the series host. The episode captured us immediately with its imagery of a country familiar to our family—India.
My husband’s father is originally from southwest India, a state called Kerala which is known for it’s lush greenery, tropical weather, beautiful backwaters, and—as locals love to boast—almost 100 percent literacy. My father-in-law Tom came to the U.S. in the mid-1960’s for his medical residency, where he met his future wife Linda, a Chicago native with German and Norwegian roots. Tom and Linda eventually settled in Texas, where they had four children. Their family traveled to India many times when the kids were young. Having made the trip once already with my husband (before we had our son), I have great respect for my in-laws trekking across the world with four young children!
As we watched the show from our table, my husband and I tried to make conversation with our son about the connection he had to the people on the screen. Some were bathing or washing their clothes in the Ganges river, others were riding bikes or driving rickshaws, and still others were engaged in deep prayer in honor of an annual Hindu pilgrimage. We said things like, “Grandpa is from that country; it’s called India.” My husband also told a story about how when he would visit as a child, his family had “helpers” who would wash their clothes just like we were seeing on the show—beating the clothes against the rocks, a rhythmic but effortful job. I was reminded of my trip there, where I felt so fortunate to meet my husband’s grandfather shortly before he died. He had been instrumental in India’s push for independence, a contemporary of Gandhi, and later a Congressman and vocal advocate for education in his home state.
And then something small but meaningful happened. While to me, these people on the screen were fabulously interesting, they looked nothing like me or the family I had grown up with, and so I felt content to know that my son might feel a connection even if I didn’t. But it occurred to me that my husband might feel very differently; so I turned to him and asked, “Do you feel connected to them?” His face grew quiet, serious and almost sad, and he said simply, “Yes.”
I don’t expect that my son will feel the same subtle sadness or internal conflict that my husband and his father feel – a sense of having a toe or a foot in one culture while the rest of his body is in another. However, sensing how important it is to expose our son to his history, his family, and the many inputs that combined to make him who is he is, I see now that raising him with regular reminders about his ancestors is more than just a fun or different exercise. It will be vitally important to the quiet places in our hearts that we don’t always know are there and a deserving tribute to the people who came before us.