Things we found and want to share from this past week:
Things we found and want to share from this past week:
We go there – we explore and dig deep into other cultures. We know you go there too. This new series will feature stories from world travelers; they’ve taken their first flight over seas with little ones, they’ve traveled back to their native country to introduce their children to grandparents, they’ve packed up only their necessities and traveled to developing countries. Here, you will find their stories and learn about how they’re going there too.
Kicking off this series, we have Jill Amery of UrbanMommies.com sharing her trip to Liberia. It wasn’t necessarily an easy one, but you’ll see that it was a trip that’s changed her life forever. Thank you Jill for sharing your story with us on Studio T!
I had the privilege of traveling to Liberia in February as a parent ambassador for Right To Play, an organization that helps children learn crucial life lessons through sport and games. The experience affected me deeply and I can still smell the heavy West African air. The kids who touched my ‘soft hair’ and reached for my hand are now part of my history. They grace screensavers and watch me from silver frames. The polish of the silver juxtaposed with what I witnessed is disconcerting and constantly reminds me to not take my blessings for granted.
The adults and teenagers I met in Liberia had experienced terrible things in their lifetimes with a war that ended very recently. Some had lost parents and raised themselves. Most had a loved one who experienced sexual assault. And every adult associated with Right To Play worked tirelessly to restore hope for the next generation. Every day the same volunteers (many had no employment themselves but chose to devote their days to teaching children through Right To Play activities) emerged into an empty space and performed magic. It was like a slow motion film. The waiting children would all turn, smile and organize themselves into a ‘great big circle’ so they could begin. The rhythms of their responses to the leader of the game formed a percussive music. The empty, litter-filled space had become vibrant and full of life.
When I think about the diversity in cultures brought to mainstream culture by Tea Collection, I smile. Each outfit I see my kids wear reminds me that we are all connected in this small world. The women of Liberia donned incredible colors and patterns. Their bright eyes and huge smiles pierced through the grey sand and cracked concrete. Standing in front of corrugated metal shacks with red, yellow and purple wraps, these women provided what mothers always do – hope and comfort. Dressing my boys in similar colors and styles gives a nod to these women; A sign of respect and awe. And these women deserved nothing less.
One sign on the side of the road has haunted me since my return. This one advertisement was a definition of ‘Mother’: a person who ‘makes something out of nothing’. That is exactly what I witnessed. These women generated a meager income buying bleach in bulk and selling it in small bags, buying a case of water packets and a block of ice and hoping for extreme heat so they may sell a few individual bags of water to quench thirst in their community.
Hope resonated everywhere – through the games, the smiles, the handmade toys and the tiny children playing hide and seek with this North American girl who seemed so different. I was brought back to the basics of life: drink fresh water, keep your clothes and environment clean to prevent disease, help your neighbor. A young boy bathed meticulously in a large bucket by the side of the road. A woman carrying a huge bundle on her head picked over potato leaves in a market to find the best choices for her family. It was all about hope.
As a mother, I can make a promise. I will never stop visiting other cultures and allowing them to penetrate my own motherhood. I will share the songs and bright fabrics with my children. I will try to not take my life for granted. And more than anything, I will remember that hope is all one needs.
We’d be lying if we told you we never pass our little ones a smart phone or an ipad to keep them entertained. The truth is, sometimes it’s just easier – especially when traveling! With so many game apps available today, we thought it would be fun to share our top 10 favorite apps with you. They teach new languages, allow world exploration, help quiet loud nights, and make fractions fun! And remember, while a lot of these apps are over $0.99, in the end you’ll appreciate the ad-free, no fuss design the cost gets you.
Do you have a favorite that you don’t see here? We want to know! Leave a comment below.
1. Sleep Pillow Sounds $1.99 – Although this isn’t a game your children can play, we thought it was important to include. It can be hard to sleep in a new bed with unfamiliar sounds when traveling, but with the help of this app the foreign sounds will be quieted. We consider this to be a must when traveling with children.
2. Endless Alphabet free – We must warn you that skipping the ad before you hand your device over to the kids is key to this ‘free’ app, and once you get to the drag and drop screen you might not want to let go! The idea is for your little one to match the letters on the screen to create a complete word. The longer you keep a finger on the letter, the longer the letter is sounded out (maybe headphones would be best in public?) and once you’ve completed it, the definition is acted out by your new colorful monster friends and you’re on to the next!
3. Toca Kitchen $2.99 – Your children will be preparing 12 different ingredients 180 ways in no time! Since this app isn’t a timed game, there’s no pressure to get to the next level – they’ll able to explore at their own pace. Prefer a vegetarian mode? No problem, they’ve got you covered!
4. Barefoot World Atlas $4.99 – Travel the world through your 4 inch screen with this beautiful app. Geographer and BBC TV presenter Nick Crane will be your guide as you fly around the (3D) world exploring oceans and continents, meeting different people and learning about their way of life. Explore and discover the big world we live in.
5. Petting Zoo by Christoph Niemann $0.99 – You may know him as an illustrator from The New Yorker, but here you will see his illustrations come to life through alligator’s teeth as guitar strings and octopus arms as a mandolin. It’s silly, charming, and perfectly entertaining.
6. Stack the Countries $1.99 – A wonderful way to help your little ones learn country capitals, landmarks, and geographic locations. Want to start smaller? Try the Stack the States app. They’re simple and effective!
7. PBS Parents Play & Learn free – This interactive app is specifically designed for parents. Providing you with dozens of games, you’ll be able to connect every day “teachable moments” to math and literally skills, making trips to the grocery store more exciting for everyone! This free app can be toggled from English to Spanish – perfect bilingual families!
8. Learn Spanish free – Or Japanese, French, Italian, German, Mandarin, or Portuguese with each MindSnack apps. With 9 different games, your children will build essential vocabulary and conversational skills. Unlock levels as you progress and watch your avatar grow smarter and brighter!
9. Peekaboo Barn $1.99 – Although language packages (other than spanish) are an additional $0.99 per bundle, we think this app is a wonderful way to learn animals and the sounds they make. You can also record voices so friends or visiting family can capture their own voice for your children to hear.
10. Oh No Fractions! $0.99 – Math isn’t always a favorite, but with this app it’s easy to see how fractions compare, add, subtract, multiply, and divide through visuals. Keep track of your child’s progress with the statistics feature. The design is sleek and simple, and will have fractions learned in no time!
In our new series, “Across the Street, Across the Globe” we hope to prove that you don’t always need to travel internationally to expose your children to other cultures. We’ve reached out to some of our favorite bloggers to find out how they’re raising little citizens of the world in each of their hometowns.
Today we have San Diego native, Bonnie Rush from A Golden Afternoon, sharing her family’s favorite spots. Be sure to follow Bonnie’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram. We’re also big fans of her Pinterest board! Thank you Bonnie for sharing your world with us – we can’t wait to take a trip down to San Diego and explore!
San Diego is full of amazing sights and sounds for kiddos and adults alike! Although we are a young city, we still hold pieces of history which connect us to the rest of the world and cultures of long ago. Philadelphia may be laden with cobblestone put down by men during the time of our founding fathers, but Cabrillo discovered San Diego long before William Penn was even alive. It just took a few years for anyone to actually live here, but who’s really counting. I love that my kids can be in this one city and yet still learn so much about the world around us.
As a homeschooling family, we have the opportunity to use San Diego as our living history book and are able to explore pieces of land that crazy important people have stepped foot on. I’d love to share some of our favorite spots that help my little ones understand more about that big world out there with different countries, languages, and even food (my favorite topic!).
Presidio Park. I’d have to start here because this is where our city began. I love that the Junipero Serra Museum is so humble and yet can offer so much in the way of beauty and also history. It’s a GORGEOUS place for a family picnic, as you can see the ocean and the area where Spanish monks came through on their first journey through the valley. Trust me, it’s an amazing place to sit with your kids and take in our city. I love opening a map and talking with them about which countries the explorers came from and which ones finally staked their claim on our city. After, you can drop down below to Old Town, check out what life was like when our city was born, and grab a pair of trendy Minnetonkas for everyone, to finish off your visit.
Scottish Highland Games. Part of exploring culture is exploring where your own family came from. For us, that means heading up to the way North of San Diego to Vista and the Scottish Highland games. It’s a lot of fun even if you don’t have Scottish blood. You can listen to plenty of bagpipe music, eat a meat pie, watch the sheepdogs work their magic on the sheep, and enjoy the games. Who doesn’t love a good ol’ log throwing competition?
San Diego Museum of Art: Art museums are definitely a go-to for soaking up culture and history in any city. The San Diego Museum of Art is a modest size, but that makes it perfect for kids. It still has many famous works of art like my daughter’s favorite, Degas and his perfectly poised ballerinas, my son’s favorite, Duque de la Roca (whom he believes is George Washington), or mine, Matisse’s beautiful bouquet. They don’t walk in feeling over-whelmed because of a huge building with endless flights of stairs and thousands of people waiting to run them over. Don’t get me wrong, seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre was amazing for me, but kids can get taken aback by the hustle and bustle of a HUGE museum. This museum also has a fun kids game where they use cards with a small picture of a piece of art used to search for the real piece somewhere in the museum. My kids love it!
Balboa Park offers a FREE day (that’s right!) every Tuesday for residents and military which is a great help. Go to this link for a PDF with things to do in Balboa Park with kids. We love this place because you can walk to so many fun spots in a small surface area. You can find a huge fountain to amaze the kids, good coffee, gardens for wandering (where we took our wedding photos!), and plenty of art and culture to soak in. Balboa Park also houses International Cottages for many different countries, with festivals and events being hosted for each country all year long! The San Diego Art Museum and the Japanese Tea Garden mentioned in this post are both in Balboa Park.
San Diego Public Market and the Little Italy Mercado are two of my favorite stops. Food is an important part of our life as a family, as we cook and eat at home most of the time. One single bite of food can bridge the gap between countries. Between these two markets, you can taste authentic African, Italian, French, Thai, and fair trade coffees and teas from the other side of the world. It is very important to me that my little ones try new foods. I just ask them to try one bite. Sometimes we are all surprised when a new food for them becomes a favorite., like sushi.
The Japanese Tea Garden is a beautiful and peaceful part of Balboa Park. My kids love the koi pond as well as the rock garden. Having visited Japan, I think this lovely place reflects the gardens of Japan well. I’m thrilled for the places, even small ones, where my kids can see what parts of a foreign country would be like. You can grab some tea to drink for an even more authentic touch. An expansion is in progress so there will soon be more to love!
Sushi Mura. We love this traditional Japanese style sushi restaurant because the food is fresh, the rice is very well prepared, and they make their own soy sauce. Plus, it’s casual enough that the kids can come, but my husband and I can still enjoy a great meal (and an extensive sake menu). My kids didn’t always love sushi, but after years of ordering teriyaki chicken, they took more and more of those one bite testers and finally fell in love with it. If your kids (or you) don’t like seaweed, you can always order it with a soy paper wrapping which tastes like nothing, but holds the other delicious parts of the sushi together just like the seaweed would. My kids love the salmon roll or the rainbow roll, if we let them have it on a special day.
For food reflecting the Portuguese and Italian fishing communities of old San Diego, a fast-favorite of ours is Roseville Cozinha. Also located at Liberty Station, this restaurant is comfortable and delicious. Our favorites are the wood oven-roasted whole shrimp with chili, parsley, and garlic as well as the salt cod fritters with lemon aioli and arugula. The kids get to color on the paper table covering which my boys love!
The New Children’s museum. For something more modern and unique, the Children’s museum is a great place to stop by. We love their hands-on approach towards creativity, community, and culture. My kid’s eyes are always opened wide to the world around them after paying a visit there. They did things right by allowing the kids to explore with their hands instead of limiting them to their eyes, as in a typical museum. While each museum type has its benefits, the New Children’s Museum will mix things up for your kiddos with something for everyone to explore. Plus, there is a VW bug you can paint outside. What kid wouldn’t get a thrill about that?!
Whether out and about or at home, there are so many ways to bring the world into your home and to your kids. The most important to me is living as an example to them. If they don’t see me trying new things and exploring, they will eventually lose interest, as they start to form their own values and traditions based on what they observe. All of our children are little sponges, just waiting for the next exciting thing to soak up. I love seeing them try new languages, foods, and learn how people around the world live. As adults, we have such an exciting job! We get to show the kids in our life how to be explorers, by going out there and navigating our own city!
“Tonight you get to pick three books!” Sound familiar?
Whether it’s a nightly routine, an afternoon activity or a monthly trip to the book store, reading with children is one of the greatest bonding experiences we have with our little ones. Together we’re able to travel to far away places to meet heros and Kings, giggle with talking animals, and escape reality. As fun and whimsical as children’s books may be, they truly help our little citizens gain a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. We believe it’s important that we introduce multicultural books into our nightly routines to open their eyes to the great big world they’re part of.
Today we’re sharing three of our favorite South African children’s books with you in hopes that they’ll be incorporated into your routine in one way or another!
Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales, Various Authors and Illustrators
32 of Nelson Mandela’s favorite African folktales bound into one book. These stories have been passed down from generation to generation in Africa, now it’s time you share them in your home in hopes that the stories will live on through new generations worldwide. Complete with a map, you can see where each story originates. Travel through Africa by way of story with your little one with this beautiful collection of tales!
The Mother of Monsters, Retold by Fran Parnell and illustrated by Sophie Fatus
The Chief’s daughter Ntombi, isn’t afraid of the frightening Ilunge River like everyone else. When she goes there for a swim she finds a very unhappy monster, Mother of Monsters, causing more trouble than she could ever imagine!
The Gift of the Sun, Diane Stewart and Jude Daly
Thulani loves to bask in the sun, but life as a farmer leaves little time for this. One night he has an idea to exchange his troublesome goat for a sheep, the first trade of many in hopes of making his life easier. With every trade, his wife becomes more and more irritated until one day, Thulani receives a gift from the sun that will ultimately change his life forever.
We are so pleased to share with you the latest book from The Global Fund for Children (GFC). Global Baby Girls is more than a collection of beautiful, close-up baby portraits from around the world–it bears an important message that, no matter where they are born, “girls can grow up to change the world.” We asked staff at GFC and our staff at Tea Collection, “Why do baby girls matter to you and to the world?” Be sure to share your thoughts with us as well!
“My daughter, Talia will be seven weeks old on Friday, March 22nd. I could never have imagined feeling such a fierce and intense love. Talia is a global citizen who is strong, bold and bright. Like all baby girls everywhere, she is a blessing to our community and the world over!” —Maya Ajmera, The Global Fund for Children
“What would this world be without little Princesses? Not the spoiled, holier-than-thou type. The little Princesses who grow up and explore the world around them… The ones who realize they’re just a little piece of this giant puzzle and they’re determined to make their mark on the world. They seek out challenges and are inspired by other cultures, they learn new languages and dream of one day ruling the world. They then raise their own little Princesses, encouraging them to dream big, see big and never lose faith in big hearts.” –Jessie Bandy, Tea Collection
“Baby girls matter to me and the rest of the world because they hold our future in their tiny little hands.” –Sandra Macías del Villar, The Global Fund for Children
“Baby girls are a powerful force for the future. Given support and the tools to succeed, baby girls will grow up to change the world! They will become mothers, sisters, best friends, students, teachers, leaders. They will stand up for what they believe in, they will initiate change and they will fuel growth. They will set the course for generations to come. Each baby girl has a whole world of possibilities ahead of her. And, that is incredibly inspiring.” –Diane DeRousseau, Tea Collection
“Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of. But that old-fashioned adage leaves out the gritty, the bold, the brave, the determined, the free-spirited, the sporty, and the clever. Today’s baby girls might grow up to be the President, teachers, sports stars, doctors, nurses, artists, and moms – and everything in between. The possibilities are limitless for so many, but not for all. The most important thing is that every girl everywhere can reach her full promise with all the access, choice, and opportunities she needs to do so. A girl’s potential should not be defined by where she is born, but determined by her limitless dreams and by the pathways we help create that lead to them.” –Victoria Dunning, The Global Fund for Children
“I do not have a daughter but I have two younger sisters and I remember my excitement when each sister was born. I remember carrying my sister on my hip and feeling a protective pride in this fascinating creature, so full of possibilities. I loved my role in showing the world to them, teaching them how to read and climb trees. Baby girls matter, just as baby boys, because they represent our future and, as society becomes more progressive, their opportunities to lead, influence and change the world are limitless.” –Lydia Bruno, Tea Collection
“Baby girls matter because today, more than ever before, they have the power and opportunity to shape the world we live in and make it better not only for future generations of baby girls, but for babies of all genders and backgrounds. I am raising my “baby girl” (now 7) to be mindful of the privileges she enjoys, growing up in the U.S. today, thanks to the tenacity, energy and spirit of those who came before her. I’m hoping she will strive to pay it forward.” –Esther Buss, Tea Collection
“Baby girls are a promise for our future. They are future mothers and providers for their children. And we need to make sure our baby girls know their innate power to shape the world for the coming generations.” –Teresa Weathington, The Global Fund for Children
Martin Luther King Jr once proclaimed, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?” So, how are your honoring MLK Jr and his legacy? Twenty-seven years ago President Reagan signed MLK Jr Day into existence and catapulted a ‘can do’ and ‘will help’ attitude into the American radar. This willingness to lend a hand has been celebrated in South Africa for many decades, centuries even. Ubuntu is the idea that we are all interconnected and what happens to you happens to me. Desmond Tutu defined it as when a human knows “that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated… the essence of being human.” We can’t live without each other and we need to help one another out.
The idea of generosity and the call to serve has struck a special chord in Tadatoshi Akiba’s heart (Mayor of Hiroshima from 1999-2011). He loved the call to action so much that he declared MLK Jr Day a holiday. This really is a global celebration. How will your honor MLK Jr? Share with us on Facebook. Remember every day can be a day of service to your community.
Check out Tea School Days– a no brainer to raise money for your child’s school.
*Image courtesy of Family Goes Strong.