Tag: little citizens

choose barefoot cay if visiting roatan

Barefoot Cay is an exquisite piece of paradise in the otherwise rough-around-the-edges island of Roatan, Honduras. For Thanksgiving our extended family of seven (including our two-year old, Grace) traveled there and had almost the whole cay (tiny island) to ourselves. We took over three of the four bungalows and enjoyed getting to know the handful of other guests who were staying in the fourth bungalow, in several yachts at the marina and in the new lofts the resort has built on the mainland.

Some of the best amenities of this beautiful little cay include the palapa on a dock out over the water, the clear blue water, delicious, well-prepared food in an intimate dining area, and the well-appointed bungalows completely furnished down to the food processor and blender! We felt very comfortable at Barefoot Cay with our 2-year old, Grace. The staff went out of their way to fix special meals for her, entertain her, and suggest outings for the whole family she would also enjoy.

We were also overwhelmed by the wonderful staff at Barefoot Cay. Mel and Fernand at the front desk were there for every little need we had, from taxi service to laundry to ideas for where to go out to dinner. Owners Milesse and John made us feel like personal guests in their home, not as paying guests of a resort. Staff in the dining room, dive shop, housekeeping, and spa were all so friendly but always professional. We have stayed elsewhere in the Caribbean with very little contact with resort staff, but everyone at Barefoot Cay was always happy to see us and so warm.

One highlight for our party was the dive shop. None of us were divers before but three of us did the Discover scuba class and were amazed by the personalized, professional service of the instructors at the dive shop. Most of the time we had a one-on-one ratio instructor to student, and at one point we even had two instructors to one student. They made us feel so safe and comfortable with the new sport. We were lucky to have grandparents along to watch Grace while we were out diving.

Another daily highlight were meals. We ate about half of our dinners in the resort dining room and they all were deliciously prepared, including the special meals for Grace. The rest of the time we cooked for ourselves in our bungalows after stocking up at a nearby grocery store.

The only downsides of Barefoot Cay are not actually the fault of Barefoot Cay. They are the same downsides we posted previously about all of Roatan. Here they are: 1) garbage floating in the water 2) sand flies and mosquitoes and 3) the ugly shipping dock next door. The reality is, Barefoot Cay is in a developing nation. Garbage-polluted water is a problem in every developing nation. It wasn’t always an issue at the cay but seemed to be worse after heavy rains. We’ve heard it’s not a problem at all in the dry season (first part of the year). As for the bugs, Barefoot Cay staff work tirelessly to keep the bugs down, spraying day and night with non-toxic sprays and handing out complimentary bug repellent to guests. Still I think they’d have to drop a pesticide bomb on Roatan to get rid of them all. The one or two times we forgot bug spray resulted in literally hundreds of sand fly bites on all of us, which are still itching a week later. Finally, there is a ship yard next door but it really isn’t that bad. It never bothered us but you may want to look the other way if it bothers you.

All in all, we LOVED Barefoot Cay and highly recommend it to families traveling to Roatan. Milesse, John and their staff have obviously worked incredibly hard to create a beautiful spot in a harsh environment. It’s a wonderful destination for the whole family if you’re looking for a Caribbean destination off the beaten path, but still comfortable and affordable.

a pious effort to locate the Mona Lisa

This is #8 of an on going dialog of our travel which includes 5 countries and a 4 year old. Please check the prior archives for the previous sagas

When Olivia was 3 we had stayed in the penthouse of a hotel in Mexico. We climbed into bed, all three of us, and she looked out the window to see Jesus. Not figuratively or a revelation … but a steel one. Not just any Jesus but a giant Jesus with his arms outreached, face looking to the sky and robes flowing on the hill across from the hotel. So giant was this Jesus that he had a blinking red beacon on his head so aircraft would avoid crashing into The Jesus. Olivia opened her eyes wide and said, “Hey Daddy! Who is that boy?” My husband said, “It’s a man and his name is Hey-soos.” (phonetic for Jesus said in Spanish) Days later we were returning home on the airplane and the flight attendant announces on the p.a., “Will Jesus Morales please ring your call button?” My daughter was sitting in the row across the aisle and one row forward from me. She swivels in her seat and looking over her shoulder gives me a thumbs up with a smile and a nod while saying “Heeeey-sooooos.” And thus was the introduction to Jesus for the pagan daughter of two fallen Catholics.

A year later, my husband, my now 4.5-year-old daughter and I were in Saudi Arabia. Naturally, I was emailing home to the States the amazing adventures we were having while my daughter Olivia was first standing on the chair next to me marching in place, then laying across the table behind the laptop, then spinning in circles next to me on the floor while humming Dance of The Sugarplum Fairies, culminating with rock-climbing up the back of my chair and slithering onto my back. While she was there and I was pretending she was not, she looked over my shoulder and saw one of the AOL Latest News pictures. She states matter-of-factly (remember she is 4), “Oh, huh. The Mona Lisa.” For the first time in 15 minutes she found a way to actually get my attention. Freak-of-knowledge usually is the winning hand for her. I stopped emailing (her mission accomplished) and craned my neck to look the monkey on my back in the eye and say, “WHAT? How do you know about the Mona Lisa???” “Little Einsteins”, she replies … again as if to say duhhh. We were soon to leave the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and travel to Paris, France. I said, “Olivia! Did you know the Mona Lisa is in the Louvre? We can go see it in Paris if you want?” She thought that was a more than fabulous idea and that was going to be our plan.

We arrived at the Louvre the first week of January, last year. We quickly looked for a map and found exactly where the Mona Lisa was kept. Getting to it was a tad more difficult. Sidetracked with the humongous art in the amazing Napoleon room, Olivia and I wandered off from Mike and found another room. We walked right into a face-to-face meeting of a huge, dark, scary painting of a dying man. Olivia says, “oh yuck Mom, that is really not a pretty paining! Who is that man?” I replied, “Oh that is Jesus Christ” to which she nodded her head yes while mulling over the notion and said, “ah, right. I’ve heard you say that before.” While I was trying my hardest to quickly determine if I should laugh or not, my husband Mike walks up to us, oblivious to what we were talking about, and calmly looks at the painting and says “Oh look Olivia, Hey-soos!” Olivia then has a manifestation of divine truth and replies “ohhhhhh Hey-SOOS. Why didn’t you say so Mom? I know who that is, we saw him in Mexico with a red light on his head.”

 

 

 

a collard greens new year

Happy New Year! We celebrated the New Year with a long-standing Southern tradition of a New Year’s Day meal complete with collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. This meal is supposed to ensure a prosperous year. The peas are eaten for luck and the greens symbolize money and prosperity. Usually some type of pork is included in the meal along with corn bread.

This year, we were visiting friends in another state on New Year’s Day so the kids actually tasted the collard greens and corn bread (usually they don’t dig in). Being in a different environment without their standard backup of mac and cheese increased the likelihood of them trying new food. I can’t say they loved it but there was no audible gagging. My six year old is a pretty adventurous eater anyway so she declared the collard greens to be “pretty good”. My four year old took a small bite and decided to survive on popcorn later that evening.

I am not a fan of cooking black eyed peas or collard greens however I think it is nice for the kids to experience the tradition of bringing in the year by sharing a meal with family and friends. They may not grow to love traditional Southern food but hopefully they will continue to gather with loved ones to usher in the New Year.

recommendation: world traveling dress up doll

In the spirit of all our travel themed posts this week, we’ve found a great new dress up doll to get your little one thinking about the great big world. Mudpuppy’s World Traveler Dress Up Doll features background scenes from Mexico, India, Japan, Germany, Hawaii, and Kenya with matching monuments, hellos and traditional clothing. Check it out!

an amazing heirloom you can create

I walked into my friend’s house one day and noticed a huge wonderful oil painting of a mother and a father standing with two children standing in front of them and a small child on peeking over the shoulder of the father. I told my friend Liz, “Wow I love that painting, is that new?” She replied “No. That is my family; I am the one on my dad’s back. We had it done when we were little and my mom just gave it to me.” I thought how wonderful that piece of art was and how nice to have it passed down.

Recently I was in a business in San Francisco that had an installation of local artists paintings and I fell in love with one of the artists style. I initially thought it would be great if he could do a portrait of my 5-year-old daughter, Olivia. That is when I had my epiphany. I contacted the artist and commissioned him to do a family portrait. The key was that he is a local budding artist so he is affordable. While I was creating a memory for her I decided to incorporate a fantastic family journey we experienced, hoping to further instill her experience in Egypt from her then 4-year old mind. Now she sees the painting on a daily basis and couldn’t possibly forget sharing a camel with her father while riding next to her mother on her camel in the Sahara desert past the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Sphinx. I can visualize 40 years in the future, my daughter explaining to her friend “that is me, the little one sitting in my dad’s lap.”

a gift that gives back

Buying gifts that give back to the world is incredibly fulfilling. Every year I like to donate something in each of my family member’s names to Heifer or get them little tokens of global beauty at Ten Thousand Villages. Here at Tea, we have a great way to give back this season. Our Global Fund for Children line features our “For the Little Citizens of the World” tagline on bodysuits and tees. We are also carrying some of the inspiring, globally oriented books published by the Global Fund to share with your little citizens. All the proceeds from the sales of the Global Fund for Children line go back to an organization doing amazing things for little ones worldwide. To learn more about the Global Fund for Children visit www.globalfundforchildren.org.

souvenirs and little citizens

This is #5 of an ongoing dialog of our travel which included 4 countries and a 4 year old. Please check the prior archives for the previous sagas.

We flew across the Red Sea leaving Saudi Arabia and landing in Egypt. After having worn my abaya for nearly a month, I must admit I didn’t want to take it off. It becomes comfortable … oddly enough. There is something comforting in being able to keep to yourself and be private. There is something nice about losing the button off your pants prior to a fancy dinner and it not mattering in the least because you are wearing an abaya anyhow. I was told that women often leave the house in their pajamas because no one can tell. I did not remove my abaya and headscarf until we landed in Luxor which included one prior stop. I figured I would be ripping it off first chance I got but it didn’t turn out that way.

The tombs and temple complex Karnak at Luxor were amazing and we preferred it to Ciaro and the pyramids. If it is even possible for one super amazing city can be topped by another even more super amazing city. We were repeatedly informed that our 4 year old would not remember any of our trip. One male friend who had traveled there recently informed me that “Egypt would be a little dry for her, no pun intended.” None taken. We hoped that she would remember this once-in-a-lifetime experience that she was having at 4 years age. We did not have a plan to help us force the experience into her long-term memory but a serendipitous plan slowly unfolded.

As a side note I must explain I have spent the last 20 years working with people with Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI). One man I worked with was an alcoholic and a roofer which is a really bad combination. Odds are you’ll slip off the roof eventually. People with ABI have very little or no short-term memory but can happily discuss anything in that happened years ago because it is in their long-term memory. Every day I would tell my client the roofer the same joke which goes like this, “My dog can talk. I asked him what was on top of the house and do you know what he said?” And every day my client would shake his head no. I would tell him the punch line and he would laugh like he had never heard it before. One day, as usual, I told him the joke and when I said, “do you know what the dog said?” my client then blurted out with a hearty laugh and replied “Roof!” I had made it into the long-term memory somehow. This is the principle I am using to help my young child remember a fabulous travel experience. Although I am not repeating it every day, I am sure she is thankful, I incorporate information from time to time and ask her open ended questions that makes her pull up information from her experiences to answer the questions. Hopefully I am slowly placing it into her long-term memory.

Olivia stuck out like a sore thumb in Egypt just as she did in Saudi Arabia. Although there were plenty of Americans and Europeans in Egypt, they were all Grey-Hairs as Egypt is a vacation destination reserved for AARP-ers. Olivia learned to yell “No Touching!” in Saudi Arabia as the men ran to her ready to pinch her cheeks. In Egypt it was different because they ran to her giving her presents. This was especially odd in that every person we came across in Egypt had their hand out wanting to be paid. Luckily for us, the man who rented us camels to ride to the pyramids fell in love with her immediately. He instructed us to “wait right here” and ran off returning with a statue of the pyramids and sphinx. He gave it to Olivia and told us that he was also going to give us his son to marry her and that he, himself, was a Texan. Texas was a big theme in Arab countries. Many people asked if we were from Texas because we had a Texas accent. My husband is from San Francisco and I am from Northern California.

This little statue was the building block for us to create a long-term memory for her. We created a shelf in her room with one souvenir from each country she has traveled so that she sees it often but subtly. This is where the pyramid and sphinx sit. She began reading a book series from the library called The Magic Tree House so we purchased the one in the series called Mummies in the Morning for her personal collection. It is amazing how much Egypt stuff (for lack of a better word) is available. So we integrated a little here and a little there…Egypt playing cards, Egypt action figures, Little Einstein’s Egypt play set. Just enough to intermittently jog her memory. It lends many opportunities for discussion and open-ended questions such as “remember when you woke up in Dad’s arms and you were in front of King Tut’s Mask in the Egyptian Museum?” Or “I remember that mommy mummy that had her baby mummified with her” to which Olivia quickly corrects me and says “No Mommy, that wasn’t a baby it was her pet baboon!”