Monthly Archives: August 2012

August 24, 2012

Activity Printout: See you later skater

Skate into the new school year in style with our little friend.  Dress him up for his first day of school.

Monster Skater Coloring Page

Color your monster for his first day back to school.

Download your very own monster skater here.

Once you’re done, submit your creation to blog@teacollection.com for your chance to win a $100 Tea gift certificate! Every month, Tea staff will pick one artistic little citizen to win!  Honorable mentions will also be uploaded into their own featured blog post. Let your creative juices flow and show us your inner artist!

Tea Colelction Carlclops outfit.

Be your own little monster in this tshirt.

Happy coloring!

August 22, 2012

Discovering Wales & England

Guest Blogger Alyson shares her experience of traveling to Wales and England with her husband (Craig), kids (Eric, five and Abigail, three), Alyson’s parents (Adele and Paul), her husband’s dad (Dave), and her grandmother (Debbie).

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The kids loved having extended family along – Grandma and Grandpa brought lots of great snacks and activities, and there were plenty of people to interact with and play with during long drives and at interesting spots along our journey. This was particularly helpful on the first day in the U.K.; a full day of touring following the children’s first “red-eye” flight. Eric and Abby didn’t let it phase them, engaging themselves with the interactive exhibits at the Roald Dahl museum and exploring the gardens at Anne Hathaway’s House.

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Eric and Abigail particularly loved areas where they could run and play – along a short walk, at an old Roman coliseum. Actually, they are able to turn any venue into an opportunity to run and play. That’s why this journey through Wales was great for our kids (and their mom and dad). It was short on traditional museums and long on interactive experiences. And they loved exploring old castles, climbing the historic towers where 800 years ago the soldiers of King Edward I guarded the fortress, and racing along the tops of the ancient stone walls surrounding the magical village of Conwy. We also got to explore part of the vast canal system of the U.K. that helped propel England’s industrial revolution, and the kids loved helping Grandpa drive the boat.

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Eric and Abigail made other important contributions to the group, including helping us navigate through the maze pathways traversing the gorgeous Bodnant Gardens.
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Our children love trains; who doesn’t? The narrow gauge train ride up and down Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, was a big hit, despite the rain and dense clouds at the top – typical for Snowdon’s summit.

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The rolling hills of Brecon Beacons National Park dazzled our senses, and we loved seeing the numerous sheep roaming around and even crossing the road!

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The dying art of slate cutting was introduced to us at the National Slate Museum as the master slate cutter demonstrated his skill splitting a ¼ inch thick 1 foot square into two 1/8 inch squares, with a mallet and chisel. Abigail was delighted with the perfect heart shape made in seconds by a few strikes with a broad knife.

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Toward the end of our trip, we reconnected with some old friends now living in Surrey, England. We were invited to a nursery school to explain to approximately 20 three- and four-year-olds the significance of July 4th. Ultimately the children all understood that this was the birthday of our country. After playing for hours with his British contemporaries, Eric could effortlessly switch into, and out of, a great British accent!

This was only the second time we’d taken our kids out of the country, but the first time where we truly got to immerse them into another culture; what a gift.

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August 19, 2012

Parenting, Danish Style

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part four of their adventure.

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Different parenting styles have been big news in the past couple years, or maybe I’ve just started noticing since I’ve entered that chapter of my life. A couple years ago it was the Tiger Mom, this year it was French parenting. I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the differences I’ve seen in how the Danes parent compared to American parenting, as viewed through my personal lens.

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Danish kids nap outside. Rain, shine, sleet or hail, all Danish kids I have ever met nap outside in their giant, beautiful prams. When they start attending nursery school at around a year of age, the prams go with them and all the babies nap outside in a covered area with sound monitors. It is believed that napping outdoors strengthens the babies’ lungs and gives them better health. While I have my personal doubts about whether that claim would bear out scientifically, I do like the idea of outdoor napping and have given it a half-hearted try with my two daughters (without much success, unfortunately). You can always find a parking lot of prams parked outside a restaurant or any public space.

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The Danes are famous for their biking, and cargo bikes are an especially popular way to transport the groceries and kids in Copenhagen. Cars are subject to a 100% car tax in Denmark and gas is at least twice as expensive as it is in the U.S., so many Danes choose to get around by bike instead. Cyclists enjoy extremely safe and convenient biking conditions in Copenhagen, including bike paths that are separated from the cars and special traffic lights for bikes. On any given day of the week, you will see hoards of cyclists: men in suits, women in high heels, students going to school, adults with kid seats on the back, big and little, male and female, young and old. I should mention that my my mother-in-law, who raised three kids and lives in the countryside, has never had a driver’s license and biked the 6 miles to and from work almost every day of the year until she retired last year. It’s quite inspiring!

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Our annual trip to Denmark to visit half our family and friends is always a reminder of a different pace of life. We observe and reflect on the more relaxed daily living and high quality of life. People work fewer hours, commute less, have at least six weeks of holiday a year. These are just a few of the many reasons they have claimed the top spot in United Nations’ 2012 World Happiness Report. We find that our friends have an excellent balance between work and home life and while there are arguments against the system, Danes overall seem quite content.

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We love being outside in the Danish summertime, even if the weather is not always summery. Our friends were eager to show us their sprouting gardens and walk along the newly minted bike path that replaced the old abandoned railroad. The kids were excited to jump on their ubiquitous trampolines and make use of the many play structures. Due to the intense weather during much of the rest of the year, Danes appreciate their summers with enthusiastic gusto. As soon as a ray of sunshine appears, the Danes immediately run outside to soak up the rays, even if it means being wrapped up in a blanket because it’s still cold.


August 18, 2012

These are a Few of Our Favorite Things

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them 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.

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We’ve been going on trips to Denmark every summer for the past nine years, but the last four visits have taken on a new meaning: we’ve had our kids with us. We travel differently now, and enjoy Denmark in a new way.

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When you live across the world from Farmor (father’s mother), time together takes on a new meaning. We spend a lot of our trip making sure our kids get to be with their farmor. The sight of Farmor’s yellow brick country house nestled amongst the fields of wheat and barley is always an exciting one, but it’s extra special now that we are reuniting our daughters with their Danish grandma.

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We love visiting the cows that live near Farmor’s house and feeding them grass. They come running over, as the hares and birds scatter out of their way. It’s fun to see that a farm with around forty cows can exist.

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Shockingly, we go to children’s parks now. The playground equipment is different from what we have at home, so it’s a novelty for our girls. On one of our park trips the skies suddenly clouded over and the rain poured down. Everyone gathered under a covered area, but I didn’t last long there because of all the smoking. There are some cultural differences that are hard to get used to.

Travel with Kids
Reuniting with our friends and all their children is so much fun every year. Our older daughter does well with the Danish, but really kids can make do without a common language. Most of the kids we know have  summer birthdays (you would want a summer birthday, too, if you lived in Scandinavia), so our older daughter has become very fond of the Danish birthday cake: a layer cake with jam and vanilla cream filling  covered with whipped cream.

Family, animals, playgrounds, friends and birthday cake: these are a few of our favorite things.

August 17, 2012

Danish Hygge

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part two of their adventure.

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Hygge is a very uniquely Danish word that has no English translation.

The closest approximation is “coziness.” It’s what happens when it gets dark at 3:00pm in the wintertime, when it’s too windy and cold to enjoy the outdoors, when everyone is forced to be close together inside. Out come the candles, the music, the food and drink, the stories and jokes and laughter. That’s hygge, or at least how I’ve come to know it. To tell someone that your visit was very “hyggelig” (full of hygge) is the highest compliment. Luckily for us, hygge exists throughout the year so we get to soak it up in the summertime during our visits.

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Danes love their open-faced sandwiches and it’s what we ate for lunch every day. The dark, heavy rye bread comes out first, and then all the toppings: butter, cheese, liver pate, eggs, cucumber, tomato, herring. There are many variations, but certain combinations are acceptable and others shocking. Who knew that liver pate and cheese was such an outlandish mix?

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Perhaps because of all the time spent indoors enjoying hygge during certain times of the year, Danes care about how the interior of their homes look. Danish design is known around the world as simple, sleek, and light. Our Danish friends furnish their homes with a great deal of thought and intention- always hardwood floors, usually white or off-white walls and furnishings, lots of soft lighting, carefully chosen artwork.

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It took me a while to get used to the length of the Danish meal. I remember my very first meal on my very first trip to Denmark many years ago; everyone was so lovely and eager to show me their beautiful country, but I was seriously jet-lagged and unprepared for the stamina the Danes have for sitting down and talking. A summer dinner date with friends can easily last seven hours, so it’s a good thing we like our friends.

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I really love how the Danes make a point to sit down together for a meal. It’s how I was raised and it’s how I try to raise my family.

Perhaps it’s a bit easier for the Danes because they are usually able to get home earlier than the average American, at least in my experience. Nevertheless, the family meal is something I think is incredibly valuable and seems to be at the core of Danish hygge.

 

August 16, 2012

Activity Printout: Repair the Robot

Who doesn’t want to build a robot? This fun activity is a great way to get your gears moving towards a creative adventure.

activity printout of a robot

Activity Printout: Repair the Robot

Download your own Repair the Robot Activity Page

Once you’re done, submit your creation to blog@teacollection.com for your chance to win a $100 Tea gift certificate! Every month, Tea staff will pick one artistic little citizen to win!  Honorable mentions will also be uploaded into their own featured blog post. Let your creative juices flow and show us your inner artist!

You can be a little robot too in our Bjorn-bot tee.

Bjorn-Bot Tee

DIY activity page inspired by the Bjorn-Bot Tee

 

Danes on the Go

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part one of their adventure.

Travel with Kids
Our annual trip to Denmark to visit half our family and friends is always a reminder of a different pace of life. We observe and reflect on the more relaxed daily living and high quality of life. People work fewer hours, commute less, have six weeks of holiday. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, there are many reasons they have claimed the top spot in United Nations’ 2012 World Happiness Report.

One of our favorite things about Denmark is the many alternate modes of travel. This is our friends’ Christiania-style bike, where the kids and cargo can all be loaded in the front.
travel with kids
This is how many kids in Copenhagen are transported to school, on errands, or around town, and it’s one way people can manage without a car. Most of our friends went for years without cars, only purchasing them once they had multiple kids and moved out of Copenhagen to the more distant suburbs. Back during the late-1970′s oil crisis, Denmark instituted “car-free Sundays” and there were songs romanticizing biking. Fast forward 25 years and the Danes continue to invest in their bike paths. Along any given road, you are likely to see a parallel bike path, with lots of people using it.

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We love the Danish rail system! There is an extensive network of speedy, quiet, and frequent trains that is used by many Danes to get to and from work, home, and errands. It’s an easy, although not cheap, way to get around Copenhagen specifically, Denmark in general, and all of Scandinavia. We are inspired to support our own rail systems at home in hopes that they, too, will someday be as efficient, as clean, as quiet, and as used as the Danish trains.

It’s not just the Danish trains that are so worthy of envy- the Norwegian trains are just as beautiful. This is the train from the Oslo airport into town. Our older daughter loves all forms of public transit (thanks to Papa), so she is very excited each summer to go on as many trains and buses as possible.

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Instead of worrying about car parking, apartment buildings in Denmark have to make sure there is enough space for all the bikes! Cyclists enjoy extremely safe and convenient biking conditions in Copenhagen, including bike paths that are separated from the cars and special traffic lights for bikes. On any given day of the week, you will see hoards of cyclists: men in suits, women in high heels, students going to school, adults with kid seats on the back, big and little, male and female, young and old. The mercurial weather doesn’t even stop them- they just tuck their heads down and pedal into the rain, the wind, the sleet, and the snow of short, dark, winter days. I should mention that my my mother-in-law, who raised three kids and lives in the countryside, has never had a driver’s license and biked the 6 miles to and from work almost every day of the year until she retired last year. It truly is the way the Danes get around.

It helps that it’s a very flat country.

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