Monthly Archives: January 2013

January 30, 2013

Making The Most Of Vacations Abroad

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 one of their adventure.

Time is always an issue when planning a trip overseas. How much time can the kids be away from school? Where can we travel to achieve maximum exposure, and once there how do we ultimately choose what we do?

Our home is gorgeous Alaska, but we relish any chance to escape the cold, dark winter environment. Many of our trips center around spending quality time with family and sharing our love of travel. Recently, we met up with my brother and his family who live in Zimbabwe.

Looking back, we found that incorporating a few simple things into our traveling routine improves our exposure and experiences.

1.     Educate ahead: We started our explorations of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Dubai months prior to our departure by reviewing maps and globes, learning about the animals we might encounter, and reading African folktales. Keeping on ongoing list of questions and predications about what we might experience helped focus our interests and potentially reduced culture shock.

travel with kids

2.     Learn some of the language- Simple phrases of hello, good-bye and thank you are fun for kids to learn and practice. In Zimbabwe, our children worked on counting to ten and singing a song in Shona, which became part of their Christmas concert performance. When the locals saw that we were trying to interact with their language and culture, they were inclined to open up so much more.

3.     Eat local- We set a goal to try something new at each meal such as crocodile and sadza. Keeping a list of new foods, how they tasted, and allowing, “it’s not my favorite” to be a reasonable response to a new dish provided a fun atmosphere for food exploration.

4.    Give back- We want to make sure that our children don’t ever leave a country with a resort view of the society.  One way we work to provide multiple perspectives of the country and people is to spend some time giving to others. On this trip, we visited a local orphanage. Our children, somewhat apprehensive at first, found that sharing the art of making paper airplanes was a bonding hit.

travel with kids

5.     Skip air travel and take to the road when possible: Our group learned much about Zimbabwe and Mozambique by taking the time to take to the roads. Experiencing police road blocks, pot holes, local markets and roadside food stands, gave us a better perspective of daily life for Southern Africans. You just can’t get the same perspective from 33,000 feet.

 

As we continue to ponder all that we saw and experienced, I can’t help but be thankful for the interactions we had along the way- Extended time with family, kind, generous and open individuals, animals galore, and breathtakingly beautiful venues!

travel with kids

January 29, 2013

Black Mambas and the Elephant Whisperer

Discover the inspiration behind one of our favorite boys tops, the Black Mamba Tee.

Black Mamba Tee

Hiss-Hiss make this Black Mamba tee ‘hiss’ own.

African Elephant at Thula Thula.

Elephants at Thula Thula.

On a Thula Thula Safari jeep.

Me on my safari jeep with the Thula Thula staff.

At the end of our South Africa adventures I went to visit Thula Thula – the game reserve owned by Lawrence Anthony, author of the Elephant Whisperer – a book I decided to reread on our trip. The first night I was there – I was literally the only guest. I went to dinner and on the nightly safari drive with the staff and as it turns out, a few of the people from the book I was reading. It was a little scary sleeping in your own little house by yourself with no one else around. I heard a few creatures around my room throughout the night – but just kept telling myself they were only geckos so it was no big deal.

Rhinoceros roaming at Thula Thula.

Rhinos at Thula Thula.

Giraffe at Thula Thula.

Hello, way up there!

The next day in between a morning bush walk and lunch, I went back to my room/cottage to read. I’ve never been especially squeamish around snakes – I watched a lot of crocodile hunter and “knew” how to deal with the poisonous ones. Then I get to the section in the book where one of the staff at Thula Thula gets bit by a black mamba, because he tried to grab it – crocodile hunter style. So then they talk about how you have 30 minutes to get anti venom but they can’t keep it on site because it goes bad too quickly. They have to rush this staff member to the nearest hospital – 45 minutes away. The math is not adding up to me and things aren’t sounding good for this poor guy. It was now time for lunch so I put my book away and glance up at the top of my mosquito net – and what do I see? A smiling black snake looking down at me. Well crap, now I am scared of snakes, or at least this snake. So while still in the safety of my mosquito net I try to get as close as possible to the door of my room. But every move I make the snake follows. I finally get the courage to brave it and leap for the door.

I went and found a ranger. He and the manager came back to my room to identify what kind of snake it was. Obviously, he was no longer in the same spot when they got there. But I wouldn’t let them leave till we found him because logically, I assumed the snake was going to hide in my luggage and wait to make surprise attack back in San Francisco. So we are all looking around my room and finally we spot the snake. But we are all pointing in different directions, because apparently it was a entire family of snakes that was lodging with me.

Well it turned out they were just a friendly black house snakes, so I was safe. But the experience inspired me to design our Black Mamba Tee. Black mambas actually do look quite friendly, so I made him a little scarier so his look better matched his reputation as the “deadliest snake in Africa.”  Like what you see here?  Check out all our new boys outfits.

House snake compared to a Black Mamba.

A common house snake on your left and a deadly Black Mamba on the right.

Who do you think looks more friendly? The house snake is on the left and the Black Mamba is on the right.

image credits: house snake, black mamba

January 25, 2013

The best sights to see in London and Wales

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).

Sandra, our data guru, shares her travel highlights in the unexplored parts of London and Wales.

Stonehenge

L- R. Stonehenge, the White Hare in Llandudno, Titern Abbey, and Bath.

My brother and I traveled to the UK at the end of December to sight-see and visit our grandma and
uncle in the south of Wales. Since we’ve both been to London before, we skipped the standard tourist
stuff and took a lot of day trips before heading to Wales. Here are a few highlights from our trip:

London. Royal Ballet, one of the top ballet companies in the world, is a must see if you’re a ballet fan
or appreciate grace mixed with athleticism. Try to catch a performance with principal dancer Alina
Cojocaru.

Sightseeing tip: If you’ve been to London before and London Pass isn’t economical, Days Out Guide
offers 2 for 1 promotions with a valid travelcard from a rail station (must have the National Rail logo;
travelcards from London Underground won’t work) and it includes some attractions, such as the London
Eye, that aren’t covered by London Pass: http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/2for1-london

Stonehenge. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and on my bucket list of things to see. The henge is roped
off so you can’t touch or wander among the stones unless you sign up for a special dawn/dusk viewing.
It was very cold and windy there so make sure to wear lots of layers if you visit in the winter!

Bath. Who doesn’t want to see the city where Jane Austen’s characters go to recuperate? Ok maybe
just me. The city of Bath is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has the only hot springs in the UK.
We took a tour of the Bath Abbey Towers (hilarious yet informative tour of the history of the abbey),
explored the Roman Baths, sampled the spring water at the Pump Room (tastes like warm iron, gross),
and ended the day soaking in the thermal waters at Thermae Bath Spa.

Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey is the first Cisterian monestary in Wales and inspired William
Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” and Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s
poem “Tears, Idle Tears.” The surrounding Wye Valley has beautiful scenic walks along the River Wye; a
perfect diversion while waiting for the next bus back to Chepstow!

Llandudno. Llandudno is the largest seaside resort in Wales and has a Victorian promenade and the
longest pier in Wales. The town has loose ties to Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland as Alice Liddell, the
“real Alice,” spent her summers there. Most attractions are closed in the winter, so after walking along
the promenade and pier, we searched for Alice in Wonderland statues scattered around the town (there
are four: Alice, White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, and Queen of Hearts).

January 24, 2013

Activity Book Page: Make a Mask

Looking to for a way to let your inner lion roar? Check out our free download of our South Africa inspired lion mask. This activity book page was designed off our Layer Lion Mask boys graphic tee.

boys graphic teesWe designed the boys t-shirt after a lion mask we found at a South African market. The embroidery details take it from bold to brilliant. Create your own detail on our activity book page below!

Download a copy of the Make A Mask Activity Printout.

Once you’re done coloring, 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!

January 23, 2013

Behind the Design: Boys’ Graphic Tees

Leopard, elephant, Kruger National ParkOur design team loved visiting Kruger National Park so much that they just couldn’t help but design a collection of boys tees inspired by Kruger.  Kruger is Africa’s largest game reserve and it spans over 7,500 square miles.  That’s six times the size of Rhode Island!  Kruger was created in 1926 to protect the diminishing number of safari animals.  If you ask anyone in Africa what the ‘Big 5′ is, they will tell you that the ‘Big 5′ are the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot-  the lion, leopard, African elephant, Cape Buffalo, and the rhinoceros.

Did you know:
-despite the African Elephants large size, they can hide in the tall grass
-the leopard is a nocturnal animal, which means it does the majority of its hunting from sunset to sunrise

Check out our boys new arrivals to find the  hottest spring looks!

January 21, 2013

Tea School Days!

http://www.teacollection.com/about-tea/our-values

Raise money for your school just by shopping Tea! For three days only, you get free shipping—and Tea donates 15% of all sales back to your school!

Now you can help your school just by shopping for your favorite globally inspired kids clothes from Tea Collection.

How does it work? When you sign up for School Days, we’ll give your school a unique promo code that you can share with your school community and with friends and family. When shoppers enter the promo code during School Days, Tea will donate 15% of the order total back to your school—and every shopper gets free Fedex Saver shipping.

How does it add up? We’ll donate back to your school 15% of the merchandise total of every single order placed using the code. If, for example, 10 people from your community place an order of $100, Tea will write your school a check for $150. The more people shop, the more we donate. And there’s no limit. It’s that simple.

How do I get started? Download the application on our website, fill it out, and send it by email to donations@teacollection.com.

To learn more & apply, visit our website: http://www.teacollection.com/about-tea/citizenship-donations. Applying takes no more than 5 minutes!

 

A Call to Serve

Martin Luther King Jr and his daughter.

A softer side of MLK Jr.

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.