Category Archives: Discovery and Exploration

February 1, 2013

Road Tripping Through Southern Africa

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 two of their adventure.

travel with kids

Three six year olds, four adults, one Toyota Prado and a three-week 2,100 mile road trip through Zimbabwe and Mozambique- that was our plan. Trepidation? Lots of it- I couldn’t help wondering if this was not our best idea. Yet, we were excited about spending time with my brother and his family, who had recently relocated to Harare, Zimbabwe. What we knew for certain was that we are not package tour travelers- we wanted to explore on our own as much as possible. Car travel would allow us maximum freedom for exploration.

Happily, I report, that not only did we survive, we thrived. In fact, the trip turned out to be one of our very best vacations- one that will shape our thoughts for years to come. What we learned along the way is that not only is road tripping with young children possible, it’s a fantastic way to explore at your own time and pace. Below are a few tips that guided our daily experiences.

Put the right people in the car: If traveling with others, choose your travel partners wisely. Talk clearly about expectations for the trip. For us, this part was simple. We’ve traveled with my brother and his family for years. We tend to like to experience travel in the same way and truly enjoy each other’s company.

travel with kids

Engage everyone in the plan: Should we do one very long drive today and get to the beach or spend two shorter days in the car and stop along the way? Questions such as these posed to our six year old travelers allowed them to feel a part of the decision-making and be active participants in the journey.

travel with kids

Rise early: For us, getting an early start to the day was essential. Departing by 5am on our driving days enabled us to make the most of daylight hours while the kids slept through the first several hours of the trip. Getting an early, early start to the day was also wise as it gave us more time to deal with the unexpected: road conditions, police stops, frolicking baboons, detours, and getting lost a time or two.

Sing often and reinstate those old car games: Music was a part of each of our days. Given the holiday season, Christmas tunes were at the top of our list, as were Shona songs. Additionally, We asked our children to prepare a holiday concert for us. Each child chose a favorite song, taught it to the others, and developed choreography as needed. Tried and true car games also worked to engage us for hours. What better time to play I Spy than on road trip in Africa?

Nourishment: Who could know how much kids can eat during the course of a single drive? We kept a cooler fully stocked at all times, so that we wouldn’t have to engage in time consuming sit down meals. However, roadside vendors did fill the inquisitive palate from time to time. Roasted cashews, piri piri chicken and fresh mangos were exquisite local fare readily available through a rolled down window.

travel with kids

Get out of the car: Make time for tree climbing or other out of car experiences. Sanity is much more easily maintained when recognizing that children and adults need to move. Planned and unplanned stops to walk on the beach or take dip in the ocean reenergized even our most weary travelers.

Declare Moviepalooza: Vacation is the perfect time to loosen house rules a bit. In our home, TV and movies are permitted only on Friday and Saturday nights. Allowing our children to enjoy some movie time worked well for our longest travel days. Yes, they were missing some of the scenery for a few hours, but everyone can benefit from with a break from all the newness that surrounds us during a trip.

travel with kids

Once again, knowing how you enjoy traveling and planning with those that you know and trust is essential.  We included the kids as much as we could and let them know what was happening all along the way.  They knew it could take 1 hour or 6 hours at the border and that we would all do the best we could to make it fun and easy.  We also let them know that as soon as we got to a pool or the beach, no matter the time or weather, it was swim time.  Believe me there were hiccups – unexpected police stops, room mix ups, a dead motor on a boat that had just whisked us ten miles out to sea –  but, we survived by focusing on the best and laughing at the rest.

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 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 20, 2013

Explore London with Brooke

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).

Brooke, our amazing Store Marketing guru, took a getaway trip to London with her husband.

Big Ben in London.

You can’t miss Big Ben when visiting London.

It’s been at least 2 and ½ years since we’ve had couple time for longer than a couple of hours…alone..no kids…no diapers…no nap schedules to work around. It was time to get away and for us to be kids again.  We have two girls and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law generously volunteered their weekends.  We definitely owe them one or maybe two.

Honestly we could have gone anyway (even into Boston), but it was magical to be across the pond (on an island of sorts) and somewhere my husband Josh had never been – London, England.

After hopping the overnight flight, we arrived to a rainy, cold day…this picture pretty much sums it up:

A happy couple in London.

Notice the grey skies in the background.

Instead of wallowing or going to take naps (which would have been a treat all in itself!), we hit the department stores because they are such a wonder overseas.  I definitely recommend popping into Harrods, House of Fraser, and Topshop.  They have food halls, amazing displays and the hippest fashions – things that will be popular here in a year or so!

This was also the perfect day for a bus tour around the city – both to get oriented and to take a rest, and also stay out of the rain. The guide was great and super enthusiastic. We got to see all things quintessential London, and also got to stop for some fish and chips (with mashed peas of course!) and then on the Tate Modern museum.

Tower of London on a cold December day

The Tower of London has been standing since the 11th century.

The mix of super historic (Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral) with the modern city of London really was striking, and on top of it all – the city was all dressed up for Christmas.

House of Fraser decked in holiday cheer.

We loved how the House of Fraser went all out to deck the halls.

December 28, 2012

Vi Ses Senare Scandinavia!

Highlights from Nordic 2012

It’s that time of year again to say goodbye to our cozy home we have found in destination Nordic.  Thank you for all the wonderful memories, bright colors, and lessons on biking.  We’ve learned a lot from our trip and hope you have too! Finland, Sweden, and Denmark have taught us to notice the beauty in everything from nature, furniture, to the stars shining in the night sky.

December 20, 2012

Discover the World Tree of Hope

The World Tree of Hope decorates San Francisco’s City Hall.  Since 2006, the Rainbow World Fund (RWF) has encouraged individuals to inscribe wishes of peace and hope on 7,000 paper cranes that adorn a 25 foot tree.  Over the years, the tree has come to symbolize hope for the future.  It has evolved into a global symbol that has come to represent different cultures, sexual orientations, spiritual beliefs, and points of view.  If you could wish for something, what would you wish for?  Share with us on Tea’s Facebook.

San Francisco's World Tree of Hope

What’s your wish this year?

Cranes inscribed with wishes for a brighter future.

Closeup of the cranes.

Images courtesy of My Modern Met.

 

December 10, 2012

Cultural Connections: Holiday Horses

Horses have played a major role in the development of all cultures, maybe because they proved reliable creatures and friends. For the past three holiday seasons, we have featured horses on our girls’ tees. Take a trip down memory lane with us.

1. Old World Hungary Pony inspired by Hungarian reverse appliqué Christmas ornaments for tea’s Fall 2010 collection

2. Modern Mexico Flying pony inspired by Mexican alebrijes Fall 2011 collection.

3. Motif from Swedish Dala horse for tea’s current Nordic Design Collection. (image credit: ebay) Check out the Folk Sparkle girls’ tee.

We made a printable coloring page so you can create your own holiday horse ornaments!