I just uploaded the above photo to their site. It’s my family vacation in Disney World. On the previous trip to Disney world, my sister Jenny (far right) got lost while chasing down Cinderella. These matching shirts were my mom’s plan to keep track of all of us. We all had 2 of these shirts and wore them for the entire vacation. I was almost ten and far to cool to be seen in matching outfits. Everyone kept thinking we worked on It’s A Small World (mortifying).
Jenny, a.k.a. Cinderella stalker, must have taken this photo because she’s not actually in it. I added her in photoshop a few years ago.
Kimberly Brambilla is guest posting on Studio T this week, telling the story of traveling with her three young children to Spain, Italy, and Morocco. Read parts one and two of her family’s journey!
From Morocco we took a ferry back to Spain, and hopped a bus to the city of Malaga, where we fell completely in love. Even though it’s a large city it has a small town feel. We enjoyed walking along the cobblestone streets, listening to ringing church bells, strolling past beautiful fountains and sitting at outdoor cafes. I was ready to move there! It was difficult to leave this city, but we eventually headed by train to Madrid.
In Madrid the highlights were visiting The Prado and seeing flamenco dance performance. The girls were mesmerized by the dancing, the music, and the energy of the performers. Olivia was a bit confused at first when no flamingos came on stage, but she still enjoyed the show! Afterwards we walked around the city, and the girls were thrilled to find a flamenco dress in a souvenir shop. They put on quite a few shows with that dress once we got back home. In the end, there was still so much of Spain I wanted us to see.
Was it difficult taking a trip like this with children? You better believe it! Was it worth it? Absolutely. The girls had some major meltdowns and tantrums along the way but considering all of the flights, train rides, taxis, buses, ferry ride and all of the walking we subjected them to I think they were remarkable. This experience was priceless, and I would encourage anyone who is given the opportunity to travel with their children not to pass it up.
Here are just a few tips that might be helpful if you are planning to travel with children.
*Talk to them a lot about your upcoming trip. I have always found that preparing my children for what is coming, no matter what it is helps. Get them excited by reading books & watching movies that pertain to the destination. I also talk to mine about the parts that won’t be fun – the waiting in long lines, heat/cold, tiredness, etc.
* Learn the cultural dos & don’ts with your children. By doing this, as well as learning a few words & phrases in the native language, you will be treated better & respected much more than if you assume everyone everywhere speaks your language.
*If you are a family of 5+, consider renting an apartment versus staying at a hotel. Many hotels in Europe require 2 rooms for a party of 5+. The price comes out to about the same & you have the convenience of a kitchen, washing machine & more space!
*When traveling in large cities, take a double decker style bus that drops you off and picks you up at the sites. It’s an easier way of getting around & seeing more with children.
*If you’re like me, you’ll want to see everything but that isn’t always possible with kids. It’s important to keep them happy too. In Barcelona, my kids could have stayed at Catalunya Plaza for hours, not because of the architecture or the great people watching but because of the multitude of pigeons. Stopping at a park is a great way of giving children a break from touring.
Kimberly Brambilla is guest posting on Studio T this week, telling the story of traveling with her three young children to Spain, Italy, and Morocco. Read part one of her journey here!
Chiara, Gisele, and Olivia with their cousin in Italy
From Barcelona, we flew to Italy. My husband grew up in Mezzago, a small town close to Milan. He’s from a large family so there are many aunts, uncles and cousins. It wasn’t the first time our girls had been to Italy, but it’s always a bit of a culture shock at first. They’re greeted with tanti baci (many kisses), hugs and tears. There’s a constant flow of family members and neighbors that come to see us. It can be a bit overwhelming even for an adult, but it didn’t take long for the girls to warm up. We were so proud of their willingness to communicate with the family. Their Italian is rough but they sure try. My oldest, after playing and having fun with cousins, told us “I like speaking in Italian”. That brought quite a smile to my husband’s face! It is one thing to tell the girls about their Italian heritage, but it’s another to let them experience it firsthand. It was sad to say goodbye after being smothered with much love, affection and pasta, but in the end we set off for Morocco.
Morocco is unlike any place I’ve ever been. Many of our friends and family were concerned about us traveling there, but I am so thankful we did, because we learned so much. We took a short flight from Italy to Tangier, Morocco. When the doors on the plane opened it felt like we were a million miles from home and from everything familiar. The short cab ride from the airport to the hotel confirmed for me that the world is so much larger than the small space I occupy in my little Florida town. My girls loved seeing stop signs written in Arabic, hearing Arabic on the radio and holding Moroccan coins. Upon arriving at the hotel we went to the rooftop terrace for mint tea and cookies. The girls loved this! Chiara began making plans of how she would make her own tea once we returned to Florida with mint leaves from our garden.
The next day we toured the medina (city) as well as the outskirts of Tangier with our guide Cherif. Our first visit was to a rug store where we were able to see the process of Moroccan rug-making. The girls loved the experience of being given mint tea and their own “magic carpets” to sit on. We also rode camels, an experience which my daughter Olivia had been patiently waiting for!
The next day we visited the quiet town of Assilah. In Morocco you can hire a taxi not just for one trip, but for the day. The driver will wait for you while you explore, or accompany you, but most of the drivers speak little or no English. Our driver Unes was wonderful. He showed us around Assilah, ate lunch with us, and taught the girls a few Arabic words. He even bargained for Moroccan slippers for the girls at the marketplace, and we were all a little sad to say goodbye at the end of the day! It’s amazing how quickly you can connect with people even if you don’t speak the same language. The next morning as we packed our bags to leave, Chiara sat at the window looking out onto the street. She got so excited when she spotted Unes as he picked up more tourists in his taxi, and I was thrilled when I heard her say to him “Ahlan (hello) Mr. Unes”! I knew in that moment that the goals I had set when planning this trip were becoming a reality. My kids were learning about new cultures & peoples and embracing them as well. Beautiful!
This week we’ll be featuring three posts by guest blogger Kimberly Brambilla. Last summer she and her husband took their three young daughters to 2 Continents and 3 Countries in 2 weeks! This is Part One – stay tuned for Parts Two and Three.
“Are you crazy?” I’ve become used to being asked this question as I’ve planned trips and traveled with my 3 small children. Having children doesn’t stop me from doing what I love most– in fact having children has actually made me more determined to continue traveling, so that I can share this love with them. I wish to instill in them a sense of adventure, an openness and appreciation of other peoples and their cultures and a love of exploring the world.
Chiara, Gisele, and Olivia
Last summer we embarked on a journey of a lifetime. We traveled to Spain, Italy and Morocco. I knew that traveling with a 7, 5 and 2-year old would present many challenges, but it would also undoubtedly be an incredible experience for my daughters Chiara, Olivia and Gisele. We were going to Spain to vacation, but were also headed to Italy to spend time with “la familia”. My husband’s family lives there, and the girls do not get the chance to see them often. Since Morocco is only 9 miles from Spain I couldn’t pass up the chance to expose my children to a culture very unlike their own.
To prepare and get them excited we read library books about places we would visit, looked at maps, made art projects and learned simple words and phrases in Arabic and Spanish My husband also speaks Italian with the girls, so going to Italy would be an opportunity for them to practice.
With bags and camera packed we were off, and began the adventure in the colorful and vibrant city of Barcelona. We were thoroughly exhausted after traveling by plane, train and automobile to reach our apartment rental in the city. After dropping off our luggage, we began the search for a place to eat dinner. We were so tired that we stopped at the first place we found. It didn’t look like much, but boy were we surprised! Chiara wanted to order spaghetti but we reminded her that we were going to try new food on this trip. Once the paella, green olives, manchego cheese and fresh bread arrived at the table we were 5 very happy travelers. Although the girls were a little shy about using Spanish words with the waiters, they loved their first Spanish meal.
The next couple of days we toured the city in double-decker buses, which we found was the perfect way to see a city with kids. We saw many of the famous sites such as Sagrada Familia Church, Casa Batllo, Park Guell, and also spent time at the beach. Our time in Barcelona was short but the memories we made are long lasting. Next it was time for the girls to experience and learn about their Italian heritage and roots. Italia here we come!
For our recent Vosges/Tea Sweepstakes we asked the question “What do you love about being a mom?”. Although an answer wasn’t required to enter the contest, over 2/3 of the participants chose to share their stories. The responses were funny, touching, and sweet and we wanted to share some of our favorites here.
I love that in my boys’ eyes I am the one with the answers, they look to me to show & tell them about everything from a tiny little frog in our backyard to how to write their names! Every day is a new adventure with them & I wouldn’t change that for anything. - Shannon G.
One of my very favorite things about being momma to Lucy (age 3) is that I get to raise my child in the greatest city in the world – New York. I relish the joy that our city adventures bring us! - Ashley D.
I love watching my daughter become her own person. Seeing her figure things out, express herself, and develop her personality brings me great joy. - Wendy W.
Everything! My favorite is waking up next to my daughter on our days off and laying in bed laughing and talking. -Christina B.
I am holding my new baby, so at the moment I love everything about it. - Vilfreda C.
Feeling those tiny little arms give me a big hug, even if the hug is around my leg! – Jessica R.
I love seeing my daughter become the clever, level-headed little comedian I recognized the moment the doctor laid her on my chest. – Karen S.
I love the way my kids have reminded me what is so wonderful about life. It’s not just a walk to the grocery store; it’s a treasure hunt. It’s not just popping in a DVD; it’s hosting a full-fledged movie night. It’s not just baking a cake to satiate a sweet tooth; it suddenly becomes the best un-birthday cake ever made! - Yen R.
The moments when my little guy puts his head down on my shoulder and snuggles into me. – Candace B.
The chance to raise socially aware children who are not just focused on themselves but give back to help their neighbors and community. – Faith K.
On a daily basis my view of the world, how it works, and what words we use to explain it are questioned by the comments or observations my children make. – Heather C.
It is the most challenging thing I have done. I have traveled the world, rafted many rivers and being a mom is much harder and rewarding then all those things. But I can’t wait to show my girls the world and teach them how to kayak and all the other adventures out there. - Tracy D.
I love the simple, everyday moments that sometimes go unnoticed or undocumented. I love the “it’s morning” shouts from down the hall, the little snuggles before bedtime, the kisses that make boo-boos all better…and so much more. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, we forget to enjoy life’s simple moments!- Melissa S.
Being a mom is like having a second childhood- it’s discovering the world around you with an enthusiastic partner! – Christi S.
And this one – not by a mom, but representing the Grandparents of the world:
Being a Grandpa, not a Mom, is awesome. You get to spoil the kids, watch them grow, and still get sleep at night. I wish I could put into words the desire to live longer so you might be at their College graduation, Marriage, and birth of their children. Power to Grandparents! – Mark D.
Here at Tea, we love the excitement of welcoming new little citizens into the world. With our 9th Birthday happening this week we also wanted to say Happy Birthday to all of the Tea babies born in the past five years- and there are quite a few of them!
Cristina in Tech Design welcomed Tallulah
Emily, our Chief Creative Officer, welcomed Georgia James
Jeff in Marketing welcomed Christian
Leah in Finance had Clara Ilo
Elisabeth in Marketing Operations welcomed Sean Elliot
Brooke in Wholesale Marketing welcomed Lucy
Cindy in Tech Design had Weston
Lauren in Merchandising welcomed Lauchlin
Tim. the VP of Sales, had Ty
Leigh, our CEO, had Matthew
Emily, our Chief Creative Officer, had Clement Osceola
Krista in PR welcomed Harrison Jake
Cindy in Tech Design had Madelyn
Kristine on our Wholesale Sales team had Maisie
Tracy in Product Development had Nicholas
Leigh, Tea's CEO, had Adam
Laura, our VP of Finance and Operations, welcomed Max
Sarah, a Wholesale Rep, had twins Maya and Sasha.
We feel so lucky to have so many cute (and well-dressed) babies at Tea!
Labor Day recently passed us all by. The picnics, parades, fireworks , and endless speeches always seem to be interpreted as the final celebration of summer. It’s a day that encompasses hard work and play at the same time; it wakes us up to the reality of another school year, another year of hard work while we barbeque and party to our hearts content . It made me wonder: Are work and play really that different from one another, and should they be compartmentalized as such?
In the mind of my toddler, work and play are one in the same; it is hard work to build a stack of blocks or attempt to color a picture within the lines, but she loves to do these things as well. It made me realize that work, and play both have something immensely important in common with one another: passion. I began to think about the different jobs people in my life have, and whether they were happy in their jobs or not. Those who chose their jobs on account of intense passion for their vocation are extremely happy, while those who simply want a paycheck see their jobs as a means to an end. It made me think of how I want my child to view a job. I want her to be passionate about what she accomplishes in life, to find meaning in her daily tasks. I want her to find a job where she can ‘play hard.’ I don’t believe that a job should be laborious; it should fill the soul.
It’s hard to live by such a manifesto as a parent. I not only have to reach for my dreams, but I have to teach my little one to reach for hers, which might mean she has to take risks, which might mean she falls flat on her feet a few times, and it is quite hard to watch your child, no matter how old, fall flat on his or her feet. I intend to remind myself on this past Labor Day, and the others that will come, that my child is the only person who knows her dreams, goals and aspirations. Whether that means she wants to be a lady on a flying trapeze, a policewoman, a doctor, or social worker…I cannot say. I only need to guide her to listen to her inner voice, to give her the confidence to follow her dreams, like a tiny Don Quixote reaching for stars that everyone else tells her are beyond her grasp.
More importantly, I had quite the humbling moment with my middle kidlet in the car.
At first he panicked and asked …
… if we were going to jail (when he saw the light bar).
Then Tony asked why the policeman was mad at his momma.
I explained that I was going too fast.
(i.e. not paying attention, a million and one things running through my mind, late for the next activity, trying to figure out X, Y and Z, trying to find the right song on the radio, handing Tony his Bakugan that he’d dropped, adjusting my seatbelt … )
The nice officer smiled ever so sweetly and asked for my license and registration. I’ve always had pretty good luck with ‘getting away with warnings’ but today was not that day.
He returned to the car (after what felt like ages while I impatiently drummed my fingers on the steering wheel) and handed me my ticket.
A ticket that equals about 50 McDonalds Happy Meals or 130 RedBox movie rentals (I say 130 because I never return them on time).
That ticket also equaled several relaxing massages or a whole case of nice wine.
That ticket equaled more than that though. It equaled a costly reminder to stay focused. To try a bit harder to leave my to-do list at HOME when I get in the car.
To block out the mental tornado that is currently going on in my head when I’m responsible for other people while behind the wheel.
To keep my phone secured safely in its cute little holster and maybe even stop communicating while I’m driving.
As I was writing the check out to pay the fine, I showed Tony and explained that I was having to pay alot of money for my ticket. Alot of money for not paying attention and for failing to follow the rules.
You wanna know what he said?
“Momma, you should’a told the ociffer that we were moving to India. He would have let you go if you had told him THAT”
I am starting to realize that when I give my all to ONE thing, my efforts are much more magnified than when I multi-task and attempt to spread myself (too thin, most times) across the board. I am writing this post “out loud” as more of a reminder to myself in the coming weeks and months.
If you see me flying down the road in the coming days, or I seem to be losing focus and getting distracted from something you know I want to devote myself to, remind me, ok?
Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets. ~ Nido Qubein
My blond haired toddler might not look like an expected little citizen of the world. And he certainly doesn’t have any understanding of countries or nationalities.
But he does tell us “no más” when he wants us to stop talking. He’ll ask for “nai nai” when he wants milk. He chows down on hummus with enthusiasm, and his favorite meal is plantains and pupusas.
Adam’s grandpa is German. His nanny, Justa, is from El Salvador. He spends his weekdays with Justa and his friend Andrew who is half Chinese. His aunt reads him stories in Tibetan from her journeys to India where she studies Buddhism. We have pictures in our home from our travels together to Thailand, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, and Italy. Before my husband and I met, each of us had lived abroad: London, Prague, Berlin, Paris, and Sydney. We support the Global Fund for Children both personally and through the partnership with Tea.
It is important to us that Adam grow up aware of the world. We want him to understand his connections to many different cultures and to be curious about other countries and their people. But we want him to be more than a tourist. We want Adam to be a citizen of the world. We want to raise him to respect, honor, and nourish his role in the world, and to contribute to its progress.
That’s a big responsibility for us as Adam’s parents and my personal reason for wanting to get a blog launched. I dreamed of starting a conversation with other parents who are thinking about raising little citizens of the world and we’ve finally made it happen. Already I have been inspired by not only the interesting activities people have posted here but also the perspective that comes through reading them. By staying aware of the world around us and beyond us, we remember that the little things in our day to day lives shouldn’t get to us.
The parents who have written so far are warm, mindful, global, and inspired. Their stories have not only inspired me to start planning an international trip, but they also have made me feel more connected to places and people outside of my own neighborhood. When we started Tea Collection six years ago, we believed in the importance of making the foreign familiar. Now that I have my own family, this belief is much more real and much more personal.
I hope that the conversation on our blog will continue to inspire us – and many parents – as we raise today’s little citizens of the world.
My boys will try anything at least once, when it comes to food. Because my husband and I have a wide range of favorite cuisines (most often of the Thai or Middle Eastern variety) there is always a new opportunity to sample something new with chopsticks and little fingers. We do most of our dining at home, so the kitchen is where much messiness and bonding and learning takes place. They all are great at adding spices and helping with the veggies. And often they invent their own, ahem, unique edible creations. And since they are good sports to try what we make, Mommy & Daddy go along and try what they make, too!
Choosing restaurants that offer the not-so-usual American kid’s menu fare has allowed us to introduce delicious opportunities for our sons to taste. Not only are the entrees part of the experience, but the atmosphere and artwork representing culture and lifestyle different from what we know is all part of the adventure.
A favorite book of ours is Mama Panya’s Pancakes, A Village Tale From Kenya. Not only does it have a recipe and take the young reader along as Mama and her son shop for their evening meal, but it also teaches about sharing and turning what might seem like a little bit to some into something very big afterall.