Tag Archives: parenting

June 26, 2012

The “Reality” of Parenting

Back by popular demand is guest blogger Naomi who has a United States passport, but considers herself a global citizen and currently lives in New Delhi, India.  Along for the great adventure is her husband, one teenage traveler, two little citizens and an Indian street dog.  She blogs about their life (including an upcoming relocation to Singapore) at Delhi Bound [http://delhibound.com].

boy with spidermanBefore we moved to India, our kids were at that perfect age for splendiferous birthday parties.  The kind where you could simply have a friend’s older child dress up in a costume to surprise the birthday child. The type of parties where “theme party” meant matching plates, napkins and silverware.  When we had those types of parties, the cake was artfully crafted by yours truly (the process included licking my fingers as I frosted) and the balloons didn’t have helium.

Birthday Party in India

At a birthday party in Delhi where it's very common for parents to have elephant or camel rides as a main attraction.

When we arrived in our first foreign land, I was blown away by the extravagance, carnival atmosphere, the pressure of everything that was married with anything “party.”  I was consistently under-dressed in my shorts and tank top, and never felt like our birthday gift was quite enough.

 

 

I started to explore the excess. What is it that my kiddos really want?

More than a high-fallutin’ birthday party, they want to know that they matter.  They don’t care if the goody bags adhere to the theme and they sure aren’t bothered with what the invitations look like.

Instead of artfully done up (over the top) lunch boxes and mini cookie cutter sandwiches, little ones really just want us to turn OFF the tv / youtube, sit with them at the table and ask questions about their day.

I often hear parents say that on the weekends they feel pressured into doing instead of being.  Regardless of  family dynamics, our littles just want to be with us.  We don’t have to spend big bucks on entertainment.  Downsize.  Simplify.  Don’t do, just be.

In the age of recording virtually every waking moment (instagram, facebook, tumblr, etc. and etc.), please know that while photographs/photo books record amazing memories for generations to come, often times our children secretly wish that we would put down the camera and experience the moment right along with them.  I sometimes purposefully leave my camera at home on family outings. It’s empowering not to feel the need to capture every moment with a camera, but instead with my own two eyes.

Finally, for us social media freaks (I’m a self-proclaimed addict), let’s not get too soaked up in what everyone else is doing.  We’ll forever be behind-the-times when it comes to beautiful instagram photos, creative picnics and afternoon playdate planning.  Let’s not let someone else’s ‘reality’ dictate ours.

October 12, 2011

Official Rules: Inspiring Mom Awards

Official Rules
“Inspiring Moms” Contest

PLEASE REVIEW THESE OFFICIAL RULES BEFORE ENTERING THE CONTEST.  VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

NO PAYMENT OR PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO WIN.  PAYMENT OR PURCHASE WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.

  1. General Conditions. The Tea “Inspiring Moms” Contest (the “Contest”) is a skill-based contest sponsored by Tea Living Inc. dba Tea and Tea Collection (the “Sponsor” or “Tea”). By entering the Contest, each entrant agrees to abide by the terms of these Official Rules (the “Rules”) and by the decisions of the Sponsor and Judges (as defined below), which shall be made in their sole and absolute discretion and are final and binding on all matters relating to the Contest. The Contest is governed by the laws of the State of California and applicable U.S. federal law, without regard to any conflicts of laws principles. The Contest is void where prohibited by law. The Contest is also governed by the Privacy Policy pertaining to the www.teacollection.com website (the “Sponsor Site”), although the Rules will govern in the event of any conflict between the Privacy Policy and the Rules.
  2. Who Can Enter. The Contest is open only to natural persons who, as of the date of entry, are legal residents of the 50 United States (including the District of Columbia), are at least eighteen (18) years old, and have Internet access and a Facebook account. Employees, officers and directors of Sponsor, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, and their partners (including store owners), suppliers, or advertising, promotion, and fulfillment agencies are not eligible to enter or win, nor are their immediate family members or members of their household. “Immediate family members” shall mean parents, step-parents, legal guardians, children, step-children, siblings, step-siblings, or spouses. “Household members” shall mean those people who share the same residence at least three months a year.
  3. How To Nominate an Inspiring Mom: Nominations for the Contest (each, a “Nomination”) will be accepted starting at [time] Pacific Time (PT) on October 12, 2012 and ending at 11:59 p.m. PT on October 23, 2012 (the “Nomination Period”). A person who submits a Nomination is referred to in these Official Rules as a “Nominator.” To nominate an Inspiring Mom, visit www.facebook.com/teacollection and follow the links and instructions to nominate the person you wish to submit for the Contest (the “Nominee”). You can nominate a Nominee in one of three categories:
  • Globetrotter: A mom who instills the values of raising little citizens of the world – whether it be through traveling or living abroad or teaching her kids about global cultures through training and discovery.
  • Making a Difference: A mom who is involved in her community and is working to solve problems locally or globally, whether by working with a community organization or running a nonprofit.
  • Mompreneur: A mom who pursues her business or profession with passion and excels at work/home balance.

When you submit a Nomination, you must provide the Nominee’s name and email address, your own name and email address, and a description of the Nominee’s accomplishments (a “Narrative”); if the Nominee has a Twitter handle, you can provide that at your option. Together, the Narrative and contact information you submit is called the “Submission.” You may nominate more than one Nominee, but you may not nominate an individual Nominee more than once. If you nominate the same individual Nominee more than once, only the first Nomination will count. The submission of a Nomination is solely the responsibility of the Nominator, and Nominations can be made only using the method described above.

  1. Selection of Semifinalists: All Submissions in each category will be judged by two (2) of Sponsor’s staff (each, a “Judge”). For each category, the Judges will select five (5) semifinalists from among all eligible Submissions received in that category by the end of the Nominating Period. Each Judge will score the eligible Submissions on three general criteria and two category-specific criteria, all weighted equally. The judging criteria are:

General criteria:

  • How much does she inspire you?
  • How often does she “go there” – either across the street or across the globe to raise her kids as little citizens of the world?
  • Does she have good work/life balance?

Category-specific criteria:

Globetrotter:

  • Has she found new and innovative ways to introduce her children to different cultures?
  • Does she try to bring her children with her when she travels internationally?

Making a Difference:

  • Is she making a difference in her community?
  • Is she a setting a good example for her children of why volunteering and helping your community is important?

Mompreneur:

  • Is her company making a difference for its customers?
  • Is she setting a good example of entrepreneurial independence for her children?

 

Each Judge will award up to 10 points per criterion, for a maximum possible total of 50 points, and the scores of the Judges will be added to determine a Submission’s total score. If there is a tie, the tied entries will be rescored as described above by Sponsor’s CEO and Chief Creative Officer.

  1. Selection of Finalists: Nominees who are selected as semifinalists will receive an email from Sponsor on or about October 26, 2012 notifying them that they have been selected. The Nominee can either accept or reject the Nomination by replying to the email and taking the following steps:
  • To reject a Nomination, reply to the email with the word “REJECT” in the subject line.
  • To accept a Nomination: (1) No later than 5 pm PT on October 29, 2012, reply to the email with the word “ACCEPT” in the subject line; and (2) no later than 5 pm PT on October 30, 2012, send Sponsor a picture that can be used in connection with judging and published on Sponsor’s Facebook page and website. Nominees can, at their option, also provide Sponsor with their Facebook, Twitter and other social media handles, but failure to provide handles will not disqualify a Nominee.

Semifinalists who accept their Nominations as described above will be judged by two (2) Judges selected by Sponsor as embodying the qualities of the applicable category. Each Judge will review the semifinal entries in her category and score them on the general and category-specific criteria described in Section 4, awarding up to 10 points per criterion for a maximum possible score of 50 points. The two Judges’ scores will be added to determine a semifinalist’s total score. The semifinalists with the top three (3) scores in each category will become finalists. In the event of a tie, the applicable Submissions will be rescored as described above by Sponsor’s CEO and Chief Creative Officer.

  1. Selection of Winners: Finalists will be announced and their Submissions posted on Sponsor’s Facebook page on or about November 1, 2012. Starting when the finalists are posted and ending at 11:59 pm PT on November 15, 2012 (the “Public Voting Phase”), members of the public (“Voters”) may visit Sponsor’s Facebook page, view the finalists’ Submissions, and vote for the finalist in each category that the Voter believes best embody the values of the Tea brand and the judging criteria for that category. The Nominee who receives the highest number of votes in each category during the Public Voting Period will be named as the potential Grand Prize Winner for that category, subject to verification. In the event of a tie, Sponsor’s CEO and Chief Creative Officer will choose the potential Grand Prize Winner by scoring the tied entries as described in Section 4 above.
  2. 7. Prizes:  Three (3) Grand Prizes: The Grand Prize Winner in each category will win the opportunity to have Sponsor make a $1,000 donation to the children’s charitable organization of her choice. Donations will be made directly by Sponsor to qualifying charitable organizations, and no funds will be provided to the Grand Prize Winners. In order to qualify, the charitable organization must be a valid 501(c)(3) organization whose primary mission involves working for the benefit of children. Decisions about whether a charity qualifies for a donation will be made by Sponsor in its sole discretion. One (1) Nominator Prize: Each Nominator who submits a valid Nomination during the Nomination Period will receive a chance to win a $250 Tea Collection gift certificate, good at www.teacollection.com. The winner of the Nominator Prize will be chosen at random from all valid Nominations received; odds of winning depend on the number of valid Nominations received during the Nomination Period.
  3. Prize Terms: All prize values are stated in United States dollars. If a stated prize is unavailable, Sponsor has the right to substitute one or more items of equal or greater value, in its sole and absolute discretion. No prize is exchangeable, transferrable, or redeemable for cash. The winner will be solely responsible for complying with any and all applicable federal, state, provincial, local or other statutes, regulations, and other laws and for bearing any personal income, VAT, withholding taxes, customs duties, or other taxes, fees, insurance, surcharges or other costs relating to any prize. THE PRIZE(S) WILL BE GIVEN AWAY BY THE SPONSOR “AS IS.” SPONSOR DOES NOT MAKE AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTY, WHETHER EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, REGARDING ANY PRIZE OR ANY PORTION THEREOF, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY IMPLIED OR STATUTORY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE, OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.
  4. Award of Prize: The Grand Prize winners and Nominator Prize Winner will be selected on or about November 16, 2012. The potential winners will be notified by email within fourteen (14) days of selection. PLEASE NOTE: EVEN IF YOUR NOMINATION IS CHOSEN AS A POTENTIAL GRAND PRIZE WINNER AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC VOTING PERIOD, YOU HAVE NOT YET WON A PRIZE. POTENTIAL WINNERS ARE SUBJECT TO VERIFICATION OF ELIGIBILITY BY THE SPONSOR BEFORE ANY PRIZE IS AWARDED. The potential winners may required to sign and return, when requested, an affidavit of eligibility and/or publicity and/or liability release form, to the extent not prohibited by law, prior to receipt of a prize. The winner must take possession of the prize as directed by Sponsor. The winner may be required to provide Sponsor with his or her social security or taxpayer identification number for tax purposes. The winner may also be required to provide Sponsor with proof that he or she is the Authorized Account Holder of the email address associated with the winning entry. An “Authorized Account Holder” is the natural person who is assigned to an email address by an Internet access provider or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses to the domain associated with the email address. In the event of a dispute, an entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the Authorized Account Holder of the email address submitted at the time of entry. Failure to respond to the winner announcement or return any required declarations or releases within seven (7) days (or any longer time specified by Sponsor in its sole discretion) or to comply with any of the foregoing, may result in disqualification and the selection of an alternate winner.
  5. Restrictions and Conditions of Entry: Submissions must be in English, original, must not have been previously published, and must not contain any material that is degrading, defamatory, fraudulent, obscene, indecent or otherwise objectionable, that infringes the legal rights of any third party, or that promotes, contains or references any product, service, company name, logo or trademark (other than those of the Sponsor). All Submissions will be reviewed prior to publication, but such review does not relieve the Nominator from responsibility for compliance with these Official Rules. Submissions that do not comply with these Official Rules, or that otherwise contain prohibited or in appropriate content (as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion) will be disqualified and will not be published or considered for a prize. Submissions must be received by the end of the Nomination Period in order to be valid. Proof of submission is not proof of the Sponsor’s receipt and the Sponsor’s designated computer is the only valid official time-keeping device for the Contest. Submissions without all of the required information will be disqualified. In addition, the Sponsor will have no responsibility for, and will have the right to refuse in its sole and complete discretion, any entries that have been tampered with and any entries that are late, lost, illegible, inaccurate, misdirected, non-conforming, corrupt, or otherwise incomplete, whether due to Internet or email server failure, failure of the store staff to transmit them, or otherwise. Upon submission, all entries become the sole property of the Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. Any attempt at or form of entry other than as expressly specified in these rules (including but not limited to automated, copied, third-party or mechanically reproduced entries) is strictly prohibited and will result in disqualification. Entrants are prohibited from artificially inflating or attempting to artificially inflate the number of votes received by any finalist, whether by offering prizes or other inducements to members of the public, vote farming, or any other such activity as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. Sponsor will be collecting personal data about participants when they register and enter the Contest. By participating in the Contest, you agree to all of the terms and conditions of the Privacy Policy. It is the entrant’s responsibility to inform the Sponsor if the entrant’s contact information changes after the entry is submitted.
  6. Representations: By entering the Contest, each entrant represents and warrants that: (a) the entrant meets all eligibility requirements of the Contest; (b) in entering and participating in the Contest, the entrant has complied with and will comply in all respects with these Rules and all applicable statutes, regulations and other laws; and (c) the information provided in the entrant’s entry, including without limitation all contact information and all information about the identity of the person who took the photo that is part of the Submission, is true, accurate and complete in all respects. Each Nominator further represents and warrants that (a) the Narrative submitted by the Nominator is true and correct, and (b) the Narrative is the Nominator’s original work and does not infringe the intellectual property or other legal rights of any third party. Each Nominee further represents and warrants, by accepting the Nomination, that (x) she has reviewed and approved the Submission and it is true and correct; (y) she agrees to these Official Rules; and (z) she has obtained all necessary permissions regarding the photo submitted in connection with her nomination, including but not limited to any permissions from the photographer and any other person pictured, and can grant rights in the photo to Sponsor as described in these Official Rules.
  7. Release: To the maximum extent permitted by law, by entering the Contest, each Nominator and Nominee (each, an “entrant”) releases and holds harmless the Sponsor, the prize manufacturers or suppliers, any other entities involved in the administration of the Contest, each of their respective parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates, and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, agents and representatives (the “Sponsor Parties”) from any and all responsibility, liability, damages (including without limitation direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, punitive, statutory and other damages), losses, costs, or expenses of any kind arising out of or relating to: (a) the Contest and participation in the Contest by the entrant; (b) any violation by the entrant of these Rules or applicable laws; (c) the acceptance, possession, receipt, or use of any prize or any item purchased with any prize; (d) any entries that have been tampered with or that are misdirected, incomplete, non-conforming, corrupt, lost, late, or ineligible; (e) any problems or technical malfunctions (including but not limited to errors, omissions, interruptions, deletions, defects, or delays in operation or transmission) of any computer, telephone, modem, cable, satellite, network, hardware, online system, server, software, or other equipment or provider, including any incorrect, incomplete, garbled or jumbled information resulting therefrom; (f) any Internet traffic congestion or website accessibility or delays; (g) printing or typographical errors in any Contest-related materials; or (h) any other technical or human error that may occur in connection with the Contest (the “Causes”).  If anyone makes any claim against any of the Sponsor Parties arising out of or relating to any of the Causes attributable to the entrant, the entrant will pay for any damages, losses, liabilities, costs, penalties, and expenses, including without limitation attorneys’ and experts’ fees and costs, incurred in connection with such claim.  WITHOUT LIMITING THE GENERALITY OF THE FOREGOING, THE SPONSOR PARTIES SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOST PROFITS OR ANY SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, INDIRECT, PUNITIVE, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THE CONTEST, HOWSOEVER CAUSED, WHETHER ARISING IN STATUTE, TORT, CONTRACT, OR OTHER LEGAL THEORY, AND ALL SUCH DAMAGES ARE HEREBY DISCLAIMED AND EXCLUDED.
  8. Termination: The Sponsor reserves the right to suspend, modify or terminate the Contest at any time and for any reason in its sole discretion, including without limitation in the event of fraud, abuse, tampering, or technical, administrative, financial or other difficulties. In such cases, Sponsor will post notice on the Contest page of the Sponsor Site. Should the Contest terminate prior to selection of a winner, Sponsor will announce an alternate means of awarding the prize on the Contest page of the Sponsor Site.
  9. Use of Submissions; Grant of Rights to Sponsor. All Submissions (including photos provided by semifinalists) and related entry materials become the property of Sponsor and will not be returned to the entrant. To the maximum extent permitted by law, by entering the Contest, each entrant irrevocably and perpetually consents to use by the Sponsor (or any third party chosen by the Sponsor) of the Submission and of any and all information, photos, drawings, text or other material contained in the Submission  or otherwise provided by such entrant related to the Contest in connection with administering and publicizing the Contest or future Sponsor promotions. This consent includes the right for Sponsor, or any third party chosen by Sponsor, to publish, use, adapt, edit and/or modify entry photos in any way, to distribute them in any and all media worldwide, and to do so without compensation to the entrant, the photo subject, or any other person or entity. To the maximum extent permitted by law, by accepting a prize, the winner consents to the print and online publication of his or her name, address and winning Submission as part of a winners’ list and to use of his or her winning Submission, name, voice, photograph, biographical material, and likeness by Sponsor or any third party third party chosen by Sponsor, as set forth in this Section 14. Other than as set forth herein, Sponsor will treat any personal information supplied by entrants in connection with the Contest in accordance with the Privacy Policy.
  10. Miscellaneous: Any dispute between Sponsor and an entrant arising out of or relating to these Rules, the Contest, or any prize must be brought exclusively in the state or federal courts located in the City and County of San Francisco, California and must be brought individually, without resort to any form of class action. By entering the Contest, each entrant submits to the jurisdiction of those courts and waives any objection to those courts, whether on the basis of jurisdiction, venue, inconvenience of the forum, or otherwise. If any part of these Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, illegal, or otherwise unenforceable, such part will be modified by such court to the minimum extent necessary to make it enforceable while preserving to the maximum extent possible the original intent of Sponsor, and the remaining parts of these Rules will remain in full force and effect. Nothing contained herein or in any of the Contest related materials should be construed as an endorsement by Sponsor of any third party, product or service.
  11. Sponsor: Tea, 1 Arkansas St, Suite B, San Francisco, CA 94107; 415-621-9400.
  12. For Winners’ Names: Winners’ names will be available after November 30, 2012. For a list of winners’ names, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Tea, attn: Inspiring Moms Contest Winners, 1 Arkansas St, Suite B, San Francisco, CA 94107, by December 31, 2012.

 

August 22, 2011

Random Acts of Inspiration: Awkward Family Photos

Every Monday at Studio T we showcase fashion and art projects we find inspiring. Have a look at our previous Random Acts of Inspiration here.

I love the Awkward Family Photos blog! It’s hysterical. My favorite part is how familiar they all feel.

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.

May 26, 2011

2 Continents, 3 Countries, 2 Weeks, 3 Children (Part Three)

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.

May 25, 2011

2 Continents, 3 Countries, 2 Weeks, 3 Children (Part Two)

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!

May 24, 2011

2 Continents, 3 Countries, 2 Weeks, 3 Children (Part One)

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!

May 23, 2011

Being a Mother

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.