How to Teach Chinese to Kids (When It’s Not Your Native Language)


How to Teach Chinese to Kids (When It's Not Your Native Language) | A List of Easy Mandarin Chinese Learning Resources

I’m not an expert. I didn’t grow up speaking Chinese. But if you’ve followed @oaxacaborn on Instagram or @oaxacaborn on YouTube for any length of time, you’ve heard my daughter speak Chinese. This little fact delights some people, and perplexes others. Now, if you know Aveline, you know that she talks to everyone. EVERYONE, everywhere. Most people, when they hear her speaking Chinese, look bewildered and then quickly look away in confusion. After all, it is completely out of context for a little blonde girl to be reciting traditional Mandarin poems down the aisles of Target in the suburbs.

Why Chinese?

Other people, though ask questions — a lot of questions. Many are just curious, “Why Chinese?”  You’ve heard the old joke, right?

“What do you call a person who knows three languages?”
“Trilingual.”
“What do you call a person who knows two languages?”
“Bilingual.”
“What do you call a person who knows one language?”
“American.”

But I’m not one to talk, since I lost both Spanish and Slovene to the cobwebbed recesses of my brain. So I usually just say, “Why not? Most people around the world learn more than one language, and ~1 billion people speak Mandarin [1]. Only about 480 million people speak English.”

The truth is, while the characters seem intimidating, Chinese grammar is simple when compared to English’s complexities. For the most part, basic Chinese doesn’t concern itself too much with tenses, plurals, the gender of nouns, or articles like a, an, the. There are exceptions to this, of course, but the bottom line is that you can learn Chinese without spending hours pouring over verb conjugations they way you would in, say, French or Spanish. Yes, it’s a tonal language, so the tones are challenging, but children are much better are differentiating pitch than adults — and the earlier a child begins learning Chinese tones, the better. (Here’s a slightly off-topic study on pitch, musical ability, and early language development. But I digress.)

Another question many curious people ask is, “How do you get her to learn Chinese?”

Well, if you have figured out a way to get a human being — much less a four-year-old — to do anything, let me know, because you sure aren’t going to find the answer here. But I can share the resources we use that make the process fun!

Learning Chinese Through YouTube Videos

YouTube is just overflowing with language tutorials, and videos of native speakers demonstrating how to properly pronounce the words and phrases. And it’s free!  YouTube is where it all started, actually. I was trying to find something fun and different for Aveline to engage her brain. She was three, begging to ‘do school’ and ‘have worksheets’ on an almost-hourly basis, and I was going through [English] preschool workbooks like there was no tomorrow.  I really didn’t have some grand, well-thought-out plan to begin Mandarin instruction, I was just trying to get through the afternoon. (True confessions.) She was hooked after just one kids’ video in Mandarin. After that, it took going through several different Mandarin instructional channels before I found a teacher she really connected with, but once we found our favorite teacher, it was amazing how quickly she began speaking Chinese. I can’t recommend Emma form Learn Chinese With Emma highly enough. Our first video? Learning to count from 1-10 in Mandarin Chinese, seen above. Bonus? Learn the numbers, and you’ve learned the tones, without even realizing it.

Flashcards, Audio CDs, and Reference Charts

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If you ask me, there’s only one solid resource in this category, Tuttle Chinese for Kids: Flash Cards Kit Vol 1!  It’s just that good. This set comes with sixty-four beautifully illustrated, sturdy flashcards, an audio CD with all the vocabulary words in context, as well as a separate 24×36″ poster which shows the front side of all flashcards. We keep the poster out in the living room at all times, at kid-height, and our daughter consults it constantly. I really believe a big part of success in language learning is to make it a part of everyday life, rather than segmenting it off into a separate “learning” time. Isn’t that true with anything, though?

The CD is very well done. Each track was recorded at a relaxed pace, with pauses in just right places, so the child (and you!) can repeat back what’s said. Because this kit is designed for children, it’s a refreshing change from the stale “Where is the airport?” and “Can you exchange this currency?” phrases taught in so many (dull) language programs for adults. All sixty-four vocabulary words are included in the CD, as well as a couple of sentences for each, so each word can be learned in context as well.  The sentences are spoken in Chinese as well as in English — and some of the sentences are even included on the back of the corresponding flashcards. For those interested in the proper stroke order to write the characters, that’s diagrammed on the flashcard back, too.

(With this, as with all our Chinese language resources, we’ve chosen the Traditional Character edition, which teaches the characters used in places outside mainland China, such as Taiwan. If you want to learn Simplified Characters instead, then you’ll want the Tuttle Chinese for Kids: Flash Cards Kit Vol 1: Simplified Character Edition.)

My daughter is in Chinese school — more about that later in this post — and I noticed that the content covered in this set was very on-track with the content covered in the first semester of her class. This week, since we’re already well into the second semester, I ordered the sequel set, Tuttle More Chinese for Kids: Flash Cards.  These sets have turned me into something of a Tuttle fangirl, actually. Tuttle is a speciality publishing house focusing all Asian language, culture and history, and I’ve discovered it’s a terrific place to order books about Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other Asian cultures.  I guess I can wave zài jiàn 再見 to that money I’d stashed away for a rainy day!

Coloring and Activity Books for Chinese Education: Dover Books

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Dover Books is another great resource for inexpensive, yet impressively detailed, consumable books. The coloring books, like the Chinese Fashions and Mandarin Picture Word Book titles shown here, have intricate black and white line drawings and historically/linguistically accurate captions. No, it’s not a Chinese language curriculum, but it’s such a fun — and cheap! — way to supplement cultural education. The various Dover Chinese Paper Dolls are great too!

Coloring and Activity Books for Chinese Education: Practical Chinese Series

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The way Wendy Lin’s Practical Chinese Book Series is titled is a little confusing — at least, it was for me. I ordered Practical Chinese: Traditional Characters for Beginners I at first, but then realized what I really wanted was the first book, Chinese for Children,which is the red coloring/activity book pictured on the left. There’s no bells or whistles here, and the illustrations certainly aren’t high-quality, but the workbook lets very young children begin familiarizing themselves with with Chinese characters through basic coloring pages, matching exercises, and other similar activities.  The book covers body parts, names of clothes, colors, fruits, numbers, and a few adjectives like “big” and “small”. I wouldn’t really call it curriculum, but it’s a good cursory, hands-on introduction for a young, interested, child. (If you’re learning Simplified Characters rather than traditional, then you’ll want Chinese for Children, Simplified Character Edition.)

Chinese Phonetics and Learning to Read and Write Chinese Characters

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We started out with mostly spoken Chinese, but now we’re moving on to learning to read and write Chinese characters, since Aveline has expressed a great deal of interest in that. (Ok, fine, my strange child is begging.)  And for reading and writing, I LOVE the Chinese Made Easy for Kids Textbook 1 with CD and the accompanying Chinese Made Easy Workbook 1, which also dives into Chinese phonetics. I think the phonetics aspect might be overwhelming if it was someone’s very first introduction to any kind of Chinese, spoken or written — but already being familiar with spoken Chinese, seeing the written phonetic symbols and learning to match them to the tones given on the CD hasn’t actually been very daunting. These books are fun — colorful, energetic, and designed to really motivate and give the child a sense of great accomplishment. They’re early elementary, but could definitely be used for someone older who wanted to start out as well — I’m doing them alongside my daughter. Again, we’re doing the traditional edition, so if you want Simplified Characters instead, you’ll want the Chinese Made Easy for Kids, Simplified Chinese Edition Textbook 1 and Workbook 1.

Your Local Chinese Cultural Center

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Many areas have an active Chinese-American community association, dedicating to teaching Chinese language, culture, and traditions. Don’t overlook this — it’s is an incredible resource! Through our local cultural center, my daughter not only attends language and folk dance classes each week, but she’s also participated in Chinese festivals like the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, gotten to watch traditional Chinese opera, lion dance, kung fu and musical showcases, and even performed a Chinese folk dance performance with her classmates at the big local Lunar New Year parade and festival. It’s a terrific, welcoming community, and she (and I!) are able to practice speaking Chinese with native speakers on a regular basis.

Where to Buy Bilingual-Chinese Books, VCDs and More

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We love to have bilingual and Chinese books around the house, too, to keep the Chinese flowing between classes or workbook sessions. A few places I’ve found to order Chinese books, puzzles, and VCDs (video CDs that get around that pesky DVD region issue) are China Sprout (the site is split into Cultural and Education categories), Language Lizard, Asian Parent, and the Happy Panda Shop.

Where to Listen to Chinese Books and Songs


Like I mentioned before, YouTube is a fantastic, often overlooked treasure trove for language education. On YouTube, you can listen to native speakers reading children’s books in Chinese, or set up a playlist of popular Chinese children’s songs, like the one above. And when you’re ready to search for music videos or other content entirely in Chinese? Head over to Youku (pronounced yo-ku).

Don’t be afraid to begin learning Chinese! To quote a Lao Tzu cliché: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And, today’s internet makes the world so much smaller when it comes to venturing out on a journey like this. There are SO many resources available.

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If you have questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer! And if you found this helpful, why not click here to get this post’s Permalink, then pin it to Pinterest? :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon.com’s Associates Program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  Please be assured, I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links. 

INSPIRATION :: Spring/Summer 2015 TOAST UK Catalogue


Ah, springtime, and with it, another delightfully styled Toast UK collection. I love the specific feeling each of these catalogues evokes, and Early Spring + Spring/Summer 2015 Toast edition is no different. Can’t you just feel the strong, early morning Mediterranean sunshine pouring in through the windows and smell the percolated coffee wafting across the sleepy air?

Toast UK Early SS15 House and Home Lookbook -- Wooden tray, metal coffee percolator

Toast UK SS15 House and Home Lookbook -- Patterned bed linens

Toast UK SS15 House and Home Lookbook  -- Grey cushion covers

Toast UK SS15 House and Home Lookbook  -- Colorful and unusual bathroom towels

Toast UK SS15 House and Home Lookbook  -- Teapot and ceramics

Toast UK SS15 House and Home Lookbook -- Stools with colorful hairpin legs

Toast UK Early SS15 House and Home Lookbook -- Stack of quilts

Toast UK SS15 Women Lookbook  -- Baskets on a donkey

Toast UK SS15 Women Lookbook -- Linen Button-down

Toast UK SS15 Women Lookbook  -- Desert Sunrise

Toast UK Early SS15 Women Lookbook -- Mediterranean Style

Toast UK SS15 Men Lookbook -- Wooden Sunglasses

Can’t get enough of TOAST UK? Me neither! That’s why I’ve been posting these round-ups every year since 2010. You can keep on looking through the TOAST archives, or go directly to a particular season in the list below.

POETRY & WORDS :: Sojourners in Borrowed Spaces


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The dehumidifier broke the other day, and with it went the off-kilter rattle, wheeze and hum to which I’d grown so accustomed. The new machine is better — gathers more of this peninsula’s ever-present moisture, runs more efficiently — but it has a quiet gentle hum I barely recognize. The old noise was the backdrop to months worth of midnights, and the new noise is almost unnerving in its calmness.

The house is that way right now too.

For the last week, the walls of this house held extra laughter, extra noise, extra people, and extra fun. Today, mom and dad are driving back through the Georgia rain, heading up past Tennessee, beyond Illinois, where they’ll slide into the snowy land of Minnesota, home — far away from here.

The house is quiet, and even the sun is subdued.

It’s hard to live far away. They’re not over the river and through the woods; they’re over dozens of rivers and through a thousand miles of woods, and it’s impossible to cross that distance as quickly as a map can fold.

We’ve always been a little far-flung, my family, when it comes to the places we pound our tent stakes. We’ve always been sojourners, the kind of people who put down roots everywhere. We’ve always been this way, since I was a little girl in my first family and now as a wife and mother in my second family. In English, the word “sojourner” means “those who stay somewhere temporarily”; but in Chinese, the word “sojourn” (寄居, jì jū) translates as the idea of living away from home.

And that’s the kind of people we are. We’re not transient, fleeting travelers, floating hither and thither — no. We’re the kind of people who find a place, hammer in the tent stakes with wild abandon, and pour our hearts out onto whatever unfamiliar soil is beneath our feet. 

In Chinese, the hermit crab isn’t called a hermit at all. In Chinese, it’s the sojourner crab (寄居蟹, jì jū xiè) — the sojourner! This has nothing at all to do with hiding or burrowing away from everything, but everything to do with seeing the empty shell in front of you, and being all in when it comes to making this unfamiliar borrowed place a home.

This unfamiliar soil feels like a borrowed place, sometimes. But I’m all in.

I’m all in, filling all the corners and fully living, until the time comes to seize another borrowed shell on some other shore.

POETRY & WORDS :: Let’s Be the Uncommon Ones


Gina Munsey | Oaxacaborn blog for Uncommon Goods | Fresh Tulips, Mexican Blanket, What I Love About You & Soapstone Platter

I’m hearing it more and more lately, this idea that repeatedly sharing beautiful corners of your life is deceptive, because the viewer isn’t able see what’s hidden around the edges — this idea that the sharer, by selective portrayal, is perpetuating a view of reality that isn’t representative of the human condition.

Gina Munsey | Oaxacaborn blog for Uncommon Goods | Fresh Tulips, Mexican Blanket, What I Love About You & Soapstone Platter

I don’t think I buy it. I think instead, our preoccupation with beauty is precisely because of our human condition.  It is because we are broken that we long for wholeness. It is because of the darkness that we crave the light. It is because of the chaos that we ache for order. It is because of life’s temporal nature and inevitable death that we rejoice when new life comes into the world.

Gina Munsey | Oaxacaborn blog for Uncommon Goods | Fresh Tulips, Mexican Blanket, What I Love About You & Soapstone Platter

I hear women talking, in that sometimes-cruel way women do, mocking the writer whose blog is filled with anecdotes of small joys, mocking the photographer who sees the one sparkling thing while rust and dust ravage on. “It is not realistic,” they chide. “It doesn’t show the whole picture.” “No one really lives like that,” they laugh. “You should see my house.”

But I don’t want to join them.

I’m not an optimist by any stretch of the imagination and yet — I don’t want to join them. Has the world really become so bleak that we need to mock the light?  Has the world really become so dark that we now say the one who points the way to beauty is shallow?

I don’t think that’s the way to live this “one wild and beautiful life”. [1]

Gina Munsey | Oaxacaborn blog for Uncommon Goods | Enamelware Ladle from Yugoslavia

Gina Munsey | Oaxacaborn blog for Uncommon Goods | Fresh Tulips, Mexican Blanket, What I Love About You & Soapstone Platter

Instead, let’s set out to see beauty. The kitchen sink may be filled with dishes, but the sun is catching the single blossom on the cactus just so, and let’s celebrate that. The corner chair may be heaped with clean laundry, but the wind is pulling at the curtains just the tiniest bit, and the just-budding branches tap against the window with every ebb and flow of the breeze, so let’s celebrate that. Your child maybe screaming and you may be exhausted but just look! She’s alive and she’s miraculous, so let’s celebrate that. And even — oh especially! oh, give me strength!– in the face of death, we can’t erase it. There will still be piercingly bright sun and there will still be blueberry pancakes and the seasons will still change and time will still march on. We can’t reject it all.

It’s ok to see the beauty and the brokenness, side by side.

Let’s set out to create beauty. Eat on the living room rug with the nice dishes in the middle of the week — not because it’s been a good day, but because it was a bad day. Serve breakfast in bed even though your kids will definitely climb onto the tray and spill it all, and the people on Instagram might whisper, “No one actually does that.”

But that’s okay.

Gina Munsey | Oaxacaborn blog for Uncommon Goods | Kokeshi Ceramics, Dala Horse, What I love About You Book

Let’s be the ones who do the things no one else does.

Let’s be the wild ones. Let’s be the uncommon ones. Let’s be the ones who are a little bit of light, a little bit of crazy, the ones who aren’t afraid to shout “Glory!” at that one glowing cloud on the horizon when the rest of the world is fixated on the storm. <3

Gina Munsey | Oaxacaborn blog for Uncommon Goods | Fresh Tulips, Mexican Blanket, What I Love About You & Soapstone Platter

About Uncommon Goods :: Every purchase you make from Brooklyn-based Uncommon Goods supports one of four non-profit charities, meeting needs from early literacy to supporting survivors of war. The online marketplace is curated with creativity and individuality in mind, partnering with independent designers and artisans around the country to offer a huge range of handmade items, gifts, home goods and art, and other curiosities.

Unique gifts featured in these photographs include the handmade Hot and Cold Soapstone Serving Platter c/o Uncommon Goods [shop more gifts for women here] and the fill-in-the-blank What I Love About You journal c/o Uncommon Goods [shop personalized gifts here].

Gina Munsey | Oaxacaborn blog for Uncommon Goods | Fresh Tulips, Mexican Blanket, What I Love About You & Soapstone Platter

Additional Credits :: Flokati Sheepskin Rug: Shades of Light | Mexican Blanket: Thrifted | Hmong Textile Pillow: Boho Pillow on Etsy | Owl Mug: West Elm via Four Hands Creations on Etsy | Enamelware: Vintage, Made in Yugoslavia | Handmade Kokeshi Doll: See Through the Mist on Etsy | Stencil Art: 26:PM

Uncommon Goods | Website | Facebook | Instagram

Disclosure of Material Relationship: I received products from Uncommon Goods in exchange for publishing this post. I was not required to present or promote any specific products. All the photographs, opinions, and experiences shared here are in my own words and are my own honest evaluation. Please be assured, I only accept sponsorship opportunities for brands I personally use and/or would recommend to close friends and family, and I will always disclose any such relationships.

ADOPTION :: The Drop Box Film (Korean Pastor Lee Jong-rak’s Baby Box) in Theatres March 3, 4, 5


The Drop Box Film // in theaters nationwide March 3, 4, 5 | Adoption, Korea
Image Credit: The Drop Box Film

I remember when I first read a news article about Lee Jong-rak, the South Korean pastor who built a small street-facing deposit box on the front of his home.  On a sign on the front of the box, Pastor Lee wrote, “This is a facility for the protection of life. If you can’t take care of your disabled babies, don’t throw them away or leave them on the street. Bring them here.”

And people did. People brought babies there.

In the night, in the dark, in the cold, in the heat, in the spring, in the winter, in all hours and times in between.

Since 2009, people have placed more than six hundred babies there.

The Drop Box Film - Arbella Studios Photo
Image Credit: Arbella Studios

Six hundred.

There’s something about this baby box — something about Pastor Lee’s reckless, wild, all-in, risk-everything love — that won’t let go of my heart.  Of course the baby box is not the answer to all the issues, to all the problems, to all the hurts and wrongs in the world.

But the drop box is life to the one child who is placed there. “The babies that come to me,” says Pastor Lee, “are the ones who’d otherwise die.”

And now the story of Pastor Lee, the story of these children, will be in theaters across the United States on March 3, 4 and 5.

See a list of theaters near you playing The Drop Box Film: check show times and purchase tickets.

Website | The Drop Box Film  // Facebook // Twitter // Buy Tickets

Give Diapers, Bottles, Hope, and more to Pastor Lee's Drop Box Babies

P.S. You can give diapers, formula, wet wipes, bottles, straws, cups, clothes and more to Pastor Lee’s drop box babies! Read more about the Kindred Image Boxes of Hope project.

POETRY & WORDS :: The pirates would like to worship Jesus


The kitchen lights are switched on, the dishes are in the sink, the washing machine is whirring, there’s laundry on the floor, and I’m leaning over a to-do list, panicking over the tickle in my throat and how much I have to do this week. Aveline is in the living room in her pajamas, kneeling down on the brown and grey rug in front of the little stable of twigs and moss that’s held together with nails, kneeling there in front of the baby Jesus.

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She’s singing — not reciting, but singing — words as they come to her. The music is so pure and so real and so full of worship. She runs off, and comes back pulling a pirate ship behind her. “The Lalaloopsy would like to worship Jesus!” she shouts. “The pirates would like to worship!”

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Because that’s how it should be, you know — no, no, that’s how it is. He didn’t come just for the shepherds of ancient yore, to be tucked neatly into a storybook and a creche to decorate our mantles and our church foyers. He didn’t come to live forever safely next to the haloed holy family. He didn’t come for the perfect, for the sinless saints, for the angels in the winter sky. No, he came for all of humanity, all of us, every single one in every corner of the world.

He’s here for the blue-haired Lalaloopsy,

for the circus-performer,

for the sword-wielding pirates,

for the stowaways and the untouchables, hidden in the depth of the ship’s steerage,

for me.

And here I am, like Martha, “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” [1], in danger of taking this miracle for granted.

So come. Come, everyone one of us. Just as we are — with our baggage and our stress and our burdens and our imperfections — come. Here’s here.

Oh, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

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LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Our Tiny Tree


Our tree is tiny and simple — sparkling silver and white and blue, with an exquisite little porcelain doll my best friend brought back from Russia. The tree’s not huge, or even made of real tree, but it’s tucked away under the blue-light-wrapped windows, on a white woolen rug that looks like snow, and makes Aveline so happy.

To me, that’s perfect.

(Do you remember this feeling as a child?) Oaxacaborn / Gina Munsey blog

Oaxacaborn / Gina Munsey blog
Oaxacaborn / Gina Munsey blog

“Shaggy branches curve / Down to the heads of children / Beads shine richly / Overflowing with lights…” “Гнутся ветви мохнатые / Вниз, к головкам детей / Блещут бусы богатые / Переливом огней…” -Raisa Adamovna Kudasheva

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Dalahäst, Dala Horse


Ah, dalahästar (that’s the plural of dalahäst…I think).  I love them. Is it cliche? I don’t even care!  : )

Giant OUtdoor Dala
Dala horses in the snow (perhaps at Skansen Park?) via Hasenohr on Flickr

Cross stitch Dala
Cross Stitch Dala via Kitschn Stitchin

Dala Horse print
Dala Horse Print via Red Stuga on Etsy (based in Minneapolis; where else?!)

SONY DSC
“How Swede It Is” Dala Horse and Kanelbullar Magnets via Red Stuga

paper mache dala horses
Papier Mâché Dala Horses via Posh Chicago

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Henning Trollbäck’s Dala Horse Poster via Fine Little Day

Dala Zoo
Dala Zoo (Giraffe and Moose) via Hildas Hem

Chalk Dala
Chalk Drawing of Dala Horse via Dirtsas Studio on Etsy

tillverkning
Dalahäst-tillverkning (Dala Horse Manufacturer/Factory) Sign Liz Highleyman on Flickr

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Copper Dala Horse via Fischer Fine Arts on Etsy

via Oaxacaborn on Instagram
A Dala horse vignette in my home.

Want to decorate a Dala horse — or maybe introduce your kids to this creature? Here’s a great FREE printable Dala horse template from Make Learning Fun! You might also be interested in this video of how Dala horses are made, or last year’s Dala horse round-up.

God Jul!

CHRISTMAS :: 5 Simple Golden Decorations


Golden_Triangle_Banner
Golden Triangle Banner DIY via Almost Makes Perfect

Pipe_Cleaner_Ornament_DIY
Golden pipe-cleaner geometric ornament DIY via Smile and Wave

Spray Painted Golden Pine Cones
Pinecones, spray painted gold via The Sweetest Occasion

Star_GarlandStar Garland via Fleur and Stitch

Golden_Candlesticks
Golden Candlesticks via Emmas Designnblogg

Do you choose a color scheme for Christmas? It can sometimes help the decor from feeling overwhelming and cluttered. This year, we are enjoying silver and blue decorations — but I love gold and white, too!

CHRISTMAS :: 18 gifts that matter for #GivingTuesday (and every day)


#GivingTuesday is a terrific opportunity to look up and away from ourselves. Of course, this outlook shouldn’t be confined to just one day a year, but I can’t argue with a movement that encourages us all to reach out. And so, in celebration of Giving Tuesday, here are eighteen different ways to give a gift that gives. A gift that loves. A gift that matters.

For more information about a particular gift, simply click on that photo.

Image Map Provide EDUCATION IN CHINA Provide for FOSTER FAMILIES IN CHINA Provide ORPHAN CARE IN CHINA Provide MEDICAL CARE IN CHINA PROVIDE REFUGEE RELIEF around the world PREVENT human trafficking and exploitation Provide CLEAN WATER around the world FEED A HUNGRY BABY for a week PROTECT vulnerable women Provide WARM COATS AND SHOES CARE FOR Romanian orphans SUPPORT a crisis pregnancy center in Taiwan Sponsor a baby in a TAIWANESE ORPHANAGE Provide SURGERIES for infants and children in China Provide EVERYDAY NECESSITIES for care centers in China Sponsor the EDUCATION of a child in Ethiopia Build a HIGH SCHOOL in Ethiopia Provide a VOCATION for an adult or care for a child

1. Love Without Boundaries | EDUCATION | Provide education and school access to at-risk children in China ($10+)

2.Love Without Boundaries | FOSTER FAMILIES | Provide a family environment through foster care to orphaned and at-risk children in China ($10+)

3.Love Without Boundaries | ORPHAN CARE | Provide access to care, hope and healing to orphaned and impoverished children in China through LWB’s programs ($10+)

4. Love Without Boundaries | MEDICAL CARE | Provide medical care and surgeries to orphans and infants/children whose parents would not otherwise be able to provide care. ($10+)

5. Samaritan’s Purse | REFUGEE RELIEF | Provide tents, heaters, food and more to displaced people ($125+)

6.Samaritan’s Purse | PREVENT HUMAN TRAFFICKING | Provide education in at-risk locations to empower potential victims to recognize and avoid exploitation and trafficking. ($100+)

7. Samaritan’s Purse | CLEAN WATER | Provide a water filtration system to give 3,500 people access to clean water ($20+)

8. Samaritan’s Purse | PROTECT VULNERABLE WOMEN | Provide literacy classes, maternal/child health education, protection and support for victims of gender-based violence, and more. ($30+)

9. Samaritan’s Purse | ONE WEEK OF FOOD | Provide food for a baby or nursing mother for one week. ($9+)

10. Samaritan’s Purse | CLOTHES & SHOES | Provide warm coats, clothing and footwear to displaced people in refugee camps. ($25+)

11. Anchor of Hope Romania | FOSTER CARE | Provide family-like environments and other vital care for orphans, abandoned babies, and at-risk young people in Romania. (Any amount) To give directly to Christian & Marie Burtt, full-time missionaries serving in Romania with Anchor of Hope, click here.

12. Taiwan Xi En | CRISIS PREGNANCY HOME | Provide nurturing care for infants and expectant mothers at the Taiwan Xi En House of Hope. (Any amount)

13. Taiwan Xi En | SPONSOR A BABY | Provide diapers, formula, clothes, shelter and caring nannies for abandoned and at-risk infants 0-2y at the Taiwan Xi En Orphanage. ($50/mo)

14. Show Hope |  SURGERIES | Provide heart, cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to orphans and infants/children in China. ($65+)

15. Show Hope | EVERYDAY NECESSITIES | Provide diapers, food, and clean drinking water to the special needs orphans living at the Show Hope care centers in China. ($12+)

16. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | EDUCATION & FOOD | Provide access to education and nutritious meals for a school-age child in Ethiopia. ($19/mo)

17. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION | Provide the resources necessary to build a high school so the Adami Tulu + Ziway students can continue their education. (Any amount) Or, donate in honor of a loved one, and send a card to a friend! ($20+)

18. Lifesong for Orphans | WHERE MOST NEEDED | Provide life-giving care for children, and sustainable micro-business opportunities for adults, in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Ethiopia, Liberia, Zambia, Cambodia, India and Ukraine. On #GivingTuesday [2 December 2014] only, your gift to Lifesong for Orphans will be multiplied 4x through a matching grant when you give using this link. (Any amount)


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LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Everyday things


“Everything is fine —

the first bits of sun are on

the yellow flowers behind the low wall.” -Billy Collins
WEB_Oaxacaborn_Life_in_Photos_Waking_Up

WEB_Oaxacaborn_Life_in_Photos_Cranberries

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“Report from the subtropics:

for one thing, there’s no more snow

to watch from an evening window…

no hexagrams of frost to study

on the cold glass pages of the bathroom.

No black sweater to pull over my head

while I wait for the coffee to brew…..

And the birds with those long white necks?

All they do is swivel their heads

keeping an eye on me as I walk along.” -Billy Collins

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WEB_Oaxacaborn_Life_in_Photos_Vintage_Tupperware

“This love for everyday things,

part natural from the wide eye of Infancy,

part a literary calculation” -Billy Collins

WEB_Oaxacaborn_Life_in_Photos_Sweet_Potatoes

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“yes, there would be enough light

to read a book or write a letter at midnight” -Billy Collins

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“the day mirled and clabbered

into the thick, stony light” -Billy Collins

CHRISTMAS :: “Naptime Diaries” Advent + Print Collection


Are you familiar with Naptime Diaries? They have the neatest art! And this year they have a GORGEOUS Advent collection. I mean, it’s really something — prints, calendar, devotional.

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And here are a few of my favorite prints from the latest collection —

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Do not be afraid / I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”

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The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?

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Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

So full of hope and GREAT JOY, isn’t it? View more here.

MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches


Every Christmas tree doesn’t have to be a big, Costco-sized production. Here are some lovely ideas to use small, table-top trees — or even the extra branches you might have leftover after trimming to fit into the tree stand!

My Lovely Things on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Tiny tree in the hallway via Anna Truelsen / My Lovely Things

Nora Lill on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Fir branches in jar of water via Nora Lill

Christmas Tree Branches as Chrismtas Trees via A Barefoot Day on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Evergreen branches in mason jars via A Barefoot Day

waltherogco_dk on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Cut tree in glass vase via Walther & Co

Design Chaser - Tabletop Christmas Tree, wooden, and wire geometric on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Table-top Christmas tree with wooden and wire geometric ornaments via The Design Chaser

Princess Pine in Clay Pot Anna Truelsen on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Princess pin in clay pot via Anna Truelsen / My Lovely Things

Noralill Branch in Jar on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Evergreen branch in jar of water on tin tray via Nora Lill

Fika on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Small tree in Swedish enamel bucket on windowsill via B.I.B. And I spy pour-over coffee! The whole photo series is here, and it’s lovely.


Have a photo of Scandi-inspired Christmas loveliness? Send it to me, and I might feature it on the 4th Annual Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas Series! Click here to find out how.

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Advent Calendar Ideas


Whether you spell it advent calendar or adventskalender — or even  julkalender  — we’re just two weeks away from December 1.  Time to get this Scandinavian Christmas series underway!

The first advent calendar example comes from Elisabeth Heier in Norway. She made this kalender tree from painted white boards — and then attached the paper bags to the tree using nails and wire. It’s really striking — and the black and white design keeps it from looking too cluttered.

Elisabeth Heier Kalender Tree via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Advent Calendar Tree / Kalender tre via Elisabeth Heier

This next advent calendar, from The Merry Thought blog, cleverly strings up an evergreen bough and then decorates with tiny plywood-covered matchboxes. The full tutorial can be found here.

The Merry Thought - Evergreen Bough Hanging Advent Calendar via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Hanging Christmas Tree Branch Advent Calendar via The Merry Thought

Starting with a plain tree, and adding one decoration per day until the tree is filled at Christmas — what a good idea! This filigrantrae is Danish-inspired and comes from Nalle’s House blog. Bonus: her post has a full tutorial if you want to make your own dowel tree, although this ideas would work with any small tree.

Nalle's House DIY Wooden Dowel Tree via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Danish Wooden Dowel Tree via Nalle’s House

Most of the advent candles I’ve seen in my life are a group of four candles, one for each advent Sundag leading up to Christmas. But I love the idea of a single large candle measuring the days, turning the candle into a daily tradition rather than weekly one. In fact, Tina over at Copenhagen’s Traveling Mama, has observed that’s the norm in Denmark!

Traveling Mama Advent Candle Numbered for Days via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Advent Candle Numbered for Days via Traveling Mama

If you have an accessible staircase bannister, you could make that the focal point for your advent gifts, like Swedish blog Fröken Knopp did with newsprint and twine. (P.S. How cute is that painted floor?)

Fröken Knopp Advent Calendar on Staircase via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Staircase, Newsprint and Twine Advent Calendar via Fröken Knopp

I can hardly get over Vibeke Design’s stunning advent calendar shop display. Paper cones, edged in lace, hung from a lichen-covered hardwood branch. Oh, so pretty!

Vibeke Design Christmas Shop Display in Sweden, via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Advent Calendar Display via Vibeke Design Christmas Shop in Sweden

How are you planning to celebrate and decorate for advent this year? I’d love to hear! And if you need more ideas, here are more advent calendar ideas and even more advent calendar ideas!


Want to contribute to the 4th Annual Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas Series? Click here to find out how!