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Hot Chocolate and The Beach // 3 weeks home

Andrew brought wood in from the almost chilly outside, Charlie Brown Christmas played in the back ground while we made hot chocolate with mini candy canes dropped inside, Andrew popped popcorn on the stove, and we decorated the tree. 

With each item Maria pulled out of the Christmas box, she said her best English sentence with her whole heart,

Wow my gosh!”

She could not handle this hilarity

We kissed the boys goodnight, and came back to see Maria had grabbed the dust pan and swept up all the needles under the tree, and sat excitedly waiting for us to finish the trimming with her.

We spent the rest of the night decorating the tree with a little girl who has never done so, and a little girl who truly thought each moment was magic.  My heart grew three sizes.

It is so fun–and funny, to be having so many wonderful Christmas moments with a child old enough to understand, and enjoy, to spend this special holiday with a child for whom the term ‘Christmas Wonder’ was invented.  She and I sat on the floor in front of the fire and laid out my box of ornaments from when I was growing up.  She delicately touched each one, and complimented the details in each.  The yellow carebear ornament caught my eye, and I turned it over to see in black sharpie, ‘Baby’s First Christmas, 1984.’  Maria smiled at me, and I felt a mix of sadness for a moment when I thought about Maria’s first, and all Christmases until now.  It’s not sad to me that she didn’t receive gifts, but just that she had been alone, and not special to anyone.

She relished each piece of our tiny decoration collection, she cherished each moment, her heart soared with every new aspect of this special night.

“Wow my gosh!”

 And when we tucked her in that night and said our prayers, “I love you mama and papa.”


This morning, Andrew made a big breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon and oj for everyone, and everyone ate happily.

We decided to go to the beach, try out a new one closer to us.  When we pulled up to the perfect sparkling, huge beach on this beautiful clear day, I heard a whisper, “Wooooooow, mama!!!”

This was the first beach day for our newest additions, and as soon as their toes touched the sand, they went down, skipping each step along the shore line, loving every single moment.

Best buds

Maria and Finley ran in big loops, laughing and playing, loudly, not too shy to show the world that they were so happy to be here.

We ended up being there for a couple hours, no sand toys, just the water and sand, and a whole lot of laughing and running.

He found a little pool to play in

tip toes

Elijah explored a bit, but then tried to climb me like a koala before he fell asleep with papa

Meanwhile, Elijah is shedding orphanage traits like a biggest loser sheds pounds.  He is not the silent, boney, stiff baby we adopted who would wake up from a nap, sit up and not make a peep–expecting nothing.  He knows to cry when he’s upset, and walks towards me, arms up, head back for dramatic effect, wailing, when something bugs him because he knows he’ll be picked up.  As soon as I pick him up, he’s happy.

These people love me

 He’s turning into a little giggle boy, and is overall, such a healthy, happy, sweet, but still tiny baby–(but sometimes he feels pretty heavy recently. )

I have his naptimes down to an exact science; double swaddle, pacifier, and now he falls asleep right away while being rocked in the glider in our room, before I lay him in the packnplay. (Thanks, Sharon!)   The boys started sleeping the same room at night about a week and a half ago, which is awesome, but we split them up for naps so everyone can get the time they need.  He is also officially in cloth diapers like Finley.


This week while the kids napped, I made some chocolate chip banana bread.  It’s fun for me to have people in my family who will eat baked goods.  Maria woke up first, and sat with me while I wrote thank you cards, and she worked on colors in English as we listened to Christmas music and ate banana bread.  The boys slept and slept.  I love having her around.

That evening, we rode bikes until papa started collecting firewood.  Maria and Finley ran over and started filling the wheel barrow with him.  They both spur each other on to be hard workers, loving their time outside.

For the first week or so, we allowed Maria to eat whatever she wanted, she loved coco-pops, which she had picked out.  And now that we know what she likes, can use that as we transition to a more healthy, guided diet, and she is such a great sport.  Sometimes when she asks for cocopops, we’ll say, “Yes!  You can have some in your bowl as soon as your finish your oatmeal and eggs(or whatever else we’re offering)”  Sometimes she is nervous to take a first bite since her diet was so limited in the orphanage, so I will act it out in a silly way to make her laugh, then ask her to take just one tiny bite and she could be done if she wanted, and whenever she has tried food, she loves it and asks for more.  “More, please?”  She seriously makes us so proud–and she hasn’t had coco-pops for a week.

She helped me plant 5 new rows of veggies this week.
Andrew has been picking a lot of pomegranites from the tree and offering them to the kids, and they have been loving it.

Recently, someone I met told me they were glad that we followed our hearts to adopt these kids, and I am the rudest person because I started laughing.

“I am so sorry, I don’t mean to laugh, but we definitely did not follow our hearts.  Our hearts basically told us this was the worst idea ever, and threatened to bail out on us if we continued…”  It was not our hearts, it was not us, it was God–I mean that literally.  Turns out He’s pretty smart.”

//Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all//
proverbs 3:5-6

Tonight after I put Elijah in his crib, I came out to these two playing Jenga–proof we don’t know it all.

I remember one of my hindrances to adoption, which is so embarrassing to admit, was I felt like by adding an ‘older child’, I might have to suddenly miss out on all the fun stuff for little kids at Finley’s age, like library story times, and all the fun preschool stuff…

Which is funny, because I feel God specifically reminding me of this when we spend most of our car rides singing the ABC’s, Sally the Camel, etc at the top of our lungs, cracking up.  When we are sitting around the table, singing, talking about colors and letters, when Maria and I act out Sally the Camel for Finley, who loves every minute.  In fact, I think Maria spurs on more of the fun preschool/kindergarten stuff with Finley than before she came home.  This week we wrote out the whole alphabet on the driveway and played a fun game of hopping on the letters while singing the song, Maria and Elijah literally were happier than if we were at Disneyland.  Something God has been pressing on my heart is good time: this is time well spent.

We go to preschool story times, and Finley and Maria sit together, acting out all the hand motions of each song together, loving it.  What I love about parenting a child who has not had any access to most things, even tv, is the joy she will take, for hours in any activity.  It is inspiring to me, and good for our family.  I think it teaches all of us to slow down, and enjoy moments for their beauty, I mean really enjoy them for a while.

I am not kidding about this adoption being a true gift.

Guess who read their first all English book to us last night?  YEP!  Maria!  We were so proud, we made a really big deal about it–well, cause it is a big deal.


 The book is called Blue Hat, Green Hat, and altough she didn’t do any actual decoding, there are patterns within the book of repetative words she know that she can follow, plus it’s funny, so it’s perfect!  I have a feeling (and desire…) that she will be a little reader!  She loves books.


We have made no transitions out of the honeymoon stage of adoption, and for very real reasons, I have the feeling we won’t.  But, I think that as adoptive parents, there are still things you can do to make things easier on yourselves, one of which is being an awesome and united team.  I think with any new addition to your family that has needs, be it a newborn or a dog even, a family settles in. Over the weekend, Andrew and I stayed up late one night and talked, while cleaning the house, I mean good talk.  We shared what we call, ‘unemotional needs,’ and by that I mean, we can feel free to share somethings we need from the other person, without the other person flying off an emotional handle with things like, ‘you don’t know all I do…” etc.  We just duley note them and do it cause we love each other, and because we are a team.  I feel lucky that our church is so focused on marriage, and over the years in all the various small groups we’ve read all the different marriage books that we would never have read on our own, (seriously, never) because when the time comes, those tools are key.

I love these two handsomes
Tonight, our tiniest is sick.  All he wants is to lay his warm cheek on mama, and cover me with sweat, drool and snot.  
And I love it.
“I used to wonder if I was ready to be an adoptive parent, until I realized that children are never ready to be orphans.” Glenn Styffe

AND best of all, miss Kate has over $3,000 in her grant fund! 🙂

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{ 19 comments… add one }
  • heartandvisionforfamily December 10, 2012, 9:17 am

    Thank you for this wonderful update on your adoption journey. I love being able to learn about your growing together as a family. And I learn a lot – God seems to be working on my heart while reading your words.
    Just a question regarding marriage: my husband and I seem to be going through a difficult time right now (having a ten-months-old and being pregnant with twins). Would you recommend any resources that could be helpful, especially concerning communication (our communication is often hurtful when it shouldn’t be)? Thanks in advance and kind regards from Germany, Beate

    • The Tiny Team December 11, 2012, 9:44 pm

      Yes, I so hear you! I think of all of them, my favorite that has stuck with is the most is Love and Respect. Some other note worthy ones are Sacred Marriage and the classic Five Love Languages! I also think that it’s good to set ground rules before arguments, arise! Arguments are part of a healthy marriage, but there are certain things that no matter how we are feeling should never be said or done, and it’s good to agree on them before hand! SO much love to you!

    • heartandvisionforfamily December 12, 2012, 8:59 am

      Thank you so much for your helpful advice and your book recommendations. And thank you for remembering to set ground rules for arguments! I think we will definitely need to take some time to discuss these and then – of course – need to stick with them. So much love and prayers for your lovely family coming your way across the ocean! Kind regards, Beate

    • heartandvisionforfamily December 12, 2012, 4:28 pm

      Thank you so much for your advice, the recommended resources and your prayers. We pray for your beautiful family, your marriage and that your church family and friends continue to surround you with love and support! Have a blessed time!

  • Lisa L. December 10, 2012, 2:35 pm

    When I read your posts, it brings such peace and love to my soul. What a wonderful family you make. And I am thrilled that one little girl will get to experience Christmas in its true essence, with a family, this year. God Bless.

  • Christiana December 10, 2012, 5:56 pm

    Your story is so inspiring. Your children are just beautiful and their stories have really nestled down deep in my heart. I hope that my husband and I will be in a position to adopt a child someday. My heart just breaks with the need.

  • hetherington December 10, 2012, 8:45 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that I stumbled upon your page last week (I have no idea how, exactly) and have thought of your family several times since then. I keep coming back to see how you’re doing. 🙂 Your story is heartwarming and I can feel your simple, brave kindness through the computer screen. I’m not even religious, don’t have much experience with international adoption, but your story just fills my heart. And when you mentioned your 1984 Christmas ornament, I realized that we are the same age! It is amazing to me that you’ve accomplished so much that’s so very important already. You inspire me to do more meaningful, brave things with my own life – the possibilities are out there, I just need to open my heart and listen. I guess I just wanted you to know that a stranger from Michigan is thinking of you and sending good thoughts and wishes your way. Good luck!

    • The Tiny Team December 11, 2012, 9:41 pm

      Awww, you are the cutest! Thanks for thinking of us, and yes, go find some opportunities, cause my bet is you may just feel just as blessed as those you are serving 😉 In fact, I’d bet on it 🙂

  • Sharon Edwards December 11, 2012, 1:22 am

    I really enjoyed reading this. So beautifully told and the pictures were great. I just happened upon your blog by accident and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  • kate December 11, 2012, 1:57 am

    We’ve been home over three years and the honeymoon continues. God does GOOD things!

    I really wish Maria and Lexi could meet. They would truly be the (full of) wonder twins.

  • Joanna December 11, 2012, 2:42 am

    The last pictures breaks my heart. So many kids. All over the world. Just waiting. Ugh.

  • Kimberly December 11, 2012, 7:27 pm

    Aaaand, did you see Finley’s baby Beatrice?! Yeah God! We’re home 4 years and our honeymoon goes on. Sometimes it rains on our honeymoon, we adapt. God is good that way. And your 1984 Christmas ornament…I’m way older than you! 😀

    • The Tiny Team December 11, 2012, 9:39 pm

      We are CELEBRATING over here!!! HURRAY! Wow, God is good!

  • Grace December 12, 2012, 4:33 am

    You are such an amazing and gifted writer! One day, when you have more time (ha!), you should write a book about this whole process. I think it would be a best seller!

  • Kathleen December 17, 2012, 8:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I love reading your updates when I have a chance! God bless your family!

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