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Mud and Pudding

No one has time for an orphanage crib when there is a whole world to see and people to love me.

Our littlest guy is doing very well.  Growing up in an orphanage is not the place babies were meant to grow, and when he first came home, it showed, our little wounded birdy.

Our adoption of little E was different than our adoption of Maria.  We set out to adopt Maria with great intention, with clear leading.  With Elijah, we saw a little boy in need, and felt a decision in a short time while in country; say yes or leave him in that crib.

So our yes was said because we could help, so we would.

Imagine living your tiny life with three things, I mean really, just three; your hard, but very familiar bed, your meal a day, same temperature, same taste, and your thumb.  And two people sweep in who keep kissing you when you are not used to being touched, ever.  It is thrilling, but at the same time, it is overwhelming, it all is, and when you’re used to being left alone, you don’t know how to respond.

When we first got home, Maria and Finley were instantly bonded to us, to each other, and happy as clams, as were we.  They lit up their little worlds and lives, spreading smiles.  Elijah went from staring over the sides of his white, metal, chipped crib rail, silence throughout the day and night, to eating new, healthier foods, being touched, being rocked to sleep and put in a new bed.  Although his body responded well and grew, his little body also grew tired easily from so much walking, playing and people talking to him and he would often fall asleep.  His tears flowed those first two weeks, too much touch overwhelmed him, and his three things were all gone.

skin to skin touch therapy

I think if we would have just adopted him for the purpose of having an ideal tiny baby to love for ourselves, it would have been hard because the things that should be normal in a baby’s life were hard for him and would make him cry.  But, I believe the circumstances under which we adopted him, allowed us to not only be unfazed by his transitional stage, but to care for him deeper despite it.  If he was overwhelmed, we’d wrap him up in a warm blanket and hold him while playing with the other kids.


Present: after bring rocked with a bottle, sweaty cuddle hair

We did a lot of sensory therapy with him.  Doesn’t that make us seem fancy, as if it were something very hard.  Our other kids thought they were in heaven as we experienced it together as a family.

One night we did a pudding bath.  Both boys sat in the  bath with a big bowl of pudding that we also put on their skin, Finley avoided all eye contact with me delaying the moment I realized what I was allowing him to do and had them stop.  Finley, “Best moment of my life!”

Don’t let this happy face fool you, he was pretty certain it was torture for the first 3 minutes, and let us, and maybe the neighbors, know.  You see, babies were made to be held and touched, and denying them of that experience makes touch foreign, something to get used to.

“Ohhhhh, totally kidding guys.  This is actually the best thing ever, Finley, you were right.”
Finger painting
“Omg mom, this is so fun, and I am so awesome at it!”


“WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME!!  OMG it’s on my hands!!”
And this weekend, Andrew  dug a hole, and siphoned warm water into it. 
This was the motherload for senses.
Grass, mud, water all on bare skin, but guess what?

Elijah loved every second
This is kind of a big deal.  This picture makes me realize how far he has come in such a short time.

Sometimes I wonder if people think you have to have special skills to be an adoptive parent parenting a child who has grown up with so very little, when really if you can dig a hole and make some pudding you could be changing someone’s world.

I remember, before adopting, thinking that in many ways it would be a sacrifice, but how that didn’t really scare us.  I was even thankful for the sacrifice it would bring to our life and the life of Finley, but now I realize it isn’t.  I think often how much richer our life is, Finley’s life, our newest additions.  What is sacrifice?  Is it saying yes to people?

 Sharing a life, having a brother to be boys with?

Is sacrifice actually love?  Is giving receiving?  Because that’s what it feels like.  Stuff for me to think about.

Over the weekend, some friends gave Maria a doll house that their mother in law got at a garage sale, it’s awesome! 
  When Finley woke up from his nap, Maria hurried to him and asked excitedly, “Finley, do you want to play doll house!?”
He looked at her in the eyes so happily, “YEAH!” he sung as they both sat and picked their people.

“Hi, how are you?”
 “I are good, hows are you?”

It was pretty sweet to watch them be able to play something that they can both take part in at their own level, although Finley was mostly learning from sister.

Andrew is so awesome.  Rad dad, teaching the kids to live each moment.

Elijah is having great success in the food department as well.  He had never self fed, and had a fear of the spoon origionally because of life in an orphanage. We even prayed about it, and when we do we see better gains in his progress.  Why was I surprised to see God guiding us in parenting?

“Oh wait, what is it, it looks like something I like…”

“Let me just try this whole food thing in my mouth.  With my own hand, while watching it though, just in case…”
 WAHOOOOOO!!!!  First self feeding captured.  He didn’t do it again that night, and cried if it touched his hand again, but this week he is on a roll, shoving little bits of stuff into his mouth.  It’s crazy/awesome.  We are still in shock that he can feed himself a tiny bit.  We’re all about baby steps in this family.  And cheering.  And celebrating, all the baby steps which are really a big deal for little ones.
Our pediatrician told us that avocados were some of the best things we could be giving our two newest additions.  And that very day, our normally dormant trees gave us 19.  What a coincidence, haha 😉
It’s also Elijah’s favorite food, which is a big deal.
“Eating is easy ‘lijah, just watch me!”

// may he equip you with all you need
    for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
    through the power of Jesus,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
    All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.// 
heb. 13:21
I think mud and pudding and avocados are good things.

Miss Maria is doing wonderful.  She is thriving, she is doing so well in school and her teacher loves her.  Our friends cannot believe she is the same girl who first came home.  She is not shy and afraid, but happy, confident, full of life.  I think that’s just what naturally happens when there are two people in your life who love you a whole lot.


Today she finished her kindergarten workbook, and is moving on to first.  Might I remind you this is a brand new language, new alphabet and she can read books all the way through now.  She doesn’t know all the words and sometimes needs help, but she is so motivated.

She is mama’s sweet helper wherever we go, even for our friends when they are over.  She straps the toddlers into their chairs, puts on their bibs, all before anyone asks her.

Grocery shopping.  We are the crazy ones who allow toddlers to carry  banana bunches through the store in rainboots, babies on backs and big girls pushing carts through the crowds to the front.

Ok, sit down.
When Iris was first placed on our hearts, we didn’t even know why, other than she reminded us of Maria, and that she just needed help, so yes.
We prayed and knew that any help would be done by God’s power, and my oh my, has he assembled quite the team for this sweet girl.  His love is so strong.
right now…
Iris has…
WOW!  Go #TeamIris
I don’t think any one of us could have given that much on our own, but I love how so many people are giving a little, and I love how quickly it added up for her.  Time is everything for orphans, the sooner the better, each moment.
This was written from a mama who adopted Iris’ best friend Bella, and having to say goodbye. “Iris was allowed to come to the laying room regularly to visit and play with Bella. The two quickly became best friends. Can you imagine, someone to love in a place where the “unloved” reside?”
This sweet blonde girl continues to amaze me

(I also can’t believe how many of the people who are now part of #TeamIris are in the adoption process themselves right now, pinching every penny anyways, oh my.  So incredible.)

On our search for 200 people, 45 people have banded together.  Keep telling me when you donate so that I can hopefully give you the Kisses from Katie book, yesss!
Pray for just the right family–soon!

Hmmm, well, I don’t know how they found out about us or who nominated us, but our adoption blog was nominated for 2013 Parents Magazine blog award. I love the timing and see it as no coincidence that when people go vote, we will be talking about sweet Iris 🙂 I feel hesitant to post, but good about advocacy, so may as well. 


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  • Nanami February 7, 2013, 10:41 am

    Wonderful post! I love all the fun activities and at same time therapia you do with your littlest, and how all family can enjoy it together. I think Elijah looks like a different baby now ^^
    Maria seems sooo very happy in each picture. What a blessing she and Finley are best buds!
    Each day Im more and more convinced to adopt a older kid in a future. Being honest I would adopt Kate if I could!
    I just donated 25$ to sweet Iris. Whenever I’ll have a bit more saved, I’ll donate her again! Can’t wait until she’ll have a family because this girl is going to bright sooo much with a mama and a papa..! : )
    Love from Spain.

    • The Tiny Team February 8, 2013, 10:09 pm

      Thank you Nanami! Yes, andrew and I, and Maria are quite convinced anyone else who joins our family will be 8+. Does Russia allow adoptions from Spain still? Let me know if so


    • Nanami February 8, 2013, 11:14 pm

      Yeah, its still possible as far as I know, I was searching for info in adoption agencies and they just mentioned the american ban, which is sad and so unfair : (
      I would love to be able to adopt now, but sadly my partner doesnt like the idea… at all.
      But in some years Im sure I’ll do! : )

  • godhasnoproblems February 7, 2013, 3:36 pm

    Love, love, love this!

    Finally coming out of lurking to say that I’ve been praying for you guys on this journey and will continue to do so – and loving watching and celebrating what God’s doing – from actually just a few miles down the road!

  • Molly February 7, 2013, 6:30 pm

    God and His infinite power amazes me. What a loving family you guys are. Now I want to go let my kids run around in that mud puddle behind our house!

    • The Tiny Team February 8, 2013, 10:10 pm

      It’s more fun than you even imagined 🙂

  • Rachel February 7, 2013, 7:00 pm

    I’ll be honest, finances are extra tight right now for me. My Ethiopian treasure (now three, home one year) has had some medical needs that have sucked my savings right up, and I want to start preparing for adoption #2 in the future (although as a single mama it may be a year or so before we’re ready). However, I feel strongly nudged to commit to your challenge. I can’t give right now, but my Everly and I will figure something out and donate a hundred dollars to Iris’s fund in the next few months. PS – Shaving cream is great sensory fun, as is cornstarch and water (you can add colors and paint the sidewalks with your fingers or feet if you want).

    • The Tiny Team February 8, 2013, 10:11 pm

      Awww, that’s so special Rachel, thank you for your determination despite. Who knows, perhaps you’ll find it on the side walk 😉

      Good tips on the shaving cream, I will have to try that!

  • RiverOwl February 7, 2013, 7:53 pm

    I read your blog obsessively and I don’t know why. This is the first time I’ve ever commented. I’m not a mother, I’m not married, I’m not religious. But something has been compelling me to read. I have been so touched by your commitment to all your children, and all the other children you have met! The way you write and the things you write about make me question my own lack of faith. I don’t even know how I found your blog, but I’m glad I did. I have so loved seeing the transformation in your children.

    So I donated $100, which works out at about £65 GBP, which is pretty much the amount I just spent on a new blu ray player. It’s peanuts.

    • The Tiny Team February 8, 2013, 10:14 pm

      Well RiverOwl, I think this is my favorite comment. Thank you for donating to Iris. And I actually feel like I am beside you in that, I still question my own lack of faith despite the joy I feel in growing in it. I guess may this adoption was the first opportunity I’ve had to have real faith, because I couldn’t provide for myself, and actually had to trust…ok, I’m accidentally writing a blog post, but, all to say, thanks for the comment.


  • The Idaho Neumanns February 7, 2013, 8:32 pm

    Praise God for using your blog to reach the world! Wow! That is quite a perspective. Love seeing some meat on Elijah. Thank you for sharing your journey and may God bless Iris.

  • Danielle Wipf February 7, 2013, 8:37 pm

    You inspire to be a better person daily. Love your family and your blog. We are in the process of adopting from Ukraine…little Iris is pulling at my heart. It just breaks for her. Could you please email me what country she is from? I would greatly appreciate it!

  • Mom February 7, 2013, 9:01 pm

    I saw the total donated for Iris, but do not know how much is needed. ??

    Not sure how I came to be called “Mom” on this, but I’ll go with it.

    • The Tiny Team February 8, 2013, 10:15 pm

      Hi mom!!!


      From her country, the total cost is 25,000, so she’s actually chipped away at a good amount of the cost! WOWSA!

      Bye mom

  • Sherry February 8, 2013, 2:01 am

    #1. I want to go to whatever crazy garage sale sells plan toys dollhouses, sign me up I’m THERE! I’ll even buy you a coffee.
    #2. Baby adoption I know. We’re home 10 months now. And yes, it’s tough. Because our next was 11 we had forgotten the specific milestones, but we were acutely aware that he was well behind where he should be. He didn’t know what to do with a toy. He didn’t know how to chew. He didn’t understand love and cuddles. So yes. I get how absolutely freakin amazing it is that Elijah will play in the mud. It’s like at 6 months home when Pip said I love you, and by that time he actually “got” it. Big stuff working in your babe. Way to go Mama!!
    #3. What I don’t know is older kid transition, and that’s the path we’re working on. So when we bring our 10ish year old girl home, I’ll be at your virtual doorstep. Please feel free to visit mine. I’ll make coffee.

    • The Tiny Team February 8, 2013, 10:16 pm

      Hi Sherry!

      It’s a date! Haha.

      Yes, feel free to ask anything, and I’ll try to write some things we do with her that have really worked. Good for you adopting the older ones, they are hidden treasures!

      Thanks for the sweet comment 🙂

  • Katie February 8, 2013, 3:31 am

    Your blog ALWAYS makes me cry. Always. Mostly because your kids are so darn cute, and doing so well! And because Maria reminds me so much of someone I love… I love that picture of her laughing, you can just feel her joy! How precious.

    Oh, and you also may be the coolest parents ever. Pudding baths and mud holes? Yeah. Epic childhood right there. 🙂