The Tinii

It's plural for Tinius, because we said so.


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Why Burundi?

It’s a question we are asked quite often. Right up there with, “Where’s Burundi?”

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There’s your answer to the first question. It’s a small country that not everyone has heard about. “Why Burundi,” will require a longer answer.

We’ve worked with other cultures, kids with PTSD, “orphans” and true orphans, organizations that assist with adoption, and organizations that try to prevent the need for it. All of those experiences have led to this decision.

We knew we wanted to find a country and agency that was Hague certified and that had some framework that allowed for ethical adoptions. Burundi is a country that’s new to international adoption and set out with some of this framework. While no country is perfect when it comes to adoption (the US included), we truly believe there’s still a place for it when done well. Adoption ethics is not something we take lightly and it’s something that I continually stress about if I’m honest.

We also knew that we wanted to pick a country to which we had a connection. It’s really important to us that our child(ren) stay connected to their culture.

Josh can speak some conversational French and I’m (very slowly and poorly) attempting to learn Kirundi which I continually mix up with the little Spanish, Swahili, and Haitian Creole that I know.

We also have a lot of friends in Nashville from Burundi and surrounding countries in the region. I mentor a little girl whose mom is from Burundi and she is teaching me to cook regional food. There are churches nearby with Burundian/Congolese/Rwandan congregations too! All in all, we have the ability to maintain a connection to this culture and country which is so important to us.

In a nutshell, adoption is complex and loaded with trauma. Our hope and goal is to honor that as much as possible.


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What happened to The Tinii?

Long story short, we are still at Joyce Lane Farms, alive and well.

We are still in a neighborhood of friends, milking Margot, collecting eggs, traveling, and doing life. JLF has an AirBnb now since Casey & Savannah found a new, amazing place thanks to realtor- extroadinairre, Josh.

I logged into this blog the other day (after stalking some other blogs) and realized people are still coming across it strangely enough. I’m sure it’s people who are either doing the hike in Haiti or googled a random boat question.

As annoying as blogs can be, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. Not always the fancy-pants, bougie blogs, but the ones that show you step-by-step photos of how to clean an Atomic 4 carb. When we bought the sailboat, I lived and breathed those blogs. Real life stories that showed the sunset cocktails on the water, but also the flipside of the same coin. They were a lifeline.

We aren’t buying another boat, but I’ve been living and breathing another kind of blog for years as well now. Even before the boat, I was wrapping myself up in the lives of adoptive families knowing that would be a road we walked down at some point. Well, some point has become right now.

We spent much longer than necessary filling out mounds of forms, learning to fold fitted sheets for our homestudy (which was completely unnecessary), and fighting with Williamson County, Tennessee over paperwork. Now (no thanks to Williamson Co.) all of that paperwork is halfway around the world in Burundi. We are approved for 2 kids between the ages of 0-5 and have NO IDEA who they are or when we will bring them home. It could be 6 months, it could be 5 years. It could be one kid, it could be two. It could be twins or boys or girls or both. We are living in a world of unknowns but we’re excited about this next adventure.

Thus, this blog is getting a bit of a new lease on life. I’ve taken a lot of information and advice from the blog world, and while The Tinii are neither bougie nor fancy, hopefully, if the right person happens to land here, we can give back a tiny bit of insight. If not, may you at least be entertained.


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Meet Joyce Lane Farms Pt. 2

Once upon a time, we moved into a little house on Joyce Lane. We were happy there but a bit lonely. One day, being my nosy curious self, I noticed the coroner’s van pulling in the driveway across the street (didn’t see that coming did you). It turns out that our neighbor had passed away. We’d never met him because he was sort of paranoid (more about that in a minute). The house went up for sale and not long after came new neighbors. Again, I was so nosy kind that I thought we should go over and meet our new neighbors.

I actually didn’t get to meet the neighbors that night, but I did met their mom who was helping them move in. Her name was Jeana and she got my phone number in case her boys (who were moving in) needed anything. The next day, I did meet “the boys.” Klint and Kyle were brothers from Texas and if there’s such a thing as neighbor soul mates – the Stallons Brothers were that for us.

Within the week, we had an awesome party that involved lots of coming and going between our houses to see the multiple panic rooms and storm shelters installed by the previous owner (remember the paranoia) and we ended the night street luging down Joyce Lane.

It was neighbor-love at first party and has been that way ever since. Until Klint decided to move back to Texas AND take my his dog Dale and break all of our hearts. Kyle is still with us so….whatever KLINT. We still consider him a founding JLF member though so here it goes…

Everything You Need To Know About the Stallons Brothers

What You Need To Know About Kyle:

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Kyle was unequivocally the cutest child ever. He grew up to be pretty cute too…

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Before he kills me, let me post a real picture…

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Kyle is a great neighbor to have – the kind that tells you where his spare key is and doesn’t get mad when you use that knowledge to have dance parties in his basement. He hosts the poultry division of Joyce Lane Farms and runs Joyce Lane Farms Studios because he is a musician and songwriter (betcha didn’t know there was a STUDIO on Joyce Lane Farms). He is a really, really good musician and you should check him out. He and Klint used to play downtown on Sundays before Klint killed our JLF happiness by moving.

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Kyle is also a really great whistler and dancer. Seriously, you NEVER knew a good ‘ol former high school football MVP from Texas could dance like this. Also, Captain refers to him as Uncle Kyle.

What you need to know about Klint:

Klint moved back to Texas and took Dale and I’ll never forgive him for it.

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He sort of looks like American Jesus in that picture. Right?

Klint is was an integral part of the poultry division of JLF. When we wanted chickens, Klint was pretty easily convinced this was a good idea and let us use his yard. He was also a really valuable tomato farmer. Last year, he grew approximately 5billion tomatoes with little to no effort while our side of Joyce Lane grew like three. We burned with jealous rage but didn’t hesitate to eat all the tomatoes while he was on tour. Speaking of touring, Klint plays the fiddle (which also makes me jealous).  Hearing Klint play “Calling Baton Rouge” at Second Fiddle was a weekly highlight of mine but that joy is dead…..Thanks, Klint.

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So that’s the Stallons Brothers in a nutshell.

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Tune in next time for information on the Saunders Satellite Ranch.


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Meet Joyce Lane Farms Pt. 1

So, you know us. We are The Tinii – Josh and Allison. Obviously we are a part of JLF.

However, there are quite a few other “farmers” on our little slice of country life in the city. It all started when we were moving to Haiti and two of our best friends, Casey and Savannah, decided to rent the upstairs of our house. When they did, they also decided to get chickens with the guys across the street (you’ll meet them later). Chickens obviously mean you live on a farm. Thus, the first use of “Joyce Lane Farms.”

When we knew we were coming back from Haiti, Josh and I decided that we would move into the basement apartment to save money and do some repairs that needed to be finished. The girls were fine with that too. We knew Casey and Savannah from church and also knew that we had a shared desire to live communally with other people. Not in a creepy hippie commune kind of way, but just in an intentional hey-let’s-do-life-together way.

So, it happened.

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Casey and Savannah are a blast. They run a blog/brand called Hey Wanderer. Casey is a nurse and Savannah works on Hey Wanderer full time. They’re both big dreamers and we get a long really well. Plus we all think brinner is the most important meal of the day. It’s like our Breakfast At Tiffany’s…it’s that one thing we have if everything falls apart.

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What you need to know about Casey:

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Casey loves waffles more than almost anything. She loves Jesus and her dogs more than waffles but waffles are up there. If you need someone to convince you to do something you really want to do RIGHT THIS SECOND, Casey will be that person. When we talked about wanting chickens she had looked up a Craigslist ad and called the lady and told her we were on our way faster than you can say, “Casey loves waffles.” She is a good person to get advice from because she’s super honest. She wishes she could be Stevie Nicks and tried to have a puppy party for her last birthday. She hates going to the grocery store almost as much as she hates Monsanto – and that’s a lot. If Casey had a spectrum of love-hate, it would look like this…. Jesus – Whitt and Winston – waffles – all the stuff in between – going to the store – Monsanto – Satan himself.

What you need to know about Savannah:

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Savannah is half Mexican and she introduced me to something called migas and I love her for it, but she doesn’t speak Spanish so there’s that. Savannah’s head is Pinterest-famous. She has this one hair tutorial that I’ve seen no less than 50 bagillion times. You’ve probably seen it too.

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Savannah gets s*** done. For real – she’s a boss and I’m convinced she can do anything. She can sew kimonos, dye hair, build chicken coops, and make migas. She doesn’t mind going to the store which means she’s always going to the store because Casey hates it. Savannah has never, ever affectionately touched Casey’s dog Whitt (can’t blame her). Not even a pat on the head. She’s from Texas and writes music as well as makes clothes for a living which is amazing. She has the best hair in all the world and I’m super jealous of it. Josh probably is too if we’re honest.

So that’s Casey and Savannah.

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Tune in next time to meet the Stallons Brothers….


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How not having a plan turned out

For awhile after Haiti, life didn’t seem exciting enough to blog about. Let’s be honest – just buying groceries in Port-au-Prince is an adventure. It was a strange time in life because we didn’t have a plan.

But not having a plan worked out.

As you know, we moved back to Joyce Lane Farms. Josh has gotten his real estate license because it’s something he’s always been interested in and ….why not? I got a job working for a company called Eventbrite. I work in customer service and I love it! It’s a fantastic company and I get to work from home. Win, win.

So, we have these flexible, awesome job situations and we’re living with some of our best friends. The four of us have this dream of living communally and it sort of just happened. As you may know, we share chickens with our friend across the street, Kyle (dang you Klint for moving back to Texas). Then, some of our other closest friends moved down the road. It started getting more and more “communal.”

And Joyce Lane Farms became for farmlike.

We have a pretty decent garden, a few chickens, and this summer we had bees (they since died but we’re trying again in the Spring). Then came Margot.

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For Christmas, Josh got me a pet goat named Margot (yes, they’re legal but require a permit…which we are getting). She is a dairy goat so we’ll probably milk her late summer/early fall. So now, what started as a joke became legit. We have all of the beginnings of an urban farm, y’all. Not to mention the girls make a clothing line called Hey Wanderer and we help some friends with selling artisan goods from Haiti. Maybe someone called us Wal-Mart for hipsters once. Come get your goat cheese, kimonos, and fair trade artisan goods here, guys.

So somehow we fell into this big dream of living communally and with less assistance from “the man.” Not having a plan turned out to be pretty sweet. Next up….meet the members of Joyce Lane Farms.


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The Plan or Lack Thereof – By:Allison

Well, The Tinii are on the move again.

In May we finished up our time with New Hope Haiti Mission. After quite a few teary goodbyes, we hopped on a plane back to the land of hot showers and overpriced cocktails. The days of $2 Rum Punches, beaches, and sitting in traffic for hours on end are behind us. It’s bittersweet.

“So what now?” you might ask. Well, we’re asking the same thing. We aren’t coming back to any solid plans or jobs. The primary reason for moving back is to save up money to adopt in the near future. The one thing we know for sure we’re coming back to is Joyce Lane Farms.

Before we left, some very close friends of ours rented the upstairs of our house (there is the main living area along with a basement apartment). About a week before the move, these friends convinced our other friends across the street, Klint and Kyle, that we should all get chickens and put them in their backyard because Josh is vehemently against chickens in ours. They were duped graciously agreed and from that moment on the two houses were called Joyce Lane Farms because apparently you only need a few chickens to constitute being called a farm.

Fast forward to now. So, the girls are actually staying in the house and we are moving into the basement apartment. Some more friends of ours moved in down the street increasing the population to eight. We also now have bees and a pretty legit gardening situation going on. It’s starting to feel like a hippie commune/farm which is basically my dream in life.

In short, we don’t have jobs or concrete plans – but we have friends and chickens and bees and lots of dogs (Whitt, Winston, Captain, Dale, Wanda, and Dave to be exact). If you’re in Nashville, stop by and say hello!


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Jacmel

Ah, Jacmel

When people think of Haiti, they think of Port-Au-Prince during the earthquake. Port-Au-Prince is one giant mess. The traffic is indescribable, it smells horrific, and there is a lot of poverty everywhere. The good news is that Port is one city in the whole, entire country. We already blogged about the magical city of Cap-Haitien, but there is another city that is just as magical. Way back in 2010, we first laid eyes on Haiti. It was only three months after the earthquake and things were still crazy sad. Even then, however, Jacmel felt special. Fast forward four years and up the special level by at least a hundred and you’ve got Jacmel today.  Side note: If you don’t want my whole “why Jacmel is magical” thing then skip to the summary at the end.

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Port-Au-Prince can get you down for sure. Then you go to Jacmel and you swell with hope for what Haiti could be. There’s a lot of development going on, including this artsy little boardwalk.

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Jacmel is an extremely artsy town. If Haiti had hipsters, they’d live in Jacmel. It’s is famous for it’s paper mache art. Our good friends Josh & Chandler run an artisan coop called Haiti Design Coop. They work with a paper mache artisan from Jacmel who makes cow skulls. There’s a lot of talent going on in this town.

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It’d definitely a town where you can spend the afternoon walking the streets, visiting artisans, and hanging on the beach. The downtown beach is what you would expect. The boardwalk is lovely, but it’s a little trashy. If you want a good, clean beach – head east about 15 minutes. There are some hotels and public beaches down that direction that are excellent. We used the beach just past Hotel L’Amitie where there are a few bungalows and some tables. The bungalows are available for rent. We were told $50/night for 4 people. They are simple, but clean and have fans. The restaurant and beach there is great so I’d recommend it as a hang out spot for sure.

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The one thing you absolutely have to do, hands down, is Bassin Bleu.

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I mean, this is real life, ya’ll. Getting there is a big adventure. These are – honest to God – the best directions I can give you. Head west from downtown any way you can toward the river bed. Cross said riverbed. If you aren’t sure about crossing puddles/the ACTUAL river just wait and watch motos go through or ask if your car will make it. People are helpful. Once you get through the river, ask where Bassin Bleu is. There are a million small roadways through the river bed. People will have to just point you in the right direction. Once you reach the tree line there is a sign. Follow the road up and there are signs the whole way! There is a little building once you get there and you’ll have to pay 100 gourdes per person to visit. You’ll also have to pick out a guide that you’ll need to tip at the end.

You pass a few small pools and waterfalls on the way. The guides are helpful and informative and will point everything out and help you get across.

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The final trek requires half climbing down a boulder with assistance from a rope and the guides. Once you get down, though, you get some breathtaking views of the basin.

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The water is freezing and suuuuuper deep. Haitains will tell you all about the zombies and mermaids that live at the bottom. It’s deep enough to do some serious cliff jumping.

Funny story – in 2010 I tried jump from the top. I got up there and froze. NOTHING could have made me jump off that cliff and the more I waited the worse it got. Finally, Josh climbed up and shoved me off the cliff rescued me.

Summary: Here’s a brief overview of what we loved about Jacmel. I’m only including what I’ve experienced, where I’ve stayed, etc. but there is plenty more!

Where to Stay:

  • Hotel L’Amitie – We stayed here for $57/night including breakfast. It’s right on the beach. The rooms are super simple but clean. There wasn’t a working phone at the time so we had to stop by and ask about rooms and pricing.
  • Hotel Cyvadier – This place rocked. We stayed here for $67/night including breakfast. It’s back in a cool little cove with a small beach area. The grounds are fantastic and the rooms were nice.
  • Hotel Florita – We didn’t stay here but we did hang out a bit. It’s amazing. You have to stop by just to grab a drink. It’s in an old historic building downtown and it feels like the sort of place Hemmingway would get drunk at and write.
  • Hotel Kabic Beach Club – We tried to stay here for $110/night but our reservation got mixed up. It’s nice, right across from the beach, and the owner is super sweet.

Where to Eat:

  • Jacmel Pizzeria – This place is downtown within walking distance of Florita and the boardwalk. They have pizza, Mexican, and a good breakfast.
  • Madame Barbeque – this place is very Haitian. Right at the entrance to Hotel Cyvadier there is a small building that says “Cyvadier Market”. Madame BBQ is there. It is delicious! Don’t be intimidated or nervous. She grills barbeque chicken and a plate comes with fries and a salad for $5. You can run in the little market and grab a drink.
  • Hotel Florita – The food here was fine. Limited menu though. Go for the atmosphere.
  • Bungalows on the Beach – These bungalows are right down the beach from Hotel L’Amitie. DELICIOUS food and drinks. This is the place to go for fresh seafood.
  • The Vatican – This is hands down one of the coolest bars I have ever been to ANYWHERE. Here is the problem. I don’t know how to tell you to find it. Maybe that adds to the awesomeness. It’s downtown near a park and close to the Jacmel market. It’s stuck between two buildings so have fun trying to locate it.