Sorry to those of you who check often for updates, I think daily about writing on here but then there are not enough hours in the day lately. Please bear with us as we learn what the new "normal" looks like in our lives. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support not just since the earthquake and Odette coming home but also through our entire journey to bring her home. Life now all seems like before the earthquake and after the earthquake. My trip to Haiti Jan. 4-11 now seems like a lifetime ago. It is hard to believe that Odette has now been home for over 7 weeks. Sometimes it seems that it hasn't been long and other days it seems like she has been here forever. She just fits in our family- she is definitely a Coleman girl.
Things I love:
*listening to Abby & Molly speak Creole to her
*listening to Taylor & Odette giggling in their bed together at night
*hearing her sweet Haitian voice singing in the other room
*watching her daddy swing her around and listening to the laugh it brings
*watching her experience each new thing
*knowing my whole family is safely tucked in bed under one roof each night
*helping her with her English & getting to watch her confidence grow
*listening to her and her friends speaking Creole to each other
*being around her when she is silly
*getting to hug & kiss her whenever I want (even if she fusses about it)
*seeing her walking down the hall at church- we have talked about it forever & it is really happening now
*that she is is home sick today & when she woke up from a nap she came & climbed in my lap and sat there a while
*escalators, elevators, automatic doors
*automatic soap dispensers and air hand-driers
*going to the mall
*trying on clothes at a store
*warm bath & shower
*cold water out of the refrigerator door
*having a choice of what she wants to eat
*a warm house & air-conditioning
*riding a bike
*a playground to play on
*drawers full of clothes (she changes at least twice daily)
*a zoo full of animals that she had never seen & some never heard of
*swimming in a swimming pool
*ice skating (which she LOVES)
*seeing a washer & dryer
*using a vacuum cleaner (she tried to use the broom on the living room carpet so Taylor showed her how to use the vacuum cleaner)
*a potty that you flush each time you use it & plenty of toilet paper (we have had a record number of stopped-up potties in the last 7 weeks)
*trip to Krogers (she loves the "market" and wants to just walk around and look more when we finish shopping)
*valentine's day cards (try to explain valentines day to someone that just moved to America)
*trip to the movie theater
*singing & dancing on stage for Studio 252 at church
*trip to the Sunsphere
* is getting better every day. Our Creole is slowing getting better and her English is growing by leaps and bounds every day. Last night, Andy & I talked about how she is now speaking to us almost completely in English. Every once and a while there is a word that she doesn't know that we have to work to find out what she is trying to say but for the most part we understand each other.
*She has been working through the emotions of not only the earthquake but her life in Haiti before she came here. The more comfortable she feels with us the more she is beginning to share. We have learned that she was in the city at a house right next door to her aunt & uncle. She was with her mom, dad, brother & sister (they live in the city while they are going to school) & her cousin that lives near her parents in Coq Chante. She said she was scared and that a big rock fell on her leg. Her aunt, uncle and cousin were all killed during the earthquake an she was there when it happened. She says Port-au-Prince is bad and there were dead bodies everywhere. They started walking not long after the earthquake and walked until the next afternoon when they arrived at home. She has talked about how scary and bad Port-au-Prince is in the dark. I have ridden through there at night in a truck & it was bad enough- I can't imagine walking at night especially in the middle of a natural disaster. She has told us about the big blisters she had on her feet after walking that far. She told us that Eddy is the one that called and told her about Atanie dying. She said she cried and she also cried when she saw the orphanage. She is dealing with Atanie's death as best as she can. She wants to watch the video that Andy made for Lorie that has a bunch of pictures of Atanie all the time & talks about how Atanie is with Jesus.
-For the first 6 weeks Odette stayed home with me. We would work on English during the day as we had time & mostly this just gave her time to adjust to her new life. She would go & sit in her desk in her classroom for a few hours on Fridays when I would volunteer. She got the point that she would ask every night if she would get to go to school with Taylor so we decided that she was finally ready. Because she has only been in school for 2 years consistently since she went to the orphanage in Feb. 2008 she is pretty far behind academically. She is going to 5th grade with Taylor and will repeat 5th grade again next year. This year is just to be immersed in the English language, learning the routine of school with Taylor there to help and for the social interaction. Right now she is just going until 11:15 which is 1/2 day (she started on March 5th). While she is there she gets 30 minutes with the English Language Learners teacher. So far she loves school, especially time in the classroom & ELL. She is struggling a little with the special area classes- gym, music & art. She has never had this many different teachers before so it is a learning experience for us all. Her school has been so great and supportive through this process and we really appreciate that they truly care for her and our family.
-Odette, Islande and Benita also have English class each Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday nights for an hour which is also a great help. We are very grateful to Ms. Rebecca for all of her time.
-Odette, Wousamy, Valancia & Islande are taking swim lessons each Tuesday & Thursday afternoon. They are all fearless and will be great swimmers by the summer.
Chicken, pork, hamburgers, fish, steak, rice, fruit (mangos, pineapple, apples, & bananas especially), vanilla ice cream, cinnamon toast crunch, cinnamon rolls, water, sprite & coke, ice cream sandwiches, popcorn, spaghetti, baked potatoes
Does not like:
Vegetables (except corn & lettuce), pizza, yogurt, milkshakes, not crazy about chocolate
The other girls:
*The girls still enjoy spending as much time together as they can. At first they just wanted to check out each others houses to make sure that everyone was being taken care of. Every time that we got together Odette would pack a bag of various items to share with the other girls including coke, crunch and munch, capri-suns, mangoes, apples, pineapple and my favorite was the can of chicken that Benita brought to Odette. That stopped for the most part after the first couple of weeks so I guess they see that their friends really are taken care of and have the same kinds of things that they have at their houses to eat.
*We have had many playdates, sleepovers and their time together at church, swim lessons, and English lessons really have been a big help to their adjusting to their new life. I love how much they love each other & am so thankful for God's goodness in bringing them all here together.
Our newest family member:
*we added our newest member Callie, a 7 week old yorkie poo on March 4th. This was a Christmas present for the girls and we never imagined that Odette would be home before we found a puppy. I am glad that she has been here to be a part of the process. She only has met a couple of dogs that she likes so we were afraid that she wouldn't like the puppy at all. She has done really well with her so far & likes her most of the time.
*this is the hardest part of the whole homecoming & something we would appreciate prayer for. Haitians for the most part don't show a lot of emotion. In a county that daily life is so hard you being sad or mad is really a low priority. There are times when Odette just completely shuts down, we know that she is either sad or mad but getting to the bottom of the problem takes a lot of work. She has probably never been questioned about what is wrong before when she goes off by herself. We are trying to teach her that that is part of being a family, that we are her parents and we really do care about what has made her sad or mad. There have been many tears shed worrying about her and just wanting to be able to get through to her. For the most part this is getting better but there are still days that are hard. But God did not promise this would be easy, he just asked for obedience and is walking with us every step of the way. We are just trying to keep the lines of communication as open as we can & try to be aware of when she is headed into one of the moods so we can stop it before it gets too far. One night last week she refused to talk to us for hours before bed other than to say that she was sad & that she would not tell us why. This continued into bedtime and the next morning & when she finally decided to tell us that she was "sad at me because I told her we would look at Haiti videos later & I forgot". I even mentioned this the night before & she wouldn't admit that was what was wrong. So this part of the journey is taking a lot of patience, understanding, prayer, and just standing firm so she knows this is what being what a family looks like and her moods will not make us love her any less.
I am sure there are many things that I have left out but I will continue to update as I think of them. I will also post some pictures in the next few days.