Six months ago today God made it possible for our little girl to come home along with 5 of her friends. I am still amazed and overwhelmed thinking about the miracle that God worked to get them here in His perfect timing. Out of one of the greatest tragedies to happen to Haiti He not only kept them safe, He was faithful to finish the work that we started by saying yes to bringing them home.
I am also amazed that 6 months have already gone by. The days have often gone by slowly but the time still is passing quickly. I can honestly say these 6 months have been some of the best & hardest 6 months of our lives. During the hard days I was often wishing for the days with newborn twins because that seemed a lot easier. Having a new ten year old is work! I love her more than anything and could not be happier that she is finally here but some days are really hard. Luckily as time goes on there are more happy ones than hard ones and we are thankful that now it is usually just hard hours instead of full days. We have been really proud the last few weeks of her ability to "choose to be happy" pretty quickly after being mad instead of choosing to stay mad for the majority of the day. Good days at our house with her are great and so much fun. She makes us laugh all the time, she so is a Coleman girl!!!!
It is definitely a learning process for all of us. The best way I can describe it is she is like a toddler that is testing boundaries to see what is ok and what is not. You wouldn't think that you would have to tell a 10 year old that is not ok to write on themselves with Sharpies but you do. I don't think I have said "we write on paper" so much since Molly's preschool phase of writing on everything except paper.
I have never been so happy for summer to come. I felt like I could finally breathe for the first time in months. I just wanted all of my girls at home with me to enjoy them with nothing scheduled (except Sunday mornings). We have a summer off from school, piano, soccer, 252 practice, etc. We have enjoyed staying up later (ok so we wish the girls would go to bed a little bit earlier) and have really enjoyed sleeping in. We have spent time at the pool, outside, shopping, watching movies, a lot of time playing with friends during the day and even some sleepovers.
The 4 girls are getting along great (well lets say they act like sisters all of the time). The honeymoon period has definitely worn off. When Odette first came Abby & Molly thought she could do no wrong. Abby said the other day in the car when we were by ourselves, "Mommy, I thought that I would never get mad at Odette, but now that I do I guess that just means we really are sisters!". They all love each other one minute and are mad at each other the next minute.
Taylor and Odette decided that they were ready for twin beds in their room instead of sharing a bed (well Taylor decided and talked Odette into it). Odette said at first that she would not get two beds because Taylor is messy and she was not going to "clean" both of their beds each day. Agreeing on twin bedding that they both liked was a big challenge. But they finally decided and we got the beds put up 2 weeks ago. The girls are helping Andy now build headboards for them with shelves on them. Odette has decided though that she doesn't like to sleep alone, even if Taylor is 2 feet away. So most nights Abby sleeps with her. They have all four spent most of the summer sleeping in Abby & Molly's twin beds so now they have just moved into Taylor & Odette's beds. It is sweet that they want to sleep together but it's making the going to sleep time much longer. I dread school starting back!
Odette has trouble sleeping a lot. She has bad dreams about the earthquake often. She doesn't talk about them a lot but will tell me that is what the dreams are about if I ask her. She still has a lot of fears, more lately it seems, some she admits some you can just see. When a big truck goes up our street and kind of shakes the house she gets a nervous look on her face. She now wants a night light in her room to sleep with because her room scares her. Driving under underpasses scares her especially if we stop under one. She is also saying that she doesn't want to go to Fountain City Elementary for school & I just figured out it is the building that scares her because it is so big and old. We have assured her that the school is over 75 years old and nothing has ever happened to it. I am sure she will be better once she is there ever day again but now that is a very real fear for her.
Speaking of school she is SO excited about going back. Last year she only went half days until the last few days of school we let her go a full day just to go through the lunch, playground and pick-up routine. She loved school by the end of the year and was so upset it was finished. The one thing (besides the building) that she is nervous about is that she does not know anyone that will be in fifth grade this year. One thing you can be praying for is that she makes some new friends very quickly. I think that will be a big part of her continuing to love school and her desire to learn. Her school is great and they gave us math workbooks to work on over the summer starting with a kindergarten level up to third grade. She loves doing them and I think it will be a big help this year in school. The plan is that she will go to 5th grade this year and when school first starts they will do some more testing with her to see which math and reading level she is at. So she will be in her own classroom the majority of the day but during math and reading she will go to whichever grade level she is at and will sit in on their class. She will also have ELL class for a hour a day instead of 30 minutes.
Her English amazes us! She speaks English 99% of the time to us. I told her yesterday that she needs to speak to me more in Creole because I am forgetting everything I learned when she came. Her comprehension is also great. At first we would speak in smaller sentences or phrases to her to make sure that she understood us but now we can have complete conversations and she understands it all. Her grammar is a work in progress. She still sounds like a toddler saying "I want to go to she house". But that has progressed because she always used me instead of I before. Now it is working on when to say her instead of she, etc. She is so much more confident than when she first came.
The Monday after school got out we took our first trip to Disney as a family of 6. She was really against going at first. I LOVE Disney if you didn't know. Andy and I started dating there 20 years ago on a band trip in high school. The last time we went as a family I had just gotten back from Haiti and met Odette for the first time. I spent the whole trip wondering "what would the girls at the orphanage think of Disney, would Odette like this ride?" So since we had made the decision to adopt I couldn't wait to take her to Disney. Because our income tax check was bigger than expected we figured we better go while we had the money. Odette could not wrap her head around what vacation would look like. She kept saying "I know it will be fun but I don't want to go". But one day she asked if the room we were staying in would have lots of other people in it and if we had to eat with a bunch of people that we didn't know. We realized then it was not Disney that she was against but the unknown. She kept saying that she would just stay with Mamaw or Kelley. I told her that I would miss her too bad if I left her for 7 days & her response was "Mommy- I lived in Haiti for 10 years". Oh well, I guess she is right but I told her that I was sad for the year and a half I knew her and she wasn't here. She also said that she would miss Leah too much. In the end she finally went & she ended up having a great time. From our trips to Dollywood we knew that she was all about trill rides. The faster the better. She loved Expedition Everest, Rock 'n Roller Coaster, Test Track, and Space Mountain and she also loved some slower rides, her favorites- It's a Small World, Mickeys Philharmonic, Carousel of Progress, Toy Story Mania, Buzz Lightyear, and Peter Pan. Things this trip that made us laugh- she complained a lot about the heat & also would not use the restroom at the rest stop because it smelled bad. HELLO- the girl grew up in Haiti which smells not so pretty and is very hot (especially since she never had air conditioning before). I think she is ready for fall and winter which surprises us since we thought she would hate the cold. Also on vacation she decided that the fold- out couch was uncomfortable so she slept all week in the chair (I think part of that was to see if it would make us mad but we decided we had to pick our battles so we let her sleep in the chair). All in all it was a good vacation and we were glad to finally experience it with all our girls. But we are planning a long parents only long weekend in Disney as soon as we can afford it.
She now has decided that she loves the "cinema" and wants to go all the time. So far this summer we have seen Toy Story 3, Karate Kid and two free movies at Regal on Tuesday mornings. Karate Kid made her laugh so hard in parts that I am sure they heard her in the next theater. Wow that girl is LOUD!!!
She has told us that American food is much better and the only thing she really liked in Haiti was white rice with black bean sauce on the side. She likes most everything here (although most things she says she likes a "little bit"), but her new favorite is chicken casserole. She knows we only have it when daddy is not going to be home for dinner because he doesn't eat it so now she asks now "when does Daddy have a meeting all night" because she knows I will fix chicken casserole for her.
She talks daily about going back to Haiti. She really misses her family, her friends and her country. I asked early on if she wanted to go stay and she said "NO, I want to go visit then I am coming home". I love that she knows where home is but I also love her love for her country. She calls Eddy, our friend in Haiti that is helping with our paperwork, to see if he has been "working for her today". Right now her adoption still is not final and it is looking that it may be faster to adopt through the US. The big issue is that under normal laws she would not be a citizen for 2 years and will not be able to travel to Haiti until then. For a little girl who says at least once a day if not more "Mommy- I need to go to Haiti" two years is a long time. There is a bill that they are hopefully going to pass soon that will shorten this process to about 6- 8 months. Please be praying that this passes or something else happens to speed up the process. Most days I completely understand her desire to go to Haiti because I miss it terribly too. At this point I am going to try to wait to take my next trip until I can take her with me. Andy has a trip planned in September and she is very excited that he gets to go love on her friends and see her family.
Odette has been making bracelets and selling them for $1 to raise money to send to Haiti. Right now she is at $407 and is so excited that she can help her country in this way. We have spent many hours this summer on my bed watching NCIS (her new favorite show) and making bracelets.
Sorry for the lack of posts the last few months and the length of this one. Hopefully this has caught you up some on our crazy life.