Edmonds Family Update: GI Joes

I loved the TV show GI Joe growing up.  Funny thing: I never really played with the toys.  I was much more into wrestling and transformers and He-Man than GI Joes.

But the cartoon….that was gold!

Anyway, at the end of each episode they always had a moment which ended up with the saying “And now you know and knowing is 1/2 the battle.”

I feel that knowing and maybe more specifically not knowing brings along uncertainty and worry.  At least that’s how I feel in our lives.  Amy and I have noticed through some times with the girls knowing and not knowing brings unwanted stress, worry, frustration, anger, tears,

It really had me contemplating.  You only know what you know.  So that’s brought some humor, frustrating times, and just times we are left stumped.  We wanted to share a couple of those things:

  • Frustration – There are many times when either me (Josh) or Amy are heading out somewhere (e.g. take kids to school, gym, a run, etc) that Z gets nervous asking when is _____ coming back?  Are we going to be left alone?  Slowly over the last 7 weeks, she has realized that she isn’t left alone and we will always come back but I guess you only know what you know.
  • Stumped – Amy took the girls to the store the other day.  Now we hadn’t gone on this adventure with them yet.  Typically Amy or I were going to the store by ourselves or we were ordering groceries online.  Anyway, Amy and Z and L head to the store and when they return Amy tells me the story.  Apparently Z’s head was darting back and forth, looking up and down.  Amy noticed the behavior and asked “what are you doing” Z’s responded: “Looking for cameras.  Mommy asked me to look for those when we shopped.”  Stumped.  You only know what you know.
  • Humor:  Yesterday there was a court hearing about the case.  Amy was speaking to the social and our Foster Care Supervior.  Z heard “court” and said how much she loved court.  Amy asked her why.  Z mentioned that she loved all the food places, like McDonalds and sometimes they had places to play.  Amy (better than I would have done) held in her laughter and gently redirected Z that she was referencing a food court and that wasn’t the same kind of court Amy was referring to.  You only know what you know.

How are we day in and day out, moment by moment it depends.  Sometimes are frustrated.  Sometimes we are stumped.  Sometimes we are laughing .  Right now more often than not, we wish we knew.

We wish we knew all of the family backstories.  We wish we knew how to best love, serve, and meet needs of Z and L.  We wish we knew what Madeline, Jojo, Elijah really thought about our new family dynamic.  We wish we knew the best way to respond.  We wish we knew the answer to “what’s going to happen with the girls.” We wish we knew what was a made up kid story and what was real when Z tells us something we think may sound crazy.

We wish we knew because if we knew, at least accordingly to GI Joe that’s half the battle.

Praises / Prayer Requests:

  • Prayer – Wisdom / Discernment – Update: We are continuing to learn about Z especially.  Her behavior ebbs and flows.  Amy has been doing extensive research and we are scheduling a larger meeting to help us learn more about Z’s brother to see if there is any insight.  Pray for peace.  Pray for wisdom.  Pray that we respond correctly that I (Josh) model Amy’s lead from her wisdom and research to respond in wise manner when Z’s behavior “shuts down”
  • Financial Support – If you all didn’t know, my job doesn’t pay a “full-time” salary such that we can “live on”.  Therefore, Amy and I raise funds from people sponsoring us for ____ / month in order to meet our financial goals and, in this season, for Amy to stay at home.  We are still praying for 10 more families to jump in and commit to financially supporting us for $50/month from June 2017 – July 2018.  If you are interested in learning more about what that means, the return on your investment, what are family budget is, please feel free to contact me at joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com.
  • Prayer – Dental Work  – Update: FIRST REPAIR APPOINTMENT WAS A HUGE SUCCESS!!  Yay!  Now we just have 2 more repair appointments to correct additional decay and damage.  Pray for Z to continue to be calm and trusting!
  • Prayer – Preaching – Update: Sermon is polished and I am preaching through it over the next few days.  Pray for me personally, as the weight of communicating God’s Word weighs on me.  Pray specifically for me to FOCUS and for our house to be a place of peace.  This Sunday I would appreciate any FB, IG posts, texts, emails etc just saying y’all are praying for me as I communicate God’s Truth to our church.  If you are local to Winston, I would love to see you at our North Campus in Rural Hall that weekend.  For directions check out our page: Revo Church.
  • Praise – POTTY TRAINING – Praise and Prayer Request.  L is mostly peeing on the potty (awesome!).  She is even doing this on her own, knowing when to go, getting up there, doing her thing, and getting down!  That’s great.  BUT every stinkin (pun intended) night she waits until she goes to bed to poop.  And then comes out of her room to tell us to change her pull up!  We’ll get there!

Friends!  Thank you so much for your continued love and support of our family.  Thank you for your encouragement.  Please continue to reach out to us and encourage us.  Those words of affirmation are like wind in our sails.  Call, text, email.  Thank you for loving us so well!  Life is adventurous.  I guess you only know what you know and knowing is half the battle!

7 people in the house and only 4 different cereals for breakfast.. That’s a win I think.

Life is rarely quiet. It’s always a blessing to catalog these moments.

This is the 155th version of the fort downstairs. At least they all fit in it.

Oh and the name the “LOUD” house. If you know our kids, there is no better name for this fort.

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Make it a great day or not – the choice is yours

Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours

That was a phrase that Amy brought home early in our marriage.  Before we had kids, Amy taught middle school when we were living in and around the Raleigh area.   The announcements at her middle school always ended with “Make it a great day or not the choice is yours.”
Amy thought the phrase was a great thought / idea and brought it home early in our marriage.  When we had a tough day at work – make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.  When I played basketball on Saturday morning and those jumpers weren’t dropping, make it a great day or not the choice was yours.  When I did the laundry and well I didn’t pay attention like I should, Amy had a choice – make it a great day or not the choice is hers.  You get the idea.
It is really is a posture of response.  We have the choice during frustrating or difficult times on how to respond.  We have the choice to let negative events impact our entire day or not.  So very early in our marriage, Amy and I CHOSE to respond in a way that enabled us to move past the frustration of the moment, situation, or day and really have a great day or not the CHOICE WAS OURS.
Amy and I find ourselves repeating that phrase almost daily this week.
A couple of reasons why: Appointments and triggers.
Appointments:
One of the things they told you in our classes before becoming a licensed foster parent was assess impact to your family.  We assessed impact and said “yes.” Man we wouldn’t change anything BUT THE APPOINTMENTS ARE SOMETHING ELSE.
 Check out this list from just this past week:
  • Monday
    • Dentist Appointment for Z
    • 30 day check ups for BOTH Z and L
    • Visitation with mom and grandma for Both Z and L – 2 hours
  • Tuesday
    • rGroup
  • Wednesday
    • Therapy for Z
  • Thursday
    • Visitation with mom for both Z and L
  • Friday
    • Crown appointment for Amy – YUCK!  hard to make it a great day or not when you sit in a dental chair for 2 hours!!

Here’s a complete list of the appointments we have had since the girls arrived in our house at the end of march!

  • Initial Medical Appointments (within 72 hours for both girls)
  • Initial Dental Screening for Z
  • Visitation 2x per week for 2 hours each day in Lexington, NC (about 45 minutes away)
  • Sick appointment for L
  • Dental repair work for Z – FAILED 😦
  • Paternity Testing for both Z and L
  • Initial Dental Evaluation (again) for Z
  • Dental repair for Z x 2
  • 30 day developmental physical for both girls
  • Weekly Therapy for Z
  • Speech Therapy evaluation for Z (3 HOURS!…goodness)
  • Occupational Therapy assessment for Z
  • Monthly home visits with the girl’s social worker
  • Monthly visits with our Foster Care Supervisor
  • Quarterly visit with our Foster Care Licensing specialist
  • Z failed her eye exam during the physical so we have an initial eye exam for her soon.

And I didn’t mention the the preschool schedule, which I have a note on my phone to review every day just so I can intelligently answer the question “who goes to school today?”

  • Z – Tues, Thur, Fri
  • L – Mon, Fri
  • Jojo and Elijah – Mon, Wed, Thur

Thank goodness for my electronic calendar on my phone and all the alarms!

We don’t share this, I don’t write this to say “woe are we”.  We knew (sort of at least) what we were getting in to.  But my goodness, I feel like GI Joe “now we know and knowing is half the battle.”  If we can share this for anyone possibly considering Foster Care then at least it provides a sneak peak into “real-life”.  And it’s a real life that we CHOOSE to make GREAT.

Triggers

Triggers are events, smells, sounds, etc that may elicit an emotional (or even physical) response from the girls due to trauma associated with that trigger.  This past week was a week of triggers.

  • Power Outage – A couple of weeks ago we had a large rainstorm.  About 5 in the morning the power went out.  All of the kids sleep with sound machines, so of course the power outage caused all of them to wake up.  After some glow sticks for night lights and some calm words, Madeline Jojo and Elijah went back to sleep.  I thought Z and L went back to sleep as well but after closer listening I heard whimpering from their room.  They were both crying.  Once they woke up and were into some normal light, Amy and I saw the fear on Z’s face.  She was scared the power would not come on.  After repeated attempts to assure her, it was a storm not the bill, she finally believed (once the power DID come back on….4 hours later, and after a rough time of doing hair without power). WELL THIS PAST WEEK.  It happened AGAIN!  The disappointment on Z’s face was heart-breaking.  It was as if she was looking at us and saying “You told me it wouldn’t happen again”
  • Water Heater – It was a normal Monday.  Well sort of normal, I was actually able to get into the shower in the morning (something that I don’t normally do).  I thought to myself that’s odd the water pressure seems to be a little off.  Amy and I switch off and when she gets into the shower she notices the same thing.  We check a couple of sinks around the house and determine the hot water pressure is way way too low.  Some personal investigation and one visit from the plumber later it’s determined a new hot water heater was in order.  Again we had to do hair in the morning (Monday morning is Z’s hair day).  And we had NO HOT WATER.  It turns out that was a trigger from Trauma because we learned she never had hot water until she started to stay here. Well 4 days later, a new HOT WATER HEATER!! YAY.  I can now shower again!
  • Sounds – Just yesterday we were walking back from the pool open house in our neighborhood and there was a loud BOOM.  It almost sounded if someone dropped a 2×4 or piece of plywood on the ground.  Maybe it was  backfire…nonetheless a loud POP or BOOM.  Z stopped in her tracks.  Froze momentarily.  Who knows what that sound represented / recalled / reminded?

Triggers, it seems that every day we may be reminded (sometimes unexpectedly) of what influences, conditions behavior or reminds the girls of trauma.  We pray for awareness, wisdom, and honestly for healing, for triggers to reduce and trauma to not be recalled as quickly.  And we don’t even know if that’s the right prayer!

And speaking of prayer / praises: 

  • Prayer – Wisdom / Discernment – Update: we had a great meeting with our Child/Family team today and got some good insight on how to answer Z when mom can’t make it to visitation and doesn’t call.  I feel like we have some good tools in our belt now we are just praying for a receptive heart and head to hear from us and them.  Continue to pray for discernment / wisdom for us!
  • Prayer – Self-Care – Update:  Still no date night.  I am determined that we will have one this weekend (OUT OF THE HOUSE WITHOUT THE KIDS).  We did enjoy a Cinco de Mayo in typical fashion with tacos from our favorite place and a board game tournament.  Note: Amy won 2 nights to 1!  UGH!
  • Prayer – Financial SupportUpdate: We have had two more join our financial support team! Praise God for them and their families.  I will be following up with several potential financial partners this week.  Please be in prayer for receptive hearts and The Lord’s favor!
  • Prayer – Dental Work  – Update: Z did great at the dentist for the evaluation last week.  Now we have two “repair” appointments coming up over the next couple of weeks.  Be in prayer for mine and Amy’s patience and Z’s anxiety.  We are praying that the dentist does NOT become a traumatic event for her!
  • Prayer – Preaching – Update: I am polishing up the sermon I have the opportunity to share with our church on May 21st.  If you are local to Winston, I would love to see you at our North Campus in Rural Hall that weekend.  For directions check out our page: Revo Church. This week pray for FOCUS and TIME and QUIET so I can finish the polishing process and then work through practice for the next two weeks!
  • Prayer – Madeline: We are having a hard time with Madeline’s emotional regulation, something that she has struggled with in the past.  Right now pray for us as we work with Madeline to identify things that need a big reaction and things that need a little reaction.  Pray for Madeline as we talk to her about looking around the house to find her kind and big words!  Also BIG news in Madeline’s life, she has read one of her Bibles on her own all the way through (actually reading it to the boys at night by herself).  She has moved on now to the “Bigger kid Bible”  Note: If you want to know what Bible’s we use for our kids, please let us know, we are happy to share what’s worked well and hasn’t worked well in our house!
  • Praise – POTTY TRAINING – We have made the step towards Potty Training L.  She is now mostly peeing and pooping on the potty!  YAS!  GO GOD!

Every day, every moment make it a great day or not the choice is yours.  Our prayer is that we always have this posture of positive response even in the events that frustrate and annoy us.  My prayer is that you all CHOOSE to make it a great day or not, each day.  The CHOICE really is yours!

And now a glimpse into our lives from this past week.

Our Tribe! Amy and I are so blessed by their love for each other!

One of the coolest parts of serving our church is getting to encourage kids to memorize scripture. So Instead of the rap lyrics that I had in my head, they can recall actual scripture when times require it later in life.

Batman. He’s smaller than I remember but he is still a mighty protector.

Amy’s garden back in full swing. First harvest of the year: radishes. We recommend roasting them, which turned them into an almost sweet baked potato!