Emergency crafting

There's always that point in adding new children to your family where life hits its nadir. (At least I hope we're at the nadir.) It doesn't matter if it's a new biologically related baby or older, adopted children, there comes a point when life just seems to spiral out of control and everyone is more than a little unsettled. I always find the third week postpartum to be that point when I've brought home a baby. Everyone is sleep deprived, the baby hasn't settled and has to a ways to go before settling happens, and those hormones are still doing cha-cha all over my body. With older, adopted children, the three week mark still pretty much stands, which for a China adoption timeline, puts you at about one week home. This is the point at which everyone really begins to understand that this is permanent. The existing siblings also have lived with the new brothers or sisters for about a week and the shine has worn off more than a little bit. The excitement of the new has faded, but everything is still so new it doesn't feel right. Plus, the language issues are still huge and frustration on both sides is very near the surface.

This has been us the past couple of days. Our fun times have included melt downs of various degrees from the vast majority of family members. Normally, this would be enough on anyone's plate, but we like to do things bigger over here, so we've added some other fun stuff. Most of us are fighting head colds, which at the moment seems to have bypassed the new girls, thankfully.

And then there is the dog. Neither J. nor I slept well last night because we were so hyper-aware of her breathing. When we were getting ready to go to bed last night, Gretel just didn't look good. She is nothing but skin and bones and is eating, but not with her usual healthy appetite. Her breathing is a bit labored due to some fluid around her lungs, and she is quite weak. Every time the dog barks we all rejoice because for a barking dog, she has been eerily silent. We are very worried about her and the vets are completely baffled. So, when we went to bed last night, we were not entirely sure Gretel would still be with us in the morning. We spent the night worrying when we heard her breathing and worrying when we didn't hear her breathing. It's not restful. She made it through the night and this morning, seems a tiny bit better. Emphasis on tiny, but enough to allow me not to watch her constantly. We've started to prepare the children that Gretel is very sick and we just don't know what her future is.

Plus there is the background grief of losing my dad and the planning for heading to Arizona in April and figuring out how we will get college students out there. A. has surgery next week for her knee, giving her the honor of having family surgery number 11. And a man who is very like an uncle to me is in ICU in Arizona. I know you are all jealous and just wish you, too, could have this much fun.

But life goes on and a houseful of discombobulated AND unoccupied children would not help things a bit. So, this morning I headed upstairs and raided my craft area for something... anything... that I thought this group of children could manage, would keep them occupied for more than a few minutes, and that wouldn't be too labor intensive for me given my head cold and level of general fatigue. That wasn't too much to hope for, was it?

Enter a huge package of foam sheets that I had bought for school last year, but then never got to the project I had planned. It seemed like some good start. Then I found a site that had a bunch of free, printable templates for various flower and animals, that were actually easy to print. I printed a selection for them to use if they wanted, got out some scissors, and glue sticks and let them go at it.

It was actually a huge hit. Some people used the templates, others just made up their own creations. I knew my usual people wouldn't have much trouble occupying themselves with the craft supplies, but I had no idea about my new girls. Y. once I helped her a bit, quickly figured out what was what and ventured out into her own territory after having made a flower using the template. R. had an impromptu scissor-usage-coaching session. She cut and then together we eventually made a mosaic-type picture with the scraps. She really enjoys coloring, I'm not sure she really saw the point of our multi-media creating this morning.

I didn't get pictures of everything, but here are a few that I did.

TM's... though I don't think flowers should have quite so many eyes.

Y.'s... The flower was part of the template, and then she added the corner decorations and the grass.

D.'s... Who went off to find a piece of scrap matboard so that he could create an entire Pacman game with his creations.


Will it surprise anyone to hear that K. made vehicles? A police car, a fire truck, and our van pulling out trailer.

Of course, creativity and occupied children does come with a small cost. Here is the aftermath of the morning's activities. But, the children all helped clear it up while I made some lunch.

So far, today is already better than yesterday was. Here's to hoping that the nadir of adjustment has been passed and we are on our way upwards.


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