Wednesday was an eventful day at our house. The older kids and I spent the day at the pool with friends while Grandma stayed home with Lucan, and then after dinner our Bible Bee kiddos attended the bi-weekly Bible Bee Blast with another friend while the rest of us enjoyed time at the park.
Unbeknownst to us, however, a small tragedy awaited us at home. By the time everyone was back from our various activities, Boots, our new hamster, had died peacefully in his sleep. We had spent a mere 10 days with the little fellow, and we were all pretty attached to him. As you can imagine, the kids were devastated. Lucan was already in bed by this time, but all four of the others shed many tears, and there was much weeping and wailing, particularly from Kenna, who kept asking why Bootsie wouldn't breathe again. I confess I shed some tears myself, mostly because my heart broke at seeing the sorrow the children were experiencing. We cried and hugged and prayed together and made plans for a little funeral service the next morning.
So, Thursday, which was supposed to be a work-at-home day for me, the one unplanned day I had last week, ended up filling with plans that none of us particularly would have chosen if given the option. (Definitely a lesson one learns continually as a parent...my time really is not my own, it belongs to God, and I need to be available for HIS plans, not mine. In this case, His plans involved the opportunity to talk with the kids about life and death and hopefully bless and encourage them in the midst of sadness.)
Charis spent a good portion of the morning creating this "headstone," which is actually several layers of cardboard stuck together. Arden found the sticks to make the cross, and he and Tobin both took turns digging the little grave. Though we had laid Boots to rest in an extra Huggies wipes container, I didn't really want to put that in the ground, so we ended up transferring him with some of his bedding, some food (!), and a Kleenex as a little covering into the grave. Grandma distracted Lucan by reading to him in the library--the last thing I wanted was to have him know what was going on and be able to dig Boots up sometime!
So we had a little memorial service, and everyone cried again, and I found myself praying over a dead hamster. Being a parent is heartbreaking at times.
Then we all packed into the Suburban and drove to PetSmart. We tested several dwarf hamsters, the only kind they had available, and chose the one that didn't bite anyone. (Charis was particularly taken with a roly-poly fellow, but she quickly changed her mind after he tried to eat her finger.) We purchased said hamster and carried his cardboard case out to our vehicle, where we attempted to transfer him to the cage we had brought along with us. Unfortunately, he bit Arden--HARD--and there were more tears (not to mention blood). Sigh. The rodent traveled in the cardboard case back to the house, where we very carefully transferred him to the cage without any further ado. I was not feeling very kindly toward our new house guest, let me tell you.
While Lucan and Kenna insisted on calling the new pet Boots (he is black with some white markings here and there), the older ones agreed that a name change was in order. They have settled on Reepicheep, which fits his feisty personality. :-/ He has bitten every member of the family except me--and that's because I haven't attempted to handle him! I haven't allowed the kids to get him out of the cage yet. I keep reminding them that Boots came from a family of 5 children who had loved on him for 2 years, and he was exceptionally tame and loving. We need to help Reepicheep learn that we don't want to hurt him and that it's OK to be touched. But that will take some time. (I'm praying the process will be considerably less painful than it has been these first few days...)
We did notice something funny about Reep--he must like to sleep in high places! He carried bedding pieces up his little ramps to the high areas of his cage and often nestles down there! We only had bedding at the bottom of the cage, but the next morning, the top level was completely full! He was a busy little guy his first night here! I'm hoping he will settle down and that we can enjoy him as much as we enjoyed Boots before too long. (If we don't notice improvement within the 14-day satisfaction-guaranteed trial period, we may end up scrapping this whole plan.)