We kicked this week off with a close encounter on Monday night. I went out to unplug our Christmas lights from the garage, and happened to gaze down into the trash can we keep there. I saw a small, dark figure contrasting with the lighter background of our hamster's bedding that Avey throws away in that can each week. For a moment, I wondered if Avey had accidentally thrown Gregor away with the bedding the day before, but when I looked a little closer I saw that it was clearly a mouse.
It's a mystery how the little rodent got in there, as there aren't really places around it to climb, and no holes in the sides or anything. We figure that he must have smelled some of Gregor's discarded food that gets tossed out with the bedding, and he found a way in. In any case, Avey and I took him for a little drive a couple of miles away in the forest on the way to the beach and let him out.
I had a couple of hectic days in the city as it was the last week of classes. That means that I have a ton of things to still do to prepare for the finals and I've got plenty of grading to do, all while several students freak out about all of the time they've wasted over the semester rather than fulfilling the course requirements. We also had a faculty meeting on Wednesday, so I had to go back to campus for that. At least it was a pot luck, so that made the lost time tolerable. Carver had been looking forward to going to the library for Minecraft Meetup, but it wasn't taking place, so they checked out some things and then came to get me from the train station.
Thursday was an eLearning day, so the school-aged kids stayed home to do assignments on their iPads. That was a nice relief for them, and Kira took them to do several activities. They spent part of the afternoon at the library, making gingerbread houses (out of graham crackers). They apparently had a blast doing that, and their creations were very impressive. Hakan and Merritt started eating theirs, so I didn't get to see them in mint condition, but I'm glad they had fun.
Kira also took them all to the beach just as a change of pace. Naturally, it's too cold to get in the water, but they still had a good time running around in the sand and seeing the pretty water. Kira even got a great shot of Chicago over the horizon as the sun was beginning to set (see me waving?):
A little after I got off the train on Thursday, we all went to hear Avey's choir concert at her school. She was in the center, because she's one of the only altos who can hold her part standing next to a soprano. She did a great job doing all of the choreography with some of the songs, and the boys were well-behaved, so it was a pleasant trip. We only wish we could have heard her do some solos.
Friday was a little easier as I finished up the preparation for finals week in the morning, and then took Merritt and Apollo for a long bike ride/walk while Kira went with Hannah to an appointment. Hannah needed to get her blood drawn, and often has a hard time recovering, so Kira was there to make sure she didn't get dizzy and such. She was fine, luckily.
Hannah's been doing much more with her bus training, even going out on the road with a full-sized bus. She was shadowing one of the drivers, and he handed her the wheel, apparently not realizing that she hadn't driven on the road yet, but she did fine. Her instructor has been very impressed with her skills so far, so we think she may be on her own route before too long.
Saturday, Kira got up and going so that she could help out removing leaves from the church grounds while I bathed the kids and cleaned our bathrooms. She took our leaf blower, but I had the extension cords all tied up with the Christmas lights. One was easy to remove, but it was only 25 feet long, so it left her with not much of a range. Fortunately, they had a gas blower she could use. When she got home from that and several errands to stores near the church, she wanted to keep going, so removed some leaves from the rest of our yard, making a nice pile for the boys to enjoy.
She then took the kids to play at some friends' house for the first hour that Avey was to babysit. The parents left, and then the kids all had a good time together until Kira brought ours back, and Avey stayed to babysit the others. Hannah took Apollo to the dog park, but he seemed lost, maybe because it was still a little cold and windy. I tried to nap without much success.
Today, I spent the entire time the family was at church baking their favorite kind of cookies, which took forever because I have to make a batch without gluten and then one with. They turned out well, and the kids were glad, so it was worth it.
It's finals for me this week, which means a boat load of grading and explaining to students why they can't pass the class after not showing up or doing the work. The kids still have two weeks of school, so maybe I can even finish up before too long and then start working on some other things.
Christmas is quickly approaching, so we're working hard to be ready!