After a torturous month of waiting, the children were so excited that Christmas Day has finally arrived!  As has become tradition, we gathered around the tree after dinner on Christmas eve, enjoyed some family time, and opened one little gift each.  This morning, we got up at the crack of dawn, thoroughly enjoyed torturing the kiddos for a few more minutes as we made them wait upstairs while we did a few things, and then let everyone make their way downstairs to the tree.  As is tradition for us, we started with Daddy reading the Christmas story out of the Bible, so we can remember the true meaning and point of celebrating on this day.  Then, we set Uncle D up on Skype so he could be a part of our Christmas.  He currently lives in Korea teach English and serving as a missionary, so the kids only really get to see him on Skype.  Finally, we moved on to the gifts.

Of course, I didn’t get photos of everything, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  S made me a homemade cutting board out of Red Oak, to replace my 3 that are all falling apart.  He also gave me a much-needed external hard-drive for the computer.   I gave him a much-needed cordless drill and impact driver set–something we will no doubt need around the farm.

The children enjoyed their gifts as well.  M and S are both old enough and earn enough that we expect them to buy a gift that costs at least $10 for one of their siblings.  This year, they both chose gifts that could be shared by several siblings, which we found very thoughtful.  S actually went above and beyond, and spent a bit more money than we required.  In fact, when we were at the store buying, an associate asked him why he was buying a gift for himself when it was almost Christmas.  He tried to politely explain that he was buying for his brothers, but it was clear the associate didn’t believe him.  I found it sad that she couldn’t conceive of a child using his own money to buy something for someone else.  Oh well. In addition, they both handmade gifts for almost everyone else in the family that they didn’t buy for.  Those consisted of miscellaneous crafts, colorings, or cards, but all were very thoughtful and appreciated nonetheless.

N opening a gift from M

N opening a gift from M

M opening her new cowgirl costume set.  She loves to play dress-up!

M opening her new cowgirl costume set. She loves to play dress-up!

M trying on her costume.  Daddy actually bought it on the small side so R could grow into quickly, and M has another one, a princess dress, that's bigger.  I just didn't get a photo of that one.

M trying on her costume. Daddy actually bought it on the small side so R could grow into quickly, and M has another one, a princess dress, that’s bigger. I just didn’t get a photo of that one.

M opening a home-made gift from M.

M opening a home-made gift from M.

Even Will got a gift.  His one passion in life is playing Frisbee every evening with Dad.  We buy the light-up Frisbee's since they often have to play at night.

Even Will got a gift. His one passion in life is playing Frisbee every evening with Dad. We buy the light-up Frisbee’s since they often have to play at night.

We saved the best and biggest for last–a Grand Finale of sorts this year.

I tried to capture their faces as they walked into the room where the BIG gifts were hidden.

I tried to capture their faces as they walked into the room where the BIG gifts were hidden.

R got a new tricycle.  We had a nice little red one, but Daddy accidentally ran over it with the van this past summer.  OOPS!

R got a new tricycle. We had a nice little red one, but Daddy accidentally ran over it with the van this past summer. OOPS!

Most kids eventually wish for a kitten, puppy, or pony.  Mine have wanted a pet bird for several years.  Thanks to Craigslist, I found this awesome, like-new, heavy-duty bird cage for a STEAL.

Most kids eventually wish for a kitten, puppy, or pony. Mine have wanted a pet bird for several years. Thanks to Craigslist, I found this awesome, like-new, heavy-duty bird cage for a STEAL.

Last, but not least, also thanks to Craigslist, we found two, name-brand sleds in like-new condition, but for both, we paid half the price we would have paid for one brand new.

Last, but not least, also thanks to Craigslist, we found two, name-brand sleds in like-new condition, but for both, we paid half the price we would have paid for one brand new.

The big gifts this year was kind of a new thing.  Hopefully the kiddos don’t come to expect it.  We have been wanting to get some really good sleds for a couple years now, but the good ones are just too expensive.  I found a sled advertised on Craigslist for a great price, and even though we wanted two, S figured he’d go look at it.  When he arrived, not only was it EXACTLY what he was wanting quality-wise, but the guy had TWO he was selling!  I love the way God answers prayers, sometimes before we even ask!

As far as the cage, I’m sure buying such a monstrosity right before a big move wasn’t my brightest moment, but I totally couldn’t pass up the price.  I got it for about the same price as a new, small parakeet cage because the guy just wanted to get rid of it (memories of an old girlfriend apparently).  In any case, one of our hold-ups on letting the kids get a pet bird is that we hate to see any animal tightly confined.  We just didn’t want to see a bird confined to a tiny little cage.  When I saw this, I pictured a smaller-sized bird with so much more room to flap his wings and have lots of room to play–and eventually even a buddy or two to play with.  The top of the cage opens, and we can add a perch (S has to cut several) to give him a play area outside the cage.

As a side note, I could use a little help….We have decided to use the cage/bird as a great homeschool supplementary exercise, as well as another lesson in responsibility.  We gave the cage to the kids this morning, but explained that we can’t get the bird until after we move.  They are responsible for researching domesticated pet birds (their first research project), agreeing to the final decision, saving the money to buy what they want, and using their money and time to care for the bird.  We’ll see how it works out.  In the mean time, if any of you happen to know someone in the mid-west area who breeds birds (I’m thinking cockatiel, lovebird, or other small parrot; any smaller  will be too small for the bars on the cage, and any bigger will be too big for the kids to handle) and raises them to be hand-tame and friendly, please pass on my blog info, or let me know who they are.  I have no idea where we will be able to find a bird the kids can afford.  We will be praying about this, and hoping to find someone who might be interested in helping us to fulfill our children’s wish.  JR, in particular, has more than proven to be responsible caring for his bunnies, so this seems the next natural step.  As an FYI, they would love a type of bird capable of whistling and talking, but it definitely isn’t a requirement.  They will be looking to buy starting in June of 2013 (about 6 months from now).  Any help would be greatly appreciated, and if it makes the seller feel any better, of course I will be looking over their shoulders at all times as they learn!!  I had a few pet birds in the past (mostly cockatiels and parakeets), and really enjoyed them.  Now that S is retiring, we are finally settling down somewhere long enough to enjoy a bird with a long life.  This will be fun for me getting back into birds, and I have no doubt the kids will really enjoy this!

Oh, the aftermath of Christmas morning...

Oh, the aftermath of Christmas morning…

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