A note about the above photo. I know it looks like a lot of presents. But here's my disclaimer : we have 18 people in our family when my oldest kids and their wives and little ones come over. So if each person - including little Macie, who will arrive in April - gets just 2 presents… do the math.
(That was your algebra problem for the day, kids. Do I have any readers who are kids? If so : you're welcome.)
Oh wait, that wasn't algebra.
This is the moment of truth- when my children eye the stack of presents spread out on the living room floor, and the excitement on their faces reveals just how thrilled they are.
Lily is clearly impressed. Jack and Noah are eagerly anticipating opening an Eagle Town Castle, and the size of the box in front of them is boding glad tidings. Abigail is searching the stash before her, desperately hoping to see a rainbow-loom-shaped box somewhere in the midst of it all. Caleb didn't see a girlfriend under the tree, so he's quietly grieving on the sofa…
….okay, I jest. He's only 13. He is still promising me that he'll live with me forever. Because if he leaves, who will find all the missing objects in the house for me ????
Okay, all kidding aside- this was the best moment of the morning ….
Sam and I scored this kitchen set and all the food and dishes to go with it, as well as a little apron, chef's hat and potholders, on Craisglist -- for $40.
But the look on her face when she saw it -
She walked over to it and started turning knobs and opening doors as if she had owned a miniature wooden kitchen her whole life. She knew EXACTLY what to do with everything- she was in heaven.
And then we let her open the accessories that went with it…
Oh my heart. She played with it the entire day.
Today is the last day of January, and she is STILL playing with her kitchen for hours every day. Best investment ever, hands down.
Hayden loves her kitchen set too…
…well, he loves the food. Typical man.
He wasn't quite as thrilled with his presents (mostly clothes), but he had fun eating the wrapping paper. Which is traditional at this age, right ?
If I were on Instagram I would hashtag that last sentence #canigetanamen.
Abigail has become quite the baker these days, so pretty much every gift she received had to do with her newfound passion. She got: a book called Hello, Cupcake, piping bags and tips, flavors to add to frostings, a special pouring thingamabobby that helps her distribute the batter evenly into the cupcake pan, cupcake liners, cake mix, and this darling cupcake apron. We don't have a tv, but Abbi has watched a host of Cupcake Wars episodes on youtube in an effort to improve her culinary skills. She narrates her own show as she bakes, as a result. For reals. I'll walk past her doing her thing in the kitchen and overhear her explaining the process to an imaginary panel of judges … "So what we tried to do here, is combine savory and sweet into one fabulous cupcake by infusing the batter with essence of basil and a little agave, giving this dessert a lovely combination sure to wow your palates."
Or something like that.
Anyhoot, look for her on the covers of future baking magazines, I'm sure she'll be wowing palates nationwide in the days ahead.
That is my hunk of a husband. The Santa hat is a must every Christmas morning. It gives him the sense that he took part in all the preparations - the gift buying, the wrapping, the careful analysis of Christmas lists to make this all happen… not that I'm bitter or anything. Mrs. Claus has always been the force behind the scenes that makes everything come together, since time immemorial, hasn't she ?
But he did pay for it all.
So there's that.
This rather flattering picture of Mackenzie flipping her hair around, Naomi hiding behind Jason, and Jason ripping into his packaged scrubs (wrong size, dangit!) is only meant to demonstrate that our older children were present for the present opening ceremonies. They just aren't as cute to capture on film as Lily and Hayden, you know ? Wait a minute- did I just say film ?? #datingmyself
That's Caleb modeling his new sweatshirt from us, and his jammies from Grammi. Back off, ladies- he's mine for the next 45 years.
These next three photos are the epitome of Christmas morning for our little boys.. I think every one of our gang has some memory of "the year they got such and such for Christmas." As I mentioned before, this was the year of Eagle Town Castle. Not quite as cute and vintage-y as Lily's kitchen, but right up there with play-with-this-thing-every-day as far as longevity goes. Worth every penny of the $45 steal I got it for on Amazon's day-after-Thanksgiving-sales.
Can't you just hear the screams ?
Thank you Bank of Sam for funding this moment.
And lastly…the best Christmas present ever…
…knowing this little guy gets to stay in our family forever.
Although this post has been rather lighthearted, I am teary eyed typing this. Last Christmas we thought we were losing our grandson. Jason and Naomi brought him home from the hospital, and although his birth parents loved him very much, they were unable to care for him. If you haven't followed, it's a long story… but in a nutshell, if you are a foster parent, you forever have my utmost respect and awe. Knitting your heart with a child, investing love and time and tears into someone that you may have to say goodbye to forever, is an incredible act of sacrifice. I've watched my adult children pour their lives into the little ones who have come into their home, and I know for a fact I could not do that. I know I am not strong enough. I honestly don't know how we would have made it through losing Baby K if that had happened. Last Christmas was one of the hardest Christmases we've gone through, wondering if the little boy who called us Nana and Papa was going to move across the United States from us, probably never to be heard from again.
Don't you love those two little words ??
God moved on hearts, and in just a month or two Baby K will be a Rice forever. And the best part ? His birth parents are all for it. In fact, his birth daddy sent him gifts and a card for Christmas, as well as a text message to Jason and Naomi, sending them "a hug from a thousand miles away" for raising his son.
I'll stop here, because now I'm a big puddle of tears sitting at the computer desk.
Merry Christmas to all….. in January.