My father-in-law is an interesting man. He was older when my husband was born, well into his 40s, an old-school farmer and a single dad of four boys. He's gruff, opinionated, old-fashioned, eccentric and cheap, so of course I think he's pretty cool.
Born in the 1930s and raised on a farm, he is the kind of guy who doesn't think much of fancy toys and elaborate gifts for children, but the ones he comes up with tend to be solid hits. My absolute favourite are his homemade children's books.
The stories are all real stories from his family, for example there's a story about a pretty young girl in WWI who falls in love with a handsome boy just before he goes away to fight in the war. He talks about what life was like for the girl, waiting at home on the farm for her love to arrive, and (in child-appropriate terms) what it was like for the boy off fighting in distant lands and in the end, of course, the boy comes home and they live happily ever after. The girl is his mom and the boy is his dad, Cheyenne and Bella's great-grandma and great-grandpa.
The stories are printed on plain paper and stapled together. Phil is no artist, so he leaves spaces for the kids to illustrate the stories themselves. They are nothing fancy, but I can't help but think that 30 years from now, when the thrill of a plastic toy would have long since faded, these simple handmade children's books will still bring a smile to my kids faces.