I hope none of you are now experiencing dangerous heart rhythms as you are reading this. Sorry it had been so long! But now that I've figured out how to do this again...brace yourselves. You will be getting "Drapers 2010 in review" in full force. (That's my way of apologizing for the lengthy visit you are about to take down memory lane with us due to my lack of blogging!)
It has been years and years (2001) since we have taken family pictures. With Bryan leaving for his mission I just HAD to get them done. I am so so grateful we did. I love this picture!
Here are our Christmas cuties this year. Even I look at them and think, "Man they are getting big!" Indeed they are but still I look at each of their little faces and realize how young they still are. How I adore my babies!
Rylan Jake. He of all of my children amazes me at his growth and maturity lately. I can't believe he is 11! Most people don't guess it by looking at him but 11 he is. He has been saying for months already, "Next year I get the Aaronic Priesthood!" (It took some correcting from saying "ironic priesthood but he's got it down now.) Hes become such a "guy" lately. Especially with Bryan being gone he has really stepped up into his role as biggest brother in the house. He is easy to entreat and offers a helping hand every day. I can count on him to pinch in whenever needed which is sometimes a lot of responsibility for a hormonal 11 year old but the perks are all worth it. He is now in his own room, gets to hang out at friend's houses and stays up MUCH later than the rest of the crew. It's been making for some fun "friend time" with the guy. Life is not always easy for anyone but for Rylan it gets especially hard at times and he is learning how to handle it not only like a man but a Christ-like man. We are so very proud of our Rylan Jake. This year he has enjoyed baseball, soccer, reading and excelling in all his scholastic achievements. He has recently picked up archery which he loves and has also given him an awesome social outlet. He's thinking of giving basketball a try next fall. Stay tuned for that one!
Trevan Spencer. Trevan is a big guy in our house too. He turned nine this year and is in the third grade with our beloved Mr. Herzog. He has always been happy just being who he is and always exploring and doing new things. T played soccer and baseball this year as well but is set on trying football next year. He has always been a social bug with the ability to stand out as a leader to his friends. He still enjoys art in all forms and continues to amaze me with what he can create. Trevan has a heart of gold but still takes pranks and silliness to unmatched heights in the Draper house. It keeps us all laughing and on our toes! We've always said what an incredibly balanced kid T is. Athletic and artsy. Jokester and nurturer. Defender and protector of all things he cares about while unwavering from his knowledge of right and wrong. He and his Daddy are good little buddies. I tell Spencer he can stake claim as one of their favorites. ;)
Brayden William. Our BW Brady boy. Brayden brings daily smiles and laughter into our house and we adore him for it! He is in the second grade with an awesome teacher that looped with his class from first grade. It's been a God send for us as they have an awesome relationship and Brayden can be who he is and respected and loved for it. He's such an incredibly gifted child who can think and see things logically beyond his years. Mrs. Wahlstrom fosters that in him and helps him continue to find joy in doing so. Brayden loves all things electonic. Computers are definitely at the forefront of his favorite things. If ever something is, let's just say, "different" when I turn on the TV, computer, stereo or even a light switch for that matter, I know Brayden has been close by! He turned eight this month and will be getting baptized on Christmas Eve. It's not a decision he took lightly. He studied, thought and prayed about it for a long time and waited until he got his answer. Every Christmas we talk with our kids about what they can give Jesus for his birthday. Brayden decided he would get baptized to show Jesus how much he loves him. Sounds perfect to me!
It can't go left unsaid what amazing friends Trevan and Brayden are. They always have been. Kindred spirits with out a doubt.
And the three of them together are priceless!
Haven Grace. Oh Haven Grace! This little girl came with such fire that I sometimes feared might be the death of me. I was thinking that when she was only two! Now that she is five (almost six as she would have me say. Always wanting to be so grown up!), I readily acknowledge what a precious gift she is in my life. She is learning so many things so quickly and taking things to heart. She wants so much to please the people she loves and atop that list is her Savior. She tries her best every day to be a sweet sweet girl and 99 percent of the time it turns out exactly as that. Very rarely do I have to ask her things twice. She comes looking for ways to help Mommy. She is one of the best cuddlers I've ever known! She has a giggle that would light up anyone's life and a toothless grin that makes me smile. She started kindergarden this year and has made her mark as a friend to all and a peacemaker. She's a socially driven child but as of now she doesn't loose sight of what's important. Let's hope that holds through all of the teen years right? She continues to love singing, dancing, gymnastics and her fire is for cheerleading. The little girls here in Texas start cheering when they are only three. Can you believe that? She has been wanting to cheer for the past three years now but we continue to hold off on that one. I have my hang ups with that social outlet so for now she sticks to the Wii Cheer game! Seems to be keeping her happy for now! Happy. That's just a good word for Haven. She is a happy girl with all the smiles and loud laughs to prove it!
Payten Ella. Baby Ellie. We all know she is four and a half but..... She's the baby! She's a petite little girl who still fits "right there". You know what I mean? Oh! Her little face with the perfect sprinkle of freckles and sweet smile that melts our hearts! And some days that is a really good thing cause man! Four is hard! Too old to get away with "She's just a baby. She's still learning." But too young to think she should just understand it all and bend to our every whim. The days of complacent and easy to please Ella are gone. She has her own opinions about what to wear, where to sit, when and what to eat, what towel to use, who gets the cuddles, and insists that all things must taste like chocolate and be PURPLE! It's a good thing she looks good in purple! Payten started an all day pre-k program this year that took her a while to get used to but is now doing excellently. She loves her little friends and her teacher is also amazing! All 5 of the Draper kids have had Mrs. Salazar and we love her as much as she loves us! Like her big sister, Payten loves to sing, dance and do gymnastics but Ellie also has a little rougher tumbly side to her than Haven does. It makes for some fun Daddy-Daughter time. Who by the way is wrapped around that little girls finger!
But then again her older brothers and I aren't far behind him!
And neither is big sister Haven. We all love our Ellie girl!
And now each ornament has been gently placed...
The stockings are hung...
Everyone has got their sparkle on...
So now it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here we are just missing one thing...
Our Bryan Aaron.
And this is why! Elder Cothran-Draper is in Menifee, California faithfully serving as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the California Riverside mission.
And this is who he is spending it with. (Elder Burton.) We are so very proud of our missionary man and are all growing and loving our Heavenly Father more because of Bryan's service. Every week we wait and wait on our letter and when it comes we all get together and just soak in every word. We love hearing about his work and all that he is doing and learning as well. We miss him TERRIBLY but wouldn't have it any other way!
I can't stop thinking about what his mission means for the future. His future and the future of so many others. I am so thankful for Bryan's example of selfless sacrifice and love. With one foot in front of the other we each walk by faith knowing that he is in the Lord's hands. This year for Christmas, and I'll thankfully do it again next year too, I gave Jesus my B.
So even though he is far away and all of Bryan's smiles are being gifted to others, in so many ways he is right here with us too. We love him so much!
So as this Christmas week goes on I hope we can all remember to love and serve our Savior Jesus Christ. To love and serve those we are blessed to call family and friends. And to love all of God's children a little more while we are at it. We truly love all of you beyond words! Merry Christmas!