Thursday, January 24, 2008

Draper Family Fun

This is about the cutest face I've ever seen on one of my kids crafts! Grandma Linda spent hours with my craft-loving girls making these gingerbread men and more. They sure are lucky to have such a great grandma! (Uh, that's wonderful grandma, not great-grandma!!)
So Uncle Mikey came on New Years Eve, and my Mom went home on New Years morning. Uncle Mikey continues to be a favorite with the kids. He ended up babysitting a bunch as I ran this and that errand, and never had the slightest problem. The kids just love him. He sat in the back of the minivan the entire drive down to NC to see Janine and Brian's baby Cora be blessed. He's the mellowest, nicest guy! This picture is in NC when Lily didn't want to fall asleep in her bed so Mikey let her come give him a hug and sit by him and she fell asleep on him like that.
Cora the beautiful sweet baby had a great blessing day. She didn't cry at all during Brian's prayer, and she looked so cute in her hand-crocheted dress.
Grandma Linda bought the girls some very fancy dresses for the occasion so we tried a family photo, though most of the kids weren't in the mood.
And the star of the show, CORA. Here seen on the plasma car with Janine. I was so happy to finally get to know the little person behind all the cooing I've heard on the phone. She refused to look at me most of the time, but was happy to let me hold her, so I held her out and kissed her sweet bald head. My favorite moments with her was when I got to change her diaper and when I was done she finally looked at me and started talking and talking. She has a very advanced vocabulary for a 2 1/2 month old! All sorts of vowels and consonants in there!
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GrammaLee Comes to Visit

I picked up my mom from BWI at 11pm Christmas night. So she missed the traditional stuff, but she'd been with Anne and Matt in her home, so she already got some of that. It was a bit of a second Christmas the next morning when the kids woke up and did presents with Grandma. Then Grandma hardly had time for her planned activities with the kids of playing paperdolls (now in vinyl) with the girls, playing chess with Thomas, and teaching Tyra how to knit. She and Tyra both did a lot of knitting, and you can see the cute shrug they made for Tyra. But she spent a bunch of her time with me helping me buy curtains and pillows and a torchiere for the livingroom to help make it feel a little more homey and put together. I am SO glad I said that little "I would love to have you decorate for me." She has always had such a good knack for decorating, and I just freeze up at the idea of making a "final" decision like the color and style of curtains! She really should have beaned me for giving her grief with every suggestion she made, right after asking for her help. I DID notice where my ever debating children must get it from, arg!

Besides all the knitting and decorating, we also did the drive-through Festival of Lights, went to the lights at the temple and heard a 24-harp concert, and did the Santa Lucia tradition with Lily wearing the lighted crown this year for the first time.
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Christmas 2008

My parents had the tradition of cleaning and doing all the preparations on Christmas Eve day and then eating at a restaurant that evening to not dirty up the house. Then we'd take off for Grandma and Grandpa's house to exchange presents with the Paystrup side. Well, this is the first year that Tyra and Thomas were really involved with the tradition of doing heavy duty cleaning in preparation. Grandma Lee was coming in Christmas night so we were especially busy in the basement getting it sleep-able. It just amazed me to have them do 2 entire loads of laundry from bringing it down the stairs, putting it in with soap, switching it, drying it, etc. They had fun with all sorts of new jobs. So we went to Chevy's, one our most family-friendly restaurants around. Then we let the kids choose one gift to open. The girls chose their gifts from Grandma and Grandpa so it was right in line with my traditions. Tyra and Thomas each opened the gift from each other. Poor Thomas, he's so hard to buy things for, it's no wonder he doesn't get excited for presents. He got a set of Encyclopedia Brown books, and I felt bad for him at the time, but you know, he's read them all and really enjoyed them.
All the kids got great gifts and I don't mean to make it a gift-log here, and I hope I don't offend someone by not mentioning or picturing their gifts. I just thought it was interesting to note that one of the main things Tyra wanted was an MP3 player, which she got and listened to all day except when she was sharing songs with other people. She just loved some of the really touching Christmas songs by Amy Grant and it reminded me of how powerful and important listening to music was for me as a teenager.

Thomas' favorite Christmas present, by far, was the Wii. The Lee family all gathered on Dec 1st to exchange gifts and have their yearly Christmas gathering (due to people traveling and what not later in the month) so we enjoyed that gift for a full 25 days before Christmas. It was actually given to us by Jon's best friend Brian who comes along to family gatherings often.
We like Brussel Sprouts, but I hadn't planned on having them Christmas dinner until I saw them at Giant being sold right on the stalk. I had never thought of how brussel sprouts might grow. I wonder how many other foods I eat that I have no idea about what it looks like before it hits my plate. I should probably read some of those new books on food and society...
And here's Tyra with the Oreo cheesecake pudding pie she helped me make.

Bintu gives me an African Cooking Lesson

We have held a Christmas Party at our house every year for the last 4 or 5 years. This year there were scheduling difficulties along with difficulties deciding how to fix problems of parties past (too many people invited to successfully interact with everyone, too many different groups invited at same time so many didn't know each other, too many children upstairs with the babysitters, etc) We ended up foregoing it this year. But by the week before Christmas I was missing it and so we invited just family friends, the Farrells for a low-key Christmas get-together. Unfortunately I planned long in advance to have my friend and visiting teachee, Bintu come teach me how to cook her African food. She had made sure she had work off, and I couldn't leave her hanging. So we went to the African grocery store then cooked and cooked 5 different dishes, HUGE pots full. She is amazing to watch, super fast, clean, and confident: a real natural chef. I tried to be her aide and write down the recipes as she made them out of her head. 7 hours, and a huge oil spill later, our friends arrived ready for a Christmas Party that just couldn't happen. I was still finishing up the cassava leaf dish, then Tom took Bintu back as she was picking up family from out of town. So our Party consisted of eating a huge African Feast (Fish, beef, chicken in peanut soup, vegetable soup, plaintain soup, cassava leaf stuff, and cow skin soup.) She kept saying how much she loves cows skin and I finally told her that she should really just take it home with her after Tom tried some because neither myself nor the Farrell's were going to be brave enough to try it. (I bought it after vetoeing the oxtail which she also loves and which I know I don't care for, I felt bad so I said yes to the skin, but UGH it's just thick, hairless, SKIN.) So the Farrell's were kind and forgiving as I was exhausted and not really up to playing hostess to the Christmas activities I'd thought to do for the kids and stuff besides a song and playing with the nativities. It's nice to have friends who can roll with things.

A word about Bintu. I just love her, I've been so happy to have her in my life. She is a very sunshiney person with a very contagious smile and kind, generous ways. She reminds me very much of many of my Brazilian mission companions, especially my trainer , Sister Goncalves. And her use of long, formal greetings for every hello and goodbye remind me of Cry, the Beloved Country.
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Procrastinite, and my stylin' girls

Ok, this is just SUCH a good example of why I don't know how people can stand me :) My loving thoughtful mother sent me a little baby sun outfit that I had worn as a baby (at the time I believe it was "27 years ago." complete with matching little sandals for me to put on my new little baby, Tyra. Well, it WAS a little fragile feeling, but I have no real excuse for never putting it on her even once! Then I was off the hook with Thomas, obviously, as it has flowers and lace. But then came Lily. And then came Beth. It has been on my bedroom desk in various and changing piles over the years, and THIS is when I decide, Beth is IT. It's now or NEVER. She's already a good 18 months past the proper age, but she still FITS, and she was willing to put it on like a dress-up outfit. Who knows how cute it would've been on my girls all those hot. humid summers past, how tender and nostalgic the emotions I would've felt looking at them....
But honestly, I'm mostly just happy I actually got it on my child and got a picture :)

As for Lily's picture, she was so happy in this outfit. She loves to wear summer clothes all winter and I say "Brr, you're freezing me out!" and she wanted me to take a picture after I did Beth to show how she was keeping me warm by wearing her tights. It IS a pretty great outfit, isn't it? It's so fun to see her choose clothes with purpose ("Look mom, red pants and pink shirt because pink is red with white in it!") and every outfit has some reason (though just from looking you could NEVER figure out the rhyme nor reason!)
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Thomas with Santa; Lily and Beth not with Santa

Well, thanks to our incredibly shrinking ward we had little time to stand in line to sit on Santa's lap. Unfortunately no matter what we said we could NOT convince either of them that he wasn't too scary! But for those of you who know me, you know I'm not sad to find out my kids aren't all into Santa :)
As for Thomas' picture, it's so exciting on a regular basis to see Thomas grow and mature and be able to handle new and different things. Tyra has no photo because she was too old, in her own opinion!
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