Repeat the Sounding Joy

Ah, Christmas. I love this day, this time of year. This year was particularly exciting in that we had Simon visiting on Christmas day. Between him and Arionna, it was a chaotic, noisy, and joy filled day.

We played and played and the three of us woke up Uncle Zack, which was the highlight of Arionna’s day, judging by her squeals of joy.

My goal was nice pictures of everyone. Every time I pointed the camera at Ario, in her pretty dress, she clammed up. Emily said the “pretty dress and fancy shoes” wouldn’t last long, so I should get one quick.

That’s what I’m working with here.

So, I laid on the floor and hid the camera, hoping to sneak a shot. It worked, but the weird angle makes her look…

…nine feet tall!

Then, in an abrupt mood change that only a not-quite-2-year-old can manage, she was smiley and happy and ready to pose for photos.

But, then, the little darling did something else and I got another one. Even better, if I do say so myself.


I mean, seriously.

Then, Simon was there with his Mama and I wanted a picture of them. Simon would not cooperate. That’s not so unusual, he’s usually always very uncooperative about photos, but he’s better with his Mama.

I took about 10 shots in a row, and they were all horrible. He wasn’t looking or making terrible faces, or hiding his face in Mama’s shoulder. Finally, I got this:

It’s not great, he looks angry and he’s not looking. But it was the best of the lot, by far! I showed Gina, and she said, “we can do better, get ready”

I pointed the camera and she gave me this:

Which could be my favorite Christmas picture. Who doesn’t love that she is holding his head still in order to get him to look? Only with a stubborn four year old. He’s laughing, though, in the picture, he thought this was a very funny way to get it.

Moments, no kidding, under two minutes later, Gina said, “Simon sit in front of the fireplace with your cousin and let Auntie Livia take a picture.” Like he’s an angel, he smiled and said okay and sat down. Bugger.

And he was darling about getting his picture taken, thus:

What is up? That’s one of the cutest pictures I’ve got of him!

Of course, if it isn’t one, it is the other. So here’s our attempts at a cute photo of the kids at Christmas:

Take 1:

If she weren’t looking down, it would be perfect.

Take 2:


Just no good, all around.

Take 3:

What are they doing?

Take 4:

(you can be amazed I got this many tries, I sure was!–please note that Simon is being darling in


I mean, come ON, Arionna. At least try!

Take 5:

In this one, Simon is sick of his cousin mucking the whole business up and decides to just kill her, in true Christmas spirit.

Obviously not, but he was tickling her neck, because she wasn’t smiling. His smile looks forced, but no one was tickling him.

It’s pretty darn cute and possibly the best of the lot, but I am partial to the last one.

Take 6:

They’re both smiling naturally, he’s not strangling her, and just before I snapped it, she kicked up her little legs and exposed her panties to the world. It’s very apropos to a 2 and 4 year old. It is truly my favorite photo of Christmas.

Then, we did presents.

They are both in love with the monkey nutcracker I got Arionna. So much so that Simon was supposed to be opening a present of his own and we couldn’t tear him away.

A candid shot. Arionna is nowhere to be found. That’s her empty blue chair. I love how attentive Simon is to other people’s gifts.

We were still opening, but the kids were losing interest, so Uncle Zack stepped in for some entertainment. I love seeing him play with them.

Then, in this one, Simon is using Zack’s big head (well, normal sized for our family) to hide from Arionna.


How funny is that? And it’s too sweet of a picture.

Of course, I wanted a cute one of Uncle Zack with his niece as well. When he picked her up, I grabbed my camera. I was waiting for them to turn toward me for a great shot, when he did something unexpected and I managed to catch it on film.

Oh, that one melts my heart. That is close to the best one–don’t you think? Maybe more so if you know my brother. Now, since the children had mostly lost interest in the presents at this time, it was a little chaotic as we tried to get everything opened.

Arionna helped:

Okay, maybe “helped” isn’t the right word…

We told her she couldn’t sit on the presents because we had to open them. She found another place to sit:

And then proceeded to play in that basket for the rest of the day. So glad we spent money buying her new toys…

My present to Zack was full of humor and charm, much like myself. I wrapped up a phone book (who uses phone books anymore?) and attached a note that said:

Dear Zack,

Santa told me you were on the naughty list this year. Therefore, all I got you was this gently used phone book. Sorry. Next year, be good.

Love, Liv

Then, when he lifted the phone book out of the box (he did think it was funny) underneath was a note that said:

Just kidding! Your present is hidden in your room. However, it will self-destruct in 90 seconds. Better hurry!

And he looked at me and said, “my room? really? How did you manage that?” And by this time, Simon was curious as to what Uncle Zack was doing. Zack asked him to help search his room for presents. I question the wisdom of putting his nephew that close to presents that are about to explode, but I guess uncles live on the wild side.

This is the two of them searching the closet. Alas, no presents. Time’s a ticking!

Simon checked under the bed while Uncle Zack “supervised”. The exchange went something like this.

Z: Is there anything under there?

S: Just some drinks.

Z: Some drinks?

S: Yeah, oh wait! I see a present!

Z: There are drinks under my bed?

S: and a present!

Meanwhile, I’m laughing like a loon from the doorway. Because I got him a case of Gatorade and another small present. Zack was so confused because he didn’t look. I finally told Simon to pull out everything that was under there.


They make a good team, none of the presents self-destructed. The wrapped present was Bingo, which Zack used to play regularly and Simon absolutely loved. Bingo is apparently great for working on large numbers with kids.

Next, my mom and dad, who had a no present pact, each got the other “something small”. My mom went first and, I didn’t take a picture, opened several bottles of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Booze.

Then my dad opened his gift from her and it was…


Can’t tell? He looks surprised, right?


Now he’s laughing. Look what is sitting on the piano. Four bottles of Spearmint Schnapps. It is SO hard to find, they don’t sell it anywhere, Peppermint, yes, but not Spearmint. My dad loves that stuff.

So, she opens her booze, he opens his booze and my sister said, “luckily us kids pitched in and got you two a gift certificate to Hazelden.” Honestly, Emily has never been so funny. No present pact–they each bought each other a small gift and BOTH gifts turn out to be bottles of booze? Clearly, they’ve been married too long.

My favorite gift of the year you get to see in a photo I am pausing to take right now. Hang on.

Wow, that is very blurry. I don’t have time to redo it, though, so deal with it. Can you see what is new? My beautiful scarf. My mom made it for me and it is incredible and gorgeous and I have worn it every single day since she gave it to me. Even when it doesn’t match my clothes (like today) I still wear it. I love it so much! Also, she made me a hat. The hat is going to be a story unto itself, once I have a picture. Something to look forward to.

I was very spoiled this year, I got more presents than anyone. My charming grandmother looked at me and said, “how’d you get so many presents?” Isn’t she just the sweetest?

Zack got Simon a tabletop air hockey set. There was a rousing game after the presents.

Of course, aiming was a bit of a problem and the puck kept flying off the table. Grandpa to the rescue!

He taped the edges of the table to build walls and it totally worked.

Simon also spent time playing outside with Josie:

Those two adore each other. Josie loves kids, but there is no doubt that Simon is who she loves best.

I tried to get a shot of the grandkids with the grandparents, but somehow only one of them looked.


Surprisingly, it is the one voted “most likely to not look”. Go figure.

Also during dinner, my nephew was playing with his new airplane that has actual rotating propellers. He was walking behind our chairs and propelling in our directions. This became a slight problem when he got too close to me:

What? You can’t tell?


That’s right. The plane is now attached to my head. This was after about 8 minutes of solid untangling by my amazing sister. My dad went to get a scissors. It’s like he never met me. Did he actually think there was a chance in hell I was letting him hack a chunk of hair off my head? NOT HAPPENING. I would have lived with the plane hanging from my head until it grew out before I let him cut it. My sister eventually got it all untangled and I was free. I will now avoid airplane toys like the plague.

After dinner, we had a surprise visit from Uncle Nick. I don’t see my older brother too often but he came by to see his son and his niece. It was nice for them to have him visit.

Simon borrowed my camera to take pictures. So I have about 100 random shots of Arionna. The above one is very cute.

As is this:


Christmas really wound down after that. It wasn’t too much longer before Chad and Emily took Arionna and Grandma home. My mom put Simon to bed and my brothers went to church. I stayed and hung out with my parents until about midnight, just talking and rehashing the holiday.

It was a wonderful two days of family and friends and I am sad, as always, that it passed so quickly. Luckily, my sadness this year was tempered by being on vacation.

I hope you and your family enjoyed a marvelous holiday season. I hope Santa brought everything you were dreaming of.

And Heaven and Nature sing!


2 thoughts on “Repeat the Sounding Joy

  1. Were you mad pounding shots when the plane was tangled or what? Is that Nick or Chad in the white shirt? I really can’t tell.

    • I know, I look ridiculous. But Emily took the picture and she only allows one take. Do you mean the one holding Arionna? That’s Nick. And the shirt is actually pink.

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