Selfies

Little kids are notorious for selfies. Give one a camera and they will, invariably, take a cheesy photo of themselves.

A few weeks back, Simon was visiting and he picked up my camera. He’s always had an abiding interest, I probably have a hundred Simon-selfies.

True to form, he first flashed the camera his mug:
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Then again, with a bit more fervor:
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At this point he turned the camera on me:
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(Arionna had given me the dolly and told us both to take a nap)
Then he was after Arionna:
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She was harder to capture, but he was persistent.
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Very persistent.
And then he turned the lens back on himself. I took the opportunity to interject, “you know if you’re going to take pictures of yourself, you could at least smile and look handsome in it.”
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Well, how about that.
Then he drifted away with my camera, out of my sight. He was gone for a bit, but I wasn’t worried. There’s not too much he can get into.
A few minutes later, he came back, giggling like a maniac. Immediately suspicious, I asked, “what did you do?”
He laughed out loud and handed me the camera.
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“I took a picture of my BUTT!” His glee was uncontrollable. Arionna heard and ran over to see. She was laughing like a loon as well. I’ll admit, I laughed. How do you not? He bent like a pretzel, and took several tries to figure out a way to take his first ever butt-selfie.
Then, sweet little Arionna turned to her cousin and said, “DO MINE!” and turned her back. Which is exactly how we ended up with….
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Ah, kids. Wacky and priceless. But someday, I’ll get to torment them with the story of the butt-selfies!

Day of Friends

A few weeks ago, my mom got a phone call. A little voice asked when Simon was going to visit. Evidently Christian missed his friend and took the initiative to set up a play date. It was a lot of kids. Simon, Arionna, Camden, Victoria, Christian, and Brecken. The kids are all big enough now to go and just play, without being watched or entertained, so it’s pretty wonderful. Kelly and my mom and I just sat in the living room and talked, while cuddling on the babies.
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 The babies. They are only a month apart in age. They played and chilled. Auntie Livi got some good cuddle time:
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I call that one “Armful of Babies”.
Brecken and I were having fun practicing our clapping.
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We fed the babies lunch, I gave Brecken his first macaroni and cheese. It was nostalgic, because I fed Christian his first cheeseburger. Evidently I have a thing for giving babies their first taste of forbidden foods. Brecken is sitting in my family’s antique high chair, my father’s family has used that since before my dad was born (and dad is about to be 60!) there aren’t any straps or anything, we use a towel to tie the baby into the chair. Kelly thought it was awesome and took a picture to send to Mark.
It was such a fun day and great to spend time with all the kids together. Before our friends left, I was insistent upon getting a photo of all six kids together.
Here’s how it went. First, the boys wanted to hold the babies. The girls were disappointed.
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Arionna won’t smile and Victoria is on the fringes. But all four boys look great.
Try again.
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Now Victoria has moved closer but her hands are in her face. Arionna still won’t smile. Christian’s smile is fading, but what I like is that he is looking directly at me, while every other child has shifted their focus to Kelly.
Take 3:
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We have now shifted the babies to the girls. Cam is still being a champ, looking and smiling. Brecken is doing his own thing. Victoria is no longer visible. Christian is still maintaining solid eye contact with me but we’ve lost Simon and still no smile from Arionna.
Take 4:
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Probably my favorite outtake. Victoria, sweetie, what are you doing? Arionna finally cracked a smile, but it’s aimed at Kelly. The big boys, while being wonderful during this whole thing are clearly fading. The smiles are more forced and less pronounced. I think Brecken is screaming at me to stop with the pictures already. But Cam…still a smiling champ.
Take 5:
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Honestly, as far as it goes, this one isn’t bad. If I had had to settle for it, I would have been okay. You still can’t really see Victoria, no one is looking the same direction, and Christian has completely resolved to stop smiling. But, the two babies look fabulous. I know they are tired of this, all of them.
And so I said “one more” thinking I probably had something workable. I did not (see evidence above), so I am glad I took that one last photo.
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When it comes to getting SIX kids, ages 7 and under, including two infants, to look and smile for the same picture, I think this is well beyond as good as it gets. It’s sweet, they all look happy, everyone is (mostly) smiling. I’m very happy with this photo. There’s nothing quite like seeing the children you love all gathered in one place.
Thanks to our wonderful friends for giving us their Saturday. We should definitely try to manage it more than once a year!

Family Night

On a random Friday in July, my mom called me and invited me out to dinner. My sister and her kids were going and Simon was here and it would be a terrific night. Unfortunately, she called me at 3pm and dinner was at 5pm. Normally, that would be fine, but I had plans. However, I hadn’t seen my family in a while, so I canceled my plans and made myself available. We went to…The Pirate Bar. That is not what it is called, but I can’t remember what it actually is called. My brother Nick works there. It’s a BBQ joint, which was a little worrisome, because I don’t like BBQ. The food was okay, not spectacular, but fine.

What was best about the evening was hanging out with the kids.

Between this silly girl
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(and we were majorly backlit where we were sitting so none of these are terrific, but it is the spirit that I like)
these two darling boys:
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The overall cuteness of this baby:
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Or randomly getting a shot with my three favorite kids:
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(yes, it’s really too bad it is so backlit, because it would have been frameable, otherwise.)
But it was a really nice dinner, it was great to have some quality time with my family, especially quiet time that wasn’t an event or something to DO, just the group of us having dinner.
After dinner, we went down to walk along the river. Auntie Emmy tried to be super cool by lifting the kids over the barrier and letting them climb on the rocks.
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But we quickly learned that there is a HUGE difference between six and three when someone couldn’t last.
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Mommy to the rescue.
But, don’t worry, as in all things, Auntie Livi is the coolest supreme. We walked to where the sidewalks are cut off due to the river being so high. Simon wondered if it was warm water and I led him down to find out. We hit the edge and he touched it with his fingers. I said he could take of his shoes and wade in if he wanted. That, apparently, equaled FULL ON SWIM, to him.
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She is wading, he is completely drenched. It was a warm summer night and we all kind of figured what-the-heck. They are little and were having fun.
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He is trying to entice her to come in and swim with him. She was WAY more hesitant. She eventually gave and was soaked through, but it took some tempting on his part. He set out to show her how much fun it could be….
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Full on swimming, in about 18″ of water. He was having the time of his life. And the river water, while smelly and dirty, was warm as bathwater, so it was pleasant…for children. You’ll notice no adults are likewise engaged.
I took a few photos and then went to cuddle on this guy.
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He just was enjoying being outside.
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We had a little moment where I am holding my hair down, he has yet to master that manual dexterity. Poor old man hair.
Then I decided to do a mini photo shoot of him.
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I got some truly great shots of him, but I was truly surprised when we managed to coax wet and wetter out of the water to join in. Granted, I would have preferred non-dripping children in my pictures, but at 6, 3, and 5 months, you take what you can get.
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Simon wanted to sit with Camden and Arionna, not the tallest girl in the world, decided she would kneel behind Simon. As you can see, even though he is sitting, she is still barely tall enough to be seen.
So I made them do it again.
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Much better. Cam was evidently done giving out smiles at that point, but he is looking, so I’m pretty pleased.
These three, they are the light of my life, I tell you. And though it may not seem like it, the adult members of my family were present as well. Overall, it was pretty much the perfect summer evening.

Nephews

When Arionna was born, Simon was only 3. He was actually a little afraid of her. Didn’t want to hold her or touch her or anything. He was interested, but cautious. Then, as she grew and became interactive, they became fast friends. Still, to this day, they are the best of pals.

Then, along came Camden. With a now SIX year age gap, we feared for any closeness. But no. Simon is obsessed with his baby cousin. He wants to talk to him and snuggle him and make him laugh and hold him and he just wants to be around him. He gets so excited to see him and can’t wait to hold him and is so proud that he can hold him all by himself.
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At dinner one night. Simon just held and talked to him for a long time. They both enjoyed it.
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That was taken at our family picnic. It the midst of the chaos and the fun, Simon stopped and asked to hold Cam. And that picture just melts me. Cam is so happy and Simon looks so sweet cuddling him up like that.

But then, oh then, there is this.
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Really? Simon is sitting on a stone wall, three feet off the ground, legs dangling, and I plopped the-now heavy- baby into his lap and look at them. I think my mom worried for Cam’s safety, but I didn’t. His big cousin will protect him, how could he not, he just loves him so very much.

I find that I am more and more delighted by my nephews these days. They are incredible little boys and oh-so-cute!

Simon Update

I haven’t mentioned my oldest nephew in a while, honestly, that’s because I haven’t seen too much of him this summer. Because he wasn’t in school, he was visiting during the week instead of on weekends and subsequently, I saw much less of him.

However, I can report that he started back to school this fall, at a brand new school for first grade. Last year he attended the public school where his Nana teaches, this year, his mom enrolled him at a private Catholic school. He will go to mass every Friday and wears a uniform. He was pretty excited to start first grade. He reports that he still has his same girlfriend, Mariana. That’s close to a year they’ve been together….so adorable.

Here he is on his first day of school.

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I cannot believe how big he is getting!

Here he is earlier in the summer, playing in the overflow of the St. Croix.
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And I LOVE that photo of him. It just captures him so perfectly.

From back in June, my grandma’s 95th birthday. He was the only “little” boy there and played the whole day with the little girls. He claims they wore him out.
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And lastly, my one “nice” picture.
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Taken just two weeks ago, right before school started. He scouted the area to find the exact flowers to be photographed with. He chose the yellow lilies and knelt next to them for me.

What a doll he is. It’s odd how his personality keeps getting cuter. I guess because he was such a little monster in his threes that this is our reward for getting through.

I can’t wait until Saturday, when I get to see him again! Thank goodness school started.