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family photos

After a record-setting rainy season that wreaked havoc all over the country, Rwanda has settled into a sweet spot. Each day for the last couple of weeks has featured clear blue skies, ideal temperatures, and gorgeous sunsets. It is almost as if Kigali has decided to showcase its best side to make us rue our imminent departure. Last weekend, we took a brief break from packing, taking advantage of the beautiful weather to do our family photo shoot.

The kids’ antics were on full display. Junebug had just gotten up from her nap when our friend, who also shot our last family photos, reached our house. Even after S had fed her, Junebug remained overly clingy, screwing up her face in protest whenever S stepped out of her line of sight or handed her off to D.

Much like Munchkin was at this age, the little lady has become quite a chatter bug. Her loud chirping and displeased whining are very expressive, though speech still appears to be a ways off. Munchkin did not really start talking until he was a year and a half, but by this age he was at least making syllables and emulating animal noises. Junebug appears to be in no rush to speak. Instead, she has developed several adorable workarounds, including smacking her lips when she’s hungry, resolutely shaking her head NO when she does not want a particular food, and swatting at her ears when she is displeased with the way we smother her with kisses.

Junebug was clearly the star of the photo shoot. That we got any good photos of Munchkin, on the other hand, is a minor miracle. He loved smiling and posing for the camera until about half a year ago. And then a switch flipped: nowadays as soon as he see a camera he sticks his tongue out, smiles a forced, cheesy smile, or puts several fingers into his mouth – and that is when he deigns to sit still at all. For at least half the photo shoot, he was off wandering around, and we had to bribe him with the promise of chocolates and various desserts to get him to join us.

Now that school’s out, our biggest challenge is keeping Munchkin occupied while trying to organize our packout. Until we dismantled the playroom over the weekend, this had been a Sisyphean struggle, as he and Junebug would cause such disarray when our backs were turned that we wound up spending more time cleaning up than packing.

Of late D has taken to teasing the little man by substituting Munchkin’s name into his favorite bedtime stories. D tries to do it as slyly as possible, but each time Munchkin erupts in protest: “No, it’s not me! It’s the Gruffalo [or the wolf, or Winnie Pooh, etc.] – stop making nonsense, papa!” D clearly derives way more fun from this gag than Munchkin does, which seems like a fair tradeoff considering the panoply of Munchkin’s antics.

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