Here are some quick notes on the kids...
River recently performed in "The Music Man" as part of the cast and lighting crew at the middle school. We are very proud of the time and effort he put into the production, at times spending several hours after school several nights a week. As he approaches 13 years old, he acts more and more like a teenager, but a wedgie now and then keeps him in line. He excels in school and is currently on the honor role. He gets up on his own at 6:15 AM every morning, gets ready for school, and makes himself breakfast - all before anyone else rolls out of bed. River is also taking electric guitar lessons, learning chords, and picking up rock tunes. He is a wonderful big brother to all his younger siblings. It's amazing to watch kids go from pooping, crying, keep-you-up-all-night babies to responsible, helpful, mature, little-bit-lippy-now-and-then people.
Forest is a joyful goofball. Despite the cold spring water, he spends a lot of time in the pool. He is doing well in school (4th grade), because of the effort he puts into his homework every night. He is also involved in orchestra (cello), music ensemble (for which he goes to school an hour early once a week), and takes acoustic guitar lessons. He recently played his guitar for his school talent show. You can watch a video of his performance here. He also loves playing soccer, lacross, and camping in the yard with his buddy Kyle. Forest is also a great brother. One minute he will be rough-housing with River in the pool, and the next minute be playing with Hirut or feeding her. He is a playmate to all his brothers and sisters.
Stephanny is an adorable, sweet girl. Many mornings, we wake up to the sound of her and Hirut chattering in their beds. It is easy to see how much she enjoys having a baby sister. At times Stehpanny and Krem play like best buds, and at other times she gets a little frustrated with his high energy. Stephanny has recently starting curling up in bed to read chapter books. She also does well in school and gets glowing reports from her teaches. She has just started taking guitar lessons with her brothers. Stephanny's best friend Jenna lives just down the street, and they spend lots of time playing together with their American Girl Dolls. Stephanny and Jenna recently performed a dance routine in their school talent show. See the video here.
Krem continues to embody the happiness of Micky Mouse and the energy of the Tazmanian Devil. His language continues to develop at a steady pace. He is now starting to formulate simple sentences. He adores Stephanny and want's to play with her constantly. And we continue to catch glimpses of his life before joining our family. While doing yard work yesterday, picking up sticks from the yard, he grabbed hold of a root sticking out of the ground and, realizing what it was, became very excited. He bent down and started chewing on it, motioning me over to have a taste. Of course, roots are a part of the diet for some Ethiopians living on subsistence farms, so it was not surprising, but still an interesting contrast between his birth and adoptive cultures. Considering the poison ivy around the yard, we will unfortunately have to discourage chewing on roots while working outside. Stacey also recounted another anecdote from earlier this week: On a friends farm, Krem points to the chickens and makes a motion clearly indicating we should break the birds neck and says "Eat?". Stacey responds "No Eat". If I were there I would say "Yes! Yes!", if not for the effect it would have on the friendship. Another anecdote: Stacey took Krem, Stephanny, and Hirut hiking in the Susquahannah river valley along a creek, through the woods. Krem was very nervous about the wilderness and seemed fearful of bears, animals, and "scary people", at one point bolting down the trail in terror when other hikers approached from behind. Clearly, the wilderness is something unfamiliar, except that he knew it was scary and things in the woods would get him.
Hirut is still a very content and easy baby, but she certainly is developing some new personality as she grows older and gets more comfortable with our family. She has been giggling and laughing a lot more over the past few weeks. She also picks up new words almost daily. She says "Hot", "Hi", "Momma", "Dada", "Peekabo" (Peeaboo), "Ei-ei-ooo" (Old McDonald had a farm). Also along the lines of "communicating", she grunts when she poops and she has realized that this gets our attention quickly. She is now grunting to get our attention in general, and it is hilarious. "Grrrrunnnnnt", now means "I want another bite", "Look at me", "get me that toy", or "pick me up". Here is another funny habit she has started: we stopped giving her formula after her first birthday. She now gets about a half bottle of milk before bed. Being used to a full bottle, she was at first confused when she did not get as much as she expected. These days she is down right pissed. I know it's not right to use such language when talking about a baby, but no other word explains it quite right. She's not just angry. As soon as that last drop comes out, she immediately wails and throws a fit, flopping around in our laps to get down. She'll find her bottle, next to the rocking char, grab it, desperately drain any remaining drops, and continue to express her utter disappointment. This only lasts a few minutes, luckily. It is important to point out that this usually happens about an hour after dinner, where she generally eats hefty portions, such as a full slice of pizza. We're not starving her by any means. She LOVES to eat, and has serious affection for her bedtime bottle.