Thursday, March 29, 2018

Back to the blog!

It looks like our gypsy years are coming to and end and we are beginning a new era of calm, stable bureaucracy life working for the federal government. Stephen has been hired as a statistician for the Census and we may or may not be closing on a house next month.  We're thrilled and wondering if the Smithsonians may start charging us rent and utilities for all the time we're planning on spending there.

That said, we're kind of bummed to be leaving our large amazing network of extended family and friends in the motherland.  But that's why we have a guest room for all of you guys to come visit!  Seriously, please come.  (Not sure if this correct, but I figure if you're still reading this blog we definitely want you to come visit).

What with leaving the extended family, half of which don't use instagram, and the fact that I'm super jealous of the rest of my more steady blogging bloggers who have regular updates about their kids that they can publish for their kids, I might start blogging more often.   Also the picture below has Stephen standing on a rock, he is not actually 7 ft.   

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas from the Cranneys!
(the headbands were their idea)
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For those of you who love reading updates as much as I do:

We moved mid-year from Waco, Texas to Provo, Utah for Stephen to teach adjunct at BYU while working remotely on his research for Baylor.  It’s been a great experience for him teaching and for all of us to be closer to such fabulous family and old friends.  We decided to try the whole millennial trend of moving back in with the parents (a couple months with his and a couple with mine) but with four kids.  It’s been a fun adventure and we will forever appreciate them opening their homes to us and our four mini-tornados of children.

I’m loving the chaos and thrills of being a mom to my wild crew.  I still have mixed feelings about sending the older boys to school, but will forever cherish the extra time I had with them at home with me longer the last two years and adventures we had in Texas. I’m enjoying the slower pace a baby makes a mama take.

Stephen has loved being back in the motherland so that he can haunt the library of his youth and read every non-fiction book slightly interesting to him in the entirety of it’s collection.  For months he was making bi-weekly visits coming back with stacks of books.  He’s finished now and seems to be moving on to the BYU library while he has access.  He ends each night doing “Daddy homeschool” teaching the kids what he’s been reading about on their level and they eat it up.

Christian Mordechai (8) was baptized in November!  Every request for Christmas presents this year has been books (or a phone, which he won’t be getting).  His love of world history has not waned and it’s not uncommon for him to jump into our conversations with his draconian opinions from what he may have read.  I’ve learned far more Greek and Norse mythology this past year than I ever cared to learn, but watching him run around outside with only his stick and imagination commanding the seas and sending thunderbolts makes up for it, We’re doing his first real year of public school.  He might ask to be homeschooled every day, but for now he’s doing good where he’s at.  

Simeon David (6) loves chess, ninjas, piano, “The Great British Baking Show” and, well, anything competitive. No, piano isn’t necessarily competitive, but when you have an older brother doing it too—it is. He climbs into bed with us every morning and asks us to tell him what he was like when he was a baby. Having broken his arm that required surgery to fix and needing his tongue stitched up this summer, he is especially thoughtful towards anyone in pain. However, that doesn't stop him from wrestling, poking, and teasing his brothers. He complains that he only learns how to “keep his hands to himself” in kindergarten, but even if that’s all he learns we’re thrilled.

Joshua Levinas (4) is who we endearingly refer to as our “black hole of attention.”  While the older two kids seem to tire of our attention after a good solid 15 or 20 minutes, Joshua can absorb ours for hours and hours.  His long luxurious baths and drawing are the only activities that he is not begging to have us there by his side for.  I may or may not drift asleep to him telling me stories instead of the reverse, but we love his creativity and love of beauty.  

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The best, brightest, and loudest update of our year is the welcomed addition of Levi Grant (8 months) to our family.  Bald and fat has never looked so good! His dimpled smiles charm us into so much holding, feeding, and general spoiling that he might just be ruined for life.

We send our love and all the best this Christmas!

Rachel, Stephen, Christian, Simeon, Joshua, and Levi

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It's a fine balance in sharing the hilarity of our daily lives with our unique children, yet respecting their privacy, but also not giving an inaccurate depiction of them (our ourselves) on a public blog such as this. Maybe we'll go private, but in the meantime I'll try and do a little CPR on this dying blog and see if we can't get it up and running once again.

Stephen is on a quest to read and/or skim every interesting book in the library of his youth.  He comes back with stacks and stacks of books and then returns several days later to do it all over again. He finds something interesting he reads and then somehow manages to simplifying/make it way more interesting than it really is for the kids and tells about what he learns as their daddy "homeschool" time right before bed.  He's still doing research for Baylor whom we love, but got permission to teach an eternal family class at the religion department at BYU.

Christian is doing his first year in public school.  It's been an adjustment, but he doesn't beg to be homeschooled everyday like he did the first month, so that's good?  No, he's really doing fine and we think it's been good for him.  That said, I miss him--even when he's home, he just seems more distant.  Maybe he'll forgive me one day?  He's as curious as ever, but history and mythology are still his favorites---especially acting them outside in the front yard with a stick. About a year ago he started to listen at church all on his own.  He's a thoughtful zealous kid. and I'm excited to see the good he does.

Simeon started kindergarten and has been doing really well.  He is making his own friends instead of just tagging along with whoever Christian is playing with and it's good to see him come into his own. Piano, chess, and anything with a toy gun seem to capture his attention these days.   He asks us to practice and will practice multiple times a day.  I say this not so much in bragging (because I have nothing to do with it though the fact that his Oma is his teacher might), but that anyone who has interacted with this boy even as late as 4 months ago would probably be a little surprised by this.  He wakes up most mornings and asks to cuddle with me while having me tell him what he was like as a baby.  It's the sweetest.

Joshua is four. I can hardly believe how tall he is getting.  He flails his arms and legs and sometimes it seems his head is pulling him one direction and his body another.  We've concluded that he is just growing so quickly it's hard for him to keep up with himself.  He continues to love drawing.  Markers are constantly losing caps and every time I'm tempted to throw it away I look at how his art has become so detailed and I can't. He loves to tell me stories and seems a little more into fantasy than our older two.

Levi: Alive.  It appears my last update he was just born.  He is now nearly 6 months and our little sweetheart.  It's hard to guess at his personality; some days he's fussy, the other days not.  He had an incredibly difficult time sucking and lost a lot of weight when he was first born.  I had to pump everything for the first four months, but he finally started nursing like a normal kid!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Levi Grant

I realize I have abandoned this blog.  I'm afraid the ease of Instagram has taken over many of the functions I was using this blog for.  That said, Instagram doesn't allow for details and when it comes to birth stories--we moms love the details!

So, with this little guy lying fast asleep on my chest, I'll write about the birth story of our newest little guy:  Levi Grant Cranney.

Apparently my body doesn't signal that it's in labor the standard way posted on internet sties to answer queries of anxious soon-to-be-mothers.  Nor does it behave the same way with every pregnancy. I thus went into the hospital afraid I had pre-term labor at 36 weeks only to be shown out the door.  When Levi continued to still be content within my womb at my 39 week appointment I started to get a little nervous he would come quickly--as did my doctor who told me to not wait for the standard 3-5 minutes apart, but to come at 7-10 minutes since I was already dilated to 3.5.  On Sunday some more painful contractions started happening when I walked around, but would practically cease when I sat turning into 20-25 minutes apart. but that kind of hurt.  (I know, I know, boring details, but apart of this is for future reference if ever needed for me).  Anyway after a day of indecision I finally told Stephen that we were going to the hospital and if they sent us back again, they sent us back, but I needed to know if these contractions were doing anything.  Stephen's amazing mom had arrived two days before to help out with him and it was perfect timing.  It was so nice to be able to leave the kids with her as we left around 10 at night to the hospital.  When I arrived they checked me and said I was a 6.5.  Since I had not been admitted with Simeon when my contractions were slow and I was a 6, we were still slightly worried they would send us home--but thankfully they kept us.  My contractions continued to be spaced out pretty far and only at one time did they come closer than 10 minutes, though they were also longer.  My doctor that I had seen throughout the pregnancy wasn't on call and had surgery the next morning so they told me it would be Dr. Patterson.  She had actually seen me before when I was hemorrhaging with a miscarriage a year and a half ago.  I had like her then and was happy to have her again.

I had already told my other doctor that I had wanted to go natural, didn't want my water manually broken, only have a heplock (no IV), no pitocin, and that when it came to pushing--I didn't want to overpush.  In general I try not to be a demanding person and so even talking with my doctor about this was a little uncomfortable, but I'm glad I did.  He communicated all of this to Dr. Patterson who indulged me.  When I was 10 cm I really felt the urge to push.  I would say that the contractions to this point while definitely more painful than the ones I had with my other boys, were WAY more mild than they are with other women.  I've always been able to talk, walk, and even laugh through contractions which makes me always hesitant to say that I do natural births because I realize that there is such a difference of experiences I would hate it if someone were to compare when such a comparison would be utterly ridiculous. Anyway, I just have crazy labors including that every time I give birth I have multiple nurses say they have never seen anyone be so calm and not medicated. I really wish it were a matter of self-discipline, but it's not.

At 10 cm. my water still hadn't broken and I asked if I could just continue to labor and see if I didn't have a "mermaid baby" or "angel baby" with the baby being born with the amniotic sac still in tact (incredibly rare--more common though among pre-term labors).  They moved a mirror so I could see (which was a first, and I really liked having one) and I started pushing when I had contractions.  At first it felt odd with the nurses and doctor not telling me when to push by looking at the monitor, but after awhile it was nice.  My contractions were still several minutes apart which allowed everyone to start up an interesting conversation just in time for me to interrupt with me having to push again.  At first I could see the head through the amniotic sac it was incredible!  When I started to pushy however, the head receded and the sac started coming out first.  It started to make a large balloon of sorts and they handed Stephen a hospital gown in case it exploded on him.  The pushing wasn't terrible when it was the sac, until it was getting to the point that the head needed to come out too and then it started really hurting.  I have never screamed out when pushing before, but with this one I did.  At first I started just the low moaning (which really did help), but when it got really bad I started screaming "Come on baby! Come!"  When the sac was the size of a grapefruit it finally popped.  In some ways this was a relief and took some pressure off, but then came his head.  It had probably been 40 minutes of this off and on pushing, but when the head was there contractions started speeding up.  I started to scream that I couldn't do it.  Stephen and the nurses and doctor assured me that I could (I know, I know, I had no other choice).  Stephen held my leg since he was helping out with my leg cramps and I held the nurses' hands.  When I got to that ring of fire I screamed I was never having any more children, but then 3 seconds later his head was out, I only had to do his shoulders quickly and he was out in my arms.  It was glorious to hold him!  Perhaps the reason this labor was so painful in comparison was due to him being my largest baby at 8 lbs 9 oz.  He was born at 5:12 a.m. on Monday the 17th of April (right after Easter and a day before taxes were due).
I'm not sure anything compares with holding your newborn on your chest after giving birth--I really don't.  I was in tears, half from the pain and half from the joy of finally having him here.   The cushion of the amniotic sac left his head incredibly round according to the nurses and everyone was amazed when there perfectionist NICU nurse gave him a 10 APGAR score since she never gives such high scores.

So there it is, there is Levi's birth story.  Everything has gone pretty smoothly.  The placenta came out, there was a small superficial tear that she stitched up just in case, but it was a wonderfully unique and uncomplicated birth which I am so grateful for.  I so appreciate the nurses and doctor that were so supportive.  Stephen was pretty grand and while we both slept as I labored from a 6 to 8 or 9, when it came time to be there for me, he totally was.  He got the cramps out of my legs (he's had practice since I've often woken him up in the middle of the night needing help to get them out) and honestly his random conversation starters with the doctor and nurses about their jobs or his research in fertility etc. were a nice diversion between contractions.  What's more, he loves and admires motherhood and womanhood and I'm grateful for that.  He cut the cord which neither of us could remember if he had done before.  All is well still and though he had a little trouble maintaining a high blood sugar level, it has since stabilized and I'm glad it's been good stay.  We were going to go home earlier today, but the doctors wanted to keep him just to be sure another day.  Alright, I haven't re-read this or edited this so this may be somewhat jumbled, but I'm playing the new-mommy card that let's one be forgiven (hopefully) for what grammatical errors or self-centeredness a post like this must have.

*Stephen just e-mailed me the following corrections:

"First, you weren't screaming "come on baby," you were screaming "come baby, baby come." I just realized it was reminiscent of Christ calling forth Lazarus into life: "Lazarus, come." 

Second, it wasn't the size of a grapefruit, it was the size of a melon when it popped. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

Merry Christmas from the Cranneys!

When I asked Stephen for input for our Christmas letter this year he wondered if we should even send an update.  For the first year in our marriage we have no new babies, jobs, degrees, or states of residence which may make this our most stable/boring year of adulthood yet.  Lame!  Luckily the boys have been keeping us from having to download solitaire on our phone just yet, and we’re enjoying our time in Texas.

Joshua Lev (3) is our charmer and gold loving pirate. All that is sparkly or sweet has his attention. He literally has nightmares about cookies being stolen from him which we know for a fact since he still somehow finds his way into our bed in the middle of the night.
Simeon (5) can imagine himself as a British solider or lightsaber wielding Jedi for hours on end. He sometimes can't finish a book or movie because of his need to pretend play it out. I never thought I would regret wrestling scholarships being virtually non-existent until I saw Simeon take down his older brother with a Full Nelson--to think of the future he might have had  . . .
Christian (7) is our nature child.  He begs to skip parks with playgrounds to find forests and river areas.  I have nearly daily arguments about his use of sticks in the house, and next year's Christmas presents may simply be a stash of sticks, nuts, and rocks. If he's not begging to go outside he's pleading to listen to an audiobook and I have to insist he's got to turn it off for meal times. (He can read fine, but listening allows him to fight with his stick and listen at the same time).
Mid-process on several job applications, Stephen has yet to find out if he is to continue this oasis of academic postdoc research with the freedom to study whatever enters his mind, or if he's going to join the rest of his cohort, settle down and get a job. His time here has been productive though, and he now has about a dozen publications.

I'm enjoying the extra time I get with the boys while homeschooling for another year and expecting a baby boy this next April (got to spice up these Christmas cards somehow).  Hoping to see gains in my parenting from this seeming specialization in boys we've got going on.
We hope this update finds you and yours well,

Rachel, Stephen, Christian, Simeon,
and Joshua Lev