Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Letter 2017

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

We're back!

Having returned from our glorious gypsy summer of eight weeks in five different homes in Arizona and Utah, we're back in Texas! Stephen has started teaching classes again (the summer was spent researching from home or his alma mater's library) and applying for jobs for the 2017 school year.  We're homeschooling Christian another year till we settle down somewhere more permanent, and Simeon and Joshua are just partying it up.

I believe in celebrating when you can celebrate, so I'm happy to announce I'm pregnant!  I'm only 9 weeks, but we've heard a healthy heart beat which is huge.  I've had three early miscarriages (7,10, and 4 weeks) in a row since Joshua, but with none of them did we get to hear the heart beating.  (Seriously, someone needs to consider making those heartbeats into soundtracks for nervous mamas--nothing sweeter).

I've attached a multitude of photos, but I just couldn't pick from these sweet ones that our own Becca Bird took. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

us again

Life has been good to us here in Texas.  Stephen is loving the freedom to research whatever he wants (which is pretty much everything) and teaching his first course.  We're getting ready for this next academic year on the job market and am finding with the diversity of Stephen's interests and publications he can categorize himself in such different boxes, and yet still not quite be what they want, that I often find myself singing Mika's "Grace Kelly" to him.  However, since he doesn't listen to lyrics it's usually lost on him--also, apparently I frequently sing sharp so he's probably just trying to ignore me altogether.    

I'm paying for all the Saturday's chores I skipped out on or hid from as a kid and find I have three mess making, wild, chaos loving boys just like me as karma.  Homeschool only adds to the chaos and to-do list, but somehow we are slowly improving.  Some organizational books may claim to have their secrets to success, but I have it.  I'm tempted to require your firstborn as payment for the secret, but since it's Easter I'm in the generous mood and giving it too you for free: good audiobooks.  No podcasts or Netflix just don't do it.  It's got to be something addicting, but not distracting.  Finding a good podcast or something worthwhile to watch can take so much time it's not even worth it.   So there it is, audiobooks. Simple, look your kitchen is looking cleaner already! I've started a book group in the ward and after 8 months finally got my hair cut again.  It may have been the first haircut the poor girl at the beauty school had ever done, but hey it was better than my own attempt at a trim.  I'm relishing the stages the boys are in right now and wish I could just press pause, though when they're having a melt down the skip button wouldn't be so bad.

Christian:  This kid can get lost in a book,usually an audio CD that I also find myself getting lost in (the latest being the Penderwicks series).  His favorite subject in homeschool goes back and forth between history and math.  He could care less about handwriting, but we're finding ways to make that more interesting.  He loves having both Donaldson and Cranney cousins near and it's fun to see him deepen those friendships.  We often go to the"friend" park where he always seems to make new friends or meet up with old ones.  We do a co-op that once or twice a month which has been good.  I should do more, but somehow I feel that when all three kids are together they overwhelm whatever home or public space we may be in and I find myself just yearning to let my children be happy in their wild ways at home.


Simeon has been changing and growing immensely. He's got an amazing primary teacher that has done wonders with making him comfortable at church and I will be eternally indebted to her.  He's getting over the Star Wars obsession (I think we won't even have to show him the 7th edited, but just pretend it never came out, and has turned his obsession to red, William Howe, and the British.  Thanks to Grandma Elaine and Grandpa Dean for sending some simple toob toys a couple years ago to the boys, now both Christian and Simeon have had revolutionary war stages.  It's adorable to hear him tell other people about the revolutionary war because he still can't quite say 'Revolutionary War' clearly and no one is expecting a four year old to be drawing  a full fledged battle for them.   Also, no one really knows who William Howe is, but hey he is his father's child.

Joshua is potty trained!!!!!!   I know this is something that all children do eventually, but whenever that happens to be, I think all parents feel (as they should) an immense amount of pride.  Honestly, the pride levels I feel about myself are so ridiculous that you'd think I was the first mother to potty train her child before the age of----ever.  Also, if you would like to know why children aren't suppose to watch TV before the age of two?  It's so that when they're two you can potty train them by bribing them with Jake the Pirate and they'll find it so exciting they might just do it. (We tried everything else but Joshua was a stubborn one and it felt like I was doing cloth diapers for three months.  Desperate times call for Jake the Pirate).  I seem to get compliments on this kid's charm constantly. Those big blue eyes (that he insists are green since that's his favorite color) are dangerously heartwarming.


Other random photos from the last little while: