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"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."— William Butler Yeats
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mission Bay Monkeys

After being cooped up inside for too long, we finally got the boys out of the house this last Saturday. We wanted to try to beat the heat by being near the ocean, but we didn't want to actually go to the beach. We knew it would be packed and I'm kind of sick of cleaning up sand. We need an outdoor shower. :)

Anyway, we took ourselves down to Mission Bay and let the kids play at the park to the tune of some really loud seadoos and jet skis recreating on the bay nearby. Soren happily accepted my phone when I asked him to make us another Cameo. I love these little videos!

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Thursday, February 27, 2014


Meet beautiful baby boy, Elias Curtis Crane. He is in heaven with his Heavenly Father, now, being a missionary for the Lord and doubling as a guardian angel for his sweet family here on earth. This is not really my story to tell. Truth be told, I'm not really "telling" it. I'm writing it down so that I remember everything I saw and forget nothing. My memory is too faulty by half to leave this for another day - already there are probably holes in my recollections.

Elias is my best-friend-in-the-whole-world's baby boy.  He is Jared and Amanda's fourth child and second son.  He is darling.  And perfect.  And special.  So special and so perfect, in fact, that he just didn't need to muck about on this earth with the rest of us mere mortals.

On Monday morning, Amanda's water broke.  Around 9pm that night, I got to come and start shooting some pictures of her now-active labor.  I was returning the favor of birth photographer after she so beautifully captured Oskar's birth two years ago.  Our midwife, Karly, arrived shortly after I did and Amanda's contractions quickly ramped up.  She got in the birth tub and Jared donned swim trunks and hopped in with her to apply counter-pressure to her pelvis from behind.  Karly monitored baby's heart tones throughout.  At some point, it became clear that labor was not progressing in the tub, so Amanda got out and climbed some stairs, then laid on the bed in various positions.  Karly started to hear some late decels of the baby's heartbeat and informed Amanda that she needed to be transferred to the hospital.  I drove them to Pomerado Hospital at around 4am (I think - again, my memory is fuzzy and I'm especially not good with details) and Amanda was given an epidural.  It was discovered that Elias was presenting posterior and his head was butting up against Amanda's pubic bone instead of coming down and through.  She continued laboring for many hours under tight supervision of her on-call doctor, Dr. Langford, and several wonderful nurses. Around 8am, baby's heart rate took a severe nose dive and Amanda was prepped for and rushed to the operating room.  Jared got all decked out in his operating room scrubs and set about waiting for someone to come get him for the c-section.  No one came.  He finally popped his head out of the room and asked after his wife and shortly a couple of nurses and a social worker came in to tell him that his baby had been born but was currently being worked on by a NICU team.  A couple of minutes after that a doctor and those same nurses came back in and shared with Jared that though they tried as hard as they could to resuscitate him, his baby boy had not made it.  Elias had a knot in his cord and the cord was triple-wrapped tightly around his neck.  When he was removed from the womb, he no longer had a heartbeat.  As a dear friend, Bronwyn, said to Amanda, "Your baby was not stillborn; your baby was born asleep."  It had happened so fast, so very very fast.  Only nine minutes from labor room to OP, but it was long enough for that knot to tighten and cut off blood flow to the baby.

Elias was brought to Jared, who held him for a while and wept over his little man.  Then baby was taken to the nursery and Amanda was wheeled in.  Karly and I stepped out while Jared told Amanda about their baby.  When we came back in we cried and hugged and cried some more.  A nurse brought Elias back for Amanda to hold and Jared unwrapped him and laid him out, belly down, skin to skin with his mama. Amanda got to stroke every little part of him, his fuzzy cheekies, his tiny little nose, his wrinkly feets and long fingers.  Amanda held up his hand in hers and declared that he had "Malia fingers" with his very distinct fingernails.  She took off his hat and stroked his dark head of hair. She was still very shaken up by her operation, struggling with breathing and experiencing some intense pain in her shoulders, but she was able to soak in her baby regardless.  Then Elias was passed to Amanda's mom, who scooped him up to her neck and clung to him tightly while she wept, nuzzling his face from time to time.  Then I got to hold that precious little boy and exclaim over his perfection.  He was darling; totally looked like Jared.  After I filled up my heart against his inevitable absence, I passed him on to Karly.  Soon Amanda's sister, Heather, arrived along with Elias' big brother, Corban, and sisters, Malia and Addison.  I think the kids caught the somber mood of the room; they were pretty hesitant to come to mama.  But eventually they warmed up enough to climb up around Mom and Baby Elias and I was able to take some family pictures for them.  Pretty soon Malia and Addison were crowding around Elias, stroking his tiny nose and rubbing his soft cheeks, exclaiming over him like tiny little mamas-in-training usually do over babies.  Corban snuggled his Dad and climbed up periodically to give his mom some love and squeezes.  At one point, while Amanda's sister, Heather, was holding Elias and Malia was following the curve of his nose with her little fingers, Malia declared quietly, "He's just gonna come back later."  Oh the simple faith of a child!  The family talked about death and the Plan of Salvation and where Elias' body would be that they could visit him, but also about where his spirit was now.  Another nurse in the hospital came in carrying a casting kit and explained, tearily, that she had lost a baby, too.  She offered to cast Elias' foot for Amanda and set about doing it with tenderness.  Though there were a lot of tears, the room felt so wrapped up in love and peace.

At home again, I told the boys about what had happened and we talked through it all.  Anders said, "I feel like whenever something bad happens, it's my fault."  That was quite the revelation and we worked that one out properly.  Karsten prayed that "Amanda and Jared's baby would have a heart-beep so he could be alive again."  That one made me cry.  Soren asked what we could do for them, something everyone who knows them has been asking ever since they found out.  He is a very sensitive and kind young man.

Dan was in LA all day as this was happening.  He had a mediation that involved several people who had come from different states around the US.  He couldn't miss it, but it was hard for him to focus once he received the news.  He wept himself down the rush-hour crowded freeways and back to home.  We talked and cried together when he got back.

I got to go back and be with Amanda yesterday and we talked and cried and slept and even giggled over a few things like Dan's morning routine of carefully selecting an essential oil with which to oil his mustache before heading out the door for work, sniffing repeatedly at his upper lip.  I didn't want to leave her. I think I needed (need) her more than she needed (needs) me.  I will never cease to be amazed by her strength.  I think she is especially buoyed up by her conviction that she knew this was going to happen and that no amount of "what if's" or alternative choices would have resulted in a different outcome.  She feels as though she's been prepared for this very experience since December.  It still hurts and she still mourns, but she feels peaceful, too.  I hope that peaceful feeling stays forever as she works through this.  I love her like a sister and she and her family are so, so very dear to me.

Jared's sisters have put together a memorial fund for the Crane family to help offset the cost of some very unexpected, emergency medical care.  This is a heavy burden for anyone to bear, but especially so when you have lousy insurance.  This is the last thing this mama should be worrying about when she's just lost her child.  Every little bit will help, so please think of showing your love and concern for this family by donating whatever you are able and know that a certain best friend's gratitude will be overflowing in your direction.  :)

Baby Elias Memorial Fund (Facebook)
Baby Elias Memorial Fund (Blog)

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

How We Do Flu

So, after about three weeks now of someone (and eventually everyone) in our family having the flu, we've been properly stirred crazy in this sick house!  Today I declared to my little lung hackers that we would be going to the beach to convalesce in the sunshine and fresh air, soaking up some vitamin D without risking making anyone else sick.  Poor Dan is only just starting down this fluey road, but allowed himself to be hauled along after I swore up and down that I'd be the one chasing the kids through the water.  Boy did I get a workout.  I had no idea Oskar was so fearless and if I'd been wearing a swimsuit like I ought to have been, I'd have let him tumble about in the waves a bit more to learn some healthy respect for the ocean.  Little bugger was dashing back to the water every time I turned around for a second.  I even fell once myself in my haste to reach him before he reached the waves after I let myself be distracted by one of the other boys.  That was embarrassing - large prego lady flopping to her hands and knees as her nudey toddler giggles gleefully on his way to the water, leg rolls jiggling with his quick but lumbering strides.  The child is incorrigible.  Anyway, we had a great time together.  We only spent a couple of hours there this time, but Anders managed to soak himself from head to foot, then roll all through the black sand, then take another long soak.  Soren and Dan tossed the football and frisbee to each other.  Karsten dug around in the sand happily by himself for the longest time before finally joining Mom and Oskar in the water to jump some waves.  The air smelled so good and fresh and the sun was lovely when it peeked out from behind the high clouds.  Sometimes I hate "winter" in San Diego and sometimes I love it.  Today, I loved it.  Here's a quick video of our fun little excursion.  Now if only we can get better and STAY BETTER!  :)

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Bicycle Built for Six

This last Saturday we went to Coronado for our Saturday Family Fun Day. We hopped on a family bike and Dan cruised us around the "island." Soren documented the whole adventure with a fun new iPhone app we found that morning called Cameo. Enjoy his movies!

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Stephanie Nielson's Testimony

I don't mean to be a lazy testimony borrower, but I agree so strongly with everything Stephanie says here that I don't see any point in trying to write it differently.  Instead, I will just link to this wonderful, short, and strong statement of this woman's beliefs about life on this earth and where true happiness can be found.  And in so linking, I proclaim my own testimony to be the same.

Stephanie Nielson: I will stay true
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

For Thanksgiving this year we were a little bit nontraditional, a little bit store bought, and a little bit Pilgrim-and-Indian.  It turned out to be the perfect mixture for a low-stress holiday here at home.  We missed our greater families, but loved being able to cement our own family traditions that our kids will be carrying with them to their families someday.  Plus, small and intimate is a dream come true for this hermit mama.  :)

So, let's back up a bit to about a week before Thanksgiving when I finally got my act together and planned some Thanksgiving crafts for the kids to do during Oskar's nap.  We made Indian teepees and fingerprint Turkeys.  The boys played in the rain a bit, too, as they collected little sticks from the front yard for the tops of our teepees.  It was a perfect day for arts and crafts.


The Sunday before Thanksgiving we pulled together our 2013 Thankful Tree.  That's always a really fun family time for us.  The kids love filling out their leaves of gratitude and it was especially entertaining to hear them call out each item they were thankful for as they jotted it down and threw it in the growing pile.  Karsten was super funny, scribbling his gratitude on a ton of leaves while shouting out, "I'm thank thee for CARS!" or "I'm thank thee for TRAMPOLINES!"


Since we didn't have any more evening soccer practices, we hit up the park a couple time in the days before Thanksgiving.  It was SOOOOO liberating to have that freedom from the great fall soccer regime.  And it was so nice to catch two GORGEOUS sunsets and be able to take some awesome silhouettes of the boys.


The night before Thanksgiving we went to a really fun movie (Frozen) and then went shopping for a Christmas tree.  Bad weather was forecast for the Friday after Thanksgiving and we wanted to be decorating our tree that day rather than sitting around watching the rain and wishing we had a tree.  We picked out our tree at the tree lot and I double checked the weather only to find that the rain was no longer forecast.  Go figure.  But we were happy to have our tree anyway.  And guess what?  True to San Diego weather's unpredictability, the rain actually did come, and we were happily tucked away in our front room, listening to Christmas music and arranging nativities all over the place.  Neener neener.


And then it came time for Thanksgiving day and our big, non-traditional, somewhat-store-bought feast. Thanksgiving day was really fun and, best of all, do-able.  Dan helped out a ton, taking total charge of the main course (roast beast) and whisking the kids away for some park time later in the day when they were getting all wound up.  I attempted to liven up the party with some Thanksgiving decor this year and loved the way it wrapped us all up, cozy-like, in the spirit of Thanksgiving.  When we sat down to eat, the boys had coloring pages and activity pages and we all discussed why the first Thanksgiving took place and what things the Pilgrims and Indians had to be grateful for and how we can show our gratitude for the things we have and share our blessings with others.  The food was delicious (Dan's roast?  TO DIE FOR!  Sooooo succulent!), the company was the best, and the conversation was titillating.  It was a perfect Thanksgiving and looking around that table reminded me of how grateful I am to keep my greatest blessings so close to me, day in and day out, as we shape each other into the people Heavenly Father intended us to be.

P.S. Why the roast?  Because this prego mama CANNOT do fowl right now.  No way, no how, no fowl.  Bleh.


And then, the day after Thanksgiving, we quickly hid away all the Thanksgiving decorations and pulled out the Christmas stuff.  It was awesome.  And Oskar had a field day with the tree, which I didn't mind, since I wasn't the one who had decorated it (decorated BY kids, FOR kids - that's my new Christmas motto).  :D  I was dead on my feet by Friday night after those two long days of activity and perpetual motion.


Kudos to Dan for stringing our outside lights the Saturday before Thanksgiving!!


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