Monday, December 20, 2010

my christmas gift to you

i'm surprised at how many people i've talked to who haven't heard about the christmas special disney released last year called "prep and landing." totally delightful for kids and adults alike! you can watch it on hulu here. its about 20 minutes long.

and here's a little stocking stuffer.... the prep and landing sequel that came out this year: "operation secret santa." complete with betty white as mrs. claus (i love her)! this is about 7 minutes long.

these shows are the perfect mix of witty hilarity and tender sweetness. ya, they both totally make me cry, but that's nothing new these days. :)


Friday, December 17, 2010


the provo tabernacle burned down this morning. i totally started crying when i heard about it. i know its just a building, but its a special building in provo. i attended a lot of events in that building during my time at BYU.... stake conferences, firesides, musical productions. they're not sure if they'll have to demolish it, but i hope they can rebuild it. it wouldn't be provo without it.

you can tell in the photo below that the whole roof is gone.

Monday, November 29, 2010

here's some fun news....

"...i can't believe we're gonna finally have a sister!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

on kadin's plate at lunch today...

sliced apples, applesauce, and apple juice. sometimes there's no reasoning with this kid... and i love him for it. what a character.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

joel's 1st movie

joel and kadin are in the habit of snatching our powershot and taking all sorts of pictures and videos with it. it stresses me out a bit having them tote the camera around all the time, even though i've given them rules about how they need to treat it, but it's been really fun to look at the pictures they capture. some of them get deleted, but lots of them turn out to be great pictures that i never would have thought to take. a child's perspective. i love it.

last week ben found some videos and pictures joel had taken during an afternoon of imagination. so ben edited them into a little movie and joel picked the music. it cracks me up that kadin is sleeping in the background at the beginning.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

need some happiness?

listen to this...
sigh. i miss singing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Amazing radness in a balloon

This is Ben.

So, I've been fascinated recently by all of the amazing graphic designing going on these days, especially with stuff having to do with colors (see for examples). I just saw a post about this new outdoor luminarium (totally made up word I think) exhibit on one of my favorite websites ( and I was blown away.

Here is the link to the people who designed and implemented this unique "experience" for the public:

Take a look at the video. I seriously want to see this in person.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"dude, this thing is so awesome!"

that is what ben has said about 53 times tonight since coming home from the ward youth pool party bearing this:

they were playing pool basketball and he was attempting a slam dunk from the edge of the pool and one of the kids pulled his feet out from under him (it was him and another leader, our good friend Ed Harman, against all the boys).

i most definitely think that this is NOT awesome.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

write 750 words a day

i'm not sure why, but i signed up for this challenge after i read about it on kate's blog... she's my beautiful and amazingly talented cousin-in-law who, by the way, is an fantastic writer. i hate writing. and i, unlike kate, am not very good at it. but maybe it will help me get all the jumbled thoughts out of my head and then i won't be so cranky all the time. oh wait, maybe i'm cranky because i'm the mom of three wild boys (which is also one of the main reasons why i'm insanely happy). but i digress... if you need a good excuse to journal, you should sign up for the challenge. hopefully i can keep at it every day. if you miss a day, they put you on the "wall of shame." HAHA!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

stealing hearts everywhere

on tuesday last week for a last summer hurrah before school started, we took a trip to the beach in capitola with our good friends, the geddes. there was a group of people right next to us that were in love with oliver. he decided to go ahead and sit down with them and chill.

lizard catchers

joel and kadin are completely obsessed with snakes and lizards lately. friday at the park they caught this tiny little guy:

they were SO excited about catching it and they were just so sweet and gentle with it. it was pretty cute to watch them taking turns holding it and passing it back and forth to each other. joel keeps telling me that he wants a python for a pet. ummm.... dream on, joel.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

crazy kids

with three boys, no matter what precautions ben and i take, there's bound to be countless bumps, bruises and trips to the emergency room in our future. so i try really hard not to freak out when my kids do stuff like this:

a few minutes after this video, joel got the swing going really fast and couldn't hold on while the swing was whipping him around. he flew like 6 feet before landing. yikes. he bounced right up totally laughing his head off. are anyone else's kids like this?!?!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Some thoughts about a very touchy subject

Hello readers-of-this-blog,

Yesterday I watched the movie trailer for a movie about the infamous California Proposition 8. The movie is entitled, "The Mormon Proposition." Then I watched a video by some of Whit's friends from college, who argued for homosexual marriage.

I have heard, both in person and through other media, and read many arguments against such a proposition. For those who aren't familiar it was a proposition to have marriage remain between man and woman only. Many who were against Proposition 8 have inquired, "if you claim to have any kind of a heart or love for others at all, how could you vote for such a thing as to deny a group of people the opportunity to claim their relationship status as 'married'?"

As a very sensitive person (believe me, I have been a sensitive boy from my youth, just ask my parents and siblings) who voted for the proposition, this statement has caused me to meditate and ponder in great length about my decision to vote for such a denial.

In my sincere and honest soul-searching, I have come to two significant (for me, at least) conclusions about my decision:

  1. The ability to separate the act or life-style from the individual is the key to remaining a loving individual and still stand for principles that are difficult for many people to swallow. Some participants on BOTH sides of this issue have tremendously failed in this regard. Because I feel a bit like I am on the defense here :)...I can name several people (not just one) who are homosexual, who I love and respect. I love Mike for his ability to make me laugh and I respect him for his untiring work ethic. I love Paula for her hugs every time I see her. She brightens my day. I love Pam for her terms of endearment that make me feel good about myself. There are several others as well, but these are a few of my most recently made friends and associates who are homosexual. Obviously, this isn't "proof" to anyone who is reading this that I am sincere or without any guile at all. If you really want to know, ask my friends and associates if I have treated them with any more or less respect and love than others and put me to the test. I'm not perfect at all, I know, but to genuinely love and respect everyone around me is, I believe, a gift I have been given. Not once during my voting or my support of Proposition 8, or ever since then, did I harbor feelings of animosity or hatred towards those who voted against the proposition, homosexual or other.
  2. What is so beautiful about this country is that you can actually stand up for moral and ethical principles that you believe in and you have the means given to you to fight for them. I'm not just talking about my own beliefs, here, people. If a coalition of Mac Users for Georgia Domination (MUGD) wants to require everyone in the state of Georgia to only purchase and use Apple computers, that is their privilege and their duty, if that is something they truly believe is worth fighting for. I'm sure the Apple company employees would support that! I realize that this particular example is a bit ridiculous, but when my state asks me to take a stand on one side of the re-defining-of-marriage line I will stand on the side of marriage between man and woman every time. That is my privilege and my duty just as much as it is for homosexuals to stand and fight for their side. I must stand where I, personally, believe is right on every issue that is brought before me.
Now I may not be on the same side of an issue as another individual, but this certainly does NOT give me the right to persecute and belittle that person, or treat them any differently than anyone else.

Who is fighting for or against individuals here? Not me. I can look in your face, whether or not I agree with your position, and truthfully tell you that I love and respect you, and that because of who I am and what I believe, this is where I will stand.

Some may be reading this right now and may still think that I have a shriveled heart and a dead soul and that I care not for the feelings and the beliefs of others. If this is the case, all that I can do is to invite you, as the author Charles Dickens wrote long ago, to "Come in! Come in! and know me better..."



Sunday, April 18, 2010

funny joel

last monday for family home evening we talked about how jesus loves others and all the different ways he served the people he was around. in particular, we talked about how he healed a blind man and gave him his sight.

so today at church, our aunt laurel was sitting next to joel and drawing a picture of bat for joel. as laurel was drawing, she told joel that bats can't see. laurel left to sing with the choir and as she was walking away, joel leans over to me and says:

"mom, mom! did you know that bat's can't see? maybe jesus can give them a blessing and then they can see again!"


and just because you can't have a post without a picture of cute boys....
*side note - joel is holding oliver because oliver wanted so badly to knock all the blocks over!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh, to be a stay-at-home mom...I mean dad

Whitney is in Washington D.C. with her mother and 5 sisters, so I took today and Thursday and Friday off of work to be with my boys...and because we can't really afford to have someone else take care of our kids during three entire work days.

After a day (which, let's be honest here, is not sufficient to really make any conclusions), I could totally do this. I mean, be a stay-at-home dad. I woke up, had breakfast with my boys, got everyone to their preschools on time, fed some lunch, played some old-school supermario brothers and some other non-video games like wrestling and playing "monster," and designed and constructed pretty much the most awesomest train track ever built (Whitney recently bought a ton of tracks cheap from the internet).

Now we're going to eat dinner at Denny's, not because I don't want to make dinner (I totally know that's what you were all thinking), but because that's our tradition every time mommy goes away for a couple of days, just on the first night that she leaves.

Can anyone match the fatty goodness of a choose-your-own-grand-slam meal complete with bacon and sausage? I think NOT!

I'm sure the whole stay-at-home thing gets really old really fast, and it can be way harder lots of the time, but, Oh, what a pleasant day this has been :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

a tisket a tasket....

three dudes in a basket.

and if you wouldn't mind.... i'm a finalist in a giveaway for a photo session by this girl. click here to vote for me. just leave a comment with the word "whitney." thanks!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

baby legs. not legwarmers.

so ya, technically they are legwarmers, but the "legwarmers" i purchased are called "baby legs" and oliver IS a baby. the word baby does not imply a specific gender, does it ben?

i have 2 reasons for putting baby legs on my kid:

1. if you hadn't noticed, oliver is a bit rotund. :) i still have yet to find a pair of pants that button around his chubby tummy. i'm serious. i got out a pair of joel and kadin's old size 2T jeans (oliver is only 13 months old), complete with an adjustable waist of course, and even though they are 5 inches too long on oliver, they are too small in the belly. solution: a cute onesie and baby legs!!

2. i just like them. i think they are darling. and i think they are especially darling on oliver... my precious, chubby dude. i mean how can you resist this kid?

i'm 100% positive that ben has NEVER purchased one single item of clothing for any of our children. so i offered to let him take over this job and then i would let him have his way in the "legwarmer" debate. i thought that was fair. he decided not to take me up on that offer. and why would he? he doesn't care what our kids wear... other than baby legs, of course. and i LOVE to buy clothes for our kids. for me, it's one of the many perks about being a mom.

so thanks for all your input... all your positive reinforcement, and even for all your "NOT OKs" :) but this girl is stickin' to her guns. and ben has consented. thanks babe! you can pick out our next kid's name.

Monday, March 8, 2010

thank you uncle sam

we got a pretty good chunk of money from our tax return this year (those child credits are fantastic... hmmmm, maybe we should just keep having kids). so mr. fedex dropped this off at our house today:

ben was so beside himself with delight, he left work early (hopefully his boss doesn't read this). this thing is ginormous. 27 inches. of computer. it seriously cracks me up. its bigger than our old-school tube television. i guess we don't need our tv anymore... at least until we spring for a big flat screen with next years tax return.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

the minds of children

so i promise to post a follow up on the heated "legwarmer" debate :) but i had the cutest conversation with joel and kadin the other day and i wanted to write it down before i forgot it.

ben was in virginia over the weekend, so patrick kindly agreed to watch my kids (play wii with them) while lindsay and i went running with the girls on saturday morning. here's what we said on the drive to the primary activity 10 minutes after i picked them up from the young's house:

me: so did you guys have fun playing the wii with patrick?
joel and kadin: ya
kadin: mom, why is baby cooper gone?
me: well, he had to go home to live with heavenly father and jesus.
kadin: he's not at his house?
me: nope :(
kadin: but he's at the hospital, right?
me: well, he went to the hospital because he got sick but then he died and he went to heaven.
joel: but how did baby cooper get to heaven?
me: that's a good question, i don't know. maybe he floated up to heaven. what do you think?
joel: oh, oh, i know mom! i think Jesus has magic.
me: you know joel, i think you're totally right... i think Jesus IS magic.

almost every time i talk with my kids about cooper, its inevitable that i end up in tears. but there's something about their sweet, innocent perspectives that brings me peace and comfort.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Legwarmers? For boys? Really?

This is Ben again.

So, I walked out of our room after putting some clothes away today and what to my wandering eyes should appear? My legwarmers.

I inquired of Whitney whether or not this was some kind of joke. Maybe she was just putting them on him for giggles (remember the tutu post).

But no, my wife, bless her soul, actually bought the legwarmers with the idea that outfitting our little boy with these travesties-of-fashion-design-borne-from-the-80s are actually completely normal and ok for a little boy to wear.

Well, Whitney, I have two words for you: NOT OK.

Not even close.

Just to prove my point further I did a bit of image searching on Google. I searched for every conceivable phrase involving the words "legwarmers" and "men" or "boys" or even "babies." I DARE anyone reading this to find more than 3 or 4 photos of men, boys, or even baby boys that are actually wearing legwarmers. Most likely what you will all find are photos like this:

I couldn't even find a photo of Richard Simmons in all.

This being said, it's time for all the people reading this to give their answer: Legwarmers for little boys - fashion victory or fashion faux pas?

Women, get your husbands involved. We don't want biased results now do we!

Friday, February 26, 2010

strangers shmangers

a couple of weeks ago oliver had his 1 year check-up at kaiser (can't believe this kid is a year old already!!). he had to miss his afternoon nap for the appointment, but he was still happy as a clam toddling around the injection waiting room. then he walked up to this man and held out his arms and the man lifted oliver up and sat him in his lap. oliver was totally transfixed as the man bounced him and made hushing sounds. and within minutes oliver put his head on the man's chest and started to take a little siesta. i just had to snap a shot. the guy and his wife were pretty amused. love this kid.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

random silliness

a few random happenings from the last several days:

1. a NON-ode to costco.... i went to costco last friday evening. it was a kid-free trip that was pleasant and quick until... i get to the checkout stand. i bought two different pairs of shorts for joel that were different prices. the guy scans the more expensive pair twice. except i didn't notice until i was checking over my receipt as i was walking out. i sigh and roll my eyes and hop in the returns line to have them fix it. i wait 30 minutes only to have the guy tell me i need to go to the merchandise pick-up counter. walk back to the merchandise counter, wait 15 minutes. they finally get around to helping me and the lady hands me back my change, receipt and costco card. wait in line at the exit for several more minutes to get a smiley face on my receipt and notice i don't have the stupid shorts! lady forgot to hand them back. i go back and get them and FINALLY walk out the door. nearly an hour of my time wasted for a mere $2.19... all because my cashier was flirting with the cart loader girl. oh costco, how i love thee, how i loathe thee!

2. i went to the park with my kids yesterday. it's just me there and two other women i don't know with their kids. a guy shows up with his son and... his guitar. he starts playing and singing romantic songs like "unchained melody," "all i have to do is dream" and an assortment of beatles love songs. he was totally going for it... singing passionately in all of his warbly-voiced, off-key glory. i'm pretty sure he was there to pick up chicks. an hour later (yes he's still singing away at this point), the two other ladies and i left the park within a few minutes of each other. as i'm walking away, i turn around and the guy is packing up to leave. what do you guys think? was he serenading all the ladies to try and get a phone number? or maybe he just wanted an audience and his audience left. i'm gonna go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt.

3. a typical night in the shafer household. please don't call the CPA on us, but i think this is pretty hysterical (the video is kind of long but you can get the idea from the first minute and a half or so):
there's probably a little too much testosterone around here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

laundry day

my laundry day used to be monday. in the last 6 months it has gradually been pushed back one day at time, due to my laziness. and if it wasn't for ben, our clean clothes would never make it back into our closets and drawers. ya, see those shirts hanging on the back of the chair? who knows how long they have been there. so right now friday is my laundry day. but i didn't finish the laundry today. hmmmmm. i guess saturday is my new laundry day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Belated Valentine, 2010

I'm not sure I want to ruin such a glorious previous post with a silly one, but I'm committed now.

I just want everyone to know that this is BEN.

Yes, I have posted only one blog post in our family's entire blogging history. Yet, incredible as it may seem, I totally beat Whitney to the punch this time.

If I didn't post a single thing right now aside from "I love you Whitney, and I'll love you forever" I could still claim a victory...because that's what love is all about, right?...winning.

That's right. I win.

Winner! (with both hands stretched up as far as they can go and jumping in the air, like this)

Really though Whitney, I must tell the world, or at least whoever reads our family blog (yes, you) a few things about me and my only love:

  • In any given game between Whitney and I, chances are, she'll win. I would like to say it's luck, but after such a large sample size it has to be statistically accurate to say that Whitney is just better at winning than me. She is just smarter. I mean, look at her. That's the hottest smart girl I have ever seen (that's a puzzle book on her lap, by the way).
  • Although I am an extremely touchy-feely type of guy I had never had the guts to kiss a girl, hold her hand, or, ahem, make out...before I met Whitney. She was, of course, just too delicious to pass up.
  • Much to Whitney's chagrin (not so much of a cuddler, Whitney) I looooooove burying my head in her bosom in a man-i-love-you-so-much-please-grab-my-head kind of a way (get your minds out of the gutter people, you know who you are).
  • Whitney is a runner. Whitney is a fighter. I was bewitched by Whitney from the beginning not just because she is, um, gorgeous, but because, after getting to know her, I saw in her a motivation and a drive unmatched. Keep fighting Whitney. Keep running.
  • The most breathtakingly beautiful and dedicated mother in the universe? Yes!How the crap did I ever dupe her into this relationship thing? I'm smarter than I look, eh!
So here's to my goddess divine.

I wash the dishes for her.
I bathe the boys for her.
I clean the house for her.
I run marathons for her.
I work for her.
I cry for her.
I live for her.

And I would trade all the wealth in the world and my own life, in a second, just to hold her hand and to feel her perfect lips kiss my head.


you'll have to bear with me on this post. i've never been eloquent or good with expressing my thoughts in words, so this might be a bit lengthy and jumbled.

most of my friends and family who read our blog already know this, but some don't... just over two weeks ago i received an email from a good friend in my ward. she and her husband had to say goodbye to their 19 month old son, their only child, early that morning. their sweet, little cooper. i had just seen him the week before at mcdonalds, tugging on his mommy's arm while she was chating with me and a couple other friends. so precious, so young, so hilarious, so cute, so vital and alive. then he got sick and in less than 24 hours he was gone. just like that. so shocking. i spent much of the day in tears grieving the loss of this precious little soul. i especially felt and still feel overwhelming sadness for my dear friends and the rough road ahead of them... they have to spend the rest of their lives on this earth without their son.

then later that same day another friend from my ward, one of my best friends, gave birth to her third child, her first girl. such happiness! such joy! one precious mortal life ends and another begins. how can a person have all these intense feelings in one day? i almost felt like i was going to explode. i bet many of you who know these same people had similar feelings.

and another experience of contrasts... a different friend in my ward just gave birth a few days ago to a baby girl with anencephaly... the back of her skull and part of her brain are missing. my friend found out early in her pregnancy that this was the case and she and her husband were told that their baby girl would likely die in-utero or during birth. there was a possibility she would survive birth and live for minutes, hours, maybe days, but not much longer. she and her husband and their 2 year old son have waited for many months, with heavy hearts i'm sure, for their baby girl to come into the world, knowing they might not even get to see her as a living, breathing being. and now she is here. baby corinne. and by some miracle and grace of god she has survived. my friends have been able to hold their sweet baby girl. kiss her, smile at her, enjoy her, LOVE her. what a wonderful thing a new baby is! a new member of your own, little family. someone given to you by heavenly father to look after and serve and love. but only too soon, they will have to say goodbye to her. i can only imagine the myriad of feelings that they are experiencing right now, but i would imagine that they are experiencing utter happiness mixed with intense sorrow and grief. but doesn't the bitterness make the joy that much sweeter? i'd be willing to bet my friend jen wouldn't trade this time with her corinne, hard as it may be, for anything in the world.

but that doesn't make it any easier, does it?

amidst all these thoughts i've had running through my head, i went back and read some of the archives from my friend molly's blog. molly and her husband vic lost their only child lucy to a tragic accident about a year and a half ago. a blog post she wrote about three months after lucy's death just absolutely sang out to me. she was talking with a friend, who had also lost a child, about the depth and understanding they had gained of life because of the tragedies they had both experienced. she then quoted a blog post from another friend which reads:

"A recent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education made the following point (ht: Andrew Sullivan):

I for one am afraid that American culture's overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am concerned that to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations. I am finally fearful of our society's efforts to expunge melancholia. Without the agitations of the soul, would all of our magnificently yearning towers topple? Would our heart-torn symphonies cease?

This is something I've been thinking about for a long time. Obviously, feeling happy is a good thing, but what about feeling sad? One of the most interesting parts of Mormonism, for me, is its fundamentally tragic view, not only of life, but also of the afterlife. Good and evil, happiness and sorrow, must always exist together, because there is a necessary "opposition in all things." Even God cannot reconcile the competing contradictions and thus, in Mormon scripture, we find a "weeping" God. God is love, but loving means caring, and caring means as much sorrow as happiness. It seems to me that Mormonism does not promise so much a life that is happy, but a life that is full; not a pleasant life, but a rich life; not an existence of unending bliss, but of eternal creation. And creation is often born out of sorrow, like a heart-torn symphony.

So, next time you are sad, be happy that you are sad. A life without sadness is not a divine life. It is not even a human life. It is a life without love."

isn't that the coolest perspective?!

but that STILL doesn't make it any easier, does it?

why heavenly father? why my dear god must i, and those i know and love, and those i don't know, and the whole world experience such pain and grief? such overwhelming sadness? i have experienced some of my own sorrow in this life with the passing of my brother joel 13 years ago. i have also keenly felt the sadness of others. when i met my friend kristen and we cried about the loss of both of our brothers. when molly lost her sweet lucy. when my friend emily lost her husband, john, the love of her life a few months ago. when jen and eric learned that their baby girl couldn't stay with them for long on this earth. when lindsay and patrick lost their silly and cute little cooper. and death is not the only time grief is felt. loved ones who have lost jobs or are unable to find employment. grievous sin that has changed the lives of loved ones forever. the inability of friends to conceive a child... they want it so badly i'm sure they can barely breathe. friends who become ill or have cancer. beloved family members who fall away from the gospel. friends who have a precious child with special needs. the list goes on doesn't it?

but i know the answer to that question... the answer to why we must experience overwhelming sadness. the answer is BECAUSE WE MUST. we knew in the premortal existence that we would experience great sorrow and trial on this earth. not only that, but we were ready to welcome it! can't you just imagine us all up there with heavenly father and jesus christ, just chomping at the bit to come down to this earth to experience it all? ...pain, joy, sorrow, pleasure, grief, laughter, guilt, health, sickness. "bring it on!" we cried. without all these experiences on this earth, we can't become like god. in this world we are put through the refiners fire so that we may, line upon line and precept upon precept, become what only god knows we can be.

and at the heart of it, at the center of it all is our brother jesus christ. our savior and redeemer. who suffered in the garden of gethsemane, hung and died on the cross and then was resurrected and lives today. he suffered every pain, sadness, loss, and even every happiness and joy of every human being that has ever walked and will ever walk this earth, so that he might ease our burden and make it possible for us to become perfected and return to our heavenly father with our families someday. even then we will not be free from sorrow... god surely is not, is he? but when we return to heaven and are exalted, we will know joy in way we cannot possibly imagine at this point in our lives.

oh how grateful i am for my amazing, strong parents and my beautiful, hilarious sisters and my smart, funny brother-in-law and my darling, crazy nephews.

and for ben's side of the family. those insanely wonderful and fun people who i am now connected with forever.

and for this funny kiddo:

and this sweet dude:

and this blue-eyed angel:

and especially for this handsome man:

this is life. and oh how truly awesome it is. in every sense of the word.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"you've got a nice flat head, flat-head"

our little ollie man is sportin' a blue camo helmet. i'm sure most of you have seen kids here and there wearing one of these, but in case you aren't familiar with it, it's to reshape his head. he has plagiocephaly. he's been wearing it for about 6 weeks now and amazingly enough, we can already see improvement. he has to keep it on for 23 hours a day... but he doesn't seem to mind it and he still looks pretty dang cute.