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.