Thursday, May 24, 2018

party of seven

nine weeks pregnant
 The Shafer family is growing again, adding boy #4 (baby #5) in just two days! On the night of Shepherd's fourth birthday, I just felt like I should take a test, and here we are 9 months later. We are thrilled, and I've never seen kids so excited about gaining a new sibling.

I often look at our life and marvel at its beauty. Our family isn't perfect, but it is pretty incredible. These four kids allow me to see the world in such a sweet way, and I know their baby brother will be the same. I am so unworthy of being their parent, but so so thankful to have this job. 

34 weeks pregnant

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

shepherd = 4

And continuing the theme of late posts....

Shepherd turned four in September, and he continues to be a ray of sunshine in our family. He is fun and silly and creative. He has developed a love for art and drawing...he goes through so much paper each day! He practices his name and has a song to remember how to spell it. He has become really interested in learning and is so proud of all the information he gathers.

He still loves to make up shows and dances, although his love of Star Wars has meant fewer princess shows and more Darth Vader. He likes to dress up, go to his room, then wait for us to chant his character's name to make his entrance. He loves to give out autographs and selfies. I adore his goofy side, and I pray he never loses it.

While he is silly, Shepherd is also super sensitive. He gets his feelings hurt, but doesn't want to admit it. He is so sad to not be at the same school as Barnes and Frances--he misses them like crazy. He doesn't like to be called any names other than Shepherd (though he allows family to say Shep). He runs through the house from Ellis when he thinks Ellis might bite or hit.

Shepherd is so dear. His love for life and spunk are contagious, and his spirit draws people in. He is a special, unique boy, and I am so thankful to be his mom. I cannot wait to see the plans God has for his sweet life.

For his party, Shepherd wanted to recreate Jedi training from Disney World. His friends all got Jedi robes and lightsabers, and everyone had a chance to fight Darth Vader and meet a Stormtrooper. Andrew was a great sport and actually led the Jedi training! It was truly a blast!

Monday, September 4, 2017


Barnes & Frances-

Last month you turned six! Wow...that's a third of the way to the point when you will technically be considered an adult. My mind really can't grasp that you're six, but I can't deny how much you are growing and changing. And I truly cannot tell you how much I enjoy you both.

Frances, I always tell you that you're my best girl, and I really mean it. Sometimes I look at you and I'm blown away by your beauty. You shine, my girl. But the best thing about you is your heart. You are kind and generous and inclusive and empathetic. You are the best sister, and all three of your brothers adore you. You make friends easily and love to be social. You come home from school with sweet stories. You roll your socks now because that's what the girls do.

Barnes, you are an incredible boy. You are sensitive and smart and funny and loving. You are always creating new art and new games and new ways to do things. I love the way your brain works. When I ask you questions, you seldom tell me much, but if I wait long enough you share the best stories. You are so observant. You notice things that many people miss, and you always recognize the beauty in your surroundings.

You two are special kids. Your blend of kindness and spunk is unique. I am so very honored to be your mom, and I cannot wait to continue seeing the ways God shapes you as you grow.

I love you more than you could ever imagine,

You decided to have your sixth birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, and it was truly a blast!

Sunday, August 13, 2017


My sweet twins,

Tomorrow you are off on a new journey--your biggest adventure yet. Kindergarten begins tomorrow, and while I'm so excited for you, I'm also feeling lots of other feels.

I'm sad. I can't help but feel that this is the end of one chapter. Up to this point, we've led a pretty carefree existence together. We've traveled when we wanted, skipped things that didn't seem to matter. But now school beckons. From tomorrow, we'll be basing our lives around the scool calendar.

I'm missing you already. You may not realize this, but I adore you two. Every day I get to spend with you is a treasure. I am so going to miss our days together.

I feel bad for Shepherd and Ellis. Your two brothers think you hung the moon. I know that they are going to be lost without you these first few weeks.

I'm jealous. I can't help but envy your new teachers and friends and all the exciting things they will get to experience with you.

I'm scared. The thought of truly entrusting you to strangers is terrifying.

I'm hopeful. I pray the lessons we've tried to teach you hold strong as you enter this brave new world. My hope for you is that you always remember that we want just three things from you at school--be kind, be a good listener, and try your best.

I'm grateful. We live a life that has allowed us to choose a school that suits your needs. We live in a country that gives us more than one amazing option for your education. I am thankful beyond measure that you two will learn in a safe, warm, loving place, and grateful that even at school you will be reminded of just how much God loves you.

I'm curious. I so look forward to seeing who you grow into, how you change. I can't wait to see what kind of books you enjoy, what activities you want to do, and what new friends you make.

I'm relieved. I feel a sense of peace wash over me seeing how ready you two are, how wise and sweet you already are.

I'm proud. I'm proud of the babies and toddlers and preschoolers you were. I'm proud of the kids you are. I'm proud of the preteens and teens and college kids and adults you will be. I'm so, so proud of who you are, of who God made you to be. And I'm immensely proud to be your mom.

I love you. I will be thinking of you every second of tomorrow. But I know you're going to fly.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Firetruck Party

Ellis loves trucks, so for his second birthday we had a firetruck party. The kids got to ride in the truck, control the ladder, and spray the was pretty much a dream come true for our little two-year-old! We were so thankful to have many friends and family celebrate sweet Ellis with us.

what's a firetruck party without fire hydrant cups and a dalmatian bounce house?

it may be been ellis's party, but everyone got in on the firetruck action

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Ellis is Two (plus seven weeks)

My baby, my babiest baby, turned two on May 13th. In so many ways, he still seems tiny, but he's growing more quickly than I dare to admit.

With each passing day, he's able to hang with the big kids a little more. He can build a block tower. He draws and colors. He pushes his baby in his little pink stroller. He takes his turn in every performance. He tries to follow along the games they make up. His favorite thing in the world is making his brothers and sister laugh.

Ellis is quite the goof. He loves to dance and "sing" and make a spectacle. If he thinks something is funny, he'll do it thirty times in a row.

He is fiercely independent. He already puts on his own socks and shoes, and sometimes his own whole outfits. He gets his own snacks out of the pantry, wants to climb stairs on his own, and scales playgrounds like a boss.

He terrorizes the dogs. Poor Cooper is too sweet to run from him, but terrified when Ellis picks him up and tries to carry him.

He loves to read. His favorites are Little Blue Truck Leads the Way and an owl book with five owls of varying colors which he has named after our family members. Every night he asks for "one more time," and I think he would read those two books on never-ending repeat.

He doesn't love talking, but he's beginning to see its advantages. His favorite means of communication is simply moving me or Andrew to where he wants us to go. He pulls me by the dress to show me something. He physically turns our heads to look the way he wants. His words may be few, but he always tells us what he wants.

He looks so long in the bathtub. As the water drains, he always lies on his belly. He takes up most of the tub now.

He hates feeling left out. If he thinks the big kids are doing something without him, it breaks his heart. Putting him to bed earlier than the rest is getting more and more difficult.

He gives the very best hugs. He wraps you up tight and squeezes for several seconds. He loves to say "hug." He also loves to kiss inanimate objects (books, toys, windows).

He is the golden-haired love of my life. He is the sweetest bookend to our family, and we all adore him. We still call him Baby Ellis, and I have a feeling that may never change. We are so grateful that God sent him to us, and I cannot wait to continue watching him change and learn and grow.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

what i learned from loss

Oh my heavens. It's been three months since I've sat down and recorded anything here. I constantly have blog posts floating through my brain, things I want to remember, things I want to be sure to tell you about. But honestly, we've been so busy living. Life with four is infinitely different than life with three. I've let a lot of things go so that I can focus more on the fun--the laundry, a clean house, this blog. But so far the trade off has been worth it...our clothes may never make their way back to our closets and may be stuck in a perpetual cycle of wear, wash, grab out of basket, but we are really having fun in this crazy season of life.

Last week, though, I kept meaning to type out a blog in my head, one that is important for me to tell you four about one day. Last week was infertility awareness week, and even though I managed to miss the official week window, there are a few things I want you to know.

While your dad and I didn't experience traditional infertility, we did experience the heartbreak it entails. With each loss, each unexplained failure, we felt our dream family slipping further and further away. When we got married, I had a pretty concrete plan: Be married for approximately 7 years before kids (during which time I would focus on my career), pop out a baby every 2 years until we got our four little ones, send our kids to an amazing school or find a dual language nanny so I could be super mom and super lawyer. I had quite the story written.

But here's how our story really went down: Be married for 1.5 years before beginning treatment for reproductive issues, decide after 4 years that we better start trying for a baby, really really want a baby quickly, lose 3 babies in an extremely short timeframe, decide to leave traditional lawyer job to find a lower stress environment, go all in on fertility treatments, get pregnant with twins at 28, decide to quit being a lawyer all together and stay home with my kids, go through a failed ivf, find out we were having another boy, be super excited we had 3 kids, find out on the day of kid #3's first birthday that kid #4 was on his way. Looking at it like this, it doesn't look as pretty as my plan. It's definitely not as neat, there are some extreme curves along the way, but let me assure you...this was the most beautiful story written.

I've finally, years later, gotten to a place where I view our losses through a different lens. I can now look at that time in my life and see how it changed me, our family, and the choices we went on to make. I am a better person because of those three babies that we never met, because of the failed embryo that I had pinned so much hope onto.

I'm nicer now. I know that sounds silly, and it's a little embarrassing to admit, but the pain we waded through softened my edges in a good, good way.

I respond more quickly with empathy. I believe empathy is one of the most important character traits, and I know that mine was developed through the fire of loss.

I am a better mom. The moments I fought for you gave me a different perspective on motherhood, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I am more honest and vulnerable. Our journey to kids taught me the power of telling your story, and more importantly the power of listening to the stories of others.

So here's the thing, little ones. Your life is not going to go as planned. You'll have your story written, and then the chapters will come all out of order, or maybe not come at all. And in that moment, maybe even for years, it will be heart wrenching. Finding a bright side down the road does not negate the real pain of whatever situation you find yourself in. But this is my plea to you...when you find yourself in those places that feel God-forsaken and unredeemable, keep your heart as tender as you possibly can. I promise to protect you as fiercely as I can, but I beg you to hold on to your tenderness. Because the tender spots are where the light creeps back in. And one day, if you let it, you just might find that enough light mixed with your darkness to make you a new person--a person filled with more gratitude, more love, more wholeness. A better person than your planned story could have possibly accounted for.