Monday, July 27, 2015

This week

After getting home from camp, finishing up laundry, and sleeping 10 hours Fred left to run a triathlon Saturday morning.  I stayed in bed.  I was the one that got 10 hours, not him.  He ran the Mighty Mite Triathlon.  This year makes three years for him.  He, his friend and his friend's son rolled out of Memphis at 6:00 am.  Fred placed in the top 10 in his age division.  Yahoo!

The rest of our week was pretty uneventful until we left for Pickwick State Park for staff retreat.  I sat all the boys down and told them everything they needed to pack.  I had them repeat it back to me to make sure they understood.  They were upstairs for a while and came down with a red suitcase.  I figured everything was a go.  My first mistake.  Really, a rookie mistake, but you know...
As we were walking out the door this was our conversation-
Me:  Andrew, did you pack any clothes?
Andrew:  No
Me:  What were you upstairs doing all that time?  Packing your stuffed animals?
Andrew:  Yes, and my blanket. 
Oh dear.  He didn't have clean underwear, but at least we had our animals and blanket.  Yes, we were good. 
Sunday morning we left the house at 9:01 am.  (We are supposed to be there at 9:00 am.)  I gave the boys a two minute warning and told them to meet me at the car.  This is how Andrew came downstairs...

When I saw him I said, "Andrew!"  He said, "Why did you say my name like that?  Is it because I'm so cute and I did such a good job getting dressed by myself?"  Yep, that's why I said your name like that.  Yep.
This is the closet where we keep our luggage. 
I think that's the sign of a good summer, don't you?!?  Saturday I whipped it back into shape because we traveled for the last time for several months. 
While I love a clean and organized closet this kind of makes me sad.  It marks the end of summer to me.  We are on the final countdown.  14 days until school starts back.  14 days until the baby of the Shackelford house starts school.  14 days until I have the house to myself during the days.  Do you know how long it's been since I've had a little buddy at home by my side?  12 years.  I can't talk about it.  We will make the most of these 14 days and every day that we have together.  Don't even get me started on Clayton having 5 more years until he graduates.  Nope.  I can't talk about it. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

This week

After getting home we hit the ground running.  I basically unloaded all my clothes in the washing machine and dryer and then put them back in my suitcase.  Everyone slept well in their own bed.  Clayton had not been home in 13 days between youth camp, swim weekend and us being gone.  Jack and Andrew were going on 11 days. 
Saturday morning it was business as usual.  Fred went on a bike ride, I made breakfast (with good coffee!!  Hallelujah!!) and the boys just laid around.  When Fred got home I met up with Liz at Shelby Farms.  It was hot, but it was so fun.  We did a 6 mile hike through the woods.  I cannot tell you how much I love Shelby Farms and walking with a friend.  It really is my happy place. 
Here we are before...
 And here we are after.  Seriously, I thought I was going to melt.  Whew, it was hot.  But so fun!
After that we enjoyed a relaxing day around the house and going to the grocery store and a few other errands.  By 5:15 pm I could not go another step.  We all went to bed early and I'm pretty sure I didn't move all night. 
During one of our errands Andrew and I stopped by the library. They had one of these little stick your face in the hole things.  I couldn't resist getting Andrew's picture.  It just makes me smile. 
Sunday morning I woke up to get ready for church and made Oven Pancakes for breakfast.  (Click here for the recipe.)  I will be making these again.  I used whole wheat flour and half the sugar.  Tami told me about these and I owe her a thank you note.  Yum!!
While I was making breakfast I heard a commotion on the stairs.  I looked over to see Jack lugging his suitcase down the stairs. 

Yep, he came down packed for camp.  We don't leave until tomorrow at 3:00 pm.  There's no telling what's in his suitcase.  I told him to put two towels in it for showers.  He gave me a, "WHAT!?!  You know I'm not going to take any showers!"  Oh dear. 

Jack and I left for camp Monday morning.  We had an amazing time.  I slept in a luxurious bunk bed and was able to shower in a spa like experience...I kid.  I slept on a plastic mattress and showered in a small stall with only a stream of water as big as my pinky.   
Some of our high school and college students dressed as super heroes to lead our late night activities.  One thing that we did during the week was to reward kiddos for good behavior.  If we saw one of them doing something good they were nominated for a Selfie with the Super Heroes.  It was great.  Jack was nominated the first night because he helped load heavy stuff on the bus.  If only he wasn't so shy...
 I was also nominated on another night because I fixed someone's hat.  A dream come true for me.  Ha!
 This guy woke up every morning around 6:00 am to go fishing.  Thankfully, a precious man from church was out and ready to meet all the guys that went fishing early each morning. 
Our cabins were divided between girls and boys.  Most of the boys were out early, but the girls had to be woken up each morning to go to breakfast. 
I also got the nickname of Ms. Hannigan and the Child Whisperer.  I got the girls to sleep in record time.  It was awesome.  Call me whatever you like.  I was asleep and that's what mattered!!
 Our high school and college students went above and beyond the call of duty.  Many of them left during the day to go to ball practice or work and then came back at night to help.  This one had football practice and came to camp on his lunch break.  Camp was closer to his practice then driving home. 
 The last night Fred came to talk to all the Super Heroes as Nick Fury.  He had a talk with all of them.  It was really funny. 
 Here's our entire group before we headed out. 
 We ate lunch at Lenny's because I love their Grilled Chicken Philly Salad (Have you ever tried it?!?  So yummy!) and this sister just needed some veggies after eating kid/camp food all week.  Then I crawled walked in to the house and drug our luggage in behind us.  In an unprecedented Jennifer move I left everything on the floor, went straight upstairs and went to bed.  Jack and I actually both slept from 12:30 pm to 4:02 pm.  I literally thought it was 1:00 or 1:30 pm.  And seriously, as I'm typing this it's 7:32 pm I could go to sleep  Yes, I could. 
I started the long process of laundry.  Does camp laundry not have an odor of its own?!?  Jack's suitcase looked like a bomb hit it...except for his towels.  They were perfectly folded and untouched.  Yep, he did not take a shower all week.  He expressed his disdain at the condition of the bathrooms.  The boy's bathroom must not have been as "spa like" as the girl's bathroom. 
We have a few days to recover before we leave for our final trip of the summer.  We will head to staff retreat. Then we just have a few weeks before school begins.  But I'm not talking about it.  Not talking about it will keep it from happening, right?!?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Our week

After we left our children at swim weekend Fred and I headed to Cleveland, Tennessee for a mission trip with this crew, plus two others that met us there. 
As an added bonus, since we were driving through Murfreesboro we were able to grab lunch with my Aunt Christie and my brother and his crew (minus one). 
We arrived Sunday afternoon and had a brief orientation.  Then Monday morning we headed to our work site. We painted, replaced soffits (well, not me, but some of the guys on our team), replaced hand rails, cleaned up a yard, and painted some more. 

 On Tuesday I pressure washed just about every surface you can imagine.  This picture does not do my legs justice.  My feet/shoes/socks were soaking wet, plus I had dirt and grime all over my legs.  There have been only a few other times in my life when I've been this glad to get a shower. 
We worked at the house of an 81 year old widow.  She has dementia and is hard of hearing.  Sweet Fred was trying to talk to her one afternoon.  He repeated himself four different times, each time getting louder.  I really don't even remember what he was saying, but after she said, "What'd you say?" for the fourth time Fred looked at her (and yelled, b/c each time he repeated himself he got louder) and said (very respectfully), "NEVER MIND!"  I was on the other side of the house working and I heard him.  I go so tickled I had to stop painting. 

There were some pretty tall places that had to be reached at the house with paint.  I just couldn't watch. 
At one point Fred was really high on a ladder and I was on the other side of the house.  I heard him holler.  Let's just say two things: 1...someone holding your ladder is always a good idea, 2...putting a piece of wood and a brick under each side of your ladder is not a good foundation.  No harm, no foul.  Everybody was okay.  But after a quick rush of adrenaline let's just say we took a break.

It's been about 12 years since I've been to this area and I forget just how beautiful this side of the state is. 

Wednesday I got this text from my mother in law which just made me smile:

"So...we need to talk.  I don't think I will be giving your boys back.  They are awesome!!  I had {some friends} over to the house for lunch today.  The little kids were wild and made a big mess in the playroom.  I just figured I would take care of it after everyone left.  Without me knowing it or asking them to, Jack and Clayton cleaned up the entire mess!!  Be proud!  You are raising amazing young men.  I may keep them."

Well...if that doesn't make you tear up as a parent I don't know what will. 

Thursday I got this picture of a hard working crew washing a dog.  I'd say that's one clean dog.
Friday morning we packed up and headed out, but not before we did a little white water rafting.  I was hoping to get a few pictures while we were rafting, but I like my phone so that did not happen.  But here is one before we loaded up.  Rafting the Ocoee took me back to when Fred and I first started dating.  We always took youth groups here.  It's been about 12 years since I've been and I picked up right where we left off.  I love the Ocoee River.  Rafting it with this group was just an added blessing. 

Originally, I had not intended on rafting with our group.  I was going to come back with two other people from our crew.  But on Thursday we moved our rafting time from 2:00 pm to 11:00 am and decided to drive back as soon as we finished.  After a couple of phone calls everything fell in to place.  Our friends kept the boys so I could stay.  We got stuck in Chattanooga traffic 3 different times and were a little later than we thought we would be.  Barbara, my friend that kept the boys, said Andrew came down a little before 8 and asked when we were getting home.  He said, "Do you know when my parents are getting here?  For some reason my eyes have tears in them."  Sweet boy.  We missed these guys too.  Next year they will go with us. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

This week

The boys got to spend the weekend at Mimi and Tee's at Cousin Camp.  This is a score for everyone.  There is soda, Little Debbie's, donuts, really anything a boy's heart could desire.  For me and Fred there has been peace and quiet and no cooking.  It has been glorious.
Hot 9:00 pm?!?  Anything is a possibility at Mimi's house.
 Computer playing...yep.
 Cardinal's baseball watching...yep.
 Donut eating at the Farmer's Market...for sure. 
I got to go on a two hour walk with a friend.  Fred got to go to the dentist, a funeral and to meet with his granddad.  Then we've had two lunches together and a dinner.  It's been divine. 
Sunday when I was meeting up with the kiddos I was talking to mom on the phone.  She said, "I don't think they brushed their teeth this morning, but they have been fed."  Well, I'd call that success.  We may have t-shirts with that quote on them. 
Sunday afternoon we met up with a group of friends to play Laser Tag at Shelby Farms.  I cannot tell you how fun it was.  We played grown ups verses kiddos.  The grown ups won every game.  In the kiddos of the grown ups is/was an Army Ranger and another one is a police officer.  These two may have taken Laser Tag pretty seriously.  I have memories of this day that will last a long time. 

 Please note that we were supposed to take a picture without smiling.  Fred and Jennifer did not get that memo.  Ha!

Monday morning these fellas left for youth camp.  YOUTH CAMP!!!  Oh goodness.  How did we get here?!?
 They had to be at church at 6:00 am.  I was going to leave Jack and Andrew here with our friend, but Andrew woke up sobbing.  Sobbing because Clayton was leaving.  He was pretty pitiful.  So, he headed out with us to send them off. 

 This guy and I played a great game of cards Monday afternoon.  When one of my three fellas is gone it's pitiful to see what the others are like at home.  I'm so glad they are friends.  They really do enjoy each other.  It makes me smile.  I pray they remain this close. 
The remaining boys and I headed out Wednesday for Jackson.  Lynn and Jim came to Bartlett to see our house and church and then we all went to pick up Richard at the airport. 
Jack is trying to earn extra money for basketball camp next summer.  (Ambitious?!?)  So, he's looking for odd jobs.  My dad took him up on it and these two worked and worked in my parent's yard.  They worked for about 4 hours.  When they got done my dad asked Jack how much he should be paid.  Jack shrugged his shoulders, grinned, and said, "I guess $80?!?"  Funny boy.  He got $25.  If you need a hard working kiddo at your house Jack is for hire. 
While these two were working in the yard my mom and I went to Goodwill.  I hit the jackpot.  After cleaning out my closet I noticed  a need for sleeveless shirts.  I found 8 tops, 3 pairs of shorts and one pair of sandals for $32.  Score.  Since I took my mother I was also able to use my mother's senior discount.  AND I have all my the next time I go I get $25 free at Goodwill. Do you know what you can do with $25 at Goodwill?!?  I.can't.wait.
Swim Weekend began Friday!  Here is my sweet grandmother with the youngest great grandson.  Is that not the sweetest?

While we (me, Jack and Andrew) were getting started with swim weekend festivities Fred was driving down to Florida to meet up with our youth.  He left at 4:00 am on Thursday.  I got the following two pictures around 1:22 pm with the words...I made it.

Both of these pictures made me smile.  They spent Thursday together and then Friday morning loaded up and headed to Jackson to join us for swim weekend. 

Because of a little rain we decided to take the kiddos bowling.  Andrew had to be on the girl side b/c they had the bumpers.  He was not too pleased with this development, but by the end of the game he came to me and whispered, "Actually mom, I kind of like those girls."  This is a really big deal in a house of boys.

My brother could not make it to swim weekend because of baseball games.  However, Thursday night he did send this picture.  Her found these side by side at a gas station and bought them.
He said there was also a Jamal beside these, but my mother assured him we have no long lost brother named Jamal. 
Back to swim weekend...Here is the hostess with the mostest of swim weekend.  She plans everything.  Fred and I had to leave Saturday morning to get ready for a mission trip, but our boys were able to stay on with my parents. 
Before we left Fred and I worked with Andrew on his swimming.  I'm proud to report that all Shackelfords can now swim without the aid of a flotation device.  This is so comforting to my heart. 
Swim weekend success!!

Sunday morning Fred and I headed out for Cleveland, Tennessee for a mission trip.  We are going to work on a house in that area.  This area of East Tennessee is one of the most economically depressed areas in our state.  Join with us as we are take the name of Jesus in to this area.  (We have two more people meeting up with our team.)
While we are away Dash the Dog is being well taken care of at Fred and Renee's house.  Actually, Tori's dogs are at Fred and Renee's house too, but I think Dash is a little too excitable for them so he landed in the kennel.  Ha!
But don't worry about him too much, it seems he finally calmed down and snuggled up with Renee.  He'll be reunited with the boys soon.