Monday, December 26, 2016


Once school finally ended and the programs were over we started having a little fun.  We always go look at Christmas lights, but this year we decided to step it up a notch.  So we rented a limo with our friends and surprised the guys.  They were super excited!  We had a blast driving through the city looking at lights. 

 Our friend at church gave us these glasses that make lights look like certain things...reindeer, snowflakes, santa, etc.  It made looking at lights lots of fun.
 On Thursday Fred had lunch at the office so the boys and I just went to Pyro's Pizza for a special treat.  Then Andrew had a friend come over to play.  We took that friend and met his family at the movie, Sing.  They have four boys and we have three boys, which means that the Malco on Stage is now in the black.
 We typically go to Cracker Barrell on Christmas Eve, but we were going to be in Jackson on Christmas Eve so we went a day early.  A good time was had by all.
 Especially this one...he loves breakfast.  The boys all played Fred in checkers and Fred won...again.

After breakfast at Cracker Barrell we loaded up the car and headed to Jackson for Christmas with my family, but we had a brief pit stop with my friends.  We all (minus Carrie) happened to be in town so we met up for a little mission and then we paused for a brief photo.  Our original group has grown by leaps and bounds.

We got to my parent's house and had another good time.  We let the kiddos open presents and then the adults opened presents.  My mom made great food for the entire 24 hours.  

We headed back to Bartlett for Christmas Eve services at Ellendale, a little more shopping at Five Below, and some wrapping.  The boys and I wrap their presents to each other on Christmas Eve and I get ready for Christmas morning.  Each guy comes to my room to wrap for the other brother.  I looked over and Andrew was writing on Jack's package.  It was the sweetest thing. 

 For the first time ever, we ran out of communion cups at church.  I looked up and they were pouring cups with grape juice from a pitcher.  I looked up and one of our deacons was coming down the aisle with a pitcher of juice.  It made me laugh.  Best Christmas Eve service ever.  I made dinner after the service and Mimi, Tee, Fred and Renee all came over.  

Mimi and Tee stayed the night and we asked the boys to sleep until 6:00am.  I woke up about 5:50 am and crept into the kitchen to make coffee before the festivities began.  The house was quiet except for Jack sneaking up behind me.  He about scared me out of my mind.  He, of course, thought it was hilarious.  

We began opening presents.  The boys had to play a game to figure out which paper belonged to which boy.  We played that saran wrap ball game.  They really had a good time.  
 The boys shop for each other at Five Below each year.  We typically go each year after eating at Cracker Barrell, but this year we went after driving in from Mimi and Tee's.  Of course, the brothers picked out a basketball and a football for Jack.
 After opening presents, we had our typical Christmas breakfast of carbs with a side of carbs.  It was a dream come true!
 Speaking of dreams coming true, Dash received a stuffed squirrel for Christmas.  He rolled around with that thing and took it all over the house.  He finally got a squirrel.  He's been barking at them since he's been at this house.  I'm pleased to know all his dreams came true this Christmas as well.
Since Christmas was on Sunday we headed to church around 10.  After church we had lunch here with Mimi and Tee and then headed to Fred and Renee's to open presents and eat steak for dinner.  Unfortunately, I have no pictures from that event.  Boo.

The next morning (the 26th) I woke up and completely cleared the house of Christmas.  In fact, I was taking our tree to the curb before breakfast.  Done.  We were just having a lazy day around the house and Jack went to play with his buddy.  Before I knew it, Jack and Clayton were headed to the zoo to go ice skating.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

This week

Sunday was a busy day at our house.  We hosted open house for our church and then the boys had a play that night.  The play was too cute.  Here they are in their matching shirts.  I tried to get a picture and this is what happened.  Mercy.

 Here's the cake from open house.  I usually snap lots of pictures, but this year I just didn't.  Oh well.  A good time was had by all.

After open house (and the above photo session), we headed to see the boys in a play at church.  It was so cute and a Christmas memory I will not soon forget.  The lady on the left, Debbie, puts these all together.  She is amazing.
 Later that night when we got home I stopped at our chalkboard wall.  A lot of people that came to open house signed the wall.  It makes me smile now each time I walk past it.

Because of our crazy weekend, Monday morning came quickly.  The boys were almost late to school and as I was herding them out the door, Jack said, "Andrew.  Don't you need Christmas clothes for the program?"  Yep, he did.  So, adding to an already crazy morning I headed up to school to change his clothes in a 2 foot by 2 foot space. He looked so cute and program ready.
 You can barely see Andrew at his program.  Perhaps I shouldn't have been so concerned about his clothes?!?  He is on the top row to the right of the snowflake.
 Then Tuesday night, Clayton had a choir concert.  Here he is with his 8th grade choir and then below he is pictured with the honor choir.  He is also in the pop choir, but I guess I didn't get a picture of that.
Around 4:00, he grabbed a quick shower and then calmly said from the top of the stairs, "uh Mom, do you know where my tuxedo pants are?"  At 4:15 we were headed for Kohls to search for black tuxedo pants.  No luck there.  Then we headed to JCP.  No luck there.  Please note that he had to be at the location for the concert by 5:45.  After JCP we headed to Dillards and found some black pants.  At this point it was 5:20.  We breezed through McDonalds to fuel him up, because when you are singing a concert a quarter pounder with cheese and some fries will really help you power through.  We got home just in time to change and then peeled in the parking lot at 5:44 pm.  Crisis averted.
Thank goodness I adopted the motto that "sometimes when things don't go as planned they make the best memories."  This will be a memory that we will remember for years to come.

 Wednesday morning Jack had his program at school.  He played instruments and sand and took it all very seriously.  I could just eat him up I love him so.
 You can not tell from this picture, but he is still a head taller than everyone else in his grade.

This has been the week of programs.  Special thanks goes out to my parents, aunt Janice, Mun and Fred's parents for keeping the road hot and attending every program that they can possibly attend.  Three more programs to go, but I can see the finish line for Christmas break.  WooHoo!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

This week

Andrew loves a stuffed animal.  My mother gave him this larger than life teddy bear for his birthday and he was thrilled.  He sleeps with it most nights. It really is quite cute.  He told me he was going to sleep with this bear until he's a grown up.  I wonder what his definition of grown up is, because I'd love to see him tote this thing to college.  Ha!
We are having a big play again at church called, The Christmas Post.  Several children are in the production as newsies.  They stay backstage for a large majority of the production and communicate via headset.  My jaw dropped when I saw this site.  Jack was actually giving and receiving instructions.  I'm pretty sure he will lead them all to the Mexican Restaurant and the play will be preformed sans Newsies.

Last Sunday as we were getting ready for church I looked up at the boys.  They were all dressed with their teeth brushed and their hair combed.  After living in the trenches of doing everything for boys I felt like it was a mile stone that needed to be documented.  Look at those sweet boys.  I'm pretty sure they quit arguing just long enough to take this picture, but whatever...they all got dressed on their own.  Victory!

We headed to church that morning for the longest day ever.  We started our day at Bethlehem Breakfast.  They served sausage rolls and donuts.  I'm pretty sure Jack was still hungry when we left, but I stopped him at 3 sausage rolls and 2 donuts.  That's Jack's kind of breakfast.  

After breakfast we had a program at church called White Christmas.  All the Sunday School classes come together in the sanctuary and give gifts to the homeless and we kick off giving for our missions offering.  It's a really fun time.
After church the boys had play practice.  I surprised Fred with a foot massage, since we practically had a date hour.  Then I had a tea at church for our widows.  I then went to yoga.  Fred picked up the boys from practice.  He had a meeting.  I got one back to church at 5 and two more back at 5:30.  Then I delivered corn to the venue for the youth Christmas party.  I came back to church to hear the children sing in their program.  Jack even had a speaking part.
 Clayton left in the middle of the program to go to the youth party.  As soon as church was over, Fred left to go to Nashville for a meeting the next morning.  Thankfully, my sweet friend brought Clayton home from the youth party.  I finally settled in from the longest day ever and Dash sensed that something was awry.  When Fred is gone Dash goes on alert and literally sleeps on top of me.

After our long day, this arrangement just wasn't going to work.  I pushed him over as best as i could and put a pillow between us.  He proceeded to snore. Loudly.  I'm happy to report that we made it through the night.  I was never worried, but I think Dash was by the level of protection he was providing.

Monday morning Andrew had Manners Club.  This is his first club to attend and he was thrilled.  He has watched brothers attend clubs at school and it was finally his turn.  He was supposed to dress to impress.  I'm pretty sure we nailed it.  I ordered a sport coat, but it didn't arrive in time.  While at Manners Club he learned how to take food from a refreshment line, sit with correct posture, shake hands, greet someone...and he learned the box dance.  He was so proud.  I think it's the cutest thing ever.

Clayton is in several classes that require mid term exams.  While he's had tests before, this is a first for a comprehensive exam.  His teacher Algebra teacher offered a tutoring session, which we strongly encouraged him to attend.  By strongly encouraged, I told him if he didn't attend the tutoring session and made less than a B there would be serious consequences.  I also told him if he did attend the tutoring session and made less than a B there would be no consequences.  There was also something in my speech about integrity and initiative and character and...I'm not really sure what else.  Long story short, he decided to attend.  Ha!  

He has not really struggled in Algebra, but when I asked him if he had studied (before we knew of the tutoring session), he told me he had gone over it in his head.  Oh mercy.  Needless to say, we were all a little nervous on test day since this thing counted for 30% of his semester grade.  (That's a lot of pressure for a 13 year old, right??  I might add that he was not nervous nor was Fred.  It was really just me that was nervous.  But come on, 30% of his grade.  Wowsers.)  We got this email message about mid-day.  Funny boy.  

His physical science exam was yesterday and he doesn't know how he did, although he thinks he did well.  Spanish, his nemesis, is Monday.  Oh dear...

After all the discussion with the tutoring session and him finally deciding to go, I was very shocked to receive a call from his teacher.  She called me Wednesday night to "brag" on Clayton. Apparently, there were about 30 middle schoolers in attendance.  She said it was clear that most of them were forced to be there.  But Clayton, and one other kid, thanked her at the end of the session for helping them.  He thanked her.  Listen. That is nothing short of the Lord working in his heart and life.  And I told his teacher just that.  

On Thursday, I volunteered to be at Clayton's school to sell tickets to the Snowflake Dance.  Are middle schoolers not delightful?  When I was finishing up, my own child walked down the hall and didn't even come say hi.  I took his picture just to acknowledge that we were in the same vicinity.  He claimed that he can't move during the announcements (that were playing) and that he had to get to the above mentioned exam.  Blah, blah, blah.  Those all seem like lame excuses for the woman who has taken care of him every day of his life.  Ha!

Here he is all dressed up for the Snowflake Dance. The dance started at 6.  Around 5:30 he started getting dressed.  I said a silent prayer of thanks that God gave me boys.  You see, about 4 hours earlier, I volunteered for about an hour to decorate for the dance.  While I was there I listened to moms of girls talk about where they bought dresses, doing hair, being with friends, taking all afternoon to get ready, etc.  It was going to be an all day affair.  In total I think it took Clayton 7 minutes to get ready.  Seven.  You know what boutique I bought his outfit from?  Me neither.  I'm pretty sure I ordered it all online and it was in his existing wardrobe.  Did we have drama getting ready?  Nope.  Glorious. 

They have a Peek and Pic time for parents for thirty minutes before the dance.  You know what this 30 minutes taught me?  I need to be praying a lot more.  Oh the girls...but that's a story for another day.  

We've had three parties at our house in the last week and tomorrow our entire church is invited for an open house.  We've enjoyed every single party.  This coming up week is the week of programs.  Between now and next Sunday we will attend 7 programs.  But by the time we attend our final program, we will be out of school.  So hooray for programs and being out of school!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving with a little before and after

In typical Shackelford fashion, we started off the week of Thanksgiving with Andrew having a stomach virus. I think I did 7 loads of laundry, used a can of Lysol and washed my hands in lots of bleach...okay not really on the bleach, but honestly, I felt like it.  Andrew and I skipped church that morning and school on Monday.  He was back to normal by Tuesday and thankfully, no one else got it. 

I found him on the couch with Dash Sunday morning.  He said leaning on Dash made him feel better. Bless him.
This was my view on computer, a little boy covered up on the couch, and a dog with attachment issues sitting in my lap.  It was a good day.
Fred's brother came in town for Thanksgiving for the first time in several years, so it was nice having all 57 of us together.  Just kidding.  There are only 19 (sometimes 20) of us when we are all together.

Tuesday night we got to ride on a hayride through Starry Nights.  All the kids loved it.  It was so nice.

We had dinner Wednesday night and managed to get a picture.  Considering the sheer number of us, this was no small feat.  But we did it.  Hooray!

Thursday morning these two turkeys got up to run a four mile turkey trot.  Jack did get his other sock and a shoe on before the race.  Thankfully.

They met up with these turkeys and had a great time. 
I told Dash that it was Thanksgiving and he stood guard at the door to ensure that nothing suspicious was going down in the neighborhood like falling leaves or birds or squirrels in our yard.  I'm pleased to report that everyone in the house was safe, thanks to Dash.

My crew came in for Thanksgiving.  Everyone brought a little and then we had a huge feast.  We ate and talked and ate and played games and I made a video of my grandmother making boiled custard.  It was an epic Thanksgiving.

Remember the boiled custard?!?  Yep, these boys enjoyed it as always.

Friday, Memphis had their final home football game.  Since we've been in Memphis, my grandmother gives us season tickets to the Memphis football games for Christmas.  We just love going to the games together.  Some of us really love the concession stand, but the game is fun too!  This game was no exception.  Memphis came back to win the game in the last 1:30 of the game. It was exciting!
Because we are season ticket holders we are members of the 901 club.  Since we are 901 club members we get to go down on the field after the game.  We typically don't take advantage of this, but on Friday we did.  Andrew even got his picture with Tom the Tiger.  He's come a long way with team mascots.  When he was younger he would hide in the bathroom to avoid seeing the Grizz at the Grizzlies games.

As if the game and concession stand wasn't enough, one of the players threw his glove to Jack.  He was one happy boy.
Saturday morning we had one objective...find our Christmas tree.  We walked all around the Christmas tree farm until we found just the right tree.  It was a long search, but we were successful.  I tried to convince the boys to go to Costco to get a pre-cut tree, but they would have none of it.  It all turned out great in the end.  We got everything decorated and cleaned out and ready to go for December.  Buckle up is what I keep telling myself.  The season is upon us.