A fun weekend!

Zack came home for the first time this weekend since school started and it was so great to have him home! I'm so thankful the Lord provided safety while he was traveling, cause you know how worried mamas can get when 18 year olds are driving 7+ hours! I'm going to try to link to the photo albums that I've posted on Facebook. You can literally load 60 photos at a time in like 2-3 minutes...so much easier than the 5 or 6 blogger lets you load at a time. Here are the links...hope it works!

If this works, then I will post links to the photo albums where we moved him in and also my birthday weekend (his first game marching too).

Oh me-me...it's a Meme!

I was tagged by Kat to do this meme, so here goes...
What you are supposed to do...and please don't spoil the fun...Copy/paste, type in your answers and tag four people in your lists! Don't forget to change my answers to the questions with those of your own.

A) Four places I go over and over
Grocery Store
Bathroom (haha!)

B) Four people who e-mail me regularly
My hubby
My family
My co-workers

C) Four of my favorite places to eat
Jason's Deli
Eastside Grill

D) Four places you'd rather be
any beach
Turks & Caicos
Perdido Key

E) Four TV shows I could watch over and over
The West Wing
Dancing With The Stars
What Not to Wear
House Hunters

F) Four people I'm tagging
Dianne at Glasses of Grace
Joy at Joy's Corner of the World
Jill at Who Could Ask for Anything More
Lisa at Tropical Mexican

You! Yes, you!Come on, play along!

...and I haven't forgotten that I still need to post pictures!!!

Gone...but hopefully not forgotten!

I can't believe the last time I blogged was August 28th as I was getting ready to take my road trip to the first UCF game. Wow! Now, here I am again, in Orlando, killing time while Zack is at band practice. This is family weekend and I am so pleased that Gary was able to come with me this time. Tomorrow will be his first time seeing Zack march in a college band and he is so excited!

The August weekend was so much fun. I got to meet Zack's new girlfriend and we were all able to celebrate my birthday together. Zack got me the sweetest UCF Mom coffee mug as well as some UCF Knights earrings. I will post pictures from that weekend (I promise!) when we get back home. I have posted them on Facebook because it is so much faster to upload photos than Blogger, but I will post them here too.

Things have been going well...I've just been staying busy working full-time at the school. Then when I get home in the evenings, it's constant caring for my new baby....no, not that kind, I got a PUPPY! He is so precious! I told Gary when Zack went off to school that I needed something to take care of...I was feeling so lost and without purpose. He said, "well, what do I look like?!" ha ha! I told him he could take care of himself for the most part, that I wanted a puppy! So after many nights of looking online, about a month ago we decided on a Friday afternoon to run over to the Humane Society and we found the sweetest dog (aside from Miss Daisy, of course!) He is just over 6 months old and a dachshund/terrier mix and has the most precious face! He is so needy and has been such a good boy in his crate-training. We named him "Knightro" (the UCF Knights mascot) because he is tan with a black tail and the Knights are black and gold. I will post pictures of him too. But let me just say, I NEVER thought I would love an animal so much! He is my precious little buddy!

Zack is doing well in school. He got an "A" on his first paper for Freshman English and so far has "A's" in all of his classes. He has matured so much and our relationship, although it's always been good and we've always been very close, has become even better. He has opened up so much and is always so good to call me at least once a day and tell me something about a class, or something that happened in band, or a grade he made on a test, etc. I really am trying to give him his space, but the most wonderful thing is that the more space I give him, the more he draws closer. Does that make sense? Not sure I worded that correctly.

I can't believe it's October already. It's been so great pulling out all my fall decorations and the cooler temps in the evening. This is my favorite season...I love all the warm colors, the browns, reds, oranges, etc. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing God's display of artistry sweep across a hillside in rich hues. He is the Master Artist!

I miss all my sweet blog friends and hope you will forgive me for my absence. I will try to do better on my updates as well as checking in on you all. I am so ready for another "B Club" reunion! ...that is, if I haven't been voted off the island yet! ;-)

Have a great weekend and I will post pictures upon my return! Love y'all!

Road Trip!

I am so excited about going to UCF this weekend for their first game---and Zack's first game marching in a college band! I went by Cracker Barrel today after work and picked up two audio books to listen to on the way down and back (thanks Kat for that tip a while back and for my sweet award today!)...hopefully it will make the travel time go by faster.

Got my game tickets via Fed Ex and I'm ready to go! Lots of pictures when I return!

UCF let's goooooooooooo Knights!

Lazy Saturday...

Gary and I cleaned house (big time!) Thursday when we got home from work. We did this so we could just lay around and do nothing this weekend. We knew it was going to be a rainy weekend with "Fay" headed this way...so we thought, how much better does it get than laying around on a Saturday while it rains all day.

Right now I'm sitting in the recliner with the laptop and he has an "Eagles" Concert DVD in so loud I can hardly think...but it's nice...each song he keeps saying is his "favorite". The rain is coming down and it's getting more windy.

Several of you mentioned that Zack looks older now! It was amazing to me to see how much he changed in just the 6 weeks he was away for summer term at UCF. He came back and seemed so much older and wiser! ;-) Plus, he has started wearing his glasses more---started when he had pink eye in both eyes and the Dr. ordered him to not wear his contacts for 10 days!

After summer term ended, Zack went to Las Vegas with my sister and niece for 4 days. It was their second time (they went last summer)...and they had a blast! However, Air Train lost his luggage.... It's been a nightmare of a story and we had to spend hundreds of dollars just before he went back to school replacing everything he had lost. Now we're in the process of filling out tons of paperwork and filing a claim with them! Ugh. Never again will we "check" a bag! Carry-on's only!

Zack has had band camp from 8a - 10p all this past week (including today). GREAT time for "Fay" to hit, huh? Zack said it's rained everyday since last Monday and they haven't been able to set drill on the field. I know the Band Director must be having a fit! The first game is a week from today---August 30th. I'm going!!! Woo-hoo! I'm so excited to see him marching with close to 350 kids! Big difference from high school band! He is having a blast! I'm planning to leave Friday when I get off work and come back Sunday (my birthday).

I'm trying to talk my sister and niece into going down with me for the weekend. Unfortunately, hubs can't go because of his duties at church. My niece plays Varsity Volleyball at her H.S. and just smacked her head real bad in last Thursday night's game diving for a ball---lost her vision for about a minute, which was real scary. My sister ended up having to take her to the E.R. Thursday night. She had a concussion and Dr. said she absolutely cannot play for the next week. Keep her in your prayers. She said today that she has a bad headache and neck pain. I hope she's going to be alright.

Well...gotta go....and do absolutely nothing! Kinda nice for a change...

Is Anyone Still Out There???

I have been a terrible blogger...no excuses...I know we all are busy, so I'm not even going to try to run down my list of reasons why I haven't blogged!

We just got back from taking Zack back to UCF for the Fall. He was only home a little over a week, which went by way too quickly, and then we had to pack him back up and move him back. Unfortunately, since he was going to be living in a different dorm than he did in the summer, we had to completely move him out at the end of summer term. It's a good thing, though! His "dorm" for the school year is much nicer! It's a 4 bedroom, 4 bath, apartment style dorm, plus he has a full size bed instead of a twin bed and his room is larger.

We just got back late Monday evening and I've been doing better this time---I miss him terribly, but I haven't cried for a week straight like I did when we took him down for summer term. Plus, I've also been busy with work, so that helps. Unfortunately, we took him down there just in time for "Fay" to hit Florida. They actually closed the campus Monday evening at 8:00 p.m. for 24 hours---the kids didn't have to leave, they just closed the restaurants, stores and student union. So, I've been one worried mama with one eye on the weather channel and the other texting him to make sure he's ok!

Here are some pics from the weekend...plus I'll be back soon with a post on some "observations" from our trip. Love y'all!
(All pictures are clickable)
Getting ready to leave...

This picture doesn't do justice to how packed my car was!
Here we are! Tower II...
Almost done setting up...can you tell by the look on his face that he is REALLY wishing I would put the camera down!
Notice what we were watching on tv!
Yep, he has his very own bathroom!
Kitchen...this is NOT my idea of clean! This is how we found it when we arrived. It was left like this from the previous "tennant". It literally looked and smelled like someone had just cooked a meal in there.
Living Room/Dining Room
Tower II
View from the Tower II patio looking out towards the football stadium
1st floor patio area...
Tower II (taken from the stadium area)
Yes, I have a ton of pictures of the fountain in the center of campus! I just love it!
We have found a new way to go that only takes us 7 hours from our doorstep to his---we go across 84 East to 75 South...we pass thru some quaint little towns with some interesting things. Here is a picture from a little town called Whigham. Don't think I'll be attending that event! Only in South Georgia!!!
By the way, I'm on Facebook too...so if you're on there...look me up at "Tracey Brennan Shields-Kirksey"

Been a long time...

Wow! I can't believe it's been almost a month since I last posted! In some ways, it seems like a long time, but in other ways, it seems like just yesterday!

This summer has flown by and for that, I'm grateful! Zack is finishing up Summer Term this Thursday and we're going down to move him back. He will only be home two weeks, then we have to move him back down for fall/spring. I know that will be hard, because it will be a long time before he is able to come back home--probably Christmas break. Unfortunately, we have to completely move him out of the dorm he is in now because he is in a different dorm in the fall. He's excited though, it's a 4 bedroom, 4 bath, apartment-style dorm--so he's thrilled that he's getting his own bathroom!

He's done real well---adjusted well, made alot of new friends, enjoyed his classes. It's been a newfound, liberating experience and it feels like he's matured so much in these past 6 weeks. For me, it's been kinda rough. Initially, I cried and cried and wasn't too motivated to do anything, but I'm adjusting--and thanks to my sweet friend, Joy, reading about others that have experienced the same feelings I'm experiencing has helped. She loaned me a book about surviving the empty nest syndrome, and I'm slowly working my way through it!

I start back at the school on August 5th. This year they've asked me to work full time, and since I don't have too much going on with real estate, I accepted. I do have a closing tomorrow though, for which I'm thankful! They are few and far between!

I've missed my bloggy friends. I check in from time to time, and hopefully soon I'll post some photos that I've been meaning to post for the past two months! Thanks for the sweet emails and for checking up on me! Love y'all!

Happy 18th Birthday Zack!

Here is a video my sweet hubby made and brought home to me today. Be sure to turn your speakers up for this great song! It was a hard day being apart from Zack on his birthday, but I'm headed to Atlanta tomorrow and he will be flying in tomorrow night to spend 4th of July with all the family in Atlanta

Sleepless in Montgomery

I'm still here. Thanks for checking on me. We got back late Monday night from Orlando. I've had a pretty rough week. I'm feeling sad and like a fish out of water. I don't know how to stop being a mom after almost 18 years of "mama-ing" ;-) The house is quiet without him here and I feel lonely. I will update with some pictures soon...but right now I don't feel like doing much of anything. I can't sleep and have little motivation to complete any tasks. I know it will all be okay, but right now I'm having a hard time adjusting. Just say a prayer when you think of me and check back soon! Love y'all.

Mine says "panic"

I love those Staples commercials where they show someone trying to do something the hard way and then they show an "easy" button, which implies your experience with Staples. Right now I wish I had an "easy" button. What I'm feeling would be more appropriately described as the panic button!

So much has been going on these past few weeks since graduation. Some day when I don't feel so overwhelmed, I'll post pictures and details. Right now, I'm less than 2 days away from taking Zack to college and the very thought takes my breath away.

I don't know how to prepare for it. We've purchased things for his dorm room, bought supplies in the form of laundry stuff, toiletries, medicines for a make-shift "First Aid" kit, etc., but I still feel that inner panic that I'm forgetting something vital to his very existence---which interpreted would be the level of comfort in which he has been living these past 17 years.

Being his mom describes who I am.

Hello, who are you and what do you do?

I'm Zack's mom, his caregiver, his provider, his protector, his safety net. What I'm feeling right now can best be described as watching him climb up a rope ladder and stepping out on the high wire for the first time with no safety net. There are butterflies in my stomach, a sense of panic that almost takes my breath and the fear and uncertainty of if he's going to make it.

[Sidenote: have I ever mentioned that I battle gripping fear? I am such a control freak and feel like if I can just keep a handle on things, keep control of things, then I can control the fear. When I feel things are beyond my control, I really struggle with overwhelming fear. But holy cow! that's a discussion for another day---laying on a sofa with a therapist!] Edited to add: I would be on the sofa...the therapist would be in a chair!!

As I sit here, a day and a half before heading to FL, I can't decide what to do next. I can't think of simple words. I can't make lists and plan and organize, which I usually do so well. I can't steady this uneasy feeling. I can't imagine continuing to function in my household without my sweet child here every day. So for now, I will paste on the smile and share in his excitement, but rest assured the ride home won't be fun.

You'll keep going back for more...

I have to share my newest all time favorite blog entitled "Stuff Christians Like". It absolutely CRACKS ME UP (come on, we have to be able to laugh at ourselves!). Go here and check it out. I promise you, you'll keep going back for more!

Summer Bible Study

I was perusing the L.P.M. blog when I noticed they are beginning a new study series entitled "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter. I saw a video on YouTube that has made me really think long and hard about what "gods" are priority in my life. There are so many things hindering my worship. My heart has formed a hard shell around it and I want to break thru it before it hardens like cement. My spiritual walk is not where it once was and certainly not where it should be. I've dug my heels in and held the Holy Spirit's conviction at arm's length. I am going to commit to this study and I pray that I will allow the Lord to renew my first love.

Anyone interested in joining me with this study? I don't know that I will be able to have the accountability for every Tuesday on Beth's site, but I'm going to do my best to keep up. If you want to know more about it, head on over to the Living Proof Ministries web site and read up.

Click here for the video from YouTube. Quite a powerful song...

How do you eat an elephant?

...one bite at a time! I have had so much going on these past few weeks and so many pictures to post, that I'm going to have to do it just a little bit at a time. I was gonna say "sorry" for not posting in so long, but actually I'm not...cause I've been doing what I need to do and that is focusing on this extremely happy time in Zack's life and our lives. We are so proud of him and all that he has accomplished and all that is on the horizon for him. We have been very busy getting him ready to leave for college in two-and-a-half weeks...but who's counting, right?! After he's gone, I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to blog!

I'll try to post over the next few weeks the photos from the events as they happened. For starters, here are prom pictures from May 10th...

I think all photos are "clickable" and will enlarge!

Because I'm on staff at the school, we went to the banquet. Can't beat a free meal, right?!

Here's a picture of Zack and his girlfriend, Christi
full length shot...

This next one is my absolute favorite! I was instructing them on what to do and you should have heard Zack "jawing" all the way over to the other side of the reflecting pond about how stupid this was! I said, "just do it! It will be awesome!" I loved it so much, I had it blown up! Everyone that has seen it said it looks like a picture out of a magazine.
Here is Zack with some of his friends...(Daniel and Emily)
Check out the grin on Zack's face! This is him with two of his favorite teachers! The one on the left was his Bible teacher and the one on the right was his Government teacher. Just before the picture she said, "hey! This might be worth something someday! We could be taking a picture with a future president!"...and check out Zack's grin!
That's all for now. I'll be back with pictures from the end-of-the-year band concert, the end-of-the-year band banquet, graduation, and orientation at UCF. Hope all is well with all my chickies out there! I miss checking in on you!

Ask and ye shall receive!

Wow! I'm making up for lost time with 2 posts in one day! Jean mentioned in her comment that she wished she could hear them. Well, here ya go! Here are two videos of the jazz band. I didn't video the concert band (with my digital camera) because it was eating up so much of my memory card. Check out that cute alto sax player with those awesome solos!

Coming up for air...

Yes, I'm still here! I did make it back from the Disney trip and hit the ground running full speed! I thought I would post quickly while the "house" is still quiet this morning and before I get busy on my lengthy "to do" list.

We had a fantastic trip to Disney! It was well-planned (if I do say so myself!) and our itinerary was scheduled down to the minute and everything was great!

Here are some pictures...

Each morning we had a buffet breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney. Here is Gary with a "rasta" hat on with dreadlocks...
Here are some of our kids waiting on the Rainforest Cafe to open for breakfast. Jackson is going to be the new Drum Major next year.
The first day we went to Magic Kingdom. Look at how gorgeous the weather was...and look at how CROWDED the park was!
We rode some rides with the kids. Here we are on Thunder Mountain and I was in the front seat with another girl taking pictures the entire ride. Gary kept hollering at me to put the camera down before I lost it!

After Magic Kingdom, we had dinner reservations at Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney. It was great food and great service. Here are some of our kids...
Then we loaded the busses and went back to the Magic Kingdom for their "Wishes" nighttime fireworks spectacular. It was great...but so crowded!
Here are the Seniors making a "senior train" to keep from losing each other as they made their way back thru the crowds to the busses. This group of kids have been together in the band since 6th grade and are a very close-knit group. (that's Zack in the red shirt).

The next day we went to Epcot (Gary and I). The kids could choose whatever parks they wanted to go to each day, so it was pretty relaxed not having to keep 112 people together! Gary and I wanted to ride "Test Track" and "Soarin" at Epcot. Here he is in front of the sign that says "Dummy Assembly" (you can probably click it and see it better).

Here is Zack (left) and some of his friends at Epcot.
The next day, Gary and I decided to go to MGM/Hollywood Studios since he had never been. I tried to make the picture look like the big hat was on Gary's head, but it didn't turn out too well!

I was determined to get him on the Tower of Terror! Look at his scared little face! We had a great time!
Here we are having lunch. I am STILL on my water!!! No sodas now for about a month!
...but then I did have this...
...and he had this...

and then the whole group met at MGM/Hollywood Studios for the Fantasmic show. Oh my word! It was the first time we had seen it and it was INCREDIBLE! Best fireworks/show at Disney in my opinion!
We had done all the other parks (Magic Kingdom, MGM, Epcot) and even though we had wanted to go to Animal Kingdom, on the last day we were just wiped out! We got up and did a little shopping at Downtown Disney and thought we would just take it easy the rest of the day until the Awards Ceremony. But Zack kept texting me telling me we HAD to come to Animal Kingdom and at least see the Lion King show. So, we headed that way and I'm so glad we did!

Here is the "Tree of Life" in the center of the park. Again, look at the gorgeous sky!

Here we are on "Everest". This is my ALL TIME FAVORITE RIDE! It was awesome! I was taking pictures throughout the ride! We ended up riding it three times. Here the "yetti" supposedly ripped apart the track...we go right up to it and then the ride starts going backwards and then reverses and goes forward on a different track! It was awesome!

Here are Zack and his friends on the ride. If you enlarge it, you may be able to see him in the white shirt almost at the back on the left side (his friend Brandon is behind him also in a white shirt, with his hands raised up in the air).

And Zack was right...the Lion King show was spectacular!

Here are some pictures of our groups performing. This one is the jazz band. Zack is the 2nd from the left on the front row (alto sax).

Here is our Color Guard. They performed at the Indiana Jones theater at MGM.

Here is our concert band.

This is us on the last day waiting at the awards ceremony--looking a little hot, sweaty, and tired!

Here is our Band Director and Color Guard Coordinator receiving awards.

Here is the group of Seniors with the awards.

Y'all...I don't know how many of you are familiar with competitions, but all three of our groups SWEPT "Best in Class" awards for each of our divisions! I was boo-hooing! They all did an awesome job and the awards were the icing on the cake!

I'm still crazy busy getting ready for our band concert Monday evening, planning the end-of-the-year banquet for about 400 people Thursday evening, family comes in town Friday and then Graduation is on Sunday (18th).

I feel like I'm swirling around in an EMOTIONAL VORTEX!!! We have been with these band kids since Zack was in 6th grade, and now we are moving on and inducting new presidents Monday evening at the concert. I love each one of these kids like they are all my children. I'm going to miss them so much.

Then Graduation is a few days later. I've been crying all week! I told Gary last night that maybe I'll cry all my tears out before Graduation...he said, "ummm, yeah, I don't think so."

Jr./Sr. prom is tonight. I will take lots of pictures and post some of that and Graduation as soon as I can take a moment to breathe. I miss y'all and hope each of you are doing well. I haven't had any time to read blogs, but just know I'm thinking about ya! Oh yeah, and my heel...doing MUCH better since I got the shot! I highly recommend it!
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