He’s in the Army now

I have been silent here for awhile now.

It wasn’t for lack of desire to share, but more about the desire to spend as much time as possible enjoying time with my family while all five of us were still under the same roof day in and day out. We had Gabe’s graduation open house (in person…albeit with a smaller gathering than we would have invited under non-coronavirus circumstances), and then, just two short weeks later, we handed him over to the U.S. Army.

Actually, we didn’t hand him over. He chose to go.

It’s been just one week since he left for basic training, and man, I miss him!

Granted, even when he was still living at home 100 percent of the time, he wasn’t home 100 percent of the time. In fact, he was often at friends’ houses…or work…or playing basketball at the park…or meeting friends at Taco Bell or Dairy Queen.

Still, I can feel his absence in our home. I miss his dry sense of humor, and the fact that I have to ask him to repeat himself 14 times a day, due to his low voice and my difficulty hearing low tones. I miss talking to him at 4 a.m. when I would catch him in the kitchen, he getting a snack and I finishing my work for the night. We often had our best conversations in the wee hours of the morning.

Now, I have no idea where he lays his head at night, what time he’s awakened to the sound of the drill sergeant (or whoever might be in charge of waking the trainees for the day), what he has for lunch, if he has blisters on his feet from running so much, the names of trainees he’s befriended or if he thinks about his family while he’s gone.

It’s uncomfortable. As his mom, I have always been there for him, ready to answer his questions, run to the store to grab some medicine when he’s sick and encourage him when times were hard. I can’t do that now, when I don’t even know if he’s sick or struggling.

In my heart, of course, I know he’s fine. Mentally, he’s a strong kid (er, man), he enjoys challenges, and he has the physical strength to make it through boot camp just fine. But I’m his mom. And as my own father says, I’m a professional worrier. It’s not something I’m proud of, but try as I might, I can’t shake the worry.

On the bright side, I still have three-fourths of my family still home with me. My husband, daughter, younger son and I will soon adapt to our new normal: Farnsley, party of four. But we’ll be eagerly awaiting the day we get to see Gabe in person again — when he comes home around Christmas.

I can only hope the next six months go by as quickly as the first 18 years of his life did.

School Portraits Album Flip-through

We have decided to go ahead and have an in-person open house for Gabe, after all, but I started this blog to share his albums, and I will finish! 🙂 We have plenty of family out of town and out of state, who won’t be able to attend, anyway. So hopefully this blog will still be enjoyable!

So without further ado, I present to you one of my favorite albums of Gabe’s — his school portraits album. I love it because it’s a hardbound book, and, even though I scrapbook mostly digitally, I rarely know I am finished with an album. As I have mentioned in a video or two, I don’t scrapbook in chronological order, so I rarely feel comfortable committing to a hardbound album to which I cannot add pages. But this one is different. It has a finite beginning (kindergarten), a finite end (senior year), and a finite subject matter (school portraits). I know I have scrapbooked all of the school portraits I have of him — and ever will have of him, at least for kindergarten through high school — so I know for a fact that I am done with the album.

I hope you enjoy it!

Gabe’s Life Album, Vol. 3, Flip-through

Six Months to One Year Old

Ready for some more adorable baby pics of Gabe? Oy, I love looking back at these times when he was just a little guy (relatively speaking, anyway!). I can remember sitting on the floor in our living room at our old house, when I took the picture of Gabe, in just a diaper, all smiles and rolls, and wondering what his life was going to be like. You’ll see that picture in this video (on the “This We Wish” page). I hope you’ll stare in awe at it as much as I do. It’s so incredibly hard to wrap my brain around the fact that the little boy in these albums is graduating from high school! Officially, on Monday!

(Our school board is having a graduation acknowledgement for the seniors who will be off to the military before the rescheduled, in-person graduation event. Gabe will leave for boot camp roughly a month before the revised whole-class graduation event. I am deeply grateful that the Danville Community School Corporation — including the high school principal, Dr. P.J. Hamann, the members of the school board and everyone else involved in the decision — is taking the time to make sure our kids are recognized despite their schedules. Thank you all!)

Speaking of school, next time, I’ll share my favorite book of all — at least in terms of design and the final look and feel — his school portraits album. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, enjoy this third volume of his life album. There will be more to come!

Flip through Gabe’s Life Album (Vol. 2) with me!

Looking for some baby pictures of Gabe? This is a great place to start!

Here is a video of the second volume of his life album, covering the first six months of his life or so. As always, if you’re just here for the pics and don’t care about the commentary, please feel free to set it at 2x speed on YouTube. I know the videos can get long!

And stay tuned! Many more to come!


Flip through Gabe’s first scrapbook with me!

So far, I have only shared digital scrapbook layouts that I have created for Gabe over the years — but I scrapbooked most of his youngest years in paper form. These layouts are housed in bulky albums with individual pages covered with page protectors. This format makes them a bit of a pain to share online the way I have been sharing the digital albums.

Sure, I could take out each page, scan it or photograph it, bring it into Photoshop to edit and straighten, then post individually…but honestly, that’s a heck of a lot of work! So instead, I decided to record myself flipping through the albums, talking a bit about the layouts, photos or scrapbooking process along the way.

The first video is now available below! Mind you, this is the first time I have recorded a flip-through, and I have learned a few lessons as I sat down at the computer tonight to prep the video for posting. Like I did, you’ll notice some imperfections (weird lighting, shadows, glares at times, “um”s, weird choices of words), but I’m asking you to extend a little grace to me and don’t point those out in the comments section. With no thanks to the coronavirus-inflicted shut-down, my emotional state is a little fragile lately, and — I’m not going to lie — I might get a little abnormally discouraged if I read negative comments! So just know that I’m aware of them, and I’ll work on improving things before my next go-round.

Without further ado, enjoy!

A fearless child, a broken bone

From the time he was able to walk, I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to keep this child alive until kindergarten. Gabe is fearless.

So it’s a small miracle that we only had to deal with one broken bone during his childhood — and it was relatively minor.

The story he told us — the story told here in this layout — sounded completely logical, and it’s what we believed for years. That is, until he casually mentioned that his story about how he broke his elbow was actually a lie.

Here’s the story he told us: (This is the journaling on this page.)

We knew it would happen sooner or later. You are a boy, after all, and broken bones are almost a given when you are a young, energetic and fearless boy.

It happened on July 8, 2009, when you were at day care (Cradles to Crayons) for the summer. Your class was walking to Ellis Park in Danville, and, as you were nearing the playground, everyone decided to run down the sledding hill near the pool. It’s a steep hill, and in what was sure to be a race between you and the other boys to see who could get down the hill the fastest, you fell on your left arm. Despite unknowingly having a broken bone (or two), you didn’t tell anyone at day care that you were in pain. You were afraid you’d get in trouble or be sent home from the park. You are at an age where you don’t like to show your pain, especially in front of your buddies, so you managed to make it through the entire day without mentioning your injury to anyone at school.

The second you walked in the garage door to the kitchen at home, however, you burst into tears. It didn’t occur to us that it could be broken, just because we knew you had to have made it through the whole day. So we iced it, gave you Tylenol and sent you to bed as usual. You seemed to be doing fairly well with it by then.

By morning, it was a different story. Your dad went to wake you up and lifted your arm while you were still sleeping. Still not fully awake, you screamed in pain. You got up and went into our room, laid on the bed and cried. We looked at it and discovered that it was pretty swollen, from your elbow down to your fingers. We called the doctor.

Your dad stayed home with you so I could work. (I was on deadlines.) Dr. Essig ordered X-rays, which showed at least one fracture near the elbow. She referred you to an orthopedic doctor at OrthoIndy in Brownsburg. Later that afternoon, we all went to the ortho appointment, where they did more X-rays. Dr. Kendall said the one fracture was obvious, but you also suspected there was another fracture, in the bone that butts up against the confirmed one and forms the elbow. There was fairly significant swelling around the joint, and he said that kids’ growth plates can hide breaks in X-rays. So he suspected two fractures.

Your arm was put into a splint, which was basically like a half cast on the bottom half of your arm that was wrapped in an Ace bandage from your hand to your armpit. You were mortally embarrassed by it. You were crying even before we left the cast room, and you bawled on the way home. When we got in the driveway, you wanted to make sure none of your neighbor friends were outside to see you. You kept saying you were going to stay inside at home for the whole 10 days you were to have the splint. And you were serious. You didn’t want to go to a birthday party you were invited to (Kaden’s), because you didn’t want anyone to see you. You absolutely did not want to go to day care.

Making things worse, you were supposed to keep your splint dry for the entire 10 days, and the night you got it on, you spilled milk on it at dinner. You burst into tears. You were not having a good time. Grandma brought you some popsicles and a card, and Nana brought you Dairy Queen for dinner. John and Colette sent you a card, too. Still, you were so unhappy. It took a few days of running quick errands and seeing that no one was laughing at you before you were comfortable going anywhere. When you went back to day care, you cried for a while (about 20 minutes, I believe), and then you realized it was kind of cool to the other kids. From there, it wasn’t too bad.

At your first follow-up appointment on July 17, Dr. Kendall released you to just a sling. I have to admit, I was very skeptical. After all, you are a rambunctious 7-year-old boy with no fear. I told Dr. Kendall about my reluctancy, and he just replied, “Just keep a close eye on his activities. Kids tend to regulate themselves.” I knew that was a stretch, and we were in for a long two weeks.

We took you out of day care, knowing that there was no way you would be careful enough with it when all of the kids were going on field trips, swimming, hiking and being active soon-to-be second graders. The timing was good anyway. We were set to leave for Colorado in two weeks, and then after Colorado, school was set to start.

Still, we had a long two weeks ahead of us. Just two days after your appointment and being released to a sling, you went to Caleb’s birthday party. During a friendly game of whiffle ball, you were caught on film sliding into second base — with your arm and sling between you and the ground. Geez! A week later, you were attempting to jump a rope fence at the county fair and fell forward, without your arm to catch you. There were several other near-misses, too. I was hopeful that we would return to the doctor for your next follow-up and be put into a hard cast. I was just sure that there was no way your arm would be able to heal well being unprotected like that.

No luck. At the second follow-up on July 28, despite the fracture still being obvious on the X-ray, and despite your not being able to bend your arm past a 90-degree angle, Dr. Kendall released you from your sling completely. Again, I expressed my concern for the bone healing well when not being protected. And again he said that we should just “closely monitor your activities” (yeah, right!), and that “kids will stop when they feel pain.” He also said that adults can get stiff joints, but kids tend to work them out. So he wasn’t worried about the fracture or your inability to bend your arm. I was not pleased! In fact, I was rather frustrated. But we trusted his advice, and, because our trip to Colorado was right around the corner, we were somewhat relieved you would not be bound by your sling for our vacation.

Near the end of our first day driving home to Indiana after our Colorado trip (Aug. 7), you were finally able to bend your arm enough to touch your shoulder with your fingers. It was still not completely able to move freely, but we were definitely getting closer! And you were being pretty good about not overdoing it.

Finally, at your last ortho visit on Aug. 18, the doc took one look at you, asked you if you could move your arm and sent you on your way. It took all of 2 minutes, and that was the end of that!

July and August 2009

That was his story. But the truth? Well, I guess he knew his worrisome mom would have probably had a small heart attack if I had known the truth at the time of the accident.

It turns out that what he was really doing when he broke his arm was climbing the 10-foot-tall (or so) entrance arch to PlayScape at the park…and he fell. I’m guessing that the teachers at the park didn’t see it happen, or we would have had the honest story from the get-go.

I’ll just leave it at that.

‘Life’ pages might be my favorite.

I love having some of Gabe’s biggest school and sports memories documented in his scrapbooks, but my favorite photos (and therefore, my favorite layouts) are often ones of him just living life. These are the pictures of fishing excursions, crazy faces he made, hiding under a mound of stuffed animals and more. They capture the personality of this amazing kid, more than just the highlights of his life.

I have dozens of layouts of his life, particularly from when he was a baby, toddler and preschooler — but many of them are scrapbooked on paper, not digitally, so sharing them is not super-easy. However, I have ordered a little stand for my smartphone, so I will soon be able to take some video of me flipping through the older, paper scrapbooks. I am pretty excited about that. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, enjoy a few of his digital pages. And don’t forget to visit the Life Album gallery to see more!

So, so sick!

Right now, people all over the world are feeling the heart-wrenching pain of having loved ones in the hospital. Making it much worse is the fact that the people in the hospital are often alone, because visitors are being kept at bay to control the spread of coronavirus.

When our younger son (he’s 6) came down with a fever the other day, my heart instantly filled with fear and dread. I was terrified of having to take him to the hospital and leave him there alone to fight this nasty virus. Thankfully, I had no reason to worry; he got through the fever just fine, and we discovered that the fever might have been caused by new molars breaking through the gums, not coronavirus. I thank God for that.

Still, it reminded me of Gabe’s hospital stay years ago. He was just 3 1/2 years old, and we had just one instance of him being by himself (explained in the journaling, copied below), and it was a moment I will never forget as a mom.

Please pray for those who are in the hospital right now — kids, adults and the elderly — and for the loved ones who can’t be with them.

Here is the journaling:

These pictures break my heart, even as I am making this page three and a half years after they were taken. You were so, so sick, not able to keep anything in your belly. After spending hours in the bathroom and having a high fever, we finally got the OK from your pediatrician to take you to the hospital. You were instantly admitted to Hendricks Regional Health with a suspected case of rotavirus. Dr. Essig ran some tests, and although your official diagnosis was just a bad case of the flu, she was convinced it was rotavirus. (False negatives are apparently common with the test.) You were severely dehydrated and required IV treatment and heavy antibiotics. 

I remember a particularly pitiful moment, when I had gone down the hall to use the restroom (yours was off limits because it was being monitored by nurses), and I came back to find you out of bed, holding your IV pole, standing in your bathroom crying, saying you needed help and I wasn’t there. I just wanted to cry with you. It was absolutely horrible feeling like we could do nothing to help you feel better. And at three-and-a-half years old, you seemed so little and helpless in your hospital gown. 

After two days (including a spell of breaking out into hives), you were feeling better and were released for home. It was a long couple of days for you, and you were such a trooper! We were so glad to have you home!

Jan. 12-14, 2006

A couple of housekeeping items…

We’ve probably all been attending webinars and virtual conference calls during this time, so “a couple of housekeeping items” might be a familiar phrase lately. My apologies for sounding a bit cliche. Just felt appropriate for the times.

Anyway, I wanted to mention a couple of things about this good ol’ blog.

First, I don’t seem to have quite as much free time as I anticipated at the beginning of this stay-at-home order. As a result, I haven’t been able to post every day as I had hoped. That’s probably for the best for all of us (you’d get bored if I posted daily), but it feels like a broken promise, so I wanted to address it.

Second, I feel like I talk an awful lot about myself on this blog, even though the goal is to be sharing Gabe’s photos and scrapbooks. The reason for that is that the people who are here just for the photos of Gabe will see the photos and scrapbook pages and won’t need to spend much time reading the text of the posts. They aren’t really interested in the text, after all. But the people who find this blog via Google search or Pinterest post likely land here because they’re searching for scrapbooking info. So I want to give them a little insight into my process and thinking behind certain things. We scrappers are interested in that kind of thing. And those of us who scrapbook and have a senior in the class of 2020 seem to be really interested in seeing how other parents are honoring their students in the digital space.

So, no matter what brings you here, I hope that you find something worth your time and interest! Thank you for reading! New pages coming soon!


Would love to have you comment: What interests you the most about the blog? The old pics of a younger Gabe, the scrapbook pages and process or something else entirely?

2nd Grade in Review

I typically build all of my pages from scratch, just because I love that process. But several years ago, Cathy Zielske*, one of my favorite bloggers/scrapbookers, sold a set of school templates that I LOVED. I had fully intended to make Gabe’s entire elementary school years scrapbook using these templates, but alas, I only got through his second grade years. So these pages just fall into his regular school album as any other layouts do.

I love that the pages are coordinated, though, and if I pop open his school album at one of these pages, I instantly know I’m in the middle of his second grade year. I have since become a fan of developing templates to make similar pages come together more quickly. (Note the team-and-player layouts in his sports scrapbook, for example.)

I also have since decided I had so many sports photos of Gabe that they deserved their own album, so the team photos that are included on these second grade pages are scrapped twice. But that’s OK with me. They live in different albums, anyway.

Gabe, you have made me laugh out loud many times over in the last 17+ years. I love that some of the photos on these pages capture that personality so clearly. Love you, Bud.

* Cathy Zielske is more of a card maker than a scrapbooker these days, but her blog is still worth checking out. She has a very elegant, minimalist, timeless style about her pages that I love so much!