A Great Trip

Being a pack rat sometimes has its benefits.

I keep way too much of my kids’ school work. But sometimes, those keepsakes come in handy. They can offer a glimpse into who a kid is at a particular moment in his life.

I love this little piece of school work about our trip to Colorado in 2009. My dad and stepmom had just moved from Florida to Colorado. We visited them over the summer — a long, 24-hour road trip that was well worth it. Gabe has always loved being outdoors, so for him to experience the natural beauty of Colorado from a kid’s perspective was pretty amazing. He wrote about it for a school project in second grade.

Here’s the journaling:

At the beginning of second grade, one of your in-class assignments was to write about a favorite trip. You wrote about our road trip to Colorado, which we had just completed right before school started. Your recollection of the trip: Where did you go? “Colorado. I hiked on mountains. We went to the top at the mountains. And I like that state!” What did you do? “ Play my (Nintendo) DS. I played ”Ice Age: The Dawn of the Dinosaurs*” and Mario Kart and Super Mario Bros.” I love your spelling! You sound things out so well!

*a game about the movie of the same name

You really seemed to enjoy our trip to Colorado this summer. I am hopeful that we have many more trips just like this one as you grow up. I would love for you to have wonderful memories of visiting your Pa Pa and Omi out west. We will make it a point to get out there as often as possible—at least once a year, ideally.

School work: Fall 2009. Second grade.

Dad and Anita (Gabe’s Papa and Omi) moved back to Florida several years after this trip. We didn’t get to go out there as often as we had hoped (our own fault), but I am so thankful that we were able to make this trip and a couple of others. These are memories we treasure together as a family.

School Layout: Children’s Museum Field Trip

[Just a warning: Some days, like today, I might be lucky to post a single page, rather than a full gallery of pages!]

One of my favorite ways to capture the life of one of my kids as a student is to chaperone field trips. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has always been one of my kids’ favorite places to visit, but when they get to go with a classroom full of friends, it’s even more enjoyable!

Here is the journaling from this two-page layout:

For your spring field trip in first grade, we went to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. I was lucky enough to be able to accompany you as a chaperone. Because there were a lot of parents from your class who also volunteered, we only had one other classmate in our group, [name withheld]. You and [name] were buddies throughout the year, so you had a great time together. He was well behaved, and together, you were both great, too, which made our whole day a fun experience!

The museum was actually under construction during our visit, and there weren’t any special exhibits open (the Star Wars exhibit was going to open soon after). It turns out it didn’t matter, though. You boys were both intrigued by the Dinosphere exhibit (we spent the whole first half of the trip there) and Playscape on the upper floor, where all of the fun water and science exhibits were. You dug for dinosaur bones, played on the old train cars, made noses out of dino legs (I think that’s what that is in the picture at right!), built boats, dumped buckets of water, tried to figure out how the giant water clock in the lobby worked, chased each other around and had a great time!

(I wasn’t able to go on your fall field trip to the apple orchard. Only a few parents were chosen, and I wasn’t one of them. Oh, and that other boy in the bus picture at top right? That’s [name withheld], another of your buddies.)

May 22, 2009

Sports Album: Soccer

Soccer pages round out the rest of Gabe’s sports album, although there are still plenty of pages (especially of action photos) that I want to do for these seasons, too!

Gabe played soccer from the time he was 4 until he was 12 (or maybe until the end of age 11?) years old. He has always been an athletic, competitive kid, so he played well every year. It just wasn’t a sport he was passionate about. Still, it was fun to watch him play!

If you take a look at the gallery of soccer pages, you’ll notice that the first two-page layout, up top, on the right, looks a little different than the others. That’s because it was actually a page I did with paper scrapbooking materials, rather than digital. So that image is actually a photo of the pages. (I am soooooo much happier scrapping digitally! This is just one of the reasons why: Sharing digital pages is a heck of a lot easier than sharing paper ones!)

OK, that wraps up the pages that all sort of look alike (same template, team and player photos)! Come back tomorrow for a fresh set of layouts!

Sports Album: Basketball

Basketball has been another constant in Gabe’s life so far. He has played every year since he was 7 years old. He played several years of recreational basketball through our town’s league. He also played a year for school, in 8th grade, before deciding he had a lot more fun playing on a rec league and no longer was interested in playing on school teams. Most recently, he has played several years on the West Bridge Church basketball league, but I haven’t actually finished any pages for those seasons yet. Oy. You’ll also notice that I have yet to do any layouts of action shots, which is a bummer. There is still plenty for me to do for his albums!

(In case you’re wondering, this is not a fast hobby! Each page takes me between 2 and 3 hours to complete, on average. So, it’s doubtful that I’ll get much more done on his albums before May 29!)

Sports Album: Baseball

Gabe played baseball from age 5 to age 17, multiple times a year, so we are swimming in baseball photos! I wanted to make sure the main team and player photos were scrapped, so I created a template that I could use for all of his seasons, just changing out the paper and embellishments. You’ll notice that a couple of pages don’t follow the template. Those were likely created before I thought about going the template route!

I will admit that I didn’t get every season scrapped. Fall ball and a couple of other leagues didn’t take team photos, so I don’t have those documented. I still have thousands of pictures I can scrap; I just haven’t gotten through all of them yet!

I have a BUNCH of action photos I wish I could get scrapped. But honestly, it’s looking a little less likely every day that I will get those done. After what is supposed to be his graduation, I will likely move on to trying to get more photos of Ella and Joshua scrapbooked. I’ll try to let go of what I don’t have done for Gabe…for now. (Letting go is not my strength!)

Sports Album: Title Page

For Gabe’s sports album, I wanted to create a cover that had a mix of photos covering various sports throughout the years. So this is what came together. His three main sports were soccer (which he quit at about age 12), basketball and baseball. So this page has a mix of all three. Eventually, I will create a similar page for the back of the album, but I have not done that just yet.

Gabe might very well disown me when he notices that I posted a picture of him picking his nose in the infield while playing pee-wee baseball, but come on, I had to!

Below is the full image.

Honoring the Class of 2020

None of us could have imagined that our Class of 2020 high school (or college, for that matter) seniors would have ended their 13 years of school this way — e-learning at home under government orders due to a worldwide pandemic. Yet, here we are.

Many of them, understandably, feel a little cheated.

They will not have a prom.

They will not have their final spring sports seasons.

They will not have their Senior Nights for those sports seasons.

In Danville, our seniors will not have their traditional Senior Walk, dressed up in their caps and gowns, parading through the other schools in the district, waving to former teachers as younger students witness the fanfare that (typically) comes with an achievement as admirable as graduation.

They most likely will not have a graduation ceremony — at least not in the traditional sense.

Graduation open houses will have to be postponed — or, in cases like my son Gabe’s, might not even happen. While some students will be fortunate to be able to have their graduation parties in the summer, fall or winter — whenever our lives return to “normal,” after the virus (hopefully) has run its course — Gabe likely will have long left for his duty in the U.S. Army. He’s scheduled to leave for boot camp in mid-June.

It’s a shame, really. No one could have seen this coming, and no one could have prevented what is happening. Yet it’s still heartbreaking when your senior walks into the room, as mine did this week, on the day Governor Eric Holcomb announced that Indiana schools would be closed for the rest of the year, and sadly announces, “I had my last day of high school, and I didn’t even know it.”

It is sad. It’s a genuine loss — loss of the moments and memories that one usually carries with him or her for years after the days have passed.

It’s also a loss of an opportunity to share old photos and celebrate the end of a huge season of life, just as the next season begins. That traditional graduation open house I mentioned earlier? Seeing old photos, in my opinion, is the best part!

So rather than not share those photos at all, I encourage seniors and their parents to find ways to share those photos while maintaining our required social distancing — through social media, blogs or in novel ways.

It’s why I’ve revamped this old blog from years ago. I plan to schedule a post every day between now and when my son would normally have graduated from high school — May 29 — or longer.

I’ll share a lot of scrapbook pages, because that has been my preferred way of documenting memories related to my kids’ lives. But I’ll also share some favorite old photos that might not have made it into a scrapbook page, simply because I will never be “done” with all of the scrapbooking and favorite photos.

After graduation, I will share some of my other kids’ pages, as well as family memories and other photography and scrapbooking projects.

I hope you enjoy this photographic journey through Gabe’s childhood. I doubt I’ll post things in chronological order (that would take a lot of planning, to time it out just so!). I’ll just schedule a few posts at a time and see where it takes us.

First up, one of the layouts from Gabe’s sports album. A huge part of his life until recently has been his love for baseball, so it seems fitting to post a baseball layout first. Here, his eighth grade year.

(Did your child play this year for Danville, also? I would love to know! I don’t have a roster and have no idea who was on the team! Please share!)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2016-04-spring-8thgrade-1200px.jpg

So, what are you going to be when you grow up? A letter to my children

Throughout your school years, you’re going to hear a lot of people ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

If you respond, “a doctor,” or “a lawyer,” you’re likely to be met with responses like, “That would be excellent!” and follow-up comments about how much money you could make if you chose such a profession.

And while the intentions behind such a question and these responses will generally be good, I want you to know right up front that if you answer something like, “an artist,” “a theater actor,” “a writer,” or another profession that will not necessarily bring you such financial freedom as a doctor or lawyer might, I will be standing behind you, rooting you on – and super proud of you.

What’s more, if you choose to be a stay-at-home mom, a stay-at-home dad, a missionary or some other unpaid role, I will be super proud of you just the same.

You see, it’s not about money. The truth is, finding happiness in life is never really about money. Finding happiness in your life will come when you realize that no matter what you’re doing with your time, with your life, you’re doing it because it’s what God intended for you to do.

How will you know that you’re doing the right thing? You’ll have a passion for it. You’ll love doing it. Some days, depending on what you decide to do, you might do it for your own personal benefit, and you might even catch yourself saying, “I would do this work even if I weren’t getting paid for it.” If you’re a full-time parent, you’ll want to do nothing more than stay at home to raise your kids. You will know in your heart that that is what you were meant to do.

You have a lot of years ahead of you, and it will be much more important for you to be happy than it will be for you to be well-off financially. If you do something you enjoy and for which you have a passion, you’ll enjoy getting up in the morning. You’ll have the energy to get through your day. And you’ll be able to be present, mentally and physically, for your family when the day is done.

On the flip side, if you choose to do something just because of its financial reward, one day you might very well wake up and realize you dread going to work. It will take every ounce of your being to get through the day. You’ll lose confidence in yourself. And you’ll be miserable when the day is done. Your relationship with your spouse and your kids will suffer. And life will go downhill from there.

So, Gabe and Ella (and any future children, if God blesses us so), please know that I encourage you to follow your hearts and your true desires when choosing what to do with your lives. Don’t worry that what you choose to do will disappoint me or your father. It won’t. I promise. And never use the word “just” when describing what you do (“I’m ‘just’ a stay-at-home mom,” or “I’m ‘just’ a starving artist,” for example). Because if you’re doing something you love to do, you will do it with all of your heart, and you will be successful – and happy. And ultimately, that is what we want for you.

I love you.

– Mom

If only we could all be like him (God sure called home a good one!)

Last weekend, I got a surprising phone call. An important man in my life had passed away.

No, it wasn’t my husband. Or my son. Or my dad. It was Father John—more formally, the Rev. John P. Roof—the priest who held my attention with his infectious laugh, his sometimes-off-kilter sense of humor, and his genuine love for all mankind for the first 34 years of my life. (And then some…but he was only my “official” priest for the first 34 years.)

Father John and granddaughter

Father John picks up his granddaughter at his retirement reception in 2009.

Father John was the longtime rector of St. Augustine Episcopal Church in Danville, Ind., until he retired in 2009. It was at this church where I was baptized as a child, where I earned camperships to Waycross Camp in my youth and where I came running back in 2004 when I realized, after several years away, that I needed God in my life if I was going to survive tough times.

Father John and Pastor Mike Thornburg, our wedding

Father John performed our wedding ceremony (along with my husband’s pastor at the time, Mike Thornburg) and those of my two sisters to their husbands, baptized Gabe and Ella as wee little ones and always made us feel at home when we showed up on Sunday mornings.

He served as a reference for me when I applied for a job at Christ Church Cathedral, even though I was probably only a vague memory for him at the time. I turned that job offer down, but when I applied for another at the same church years later (this time after having returned to St. Augie’s), he put in a few good words for me. I have no doubt that his approval carried some weight. He was respected and well known in the central Indiana Episcopal community.

He remembered who I was and welcomed me back with open arms after I had spent several years away from church, without so much as a question as to why I might have left or what I was doing in those missing years. He made me feel like he was just genuinely glad to see me back. And I think he was.

Taking a ride in the Canterbury Chariot

One of my many fond memories of him was when he gave the kids a ride in his golf cart (lovingly nicknamed the Canterbury Chariot). Other fond memories include his many sermons (always good for a laugh, they were), his hugs at the back of the church on Sunday mornings (we all waited patiently in line each week to have a chance to say hello, share a smile and get a hug) and his retirement gathering (where I was touched by the number of people who came out to say a word of thanks to this wonderful man). It was always clear that Father John was full of love—and well loved by all who came to know him.

Retirement reception for Father John Roof, 2009

This is just a piece of the line at Father John’s retirement reception in 2009. The reception lasted for hours, with people lined up patiently to shake his hand, get a hug, share a story and hear his fabulous laugh.

Father John was a lovable man who was a clear picture of the love that Jesus Christ asks us all to share with the world. For years, he performed weekly church services and loved the inmates at the women’s prison. He joined gays and lesbians in commitment ceremonies because he wanted to honor their love for each other. He loved us all—no matter our backgrounds, our faults or our tendencies.

And we, the community of St. Augustine (past and present), the Danville community, the Episcopal community and so many more, loved him back.

I haven’t been a member of St. Augustine for the past two years. We left after he retired—but not because he retired. Our family simply needed to find a church home that was fitting for all of us and our changing spiritual needs—and we’re very happy where we are now. But I consider myself a part of the St. Augustine community, albeit a former one, and I am praying that God will bless each of us during this time, reminding us all of God’s peace, and helping us take comfort in knowing that He simply called Father John home.

I am praying especially for his wife Midge (who loves the St. Augie’s community as much as Father John did), his children, John, Josh and Missy, his grandkids and the rest of his family. Their hearts must feel an unimaginable ache right now. I’m praying for strength, peace and the desire to draw nearer to each other and to God in this tough, tough time.

I am thankful that the horrible disease that claimed Father John’s life took it quickly, in just a matter of days, so that Father John would not know an extended period of suffering. I have no doubt that God had a hand in that.

Those who loved Father John miss him already, and will continue to miss him, regardless of how frequently (or infrequently) we’ve seen him over the few years since his retirement. He made a mark in the world, blessing all of those with whom he came into contact. If only we could all do the same.

Lots of love to the Roof and St. Augustine church families.

Father John scrapbook page

I miss seeing that smile

Journaling for a scrapbook page to be created some day in the future

This is a smile I love to see.

Field day fun

I wish we could see it more often.

It’s not that you are an unhappy child or that you are frequently grumpy.

You are not.

It’s just that fewer things in life seem to bring this kind of joy out of you the older you get. At 10 (almost 11) years old, you’re past the bubbly baby, talkative toddler and passionate preschooler ages. You’re no longer in elementary school, when school seemed (at least to a student) to be more about social skills than studying. (That photo above? That was taken in May 2012, during your last week of elementary school, fourth grade, on field day.)

Suddenly, you’re in fifth grade – in our town, a middle-schooler – and the stresses of everyday life are becoming all too real.

Middle school is a hard time for everyone, I think. Some girls are starting to notice boys. Some boys are starting to notice girls. Kids are becoming more judgmental of one another. Cliques begin. Gossip becomes frequent. Feelings become real.

In the last year, we’ve moved, and our new neighborhood isn’t chock full of boys who are knocking on the door asking you to play – as they were at our old house. You don’t play outside as easily or as often as you used to, and we aren’t good about inviting friends over to hang out with you.

The friends with whom you once bounced from sport to sport (baseball in spring and summer, soccer in fall, basketball in winter) are more frequently picking a single sport on which to focus. This means you no longer see them outside of school several times a week, all year long. They’re working on sport-specific skills all year, growing stronger and more competitive, meaning you’re no longer always one of the best players on the team. (And that’s more than OK; it’s good for you, in fact. But it’s definitely a change from what you’ve known so far in life.)

This year, you’re in a new school building, with new teachers who have widely varying expectations of you. You’ve been thrust into the middle of what our school system has dubbed “the pilot program,” the all-out, no-holds-barred implementation of mass customized learning, a brand-new way of learning, of teaching students, of spending your allotted math time at school, of focusing, of studying, of being accountable for your own work pace, of setting your own homework schedule.

That’s a lot of change. And it’s a lot to ask of a 10-year-old, especially one with a gentle heart and sensitive spirit, like you. We know that. We understand that. And we expect it to affect your energy level, your motivation – your smile.

But, Gabe, you’re doing great.
You’re confident.
You’re smart.
You’re friendly.
You’re social.
You’re funny.
You’re well behaved.
You’re learning.
You’re rolling with the punches.
You’re making new friends.
You’re learning to focus.
You’re learning to work hard.
You’re coming into your own.
You’re becoming a glimpse of the man you will become.

And I’m really proud of you.