hard things to say

glassine bags in 4 sizes

On the Write.Click.Scrapbook. blog this week, where I am a member of this incredible collective of talented designers, Erin Sweeney has been hosting. On Wednesday, her post was about journaling. And Digging Deep for that journaling, actually.

Many of you know that times have been tough with my oldest, Zach, during his experience as a college Freshman. Intelligent as he is, with numerous academic scholarships under his belt, he decided to blow off attending some classes, completing class work, homework assignments and respect for his parents. Therefore, he is no longer a college student. He blew the chance of earning a degree at a top-notch local college {Gordon is a graduate of this same College} that has been included in the U.S. News and World Report lists of America's Top Colleges several years. He threw $18,000 in tuition, books, meal plans and scholarships down the drain. And that's the cost for just one semester. It just did not mean as much to him as it did to us. It really hurts me, even still. And my eyes are pooling with tears as I type just thinking about it.

Instead he has enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He will be leaving in September for basic training and then heading to Charleston for his 18-month training stint in the nuclear program. Yes, 18-months in training alone before he ever sets foot on a submarine or a ship. That's how intense this program is.

He is not a highly excitable kind of guy. At all. 

And, for him, he's pretty excited about this venture. He's excited about the fact that he scored very high on the ASVAB test and had the choice of any field he wanted. He's excited about the fact that this will be a lucrative career choice, whether he stays in the Navy and earns even more signing bonuses or leaves after his initial enlistment and re-enters the civilian world with some wonderful skills learned and promising career opportunities. He's excited that he could have the opportunity to attend Officer Candidate School. He's excited.

I don't know if he's thought so much about the fact that he will be away from home and what that all means. Probably, right now, it seems pretty exciting to him. I'm thinking that it might not be as exciting after a time, knowing him as I do. 

I cannot say that this would have been my first choice as a career path for him when he graduated from high school. And it's probably still not my first choice, but it IS something that is making him happy and fulfilled. And I am thrilled with the opportunities that lie ahead for him.

My Father was in the Air Force. Zach's Father was in the Army. Gordon's Dad was in the Marines and now we have a Navy man in the house. We're covered, aren't we?

The layout I am sharing with you today is one featuring Zach. The Digging Deep journaling is contained in that small glassine envelope on three journaling cards that are filled back and front with my story of his one semester college experience. 

Here's what I shared with the w.c.s. readers:

The journaling for this layout has been in my head, and in my heart, for several months. It's a story that is not particularly pleasant, but I wanted my son to know how I felt about the experience. Looking at the layout, no one would ever imagine the powerful story that is contained within that glassine envelope...three journaling cards front and back full of a Mama's angst, hopes, dreams and words of wisdom. So, the journaling was not all that hard to do, I knew I wanted to document this phase in Zach's life, but actually making the layout and reliving the events were. On the up side, I purposefully chose a happy photo and an inspiring die cut. If someone wants to read the story, they can, but they are not subjected to these private words unless they want to be.

I used a dictionary page that has the word success highligthed with my punched kraft arrow...
I added a punched heart to the glassine envelope...
I used a punched tab from some boxer short packaging from Old Navy {I think this will make him smile, he will remember this and how he helped me to punch out the shapes}...
I used a smiling photo of Zach {taken on New Year's Day}...
I used a more feminine paper, offset with the kraft, so it wasn't so serious...

...all in an effort to make this layout seem less intimidating, as my words
to Zach are powerful. I did not hold back. I did not fluff.
...I am honest.
...I am his Mom and I love him.
...I hope this will all make sense one day.


And I do believe that. Some stories are tough, but they are a part of our life's history. This isn't the first layout I've done that show a less-than-sunny-side of our lives and it probably won't be my last. 

Have you ever shared some tough journaling on a layout? More than once? Never?


  1. I love that layout! What a journey, eh? Good for you sharing the tough stories. I have many layouts like that - after all, that's how we learn judgment and build character, they should be included. GREAT story and one I'm sure, in time, he'll appreciate being told. It's just the start of his journey!

  2. That's a hard hard thing for a mama to watch, but worth remembering. I imagine it was a little healing to get it all out on paper.

  3. As a child that didn't follow her mom's dreams - that was hard to read.

    Remember sometimes are not are wish, choice or dreams.

    Yes, he made mistakes, but they are his to make.

    Life isn't all about the choices we made but what we decide to do about those choices.

    So glad he isn't depressed about not following his parents choices. So glad he decided to remain joyful!

  4. As a current university students i have to say i understand his struggle. It was so hard for me to go back to school last fall as well. I hated every second at school, and i was 100% not ready to go back. But eventually that feeling passed, and i am happy i stuck through it.
    But it's not for everyone, and he has a great amount of courage to be able to stand up and say that he wasn't ready yet.
    I wish the best for him, and that he continues to follow his dream.
    And thank you for the inspiration to scrapbook the not so good times.


  5. It's a beautiful layout Monika.

    Umm, to be honest, no I don't scrapbook the hard stuff. I think I have a different philosophy about scrapbooking then some do though and that is okay with me. Besides, some things are just too hard. And you know what I mean... I don't need a page to remember them. That's not a dig at those who do choose to record the hard stuff of life. It's just not what I choose to do.

  6. Your blog, creations and photos are all beautiful!

  7. i have done a couple tough pages 7 have a couple more to do, but sometimes the tough ones are just hard to do. Thank you Zach for wanting to serve our country and all the best to him.... and his mama!

  8. *hugs* Monica. I suppose we all have hopes and expectations for other people, especially our children (as I'm about to find out!), but that can all blow up in our faces when their ideals and plans are not ours. Everything does happen for a reason, and I wish Zac all the best in what he's chosen for his career. Chin up, I'm sure he'll make you proud of him. :D Oh, and yes, I do scrap the hard times. I just don't share those layouts.

  9. What a wonderful layout. I really need to start doing layouts of the more serious things in life, as it is all part of the fabric of being. Thanks for sharing your story. I am a new follower and found you through The Twinery.

  10. I admire your courage to do the layout and your courage in becoming a Navy mom! I have a college freshman who is doing well but I also have a high school junior who is not doing so well, struggling with doing his work eventhough he's extremely bright and at the moment is considering joining the marines. He wants to become a police officer which I admire but the thought of him joining the marines scares me. I think I'm going to learn from you and do lots of praying and try very hard to let him make his choices and mistakes and learn to fly on his own. I so admire your ability to do that with Zach! Thanks for sharing your story and the layout is amazing!!

  11. Thanks for sharing this. I love that you are documenting this hard phase you are going through with your son. He will appreciate reading it when he has a child that is about to head off to college. It's the difficult things in life that stretch us and help us to grow. Good for you for documenting it!

  12. My husband taught at the Navy program that your son will be attending (although at the time it was located in Orlando). It's a great program, but definitely intense. Best of luck to your son! The Navy has been a great choice for our family - both active duty and reserves. I wish him the best of luck in his future and thank him for his choosing to serve our country.

    My niece is going through the same struggles right now. Left college midway through this year and is struggling with what to do right now. We're trying to be patient and listen and be supportive.

    Thanks for your honesty in scrapping the bad times along with the good. I've taken some "heat" when I've done that (from my family and friends), but I think scrapbooks really need to show real life, not just "happy life".

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