Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Baby Steps

In the days before Little Bit joined our world, I was the queen of moment capturing, printing, dating and filing. The pre-digital camera days were full of snapping shots on 800 speed film with our 35mm Minolta from every angle.  As soon as the last image was taken I'd rush out to the Exchange we were military during those years and immediately have the film developed. When it returned, I'd promptly pick it up and meticulously caption and date the back of each picture, which would then be lovingly and immediately put into the next slot in the book.  If I had a title for those years, it would be, "I dreamed of scrapping"...mostly because I planned on creating masterpieces with the images as soon as my Grace Girl went to school for a few hours a day.

Ha Ha Ha....this is me laughing at my decade ago self. I had such big dreams.

In late 2003 all of the organizational photo beauty ended. It mimicked those scenes in the movies where the main character allows all of her plants to die, except I was the leading lady and my 4x6 shots were the plants. I was in the middle of a difficult pregnancy with an almost four year old and a husband pursuing his PhD full time while also maintaining one weekend a month in the Reserves to give us extra income. I was proud of myself for simply remembering to capture memories.  I was trilled when I was able to date them accurately it's an odd gift of mine, being able to look at a picture and recall the date down to the day of the week even years later and then get them back in the envelope with their negatives.

With the summer of 2004 came a new babe, an apnea monitor, Synagis shots, and a digital camera. In tears one fall day I told the then-to-be prof I couldn't do it all and the baby was going to grow up without any developed pictures and she'd think she was adopted and we loved her sister more and....and he promptly went to the store and bought me a new camera. A digital one. Sigh. Reason one million and three I love that man...I planned on printing the digital files monthly and putting them straight-away into books. Planned being the operative term; it never happened. For a few months I printed and labeled. Then I went to online dating and labeling. Then just remembering to back them up. By this point Little Bit was almost four and we flew South and took up a new residence. I reveled in the fact that in just a year, both kids would be in school and I could organize my photo disaster. I'd make memory books of their first years...I'd put all of it in books. I'd convert all of the 35mm film negatives to digital to further save precious memories. I was still dreaming the big dreams.

Our first year south was the stuff great tragedies are made of...one child adjusting well and one wanting to go "home". She broke our hearts with her sweet eyes and mournful cry. Schooling here wasn't all it was cracked up to be; the "gifted" program met just once a week for an hour and she was a full year ahead in all subjects even though grade wise nothing had changed. She was bored. Lonely. Frustrated.  In the hope of continuing her adoration of learning I offered to bring her home. Yep. Homeschooling. A new world for all of us. Suddenly, my kids are going to school freedom had vanished. Just. Like.That. I waved goodbye to it with all but one regret...my pictures...my memories.

We jumped headfirst into homeschooling and I tackled it with everything in me. I'm not sure how the kids and I survived that first overly ambitious and stressful year, but that's another story. We also began competitive dance here we'd done it for a year up north previous to the big move and doubled our dance classes. My free time went from caring for a most delightful and easygoing preschooler during the day and having a clean, well-organized home worthy of house beautiful to me crying every Friday night because I couldn't get it all done. I'd always been the girl to do it all myself. My digital files? Just as they came off the camera. Not dated...but backed up. At least they were backed up....

Fast forward to this summer. I purchased a new hard drive to triple back-up the files as well as a scanner to digitally restore the early years shots and save all of the negatives as files. I was feeling ambitious. I vaguely recalled my big dreamer self of yesteryear and she made me smile. Surely during the long days of summer I'd be able to get those photos done once and for all.  I purchased ten new albums to put everything into, as I'd given up the idea of scrapbooking until the kids didn't need me as much. I sorted, labeled, organized by year. It was beautiful. My girl earned a free trip to Nationals for her dance solo...we traveled to NYC for almost two weeks. My photo queen ways crashed. We came home and it was time to schedule curriculum and start dance and do workshops. Summer was over. The scanner sat, unopened, behind my comfy schooling chair. We started Algebra and English and Latin 1 and threw ourselves into academics. We lived. I continued to capture our moments and some of the guilt over the pictures began to wane...it only took a decade. I decided that it was more important to catch the milestones than get them into books...that all of my regret at the not having done was far more detrimental than the not actually doing.  I decided I'd work in baby steps to get things on track. I backed up all of our videos that the man promised he'd edit onto a drive. On a cold, miserable day in October I gathered all of our VHS and 8MM tapes and took them in to be converted by a professional to files I could easily save to the new two terabyte monster I'd purchased to preserve memories.  Baby steps. Two weeks ago I pulled all of the files off of my phone that I'd edited and shared and posted. I sent them in for processing within three months of taking them. Baby steps.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because you can do it too...that thing you think you'll never get under control or that organizational pitfall you look at and then squint your eyes tight at so it seems tiny and maybe like you're imagining it??? You can do it. You CAN.

You can dream big.

Even it it takes a decade to get started.

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