My summer challenge

For those of you that may remember, I had given myself a summer challenge. I have been really bad about printing out my digital photos (since 2003) to put in photo albums. By really bad, I mean, not at all. So my plan was to print out all the photos from 2003 to current day (about 2500 pictures) and put them in albums. My cousin read my blog and told me she was doing just the opposite. She was digitizing all her pictures. So then my project got bigger.

I found this great photo scanner that I blogged about and purchased for about $100.00. It works great, and I have scanned about 1500 pictures.

The bad news is, this project is HUGE! I have only scratched the surface. First of all, I don’t know what I was drinking when I said I could do this during the summer. Summer is my busiest time. I have three kids that play either softball or baseball and that means a game six days a week. I also still work during the summer, everyone is in some sort of camp (or two or three) and on top of that, I feel we need to get our money’s worth from our pool membership. That leaves very little time for pictures. My plan to have the kids scan for me worked one time until they got bored.

So yesterday it rained and our outdoor plans were canceled for both during the day and the evening. This was my opportunity to sit down and work on my photos again. I went to Redbox and picked up two movies, set up a table in my room in front of the TV and started working. I made a list of what years/months were digital the last time I worked on this project. This time, I counted all the photo albums to see what still needed to be done.

OMG! I take way too many photos! My husband and I have been married for 20 years and I take at least 300 and sometimes 500 pictures a year. I spent six hours taking apart two large photo albums from 2001 and half of 2000, scanning the pictures and putting them in new albums. Of course, I had to remark all the margins in the new albums, too.

My son came in about five hours into the project. I had photo albums all over the bed and two on the table or the floor next to me. He said, “Are you done with all of these on the bed?” I had to admit that no, I was no where close to doing those. I had six albums that were completely digitized, backed up on CD and placed nicely in albums. There were two more that I completed that day and probably 20 albums on the bed. That does not include the photos I still have to print out and all the loose photos I got from my mother and grandmother.

I think if I work on this project every weekend for 6 hours, I might get it done by next year some time. However, six free hours a week is rare.

So, I continue on and hope that it gets done before I have to convert all my hard work to the next form of photograph they come up with.


Let me start off by saying that I do not have a green thumb. I kill house plants. Really, what is the point? A plant growing indoors? The only plants we have left are kept alive by my husband who waters them when he remembers. At one time, when we first got married, I bought a bunch of plants. I watered them and gave them fertilizer, sniped the bad leaves, etc. but I couldn’t keep them alive.

I come from a long line of gardeners. My parents had one at the back of the yard for years. I actually hated that garden. It was our job to weed it and I remember being asked to get off of a comfortable couch and go out on a 90 degree afternoon to pick lettuce for dinner. My grandparents had a city lot in Chicago and grew some amazing veggies and flowers in their tiny garden. Part of my visit with them included strolling around their yard admiring the things they were growing. (I didn’t have to weed those plants!)

I started my garden about 6 years ago. I still don’t have a green thumb, but it does a lot better than the house plants. First of all, it is outside, where God intended plants to live. He provides rain and sunshine and I only have to supplement with watering (although not too much this year). My garden is small by most standards. It is made up of two areas fenced off on the side of the house. One is 10 x 3 and the other is 15 x 3.

I have tried to grow many different veggies and some fruits in my garden. My neighbor shared some of her raspberry plants with me. Hers grow on the same side of the house and they have done great. She gets buckets full of raspberries. I got a handful in 4 years of growth. Blueberries and strawberries did equally as well. Watermelon takes up too much space. We got quite a few baby watermelons, but as the kids picked them up to show their friends, they busted them off the vine. When we finally got a good sized one, about 6 inches, my daughter proudly carried it into the house. On the way up the deck stairs, the dog raced past her, causing her to drop it. It was mashed beyond consumption.

Veggies have done better, but still not great. Most years I have a large crop of tomatoes, both cherry and Big Boy varieties. I have also had more cucumbers than I know what to do with. The other veggies have not been as successful. I have tried cauliflower and broccoli. They didn’t get as big as you find them in the store, so I left them on the plant until they rotted, thinking they were still growing. My green peppers never get bigger than a plum tomato. I guess I need more room to grow green beans because the few plants I had didn’t produce enough beans for a meal. I tried carrot, lettuce and green onion seeds, but I don’t have enough patience for them. My zucchini did great the first year, but last season’s rain and cool weather did not produce much. The herbs I grow are doing better in pots than they did in the soil.

I feel a sense of accomplishment when at least part of my garden has a successful year. I am not trying to win a prize at the State Fair or save money on groceries. Yes, I put a lot of money into it, but I just enjoy the fact that I built something from nothing and made something that I am proud of. I keep trying different things to see what works. I have good years and bad years. I guess it is a lot like being a mom.

As I said before, my summer project is to put all my loose photos in albums and print out those 1000s of digital pictures I have saved on my computer. When I mentioned this in my blog, my cousin responded that she is digitizing all her prints – no more photo albums. I decided that I wanted both. However, the idea of sitting in the basement (where the flatbed scanner is hooked up) for HOURS over the summer did not sound like a lot of fun. So I started looking for a better way to do this.

I searched for people who would scan them for me. First, you have to trust them with your photos and, in most cases, trust that the mail will get them there in one piece. Secondly, the cost was way out of my price range for the number of prints I have. The cost per scan was anywhere from seven cents a scan to 24 cents a scan. The seven cent deal required you to scan 6000 pictures at one time! Ship them across the country and trust them with 6000 pictures at once? I don’t think so.

Then I did a Google search for photo scanners and that lead me to Pandigital via Amazon. I love to buy things on Amazon. I actually read the reviews and that came in handy for the scanner I bought.

It is called the Pandigital Photolink One-Touch Scanner. This scans up to 5 x 7 photos in about 15 seconds. You can choose between 300 and 600 dpi. It is not plugged into a computer and saves the scans to an SD card (which is included). The scanner cost $96.00 and I got free shipping.

I tried it out two days ago. I sat in front of the TV with the scanner and a box of photos on the coffee table. I scanned 110 photos in 30 minutes while the Hawks played in the background. Downloading them to the computer is equally as simple. Plug in a USB cord and copy. The scans came out great!

Yesterday I showed my 10-year-old how to use it. She was looking to earn extra money for the summer. A great deal for both of us. Who doesn’t want a job (even under minimum wage) where you sit in an air-conditioned house in your PJs while watching TV?

The Pandigital comes in a larger size – 8 x 10 – but I didn’t have enough large photos to justify the extra cost. The only photo that doesn’t work are those thick Polaroid photos from the 1970s. I guess I’ll pick a rainy day to scan those in the basement!

Today is the last day of school for our kids. They go in for an hour so they get money from the state (ha ha). It is truly a waste of time for everyone involved. This is the earliest they have ever gotten out. The other school district in town always runs on this schedule. Our district tried it for one year – one and done. A survey of the parents concluded that going back in mid August was too early for their vacations, etc. The fact that our elementary schools don’t have air conditioning plays a big part, too.

So that means the get out a week early and start a week late – an extra two weeks of summer vacation. Hooray! – for them.

First of all, I am not prepared to have everyone home yet. I didn’t finish all the projects I wanted to have done by the time school got out. The last week got here so fast! Even the school was little confused by getting out a week early. My middle daughter handed in a state float project on Tuesday. They got them back on Thursday. How did the teacher have time to look at them? Were they even counted as a grade? My oldest daughter was still working on projects as of Tuesday night. When do they close their books?

Since it is the last week of school, each of the kids have been coming home with TONS of paperwork. I don’t have time to read through everything! I just put them in piles.

Now the kids will be home for 12 weeks instead of 10. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with our kids. Most of the time, they are a lot of fun. However, I work from home, as does my husband. Five of us in the house for the summer? How productive will that be? Twelve weeks is just too long when you are the parent. I am sure the kids will love it!

Do you have one of those projects that you really want to complete, but it is too overwhelming to start? My project is the photo albums. Now, I said photo albums, not scrapbooks. I am not trying to make it fancier with colored paper, ticket stubs, large headings and cute sayings. I don’t want to write what was going on outside of the frame, how we were feeling, or any other special details. I just want to put pictures in an album and write some vague information like who is in the picture and when and where it took place. I also want them in close chronological order – the same year in one photo album.

My problem started in 2003 when my oldest child was in Kindergarten. My husband bought me a digital camera. Always thoughtful, he knew my love of taking pictures and the frustration I had while trying to take pictures of kids with a film camera. When my middle daughter was born, I had to take 2 rolls of film to get one good picture of the girls together. A digital camera seemed like the answer to my prayers.

I took hundreds of pictures with my new camera. I downloaded them all to my computer and then backed them up on CD. I was organized at first, naming each folder to the matching event. As time went on, I put the sub folders in a larger folder named with the year. Years went by. I have since gotten 2 more digital cameras. I have now taken thousands of pictures in the past seven years.

Somewhere during that time, my husband bought me a photo printer. He researched and told me we could save so much money with this photo printer and it would be so easy to print them myself instead of going to Walgreens. Great! So I printed a couple and they looked nice. I was going to print all my digital pictures on this printer. Guess what? I never finished that project either. The printer became my “emergency” printer when the kids came home to say they needed pictures for All About Me by tomorrow. Then I ran out of ink. I priced the new ink and then shelved my photo printer.

I have started my photo albums a couple of times since 2003. I have completed both 2007 and 2008 (those were the years I started the projects). Now the project is out of control. I still back up my pictures, but there are no sub folders. They are dumped in a large folder named with the year only. I have taken so many pictures that one year does not fit on a CD anymore. Now they are broken up into multiple CD’s. Honestly, I hope I backed them all up. In the past seven years I have also had three computers. I have printed out many, many pictures at Walgreens, but because of the huge cost of seven years of pictures, I only print out 100 or so at a time. And then weeks go by and I print more. I have probably printed duplicates. I don’t know for sure because the prints are shoved in a cabinet while I wait for the rest of them to be printed. And more weeks go by.

On top of my own pictures, my mother has added to the pile. She has given me TONS of old family pictures from her albums, and my grandmothers’ albums. Some of them are more current and are pictures of my kids. Most of them are from when I was a kid and when my parents were kids. These pictures are in large envelopes stuffed in the same cabinets. They are all different sizes and I don’t even know how to put them in albums!

I am usually a very organized person. It is disturbing to me that I have let this get so out of hand. By admitting this to you, I hope this will force me to get this photo albums up to date once and for all! I am challenging myself to get this project done by the end of the summer. I want to start the school year fresh and up to date. Yes, the summer is busy, but honestly, there is never a good time. I’ll let you know how I am doing as the summer gets rolling.