Digital Records of your Kids

A Kid's Picture Scanned

As I do a little housekeeping, I run into the kids' artwork from time to time. It makes me reminisce about the days when I only had one child and how I intended to keep folders and boxes of all her artwork and her best arts and crafts so she, myself, or my wife can look back at all her works and see how much see has progressed in life.

I remember when I first tried to teach her to draw a smiley face when she was two. She had trouble and just scribbled away something not even close. It was about two weeks when I got around to show her how to draw that smiley face again but she already figured it out. I knew Mommy didn't help because reading to my girl was more her thing. As I showed my wife our daughter's first perfect smiley face drawing, she was amazed and both proud of the occasion. I started to keep her drawings on 8.5 x 11 paper and put dates on them to keep track when she completed the doodles.

Eventually, the collection of drawings grew. I had to start being selective as my girl was becoming a doodle factory. It was in the early 2000's and I didn't have a digital camera yet. I did have a scanner circa 2000 (which I finally replaced ten years later) and started scanning a few of my toddler's greatest artwork. However, that was really impractical because the scanner took about two minutes to scan. The process of saving the scan took another two minutes. The scanner idea was ditched and I just continued to collect paper.

As I kid, I remember drawing alot on cheap scribble pads. I enjoyed making pictures and later turned out to be a good artist in elementary school. After leaving college for a "real" job, I rarely drew. I kept many of my artwork which are all hard copies and space hogs. I wished I had kept some of my early artwork from elementary school too.

There was no way I was going to have my kids lose their artwork. I intend to be a keeper of stuff that has historical value. Keeping the children's works is like making a time capsule. There will be a time for looking back but it is more satisfying if there is a physical object or even a picture to help you look back. Eventually, I did get a digital camera in 2002 or 2003. It did not take me too long to figure out that taking digital pictures of the kid's artwork is just as good as taking a scan as long as the lighting was good.

Not only did I take pictures of artwork, but videos of just about every milestone or event I could think of were documented. This include baptism, birthdays, recitals, field trips, and sports. My wife was especially notorious for clicking away like crazy at every photo op. The time to put pictures and videos in the computer was usually when the camera memory card was full. (It is difficult to do that these days with the large capacity of current memory cards). The files on the computer just keeps adding up. The camera software just puts them in a folder with a folder name that's the date of the day the picture was taken. This helped in organizing the digital pictures.

More kids came into the family and the time to collect and organize art or arts and crafts, real or digital was not there. The digital camera helped a lot but computer storage space was always an issue when you take lots of digital videos and pictures. The files became scattered across three different computers and the time to burn them in CDs and later DVDs was never made.

Hard drive and computer crashes come and go. There are times when the pictures and videos could not be recovered. It felt like I was losing my childhood artwork all over again.

Do your best to be the keeper of digital records of your kids, your wife, your family. We have technology to create records. But unlike buried treasure, we can still lose these gems forever.




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