smile, you're on camera

I've mentioned this before but I really can't say enough about how bad I am at finishing projects. I am the queen of starting. QUEEN, I tell you! I will gladly pull out all your canned goods to organize your pantry but sadly that last jar of spaghetti sauce will never make its way back in.

A few weeks ago my parents swapped babies with me and John. We gave them our little baby and they gave us their 330 pound baby. 

Fair trade? Jury is still out...

So while they were vacationing in Colorado and letting Annie spend time with Aunt Kristin and Uncle Jesse, I hung out with my brother Ryan and sat on their dining room floor sorting through 35 years of photographs. And let's be real, it will be another 35 years before anyone finishes. 

Given the number of pictures that were thrown into 7 or 8 tubs covered in dust, I feel like real progress was made. 10 photo albums were filled. 

I doubt if that's even half in the end. Boo. I truly did sit on my behind and organize pictures for hours on end. In case you have any desire to beat out some photo books yourself, here was my method. 

I "inventoried" the whole shebang. It took me a solid 8 hours. I put them into 8 piles. Pictures of my brother; my sister; me; us together as siblings (i.e. group shots from vacations and christmas cards); friends of the family; extended family (aunts, uncles, thanksgiving dinners...); Colorado/Florida vacations; and my parents

They were BIG piles. I would show you a picture but my iPhone definitely erased all my photos from the month when I cancelled a syncing with iTunes because I was in a hurry. Love you, Apple. You're the bomb. Dot com.

So anyway, I took masking tape and made labels over my parents' long wet bar to sort the kids' pictures. Birth; toddler; k-3ish; 4-8; high school; college; adult; very recent.

That took another good 3 hours per kid but I went one at a time. Breathe.

THEN, I took the birth pile and started laying them out on the big dining room table. I cheated using outfits and anytime I saw two pictures where Ryan had the same clothes on, I assumed they were from the same roll of film and stacked them.  

And the reunions began! Photographs from the same roll that hadn't been next to each other in 30 years found their way back together again! I threw out duplicates and near duplicates unless I was too sentimental (i.e. first day of life pictures - that's kind of a big deal). 

Then came the final ordering. I picked up the stack or single picture where the kid looked the youngest and started filing the proceeding pictures behind it as best as I could guess with chronology. I'd end up with a thick pile to start sliding into the album. Then, on to toddler years, etc.

(By the way, I zestfully threw away all those strips of negatives that my mom had hoarded for decades. She's lying if she tells you she was ever going to accomplish finding a particular picture from that tangle. It filled a whole trash bag and it was well with my soul.)

In the end, I managed to finish our wedding, a siblings album and  each of the three kids. To my MAJOR dismay, I thought I had finished my own books only to find a folder of pictures that my mom had presorted ten years ago when she intended to organize pictures. So I had to do a lot of shuffling and page adding. No fun.

But I took a break one morning to go to Oceans of Fun with these cool kids:

Poor Ryan. That beam of sunlight did him no favors in this picture. Be gentle, sun. No need to highlight his bowl full of jelly. I could have cropped it out, but would have lost my chin. What to do?

Though the mountain of photos left on the floor when they came back from vacation was far from encouraging, my picture sorting mission (though not finished) was progress.

Here are a few favs discovered along the way...

Yeah, that's right. Fist pumps were cool even then.

You are not a Mueller grandkid unless you've ridden that minibike. First sign of Annie walking and we're going for a ride!

But I'm saving the best for last.

Who would have thought that this camera loving kid:

Would be an even better model 25 years later?

Ladies, he's single and ready to mingle.

But, alas. There is one picture that trumps it all. Sorry, Kristin. It's just too good not to blast across the internet.

And with that, my friends, farewell.

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