We are going digital. We are also going to Ireland, but in terms of lifestyle shifts and general surrender, going digital is bigger.
For years now, our friends have been sending us photos over the Internet, with mixed results (if we had to do anything more than click on it, we couldn't open it) or giving us discs full of images from trips and birthday parties and Christmas bakeoffs. After viewing these once, we have no idea what to do with them, so they litter our desk like so many 21st century coasters.
Our children are entranced by the fact that their friends' parents can show them pictures of themselves moments after the moments occur. They keep peering hopefully into the back of our little Canon, but all they see is solid silver.
My husband, Richard, and I have enough trouble loading actual film and keeping track of negatives. Besides, we have cultivated a sort of divine intervention theory of photography: If God wants the photo to be good, it will be. So just take the darn thing and move on.
Then we got the photos from our last vacation developed and for $100 we received 32 pictures of the floor and feet, 18 photos of cars, several nice shots of our dog's rear end and more pictures of my husband's nostrils than should be allowed to exist. This occurred because our children, 7 and 5, like to take pictures.
We have tried to foster and control this creative impulse -- you don't want to smother a Margaret Bourke-White in the making -- but hey, real cameras cost money.
We've given them disposable cameras, but because neither economy nor deferred gratification is part of their vocabulary, they tend to use up all 24 shots in five minutes.
Now they are old enough to be trusted with the real camera (or at least when a grown-up is present). And at first, the resultant photos of toilet bowls, rocks and Mom and Dad in their pajamas were funny, but after a while these got expensive and old. Very old.
For the record, there is no angle more unflattering to your basic mother of two than that achieved by a 5-year-old sitting on the floor -- scratch Bourke-White for Diane Arbus. Frankly, my self-esteem could not take it.
Which isn't to say Richard and I are flawless photographers; we have sacks of pictures that did not make the album cut because I cannot bring myself to throw a photo of my child away, even one with closed eyes and a finger up the nose.
So when Richard observed that the $100 we had just spent on what amounted to about 10 usable photos represented close to half the cost of a digital camera, I surrendered to the inevitable.
This year, we will be traversing the Emerald Isle with a watchful eye on the tiny screen, attempting to impose perfection on our traveling circus, showing the children what they looked like three seconds ago and, most important, editing out all the unflattering photos of Mom.
But the rocks can stay. Because Ireland has a lot of pretty groovy rocks.