Like many parents, we bought a camcorder around the time our first child was born.[1]

Like many parents, we recorded dozens of moments during our early years of parenting, sometimes letting the tape run long past the point when it should have been shut off because we were so utterly delighted with everything our child did.

Like many parents the camcorder slowly got used less-and-less as we added more offspring to the family. Once the first iPhone arrived in our home, we were pretty much done with our camcorder, and it has sat in its case in a closet for nearly six years now.[2]

S. had the brilliant idea last week that I charge the Sony up and give it to the girls to play with. The first step to turning it over to the girls, though, was making sure every moment we had put onto tape was safely backed up onto a hard drive. I was not about to let them destroy our only way of getting data off the MiniDV cassettes before I was sure we had multiple copies of the treasures recorded on them.

So for the past three days I’ve been hooking the camcorder up to the girls’ Mac Mini, selecting Import in iMovie, and letting the bits flow through the FireWire cable. I would occasionally sit and watch, or let the girls watch, as the movies that were being imported displayed on the Mini’s monitor. They loved it! There was much laughter and howling at their younger selves.

I loved it, too. I can’t remember the last time I watched any of the tapes. There are so many terrific moments collected on them.

A few observations:

Man do I love those babies who are in the 5–7 month range, when they’re just getting their personalities and you can get them laughing. So many wonderful moments of one of the girls laying on a couch or blanket, kicking their legs, and laughing at us making silly faces or noises at them. That’s just the freaking best.
It’s funny to see their personalities so soon. I see behavior on those videos from when the girls were 2 or 3 that exactly matches the girls they are today.
Asking babies/toddlers where their various body parts are never, ever gets old. There were probably hours of “Where are your toes? Where’s your belly?” etc. on those tapes.
Of the moments I saw, my absolute favorite was an epic 20 or 25 minute recording with a roughly four-month-old C. sitting in her excersaucer while M. played with her. The best part, though, was when I flipped the view-finding screen around so that M. could see herself while I filmed her. She freaking flipped out. She laughed as loud as I’ve ever heard her. She’d run up and mash her face into the screen, then back up and laugh again. When C. would appear over her shoulder, she’d scream “DERE C.!” And this just kept on going. I could only get her to stop mugging for the camera by asking her if she wanted to watch Big Bird. Then she quickly turned, waved backward over her shoulder to the camera, and marched toward the TV. Not good times, great times.
The girls are really looking forward to watching them all at some point this summer. And so am I. And I’m also kind of interested in what they come up with once I turn the camera over to them.

Along with the Sony Camcorder came our first Mac, since video editing was (allegedly) so much easier on a Mac. I wonder if S. wishes she could go back and rethink that buying decision.  ↩

Also, as the video function on our Canon point-and-shoot camera got better, it was easier to pick it up to catch a quick video of the girls rather than go find the camcorder and wait for it to start up.  ↩