A Bit of a Ramble about Photography

At the risk of speaking to only a percentage of my readers, I must narrow my topic a bit tonight and write about photography. Are you interested?

Lately, I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with my camera. Love it when I get an amazing picture, hate it when they all have flaws. I put more of the blame on the camera than on myself -- silly, I know.
I have always loved photography -- wanted to be a photographer, to capture images like a genie in a bottle. It seems magical to me. My first digital camera was a gift, given to me in college. I loved it. Took tons of sort-of OK photos with it {always on automatic} and even printed a bunch of them as 8x10s. {They sit in a drawer...no longer admired as much.}
My husband and I bought our current camera early in our relationship with each other and I adopted it as my own. ;) I'm the one home with the kids, right? I still knew nothing about the "Av" or "Tv" settings. Not a clue. So when I started reading blogs about photography and seeing beautiful images on their sites, I thought, "maybe anyone can do this!" Maybe I could take my pictures from "just OK" to "amazing"!
And thus begins the journey. Steep learning curve. Pictures I thought were terrific two weeks ago are no longer all that great. Learning so much everyday. Taking 500+ photos a week! Getting really comfortable with the variable settings. Learning the lingo. Wishing I could take it all in by osmosis. Instantly.
Then the plateau. Pictures just aren't good enough. What can I do to improve even more? I start shooting manual with some good results. But after a few weeks of trial and error and TONS of blurred and over-exposed photos, I start to lose my resolve. I'm ready to switch back to semi-automatic settings {or maybe just the little running man -- I have a two year old}.
I get discouraged. I can't even remember what shutter speed does. I start leaving my camera at home. :(

I realize that I'm focusing SO MUCH on the technicalities and the amazing-ness of the photo that I'm missing out on the moments that I wanted to capture in the first place.
Which brings me to my point.

How do you balance the desire to shoot perfectly exposed and amazingly sharp images with the need to capture memories...expressions...life?
I can't do both overnight. And as much as I beg myself to be perfect and superior, it's just not possible. One human being can only do so much. *allowing myself to be {im}perfect*

So. I will do my best. Probably much of the time on a setting other than manual. Unless my subject is sitting very still and the light is just right. And I'll focus on capturing the moment's memory.
And my scrapbook will thank me.