Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Staying Connected Despite Distance

This is a post that has been forming in my brain for some time.  Staying connected to family is especially important to me, as my parents, siblings, and relatives are scattered across various states.  The following items have helped me tremendously and I'm always looking for more suggestions.  For my IF sisters still waiting, I hope these ideas give you food for thought for when your miracle arrives.

It's hard to live far from family.  However, I find the visits with them are more precious when they do occur.  When KB came along, the separation hurt even more.  Probably the number one worry was making sure KB knew my folks.  My parents live on the west coast, a long flight from where we are here.  I did not want my parents to show up someday and KB look at them and say, "who are you?"  My hubby's parents live about an hour away, so we see them about once a month.

I think often of my ancestors from Ireland and Slovakia who emigrated here, never to see their families again.  Even more close to home, I ponder my grandmas.  Both moved moved to the West Coast from Chicago or Boston within days of their weddings.  They eventually set up roots in Southern California.  Yet they only had scant few visits with their family and phone calls had to be limited due to the distance.  And we all know how babies don't always talk on the phone. :)  We definitely have better ways of keeping in touch now.

These wonderful advances have made the separation a bit less painful.

1.  Skype
Without a doubt, Skype has been the most helpful tool.  Their free video chat has helped us have face-to-face conversations. Now that KB is more interested in crawling around instead of sitting in one place, the webcam captures these fun moments.  Plus, my family gets the joy of seeing milestones such as pulling herself up or learning to wave.  Sk.ype has also helped KB recognize my parents' faces.  She always smiles brightly when they come on the screen.  We talk every weekend, so although they don't get to see her in person, Sk.ype is the next best thing.  I enjoyed seeing their reaction last year when we told them the news of our pregnancy.

2.  The Recordable Storybook
Yet another wonderful invention.  The book is exactly like it sounds: your loved one reads the story and his/her voice gets recorded.  The pages each have sensors, so as you turn the page, the voice reads the words.  My mom and dad each made a recordable book for KB.  She loves listening to their voices and immediately starts looking for Grandma or Grandpa inside the little box.  I appreciate hearing their voices too, especially when my voice is tired.  My favorite nighttime book as a kid was "Good.night Moo.n," so I enjoy hearing the story read to me as well!  I hope to make sure these recordings last a long time.

3.  Invitations even when you know they can't come.

A dear friend in my hometown never fails to send us invitations to her children's birthday parties, despite our cross country location.  It means so much that she has not forgotten us, especially considering her family still lives in town.  She also sends picture cards of her kids at the various holidays of the year.  This simple gesture means so much.  I hope to replicate the same idea with KB's first birthday (in ONE month! YIKES!) and future events.  An invitation always carries the same message: we want you here to celebrate.

4.  The "Look Book."  

A friend recommended this item for my baby registry.  The  soft album is very baby friendly (i.e., chew friendly).  I inserted photos of my and hubby's parents, siblings, and in-law so she can see their faces.  A holy card of St. Catherine of Siena (KB's patroness) completes the back of the album.   The photos have made a big difference in helping KB recognize her family.  Plus, it's always in her toybox for ready viewing.  You can buy the album at Bab.iesRUs and the like.

5.  Special books
My brother and sister each have a special book that they get to read to KB, ideally on skype.  We have the same copy here at home.

6.  Pictures, Pictures, Pictures
I try to email a couple pictures every week to my and hubby's families.  Usually the photos deal with a new milestone, or a cute moment.  Some of my family members are on Face.book, some are not.  The pictures are sent in real time so they can get an idea of how much KB is growing.  I hope to continue this weekly ritual in the future.

Also, instead of purchasing cards at the store, I use Shutt.erfly to make personalized birthday/special occasion  cards with KB's picture.  When you post a picture of the card on your blog, Shutt.erfly gives you $10 off your next order (that's why random cards show up on my blog!).

Living far away from family was never our choice, but a decision made due to my hubby's job.  We may not have family living in close proximity, but they do live in our hearts.  I'm grateful that technology has made it a little more livable.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

We love fall!

Ah, Fall.  What a wonderful season of the year, often hijacked by the retailers who are currently hanging up Christmas decorations as I type.  We took KB to a farm/orchard this weekend and she loved it. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Just had to share this card....

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.