Keeping in touch with loved ones via the internet

We have two homes. Half our family and friends live here, and the other half live on the other side of the world. This is a story about keeping in touch with loved ones all year round, via the internet.
It's not easy living so far away from family and friends. We miss being able to drop in spontaneously on each other, chat for hours, and just hang out. We miss being able to wander into town, bumping into good friends with a fresh baguette under the arm for 5 minute catch ups before lunch. And if you wanted to find someone in particular, it would only take a few minutes to check their favourite cafés, or bars to locate them. We miss ringing the doorbells of family, any time of day, whose homes are so comfortable to us, we've barely crossed the threshold of the doorway, before our outdoor shoes are tossed off, and their spare indoor slippers (anticipating our return) are on!

Sure, nothing can really replace the comfort of a hug, '2 kisses' accompanying each greeting, a walk to the park, the smell of the ocean, the festivals on the street, the taste of familiar home cooking, or the luxury of choosing however to spend the time together. Nothing. 

However, maintaining our relationships with loved ones has always been important to us, and when our son was born we were driven to make every effort possible to bridge the continents! As a result, I think it's fair to say that our little boy (nearly 3 years old) has grown to really know his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, as well as friends; and likewise, overseas family and friends have become a part of our daily and weekly routines - and are not only witnessing but participating in young B's life. Not just by the occasional overseas trip or visitor, but by modern technology - in particular, the internet. Who'd have thought? 

A trip down Memory Lane:
Gosh! When I was a kid, I remember clearly how we kept in touch with anyone overseas... 

- Postcards: usually when holidaying, chosen carefully for the accuracy of the image compared with the 'real thing', and usually in place of expensive to develop photographic film. The text (in teeny tiny font) would go something like: "Hi all, Havng w'ful time, weather hot-37'C, enjoying the sights, hotel comftble, host friendly, saw boat you'd've loved, don't forget to feed cat! miss you, love, us xo. PS.pls keep this card for our album". The traveller would often arrive before the card itself. (Nostalgically, during a recent trip back to see family, I bought and wrote on a number of postcards...never got around to sending them there - might do from Australia... could be funny??!!!)

- Aerogrammess: light as a feather, cheapest way to send a decent letter: a piece of paper which was printed with a prepaid stamp, folded into 3 - with edges to seal shut so it became its own envelope: 4 sides/sections to write on. Our family used to pull one out at family events or Christmas and pass them around for everyone to jot a few heartfelt words or funny stories down in their own handwriting for the recipient. 

- Letters/cards and packages: expensive, months in the making (travelling), but super special to make and receive! Packages and parcels are still absolute treats!

- Telegrams: OK, I've not ever personally sent a telegram, but from what I've seen at weddings ("To the new Mr and Mrs John Brown. Sorry to miss your special day. Much love for a lifetime of happiness. George and Mildred") and in the movies ("Dear Rolf *stop* ...Don't stop!") they seem like kind of pricy, typed, 'one off text messages'.

- Phone calls: Ahhh, the phone calls... I remember them clearly! The dial up phones, calculating the time difference (several times, just to be sure), calling "Information" to check the international codes, waiting nervously during the foreign beeeeeeep - beeeeeeep 'ringing' signal, hoping, with excited butterflies in the stomach, that they were home and would pick up soon!

Then, once connection was made ... "Hello? *echo:Hello, Eva? *echo:Eva?...Yes!...Ohhh!!" (tears, squeals, etc....pulling oneself together catching sight of the clock and its reminder of the pending astronomical phone bill...). We'd establish as quickly as possible (given the constant, rudely interrupting echo), that it's actually 3am there - oops - something went wrong with the time difference calculation regardless of all previous efforts, what the weather is like there and here, how they are, how we are, and any important fact swapping... airport arrival plans, favourite foods, what to pack (given the aforementioned weather at the time)... and the obligatory: "You hang up first! ... No you!... hahaha! *girlish giggles*"...

Flash forward 20-25 years, and it's another world entirely...

    Keeping in touch with loved ones via the internet:
    • We message spontaneously to check if family/friends are home and line up a time to 'meet' within seconds. 
    • We chat for hours.... or minutes! 
    • We send and receive videos and photos throughout the day -  capturing, sharing and enjoying all those everyday special moments!
    • We especially love our breakfast - dinner dates, where we sit around what feels like the same table making and eating pancakes, laughing and swapping stories, recipes and film reviews, while they relax over their dinner - or vice versa!
    • We love debating political and social world issues (as well as silly everyday stuff) - which, let's face it - demand time! Side note: being married to someone who practically argues for sport - this is essential!
    • When our little boy was born, it was so special to be able to introduce him - practically 'life size' via the internet with web cam, and likewise, to meet his little cousin, and many other special new babies welcomed into the world amongst our friends/family!
    • There is something so wonderful about being able to give friends and family a tour of the house (and garden) in real time, and introduce any visitors who happen to pop in during the video calls! We even discuss gardening tips - checking out the tomato plants together...

    • Our son is now so accustomed to our regular internet catch ups, that he casually goes about his business of playing, bathing, eating, singing, dancing, bike riding without any hint of 'artificial performance'. He loves to include whoever we are chatting to via internet in his games, and does so completely naturally, as if they were actually here with us! He makes them pizzas and cups of tea from his toy stove, plays hide and seek, sings and dances, and reads/listens to stories... 'virtually'! The other day, the cutest moment was when he and his little cousin (just 3 months older), without any prompting, spontaneously decided to take turns playing animal charades! One would flutter about with large floating wings until the other shouted out their guess: "a bird!" - then they would say "now, your turn!" Sometimes us adults would join in requesting certain animals... sometimes we'd just set up the screen and leave them moo-ing like a cow, or crawling about on all fours roaring like a lion...
    • We are raising our son bilingually: for cultural heritage, for family identity, for the love of languages, for communication - to be able to get to know and be known by the half of the family/friends who live overseas, and to truly be able to live between two homes and enjoy all of their cultural celebrations. Chatting via internet with others opens another world of speakers (and practise opportunities) - otherwise it may seem to our son that it's just us at home speaking our own 'strange language'! It's so lovely watching B and his great grandmother conversing...
    • Young B often asks to chat with different people - love that:-)
    • Meeting family/friends 'in the flesh' overseas was as comfortable as if we'd last seen them just a few days ago
    • ...honestly, this list could go on and on... I am so in awe of the wonder and possibilities of connecting via the internet. 
    This year, I really hope that on top of our usual, spontaneous internet catch ups, that we can plan ahead better to enjoy more scheduled 'dates' too! 

    We have two homes, and thanks to the internet - very often, the distance between them seems irrelevant.

    Thanks for stopping by Kids Play Space! I would so love to hear if you too use the internet to keep in touch with distant family/friends and how you manage to incorporate it into your daily life!

    Be sure to also check out some other wonderful Healthy and Sustainable Valentine Alternatives hosted by ALLterNATIVE Learning...
    If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to check out these:
    Imagine If Less Meant More!- "Could it be worth investing in less screen time, less plastic and fewer battery operated toys to make way for a more authentic childhood?
    Mama's Going Back to Work  - a toddler's timetable to ease the separation anxiety...
    Star Gazing and Possum Hunting - A Bedtime Ritual - One of our fun calming bedtime routines:-)

    'til soon,
    Happy Playing!
    Anna :-)

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    1. B is very lucky and he is going to be very grateful for his exposure to two worlds! Well done!

      1. Thank you so much! Trying to keep the cross country communication going is very close to our hearts! Anna :-)


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