Celebrating the holidays with family members who can’t make it home for the festivities can be an emotional challenge. Here JACQUI MURRAY shares her methods for bringing family together though miles apart in the holiday edition of FAMILY HISTORIES.
Last year, I shared how my children inspired most of my writing (see below). This year, as I consider another holiday without my adult children, I wanted to share how we stay in touch.
My son Sean serves as a SGT in the Army in Okinawa and my daughter Meaghan is a LT CDR in the Navy at Ft. Meade Maryland. My daytime is my son’s nighttime and my daughter is always busy so staying connected would be a challenge if we hadn’t come up with a variety of ways to make it work:
This is a free Facebook app which allows free phone calls (video or audio) and texting. That’s free even to Japan and my son and I use it weekly. I also set up a family group for texting so we can share daily thoughts, pictures, or whatever with everyone. My kids love pictures of my Labrador, Casey, so I send what I call the Daily Casey through Messenger every day.
Messenger doesn’t always work so we have the Google Hangouts app on our phones for video chats. It’s more reliable than Messenger with a few more features. I like redundancy in my life.
Google Keep lets us set up lists or short notes that can be shared for not only viewing but editing without involving a full Word doc. You can share videos, images, lists–pretty much anything. Whoever you share it with can edit it on their phone so it often serves for ongoing events. Right now, I’m not using it with my kids but I do share the shopping list with my husband.
My daughter does a lot of writing in her job and as a growing passion. She still thinks I can help her with editing so shares the docs with me. I love reading her voice, her ideas, in ways I’d never hear otherwise. Through Google Docs, I can share suggestions which she can respond to.
I use this a lot to plan family trips. Thankfully, my kids are happy to travel with me. Last summer, my son had a month leave from Okinawa so took a 2-week trip with me to visit my daughter (his sister) on the East Coast and my sister (his aunt) in Indiana. We left Indiana via train and took that all the way home to California. We organized everything on Google Sheets–daily schedules, stuff we wanted to do, who was responsible for what. Everything. Since it’s accessible from phones as well as computers, I could check it for daily details also.
That’s about it. How do you stay in touch with your far-flung family?
A recap of last year’s post about how her children’s career choices have influenced some of the books Jacqui has written:
This is a personal how-to on preparing for and applying to the United States Naval Academy. It’s based on my daughter’s experience in high school where she first thought such a selective school was out of her reach and then was accepted into a life-changing activity that would change her forever.
This story comes from time spent with friends of my daughters who served in the Silent Service. It is a story of brain vs. brawn, creative thinking, and the importance of family in our lives, but at its core is patriotism. Many of my ancestors were in the military though I wasn’t, and by the time I started writing this book, both my children were committed to their paths. I respect the patriotism, single-mindedness, and stalwartness of our warriors–this story reflects that.
This story takes place in large part on a US warship, the USS Bunker Hill. This was my daughter’s first ship after graduating from the Naval Academy. She secured amazing access for me during my research to the ship and its people. She put herself way out there to help me. For that, I am forever grateful.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, Spring 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning