My children are only 3 and 5 years old. Because they are young, it’s hard to have a good conversation with them on the phone. We do use Skype video conferencing a few times every week, and the children like being able to see me. The Skype video call looks like this:
(note Judy is holding her beloved little white rabbit).
So Skype is pretty nice, and it’s free. The main problem for me is getting the hardware (webcam and headset) over to the Cyber Café in the early morning and then logging on before my children go to sleep. 6AM here is 8PM in California.
Another service that helps keep me in touch with my family is Pixtorie (www.pixtorie.com). This is an online photo scrapbook site, run by my friend Sam Gasowski’s wife, Susan and her partner.
Pixtorie allows you to pick templates, and then put in photos and captions. This is all done on-line. The actual album is made using high-quality materials and scrap booking techniques. The result is a very nice family heirloom scrapbook, with great pictures and effects. We just finished this, and it’s a real family treasure. It has several sections showing the children at school, fun family trips taken together, and then a section about me in Iraq so the children can see where I am. The children are not great at talking on the phone, but this is the perfect item for someone deployed overseas. It was a delight to hear my kids going through the album and saying what they saw and enjoying the pictures, and it’s a nice reminder to them that I’ll be home soon.
Here is what one of the proofs look like in the Pixtorie Scrapbook we created:
Anyway, if you have some nice digital photos and some time, I’d highly recommend Pixtorie!