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The Family Ties That Bind Also Record

Mamapop-gigiClick Here
'And there's a built in webcam...' my husband's voice trailed off as he started playing with another awesometastic feature on the shiny new laptop he had presented to me for my birthday. I remember those words loud and clear; now I had my very first webcam.

I also have a distinct memory of impatiently walking back and forth behind his chair while waiting to get my hands on the laptop he was setting up in our shared workspace. Our then 8-month-old daughter was fussing and I was doing that bounce-bounce thing all parents do to sooth the wee ones while shifting her from hip-to-hip in a vain attempt to distract her. While restless in waiting to play with my new hi-tech toy I pondered what could be done with a web cam.

In my narrow-minded (and obviously ignorant) knowledge of the internet, weren't webcams most useful for randy teens and perverts looking to show off their *cough* equipment? Obviously someone had been watching too many episodes of Law & Order. I was new to the world of net surfing and did not see how a web-cam could serve any positive purpose.

After vocalizing my ignorance of non-creepy webcam uses to my husband, he pointed out one absolutely stellar, knock-the-socks-off use for our newest techie gadget: Extended Family Time. As in spending time with our far flung relatives who probably would never get to interact with the squirming bambino who seemed permanently hitched to my hip.

child-in-car-black-and-white-grinningClick Here All in all, we have one relative who lives within an hour of us and all others require actual trip planning to visit. Now, we could have live -- and more importantly -- visually interactive chats with them and show off the sprog in all her spit-up and glory. Turns out we were the last of the relatives to get on-board the webcam train and suddenly a whole new world of talking to the grandparents et al. had opened up to us.

I'm still amazed that grandparents will feel no shame in making crazy noises and pulling equally strange faces to get the first-born grandchild to laugh even when she's hundreds of miles away. Seeing my Father-in-Law cooing into the camera while I held up my child like I my name was Rafiki and seeing her react to his face just melted me into a parental puddle of love-filled goo. Why didn't we do this sooner?

Now that 8-month-old is nearly five and the webcam is still one of her favorite modes of talking to all the relatives. "Can we video chat with Grandma and Grandpa?" is a common question on the weekend around these parts. There are now two more grandchildren born into our extended family and we see more of them online than in person.

In fact the webcam has done more than just connect our family, it's provided entertainment for thousands of fine folk. Just this past holiday season my daughter, along with other sweet faces, graced the MamaPop Video Roundtable: Holiday Children's Choir with her presence, just one more thing I can share with our extended family. Being able to create then instantly send out a video to friends and family has saved me from being labelled anti-social more than once.

The only time I've regretted introducing video-chatting into our extended family communication repertoire was the time my daughter decided to show off one of her forbidden talents to the grandparents, aka: the butt-butt dance. The butt-butt dance is an interpretive dance piece that has been universally banned in both this home and her school. Think of a completely live Bart Simpson Moon but less yellow and totally starring my child's butt. It's accompanied by a 'butt butt' song and maybe contains a motion that makes it look like the butt is singing the song. Yes, it's times like that when I wish we had a 15-second delay on our family-friendly feed. Grandma is probably still having flashbacks of that one.

mother-and-child-in-car-grinning-happy Anyway. lest I sound like a schmarmy advertisement for webcams, I cannot deny that this little device has brought our family closer together. During those first years when our child seemed to be growing every minute, the extended family could see it with their own eyes. Albeit, sometimes they also saw too much like in the case of the butt-butt song. But that's just something to bring up during the toasts at her wedding so it's not all bad. An added bonus is I'm appearing less anti-social (score).

Now I can't be alone in marveling over how some new-fangled gadget has brought family together. What piece (big or small) of technology has brought your family closer together? Does Great Aunt Ida appreciate the photos you send her or is she begging you to stop cluttering up her inbox? Do cell phones keep you connected with the kids? Please share in the comments -- especially if you have the equivalent to a 'butt butt song' incident because those stories are golden I say, absolutely golden.

This Content Series is brought to you by Dodge Caravan, so technologically advanced your kids will be like '011101110110100101101110.




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katie (aka motherbumper) sometimes appears on her own blog but not as often as she should.







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Comments

Amalah

We LOVE our webcam, for the exact reasons you mentioned. We talk with grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles on a regular basis.

My husband's on a long-ish business trip right now and the webcam and Skype are a huuuuge help with that, too. My son asked to take my laptop to bed with him last night so he could cuddle with Daddy like usual. (BITES KNUCKLES FROM TEH CUTE)

Muirnait

My mum has been away in England for the last for months (she comes home on Monday! I am so excited!) and the webcam has essentially been the only way we could talk. It's been very helpful! When she's home we used texts a lot, too. It's so simple and allows the message to be read and replied to at the receiver's convenience - a definite plus with my three sisters and I all on wildly different schedules!

katie | motherbumper

@Amalah - re: 'cuddling with Daddy via the laptop' - That is maximum cute overload right there.

katie | motherbumper

@Muirnait - proof that the family that texts together, stays together ;) (sorry that was lame but I could not resist.)

Kelly

Unfortunately, my mother will not get a cell phone, she will not use one I buy for her either. She is happy not being reachable all the time, thank you very much. So it is still the regular old house phone for me and mom. Technology is not her friend. The computer that they have is used mostly for solitare and maajong. I have offered to set her up a free e-mail account, and she would not let me. My mom is unapologetically not down with the newfangled stuff that the kids like to mess with. God, how I love her!
I do connect more with extended family now due to Facebook. I chat with the cousins and keep track of how everyone is doing. Only about 15% of the family is on facebook as of now, but the family reunion is coming up next month, and I hope that we will be able to convince a bunch of the others to jump on the Facebook bandwagon.

katie | motherbumper

@Kelly - We are in the process of getting the family on Facebook too (in fact my SIL has made pages for each of her kids so they also have their space... though I doubt the two month old is actually putting in his own updates ;)




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