Tuesday, November 29, 2016

You used to call me on my cell phone

Blake and I have been asked a few times how our families felt about us moving to Japan. Truthfully? They have been nothing but fully supportive. While we were waiting to hear our orders, there were some not so subtle hints that West Coast duty stations would be well received, but as soon as the word came down, everyone has been excited for us!

What helps is that we had already moved 2000 miles away. Now it's more like 6000 miles, but we've already been working to maintain that long distance family relationship. Of course, the 13-16 hour time difference (depending on location and time of year - Japan doesn't do Daylight Savings Time) doesn't make it easy, but we've still been finding ways to keep in touch and be involved in each other's lives.

One of the most useful tools for that has been WhatsApp, which lets us text and voice call using our data or over wifi, instead of using our cellular network. I even saved the icon on my phone screen in the same place I had the onboard text messaging on my American phone because I use it that often. We have a few stragglers who haven't joined us there among our most contacted people, but most of our family and most frequently texted friends are there.

We're also a big fan of video chats, whether it's via Skype, FaceTime, or Duo. Recently, I was hanging out with Sisterpants and my nephew on Duo and he pulled out some books to read. One was about learning animal sounds, so my sister read the text and I made the animal sounds. Somehow my sister didn't know what a goat says, so she was surprised when I got it right! Later in the same call, I "read" Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? for my nephew. In truth, I pretty much have it memorized, so it was just a matter of using the visual cues to remember the order of everything. We've also sung songs and made a LOT of faces at each other. Apparently, the nephew is pleasantly surprised when anyone else but his parents knows the song "Popcorn Popping", and now I know what his face looks like when he is requesting it! He opens his mouth to make the "Iiiiii" sound and starts sort of making his hands pop. He's apparently pleased if you sing anything, but Popcorn is one of his favorites.

When I moved to DC, Facebook still had a "the" before its name, and I didn't even sign up for almost another year. Even then, I got in with a .edu email address because they hadn't quite opened it up to everyone yet. Now, I can keep up with people all over the world and even stay connected to a lot of happenings on base.

I still remember when long distance calls were expensive and rare. My grandmother once called us from a phone on an airplane. Even when I was in London in 2004, I used calling cards to talk to my family. So, I'm certainly glad for modern technology that keeps me in touch with people I love! I'm still exploring other things, so if you have any tips or ideas, I'm all ears!

No comments: