Hello, and happy Friday to you! If you’re new to this series, you might want to check out the previous posts before delving into today’s topic.
Today’s topic is all about keeping in touch. I am sharing with you all of the ways we love to keep in touch with Michael. Hopefully you’ll find something in my list that you weren’t aware of and will be helpful to you.
~ For most of us, the most readily available form of communication is email. If you are fortunate and your husband has frequent access to personal email, this will be invaluable to you.
We discuss the “business” of the family (ex. what’s going on, who got hurt, who learned something new, etc.), other happenings and exchange photos by email.
My boys (6 and almost 4) also frequently request to send emails to daddy. They may only be a few words in length, but they enjoy doing it and they get ecstatic when Michael writes them back!
~ We also correspond via instant messenger (we use Yahoo). Michael’s job is such that he is at his desk at least 50% of his work time. Typically, on base, access to things like Facebook and personal email providers (Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) are protected, and no access is allowed. However, the base where Michael is currently stationed has allowed access to most of these services. It’s a small perk and we like it!!
We typically do most of our online conversing (IM and email) while he is at work because he usually works 12+ hour days, seven days per week and even though he’s incredibly busy, he can shoot me a quick email or IM between tasks, but at night when he gets back to his room, he’s wiped out and just wants to get some sleep.
When I’m home, I log into IM and leave it open with the volume up loud enough for me to hear from another room. This way, if Michael sends me a message, I will hear it and come running!
~ About once each week, we also do a video chat on Skype. Michael does this from his room, as his internet connection is faster and makes the video feed more smooth. This is our absolute favorite way of communication because we get to see him!
This has been great for the kids because they have longer attention spans when there is something tangible, rather than just holding a phone to their ear
This also allows me to move/angle the camera in such a way that we can continue chatting while he watches the kids play, run around, demonstrate things or read stories to him. I also have a netbook with a built in webcam that I sometimes take into Rachael’s room if we are on when she is waking from a nap or waking first thing in the morning, this way he gets to be the first person to greet her upon waking!
I cannot even begin to tell you how much it has meant to him to be able to see his baby grow and talk to her (and now she’s talking back). She absolutely adores her daddy and constantly goes to the computer and asks for daddy! It is so beautiful to watch them interact and to hear her complete thrill at just being able to see daddy!
The boys have their special daddy-time, too, but he wasn’t in fear of them forgetting him, learning how to talk or becoming a toddler while he’s away. It has been extra special for him to be able to watch her grow, even though he’s not here.
~ Phone calls vary widely depending on job situations. I am very blessed to have a husband who is at a desk for a number of hours most days. This means he has access to phones! However, this definitely doesn’t mean he calls me every day, usually a couple of times per week (this week it was 3 times because our anniversary was yesterday!). Phone time is typically limited to 15 minutes per session, but this also varies widely depending on how busy the base operator is. If it’s an unusually busy day or a peak time, they’ll actually put you on a 15 minute timer. You’ll get a 2 minute and 1 minute warning beep and then be cut off at 15 minutes – finished or not.
To make the most of our phone calls, I keep a list of items I need to make sure to talk to him about. Usually these are items that are too long (or too much information) to be typed out in an email and are much quicker to hash out on the phone.
~ Morale calls – this is a once weekly phone call you are permitted to make to your spouse. I have actually never done this since Michael is typically available by other means. You need to know the phone number of your local base operator (usually provided in deployment preparation packet) and you’ll also need your husband’s DSN number (including country code) at his desk or for his unit (this will be provided by your husband once he reaches his destination). Call the base operator and tell him/her you’re making an overseas DSN morale call, then you will be asked for the other information.
~ My most favorite way of really personal communication is the old fashioned letter! It is what you make it! I am very blessed to have a husband who enjoys writing to us.
I sent him with pre-addressed envelopes for each of the kids and several note pads making it easier for him to write letters to the kids! He tries to send a couple of letters to each child, each month. They love it when they get letters from daddy! We read the letters and talk about what Michael wrote in them and then we hang them on the wall above their beds where they can read them or look at them any time they wish!
In case you aren’t aware, your deployed spouse can send letters (not packages) to any US address for FREE from their deployment location. All they need to do is address it properly and write “FREE MAIL” in the space where a stamp would go.
Letter writing is especially meaningful for me. It’s much more personal than email and there is much more thought that goes into what to write in a letter. We both enjoy sending and receiving letters and it has been wonderful for us!
~ There is also one other form of contact reserved for true emergencies. Your deployment preparation materials should have information for the Red Cross emergency contact program in it. Be sure to obtain your husband’s information (DSN #, country code, unit #, etc.) once he reaches his destination and write this on the front of the Red Cross packet. I’ve never had to use this – praise the Lord – but it’s good to have, just in case.
What are your favorite ways of communicating with your deployed spouse?
Be sure to join me next week for a pretty detailed list of care package ideas.