It’s one of the most “FAQ” you will hear spouses ask on various online forums and communities…”How else can my soldier and our family stay connected besides just webcam and phone”. Let’s face it our brave men and women miss huge events such as births, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. They also miss the small stuff that’s just as important such as the first potty use, a missing tooth or the first school play.

Recently the good people at Google shared some great tools that can help military families keep in touch and share those special moments that we all know to often go missed.

  • Call abroad — for less — with voice calling in Gmail: Calling abroad frequently can be expensive. Instead of limiting long distance calls, try calling directly from Gmail. Currently Uniformed Military Personnel with a valid US .MIL email address can now call anywhere in the US from abroad for FREE. Visit Free calls home from Gmail for US Military.
  • Visit with your military spouse through video chat: Seeing your significant other face-to-face, even if it is virtually, is the best way to feel connected. The video chat feature in Gmail, Google’s free, web-based email service, is free, easy-to-use, and is integrated within all Gmail accounts. Check it out: Gmail Voice and Video Chat
  • Edit and share photos through Picnik and Picasa: Your serviceman or servicewoman will love to see special moments happening at home. To send them your best shots, crop photos, add frames, and experiment with special effects on Picnik, Google’s free online photo editing service. Once your photos are looking their best, organize them in Picasa, Google’s free organizing and sharing service, and create a web album to share with loved ones over seas — with just the click of a button. Check it out: Picasa Web Albums Tip: Edit in Picnik
  • Tell your family’s stories on a blog: Families go through all kinds of happy, heartwarming, and hilarious day to day moments. Blogger, Google’s free blog publishing tool, makes it simple to share favorite experiences with distant friends and family in the military. In just a few minutes, anyone can share stories, photos, videos and allow others to author posts, too. You can even turn your blog into a hardcover book to send as a gift.  Check it out: Blogger: How to start a blog
  • Share special moments through video: Try starting a YouTube channel for your family or group of friends so you can share footage of baby’s first steps, a child’s graduation, or a holiday gathering with those serving our country around the world. Check it out: Create an account and find out how to upload a video to YouTube
  • Chat face-to-face with the whole family on Google+ Hangouts: If you have family all over the country, it can be challenging to schedule a video call with a loved one serving abroad. With Hangouts, you can chat face-to-face with up to ten family members while allowing others to “stop by” if they are available to join the conversation. Hangouts lets you stop by when you’re free, and spend time with your Circles. Check it out: The Google+ project: Hangouts



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