Skype calls

... So Kates and I are a couple weeks into our adventure. And if there's anything we've discovered, Skype is one of the greatest things ever created ...

Since I got my cable connection established, we've made it a priority to meet for video calls every night, and our time shared via Skype as been more valuable than I'd imagined. Kates and I can make supper together, watch TV together and watch Phoebe play together while sitting in rooms hundreds of miles apart.

The figurative journey of our technology has only become more humbling as I've listened to my mother's tales this week about my father's year-long stint at another job when my brother and I were far too young to understand, let alone remember, their struggles. How Dad didn't have long distance phone service, but his employer allowed him to make one early-morning phone call to my mother each week. How Dad had our only vehicle, leaving Mom to seek rides from others or cart us around in our little red wagon. How Dad could only travel home on the weekends, and that was the only time we got to see him -- but how my brother waited to take his first steps while Dad was home to witness it.

From the first days we went public with this adventure, people's most common suggestions for survival was Skype ... Some of the best advice I received came during my last days at the News while interviewing a source, who was back home after 10 weeks of being away from her family. No matter what, she told me, make it a priority every night, before going to bed, to say good night to Kates.

Often, Kates and I meet around dinner time, after I've arrived home from work --I've enforced a rule on myself to stay at my office no later than 6 p.m. -- and Kates sets her computer at my place on the kitchen table. Phoebe can see me while she's eating, we talk about our days and it feels as though I'm sitting there with them.

Some nights, we've stayed online together from dinner time to bed time. On other nights we've only talked for a short time before both of us need to tackle other responsibilities ... Just like me retreating to another room when we're actually living together.

Our Skype meetings have become so routine that Phoebe now asks to talk to me ... "Daddy pitchure" and "Daddy 'puter," she says.

Along the way, we've established our own little games. One night, I flickered my fingers in front of the camera in a tickling motion and Kates played along by tickling Phoebe, saying "Daddy's tickling you!" When I took my fingers away from the camera, Kates stopped the tickling ... Now it's become a favorite game of Phoebe's that she asks for again and again.

She also loves leaning over the laptop to give kisses before Kates takes her to bed.

It's not as comforting as actually holding my girls, but it's doing wonders in helping us get by.

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