Guest blogs and bloggers

How I Stay in Touch With Far-flung Family

Thank you so much, Adrienne (author of The Tenafly Road Series), for inviting me to again participate in this wonderful exploration of families. Last year, I shared how my children inspired most of my writing–

This is a personal how-to on preparing for and applying to the United States Naval Academy.  It’s based on my daughter’s experience in high school where she first thought such a selective school was out of her reach and then was accepted into a life-changing activity that would change her forever.

This story comes from time spent with friends of my daughters who served in the Silent Service. It is a story of brain vs. brawn, creative thinking, and the importance of family in our lives, but at its core is patriotism. Many of my ancestors were in the military though I wasn’t, and by the time I started writing this book, both my children were committed to their paths. I respect the patriotism, single-mindedness, and stalwartness of our warriors–this story reflects that.

This story takes place in large part on a US warship, the USS Bunker Hill. This was my daughter’s first ship after graduating from the Naval Academy. She secured amazing access for me during my research to the ship and its people. She put herself way out there to help me. For that, I am forever grateful.

This year, I wanted to share how we stay in touch. My son Sean serves as a SGT in the Army in Okinawa and my daughter Meaghan is a LT CDR in the Navy at Ft. Meade Maryland. My daytime is my son’s nighttime and my daughter is always busy so staying connected would be a challenge if we hadn’t come up with a variety of ways to make it work:


This is a free Facebook app which allows free phone calls (video or audio) and texting. That’s free even to Japan and my son and we use it weekly. I also set up a family group for texting so we can share daily thoughts, pictures, or whatever with everyone. My kids love pictures of my Labrador, Casey, so I send what I call the Daily Casey through Messenger.

Google Hangouts

Messenger doesn’t always work so we have the Google Hangouts app on our phones for video chats. It’s more reliable than Messenger with a few more features. I like redundancy in my life.

Google Keep

Google Keep lets us set up lists or short notes that can be shared for not only viewing but editing without involving a full Word doc.  You can share videos, images, lists–pretty much anything. Whoever you share it with can edit it on their phone so it often serves for ongoing events. Right now, I’m not using it with my kids but I do share the shopping list with my husband. Another option is Apple’s Notes.


Google Docs

My daughter does a lot of writing in her job and as a growing passion. She still thinks I can help her with editing so shares the docs with me. I love reading her voice, her ideas, in ways I’d never hear otherwise. Through Google Docs, I can share suggestions which she can respond to.

Google Sheets

We use this a lot to plan family trips. Thankfully, my kids are happy to travel with me. Last summer, my son had a month leave from Okinawa so took a 2-week trip with me to visit my daughter (his sister) on the East Coast and my sister (his aunt) in Indiana. We left Indiana via train and took that all the way home to California. We organized everything on Google Sheets–daily schedules, stuff we wanted to do, who was responsible for what. Everything. Since it’s accessible from phones as well as computers, I could check it for daily details also.


That’s about it. How do you stay in touch with your far-flung family?


I’m excited to announce the release of my latest prehistoric fiction, The Quest for Home. Click through and check it out!

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2021. 

93 thoughts on “How I Stay in Touch With Far-flung Family

  1. Google is definitely your friend! I speak on the phone, or, ideally I do :). I see my siblings once or twice a year – some more, some less. Its amazing to spend time with my nieces and nephews and watch how they become people of their own.

    I love how you share. I wonder if the distance means you are sharing more than you would’ve.

    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: How I Stay in Touch With Far-flung Family — WordDreams… – Prof blog

  3. Really liked learning how you stay in touch with your family in the military. I had no idea there was Google Keep and Google Sheets, and they sound very useful for planning things. Messenger is my go-to for keeping in touch with others. It almost always works for me but when Wi-Fi reception is patchy, then it doesn’t work at all.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Jacqui – fascinating to read … loved the tour of technology and finding out a little more about your kids – love the photos. Thanks for the techie ideas – not having kids … life is slightly different – but so be it – I’m in touch and learn from so many. Cheers from a damp south coast – piff to that!! Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Keeping up with family (especially our adult kids) when they live abroad or on another coast takes ingenuity for sure. I appreciate those tips! I message with a friend occasionally from Hong Kong. I’m still blessed that our kids are on the west coast at least and my daughters often phone me while driving home from work! I am thoroughly enjoying “Quest for Home!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have found some lovely and innovative ways of staying in touch with your kids, Jacqui. One of the reasons I don’t want to immigrate to New Zealand is the time different. It is 10 hours while the UK is only 1 or 2 depending on the season. Of course, the British history is also a big factor for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Be careful on FB chat Jacqui. FB copies and listens to all our conversations. Have you tried Whatsapp, it’s much easier than going the FB route. Instant encrypted chat and video calling anyone around the world. I use it whenever I travel. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. That’s great you have a way to stay in touch with your son in Japan. It can be hard when they are oversees. It was a big problem when my daughter and I were on a tour in China and my texting through my phone service didn’t work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good point! When I went to see my son in Japan, he had a local service (since he lived there) which helped staying in touch with my husband. Otherwise, I would have had your experience. We worried at first about


  9. I love your relationship with your children and how that finds its way into your work. Social media sure does offer us a lot choices now. Messenger and Google hang out is our family way to keep in touch. My daughter shares her WIP on google docs with me, too. Although I don’t use to for my work to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved learning the background behind your books. You must be so proud of your children!
    My immediate family all lives close by but for cousins in other states me mostly use email and text to stay in touch. It’s great that there are so many options out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Messenger is our most common, and text. The spreadsheets are for trips. I am lucky they still like traveling with me. We organize it all on a shared doc. My daughter took a trip with another family and kept talking about how poorly organized it was without the Murray spreadsheet!


What do you think? Leave a comment and I'll reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.