Five ways the Internet made me a happier grandma in 2009

I recently was invited to participate in a group writing project, coordinated by Daily Blog Tips. The idea is for bloggers across the globe to get together and write on a specific topic, with the posts being angled to fit the focus of each individual's blog.

The topic upon which we are to write: 2009 in Review.

As Grandma's Briefs is all about being a grandma -- with a few totally unrelated posts diversions along the way -- my year in review post should, I figured, be about being a grandma. And being an online writing event, it seemed appropriate to incorporate the Internet into my angle.

Which led me, genius that I am, to the topic for my 2009 in Review post: Five ways the Internet made me a happier grandma in 2009.

So here goes ...

1. As a long-distance grandma with 819 miles between me and my grandson, I miss out on lots and lots of stuff going on with Bubby. But thanks to Picasa Web Albums, Megan regularly shares with me photos of some of that stuff Bubby's doing. It's free, it's easy and it's my lifeline to my grandbaby. She can take some pictures, easily upload to Picasa, and I can download the entire batch -- or just those I like, but I love them all! -- and have each and every one on my own computer, for printing or daily gazing on the screen. Picasa makes me happier than any other app on the Internet.

2. Although Picasa allows reams of photos to be shared for free, sometimes it's awfully nice to see Bubby in action ... and the only way to share videos of my baby through Picasa is to pay for a larger account. And I don't want to pay, I like free apps. Sure, Megan could upload videos of Bubby to YouTube, but we don't want to broadcast Bubby, we just want a way for Megan to send me videos I can download to my computer. For free. So we turn to SendSpace. The SendSpace tagline is "Send big files the easy way." And it is indeed easy. Because of SendSpace I've been able to see videos of Bubby sliding at the park, taking a bath, wandering around in his crib while singing to himself and trying to avoid going to sleep. SendSpace makes me very happy.

3. Even better than pictures and videos is seeing Bubby face to face. The 819 miles between us prevent that from happening as often as I'd like, but because of Skype, I can see his face live as often as Megan and I fit it into the schedule -- and Bubby's attention span extends beyond 45 seconds. It's a fantastic tool for seeing new haircuts, new outfits, new words/sounds in the vocabulary. I wrote a post about Skyping with Bubby a few months ago. I envision Skype making me even more happy in 2010, as Bubby will soon be willing to sit down and read a book with me over Skype, versus having to taste and test every office supply on the computer desk or pull the webcam down to get a closer look.

4. I'm a reader. I survived parenting only because I read and read and read. I devoured any and every book and magazine related to parenting. Some were disasters ("Toilet Training in a Day" anyone?) but most were helpful and comforting. As a grandparent, I want to do the same. I can find lots of books but it's nearly impossible to find magazines specifically about grandparenting. While the AARP magazine is interesting and all, I want something that gives me the scoop and such only on grandparenting. And I found that in an online magazine called GRAND, "The online magazine for grandparents & the grandkids who love them." Go ahead and click on it. I'll wait here while you peruse the pages to see why this magazine has made me a happier grandma in 2009. (Just be sure to come back to read No. 5 on my list.)

5. Welcome back. Last on my list but closest to my heart is this blog. I was reluctant to get into the blogging thing (as you may remember reading about here). But Grandma's Briefs quickly become an integral part of my day. It has made me a happier grandma because of all the wonderful people I've met, people with whom I've maintained relationships, people who seem to truly care about Bubby and my grandparenting experience. YOU people, those of you reading this post. It makes my day to share this and that with you and to have you comment and care about whatever it is that I'm putting into pixels. I appreciate you. You've made me a much happier -- and better -- grandma in 2009.

That, my friends, is my 2009 in Review.

Now, as I promised I'd do throughout the holiday season, here is ...

Today's question from "The Christmas Conversation Piece":

If you could create a new holiday by blending Christmas traditions with those of another established holiday, which two special days would you combine?

My answer: I would combine the fireworks of Fourth of July with the gift exchanges of Christmas. Once the gifts were opened, there'd be spectacular fireworks displays to express the sheer happiness and joy of having given -- and received -- the perfect gift.