March 20, 2013

Technology allows for virtual baby shower

By SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time

---- — When miles separate family and special events occur, it’s difficult to celebrate and involve everybody in the festivities.

This is particularly true when a new baby is expected in the family and a baby shower is in the works. Nowadays, if you enter technology into the equation, it offers a great option.

My granddaughter Emily and her husband, Jared, moved to Indiana following their 2010 wedding. 

Last fall, Emily found out she was expecting their first child, a little girl who will be named Britton Adelaide. So, how do you put on a baby shower for Emily?

Her sister, Hannah, who never ceases to amaze me with new ideas to old problems, theorized that if we can all Skype each other just to visit, then we should be able to Skype the baby shower. Great idea, but I wasn’t sold on the theory.

For our readers who are scratching their heads at this point, let me explain. In order to Skype, both people need a laptop or desktop computer with a camera attached. After downloading the program to your computer, you can call someone, and if their computer is on, they will answer — just like a phone — but the big difference is that you can see each other.

I remember the days when I used to think, “Heaven forbid phones ever have a way to show my picture in curlers or without makeup.” Guess I wasn’t a visionary.

Hannah and Emily’s mom, my daughter Tracey, was thrilled with the idea. They made invitations with a sonogram picture of Britton. (Don’t tell them I said this, but in their enthusiasm, they forgot to print the date on the invitation. Hannah was busy with her job and Tracey was in Indiana visiting Emily and Jared, and the “oops” happened. Not to worry, though. That other technology-enabled social network called Facebook was a quick way to notify the 30 or so invitees of the date.)

I helped decorate the fellowship hall at First Christian Church in Brushton with pink everything. When the guests came, it was gift bags, wrapping paper and girly dresses in pink, lavender, yellow and every other color except blue. That sonogram reader better be right, or there’s going to be a newborn boy in Indiana without a shred of blue to wear!

Emily was broadcast on a widescreen television, and when each guest arrived, they said hello to her. Tracey wanted to include Emily in the games as much as possible, so she gave her the answers to the ones we played. Emily got to announce the winners, and from the laughs and frivolity, everyone had a great time.

Oh, there were a few glitches. As with any wireless technology sending signals hundreds of miles into space, only to bounce back to earth at a specific spot, we had to make a few adjustments. Emily sounded like she had hiccups a couple of times, but it was only temporary. If she moved too fast, or her kitty, “Miss Maisey Meow Meow,” got in the way of the camera, we saw only a blur. Those minor “glitches” did not take away from the amazing time we had.

So now it’s up to Emily to deliver that sweet little girl so she can play dress up in all those cute pink outfits. Tracey and her husband, Randy, are packing the van with all the gifts, and at the first sign of a contraction, they will head southwest and hopefully arrive in Indiana in time for Britton’s first cry.

By the time the shower was over and we were cleaning up, I was more than convinced that Skype showers may become a common event. There weren’t any “stork bingo cards,” Eggbert cocktail napkins or safety pins for cloth diapers like years ago (which I bought but found out they aren’t the same now), but the love of family and friends for Emily, Jared and baby Britton wasn’t lost in the Skype transmission. 

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at