How to Skype with your in-laws: 29 easy steps!

1. Call grandparents ahead to confirm father-in-law is not on the can, mother-in-law has taken her meds.2. Agree to Skype promptly after you hang up the phone. 3. Call grandparents back to remind them to hang up the phone. 4a. Ask husband to put on pants. 4b. Concede that if husband promises not to stand up during Skype conversation, he may Skype in tattered boxer shorts with the jack-o-lantern pattern. 5. Consider telling children that it is time to Skype with their grandparents in Minnesota, then think better of it. 6. Swiftly place props in background of Skyping environs, i.e. “Calculus for Pre-school: Summer Enrichment Flashcards” and the patchwork vest sewed by mother-in-law 7. Connect to grandparents via Skype. 8. See grandparents in Skype portal; they are inaudible. 9a. Inform grandparents that you cannot hear them. 9b. Lip read their exclamation, “That’s strange since we can hear you!” 9c. Politely agree this is a strange phenomenon. That has happened the last seven Skype sessions with them. 10. Call them back. Walk them through steps to find microphone settings; vow to write down instructions next time. 11. Congratulate self for not giving children advance notice of Skype due to inevitable, time-consuming troubleshooting. 12. Notice children both wearing fudge pop mustaches; it is 9:15 a.m. 13. Swiftly expunge mustaches. 14. Connect with grandparents via Skype. 15. Tell children to come see something cool on the computer. 16. Realize you have used this ruse before. 17. Excuse self from Skype for a moment. 18. Bribe children with another fudge pop to come talk to their grandparents. 19. Observe father-in-law shouting into the computer as though this is an intercom system and he is flying combat. 20. Pretend not to notice pack of Depends on counter behind grandparents. 21. Smile graciously when your mother-in-law says she is sewing you another patchwork vest--this time in jack-o-lantern pattern. 22. Notice unknown hairy guy is sleeping on the couch at your in-laws’. 23. Feel guilty not addressing hairy guy in background. 24. Evade questions of when you are coming to Minnesota HEY, DAUGHTER, HOW DOES THAT SONG ABOUT THE BABY SEED IN THE DIRT GO AGAIN? 25. Evade questions of how long DAUGHTER? THE BABY SEED? the grandparents should stay HOW DOES IT GO? when they come to visit you, CAN’T HEAR YOU, HONEY! 26. Complain of persistent sound issue. 27. Mock speak like there is no sound coming from your mouth. 28. Mouth “Sorry” and close laptop before son sells you down river. 29. Eat fudge pop.

- Kendra Stanton Lee, 2012

(The above is entirely fictional and bears no resemblance to events experienced, only imagined :).)