Hi, I'm Whitney. I am a globe-trotting momma who craves new experiences and finding purpose in every day. My two boys were born in separate countries (US & Singapore), and we now live in Germany. The past five years have brought a tremendous amount of happiness, turmoil, and changes that would make your head spin. But those bone-chilling, life-altering moments...? It's all worth it! To share my experiences, my advice, and my adventures, I created an online community called "Expat, Actually".
Like everyone else, the last year has been quite different than expected for us, living in Germany! Not only have the schools been closed, athletics put on hold, and all the fun things shut down including shops & restaurants (much like the rest of the world), we have also been homeschooling in a foreign language. Oh.my.goodness. My brain!
Our favorite pastime - and reason for moving abroad - was cancelled.
Traveling was often an escape when stuck in the mundane day to day. Booking $20 flights and crossing off countries had become a hobby for us. Experiencing new cultures is a massive lure of living abroad. Unfortunately, and rightfully so, the airlines cancelled trip after trip for us in 2020. We did, however, manage to safely explore a few neighboring countries once the borders were open, but it wasn't near the ease of previous years.
Again, grasping for straws.
While living in Germany, our family has also been presented with multiple hard lockdowns this year. It's been a delicate balance of preserving sanity and staying safe. The idea of randomly meeting friends at a playground or having a friend over to play went out the window for much of the year. We have been blessed by the amount of time we've spent together as a family, but each of us has greatly missed our friends, too.
The lockdowns have been difficult for my young sons as they haven't fully grasped the concept of the global issues. Seeing their saddened faces has been particularly challenging on my momma heart. The isolation has weighed the heaviest around holidays and special occasions.
That is, until one day, a friend suggested VidHug to me.
Pandemic Birthday for a Five Year Old
My youngest was turning five, and I wanted to make his birthday extra special this year. Due to the strict homeschool schedule with my six year old and my hubby working from home, my youngest son spent most of the day playing alone. We would try to do special things for him at the end of the day, but the whole of it was heartbreaking.
I was on a mission to make his 5th birthday truly memorable. But how? I was stuck on what to do; we weren't able to throw a party or even have a friend over. I thought about having friends do a drive-by to wish him happy birthday, but even that seemed impersonal. However as soon as I was introduced to Memento, I was HOOKED!
Not only would this creative app allow us to record a video message from loved ones back home, we could also capture his classmates being silly for his birthday all in one place. I was ecstatic!
Video chatting can sometimes be cumbersome (especially with young children), but compiling individual video clip recordings all in one place was genius. I sent out an invite and within minutes the video clips came pouring in. The process was seamless, and the entire project came together quite quickly.
The array of videos made it amazing, too! We had some sincerely loving ones, funny cheery clips, and also absolutely hysterical entries like the photo below. Some of mine and my husband's childhood friends dressed up in 4th of July gear and blasted "Party in the USA" while they sent their birthday wishes to my little fella.
I was grinning from ear to ear. My momma heart was complete.
Sure. We could've asked people to simply send us a happy birthday message, but how fun is it to have them streamed together with fabulous birthday music in the background?
Our whole family loved it. We watched it again and again.
It never occurred to me how powerful something so simple could be. My kids have been through a lot this year, and a group video from Memento was by far the best thing I could have done for my son's birthday. He's more my quiet, reserved one of the two, but the group video brought out all the emotions in him.
He was super excited at first to see his grandparents and cousins, then buried his face because his crush was on there, and lastly he was sad. Seeing his preschool and church friends wish him a happy birthday made him crave their presence even more.
This simple yet extraordinary gift got my wheels spinning on who else I could send a group video to. Birthdays are huge, but what about anniversaries, Mother's Day, or the birth of your best friend's baby? There are so many possibilities!
Memento Works for So Many Celebrations - Or Just Because!
Living away from the people we love the most made me wonder...why wait until a special occasion to create such a fun and unique way to celebrate someone? This past year has highlighted the "why not" even more than I could imagine. So, why not gather together five of your closest pals and compile your best group video for a simple hello? A surprise group message portraying, "we're thinking of you" would do wonders for anyone's day.
Although as much as I revel in the memories of our wedding day, I can't help but think of how much I would have loved a compilation of video clips from our guests in a group video as a keepsake. Our most treasured friends and family from childhood, college, early in our careers, and even beloveds scattered about the country captured all in one place would have been significant. When else would I ever have all those people together in one place? Seeing as much as we move around the globe, having a digital compilation of our wedding guests in such a fun format would be phenomenal. One less thing to pack or worry about getting ruined or lost during a move. Living abroad or even in another state, a gifted group video would be a fantastic surprise. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to deliver sunshine into someone's day. As for my little guy, Memento unexpectedly saved the day and made his 5th birthday one for the memory books. I would do anything for that smile!
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