Enter the webcam.
For just a few dollars, I bought a webcam, and then for a few more dollars I ordered one online to be delivered to my parents home back in the States. Presto, instant video conferencing. Instead of my daughter refusing to say more than hello and then immediately goodbye on the phone, we now have 20 minute duets with Grandma and Grandpa (I'd say trio but my father never actually sings out loud, he leaves that to my mom). The kids can drag their latest treasures out of their rooms, show off school art projects and lost teeth, sing the latest song they learned in camp, and just chat with my family. It works so well that we even talked my sister into getting one, and now the cousins can talk directly.
I can't say enough how wonderful this has been for our family. Because they "see" each other all the time, there is absolutely no hesitation when we first get together after a long time apart. Nothing warms my heart (or my parents') like the sight of my children racing pell mell through the airport to rush into the arms of their grandparents as they come through the gate.
And to top it all off, it's free. All you need is a high-speed internet connection and an IM program like MS Messenger. No more running up long-distance phone bills.
I can't recommend this highly enough - webcams are an amazing way to keep a far-flung family together. Now, if they could just do something about that pesky 7 hour time difference...
Stop by Rocks In My Dryer for more great tips.