When Major Peter DeCrans deployed last year, he knew he’d miss the everyday interactions with his family. With the different time zones and the Army’s security protocols, it could be challenging to see or even talk to his wife and kids.

But after he deployed, his wife Cierra bought a Ring Video Doorbell for their home in Forest Lake, Minnesota. It ended up being an incredibly special way for the family to stay connected even when he was halfway around the world.

Major DeCrans has been in the Army for more than 20 years and has three deployments under his belt, the most recent one to Kuwait, where he was stationed for about 10 months. After they bought the Ring Video Doorbell, he received near daily videos from his 7-year old son Zerick and 5-year-old daughter Petroula, who used the doorbell to tell their dad stories about the ins and outs of their lives—everything from what they did in school to how Zerick learned to ride a bike without training wheels.

Watch some of the kids’ video messages here:

Major DeCrans said that when he couldn’t be home for his daughter’s birthday, it was awesome to see a video of her because: “I was able to see that she was wearing a princess gown and bringing cookies to her classroom. You can’t be there, but you still feel connected.”

When they first bought the Ring doorbell, the family’s initial thought was that the dad would be able to keep an eye on the house even when he was far away. “That was a big deal to him,” said Cierra, to know that even though he wasn’t there, “He could always reach out and know what was going on at his own home.”

Cierra said it was her father who first suggested the kids use the Ring Video Doorbell to talk to their dad, and the idea quickly took hold.

“You could just tell that it helped them deal with the deployment,” she said. “They went up to [the Ring doorbell], and they just knew that [their dad] was going to be on the other end.”

The fact that the Ring Video Doorbell was so easy to use made it possible for the kids to send their dad a message any time they missed him or just wanted to say hi. Meanwhile, Major DeCrans could log in to Ring from any device overseas to watch the videos.

“You don’t need to set up a tripod or make a big production of it,” Major DeCrans said. “It was just easy to go up to the door and talk.”

For Major DeCrans, it was the little things that Ring captured that helped get him through the deployment, like seeing what the weather was in Minnesota or what kind of bow was in his daughter’s hair.

“Ring definitely made me feel like I was always home—being able to see the faces of my kids, what they were wearing, what my wife was wearing, seeing the neighbor kids coming to sell Girl Scout cookies and Christmas wreaths—things like that.”

Throughout Major DeCrans’ deployment, he felt safer knowing he could check in on his home anytime of the day or night, no matter the time zone, and he felt connected because he was able to experience tiny milestones with his family through the Ring Video Doorbell.

Here at Ring, we proudly salute our military, veterans, first responders and teachers and want to show our gratitude with a 20% discount on select products.