Badminton the Unappreciated Sport

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Badminton is the official sport of our family.  We love it so much that my children gave me a “professional” net for my birthday.  (We were tired of the poor quality of nets we purchased from retail stores.) 

Badminton has an interesting history dating back to 18th century India where it evolved from two children’s games, battledore and shuttlecock. In these games, a shuttlecock was kept in volley across a line using small rackets.

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Recently we held the “Stewart Invitation Badminton Tournament.”  My son and I even found a trophy with two “birdies” on it at the local thrift store to use as a prize.  Everyone came dressed in their best badminton “uniforms”.  We ate dinner and then began the tournament. 

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Because we had quite a few teams in our so called tournament we played best 2 out of 3 games and only played to 15.

The objective of badminton is simple, that is to hit the shuttle over the net so that it lands in your opponent’s court before it can be returned.

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You can hit the shuttle fast, slow, high, flat or low. You can smash it with maximum power or “dink” it gently over the net.

Badminton would be a fun game to set up at your next family reunion and have a tournament that is ongoing during your reunion.  Put up a bracket and make teams responsible for playing each other. If you have a large family make it a single elimination tournament.  Play the championship game at the end of your reunion.

Why Badminton?  Anyone can play, almost anyone.  At our tournament we had players from 6 to 60, pregnant players, and players with chronic illnesses.  We had players that would dive for the birdie and players that had to step over the line to serve.  But no matter what the skill level everyone had fun- at least until the sun went down and it got dark.  Guess the next thing I  need for my badminton court is- lights!

Aunt MO

Planning for Food Allergies at Your Family Reunion

Ten ideas for “accommodating” those with food allergies at your family reunion or party
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Allergies to gluten, eggs, milk, seeds, nuts, peanuts, and more make it impossible to eat "normal" family reunion food. In our family we deal with life threatening food allergies every time we get together for a family reunion or party.  Below is a list of things we have found make a difference when planning family reunion food around food allergies:

  1. As the family reunion chairman make sure you know about any food allergies or other food restrictions. 
  2. As a family member with allergies be specific when you let the reunion food committee know about your allergies.  Don’t just say “gluten-free crackers,” but suggest a brand and where to purchase it.  No one is going to be as concerned about food allergies as you are. They may not consider some things that you feel are obvious so speak up.
  3. If you are planning a potluck meal for your family reunion make a note of food allergies in your family.  For instance you could add,  “Please remember, no nuts” (Be specific) on your invitation.
  4. Some meal ideas that make dealing with food allergies at your family reunion a little easier is salad, taco or potato bars.  Family members with allergies can take only those foods that are safe for them.  See Aunt Mo’s blog on “Belly Up To The Bar” for more food bar ideas.  However if the food allergy is life threatening you must be aware of cross-contact when eating at buffets or food bars.
  5. If you have food allergies, it is often safest to bring your own food.  Instead of planning meals around the entire family consider doing some meals “on your own”. 
  6. Offer to bring safe food so that you know there will be something there that you can eat. 
  7. If you’re on the food committee consider keeping the original boxes and packages for food you’ve used so that parents can read the packages for themselves.  Even though you may think you’ve taken all the precautions only those with experience will know for sure.
  8. If  you are on the food committee for your family reunion don’t let those with allergies feel like a burden or annoyance. Let them know that you are want them to be safe and enjoy the reunion food just like everyone else.

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My sister-in-law, Lisa, has a couple of children with food allergies.  Over the years she has developed her own ways of coping with food allergies at family reunions and parties.  Lisa added her own suggestions to the list I made:

  1. Often food is given as prizes and treats at family reunions. Lisa suggests bringing your own bag of treats.  Make sure the treats for those with allergies are “cool” treats like Pop Rocks or fruit snacks.
  2. Lisa also carries fast to fix food for her children like cereal, instant oatmeal, Cup of Noodles and instant mashed potatoes for when surprise situations arise. 

Lisa says, “It’s nice when people make an acceptation for my kids but I don’t plan on it or expect it.”  When talking about her daughter’s sensitivity to dairy she says, “It’s my job to take care of it and I plan ahead for unforeseen situations.”

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One of my nieces, McKell,  is a vegetarian and we accommodate that at our family reunions by reserving a serving of Dutch oven potatoes before we add the bacon etc.  She loves vegies and we always make sure there are several choices for her.  McKell’s uncles like to tease her about her food choices but in the end they all respect her and work to make sure she can eat with the family.

When it come to food allergies any food allergy can be life-threatening. As the Aunt to several children with food allergies, I try to be a meticulous label- reader and remove all nut- containing foods when I’m in charge of the food at a family reunion or party but honestly, I’m never going to be as good at identifying problem foods as Lisa or her children. Lisa has taught her children to accept some responsibility for the food they eat.  They have learned to ask questions before they eat foods that may be  a problem for them.

Sometimes those with food allergies have apologized for being a problem and for the extra work it takes to accommodate them.  Honestly, ensuring safety for family members is not being "accommodating", it is being responsible and loving- and that’s what families do!

Game Ideas for Your Irish Party

Whether celebrating St Patrick’s Day or considering your Irish roots at your next family reunion here are a couple of fun Irish game ideas.

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Musical Shamrock Game

Make very large green shamrock shapes about  2 feet square.  They don’t need to be fancy just simple shamrock shapes.  The ideas is similar to “musical chairs” game- you want to have fewer shamrocks than players. Scatter shamrocks over the playing area.  Explain that as the music plays all the players must keep moving but must stay off the shamrocks.   When the music stops players run to a shamrock.  However, each shamrock must have three players on it. Those with only one or two as well as those that have nowhere to stand are eliminated.  Remove a shamrock or two after each round.  (You always want to have fewer shamrocks than players)  Winners of the game  are those who have not been eliminated when only one shamrock remains.  Give out green lollypops, cupcakes or stickers for prizes.

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Irish Scavenger Hunt

Divide into teams, giving each team an identical list of green items.  Tell each team that they must stay together when searching for their green items.

Some ideas to search for:

  • Something that grows green
  • Something you are wearing that is green
  • Green crayon, green colored pencil, green marker
  • Find a plastic item that is green
  • Find something soft that is green
  • Something hard that is green
  • Find something you can build with that is green
  • Green snack
  • 3 leaf clover
  • Fruit that is green
  • Vegetable that is green
  • Pop Can

Irish “Road Bowling” Game

Croquet is supposed to have come from a game called Crookey in Northern Ireland but another fun “real” Irish game is “Road Bowling”.
Road bowling is an unusual version of bowling that is particular to Ireland. It is played with a steal shot, (or use your own idea for a ball of some sort) which is tossed under arm by the player down a twisty road. The player who gets to the finish line with the least amount of throws wins.

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Why should you never iron a 4-leaf clover? You
don’t want to press your luck.

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.

Aunt MO

Best Ever Relay Race Games

from www.familyreunionhelper.com

Relay races have been a part of our family reunions since I attended the Fackrell family reunion in Lyman, Wyoming way back in the 1960’s. We did traditional relays like the wheelbarrow race, 3-legged race and the gunny sack race. Those races are fun but I wanted to share some relay races that aren’t so traditional. Let me introduce you to some of our favorite “Best Ever” relay races- hope your family likes them too.
Most relay race games ask you to form 2 or more even teams. As in any relay race, have a starting line and a finishing line (You can easily make start and finish lines using flour sprinkled on the grass or dirt, or spray paint or long ropes or hoses.)and teams race to one end of the course and back as quickly as possible. Mix your running relays with creative relays that let family members who aren’t fast runners be successful in other ways.

Sponge Relay Race

I asked my two cute nieces, Sydnee and Maicie, what their favorite relay race game was and they both agreed it was the “Sponge” race.

You will need two 5 gallon buckets- one filled with water and one empty. Each team will also need a large sponge.

Set the buckets of water on one side of the course with the sponges in the bucket. Place the empty buckets at the opposite end of the course. The object of the game is to be the first team to fill the emptyclip_image002 bucket (you can also use a milk jug for the empty container) with water. The first player of each team soaks the sponge with water runs to the empty container and squeezes the water into it then runs back to pass the sponge to the next player. This continues until the first bucket is empty or everyone has had a turn. Winner is the team that has the most water in their once empty container.  You may want to add a little food coloring to the water to make the water line easier to see.


Human String Relay

You will need 2 Spoons and 2 Ball of yarn, equal lengths.  Tie a spoon to the end of a ball of yarn.  Line up both teams single-file.  clip_image004

On the word, "Go," the first person from each team must put the spoon down his shirt, as well as his pants. When it comes out of his pant leg, he must then pass it to the next player (As it is still attached to the first player).

When the spoon has gone through the entire line, and everyone is attached, then the last person at the end of the line must clip_image006reverse the process (While the first person winds the string into a ball as it comes back out of each person’s clothing).

When the team finishes unwinding the string then the first person in that line needs to shout, "Done!" The team to finish unwinding the string first wins.

Hula Hoop Relay #1

Each team makes a circle, connecting it by holding hands.

Give each team a hula hoop. On the word “go” each team must move the hula hoop around the circle.. To do this, participants must move their arms and shoulders to make the hoop travel around the circle. At no point may any of the participants break their grasp on their teammates’ hands. The first team to move the hula hoop around the circle wins. To make it more complicated add a second hoop going th opposite way.

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Hula Hoop Relay #2

You will need 1 hula hoop for each team and items to make an obstacle course such as orange cones, garbage cans, lawn chairs, etc.

Begin by creating a course-a straight line to a goal and back, or create a slalom-type trail around obstacles. When the race begins, the first player from each team rolls the team’s hoop (using his hand or a stick) along the entire course before returning to the starting line and passing the hoop to the next player. The race continues until all of the players on one team complete the course.

Rock, Tree, Bridge Relay

This relay comes from Stacey Hanson. We tried it at a family and about died laughing. Check out the video at www.familyreunionhelper.com/ for a video of Stacey’s class playing “Rock, Tree, Bridge”

I’ve included a video of instructions for this next relay on the first page  of this website. This is not my family but a school teacher, Stacey, and her students. I think this clever relay is so fun and after you watch the video it will be easy for you to play too.

To play, get into teams of 3 and make a line. The first person in line is the rock. He ducks down on his knees with his head tucked in. clip_image013

The second person in line jumps over the rock and stands up and becomes the tree. clip_image002[18]

The third person in line jumps over the rock, goes around the tree twice, and makes a tent with his body and becomes the bridge.

                              clip_image014The person who was the rock then goes around the tree 2 times, goes under the bridge, and becomes a rock again.  They keep repeating this pattern until their team reaches the finish line. The first team to finish wins.

Leap Frog Race

This was my favorite relay race game when I was a little girl- I know you’ve played it clip_image016but maybe there is a little girl in your family who would like it as much as I did. Let’s hop to it!
This is a game for 6 or more players and should be played outside or in an open area.
All you need are two teams of at least three, and a start and finish line.
To play, the two teams each line up single file. Players then leap frog over each other. The last player jumps over her teammates. When she leaps over the two people ahead of her, the new last person in line then jumps over her two teammates.
The first team to leap frog down to the line and back wins!

Crazy Waiter

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You need a couple of sturdy paper plates and ping pong balls.

Divide into two teams, and stand in 2 lines. Demonstrate how to hold the plate- like a waiter. (Thumbs and fingers cannot be on top of the plate)
Now put a ping pong ball onto each plate a give one to the leader of each line. On the word go, their job is to run as fast as they can weaving in and out of each player down the line, while balancing the ball on the plate. Once he gets to the back of the line he then runs straight up to the front again (without weaving) and gives the plate to the next player, and runs down to the back position.

The next player repeats the process. If the ball falls off the plate the player must return to the front and restart. First team to run the course wins.

clip_image004[9]You may also map out an obstacle course to run through or for a more simple game have players run to a central marker, like a chair or an orange cone, run around it and then run home.

Another fun variation on this game is the “Golf ball on spoon relay”. This relay is just like “Crazy Waiter” only you use a golf ball on a spoon.

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Divide into relay teams. First player holds a long turkey feather (or any other feather). At the word "Go" each throws his feather, javelin style, toward the finish line. As soon as it comes to earth, he picks it up and throws it again, and continues until across the finish line. He then picks it up and runs back to his team to give the feather to the next player.

clip_image022Ice Cube Melt

To play, form teams of at least 6 people. Each team lines up and gets an ice cube. The first person in each line rubs the ice until his hands get too cold. Then he passes it to the next person in line. She rubs it until her hands get too cold. Keep passing their ice until it melts. The first team to melt their ice wins.

This is also a fun game to play with a T-shirt but requires some advance preparation. Get a T-shirt for each team and soak it in water. Put the T-shirt in the freezer overnight. First team to melt their shirt enough for someone to get it over their head and wear it is the winner- brrr.

It’s All in the Name

Print the alphabet on pieces of cardstock- one letter on ¼ piece of paper. Yu will need to copy it more than once and make additional cards with the most used letters of the alphabet. (E,A,I,O,R,T,N,S,L) Some good alphabet cards can be found at http://www.eslflashcards.com/preview.php?id=31

Dump all the letters in the middle of the room or playing area. Teams race to collect letters to combine them into words such as family names, places and traditions. For instance, at the Wells reunion, I would ask them to find words like “Wells”, “England”, Waldhere” and “Wells Fargo”. The words must be spelled correctly, all the letters in order, to receive a point.

Aunt MO

“I don’t have to look up my family tree, because I know that I’m the sap.” –Fred Allen

Uncle Richards Homemade Root Beer- a Family Reunion Favorite

Rustle up some cowpokes and head on down to the OK Corral for a wild and wooly family reunion! We’re proud to announce the completion of our “western” family reunion.

Western reunion 007 A western or cowboy theme has been a favorite reunion of our family for many years. It’s a theme we have repeated many times. It takes hours to create a family reunion theme for the webpage and as I worked on this western reunion theme, looking at photos and reading journal entries from past reunions, I was amazed and excited about all the fun things we had done. In fact, there were so many great ideas I had to force myself to stop writing after 30 pages of “yeehaw” fun.

I tried to choose the very best western decorating ideas, games, activities, recipes and printables for this theme but, like with most things, with the completion of the Western reunion I immediately started thinking of things I should have found room for – like Uncle Richard’s homemade root beer recipe. So refreshing and delicious we include it at all our family reunions but it seems like an obvious drink for the “saloon” area at your western reunion. Therefore, I thought I’d use this blog to share this refreshing recipe with all my www.familyreunionhelper.com blog friends.

DSC_0571zz If you ask Uncle Richard for his root beer recipe he’ll just tell you to add a bag of sugar, root beer concentrate and water, but we have carefully watched him make his brew and we now have an official Uncle Richard root beer recipe.

Uncle Richard’s Homemade Root Beer

You will need:

5 gallon container to mix root beer (we use an insulated cooler with a spigot or a milk can, using a ladle to serve)

5 pounds granulated sugar

5 gallons of water

5 pounds of dry ice (I always buy 6 pounds because some of it seems to “magically” disappear.)root beer concentrate.ashx

2 ounce bottle of Root beer concentrate (I use McCormick brand found near the vanilla extract in the spice section of your grocery store.)

 

Directions:

Begin making your homemade root beer 30 minutes before serving. With a long handled ladle or spoon, mix water, sugar and root beer concentrate in your container until sugar is dissolved. Add dry ice. Do not put the lid tightly on your container. Let sit for about 30 minutes and then serve.

This root beer will loose it’s fizz and isn’t something you can store in the fridge for days. If you do have some root beer left over (doubt it) just leave it in the container and you will soon find icy, popsicle like areas that are fun to scoop out and suck on.

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If you want to serve a yummy treat at your family reunion, serve the root beer over a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a tall glass or mug. The Root Beer float was invented in 1893, when Frank Wisner of the Cripple Creek Brewing Company in Colorado., glanced at snow-capped mountain on a moon-lit evening. What he saw resembled a scoop of vanilla ice cream floating on top of the black mountain. That inspired Wiser to add a scoop of ice cream to his own brewed root beer and thus the “root beer float” came to be.

Don’t forget to check out the latest reunion theme at www.familyreunionhelper.com while drinking a frosty, cold, mug of Uncle Richard’s homemade root beer.

Aunt MO

One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.                                                           unknown