Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reflections

I signed up for the A-Z Blogging Challenge with the hope of getting more traffic to my blog/website for my Family Reunion Keepsake Book. I did receive more traffic, and even some comments. I only got about three annoying spam type comments the whole month, so that was not so bad.
It was a challenge keeping up with the almost daily blogging, as I work full time. Having Sundays off was a relief. I was able to keep up and posted every night after work. What I found most challenging about the event was reading other people’s blogs. There were so many to choose from. The tags helped a little bit, but if I hadn’t just chosen to click on ones with no tag, but an interesting title, I never would have found such great people blogging about all sorts of things that were interesting to me.
When next April rolls around, I may do the challenge again. By that date, I will have significantly more time to devote to it, and would hope to gain more information about how others have their blogs structured so that I can learn from their example and apply it to my blogs. I plan to go back to some people’s blogs I really enjoyed and keep reading their posts.
I appreciate the organizers of this event for developing the idea and encouraging bloggers to join. Your banners were a great addition to all my posts. Thanks to all who came to my Family Reunion Keepsake Book blog during the event. Some even found their way to my other blog, A Movie for Every Mood. I hope to see your comments on my blogs in the future.
Thanks!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Survivor

Thanks to all who visited my blog during the month of April! I appreciate your comments and support. It was truly a challenge posting every day, but I really enjoyed it. Have a wonderful time planning your family reunions, and come back often to review ideas for making it the great event it can be.

Recording the memories will be easy in the Family Reunion Keepsake Book, offered for sale on Amazon by clicking the link on the upper right side of the blog. Let me know how your reunions went. I welcome comments!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zoo


The Zoo is a place that your whole family can enjoy. I recall a time not long after I had learned how to drive, and my parents gave me the keys to the car and said to take my two younger sisters to the zoo. They weren’t that much younger than me, two and five years younger to be exact, and I remember us having a great time looking at the animals, eating ice cream bars and feeling very grown up.

My Mom always enjoyed going to the zoo, even when she couldn’t walk very far. We’d get a wheelchair so that when she tired of walking, we could push her down the paths. She loved seeing the animals.

I think this is a universal enjoyment that everyone has, watching other species and exclaiming over their beauty and diversity. Going to the zoo would make a wonderful group event at your reunion if one is nearby. Either order a catered lunch, or cart it in yourselves, and make a time to meet up at midday for a shared meal. Reserve a large picnic area for your group if that is possible.

Strolling amongst the trees and animal enclosures will provide visiting time, and people can go on a train ride together around the property. You can even pose for group photos together. Just set a specific time and place for gathering.

If a zoo is not close to the site of your reunion, pick a different outing. Just be sure to schedule one group activity that makes a shared memory. Rent a huge dune buggy and go for a wild ride together. Go to a water park and float down a lazy river. Hike through a beautiful wooded state park. Try horseback riding on a local trail. Whatever is chosen, remember to include all ages and ability levels in the activity, so no one feels left out.

If you’re near a large body of water, go for a boat tour. In the Midwest, a land of lakes, there are tour boats that will cruise around the lake, the guide pointing out the sights in the case of mansions built as summer homes years and years ago, or if in more of an unspoiled setting, the plants and wildlife along the shore. If everyone chips in for the expense, you can get a sailboat to take people out on a lake.

For those even more adventurous, take rides in a hot air balloon over the countryside. There are more of these adventures across the country, and I am very familiar with the sight of hot air balloons overhead living in Albuquerque, home of the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. That would make quite a memory for reunion guests.

A place to record the memories of your reunion can begin with the Family Reunion Keepsake Book, which is sold on this blog by clicking on the icon on the top right of the page.

Thanks for reading my blog. Comments appreciated!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Young Children

Young children are harder to entertain than older ones who may want to just sit around and talk to their peers and play on their I Phone. So give some consideration as to how you will find ways to occupy the younger children’s time.

Arrange crayons and photocopied pictures on low tables for younger children to color when they get bored with adult talk, or if it rains and outdoor games have to be postponed. Make an outline of a family tree on sheets of paper, and the children can fill in the blanks with people’s names, using the main family tree for reference.

Sometimes younger children get tired more easily of an activity, and so you may need to have several on hand to give them as boredom sets in. Creative projects are always a good choice. What to do with all those extra photos you have in shoeboxes? Give them to the kids to sort through, allowing them to keep three, and then toss the rest away.

Have mini easels you can get from a crafts store and display small pieces of art they’ve created with watercolors. These can be centerpieces along the length of a table when it comes time for lunch or dinner.

Make homemade play dough ahead of time in several colors. Demonstrate how to sculpt with play dough and after they dry out a bit, display them on a crafts table.

Another way to occupy small children is to have a story hour. Get a volunteer of an older child to read stories to the younger ones. Afterwards, have craft items available to make drawings or cutouts on construction paper of the characters in the story. Your display table should be up and ready by now!

Select a good animated movie and pop it in a DVD player. Have lots of pillows on the floor for lounging. It could be that some of them will fall asleep during the movie. A little naptime without being forced to do so is a good thing.

Organize a walk to the park and let them play on the merry-go-round, swings, jungle gym and whatever installations they have available. Ask for a couple of volunteers from the teen age group to supervise. If someone gets a skinned knee, then there’s an older person to tend to the trauma. Fill a small ice chest with frozen popsicles and after a reasonable length of time, distribute them to the kids. After that snack, they should be ready to start playing again.

For the girls, set up an afternoon tea party complete with treats and dolls. That will keep them busy for a long time. For the boys, organize a rough and tumble game of kickball.

If you’re in a place with a swimming pool, make sure there are plenty of pool toys and floats for them. Adults may want to cool off in the pool too! With a little organization, younger kids can be kept occupied and happy for hours.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X-factor

The X-factor is defined as a variable that could have a significant impact on the outcome. Money is the X-factor that can make or break your reunion trip.

Encourage your children to save money during the year for their reunion/vacation adventure.  Label the savings so each child has their own spending money for the trip.  Parents, save your own money for hotels, airfare, etc. Depositing money each paycheck into your vacation savings account makes for ease in attending an important family event.

I remember my mother faithfully putting aside a portion of money each payday for Christmas, our college education, and for a two-week vacation “out West” every year.  Those weekly deposits add up fast and will make your trip easier if you have planned in advance and saved for it.

This may be elementary to some of you, but for those of you for whom it may be a new idea, estimate your expenses for the reunion trip.  Don’t forget transportation, hotels, meals, and souvenirs.  Take this amount and divide it by the number of paychecks you have between now and your reunion event.  Deposit that amount of money into your vacation savings account each time you get paid and by the time the trip rolls around, you’ll be all set!

Have your children take a scheduled amount from their allowance and either deposit the cash in a literal piggy bank, or get them their own account at the credit union.  They’ll be happy when they have their own money to spend on the trip without having to ask you for every extra piece of candy or just one more souvenir they can’t do without!

If money is tight, make it a family group effort to adjust your spending and put those extra dollars in your reunion savings account.  Instead of marching out to see the latest new movie, stay at home, rent a DVD, and serve popcorn and sodas.  Forgo trips to the ice cream shop and buy all the supplies to make your own chocolate sundaes.  Instead of stopping at the food court in the mall, pack a picnic lunch in a cooler, and take the kids to the park to eat in the shade in the middle of the day.

Enlist your children to help think up ways to save so you can have more in your reunion/vacation savings account.  Kids can often come up with unique ideas that just might work!

If you drive around running errands on the weekends, pick one day that you will not drive anywhere.  Save those errands for a quick trip after work when you already have the car out, or group them all together on the same day.  You’ll be amazed how much gas and money you can save not driving one day a week.

Be creative with your efforts to find ways to cut expenses, and deposit those savings in your reunion/vacation savings account.  All your hard work budgeting and saving will make your reunion trip one to remember.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Why?


Why have a family reunion? A mother’s prayer is that her children will love each other long after she is gone (from Facebook).

If the matriarch of your family has passed on, this is reason enough. Someone once told me that after parents die, the siblings lose touch and don’t communicate anymore. A conscious effort would need to be made to not allow this to happen. This quote gives a reason not to be negligent in getting a reunion scheduled.

During the A-Z Blogging Challenge, I have met bloggers from all over the world:  Australia, Canada, India, France, and Singapore, among others. Distances across America are great, not to mention traveling to and from international locations. That’s why a family reunion should be planned in advance so family members can place it in their schedules, figure out the cost, and make the commitment to the event so that it is well attended.

Family traditions may have gradually been discontinued, due to time commitments to other things. Those Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations are now taken up with the demands of the immediate family, and don’t often include extended family members. But it matters to your parents who are gone that their children continue contact. Their spirits want this! Perhaps that is why people do genealogy charts on their families; to maintain that sense of connection to what has gone before.

If you are fortunate to still have your parents on this planet, a family reunion is a very special event for them. They want to see their children, the spouses, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren mingle and have fun together. Even if they are sitting in a wheelchair and can’t participate much, you can be sure they are watching and observing the festivities and having fun.

Another good reason is so that cousins can get to know each other. When I was growing up, there were two uncles’ families that we visited with often. As we got to high school age and older, the frequency of those visits dropped off, but I think we have a sense of family that extends beyond the nuclear families we grew up in because of that contact.

Another good reason for a family reunion is that you get to have a vacation! If you are lucky, you can travel somewhere exotic you’ve never been to for the event. Even if you just have to go back to your hometown, chances are the environment has changed. Some people like to drive by their childhood home to see it one more time. Others like to drive by old hangouts, their high school, and other special places they frequented when younger. Don’t be surprised though if those places don’t even exist anymore. My husband wanted to go by the farm where he was raised as a very young child, and the clear-cut farmland was now a thick forest of trees! Time changes things.

So don’t allow too much time to pass before you schedule your family reunion.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Volleyball

Volleyball is a great place to start when thinking about games to arrange for reunion guests. Arrange for games that appeal to all ages, from small children to elderly family members. Croquet and badminton will appeal to those who are less active, and to satisfy the most active of the group, set up a volleyball net, away from windows! A board game tournament can involve many of the reunion participants. Draw an outline of the players who are competing on a poster board or a chalkboard, with successive eliminations leading to the winner.

To make the reunion feel less a circle of group therapy and more of a free flowing event, with people streaming in and out of the main visiting area, have activities that can make it easy to form small groups. A tournament works very well.

Not everyone can play chess, and checkers is too elementary, so pick a game like Jenga. Pair up opponents, and then have an outline that progresses each winner to the next round with someone else, until you get the two remaining players to battle it out for champion! It can be very loose with the timing, as long as the competition is progressing within the space of a day.

For very active teens and young adults, a volleyball tournament, best two out of three, depending on how many participants you have, is a good activity for those with lots of energy and a strong arm.

Older adults may enjoy playing croquet, a game that is relaxing and that may bring back memories from other gatherings in their childhood. Have a badminton net and equipment handy, as not everyone wants the intensity of volleyball. This is a good game to play as doubles.

A run off championship can be utilized here also. There is nothing wrong with a little good-natured competition, and it will keep people from feeling sluggish. They can visit in between the games and playing together can create memories and also get them sharing about themselves regarding current things in their lives. It’s a way to learn about others as they play.

Have some rainy day activities available too. Twister is a good game, along with some not so retro toys like hula-hoops, jump ropes and a hopscotch grid on your garage floor. It can rain all it wants to outside, but kids can be in the garage or basement enjoying the simple pleasures of playing.

For adults, make a crossword puzzle using clues that they would remember from their years growing up together. A crossword puzzle is not that difficult to create; there are sites on the Internet that can give you printouts of ones you come up with yourself. Print them out on brightly colored paper and pass them out one afternoon when conversation is lagging. It can serve as a reminder of memories and stories to share.

By having both sedentary and active games planned in advance, no one will be sitting around asking what’s next.