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A few years ago, my parents gave our family a badminton set for Christmas. We had no idea how much we would come to enjoy playing and how it would eventually shape our summer evenings around the game. At this point, I think you could say we are hooked on the badminton. We're hooked even more on the structured family evenings.

In the spring, when it's getting warmer and, more importantly for us in the south, when the days are longer, Carman, Sudoku, Doodle (to a small extent) and I do a quick kitchen clean-up after dinner. (Many hands make light - and more fun - work!) Then the whole family heads outside for the rest of the evening. Marathon and I play badminton, Rosebud swings in her car seat (more on that in another post), and the other kids play in the yard, jump on the trampoline, or ride bikes and trikes.

Marathon is very athletic, and I am not. Badminton, though, has given us a game we can both play well, and I can actually complete with him -- especially when he plays left-handed. We have so much fun together, and the regular play time has been relaxing and somewhat therapeutic for us. (Watching kids play barefooted in the backyard doesn't hurt, either.)

This summer, Carman and Sudoku have been learning to play too. They have caught on quickly. Before too long we'll be able to have a foursome on the grass court.

(No, I don't normally wear a dress when we play badminton. This shot was taken a couple of years ago after we hosted a little family birthday party for Marathon's parents. But playing badminton in a dress does have a romantic '40s feel about it, don't you think?) - milkmaid