April 2022 Adventure Date – Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing)

This is the inaugural year for the Columbus Cherry Blossom Festival, but the history of the cherry blossoms in Franklin Park dates back 10 years to a the gift from Japan – 20 cherry trees to celebrate the Bicentennial of Columbus. It echoed the 1912 gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo, Japan to our nationโ€™s capital. Over the last 10 years, the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department (CRPD) and the International Voluntary Organizations (IVO) have worked to obtain 82 additional trees to bring to Franklin Park.

When I heard there was going to be Hanami, I was a little bummed that we had other plans during the actual festivity times last weekend and this coming Sunday. We LOVE cherry blossoms, and they are actually something we got to experience a little bit the first time we went to Japan together. I was completely thrilled when we were able to sneak over at lunchtime today. The weather was less than ideal, so the color is not as pretty as it would be against a blue sky, but it was still really beautiful. I would say, as long as the rain and wind don’t take them, the blossoms will actually peak sometime in the next week, so you still have time to check them out. We started by walking around the lower pond, but I do have to warn you that there was a bit of a stench at one end of that pond. It cleared up as we walked around towards the upper ponds, though, and you could smell blossoms in the air. Here are a few of the photos I took.

I also dug out a couple of photos from our trip to Japan in 2001 to show the beautiful cherry tree at the temple on our friends’ wedding day. It was such a gorgeous and joyous day!

Of course, as any good mid-day date does, our time end at Starbucks for a very Japanese combo of a pink drink and a matcha latte. Definitely highly recommended to enhance your hanami pleasure. ๐Ÿ™‚

Someday we will make it to Washington DC or even back to Japan for hanami, but this year we are content with this experience. Have you ever been anywhere for cherry blossom viewing? Let us know in the comments!

March 2022 Family Game Night – Deadbolt Mystery Society Box

One of my favorite things, something that actually helped me stay slightly sane during quarantine, is subscription boxes. Getting surprises in the mail is the best! So, I had a wish list on Crate Joy (a subscription box website) for Christmas 2020, and we were very lucky to be gifted a subscription to The Deadbolt Mystery Society. Keith and I have been doing the boxes for a little over a year at this point, and we really enjoy them. We even have a system of solving them so that we can pass the box on to someone else – minus the collectible sticker that comes in each one. (I LOVE stickers – that is my other subscription box obsession….)

This month, we did not get a family game night. It felt like we were just really busy, but I really don’t recall what we were doing… Anyway, Keith and I did do the Blackout box from Deadbolt Mystery Society. I am not going to give away any of the clues or anything, but I will show you a little about the boxes. We always use a separate notebook or my reusable Rocketbook Notecards to keep all of our notes and ideas in one place. This is what we see when we first open the box:

The Start Here page has all sorts of helpful information, including a link to make sure that you have everything you are supposed to have in your box. We have never been missing anything, but you never know. When we spread everything out, it usually looks like this:

There is always a Beginning Brief, at least 1 large envelope to be opened at a specified time in the mystery, and then there are usually suspect cards of some sort. The rest varies wildly. We look through everything to try to figure out what we should be doing. There are always QR codes, so we like to use an iPad because we are older and so are our eyes. You could also use a phone or anything else that you can use to read QR codes. Sometimes there are audio clues, there was a virtual room once, and there are often pictures and cyphers when you scan QR codes. We have been pretty happy with the different types of clues – there is truly something new in each box. There are also hints available, but I think we have only used that one time.

Overall, we would definitely recommend The Deadbolt Mystery Society. We would not recommend all boxes for all ages – some can be pretty dark, so be aware of that if you are wanting to do these with kids. Have you ever done any mystery boxes? Do you have any that you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

March 2022 Adventure Date – German Village Mystery Picnic

Last weekend we had a chance to do a double date with some friends of ours. We had been talking about doing a Mystery Picnic since last summer, so we were really excited that it finally worked out. We booked the experience through a company called AmazingCo and we chose the German Village option. We were hopeful that booking the end of March would be warm – you know, March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb and all? Well, it ended up being super chilly. Like in the 20s. But, we persevered and took advantage of the warm businesses we got to patronize.

To start the adventure, we were emailed a link to the clues the night before our adventure. We separately solved the first clue and compared notes to find out where we would be meeting the following morning. I am not going to ruin any surprises because we do recommend this experience to others. I can tell you that we were happy to be given hot drinks at our first stop.

When you book, they tell you to bring plates, cups, a cooler bag, and a knife with you. We had all of that, but because of the weather, we really only needed the bags. We were allowed to “picnic” inside our last stop, so that worked out really nicely for us. Here is a shot of our “picnic” set up.

We had clues that led to 4 different destinations in German Village to pick up food. Everything was pre-arranged and all we had to do was tell the people at the businesses that we were doing a mystery picnic with AmazingCo and they had our orders ready pretty quickly. We would then solve our next clue and we were off. If the weather had been warmer, I am sure we would have explored some more. We did find a few interesting things along the way, though, so I will include those photos below.

Overall, it was a great experience. We enjoyed a variety of foods, tried some new places, and got to spend time with our friends. I would give this 4.5 out of 5 stars – there was a little confusion at the last stop about where we would be able to eat, but once that was solved, we were very well taken care of. I think this is because of a little miscommunication on the part of AmazingCo, but it was very minor.

Have you ever done a food adventure? This is our second – you can read about our first here. So far, our food adventures have been double dates, and we have very much enjoyed that. We are definitely on the look out for the next food adventure – tell us your ideas below! ๐Ÿ™‚

February 2022 Adventure Date – Sistine Chapel Exhibition

This month found us traveling to Dayton to see the Sistine Chapel Exhibition. I was quite excited about this since I don’t know that we will ever travel to Vatican City to see the real thing. The advertising photos of the exhibit were amazing – darkened hallways full of perfectly hung and lit artwork. It looked very dramatic and like an almost intimate exhibit with a clear direction and lots of space.

Well, as we all know, looks can be very deceiving. I am sure that this art was hung somewhere like the pictures in the past, but for this exhibition, it was tilted against walls that were not really tall enough, so it all leaned away from you. It was bottom lit in a very bright, open room, so it really lost all of the ambience I was expecting. It was also difficult to navigate as there wasn’t a clear path, so people were going all directions. There was also an audio tour you could listen to, either on listening devices they provided or on your phone. The listening devices were not distracting – they were quiet and people held them to their ears to hear. The phones were very loud and definitely made it difficult to read or really get lost in the artwork.

In spite of the chaotic atmosphere, I was eventually able to “settle in” to the experience and really focus on the art. It was amazing to see up close – a very different view than you would ever get in person. You could see the expressions and light and shadows and movement in the paintings so well. It was all out of order, but of course the first thing was The Creation of Adam. There were also many other Old Testament stories in a sort of side passageway – these were the most dramatically lit, were actually mounted fully upright, and also felt the most secluded for viewing.

The bulk of the rest of the paintings fell into 3 categories – Prophet portraits, Sibyl portraits, and The Lineage of Christ family tableaus. The prophets and Sibyls were all people that had foretold part of the story of Christ, and they were all pictured with 2 messengers of God who seemed to be delivering inspiration or information. The lineage of Christ family tableaus showed ancestors of Christ as children with their fathers and mothers to evoke the holy family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. I thought these paintings suffered a little from the fact that they were leaned away from us – it would have been pretty amazing had they seemed to be looking down at us instead of fading away. We did think the implied movement and light in these paintings was really breathtaking. Here are a few favorites.

In the middle of the large room of artwork, there was a large reproduction of The Last Judgement. This is a very symbolic and interesting piece that I could have sat and looked at for a long time. I was also one of the youngest in the room, so the benches were not for me. Nevertheless, we did stand and ponder it for quite a while. It contains 390 separate characters, including Jesus, Mary, John the Baptist, saints, martyrs, angels, chosen ones headed towards heavenly bliss, and sinners headed towards eternal damnation. I did not get a good angle to get a full shot, but here are some closer photos of the figures. I find St. Bartholemew (who was martyred by being flayed and is pictured below Christ and to the right just a bit) pretty disturbing with his empty meat suit…

All in all, we walked out pretty happy that we had seen the art, but not fully pleased with how it was presented. We give it 3 out of 5 stars and have found that we hope to see the real thing someday if possible.

Have you been to any excellent art exhibits lately? Did you see the Sistene Chapel Exhibition? Or the real thing in Vatican City? Let me know in the comments!

January 2022 Adventure Date – The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit (Columbus)

This week, Keith and I got the chance to attend The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in Columbus, Ohio. It is a traveling exhibit which will be in a different venue each place it goes, so it will most likely vary a little bit as far as your experience. This post is our thoughts an opinions – your mileage may vary.

We both went into this expecting something that it was not. We thought we would be walking through different rooms and interacting with the different spaces. Instead, we were ushered into a very large room that was 2-3 stories high and had 2 mirrored pillars. There were benches and circles on the floor to note where people were supposed to be in order to be socially distanced. We arrived with about 7 minutes left in the continuously running program (it is about 35 minutes long and has a very brief set of credits that roll before it restarts). The last 7 minutes might have been my favorite – we stayed to watch it twice. The Starry Night, Road with Cypress and Star, and The Starry Night Over the Rhone are featured and it is a lot like watching the moon and stars rise and reflect. It was mesmerizing the way that they edited the elements of the paintings together.

I really enjoyed a lot of the paintings featured in the presentation. I did have some trouble with the way it was edited at times. There were times my vertigo kicked in and it felt like I was going to fall. There were times I could not watch because my eyes couldn’t adjust fast enough. However, most of the time it was a feast for the eyes. I loved it when paintings seemed to build in elements or when one part of the painting moved and interacted in some way. There was always something to look at, and the music seemed to work really well with the presentation. The other part of the show that we stayed to watch twice was the sunflowers part. I did not realize how many different types of sunflower paintings he had done, but I really enjoyed seeing all of the different interpretations. I did not love how jarring the editing seemed at that point, but it went with the music I guess.

I am also a sucker for trees, flowers, and all things nature. Van Gogh seemed to agree because there were so many scenes with gorgeous natural settings. The trees that look like they are ablaze with Autumn color are, of course, my favorite. I also love the one that seems to be the woods with hundreds of fireflies.

Overall, it was not quite what we expected, but we walked out satisfied with our experience. We decided that it was 3.5 out of 5 stars – we were not blown away by the editing, but the beauty was overwhelming at times. I would definitely recommend the exhibit to others and we would love to go back and see the next one – we are told that there will be exhibits like this over the next 3 years. The next one appears to be Gustav Klimt starting in March, and we would definitely consider attending if our schedules are open.

Have you been to The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Dude! We’re Getting the Band Back Together!

During this slow down and wait time, we have had some major shifts in our family. We halted our monthly adventure and create dates, we stayed home but definitely also stayed a bit separate. We all have our own areas of the house and we tend to gravitate to them. We have stopped doing many family things unless we are out of town or it is a special occasion. We need to get back to Adventuring, Creating, and Relating to each other more.

At the same time as we have stopped our dates and family nights, I have started 2 new creative endeavors. I am a teacher on Outschool with classes in phonics, crafts, phonemic awareness, confident speaking, and vocabulary. I have thoroughly enjoyed creating games and activities for all of my classes the past 20 months – it has been an amazing creative outlet and adventure in learning new things. This past month, I have taken my creating to another level and opened a Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) shop to sell the materials I have made for my classes. It is a very slow start, but I am really hopeful that this will be another great creative outlet.

What does all of this mean for my blog? Our family (and also our marriage) is definitely ready for some adventure and create dates again – we have done a few new things during this pandemic, but I have not been ready to write about them. It has taken me a long time to be ready to share this part of me again. Looking back at the past 2 years, however, I realized that writing is my way of coping with things, and I have felt a real desire to get back to it. So, my dear friends, I will be back to posting. And, since I have 2 new creative jobs of my own, I will be posting more. The goal will be 3 monthly posts (adventure, create, and relate) and then 1-2 weekly posts (Outschool and TpT shop). It feels good just to be writing this post, so I am certain this is the right decision for me at this time. I hope that it will be a fun and interesting thing for you, as well!

I would love to request that you take a moment to look me up at my two jobs and follow me. If you use my personal link on Outschool as a new family, you can get a $20 credit towards your first class: https://outschool.com/?signup=true&usid=7SKDulCR&utm_campaign=share_invite_link (I am also happy to help anyone interested in teaching on Outschool to apply – my referral code is: 7SKDulCR)

You can find me on TpT at the following link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Sellers-Im-Following/Add/Ae-Speech-And-Language-Services I have a few products added and will be adding a lot more over the next few months. (Right now I am very excited about my Time-Themed Treasure Hunt games for the Vocalic R and R Blend, L, S, and TH sounds – you can find out more about them in my shop.)

I can’t leave you without a little taste of the create, adventure, and relate posts that I wanted to make the past 20 months. I hope you enjoy – let me know below if you want to learn more about any of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

As I close this post, I want to make 2 promises. First of all, I promise to keep this blog about adventures, creating, and relating. Secondly, I promise to have a fun post about my yearly goals for our family and for my businesses in the next couple of weeks.

If you want to be sure you don’t miss future updates, please join my email list. I have lots of fun things planned for this year and I would love to share them with you!

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March 2020 Adventure Date

Our March Adventure Date ended up being a triple date! We used the platform Zoom to have a game night with friends. We ran Jackbox Games on one machine and then had a separate machine that we participated on. Our friends Matt and Beth Fox (and their daughter Zara for a few rounds) and Brent and Jenny Small were able to join us through the wonder that is the internet. It was amazing to be able to laugh and interact with everyone even though we were obeying Governor DeWine’s Stay-at-Home order. We seriously live in the best time period for something like this to have happened. Can you even imagine it in the 80s when we were children? School would have had to send work through the mail or through weekly pick up, teachers would probably have to call every family separately each week, Grandpa and Grandma would never see what the grandkids were up to… We would be going absolutely nuts stuck at home with just each other! At least we have YouTube for virtual classes and streaming services to binge watch sitcoms or crime shows or Disney movies. We are so very lucky!!

Anyway, for our game night, we played Quiplash 2, Drawful, Fibbage 2, and Trivia Murder Party. I think everyone had some success, had some defeat, and had some belly laughs. It was one of the best evenings I have had since this whole “quarantine” thing happened. It was nice to see people other than my husband and kids, and it was so nice to use my brain in ways I have not had to for a while. 10 out of 10 would do it again – and often!

How have you been keeping busy at home? Do you have other games we could play remotely? Share your ideas in the comments!

February 2020 Adventure Date

Our February Adventure Date did not go as planned. We had tickets to go to the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at The Ohio State University to see their facility. We were going to get to check out how cold their storage for their ice core samples was, along with learning all about their important research. We were very excited. We left with twice the amount of time we needed to get to campus on a normal evening. And then it snowed. And traffic was crazy because, oh my gosh – water falling from the sky! And we ended up really, really late. So, we went to Starbucks, knowing that we could always get two adventure dates in March to make up for it. After all, all of the shows and events we were working on in late February would be over by mid March, right?

Well, here we are in the strangest March I have ever know. Social distancing and staying home is the order of the day, so our schedule actually cleared up about a week earlier than expected. Thankfully, we are a resourceful family, and our library system is awesome. Keith had reserved the game Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening months ago when it came out for the Nintendo Switch. As luck would have it, we got to the front of the line at the beginning of March, just before the library was closed for the foreseeable future.

So, full disclosure, Keith did play this game back in 1993 when it was released for the Gameboy. I did not, but we agreed that we probably didn’t want to pay $60 for a remake game. We honestly weren’t sure how much Keith would remember – it turned out that we didn’t need to worry. Nevertheless, we were pretty excited to start playing on March 8th, a few days before things got crazy. Our only regret is that we played so much of it before we were home all the time… ๐Ÿ˜‰

In the game, you are trying to get all of the instruments that are needed to wake the Windfish. Warning, this post will probably have spoilers, so if you don’t want to see images from the game or know information before you play, please stop reading now. For real, I only have a few photos, and they are mainly things we needed for hints later and then photos of the end. ๐Ÿ™‚

This game was really enjoyable. It had a lot of dungeons, complete with puzzles. There were plenty of side quests, and even a couple things we needed to look up hints for because we had no idea how much time we would actually have the game. (We thought the library would need it back way before it seems it will….) We would definitely recommend playing this – if you are in the Columbus Metropolitan Library area, you could absolutely borrow this for a couple weeks and play through. If you are outside Columbus, I would actually pay the $60 for this game. It took a good amount of time to get through, so you will definitely get your money’s worth. Here are the photos I remembered to take of the game. I won’t tell you which mysteries they help solve, though, you’ll have to figure that out yourself.

See, I told you there were spoilers. I won’t completely ruin the ending, though. You’ll have to play to see what happens after the Windfish (which is neither wind nor fish!) awakens.

Have you played Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments!

January 2020 Adventure Date

An escape room has been on our list since this blog began, and we were finally able to make it happen! We gave it to the family as a gift for Christmas, and we were all very excited. I found an excellent Groupon for a place in Pickerington called Paint and Escape. We were scheduled to be there January 15th, but we had a very sick kid and one just barely on the mend that day. The woman that owns the business was very wonderful to work with and moved us to January 29th.

When we arrived for our adventure, the first thing we had to do is sign in and choose a team name. When we were doing this, the owner of the business realized she had lost her car keys on the way into the venue that evening, and she was having trouble finding them. Keith went out with her and found the keys, so Team Key Finders was born.

It was finally time to enter our room – this is the door, the only photo I could take without giving anything away. I will tell you that we had a great time tearing apart the room looking for clues. We found most of them and figured out a lot of things, but we did use a couple of clues from the room owner. It was a great time of bonding and working together, and I would absolutely recommend it to other and also do it again with our kids and/or other friends. It felt good to be working puzzles again – we need a new Zelda game soon Nintendo!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Paint and Escape in Pickerington has the room we did and also a room geared towards a younger crowd aged 8-12, I believe. It was an excellent first experience for 3 of the 4 of us – Madeline has done about 5 escape rooms at this point and is our resident expert. If you have done an escape room you would recommend, please let us know in the comments – Charlotte wants to do one with friends for her birthday this year.

December Adventure Date

At the beginning of the year, when I came up with the adventure and create date goal for this year, one of the things I really wanted to do was axe throwing. It has always been in the back of my head each month, but sometimes it was a time issue and sometimes it was an expense issue. So, seeing as December is the end of the year 2019, we decided to make it happen over Christmas Break. I found a Groupon which made Throw Nation (off Sawmill Road in Dublin) a slightly better deal than other places. I also knew it would have free parking, so we booked a session for the day after Christmas.

I had no idea that by booking our session for 4 pm, as soon as they opened, I was actually making an error. It turned out that they somehow did not have the right amount of staff to deal with all the people booked at 4, so they told our group we would have to wait “about 10 minutes” and then they would get us started. We proceeded to wait for 30 minutes for someone to realize that we had fallen through the cracks. They helped every other group, including groups arriving after our start time and we are pretty sure some walk-in customers. When they finally remembered us, they tried to put us in with another pretty large group, potentially ruining not only our experience but theirs as well.

It was finally worked out that we would be taught how to throw and then have a lane to ourselves to play a few games. This actually ended up being perfect, and we really enjoyed throwing the axes. It was difficult, but not so much that we were unable to hit the target a good amount. It was minimally frustrating. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here are some action shots of both of us.

We both hit the bullseye at least a couple of times. Here are some photos of axes in targets.

In the end, we had a really great time. Keith beat me two games, but I surged back in the last game to take the overall best score. I credit working on my throw technique and aim in the second game with my third game success.

In the end, we really enjoyed throwing axes, but our backs were also very done by the end of the third game. I can see us doing this again, but I know we will not go to Throw Nation. Although everyone else there that day would probably have a glowing review, I do not want to the chance that we could be the people that slip through the cracks again. I would also not recommend the Groupon. I felt it made it really hard to ask for a refund and walk away. It did not save us that much money, especially since we did not get the true “arcade game” group experience and only ended up throwing axes for about 45 minutes. As Keith said on facebook, “Will I throw axes again? Yes. Will it be at Throw Nation? Definitely not.”

We will definitely be continuing our adventure dates next year – do you have any ideas for things we have not yet tried? Let us know in the comments. We wish you all a safe and Happy New Year!