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!

February 2022 Family Game Time – Jackbox Games

It is the last day of February today, and I am coming in just under the wire with this post friends. We had a bit of a crazy February with weather and car shopping and dinner theatre at our high school and auditions and classes and two birthdays and a wedding. I wasn’t sure this was going to be a month where we hit this goal. It wasn’t looking good. And then, yesterday we found a pocket of time in the afternoon to play a few Jackbox Games together. It wasn’t a long pocket of time, but it was enough. I think we all walked away feeling a little more connected to each other. And that’s really the point, isn’t it?

We started our time playing Drawful 2. We have usually been big fans of this one, and it did not disappoint this time. Keith and I actually tied for this round – something that has not happened before, but I think we all had some pretty funny/interesting drawings. To get into the game, you have to go to Jackbox.tv on your phone or tablet and enter the code shown on your computer. Once everyone has done that, you can start playing. When the game starts, every player is given a prompt to draw. Then everyone is shown the drawings and writes what they think the prompt could have been. In the end, everyone tries to guess which is the true prompt for each drawing. It really is a lot of fun! Here are a few highlights:

The next game we tried is Quiplash. For this one, you are given prompts and you write funny quip – like a witty description or summary. The game pairs up two players for each prompt, and you blind vote for the quip you like best. This one is harder for Charlotte because of the writing and her dyslexia, but I think she ended up in second and I lost big time. Maddie was the big winner of this one. Here are a few highlights:

The final game we played this time was Guesspionage. For this game, each player gets a turn each round. You are given a question that involves a percentage of people – like “What percentage of people like Jackbox Games?” You set the percentage to your best guess, and then everyone else gets to guess if the real answer is higher or lower. Some of the questions are pretty obviously high or low, but some are really difficult to guess. The answers come from polling people online, so that is always at least in the back of my mind because I think it does narrow down which people would be answering. The big winner for this game was Charlotte, mostly because she was just really good at guessing the percentages on her turn. Here are some of the questions we had:

I know that we will definitely play some Jackbox games again – either as a family or with our friends. It is enjoyable for larger groups and can be done completely online, so it was our go-to for a while during quarantine.

Have you ever played any Jackbox games? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

Love Letters and Seven Dragons – January 2022 Family Game Night

It finally happened. We were meant to have family game night the weekend of New Years, but everyone had horrible headaches because of the weather. So we postponed it. And then got our COVID booster shots the following week, causing another weekend of not feeling so great. It was not looking good for our family game night this month, but we pivoted and had family game day instead because we were all off of school and work for MLK Day. I made fondue, we snacked and played, and a good time was had by all.

We started out by eating fondue and playing Love Letters. Keith and I had played this at a game cafe several years ago now. We remember liking the game, so we chose it as this year’s “pickle gift” (the gift received by the person that finds the pickle on the Christmas tree first). Charlotte was the quickest pickle-finder this year, so it is technically her game. We will see how that plays out in a few years.

Chocolate fondue remains and Love Letters game

Although both Keith and I remember Love Letters as a quick game, it definitely took a while to get a winner. We all enjoyed it a lot, though, and some new inside jokes were definitely created. I was the biggest loser and Charlotte came out as our glorious winner in the end, although it was a tight race amongst everyone but me…

To finish off the afternoon, we played one quick round of Seven Dragons. This is a perennial favorite of ours and is definitely a go-to if we want something quick with not much set up. I was very, very close to prevailing with my black dragon goal, but Keith managed to swoop in and win at the last second. It was a tough loss, but a very fun afternoon.

Seven Dragons with background folded laundry to add to your viewing enjoyment…

We know that family game night is going to be changing as we continue this year. It might be only 2 or 3 of us at times, but we will definitely shoot for all 4 as much as possible. We are definitely on the look out for more 2 player games – do you have any favorites we should try? Please let me know in the comments!

February Create Date 2020

This month, our family is directly involved in 4 shows and our youngest is also auditioning for another tomorrow. To say that we are busy is a bit of an understatement… There were 4 fundamental truths I knew about this month’s create date:

1. It would most likely need to be at home due to our extremely limited free time together.

2. We needed to throw our oldest an 18th birthday party.

3. Her birthday this year is the day before Mardi Gras.

4. Making a King Cake is on my list of 44 things to do while I am 44.

So, we made a simple king cake. Yes, it uses crescent rolls. Yes, I can make homemade crescent rolls, but please refer to the reference to extremely limited free time mentioned in number 1 above. That was our only short cut, and I don’t even feel a little bit guilty.

Here are a few photos of the process:

And here is the cake in action:

The general consensus is that the cake was amazing – probably not as good as you can get in Louisiana, but definitely better than I have found in Ohio. The recipe that we used can be found here: https://pin.it/JtTqD5G (We did not use pecans, but if you like nuts in baked goods, please have at it.)

What are you doing to celebrate Mardi Gras? We’d love to hear your traditions! 💛💚💜

Turning the Page

Our oldest child came out to the world as a transgender young woman a couple of weeks ago. We have known about 6 months, although if we are honest, we have known something was going on a lot longer than that. Writing the facebook post to announce her new name was in a lot of ways a relief, but there was also a really large amount of anxiety and fear. This is the post I shared with our friends:

We would like to reintroduce everyone to our oldest child. This is Madeline. For 17 years we thought we had a son, but it turns out that we have 2 daughters. Parenting is full of unexpected news, and we certainly didn’t see gender dysphoria in our future when we embarked on our journey. At the same time, it wasn’t actually a shock when Micah told us in February. We are so sorry that we do not have the energy to have this conversation separately with all of you. Please know that this has come with lots of counseling, soul-searching, and not a small amount of awkward/humorous situations. We are confident this is who our child is, and we will do all that we have to in order to keep her happy, healthy, and safe. We know it will be confusing for all of us for the foreseeable future. Respectful discussion is welcome. Judgement and hatred will not be tolerated. We strongly feel God has trusted us with this incredible person to care for and protect and we intend to do just that. While our little family unit has known and been processing this for 6 months, we ask that you are respectful of extended family members as they are still processing this news and are all at different stages of acceptance. Thank you.

In the end, the post received over 200 likes/loves and so many responses. All of the responses are loving and kind and supportive and uplifting and I sobbed with relief and happiness at reading them. We have obviously found the right people to be a part of our lives. They love and support our family, even when we barely know what we are doing. They lift us up in prayer when we don’t have the words. Our people are amazing!!

Since Maddie came out to us in February, all of my energy has been focused on the logistics of telling everyone. I was not naive enough to think everything would be smooth sailing after that, but I really thought it would be the biggest hurdle we would face for right now. And in a lot of ways, that was correct. We have big things on the very near horizon – blockers and hormones and name changes, oh my – but there is a definite lull in what NEEDS to be done right now. Maddie is getting more and more comfortable being herself, we are slowly replacing her wardrobe, and everyone at school is adjusting nicely.

Other parents in my circle are going on college visits, helping with college applications, prepping for auditions, and worried about the right combination of classes to get into the first choice of schools. I am so relieved that we are not trying to do that right now – Maddie has decided to attend Community College for at least a year to get her associates degree and then transfer to a four year institution. That buys us time before we need to help her navigate being a trans student in a dorm living situation, and I truly believe she will be stronger and have a better sense of herself because of this choice.

I was naive enough to think that this lull in what needs to be done, this small respite time without major decisions, would be an easy time. I thought I was emotionally spent and would just be able to coast for a bit. I do not pretend to know what living as a trans woman who wasn’t out to the world was like for my daughter. I am sure it was tremendously hard. For us as her family, it was like we were living a lie when we talked about her to people. We were having conversations about a person that we knew didn’t exist, at least not as everyone perceived her. There were all kinds of excuses about why we aren’t going on college visits and which schools she is considering. There were lots of funny looks because our answers didn’t seem to make sense with the obvious intelligence and talent our child possesses. It is a huge relief to not have to make excuses or leave questions hanging anymore.

It is in this place of relief that tiny things have started sneaking up on me. Little things that are small in the grand scheme of things, but little things that break my mom heart. I started getting the September calendar ready this week. We use a large desk calendar on our wall – the kind with the tear off pages – because we have a very active family and we need the space. I also use an electronic calendar that we share on our phones, but I like being able to see the month at a glance. As I prepare to turn the page to September, it has hit me that I am also completely turning the page to Madeline. The name Micah will not appear on our calendar again. The name we have spent over 17 years with. The name we chose with love for our first baby. The name I have signed to hundreds of cards and letters. The name that carried with it so many hopes and dreams. And I am suddenly grieving in a way I never expected to and in a way that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

My child is still here. My child is alive and well and has unlimited potential and opportunity ahead of her. She is intelligent and funny and kind and strong. And I am so proud of who she is and who she will become. But I have to let myself grieve the loss of the hopes and dreams I had for her before we knew. I need to grieve for her, having to live as someone she wasn’t for so long. I have to let myself feel and then let go of the guilt of not knowing for so long. The guilt of trying to force her to fit into a life that wasn’t meant for her. I have to sit here in this place of sadness before I can let the person my child was before, the child in my memories, merge with the daughter I have going forward. I know that eventually it won’t be awkward trying to talk about the past. It won’t feel like our memories are of a different person. It will be perfectly natural to call that child Maddie instead of Micah. And look forward to that merging because I know it is what is best for my child. But today? Today I am just a mom grieving the passage of time, which I guess isn’t so different from my circle of friends after all. Stay strong Mommas – we’ve all got this!

August Create Date

You may recall that one of our June adventure dates was to an art installation called Otherworld. We really enjoyed exploring all of their rooms, but my personal favorite was one with a variety of plush creatures. I am told it is called the Land of Schnoop. Anyway, Otherworld is starting to offer classes, and the first one was a class to design and build an Otherworldly creature! Not only were Keith and I interested in this opportunity, but both kids were excited to sign up, too.

The first step we had to complete was deciding what our creature would look like. They had precut creatures if you really didn’t want to do that part, but they encouraged everyone to try to sketch one out. Everyone has a different creative process, and it turns out that some of our family could sketch out a design and some of us needed to have pieces to play around with to really make design decisions. Both completely valid.

Our next step was to choose fleece for the main body of our creature and felt for the details. As I said, they had some precut options you could also play around with to get ideas. It was at this point that we had to start sharing 2-3 pairs of scissors for 6 people, and while it wasn’t terrible, it would have been quicker if everyone had their own pair.

Once all your pieces were cut, you had to attach the features to the fleece using sewing, hot glue, or a combination of the two. We did discover that the combination got tricky if you tried to sew through the hot glue – it was pretty tough to get the needles through. They also had some scraps of fake fur if you wanted to accent your creature with some of that. This step went very smoothly with plenty of glue guns and needles for everyone.

The last couple steps were really where the bottleneck of the class happened. It is quickest to use a sewing machine to sew the front and back of the creature together, but Otherworld only had one sewing machine for the 25 or so people in the class. And yes, you could hand sew, but the class time was supposed to be only two hours. And the Emigh family was hungry. So, the kids ended up having their creatures sewn and stuffed while we were there. They sent us home with more than enough stuffing for Keith and me to finish ours as well. I think this was just a result of it being their first class and them not knowing what to expect. I am relatively sure they expected to have more teens and less adults in the class, but everyone really enjoyed it and made amazing creatures. We LOVE ours!

We would 100% recommend future Otherworld Makes classes and will definitely try to make it to more in the future. A great experience for our family to make things together, and very reasonably priced at $10/person. Thanks Otherworld! If you have been to Otherworld, what was your favorite room? Let us know in the comments!

June and July Family Game Night Recap

Our family has had a fantastic summer filled with musicals, new experiences, festivals, friends, and lots of fun. The one thing we did not do this summer was have family game night. When we had a night free, our kids wanted to spend time with friends or just relax, so FGN fell to the wayside during this busy, active season. Now that we have a little more free time heading into the school year, I fully expect FGN to resume. The closest we got was giving away some games we no longer use in June and giving Micah the Monty Python Fluxx game as a show gift in July. Both are pictured below for your enjoyment. 😉

June Family Adventure Two

We had 2 family adventures in June! It was wonderful to have the opportunity to spend so much time together and we had an amazing time at COSI. We were really there for the fossils in the Dinosaur exhibit because of a Geology 4-H project, but we definitely explored more than that. I was really excited for the Jim Henson exhibit, and it did not disappoint! So, without further ado, here is the full report. 🙂

When we first arrived, we had to wait for the group of 4-H members from our club to get out of the Chemistry Live show, so we hung out in Gadgets. I was happily surprised with how much fun we had trying to make devices that would fly in the wind tubes they had. It was great!

After meeting up with our friends for a photo, we ended up checking out the WOSU exhibit. We especially had fun with the lights that break up your shadow into different colors.

Our next stop was the Dinosaur exhibit. We all learned some new things – I know we were never taught that some dinosaurs had feathers! Lots of cool fossils to explore, too. I think our budding geologist really enjoyed it.

Finally, it was time to check out the Jim Henson exhibit. I have ALWAYS been a fan of The Muppets and Sesame Street. I also really enjoyed Labyrinth and The Fraggles. So, seeing the beginnings of the muppet-type characters and seeing actual puppets and costumes and sketches and writing from the shows was amazing! I am so glad the exhibit came to Columbus so we could check it out!

We would definitely all recommend checking out both COSI and the Jim Henson exhibit. The exhibit is only here until September 2nd, so you should make plans to see it soon! Definitely worth the time and entrance fee. If you have already been, what was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments!

June Family Adventure One

There is a new art installation experience in Columbus called Otherworld. This has been on my radar for a few months and we actually bought presale tickets a couple of months ago. This past Saturday we were invited to Otherworld for a birthday meet up. We were very excited to go and check it out!

We spent a good amount of time in the lobby before going in. I do not want to give away all the fun you will have, but I will highlight some of our favorite things. Here are a few photos from the lobby and entrance.

Once inside, there are So. Many. Rooms. It took us a good hour and a half to fully explore all of the different parts of this amazing place. They have done a lot of really cool things and there is an incredible attention to detail. You can tell that there are plans to expand as some of the rooms are “just” really amazing murals. The only thing we struggled with is that the light is very low throughout, so our eyes were pretty tired when we left. Here are some sneak peaks at the many, many rooms awaiting you at Otherworld.

Overall, we had a great time exploring. It was really fun that we could touch and interact with everything in the rooms. There are puzzles and little surprises throughout which we really enjoyed. We look forward to checking it out again in a few months to see if there is more to discover.

May Family Game Night Recap

As I mentioned in my other May posts, this was a busy, hectic, crazy month. When we were home for a rare evening, someone was always grumpy or sleepy or had to study or needed a mental break. So, we only had one Family Game Night (FGN) in May. Which is still better than nothing, but I am disappointed that we couldn’t make it work. Most likely we will do better in June – we will have less rehearsals after Charlotte’s Web closes on the 16th, so I am hopeful.

On May 25th, we decided it was now or never. The plan was that Charlotte would study for her test and then join Keith, Micah and me, but it went a little differently. When Charlotte joined us, Micah must have felt his obligation was fulfilled and he ditched us to play online with friends. Keith and I still had a wonderful night playing with both our children, just not at the same time.

The first game we played was 5 Minute Dungeon. Keith and Micah had played this game with friends, and they enjoyed it so much that Micah gifted it to Keith for his birthday. It was not a 5 minute game as the name implies, but it was fun once I got the hang of it. We beat the first dungeon, but we ended up losing the game in the second dungeon. I chose to be a ninja character (because NINJA!!), but had I understood how the game play worked and how the characters’ powers would be used, I may have chosen a character with a more useful power. Knowing the Micah is a fan of this game, I am sure it will be in rotation for future FGNs in our household. I do have to say that just shoving all the cards to the side gave me anxiety about having to sort them out later…

The second game we tried was a Christmas gift to our family from my brother’s family. Phone Phever is a game that uses your smart phone for a lot of the the questions; sometimes it is optional, other times not. You are racing the other players to get the latest, greatest, new smart phone by answering questions. We finished the game, but I doubt that the three of us will play it again. It seems like a game that young teens will like, so we will have Charlotte and her friends try it out.

The next game Keith, Micah and I played was The Oregon Trail Hunt for Food card game. This game was pretty simple once we got through the rules. Unfortunately, we all ended up dying before we could deliver enough food back to our camp. I believe one of us died from dehydration, one died from getting lost, and one died from a snake bite. No dysentery, so I guess we had that going for us. 😉 I feel like we will most likely try this game out again.

After Oregon Trail, Charlotte joined us and we lost Micah. Keith and Charlotte found a Friends Trivia Game at a thrift store last month, so we decided to give it a go. It ended up being pretty fun, and I was pleasantly surprised how many of the questions we knew – thanks Netflix! Keith managed to beat us out at the last minute, but it was definitely neck and neck for the win. I have a feeling that Charlotte will want to play this again, but it will have to once again be without Micah because he is not a big Friends fan.

Have you ever played any of these games? Do you have any games you think we should try? Let us know in the comments!