January 2022 Create Date – Pleasures of the Cup

I am so excited to be writing about our first Create Date for 2022! I have missed this so much – although I will admit that we have done some creating and adventuring that didn’t appear here in the blog. I am really just thrilled that I have adventure and create dates on the books through March! So many things to look forward to!

For this particular Create Date, we did a little mixology with the Ohio History Connection in their virtual event called Ohio On The Rocks – Pleasures of the Cup. The event featured 3 segments where we mixed new cocktails and 4 segments where we learned some facts about Ohio during the Ice Age. Was it a little bit cheesy at points? Yes. Was it still super fun? Absolutely! We have actual done one other virtual event like this called Once Upon a Cocktail (it was fairy tale themed), and I have enjoyed both. We got to buy and mix new drinks and we definitely enjoyed making some cocktails from our last class over the holidays. Also, both times, we have done this “with” a friend, so we spent the time sending messages and photos back and forth. That was definitely wonderful and I would recommend attending the event with friends for that added fun.

I am going to leave you with some fun photos of our set up and drinks – we made Sex on a Glacier, The Purple Mammoth, and Damn the Weather. I think Damn the Weather was our favorite, although we enjoyed The Purple Mammoth a lot as well.

Have you ever taken a mixology class? Do you have a favorite mixed drink that you would recommend we learn to make? Have you ever attended a Pleasures of the Cup event? Let me know in the comments.

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!

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. 🙂

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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Mental Health Month (Part One)

Since May is Mental Health month, I have received permission for the following (extremely long) post. I hope it helps give a face to Anxiety and Depression and it makes someone feel less alone. Please know that even if we are not close, I am here to listen and support any of you. ALWAYS.

Last night was a crazy one for our family. Charlotte had her last Middle School choir concert, Micah had the last orchestra concert of the year, and it was my father-in-law’s 82nd birthday. So, we made a plan to meet my in-laws for dinner. After dinner, Keith attend Charlotte’s concert and then they would meet me at the high school to see at least the last combined orchestra song. (We did the opposite last year, so that helped us decide.) My father-in-law went with Keith and my mother-in-law was to meet me at the high school.

Before we left dinner, Micah ended up in the bathroom for a long time. He eventually came out and walked right out the door, clearly not in a good place mentally. I grabbed both kids to get them to their schools by call time and told Keith I would update him when I could. We dropped Charlotte off and I tried to get Micah to open up and let me help him with whatever he was struggling with. It had already been a rough week at school for his anxiety because of a final robotics project Monday and an AP Calculus exam yesterday morning. Micah had not been in orchestra at all this week because of these conflicts, so he was worried he wouldn’t be able to get his music or his violin. So, I calmed him the best I could by reminding him his teachers are very kind people and I’m sure they would let him get what he needed. Just to be sure, I promised to go home and get his other violin and bring it back. He went in doing okay.

I texted him when I was ready to return to the high school to see if he was able to get his violin and music. He replied he did, but now he was paralyzed by his thoughts in the bathroom again. I talked him down, told him to find a trusted orchestra teacher to let her know he was not okay and I was on my way to help. I arrived not knowing whether he would be waiting for me or if maybe they were able to get him warming up.

I walked in and texted him I was there, got my mother-in-law settled in a seat, and he texted he was in the lobby. We spent he next hour in a side hall. I tried literally everything I could think of to get him to go be with his orchestra – reminded him he has survived 100% of his 5 years of concerts so far, nothing bad has actually ever happened to him while playing his violin, he is a talented kid and can do this, etc… We used meditation, grounding techniques, deep breathing, lots of tissues, and I finally told him all he had to do was sit up and tune his violin. Next we had to go to the lobby. We spent most of Symphony 1’s concert working on going into the auditorium. Finally, Symphony 2 was literally leaving to go on stage. I looked at him, told him he had no more time, he had to do this, and bless his beautiful heart, he went.

My beautiful, brave child grabbed his violin and went and performed. I was broken in a million pieces (but I did not cry the whole time with him because I am not only an empath, but also incredibly stubborn), and my heart was bursting with relief and pride and love for my broken child. He looked confident and prepared on stage and no one would have ever guessed what his last hour had been. YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO SEE WHEN SOMEONE IS NOT OKAY. If you saw me, talked to me, or hugged me last night, you probably didn’t know I was walking around shattered. If you saw my child after the concert, you probably got an awkward smile.

So, I want you to know that I see you, and I will struggle with you. I know what it is like to try to be strong enough for two people when you are really breaking into a million pieces. I know what it is like to have your child say things like “I wish I was never born” or “I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up.” I know the grief and fear and doubt and guilt. And I know that we are all doing the best we can. Micah is in counseling and on medications. Overall, things are getting better. But it is still a terrible, dark thing he is dealing with, and it is one he has to battle alone. But you know I will be there fighting to get to him. So please be kind to us.

March Family Game Night Recap

Well, as expected, March was a super busy month. Our family involved in two different shows with two different tech weeks made for a very tight schedule. When we had time to have family game night, one or more of us was just not feeling up to it. So, we only have one game event to recap here. It’s a good thing we had extra game nights earlier this year! We also have not had any game nights involving my in laws this quarter, so we will need to figure that out for April.

On March 26th, we took Micah and 4 of his friends to Tabletop Game Cafe to celebrate his birthday – finally. The high schoolers had their own table and, as far as I know, only played two games. Betrayal in the House in the Hill and Kids Against Maturity (a more PG version of Cards Against Humanity). They seemed to have a great time with both of them.

Their game of Betrayal was the longest I have ever witnessed! The haunt started early and lasted forever!
They had a great time!

At our table, Keith, Charlotte and I played Love Letters a couple of times. This is a quick game that we really liked. Not complex and pretty fun.

Next we played Catacomb. Catacomb ended up being a lot of set up and learning, so we only played one encounter. We really liked the game play, though. Flicking disks at your enemies is strangely satisfying. We plan to watch a little gameplay on YouTube and then give it another try with all 4 of us.

No photo of the board set up – I was definitely not “on my game” that day!

The last game we played was Apples to Apples. It turned out to be a little rough for Charlotte because Keith and I have so many more years of inside jokes, but we all enjoyed this one, too.

Another easy to learn and play game – definitely less frustrating to Charlotte.

We also found a game we want to try next time we are at Tabletop – Sagrada. It is a dice game with only a couple pages of directions, so I think it could be a hit with our whole family. Charlotte is especially excited to try it.

Have you tried Sagrada or any other game you think we should check out? Let us know in the comments!

February Family Game Night Recap

As expected, our Family Game Nights (FGNs) have slowed down a bit for February. We were, however, able to fit in two and thus meet our goal. It is really thanks to Micah deciding that he would love to spend his birthday evening playing games with us. Whew!

Our first FGN was Super Bowl Sunday. We aren’t huge football fans, and we definitely didn’t have any team we were favoring. So, we got set up to play a few games and have a few yummy snacks. First up was Dos Rios: Valley of Two Rivers. Keith and I had played this one before, but it was the first time for both kids. First up, they enjoyed stacking their meeples, casas, and haciendas.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the game play once we got going. In the end, Charlotte prevailed with an excellent use of strategy, but everyone had a good time. We enjoyed some chocolates from Christmas, some Hello Panda green tea treats, and some Bhuja Snacks Cracker Mix. (We also had Little Debbie Valentine Cakes, but did not end up eating them that evening.)

To finish the evening out, we decided on Fluxx because it can be a quick game. Unfortunately, that was not the case on February 3rd. It was a long game with many rule changes and a couple times shuffling the deck. We were all quite relieved when Keith won, which is generally not the case.

Our second FGN for February was on the 24th for Micah’s birthday. We had to order a couple of cords on Amazon Prime Now and noticed that Betrayal at the House on the Hill was on sale for almost half off. We couldn’t pass that up and naturally decided to give it a whirl right away. Since it was Micah’s special day, and because Charlotte and I were right by The Cheesecake Factory on Polaris, we decided to get cheesecake to celebrate.

Keith and Micah had played Betrayal at the House on the Hill before, and our whole family played Betrayal at Baulder’s Gate in January, but this was the first time Charlotte and I played this version. We liked building the house better than building the Baulder’s Gate with all the different colored doors. We had unfortunate luck with our haunt this game, however, so Micah’s Zombie Lord ended up killing all of us. Keith and Charlotte were cornered in the basement and I was a 9 year old girl, so we didn’t stand a chance. We will definitely be adding this game into our rotation and are very excited to have gotten it on sale. We did not end up playing Fluxx, Micah’s other choice, because Charlotte was done and wanted to FaceTime and text with her friends. Since Betrayal took about 90 minutes, we let her go. Overall, a great evening. Can’t wait to see what games we will play in March – maybe we’ll have a Family Game Night at Tabletop over Spring Break.

January Adventure Date

For our January Adventure Date, our whole family stayed in the Maple Treehouse at Hocking Hills Treehouse Cabins. Keith and I really debated about whether to get away on our own or whether to take the kids, but in the end we decided we all needed to get away. The past few months have been a little stressful as Keith’s company was bought and we were unsure whether he would have a job past the end of this month. Things have stabalized now, thankfully, so we really needed a family celebration of that.

Our treehouse cabin was cozy and had the perfect amount of space for us to spread out some but also hang out as a family. We loved all the little finishing touches and special nooks. Keith and I had a queen bed that was pretty comfy, and there was also a queen bed in the loft area and a pull out sofa. The kids alternated between their two options each night and seemed to like both okay. The kitchen was small but very workable – we definitely ate well while we were there. The bathroom was beautiful with the rain shower head and we loved the unlimited hot water supply. There was even a wood stove heated hot tub that the kids enjoyed on Saturday evening after a day of hiking. We took lots of photos of the cabin to show you, so lets start with the outside views.

The inside consisted of a kitchen/dining/lounge area with a loft, a master bedroom, and a bathroom. Every space was used really well for storage and decoration. Here are photos of the multipurpose room and loft.

Next are photos of the great bathroom. Really can’t overstate the awesomeness of the unlimited hot water. We were mindful to try not to waste water, but we loved that we did not have to keep turning it up and rush through our showers.

Finally, the master bedroom was cozy and bright with wonderful views. It was also right up the stairs from the hot tub, so it was easy to watch the fire and the kids but also stay warm and enjoy a glass of wine.

I really loved the way the cabin was decorated. The artwork and words really spoke to me, so I took lots of photos of that, too.

My very favorite part of the cabin, however, was that it was situated so there were waterfalls that you could see and hear from the deck. This weekend there were also some very impressive icicles to admire. We spent a bit of time exploring the property around the cabin on Saturday.

On Saturday we also ventured out to a couple places in Hocking Hills State Park. The cabin is less than 10 minutes from popular places in the park, so it is really convenient as a place to stay if you also want to hike and explore. We drove past John Glenn Astronomy Park, Whispering Cave, and Old Man’s Cave every time we left or returned to our cabin. Our first stop on Saturday was Ash Cave because we wanted to see how icy things were before we headed to any other parts of the park. Since Ash Cave is so flat and usually an easy hike, it seemed to be a logical choice. There was a man finishing an ice sculpture as we pulled into the parking lot, so that was an extra bonus. We found the hiking to be a bit treacherous, but if you just took your time and were mindful of where you were putting your feet, it really wasn’t too bad. The views were worth it!

Since Old Man’s Cave was on our way back to our cabin, we decided to see how well we could navigate the upper part of that hike. It was extremely slippery, but we managed pretty well. I *may* have crab crawled down some steps to make sure I didn’t slip. It probably wasn’t pretty, but it was very effective. The views on this hike were even better! The rain earlier in the week paired with the refreezing temperatures created quite a show for us.

On Sunday, we decided to stop at Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve on our way home. It is also less than 10 minutes from the cabin. It ended up being the worst hike in terms of ice, but that also made it breathtakingly beautiful. We are pretty sure that Charlotte had hiked there with us before, but it was Micah’s first time and he really loved it. I did actually fall on this hike, with lots of witnesses, but nothing was injured so it ended up being pretty funny.

All in all, we had an incredible weekend. We will definitely be back – Keith and I are already making plans to stay in the newest treehouse cabin, The Beech, which should be opening in the next few months. The kids have requested that we make it a family tradition, which is high praise from them. You should give it a try, too!

January Family Game Night Recap

As I stated in my first post, we have a goal of having at least 2 Family Game Nights (FGN) a month this year. We also plan to include our extended families, but that did not happen this month since we just saw everyone over the holidays. 🙂 We were total overachievers, though, and managed to have 5 nights of games and snacks this month!

We had our first FGN at Tabletop Game Cafe in Clintonville on January 2nd. It was a great day of games – we tried the games Stuffed Fables, Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, and Kill Doctor Lucky. Stuffed Fables ended up being a lot more involved than we wanted, so we played the first adventure and moved on. Another group was playing Betrayal at House on the Hill, so we tried the D&D version of the game and enjoyed it. We would really like to try the Haunted House version still. Our last pick, Kill Doctor Lucky, was quick to learn and and we all enjoyed it. We will definitely be back to Tabletop to eat delicious samosas and try out some more games!

Our next FGN was January 6th because we were all home without plans. We decided to eat some of our yummy snack gifts from Japan (Thank you Kamei and Sato families!!) and we played Exploding Kittens and Smallworld. It was the first time for all of us playing Exploding Kittens, but it did promise it was for people that like kittens, explosions, laser beams and sometimes goats, so we were pretty sure we would like it. It was an instant favorite with all the kitten art! Keith, Micah, and I had all played Smallworld before, but it was Charlotte’s first time. We all enjoyed the game. We also really enjoyed the Japanese snacks.

On January 20th, all activities outside our house were canceled due to weather. So, we took the chance to have a FGN! We played Pitt and Quarriors. Pitt is one of Micah’s favorites, so he was excited to play. It was not my night with the cards, so at one point I was trying to see how far negative I could go before someone won the game. Needless to say, I was not the winner. But it was a fun time for everyone. We had played Quarriors on New Year’s Eve Eve with Charlotte and it is now one of her favorite games to request. She has always like collecting things in bags, so I think this is just an extension of that passion. 😉 We all really do like the game, though. We tried a couple more snacks from Japan (chocolate drizzled potato chips and teriyaki rice cakes – both yum!!) and had chips and Little Debbies as well. And orange slices as you can see in the photos…

This past weekend, we actually had two FGN opportunities because we were away in a treehouse cabin with no television! It was wonderful! The first night, we played an old favorite from before Keith and I had kids – Filthy Rich! It is really fun that the kids are now old enough to appreciate and enjoy games we used to play. Charlotte did not want to be Queen of the Shmoos, but it is still true that Nobody Shops at Shorty’s. The kids may have thought we were strange for the entire language we have surrounding that game, but they went along with it anyway. We also played a quick game of Tsuro. In the end, I sent Charlotte off the board, Keith sent both of us off, and Micah was victorious. We had some really great green tea (for the adults) and hot chocolate (for the kids) and some Japanese chocolate mushroom snacks, a known family favorite.

Our second night at the cabin, we had a short FGN because we had a late dinner and didn’t have a lot of time. We played Monopoly Deal, a quick version of the Monopoly game that only uses cards but still manages to break relationships and evenings. Just kidding, it is pretty fun, but you do have to be okay with hurting other people in order to win. I am not blessed with that skill, so it will probably never be my first game pick. We had jiffy pop, green tea mochi (another family favorite), and new little chocolate and green tea Japanese treats – so yummy! We have decided there is a reason we’ve never done jiffy pop as a family snack before, though. So much shaking!

We are sure that our opportunities for FGN will be much more limited as we move forward due to theater and other commitments, so who knows what February will look like. Will we pick a new country for snacks? Will we just try new things from Japan and the US? I guess you will have to wait and see like the rest of us!

2019 Family Goals

At the beginning of this year, I sat down and worked on some vision board activities to try to have some focus for our family this year. I was given a list of words and had to narrow it down to just 10 words that really spoke to me. Next I narrowed the list down to 5 words, and finally down to just 3. After carefully working through my options, I was left with Adventure, Create, and Relate. For this winter and spring, we are going to be starting a couple of different things to start to bring more of those words into our lives.

Keith and I have really been a great team and have worked hard to do lots of extracurricular activities for and with our children. Along the way, it felt like our relationship was taking a backseat. One of the things we want to do this year is have one Adventure Date and one Create Date a month. It will force us to try new things and be creative, both things we love to do. Sometimes these dates will involve our kids because we love doing things with them and want to expose them to new opportunities. Most of the dates, however, will just be the two of us and I am really excited as we start to plan out what we will be doing the next couple of months.

At the Franklin Park Conservatory’s “Conservatory Aglow”

Another thing that we love to do as a family but have not been doing lately is family game nights. So, we also made the goal to have two family game nights a month. Additionally, one game night each quarter will include Keith’s parents and at least two during the course of the year will involve mine. We are so fortunate to have our parents still around and able to enjoy activities with us, and we really wanted to focus more on those relationships. Plus, we love some friendly family competition!

Games and snacks ready for a family game night!