Adventures in Gaming

A few years back, all my game group would play are what are called “Euros.” These are games where you basically do a lot of math and strategize for 3 hours and hope you mathed better than everyone else. There was always a theme, though light, and what mattered was calculating the perfect strategy.

RPGs are a great way to combine both strategy and storytelling in gaming.

A year or two of playing games like that burnt me out. Around the same time I started playing my first role playing game (RPG). It was Star Wars and super fun! Then after that campaign, we decided on trying out the new Dungeons and Dragons rule set (5th edition). What a whirlwind that’s been! I think playing RPGs both digital and physical has completely changed the way I approach gaming.

I love getting into the adventure and story. I love rolling a fist full of dice, hoping I defeat the monster. While I still love math and strategy games, I love the lighter and more fluid games more these days.

Why the change? I’ve actually always been a very imaginative person. I used to sit in my apple tree and come up with all sorts of stories and worlds in my head. I had an imaginary friend named Yoshi and had created an entire story and world around him. In middle school, I would write Star Wars Fan Fiction and random comics with friends. So it’s actually no surprise that I would love storytelling in gaming.

A Call to Adventure is an awesome game that you tell a story of your character at the end but there’s still strategy involved.

I also have a math degree, so there is a measure of strategy and mathematics that I love in gaming. Most RPGs actually have quite a bit of math in them and adding up dice rolls and stats on the fly is a great lesson in mental math.

Does this mean I won’t play an abstract game with little theme? By no means! I’m loving games like Azul, and word games like Codenames are quite fun too.

I just find that as I grow older, the type of gaming I am into has changed. Not only that, but our gaming group has changed drastically. While we still have the core 3 of us, we have added a couple other gamers to the group. These gamers are more into shorter games, especially ones that are cooperative. And when learning new games, they enjoy games that can be learned in 20 minutes or less.

I’m okay with this change though. While my Monday night group isn’t totally into storytelling games, they are into a good mix of gaming and adventure. One big example is Mansions of Madness! It has strategy, theme, storytelling, and math. Another game we have been enjoying lately is Mystic Vale and Call to Adventure. There’s a good combo of strategy and theme in the game.

I think gaming is a great outlet for my imagination. As a kid I wrote stories and playacted, now I get to do that in gaming form. I think as adults we sometimes lose that imagination and forget what it’s like to role play and be in different world. As my son grows older and his imagination develops, I’m excited to enjoy adventure gaming with him and create amazing stories!

Dating my Husband

I was talking with my climbing group the other day, and I had mentioned going on dates with my husband. Both of my friends have significant others as well, so the conversation turned to how going on dates can be important and fun to a relationship.

My husband and I are very blessed to have so much family in town that can watch our son. We do a lot of things as a family, but we never want to lose sight of doing stuff together as a couple. In our fast paced culture, it can be easy to just fill our schedule and never get time to take a breathe. We try to do dates a couple times a month, even if it’s just doing a quick lunch during his lunch hour.

How does a date differ from just hanging out? My husband and I are involved in many different friend groups and communities. Between church, work, school, AWANA, climbing, and board games, we literally can fill every single night with an event (and we often do). However, this can lead to severe burnout, especially for an introvert like my husband.

We have therefore learned to say no to things and to make sure we schedule in 2-3 dates a month to get that quality time. To me, a date is specifically taking time to spend with your significant other, focusing on quality time. For this reason, we avoid movies unless it’s Star Wars. We want to spend face to face time together. When we were younger and didn’t have a kid, we saw movies a lot. But when you get just 2-3 hours every few months to go on a one on one date, we aren’t gonna waste it staring at a screen.

We also have needed to vary our dates. Going on a climbing date is loads of fun, but then we finish off the night absolutely exhausted, instead of recharging our mental, emotional, and physical batteries. So we try to do a climbing date or a lunch date or just a walk at the park date.

I understand that not everyone can do dates out, but even just carving out an hour at home when the kids are in bed can be beneficial to your relationship! Also, build your community around people who support you and your family. If you have kids, find friends or family who can watch your kids for a bit so you can catch a break. It does actually take a village to raise your kids. More on that in another blog post.

Even if you don’t have kids, go on dates with your spouse! Even people without kids can fill their schedules so much that they don’t take time to spend together. My husband and I love going on dates, especially because as a dating and engaged couple we were long distance. We wouldn’t see each other for a few months at a time, and so every date was so special. We have now carried that into our marriage.

One more note: your don’t have to do something crazy big every time for a date. Sometimes all you need is some coffee and a walk in the neighborhood. Just taking the time to spend together, especially without screens is vital to a relationship in this uncompromising social media driven world.

Does it spark joy?

Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, as well as her acclaimed book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as inspired many to take a look at their possessions and ask “Does it spark joy?”

Our kitchen stuff we got rid of, amazing to see how much we had that we didnb’t even know what it was!

My husband and I knew we wanted to do some spring cleaning, but after he starting watching the show on Netflix, he began first by going through his entire wardrobe. I was quite inspired, so over the course of the next few weeks, we went through our entire house and “Marie Kondo’d” it.

After over 8 trunk loads to Goodwill and other donations, we officially finished Tidying Up our house! It was amazing, and we feel so much more organized and at peace with how clean our house is. Not only did we get rid of a lot of stuff that we didn’t need or want, but we also reorganized how we did each drawer, closet, and space.

My side table is so much more organized now!

We used our old Apple device boxes as drawer organizers, as well as some organizers from the store. We also tried to optimize each space based on how much we use the item. For example, in our kitchen, we made sure to put the bowls and pans in an easy to grab cabinet especially since I am short and can’t reach all the cabinets in the house.

We also went through all my son’s toys and books, and made sure he had easy access to them. My son is very visual, so having a box of toys hidden way in a drawer meant he never opened that drawer. So we made sure each of his toys were in an open container he could see and know what was in the box. So now his play-doh and cars are in an open container that he can easily pull out and play with.

My son’s toys and games are on the bottom two shelves of this bookcase, easy access and space to play with his toys directly in front of the shelf.

Our biggest takeaway from Tidying Up is being able to clean our house so much easier. We have a spot for everything now, and instead of trying to stuff it in a drawer or cabinet, there is a distinct spot for it. Also, going shopping at a store, I’m amazed how much less I buy now. I really do ask “Does it spark joy?” every time I go to the store now and pick something out.

Does it mean we don’t keep anything that doesn’t “spark joy?” Sure, the toilet plunger doesn’t spark joy but it is useful and important. Asking the question is more for stuff that we don’t need, but want. For example, if I’m going to a board game shop or comic book shop, I will ask “will this spark joy?” I still bought comics and board games this week, but I really considered before buying.

Keeping the house clean is a much easier task with much less stuff to pick up.

The goal of Tidying Up is that it is supposed to be so extreme that you only do it once or twice in your life. And once you go through everything, it should change your lifestyle and perspective. You will be able to keep things organized and tidied up, hopefully for the rest of your life.