Category Archives: Family

Celebrating Murder Mystery Style

While our family really enjoy celebrating and instilling family traditions, we are not the best at our own birthday parties. Kids parties we kick ass at (did you see the weather change for the most gorgeous bike park party as if it was controlled by my very own hand?), but when it comes to the hub and I, our birthdays seem to pass us by without much intention…

But this year – oh this year.

An old friend of mine, Lisa, has recently revived her passion for Murder Mystery Dinners (more-so helping others create them), and while I’d heard of them I didn’t know much about them. Hidden somewhere in the ice cream tubs of memories from our early 20’s (shoved to the back of the study) there are pics of my hubby at a Murder Mystery Dinner with our Durban crew (obviously before I arrived on the scene). This year, Theran’s birthday was conveniently timed with the release of Lisa’s Murder Mystery DIY ebook. I immediately downloaded the ebook and said to the hub – “Let’s do THIS for your birthday!”. Fuuuuuun (and finally I get to participate in one this time). Sold!

We settled on a few close friends (following the suggested best number of guests the ebook had mentioned), saved the date and immediately anticipation began building. Stoked!

3 weeks, winter school holidays, work deadlines, a weekend away, and a Good Food Club complete, it was suddenly the Monday before the dinner. Knowing it was screaming its urgency on my mental to-do list, in a flat panic I messaged Lisa. Something along the lines of “ummmmm hi there, so finally got down to the Murder Mystery Dinner and, well ummm, I’m a little confused, and I think I need to know more than I do and fumble fumble fumble, waffle waffle waffle, HELP!”. A few voice notes back and forth (Lisa must have heard the panic in my voice) she offered to come over to chat to both Theran and I about how to host a stellar Murder Mystery. With the kids in bed and chocolate croissants in the oven, Lisa arrived, armed with EVERY-THING we needed (enthusiasm to match) for our very first Murder Mystery Dinner.

Premise explained, printables provided, characters developed – we were SET UP (let’s not joke around, if you’re hosting one of these things, you gotta be on the ball). We received from her – her flagship Print-and-Play game (avail from her for R299), menu suggestions, name cards, tips and tricks, props – everything we needed, not only to make it look gorgeous, but also professional and something you can’t help but buy into.

Hold up! What exactly is a Murder Mystery dinner you may be asking? 

Well… in the simplest terms a murder mystery dinner is a themed dinner party that involves dressing up, acting and detecting which guest is the killer by the close of the game. Someone (not present at the party… duh!) has been killed, and someone attending the party did it (ahhh, gasp, shock, horror!). No one but the host knows who the murderer is, and secrets are revealed throughout the night with clues as to who it is. Props give away clues, guesses are made, crazy confessions come to light, and the murderer is finally revealed!

Terrified?

I’ll be honest, some friends were nervous. So was I – my character was French and I’m the worst accents person ever. Ever. But that’s all part of the fun – wangling my way through an evening where while being born in France, my nomadic parents travelled when I was young and my accent was misplaced by our numerous international adventures and and and (all made up – you get the idea).

And we had a BALL. What a fun, bizarre, hysterical, and unforgettable evening. My mom helped with the food so that it was less pressure for us to do that, and set up, and be in character (we have 3 small kids remember, nothing happens ‘easily’).

I was totally blown away by how incredibly well some friends embraced their characters and chirps were flowing (as was the wine and homemade Whisky cream liqueur)… It can be trying for some to get into character, and the best way to do that is for the evening itself to be well organised, create a legit environment and have your guests know this is for REAL. (Once the murderer is revealed, you can then break character).

KEEN?

If you’re at ALL interested in hosting a Murder Mystery Dinner, OR trying one out at a corporate function (oh my hat sooooo much fun!), I really would recommend you contact Lisa Aspeling.

I’d encourage you to firstly, download the ebook, take a peek at the website, join her closed group on Facebook – The Murder Mystery Guide Dinner Club – or you can contact her directly:

Possible ways of getting started: 

  • Download the ebook and follow the tips to developing your own story.
  • Purchase Lisa’s Print-and-Play game (R299).
  • Contact Lisa about a Weekend Workshop where she will help you put your own custom-made murder mystery together, as well as the opportunity to experience one yourself (R1500, includes private dining restaurant dinner for murder mystery (cash bar) Places are limited.)

Contact Lisa Aspeling: 072 372 8620 or email lisa@murdermysteryguide.com.

Lisa has over 10 years’ experience playing murder mystery dinner games she’s written herself, games she’s co-written and dinners where she’s been just an ordinary guest.

GO FOR IT! It really is such a fun experience and something so different to your usual sit down dinner! You won’t regret it.

Remembering Clay’s Birth… 6 Years On

My eldest turned 6 today. Remembering my kids’ birth consumes me. I find it so hard to go through the day without reminiscing moment-for-moment how those days unfolded and what took place, in the minute that corresponds.

I remember reading a friends account of her first baby’s birth. She is not even a ‘journal-type-person’ but she jotted it down. I’m sure I’ve written about Clay’s birth somewhere, but moving across the world and the emotions of wrapping up a life you loved to journey into a future of unknowns encourages the losing of such things. So, here is my feeble attempt, 6 years on, to recall that day. The day I became a mother.

It was the Scotiabank half marathon and I was 39 weeks pregnant to the day. We had friends running, so got up early to support. I was extremely whale-like but I love half marathons and was envious and wanted to support our friends. I remember STRUGGLING to keep up, dashing in the car, driving to the next spot, trying to find parking en route, hopping out the car, rushing to the street to track the guys, running back to the car – I was aching at every move. I literally could not MOVE MY LEGS fast enough. At one point I kept the car running while my friend went to spot her hubby because it felt like a baby would drop out of me if I wasn’t careful. It was cruel – my body was just not managing.

Fast forward to lunch with my cousin and her kids, chatting over cake and imagining a baby and how long it would take for him to arrive (suspecting, like ‘most first borns’ he’d be late)…

Later that evening Theran was watching Battle Star Gallactica (a series I had no interest in watching), and I was watching some other series – each on a laptop in bed. Around 11pm, I got up and went to the bathroom. In the bathroom, my waters broke. After the shock of realising what had happened, I noticed that there was meconium in my waters. I breathed, walked back to our bedroom and waved at Theran from the bedroom door (our room was carpeted, and he had his headphones in). After about 5 seconds of frantic waving and anxiety building, I caught his eye, and told him my waters had broken. He jumped up.

I went into adrenalin overload. Shivering. Naked. More waters, more meconium.

Theran phoned the midwife. We’d meet at the hospital in half an hour. Sitting on the edge of the bath in a gown. Prayers on the couch. Calmly we packed the car. Excitement. More adrenalin.

We Skyped my parents in South Africa in the car on the way to the hospital. We knew meconium meant things would be moved a little faster, and more than likely a baby was going to be born in the next 24hrs.

I remember arriving, checking in and being hooked up to a monitor and watching my contractions (which were totally manageable so I was stoked). I had to pee in a cup, and was then induced. My midwife leant down and in my ear she whispered “Sweetheart, 9 out of 10 women will take an epidural when induced like you’re about to be, go easy on yourself”.

I laboured for 7 incredible hours. 7 undeniably life-altering hours. On the toilet, on a birth ball, squatting, standing. Walking, groaning, the induction smacking me across the face with peaks the size of mountains and the depths the size of puddles. The chemical version of oxytocin my heart was furiously pumping through my body was unlike anything I could have imagined. We called the anaesthetist. A mere 15 minutes later, I was numb. And I came back to life. Seems my body was fighting itself, and I dilated to 10cm almost as instantaneously as the epidural took effect (that’s pretty instantaneous in birth time).

I remember Theran adjusting the video camera (he’s a filmmaker). I remember it was calm, it was dim, it was quiet. It was 7 in the morning, we were chatting, and the staff shift came. I said goodbye to my nurse Hazel (who felt like a sister – I think I may have offered her money to stay with me she had been so incredible) and hello to Michelle (who I didn’t know what the time, but who was equally as awesome).

I pushed – for hours, maybe? Eye-ball-popping pushing. The OB on call was ready to catch.

Clay’s position was head down, but, posterior. He was otherwise known as sunny-side up. Preferably a (first time birth) baby should be anterior. And his heart rate was dipping.

In the calm, quiet of 7ish in the morning, at the announcement of the posterior positioning about 8 medical staff entered the room – in symphony like precision. Tables were moved, cloths were pulled revealing shiny apparatus, doctors faces were in my face explaining things to me, papers about potential emergency c-sections needed to be signed: Clay had to turn for me to push him out.

It was like I somehow flew into the OR, and on the next contraction, with the help of 6 (I’m not kidding) of the team, they turned him. Blood, waters, bold moves by the medical team. I remember praying that he’d turn. I was stunned to hear he did – as if my prayers needed to play catch up with what was happening to me. On the first go. He had turned. The next contraction, I was told, would be when I needed to push him out. Push. Him. Out.

I so so very clearly remember grabbing the waists of the women on either side of me – my midwife and Michelle, and as the contraction grew, and the team encouraged, I pushed with EVERY-SINGLE-PART-OF-MY-ENTIRE-BEING. Still focussing on breathing in for the 2nd of 3 pushes per contraction, a baby was handed to me. A beautiful, healthy, safe baby boy. Caught off guard, I looked up at the paed anticipating him taking this vernix covered being away, and he looked at me and said  – “he’s perfect, you keep him”.

(Meconium babies often need to be suctioned immediately after birth to clear the meconium from their airways – but Clay was breathing perfectly).

Theran cried, I cried. We had our beautiful baby and standing around us was a team of about 8 people who, for the 5 minutes we were in the OR, focussed every ounce of themselves on me. It was then, feeling so encouraged and so supported and SO loved, that I knew I wanted to make women feel the same when they birthed – so supported – so known. That level of intimate care and love. That, coupled with my new baby boy – changed everything.

Clayden – I will forever, and ever and ever be changed by you and because of you.

Oh, the Fathers love for us…