Jon Acuff is Bringing Dinner Back! Week #2: Better dinners through bigger stories.

Today marks the end of week two of the dinner challenge. (You can read about the first week “Dinner Unplugged” right here.) This week, we decided to mix it up a little and in addition to eating together, add a “family game” to the mix. My five-year-old will crush you at UNO given the chance so we tend to avoid that particular game. Here’s what we ended up doing instead.

What we learned: Everyone loves a story.

I’ve read countless books about the imaginations kids possess. Experts often discuss how kids come to the planet full of creativity and artistic ambitions only to lose those abilities as they become adults. In the book, “Orbiting the Giant Hairball,” author Gordon MacKenzie tells a story about artists. In the first grade, when he asks who are artists, almost every hand goes up. When he teaches third grade and asks that same question, less hands go up. By the sixth grade, barely any kid is willing to raise their hand and say they’re an artist. A world that tells kids too quickly “to grow up,” sometimes sees art and imagination as childish or not important.

Not at our house.

My wife and I are determined to make creativity one of our family’s core values. So this week, when we ate dinner, we finished by playing a game we made up. The story game. It’s simple. Someone at the table starts a story with one detail, “There once was a raccoon.” Then the person next to them has to add a detail, “And he lived on a big farm.” Person by person, detail by detail, the wildest stories unfolded this week. Since I have a five-year-old and a seven-year-old daughter, there’s usually a pink unicorn that makes a cameo, but other than that, each night was different.

It’s simple. It’s fun. It’s free. And it’s hopefully the kind of thing that years later, my kids will say, “When I was growing up, dinner was important, and so was creativity.”

Our favorite E-Mealz meal of the week.

We’re doing the Publix Meal Plan right now. This week, the meals offered ranged from Crock Pot Barbecue to Crustless Spinach Quiche. If you’ve ever read my love letter to the Crock Pot, then you know that this week was a no brainer. Crock Pot for the win!

Our dinner record for the week.

We went 7 for 7, although Thursday’s had to be micro because my wife and I had our first class for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

How about you?

How many nights this week did you eat dinner with your family? Did you beat me?

What was your favorite E-Mealz meal?

What family games do you guys play?

19 thoughts on “Jon Acuff is Bringing Dinner Back! Week #2: Better dinners through bigger stories.

  1. Barry

    Hey Jon, you should totally check out axecop if you like the idea of stories told by a 5 year old. “The dinosaur blood caused flute cop to unexpectdely transform into a dinosaur soldier!”

  2. Rebecca

    We had the crust less quiche just the other night! It was sooooo good…a little on the cheesy side but still super awesome. My family went 7 for 7 this week!!

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  4. Stephanie

    Yeah for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace!
    I hope you love it! It changed our lives! Little did we know at the time being debt free would allow us to make one of the bravest occupational decisions ever!
    Storytelling is fantastic! Your children will be better grownups because of that fun, simple activity!

  5. Jen

    We made it 7 for 7 this week. With both of my kids being in school, most suppers revolved around talking about their day but I soon got tired of the “fine” answers. So I found a bunch of would you rather questions and other creative questions online. Now each meal starts with a question and we discuss it. The kids really love coming up with the answers.

  6. Tamara Grgas

    We did 7 for 7 this week! YAY, we even did it while hubby is away on business, no PIZZA ordered ie here ;)
    We like to play yhatzee latley, our son, who is now 6, is very much into math right now so we try to keep numbers in the games as much as possible. I do LOVE the story idea though! I think we will mix game night up a little with that, thanks for the great idea!
    Dave Ramsey ROCKS!!!!! We were doing pretty good and getting out of debt etc and my husband could not find a job after retiring from the AF! That was hard, but thanks to Dave, we got through it and now are re-starting our Financial Peace journey! We are going to look into teaching it at the new church we attend now (we ended up moving accross trhe country to get a job).

  7. Joann

    True confessions, we were “off” of e-mealz last week. But this week we are back on Ralphs, the menu looks very good. We had a great baked swordfish, and bbq chicken sandwiches so far.

  8. Karen Lundberg

    Hey Jon! Way to go! This week was a milestone, adding the story game to you repertoire to spark life to your time with family. Wish we had done something like that. Our kids are now grown and have families. Just wanted to let you know that we just got onto E-mealz, and so I have been picking/choosing certain recipes I gathered on the site. Our fav. this past week was for Jan 20-26, Meal 5, One-pot Tilapia Potatoes & Cabbage. Substituted cooked quinoa for the spuds, and used cod. It seems like a pretty strange idea to put all these ingred. together, but it worked, and was VERY good! Have a good week. Can’t figure out all the prompts on E-meals to get newsfeed, but enjoy reading your entries via email. God bless. Karen

  9. kristen thornton

    we made dinner 6 nights this week! we try to find anyway we can to keep a 5, 7,9 and 11 yr. old at the table longer than the time it takes them to eat their dinner. we’re trying to inspire conversation around the table so games we play are: “High’s and Low’s” (each person says 1 high for the day and 1 low. you don’t have to have a low but you always have to say a high because God is soooo good to us every day) another game is “Fortunately and Unfortunately” (one person starts the story with fortunately and the next person responds with an unfortunate statement. ex: i went camping and forgot my cooler of food, FORTUNATELY i brought my fishing pole so I went fishing; (next person) UNFORTUNATELY i forgot the lures; FORTUNATELY i found a packet of cheese crackers in the seat of the van; UNFORTUNATELY they were opened and stale,—you get the picture! we also encourage dinner entertainment- like a singing, reciting a poem, acting out a play, magic tricks, etc..- we see it as public speaking in the making! DAVE RAMSEY helped set us debt free too!

  10. Vic

    We love Dave Ramsey too! We only wish we had found him 7 years ago…it would have made some things so much easier. Still we are ‘almost’ debt free!!!!!!!

    Around here, Family Game Night usually consists of one of the following games–
    Liverpool Rummy
    Aggravation
    RumiKubes
    Clue

    DH & I have to help the little ones play everything but Aggravation, but they have fun regardless. Oh and we are on the Walmart Low Carb menu as DH is insulin dependent…

  11. Carrie LeighAnna

    I just started e-mealz last week and I’m IN LOVE! It makes things so easy and all the meals were delish!! The hubs and I are on the Low Fat Walmart for 2 dinner plan. Last weeks sausage chicken bumbo was AMAZING!!

    Good for you for fostering that creativity! I would love to do the same when we have kids!

  12. anonymous

    I pray every day my husband will do FPU. He thinks he knows all the “tricks” but our debt is horrible. I’ve read the books, etc, and have a good handle on it, but it’s so hard to put it into practice when you’re not on board together and there’s some financial nutshell games going on. Will you pray for us? Oh, and we’re 7 for 7 because that’s just what we do.

    1. kristen thornton

      i read your post this morning and prayed for you!

      it would be a priviledge to continue to pray you and for ways that God will change your husbands heart in this area. i have found that the quickest response to seeing change in my husband is to work on respecting him and seeing him as the partner and not the project or the problem.

      my favorite books that encourage me are: Jesus Calling by Sarah Young; 5 love languages by Chapman; Love and Respect by Eggeriches and Experiencing God by Blackaby (i like the workbook b/c it makes me process)

      in our marriage, God has uniquely gifted me in areas my husband is weak. But God used my gift for advancement in these areas when i let my husband lead- even if i thought it was crazy to me- God blessed it because He loves to work through our husbands in leading our homes. it is where he has them at their most vulnerable state when the struggle is not against the wife but against God Almighty.

      see if that works, if you want to keep dialoguing about this- i’d love it! until then, i’ll be praying for you and the marriage.

  13. Carrie LeighAnna

    After trying out e-mealz I decided to write a post and offer a free 6 month subscription giveaway (which is STILL going on, btw http://bit.ly/eRfwF2 ) because of how much I love it!!. But then I realized a TON of bloggers are offering the same. All you have to do is check out e-mealz twitter account. If people are short for extra cash they should enter a few giveaways!

  14. Charlie Chang

    We went 6 for 7 because Thursday night we had a therapy session. But me and my wife had Chick Fil A so that can be forgiven.

    I’m a Mexican food fanatic and fan. So I personally enjoyed those zucchini tacos.

    Given that my children are only 3.5 and 10 months old, we play “Couches” after dinner. We take all the couch cushions off and pretend we’re in a water park sliding around. I like it because it tires them out so they sleep better.

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