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Choolaah Indian BBQ Review & Giveaway

If  you took a look at my 2017 family budget on and tallied up our eating-out expenses you would probably find that Indian is our most frequent restaurant cuisine.  So, when I was invited to attend a blogger event at Choolaah Indian BBQ, I was all-in to try this fast-casual restaurant, learn about Indian spices, and practice my own hand at mixing masala.  (Masala is the correct word, not curry. Check out why from NPR.) Dave and I cook Indian at home frequently since it lends itself well to dairy- and gluten-free adaption but we can’t quite get the spices quite right when we want to up a flavor other than heat (which we aren’t cooking with at all right now because the kids’ palates have become pickier). Choolaah’s  Mosaic District location is bright and spacious. The kitchen is on-display through huge glass panels where you can watch the staff throw naan into the huge tandoor ovens and cook.  The blogger crew got to try our hand at throwing naan into the 700 degree tandoors, and it was intimidating! Choolaah Choolaah In the dining room, I was instantly drawn to the hand washing machine which demonstrates the company’s culture of extreme cleanliness. (When I returned later with my kids,  the 5 y.o. was drawn to the machine, too. That particular child has never washed his hands with such enthusiasm before let alone again, and again, and again.)  Read more…


Museum of the Bible with Kids

I was thrilled to attend a preview day for the new Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. and check it out weeks before they open to the general public. The day my family went, only some of the exhibits were ready, but from what we saw, it is an exciting, beautiful, huge (430k sf) museum. 

Museum of the Bible As excited as I was to go, my fears going in were that this museum would take a side on one interpretation of Scripture over another, pit one denomination against another in some way, have a heavy focus on conversion, or be cheesy. Not one of those fears came true.

Most of what I saw was about history: the history of the transmission of the Bible, the history of Bible translations, the role of Christianity in American history, what history was like when Jesus walked the earth. None of the areas that we went in were preachy. They were educational, historical, thought-provoking, etc. but not proselytizing, and for that reason I could see people of diverse faith backgrounds enjoying the museum for its historical and cultural elements.

On the first floor, look up when you come in! The ceiling above the entrance features a 140-foot digital canvas that changes from moment-to-moment and day-to-day. Also near the entrance there will be digital docent technology that is coordinated from the desk and nearby table-sized touch screens. I look forward to returning and checking out that feature. This museum was built to be technologically cutting-edge and evidences of that were plentiful. Museum of the Bible Around the corner from the entrance there is a great kids’ area called Courageous Pages with a large climbing structure (think Chick-Fil-A play area) and games. One wall has a video game on tablets about knocking out Goliath, but everything else is similarly cleverly themed and gloriously low-tech: toss balls to fill up baskets of loaves and fish, move a magnetic ball “spy” through the walls of Jericho, test your strength by moving columns like Sampson. It is all of the fun of a kid-arcade minus incessant bleeping, dinging, score-keeping, and token-feeding. My kids could have spent the whole time in there! Each element of the room has a placard that ties to a Bible story with Scripture references. Read more…


The Green Kitchen on Facebook Live (Notes)

If you caught my Facebook Live event on The Green Kitchen, here are some notes to help you connect with resources that I mentioned for the three topics I covered: composting the lazy way, incorporating reusable cloths around the house so you can ditch paper towels, and replacing non-stick cookware with healthier options. When there is a specific brand that I like, I’ve linked that exact one. When it’s whole a category I talked about, but I don’t have a brand preference, I’ve provided a search on Amazon for you based on some key words. Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, I may receive a small commission at no additional expense to you.

1. Composting the Lazy Way

Americans represent 5% of the world’s population but generate 30% of the world’s garbage. The average American throws away 4.5 pounds of trash a day. What we reduce and reuse can make a difference! Commercial recycling should always be a distant third to the other two R’s. However, recycling at home–like through composting–is an impactful, doable step.  

Previous Posts:

The book that got me started was Composting by Liz Ball. It is simple and non-gimmicky.


Products relating to composting if you don’t want to DIY:

2. Reusable Cloths

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Kusama Infinity Mirrors 2 If you have tickets to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, congratulations! You made it through the crazy-long walk-up line or the Monday noon online click-off. If you don’t have tickets (or if you don’t even know what I am talking about), check out Part 1: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors DC with Kids: Part 1 – Getting Tickets. Here I am with our tickets for two adults and eight kids ranging from 1.5 to 9, the product of waiting in line for nearly two hours.

Infinity Mirrors Kusama-11

Before I go any further, let me remind you of my top two pieces of advice:

  1. Come with boundless patience. If you don’t like lines or if you have a specific schedule, this is not the exhibit for you. One friend referred to the exhibit as Infinity Lines. You have to know that before anything else. You will be waiting in a lot of lines for a mere 20-30 seconds in the various Infinity Rooms. Out of my roughly 1.5 hours in the exhibit, I spent 30 minutes looking at the artwork and an hour waiting in lines.
  2. Go with a buddy. I went with another mom and her kids. This allowed us to tag-team waiting in line and keeping kids entertained.

Are you still in? Great!

Building Entry
To get into the Hirshhorn with your Kusama tickets, use the special entrance near the giant pumpkin which is on the side of museum facing the Capitol.
Before you go in, consider using the outdoor bathrooms. There are bathrooms inside, but they are downstairs in the museum. Either way, stop and use the restroom before you enter the exhibit which does not allow reentry. (Note: the outdoor bathrooms are only open in the morning. When all tickets for the day are given out and the line disperses, these bathrooms close.) Read more…


If you’ve been on Facebook recently and have friends who live near Washington, D.C., you may have noticed beautiful, sparkling, many-mirrored pictures from Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum. It is a mind-bending exhibit that is wildly popular. So, how do you get in to see this? Is it worth it? What is it like with kids? 

Kusama Infinity Mirrors Part 1

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Blessed vs. Lucky

Each month, I preach a short sermon at a nursing home to a lovely group of people I have grown to treasure over the past year. One or more of my little guys helps with me with getting props ready or being involved in the message. Because of the varying levels of cognition–and to tap into that childlike place that stays accessible to a degree even when folks have memory impairment–I always add in some sort of creative, interactive, or seasonal element.  I thought it would be fun to share this month’s message with you about what it means to be blessed versus lucky. Here it is!

Around this time of year we see lots of green, joke about pots of gold, and hope to harness the “luck of the Irish”.  Now, what that saying even means isn’t clear, but it does have a nice ring to it. Some say that the luck of the Irish refers to Irish settlers striking is rich by finding gold in the American West. There’s a real pot of gold story! Some say the Irish had bad luck with the potato famine and other hardships, so referring to the luck of the Irish means you have no luck or bad luck. Some say that Irish people maintain good cheer despite so many hard times so the luck of the Irish is all about that perseverance quality, the glass half-full view of life. Whatever the saying really means, the good news is that Irish or not, we don’t have to rely on the whim of mere luck.  Instead, we can rely on God, the father; Jesus, our savior; and the Holy Spirit.

This is the point when my 4-year-old who has been proudly holding the up the glittery shamrock up for all to see flips it over to show everyone the surprise words on the back.

Matthew 5:1-12 Beatitudes

There is a legend that the real St. Patrick used shamrocks to help people understand the trinity since they have three leaves.  See, God,  Jesus , and the Holy Spirit—the three-in-one.

Today I want to talk about Read more…


The mealtime battles have been intense around my house recently. So many meals begin with grumbles instead of gratitude. A dish loved one day is hated the next, then third day it becomes OK again. Plates get over-loaded with food and then it gets trashed. One child seemed to be subsisting on air (ok, fruit) with a negative impact on behavior. Of course, a kid is going to be crazy with fructose hyping the system but no protein to make those nutrients stick. Mealtime questioning, crying, and negotiation was taking over. (I think that last one is the worst for kid and parent alike. It dominates the meal for the adult, gives the child all sorts of attention for a behavior we don’t want to see more of; and it makes food a power struggle rather than about nourishment, enjoyment, and respecting feelings of satiety–not over-full.) One week I decided just to make whatever I wanted even if everyone else hated it because they were going to gripe about it any way. No surprise, but that didn’t actually fix anything.

End Kid Food Battles


Hubby and I found ourselves repeating certain mealtime platitudes endlessly, only to realize we were applying them in different ways. “Eat the food you have before getting new food” works differently when a kid serves himself versus when a parent scoops up adult-sized portions. And, how many meals should leftovers be re-offered for anyway? As a family that rarely has dessert, do we expect clean plates first or do we just eat the beet brownies whenever, however on those few occasions? With all of these questions, and so much frustration, the family decided that we should sit down and come up with some rules together.  Coming up with a morning routine recently has been helpful (despite a rough start), so we figured we’d formalize our mealtime guidelines, too. Here they are!

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This morning was our first go at a morning routine chart for the kids and it went terribly, as in 9-1-1 fire department bad.

Fire Truck on Our Street

The 6yo has been asking for ways to earn money recently, “Like a real job, mom.” I agreed that this was a good age, but I needed time to figure out what things are normal family responsibilities versus extra payable work. I polled friends about chores and allowance, I read articles, I hemmed and hawed. Then my mom died unexpectedly and it all got put on hold as we packed up for South Dakota for a week to do loads and loads of work, logistics, and mourning. It was a miserable time, but the thing about kids is that they stay so grounded, which helps our world keep on turning. They helped without complaint while we were there (or I tuned out the complaints, one or the other). But, as soon as we walked back into our house after the trip, Mr.6 asked me how he could earn some cash. I came up with a list of basic cleaning jobs he could do after the standard 10 minutes of post-dinner responsibilities, and he sprang into action. The kid scrubbed the toilet and mopped the floor, hooray!

But, what about the basic responsibilities for the rest of the day? I still needed to solve that part of the equation. Enter the Morning Personal Responsibilities visual chart. I typed it up and Mr. 6 helped me select clip art. It’s pretty cute, if I do say so myself.  Read more…


Over the summer of 2016, I spent 160 hours looking at the theology and ethics of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as part of my seminary studies. It was hard to spend that kind of time immersed in stories of injustice, contemplating racism, mourning over the little progress we’ve made, and trying to think of ways to be an agent of hope and change. But, however hard it was for me, it was only ten weeks. Many people live with these issues day-in and day-out and cannot simply walk away. That ability to walk away–to shelve the empathy and anger and uncomfortable smallness against such a giant evil–is a mark of privilege, of ignorance, or apathy. While I know many inclusively-minded people who embrace others no matter the color of their skin, racism is more than that. Color-of-the-skin racism is but one definition. The issue that is mind-blowingly complicated to me, the one that I cannot simply absolve myself of with kindness to all, is systematic racism.

In terms of systematic racism, the US has made little-to-no progress from King’s days on so many fronts: the urban poor, the war on drugs, mortality rates of Black mothers and infants in certain areas, stories of police brutality that are echoes of the Jim Crow South. If you are not sure what systematic racism is all about, I’m about to give you an example. I’m going to share my term paper research with you. I put a tremendous amount of time, prayer, heart, and tears into it. I’m nervous about sharing it. The mind-tapes say to me: it’s only Master’s-level work, I’m not an expert on birth or race, I’ve only been applying theology this way for so long , anything birth-related hits nerves fast, anything race-related hits nerves fast. But I pray that God will use it for good in some way. 

I want to offer a closing prayer up here, a word of hope, so it doesn’t get missed amidst the considerable footnotes (there are great quotes and stories in with the citations) and bibliography. So, read the paper right below the picture, and then scroll up back here when  you are done.

Dear God,

We could walk away from the heaviness we feel when we encounter stories of injustice.
But, may we not.  
May we instead find ways to
listen and support,
vote in the polls and with our wallets,
teach our children well,
and speak up as allies.

We echo Dr. King’s prayer:
“Eternal God, out of whose mind this great cosmic universe, we bless you.
Help us to seek that which is high, noble and good.
Help us in the moment of difficult decision.
Help us to work with renewed vigor for a warless world,
a better distribution of wealth,
and a brother/sisterhood that transcends race or color.’”

As we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday,
as our country moves into a new administration on Friday
which brings up so many feelings,
we offer a resounding

MLK Birth Racism Theology

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How Can You Interact With a Hurting World?

Bye, bye 2016! You had some pretty rough situations: Zika, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Hurricane Matthew, Syrian refugees, Harambe. What’s not to love about a new year coming after all that? As a new year starts, there are so many ways we can talk about a “new you”: eating and exercise habits, spiritual habits, financial habits, relational habits.  But, what if rather than casting off the pain of 2016, we did something productive with all of those feelings? The “new you” transformation I want to talk about today is about our inner peace, our ways of processing, our way of feeling burdened or empowered when things are tough and then how we get those feelings out and into the world to do God’s work. The Bible has a lot to say about this, and in a recent sermon that I want to share with you, we look in the book of Romans, chapter 12  to explore four approaches for interacting with a hurting world this year. 

The bottom line is this: Read more…