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Health + Cleaning Routines

June 15, 2021
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

The Enneagram 4 (think creative, spontaneous, bit of a free spirit streak) in me cries when I hear the words routine or consistency. Buuuuut, routine and consistency often make for a better, simpler, healthier life. When I was teaching four classes a semester (and doing alllll.the.grading all.the.time), it was really hard for me to find time to squeeze in much exercise or house cleaning, except in sporadic, unpredictable spurts. With more breathing room in my schedule now, I’m working towards more consistency in these areas.

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

About a month ago, I began (again) more consistent physical activity. My friend Lauren and I meet once a week and take a 4-5 mile walk alongside the river at Saluda Shoals Park. They have a $55 annual pass, which for us, more than pays for itself between the walking/biking trails, splash pad, and playgrounds (including Leo’s Landing which is an inclusive park) we use there! Walking is hands down my favorite form of exercise. Before marriage and kids, I routinely took 5-8 mile hikes in the upstate of SC, and maybe one day I’ll get back to that. But for now, being able to walk through the woods at Saluda Shoals (on a paved, gloriously shaded path) with one of my best friends once a week is awesome.

Photo by Cyril Saulnier on Unsplash

The other 4 days of the week (I usually take weekends off or find some way to be active as a family) I do 20-25 minute strength building exercises on YouTube. Recently I’ve been loving Juice + Toya‘s videos and Mr. & Mrs. Muscle. My heart rate gets up. I get sweaty. And I can feel the work my muscles have done afterwards. If the strength videos don’t include stretching at the end, I’ll find another 10 minute stretch video to do because I have notoriously tight hamstrings and stretching helps my lower back pain (caused by scoliosis) immensely.

Also, my house. I wish, like really, really wish, I was a person who naturally loved to clean. But I don’t. I can think of 1,658,978 other things I’d rather do than clean. If I thought you’d read the list, I’d write all those other things down. But you wouldn’t, so you’ll just have to take my word on it. But, I’m working toward a regularly, tidy home. Years ago a friend recommended, so I’m starting with her baby steps today! I’m also trying to involve the kids more in daily household chores…let’s just say this is still a work in progress. But a very brief overview is that they have daily expectations (get dressed, put away clothes, make bed, pick up toys, and clear off kitchen table [this where most of the arts/crafts/etc. happen in our house]) and then chores they earn commission/allowance for (tending the chickens, feeding the dogs, dishes, mopping, sweeping, etc.). Overall, this has been a good shift but still needs some tweaking. So, more on that in another post!

Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

What about you? Are you really, really good at routines? More of free spirit like me? How do you keep your home and health humming along?


If You Visit One Place in South Carolina…

June 7, 2021

If you know, you know–Charleston, SC is one of the most beautiful and historic places to visit period. But it’s a sin to visit SC and not go to Charleston. We decided to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary with an overnight stay in what is usually one of our favorite day-trip destinations.

While this city is hands down my absolute #1 recommendation for anyone coming to SC, there are so many, many ways to do Charleston. Here’s what we did on our recent anni-trip!

Where We Stayed

Using some banked hotel points, we stayed at the Hampton Inn in the Historic District for one night. The room wasn’t anything fancy, but they did have a continental breakfast, a comfy bed, and the location was amazing.

We were smack dab in the middle of the city! Who knew that 11 years of parenting would finally rob me–I mean grace me with the ability to wake up all on my own at 6 a.m. every day without even needing an alarm clock. Such a cool trick! Ha!

I guess waking up early isn’t so bad when you have one of the most historic cities in the U.S. to explore! I’ll break it all down below so maybe you can start planning your own Charleston trip.

Where We Ate

We did a fancy dinner date at the Swamp Fox on Friday night. But a word to the wise–book reservations early. We tried to get reservations at Husk, SNOB, and Acme Low Country Kitchen the week of our trip with no luck. Maybe because it was the weekend? But honestly? I wasn’t disappointed at all with our Swamp Fox feast: warm rolls with butter, she crab soup, heirloom SC tomato salad with cornbread croutons (my fave), medium-rare ribeye, and butter cake for dessert (think sugar cookie and pound cake had a baby). Plus the restaurant has been around since 1924!!

Saturday morning, after selecting a quick grab-n-go breakfast from the hotel lobby, we stopped in La Patisserie Charleston (in the Hotel Bennet) for a latte to enjoy on our stroll through the city. We walked through the retail section of the city, then on through some residential streets (houses I only dream of affording) with the most gorgeous landscaping + gardens, to the battery (hello hot, sticky, humid SC), looped through the Charleston City Market, and ended our 3-4 mile stroll in the Charleston Farmer’s Market with a peach lemonade from Lowcountry Lemonade. By the time lunch rolled around, we snagged tasty tacos from Papi’s Taqueria–short, lovely menu, awesome chill, beachy-chic vibe with indoor and outdoor seating. I had the Fishin’ in the Dark taco with street corn and Ben chowed down on the Gotta Go Gringo taco.

What We Did

Okay, so you kinda already know that we spent the first three hours of our morning exploring the city. Well, because we started so early, we still had time to stick our toes in the sand! The beach was crowded midday Saturday but since we just had our towels, water jug, and a couple books in tow, we were just fine. Found a great spot right in the middle of a sand sculpting competition right on our favorite Charleston beach, Isle of Palms, which I’ve been visiting since early childhood. What I love about it: clean, beautiful beach, good parking options (there’s a State Park with bathrooms and concessions for a daily rate, hourly street parking, and also at least one other daily rate parking lot), a few good restaurants (like Papi’s and Acme Lowcountry Kitchen), and a couple of ice cream shops as well. We waded in the waves, read our books, took a little siesta (well, at least I did), toured all the sand sculptures, and meandered down the beach.

This little mini-trip reminded me of what I loved so much about our SoCal honeymoon 12 years ago–a little of this, a little of that, lots of good food, and one-on-one time with my favorite person. So, tell me, what’s been your favorite mini-vacay? What’s your favorite way to celebrate an anniversary?

Photo by Kelsey Schisler on Unsplash

10 Tips for a Good Summer

June 3, 2021

This time of year, the summer conversation among friends is what are you and the kids going to do all summer? Great question! And honestly, a little intimidating to me. What am I going to do all summer with the kids?!?

Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi on Unsplash

There are, of course, some challenges to think through. How do I facilitate a summer that isn’t all about screens? How do I balance structure with spontaneity? How do I keep my own sanity and resist the need to create an Instagram worthy summer?

The answer to most of those questions rests in our schedule, though I think of it more as a rhythm because there’s flexibility and room for spontaneity for sure. Not every day is identical so we start most mornings talking through and sorting out our schedule depending on what’s going on that day.

Our Rhythm

6 a.m. mine and Ben’s rise and shine time (coffee, please)

7 a.m. typical kid wake-up time + breakfast

8 a.m. exploration time

9 a.m. free time

10 a.m. out and about

12 p.m. lunch & chores

1 p.m. R&R

2 p.m. screen time

3:30/4 free time

5 p.m. dinner prep

6 p.m. family time

7 p.m. family time

8 p.m. family time

9 p.m. typical bed time for kids


I tend to be pretty DIY for breakfast—cereal, eggs (two of my kiddos can make these themselves), toast, yogurt, etc. Occasionally I’ll cook something but that’s usually only on the weekends. Over the years I’ve found I prefer slow mornings that involve coffee and minimal cooking, so that’s what we do.

Exploration Time

This is what I’m calling our learning hour, an idea my sister-in-law Sarah shared with me from her summer schedule. So, we sit down at our dining room table (which is the center of our home and has beautiful natural light) and I let the kids explore any idea or skill they want. Our eight year old is learning to type for example. He also had the fun idea today to print off some color-by-number pictures, which we all did. I help them as needed and usually then spend the time reading or journaling (or any other creative activity I want). Today my kids actually spent an hour and a half exploring, which was great because we didn’t have any other plans.

Out and About

If we’re going to leave the house, I like to do it before lunch (better attitudes, can eat lunch at home, less hot). Some days we go to the library or run errands or go hang out at a friend’s pool or visit the zoo or go to the park with a friend. I don’t feel the pressure to go out every day but it is a nice way to break up the weeks and days of summer time.

Lunch & Chores

I like to keep lunch simple: pb&j, leftovers, fruit/cheese/veggie tray, etc. I usually don’t preplan but just make sure that in my weekly grocery order, I have lunch essentials. I also like pre-packaged, convenience food (like cheese sticks, pepperoni, chips/crackers, fruit squeezies, etc..) so that if we get a last minute invite out and it’ll be over lunch, I can quickly throw a lunch together to take with us. If we’re home, we also use lunch time for our daily chores (we’re using Dave Ramsey’s commission system to teach our kids about earning, saving, and giving money), which includes daily straightening and cleaning as well as taking care of our chickens since they’ll be selling the eggs to learn entrepreneurial skills.


This is the one element of our home schedule that has always been consistent. What started out as nap time when they were babies and toddlers, has morphed into Rest & Relaxation time. During this hour, everyone goes to their own space, and as long as they are quiet, can spend the time however they want (except no technology because we don’t allow that on their own or in their rooms). Two of my kids will sometimes still nap during this time (me too occasionally!) but not always. Reading, coloring, playing with cars or stuffed animals—doesn’t matter. But if they want to have tech time, they have to cooperate with R&R.


Our family takes a fairly moderate view on screens—they can be great fun and I’m okay with a couple hours a day of YouTube Kids videos or video games. But I don’t want my kids zoning out all day to them. Neither do I want to answer the same question—Can we have tech time?— every day, times infinity. So, generally, we have a consistent, set time for it. For us, that’s usually 2 p.m. (or after everyone has emerged from R&R time).


I’m no gourmet cook but neither can I afford to eat out every night (sigh). But, one of my favorite meal planning inspirations is SkinnyTaste – her recipes are healthy and delicious plus she includes a meal calendar, recipes with easy instructions, and a printable grocery list. Recently I made her grilled steak fajitas and cannot rave enough about how amazing they were.

Family Time

We have two dogs and a few chickens and endless projects around the house to do, so evenings are usually spent in our backyard. During the summer we also do frequent family movie nights or sometimes outings for Pelican Snoballs (our favorite summer treat). Again, this is nothing I preplan—just try to have good quality time together.

Working from Home + Trips

Every day I have 2-3 hours of editing to complete and I’m also in the process of becoming a certified journal facilitator (which involves self-paced, at-home coursework). Many mornings I’ll use the first two hours of our day to edit before my husband leaves for work just so I have it off my plate for the day. Though, if that doesn’t happen, I can use R&R or the kids’ screen time to edit as well. I also like to work out at some point during the day; the breakfast hour is usually a good time, but that time floats around a bit depending on the day.

We have three trips planned this summer (two just me and the kids; the last one Ben gets to join!!)—a road trip with my mom to visit my grandmother in Indiana, a week in Houston to visit my dad and Robbie (I scored a ridiculously cheap deal on plane tickets through Allegiant–$380 for 4 round-trip tix), and then a few days beachside in Myrtle Beach, SC. Between just the normal day-to-day at home and then our trips, I’m pretty excited for our 2021 Summer!

How about you? What are your summer plans?

Our Disney 2021 Trip

May 23, 2021

I have visited Disney World at least a dozen times in my life, starting even way back as a baby in my mom’s womb (yes, that’s right, my mom worked for the mouse when she was pregnant with me!). I’m not obsessed with Disney but I do enjoy visiting there, some part nostalgia and some part fun family vacation.

This year I celebrated my 39th birthday at the Happiest Place on Earth!

I’d love to share with you some behind-the-scenes info on our trip since everyone does Disney a little different. Maybe you can use a tip or two of ours if you’re planning your own trip.

The Details

The most important advice for a Disney vacation is planning, especially if you want to maximize your experience. Here’s a brief list of how we planned:

  • When grandparents asked for gift ideas, we requested Disney gift cards! With five birthdays and Christmas, this was a great strategy for saving up. Did you know you can save $5 on Disney gift cards buying with the Target Red Card!
  • I read quite a few posts on that helped me map out which rides to ride in which order as well as the best snacks and treats for the parks we planned to visit (Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios). They have really helpful advice on how to actually make it into the virtual cue for the new Galaxy’s Edge Rise of the Resistance ride (which I’m happy to report we did!!). I also chatted with one of my besties who was an annual pass holder–she’d been numerous times and had the best tips!
  • I booked a double stroller through Kingdom Strollers, one of numerous stroller rental companies in the Orlando area. We borrowed (shout out to the SC Assistive Technology Program) an adaptable stroller for our 10 year old whose special needs would make it nearly impossible for him to walk the 18000+ steps we took on each day at Disney. And I knew it’d be a stretch for our 8 and 5 year old to manage all that walking, too. Best part of Kingdom Strollers is that they delivered and picked-up the rental directly from the lobby of our hotel!
  • Two years ago when we last visited Disney, I was not overly impressed with the meals from the counter-service food available (though I have heard the sit-down restaurants are top notch!), mostly because of the expense. I was excited to learn that Disney allows guests to bring in their own food. So, we set a $100/day in-park budget for snacks and treats, and supplemented with food of our own:
    • Uncrustables
    • Slim Jim beef jerky sticks (should have brought way more of these as everyone gobbled them up and wanted more)
    • Chips
    • Everything bagels + cream cheese
    • Apple slices + peanut butter (probably should have packed more of these, too)
    • Baby carrots
    • Grapes
    • Nuts
  • Some of our favorite in-park treats included Simba’s Sunset Dole Whip, Fruit Tart’s (think homemade pop-tarts) from Woody’s Lunchbox, Mickey Mouse ice cream bars + popsicles, mac-n-cheese topped with bbq from Flame Tree BBQ, and totchos (think nachos made with tater tots) from Woody’s Lunchbox. I also made it a point to order whatever fancy lemonade or other drink concoction each place had–I was not disappointed! Did you know you can order a cup of free ice water from any counter service restaurant at Disney?
  • Other items I packed in my Ambry bag: bandaids, sunglasses, hand wipes, sunscreen, and rain ponchos (which came in handy because it rained one afternoon of our visit). Others have also recommended cooling towels, which as the summer heats up in Florida, makes a lot of sense.
  • The Disability Access Pass service for those with disabilities is phenomenal. If someone in your group has a disability, I strongly encourage you to visit Guest Services at any of the parks to discuss your needs with a cast member. They are knowledgeable, helpful, and so very kind.
  • I’ve barely uncovered the most basic parts of how we planned and experienced Disney, and if you’re uber into research and planning like me, you might find a group like Smart Moms Plan Disney (which I discovered after our trip thanks to the FB algorithm lol!) helpful!
Leaving Hollywood Studios as we wrapped up our time at Disney!

A Path to Soul Rest: 40 Days to a Slower Pace

February 14, 2021

Join me starting 2/17 for a 40 day journey towards soul rest! You can follow along with me on Instragram and Facebook as I’ll be sharing the daily posts on my own page and you can join us in The Glorious Table Community if you want to chat with others on the same path.

Download your own copy of the free ebook here:

I’d be so excited for you to join all of us at The Glorious Table as we point our hearts towards rest ❤️

Loving Families with Special Needs

February 10, 2021

Growing up, I had limited personal experience with people of different abilities. But when our firstborn son was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that explained his developmental delays and health issues, I was abruptly plunged into the world of special needs parenting.

As our son has grown from a curly-topped toddler to a spunky, hilarious ten-year-old, and his struggles have grown right along with him, I’ve learned that people don’t always understand him or us, and that special needs can cause rifts and isolation. As the body of Christ, though, we’re called to be in community with one another. So how can we do that?

I’ve experienced firsthand the looks, questions, and distance disability can cause in the church, often because of people’s lack of proximity to the challenges and joys of people with special needs. I want to help others learn how to bridge the gap with families like ours…

Read the rest at The Glorious Table:

Gratitude is Heart Work

November 24, 2020

I’m happily married with three awesome kids, living in a home my husband renovated, with three dogs, four chickens, and a garden to boot. My husband is a discipleship pastor, and I am an English professor. Sounds like a good life, doesn’t it?

You would probably think I ooze gratitude. The embarrassing truth is, I struggle to feel, express, and live daily in a posture of genuine gratitude.

That’s not to say my life is picture perfect. Like anyone, I’ve experienced hardship, loss, and setbacks. When I dwell on those, I can easily get lost in self-pity and regret. But even when I’m not dwelling on my heartaches, I still find myself gritting my teeth and expressing far more frustration than grace.

An idealist at heart, I struggle to be thankful for the many good things that are always happening right in front of me. My life never looks quite as good as the picture I’ve painted in my mind. The more my life veers away from that picture of the life I want, the more tightly I wrap my fingers around the imagined life  to which I feel entitled…..Join me for the rest at The Glorious Table

Longing for the Familiar

October 12, 2020

In the tense uncertainty, I find myself groping for the familiar.

Newly married, newly a mom, and newly relocated, I craved familiarity when, for the first time ever, I moved 600 miles away from where I grew up. I baked my sister’s tried-and-true chocolate chip cookies often, because the tantalizing smell would immediately transport me back to her house. I’d throw together taco casserole right before the college football game broadcast because of the strong memories of Saturdays spent this way with my mom. The familiar became my comfort in all that was new and upended, a way to remind myself that the world as I knew it still existed, even if only in my mind (and kitchen).

Similarly, I find myself groping for the familiar now. I thought by this month, so close to the end of 2020, we’d be back to normal, back to the people and places and rhythms we all know and yearn for so deeply. And yet, we’re not. Are we closer to or further from it? Most days, I honestly don’t know.

COVID-19 has fractured our cities, our people, our families, and our plans. In this moment of history that seems to be stretching out endlessly, I’m tired and wearied, like so many of you. If I’m not mindful, I become consumed by the bleakness and harshness I feel all around me. All the loudness and fighting and divisiveness—I listen to it like I’d watch a horrific accident I’m passing, in seeming slow motion, on the interstate.

I seem to be able to peel my eyes away from this chaos only by…….join me for the rest at The Glorious Table.

Settling In

September 2, 2020

September marks, for me, a shift towards settling in as fall and then winter encroach and the world outside begins to close in for a long winter’s rest. As the weather cools, our own routines shift from open-ended vacation days to rhythmic school and work. I love this change in seasons, this annual shift in life, this exhale. And yet, as September lengthens into October and November, I can feel antsy and bored, too, somehow.

I’ve always kind of liked change. In the eleven years since I got married, we’ve changed houses almost a dozen times. And not just because we had to but because we wanted to. I cannot stay off Zillow (perhaps I should have been a realtor) and easily feel the pull for a change of scenery, a new project, a new space to make a home. “Oh, the Byxbes are moving again!” became a running joke of sorts among our friends through the years. I’m somewhat amazed that we haven’t run out of friends who are willing to help us move!

Next month, though, will mark two years of living in the same house, a milestone in our marriage. When we moved into this 1960’s-era home, replete with its shag carpet and avocado-green tiled bathroom, I dubbed it Gardendale Roots and began telling friends that this was our forever house. I had finally reached a point where settling in became appealing. Maybe it’s my ever-nearing approach to middle age or the fact that I have three kids and a dwindling supply of energy.

But I also felt the deep-down craving for establishing roots….

Read the rest at The Glorious Table today.

An Invitation to Listen

August 7, 2020


In August, summer begins to give way to back-to-school as we trade in swimsuits and popsicles for school clothes and lunches. Even if we’re sad to see summer fade away, we often anticipate the routine and order the school year offers. This August, though, the routine and order looks and feels different from most of the Augusts we’ve faced before. As we grope towards a new “normal” dictated by COVID-19, uncertainty hovers around the borders of our hearts. Can we adjust to this new normal? Will our children, our finances, and our futures adjust? Without an anchor, uncertainty might hold too much sway.

As people who have committed their lives to Jesus’ way, how do we navigate these times of uncertainty that require us to adapt? We might put on our most courageous faces and plow ahead with determination to make it work. But what if, instead, we first slow ourselves, listen, and learn? What if, instead……join me for the rest at The Glorious Table.