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Justin

0 In Travel

Three Nights in Palm Springs, Our Recommendations

Part 1 of our 10th anniversary was three nights in Palm Springs. We spent two nights at a mega-resort in Palm Springs for our 5th anniversary, but this trip was much different and so much better. We’re lucky that we’re less than an hours drive away from such a rad city and we’re hoping we can figure out how to spend time there more often.

Here are a few of our recommendations for anyone planning to head out to for some fun in the desert!

Staying at The Parker

We had originally booked our stay at another hotel, but some rad friends of ours spotted a great deal on the email list for The Parker the week before we left so we grabbed a Patio Room, cancelled our other reservations, and actually ended up saving some money.

The Parker was amazing. Massive hedge walls enclose the entire property so you feel completely secluded as soon you pull in the driveway. And the entire place has this amazing retro-60s vibe with a hodgepodge collection of colors and textures. Each of the main buildings are at the corners of the property so you wander through quiets pathways connecting the pools and gardens as you make your way around the place.

  

We actually never left The Parker on our first full day away and that was the perfect way to kickoff our trip. We walked over to breakfast at Norma’s – an outdoor patio space. I had Norma’s Eggs Benedict which were served over asparagus on little pancakes–yes. The rest of the day was spent doing nothing at one of their two outdoor pools, grabbing drinks at the lemonade stand, and then chilling in the saunas of their spa, the Palm Springs Yacht Club. Dinner that night was at Mr. Parker’s, a dark, sexy, rat packy little bistro tucked away behind a velvet curtain next to Norma’s in the main building. It wasn’t the most amazing dinner we’ve ever had, but the vibe was perfect.

Breakfast at FARM

We pretty much only left The Parker to try out new places to eat. We grabbed breakfast one morning at FARM right downtown. It was a really cool space, tucked back in some of the plaza buildings inside old rooms and patios that make you feel like you’re sitting in a little French house.

Lindy ordered their Bacon, Chicken, and Waffles after our server raved to her about it, but they somehow ran out and didn’t handle that very well. Other than that our experience was great; I think Lindy would even give it another shot just to sit in the amazing space they have.

Workshop Kitchen + Bar

We grabbed another dinner at Workshop Kitchen + Bar right off the main drag and it was probably our most amazing meal of the trip. We sat in their main dining room at the community table which must have run at least 30 feet between the massively high-backed booths. While the whole space felt so incredible we were somehow able to just slip out of it all and just enjoy each other.

Workshop would definitely be our first recommendation for anyone visiting Palm Springs. The drinks were absolutely fantastic and both the large and small plates were what Lindy calls “food art.” We had several small plates, but the Duck Study just stood out: the kimchi fried rice under a fried duck egg was amazing.

Mirage House

Mirage is an installation by Doug Aitken just outside downtown Palm Springs. We arrived at sunset to a ranch style house in the foothills entirely covered in mirrors, inside and out. It’s crazy how well the concept of mirage describes this place because it somehow changes appearance, absorbs the surrounding desert, and disappears as you approach it from different angles.

Stepping inside is like climbing into a kaleidoscope. You can’t help but spend time in each room getting lost in the distorted reality of every angle.

There is no address, but you can find the house with GPS coordinates at desertx.org/doug-aitken. Mirage is closing at the end of October 2017, so you’ll have to go visit soon if you want to see it for yourself.


Palm Springs is such a rad little city and we want to continue exploring in the future. Lindy has stayed at The Ace, but we both want to stay at Colony Palms next time we visit. We walked by Birba and the pizza looked amazing, Lindy raided the candy bar at Great Shakes, and our friends on Facebook tell us that both Cheeky’s and Elmer’s are amazing for breakfast.

I guess we’ll have to go back! What are your favorite spots in Palm Springs?

0 In Home

Smart Home As Art: Installing the Logi Circle Camera in Our Girl’s Room

As we moved from a two child family to a three child family I decided I wanted to slowly add home automation to our house to make things easier on Lindy throughout the day. I actually left Lindy at the hospital with her mom the morning after Reeve was born so I could finish installing the first pieces of of our smart home. And as Reeve just turned three in March it makes me proud to know that Lindy has never had to pull her keys out and unlock the door to get inside when she’s dragging kids in form the van since that day we first brought Reeve home.

Lindy has convinced me that this isn’t just nerdy, but it’s one of my ways of making life more simple and beautiful when we’re at home. So I’m planning to start a series of posts all about The Smart Home as Art. If you have any specific questions about smart home stuff definitely let me know and I’ll write about it. For now I’ll start with our most recent addition: The Logi Circle Camera.


We’re about ready to move our little Cosette out of her pack ‘n play in our room into the crib Reeve’s – soon to be the girls’ – room. As any parent knows, nothing is ever as simple as it sounds. As best as we’ve been able to figure, here are the steps we’ll need to work out in the process:

  1. Move Reeve out of the crib into her big-girl, “princess” bed
  2. Wait for Reeve’s sleeping rhythms to reacclimate to her new bed
  3. Move Cosette into the crib in the girls’ room
  4. Make sure Reeve doesn’t accidentally upset, injur, or kill Cosette by climbing back into her crib

We endured this whole process when we moved Boaz into the crib when the boys were younger so we have a pretty good idea of how the whole transition will roll. One thing we’d like to try differently this time is using a camera in the room to be able to keep an eye on things and avoid having to go into the room if we don’t need to. We actually installed a peep hold on that door years ago, but it only works when there’s light in the room.

We’ve had a Nest cam before, but it didn’t work as welll as old hoped and you have to pay $99/yr to be able to go back and rewatch video. I did some fancy internet research and decided that we were going to go with Logitech’s Logi Circle. It connect to your WiFi network, records in 1080p, and even has a battery so you can move it around if you need to.

They actually dropped the price a few weeks ago so I pulled the trigger and bought one. The whole install process was super simple and I completed the whole thing, including mount to our brick walls, in under half and hour. Setting up the camera itself only took about five minutes.

The Circle come comes in a nice little box and each little section is clearly labeled with instructions on how to set it up. The camera itself isn’t just wireless for transmitting video, it’s wireless its dependency on power – it fixes to the mount with magnets and is on a battery. You can actually pick the camera up and move it anywhere in your house for a few hours if you want – that’s pretty rad.

You set the whole thing up using an iPhone app. And by “set up” I just mean follow the instructions on screen. If we get another one of these I think I’m going to have Lindy set it up – it’s that easy.

My favorite part of the whole thing is that the holder included if you want to mount the camera to the wall comes with some little sticky tabs that you can use to test the placement before you drill any holes. Every wall in our house is solid brick, so I need to be sure about placement before I run around rilling holes. I initially wanted to mount the camera in the corner of the room, but we couldn’t get it to see all of the crib and big girl bed at once because the girls room is pretty small. So we just used another sticky and tested the camera out in the center of the room which worked great.

Once I had the camera where we wanted it I just popped it off the magnetic clip, marked the holes for screws, removed the sticky tab and drilled exactly where we needed it. I’m definitely planning to use those sticky tables more in the future.

   

We’ve now got the camera mounted up in the center of the girls room. The flat power cable sits nicely against the wall and most of it is covered by the curtain.

We’ve already enjoyed some of the fun parts of having a camera in there. A few days after it was installed, Titus came in and grabbed Cosette out of her room and asked if he could change her diaper. While he was changing that super-poopy diaper Lindy remembered we had the Circle in there and watched the whole thing from her iPhone in bed.

All three kids got involved. Boaz was handing Titus the wipes and then holding Cosette’s feet back after she kicked them into the poop filled diaper and Reeve even joined them to sing Cosette a song while she endured this act of brotherly love. It was so cute that Lindy saved the video onto her phone and sent it to me while I was at work. I didn’t even know we could do that, but I’m glad we can.

I honestly want to get another Circle and install it in the boys room just so we can listen in on some of the hilarious stuff they talk about as they fall asleep. If you’re looking to add some smart to your home, the Logi Circle camera is a great way to get started.

2 In Personal

On Sabbatical

I love my job. I guess I technically have two jobs–and my business, but my “job” job, the one I work 40hrs a week at, is as a minister at Sandals Church and I love it. Lindy and I have been a part of the church for nearly 20 years, and I’ve been on staff for just over eight. This year our leadership has given me the gift of a month-long sabbatical and I tacked on a week of vacation to extend it a bit. I’m smack in the middle of Week 1 and so far it’s been awesome.

I realize the concept of a sabbatical is fairly unusual, so I wanted to share what I’m up to this month.

Humility Through Pain

I’ve chosen the goal of humility through pain as the the theme for my sabbatical. This plays out in lots of ways, but ultimately it means I’m looking for ways to intentionally think of other people as more important than me.

  • I’m getting up daily at 5am and doing “my stuff”, which is everything from reading to managing our finances, from 6-7:30am so that the rest of my days are free for my family.
  • Unless we’re doing something special I’m sticking to a diet of mostly Lindy’s green smoothies as a way of saying no to what I want (and getting that tight body for our 10th anniversary!).
  • After several months off, I’m now back in the Jiu Jitsu game. This basically means I’m getting painfully humbled for an hour twice a week.

Shouldering the Load

I was doing the laundry last Sunday and Cosette was literally pulling every piece of clothing out of the baskets I’d sorted them into. I thought that was a perfect analogy for what it is like to be a parent of little kids: do something, and then right as you’re done undo it all and start over.

Because I work so much Lindy basically never stops working either. And while I get to accomplish things and see projects come to life in my professional life, she’s constantly marching a slow and consistent trudge caring for our kids.

I want to give the gift of rest to her this month. We actually mapped my entire time off on a printed calendar and intentionally blocked out times for her to do the stuff that’s is important to her. We’ve also blocked out time for her to just get away and by herself for 2-3 hours twice a week and catch her breath mentally.

She’s wrapping up work on six canvas art project this morning, our back yard is getting a little succulent corner, the boy’s bathroom and laundry rooms are getting a makeover, and whatever else she wants to do we’re going to make happen.

Switching Out Success

As much as I love teaching and my other work, it’s completely unfair of me to work seven days a week. I’m honestly really good at it so it’s easy for me to feel successful when I’m in that zone. It makes me feel great about myself because I can point to my calendar and our budget and highlight the exact ways I’m loving my family.

But I’m currently going through a process of redefining success. I want to give my best to my family, and the most valuable thing I have is time. So I’m dedicating as much of my time as possible to investing in the success of Home As Art and the vision we have for this blog.

I work for a church and we’ve chosen for Lindy to stay at home with our kids. I’m always going to have to work a lot, but what if all of my extra work could be with Lindy instead of on my own?

That’s some of what we’re laying a foundation for this month.

Praying the Hours

Here’s probably the most important decision I’ve made. Because I’m basically never going to be in meeting for the next month, I’ve got compete control over every minute of my day and I’ve scheduled six alarms to remind me to pray toward my goals:

  • 6am: Pray for Humility
  • 9am: Pray for Wisdom
  • 12pm: Pray for Our Marriage
  • 3pm: Pray for Wisdom
  • 6pm: Pray for Humility
  • 9pm: Pray with Thanks

Each morning I’m praying for humility and wisdom as a way of intentionally disciplining my thoughts and feelings. Humility is about the willingness to do hard things and wisdom is about the ability to see those things. Lindy and I are praying together at noon and then I’m repeating the whole thing in the afternoon and evening. Each night I want to be intentional about reflecting on the day and thanking God for what was good.


So there’s my sabbatical. What do you think? What would you do if you were able to take this much time off work?

2 In Family/ Parenting

Why I Want My Kids to Wake Me Up Way Too Early

When Titus was first born he slept in bed with Lindy and me. Honestly, I was never a big fan of this setup. I had this idea that our bed was supposed to be our bed and letting our kids in there would somehow undermine our marriage.

I know, I have issues.

Thankfully, I started going to counseling and Lindy didn’t leave me on the grounds of my stupidity. I’ve learned a lot and loosened up quite a bit since those early days.

Slowly, I discovered the joy of snuggling my kids in bed.

Titus eventually progressed to a co-sleeper thing and then a pack n’ play at the foot of our bed. Now some of my favorite memories from those first few years of our little family were the slow mornings with everyone up way too early, but spending forever snuggling and playing together in our bed.

As timed passed Titus moved into a crib in his own little room and then a “big boy” bed in that same room when his little brother, Boaz, was ready to takeover the crib. Now that they have two little sisters they’ve been ousted from that room and sleep in bunkbeds in a bedroom across the house.

No Such Thing As Sleeping In

One of the universally agreed upon worst parts of having little kids is how early they wake up. And there’s, like, nothing you can do to change it. I’ve tried keeping the boys up way past their bedtime and they’re still up before the sun.

So a year or two ago I set a goal to train the boys to turn the television and cartoons on all by themselves in the morning. For about the last year they have successfully pulled this off and it’s kind of been awesome. Titus will even serve up some morning snacks for Boaz now.

Every few weeks Boaz has a hard time sleeping all the way through the night and he’ll come into our room at three in the morning or something awful. Once again, I’ve trained him to just bring his pillow and a blanket. He doesn’t even wake me up anymore, he just sleeps on the floor next to our bed and all I have to worry about is not stepping on him when I wake up.

Training My Kids to Leave Me Alone

I had a realization the other day that broke my heart.

My little boys don’t climb into bed and snuggle with me in the morning anymore.

For whatever reason I found myself awake at like 4 AM with this awareness that no one was going to come climb in to my side of the bed; I lay there and was just overwhelmed with sadness.

About an hour or so later Boaz came in with his pillow and blanket and begin to lay down by himself. I heard him quietly getting settled on the floor and decided I’m not having that anymore. So I grabbed his little hand and pulled him into bed with me for snuggles. He fell right asleep in my arms and I just lay there enjoying his quiet breathing.

Just this morning I got lucky because Titus came in pretty early. The TV wasn’t waking up and he needed my help. I pulled him in bed with me, and while he didn’t sleep we did get to whisper and snuggle for a bit.

Sleeping In is Overrated

I’ve made my mind up: I was dumb about all of this sleeping and stuff. One day really soon my boys are never going to come snuggle me in bed anymore.

I don’t care how tired I am throughout the day or how great those extra few minutes of sleep sound; I’m going out of my way now to get my kids into bed with us as early in the morning and as often as possible.

 

0 In Marriage

Valentine’s Day 2017 Mixtape

It’s February, friends! That means the 14 Days of Valentine’s officially begin.

For as long as I can remember my dad never just celebrated Valentine’s Day with my mom, he always celebrated the two weeks leading up to it. I’ve tried to carry on that tradition to the best of my ability and I’ve put together this mixtape to help you feel all those lovely feelings.

I DJ’ed my way through the end of high-school and college so I’ve got a deep appreciation for the craft of song selection. This mixtape is designed to be listened to in order at least the first time, but feel free to shuffle it up on repeat listens.

This playlist will be on repeat most evenings in our house the next few weeks.

PS. I’m thinking of releasing a Happy Valentine’s Night mixtape on February 14. If you’ve got any suggested tracks leave a comment and let me know!

0 In Life/ Personal

Discovering the Art of Feeling

So, this blog is about to get personal a lot more quickly than we ever planned. But I’ve discovered over the last few weeks that trying to write things down helps me process, recognize, and actually feel my feelings. –Justin


I work for a church and part of what I do there is hosting our weekend services. Over the course of an hour long service I’m up on stage about four times, guiding people through the experience.

Last Saturday night, as Pastor Matt was coming to the close of his sermon, I was sitting down in the front with my wife when I got phone call from my mom. I ignored it. A minute later I got a call from my dad, I ignored it again and texted back “I’m in church, what’s up?”. There was no response. Two minutes later my brother called. I ignored his call because I was about to jump on stage for the offering and, though I could sense something was wrong, there wasn’t time to send anyone else up there in my place.

My brother texted me: “Papa is being taken to the hospital.”

That is the most overwhelming text message I’ve ever received.

Lindy ran out the back of church to get our kids from class and load them in the van while I jumped on stage for the offering. During the prayer at the end of the message I asked our worship leader to cover me at the close, turned to the church to setup our offering, walked off stage, and sprinted to the van.

My dad has been a survivor of prostate cancer for probably seven years or so, but he hasn’t really experienced any medical issues like this before – this was so shocking.

I had no information, but I honestly assumed my dad was dying.

My Dad in an Ambulance

Lindy dropped me off at the ER and I ran to the security at the door asking to see my dad. The security guards told me my dad wasn’t showing up on the list so I needed to wait 20–30 minutes and check back in. If you ever work the doors at an emergency room, DO NOT SAY THIS TO SOMEONE WHO’S DAD HAS JUST BEEN RUSHED TO THE HOSPITAL. I wanted to slap that security guard.

My mom showed up and grabbed me and another security guard escorted us outside where my dad was being pulled off the ambulance on a stretcher. He had passed out at a church event and was highly disoriented.

This was probably the most personally traumatic thing I’ve ever seen and I’m pretty sure I’m still in shock.

My dad stabilized within a few hours and slowly began recovering memory. It was actually pretty sweet to see how concerned he was for my mom’s feelings even when he couldn’t remember her name, just that she was his wife.

Over the last few days, doctors discovered a blood clot in my dad’s brain and have been working on a plan to dissolve it.

Struggles & Strengths

During Pastor Matt’s sermon he was talking about nine types of personalities and each of their core struggles and strengths. I’m a Type 3: The Achiever. I get it from my dad, the most driven and hard-working person I’ve ever known.

The Achiever’s core struggle is deception. We struggle being honest because of a deep rooted need to succeed, or at least appear successful.

Pastor Matt is also a Type 3. Last night we were recording an episode of a podcast debriefing his sermon where he confessed that the first person he lies to is himself – and he lies about how he is feeling. I felt like I just got punched in the gut.

Right before the show Pastor Matt asked me how I was feeling. He said something like “I’ve been praying for you and thinking about you this week. I know this is an emotionally heavy time for you and you’ve been working so hard. How are you feeling?” I said something like “I’m good.”

Then we walked out into a room full of 300 people who all came to the first ever live recording of our podcast. No one saw it happen, but I got challenged to my very core last night.

I’ve been lying to myself about my feelings and I’m not doing ok.

I don’t know how to deal with that.

I’m Not OK

When we wrapped up the show I checked my phone and saw a text from my mom: “Your dad is going into brain surgery.”

So that’s what’s happening today.

I love my dad. I want him to stick around. Not just because I want him to see his grandchildren grow up, but because I want him around and in my life.

I want him to be ok. And I guess, right now I’m not ok. I’m tying to let that be ok.

0 In Art/ Marriage

Art, as Defined by Justin

My professor showed up late on the first day of class. He walked in straight to the front of the room and asked “what is art?” It seems like such a simple question, but it was one I had never stopped to think about.

“Does something have to be beautiful to be considered art? Does it have to be timeless? Can something modern and non-traditional be considered art? Which of these two are art?” he asked directing our eyes toward the screen.

Dancers, dressed like dancers, crossed the floor moving gracefully upstage and down. Many of the women were balanced up on their toes which moved fiercely while the rest of their bodies gently swayed and spun. This was clearly dance, this was clearly art.

Cut to the next a video. Dancers, dressed like animals and jungle natives thrust about in the shadows. A woman turns slowly through the air – in a cage. She steps out the cage to join the dancers and they all move so quickly and boldly, in tight synchronization. They clump together in a group, their bodies all sweating as they move. There was a lot of dancing, but was this art?

Yep, Britney Spears’ 2001 VMA performance of I’m a Slave 4 U was the thing that forced me to begin seeking an understanding of what makes something art. Years later, I think I’ve discovered and answer, or at least a working definition:

Art is anything created to communicate something beyond itself.

So when Lindy paints a painting that stops and makes me think, that is art. When a Dancing With the Stars pro choreographs a routine to help a celebrity tell the story of the most memorable year of their life, that is art. When a musician writes a song to challenge my thinking, that is art.

But not all things beautiful are art, some are just performance or entertainment. To me, art must communicate.

What Art Communicates

I took another great course in college called Art and Ideas, taught by what seemed to be an aspiring musician trapped in the body of a bushy browed 73 year old concert pianist. The course walked us through art history through the lens of Mortimer Adler’s Six Great Ideas of truth, goodness, beauty, liberty, equality and, justice. These six ideas are categorized as those that we judge by and those that we act on and have become the things I look for when I’m asking if something has been created to communicate to me.

In turn, Lindy and I have focused ourselves to treat our home as a canvas for the art of family and like dancers on the stage, we’re working together to create something beautiful.

When people come into our home we want them to see beauty that makes them feel comfortable and welcome. When people interact with us we want them to feel valued. When our kids venture in to adulthood we want them to step out from a place of freedom to pursue justice and goodness in this world.

We want our home, our family, our lives to be beautiful and point to a hope that is beyond ourselves.