those two little blue lines

Today is the 9-year anniversary of my blog, so I’m going to take this moment to be super real with you all.

I started the blog after finding out I was pregnant … well before I was ready to be pregnant. It’s called “Diary of a Bewildered Mother” because that’s what I have been—bewildered from the start. Motherhood is no joke, and it has never been easy for me. I’ve never felt like I actually knew what I was doing.

I have learned a few things though:

1. New moms have LOTS of opinions.
1a. 70-100% of those opinions will change eventually as these moms have more experiences.
1b. Stay away from online parenting groups as much as possible.
1c. We might think there’s a right way to do things, but honestly that’s closed-minded, and in parenting, it will set you up for disappointment.

2. Parenting means learning to be flexible. See 1c.
2a. Prepare yourself for your plans to change. Plans for your future, your next year, this evening.

3. Every child is different.
3a. Try not to compare your kids to each other or to other people’s kids.
3b. No pregnancy or birth story is the same.
3c. Your kids are not going to be just like you. However:

4. Your kids will act as mirrors, showing you what you dislike about yourself and problems you didn’t know you have.

5. Get insurance that covers therapy.
5a. We joke about kids needing therapy, but probably everyone should see a therapist at least once.
5b. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

6. God was the *perfect parent*, and yet look at Adam and Eve. You’re responsible for how you parent, but try not to guilt yourself for your kids’ bad behavior or poor decisions.
6a. I know it’s hard. Believe me. I know.

7. I’m not convinced “mommy brain” will ever go away. My brain was much more effective when it was only responsible for me. Now it’s divided by 4.

8. Always include the gift receipts.

diary of a bewildered mother

Positively pregnant!I don’t think I have ever stared at two lines for so long in my entire life, and as a graphic designer, that’s saying something. Yet here I was, in the bathroom, just gawking at the pregnancy test I had taken the night before, which was lying on the counter as some sort of defense against my denial.

“I think we should pick up a pregnancy test,” I told my Lieutenant a few days before, after I kept assuring him that, no, really, I will get period tomorrow! every day for about a week. So, after a series of unfortunate unexpected events, we were off to Walmart, the only place still open after 10. See, Natural Family Planning, our chosen method of avoiding/achieving pregnancy, is incredibly effective—so long as the wife monitors what is going on with her body and has a basal thermometer that is working. Of course, after…

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Lion Turns 3 Interview

While looking through Evernote today, I found my “Champ turns 3” interview. Since Lion turned 3 on Monday, it was the perfect time to ask him the same questions!


Me: I’m going to ask you some questions for your birthday, okay?

Lion: kay. And den I throw up.

Why are you going to throw up?

I’m going to throw up again tomorrow.

…You mean GROW up?

Yeah, I mean grow up, I said.

What is your favorite color? 

Red. And orange.

What is your favorite toy?

A black sheep.

You don’t have a black sheep.

Colin has a black sheep. And Michael has a white one. [I have no idea what he’s talking about. I don’t even recognize those names from church, his daycare, or TV…]

What is your favorite TV show?

Bad guys. Animals. Good guys and bad guys.

If you could watch any show on TV right now, which one would you want to watch.

Some dog computers.

Which do you like most: Paw Patrol or PJ Masks or Lion Guard?

I like the king lion guard. It’s gonna be super super cool and bad and happy and good.

What is your favorite thing to eat? 

Bad guys hahaha!

What food do you like?

Some chicken nuggets and some cold carrots. I’m hungry about that food.

What is your favorite thing to wear?

Shirts. My shirt.

What is your favorite game?


Guns? Where do you play guns?

In mine game.

What game?

Nonny’s game. Is that gonna be fun tomorrow, Mommy?

What’s your favorite animal?

Batman. My favorite animal is a dinosaur. Is a giant—is a big dinosaur.

What is your favorite song?

Good guys.

What’s your favorite book?

Dinosaurs zoo. So where is the dinosaur book?

Who is your best friend?

Moses and James and … …


Yeah. He is ALL of them.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside?

I don’t know. Is animals?

What is your favorite holiday?

I don’t know. Is it Batman?

 What do you like to take to bed with you at night?

I don’t bring some more puppets at bed. Or animals that’s right there

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I don’t know. Batman. And the good guy Batman. And the bad guy Batman.

You want to be a bad guy Batman?

No. I want to be a good guy batman. Mommy, do you want to be a bat guy Batman when you grow up if you want to, Mommy?

What’s your favorite movie? 

Animals and dinosaurs.

Big Hero 6?

Yeah, Big Hero 6.

Who’s your favorite person in a movie?

Can you call the girls?

The girls in Big Hero 6? Go-go…

Haha. Go-go is funny. I want Go-go to be my best. Mommy, can I watch a Paw Patrol movie?

I knew that was your favorite show. What’s your favorite thing to do at school?

My toy computer, if I want.

Where’s your favorite place to go visit?

At the playground.

What’s your favorite sport?

At the playground, too.

How would you describe yourself?

I don’t know.

What are you?

[says his name]

What about you?

Three. Mommy I want to sit ON YOUR LAP. (picks up my phone) Mommy, call the girls.

What girls?

The mommy ones.

Preventing the Next Dylann Roof

I don’t even want to use his name, yet I know that people will be searching for it.

On June 17, 2015, a 21-year-old white supremacist drove to Charleston, South Carolina, looking for black people to kill in hopes of creating a race war. He entered the state’s most historically significant church, and there was welcomed with open arms. He attended the Bible study and prayer. Then he opened fire on the worshippers, murdering nine innocent people. Why? “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country,” he told them. He killed six women and three men.

Was this man deranged? Yes. But hate is not a mental illness. Hate is hatred. And Roof’s particular breed of hatred—hatred towards a group of people, also known as bigotry—comes from the disillusionment that people can be categorized into “good” and “bad.”

It comes from lack of empathy.

How do we raise a generation of empathetic humans? By encouraging them to read diverse books.

To Kill a Mockingbird might not be considered “diverse” because it is written by a white person. But it is written by a woman, and it’s a book I assume most of my readers have read or are aware of, it’s considered a classic, and it concerns violence against blacks, so I’m going to quote it.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

How do we empathize? Considering the points of view of others. The best way to do this is to have real conversations with real people—people who are different from you. But an easier way is to read diverse books. Books with main characters that have different color skin or different worldviews than you have. Books written by diverse authors. How many books have you read in the past year, in the past decade, that were written by someone who wasn’t a white man? If you consume media—news, music, television, books, movies—put out by only one group of people, your view is going to be skewed.

Have a balanced point of view by listening to diverse voices.

Image from

Image from

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

Roof literally saw the world through a white supremacist filter. After hearing about the Trayvon Martin case, he Googled “black on white crime” and was horrified by the results. This is how he came to the conclusion that black people (and later Jews and “non-white” hispanics) were to blame for all of the problems in the world. He sought to eradicate them, starting with blacks, by starting a race war.

Note that he didn’t look up “white-on-white” or “white-on-black” crimes. He failed to see that sexual offenders are more often white males than any other race. He ignored that victims forced into prostitution are raped daily by white men. He ignored that pedophiles are more likely white than black or Latino. He ignored that the vast majority of school shooters are white, and that “In approximately 90 percent of all homicides, the killer and victim are from the same race.”

He had a thought, and then he filtered through evidence using his bias. Of course he confirmed his bias.

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

I grew up with Sesame Street, seeing people of all races portrayed as cool, smart, sympathetic characters. It wasn’t until college that I was told colorblindness isn’t a good thing. Why? Isn’t it good to treat people the same, regardless of skin color? Isn’t it fair?

The problem with being blind to color is that you don’t acknowledge the very real racial divisions that exist to this day. Silence is consent. If you don’t speak out against racism, you’re part of the problem.

More and more reports are surfacing of people who knew Dylann, who heard his racists jokes, who heard his threats—who even went and hid his gun from him—yet never told authorities, never took his racism seriously enough.

Don’t perpetuate hate by remaining silent in its midst.

When you witness someone making a prejudice statement, address it. Does it come from fear? From hate? Address it. Ask why, then ask what you can do.

If you catch your teenager making a racist statement, lumping an entire race together by saying “they” or “all” or “always,” call them out on it. Make them come up with a list of exceptions. Make them read a book with a protagonist of that race or belief. Quiz them on the book.

Don’t be silent. Remember the golden rule: “How would you like it if someone said ____ about you?”

In his chilling manifesto, Roof says that whites don’t think about race, but with blacks, it’s all they ever think about. He’s talking about privilege. If you never have to think about being white, you’re privileged. You don’t have to worry about institutional racism. You don’t have to use initials on job applications instead of your real name in order to be hired. You don’t fear for your life when you see a police officer. You don’t hear people locking their car doors when they see you. You don’t witness parents shooing their children to the other side of the street when you walk down the sidewalk.

It’s hard not to think about race when everyone is constantly reminding you that you’re “different” or “exotic.”

Even if you don’t lump groups of people into “us” and “them,” you still need to be aware of what kind of media you’re consuming. If you only consume white media, then you are—even without intending to—creating a division.

So Get Reading


This summer, make a goal to read a book by at least one author of color. Or as many authors of color as white authors. Or read only authors of color.

Where should you begin?

We Need Diverse Books is a campaign for getting more diversity in publishing—more diverse authors, more diverse agents and editors. Their website has a page called Where to Find Diverse Books. They also have a Summer Reading List. Take a book that you like, and they’ll give you a suggestion on what to read next. They’ve even got a Pinterest page!

The point of reading different points of view isn’t to change your mind or to shame you—the point is for people to empathize with each other, regardless of background. To see other people as humans, not enemies. If you read without prejudice, you live without prejudice. Challenging your beliefs might lead you to change your mind, but it can also affirm your beliefs.

Note that WNDB includes LGBTQIA literature. If you “don’t agree with those lifestyles,” you can choose not to read those books. However, empathizing helps you understand where people are coming from, and leads you to treating them as complex individuals, rather than as a label or sexual orientation.

I’m reading Under a Painted Sky and Lies We Tell Ourselves next. What will you be reading this summer?



Scott Neuman, 2015, Photos Of Dylann Roof, Racist Manifesto Surface On Website, NPR

Leguizamo, Alejandro, Brooke Peltzman, Nicolas Carrasco, Michelle Nosal and Leslie Woods. 2010. “Ethnic Differences Among
Incarcerated Sex Offenders.” 2010.

Lawrence Greenfeld, 1997, Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

DavinaSquirrel, 2012, School Shootings—by 2012, 79% of school shooters had been white.


Miniature Meatloafs

I’ve got a stack of cookbooks, but with Pinterest, I barely crack any of them open. Except for this one.


Half our family’s favorite recipes come from this cookbook. I can’t remember who got it for us for our wedding (sorry!), but to whoever did, most thanks.

Over the years, I’ve scribbled in the margins my own tweaks to the recipes. Since I’ve tweaked their “Mini Meatloaves” fairly significantly, I’ll share that here, since I won’t be violating any copyrights.

So here’s my version of Betty Crocker’s Mini Meatloaves, sans photo, because I’m an irresponsible blogger and my kitchen is full of moving boxes.


  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork or turkey
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick (you could try the DIY alternative)
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • Thyme (to taste)


  1. Heat oven to 450F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the ketchup and brown sugar together.
  3. Dump half of the mixture into a large bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients.
  4. Oil a 9×13 pan with the oil or cooking spray of your choice.
  5. Form the meat mixture into a meatloaf in the center of your pan.
  6. With a spatula, cut the loaf in half lengthwise, then crosswise to create 4 smaller loaves.
  7. Cut each of the four loaves into three smaller loaves, so you have 12 total. Shimmy the mini loaves around with the spatula to give each one space to expand.
  8. Brush the loaves with the remaining ketchup and brown sugar mixture.
  9. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until they are fully brown and 160F in center.

Side dish ideas

Serve with baked potatoes and baby carrots or asparagus.

Parent-Shaming & Mom-Shaming—Has Our Culture of Guilt Gotten Out of CONTROL?

I feel like I could have written this same post, and I’ll bet some of my readers will feel the same way. My children don’t have neighborhood friends available to play with them, either! We have to schedule a play date a month in advance!

One thing that has helped me to get over the perfectionist tendencies (at least as far as being a housewife) is visiting other families’ homes. The most well-adjusted kids I knew in North Carolina lived in houses that were messy, with moms who cared more about their children exploring and creating than about scheduling rigorous activities and having magazine-worthy homes. Now, I leave the scribbles on the wall, and I hope I can encourage other moms to be content with progress (baby steps), not perfection.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Hyperbole and a Half Image via Hyperbole and a Half

It has been a weird couple of months. We had our family business move and then Spawn (my 5 year old) was REALLY ill back in March. Ill to the point of a middle of the night ER visit. Hubby and I didn’t sleep for over a month. And now, I am trying to get back in the groove and I just don’t want to.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 9.16.29 AM

I don’t want to be a grownup. I want to color and make a blanket fort. And YES I feel guilty for being a horrible wife and a bad mother.

On some level, I believe all women struggle with guilt, and, when we become mothers, I think the condition only worsens. I was a very different person before I married and had my son. I was always dressed impeccably, had my hair done once a month, and never missed…

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We’re buying a house!

Captain and I have been house-hunting for a while. I can’t believe we’ve been renting this home for almost 3 years! I just assumed we wouldn’t be here very long, so besides the epic 3-day Unpacking of 2012, I haven’t settled in much since then. Photos still sit in boxes in closets, and I haven’t painted a wall since we lived aboard Camp Lejeune.

We wanted to move for a few reasons:

1) Captain’s commute is killer. It’s not as bad as when we lived off base and he had to drive on and off base, but it is not ideal.

2) This house is too big. Yeah, First World Problems—I get it. But this house has too many rooms for the kids to destroy mess up make memories in. I can’t keep up with the housework. Once the kids are old enough to reach the counters without throwing dishes or dumping water on the floor, maybe we can go bigger. The other problem with having more space is wanting to fill it with junk. If you’re following me on Facebook, you know my goals for 2015 are simplifying and organizing. A smaller house with less stuff will help.

3) We’re a really antisocial family here. It was a huge culture shock moving from base housing, where 80% of the wives had kids and stayed home with them, to an established neighborhood with zero little boys for my dudes to play with. There’s one family we’ll miss, especially this summer, but moving will help us to be more central to our friends and family.

I looked at thousands—literally, thousands—of Twin Cities houses online before we started searching. Of course my favorite houses were already pending sales before we were ready to look! Others wouldn’t accept VA loans. My great aunt is a real estate agent, and she has been so helpful guiding us through the process, connecting us with a military loan specialist who got us pre-approved without any problems, and negotiating a deal.

We quickly learned that we wouldn’t find the “perfect house” with our price range, so we’d have to make some sacrifices. We eliminated houses on busy roads. We wanted a safe backyard for the boys to play in. We wanted 2 bedrooms and an office space, with extra bedrooms or room to expand when our family grows. We wanted a basement (not hard in Minnesota, but very rare where I come from in Colorado). We liked houses with character, but we knew we probably wouldn’t be able to find one in the neighborhoods where we were looking.

Well, we found one! We put an offer in on a little 1920s farmhouse, it was accepted, the inspection is on Wednesday, and if everything goes well, we’ll take the keys (Skeleton keys!) in April and move in through May.

Of course I’ll be blogging about it. All my house Pins have been leading up to this moment! Follow our journey on Facebook, block me on Pinterest if you don’t want me clogging your feed, and stay tuned here.

paint colors

Up next: Paint Colors. I wanted a coastal neutral color scheme, but we want to keep some of the historical integrity of the house (like its dark wood trim), so I’ve got to figure out how to make them work together (hint: a lot of blue greens).

Disregard the carpet—it’s our landlord’s and will stay with this house.

We do not have a home blogger budget, so I expect it will take some time before our house is anywhere close to Apartment-Therapy-ready, but that means everything we do will also be doable for many of you.

Stalk my color search on Pinterest. I’ll blog a bit on my method for choosing colors, but you’ll have to wait a few months before you’ll see any pictures of the new farmhouse. We haven’t even closed yet! Who knows what’ll happen.

Do You Need What I Need?

Sometimes I think words of affirmation are my love language. I get an email from Nicole, the editor from Marvel who’s been showing me the ropes of comics editing (my dream job!), which says, “You killed it with these notes, and caught a lot of stuff that I missed,” and that message makes my week.

But then I think about it, and it isn’t the words. As superficial as it might be, I need to feel like I’m good at something. I need to feel successful. Should that be what defines me? No, and I’m working on that. But full-time parenting does not come easily to me. I feel like a hack most of the time. Same goes for writing. Is the challenge worth it? OF COURSE. Still, I’m the type of person who needs to see measurable success. To be able to check something off a list as “done,” not just “done for now.” That’s why I hate never-ending chores like laundry and dishes. (Come to think of it, aren’t all chores endless?)

But nothing about parenting is a checklist. At least not in the daily grind. Sometimes the only things I can check off are the three meals I make each day. But I can’t make my kids eat those meals. I can’t force them to be good, or to make smart choices, or to love me. And I don’t really want to.

Immeasurable things are forever things. I can’t quantify my love for my kids, but I know it’s a constant. If it were quantifiable, I might feel guilty.
“We’ve got your status reports back, and you were less forgiving on February the 5th, 2015.” “On days in which you get less than 8 hours of sleep, you are showing a 46% increase in irritability.”

There is no better teacher of grace than caring for someone who depends on you.

And yet—we are humans. Confined to time and matter and space. We are measurable beings with immeasurable souls. And we need to feed our souls with love, but we need to feed our bodies and minds with physical, measurable things. We need to believe we are progressing as people, and to progress, we need to see or feel an increase.

Our most basic need is physical—to keep from starving, we eat until we are filled.
We also have a very real mental and emotional need—If we have low self-esteem, if we feel as though we are failing, we need to experience some success to feel fulfilled.
Our highest need is spiritual—”The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return” Added bonus for Christ-followers: letting our will decrease while the Spirit increases (John 3:30).

But it is difficult to realize that highest need if we are physically starving, or are mentally or emotionally unfulfilled.
Many Christians are like the one mentioned in James 2, verses 14–17:
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Christians—You can send Bibles to poor nations, but are you feeding them? You can preach to the discouraged, the losers, the marginalized, but are you helping them succeed and feel as if they belong? Are you offering jobs to those who need them?

I think that depression and self-esteem are huge problems in this generation because we forget that we need to be fulfilled holistically—to eat good food, to feel successful or worthwhile or as though we belong, to engage in something Bigger than us and Eternal and Immeasurable. To feed our bodies, take care of ourselves, and take care of others.

The more people I meet, the more I see our discontent coming from one of those areas. Each is a real, desperate need. We need food, shelter, water. We need to grow as humans. We need to love and be loved.

So let’s take care of each other and take care of ourselves. Let’s work together doing something tangible while building intangible connections. Let’s bond over the dinner table and over the workbench. Let’s find something we’re each good at and celebrate each other.

If you want, share a recipe, share one of your accomplishments or talents, and share a word of encouragement—could be scripture, an inspirational quote, or a song.

Let’s be better people in 2015, whether we can measure it or not.