Why it’s my fault that Donald Trump won

Let me be very clear about this.  I voted for Hillary Clinton.  Donald Trump is the antithesis of everything I believe about leadership.  I am a strong believer in servant leadership.  A servant leader puts the needs of others first, is inclusive, and inspires his constituents.  He doesn’t lead by fear or power or revenge.  He doesn’t cheat people or play zero sum games.  And he doesn’t bully or talk poorly of others.

But all of that aside, how can I say that it’s my fault?  Well I didn’t talk about this before the election.

I’m at a conference for work right now and this week happens to be my chance to network with other engineers from different sites, including our sites in Great Britain.  And it was really surprising to them that we weren’t all talking about the election on Monday.  “Oh no,” I remember thinking, “We can’t really discuss politics here.  Politics and religion are off limits, especially with those you have just met. And definitely not at work.”

Why is that?  And should it really be that way?

I think the why has a little bit to do with politeness and genuinely good intentions.  I really believe that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and they are welcome to disagree with me.  In fact, that should get us to a better answer.  When we are forced to discuss and make compromises and work together, we should arrive at solutions to problems that are stronger and open our eyes to another perspective.

But in today’s world of social media and 140 character comebacks I don’t see a lot of discourse going on.  Twitter is not the medium for a productive conversation.  Nor is text messaging or a Facebook comment.  These platforms weren’t designed for that kind of exchange of information. And what ends up happening is that we retreat to our corners of the universe.  We un-friend people who post something that is offensive or we do what I’ve done and avoid Facebook altogether for the past several months because I just don’t want to see all the negativity.  And in either instance we have missed the opportunity to have a real conversation with another human being.  Did I call my family member when I saw them post something pro-Trump that I really disagreed with to express that I had qualms with the implications or to find out why they felt so strongly in the other direction?  No, I did not.

Not to say that this is an easy thing to do.  Politics and religion are big important subjects and it is natural to be passionate about these things.  It’s much easier to only talk to those who agree with me about them and to write everyone else off as wrong.  But isn’t this why our legislature is broken right now?  When the main objective becomes keeping the other side down we don’t make much progress.

I think we have forgotten how to really have positive discourse.  Sure we can do it at work, but when it comes to something like where the country is heading, forget it.  On the news we only see soundbites and on social media the most clever or snarkiest is sure to get the most likes.  And we don’t really listen.

So here is my challenge to you this week: have a 10 minute conversation face to face with somebody from the other side.  And don’t talk through each other.  10 minutes isn’t enough to solve everything but it is short enough to stay calm.  Focus on understanding why they believe what they do and if there is anything, anything at all, that you can agree on.  I’m going to do this too.  It’s a start.  And hopefully, 4 years from now I won’t be kicking myself for not speaking up.




Fall Update

Oh my goodness I can’t believe we are already halfway through October! The past few months have been a complete whirlwind, but I just couldn’t stand to let another month go by without a single blog post. So here I am, baby asleep in my lap, writing a quick update on my phone using WordPress’s handy mobile app. (Apparently Maddy and I are on the same wavelength because I just heard from her that she was thinking of another post. So you can look forward to another guest post soon too.) I have so much to tell you, and I really hope I will have time for a more regular writing schedule in the very near future. But for today, here’s my little update on our forced family fun from the past few months.


Will and I both graduate in December 🎉🎉 We are very excited to have jobs lined up that start in January and we are in the process of arranging our move to our new home. Baby M is doing great and growing like crazy. She started school this fall. Just one day a week, but it has been good for her I think. I am glad that when she starts 3 day a week school after we move she will have already had the fall here to ease her into it. I am already having guilt about going to work even though I know it is absolutely the right choice for our family. Luckily Baby M’s current babysitter is coming with us for the first 6 months to be her nanny while we get to know the area and meet people so I am confident that she will be in great hands and with someone I trust. Will and I are both looking forward to having real jobs with no homework so that our family time outside of work hours can truly be family time and not trading off  who gets to play with Little M while the other studies.

Baby M’s first day of school!

We finally figured out how to cook and be parents, but cooking, parenting AND graduating were just not going to happen all at once so we are looking forward to getting back in the kitchen in January.  We did go paleo for a couple of weeks in August and really liked it. And I even invented a pretty yummy paleo recipe involving spaghetti squash and wild boar, so when we do get to cooking again you can expect some original recipes along with the recipe roundup posts.

Paleo jalapeño burgers
Fur babies

Our poor puppies have gone from being the center of our universe to the bottom of the totem pole around here in the last year. We still love them and treat them as part of the family of course. And Baby M loves them and they love her (especially now that she is big enough to drop food on the floor). But they have both put on a little weight and spend a little more time by themselves these days and have a little less room than they ever have. We are really looking forward to our move for multiple reasons, but especially to give them more time and space.

Baby M and Volta bonding over a rice cookie

I am happy to report that I have lost 50 lbs since January! I still have about 10 lbs to go to get back to prepregancy weight but it is so nice to be able to fit in my clothes again. Hopefully I can hold it together now that the holidays are coming up 😂 My advice to any new moms out there is be kind to yourself. Be healthy and don’t beat yourself up if you are still wearing maternity clothes 3 months postpartum. There is a middle ground between never losing the weight and the crazy 12 weeks to prepregancy body.

As for my other new year’s resolutions, I am still working on my meditation practice and I do actually have a stack of thank you notes that I need to mail. Maybe next year my resolution needs to include the follow through of mailing in addition to writing the thank you note 😳.

What a difference 8 months makes…
Feng Shui

We are about to put the house we own on the market and we have already been house hunting in Texas. If I wasn’t so busy studying I think HGTV would be my favorite thing right now.  I won’t turn it on for myself, but I do enjoy it when I come home and Baby M has fallen asleep and the babysitter is watching house hunters or property brothers or flip or flop 😂


Nothing major to report here.  We have 8 weeks of class left and 1 week of finals. Thank goodness for Baby M because she is the most fun Will and I could ever imagine and even though it is hard work being a parent and being in school, she makes it all worth it.  I will leave you with a little fun we have had this week.  Thanks for checking in.

Love, M

Fashion is My Favorite F word

Hello world!

My sister has asked me to write something for her “forced family fun” blog, although I assure you it wasn’t really forced. I am Meredith’s baby sister by six years and while many people think we don’t have much in common, I am finding more and more ways I am like my big sister =) But that is besides the point.

A little about myself: I have been married for 2 years to my college sweetheart. I recently graduated from nurse practitioning school, and will be embarking on a new journey back to Tulsa where I will be a pediatric nurse practitioner. I am an avid lover of pizza and I also love anything having to do with fashion or beauty. I have always considered myself somewhat of a fashionista. I have enjoyed dressing up for as long as I can remember and nothing can make my day quite like a new pair of shoes, especially if they have red bottoms. With the Nordstrom’s anniversary sale getting ready to be in full swing I thought I would share some of my favorite things they have to offer.
1) Hunter Rain boot – With the amount of rain we have seen this year and the lovely ice we get in the winter these are a must for almost anytime of the year. I especially love the zipper on the back in navy to give it a little pop =)

2) Halogen Scarf Tie Blouse – I love scarf tie blouses. You can wear them with dress pants for work or just a great pair of jeans for the weekend. They are such a versatile piece and I am loving this burgundy print for fall. The best part about this is it comes in petite too for all my fellow “fun sized” people out there =)

3) Topshop Collarless Check Topper – This is a great light-weight topper that will take any fall/winter outfit to the next level of chicness. I especially love that it’s navy.

I think these 3 items would be great staples to add to your wardrobe for the fall season. The best part is they are all on sale starting July 17th, unless you have a Nordstrom’s card and then they are on sale now =) There are tons of other great steals but these are my top 3. Have a great rest of your week.

Stay Fabulous,


Forced Family Fashion?

Hello lovelies,

Whelp here comes another new F category for you – but don’t worry – I am leaving this to the experts.  That is, I am having my sister write a guest post for your enjoyment.  You probably don’t want to take any fashion advice from me (think Anne Hathaway at the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada) because my top priorities tend to be function and comfort, but luckily I have a couple of folks in my life to keep me on track fashion-wise.  One is my very good friend and fashion designer April Madden (check out her stuff here or visit her etsy shop if you like).  And the other is my stunningly beautiful little sister Maddy who, as this photo proves, has been setting fashion trends since 1989. I mean sailor hat? Genius, right? But in all seriousness, she really is beautiful and she really does have great fashion sense and I hope you enjoy her post!



“This Was My First Room” A Story by Baby M

My name is Baby M and I am a sweet baby girl.


This is us coming home from the hospital to our cute house.

Coming home Cute Hoouse

My parents worked really hard to create my first nursery for me while my mom was pregnant.
Isn’t it cute?

My nurseryMyRoom

I took my monthly growth pictures here.


When I was a month old my mom signed a lease extension with the property company. The man who owned the house told the property company that he didn’t want to renew our lease, but not to tell us in case he changed his mind.

Can they do that mommy?

Mom and dad only had one more semester of school left so the extension was only for 6 months. If they would have known when they signed the extension, they could have budgeted and offered to pay the man more so that we could stay.


But when I was 3 months old, the property manager called and told us we had to move out. He said even though they asked us to come in and sign, he didn’t actually sign and he couldn’t tell us until now because of the owners instructions.


The owner said it was “just business” and he needed to sell the house.

I guess sometimes “just business” for some people is very personal for other people 😦


Mom and Dad had to spend a lot of extra money to move us on short notice and we could only find a much smaller house. My room isn’t as fun as before.

Moving      SadBaby

I really hope that the next time the man does business he is honest with the other party so they don’t have to go through what we did!


Forced Family Fun in Florida

Hi there folks!

Hope your summer is going great so far.  We are on our first family beach vacation with the little one and it has been quite a ride!  The drive down was actually pretty good.  We made it to Conway, Arkansas and with the exception of a 45 minute bout of unhappiness we all seemed to survive unscathed.

Conway, ArkansasThe next day the drive was quite a bit longer and Baby M got to visit her 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th states (TN, MS, AL, and FL).  We determined that she doesn’t like to be in the car right around sundown (we had another screaming fit at almost the exact same time as the night before), but she was a trooper and we arrived safe and sound in Florida.  Will and I were really excited to take her in the tunnel in Mobile, but she didn’t even notice – guess we’ll have to come back when she is older.

The next day we decided that Baby M needed to see the ocean.  Will and I both envisioned a magical moment where we walked to the shore as a family and she would feel the waves hit her toes and squeal with joy – you know something like this. Will described it like this: “let me explain about a baby and big firsts. I am super into making sure that baby M has positive firsts and I want to be there to see it through her eyes. So I was very excited to be there and take her to the beach. I wanted to hold her in the water and watch her face as the water hits her and she would smile and there would be cute pics.” But…it didn’t quite work that way for us. 😁 So here’s the story of our first family trip to the beach.

First there’s the problem of getting to the beach. We have never been to this particular spot in Florida and we really need beach access with relatively close parking since we have Baby M and all her stuff. Unfortunately all we can find is public beach access on one side of the road with parking a ways down and across a busy street. So I have the brilliant idea of trying the state park. It will be pretty and quiet and just the right setting for our first beach experience. We pull in, pay our $4 and so far so good. There’s parking in the shade and a path to the beach. 👍 Our car doesn’t really have a trunk and the diaper bag kind of looks like a purse, so I better take it with us. Better to carry it than worry about somebody breaking a window, right? But we are just gonna run down to the water real quick so we don’t really need to reapply sunscreen before we head out… We’ll just leave the sunscreen in the car. I mean we can practically see the beach from here. ☀️

So we start off down the path and realize that it isn’t exactly a direct route to the beach. It turns away from the water and winds between some sand dunes and then heads back toward the water. Well, it can’t be that far, and we already paid our $4…👣👣👣…Hmmm… I am not really liking baby M being in the sun this much, but we are almost there. Let’s try covering her up with her nursing cover. Man it is starting to get hot! Ok let’s uncover her because we don’t want her to overheat! Better a little sunburn than heat exhaustion, right? We’re pretty sure at this point that we are out of the running for any parent awards… But she is gonna LOVE the ocean! 🌊

Oh and did I mention that this path to the beach is sand? In Will’s words: “This is a terrible walk. It is all sand. I hate sand, every step I kick up sand on my legs. It is getting warm and we are walking into the sun.” So Will is miserable because he hates sand and is kicking it up the back of his legs with every step and then… my flip flop breaks! 😂 So now I am dragging this huge diaper bag with one flip flop down this sandy path with no shade in sight and Will is carrying Baby M and still kicking sand up his shorts and trying his best to keep her comfortable. But I promise we are almost there! 😳

We must have walked half a mile by now but we have finally made it to the beach! 🙌🙌 And it’s beautiful! This is a real photo that I took when we arrived. In the meantime Baby M has fallen asleep, but that’s ok. We can just wake her up for this…

 So here we are… Beautiful blue ocean, white sandy beach, adorable baby, and two very relieved parents. Better take a video to document this moment:

 So instead of squealing with joy when the waves touch her toes she breaks down crying… Not quite what we had in mind. Well, not much else to do but start the trek back and laugh all the way. Me in my one flip flop trying to go as fast as I can with the giant diaper bag and the sand hot as heck on my foot, Will using his body to shade Baby M from the sun, both of us laughing at the whole situation… And then a big cloud moves in and it looks like it might start pouring ☔️☔️☔️ This just couldn’t get any better 😜

Luckily, it didn’t start to rain and the cloud helped cool the sand and us off a little bit. We make it back and notice a sign: “Path to beach 0.6 miles, approximately 20 minute walk.” Oops!

I don’t look warm or worn out in this pic, do I? 😉 Will and I were pretty sweaty and somewhat covered in sand, but I am happy to report that Baby M was totally fine and didn’t even get any sunburn ☺️ And hopefully you got a good laugh out of our silliness!

Stay tuned for more adventures 😁



We’re still here!

Hiya Friends! 

I want to apologize for the long absence! Things got pretty crazy there with final exams and the end of the semester and everything, and this weekend we are moving into our summer digs. But we are still here and I will be posting again soon! Baby M is growing like crazy and I am happy to report that the end of the semester turned out really well 🎉🎉 Thanks so much for your support! I can’t wait to catch you up on everything ☺️☺️


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