ChitChat: What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. It wasn’t really a fleeting dream. I studied acting and voice fairly extensively throughout high school and even began college as a theater major. While I loved acting (and singing, which I wasn’t as good at), I wasn’t thrilled with my courses and felt like I might be wasting a LOT of undergrad money on something I figured you don’t really need a degree for. So, sort of on a whim, I decided to switch my major to broadcast journalism and I fell in love.

I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up studying the evening news. It makes me laugh when I look back and realize how little I knew the day I walked into Journalism 101. But, I realized quickly that journalism was something I really enjoyed and even though the field is competitive, I thought I had a shot at a career. That first class eventually led to television reporting jobs in North Carolina and Upstate New York and now producing an Internet radio show in the Philadelphia area.

I pretty much left acting behind when I switched my major ten years ago. I’m glad I didn’t pursue it as a career (the field of journalism is competitive enough). I do hope that one of these days I’ll get my act together and dive into community theater or something similar.


I really loved the ChitChat Panel’s answers to this month’s question: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? Enjoy!


Chelley panel

Chelley: When I was a child, I wanted to be a stewardess. No, not being passe, when I was a kid, they were still called stewardesses. Now, a flight attendant. Being a mother of two kids and having a career that allows me to work from home, I am glad this was not the path I took.

Years ago, I envisioned myself with matching luggage, a beautiful bun tucked just under my cap, a pencil skirt with a matching jacket, handing out pins with wings to children and assisting others stow their luggage. My dream began on a coast-to-coast flight to California with my family on Continental Airlines… I still have a bracelet from the flight! It was a business trip my parents took my sister and me on so we could go to Disney! A few years after this dream, 9/11 changed the friendly skies. Part of my childhood, the innocence and dream to travel, became something associated with fear.

Now that I’m all grown up, or whatever being that means, I have 2 beautiful children with daily itineraries of their own, and deadlines for work that I must schedule and adhere to, sometimes driving so fast to each event you would think I was a pilot, all while serving food, stowing all bags and doing it with a smile. I balance work and home life, including travel where we can, always remembering the little girl inside, that just wanted to serve the people in the sky. (Read Chelley’s blog at


Aubrey: In my 6th grade yearbook, I said that I either wanted to be a switch-pitcher for the Yankees or a criminal defense attorney. Although I still root for the Yanks, I’ve never pitched a game in my life, not even in little league. Likewise, I’ve never defended someone charged with a crime. However, that line of work is much closer to what I hope to be doing someday very soon, as I am a student in my final year of a law/psychology program (JD/PsyD).

Looking back, I think I would have enjoyed pitching for the Yankees. I would have had several World Series rings by now, and instead of starting a new career at 40 (I used to be an actor/restaurant worker), I would be retiring into bags full of money. On the other hand, I think that the Yankees know that they were better off without me. Plus, it’s nice to have arms that work.


Hartley: When I was really little, I wanted to do something with animals — be a veterinarian, live on a farm, something. I specifically recall envisioning myself driving around the country with a bunch of dogs in a jeep as an adult. So — if that’s an actual career out there, please let me know.

But as I got a bit older, I started to get really into the concept of politics and government. I say “concept” because I think my interest mostly spawned from watching re-runs of Spin City — that Michael J. Fox show where he plays witty deputy mayor Mike Flaherty and mostly runs around fictionalized New York City, fixing the problems created by the inept mayor. So in high school, I got an internship with the only government agency taking interns: the local city planning office. I quickly realized planning was a better fit for me than other levels of government. Planners work to make improvements in so many different aspects of government — we’re sort of a jack of all trades position, and I like that. (Plus, we’re not elected, and I like that, too.) And so I went to school for urban and regional planning, and here I am now, a county planner for the county I grew up in.

I love what I do. But occasionally, I do take my dogs out for a drive around the countryside in my car. That’s a pretty cool thing to do, too.


Nancy: While growing up, I thought that my only choices of a career were to be a nurse or a teacher.  My sisters were nurses, but I don’t like blood so nursing really wasn’t an option. That left teaching. I had a very special, kind speech therapist when I was very young and I wanted to be like her. I didn’t want to be a speech therapist because I still lacked confidence in my speech, but I wanted to help the kids who were struggling to succeed. That led me to the field of Special Education. I also loved math and considered either being an accountant or a math teacher, but I can be easily bored and decided these jobs could become boring over time. I eventually ended up teaching math to at-risk teens, a great combination of my interests and  definitely not boring! In retrospect, I should have chosen speech therapist or accountant–both are much more lucrative!

catherine 2

Catherine: When I was very young, I wanted to be a ‘Circus Star’. I went to the circus when I was like 3 or 4 and it had a big impact on me. I wanted to be a trapeze artist, with a costume made of sequins (I had a very specific image of the costume).

I now work for the government and sit at a desk all day. The job does not include flying through the air. Or sequins!

I still think it would be amazing to be a trapeze artist. I was re-inspired the other day after booking tickets for  Cirque du Soleil, and looked into beginner acrobatic classes in Ottawa (where I live). I found a beginner aerial silk and hoops, which is close enough!


So tell me, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does it compare to what you do now?

Image: Paul Inkles



What etiquette really means

What comes to mind when you think of the word etiquette? Using the correct fork when you eat a five course meal? Etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, Jacqueline Whitmore says it’s so much more than that. Really, it’s about making other people feel good. I chatted with Jacqueline about what drew her to the field what etiquette really means to her.


Caitlin: So, Jacqueline, tell me how you became interested in etiquette?

Jacqueline: Well, I’m the founder and director of the Protocol School of Palm Beach and I’ve had my own company since 1998.

Prior to starting my own company, I worked at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach as their Assistant Director of Public Relations. As part of my job responsibilities, I put together etiquette camps for kids every summer. So, my job was to hire the instructor and to organize the camps. In my search for an instructor, I found someone I liked and admired and she came down every summer (to teach the kids’ camp).

She also expanded it and introduced an etiquette camp for adults. I took the class and I liked it so much that I took another class and then she encouraged me to go to Washington, D.C. and get a certification, which I did. So, I ended up teaching the staff (at the Breakers Hotel) in my spare time.

That gave me good experience because in 1998 I didn’t know I was going to get laid off, but I did. And that was the time that I started the Protocol School of Palm Beach.

Caitlin: Wow, so I imagine getting laid off was devastating, but that really opened up an opportunity for you.

Jacquline: Yes, it forced me to take a leap and start my own business.

Caitlin: That’s great. You know, I think sometimes when people think of etiquette, it maybe seems stuffy and maybe shallow. People think it’s just about saying please and thank you. What does etiquette really mean to you?

Jacqueline: Etiquette, to me, means having respect for other people. But, also, it means having respect for yourself. And, it also means being mindful of how your behavior affects other people.

So, for example, if you’re on a bus on your cell phone and you’re bothering the person next to you, you’re not practicing good etiquette. So, it’s just being mindful of your surroundings and having respect for other people. In other words, it’s doing unto others as you would have done to you.

Caitlin: I like that. You know, I was thinking when I first emailed you, I was really cognizant of being polite and using the right etiquette. I wonder if people feel that way around you often. Do you hear that a lot? That people are watching their manners around you?

Jacqueline: Oh, all the time. I hear that all the time. I do often hear from people, “Oh I better sit up straight,” or “I better not say certain things,” or “I better not use the wrong fork.” And, that’s not really what etiquette is about at all. If anything, it’s about being your best self. It’s not being somebody who is artificial and putting on airs or acting like you’re better than anybody. It’s just being your very best self on your best day.

Think about your best day. What would you wear? What would you say? Who would you surround yourself with? That’s the way I try to live my life, at my very best. It’s not always easy. It takes a lot of practice.

If I said you need to be better than everybody else, that would repel people. That would turn people off. In fact, you know, everyone says, “Oh, I’m a perfectionist.” Well, perfectionism repels people. It’s the flaws we all have that make us relatable and memorable and likeable. I call it the BLT Factor: believable, likeable, and trustworthy. So, if I told you I never make mistakes, you would probably hate me and you wouldn’t believe me . (laughs)

Caitlin: Would you be willing to share one of your more memorable etiquette mistakes?

Jacqueline: Oh, sure, I make them all the time! I am my own best client.

I was in China last year at a dinner party. I don’t speak any Chinese and the waiter came up and handed me a menu and asked me what wine I wanted. The menu was huge and couldn’t read it. I just said, “I’d like a glass of white wine.” And he said, “Well, what kind?” And I didn’t know. So I said, “Well, how about a glass of Australian wine?” And my host leaned over and said, “Well, how about a glass of Chinese wine?” (laughs)

So, I felt embarrassed by that!

Caitlin: Are there any etiquette tips that you feel are especially important?

Jacqueline: I am a big advocate of handwritten notes and I try to write one every day, whether it’s a thank you note, a birthday card, or a congratulatory card, just to keep in touch with people. It’s a lost art.

Caitlin: That’s great and it really is so nice getting something personal in the mail. You know, I really like your approach to etiquette, that it’s really just about making the people around you feel good and feel comfortable. And I think, as a result, it makes you feel better about yourself, too.

Jacqueline: Oh yeah, it’s good karma. What you put out in the universe, you get back.

If you get in the habit of doing little niceties every single day, it becomes automatic. And it doesn’t feel artificial because it becomes part of you. And it makes you feel really good.

I believe if you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice to you. I used to be a flight attendant and we used to encounter so many nasty passengers. And it was the ones who were really nice who always got the upgrades.

You can read more from Jacqueline on her blog. In the meantime, tell me, do you have a time when you felt embarrassed by using bad etiquette? Is there an etiquette rule you think is especially important? Let’s talk!

Image courtesy Jacqueline

Milestones and social media

Yes! Three and a half months after the first post here on Vital Chatter, we’ve hit 10,000 page views! I have no idea whether or not this is remotely impressive in the blogging world, but I’m very excited about it 🙂

I figured I’d take this opportunity to tell you about a few ways you can follow Vital Chatter on social media.

1. Follow on Facebook by clicking here.

2. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.

3. And find me on Bloglovin’ by clicking the icon on the right.

4. You’ll notice there are social media icons at the bottom of each post. You can click on those to share individual stories with your network.

Thank you so much to all the people who have been featured here on Vital Chatter and to everyone who has liked and shared these stories. It means so much to me. Also, please let me know if you know someone whose story I should share.

I can’t pick my favorite post so far (I’ve loved them all for different reasons), but tell me, what has been your favorite Vital Chatter story so far?


Photo: Shaun Fisher

ChitChat: First Day of School

My strongest memories of the first day of school are also my oldest memories. I was the youngest in my family, so I grew up watching all my big brothers go off to school and I couldn’t wait for the day when I could join them. I remember when I was going into first grade my mom had taken us shopping for new school clothes. My brothers, appropriately, got new Umbros and t-shirts. I, on the other hand, got a wool Minnie Mouse sweater with matching pink and purple polkadot leggings (pictured above). I was SO excited to wear that outfit that I insisted on wearing it on the first day despite the fact that it was early September and still very warm out. My mom relented and I wore it and I was so hot all day, but at the same time, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so cool again in my life.

So, today I’m introducing a new featured called ChitChat. Each month I’ll ask a panel of people one simple question and they’ll share their thoughts, memories, and opinions. This month I asked, “What memories do you think of when you hear ‘first day of school?'” (Check out some of their back to school pictures at the end!)
Chelley panel
Chelley: First day of school means so many things for me. I think I’ve forgotten exactly how I felt about it  in high school because it was just the day when two-a-days stopped, and field hockey practice  moved to once a day after school. But as a child… it elicits such joy and anticipation. Wanting  to hold my father’s hand and let it go simultaneously. I know I would walk away from him, and,  though I think he didn’t ever see it, I would look out the window and watch him go- his suit  jacket unbuttoned and his boots lightly dragging on the pavement from the preschool building  to the mail building of Meadowbrook School.
I can remember how cool I felt taking the bus (even though my parents were totally following in  their car), and the sound of a brand new zipper opening and closing. The smell of plastic from a pencil case. New markers and glue sticks and freshly printed name tags on our desks. Presenting book reports, using highlighters I didn’t need (yet) and getting the classroom job of clapping the erasers. The first day of school held such promise for the year… and I still have that anticipation. As I move into filling out paperwork for kindergarten for my own child, I smile at the school shopping, LL Bean monogrammed backpacks, choosing the first day outfit… and cringe at the thought of letting her hand go from my own.
(Read more of Chelley’s writing at

Mary: September, 1957, first day of first grade, walked to school with 2 big brothers and then left alone in a classroom of 75 children and one scary nun.  I knew my friends Helen and Frank who lived on my street, so that was good, but the class was so big I hardy knew how to find them.

One girl was crying and wouldn’t/couldn’t stop in spite of being ordered to by the teacher, who was becoming more and more annoyed (I thought I saw smoke come out of her wimple, although I didn’t know it was a wimple at the time) and the kids were growing more and more nervous until–suddenly–crying girl made a run for it!  Off she ran, out of the room toward the back stairway to freedom!  Off ran the good Sister, furious that she had already lost control.  Seventy four 6 year olds sitting with hands folded on their desks, hoping Sister wouldn’t return, but alas, return she did, with crooked wimple, beet red face, exclaiming “The little brat kicked me!”  Yikes!  At least that’s how I remember my first day of school. (P.S.–The “little brat” spent first grade in public school)


Steve: I would rate my feelings toward the first day of school as neutral, leaning towards negative.  It was the best school day of the year other than maybe the last day, or maybe the day before Christmas break, or some random day like Acceptance Day or Purple Gold Day.  It was the end of summer, which was heartbreaking, but you couldn’t help but be excited for the first day.  What will your new teachers be like? What will the girls look like?  You got brand new clothes for at least the first three days and the workload will be light.  The first day of school is great.

But, sadly, the first day of school passes, and soon it’s like you never left.  As a kid I unfortunately regarded school as a punishment rather than the gift that it was.  But I still don’t see how you’re going to convince a 9-13 year-old otherwise (that’s the age group I’m thinking of because the summers before you were expected to have a job were the best).  When you spend your summers out in the woods biking, fishing, rope-swinging, catching frogs, vacations down the shore boogie boarding, eating ice cream, catching crabs, and suddenly you’re stuffed in a classroom and forced to learn…I think I’ve explained enough why my feelings lean toward negative.

Colleen Panel

 Colleen: Believe it or not I’m pretty sure the only “first day” of school I can actually remember might have been my first day of school ever. I have a vague memory of being upset because my mom left, and a boy came over and showed me a book to help make me feel better, and it worked. I honestly think I might have been 3 years old, so I guess it really goes to show a little kindness goes a long way!

Moira panel

MoiraDread!! Actually I don’t know if that is how I felt back when I was in school, but that is how my 35 year old self feels when I think about the first day of school. I also have memories of being really excited, mixed in with a lot of nervousness. What classes will I have? Who will my teachers be? Will my friends be in my classes? What should I wear the first day? Those feelings definitely continued into college, and nursing school later on in life. I think the first day of school is daunting no matter your age.
Leslie panel
Leslie: Since I was a single parent, a good bit of the memories were dropping my son off before school, not about the school itself. I just remember looking forward to and having fun doing the back to school shopping once we got the list. We would head to the store and just buy everything. I was proud to be in line. I always found it a fun time to be together and made me feel that this was really one small part of the joys of being a mom. My son probably hated it. It was sad to me when he got old enough to go himself and with his friends.  But of course that needed to happen.

And a personal funny memory of a first day of school – one of our neighbors had an exchange student from Spain.  However, just before school started the neighbor went into the hospital and needed emergency surgery.  So, I had to be become the exchange student’s “parent” for a few days. This included the first day of school and helping the student to ride the school bus. I took my newfound temporary responsibility very seriously. So, after the high school student boarded the bus I actually followed the bus to the school to make sure he was okay, hoping not to be seen, the whole time laughing to myself.

Theresa (not pictured): One of my sons wasn’t thrilled about going to school. When he came home on his first day of school, I told him I bet he had fun and that I missed him. He didn’t even answer me. On the morning of the second day of school he told me “Mom, I won’t go to school…. You’ll miss me too much and I’ll worry about you.”


Hartley: I had to call my mom regarding this. My memories are mostly me being nervous, but she recalls me being excited — I always liked school. However, she agreed with my recollection of being nervous for college.  I must have blocked this out, but the first college I attended was in the middle of Massachusetts, and it was really close to where my aunt, uncle, and their kids live, so my mom planned on my family staying there the night before move-in day. But apparently I was so nervous I made us stay at a hotel down the street from their house so I could, I don’t know, lay my clothes out the night before and be assured that no little kids messed with them? Like I said, I must have blocked it out. Too nervous.

What are your memories from the first day of school? Any good stories your kids brought home? Let’s talk! PS. Check out some first day of school pictures below!

Chelley and her dad on the first day of school

Chelley on the first day of school

Moira and her sister on the first day of school

Moira & her sister on the first day of school


Hartley on the first day of second grade

Hartley on the first day of second grade


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Happy Friday!

This is the 9th week of Vital Chatter and it’s been a lot of fun so far. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from my guests and I’m really honored that they’ve chosen to talk to me about some really interesting topics. A couple notes I wanted to make:

1. Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on making past stories more easily accessible and I also have a new blog design in the works. I hope to have it up and running next week and once that happens I’ll also be fleshing out some social media channels for Vital Chatter to make it easier to follow along.

2. To date, the only blog promotion I’ve been doing is on my personal Facebook page where I share the link to each new post. I get some really great comments there, and I appreciate that, but I’d request that you also leave comments in the comment section at the end of each post (it’s really easy, I promise). That way, those who don’t see my personal Facebook page can also join the discussion. The goal is to have blog post with great conversations and to continue those conversations in the comments section. Of course, I love the Facebook comments as well, so keep them coming!

3. I have asked a friend to interview me for my own post on Vital Chatter. Here’s the problem: I’m not sure what to talk about! Do you guys have any ideas? Anything you’d like to hear me talk about? Let me know!

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I’ve got some great posts lined up next week, so check back then!

Living Arrangements

The following story is what happens when people stop being polite…. and start getting real.

Just kidding, it’s the story of when four good people who are really good friends decide to live together for awhile.

When my best friend Kristin told me she and her husband Matt were moving in with their good friends Ted and Melinda, I admit, I was skeptical. So, naturally, when I started this blog I knew I wanted to talk to Kristin about her living situation.

It’s a fascinating arrangement and one that is clearly working well for everyone involved. Check it out!

Caitlin: So, tell me about your living situation.

Kristin: Right now, my husband and I live with our two best friends and their 2 ½ year old. We have lived there for 3 ½ years now. We moved in to their house when Matt was changing jobs.

Kristin and her husband, Matt

Kristin and her husband, Matt

We had moved to Huntingdon, PA after college. After a couple of years, we realized that we had left behind a fairly exceptional group of friends and a church we loved in that move.  Friends like these are very hard to come by, so we decided to move back to Shippensburg, and it felt like home.

Melinda was my roommate in college and she and her husband, Ted, had stayed really great friends with us. They had just built a house and it had plenty of room to accommodate all of us.

Matt was thinking about starting a business so we knew it would be impossible for us to purchase a home, but it might even be hard to rent somewhere. So Melinda and Ted offered to let us live with them.

Melinda and Ted

Melinda and Ted

Caitlin: And so when they made that offer, did you have to think about it for a while, or did it immediately feel like the right thing to do?

Kristin: It’s really funny because reflecting back on it, Melinda and I have said we were both really hesitant at first. I mean, they were really open to doing it and they were the ones who made the offer, but we were all thinking it would be short term and we were all a little afraid it was going to cause tension in our relationships. But, it ended up being awesome.

Caitlin: So you’ve been there now for 3 ½ years. What’s been the most surprising aspect of your arrangement?

Kristin: I think how easy it is. To be honest, there have never been any actual fights. There have been times of tension just because people are people, but it’s just been really easy. We’ve been really honest with each other and I think really gracious in times where there might be a point of tension and we’ve really worked through it. I don’t know that this would work with just anyone for us. It happens to be a really perfect combining of personalities.

Caitlin: When you moved in you were both newly wedded couples. I do remember you telling me that when Melinda was pregnant you thought maybe you would move out when the baby was born. But, then it seemed as though you didn’t want to and they didn’t want you to.

Kristin: Yeah, in my mind, it was like, of course we’ll move out when the baby comes. But, to be honest, the business was still at a point where we weren’t sure if it would be a smart decision to do so everyone was like, okay, let’s just see how this goes. And if it’s hard for everyone then, you know, Matt and I will figure something out.

Kristin and Caleb

Kristin and Caleb

But, I can’t even remember what it was like without Caleb. It’s like he was always there. It continued to be easy. Actually now one of the reasons it will be hardest for us to go is that he won’t always be around.

Caitlin: So, how do you do it? How much time do you all spend together? Do you do meals together? How do you split the bills? Are there rules?

Kristin: We spend a lot of time together, probably most of our time together. Melinda and I do the meal planning on Sundays and then we take turns grocery shopping for the week. So, we do cook and clean up our meals together every night. We do determine who is going to cook which meals, but it usually ends up kind of falling together. Whoever gets home first should figure it out and then you know, whoever cooked doesn’t usually clean up.  And you should see the meals we have.  When you’re only cooking one or two meals a week, you can really make something nice.  We have all become amateur foodies.

We do split all of the bills so we keep our receipts and at the end of the month we split up groceries and utilities in half.

Also, living with your college roommate means that you still get to share clothes and jewelry!  It’s the best.  We have no idea what belongs to who anymore; it will be extremely difficult to separate our wardrobes when the time comes.

Caitlin: Do you pay rent?

We don’t pay rent!  Our friends are awesome.  In their minds, they would be paying their mortgage anyway, so it has enabled us to save for a house.

Caitlin: Do you have your own living space? Do you get time alone with your husband much?

Kristin: We do. We do a weekly date night. It’s funny because at first we thought it would be really important to do that, and we still do, but on our date nights we usually end up renting a movie and we invite Ted and Melinda to join us anyway.

We each have our our bedrooms and full bathrooms so that’s really nice. There’s a family room and a living room and they each have a tv and a DVD player and so if couples want to do their own thing, they can. And up until Caleb was older, we did do everything together. But, Matt and I watch some shows that are just inappropriate for a child, so that was the point in which we separated because Caleb was awake and he couldn’t watch it.

But, we do watch tv and movies together and we make all of our weekend plans together. We really don’t get tired of each other.

Ted and Melinda went on vacation with their family a few weeks ago so we were alone in the house. We realized that we do kind of forget to keep up with each other on a regular basis. Like, I’ll get home sometimes and Matt will still be at work and I’ll catch up with the first person I see when I get home. It could be Ted, it could be Melinda. And then I never really tell Matt about my day, so sometimes we laugh if Matt hears about my news from someone else.

Caitlin: It’s interesting because you’re like a family, really. What’s that dynamic like?

Kristin: We really are like a family.  We affectionately call our house the RamWald’s, a combination of our two last names, Ramsay and DeWald.

The RamWalds, dressed up for Halloween

The RamWalds, dressed up for Halloween

Sharing life together is great. It’s the reason that Shippensburg is home for us, because they are there for us when we need them.  In four years you see the ups and downs in life.  We’ve celebrated and mourned together.

And it’s been fun because when our lives are crazy and we’re too busy to cook and clean and eat, they just pick up the slack. And whenever their lives are crazy busy, Matt and I have been able to pick up the slack for them.

Melinda jokes that for the first two months of Caleb’s life she didn’t cook a meal or do a dish.

People always think that this must be really inconvenient, and that we’d really like to get away from this living situation.  We’ve even had people offer their homes to us when they go away as if it would be a favor to us.  The reality is we’ve all really benefited from living together and we really enjoy it.  We are taking a one-week vacation soon to a beautiful beach house in the Outer Banks.  The best part of the vacation is that we’re going with 7 of our best friends, including Ted and Melinda.

the whoel group

Caitlin: So tell me about holidays. I know you guys have a really cool tradition for Christmas.

Kristin: Yeah, this is a Melinda tradition that we took on and will continue to celebrate together even after we move out. Melinda calls it First Christmas. Since we all have family that’s not in the area and we travel to see them on Christmas, we don’t get to wake up on Christmas in our own house and celebrate together.

So, the Saturday before Christmas, we pretend it’s Christmas. We have Christmas eve dinner together the night before and we invite everyone over. And then the next morning we wake up and we pretend it’s Christmas all day. We make a crock pot meal or a tray of lasagna and Melinda will make monkey bread. We sleep in, eat breakfast and open presents together. We celebrate all day.

Caitlin: What’s your best advice for making a living situation like yours work?

Kristin: Step 1. Pick forgiving friends.  We really never have fought, but anyone in a close relationship will stir up things on occasion.  I think it helps that we are gracious to each other, we give each other the benefit of the doubt, we’re honest when we need to be.  And it doesn’t hurt that we were really close friends to begin with.

Ted and Melinda are super Type A. I’m a little Type A and Matt is not at all Type A. So they are really clean. As soon as dinner is over, they do every dish, wipe down the counters, everything. And for me and Matt, that’s not our natural inclination. But, because it’s important to Ted and Melinda, we try to do that now.

It’s just really good to recognize who the other people are, what’s important to them and if you do have an issue, just be open and honest about how you feel. And I think that’s why we haven’t gotten in any fights. It helps that they’re probably nicer than we are.

Caitlin: So you are looking at moving out in the next few months. What is that thought process like?

Kristin: It’s really just because we want to start a family and we couldn’t all fit in the house. Melinda and Ted keep talking about how they could turn the basement into a suite for us and we could live down there with the baby, which is really generous, but I do want my own house. So, it’s happy and sad all at once.

I’m not one of those people who needs alone time. I like being around people 24/7. So it’s really nice for me that when Matt is working late, I can hang out with Ted and Melinda. So, it’ll be hard.

We do plan to live in a community with our group of friends later in life. We plan to all buy land separately, together. So we can have a pool, a huge garden, that kind of stuff. We call it the cul de sac. Matt calls it the Cult-de-sac because he thinks that’s funny.

Our culture continues to move towards more individualistic living.  People don’t know their neighbors or borrow sugar or share lives together as much, and something is really lost in that.  It’s also much more efficient to buy one lawn mower for five families than to have everyone spend hundreds of dollars on their own lawn mower.  Plus, most importantly, we really love our friends and value community.

I think Kristin is right when she says that this arrangement wouldn’t work with just anyone. Just as you need to pick your spouse carefully, I think you’d also really need to be careful of who you decide to live with. I’m so happy to see how well it has worked out for the RamWalds. It will be interesting to talk to Kristin again in a few months when she is living in her own place with her husband. Perhaps we’ll need to do a follow up.

Unlike Kristin, I am a person who needs her own space and time alone, despite having grown up with five siblings. I’m not sure I could make an arrangement like theirs work for myself and my husband. What do you think? Could you live with friends? Family? I know a lot of couples end up living with their parents or adult children. How do you make that situation work for everyone?

Hug it out, man

My husband is a very private person. I am not. BUT, I try my best to respect his boundaries and not tell the world his business. I did, however, get the green light to share some of our conversations from time to time because he really makes me laugh sometimes.

Caitlin: I never know how to greet guys that I like, but don’t know all that well. A handshake seems weirdly formal, but a hug seems like a bit much.

Rob: I heard that younger men really like hugging.

Caitlin: You heard that? Where would you hear something like that?

Rob: On the radio.

After I stopped laughing I tried to find the radio story he was talking about, but couldn’t find it. I did find this story, though, and it does, indeed, describe the trend he heard about. 


Chatting with my famous friends

I had a hiccup in the blogging schedule for this week, so I thought I’d share with you this excellent conversation between Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling.

I LOVE Mindy Kaling. I feel like she’s living inside my head. If you aren’t watching The Mindy Project, you need to start now.

Anyway, most of the questions Lena asks Mindy don’t really apply to a regular person like me. But, I’ll answer one that does.


Lena: What makes you laugh harder than anything else on earth?

Caitlin: When people fall down. I know that might make me a bad person, but I love that shit.


Anyway, I hope you enjoy the Lena/Mindy interview as much as I did. I’ll be back next week with some really great conversations. And, hey, I really appreciate all the support thus far. It’s been really cool hearing your comments and seeing you guys share the posts. It means a lot to me. 🙂

Oh, and if you’re willing to chat, please hit me up. Don’t worry if you feel like you have nothing to talk about. We’ll find something! Email me at



Let’s talk!

When I was a kid, sometimes my mom would overhear me asking friends, family, (people I just met), very personal questions. She would tell me I was being nosey, and I would always say, “I’m not nosey, I’m just interested!”
That interest led to a career as a television reporter where it was my job to be interested (nosey). I relished the opportunity to ask the impolite questions you aren’t supposed to ask. The kind of questions that elicit real, thoughtful answers and lead to the conversations that really get us thinking about ourselves and the world around us.
I believe when we share our stories we begin to understand ourselves a little bit better and when we listen to the thoughts, hopes, and fears of others, we become more empathetic, and ultimately, better people.
Here on Vital Chatter, we’ll talk about love, death, celebrations, disappointments, parenting, and everything in between. And by doing so, I hope we’ll remind ourselves that we’re more alike than we’re different, and at the end of the day, we’re all in it together.
So, let’s talk!