And just like that, we're an eight-some. 

General themes of our 36 hour Griffin bonanza included: Royce snuggling and four-body pile-ups, playing house tag until everyone fell over with deep belly laughs, Dylan and Harper realizing they are inseparable, and the full kids crowd embracing no pants parties (or as Harper likes to refer to them, "no party pants!"). 



...and the potty. Nothing like a little competition with near-potty-trained Dylan to convince Harper that she didn't want to miss out on the action! By the end of Sunday, she had put three successes on the board. And thus begins this phase of life...


Also it's a travesty that none of the pics that I snapped of Harper and Dylan in potty mode are suitable for the internet. Suffice it to say, they are damn cute.  

Miss you already Griffins! We'll watch this video on repeat until next time...

Grandpa Birthday Recap

I asked Harper what her favorite part of her day was last night, and she said "grandpa birthday party!" It may have been over a week ago, but our girl does not forget a good party.  

We had such fun celebrating Dad's 70th last week with Barbara and Jim and Lolly, two surprise guests. Fancy dinner out, successful implementation of dual-child logistics, and fun stories about dad's singing adventures around the world made for quite the night!

Harper also roped Grandpa and Nana into lots of time spent pushing swings at the park, coloring at the miniature table, and of course, sharing birthday dessert...



Happy birthday dad! 🎉🎉🎉


Some words on the state of things

I've been struggling with blogging throughout the first ten appalling days of Donald Trump's presidency.

This place is one of family, of friends, and of memories - it's not meant to be a political platform. In fact, it's always been an escape from my working world and the often stressful real-world decisions that have impacted my professional life.

For the first time, I'm finding it impossible to compartmentalize... to post our happy family photos amidst the absolute turbulence around us. Wreckless, racist policies that will have ramifications for years and perhaps decades to come. Attacks on the media and the judiciary that shake the core of our democracy. Daily protests to stand up for American values. 

I don't intend for this blog to be consumed by all of this, and I do intend for this to remain a place that captures the small moments of our family as it grows. But, the last ten days have shaken our world and our country. And they've shaken me. 

I often think of this blog as a sort of time capsule for our family. So before I go back to our regularly scheduled programming of family memories, I need Harper and Royce to know that I hope with all of my being that the past ten days will not define the world that they grow up in. That whatever damage is being done right now will not be lasting. That their history books will tell a story of the democratic forces at work and on display in this country right now prevailing. That they grow up more fiercely focused on their fundamental rights and freedoms - and those of every American - as a result of all of this. 

I was so proud to read this yesterday. So many of my former bosses and closest friends and colleagues are listed here. And their words are damning. And perfect.  


January 30, 2017

The Honorable John F. Kelly
Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036

The Honorable Sally Yates
Acting Attorney General
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

The Honorable Thomas A. Shannon
Acting Secretary
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Secretary Kelly, Acting Attorney General Yates, Acting Secretary Shannon:

As former cabinet Secretaries, senior government officials, diplomats, military service members and intelligence community professionals who have served in the Bush and Obama administrations, we, the undersigned, have worked for many years to make America strong and our homeland secure. Therefore, we are writing to you to express our deep concern with President Trump’s recent Executive Order directed at the immigration system, refugees and visitors to this country. This Order not only jeopardizes tens of thousands of lives, it has caused a crisis right here in America and will do long-term damage to our national security.

In the middle of the night, just as we were beginning our nation’s commemoration of the Holocaust, dozens of refugees onboard flights to the United States and thousands of visitors were swept up in an Order of unprecedented scope, apparently with little to no oversight or input from national security professionals.

Individuals, who have passed through multiple rounds of robust security vetting, including just before their departure, were detained, some reportedly without access to lawyers, right here in U.S. airports. They include not only women and children whose lives have been upended by actual radical terrorists, but brave individuals who put their own lives on the line and worked side-by-side with our men and women in uniform in Iraq now fighting against ISIL. Now, because of actions taken by this White House, their lives have been disrupted and they may even be in greater danger if they are sent home. Many more thousands going through the process will now be left behind. More broadly, tens of thousands of other travelers, including dual citizens and, at one point, legal U.S. residents face deep uncertainty about whether they may even travel to the United States or risk leaving and being barred reentry.

Many of us have worked for years to keep America safe from terrorists. Many of us were on the job working for our country on 9/11 and need no reminder just how vital it is to destroy terrorist networks and bring partners to our side in that global effort. Simply put, this Order will harm our national security. Partner countries in Europe and the Middle East, on whom we rely for vital counterterrorism cooperation, are already objecting to this action and distancing themselves from the United States, shredding years of effort to bring them closer to us. Moreover, because the Order discriminates against Muslim travelers and immigrants, it has already sent exactly the wrong message to the Muslim community here at home and all over the world: that the U.S. government is at war with them based on their religion. We may even endanger Christian communities, by handing ISIL a recruiting tool and propaganda victory that spreads their horrific message that the United States is engaged in a religious war. We need to take every step we can to counter violent extremism, not to feed into it by fueling ISIL propaganda.

Perhaps the most tragic irony of this episode is that it is unnecessary. We do not need to turn America into a fortress to keep it secure. Since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has developed a rigorous system of security vetting, leveraging the full capabilities of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. This vetting is applied to travelers not once, but multiple times. Refugees receive even further scrutiny. In fact, successive administrations have worked to improve this vetting on a near continuous basis, through robust information sharing and data integration to identify potential terrorists. Since 9/11 not a single major terrorist attack has been perpetrated by travelers from the countries named in the Order.

The suddenness of this Order is also troubling. The fact that individuals cleared for admission were literally in the air as the Order went into effect speaks to the haste with which it was developed and implemented. We are concerned that this Order received little, if any scrutiny by the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security or the Intelligence Community. Now that some of these individuals are here in the United States, and thousands of others are stranded, our government’s response has appeared disorganized and chaotic. As lawyers take steps to protect their clients who have been detained here or stranded at many other airports, the U.S. government will continue to face a flurry of legal challenges, which could have been avoided. Additionally, by banning travel by individuals cooperating against ISIL, we risk placing our military and diplomatic efforts at risk by sending a clear message to those citizens and all Muslims that the United States does not have their backs. Already, the international push-back has been immense, and threatens to jeopardize critical counterterrorism cooperation.

Fortunately, there is a way out of this self-made crisis. We know that your agencies did not create this situation and we particularly respect that many of you are working to mitigate its damage. Effective immediately, you can apply the discretion given to you under the President’s Order to admit into the country the men, women and children who are currently still stranded in airports. The process for doing this is well known to the security professionals within your departments. We urge you to execute it. While it is good to see the withdrawal of the application of the Order to legal permanent residents of the United States, your Departments can immediately work to allow other classes of people into the country, and remove the discriminatory prioritization implicit within the Order. Most critically, we urge you to draw on the insight of the professionals in your departments to recommend that the President revisit and rescind this Order. Blanket bans of certain countries or classes of people is inhumane, unnecessary and counterproductive from a security standpoint, and beneath the dignity of our great nation.

Dr. Madeleine K. Albright
Former Secretary of State

Janet Napolitano
Former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

Susan Rice
Former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States

Dennis Blair
Former Director of National Intelligence
Admiral, USN, Retired

Michael Hayden
Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency

Samantha Power
Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Bill Richardson
Former Governor of New Mexico and United States Ambassador to the United Nations


John R. Allen
Former Presidential Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL
Former Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan
General, USMC, Retired

Tony Blinken
Former Deputy Secretary of State

William Burns
Former Deputy Secretary of State

Bruce Andrews
Former Deputy Secretary of Commerce

Richard Clarke
Former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counterterrorism for the United States

Rudy DeLeon
Former Deputy Secretary of Defense

Heather Higginbottom
Former Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources

Thomas Nides
Former Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources

James Steinberg
Former Deputy Secretary of State

James Stavridis
Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Admiral, USN, Retired

Michael Morrell
Former Acting Director, Central Intelligence Agency

Matthew Olsen
Former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center

Rand Beers
Former Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

John B. Bellinger III
Former Legal Advisor to the Department of State

Ambassador (ret.) Nicholas Burns
Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Eliot Cohen
Former Counselor, Department of State

Michele Flournoy
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy

Eric Fanning
Former Secretary of the Army

Marcel Lettre
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence

James Miller
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy

Wendy Sherman
Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Suzanne Spaulding
Former Undersecretary for National Protection and Programs, Department of Homeland Security

Michael G. Vickers
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence

Tara Sonenshine
Former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Clara Adams-Ender
Brigadier General, USA, Retired

Ricardo Aponte
Brigadier General, USAF, Retired

Juan Ayala
Major General, USMC, Retired

Alyssa Ayres
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia

Donna Barbisch
Major General, USA, Retired

Jamie Barnett
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired

Jeremy Bash
Former Chief of Staff, Department of Defense

Daniel Benjamin
Former Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Department of State

Jarrod Bernstein
Former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Intergovernmental Affairs

Charles Blanchard
Former General Counsel, United States Air Force

Jarret Blanc
Former Deputy Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan

Barbara Bodine
Former United States Ambassador to Yemen

Richard Boucher
Former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs

David Brahms
Brigadier General, USMC, Retired

Mike Breen
Retired United States Army Officer

John G. Castellaw
Lieutenant General, USMC, Retired

Wendy Chamberlin
Former United States Ambassador to Pakistan

Derek Chollet
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

Brent Colburn
Former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Public Affairs

Christopher Cole
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired

Bathsheba Crocker
Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

Jay DeLoach
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired

Abe Denmark
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia

John Douglass
Brigadier General, USAF, Retired

Caitlin Durkovich
Former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection

Paul Eaton
Major General, USA, Retired

Mari K. Eder
Major General, Retired, USA

Dwayne Edwards
Brigadier General, USA, Retired

Robert Einhorn
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation

Evelyn Farkas
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia

Gerald M Feierstein
Former United States Ambassador to Yemen

Daniel Feldman
Former Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan

Jose W. Fernandez
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs

Jonathan Finer
Former Director of Policy Planning, Department of State

Price Floyd
Former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs

Danielle Garbe
Former National Security Council Director for Lebanon and Jordan

Robert Glacel
Brigadier General, USA, Retired

Walter Gaskin
Lieutenant General, USMC, Retired

Philip Gordon
Former Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf Region

Kevin P. Green
Vice Admiral, USN, Retired

Jan Hamby
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired

Caitlin Hayden
Former National Security Council Spokesperson

Richard S. Haddad
Major General, USAF, Retired

Gretchen Herbert
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired

Mark Hertling
Lieutenant General, USA, Retired

Christopher P. Hill
Former United States Ambassador to Iraq

Serena Hoy
Former Counselor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security

David Irvine
Brigadier General, USA, Retired

Arlen D. Jameson
Lieutenant General, USAF, Retired

John Johns
Brigadier General, USA, Retired

Deborah Jones
Former United States Ambassador to Libya

Colin Kahl
Former National Security Advisor to the Vice President of the United States

Claudia Kennedy
Lieutenant General, USA, Retired

Gil Kerlikowske
Former Commissioner, United States Customs and Border Protection

Jennifer Klein
Former Deputy and Senior Advisor for the Department of State Office of Global Women’s Issues

Charles Kupchan
Former Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Jonathan Lee
Former Deputy Chief of Staff, Department of Homeland Security

Fred Leigh
Major General, USA, Retired

George Little
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs

Deborah Loewer
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired

Donald E. Loranger Jr.
Major General, USAF, Retired

Kelly Magsamen
Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs

Randy Manner
Major General, USA, Retired

Thomas Malinowski
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Brian McKeon
Former Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy

Philip McNamara
Former Assistant Secretary for Partnerships and Engagement, Department of Homeland Security

John W. Morgan III
Lieutenant General, USA, Retired

Suzanne Nossel
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Affairs

James C. O’Brien
Former Special Envoy for Hostage Recovery

David Oliver
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired

Eric Olson
Major General, USA, Retired

Rick Olson
Former Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan

Charley Otstott
Lieutenant General, USA, Retired

W. Robert Pearson
Former United States Ambassador to Turkey

Glenn Phillips
Rear Admiral, USN, Retired

R. Macon Phillips III
Former Department of State Coordinator for the Bureau of International Information Programs

Gale Pollock
Major General, USA, Retired

Amy Pope
Former Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Steve Pomper
Former Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Michael Posner
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy , Human Rights and Labor

Anne C. Richard
Former Assistant Secretary of State, Population, Refugees & Migration

Week Two: So Many Highs, One Big Low

We've had countless highs throughout Royce's second week home. Mostly, variations on the Harper-love-smothering-high-pitched "baby Roooooooyceee!"-theme, which makes my heart explode every time. And family snuggle/lounge time, which just doesn't get better. 

Harper and Royce and I have settled into our new routine of early daycare pick-up, and have been indulging in slow late afternoons spent all together in Harper's "tent" (princess castle), or upstairs with Harper "reading" to baby Royce. Much time is spent diapering and mama-ing her baby dolls these days, including by administering strict time outs when "baby not listening." 

We also took advantage of Darren's work from home Thursday to stop by for a family beer at our favorite local bar, and made it out for a pizza night, party of 7!, with Maria and Jon and Leo on Friday.

I was basking in quite a high by the time Friday night rolled around, after which point we were all ripped out of orbit by a mother-daughter 24 hour stomach flu. Major. Major. Low.

We're now recovered, despite Harper's frequent rehashing of the drama ("I sick. I sick in bed and in tubby. I spit up. I go nigh nigh with mama downstairs! Mama sick.")

Onto week three!

"Harper sit right here." 

"Harper sit right here." 

"Bruno no touch!" 

"Bruno no touch!" 

"Good moooorning babbby Roooooooyyyce." 

"Good moooorning babbby Roooooooyyyce." 

Bruno, have we mentioned how much we love you?  

Bruno, have we mentioned how much we love you?  

"Baby Royce in the tubby!!" 

"Baby Royce in the tubby!!" 


Baby Royce

Baby Royce Patrick Fernandez is here! He arrived on Christmas Eve at 9:15 pm. It's actually impossible for me to find the words to describe how full my heart is and how grateful I am to Grambie and our D.C. Sklaburton extended family for having absolutely everything to do with the birth of Royce and Harper's magical second Christmas. I'm overwhelmed by the love we've received this week, our first as a family of four. 

Here are some of the highlights of this past week, starting with a farewell to Harper around 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. It turns out the photo chronology includes a bazillion photos, and that's not including the video installment, coming soon!