Friday, August 31, 2012

The last of August

Today is the last day in the month that Emily and I were so concerned about, knowing what we had to go through (are are continuing to go through).  Reflecting back to those early pre-surgery days I remember most distinctly how worried I was.  Worried for what she was going through.  Worried about the possible outcomes.  Worried about if this was the answer.  Worried about everything really.  Being on this side of it all I need to remember that most of those worries are gone and no matter what type of day Emily has I should be happy because at the end of the day I still have her here with me. 

I want to take a second to say that there is another couple in our lives that is undergoing a brain operation this week.  Mike, I remember how concerned I was for my wife and, even though there is nothing in the world that can bring you comfort until you see her OK afterwards I hope that you can enjoy the next few days with your wife and be as at peace as possible.  Ally, I know that this is difficult for you but you will make it through this and the bond that you and Mike have will be stronger than ever from this.  We will continue to think of and pray for our friends who are entering the beginning of their month that they have been dreading.

Emily had a good day today.  Again, it is just a marginal increase from the day before.  She slept again.  She ate more.  And she was a little more social thanks to our first visitor since we have been home.  Donna, Em's mom, brought us lunch and sat with  her to watch reality tv and read trashy mags.  In a way it was exactly what they both needed.  Thanks D!

After that Emily was pretty exhausted and has been resting since.  Just a small visit can take it out of her but that is OK.  Soon enough she will be able to she all the people she loves without feeling like she needs to lie down after.

Thanks again to everyone for the continued support and prayers!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day of Rest

I am not sure what religion recognizes Thursday as the day of rest but in the spiritual world of healing for Emily it was certainly recognized today.  With her new outlook (see the last post) she challenged the day yesterday.  Today she still challenged it but did so by resting her head.

I think there are two big things to take away from today.  First, Emily was able to rest! She took a nap in the afternoon.  This is a girl that struggles to sleep through the night and she was able to take a nap....that is incredible.

Second, she listened to her body cues.  We tried to walk today and did not make it as far as yesterday because she was tired from pushing herself the day before.  And what we both realized is that is OK.  There is a reason that her body is sending her signals to rest (especially because you can not kick ass when you are tired).

So watch out tomorrow.  A well rested, motivated Emily is going to take you on (and win)!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kicking some....

Everything since we have been home has been a little bit of a struggle.  Em had to re-adjust to how she felt post hospital medical treatment and I had to relive those emotions of trying to help her in that state.  Late last night while we were waiting for her last round of meds before bed Emily looked at me and said that she was done letting this pain and nausea dominate her mood and outlook.  And that tomorrow she was going to start to 'Kick it's Ass'.

Like most days, the morning started off a little rocky but, let me tell you, she was not bluffing last night.  I can say that today was a good day and that instead of focusing on how much she still hurt, how little she could sleep, or even how hard it was to walk she began looking at the marginal increases.  She got more rest yesterday than the day before.  She was able to walk a bit farther than the last time.  And she realized that her pain and nausea, if only by a few hairs, is better than yesterday.....and that trend is going to continue (which is greatly boosted by all of the cards and messages that she has received).

At the end of the day what is the most important?  She IS here.  She MADE IT through a major surgery without complications.  And even though she does hurt, she IS getting better each day.

If you can't tell, today was a better day and it is only going to get better (because Emily said so!!).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our Third Day-Night

We are kind of settling into a routine.  Unfortunately, the routine has not been easy.  Em is still feeling about the same as the last post.  Keep the encouragement coming as it lifts her spirits throughout the day.

The only thing off routine today was that we tired to wash Emily's hair.....I think we succeeded, however, it was a little stressful.  Well, I can only hope that next time will be a little easier.


there'll be an update later today, but for now, here's a great post about prayer that was written by our good buddy, Tom...

(we couldn't agree more and we are so grateful to be the ones who received his prayer that wouldn't quit)

Monday, August 27, 2012


I have not posted in 24 hours in hopes to bring you some better news....I can not say that I am bring bad news but I can say that we are in about the same place we were yesterday.

Today Em and I took a walk.  Very short.  Only made it about 50 yards before we headed back.  When we looked back at how she felt in the hospital (and how we portrayed her progression during that time) it felt the like '6 weeks of bed rest' that we were told was a joke.  We were not taking into consideration the little movement and the amount of medications that were helping her cope with how invasive of a procedure that she just endured.

Since we have been back from the hospital, a mere 36 hours, the 6 weeks of bed rest is starting to become more of a reality.  I do think that she will be significantly better in a few more days (hopefully be the end of the upcoming weekend) but that significant improvement may mean that she is still dealing with a decent amount of pain and nausea.  What concerns me even more is that this drop in meds has been tough but what happens when they continue to ween her off?  Are we going to have another period where her pain and nausea increases to an almost unbearable level?

I am not trying to be pessimistic and my outlook is actually positive considering the fact that we are sitting in our bedroom 5 days after she had a brain operation.  I think we just needed to readjust our expectations of our new normal for the next few weeks.

Thank you all for you kind words of encouragement.  Be it a blog post, voice message, text, or card, Em's gained some strength from them.  We have actually re-read a few over the past two days to give her a reminder of the love and support that she has.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It might be a little rocky

So we are finally home which is good....but not as good as we had hoped.  I think the entire trip home was more activity than Em has seen since the surgery so that definitely did not help her control her nausea or pain levels.

Oh, and there is that other thing about the pain med reduction.  Since the hospital has discharged her they want to ensure she is getting better and not just relying on the medications.  Her pain med was changed from an immediate release to a slow release and the dose amount was cut in half.  For her muscle relaxation and nausea medication, it was move from taking every 4 and 6 hours to taking every 6 and 8 hours, respectively.

So going home has not been as great as we had hoped but it is still good because she has been resting when she can.  It may be a few more days for the pain / nausea to subside and at that point she may be able to do more.  But for now she is very limited.

Please send your thoughts/prayers to her to help her through these tough days in hopes that her body quickly recovers to reduce the amount of pain she is in.

To sum it up she just told me "I feel everything".

Home Sweet Home

Well as of 4:45 am (which is the time the Resident Doctor decided to visit) we are ready to be discharged.  Paperwork is in process and we could not be happier.  If we had to guess it will probably be late morning by the time we get the O.K. to leave so I hope to have her settled into our bed by noon.

Last night was definitely the best sleep we have gotten and that still includes being woken at 12am, 2am and 4am for her medications and also at quarter to 5 for the doctor visit.  I think the best part about being home is the fact that she will be able to get some better rest.

Yesterday we had a sweet nurse named Judi.  She has worked as a nurse and physical therapist for 15 years (specifically in the nuero surgery wing).  She told us last night that in the fifteen years she as worked here maybe only one other time she can think of did someone recover so quickly.  I was so nice to hear because Em has worked so hard to get to this point and she should have pride in this because she never gave up.  Think of all she has done: Running, Meditation, Yoga, Acupuncture, healthy eating, etc.  Some people would have faltered due to the unimaginable length of time she spend with this constant pain, however, she stayed strong.  Now, in the coming weeks, as she recovers from her surgery we can determine how much this surgery has corrected the problem.

Thank you all for your continued support throughout all of this!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Here....for now

Leading up to this surgery Em found a strange amount of comfort in the quote from Winston Churchill: "If you are going through Hell keep goings'.

After some surprisingly great days at the hospital ( fully knowing there will still be tough days ahead) she found a new quote.  I can definitely say that this one (also by Churchill) is much more inspiring: "It is a mistake to look too far ahead.  Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time."

Currently, when Em is not changing positions (laying, siting, or standing) she doesn't feel a headache, which is unbelievable.  She still has pretty bad changing position headaches, aka spinal headaches,  from the surgery. But with all that good news, lets not get to far ahead of ourselves. The headaches could be there but masked by the neck pain, they could be covered by the heavy doses of percocet, or they could be gone. Only time will tell as she heals. For now its one chain link at a time.

The next chain link is the process of going home (which the surgical team recommended we do tomorrow morning, and we don't want to go against the surgical team). We will take the next step as it comes.

Going Home?

So as you can tell from our last blog post things are going remarkably.  Em and I spent some time together until the day caught up to her (in a good way) and she laid her head down to rest.  Around 1am I drifted to sleep.  Thirty minutes later we awoke realizing that her next round of meds never came.  This time, instead of hitting the nurse call button, she got out of bed and we took a late night stroll to the nurse station.  Once the meds were administered we both went back to sleep.

This morning (after the rounds of meds came on time) we had a very great discussion....regarding what to do about heading home.  The doctors have been hinting at the fact that since she is up and moving and that all of her meds are being taken orally she could go home.  It really all depends on her comfort level.  We are juggling a few things with this decision.

First, how good should she feel.  We are not underestimating the fact that there is still a lot of recovery needed and that she will be in some pain throughout all of it but at what point can we say this is enough to leave the hospital.  The last thing we want to do leave and feel we have to come back because she is too uncomfortable.

Secondly, we are unsure as to what needs to be done in regards to her dressing.  They have not removed it since the operation and I am not sure if it is going to stay until we come back to get her staples removed.

Also, there is also questions on physical limitations, ways to reduce infection risk, the timeline for medication weening, etc....

Ultimately, this is a GREAT problem to have.  She is feeling good and heading home.  The question is when.  In my mind I thought it would be Sunday morning at the earliest, most likely Monday....and now were are playing with the idea of watching the Steeler pre-season game together in our house. What I lucky guy I am!!!

P.S. Speaking of wonderful problems to have, how are we going to carry all of the flowers and food given to us as support? And also, where are we going to put those things in our apartment which has been generously cleaned for us?  We are truly blessed by having all of you!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Turning the Corner

Again I'm sorry for the delay in postings. We were kind of busy this morning. Many doctors were in and out, and there was a slight mishap with her pain meds (her IV came out in the middle of the night, accidentally giving the bed her PCA morphine, so she woke up in a lot of pain.)

But after straightening everything out, something remarkable happened. Around 11 am she was sitting upright and talking with us as if a surgery had never occurred. Not that Em was pain free, but the difference between where we had been and that point was incredible.

But it didn't stop there: The next thing I knew they were taking her catheter and IVs out, and stopping her PCA pump. Shortly after that she was standing. From standing, we took a nice little stroll down the hallway and came back to the room.

I expected that to be her maximum but less than an hour after sitting back down, she turned to me and said "I wonder what our moms are doing, Lets take a walk and see." We entered the waiting room and everyone's jaw dropped. Our mother's and friends were speechless - as was I.

To sum up the whole conversation (and we debated on whether or not it's okay to say this)  - Its a F*cking Miracle!

Now knowing that Em is okay, the sleepless nights all caught up with me. I left her in the capable hands of the moms and went home to rest. I'm back with her now in the truly unbelievable thing is - she's been upright and talking this whole time, with no indication of slowing down.

Typically I can see the signs of stress in her face when she's talking too much or has a headache. But none of that is there right now. Its truly unbelievable. So now I get to spend the rest of my evening in the company of my wife, and I couldn't be happier!

Specific things to pray for:
- spinal headache (she lost a lot of CSF during surgery and her body needs to make more so her head doesn't hurt)
- good sleep (especially for Em, but really for both of us)
- discharge tomorrow? (She needs to feel okay with change over to oral medication before they let her go home and she begins the switch over tonight at 1 am)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Night Two

I am happy to say that night two has been drastically different than last night.  Emily seems to be as comfortable as she can be and is drifting in and out of sleep.  Throughout all of the doctor visits the one common theme that keeps coming up is that 'She is Doing Very Well' for someone that had a brain operation a little over 24 hours ago.

Some key things about todays visits:

- The doctors are happy with her progress but wanted to make sure she spent the day resting because tomorrow will be the day they try to get her moving around some.

- She should be off of IV medications tomorrow and all of her meds should come through pills

- She was able to eat some veggies and a little pasta / rice.  Hopefully tomorrow she will be able to eat more

- As of right now I do not think we will be moving rooms but I can not say that for sure.  If you are considering visiting please just give me a call or send me a text.  I can let you know if/when it is a good time and where we will be.

All we can do is hope that she keeps progressing at this rate and she will be able to go home soon enough!!!!

Noon, Day Two

Em has just finished her first big meal, 1 1/2 saltine crackers and 5oz of water.  Despite the long night she is finally at a place where the pain is managible due to the right timing and medicine combinations (there were a few adjustments needed).  Her nausea is a little better too, but the doctors feel that it is best for her to spent the rest of the day laying.  She is able to sit up some which causes a increase in pain.  It seems like she will be way more comfortable today and the day will look a lot like yesterday: Lots of quiet and rest.

I was able to read all of the blog comments and text messages to her today.  She responded with little 'awes' of joy has she felt overwhelmed by the love and prayers.

P.S. We were also blessed with the birth of a beautiful baby girl Lascola.  Congratulations Katie and Tony!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Post Surgery Part II

Sorry for the long wait between posts.  Transitioning from the operation to finally getting Em settled into a room was a lengthy process.  I am glad to say that she is resting however there is still a lot of pain that she is fighting and sickness from all of the medications.  Today was not a good visiting day for her so it was good that you all are understanding and willing to hold off until she is feeling better.

I know I said this in the last post but I can not help but reiterate how blessed we have felt.  The numerous blog post, emails, texts and phone calls were a nice reminder of how many people are in our corner.  We love you all!!

Post Surgery Update

As of 11:30 am the surgery was completed.  The Surgeon said that 'it went beautifully' and that he 'was able to accomplish all he hoped to'.  Thank God!!

The Big Day

As you all know today is the day.  We are up at 4am getting ready for what we have started to call the the day Emily can finally begin to heal and not the day she has brain surgery.  Here is the information that we found out yesterday:

- The Surgery is scheduled for 7:55am. 
- We have to be there at 5:30 for prep
- The operation should last about 3 hours
- The post-op recovery should be about 2 hours
- Therefore we should be getting the results around 11am and should be able to see her around 1pm
- During the operation only 3 people per patient are allowed in the surgical waiting room

I think we are glad that this is happening so early in the morning.  We have been holding the weight of it for months so to not have to think about it for a few hours that morning is probably best. 

At first we were discouraged about the hospital limiting us to three people to be there.  However, we realize that physical presents is not the true definition of being there for us.  The kind words, thoughts and prayers that have been sent our way leading up to this has been incredible and makes us realize that the number of people at the hospital does not matter.  The overwhelming support that you have and will continue to give us is really what matters.  You are all a blessing to us and we can not thank you enough as you have lifted us when we felt down and helped us get to this day in the best physical and emotional shape we could be in. Sorry if we could not say this to you individually.  Please know that we are so grateful.

'And the peace of god, which surpasses all understanding, well guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus'  Phillipians 4:7 (Thank you Amie)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What's been going on in my head...

I haven't been posting much these days and its probably as good a time as any to say why. (its also a long one, so refresh that cup of coffee first then sit down for the story)

The clinical trial that I took part in a number of months ago called me in May to go over the results. Entirely unrelated to the study, they found some issues with the gross anatomy of my brain. Reviewing my prior MRIs, it was there as well. So in this fortunate series of events, the doctor discovered something called Arnold Chiari Malformation, Type 1.

This is Arnold Chiari Malformation, as basic as I can describe it: my brain was jostled into the wrong place, so that the bottom part of it (the cerebellum) is pressing through the hole that exits my skull (the foramen magnum). This acts like a tub stopper, causing a build up of cerebrospinal fluid and blood. That build up puts pressure on the brain and alerts the Arnold Chiari patient of the number 1 symptom: a severe headache.

this is from the chiari institute.
you'll have to believe me, that its way more satisfying to see one's own brain scan and not a diagram
(then an invisible pain is made tangible and its finally something)

I still have a concussion (as evidenced by the clinical study). I have concussion symptoms not explained by Arnold Chirai. But I also have Arnold Chirai symptoms not explained by concussions. Then I have a handful of symptoms where the two overlap. Picture, if you will, a venn diagram with things like "constant headache, noise sensitivity, sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating" in the center. After they treat the Chiari, they have stressed that there is no nice, neat percentage of a chance they can put on these overlapping symptoms going away. They have no way of knowing what my concussion is like, underlying the Chiari. I have two extremely rare circumstances put together, which makes a prognosis near impossible. (Keep in mind we're coming off of 4 really really tough years, so 'no guaranteed result' is still music to our ears)

But we have to treat the Chiari. I've had fluid flow scans to show that there is blockage. I have significant Chirai specific symptoms. Without treatment, it will remain, forever (and possibly get worse). I have two brain conditions now and the good news is that one can be handled.

On a more positive note, this news is also the first hope I've had that things could change for me. Neil and I had braced ourselves for a future where I wake up every single day with this almost unbearable pain. I felt like I was in a long, dark tunnel. Hearing this, it seemed like I could take a short cut into the light. The idea that I could begin to feel even remotely better is such a gift. That I could have room to breathe... even a inch... changes our whole future

For the few of you who don't already know, Arnold Chiari treatment involves a "decompression", which is a misnomer that means brain surgery, but sounds like putting your feet up after a long day at work. They remove my top few vertebrae to gain access to the descended cerebellum (called tonsils), they shave open my foramen magnum wider so fluid can flow again, and they go up to lift the dura (layer surrounding my brain) to secure my brain in its proper place. For the medically fascinated, you can watch versions of it on youtube. I think its all amazing. (For the weaker stomaches that don't want a visual but want to know some more, here is a good link about what I have comin)

My hospital stay will be 3-5 days, then a pretty brutal 3 month recovery. But here's the good news friends, I have an A+ in recovery! If I were to put anything on a job resume after all these years it would be "enduring massive amounts of pain" (and I would sub-bullet point that with "getting stitches without Novocain" and "repeatedly lifting my body weight into a truck on a broken shoulder" and "having a constant headache for over 1,550 days" ) ... which makes me the perfect candidate for this particular venture.

My surgery is scheduled for August 22. For anyone out there keeping track, that's the date of our 2 year wedding anniversary. Soooo, there's that. People keep asking us how we are doing and I think having the surgery on our anniversary seems to sum it up well. Sure we slyly joke about staying in an 'all inclusive' when people innocently ask "what are your anniversary plans?" but honestly, its really the pits and not normal to spend that day with a gauze wrapped head and a foley catheter. Sure we know there will never be a day in our future when life will be perfect - there will always be some problem or another - and we know some people truly have it worse... however, if I'm being so very honest, there are rare times we can't help but look at the lives of our peers and we can't help but compare. In those times that old sports chant comes to mind... "nuts and bolt, nuts and bolts, we. got. screwed."

But we're not special, every single one of you have probably uttered the phase 'life isn't fair'... I'm allowing that my husband gets to say it too, as he spends the afternoon of our anniversary holding his breath and hoping the statistics are in my favor, instead of making dinner reservations.

We go through everything together. I know there's people out there that have husbands that travel or even more difficult, husbands that are in the military. But all I know is our pattern and our pattern is that I struggle every day and he is by my side every day. Which makes this so terribly hard. Because he will sit in a waiting room and I will wheel off to an OR. And that's right about the time when I want to hold his hand (on our anniversary).

But we're also not special in that we're not alone in joy. Every single one of you has probably said 'I can't believe how lucky I am.' ...when I wake up and see him I'll feel that sentiment in waves. And then, so his fear can melt away and he'll know the wife he loves is with him again, I'll say something cheesy like "you make me the happiest lady in the whole entire neuro-surgical recovery unit"

But how are we really? I think best answer is that we are resilient. And we do have hope with our fear. And we are okay. And we feel that we can look back on this day as another type of milestone - "The day when our lives started over, yet again." Once the pain passes (which I have to believe it will), we can have a fondness for it all. And we'll thank God for a sense of humor. So this day being such a big day for us is like this whole thing - it has ups and downs and its all kind of overwhelming.

Many of you have been so generous and kind and amazing and asked us what you can do for us. Right now the answer is simple "we don't know." This is uncharted territory. Right now we are saying a firm no to food and no to anything else. But that could change - Neil does love Cliff Bars, he might get a craving - or I might be able to keep some food in my belly at some point and then we might celebrate by accepting groceries. (you see, they expose the equilibrium and vomit center of my brain to air during the surgery, which must be like spraying a cat with a squirt gun, apparently it gets super angry)

Part of us wants to do what we did for the first months that we knew about all this and stay in a cocoon - only emerging on a day when we can say with joy and NORMALCY, "oh, me? lately? I'm just hanging out. My co-workers are lame. Work is boring. Life is great. Yada Yada. how about you?"

But we have reluctantly grown to accept that is not where we are right now. We are uprooted. We have such big emotions all the time - big hope, big fear, big excitement, big nervousness, big joy, big uncertainty. Just venturing out on a limb to share this isn't easy. Its hard at a time when we feel buoyant with hope to greet someone's sadness. And its near impossible when we feel overwhelmed by what we're facing to hear encouragement or to hear - well, anything. That leaves all you lovely readers and caring hearts in quite the predicament of how to interact with us, doesn't it?

But we ultimately decided its better to be exposed. To risk the highs and lows with everyone. Because since we started telling people, we started getting cards in the mail (and texts and phone calls). Simple, sweet, messages. Mostly they say "thinking of you." and mostly they come when I feel like I'm pulled so tight I'll break. Its made our vulnerability worth the outpouring of support.

Although We're always struggling with the idea of how much to share and how much to keep private, we came to the decision to use this blog as the place to be open. My limited readership is mostly family, close friends, and 4 people in Russia. Since my humble blog isn't an internet sensation, we thought this would be the best place to inform you on what's going on.

So you don't need to call and ask and so Neil doesn't need to spend the bulk of his time updating individually - Neil will be taking over my blog. He will post on this site on the day of surgery and in the long months following. You can check in for updates on me without feeling like you're 'bugging' us and I promise he won't go into detail when I spend the whole day puking. (He's also concise - which means you get a break from my run on sentences.)

Dear loved ones (if you've read all the way to the end you are very dear and most likely a loved one),
I want to thank you now, because our most fervent prayers 'to feel lifted up in love, care, kindness, and support' have already been answered so fully we can hardly believe it. As a bonus, of course, it would also be really super great to make it through surgery okay and then not have these headaches anymore either. Thank you, thank you, I really do adore you all, four years and then some is a long time to pray and care so much, thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you

Thursday, August 9, 2012


"Waiting is the in-between time. 
It calls us to be in this moment, this season, 
without leaning so far into the future that we tear our roots from the present. 
When we learn to wait, we experience where we are 
as what is truly substantial and precious in life. 
We discover, as T.S. Eliot wrote, "a lifetime of burning in every moment."' 
- Sue Monk Kidd

I'm in a time of waiting and I'm trying to do it well. 
I'm trying to be in the moment (the long, dragging moment)
Which means my coffee beans are ground, then pressed the french way.

And I drink slowly with the nice mug, and a good book.

And I listen to this song that my cousin Maryl loves.
I listen to it over and over till lumineers fill every corner of my home.

And I contemplate breaking my new years resolution to not buy any clothing,
because I got a few wonderful birthday notes that said "treat yourself"

And I wait.

novel-ty suits

According to the website MATCHBOOK, its now a thing to match your bathing suit to your book. (thus the name, match-book)

I wanted to insert all sorts of snarky comments about disposable income and embarrassment for what the first world people trouble themselves with...

but then I proceeded to scroll though every single outfit/book combo on that site. (and ok, maybe, just maybe, I even wondered if any suits I already own worked for any books). 

Since the internet has drawn me into devoting time to things that don't matter, I feel I should impart these things to you - so we can share in the time wasting guilty pleasures. 

(you can even read the compelling story of how this girl came up with the idea to combine suits with books *spoiler alert, she saw a girl reading a book and it happened to match her swim suit)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


who knew levis + korean national ballet would = exactly what I need today

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I love that years have seasons, phases to help mark the passing of time.
Autumn has always been my favorite which makes my ability enjoy the end of summer a little trying.
Plus this summer has already felt stretching and difficult and long.

But August has its upsides, and I don't want it to pass me by with out fully enjoying what it has to offer.
Here is a list of what I'm looking forward to this month...

This is the month I round out the third decade of my life, turning twenty nine! 
I love my birthday for its ease of remembering:
8 - 3 - 83
I used to hate my summer birthday because I never got a fun pencil and school party.
Here's a fun birthday breakdown to see how common your birthday is
(even if you'd rather believe its special, like I do).

Big Night
Just like the delightful movie "Big Night" 
(which you should immediately stream on Netflix if you've never seen it)
my mother is hosing a truly magical evening of great food and atmosphere.
I'm having close friends to her yard for many small courses,
broken up with drinks and music and dancing late into the night.
It will be a bella sera

Sneak Away
We have a wedding this month in West Virginia, and even though we could make the drive home,
we decided to splurge for a hotel room.
We have a mini bottle of champagne and a deck of cards and each other.
We have plans to sleep in sunday and hike, have "church" in a park, and eat a picnic lunch.
All these plans could be dashed if my head doesn't cooperate...
but even the idea of turning a simple wedding into a full weekend sneak away is delightful.

"Camp" Weekend
I love to go camping, and by "camping" I mean: 
renting a cabin with a group of friends that has full amenities. Then I make a cocktail and eat dip and laugh till it hurts.
Mid-month, we are going away with Neil's college friends - a group of unspeakably fun people. Its hard to believe didn't know them until I started dating Neil. Even though they aren't technically my friends, I couldn't be more excited to spend a weekend "roughing it" with this group. 

I wish I could say I were looking forward to watching this.
I want to get swept up in the emotions.
But I have to admit that I feel just like my friend Tom - "meh"

It takes the two great items: fruit and wine, then lets them marinate.
I like this standard sangria recipe
but there's also this fresh recipe for peach mango pineapple white sangria
or go crazy with thai basil sangria
again, its fruit and wine, you can't go wrong!

Summer Movies
Remember all that talk about our Summer Movie Fantasy League?
Well Team Orbin is currently in first place!!
And on the weekend of Aug 17th the last three movies on our team are released
(poor planning there, but oh well)
So if you are too hot to stay outside, go and see one of these flicks and help clinch a victory:
Paranorman, Sparkle, Expendables 2
I will be at E2 because they got a new writer and new director since the first one,
(and I was one of the fans that didn't think there was anything wrong with the first one.)

My wonderful friend Caitlin has put in many years of work to graduate from Seminary (and pass a crazy test and then get a wonderful job working in the prison systems.)
This month she will have the blessing of gathering her friends, family, mentors, and church to see her Ordination. I consider myself honored to be in that room of people... really I feel honored to have been with her along all those steps it took to get into that room.
I can't wait to whoop it up for my friend that has accomplished so much 

This month we are doing an all out cleaning of our apartment.
(This is not something I look forward to.)
In doing so, we are changing some things around... and I love change!
New color bed sheets will do a lot for a girl.
We're also officially turning "the guest room" into
"THE PITT ROOM... that people can also sleep in"
Maybe we'll re-arrange kitchen furniture and switch up the living room, then I'll be oh so satisfied!

We get to celebrate our two year anniversary this month!!
Year 2 is the cotton anniversary, which has made gift planning fun and cottony.
Our exact plans for the day are interesting, to say the least, and I'll share more about them soon.
For now I can say, I've never been so happy to have my husband by my side.

Avocado Dip
I've made this avocado cream dip several times and I just don't think I could go back to guacamole any time soon. This stuff is just too dreamy and good!
I make the recipe with less oil and slightly less stock. I also completely ignore the tofu part (its a horrible tofu recipe) and I serve it with vegetables (zucchini strips or red peppers) or wheat thins or tortilla chips.... or I just eat this with a spoon.
You can pour it over a corn salsa or a bean dip or fish tacos .. or just eat it with a spoon!

Little Ones!!!
This month has a couple of special dates for little gherkins in our life.
My genius nephew (I said it, he's a genius) turns one!!!
Neil's cousin has a squeezable, perfect, little girl that also turns one on the same day!!
My cousin Tony and his wife Katie are due to have a baby -
this is a little kid I cannot wait to love oh so very very suffocatingly much,
this child will begin to stiff arm my kisses as soon as it gains the upper body strength.

I hope you are enjoying the last month of the summer season. Feel free to share what ever it is you may be looking forward to, it might help pull me through this long month and into the fall.