Friday, December 30, 2011


It's been nine years today since M and I went on our first date. I think we both went into the evening not quite sure about the level of 'date' the evening would be, but by the end, it was pretty clear. We went to Bob's Burgers and Brew in Fairhaven, Krispe Kreme in Mt. Vernon, and a movie at Bellis Fair.

I picked him up in my mom's minivan. He still was on a restricted license.

I was leaving for college in six months and was sure it wasn't a big deal.

Turns out, I was wrong.

This is the first picture taken of us, three days after our first date at the church lock-in. The girl on the left started dating M's twin brother, and they are still dating too. Something about church lock-ins, eh? (wink, wink)

One year in, my first roses
Aren't we cute? 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bucket List: 2011 update

Everyone has things on their bucket lists right? Those things that you want to do or accomplish, even if just once. I crossed a few things off of my list in 2011, which was all in all a fantastic year with a few great adventures - including living for three months in somewhere completely different than home, picking out my own lobster for dinner, riding my bike with Zebras, going to the outerbanks, surviving grad school.  Here are the things I crossed off my list....

1) Sing in a gospel choir. 

Okay, so I didn't really sing in a gospel choir, but I went to a Pentecostal church in Nairobi to a service with 4,000 people and a 50 person choir that led everyone in song. So I am counting that as a win for me. Here is one of the songs we sang.
They That Wait (Radio Edit) by Fred Hammond featuring John P. Kee on Grooveshark

2) Run a half-marathon. 

This was a stretch for me but I did it with consistent 10 minute miles and an ipod left at home. I finished 10 minutes ahead of my goal and although the people running around me probably thought I was nuts and I actually had a man in a car pull over and try to offer me advil and crackers because I looked "like I was in need of help", I did it.

3) Get a secondary degree. 

So this wasn't on my bucket list five years ago but it got added when it became apparent that it was inextricably connected to another item on my bucket list - get a job.

MSc in Global Health from Duke -- Check.

And now that I am done with Duke, I hope that people stop asking me how my marriage is handling the "house-divided", or how I can manage living with a Tar Heel, or how I know what color blue underwear to wear.

4) Go to Maine. 

I think I have always been drawn to this state because of its supposed similarity of my hometown. It was a wonderful 36 hours, and I hope to go there again.

Here's to 2012!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Party Week Wrap-Up

Rough week this week. Five Christmas parties in six days. And we haven't even hit the real parties, you know, the ones with your families and friends you haven't seen in forever. For whatever reason, these usually invoke a totally crazy side of me that only comes out at Christmas. Or maybe that's just too much spiked eggnog. Or too much fudge. Or too much cheer. Oh, the perils of Christmas time.

Amy and her sweet sweater

I wonder what he got me this year? 
Newly minted Duke Graduates!

And what would you like for Christmas? 

Next stop: Christmas week!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Impressive and Unimpressive: Session Five

Here is a good round-up of the impressive and unimpressive currently on my radar.


1) This banana bread recipe, so yummy (recipe is below)

2) My ability to defend for my masters successfully, and the 96 page thesis that accompanied that.

3) This response to the ridiculous Rick Perry ad, now infamous (and now the most disliked video in youtube history, out 'disliking' Rebecca Black. Nice.)


1) That I have to proctor and grade an exam for the undergrads this week, so I didn't really get out of finals without feeling a bit of the pressure. I am adding this picture on their final, though I don't think the Dukies will get the joke (Oh! Dukie SLAM!)
Funny College Ecard: I hope your mind-boggling six-figure tuition doesn't add more pressure to your performance on final exams.

2) My ability to read the fine-print before taking out all those grad school loans. Apparently loans for grad school don't come with a grace period and I am to have a job January 1. So this e-card is for me. Karma much? - says my undergrads I just slammed.
Funny College Ecard: Sorry you chose such an expensive school during the worst economy in decades.

3) My ability to find hats that fit my surprisingly large head (thanks, Mom). Good news though, I found this sweet ADJUSTABLE Santa hat at RiteAid for two bucks. It's a Christmas Miracle!!
Adjustable Santa's hat -seen here on Peabody

Banana Bread Recipe: 


    • 1/2 cup margarine or 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup mashed bananas
    • 1/2 cup chopped nuts ( omit if you don't like nuts)
    • 1/2 cup sour cream


  1. Grease 1 large loaf pan.
  2. Cream margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients, then bananas, nuts and sour cream.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas As in I ask if its Christmas yet pretty much every day of the year. And I want a puppy named Christmas, because that would combine my two favorite things. I finally am letting myself think of Christmas after my defense on Tuesday and could not be more excited. And what's not to love about Christmas? You get to do most of the things I love to do all in one crazy holiday period...

Bake cookies.

Be with family and friends that you don't get to see everyday.

Give presents.

Celebrate a birthday.

Have parties after parties (tonight is the first of four in six days).


This year we aren't celebrating Christmas at our place but I can't help but put up our tree, which has now turned in to our "Christmas corner". Kendra, my Duke friend, was here for a residency interview and stayed to provide invaluable support during my defense this week. We took our version of pictures with Santa, which turned out awesome. And in case you are wondering, that's Peabody, our pet penguin.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Today I successfully defended my master's thesis, in a nerve-wracking  exciting hour and a half presentation and discussion with my committee. Just glad that's done. As a way of saying thanks for being there to all of you, here is my acknowledgement page from my thesis...


                I would like to extend my gratitude to my committee. Thank you to Kim, Sandra, and Kate for their guidance, time and energy and for being inspirational individuals in unique and important ways.  It is both encouraging and humbling to work with individuals who understand my passion for global health – who see the world with a similar curiosity and have something to show for it.
                Thank you to the staff of Carolina for Kibera, both in the US and in Kenya, especially the SRH staff. Asanteni for being gracious hosts, patient tour guides, willing collaborators, and for teaching me about leadership, commitment, and compassion. You are all living examples of ‘sacrificing for success’.
                Finally, a heart-felt  shout out to the three groups of people that truly contributed most to my success in writing this paper and completing the program – my buddies from the cohort, the proprietors of the coffee shops in the greater Chapel Hill area, and my remarkable family.
                This paper is for the people of Kibera, who are etched permanently on my life’s path and especially for the peer youth educators who give more than most adolescents I have ever met to improve the welfare of their friends, neighbors, and fellow Kiberans. Thank you for taking me to your places, showing me around, and letting me have a glimpse of your life. You have taught me more than you know about friendship, sacrifice, and hard-work. One Kiberan youth I interviewed summed up my Kibera experience best when he said:

“Before I came to Kibera I thought it was a place for poor people, but when I arrived I found that although the roofs were dusty, the brains under the roofs were good.” 

Monday, December 5, 2011


My defense is in less than twenty-four hours. Which means of course that I have a huge case of procrastination  - although can you procrastinate this late in the game? Here is how I have been keeping my mind of the stressful occasion.

Reading this website, Texts from Bennett, (warning: this is not entirely family-friendly, but entirely hilarious)

Looking at these pictures.

Rethinking my summer plans to go to the NC beach (watch video til the end).

Window - shopping at my new favorite online store.

Seeing this and sending it to my sister. Kids say the craziest things.

Starting a new TV series, The Wire.

Listening to Sufjan Christmas.

Dreaming of Subdued Excitement, and all the non-subdued excitement of having some of my favorite people, including my immediate family and my in-laws within four miles. Almost there!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some readings for world AIDS day

As you may have guessed, I was propelled into global health by my interest in this topic. Here is a few interesting, and non-technical, articles for your reading on World AIDS day.

Foreign Aid is not a rat-hole!

Will there be an AIDS free generation?

This isn't an African issue, its a global one. The Southern US is making news for the growing amount of new HIV infections.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Look Ma! I'm famous!

I defend my thesis in one week from today. Needless to say, things are in crunch-mode 24-7 til then.

See if you can spot me in this video:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Birthday Week

My family was here for my birthday week, which was the first time in many a moon. My birthday week also included Thanksgiving and my parents 33rd wedding anniversary. We had a great time and I miss them a whole ton. Here are some things we did...

Had Tea at the Washington Duke Inn

Played in the leaves

Went to a soccer game in the cold

Drove to the NC mountains and went on a hike

Rescued Rosanne when she fell off a cliff

Birthday outing with Dad


Got dressed up for a ridiculously good dinner made just for us

Which looked like this (course 3 of 5)
Had Thanksgiving with Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, and 18 pound turkey

Stuffed fridge with leftovers

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Some people I am Thankful for

My family. And the chef at the restaurant who cooked us a personalized five course meal with wine pairings to celebrate my birthday and gave us a chance to get all dolled up.

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.
Willie Nelson

Monday, November 21, 2011


It's my birthday.

The fam is all here.

I get to go see my favorite North Carolina attractions, the oreo cows.

Don't they just scream "Happy Birthday" fun to you???

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Hat - (or the one in which I am glad he doesn't read this blog)

Husband owns a hat that I cannot stand and has resulted in a bit of marital discontent. He picked it out a few years ago, and guessing correctly that I would not buy it for him, turned to the one person who would - his twin brother.
it makes him turn into a crazy person.

And because it was his birthday I "let" him bust it out for the festivities this weekend. (Let's be honest, I didn't have any control over this situation anyway, this boy do-what-he-want!). For his birthday, he wanted to go with 12 of his buddies from school (including three guys with the same birthday) to a hockey game and tailgate for several hours before. I heard about this plan on the drive home from the airport returning from Nairobi in August, and about every three days since then. And it was a beautiful fall day, with plenty of festive beverages and food appropriate for grilling out, and of course Momma Whittle's Famous Carrot Cake which were turned into event appropriate cupcakes.
Watching the game with co-birthday boy James

Go Canes!

Doesn't he look better without it???

CANES BEAT THE PENGUINS! (who are currently the best team in the country, nbd)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Feel Good Friday

My family is leaving this fine weather next Thursday to come see me for eight whole days!!!!!