Posts made in July, 2013

RIC Date Night of the Month – July: Movie Night at the North Carolina Museum of Art

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013 in Community, Date Of The Month | 0 comments

There is something special about summer nights in Raleigh. Which is why July’s Date Night of the Month is an outdoor picnic and movie at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Sammy and I ventured out around 7:45, picked up some takeout from the ever-enjoyable Whole Foods hot bar, and set out to claim our spot and have dinner before the show – “Silver Linings Playbook”. It was one of those nights that made you stop and appreciate every little aspect of the evening – warm weather, good company, a starry sky, and so on. Apologies for not posting pics. Phones and flash photography are discouraged so that the lights don’t distract from the movie. We gladly complied since it was a great excuse to go off the grid and relax for a couple of hours.

In order to help you plan your date, Sammy and I came up with a list of Do’s and Don’ts that will help you make the most out of your evening:


DO order your movie tickets online ahead of time to avoid long lines before the show.


DO bring a large blanket and pillows! Sammy and I had a smaller blanket and we tried to prop our heads up on our wallets, water bottles, etc. While it was the source of some laughs, spring for the pillows. You’ll forget your laying on the ground!


DO arrive early enough to get a good spot. We snuck in right before the 9pm showtime and the crowd was quite large. However, if you’re running late, no worries! The park is the largest concert venue of all art museums in the country. I’m sure you’ll manage:)


DO bring a chair if you don’t feel like sitting on the ground. The screen is elevated and very big so you won’t obstruct the view of those around you.


DO bring bug spray. The one drawback of North Carolina summer nights – but enjoying the cooler evening outside is still oh so worth it.


DON’T bring alcohol or any beverage where you could possible be transporting alcohol. BUT feel free to purchase wine and beer at the concession stand. Along with other movie snacks and even meals. Yum.


DON’T show up just for the movie. Friday evenings before 9 at the NCMA have a lot to offer. The West Building offers Art In The Evening concerts with wine and small plates (beginning at 5:30). The East and West buildings are open for browsing and the West Building is open for guided tours. Especially check out the current special exhibition in East Building, 0 to 60: The Experience of Time through Contemporary Art, is on view until August 11. Another option is dinner at Iris (open for dinner on Fridays only). Serving local and seasonal cuisine with both regional and international flavors. Here are sample dinner and dessert menus.


DON’T use your cell phone or have it on during the movie. As I mentioned before, it’s very distracting from the movie and the lovely scenery.


Hope this is helpful. If you have any more questions tweet me @erin091487. And if you’re planning on a date night at the NCMA, we’d love to hear from you @RaleighIsCool!

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Mending Broken Hearts

Posted by on Jul 19, 2013 in Community, events | 0 comments

I’m honored to introduce our very first guest blogger. Joye Mullis is the mother of Ethan, a 4-year-old who is kicking heart disease to the curb. Her family’s story is so inspiring, I couldn’t do it justice by writing about it myself. The Mullis family’s adventure is one of sadness, strength, and hope. Especially hope, because joining the RiC heartwalk team is one small way to offer support to those affected by heart disease everywhere.


Quick! What’s the most common birth defect? 

Cleft lip? No.  Down Syndrome? Nope.   Spina Bifida? Not quite.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) names Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) THE most common type of birth defect in America.


Are you surprised?


In the United States alone, nearly 40,000 infants are born with a heart defect each year.  This equates to about 1 in every 100 births, or around 110 babies born each day with tiny, broken hearts.  Of those 40,000 infants, thousands won’t celebrate their 1st birthday and thousands more won’t reach adulthood.  More than half of the babies who do survive will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime, and we’re not talking some laparoscopic procedure.  Full blown open-heart surgery is required to repair many of these defects, and sometimes as soon as one day of life.


The facts are sobering, no doubt, but there is hope.


The Children’s Heart Foundation reports that, in the last decade, death rates for CHDs have declined by almost 30% due to discoveries made through research.  Thanks to these advancements, there are an estimated TWO MILLION survivors of Congenital Heart Defects in the United States! And, get this – more than half of those survivors are now adults.  That’s over one million men and women beating the odds and paving the way for our children!


Wait.  Did she just say “our”?


You see, along with those 40,000 infants born each year come 40,000 moms and dads.  We have sat beside numerous hospital beds begging our babies and our children to hang onto life.  We have fought to teach our children to eat, walk, and talk and we’ve cried tears of joy when they do.  I have personally handed my child over to a team of surgeons, and then watched his infant heart beat from inside his opened chest after their work was done.  My son is one in one hundred.


"110 babies born each day with tiny, broken hearts"

“110 babies born each day with tiny, broken hearts”

Ethan, my firstborn, found his way into my arms on the morning of March 8th, 2009 before the sun had a chance to rise.  He was the baby I so desperately wanted, the child I already loved, and no doctor in the hospital could convince me he wasn’t perfect – even though he’d been prenatally diagnosed with two birth defects which would require surgical intervention.  I remember crying over his bassinet in the newborn nursery, silently praying that he would be OK.


I had no idea what else was coming our way.


After spending a few hours with Ethan in our hospital room, the nurse took him to the nursery for some routine testing.  Based on the coloring of his skin, though, she decided to perform an extra test – a pulse oximetry screening – to check his oxygen levels.  What she discovered began a flurry of activity that led someone to our room to say,


“We have reason to believe there is also something wrong with your baby’s heart.”


My husband and I talked with a pediatric cardiologist who told us that Ethan was very sick and would need open-heart surgery sooner than later.  In short, our son was diagnosed with Pulmonary Atresia with VSD. This basically means there was no way for blood to get from his heart to his lungs (pulmonary atresia), and there was a large opening in the wall that should have separated his ventricles (ventricular septal defect – VSD).  I was angry and terrified all at once.


Ethan was rushed by the LifeFlight ambulance to Duke University Medical Center within hours after his diagnosis.  His first open-heart surgery took place on March 11th, 2009 at just three days old. It was a long, grueling operation, but the repair was a success.   Six days later, however, Ethan went back into the operating room to have a permanent pacemaker implanted.


He stayed at Duke for nine and half weeks, underwent four operations during that time, and also experienced full cardiac and pulmonary arrest.  It took eleven minutes of CPR to bring him back to us, but he fought hard and proved just how tough he is!


In his four short years of life, Ethan’s had a total of seventeen surgeries and procedures – seven of which have been heart-related.  Despite all of that, though, he is now a healthy, active four-year-old who loves bugs, cars, and super heroes.  He will face additional surgeries in the future, but we choose to enjoy and focus on who he is today.  The journey hasn’t always been easy, but it has taught us to seize every moment of un-promised life, and to love deeper than we ever thought possible – even when it hurts.


Especially when it hurts.


Given the prevalence of Congenital Heart Defects, it is likely that you know someone affected by them in some way.  Maybe even you are.  Or, maybe you’re like me and thought heart problems only happened to old people.  I was clueless before my son was born, which is why I’m so passionate about shedding light on this life-threatening birth defect now.


Since Ethan’s birth, our family has gotten heavily involved with the American Heart Association.  We have committed to helping Photo1them raise research dollars, and the annual Heart Walk is a wonderful, simple way to do so.  Please consider getting involved.  Join a Heart Walk team and begin your own fundraising efforts.  Do it in memory of the children who have lost their battle, and in honor of those who are still fighting.  Even the smallest act can send a loud message – let us know that we’re not facing this alone.


Maybe one day there will be a fix.  Maybe one day we’ll be able to spare our children from surgery after surgery.  Who knows? Maybe one day there will even be a cure.  Until then, I’ll be doing my part to raise research dollars for America’s most common birth defect.


Will you join me?



To read more about the Mullis family and their story, visit their blog.  Don’t forget to register for the Triangle Heart Walk here and search “Raleigh Is Cool” to find our team. See you September 22nd at PNC Arena!

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July 4th Celebrations

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in Community, events | 0 comments

The Works, Downtown Raleigh

  • Fayetteville Street
  • Noon – 11pm

Triangle’s Best Independence Day Celebration

  • Koka Booth, Cary
  • Gates open at 3pm

Independence Day Celebration with North Tower Band

  • North Hills Commons
  • 6-9pm, Fireworks at 9:15pm

North Carolina State Capitol July 4 Celebration

  • North Carolina State Capitol
  • 11am – 3pm

Independence Day Open House

  • Joel Lanes Museum House
  • 11am – 4pm

Fireworks at Brier Creek

  • Brier Creek Commons
  • Due to heavy rains, the fireworks have been moved to July 5 – check web link for updated info. 
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