Monday, February 28, 2011

Original Due Date

Eli was actually due on February 23rd. He came pretty early on December 2nd. He is home and doing well. He missed his first two month pictures because he was in the hospital. So I decided to take pictures on his due date and then take monthly pictures beginning on this 3 month birthday on March 2nd.

Aaron's Family in town

Aaron's mom and brother came into town two weeks ago and we had a mini photo shoot because Gloria loves pictures. The top two pictures are two of the favorites from my camera. Also, Aaron's grandma name is GiGi so we went ot GiGi's cupcakes and took some pictures of Gloria in front of the sign. It was a very nice trip. We missed Steve and we are looking forward to seeing the rest of the family soon. Aaron's sister Jenn and her family are hopefully coming up soon.

Family Visit

Sorry it has been so long since I have updated. Not a ton has happened. Eli is still not sleeping that great, but I know it will come eventually. My family came to visit us this past weekend and it was wonderful. Mom cooked, cleaned, did laundry and more importantly they all held Eli and let Aaron and I catch up on some much needed rest. Here are just a few shots of the weekend.

I love this shot.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Count Your Blessings

I am sure you are familiar with the oh so famous "White Christmas". In that movie Bing Cosby sings a song "Count Your Blessings". He sings...

If you're worried and you can't sleep.
Just count your blessings instead of sheep.
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings.

I have made it a habit since I was a little girl having heard his song to do just that. It doesn't always work, but I like it much better than sheep. I find I fall asleep happier. Last night I only got one hour of sleep because my newborn son Eli hasn't figured out his sleeping pattern. (I also think his belly bothers him so we have a doctors appointment today.) Well today I was particularly exhausted and I was lying down for a quick nap before my in-laws went back to Florida. I happened to read an email that my mom had sent me this morning. I would like to share that email with you. Please know it is so powerful and sad. You will more than likely cry while reading it, but it is worth it.

Tori: My Angel
by Laura Windsor on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 3:16am

Here I sit at 1:21 AM after getting collectively 4 hours of sleep over the past 2 days. It is strange but we do find great comfort and appreciation for all of those who have posted on our walls and those who are praying for my family. Day 2 has been much harder on us all. I will admit I was hoping it was a bad dream that we would wake up from. But here I sit and listen to all the noises of my parent's house including Jeff sleeping.Today we had to make funeral arrangements and get clothes and begin to put together her service which will not be a memorial, but a celebration of her life.

I have always believed that your day to die was set the moment you were born. God has a plan for us all and Tori was only meant to be on this Earth with us for a short time. She however was AMAZING! She was always much wiser than her years. She loved art and music and learning. When Jeff and I and even my family talk, we realize that she changed us all. I know God does not give us more than we can handle and that their is a lesson in every tragedy. I am now trying to figure out what that may be. Many people, who I never would have thought, have been profoundly impacted by her passing. Tori was MAGNETIC! I do believe she impacted and changed everyone she knew for her love of life, learning and art was phenomenal.

Jeff and I look back at her 6 short years and 3 months with her and realize that we could not have done anything more than we did. She swam in the ocean. We went to zoos, aquariums and museums regularly. We rode bikes together, painted birdhouses together, planted our garden together, we danced, we sang, we jumped on the bed, we laughed, we read, we loved, we watched what at times seemed to be 8000 episodes of iCarly...

Here is where I believe God was preparing me for this. Last weekend, she was a little under the weather. Her and I laid in my bed all weekend. I worked on my computer at times, but we watched TV and read June B Jones books and just had a great time being with each other. She told me that that was the best time she had ever had with me. That profoundly impacted me and I mentioned it all week to staff and patients even. At the time I thought it was silly since we had taken her traveling to so many places and done so many wonderful things with her. Also, Jeff and I celebrated Valentine's Day this year like it was a birthday or Christmas with lots of presents and candy and flowers too. Each night this past week, Tori and I laid in my bed and read and watched reruns of Reba. She slept with me in my bed all week displacing Jeff to the couch. Jeff told me today that he knew how much she loved him, but that he knew that she and I had such a special connection and love for one another and he just couldn't move her out of his spot. Another strange thing this week that I look back on now and wonder. I changed my ring-tone for my text messages to a bell tone on Wednesday morning. At work, I joked when it would go off and said, "oh another angel got their wings". How does things like this happen if it wasn't for a purpose to prepare me. When we got home from the hospital after her surgery, we laid together in bed again. I never left her side but for only brief moments of time to get a drink.

I was 2 feet from her when she started hemorrhaging and I knew immediately she was in serious trouble. It took only a matter of seconds for her to lose pints of her blood and collapse and only a few seconds more to realize as i was screaming at the lady on 911, that she had stopped breathing. Right then, my mom walks in and I get her to the floor. My mom tries to clear her airway and I begin chest compressions. We live 2 blocks from the hospital and they were there within 1 minute of the call. Here is another God thing, I had arranged for Jeff to go to the Boat, Sport and Travel Show in Indy with a friend and their son and he had left at 8:30 AM after telling us both he loved us. I do believe that was a God thing because he did not want Jeff to be there for what was to happen.

As I stood outside the trauma curtain I heard them say her "oxygen level was 61%" and "does anyone have any other suggestions". All I could do was pray in that ER. As the EMTs and nurses were coming in and out, they would not look me in the face. I knew what that meant. We were given the news and after I broke down, the doctor went back in and kept trying for about another 20 minutes. As we walked in to see her, they were still doing chest compressions and bagging her. I told them to stop 1 hour after it all began. I heard that all of the nurses and EMTs were in tears as well. I held her hand and stroked her hair for probably an hour. Friends and family were pouring into the ER. It was so surreal. Something you only see in movies. As I am sitting there in the ER holding her hand, my phone begins to beep and it is the beginning of a flood of messages on my Facebook page. The word had gotten out very quickly. All day, I read the messages coming in through tears.

I realized today that our family and especially, our friends, are wonderful. My Dad and friends went with us to the funeral home.They have been in constant vigil at our sides through this all. They helped me collect her pictures and art work from around my house. They cleaned my bed and floor of her blood. They suggested songs for her celebration service. They played 50 games of Chutes and Ladders and Hungry Hungry Hippos and built things with Legos to entertain Taylor. They are all such wonderful people and have given us such comfort through this. Also the food people have brought to us has been wonderful.

Jeff and I sat in on the floor tonight in my parent's bathroom and gave Taylor a bath. He is still convinced that she is just at school and will be coming home soon. But it was 30 minutes of time, I will never take for granted again. In all of this sadness and heartache, I encourage everyone who reads this to love one another a little bit more, to cherish what you have and make everyday, every minute, and every second of everyday with your family count. You don't have to spend tons of money or travel like crazy. You just have to be there by their side to listen, laugh, talk and learn from them.

Tori was an amazing girl! She loved so many things. She was witty, kind, compassionate, stubborn, loving, caring, smart, funny, and the list goes on. I know that she lived each day to the fullest and is watching over us now from Heaven.

We are celebrating her life on Thursday at the Calvary Christian Church. Calling will be from 3-6PM and then we are going to have an amazing celebration of her life in true Tori style beginning at 6:00 to 6:30PM. We are going to be casting off hundreds of pink and purple balloons in her honor immediately following and then have drinks and refreshments and fellowship. Tori always loved a good party!

Art was her passion and she truly loved school with all of her heart. Therefore, we are beginning the Tori Windsor Whetzel Fine Arts Fund in her honor to help provide art supplies and materials to the local the elementary schools. This will help let her short life live on forever in our community!

You should know, I have never met Laura and probably never will, but my prayers will be with her and her family for a lifetime. I would ask that each of you would pray for them as well. I know that what gotten me through our last few months has been prayer and the support of thousands. So many people showered us with gifts, food, notes, smiles, and the unending love of Jesus Christ. It sounds like that is happening for Windsors as well, but why not send a lot more prayers their way.

So I ask you now to pray and keep praying for them as you think of things throughout the course of your life that you are thankful for. Maybe it will be on a walk with a friend, sitting a table with loved ones or like me as you are falling asleep. Whenever it may be, don't forget to love those around you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

GiGi's Cupcakes!

If you have not been to GiGi's cupcakes you need to go! Our friends Brittany and Ryan Worthan introduced us to this new friend of ours and my life will never be the same. Brittany was sweet enough to buy them for Aaron and I as a special treat when Eli was in the hospital and now my life is changed for the better.

I went several weekends ago with two of my resident assistants, Haley and JP. It is a special treat. They are $3.00 a cupcake, but well worth it for a special time. My favorite is the red velvet, but you cannot go wrong with any of them.

I love all the cupcakes shown below.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Chair!!!

A year and a half ago Aaron and I were driving home to our house on Brookwood and we saw this nasty old blue chair on the side of the road. Now you should know, I NEVER pick things up on the side of the road. Aaron however, loved free stuff on the side of the road before he met me. :)

I saw the chair and thought "it is perfect". I is called a small club chair. It is the perfect size for me. I am rather short so to find a chair that my legs bend at a 90 degree angle is impossible. This chair did just that. So...we loaded it into the back of our Escape and continued home.

Over the last year and a half, it has looked several ways. It has been in storage and even covered by a neon pink sheet. This week however, I got it reupholstered and I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Here are a few shots. Not great, but good enough for you get the idea.


And now...

Day of Love

Today is Valentine's Day, the day of love! I love this holiday. I don't understand people who get all upset when they are single. I have loved every Valentine's day single or otherwise. For me it is a day to think about all the people I love and that love me. This year in particular however, I am focused totally on Aaron. We aren't doing gifts (we gave each other a baby), but he is still my Valentine. I cannot imagine a better partner in life for me. He is so loving, supportive, encouraging, helpful, sensitive, hard working and really good looking.

One of my love languages is acts of service and Aaron really takes this to heart. He goes out and starts the car when it is cold, he has done the dishes every night to help me since Eli has been home. He carries all the heavy stuff in my life, opens doors, and kept Eli for six hours one night so I could sleep. The list goes on and on.

We are a great team! So on this day of love, I would like to make it a day of thanksgiving as well. I am more than thankful for my spouse. Thank you Aaron for being all you are to me and our little boy. We have only been married for 2 1/2 wonderful years. I cannot imagine what the rest of our lives hold.

So to everyone who isn't married, in love, dating, or crushing on someone, take today to think about the people you appreciate and love because of what they mean to you.


First Home Shots

Eli has been home for one full week and it is wonderful other than the lack of sleep. I thought I should put some homecoming pictures up.

These are our last shots in the hospital!

He is so tiny in his car seat.

Aaron holding his son at home for the first time.

Asleep in his own bed! He will be in this for the next two months at least and then we will transition him into his crib in his own room.

It is more of blessing than I could have imagined to look at my little boy everyday. Aaron is the best dad and that makes it all the more wonderful!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Amazing Gift

My sweet friends Kelli, Brynn, and Shilah got me the sweetest gift. Not only a basket full of goodies for Eli, but this necklace for me. The charms have Eli's birthdate, his name, his birthstone, and the round center one says, "I loved you before I met you".

To say I like it would be an understatment. It was so thoughtful and the perfect new mom gift. Thank Friends!

Picture Day

The hospital will come and take pictures of your baby at the bedside before they are released from the hospital. I was really interested to see how this would work in the middle of the NICU. I was skeptical initially. However, they do a really nice job. Of course I had my camera with me and snapped a couple shots of my own so you could enjoy as well. These are all from my camera and honestly they turned out almost as nice as the ones they took. However, the lighting is not quite as good in mine.


Great Nurses at Central Baptist NICU

There has been so much happening since I last posted. Eli came home, we have been to his first doctor's appointment, he doesn't like to sleep at all the right times for dad and mom, and we are loving every second. I will blog about all of it in due time. Currently Eli is sleeping on my chest while I type away in our dark living room. He is so sweet. I love just hearing his little breathes and feeling his little chest rise and fall.

Before I get to his coming home, I want to tell you all about our amazing nurses. Ronda Byrd was our all time favorite, followed Bernice and by Lisa (who we didn't see much towards the end of Eli's stay). Each of them took such good care of not only Eli, but of Aaron and I. I wouldn't have survived the 67 days he was in NICU or bringing him home without them. They all took such perfect care in teaching us how to care for our precious little one. They didn't jump in and just do things themselves, but taught us both so now that he is home it is not nearly as overwelming.

I had them take a picture with signs saying "We love Eli" and I plan on framing the picture and putting it in his nursery. I think it will just be a special momento to the ladies who cared for him so well while he wasn't able to be home with mom and dad.

Ronda showing me how to give Eli his first bath.

Lisa giving Eli to me the first time I held him.

Some of the nurses...Bobby, Martha, Mary(I think), Ronda, Char, and Christy.

My signs...hoping to use them with a couple of other group shots in the future.

That is all for now. Happy Wednesday. Enjoy the light snow and cold weather. It is supposed to be pretty warm next week. I am looking forward to this because I plan on taking Eli for his first walk.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2 months old!

Eli hit the big 2 month mark today! He is so precious and growing like a weed. I cannot wait to get him home and put him in his own bed so you can all see the comparison month to month. He truly is more amazing to me everyday.

4 lbs. 12 oz.
16.5 inches long

Who wouldn't love this face?

Big stretch!

Love these little hands.

Sleeping in mom's arms.

He will never touch the ground when he is home. Aaron and I will hold him constantly.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Generosity of Strangers

Today Aaron went to work and a student in the MSW program brought in two boxes of little boys clothes. A friend of hers was getting rid of them and knew our story. We have never met, but she wanted to see if we were interested in her son's belongings. He has grown out of them and they aren't planning on having anymore children so she wanted to pass them along.

What a sweet blessing. God has provided for us in so many ways. Big and small. Thank you to our friend, that we have never met and may never, for your generosity towards a total stranger.

I sorted all the clothes in to size order. I will be washing them tonight and hanging them in Eli's little closet. Can't wait to watch Eli grow into a little man that eventually fits these precious clothes.

Our first bath time!

Just a few images of our first time giving Eli a bath. He loves getting a bath and having his hair brushed (just like his mom). We are looking forward to many many many baths to come.