Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

It had been several years since Betty and I had taken a vacation by ourselves, so in late April we decided to go on a four day cruise to Cozumel.  After years of waiting, I was finally able to use my catchphrase, "!Tengo el gato grande en mis pantalones!" in the appropriate setting.

After extensive research on which cruise to take and when, we decided on the Carnival Elation. We did this for three main reasons: it was inexpensive, the dates were good for us, and Betty thought that there was a Guy Fieri Burger Joint on the ship. (There wasn't.) There was also 24 hour pizza and ice cream, which sealed the deal for me.

But like any Tanory trip, getting to our vacation destination was an adventure onto itself. For starters, when we arrived in New Orleans we waited in line for 30 minutes to be allowed into the Carnival parking garage. After listening to me complain for half an hour about it, Betty got out of the car and immediately broke out in a huge smile. Apparently I was waiting behind people who were parked on the street. They must have been waiting for someone who was disembarking from the ship. There were literally four cars between me and the Carnival parking garage, and I sat behind them like a doofus for half an hour. Fortunately for my pride, twenty other cars had done the same thing.

When we got into the parking garage, a porter took our luggage and directed us where to park. I gave him a tip, but when I looked at him I didn't know what to say. "Thank you," probably would have done it. Instead, I said, "Boom!"

Needless to say, our luggage didn't arrive at our room until after dinner that night.  "Boom!" also became my unofficial catchphrase of the trip.

As soon as we got on the ship we started to explore. We found ping pong tables, a life-sized chess board, pools with a giant water slide, several old people, and lots and lots of food. For our first act of cruise vacationing, we ate Mongolian BBQ (chicken / beef stir fry with Thai sauce) from one of the many buffets.

We took part in a spa raffle, and because the spa raffle took place in the gym, technically I can say that we hit the gym on the ship. It was the only time we made our way to the gym the entire trip. We then played putt putt on the deck of the ship, where Betty beat me with an amazing hole in one. (She totally cheated.  Not really.  Well, probably.)

Every night we ate a sit down dinner at one of the ship's restaurants. We had assigned seating, so on our first night we met our dinner mates, Mike and Laura.  It was their 22 year anniversary, and they were in the middle of buying a house and trying to get the paperwork done on their smart phones before they left the US's cellphone service area. They somehow managed to stay extremely calm throughout the whole ordeal, but I was a nervous wreck for them! When I get stressed I tend to eat, and so it worked out well for me that we were already at dinner.  I ate spring rolls, lasagna and cheese cake, then some of Betty's spinach dip and pork chops.  For dessert Betty got Carnival's special warm chocolate melting cake with ice cream and milk, which became her dessert of choice for the remainder of the cruise.

After dinner we went back to the room and I turned on the TV for a few minutes. Most of the channels showed things that were happening on the ship: upcoming events, a video feed from the water slide, and pre-taped messages from the ship's staff. It was at this point  that I saw our ship's "shopping expert," Jay, talking about a coupon book that had all kinds of great coupons in it that we could use in Mexico. Betty and I debated whether to get it.

There were a lot of activities on the cruise ship, and that night we went to a trivia contest. The main prize of the contest was the very same $25 coupon book that our shopping expert Jay had told us about on TV. Betty turned to me, and in full Napoleon Dynamite mode whispered, "I want that." I was picked to go up on stage and compete in a four round Jeopardy-style contest, and ended up winning the whole thing by dominating the "children's music and video" categories in two separate rounds.  I don't mean to brag, but you need to bring your A game if you think you're going to guess songs from Lion King and Pinocchio in three notes or less before me. I won the coupon book for Betty, and it had coupons for a free heart necklace, tote bag, pearl earrings and other items at Port Maya in Cozumel. We ended up using the coupons in that book to do a scavenger hunt in Mexico.  I even won a trophy in the shape of the cruise ship.

That trophy basically means that we are Cruise Champions.  Stay tuned for more blog posts!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Planting Seeds of Love

Betty was recently spotlighted in an article called Planting the Seeds of Love about the merits of being a stay-at-home mom, published in the Catholic Commentator, a newspaper and website regarding the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  And if I can say so myself, they couldn't have picked a better mom to be in the article.

Before we had children, Betty and I discussed how we hoped to be able to parent our children and whether or not she would stay home with the kids. She wanted my input, but I wanted her to do what made her happy.  My preference was for her to stay home with the kids, but ultimately it was her choice.

I was also happy to stay home with the kids, however, I would never have done as well as Betty has. Whenever Betty's away and I have the kids for a few hours, I'm lucky if I can get the kids to eat a meal or two and not destroy the house.  The kids run all over me.  The only thing I'm good for is beating Bowser on the Mario games.  I can also make a mean sippy cup of milk.

But Betty was a kindergarten teacher, and she's put her skills to work at our house.  I'm always amazed at what the kids learn from her while I am away at work.  She has them learning new skills, gaining confidence, and doing tasks that help them become more responsible.  The article says that a stay-at-home mom's estimated salary would be $119,000 if they were paid for what they actually do, but I think that's way too low.  I think she's like the Bill Gates of Moms.

Plus, Betty has always said that I'm just like another kid.  And I'm sure that I'm the kid who is the most work.  So really it's like she's a single parent all the time, even when I'm home.

Add that to her estimated salary.

Please check out the article here:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving Rap

The last few months have been difficult for us, so I wanted to do something to make us laugh.  I remembered Adam Sandler's Thanksgiving Song, and thought of how there are not enough songs about Thanksgiving.

I decided to do a rap.  It's really about food, but... you may not want your kids reading this.  Also, I apologize for offending everyone in advance. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Rap

It's Thanksgiving time and I want to rap
About turkey, and stuffing, and all that other crap
'Cause the reason for the season is to give thanks for our feast and
Get my turkey breast and thigh, gobble gobble yo I'm feeling
Like I got some extra stuffin' want to put it up yo bird
Gonna drip my gravy sauce on yo mashed potatoes, word
Grab my cranberries and salad, grab my two crescent rolls too
Got an extra piece of white meat, thought of giving it to you

Yeah that turkey is so juicy from my own Cajun Injection
I used rubber gloves when basting 'cause I always use protection
Can't afford to let it burn and so I always need a taster
But it always turns out great because I'm the Master Baster
When the turkey is all cooked I need help to lift it, hoist
Move it to the stove top, take a bite, and yes that turkey's moist
Then I stick in my electric knife and carve it up to serve
Everybody want the white meat cause it's got them sexy curves

Flavor bursts all in your mouth, dribble dribbles from your chin
Open wide because I'm forking one more piece of turkey in
Think you got a little gravy on your cheek and in your hair
Try to eat it nice and slow, 'cause there's plenty more to share
Think I need a second helping 'cause I ate that food too fast
Wanna eat it nice and slow so my second helping lasts
Gotta save room for dessert, made a special nice ice cream
When you taste my homemade foodstuffs gonna make you up and scream

Wanna taste those sweet potatoes, maybe munch all on a muffin
Think you need to try to handle some of my own cornbread stuffing
'Cause it's piping hot and ready, gonna melt right in your mouth
You need to blow on it to cool it or you gonna start to shout
Now I know this is a rap and not a dance and not a ballad
But I really want a taste and wanna toss your ol' fruit salad
'Cause there's cherries and some melons that are all mixed up in there
Think it goes nice with that plump and perky turkey derriere

Don't forget the green bean casserole, I made it all from scratch
But it won't be long before I up and make another batch
Got your favorite carrot souffle, though it starts off really soft
As it cools it starts to harden into something like a rock
So you better eat it now and you better eat it quick
Cause I'm lighting up a candle setting fire to the wick
For it's time to celebrate Thanksgiving, now I end my rhyme
So let's pray, let's eat, let's bless the cooks, gobble gobble it's turkey time!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Helping Others in James's Memory

As most of you know, Betty and I had a stillborn baby boy named James Richard Tanory on June 4th, 2014.

Let me start out by once again thanking everyone for your love, support and generosity.  We are so very touched at the way our friends, families - and even people we don't know! - have supported us.  You have no idea what it means to have your thoughts and prayers directed at us and our family.  We are truly blessed to have you in our lives!

Betty and I want to live our lives in a way that would make James proud of us.  We have been looking for ways to honor our son, help his name be remembered, and do something positive for the community in his name.  I'd like to share a few of those things with you.

For starters, our kids go to St. George in Baton Rouge, and St. George is about to begin construction on a new church as well as a new preschool / Early Childhood Building.  We are sponsoring a crucifix to be hung in the preschool, and James's name will be put on a plaque inside the school for everyone to see.  If you donated to the St. George building fund in James's name, this is where your donation is going.  We figured that James would have gone there, and the people at the nursery school (and big school) have been so wonderful to our family throughout the years, that we wanted to be a part of helping to build something great for the children.  Thank you so much for helping us make James's name visible at St. George.

St. Jude's Children's Hospital has a special place in our hearts.  Not only are they an amazing organization, but some of our friends had a daughter who was helped tremendously by St. Jude's.  If you have made a donation to St. Jude's in James's honor, please know how appreciative we are.  Having lost a child ourselves, we want to do everything we can to make sure that other people's children are taken care of.

Last, we are participating in two walks for organizations that help families that have had stillborn babies or miscarriages. The Maddie's Footprints Forever 2014 walk / 5K run is on Saturday, October 18th at 9 am in Lafayette, and the Shana Rae Project's Walk to Remember is on Friday, October 24th in Baton Rouge at Women's Hospital from 6-8 pm. I would like to invite you to walk with us.

The first event helps to raise money for Maddie's Footprints, which is an organization that helps parents who have had a stillbirth, miscarriage or who have lost an infant.  Maddie's Footprints has a special place in my heart, because it was started by two of my friends from high school, Lori Binnings McGrew and Travis McGrew, in honor of their daughter Madeline "Maddie" Noelle.  They are my inspiration, because they have not just lost themselves in grief but have made the world a better place through their daughter.

If you would like to walk with us or for someone else at the Maddie's Footprints 5K, you can find more information here:

Maddie's Footprints Forever 2014 - 1 Mile Fun Run / 5K

Or you can go directly to James's team's page by clicking here:

And more information about the Shana Rae Project's Walk to Remember can be found here:

Shana Rae Project's Walk to Remember

Thank you again for your support.  Betty and I can never express how much your love and support means to us.  God bless.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

James Richard Tanory

My beautiful baby boy, James Richard Tanory, was born into Heaven on Wednesday, June 4, 2014.

I held him in my arms almost six hours after we discovered that his heart was no longer beating. We discovered it while looking at his lifeless body on the ultrasound monitor. Seeing and hearing the heart beat have been my two favorite things when accompanying Betty to ultrasounds and doctor visits for all three of my children - "it never gets old" as I like to say - and I saw right away that my baby's heart wasn't beating. It was an awful, terrifying moment that I will never forget. James' heart wasn't beating, but mine was - I could feel my heart throbbing throughout my entire body and up into my throat. I knew something was wrong.

When the ultrasound technician excused herself halfway through the process to get the doctor, Betty and I feared for the worst. Betty said she hadn't seen the baby move. I told her I hadn't seen the heart beat. We were both very scared. But I told her everything would be OK.

When our doctor told us that he had bad news - that the baby's heart was no longer beating - Betty cried. I held her in disbelief. I naively thought that it would be all right, that we could get his heart beating again, that we would do an emergency C section and then breathe life into him or that by some miracle my baby would be OK. I was in disbelief that just the week before we could see the baby hiccuping on the ultrasound, and now my baby was not moving.

We were asked if we wanted to deliver the baby that day, or wait a few days. We decided to deliver. We wanted to hold our sweet baby in our arms as quickly as possible.

Betty asked if it was a boy or a girl. We didn't know - throughout all of the ultrasounds, throughout receiving the MaterniT21 test to check for Down Syndrome, throughout meeting with our doctors, the ultrasound technicians, the nurses and the pediatric surgeon, we had managed to keep the gender a secret. But now Betty wanted to know.

It was a boy.

A boy. My son.

We had a name picked out: James Richard Tanory. He was named after two of our favorite people - our fathers.  James, after Betty's dad, Jimmy.  And Richard, after my dad. Or as my daughter Annie explains it, "James after Pops, Richard after Papa, and Tanory after us."

James was born into total silence at 2:30 pm on June 4. Our doctor placed him into Betty's arms right after his birth. She and I both looked at him for several minutes before the nurses cleaned him up. He was so beautiful.

He is so beautiful.

I could go on in full detail about how awful it is to lose a child, but if you've never experienced it then there's no words to explain it. I could tell you about grief and despair, and about being on the verge of crying at every instance. I could tell you about my prayers to God that he could take me instead of my son - an exchange I would gladly accept. I could tell you about how no man should have to pick out a casket for his child. I could tell you about sitting in a rocking chair in his room, humming Sweet Baby James to myself, wondering what could have been.

I could go on, and on, and on, in gory detail.

Instead, I will tell you about love.

After the nurses bathed James, he was clothed in a beautiful blue gown with hand-stiched crosses.  This was courtesy of Threads of Love, an organization of volunteers who make clothes for premature, sick and stillborn children.  I would like to tell the people at Threads of Love thank you - thank you for clothing my sweet child in our time of need.

After James was dressed, a photographer from the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation donated her time and effort to take pictures of our baby boy. She has already shared several pictures with us, and we shared two of them with our friends and family at his funeral service. We had such a short time with our baby boy, and these pictures will help us remember him for a lifetime. I would like to tell the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation and the photographer thank you - thank you for helping us remember our child.

Our priests at St. George Catholic Church dropped everything they were doing to come to the hospital and pray over Betty and the baby. They gave our baby a place to rest at the cemetary at St. George. They planned the funeral for us and helped us tremendously in our time of need, and continue to help us. Thank you for helping me to grow closer to God instead of blaming God.

Thank you to the bereavement committee at St. George for donating food and time to the reception after the funeral.

I've written before about how amazing Betty's friends are, and about how they set up a food calendar. It goes way beyond food - we have depended on these people for so much, and they have always delivered. I have learned so much about friendship from these ladies. They have been there for us for everything, no questions asked. When we needed flowers for James' funeral service, it was taken care of. When we wanted balloons for our kids to float up to James in Heaven, it was done. They are a constant source of love and dedication, and I hope that they know how much we love and appreciate them.

I don't know what we would do without Betty's parents. They have helped us with everything. Her mother even came with me to the funeral home - you can't get much more moral support than that. I don't know how I would have been able to handle that - and many other situations - by myself.

My parents took our other two children to their house in Lafayette for several days, and kept them entertained - and safe! I'm the nervous parent, so on a typical day I'm usually bugging Betty about all of the safety hazards that we need to make sure the kids avoid. But after having lost a child, my nervousness and anxiety kicked into overdrive. My parents were grieving but took our kids home with them and kept them happy and healthy, and I can't thank them enough.

To our family, who drove in from out of town to attend the funeral - thank you so much! Having you here with us meant so much to us.

To my brother, Todd, and Betty's cousin, Abby - thank you for being godparents to our baby. Thank you for being pallbearers and walking James to his final resting place.

To everyone who has shown love to us and our baby - thank you for the food, the flowers, the cards, the emails, the text messages, the prayer books, the gifts for Annie and Peter to keep them entertained, and thank you for your prayers. We have tried to keep up with every gift we've received but we have been overwhelmed with your love and generosity. If we miss thanking anyone personally, please know that we deeply appreciate your kindness.

To my beautiful wife, Betty: thank you. You've always shown me love and patience. You've always been the greatest mommy. You've been so strong throughout all of this, and you amaze me every day. I love you more than you could ever imagine.

Looking back on what I've written, it seems to me that this is a Jazz Funeral of a blog. That seems fitting, considering we live in Louisiana. And because I've heard enough Jazz Funerals in my time, I know that the sadness and emptiness that I'm feeling will eventually be overtaken by the love that is keeping the darkness at bay.

Speaking of love, I have one more person to thank:

Thank you to my sweet baby James. I'm sorry, James. I'm sorry that I could not do more for you. Thank you for being in our lives. Please look out for us, because you know your old man will need all the help I can get. I love you so much.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lice Lice Baby

Yo, VIP, Let's itch it!

Lice Lice Baby, Lice Lice Baby
All right stop, Collaborate and listen
Lice is back with a brand new edition
Something grabs a hold of hair tightly
Itching our scalps all daily and nightly
Will it ever stop? Yo – I don't know
Comb through my hair, just go slow
To the extreme I clean my hair like a vandal
Sit down in light so I can see, not by candle.

Dang, in my family's hair too?
I'm killing lice eggs with a tea tree shampoo
Deadly, when I find a live felony
Scream at the top of my lungs like a melody
Love it or leave it, You better sit still
Kids watching NetFlix so they both just chill
If there was a problem, Yo, I'll solve it
Check out the lice comb, we constantly wash it

Lice Lice Baby Vanilla, Lice Lice Baby Vanilla
Lice Lice Baby Vanilla, Lice Lice Baby Vanilla

Now that lice are jumping
When I pick out a nit, my fists are pumpin'
Look by the ears, by the scalp, no faking
Cooking used combs like a pound of bacon
Burning them ain't quick, to last
Use a special shampoo so the lice die fast
Wear a high hat with a souped up tempo?
Don't share it, better wear it solo
Greasin' hair with EVOO
With my shower cap on, then my hair dryer blows
The kids on standby, wondering where and how, why
Is the easiest way to make all these lice die
Clean all the towels, the sheets and the drapes
Lock stuff animals in bags so the lice can't escape

Those lice was dead
Yo – so I continued to A1A Green Hill Ave.

Kids stripped down wearing less than bikinis
I'm picking nits, fast like a Lamborghini
Jealous 'cause I'm free now of lice
Annie had a few and Peter less than twice
Ready to go scourge through their heads
The lice acting ill because they're about to be dead
Screaming rings out like a bell
I crushed a louse, just sent it to hell
Wipe it on a paper towel real fast
Crumple it up and squash it til its insides blast
Dimple to dimple, the hair is packed
Lice trying to get away before they all get jacked
Daddy's on the scene, You know what I mean
They can't escape, confronted all those lice fiends
If there was a problem, Yo, I'll solve it
Check out the lice comb, we constantly wash it

Lice Lice Baby Vanilla, Lice Lice Baby Vanilla
Lice Lice Baby Vanilla, Lice Lice Baby Vanilla

Take heed, 'cause I'm a lyrical poet
Daddy's on the scene just in case lice didn't know it
White vinegar up in Betty's hair
Enough to make her cough and search for air
'Cause my hair's like a chemical spill
Itching and scratching you can see and feel
Search and destroy, this is a heck of a work out
We keep on looking if there's even a small doubt

Dad combs through the hair, slice like a ninja

Sweep through the hair so grand, Other members of my house say, "damn"
If lice shampoo was a drug, I'd sell it by the gram
Keep my composure when it's time to get lice out
Tramautized by the fact that we had that lice, shout!
If there was a problem, Yo – I'll solve it!
Check out the lice comb, we constantly wash it

Lice Lice Baby Vanilla, Lice Lice Baby Vanilla
Lice Lice Baby Vanilla, Lice Lice Baby Vanilla

[Louse]: Yo, man, let's get out of here! Word to your mother!

Lice Lice Baby Too cold, Lice Lice Baby Too cold Too cold
Lice Lice Baby Too cold Too cold, Lice Lice Baby Too cold Too cold

Friday, May 16, 2014

Echogenic Intracardiac Focus, Duodenal Atresia, and Bears, Oh My!

Betty's 32 weeks preggers right now.  From our first ultrasound we knew that the baby had what's called an Echogenic Intracardiac Focus, or EIF for short.  This is just a bright spot that appears inside the baby's heart chambers when viewed via ultrasound, which doesn't make it sound too bad.  EIFs are pretty common, but they are a soft sign for Down Syndrome as well as possibly other chromosomal abnormalities.

And for about the past 10 weeks we've known that Betty's been carrying around extra amniotic fluid. This has made her physically uncomfortable, and this along with the EIF had us concerned that something may be wrong with the baby.  Of course, the extra amniotic fluid could have just been the result of gestational diabetes, which Betty has had with all three kids. 

The good thing about the EIF plus the extra amniotic fluid is that Betty has had several ultrasounds so the doctors could continue to check on the baby.  If not for this, we would not have caught a new issue with the baby:  duodenal atresia.

Duodenal atresia, aka intestinal atresia, is where the stomach isn't connected to the intestines.  On the ultrasound it looks like there are two bubbles separated by a wall of tissue, which is known as the "Double Bubble."  Duodenal atresia occurs in about 1 out of every 10K births.  I like to think that we're 1 of 1K that actually caught it before the baby was born, so we have a chance to meet with the doctors, get mentally prepared, etc.

I consider us very lucky that we were able to catch this before the baby is born.  Even better, there's a procedure that will fix this.  A day or two after the baby is born, a pediatric surgeon will do a procedure to connect the stomach to the intestines, and then the baby will need to stay in the hospital for 3-4 weeks.  We're disappointed that the baby will be in the hospital for a month after being born, but are happy that we live literally 3 minutes from the hospital and that I work about 5 minutes away so we can see the baby often.

We also knew from consulting with our doctor that our baby had at least a 1% chance of having Down Syndrome due to the EIF.  The duodenal atresia raised this risk to be 33%.  We were on the fence about whether we should test for Down Syndrome, but we decided to take a non-invasive test called MaterniT21 a few weeks ago.  Older tests would have to actually puncture the mother's womb and then take a sample of the baby's blood by pricking the baby, but the MaterniT21 test was able to detect and sample the baby's chromosomes in Betty's bloodstream, so all that was needed was for Betty to have some blood drawn.

Our MaterniT21 test came back negative, meaning the baby doesn't appear to have Down Syndrome.  The test is estimated to have a detection rate of 99.1% for Down Syndrome, so there still is a chance that our baby could have Down Syndrome, but we'll take our odds.

Waiting for the MaterniT21 test was an emotional experience.  Betty and I know that we would love our child regardless of if it had Down Syndrome or any abnormality, but as a parent you always want the best possible life for your child.  I thought of how to make sure I accomplished this goal, and also how to make sure that he or she didn't miss anything.  I thought about school, girlfriends, prom, driving, hobbies, baseball games, video games, on and on.  I thought of the other health risks associated with Down Syndrome.  I also thought of how I would react if another kid made fun of my child.  My thoughts ranged from beating that kid and/or his parents up, to inviting that family over for dinner to let the kids play and learn from each other.  That experience really made me do some soul-searching, and I hope I'm a better person for it.  (Note that if you make fun of my children, I probably still will physically attack you although I'll feel bad about it later.)

In the midst of all of this, our family and friends have been wonderful.  Betty's friends in particular have been amazing.  They knew that she is extremely uncomfortable with all the extra amniotic fluid, so they've set up a food calendar and have been taking turns bringing us food.  I can't thank them enough - not only has the food been such a huge help, but they've also taught me a lot about how to be a good friend when someone is in need.  Betty's friends are also all apparently really good cooks!

I'd also like to thank everyone who has been praying for us, as well as those who have been putting us on prayer lines throughout the country.  I honestly didn't know that prayer lines existed before now.  All I can say is:  your prayers are working!

In some ways I feel guilty about us receiving those prayers.  I feel like there are so many people out there with much bigger problems.  But we're thankful for people thinking about us and for taking the time to pray for us or to go out of their way to bring us food.  We're also more aware of other people out their who need help, and have been sending our thoughts their way.  We hope that people are as kind and loving to you as our family and friends have been to us.

One thing we can say about Baby Tanory already:  he or she is bringing people together.  Thank you again for everyone's support - we very much appreciate you!