The Journey of a Sweet Little Boy and His Special Heart

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A month of Celebration, Anniversaries, and Blessings

December/January are full of all sorts of Anniversaries for us. 
Last year before we left for Philadelphia we took the kids to build a bear.  To be honest, it sounds a bit cheesy.  But I was so heart sick about leaving Ashlyn and Tanner at home I was trying to think of anything I could do before we left to make our absence easier.  So we let them pick out an animal at build a bear and Brad and I kissed the little hearts that went inside the animals and told them that when they missed us or were sad they had our love in their stuffed animals.  Ashlyn has kept track all year of her bunny's birthday- the day they were put together at the mall.  December 20, 2010.  So this year on December 20th we had a birthday party for all of their animals.  Ashlyn's bunny, Tanner's dog, and Logan's bear.  Complete with birthday cake, singing and presents.  The kids were adorable they planned it all out, made the gifts and everything.  It was such a cute/fun night. 
This was last year when they were making their animals.

Christmas was absolutely delightful this year.  I loved it all (minus the few times the kids were so high on sugar there was no control!)
Christmas Eve we had our own little Nativity.
Ashlyn took her role as Mary very serious.  This is the only benefit in her eyes of being the only girl (she really wants a sister) but there is no debate on who gets to be Mary!
 Tanner as a Shepherd. 
This kid cracks me up- he has something against wearing costumes.  I couldn't get him to dress up for Halloween and he refused to wear the robe to be Joseph so we finally found a happy medium of a shepherd holding a lamb!
 Ashlyn really wanted Logan to be baby Jesus... look how big he is!  He is not a baby anymore!
 He made a pretty cute Shepherd when we could get him to hold still long enough to get his costume on!

Christmas was chaotic and so much fun!
 Tanner can never have too many puppies!
 Logan has a bit of an Elmo obsession that my sister Tiffany feeds more than anyone!
 Ashlyn rockin' her Rollerblades even in a skirt!

Brad and I were the crazy college students that crammed a wedding in between semesters.  So we celebrated our 11th Wedding Anniversary on the 27th.  Last year we spent our anniversary flying to Philly.  Our date consisted of leftover casserole at the Ronald McDonald House- which neither of us could stomach because we were so nervous.
This year we got to have dinner at Rodizios.  It was a lot better tasting and a lot more relaxing! 

December 30th last year

And this year... 
You've come a long way baby  BIG Boy!

New Year's Day we held our annual scones and bacon feast.  (Despite my paranoia of germs and Logan's anxiety in large groups- we had a huge crowd here.)  We have scones because it is a Gunnell family tradition.  Bacon because it literally saved our lives New Year's Day 2003 from carbon monoxide poisoning.  The smell of my mom cooking bacon woke me up just long enough to crawl up the stairs and pass out.  What a story!  But what a reminder about how lucky we are to be alive.
I was warned not to even look downstairs with all the chaos and kids... I didn't!  But it was great to celebrate with our family.  We love and appreciate all of their love and support.

We obviously didn't have our New Year's Party last year, instead we learned our little Logan was in heart failure. It was those instincts you get as parents that even though the numbers on the monitor are "okay" something wasn't right.  Thankfully the nurse didn't brush off our concerns because really there were no obvious reasons to be worried.  But we got the doctor in there and they did an echo and learned his little heart couldn't handle the repair that had been done.  This was devastating news, but we were so grateful to have caught this before we came home. 
(pic. New Year's Day last year)
And this year...
(who needs a Dr. he has it all figured out)!
 I have thought so much lately about the answers to prayers we have had this year.  And the blessings we are able to recognize sometimes only in hindsight... 
The other night Brad said seriously out of no where (it wasn't something we had been discussing)... it can't be coincidence that I just happened to get a job out of college in dental underwriting (we didn't even know what an underwriter did when he applied for the job, we were just desperate for a job)- which led to his job now in medical underwriting; which happens to be with one of the only insurance carriers in the state with a national network that allowed us the option of traveling out of state to CHOP.  Heavenly Father has a  plan and it was in motion long before we ever knew or recognized.  I don't believe it is coincidence.  And beyond being able to go to CHOP his job in the medical industry has been such a blessing.  We both comment to each other all the time how confusing insurance is.  Sometimes it is downright messy and a pain in the butt.  Bills not being paid right, codes not covered, things not being authed right.  Dealing with insurance can be a parents worst nightmare, and it has been such a blessing having a little more than normal knowledge in that regard.  He has spreadsheets of every procedure and bill for Logan that he matches to EOB's and claims paid.  This has saved us so much money and headaches! 
When the first surgery at CHOP was a bust... I was devastated and I really questioned why we felt so impressed to travel all that way.  I didn't have my answer until months later when we received all the medical notes and charts from our stay there.  As I read the transcripts of the doctor's notes from surgery( for both of his surgeries there) it was very clear to me that the right doctor operated on Logan for his particular circumstances.  We followed HOPE out there, and we never have to question if we did what was best for our baby.  Dr. Spray tried every means possible to save the right side of Logan's heart and make it functional.  He didn't give up at his first attempt.  One of the scary things about open heart surgery is the longer you are on bypass the more likely complications emerge.  For the amount of things Dr. Spray was able to do and try for Logan, he was on bypass for less than half the time he would have been with most other surgeons.  This brought me so much comfort knowing everything that could possibly be done had been done.  I couldn't be at peace with it otherwise.  I am okay with the limitations and things Logan will face and is facing in his life, but I find peace in knowing we tried to make those a little better.
Brad and I have both been blessed in our jobs.  His work has been so accommodating with Dr. appointments and time off.  Also offering the much needed insurance coverage.  Hitting our out of pocket max. in January was a blessing too... it made the millions of Dr. appointments throughout the year a little less stressful!
  My job teaching at the gym always seems to work out with the schedule our family needs.  I teach enough to keep me sane, but am not away from home very long.  We have a great neighbor that watches Logan while I am at the gym (and so we can have a date night every once in awhile).  She has been one of our greatest blessings this year.
We have family that never tires of hearing about oxygen levels, Dr. appointments and petty concerns.  We are so blessed. 
Ashlyn LOVES school and is healthy and happy.
Tanner also loves (not enough to capitalize every letter though) school, is healthy and happy.
I could go on and on and on.  I don't ask why us anymore.  I know Logan's heart is a gift and it has made our family better, closer, and so so grateful for everything.
Happy New Year!!


  1. You're the best Heidi- thanks for reminding me about perspective. oh and I seriously laughed so loud at the picture of Ash trying to make Logan baby Jesus, I'm surprized I didn't wake the kids!

  2. I can't believe the change in Logan! What a healthy little man! We're so thankful things are going well for your family. The Lord certainly does have a plan, and I admire you so much for accepting the one he gave you, difficult as it has been. Love you guys!

  3. I love reading your blog. You get it and you inspire me. Your family is darling and I'm so happy Logan is doing so well a year later! Glad you guys were able to enjoy the holidays!