Thursday, December 29, 2011


I was expecting a really difficult Christmas. Our plans were to visit Norah on the morning of Christmas Eve (photo left), then go up to Logan to get new tires (thanks Mark and Carol!), then take Gunnell family photos before the annual family party. We were then going to drive all the way back home so we could have Christmas morning at home before doing a second Christmas morning at the hospital with Norah.

I took one of Norah's toys as a stand-in for Norah for the family photos. We took some group photos with Jeff's parents, their children and grandchildren, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to take a small family photo without Norah. It just didn't feel right. She had been having a difficult couple of days (due to a bacterial infection), and while we were (and are) ever so thankful that she is still alive and fighting, her absence was a heavy weight on us. After the photos were taken, our family presented us with an enormous surprise.

Jeff's family had all agreed a few months ago that we weren't going to do a gift exchange this year. I was relieved since money was so tight. What we hadn't known (or guessed) was that the family pooled that money together (and then some) to give to us as a cash gift. There were more wet eyes than dry eyes amongst our large family. To my wonderful family: thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you! We are so thankful for your generosity, and can hardly believe the cash amount that was tucked into that card. You aren't just my in-laws, you are my family and I love you all dearly. Now we hope to be able to afford most of the re-set of our annual out of pocket expenses in January.

It was difficult to leave the party so early in the evening. We typically spend the night in Logan on Christmas Eve, but we had to slip out so we would be able to get an early start the next day. Harper had a great time opening his gifts. This is the first year he's really understood the concept of gift opening. He's been asking for Woody and Buzz, and that's exactly what Santa left under our tree.

Since Santa can always find every kid no matter where he or she is, we went to the hospital to see what he had left for Norah. Harper helped open "baby sister's" gifts, setting each gift next to her after it was unwrapped. What a sweet kid. Norah was overwhelmed with gifts from Santa, donors, and us.

Despite the difficult time we're going through, we have experienced such generosity, love, and affection. Of course I would take away all of Norah's heath woes if I could... but it sure is comforting that so many of you care for her and for us. I was expecting the saddest Christmas, but it was because of all of you and the love of our family, that we had the best Christmas ever.
She loves to sleep tummy-down on mommy.

Happiest. Baby. Ever.

Snoozy girl

A huge Disney sucker treat!

Christmas cuddles

Christmas Kisses

Norah checking out one of her donated gifts - Sasha the Scentsy bear.

Our happy family on Christmas day... our first photo all together!

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