CHD Heart Awareness Day

With it being Congenital Heart Disease awareness month, and most specifically DAY today, Valentine’s Day we wanted to have Heart Mom Kierra here to share her story. Welcome, Kierra!

Congenital heart defects are the #1 birth defect, with nearly one of every 100 babies born with a congenital heart defect – ranging from a small hole, to extremely complex. Congenital heart defects are the #1 cause of birth defect related deaths, and the leading cause of all infant deaths in North America.

More than 50% of all children born with congenital heart defect will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime. Little is known about the cause of most of them, and there is no known prevention or cure for any of them. In the United States, twice as many children die from congenital heart defects each year than from all forms of childhood cancer combined, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHD.
American Heart Association)

CHD Heart Awareness DayThank you so much for the opportunity to give a little update on Evanna and our family. When writing last year’s spotlight post, I had no idea of what was to come nor what life had in store for us. While I knew we still had a few tough months ahead of us, I had no idea just how much more difficult our journey would become and the impact her little heart would continue to have on our lives.

CHD Heart Awareness DayAround this time last year I finally grasped that we were going to be in this for the long haul (we had already been in the PCICU for over 4 months) – and once we realized that, we settled into a routine, and ICU life almost became our new normal. I remained at Evanna’s bedside day in and day out, while my husband continued to commute between two different cities on a weekly basis. After a few investigations, a second open heart surgery presented to my husband and I to insert a tiny mechanical valve, and we again signed our names on the dotted line. The procedure went very well, and in fact they decided to transfer us back to our home children’s hospital just a few weeks later to continue the recovery. Unfortunately disaster struck, and not even 24 hours after the transfer Evanna began to take a turn for the worst, and not a single antibiotic seemed to help. They finally discovered that the mechanical valve that they had just inserted had clotted in an almost closed position and they had to act fast. Regular ICU transfer was deemed too slow, so they airlifted Evanna by STARS Air Ambulance (a medical helicopter) back to the Stollery Children’s Hospital, and started Evanna on a TPA infusion (TPA is essentially a “clot buster”). CHD Heart Awareness DayHowever, due to the mechanical valve clotting multiple times between February – April, the medical team decided to replace that mechanical valve with a bovine one, and a third open heart surgery was booked. During this time, we also came to the conscious that Evanna was not going to extubate successfully, and we finally agreed to proceed with a tracheostomy. It was one of the hardest decisions that we’ve had to make thus far, but after being intubated for over 5 months, we knew there was no other option and that it was time to face our new reality. Following these 2 surgeries, the team again decided to transfer us back home in time for Evanna’s 1st birthday.

CHD Heart Awareness DayA week after her 1st  birthday – on Mother’s Day no less, Evanna unfortunately had to be airlifted back up to Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton yet again after coming down with an infection that was causing havoc on her little body. Thankfully with the help of antibiotics (and being chemically paralyzed), Evanna began to recover a few days later on her own. The intensivists (ICU physicians) decided that instead of transferring her back to our home children’s hospital, that maybe they should keep her a little longer at the Stollery up in Edmonton. So that’s exactly what we did. While we couldn’t stay there until final discharge due to logistical issues and getting homecare setup now that she had a trach, we decided to catch our breaths and not transfer back to Calgary right away. Finally at the end of June, it was decided that a transfer out of ICU was around the corner, so it was safe enough to leave the Stollery and go “home”.CHD Heart Awareness Day

We arrived safely back “home” on June 29, but something was off with Evanna. We originally thought it was because of the transfer (these can be very stressful and strenuous on patients), but things continued to spiral out of control (we began to joke that she hated Calgary and this was her way of trying to convince mommy & daddy that we needed to move to Edmonton). CHD Heart Awareness Day

July 1st is a day I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. We were just getting ready to leave for the hospital, when we received a phone call from our intensivist telling us they needed us come immediately. While I knew things were bad and was anxious the whole drive there, nothing could have prepared me for how that day would unravel. We walked onto the unit and saw emergency carts piled up in front of Evanna’s room (this is never a good sign in the ICU). We were met by the intensivist and the cardiologist who was on call, and they both asked if we could talk somewhere private, and were escorted us into a private room off to the side. They told us that Evanna was in Septic Shock – which can fatal for even healthy individuals, and that things were not looking good. They brought up ECMO (it’s life support that essentially can act as the body’s heart and lung to allow the body to rest), but due to Evanna’s anatomy, it wasn’t an option for her here in Calgary, and they seriously doubted she would survive the transfer back up to Edmonton to put her on it, and whether even ECMO would be a benefit to her in this particular situation. We were basically told that we needed to make a decision on whether we wanted to transfer her back up to Edmonton with her most likely dying in our intensivist’s arms along the way, or here in the comfort of ours. We were both in shock and devastated. After everything we had previously gone through – we couldn’t believe it had gotten to this point and we were going to lose our baby girl. We ultimately decided to not go through with the transfer; however, we asked that they continue to do everything they could for her here in Calgary. So they set to work, got more lines/access into Evanna, and pumped every “antibiotic under the sun” and blood product they could into her little body, and supported her the best way they could to help her overcome this. We called our family (it also happened to be Canada Day – so almost everyone was off work anyways), and asked them to make their way to the hospital, and even my grandparents came drove in from out of town in order to say their goodbyes. We turned to social media and pleaded for prayers, and we were absolutely flooded with support, love and prayers. Hours past, and with each passing hour, Evanna was starting to improve and by the afternoon, she seemed to finally turn a corner. Before leaving that day, our intensivist walked in and stated that she was thrilled that the day wasn’t going to end like she thought was going too, and hoped that Evanna would continue to improve – and with a bit of patience and time, she did just that. Eight weeks later, we finally were transferred to the floor and discharge suddenly seemed obtainable. CHD Heart Awareness Day

After 400 days – 323 of which were consecutively spent in ICU, we finally got to bring our little girl home on November 9, 2015. Other than a quick admission in mid-January for a planned GTube  surgery, we’ve been able to stay home, where Evanna is growing and thriving beautifully. Our road to recovery is far from over, and it will take years of intense OT and PT to overcome the intense trauma she has endured. Much of our life had been put on hold, but we’re finding our feet and even talking about adding to our family in the near future (like in most cases, my husband and I were tested, and it was determined that Evann’s heart defect was not genetic). While we remain optimistic that her respiratory issues will subside, we still face so many unknowns in regards to future complications and even a life expectancy. Surgery is not considered a cure for congenital heart defects, and it’s a lifelong aliment that requires constant monitoring by a cardiologist.

– Kierra (Evanna’s mom) // @kierra.irvin

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So happy to see the weekend here! With Monday off + Valentine’s Day ahead we have no plans but taking it super easy. Here’s what we’re thinking about this week:

I used to snowboard quite a bit when I was younger, but making the switch to skiing this season! I am loving it! Such an exciting way to get through these tough post-Christmas Winter months! WEARING: These overalls are slim fit and tuck right into my boots. Love the zipper options, too! I know I’ve shared it before, but this jacket is still perfect for all Wintry occasions.
MOMMING IN: Loving these sneakers for going out and about or just cleaning at home.
OBESSED: If you need a scent to get your man this Valentine’s or really any old reason, this is it! Smells amazing.
SLEEPING IN: I live for a good pajama set. I look forward to getting into them everyday! This set from Target is so cute and dirt cheap.

Wearing: Asos Maternity gives me life. So many super afforadable, on-trend pieces! I wear this skirt tucked over my belly at least once a week. $21, can you beat that? // Obsessed with this Poppy lip Kendall Jenner is repping. It might more for a brunette, but I don’t care. I ordered this dupe from Topshop for half the price. Both are amazing!

Reading: It’s my turn to pick which book we read for my book club this next week and I need recs! So far the top of my list is She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb, The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy, Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff. Help!

Listening: Loving the Reply All Podcast! I am not very far into yet, but every episode is charming. Super funny and smart and based around technology, but you hardly notice it just feels really topical to life in the 21st century.

Decorating: Is 20 weeks early to be nesting? I have been organizing and cleaning like mad. We don’t even know the gender yet (finding out in 4 more weeks, trying to wait a bit longer this time around) which is making it hard. First up was making some changes to the room that we are in the most – the big open space that is our dining and family room combined! Traded our huge rectangle dining table for a more sleek Tulip table, I love the round so much more and its so much more compact! And a big enough Coffee table for all of us to snack, play toys, and kick our feet up on.

Watching: Have you partaken of the beauty that is BBC’s War & Peace Miniseries? OH MY!! It’s on Lifetime too so you can catch it On Demand, but I loved every second. It’s so beautifully shot, the acting was pretty amazing and it leaves out all the lengthy social commentary that made it so hard for me to read in college.

Feeling: I have got the SADD hardcore this year. This Winter is a slow death when you can’t really do anything outside safely as a big preg! We’ve got a trip planned for each month until we can guarantee warmth (May, womp womp) hopefully to keep our (my) spirits up!


WEARING: I never thought I would be caught DEAD in leopard pajamas but now these ones I was gifted are seriously ALL I WEAR. I’ve had thousands of pairs of this exact PJ, but I’m telling you the Leopard print is somehow softer, cozier and obviously more obnoxious which I’m always about. OBSESSED.

I haven’t splurged on a good swimsuit in a while but I think a sleek black one piece is always worth the $$. Love this one I recently got! It fits so awesome!
I’ve been doing some major Lululemon shopping lately (I’m not proud) but they always seem to get me. The best new pair I have are the high times. I’m SO OBSESSED. They tuck me in the places I hate and make me feel so cozy. They are my workout pants, my errand pants, my traveling pants, my everything pants. And that’s how I justify the price!!
READING: I’ve recently started reading full length books to my kids because they’re obsessed. We got this edition of Harry Potter and they love it because it’s illustrated! While they’re still learning how to imagine, these pictures help them capture the magic!
I’ve been looking for a parenting book to help me as my boys get older. They’re really getting to an age of understanding and I need to be able to communicate with them better. So far the lessons I’ve learned from this book are really valuable. I recommend buying the actual book because there are prompts and workshopping that helps you.

xoxo art

We’re so sad this is pretty much the last of our Valentine’s Day content this year! We always love this time of year on the blog. Nicole whipped up this oversized art for her home as a way to decorate. We loved this idea so much!XOXO ArtJust grab your most Valentine-y paint a brush and butcher paper.XOXO ArtAlternate X and O with your paints and let it dry.XOXO ArtTape it up on the wall and you’ve got yourself a nice little backdrop for more decor or a great little piece of art!XOXO Art Love never goes out of style, rightXOXO ArtAnd Lolly’s out. XOXO Art Happy Valentine’s Day weekend, everyone!

bomb valentine

We had a couple different readers write in asking for last minute Valentine’s Ideas! When you don’t have a printer and you don’t have time to swing to the nearest Print Shop, here is something you can make with household items (at least household items for us, you know, a kid’s craft blog, ha!)bomb valentine

You’ll need red paper, tape or glue, and pipe cleaners! If you’ve bought pipe cleaners once, you will still have these for 20 years, so go digging through that craft box! They’re never-ending!
Bomb Valentine Then just wrap the paper around the pipe cleaner and your favorite stacked round candies – Sweet Tarts, Mentos, Rolos, and tape or glue in place! Get your kiddos on writing up a quick note “You are the bomb!” and you’re done! Just repeat 20+ more times. 😉Bomb ValentineWe’re also loving this idea from Minted, where with scrap fabric and a few designs you have a custom treat bag! Their step by step is here.Last Minute Valentine's

guest bath re-do

By Emily.

Today on Home Depot’s blog you can find my family’s brand new guest bathroom! My husband owns a construction company, so this was basically his dream partnership. Finally a store he can get behind. 😉 Between his hard work and Home Depot’s awesome selection, it turned out so awesome!Home Depot Reno In fact, it makes the rest of our house look pretty lackluster so we’re going to have to do something about that. 😉 Head to the post here to see the before (cringe!) and after, the step by steps and also all the products we used to put it together!  Bathroom Reno First, this project was all about testing out their new line of Fusion Pro grout. It’s pre-mixed which is so handy and so much less mess. It also dries faster which makes projects so much quicker without the waiting game. The grout is also anti-microbial which is so great for bathrooms because it resists stain, mold and mildew! Here’s a list of all the products we used for this project and why we love them:Home Depot Bathroom Reno

  1. For the wall tile we picked these Delano Blanco tile sheets. They’re a mix of stone and glass and I loved that it brought in lots of shades of gray and whites.
  2. Metro Gris tiles for the floor! They have the faintest light grey lines through them which added interest, but don’t distract.
  3. Spacers! A quick and easy purchase that makes setting tile that much faster. We used 1/16th inch.
  4. Redgard an absolute must for prepping walls that will be exposed to moisture everyday!
  5. You already heard about this awesome grout – we used Delano Grey for the floors and Bright White for the walls.
  6. We had such a back-and-forth time deciding on a mirror. Finally we realized this Moen mirror pivots so it can accommodate our shortest patrons. Such a good price, too!
  7. Venturi’s Tub and Shower Faucet and matching sink faucet. We love the brass and gold trends, but this brushed nickel matches the rest of our house and was such a great price.
  8. We hadn’t updated this bathroom’s fixtures since it was built in 1998(!) and even something small like updating the lights and faucets made the whole space feel brand new again. Hampton Bay 4-Light Panel and Edison Bulbs!
  9. I knew I wanted a wood slab vanity which Russ whipped up custom and this Kohler sink was the perfect complement.NCC_9036
  10. The Lyndall Collection by Delta was a tough cookie to track down, Home Depot shoppers in our area are loving it, too! It’s perfectly minimal and sleek and popular for good reason. We used the towel bar, hand towel ring and paper holder.NCC_8986I will echo my thoughts from the post on their site, if you need a small space like this bathroom to look bigger, go for floor to ceiling tile. It made such a difference!


Home Depot Reno


This post is in partnership with Home Depot a store we love and frequent for all our home needs. All opinions and selections are our own. Find our Guest Post here!

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