Sunday, December 9, 2018

Southcentre Mall || A Special Time with Santa

A few weeks ago I took the kids to Southcentre Mall here in Calgary for a sensory friendly event called “A Special Time with Santa”. If you recall this Instagram post from back in October when we attended Southcentre’s Halloween event -- you’ll know it was a huge success with Evanna, and hands down the best Halloween we’ve had to date. It was just so great to take Evanna to a safe indoor venue to celebrate another holiday that was relatively quiet, had the luxury of taking our time, nor feel rushed, and it resulted in an incredibly enjoyable experience. 

For Christmas, Southcentre invited us to attend their sensory friendly “A Special Time with Santa”, where again, we were assigned a certain time block to come and see Santa when the mall first opened (so most of the stores were actually still closed), the lights were kept off  (just the natural lighting from the sky lights were used), and the overall environment was kept calm and quiet. Taking Evanna out into very busy and noisy environment can sometimes be very overwhelming for her, and she'll make it known that she is not having a good time and just wants to go home and play with her favourite toys. So for both Halloween and the Christmas events when Evanna actually exhibited that she was having a good time and was actually enjoying herself -- made my mama heart burst, and there’s seriously no better feeling then seeing your child relaxed and visibly happy. 

On the day we attended “A Special Time with Santa”, Evanna was actually just getting over a week long illness, so we still had to take things slowly and be more aware of her limitations. I was actually a little worried about how the whole thing would go (like I was was *this close* to canceling our appointment), and if sitting with Santa would upset her and cause a desat/go into respiratory distress. Thankfully from the moment we placed Evanna beside Santa, she immediately began to cuddle in close to him and rest her head against his arm. On the other hand, while I though Bennett would love Santa (as he’s super easy going, and generally loves everyone he comes into contact with), he exhibited a good ol’ classic “baby meltdown” while sitting on Santa’s knee, and thought it was quite hilarious! So for a few moments, you had Evanna snuggling in close to Santa on one side… and Bennett crying and trying to get away on the other. Pure gold!
Once we captured a few photos, I grabbed Bennett and removed him from the situation, but when I went to go and grab Evanna, she actually started pushing me away, and cuddled in further into Santa’s embrace. It seriously was the cutest thing ever, and one of the most heartwarming things to see. Santa realizing what was going on, hugged her closer and told us that we could give Evanna a few more minutes before we had to leave. Bless his heart!

Once we got Evanna settle back into the stroller, we let Bennett crawl around the “North Pole” exhibit for a little while (burn some more energy lol), and I was then interviewed by Global Calgary. Link to that news article can be found here ---->

Overall, while it was a slightly stressful morning because Evanna’s energy and tolerance reserve was significantly lower than normal -- it actually went better than expected, and still over the moon with how the whole thing unfolded. I would like to thank Michelle and the team at Southcentre for putting on this amazing event + and Dave the Santa for being so patient, calm, kind and beyond understanding of our situation – while also looking past the trach and oxygen. I just loved how he “knew” just what to do and how to make Evanna feel at ease and comfortable.

If you are still needing to get photos taken with Santa for Christmas, he can be found in the Enchanted Forest/Centre Court at Southcentre Mall until December 23rd during regular mall hours, and on Christmas Eve (December 24th) until 3pm.

xo The Irvine Family

Friday, November 30, 2018

Lake Louise Family Photoshoot + our Christmas Cards

So this post is incredibly long overdue when you consider that these family photos were taken back in July. However…. I’m sure most could agree that our life has been a little crazy (with the California surgery and postop recovery) up until just recently; and so around the time things began to FINALLY slow down just a little – it came time to order our Christmas cards, and I decided to hold off on posting these photos a little while longer.

For context, the months leading up to Evanna’s first surgery down in California was filled with a lot of stress, anxiety and quite a lot of fear of the potential risks that we were consenting to. Well after a little “cry on the internet” (quoting Nick there lol) about the absolute nightmare of trying to coordinate travel plans just to get Evanna down to California in the first place (after experiencing a ton of dead ends, our incredible social worker here in Calgary was able to knock some sense into a doctor or two, and emphasize that due to how much oxygen Evanna was on, a commercial flight was not possible whatsoever, and she absolutely required a private medical "hospital to hospital" transport), my good friend and family photographer asked if we’d like to take some family photos before we left. I of course jumped at the opportunity, and while discussing location ideas, she mentioned she had been doing lots of sessions out in the Banff and Lake Louise area, and asked if Evanna could handle the short drive out there. I stated that Evanna could definitely handle the drive, and because I didn’t want to take up any more of Jennie’s valuable time, I inquired if she already had sessions booked in that area that we could just piggyback onto, and did it on a day that both Nick had off and when Jennie was already going to be in the area for another photoshoot. 

The awesome result of doing this photoshoot out at Lake Louise, was when I showed Evanna’s Stanford/LPCH nurses pictures of what she normally looks like (people tend to look like crap postop to say the least... so I like to always show "normal" pictures of Evanna to the nurses that are taking care of her in hospital), it was also a neat way to show them where we’re from and the beautiful mountain backdrops that exist here in Alberta. If anything, while a handful of staff had heard of Calgary (only because of the 88’ Olympics... so maybe we should host again one day soon lol), most of the people we talked to down in California really only knew of Vancouver, Toronto and Banff when talking about our home Canada – so I often had to say that if traveling to Banff or Lake Louise, you usually had to fly into Calgary to get there lol. Though I know the world doesn’t revolve around me, I guess despite the size of city (and the fact that it’s like the 4th largest city in all of Canada), I was shocked at how many people in California (at least the hospital staff we came across) hadn’t heard of Calgary before. I had to constantly state that we're basically just north of Montana, and seriously less than a 3 hour plane ride from San Francisco (because most people assumed we had come really far to get to  Stanford... like the East Coast/Toronto perhaps? And not realize that we're a lot closer than they originally thought).  Oh well.... at least I now know that we've educated a few more Californians, and had many state that Calgary/Banff/Lake Louise is now on their bucket list to visit in the future by the time we were transferred back to Calgary. 
Anyways, though I’ve already posted and shared several of these photos on both my personal Instagram and family Facebook Page from our July Lake Louse photoshoot with Jennie of Guenard  Photography here’s more of my favourite shots for your viewing pleasure!


And now for the photo that we chose to put on our Chatbooks Christmas Card. Chatbooks has a ton of amazing holiday card layouts to choose from -- both portrait and landscape options, and even templates that allows for multiple photos to be added. I personally love layouts that allow for one large photo with simple text, as our parents + grandparents tend to display these cards all year long, and so it's something I keep in mind when choosing which design I'm going to use. 
What I particularly loved -- was the FREE option to add a few more little candid photos on the back with a little holiday message. Chatbooks also includes envelopes with a return address printed on them for FREE! Seriously how amazing is that?! With the code kierra20, you can get 20% off your  entire order... and with tomorrow being the December 1st -- this is something I would personally order before the end of the week! Click HERE to view + shop their holiday card designs!

xo The Irvine Family

Below I've linked some past family photoshoots

2014 || 2015 || 2016 [part 1] [part 2]|| 2017