Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Day @ the Garka's

1: a feeling of great pleasure or happiness that come from success, good fortune, or a sense of well-being: Gladness (Cupcake making)
2. something that gives joy  

Making our Valentine's Day Decorations!

Flowers for ALL!

Our MASTER piece!

Much love to you and yours on this very special valentines day!
Greg, Kelsey, Mason and Kendall!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Unfinished work...

When you lose someone you love you are left with memories and memento's.
One year ago today we lost a light in our life. My Grandmother passed away.

She was no doubt my most loyal blog reader and encouraged me to write at every opportunity.
The weekend we celebrated her life was also the weekend we celebrated the upcoming birth of my daughter.It was truly a full circle weekend.

Before my Grandmother passed away she started reflecting on her life and started writing.
I wish she would have had the opportunity to finish the story but she didn't so we are left cherishing these words from her...


"Today we went to a funeral honoring Pastor Lou Gabrielson and it occurred to me that I really needed to reflect some memories that happened to me in my lifetime. Thanks to Ester and Gary Sandberg they gifted me with a laptop computer and I have no excuse now not to get busy reflecting and recording information of my background. Get ready this might be quite a trip.

The earliest thing I remember is being sick and my father was asked to go get medicine for my whooping cough... He came home with the prescription and a cute little Mickey Mouse that was black and rubbery... A nice addition. It became apart of my life and was carefully guarded for many years.


Dad was born on November 2, 1907 and died March 2, 1987.
He was special, caring and a sharing kind of fella, who vowed his children would never know the hardships he had being put into an orphanage. That is what he knew as a child. He said he would always go around church where the devil couldn't get him in a corner. He showed this over and over during his lifetime and getting him to lighten up was most difficult. His mother died when he was very young and he remembers her lying on a porch with her eye's covered. Unlike what he was told she was murdered and we found this our from a relative who had newspapers that told the story of what happened. According to Dad his mother was killed by a stray bullet on a street in N. Dakota. Instead she was killed by a man in a home where she was visiting. He shot her, wounded her friend and then killed himself.

Dad was then placed in a Catholic home for children along with his two sisters. When the opportunity came for him to leave he did so. He went to live with a family in N. Dakota and used to boast that when he went to the 8th grade.... He went in one door and out the back door. He then caught a ride on a box car and headed out.
He joined a rodeo and rode bucking horses until a friend of his who rode bulls died in an exhibition. He went to North Platte, Nebraska where he recovered from injuries he received riding horses. There he met my Mom who was a junior in High School.

They were married on August 1,1930. Mom was an outstanding student and when she married, my Grandfather was very angry and did not speak to them for many months.
Mom promised him that she would finish high school and did so many years later going to Fullerton Junior College.
Seeing pictures of my parents are plentiful during their early marriage. Mom shocked the world when she went flying while pregnant. But she did and was disgraced by critics.
I was born on July 13,1931 and that changed a lot of things. Dad who was a free spirit suddenly become responsible for a family and things were never the same.

Dad worked for Nash Finch a grocery supply company and found the depression not too bad. We lived in a house across the alley from Mom's family. Dad's salary was $60.00 per month and that was excellent pay for this time."

"When my Grandmother would have to leave after a visit, I would be devastated  She propped me up on her knee and said, "Don't worry, I will leave something and that will mean I will always be back". Sure enough, she did just that and over the years I had collected lots of her hairpins to reflect her visits".


When I read these words. Her words. I can almost hear her voice. 
There is not a day that goes by where she is not thought of or missed. 

I take great comfort in knowing that we will meet again. 
Until then.... We love and miss you from where we are!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Like birds of a feather we flock together..

1 in 100
Pushed to the limit
On an Amazing Journey
Fiercely Determined
Aware of what REALLY matter
Strong Beyond Measure
Seeking Miracles
Sleep Deprived
An Ordinary Woman Caring for an EXTRAORDINARY CHILD
Living for the moment
Taking nothing for Granted
Doing what I think is Best for MY child
Willing to do whats required of me
a cheerleader
a Warrior
An Example
An advocate
in survival mode
 a student
Following my Instincts


I have spent what feels like a lifetime getting to know other heart mothers "virtually". I do not always get the opportunity to meet them face to face but when I do it feels like we have been friends forever, almost like I just saw them the previous week. 

This month I had the opportunity to enjoy the most amazing lunch with some other heart mothers. 
We even had a few crazy mom's drive hours to join us (I say crazy with LOVE).
For me this just shows how special our heart mom get together are, we after all know intimately the journey each is on even though we all are at different stages in the journey. 

These women (above) all have children like Mason. Single ventricle kids with their own unique, beautiful and complex hearts. 
This photo is a real life example of the scary truth we all face... Statistically one of our children will not make it to their first birthday. Sadly two days after this lunch one of the moms lost their baby after a courageous fight.  

Raising a child with a complex heart is difficult, scary, and hard.
Losing a child to to a CHD is earth shattering. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013


We make small choices and big choice everyday.
Some can be life changing others may not be... The important part is that the choice is ours, is yours, is mine!

Think about it...

  • I have the choice to consider it joy when I fall into trials or I can choose to allow Satan to take my joy when I fall into trials.
  • I have the choice to seek and ask God for wisdom for the things that I am lacking or I have the choice not to and waiver in disbelief
  • I have the choice to persevere in testing or I can give up when things get hard
Choices. Choices. Choices. The Choice is yours. 
When I first came to this realization that the choice was mine, it was overwhelming...Even more overwhelming because this realization came to me during the largest trial I have ever faced. 
How I handled myself, my marriage. my trial was my choice
In my pain I found purpose, I sought God, I chose JOY. 

This realization that we all have the same choices as it relates to each individual trial has changed the way I pray. I no longer ask God to bless so and so, or ask that he would do this or that. I now pray the said individual would choose God's blessings. 

If you hear one thing in reading this post I hope it is this God is so ready and willing to give to you, to me, to us all.You just need to make the choice to let him in.

"Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you"
Mathew 7:7

Heart SWAG!

It is no secret. I love to shop.
For valentines day or to help spread CHD awareness here are some of my favorite things I urge you to pick up!

In love with this pillow from dirtsastudio

One of a kind vintage embroidered heart diagram by refashioned

Everyone needs a heart mug breadandbadger

Any hear child should have their own heart zipup by bcchildrenswear

I wear jewerly that represents my families heart journey. It is a simple necklace. A cross with a M to remind me that by "his stripes" Mason is healed.

I found this great heart ring today made by soshe that I will soon be adding to my collection.

Every falling tear....

Could not help but to share this great video.

Matt Hammitt and his wife have been such an amazing advocate for children born with heart defects.
Please take time to watch this video and buy his AMAZING MUSIC!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A fun weekend project... NO GRATE LAUNDRY DETERGENT!

Lets face it. We are all looking for ways to save a quick dollar. 
When my family grew by one more this past year I was amazed at how many loads of laundry was needed to keep this family clothed... When I dug deeper I was even more amazed at how much doing laundry was costing us... So I went over to my trusted friend pintrest and found a few recipes on homemade laundry detergent. 

In total I have tried 5 different recipes. 
When I first starting my testing... My husband would come home excited to see me standing at the stove slaving over what he assumed to be dinner only to be disappointed to find out that I was actually making laundry soap.... OH husbands. 

Today I give you the easiest, most user friendly recipe. 
Trust me. Once you use this you wont go back to store bought...Think I am crazy than I dare you to try it!

3 Tablespoons Borax
3 Tablespoons Washing Soda
2 Tablespoons Dawn Dish soap (Choose which ever scent is most appealing to you / Use dawn because it will get out the grease)
1 Gallon Jug (empty -clean- milk carton will do the trick)

Place 3 Tablespoons Borax3 Tablespoons Washing Soda and 2 Tablespoons Dawn Dish soap into a one gallon jug. Pour 4 cups (approximately) boiling water into the jug. Carefully swirl the ingredients until they are dissolved in the liquid. 
DO NOT COVER THE JUG especially if you are using a plastic contaner. The plastic could expand. The hot steam needs an outlet. 
Let the liquid cool. Then fill the container (almost to the top) with cold water. 
Bubbles will overflow out of the bottle.

I have been using this as our family detergent for the past year. 
I have never looked back. The craziest part is that I cant tell the difference between using this detergent or store bought. 

I use approximately 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load. 
I know you think this might sound like a lot but it is a thin mixture and since it costs NOTHING per gallon It doesn't bother me one bit.
For those concerned with using this with their HE washer... Have no fear - this recipe is what I use with my HE washer and since this recipe doesn't make hardly any (if any at all) suds, then I consider it to be HE friendly.

Now get in the kitchen and start cooking up a batch of fresh, homemade laundry detergent. 

(Photos will be added when I make my next batch)


With so many additional photos still to be posted. 
Your support means the world to us!

Kelsey Garka

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Heart Moms. 

I joined a social site for blogs... 
This site allows you to more easily follow your favorite blogs. 

The only problem is I can not find the HEART COMMUNITY on bloglovin... 
Sign up, Join me, Follow me... Lets take the blog world over :)

Follow on Bloglovin

Let the madness begin!

February kicks off what is considered HEART AWARENESS MONTH. 
This week is extra special to me and the HEARTLAND because it allows us to honor those who live with or have lost their life to a (CHD) congenital heart defect. 

Today as we kick off the week I want to give you some facts about congenital heart defects. 

What is a CHD?
Congenital heart defects (CHD) are conditions that are present at birth and can affect the structure of a baby’s heart and the way it works. They can affect how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body. Congenital heart defects can vary from mild (such as a small hole between the chambers of the heart) to severe (such as missing or poorly formed portions of the heart).

Mason drew the severe CHD card and is missing his entire left ventricle. The name of his CHD is Hypoplastic Left Heart. 

The signs and symptoms for a CHD depend on the type and severity. Some defects unfortuntetly have few signs or no signs, while other defects create signs in children such as bluish tinted nails or lips, fast or troubled breathing, the child might tire easily when feeding or they tend to be not as active and very sleepy. 

DID YOU ALSO KNOW - Congenital heart defects are:
  • The most common type of birth defects
  • The leading cause of infant deaths

Sunday, February 3, 2013

RED - the new black!

I am so THRILLED to be able to share this with all of you!
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did... Your support means the world to us!


About them: M&K

With my blog re-model coming soon I have been motivated to spend sometime updating what will soon be our new tabs. You will get to see them once we go live this week!

Below is how I will introduce our amazing children in the about us section.
I hope you enjoy!

Kendall Grace.

She is the fourth corner to our square. Without her we are incomplete.
But the reality is Kendall has not almost died, she has no visible scars, she is healthy, pink and full of life.

As she grows there is sure to be the normal “girl” dramas but none will compare to the drama that Mason has faced in his life.
All of this said that doesn’t mean that we don’t love her and it doesn’t mean that we love one child more than the other… Nothing upsets me more than this notion.

Let me fully introduce you to our little girl, Kendall Grace.

She has the opposite temperament of Mason. She is not even a year old and we can already tell she is full of life, she will challenge us, she does not sit still, she will more than likely be the athlete in the family and she LOVES her brother.

Kendall was born second and she was born into a heart family.
Who’s to say it is better to be born into a heart family or to have your “normal” world turned upside down by turning into a heart family?  I am personally thankful she will not have to watch her brother endure surgery after surgery and I am thankful that I only had to hide tears from one child not two.

I feel like I am always trying to consume and take her in before she is all grown up.
She has given me the gift of having a healthy child… but even that is different. I have been too close to every parent’s nightmare and in the shadow of my fears it is different.

I am a sibling and I can not imagine life with out my sister. My greatest fear for Kendall is that she will lose her other half to heart disease. Then YEARS from now when Greg and I are gone she will be left alone.
Even at 10 months old, Mason is a HUGE part of her life.

For years I was preoccupied with how the loss of Mason would impact our life (mine and Greg’s).  Would our marriage survive and how would we move on??? But, now I am consumed with how it would impact Kendall’s life. Now the burden of anticipatory grief has almost doubled to include my worry for Kendall who I would not lose. This is twice as overwhelming.
I know a lot of families living with anticipatory grief. So how do I rise above the challenge? That is still something I struggle to figure out fully. But every morning I face this fear. I face it because I love my family too much to fail them!

We have TWO beautiful children. One who was born with a broken heart and the other who is heart healthy. Both equally perfect and beautiful.

Mason Garka.

I have spent a lifetime willing Mason to survive, a million seconds holding him in the hospital, and thousands of hours staring endlessly at his face. His face is almost more familiar to me than my own.

He is perfectly broken.
All the time people say “if you didn’t know what he has been through you could never tell”. That is the blessing and the curse of heart disease.
Now if you took a second and genuinely observed my child shirtless. You would observe 5 puncture wounds (from his chest tubes), the “zipper” on his sternum from his three open heart surgeries, you could feel his protruding sternum and you would see the numerous marks littering his neck, groin and arms from his IV lines keeping him alive.

I don’t write this for you to think our life is awful or to feel bad for us. Our life is WONDERFUL but we will never get past the terrifying parts. They have become a huge part of our lives and shaped our future giving us accidental purpose.
I will never hide Mason’s heart defect and I would NEVER be ashamed of it.
Mason’s beautiful heart has given me a platform. I am involved with charities and I speak out. I don’t care if I make the public uncomfortable with our everyday life. I prefer the discomfort to any pity or shame.
I have a choice I will either make strangers uncomfortable or Mason will learn to be uncomfortable. I choose strangers. For them, the discomfort will be short lived. For Mason it is the rest of his life.

This blog was created for Mason. It has evolved the way we have as a family.
I hope someday my children enjoy this virtual space as much as I have enjoyed created it.