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Week 4 – Spica Casts and Poop

We’ve survived another week in the Spica cast. Four weeks down, eight to go. Week 4 was by far the worst week yet. We got completely off our daily rhythm (we don’t have much of a formal schedule but we do have a rhythm)- ALL because of poop.

Yes, poop. You see, my husband had been feeling bad for weeks and weeks and weeks. He finally went to the doctor and found out he had giardia, some kind of amoeba, and something else. The doctors were very impressed by his stool sample – apparently it’s quite rare to have everything he had at the same time.

No, he hasn’t been to any third world countries lately. And yes, we’re having our well water tested at our barn before we drink it again, and, yes, he’ll probably kill me if he knows I’m throwing this out there on the internet, so let’s just keep it between you and me, ok? πŸ˜‰

The doctors said that no one else in the family needed to be tested unless we were having symptoms. And wouldn’t you know it, my stomach started hurting right after his diagnosis. Huh. Imagine that. So with Thanksgiving approaching, I decided it would be a good idea to get me tested and made an appointment with my family doctor. And no sooner did I leave for my appointment did Cora, the three year old, say her belly hurt, too.

So I spent three days chasing poop samples back and forth between doctors and labs. They rejected a couple samples which was beyond frustrating. Apparently poop needs to be refrigerated! Did you know that? I’m not sure why. It’s not like it’s cold inside the body.

Green Carpet Cleaning

If I had it my way, there would be no carpet in our house. We’d stick with hardwood and tile! But, I don’t have it my way right now and we have some carpet in our house. With four children, it’s inevitable that the carpet gets dirtyΒ  even though we have a no eating or drinking policy on the carpet, try to vacuum it often, and ask people to remove their shoes at the door as often as possible.

Carpet cleaners tout their services as necessary for prolonging the life of carpet. But is carpet cleaning safe? Traditional carpet cleaning can be toxic. The chemicals (particularly trichloroethylene or TCE) that some carpet cleaning products rely on are suspected in leukemia outbreaks and ground water contamination.

While some carpet cleaners use chemical cleaners, others just use water. Water is better than chemicals, but you want to make sure all the water is effectively removed from the carpet so the pad doesn’t grow mold!

green carpet cleaning tips

It’s a good idea to ask carpet cleaners what type of cleaning compounds they use so you can avoid the toxic chemicals and how they get all the water out. I know I don’t want my toddler breathing in and ingesting nasty chemicals or mold from my carpet. In addition to polluting indoor air quality and causing other health concerns, some cleaners, especially high pH products, can actually promote stains because they leave behind counter-productive residues.

How to Clean Carpet without Using Chemicals

So, how do you keep your carpets clean and safe without the harsh chemicals? Luckily, a lot of safe household products work really well at removing stains and odors. We recently deodorized our carpet with a big box of baking soda. We smeared the box into the carpet, let it sit overnight, and then vacuumed it up the next morning. It worked really well! And the best part, that box of baking soda cost under $4!clean carpet without chemicalsI also spilled red wine on my carpet a few days ago. I know – I need to follow my own no eating or drinking rules, eh? Of course, it was a nice big spot in a very conspicuous area on my carpet. I acted very quickly and the spot is gone! First, I dumped a huge amount of salt on the carpet. I left the salt there overnight and vacuumed it up the next morning. It looked like Kool-aid the next morning because it absorbed quite a lot of the spilled wine. I should have taken pictures…

The salt didn’t get the whole stain out, though, so I turned to hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a trick I learned from our home birth midwives. It’s also effective at getting blood out of fibers (but you want to test it out first to make sure it doesn’t discolor your carpets or fabric). I just dumped some HP on the carpet and scrubbed with a brush. The hydrogen peroxide did the trick and there is no big red wine spot on my carpet anymore! Yay!

green carpet cleanersOther household products that work well for carpet cleaning in addition to the hydrogen peroxide, salt, and baking soda are corn starch, vinegar, club soda, and borax. Next time you pick up a package of one of those products, look at the directions. You might be surprised how many ways they can be used around your house! Here is also a helpful link for how to deal with specific stains, but they do recommend some chemicals so read with caution.

How do you keep your carpets clean without chemicals? For more information, read this information from Healthy Child, Healthy World here, here, and here.

For more Green Cleaning Tips, check out these posts:

Decrease Toxins with 4 Frugal Cleaning Supplies

How to Clean Porcelain Sinks without Bleach

DIY Fruit & Veggie Wash

Do You Know What’s in YOUR Home Cleaning Products

What are your trips for cleaning carpet without using chemicals?

I’m linking to Frugal Fridays,Β  Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.


Green Cleaning Tips

Week 3 – Is Hip Dysplasia Painful?

We have now passed the THREE week mark in the SPICA cast. Three weeks down, Nine to go.

A burning question on my mind has to with pain. Everything I have read about hip dysplasia (and I’ve read a lot) is that it’s NOT painful. The two very highly respected doctors we’ve seen both told us that there’s no pain associated with DDH. Everything online suggests that as well.

But, I don’t understand how that can be. Sara’s left hip was completely dislocated, so much so that it was forming its own secondary socket in her pelvis. The xray clearly shows that! How can that NOT hurt?

A few days after Sara’s hip surgery, another mom asked this same question on the hip-baby yahoo group we belong to. She said, her own daughter’s demeanor had changed so much for the positive after her daughter’s surgery that she wondered if anyone else has experienced anything similar. Numerous people replied that their own children seemed happier post surgery, too. I was mildly surprised as a lot of the people who replied had children who had previously been mobile but were now stuck in a spica cast. How can going from mobile to not even being able to sit up on your own not make a person mad?? Or at the very least, frustrated beyond belief?

But now that we are three weeks into our own spica cast journey, I feel compelled to add my own two cents! πŸ˜‰

Sara also seems happier!! I don’t know what I can really attribute her happiness to – constant attention? Being carried around everywhere and fawned over? Getting pretty much everything she wants? (We’re so gonna pay when this is all over…) Almost always sitting on someone’s lap? Her age? Or, could it be that her hip is (hopefully) securely back where it belongs?

I don’t know. But I do know that my previously solemn baby girl is now laughing, talking, pointing, clapping, dancing with her one free foot, playing peek-a-boo, and army crawling too!! And I really like to see her happy because NINE more weeks with the spica cast still seem like an eternity to me! But the first three have flown by.

So here’s to time flying by for nine more weeks (That’s Valentine’s Day if 9 weeks doesn’t sound like a long time to you)!!!

If you have experienced hip dysplasia with your own child, what’s your two cents worth? Painful? or NOT painful?


Thanksgiving Menu


I realized a couple of days ago that Thanksgiving is next week already. I’ve been in living in cave for the last couple of weeks since my daughter’s surgery. Fortunately, some lovely friends came over today for a delightful afternoon and I’m feeling a little more inspired to tackle life! I finally decided it’s time to start thinking about the Thanksgiving menu.

This year marks a new adventure in Thanksgiving meals for our extended family. In previous years, we’ve either been far away from all family and have enjoyed lovely meals with military friends, or I’ve hosted one or both sets of parents (pre-kids). Since we moved to Iowa in 2006, though, we’ve always had Thanksgiving at my husband’s Grandpa and Step-Grandma’s house. His grandpa died last year, however, and his Step-Grandma isn’t able to host the enormous group that the two families were in her new apartment. So we won’t have the big extended Thanksgiving we’ve had for the last 5 years.

Instead, we’re enjoying Thanksgiving at my Mother-in-Law’s house. We’ll have my daughter in a spica cast and her 10-year-old cousin who has hip dysplasia surgery on both hips tomorrow and will be in a wheelchair. Sara is in fine spirits after her surgery and I hope her cousin will be doing well by next week, too.

None of that has anything to do with my Thanksgiving Menu, I guess, but I felt like writing it! πŸ™‚ I won’t be making all of these dishes this year, but this is my standard Thanksgiving fare when I am in charge of the meal. I’ll be sharing some of the recipes in the next few days:

World’s Best Turkey
World’s Easiest Crock Pot Ham
Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole
Rosemary, Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Grandma’s Best Three Bread Stuffing
Mandarin Orange and Almond Salad
Whole Grain Artisan Bread
Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Parmesan Cheese
Cranberry & Orange Relish
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Real Whipped Cream
Apple Pie with Homemade Ice Cream

What do you eat for Thanksgiving? I’d love to know! I’m linking up to Simple Lives Thursday, Real Food Wednesday, and

Diapering with a Spica Cast

Diapering with a spica cast no fun. In fact, it’s pretty horrible. Here’s what I learned about diapering with a spica cast when my toddler was treated for hip dysplasia.

I’m not going to lie to you. Diapering with a spica cast is a massive pain. I can’t use my normal cloth diapers because I need something that keeps moisture out of the cast. I’m bummed about that, but I’m getting over it. I can’t do it all. If I could, I would’ve fixed her blasted hip myself and avoided this cast altogether!!

Diapering with a Spica Cast

Everything I read before Sara had her surgery (except from one person) was that full diapering would not be possible. People suggested incontinence pads and smaller diapers than normal. They said to cut the tabs off the diapers and just stuff those little diapers and pads up and in the cast as best I could.

Well, one person said to me in passing that she was able to diaper fully (meaning she got a normal sized diaper up in the cast and fully closed around her baby’s skin) and I hoped I would be so lucky. It seems to me diapering fully will give us the best shot at keeping that monster of a cast dry. It’s on for 12 weeks, after all.

I know I’m lucky as far as Sara’s cast is concerned. I’ve seen pictures of casts that come up almost to the underarms. I don’t think any diaper would be tall enough to fully diaper if she were casted like that. Sara’s cast comes up just over her belly button.

We’re now two weeks into the spica cast, and I think I’ve got a pretty good system down. The first week was really hard because she was swollen from the surgery. I could hardly get a little pad up in the cast the first few days. I thought I was doing a good job diapering until about day 5 when that cast started to smell. We had a blow-out pooh and I pulled poop covered stuffing out the back and front and realized the whole cast was soaked. Not good!!

After that 45 minute diaper change, and with the help of my sister, we devised a new diapering system. So far so good. Cast is dry and Sara seems happy. And best of all, the cast doesn’t stink much worse than it did on day 5. Or, I have just grown immune to it. That’s always possible! πŸ˜‰

Here’s what works for us. No baby was harmed in the taking of these pictures…

First you need supplies:

  • 2 diapers (In the beginning, it was important that the diaper be super thin. Pampers worked best for me. But now, after practice (and probably because I’ve taken out a bit of stuffing),Β  I’m able to get the fatter diapers in there too.
  • Flashlight to check out the skin inside the cast . For obvious reasons, you want to be very careful to keep the skin free of sores and rashes. Skin has a really hard time staying dry in that cast if the cast itself is soaked.
  • Blow dryer (or cast cooler) to dry out the cast in the case of leaks.
  • Back scratcher or other long, thin “poker” to help get the diaper in place
  • Good quality wipes. I wanted to use my cloth wipes, but they were too thick and I like that store bought wipes have a little alcohol to wick away extra moisture. Under normal circumstances, I would not like that added alcohol, but they’re good for this application.

Once you’ve got your supplies and your baby cleaned, stick a diaper up the front, pull it out the top, and spread the diaper out, and then pull it back down into place:

Fluff out the bottom – pulling the sides out. You don’t want the sides turned under and stuck up your baby’s rear and potentially leaking:

Stick the sides inside the spica. Again, make sure they they’re out and not tucked under baby’s tooshie:

Then start stuffing the back of the diaper as far up the back of the spica as you can reach. This is the tough part for me. After you get it tucked up as far as you can from the front, flip your baby over and try to get it from the top of the back of the cast. We make the flip part fun. I count to three, rock her hips back and forth, and we laugh as I turn her over on to her belly.

I can never reach the diaper at first, so here’s where the back scratcher comes in very handy. Being VERY CAREFUL (if you’ve got bulky rings you may want to take them off so you don’t scratch your baby), poke the back scratcher up the back of the cast and push the diaper out. Even with the poker I have to stick my hand down quite far in the cast to get the diaper. I take my rings off because otherwise I’ll hurt her. Yes, you can laugh if you want. Or you can cry with me. πŸ™‚ I vacillate between the two emotions.

After you’ve got the back of the diaper up to the top and have spread it out, flip your baby over, find the tabs, and connect the diaper! Now, you can put a second diaper on the outside of the cast. I’m not exactly sure why it’s necessary if you’re able to diaper fully. If you can’t diaper fully, that second diaper is there to catch any leaks. But it does soften the cast a little and makes holding her a little more comfortable so I sometimes have the second diaper on there. I reuse it if it’s clean (which it normally is).

Then, hope to high heaven that your baby doesn’t start grunting the second you get the diaper fastened because you’ll need to rest for a few minutes before wanting to tackle that again! πŸ™‚

When changing the diaper, you’ll want to make sure you close the tabs again after you unfasten the diaper. Otherwise, they may get stuck on your baby’s skin and hurt when you pull that diaper out. Trust me, babies don’t like that! Also, if the diaper is poopy, you want to try to get as much poop covered with a wipe as possible. You don’t want to smear the poop inside the back of the cast where you can’t get it. Changing a poop covered diaper in a spica cast is not for the faint of heart. I’m glad I used cloth diapers before, not sure why, but maybe they helped a little with the ick factor? I’m just glad she doesn’t poop as much as she pees. πŸ˜‰

And that’s it. Have you diapered a baby in a spica cast? What are your secrets??

To read the rest of our hip dysplasia journey, click here.

How to Make Mango Porcupines Your Kids Will Love!

My kids love mangoes. And their favorite way to eat them? Cut into mango porcupines. Learn how to cut mango porcupines with this easy tutorial.

how to make mango porcupines

How to Make Mango Porcupines

Funny thing about mangoes. For some reason they can cause quite a few fights at my house. Who knew mangoes could cause such a stir? I finally starting buying four at a time every time I buy them so the each of my four kids gets his or her own. The thought is, if they each have their own, we won’t have problems arise. But we still have problems, wouldn’t you know. For some reason, everyone wants to argue about who gets which part of the mango.

I don’t even really like mangoes, so the hullabaloo over mangoes is so strange to me! Since my kids love them and they’re on the Clean 15 List, I happily buy them when they cost 99 cents or less, which they often do this time of year. Even though my kids are older now, they still love them cut up so they look like porcupines. Here’s how to make your own mango porcupine!

how to make a mango porcupine

After you’ve washed the mango, cut it into thirds. This is the only tricky part because there’s a great big seed in the middle and I’m never quite sure where that sucker is hidden. But if you hold your mango just so, you can tell to slice it longways instead of short ways. Cutting it longways will yield the nicest sides for making porcupines.

Then, score the two seedless halves:
score mango to make the mango porcupine

And flip them inside out pushing up with your thumbs. When the kid are finished eating them, this is what you’ll have left:
eaten mango

Don’t forget to give someone the third section with the seed. My kids love cleaning off that piece, too.

What do you think of mangoes? Love them or hate them? Do you have a favorite way to eating them? My kids also love frozen mango chunks as much as fresh mango. They add them to smoothies and eat them by the handful!

mango porcupines

If you like this post on Mango Porcupines, you might like these too:

Use up Ripe Bananas with this Homemade Banana Bar Recipe

Fresh Fruit Waffle Cones make a quick super snack

Homemade 100% Fresh Fruit PopsiclesΒ 


Whole Wheat – Sunflower – Flax Bread

I love a nutty, crunchy, flavorful, homemade bread! And I’m always changing my master bread recipe to come up with something different and new. Today, I made a Whole Wheat – Sunflower – Flax bread.

I used my Master Recipe here and simply added two additional ingredients to my tried and true recipe:The result was a fabulous bread! I’ll be making this recipe again. I love the crunch of the sunflower seeds and the rich, full flavor of the freshly ground hard red wheat. Really, I think I’d survive just fine with homemade bread and a stick of butter. πŸ™‚


To my standard recipe I added:

2 cups raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds, ground

Here’s the rest of the recipe:

5 cups warm water
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup honey
1 heaping Tbsp. salt – I use Real Salt Sea Salt
1 heaping Tbsp. Dough Enhancer
10 cups ground wheat flour – I used hard red wheat for this recipe
3 Tbsp. Saf-Yeast Instant Yeast
A couple cups additional flour

Mix dough in Bosch on low speed. Quickly add as much additional flour as needed for the dough to pull away from the side of the bowl so that the sides of the bowl come clean. Mix it for 5 minutes. Oil hands and counter well, divide dough into 5 loaves and let rise in loaf pans, sprayed with non-stick spray. Let rise for approx. 30 minutes until they have doubled in size. Turn oven down to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes.



Week One – Surviving with a Spica Cast

We’ve survived one week so far in a Spica Cast. One week down, eleven to go. It’s been a challenge to say the least. If you’re not familiar with spica casts, this is what they look like. Her left leg is casted all the way to her ankle. Her right leg is casted to the knee. There is a lovely (too small) hole in the bottom area for a pathetic attempt at diapering. Her knees are bent at such an angle that if we had a horse, she’d be all set. And she’s so heavy that if I make it 11 more weeks without needing another back surgery it’s going to be a small miracle:

Yes, she was walking before. No, she can’t walk now. Yes, that has made her quite frustrated at times and she’s learning a whole new vocabulary since she’s unable to walk. No, the new vocabulary doesn’t include curse words, but I can see them in her eyes when she gets really mad at being unable to move… πŸ˜‰

Anyway, we survived week one! Here’s what it took:

A big balloon bouquet helped out tremendously the very first day.

Her favorite animal – kees (kitties who say woof woof) gave her soft fur to grab and only made her mad when they ran off.

Soft laps to hold her 24/7. I’m so thankful my mother has been here with me for over a week and that my sister (a family doctor) also came out. It was very comforting to have both an MD and a beloved Grandma at my beck-n-call the first four days after her surgery.

New art supplies to keep her occupied.

And a sense of humor for when the going gets rough – at least once a day so far.

Week Two is requiring a whole new set of toys…but at least we’re finally getting the diapering down. I’ll share all the lovely details when I can diaper her in under 10 minutes a pop. Needless to say, cloth diapers are out for the next 11 weeks. πŸ™

At least the surgery part is over and I don’t have to think about that anymore. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders!

day2day joys

What to Expect on Hip Dysplasia Surgery Day

Is your baby or toddler having surgery to correct hip dysplasia? Having survived three hip dysplsia surgeries with our toddler, we have a pretty good idea of how it will all shake down. Here’s what to expect on hip dysplasia surgery day.

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.

What to Expect on Hip Dysplasia Surgery Day

Sara’s surgery was set for 10 am on November 1. We were supposed to arrive at the hospital at 8:15 which meant we would have to leave our house around 7:30 am.

The night before, Sara took one really long bath, a shower, and then decided to get back in the bath with one of her siblings. πŸ™‚ Since she really loves the water and won’t be able to bathe while she’s casted, we humored her, and it was quite funny to see her go back and forth between bath and shower. We had to wipe her down with special anti-microbial wipes the hospital gave us and then were not allowed to put any lotion or cream on her skin. I told her she needed to nurse a lot that night because she would be cut off at 5:30 in preparation for the surgery.

The lack of nursing had really worried me and I’d prepared for a fight. I had been incorrectly told that she wouldn’t be allowed ANYTHING after midnight, including breastmilk. After researching and having a few friends research as well, I had found enough sources to convince me that cutting off nursing 4 hours prior to surgery would be completely safe. I had printed numerous sources stating that fact and took them all with me to her pre-op appointments because I was bound and determined to convince her surgeon that she should be allowed to nurse most of the night. I was glad to find out that the person who told me midnight just didn’t know. The cut-off had been 4 hours prior all along and I researched for nothing. It kept my mind off the bigger surgery, so I guess I’m glad I had breastmilk to think about instead of the surgery! πŸ˜‰

The Day of Hip Dysplasia Surgery

Anyhow, we arrived at the hospital late the morning of her surgery and it didn’t really matter because her surgeon was running behind too. We had to occupy her for quite some time. The staging area had a little wagon we were able to put her in and we wandered the halls for a good hour and a half. I was determined not to let her see me upset as I didn’t want her to catch on to my somber mood. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done and I am so thankful my dear husband was there to keep her. She doesn’t get mad at him for not nursing her! πŸ™‚ And he’s much more stoic than I am.

We played peek-a-boo in the halls. She watched all sorts of medical professionals in different stages of surgical dress (hats, masks, gowns) and saw all kinds of medical instruments moving from place to place. She also spent quite a lot of time learning how to use Daddy’s iPhone to look at pictures of Kee’s (kitties). Occasionally I had to disappear because I did not want her seeing me cry. I was mostly an emotional wreck. But not once did she see tears in my eyes and I think having us act jovial helped her overall demeanor as well.

And then finally, they came for her at 10:45. Daddy was dressed to accompany her to the OR and off they went. I could not take her to the OR but it was important to me that one of us do it. I’m glad Dan was able to take her.

Taking her back to the OR on Hip Dysplasia Surgery Day

The anesthesiologist told us to expect her to struggle. They were putting her to sleep with a mask before inserting her with needles of any kind, and he said normally kids don’t like the mask as it starts to stink. When they got to the OR, the anesthesiologist asked which finger he should put the pulse ox on and she held up a finger for him which made the staff laugh. Then they put the mask on her and according to Dan, she just closed her eyes and went to sleep without a struggle.

And then the waiting began. Dr. Weinstein said the surgery could take up to 4 hours depending on what all they would have to do. They had to type her blood and have blood available for a possible transfusion. They inserted a catheter and she was given a caudal block so her bottom half would be numb.

We got a bite to eat and some coffee. I had been avoiding sugar for several weeks to try to boost her immune system. But that morning, I drank coffee with lots of sugar! πŸ™‚ We received several cryptic messages about her progress but it was hard to figure out exactly what was going on. Around 1:30, Dr. Weinstein appeared in the waiting area.

He told us that he was able to get her hip back in place with minimal effort. She was so loose that he basically manipulated it to the socket without even cutting her. However, he needed to release the tendons to keep the hip in place so he performed an adductor tenotomy. While he had her cut open, he also cleaned out her hip socket. He told us her socket is big and deep which was good to hear. Often children with hip dysplasia have shallow sockets that prevent the femoral head from staying put. I was relieved to hear that that’s not the case with Sara. And then he told us the best news of all! We could go home that very night if we wanted. We had prepared for a 3-5 day stay so we were thrilled to leave that night.

And then we went to find our groggy, unhappy baby.

The one condition for leaving was that she had to pee first. She was casted in a very wide position which makes diapering quite difficult. The one downside to the easier surgery is that instead of being casted for only 6 weeks, she’ll most likely be casted for 12! It’s not even been quite one week yet, and that thing is already starting to smell. It’s going to quite ripe after 12 weeks!

Want more information on Hip Dysplasia and Spica Life? Read these posts:

Preparing for your baby’s hip surgery

Entertaining a toddler in a spica cast

Must have supplies for spica cast life

Tips for spica cast cut-off day

You can find our wholeΒ Hip Dysplasia story here.

Sara’s Hip Dysplasia Surgery Options

On Tuesday, November 1, Sara had surgery at the University of Iowa to correct her dislocated left hip. Her surgeon, Dr. Weinstein, gave us four different scenarios that he said could happen to her during surgery:

1. Closed reduction – manually manipulate the femur back into the socket without cutting into her at all.

2. Adductor Tenotomy – small incision is made in in the groin to release the muscles that hold the femur in place so the femur can placed in the socket. This could also be used if the closed reduction was going well and the femur just needed a little more help being put in the socket.

3. Open Reduction – large, horizontal incision is made in the hip so the hip can be moved into the socket. May need blood transfusion because of blood loss during surgery.

4. Femoral Osteotomy – incision is made on the back of the thigh and the femur is cut and untwisted to help keep it in the socket. This is done as a last effort if other options aren’t successful.

We were told that because of her age, almost 18 months, and because she had a very high dislocation, the first two options would probably not be possible. However, she did have a very good range of motion and very loose hip, so we weren’t sure what would happen when she was under general anesthesia as it loosens everything up even more.

I’ll describe what happened to her in the next post!