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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… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ™

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 wholeย 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!

Apple Pancake Rings

Apple Pancake Rings


I found this idea for Apple Pancake Rings on Pinterest and decided to give it a try! The original recipe is here and it claimed to be easy so I was all for it…

Of course, in my typical style, I couldn’t use the original recipe because it calls for Bisquick which I don’t buy…so I improvised.

First, I made my own buttermilk pancake batter using freshly ground hard white wheat flour. Then, I cored the apples with the handy dandy Pampered Chef Apple Corer that I never use and cut them into slices:

Apple Pancake Rings

Then, using a toothpick as the recipe specifies, I dipped the pancakes into the batter and fried them in my cast iron skillet because I don’t have a griddle. I need a griddle. The first batch looked awful:

Apple Pancake Rings

I would NOT call this an easy process. Maybe I’m challenged as a cook, or perhaps you really DO have to use Bisquick, or maybe I just don’t have the right kitchen tools…anyhow, what I finally got to work (marginally), was to really lower the temperature and heavily grease my pan. When I put the dipped apple rings in the pan, the batter spread into the center. I let it cook for a few minutes and then cleaned out the center with a toothpick. The last few I made looked ok, but let me tell you, they are fabulous!! (But I think they would be better peeled as well as cored and sliced). Here’s what we finally got:

Apple Pancake Rings

I’m going to keep practicing and see if I can’t get some to look like Carla Hall’s (but without the Bisquick)!

I’m linking up to Ultimate Recipe Swap and Frugal Food Thursday.

Fried Apples-n-Onions

The kids and I are reading Farmer Boy right now. I’ve read the entire Little House on the Prairie Series several times and always love the books. I’m delighted to learn that my kids really enjoy them, too. Farmer Boy is a wonderful story but it always makes me hungry! There are so many delicious sounding, 100% natural, 100% homemade foods that Laura Ingalls Wilder describes with such enthusiasm – my stomach growls every time I read from it.

Since I currently cook most of our food from scratch, I can really appreciate the time it must have taken Almonzo’s mother to put homemade meals on the table for her large family. And I have all the modern conveniences: electric stove, dishwasher, grain mill…all them operate at the touch of a button. I don’t have to churn my own butter, make my own cheese, or milk (and slaughter) a cow, like they had to back then.

One of the recipes that Almonzo eats in Farmer Boy is Fried Apples-n-Onions. I happen to have a ton of apples and onions, so we made them yesterday for lunch. While I thought it was delicious, my pickier kid eaters weren’t that impressed. I really recommend though. It was super easy and very tasty! I found this recipe on online and made modifications as recommended in the comments. I love reading through comments on recipes. Sometimes they make me laugh, but sometimes they are really helpful, as they were in this case.

Fried Apples-n-Onions

2-3 TBS butter (bacon grease, if you have it)
6 sliced apples
6 sliced onions
3 TBS brown sugar

Melt the butter in your pan. Saute the onions in the butter until caramelized (10-15 minutes). Add the apple slices and brown sugar and cook about 5 minutes, until they are tender. I cooked these in my cast iron skillet! Next time I’d like to try it with bacon grease and a tarter apple. I have yellow delicious on hand right now, but I think a nice Granny Smith would probably be even better, or perhaps I should not have added the sugar. My only complaint was that it was a bit too sweet.

I’m linking up to Frugal Food Thursday,

Looming surgery…and a chaotic life!

If you’re wondering what’s up the radio silence, here’s the deal…Early last week we got a call that Sara’s hip surgery would be Nov 1, and not the 11th, as I had originally thought. My whole world was thrown into a tailspin. We had planned to spend this week at my mother’s house in Missouri and were taking strides to make that happen.

Suddenly, instead of having two weeks AFTER our trip to get my life in order, I had the FIVE days prior to our trip. I’ve been in panic mode since then.

I still have so much to do. My house has slowly been disintegrating into disorganized chaos because I’ve been spending all waking hours researching hip dyspliasa…I haven’t bought all the supplies I need for Sara post surgery, and I still have bags and bags of free apples, walnuts, and a few sugar pumpkins to deal with.

Additionally, the college class I taught ended last week. Grades were due and my next class started. Yes, it WAS a seriously chaotic week and blogging took a back seat. We were determined to go to Missouri so I worked hard to get things organized around here. It’s hard to put someone else in charge of my life if I can’t find what we need in my own house…

Happily, I got our homeschooling shelf cleared and organized. I cleaned out and organized almost all the cupboards in my kitchen and packed the apples to can in Missouri. I decided the pumpkins and walnuts will wait. I’ve also been making sure the kids have winter clothes because who the heck knows when winter will descend on Iowa. I bought coats and boots. Dug out all the gloves, scarves, and hats. Reorganized all their clothing so other people can find it.

Yesterday we packed for our afternoon departure to Missouri and had everything waiting by the door when my mother called to tell me she’s been sick. Normally, I’m not scared of being sick. But Sara won’t have her surgery if SHE’S sick. So, we stayed put. Now I’m dealing with disappointed kiddos and no food and no food plan…and me – a germaphobe for the first time in my life who’s afraid to go anywhere for fear of getting sick.

And that’s my life right now! I do plan to get back on track with the blogging and have some fun posts in the words for the next few days! I hope your world is good!

Cheesesteak Sandwich with a Couple of Twists

I’m always on the lookout for good lunch options as I often feel we’re in a lunch rut. I try to avoid lunch meat for a variety of reason, but mostly because it’s expensive and often full of questionable ingredients like nitrates and nitrites (known carcinogens). The problem is, we LIKE lunch meats! So what’s a cook to do?

Today I was looking at my options at the grocery store and decided to make a cheese-steak style sandwich with butterfly pork. The butterfly pork was on sale for $1 each and is one of my husband’s favorite. I added some of the last few peppers from my garden, onion, garlic, and provolone. It was super tasty!

First, I sauteed the pork and the veggies in a little coconut oil. Have you tried coconut oil yet? It’s really nice!

Then I sliced and buttered my own homemade 5 Grain Bread. It probably would have been better on a bun, but I have not yet mastered my own homemade buns. They’re hit and miss with me unfortunately. Anyhow, this was still good! It ended up being a cross between a grilled cheese and a philly cheesesteak – except with pork! YUM!

Do you have a good, non-bread machine bun recipe you’d like to share? And, what’s your favorite lunch recipe?

I’m linking up to Life as Mom, The Joys of Home Educating, and

Hip-Healthy Swaddling

You may or may not know, but my 17 month old daughter was recently diagnosed with a dislocated left hip. We didn’t know anything was wrong with her until she started walking with an obvious limp, and pressed hard for answers after her pediatrician was not very concerned.

Her hip dysplasia diagnosis has been a huge blow to me. I, like so many people, have an expectation of 100% healthy babies. Of course, there are no guarantees in life…and we love her just the same!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s just beyond sad to me that she will be fighting hip problems her entire life and that I have to put her through a horrible surgery in a couple of weeks and then deal with her in a spica cast for 6 weeks to 5 months.

About 1 in 1000 babies is diagnosed with hip dysplasia. HD can range from a looseness of the ball in the socket (meaning the hip is not stable), to an all out dislocated hip (my daughter’s problem). Some babies are born with an immediate problem, and in some, it just happens because of a predisposition sometime during the first year of life. Most newborn doctors and pediatricians screen for HD at well baby checks, but it’s still not found all the time.

Here are some things to watch out for:

  1. Uneven thigh folds – they should match up on both legs
  2. Less flexible hip on one side
  3. Strange gait when walking (limping or waddling)

Some things you can do:

  1. Have your baby evaluated by a pediatric chiropractor
  2. Discuss any risk factors with your doctor. Risk factors include family history, breech baby, c-section delivery, girl, and first born. Best I can tell, 75% of babies with HD are girls! And the leg most often impacted is the left.
  3. Practice hip healthy swaddling if you swaddle. The hip socket is still developing during the first year of life and pulling legs down tightly and not allowing them to be in their natural state can encourage more hip problems.
  4. Carry your baby on your hip and cloth diaper. These things help keep the hips properly aligned so they can develop as needed.

Since my baby was diagnosed, I have been researching almost non-stop. I’m compiling a list of resources and blogs that have been helping me and will post it soon, but if you’re facing this problem, The International Hip Dysplasia Institute is a good place to start.

day2day joys

Resources to Help Teach Kids Environmental Responsibility

Teaching my children to be good environmental stewards is very important to me. I’m always on the prowl for cute books and teaching ideas since a big part of our learning process is simply reading. Here are some wonderful resources I use to teach kids environmental responsibility.

Resources to Help Teach Kids Environmental Responsibility

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

1. The Lorax (Classic Seuss) My ALL TIME favorite book teaching kids to conserve resources and take care of animals. My kids love this book and ask me to read it almost every day. Dr. Seuss has a really cool Lorax project here rife with fun activities, information, and free downloads. Seussville also has a lot of great educational resources.


2.. The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest – Another fabulous book with beautiful pictures that shows how many animals are affected when one tree is cut down in the Amazon Rail Forest. Homeschool Share has compiled a list of different activities for teaching about the animals of the rain forest and the countries of South America. From the San Diego County Office of Education, this website has fun interactive activities to study South America, climate, mapping, and practice writing.

3. Compost Stew. Did you know you can compost dryer lint? I didn’t until I read this cute book about composting! I love this “cookbook” take on learning the alphabet! It’s very unique and refreshing. The author, Mary McKenna Siddals, has a website with lots of fun composting ideas!

4. The Berenstain Bears Don’t Pollute (Anymore). I love this book because it takes on a reformist tone. It talks about some harmful activities people do and shows how to make small changes to help the Earth! My kids love the all Berenstain Bears Book and this one in particular. If you’re looking for ideas to each your kids about air pollution and chemicals, this website has a nice compilation of activities.


5. Heroes of the Environment: True Stories of People Who Are Helping to Protect Our Planet – Finally, if you’re looking for good information for a more advanced reader, this is an excellent book! It tells stories of every day people making big changes in their own communities and encourages kids to find their own ways to make positive environmental impacts!

How do you teach your kids to be good environmental stewards? Do you have favorite books? I’d love to hear!

If you like this post to help teach kids environmental responsibility, you might like these posts too:

Books & Activities for Teaching about MLK Jr Day

Fun Groundhog Day Activitiesย 

30 + Valentine’s Day Books for kids of all ages