Stitch Fix bliss part XI.

Doesn’t it feel like just last month that I posted about Stitch Fix? It’s highly unusual for me to get two boxes in such a short span of time, but my sister gave me a gift card for Christmas and Stitch Fix reeled me in with their “be entered to win $2500 in Stitch Fix credit if you get a Fix before January 16” offer. And here we are.

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This maxi dress was cute and nursing friendly but I own one that is pretty similar so decided to send it back. Oh, I also recently had my hair cut and I suppose this picture debuts that. So there it is.

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This faux wrap dress was also nursing friendly (my stylist was really excellent at including options for that) and I like the cut. Most wrap dresses – even faux wrap – don’t work for me because I am so flat chested, but this one did work. However I am not really a polka dot person and didn’t like the pattern, so I sent this back as well.

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I tried these Lila Ryan Liza jeggings in my ninth (I think) Stitch Fix box, but I was a few months pregnant st the time and it didn’t seem wise to keep them. I hadn’t forgotten them though and decided to request another pair, and ultimately, I decided to keep these this time.

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I will say this tunic was more flattering in person than it is in this photo, but I decided against keeping it. As I age I’m becoming less interested in a boho style.

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I really considered keeping this button up plaid shirt because I wear a lot of button ups these days, but I decided against it because I own a similar red plaid shirt.

Interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself? They are waiving the $20 styling fee for the first box. Here’s my referral code!

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Birthdays, recents, randoms, and resolutions.

Kevin had a birthday! It was a Monday so he had to work until about three but I think he still had a good day. We started out the morning with smoothies.  His work people took him to lunch at Los Cuates.  He was able to come home a little early and take a little nap while Ava was napping too.  Then we just hung out.  Ava and I made him Thin Mint brownies (from a box) which we had with ice cream after dinner.  Dinner was food his parents picked up Pars (Mediterranean cuisine) and brought it to our house.  We did presents and then bedtime for Ava and Owen.  Monday night football would have been on, so I’m sure we checked in on the game.  Kevin is just the best and I love celebrating him any chance I get.

I also had a birthday.  I felt lots of love – texts, Facebook posts, phone calls, etc.  Owen started off the gift giving by sleeping two four hour stretches overnight, plus a shorter stretch in the early morning hours.  Kevin got us breakfast burritos from our favorite spot.  Then he had to go to work and I hung out with Ava and Owen.  Sue came over for most of the morning.  Kevin made us delicious chocolate peanut butter smoothies for lunch (decadent but light and healthy enough to feel good after our massive burritos). Ava and Owen napped simultaneously for a bit.  He took a few good naps, including a cuddle nap with me, through the day and she took one really long nap in the afternoon.  I read my book and did enough around the house to make myself feel productive.  Kevin brought home roses and a beautiful card and an amazing spa package gift certificate.  His parents came over and we all went to dinner at Los Cuates.  I had steak fajitas.  Owen and Ava were both really good little kiddos in the restaurant.  We went home and had ice cream with Kevin’s parents who surprised me with my dream Coach purse and a pretty pearl bracelet as a gift.  The kids went to bed well and Kevin and I got to cuddle on the couch in front of the fireplace in our room.  Owen slept a four hour stretch to end the day.  It was such a nice day!

I actually didn’t have ice cream on my birthday because I’m doing a no sweets challenge with my sister this month.  It has not been too hard to resist the sweets because I made it a point to borderline overdo it in late December.  I was snacking on candy and cookies basically all day and now – dare I say – it feels good to NOT be eating that stuff.

Lisa and I are doing a year long challenge.  We each chose six things and then assigned one challenge category to each month.  Here they are, broken out:

January:  No sweets
February: We set dollar amounts and are limiting discretionary spending for the month so no going overboard with clothes shopping, Amazon purchases, eating out, etc.
March:  Send a card to a friend or family member each week of the month.
April:  10,000 steps per day each day of the month
May: We’ll each choose a book for the other person to read.
June: Drink half of body weight (or more) in ounces of water each day.
July:  Do a 30 day fitness challenge of some type (squats, lunges, plank, whatever).
August:  No eating out (I think Lisa’s going to try to do no eating out – I told her there was no way I could do a month of no eating out – hello, we eat Dion’s at least once a week – so I’m limited to one eating out event per week)
September:  No alcohol (I won’t drink at all; Lisa is limited to one drink a week – girlfriend loves her beer like I love my Dion’s)
October:  No fried food
November:  One big DIY project or two little DIY projects
December:  Try one new recipe a week.

Speaking of recipes, I had Dinner: A Love Story: It all starts at the family table on my Christmas wish list and got it.  It has soooo many good recipes that I can’t wait to try.  I basically read it cover to cover.

What else do I want out of 2018?  I want to be more focused – whatever it is I’m doing.  If I’m hanging out with Ava and Owen, I want to really focus on being with them.  I want focused, quality time with Kevin.  I want to accomplish things around the house without getting distracted by other things that need to get done.  I want to find a balance between keeping the house tidy (because it seriously stresses me out when things are cluttered) and just letting go and letting Ava and Owen enjoy their play spaces.  I want to get a lot of fresh air and I want to be physically active but not be a slave to working out x number of times a week.

What do you want to accomplish in 2018? What’s something random and recent in your life?

 

Year in review: 2017 superlatives.

2017 was a roller coaster. I really, really hope that 2018 is going to be low key and downright boring. That’s more my speed than all the ups and downs that this past year included. Here are a few noteworthy memories from the year, high school yearbook superlative style

Biggest Surprise: Finding out Ava had hip dysplasia

Biggest Challenge: Ava’s surgery – out of our sight and in an operating room. It was horrible.

The Silver Lining Award: Focused time with Ava while she was in the cast

The Pleasantly Surprised Award: Labor and delivery of Owen – in a nutshell, quick and easy, but I still got my beloved epidural.

Best Vacation: Stay in hospital after having Owen. Granted, that was the only vacation of the year…  We did have a couple of staycations when Kevin took a little bit of time off of work (of course he was still putting out fires via phone and email on a daily basis by people from work, but at least he got to be home with us.) – one right after Ava’s surgery, after Owen was born, and during the Christmas holiday.

Best Hug: When Ava came to visit mama and meet Owen in hospital. Oh, how we had missed each other! Kevin set her on my lap and she hugged me so tight. My heart nearly burst with love for my sweet little girl.

Greatest Joy: Falling in love with Owen. Realizing there is not a finite amount of all-encompassing love that parents have for their children – your heart loves the second (and subsequent, I’m sure) child as much as the first. That was a hard thing for me to understand prior to Owen’s birth. Also watching Ava blossom into her big sister role with Owen has been a complete joy.

Best Date: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in January or Indigo Crow in September

Greatest Transformation: Master bath

Funniest Quote: One day Ava and Kevin were playing when she suddenly paused, rubbed her nose, and then extended her little hand toward him, saying, “Booger. Thanks.” We’re just over here, living this glamorous life.

Best Fiction Listen: Moon Over Manifest (Amy) and Treason (Kevin)

Best Fiction Read: All the Light We Cannot See (Kevin) and Queen Lucia (Amy)

Best Nonfiction Listen: Me Talk Pretty One Day (Amy) and American Kingpin (Kevin)

Best Nonfiction Read: Team of Rivals (Amy) and The Looming Tower (Kevin)

Best Watch: Billions season 2 (Amy and Kevin) and Daniel Tiger (Ava). Honorable Mention to Curb Your Enthusiasm season 8 – Larry made it worth the wait!

House Clown: Rue. Whether she’s stalking Kiki or annoying Ava by batting around one of Ava’s toys or showing a homicidal streak by abruptly flinging herself in front of Kevin or me as we walk down the stairs, she makes each  day an adventure.

Most Likely to be Remembered: Other than the Daniel Tiger moral jingles on constant replay in our brains? Goodness, right now the whole year was memorable! But long term, of course, our sweet baby Owen boy joining the family is most definitely the most likely to be remembered event.

Kevin and I feel blessed beyond belief to have lived 2017 together with our little family.  I heard a quote once that basically said some years are questions and some years are answers.  I think we had a combination of both in 2017.  Happy 2018!

Tell me a superlative from your 2017!  Was it a year of questions or a year of answers for you?

Owen // three months old.

Our little guy is three months old today!  He is such a little cutie-pie and I simply can’t get enough of him.  I can’t believe how quickly the past three months have flown by and how big he is getting.  He loves cuddles, chatting with mama and daddy, and the Christmas tree lights. He is so smiley for diaper changes and when we take his Pavlik harness off in the morning, so it’s safe to say he enjoys those things as well.

Catching Some Zzz’s

We are starting to get into a nice schedule.  Owen is napping every hour and a half to two hours, usually in his crib while wearing the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit.  He is a champ at soothing himself to sleep and then usually settles and soothes himself back down between sleep cycles.  He continues to sleep in three hour stretches, on average, through the night.  He usually only nurses for 10-15 minutes and then falls back to sleep easily, so it’s not too bad.  He is a loud sleeper – lots of grunting and growling.  On occasion he’ll cuddle nap with Kevin or me and he’s the sweetest little cuddle bug.  We really want him to be a good independent napper though, so we try not to do that often and I want to try to avoid it altogether once he’s four months old.

One exciting development is that we’re all sleeping in our room rather than splitting shifts downstairs and upstairs like we did for the first 11 weeks of Owen’s life.  We don’t regret doing that because I think both Kevin and I were better rested for it, but it has been working well to have Owen in the bassinet in our room too. For the past three nights we have even started him out in the crib in his room at around 7:30 and he has slept for around four hours in there each night. When he wakes up we bring him to our room for a diaper change and a nursing session and then put him in the bassinet for the remainder of the night.

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Owen is a great eater.  He eats every three to four hours in general, but I just kind of feed on demand overall.  My preferred troubleshooting philosophy when he’s crying is definitely “offer food.” He’s super efficient.  I have pumped a few times and he will take a bottle when he’s hungry enough.  That’s reassuring to me and gives me a bit of freedom to get out for a couple of hours.  It’s hard to believe he’ll be starting solids in just three short months!

Cool Tricks 

Owen got the okay to go to nights only in the Pavlik harness because his ultrasound (after four weeks of harness full time) showed that his hip angles have normalized.  We are so, so happy that these hip issues are being addressed at this young age.  Owen doesn’t seem to mind being in the harness too much, and he has really been just such a good sport. As mentioned above, he does love to come out of the harness each morning though!

When he is out of the harness he loves to kick and fling his beautiful little arms and legs around.  He has discovered his hands and thinks they are fascinating and the best ever chew toys.  He loves his foot piano play mat (a Christmas gift) and the safari chair with its little hanging toys.

He holds his head up really well and doesn’t mind tummy time too much.  He’s noticed Ava and Kiki and Rue a few times and seems pretty interested in all of them.

Talk to Me

He is quite the chatty fellow.  He’s exploring different sounds and is really into having a dialogue with us.  It’s the sweetest thing to hear his coos.  He is a smiley little guy and his gummy smiles are my love language. We’ve gotten a few chuckles and my mom, stepdad, and great aunt said they heard an outright laugh, but Kevin and I missed it so I can’t speak to how adorable it must have been.  He’s very cheerful and really only gets upset when he’s hungry, needs a change of scenery, or is tired.

Lookin’ Good

At his doctor appointment on December 14 he weighed 12 pounds, 13 ounces, so I’m guessing he’s about 13.5 pounds now.  He’s wearing 3 month and I’ll be busting out the 3-6 month stuff soon. His hair is rubbing off on the back of his head, but he does have a little tuft of dark hair at the nape of his neck.  I think when his hair starts filling in it will be blond.  His eyes are still blue.  He has the cutest little face.  I think he is the most handsome little guy in the world.

We adore our sweet, calm, cheerful little Owen-boy.

That’s a wrap {December}.

Links to Love:

  1. Emergency SOS on iOS 11 – how to quickly and easily call emergency services.
  2. Check out these tourist destinations before they get too popular.  There are some that may be on the rise, but I still don’t wanna go there.  (I’m looking at you, Columbia.)
  3. This MRI image is an amazing visual of the love between a mother and child.
  4. I love this letter a dad wrote to his daughter’s school in response to a school sponsored field trip.

Making Memories:

  1. Kevin celebrated a birthday!  He had to work for most of the day but managed to come home a little early and took a little nap to celebrate turning 34.  His parents picked up Pars Mediterranean for dinner and brought it to our house.  We had ice cream and Thin Mint brownies for dessert.  He opened gifts and I think had a good birthday even if it was pretty low key.  He is my favorite and I sure do love celebrating him.
  2. Kevin had about ten days off work for the holiday and it was so nice for all of us.  We’re all dreading Tuesday when he has to go back to work.  We had a long list of house projects to tackle while he was off and didn’t accomplish many of them, but that’s okay.  We relaxed, we played, we enjoyed the holiday together.  It was a good time.
  3. We met with a rep from Renewal by Anderson and the company that we used for our countertop and shelves in our master bath remodel and we arranged to start 2018 off with some home improvement projects.  We’re getting four windows replaced (finishing up our three phases of window replacement) and replacing our kitchen countertops, which I am really, really excited about.
  4. I met up with one friend for brunch and another for lunch – without any kids in tow, which was really nice.  Kevin has been working for several months to help plan his 15 year high school reunion and it was in December.  He said it was a good time and got to catch up with some classmates he hadn’t seen in a long time.
  5. We had a really fantastic Christmas.  Lisa came to town on the 30th and is currently staying with us.  We’re ringing in the new year quite festively as I type this.  We’re watching Breaking Bad reruns.  Lisa brought us a great Moscato and she and I are drinking that.  Kevin’s taking it to a whole new level of wild as he sips on honey lemon water (he’s fighting off a cold or a sinus thing).
  6. Of course we had a few doctor appointments because such is our life.  Good news all around – Owen’s hips have normalized and he has been in the Pavlik harness only at night.  We go back in January to make sure everything is still on track.  Also awesome news – Ava’s hip x-ray looked good and our doctor gave us the go-ahead for her to be out of the brace during the day.  It has been nerve-wracking but exciting to see her move around without the brace.  We go back in three months and she’ll have a standing x-ray, which will hopefully show great progress.  We’re not out of the woods but it certainly is a good start to 2018.

Bookish:

  1. In December I read The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne and gave it 4 stars.  I listened to Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan and gave it 3 stars.  And last but not least I read A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, to which I gave 4 stars.
  2. I am currently reading Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery, Dinner: A Love Story: It All Starts at the Family Table by Jenny Rosenstrach, and I’m listening to Shopping for a Billionaire by Julia Kent.
  3. Kevin is reading The Great Bridge:  The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough and listening to Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman.
  4. Ava has been loving Little Blue Truck and Scaredy-Cat Sleepover (featuring Minnie and Daisy).

Challenges:

  1. I’ve had a few friends struggling with personal issues – one lost a parent, another has a very ill parent, a third had a baby and has had a tough time in her recovery.  It’s hard to see your friends struggle and feel so helpless.  Lots of prayers for them.

Sustenance:

  1. I think the only new recipe we tried in December was this Croissant French Toast.
  2. Pretty sure I’ve linked to it before but it’s worth linking to again – I made this apple bread three times in December.

How was your December?

Merry merry merry.

I don’t often blog, but when I do I recap every little detail.  Buckle up.

Lisa took all of the good pictures in this post; I took the sub-par ones. 

Christmas 2017 was a wonderful one. We put up our tree the weekend before Christmas and Ava loved decorating. She really got into the ornaments and was very good about not touching them or the tree.

We have a tradition of gifting Ava and now Owen each with a pair of Christmas pajamas, a Christmas/winter book, and an ornament. They get to open these gifts on the day we decorate the tree. This year Ava got Llama Llama Jingle Bells, which she has been coveting for months, and Owen got That’s Not My Snowman. I ordered matching ornaments for them from this Etsy shop. The ornaments are very cute but I kind of regret going with the wood because one had already begun to split.

Kevin went to El Modelo on December 22 at 7:30 AM to pick up 4 quarts of posole and 2 dozen tamales for our annual Christmas eve dinner. He naturally also got us a couple of chorizo breakfast burritos because yum.

On the evening of the 23rd we loaded up in the car and drove around looking at Christmas lights and decorations. It was a fun start to a new tradition. I’m excited for Ava and Owen to be old enough to drink hot cocoa while we drive around.

On Christmas eve day I wrapped most of the gifts while Kevin tried to get Ava to nap (she seemed to be feeling off that day and they wound up taking a cuddle nap in the glider in her room) and Owen sat in the safari chair, staring at the Christmas tree. We started putting out our luminarias at around 4:00. We have ordered 8 dozen luminarias for the past few years and that seems to work out really well for us. My parents and sister got to our house around 4:15 and were a huge help in putting out the luminarias.

We started heating up the posole and tamales at around 4:45 and I made homemade tortillas. My aunt Jewell came over around 5:00 and she and my mom set to work shelling a bag of walnuts that someone at work gifted us. We don’t have a nutcracker so they used brute force and a pipe wrench. :)  My stepdad cooked the tortillas on the cast iron skillet while I rolled them out. Kevin’s parents and a family friend came over before 5:30 and once the food was all ready, we ate. It was so tasty, as usual. Owen was a good little guy in the Mamaroo. Craig and Sue had brought biscochitos for dessert and Aunt Jewell brought brownies. We were all full by 7:00. We took Ava up to bed at that time and she fell asleep quickly. Mom, Dale, Lisa, Kevin, and I watched a 2015 dog show that was randomly on TV. And bedtime came around 9:00 for all of us. It was a lovely, still night and I wish Kevin and I would have walked around the neighborhood to see the luminarias, but we didn’t know how Ava would sleep since she’d seemed off all day (she slept perfectly from 7:30-7:45, btw) and Owen has us up every three hours, so sleep seemed more important at the time.

Kevin and I woke up around 5:45 on Christmas morning and I fed Owen. He settled back into his bassinet and Kevin and I sat in the sitting area of our master suite. Kevin started the fire in our fireplace and we exchanged our Christmas gifts to one another and just relaxed and cuddled in front of the fire. It was a lovely way to start what was certain to be a busy day.

We went downstairs around 7:15 and my mom and sister helped me get this lemon and cream cheese croissant French toast casserole in the oven. We also made some bacon and hash browns. Ava woke up around 7:45 and started playing immediately. We took tea.

Kevin made up the herb rub for our prime rib and then went to his parents house to get it in the oven around 8:15. The casserole, bacon, and hash browns were delicious and Kevin and his parents came over around 9:15. They ate and then we tackled the mountain of gifts!

Ava was so cute. She opened a puzzle from my parents first and would have been perfectly content to play with that for hours. Kevin and Lisa had to coax her into opening more gifts! Eventually she got into it and would say, “What could it be?,” as she was opening each one.

Owen ate for a bit and then he was so content and cheerful and sweet, just sitting in the safari chair, looking at the tree as we all opened gifts around him. He was such a good boy all day!

Kiki made herself scarce, but Rue came out to find a comfy spot amongst the wrapping paper.

We finished up around 11:30 and hit the ground running with bread dough making, getting ready, vegetable prepping, encouraging Ava to take a little quiet time, etc. Before we knew it, it was 1:00 and time to head to Craig and Sue’s for lunch. There were 13 adults and Ava and Owen at lunch. It was so, so good and wonderful company. Owen napped through lunch which was great because it allowed me to eat way too much prime rib. :) Dessert was frozen cherry pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate silk pie, and apple pie. No one went hungry, that’s for sure!

Eventually the party broke up and everyone headed their separate ways. It was such a nice day with the people I love most.

Happy birthday, Jesus!

How was your holiday? 

Toddler in a spica cast – our experience.

I hope that none of my regular readers (all 10 of you ;-) ) ever need this information, but I wanted to share what we have learned from our experience of having a toddler in a spica cast – just in case it proves helpful someday to another parent who is facing the same journey.  I don’t remember where I read it or I would link to it, but one blogger compared having a child in a spica cast to being inducted into a club that you didn’t want to join.  :)  I think that’s pretty accurate.  So here are my tips, for what they’re worth.

**This is really long but I wanted to keep it all together rather than splitting it up into multiple posts.** 

Backstory 

Ava was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when she was 18 months old. She had a closed reduction surgery on the left side when she was 19 months old. She was in a spica cast for 14 weeks (and two days, but who’s counting :) ).

The Anticipation 

In hindsight, the anticipation of what to expect during this experience was the worst part.  Well, actually probably the time Ava was out of my sight, in the operating room was the worst part.  But the anticipation was tough.  Most kids go into a spica cast for one of two reasons:  hip dysplasia and femur fractures.  When a child breaks their femur it’s unexpected and usually very painful for the poor kiddo.  With hip dysplasia, you know in advance and have a bit of time to prepare.  Also, for us at least, we don’t think Ava was in pain – or at least not much – beforehand.  But the time in the cast is usually longer for hip dysplasia than it is for a femur break – 12 weeks versus 6 weeks (those seem to be the norm for each from what I’ve read).  So there are definitely differences in the circumstances that bring a child into a spica cast.  When we found out that Ava was going to need surgery on her left hip for hip dysplasia, Kevin and I had different approaches to our online research.  He stuck to medical sites and I scoured the Google-net for tips and what to expect and personal stories written by other parents who had gone through this as well.  I think together we made a good team on gathering info to prepare ourselves.

Anyway, my tips on how to spend the anticipation phase (provided you are allowed that luxury) is to educate yourself on what to expect. I think it’s less scary to face an immobile toddler when you have a bit of knowledge up your sleeve.  Check out the tips on spica care that some medical facility websites have.  Read blog posts about people’s individual experiences.  Watch YouTube videos on diaper changes and how to keep the cast clean.  Request an add to the Hip Babies and I Love a Kid in a Spica Cast Facebook pages.  Most importantly, ask questions of your surgeon/doctor/nurses.  We are incredibly blessed to have THE most responsive surgeon/orthopedic doctor in the world.  He usually responds to my emails within an hour.  He is the one familiar with MY child and OUR situation.  He has more insight (and is more reliable) than anything I could possibly read online.

Cast Care

From the beginning, my goal was to hear the words, “This is the cleanest cast I’ve ever seen,” from someone. Goal met at the 4 week check up!  Both the cast room crew and the doctor said those exact words, and the doctor pushed the cast change, which was supposed to take place at 6 weeks, out to 8 weeks.  And even after being in the cast 8 weeks, it was the cleanest they’d ever seen.  I credit our clean cast to a few things (but really – honestly – so much of it is probably luck, so seriously – don’t beat yourself up about a dirty cast.  IT HAPPENS.).

  • Frequent diaper changes is the first.  We would go through 5-6 diapers in a day for our 21 month old daughter.  Urine leaks in particular are inevitable though.  We would use a blow dryer to dry the cast (there is something called a Cast Cooler that I was tempted to get but I read that it doesn’t work well with a goretex lining, which we had, so I saved myself the 40 dollars) and then a drop of lavender essential oil on the cast.  Fortunately that seemed to work well and we never had a stink problem. I think we had a bit of a poop incident one time and we used a damp cloth wrapped around the end of a spatula to clean that.  Then we used the blow dryer on cool to make sure the inside of the cast was as dry as possible after that damp cloth.
  • The second thing that helped us keep the cast clean was putting an apron over the cast when Ava ate.  My mom made us two aprons and I used the one that I keep (and never wear) in the kitchen.  One of those baby receiving blankets you get at the hospital worked well too – we just twisted the ends into the straps of Ava’s booster chair (more about that below) and it held snugly.  You could use a large dishtowel, or go to a thrift shop and buy up a few inexpensive aprons.  Just something to keep food and drink off the cast.
  • We had a goretex lining on our cast and when it started peeling up on the edges, we put duct tape around it.  Before we went into the cast, Ava and I made a run to Hobby Lobby and I let her pick out a couple of fun print duct tape options (she chose cats and beluga whales and tropical palm trees).  They never seemed to irritate Ava’s skin, but you could put moleskin over the duct tape if it appears to be rubbing on the child’s skin.  Ava liked looking down and seeing the cats on her cast, so it was kind of fun.
  • Honestly – we just didn’t give Ava the opportunity to get the cast very dirty.  She was never really allowed to drag herself around in the cast like some kids do because we were incredibly focused on keeping the hip as stable as possible.  We didn’t want some fluke thing like her army-crawling in the cast to jar the hip and cause it to come out of place.  I can totally see how an older kid would be harder to keep stationary.  Also my cousin Kelly put me in touch with her friend whose daughter had basically the same experience (and even the same surgeon/doctor!) in terms of age at time of surgery, etc. and they live on a ranch.  The nature of their lifestyle was just different and it was inevitable that the cast was going to get dirtier than our “city cast” would.

Eating

As mentioned above, we used an apron to cover the cast anytime Ava was eating.  I think this made a huge difference in maintaining cast cleanliness, because, well, toddlers aren’t the cleanest eaters.  Ava did not fit in her high chair with the cast so we used this First Years Booster Chair because it doesn’t have sides.  It’s also very portable, easy to set up, and it worked great when we ate out in restaurants.  Ava spends time at Kevin’s parents’ house and we eat dinner there once a week so they got the same booster chair.  We’ve been very happy with how it worked for us and I highly recommend.

We were fortunate that Ava’s diet didn’t seem to change while she was in the cast.  I have read that some kids lose their appetites, etc. so it definitely varies child to child, but she did great and was eating spaghetti the night of the surgery.  I do think it’s important to give a kid in a spica cast smaller, more frequent meals/snacks because if their little bellies get too full they can press against the cast and it would just be uncomfortable.  It also stands to reason that smaller, more frequent meals/snacks contribute to maintaining more regular bowel movements which makes a blow out diaper situation less likely.

Sleeping

We bought a bed wedge prior to the surgery and set it up in Ava’s crib on the first night after the surgery.  It wasn’t a perfect fit, width-wise, so I stuffed some towels along the edges (between the wedge and the crib walls) to keep it snug.  The primary purpose of the bed wedge was gravity – we wanted anything coming out overnight to move down into the diaper rather than up her back and into the cast.  I do also think that it helped to prevent the cast rubbing on her skin for her to be angled rather than flat on her back because in the cast, she couldn’t really be flat on her back.  The memory foam cushioning of the bed wedge also seemed like it would be more comfortable than the flat, harder crib mattress.

I was so worried about how Ava would sleep in the cast.  She was accustomed to moving around a lot at night, sleeping on her tummy, sleeping on her side, etc. so we didn’t know how she would do with the cast restriction.  Kevin and I took turns sleeping in Ava’s room on the first night. She was pretty well medicated but had the epidural medication coming out of her system, so I don’t think she was in pain, but she did have a hard time getting comfortable and she was super chatty and kind of wired.  The second night we slept in her room again and she did a bit better about settling herself.  On the third night, we were prepared to go in with her but just followed our normal bedtime routine and she slept great through the night.  In general, she slept so well through the night in the cast.  There were some nights when it was harder to get her to fall asleep initially and there were nights when she’d cry out and not settle herself back to sleep on her own.  Were these because of the cast?  Who knows.  It could have been normal toddler stuff that would have happened anyway.  I was really worried she’d roll herself on her stomach and not be able to turn back over, and therefore we probably checked on her when she was crying a bit more quickly than we otherwise would have.  We did find her on her stomach once or twice, but in general I think she knew that she couldn’t roll herself back over so she’d only go on her stomach if she was really upset.  So again – every kid is different, but have hope – some of them learn to sleep just fine in the cast

Playing

If there is one thing that you NEED, it’s a spica chair/table.  We ordered ours from Ivy Rose Spica Chairs (I ordered it in plain blue and added the wall decals – found on Amazon – to spruce it up) and Kevin’s parents also ordered one from that company.  We each experienced a few very minor hiccups with installation and shipping (I’d recommend asking the owner for the tracking information on the shipment so you can keep an eye on it and I’d recommend an electric screwdriver for installation – and cross your fingers there isn’t a knot in the wood like we experienced in one spot), but once the chairs were set up, any frustrations we had melted away.  Ava LOVES her chair-chair or special chair, which is what we call it.  It has an awesome desk space, she can sit upright rather than being forced to lay back at an angle, and…really.  I just can’t rave enough about how critical this piece of equipment was for us.  There are instructions online for building your own spica chair, and there are Facebook groups where people have them for sale or even offer them up for free.

We tried to introduce new activities or a new toy every 5-7 days and we cycled through a lot of the same toys over and over.  Sometimes a toy would go on “vacation” and be tucked away for a week or two.  Then when it was reintroduced there was a renewed interest in it.

We definitely indulged in more screen time than is recommended for toddlers, but I think that’s normal and I don’t feel in the least bit bad about it.  :) Ava fell in love with Daniel Tiger during her time in the cast. We found that a bean bag (Ava did get really sweaty in the bean bag if she sat it for more than 15 minutes) or this great Infant to Toddler rocker were best for TV time.

What to Wear

Onesies, sized up one or two sizes so they fit over the cast.  Seriously.  That’s all that’s needed.  We bought 10 or so 2T onesies and cycled through them.  Ava had a little capsule wardrobe while in the cast.  :)  I loved the peace of mind that onesies brought because they were snapped and she couldn’t stick toys, food, etc. into the cast.  She slept in long sleeve shirts, again – sized up and it’s ideal if they’re a bit wide at the bottom so the fit over the top of the cast well.

Now we did have this experience in the summer, so I am not much help for recommending pants that would work during the winter, but I imagine you can size up a bit and use sweats or “track pants”.

Utilizing Your Resources

Ask to borrow toys from friends.  Train some people you trust in cast care so that you can get out every once in awhile and feel confident your child is in good hands.  Join a Facebook group or two to ask questions and learn about what to expect. Have friends come to you for play dates because you’ll be more equipped with seating options for your child.

Outside the House

We ate out a lot less while Ava was in the cast but the booster seat linked above was very portable and worked well for us when we did eat out.

Our hospital provided us with a Britax Hippo carseat.  Ava loves facing forward, so that was one fun perk of this ordeal, from her perspective.  :)

A stroller that accommodates the cast is probably my second biggest must-have (after the spica chair/desk). Ours worked – much to my relief! Getting out for daily walks was so so so good for both Ava’s sanity and ours. And our health! Kevin took Ava to the zoo a couple of times and used the stroller, and we continued to do our weekly grocery shopping as a family with the stroller (Kevin would push her in the stroller and I’d take charge of the cart).

Diapering

Most sites recommended a little diaper (like size 1) stuffed up in the cast with a big diaper (size 5 or 6) wrapped around the outside of the cast.  My friend Shawna put me in touch with her friend who had a daughter with hip dysplasia and she gave great advice – don’t use a small diaper because it is just not able to handle the amount of pee or poop an 18 month old will produce. Instead, use the normal size diaper, tear off the fastener tabs so they won’t rub the child’s skin, and stuff it up into the cast, spreading it out as best you can, so it’s nice and snug. The opening in our first cast was quite small and we still managed to use a size 4 which is what Ava was using before the cast. Then we did use a size 6 around the cast and snapped the onesie over it.

We did very frequent diaper changes through the day, but Ava went 11-12 hours overnight without a diaper change and we had pretty minimal leakage issues – probably because we were using the appropriate size diaper for her.

Bathing

Ava loves baths so we were all sad about not being able to use the tub. She was a great sport about our method of cleaning her though. We would put a blanket on the kitchen counter, roll up a towel and put it by the sink as a prop, and then put her face down on the blanket with her chest on the rolled up towel. We would run the water to fill the sink 3/4’s full or so and she would splash in the sink, play with a few tub toys, etc. We would use a cloth to wipe her down as best we could. When ready, we’d turn her over so her head was over the sink and we’d wash her hair.  I liked to tuck a hand towel around the back of the cast so the water didn’t drip down into it when we picked her up.

Cast Removal

The cast removal was traumatic for all of us. We had tried to prepare her with the episode of Daniel Tiger where the Neighbor gets a cast taken off, but nothing can prepare an almost 2 year old for a loud, vibrating saw being lowered to their body as they’re held down on a table. She was sobbing, I was sobbing; it was horrible. We tried to put headphones on her and played a YouTube video she likes (make that LIKED – she still has PTSD and won’t watch it now), but nothing could block the sound, let alone the feel, of that saw. I have no tips to share here. Maybe ask if they can give the “happy juice” they give before taking the child back for surgery? Or a laughing gas? I don’t know if those are even options. Just prepare yourself and hope for the best. It’ll be over quickly.

While Pregnant

I was 21 weeks pregnant with Owen when Ava was diagnosed with hip dysplasia.  She had surgery when I was 25 weeks pregnant and I had the baby 4 days before the cast came off. So I was in my third trimester for the vast majority of the time in the cast.  It was tough, no doubt.  It became uncomfortable to sit and hold her on my lap as my stomach grew because the cast was completely unyielding.  People would joke about how convenient it was for me to have a ledge to set her on when I carried her, and I’d smile politely, but inside I was rolling my eyes and wondering if they really thought it was comfortable to have a hard cast resting on a baby bump.  (It was not.)  My doctor gave me no weight restrictions on what I could carry and just reminded me to lift and set her down with proper form to keep my chances of a pulled muscle or tweaked back at a minimum since the hormones made those things more likely.  By the end of the pregnancy it was really hard to put Ava in her crib because of the belly interference and the angle at which she needed to be lowered.  But we survived and I was beyond fortunate to have such a wonderful partner in Kevin through all of this.  He always encouraged me to rest, to keep sleeping while he went into Ava’s room if she woke in the night, etc.  I pray that anyone – pregnant or not – who has to have a child in a spica cast has a good support system because that truly is so important.

Equipment

There will be a little repetition here, but our “must have” equipment – all mentioned above in some form or fashion – is as follows:

First Years Booster Chair

Spica Chair/Table – this is the ultimate.  GET A CHAIR/TABLE – if not from Ivy Rose, from somewhere.  It truly is a sanity saver.

Infant to Toddler Rocker

Crib/Bed Wedge

Bean Bag

Stroller – we have the BOB Motion Travel System which is not available for sale online, per Buy Buy Baby’s website.  We’ve been really happy with it as a single stroller and were so relieved that it worked with the cast.

In Conclusion

I promise what “they” say is true – your family will find a new normal routine soon, your child is more resilient and stronger than you can imagine, and the days will be long but the weeks will be short. In hindsight, I can appreciate our experience because it forced us to be very present with Ava. I truly believe that her verbal skills are advanced for her age because she could focus on that development while her gross motor skills development was stalled. Trying to focus on the positive went far in keeping a good attitude (I did a 100 days of happy photo challenge on Instagram.  Day 1 was the surgery.  Day 101 was when the cast was removed.). There were tough moments when I felt really overwhelmed and sad and bitter that Ava was missing out on walking/running, but I know how fortunate we are that hip dysplasia is 100% fixable.  Our journey isn’t over – for Owen or for Ava – and I pray every day that we avoid any future surgeries.  The future is always scary, isn’t it?

I’ll do another post sometime about the rhino cruiser brace and what we’ve learned in it.  And the Pavlik harness (which Owen is currently in).  Goodness, I’m just a wealth of knowledge when it comes to hip intervention equipment, now aren’t I?  :)

If you have questions about our experience, please leave a comment. It was so, so nice to have Shawna’s friend and Kelly’s friend to ask questions of and get feedback and empathy through this process. I’d love to pay their kindness forward someday to another family.