I wish I’d known…scoliosis surgery

Surgery for scoliosis

I thought we were prepared for surgery. We’d packed for the hospital, and then some. We had a team in place that was invaluable. We asked the surgeon every question I could think of. We were in the uncommon position of having actually seen family members (my brother and sister) go through similar surgeries.

And there was still so much I wish I’d known before-hand.

Little facts like your child is practically a newborn after surgery. We had to help her turn and to get comfortable for about two weeks. I helped her shower for at least six weeks, and get dressed too. Bathroom help will be needed.

And that coming off of Percocet is horrible, even when you wean off carefully.

Emotions will run high. For everyone. A lot of grace will be needed, all around.

It was hard to get her eating again after surgery. Favorite foods no longer tasted good and her appetite has been much smaller.

Things can go wrong. Four weeks after surgery number one, we went back because of severe pain and ended up in surgery a few hours later. The girl now has five disturbingly large screws in a bio-hazard bag that were removed from her back because something shifted a bit and they started putting pressure on nerves. She’s lost a little bit of correction because of that, but she’s still a lot straighter than she was before.

Their bodies will change. Most kids lose a significant amount of weight. I was told by our RN’s that about 80% of girls will start their cycle after surgery, regardless of whether or not they’ve gotten it yet or when they had it last.

Because of the movement of their spine, their muscles will hurt and possibly spasm. It’s not just recovering from the surgery, but the radical realignment of a part of the body that affects everything.

While we’re thankful to have had this procedure and know it’s something that will give the girl a better quality of life as she ages, it was a huge trauma to her system and for our family.


i want to be a trim healthy mama

It’s no secret that I’ve had issues with food for a long time, and that I’ve been on the search for a way of eating that is sustainable and healthy for me.

I joke that I’ve tried every diet from veganism to paleo, and that’s sadly not too much of an exaggeration.

If it’s too low carb, I’m constantly light-headed and feel deprived after about a month. If its whole grain, my gut rebels. Without animal protein, I have absolutely no energy. And my naturally obsessive personality doesn’t do well with tracking anything.

I was at a place a few weeks ago where I was deciding it was okay to not be my best and to learn to be happy with this body that I’m currently in. There’s something healthy in that, I’ve been told.

But, there’s an issue with that:

I didn’t feel good, physically or emotionally.

I’ve been looking for something reasonable, something sensible, something that doesn’t exclude entire groups of foods for so long.

Something that helps me feel good, but most of all is sustainable as a homeschooling pastor’s wife that teaches Holy Yoga with a husband taking a mor than-full load in seminary, a daughter still recovering from spinal surgery, a schedule that has one free weekend between now and Christmas and lots of events coming up where food choices won’t be the best.

And doesn’t make me crazy…or a perfectionist…or obsess in really unhealthy ways.

I think I’ve found it in the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating.

It’s different from anything else I’ve tried. Sure, things like sugar and refined grains are cut out but there’s so much freedom and variety…and honestly, no one should really be eating white sugar or flour or processed food like items that are full of ingredients no one can pronounce.

But the freedom…that’s the big thing. I’m not counting calories or carbs or looking longingly at every food in my kitchen. There’s no guilt involved and in my 20 years of looking for the best way for me to eat, that is incredible for whom the guilt at many times has led to very unhealthy habits of binges and purging. I’m not thinking about food all the time. I’m not tempted by the Halloween candy that is everywhere. I’m not mindlessly snacking.

Today is day 10. The scale is down. Every time I put on my jeans, I can feel a difference (I tend to live in yoga pants, so that’s every four or five). I have more energy, and my brain actually works (and the fact that I don’t have to be on a super strict diet for that to happen seems miraculous!). My hips are cracking and popping all the time. My emotions are far more level. It’s also been easy to adapt with the Once A Month meals I made a few weeks ago, and I’m planning on doing a fully THM OAMM cooking day this Saturday (I’ll share what I’ve done next Monday).  And I have almost no cravings…and if I do, there are so many options that hit my need for chocolate and stay within the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating.

I’ve gone off plan twice – once for a big Oktoberfest dinner we had at our house and then a pumpkin carving party with friends. Both times, I’ve made decent, but not the best choices and both times, I’ve enjoyed a small dessert. Both times, it’s been no problem to get right back at it with my next meal.  And both times, I haven’t been haunted by the guilt of a bit of indulgence or of putting something in my body that maybe isn’t optimal.

I will confess, the book is a lot of reading. And maybe not the most clear. It’s a low glycemic plan with higher fat/low carb meals and low fat/higher carb meals at its base. There’s a learning curve. But it’s not that bad and the freedom is so totally worth the work. I’ll share some of my favorite resources tomorrow and a very basic breakdown.

Have you tried a THM lifestyle? Have you thought about it?

Contains a few affiliate links.

what to pack when your child has spinal surgery


Scoliosis Surgery

Great title, right?

But it’s what I searched over and over as we prepared for the girl’s surgery and never could find great info on. Again, as I mentioned in my post about how to pack yourself for a stay with your child in the hospital, some helpful information down deep in message boards but nowhere in one coherent place.

Here’s my list:

  • Two extra firm pillows, one king size and one standard, with bright pillow cases (so you don’t leave them there when you finally get to go home). There’s a lot of adjusting and trying to get comfortable after surgery and those little pillows they give you at the hospital can be a pain to deal with, though they are perfect for putting between your child’s knees. Our RN’s loved us for not having to stuff a dozen pillows every time they adjusted her, which was sometimes every half hour.
  • A stuffed animal or small pillow for hugging. While the girl was in surgery, the pastor found a darling stuffed frog for her. By the time we left the hospital eight days later, that poor thing looked like it had been to war. She held onto it when she was being moved and it hurt. It helped keep her hands in position while she was sleeping and it helped keep the IV from bothering her so much. Humphrey the frog seemed to develop its own personality over the times we were there and everyone from this exhausted mama to respiratory therapists and RN’s treated him like part of the family.
  • A light blanket. Hospital blankets suck. Big time. The blanket we brought from home ended up feeling really, really heavy after surgery, but we had a goodie bag that had a lap sized flannel blanket that came from the child life specialists that was perfect. It also looked like it was decades old by the end of our stay.
  • Sugar free gum. Spinal surgery is notoriously bad for shutting down the digestive system, and the first thing the girl was given was sugar-free gum to start waking up her tummy. And as things can sometimes get chaotic in the ICU, it took us a while to find some.
  • Larger PJ’s or clothes and undies. When the girl finally got to take a shower and get dressed (7 days after surgery), we all wanted to throw a party. Seriously. We found larger clothes to be a bit more comfortable and work better with dressings, IV’s and the such. The girl also liked having her robe there if someone came to visit or she was taking one of her physical therapy walks.
  • Slippers with good soles. They’ll give you those awesome no slip socks at the hospital. They don’t slip against the floor, but they sure did slip off of the girl’s feet every chance they got. We did better with a few pairs of really soft socks if her feet were cold and a pair of slippers for walking in.
  • Lotion. All that time in bed seems to just leach the moisture right out of your body. We also ended up giving her a lot of hip and shoulder massages for pain and the lotion came in handy there, too.
  • Dry shampoo. After four days of sponge baths and laying in a bed, her hair was crazy. A little dry shampoo and brushing every day got her through until we could finally wash it on day seven (and then I was worried we’d have to resort to Dawn dish soap to get all of that oil out!). We french braided her hair in two braids before surgery and that seemed to be the best way to wear it until we were able to wash it more regularly.
  • Their smart phone. It was incredibly helpful for her spirits to get texts and video messages from friends. She was also able to play games and keep herself occupied for a few minutes. She wasn’t too excited about many other activities, though she did enjoy having me read a book out loud to her. Reading on her own is something she’s just getting back to, seven weeks after her first surgery and three after her second – it’s just been difficult to focus with the pain meds on board.

Anything else you’d add if you’ve been through a similar surgery?

Next week, one more post: things I’d wish I had known before surgery.

the long haul: tips for staying with your hospitalized kiddo

The Long Haul

The girl recently had a spinal fusion to correct scoliosis that had us in the hospital for seven nights.

And four weeks later, we were back for another surgery to remove a few screws that were pressing on nerves.

That meant three more nights of living and sleeping at the hospital.

Five of those nights were in that bed – y’all, under no circumstances is that a bed. It’s a vinyl chair from the early 70’s that pulls out into something you can sort of sleep on. The ICU at our Shriner’s decided I now hold the record for most nights on it.

I’ve decided I’ve earned my Girl Scout badge on the topic.

And because I had so much trouble finding information for parents staying with hospitalized kiddos, I thought I’d share what I learned.

  • Before the procedure, find out what your options are. We knew the girl would be in the ICU for a few nights. I was allowed to stay with her as long as she wasn’t intubated.  There was also a Ronald McDonald House and Kiwanis House in the area.
    I chose to stay at the hospital.
    I was also able to learn that there were showers at the hospital for parents to use, with towels provided. Toiletries, however, were not.
  • Think multi-use clothing.  Yoga pants, comforatble t’s, layers. I ended up wearing most of my clothes as pajamas. It was just easier and, quite frankly, I didn’t care. And slippers aren’t a bad idea.
    I walked from the ICU to the restroom one night in yoga pants, a tank, socks and no glasses. No one noticed and no one cared.
  • Bring a sleep mask. Even if you’re in a regular room, it’s fairly bright. If you’re in the ICU, it can feel like you’re trying to sleep on the sun. I have and absolutely love this one.
    I wouldn’t recommend ear plugs, though. If your child needs you, you’re going to want to hear them call.
  • Your own blanket and pillow.  Hospital blankets are kind of scratchy. And the pillows are kind of sad. It’s also a bit of home.
    And if you’re sleeping on one of those amazingly 70’s-tastic chairs, put a hospital blanket or two under the sheet. It helps keep from sliding around while you sleep.
    It took me three nights to figure that out.
  • Food related…Find out the cafeteria policies I found out after our stay that if I’d brought in a travel cup with a lid, I could have filled up anytime for free.
    Always get an extra cup of ice and water. I found myself getting really dehydrated.
    Ask about special menus and needs.
    Bring cash for the cafeteria and hoard your quarters for vending machines.
    Keep some snacks in your child’s room if possible. Some days, I couldn’t make it to the cafeteria during the hours it was open and was thankful for the protein bars and fruit I kept stashed in a drawer. Bottled water is also nice, or a water bottle you can refill.
  • Make an effort to become friends with your RN’s. They’re going to be the ones really taking care of your child and the ones to call the doctor if something isn’t right. After our two hospital stays and the rock start RN’s that took care of the girl, I want to buy them all Starbucks. And mansions.
  • Things to keep you occupied. Books, magazines, smart phone, tablet, knitting – it’s all good.
    But the old saying about sleeping when your newborn sleeps? It applies here.
  • Find an advocate. If you have a family member with medical training, take advantage of them. Seriously. The girl was having severe nausea and dry heaving after her first surgery. We thought perhaps it was just the eight hours of anesthesia, but my husband’s aunt – a retired RN – noticed the issues started within two minutes of pushing that button that gave her a dose of dilaudid, a powerful narcotic. She even kept her own chart of it and was able to show the RN on duty, who in turn was immediately get the medicine changed to something she was able to tolerate.
  • Get out of the hospital, if you can. Make a Target run. Walk around the block. Find the hospital patio and sit outside. If a friend or family member offers to sit with your child, give them a quick in-service and head out. You need some time for you.

Next week, I’ll share some things that made the girl’s stay easier and more comfortable, especially for spinal surgeries.

Have you been through an experience like ours? Anything you would add? I’d love to develop a place for parents to come and find this info and more.

this I know: Holy Yoga


Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my decision to pursue becoming a Holy Yoga instructor.

It’s gone so quickly.

I’m so in awe of where God has taken me during this year. He has strengthened and grown me in ways I never knew I was capable of. He’s called me into a deeper relationship with Him and into a deeper knowledge and understanding of His word. He’s prepared me for opportunities I could never have dreamed of.

And He’s taught me a few things that Holy Yoga isn’t…

  • Holy Yoga isn’t all skinny white girls in Lululemon pants.
    At my instructor’s retreat, all shapes, all sizes and all backgrounds were represented. There was even one very brave man who went through it…he was outnumbered by more than 100 women.
    But my classes have seen nearly as many men in them as women, and ages have ranged from teens to a students in their 80’s.
    And the attire – well, it’s ranged from typical yoga wear to shorts and t-shirts to one gentleman in his 80’s that wears the knee pads he uses when he’s installing flooring.
    For reals, friends.
    It’s been all shapes – from super active Jazzercise types to plus sizes. And they’ve all had successes and growth, regardless of their weight. They’ve also all seen struggles.
    Holy Yoga is an incredibly welcoming place to be.
  • Holy Yoga is a judgement free zone.
    Can’t touch your toes?
    It’s okay.
    Can’t remember the names of poses?
    Me neither sometimes.
    Balance an issue?
    It will get better. I promise, just keep with it and it will get better. Speaking from experience on this one.
    Need to take a few extra breaths in child pose or spend part of practice just resting on your mat?
    Oh, I’ve been there. And I’ll probably be there again someday soon.
    Don’t want to take your socks off?
    Well…okay…that’s your call…as long as you’re doing chair yoga.
  • Holy Yoga is not a competition.
    It’s about you and the Lord.
    Not you and the person next to you that can do a wheel into a headstand into a scorpion.
    If you can’t do a pose, do your best. As an instructor, one of my biggest goals is to give you as many modifications as possible so that every single person finds what they need.
    Your practice will grow with consistency.
    And in all honesty, as you’re working your practice and surrender to God’s grace, you don’t even notice others around you.
  • Holy Yoga isn’t all power flows, headstands and perfection.
    It can be, but it doesn’t have to be – the flow part, that is.
    It can be intimidating to follow yoga teachers on Instagram and Facebook, to see the 30 day challenges of craziness and hear that little voice that says:
                      Self, I can’t even. I can’t even stand on one foot or touch my toes. I might as well give up now.
    Remember: no one starts there. And many yogis with regular practice never make it there and that’s perfectly fine. Gentle is good. Slow is good. Making a space – any space – that you can call sacred and meet with God is good.
    It’s never going to be perfect.
    And that’s okay.
    Those imperfections, those places where we feel like we just can’t do it anymore and oh my goodness if we hold this downdog for one more second, I’m going to die – that’s where God meets us most deeply.
    When our physical and emotional selves break down, God breaks through.

And one thing that I know for sure Holy Yoga is:

  • It’s filled with grace.
    The sort of grace that only comes from spending time as you quiet your body, mind and heart before the Lord.
    The sort of grace that says imperfections are okay.
    The sort of grace that welcomes all, encourages all and does away with judgement.
    It’s the grace that lets of go of expectations and seeks God in the moment, breath by breath.
    It’s the grace that makes space – in your heart, your mind, your body – for God to bring change.
    The grace that brings us to God’s feet, in worship and in humility and in the knowledge that apart from Him, we are nothing.

You can find Holy Yoga instructors by searching here.  If there’s nothing in your area, I highly recommend Holy Yoga TV, which brings you several new practices a month of varying levels with excellent directives and instruction (and that I only recently figured out I could download to be able to practice later).


Confusing much?

Yesterday we built an IKEA bed. It turned out great, but one board is upside down. Doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue…I hope.

And we bought a new laptop, with Windows 8. I’m cursing it and liking it all at the same time. I think I’ll get there eventually.

And I changed the theme around here. I still can’t figure out how to add in my social networking links. A few more changes to go, but I’m liking it.

My brain isn’t used to all of this!

With thanksgiving…


Wishing you and yours a day filled with love and thanksgiving.

Whole30 menu plans

Whole30 plan to succeed

I’ve written pretty extensively in the past on my Whole30 experiences.

The gist: it’s a great tool and I really believe it’s something that anyone who is serious about their health and nutrition should undertake at least once.

And if I could give you one piece of advice before you start your own, it would be this:


Hmmm…looks like I already gave you that advice.

Plan everything. Breakfasts…lunches…snacks, dinners…what you’ll eat if you’re going out…your grocery shopping.


I’m one of those people that can eat eggs every morning for ever. I don’t stress about breakfasts.

For lunches, I tend to eat leftovers…or something with ground beef…or these chicken zucchini fritters.

Mostly, leftovers.

Dinner is the issue.

I refuse to make two separate meals for myself and my family, so I may make a few adjustments. One thing I don’t have a problem with is repeating meals. It’s a help to make something I know we all love, and if we just had two weeks ago – oh well!

Here are some of my favorite weekly dinner meal plans, many with recipe links:

I’ll add to this as I find more.

wordless wednesday: Niagara Falls

DSC_4558…because there truly are no words!


June Goals


Goodbye, May.

Quite frankly, you sucked. Most of the month was spent in a flare up of…something.

My May goals got lost by the wayside of twitches and muscle aches and pains and cramps and mental fogginess and some loss of sensation in my extremities. This is the first time I’ve had a flare up like this that my diet couldn’t prevent, and I find that a little bit scary. My doctor doesn’t necessarily think it’s fibromyalgia, but perhaps some neurological issue.  I’ve got an MRI scheduled for Monday, after blood tests all through May and even a CT scan.

A few months ago, I was running, playing racquetball, doing the elliptical to nowhere and some bodyweight workouts. Today was the first day I’ve been able to do anything in at least two weeks and it was a short walk followed by a shorter yoga practice. That might have to be the extent of my fitness plan for a while.

Frustratingly, my weight is up about 8 pounds in the last month. The first time this mystery issue flared four years ago, I gained 40 pounds in two months and another 30 in the two months after that.

I’d prefer that not happen again. I’m working hard to pull my diet back together, knowing that my diet doesn’t stay where it needs to be unless there’s some sort of exercise going on too.

My goals for June:

  • Back to sustainable paleo.
    As I’ve felt worse and worse this past month, my diet has devolved. Badly. There’s this dreadful catch-22 where I know what I eat affects how I feel, but I don’t have the energy or mental focus to do anything about it.
    I ate  Pop Tarts this week.
    Pop Tarts!
    *hangs head in shame*
    This unhealthy cycle stops now, but I’ve also got to figure out how to make this sustainable not just when I’m feeling great.
  • Plan meals.
    When I’m in a flare up like this, being in the kitchen can be difficult but keeping my diet where it needs to be is totally and completely necessary. I’ve let it slip this month and my diet (along with my family’s) has suffered badly. Meal planning goes a long way toward repairing that. I’m planning on keeping it simple and I’m thankful it’s grilling season.
  • Exercise. Gently.
    And probably in the morning, before the heat sets in. Walking and yoga, and that’s about it for now.
    I want to do more, but my body just won’t let me right now.
  • Supplement.
    Magnesium, vitamin D (in pill form and sun form), a B12 and kombucha. Bone broth when I can…though I have to confess when it’s going to be 100 degrees outside, that’s a bit difficult to force down for me.
  • Survive.
    Yeah, that sounds a little over-dramatic…but, really.
    We knew this month was going to be crazy busy, but it went and made itself even more insane. I need to watch my margins carefully this month or it’s going to be miserable.  More on this soon.

What are your goals for this month?