can’t hold me back.

decorating_cookies_3decorating_cookies_1decorating_cookies_2decorating_cookiesThis past weekend, the weather was typical of a winter day in Kansas.  Rainy and cloudy and just really boring. We decorated Valentine’s cookies with my nieces, and in that short time, sitting at the kitchen table with cookies and frosting and 6 different types of red and pink sprinkles passing around, I felt really whole in my role as a mom. It really takes very simple things to make a kid happy and make them understand that you care about them.

There are a lot of things I can’t do as a mom with a physical disability. I can’t run or jump or show her how to swing with my own legs, but there are a lot of things I can do. Like make her laugh and make her smile and make her feel loved and comforted and heard. So many times I feel like people (who obviously don’t know me) question my ability to mother her by what I am not able to do, and that’s not fair. Being a mom is making sure you raise someone who is going to be a productive and loving part of society. How you get from birth to that point can look so different for different families. My disability is just one small part of our path there.

And you know what, I don’t have to prove to anyone that my kid is happy and well taken care of. She will do that all on her own. She is upbeat and giggley and smart. Love exudes from her tiny body because that’s what we teach her.

The next time that someone judges someone else’s mothering, just shut it down. If their babies are happy and healthy, let them do things how they know how to do it. Everyone’s family doesn’t have to look like yours to be happy.

on balance.

IMG_9477aI used to think that there was such a thing as work life balance, but as Reagan gets older & my photography business grows and my day job is a little less demanding (yay for fewer complaints), I feel like there is always one part of my life that pulls harder than the others.
One area is always heavier.
For me, right now at this moment, it is family.  The beginning of the year seems to be the most time spent with my family because the audit at work is over, Greg is home for the winter, and it’s too cold to shoot any sessions. There are very few obligations that I have right now.
Greg, Reagan and I just took our first family week-long vacation last week to Florida, and I cannot even tell you how good it was for my heart. The sleeping in, the loosely scheduled days, the time spent laughing and goofing off and watching Reagan be enthralled with everything.  It was just what I needed in a time that I was feeling unsure and a lot of anxiety about nothing.  That anxiety tends to hit me every once in a while, and this vacation really did make it disappear.  Maybe I figured out that little piece of self care that I need when things seem big and overwhelming. Maybe taking the advice of so many people to just s l o w d o w n and do nothing is paying off.
I am not good at it, but maybe it will be like a muscle. The more I flex my self care muscle, the stronger it will become. So here’s to more sleeping in, baking cookies, reading books, and relaxing outside with a schedule to dictate my every move of the day.

Low carb works.

I try to eat healthy, but  if you sit a basket of fried pickles or butter brickle ice cream in front of me, you can bet I am going to eat it. I could eat every fried food in sight, drink gallons of whole milk and have candy bars for dinner every night and still not gain the weight I should. I don’t really know if my metabolism just hasn’t slowed down enough to make a difference in my body yet, but I just don’t absorb it. I cannot afford to lose weight honestly. I’m technically considered underweight by every doctor who has ever seen me so I was a little nervous about cooking without a lot of pasta (I love pasta), rice, and bread. I mean, they were 3 of our normal staples every night. Easy, quick, and yummy.

My husband, Greg, wanted to try Keto after our brother-in-law, a very healthy man on the eyes, had to have emergency open heart surgery after what everyone thought would be a simple routine stint procedure. It was scary.

So I had to Google keto/low carb, and he started in the middle of October. Surprisingly, there are a lot of really good recipes out there that make it easy for Greg to eat low carb (he’s been very disciplined about it too–no cheating) and Reagan and I to eat good food too. My favorite is sausage and veggies (recipe below). I am slightly obsessed with it and would eat it every night if I wouldn’t get sick of it. It’s that good.

And also, in the meantime, I’m over here stuffing my face full of mini Snickers and blueberry Poptarts trying to reach 2,800 calories a day–to gain 1 to 2 lbs per week.

Sausage and Veggies

2 Polish sausages, cut into one inch sections

1 yellow pepper, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, cut into chunks

1 head of broccoli, cut into small sections

1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch discs

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp Seasonings of your choice (We use garlic salt, lemon, and pepper)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut all the vegetables and sausage links and place in a big bowl. Mix the oil and seasonings and drizzle over the vegetables and sausage. Stir to coat as much as you can. Spread everything onto a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. I usually let ours cook until some of the juices from the veggies soak the bottom, and the broccoli starts to look roasted.

What I love most about this is that you can add your favorite vegetables and take ones out that you don’t like. My sister uses shrimp instead of sausage. It’s so versatile, and it is so filling.

The Disconnect

IMG_5934aI haven’t been feeling very well lately, and honestly, it has worn me down. I have no energy and no drive and would love to lay around all day, but you know, job, kid, husband, life.

I have been making myself rest more, and by rest, I mean, just hang out and do nothing productive. That sounds incredibly lazy and boring, and really, it is. I am not a fan. I am not used to it or built for it, but right now, I think it is what my body needs. Rest. No stress. To relax.

In an effort to fully sink into my rest, I bought a pair of lounge pants. They are made of loose, kinda springy material, perfect for just hanging around on days that I don’t really need to leave the house or have anyone coming over. I like them. I am wearing them right now as a matter of fact. Earlier, in a truly odd SCI moment, where it feels like I am looking down at my life from 10 feet above, I thought “Man, they look really comfortable.” I don’t know if they are. I can’t feel them. I bet they are.

It’s one thing that I find so interesting and weird about my injury. I see feelings. If that doesn’t make sense, let me explain. These pants LOOK comfortable. The material feels soft against my fingers. I like the color, and they are just loose enough to not look sloppy. I know they are comfortable because I see that they are, not feel that they are even though I am wearing them.

When I see runners starting to get out in the spring, when the road is still wet, but it is warm enough to take their mornings jobs, I feel that jelly feeling in my legs. The one that you get when you aren’t sure you can run anymore. I haven’t run in over 15 years, but I see the running, and I feel it. And sometimes, I still try to kick things out of the way. My mind forgets that my legs don’t work.

Our bodies are odd things, and the phantom feelings I have are one of the things that are a blessing and a curse about this injury. Like running. I LOVE that feeling, like I would collapse on the floor if I stood because my legs would be so tired (I totally would still fall but because my legs don’t work, ha), but I also MISS that feeling.

But I wouldn’t trade what I have for any of those things.

52 Weeks Project.

I have done this project for the last few years, and it is one of my favorites. I take a new portrait of Reagan every week, and at the end of the year, I compile them into a book. Its so fun to see how much she grows in a 52-week timeframe.

Week 1.

reagan_week_1

Here we go, 2019!

IMG_4771aI always thought that adults were crazy when they said times goes faster when you’re older, but for me, it is the ultimate truth. 2018 flew by.

Looking back through photos of the months, we managed to get some good memories in. From mommy-daughter days eating cookies at the mall to RZR races to trips to the zoo, it was a good year. I can’t wait to make more memories this year.

Reagan at four is my favorite. She grew so much this year. Pre-school was an adjustment, but I am happy that we decided to send her. A good routine has started, and the transition to kindergarten this coming August will be easier. I hope. At least she will know what some of the expectations will be.

Greg was able to work in Emporia for the summer, and then in Denver, but we are keeping our fingers crossed for hail in KC or somewhere close again this year so he can stay at home for most of the year. Businesses that are dependent on the weather are tricky. One year might be slow, and the next year could be crazy busy. It’s just luck of the draw.

Overall, I am ready for a new year, a new start, new goals and intentions. I really want to crush some serious business goals, and I am pumped about the work it is going to take. 2019 is the year I take myself out of my comfort zone. Carrie L. Sunday Photography is going to burst at the seems, I feel it. I chose the word “expand” as my word this year, so here’s to that. Expanding, rowing, believing in myself.

Tips for Quadriplegics to Stay Cool this Summer

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We’re heading out to a family party tonight, and despite the lower-than-normal June weather today, getting overheated is always something that scares me. I have come close a few times to being pretty sick from the heat, and it may not be something that everyone realizes can happen so quickly for someone with an injury like mine.

Spinal cord injuries affect people in very different ways, depending on what level and how severe the injury is. Mine usually leaves me feeling cold, even on the hottest of days.

One commonality among most SCI ,though, is the body’s inability to sweat. The internal thermometer can be damaged (and normally is), which explains why most spinal cord injury survivors are seen wearing jackets in summertime. This is why I sit in front of a space heater in my already-warm office. It can be so hard to feel and stay warm.

The opposite is also true. Summertime heat and humidity can be very uncomfortable and dangerous to persons with SCI. Our inability to control temperature coupled with the inability to sweat can quickly cause heat-related stresses.

1. Drink lots of cool water prior to going out in the heat.

Sometimes drinking lots of water all the time is hard for me. I know it’s good for me in the long run, especially with bladder infections happening what seems to be every other week. Water is especially important though if you are going to be outside.  You’ll stay hydrated and get ahead of the temperature regulation before you’re even out in the heat.

2. Keep a mister with you.

I am sure you have seen them before. It’s basically a water bottle with a fan on it, and let me tell you, it works. It keeps your skin moist when it needs it most, and it is a super inexpensive way of keeping cool.

3. Shade. Shade. Shade. Meds can cause severe sunburn also.

Stay out of the direct sun if you can avoid it. I have made the mistake of spending all afternoon out in the open sun while on antibiotics, and I paid for it for almost a week later. Saying that antibiotics (and some other medications) can increase your risk of sunburn is an understatement. Learn from my mistake.

4.  Wet your clothes.

I don’t mean that you have to be running around dumping bottles of water over your head, but if you are somewhere that you can wear a wet rag around your neck and keep the collar of your shirt damp, go for it. A little bit can make a big difference.

5.  Wear light-colored loose-fitting clothing.

Cotton is best because it’s light and usually loose and can get wet and dry quickly. All the things you want for a hot summer’s day.

We all know that summers can be brutal, especially depending on where you are. Here in Kansas, it gets hot and humid and sticky, and then it rains, which makes it even more hot and humid and sticky.

If at all possible, make sure you have an inside place to hide from the heat, but if that’s not a possibility, take precautions. Take care of yourself and make sure others do the same.