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.

5 Ways to be Productive in a Chaotic Life

pexels-photo-373076.jpegAs a full-time working mom who also runs a growing photography business, I have to find pockets of time throughout my day to complete the tasks that, whether they are big or small, need to be done. It can be so difficult to find the energy and motivation to not spend that time scrolling through social media or playing another level of Candy Crush or watching the latest episode of your show on Netflix or playing Play Doh with Reagan.

I have found a few things that help keep me focused and on task for those times when my mind would wander (and get lost) if I allowed it when I should really be working. They help me focus and knock out goals, even if it is a little at a time.

  1.  Airplane Mode

It’s hard to adjust to being “unplugged” and out of reach sometimes, but it is so good for your productivity, I promise. With no distractions and no notifications dinging at you every time a new comment pops up on Facebook, you can knock out projects faster and of better quality.

    2.  Clean and organize your workspace.

A clear workspace is essential for me. I know there are people who say that they thrive in a messier atmosphere, but it’s been proven that tidier workspaces are good for focus. Plus you don’t have to waste time looking for things that you need if you know that they are where they are supposed to be. Give your stuff a “home” and make sure that the item makes its way back there every time you use it.

   3. Set timers.

Give yourself small increments of time to work. Small deadlines can produce big results because it forces you to work, work, work to get the task done, instead of dawdling around until the motivation hits you.

4. Use unexpected chunks of time.

Take your work with you.  You know that 15 minutes that you spend in the carpool line or the doctor’s office waiting room? Use those moments to work. I know it’s a small amount of time to really get in “the zone,” but those few minutes can add up quickly. I always have a notebook ready whenever I am out and about. Even if you are just brainstorming throughout the day as you run errands, you are doing work

  5. Give yourself a reward when you complete a task.

Good work and behavior is rewarded in a traditional workplace setting, so give yourself little treats as you accomplish some of the things on your to-do list. I tend to use candy as my reward. Skittles or Skor candy bars because they are my favorite. Gimme all the candy!

There are plenty of other ways to increase efficiency and productivity, but it really helps to find what works for your lifestyle. Leave your own tips in the comments!

Dear Reagan,

baby-lips.jpgI am at the library, watching a mom hold a three-month-old baby boy as he sleeps the afternoon away, and I can hardly remember a time when you were so small. Tiny and totally dependent. Just this morning, you put on your cutest 4T outfit with the glittery kitty on the shirt, and the pants were about an inch too short. It seems like you grew into a giant overnight, the minutes ticking away while life stretched your legs.

You are so aware of the world and soak up everything new. Things I didn’t know you heard grown-ups discussing now become questions. “But why?” is something I hear a lot from you these days, questioning many of the instructions I give you and things around us.

You notice the difference now between the things I am able to do, and the things I am not. “But how will you get up those stairs, Momma?”

When you were a baby, I wasn’t sure how we were going to navigate explaining to you my injury, my wheelchair, what I need help with and what I don’t. Really, I was afraid that I would explain it the wrong way and you would be confused. I have never carved out a time to tell you these things like I thought I would have to, so we take them as they come. Now I know, when you have a question, you will ask, and I will answer as simply and best as I can.

Once in a casual conversation, I mentioned walking, and you looked at me in surprise and exclaimed “MOM, you could WALK?” You will never have the privilege of seeing me walk like I did, but most kids don’t have the unique experience of having a mother with a disability either. It has taught you empathy and compassion, and I hope that you can carry that to other kids your age. You teach them, like I try to teach you.

Maybe I am being emotional because you will be having a birthday soon, and I just don’t know how the time has gone by so quickly that we are planning a party for the fourth time. It will be unicorns this year because you are very opinionated about the things you like and dislike these days.

I love you,

forever and ever,

Mommy