Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Photo Time

I'm done with studio photo sessions.  Done I tell you.  Every year we pack up the children and head to whatever studio has the best offers, and every year I wonder why we did it.  The posed shots never turn out as you quite hope.  In fact, most of the time we end up sending out our Christmas card with some random candid shot taken by a friend, an unposed shot that captures a more realistic view of our family.  You know, the one that embodies the dysfunctional chaos of our lives.  So then what's the point of going to Target or JCPenny's in the first place? My point exactly. 

This year we did something a bit different.  We scheduled a session with a friend of our who happens to also be a photographer.  Actually Betsy and I hired her to do some professional head shots for Strategic Victory and thought we'd throw in some family photos as well.  So on Sunday, we gathered our families at a beautiful stone church right in Catonsville and let Kasey perform her magic.  I haven't seen all of them yet, but from what I have seen, I'm certainly pleased.  And for the price, not even Target could beat it. 

When you go to a studio, you typically get a package of prints and you pay per pose. For us, a typical session with several different poses costs us upwards of $50 or so, and that's with my super frugal shopping skills.  If you want the rights to the photos then you're going to be dishing out several more precious pennies.  With Kasey, we each bought a mini-session for $35 and we got the rights to 5 different poses.  Plus we were able to choose the time and place.  Never again will we venture out to a store studio like Sears.  Why when we have a such a gem right under our noses?

This might seem like an advertisement for Kasey Caruthers photography and in a way it is.  However, my point is that there are other options available.  We no longer have to enslave ourselves to the traditional cheesy background scenes and overpriced prints.  I mean, seriously, there are way too many deals to be had with online print shops, why would I pay upwards of $15 for a 5x7?  That's just insanity.  I'm just saying, that's all.  (Bonus point if you can tell me what movie that line comes from)

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Column on Patch.com: Behind the Cape

I know I mentioned the fact that I was going to start writing for the Catonsville Patch.  Well, today marks my third column and the excitement has yet to wear off.  Then again, neither has the nervousness.  Luckily, God was looking out for me on Saturday night because he brought me the perfect circumstances as fodder for my musings.  Isn't it funny how He works sometimes?

Today also marks the first comments from people I didn't already know.  I don't know why but there's a sense of accomplishment rolled up in that first contact beyond your own little circles.  The same thing happened when Strategic Victory brought in our first client that wasn't somehow connected to us.  Not that it means I've arrived, but it just feels good, almost like a validation.  Either way, I'll take it.

Well, it's a busy day today.  Tomorrow I have 10 or so moms and their kids coming to play and my house is an utter disaster.  I love Christmas and I love how my house looks at Christmas, but at this very moment, it sort of looks like Christmas vomited all over my living room.   There's no order and it's driving me insane.  Since I have a Central Committee meeting tonight, I think it might be best to get my butt in gear and put my house in order.

I only have about 2 hours and then it's time for Chick-fil-a. But Hillary, don't you guys normally go to CFA on Tuesday nights?  Why yes we do.  What a good observation there friend.  Today just happens to be Receipt Day at CFA.  Not sure if this is at every location or just mine.  I'd like to think we're special, but I'm guessing not.  Anyways, you go, you eat, you save your receipt.  Then on December 13, you go, you show that same receipt, and you eat for FREE.  Sweet deal, huh?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Neverending Story

Someone please tell me that Blake will not be 18 and still peeing in his underwear.  Seriously, I really need someone to tell me that.  It's been months of this back and forth regression and I'm about to pull my last hair out.  Just when we think he's on the upswing, he slides back down.  It's the most frustrating thing in the world.  Literally, I sit there thinking, "am I really that bad of a parent?" 

Owen just decided one day he was done with underwear and that was that.  Madison is starting to pee and poop on the potty without any coaxing, bribing or begging.  But Blake?  No, Blake just doesn't give a hoot.  If he's too busy playing to stop and go potty, he just goes right there in his pants.  And it doesn't seem to bother him that his pants are wet either.  We've tried everything from praise to discipline.  I'm at a complete loss.  There are few things I can't conquer, but Blake and potties is going to be the straw that breaks my freaking back. 

Any suggestions?  Seriously, I'll take them.  I mean if you want to borrow him for a couple days and bring him back fixed, I'm willing.  Maybe that's it.  Maybe I broke my child. 

Tomorrow is another day.  Is it sad that I pray for dry pants?  I do.  Every single flipping day, "Lord, please let Blake have a good day, learn more about you, and not relieve himself in his superhero underroos." 

I feel like I'm stuck in a rendition of  "The Song That Never Ends," sung to the tune of "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo"  Am I part of some Gotcha reality TV show?  If that's the case, you guys can jump out at anytime and replace the fake Blake with the real thing.

Do you sense my desperation yet?  I need a solution, and short of selling him on the black market, I'm open to any and all advice. Thank you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Check out my new column

It's no secret.  I love to write and now I can finally do it beyond the simple musings of a blog.  A couple of weeks ago I was given the opportunity to write a column for a new hyper-local online news source powered by AOL, Patch.com.   Basically it breaks the news down by cities and towns.  Catonsville has it's very own Patch site, and I have my very own column, "Behind the Cape."  It's all about being a mom and a real one at that.  I also get to share fun activities and great deals.  What an experience!

You can check it out and let me know what you think. In fact, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section of the article.  The more people read, the more I get to keep writing.  And we all know that writing keeps me sane.  This week's column is entitled "Confessions of an Ungratefulholic."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Shocking Confession

I was rocked tonight by a shocking confession from a dear friend.  It doesn't matter what was confessed or who did the confessing.  The point is that this declaration had some serious ramifications for my psyche.  Literally rocked me to the core.  Do you want to know why?  Because I realized that I'm not above it.  I'm not immune from falling.  I'm not untouchable.  So often I watch a TV show or read an article on the internet about someone that has fallen from grace, and I think, "I would never do that."  Truth is, I'm perfectly capable of sinning.  I am after all a sinner.  I'm so quick to judge others and yet I mask the evil in my own heart.  In fact, I justify it.  Why is it so easy to talk myself into doing what I know to be wrong and extremely difficult to talk myself out of it?  Seriously, what is that? 

The only good news to come out of tonight was the fact that, for the first time in a very long time, I felt close to God. For a microsecond I felt like I had never drifted away.  I found myself begging God for mercy, not only for my friend but for myself as well.  Now the test comes.  Will I continue to spend time with Him?  Will I carve out a few moments of each day to return to my knees before His throne of grace?  Here's hoping, right?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Here It Is

It's completely surreal to see your own name featured on the front page of a website that you didn't create.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  But don't post your comments here.  Post them on the article itself.  It helps my editor know that people are reading and engaging.  However, if you absolutely hate it, then just maybe snicker to yourself and not make it public.  My ego is a little fragile right now. 

Thanks again for all the support.  You guys are amazing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Done Deal

That's it.  As of 6 am tomorrow morning, I will be an official published columnist.  The article is written, name chosen, picture uploaded.  Now it falls into the hands of readers.  Whether or not it is well received will likely determine if I get to continue writing.  Do me a favor?  Go and read it, even if it sucks, okay?  I'll post the link when it's live.  Prayers appreciated.  I just dove in and there is no turning back.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This is it...my very own trip down the rabbit hole.

I've been thinking about it all week...what to write for my first column on the Catonsville Patch.  Maybe I need to get one of those voice recorders so I don't get to this point and forget every flipping idea that has entered my head over the last couple of days.  Call it nerves.  Call it writer's block.  Call it whatever you like, just pray that I can somehow find the words.  Look at me, I can sit down and any moment on any of my other blogs and the words just flow freely.  However you add a payment and an actual publication to the mix and it's like I'm mute.  I know, who would have thunk? Me? Mute? 

So what do I write about?  It's my first ever paid writing gig.  I will say, however, that it's certainly nice to know the topic.  For a long time, I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about, hence the 4 million blogs I manage.  The point is that I love to write.  It's therapeutic for me, and if people happen to read it, that's just a bonus.  Now the stakes are higher.  If people don't read, I don't get to keep writing.  Hhmmm, have I just stumbled upon  the cause of my writer's block?  Could I be afraid that I'm not actually that good at doing what I love?  Shocking revelation peeps, I have insecurities. Why do I get the feeling I'm about the walk into a high school cafeteria buck naked?  Risky.

All right, I have to just do it, dive in, and pray I know how to swim.  Prayers appreciated.  This is going to be a bumpy ride with a super secret and equally exciting destination.  I'll let you know when it's up and running.  I trust that, as my true friends, you'll give me honest and constructive feedback (while keeping my very fragile ego in mind). 

Friday, November 12, 2010


Why is it that the people closest to us have the power to make us feel like dirt and a complete stranger or an old friend can lift us up with one kind word?  What is it about human nature that allows us to treat the people we love with such disrespect? Why do we have this uncanny ability to shut off our own humanity in order to ignore another’s?

Then again, why do even we allow how we feel about ourselves to be dictated by the opinions of others?  Why do we put people on such pedestals with such high expectations that their doomed to fall and fall hard? 

Despite what it may look like on the outside, there are times that I feel like a complete failure, failure as a wife, a mother, a housekeeper, a Christian.  You get the point.  Notice how I didn’t include my political life even though we just lost big time.  Or More than Moms or the neighborhood association?  Sometimes I think I bring these things into my life so that I have an outlet where I don’t feel like a complete loser, where I’m appreciated, where I’m more like a superstar.  Okay, maybe I’m reaching a bit, but again, you get the point.  

One would have to argue though…Hillary, if you dropped all this other stuff, wouldn’t then have a ton of  time to invest in your family so that you weren’t such a big fat L?  While that may be a true statement, I’m not all that convinced that much would change.  Sure, my house and my kids would be cleaner.  I’d cook better meals and possibly be able to detach myself from my Blackberry, but wouldn’t I lose my identity in the process?  Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom (really I do), but I’ve fought hard to not just be a mom.  I wanted to have an identity of my own, not just someone’s wife or mother.  I’m certainly no June Cleaver but I’m not Peggy Bundy either.  Maybe I’m going through my own little identity crisis right now…heck, maybe it’s a midlife crisis. 

This morning I was sitting with a couple girlfriends talking about this very topic.  Where does our self worth come from?  The question arose:  What do you do when you doubt if God loves you?  One of the girls said that it didn’t seem like a relevant question to her because she’s never really struggled with it.  But when you look at it from a little different perspective, it’s a perfectly reasonable question. 

If we’re seeking our self worth in the eyes of others, our husbands, our kids, our friends and colleagues, then maybe that reveals a deeper issue within us…maybe we do doubt in God’s love for us, at least in his unconditional love for us.  And that makes perfect sense to me.  Of course I struggle with understanding his unconditional love for me because the only love I can comprehend is conditional.  Love without reason is hard to find even amongst Christians.  We constantly tie strings to our affections and it seems that the closer we are to someone, the more strings there are.  I happen to believe that those strings are tied to expectations. 

Whether we admit it or not, we set expectations for the people in our lives, normally much higher than they are even capable of attaining, and we get hurt.  We allow those unmet expectations to define us, to determine how we feel about ourselves.  It’s all one big fat lie, and yet we don’t recognize it.  Even I struggle to see that.  I allow myself to be hurt, to feel like a loser, to invite myself to countless pity parties for one.  Just because someone I love treats me like I don’t matter doesn’t mean that I don’t, right?  Why is it so hard to believe that?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A New Direction on the Same Old Path

I know, I know, I've neglected my blog.  Heck, I pretty much neglected everything in my life over the last couple of months.  And for what?  We lost the election.  Don't worry, I haven't gone off the deep end, and I'm not buying a one way ticket to my very own pity party island.  It is what it is, and to be quite honest, I have no regrets, or at least not many. 

I never thought my path would lead me here.  Politics?  Neighborhood Association? Mom's Group? Who would have thunk?  Looking back over the last year or so, I feel like I've stumbled upon myself.  If only I would have had this amount of confidence in who I am way back in the day, who knows where I would have been.  Don't get my wrong, I wouldn't trade my life for anything, but as you get older (and a bit wiser), you do start to wonder...what if I had made different decisions?  What if I made more decisions on my own instead of on what other people expected of me?  What if I had believed in myself and my potential?  Of course I don't want any of this to come across as arrogant.  I just feel like it took a very windy and crooked path in order for me to see the real me.  Some people saw it way before I did, and I'm sorry I didn't believe them.  Regardless of what path I took, I'm glad I'm here now. 

I love politics. It's meaty and complicated, frustrating as all get out yet familiar and refreshing.  Would it be easier to be back in Georgia where it's more red than blue? Absolutely, but would it be as challenging to my character? Probably not.  Plus, here I get to be a somewhat medium fish in a very small pond.  In a Red State, I'd be more like a minnow in a vast and wide ocean. 

I love being a mom.  Three kids under 6 presents its share of challenges.  Believe me, there is never a dull moment.  Sure, in most of those moments I'm left wondering if I'll have any hair left at the end.  But as much I fought against it, I love that my identity is entwined in those three lovable bundles of energy and personality.  More than Moms gives me the opportunity to not only fellowship with other moms, but to learn from and be shaped by their wisdom and even grow together through our triumphs and our mistakes.  And now that More than Moms is taking on a great and exciting new cause, non-profitdom,  I can't wait to see where we'll end up.

I love being a business owner.  Strategic Victory Consulting has certainly surprised me over the last few months.  What we thought would be a political venture has turned into so much more.  We get to watch businesses grow, most of the time from tiny little sprouts.  Betsy and I are both learning the extent of our skill sets and how they can work together for good, and not evil.  He he he.  If you want to know more about what we're doing, check out our website.  While you're there, join our email list. 

I love our neighborhood, as well as living in Catonsville.  Close your ears, Mom.  It's almost like we've found our home...at least for now.  I haven't completely given up on the South, but Oak Crest and Catonsville have provided us with a place we can finally feel comfortable.  From the house to the tree-shaded streets to the active community association (which I now lead...scary), it's like our own little slice of Mayberry, only less antiquated.

And now for the gran finale...I love to write.  And now I get the opportunity to do so and get paid.  WHAT?  I know, crazy, huh?  There is this new hyper-local news source, powered by AOL, called Patch.com.  Catonsville has it's very own Patch site and I will be a weekly columnist.  No, I will not be writing about politics.  I'm pretty sure I'm too biased for that.  However, I will be writing about two other loves in my life...motherhood and deal seeking.  My column launches early next week, so keep an eye out for that.  My dad would be so proud.