Category Archives: Marshmallow

Picture Perfect or Notsomuch

20110330-Otis-9239-2 I am not going to lie. I still don’t love these pictures. I am swollen and tired and, well, ugly.

When I first saw them, weeks after giving birth, I wanted to cry a little bit. Where is the normally bright-eyed girl? Who is the tired, puffy hag holding my baby? The worst part was that people saw me while I looked like death warmed over, and those people said things like, “You look great!”

And I believed them.


I don’t think my mom knew what I was thinking (because who experiences the miracle of giving birth to a healthy child and whines out loud that the lighting is bad?), but she made a comment while in the hospital that stuck with me. She said, “You’ll love these pictures one day.”

I didn’t believe her at the time. I was pretty sure that I would never want to see these pictures again. Glad we had them, but if they could get lost in the abyss that is Mark’s Dropbox that would be great.

But I’m starting to believe her. A little bit.

I love that Mark was there to take pictures before the party got started. I love that he was wise enough to only take one.

20110330-Otis-9195-2 (1)
I love that blurry smile. I love that the feeling of complete and unconditional love for Otis the minute I laid eyes on him wasn’t just a figment of my imagination.

I love how in this picture I have absolutely no clue how much love and laughter was truly born that day, or how much more I could fall in love with that guy next to me. I also love that the swelling does go down. A little bit.

I won’t ever hear “You don’t even look like you gave birth!”, but you know what? That’s ok because maybe looking like a supermodel after labor is a little overrated anyways*.

*Things I probably won’t really believe until Otis’s 30th birthday.

Beach Hair Don’t Care

Otis went to the beach for the first time a few weeks ago. Unless you’re Pro Life. Then he’s actually been to the beach twice. On opposite coasts. Once in Savannah, GA and once to La Push Beach of Twilight fame.

But this was his first time to touch sand (hated it).

sandy otis

And go “swimming” (loved it). Well, loved it when daddy held him. When mommy held him in the crashing waves of the Gulf of Mexico (I think that’s the body of water that touches Panama City Beach…) he rightly knew to fear for his life. And cry for daddy.


Every morning he did Baby Yoga on the beach. Such a diva. And also the reason for the sandy hair above.

baby yoga

And other than when he wanted to swim, it was All Mom, All the Time on the Otis radio station.

otis and mommy

On our first day there we saw some 12 year old girls taking “jumping pictures” on the beach. They looked like idiots. And we made fun of them.

Two days later this happened:

mom melissa and me

And then this:

jumping filipinas

We’re starting a band. The Filipina Jumping Beans.

And I’m sure you already noticed that we also took part in the White Shirt and Jeans on the Beach photoshoot ala every white family since 2003.

Except Mark and I are rebels. Pink shorts? Green shirt and khakis? Conformity can’t hold us down. Also, we forgot about the dress code when we packed.

group on beach

Most importantly, the first day my hair met the salty ocean air it was amazing. Perfectly formed curls starting at the roots with limited frizz. It was glorious. I wanted to Instagram it and hashtag it #beachhairdontcare, and be all humble braggy to my straight haired friends. But I was lazy.

And God punished me for my procrastination because the rest of the weekend my hair looked like this:

image_1 image_3

Frizz much? Oh well.

All in all we had a fabulous time that I know isn’t all that fun for you to read, but I’m quickly learning that this blog is my only chance at a scrap book. So we’ll all just have to deal.

Completely Pinterest Worthy 2-Year Old Birthday Party

I’m known for being an effortless hostess. And by “effortless” I mean I will order pizza and throw our dirty laundry in the coat closet before you get to the door. Just call me Martha Stewart.

So when Otis’s second birthday rolled around you knew that I was going to go all out. I was on Pinterest for months planning and thinking and crafting when it hit me like a ton of stinky diapers:

Otis doesn’t care.

I don’t know if it’s because he is a boy. Or because he’s pretty laid back. Or because HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS. But whatever the reason, I relieved myself of all birthday planning stress, went to my happy place, and created this Completely Pinterest-Worthy Celebration…

The Guests

We invited 6 people to Otis’s party. Two sets of grandparents, the aunt, and the uncle. Otis has friends from various groups (MOPS, church, kids of friends of mine), but there is no one he loves more than his family so that’s who we invited. Otis actually loves having people over to the house (he will cry bloody murder when you leave… yes, even you, UPS guy) so when his favorite people started gathering in his house he almost fainted from excitement.

The Decor

You guys know that I enjoy crafts as much as Grumpy Cat.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I really went to town on Otis’s 2nd Birthday Decor…

We have a loft room above the living room, and Otis typically goes there before we go downstairs for the day (I guess Little Joffrey needs to survey his kingdom first), and when Otis saw the “sea of balloons” he almost peed himself in excitement. Well, to be honest he pees himself all of the time as of right now, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.

Anyways, we blew up a pack of 30 or so balloons when he went to bed and had them on the living room floor, and Otis Bear ate that crap up.

What says birthday party better than streamers? Lime green streamers, nonetheless. Again, another creative venture by the Mark and Marie Duo. I was done about 5 streamers in, but Mark insisted we cover everything. Perfectionists, can’t live with ’em, could get a lot of stuff done without ’em… amirite?

I also made Otis a banner for the mantle using Googled images of cars and tires, his two favorite things in the whole wide world (this was before his lawncare fetish had reached its peak). I’ll have a banner tutorial ready for you guys next week. (Please tell me you know that was a joke).

The Food

I was thisclose to just ordering pizza and getting a bucket of KFC, but quickly decided that this family deserved more. They deserved Mark and I making a meal that they would enjoy and would NOT cause problems in the bathroom.

I went to Plain Chicken to find recipes we might be able to successfully pull off. There I found a recipe for Morton’s burgers (they were delish) and this Chicken Pesto Alfredo:

I’m sure the guests at the party are reading this and thinking, “What? I’ve never eaten that!!” Yes, you did. Trust me.

This was a super easy recipe once I found all of the ingredients. True story: I stood in Publix’s bread aisle googling “Where do you find pesto?” after a 30 minute search for the stuff. Also, when something says “refrigerated fettuccine” they mean fresh fettuccine, not put it in the refrigerator after it’s been cooked fettuccine.

The Cake

The cake. THE CAKE. The cake almost caused Mark and I to get divorced.

Me: Ok, I’m going to go ahead and get the cake done tonight so we can cook tomorrow.

Mark: I want to help.

It was a box cake, People.

Me: But there are, like, 5 ingredients. Or maybe just 2. Where is the butter? Does it need butter? I like to get all of my ingredients out on the table so that I can be prepared. I think Chef Ramsay is really big about having a prepared kitchen, and you know I love being prepared. Now where is a spoon to mix the stuff with? Are you watching Otis?

Mark: Finished! You pre-heated the oven, right?

Me: What?!?!?! But I’M the MOM. And I’M supposed to lovingly bake him his birthday cake you jerk!

Mark: Cool. You can put it in! (Seriously doesn’t get that I’m upset right now)


Mark: But it’s just a box cake… there’s not much more than that…

Me: I hate you.

He eventually gave me a spoon to lick and let me decorate so I got over it. Kind of…

The Gifts
I’m sure we only have half of the toys other families do, but we are at capacity and weren’t keen on bringing more in the house. So I sent out an email:

I asked everyone to write a letter to Otis because (research says) it’s important for a child to know where he/she came from and who his/her family is. Mark and I don’t have a lot to give Otis, but a close and loving relationship with grandparents? We have that in spades.

The response was wonderful. I love that each grandparent was taking this letter so seriously. I have no clue what anyone wrote, and I pray Otis understands just how important family is and how much he is loved.

Of course we are talking about grandparents and none of them came with just a letter.

All in all, we had a wonderful time celebrating the little munchkin, and you can’t pin that can you?

Arduino Oates

Did you know that I have a “math minor”? Quotations for a couple of reasons .

First, I don’t believe minors were real things at Tech (oops, I’m wrong! It’s real and I have one).

Second, when I try to explain what a derivative is my go to definition is, “Well, if you need to calculate how fast water would be coming out of a bucket with a hole in it while pouring more water in it… you’d use a derivative. And, you should probably get your bucket patched”. Which is a horrible definition of a derivative. Certainly not one that a (real) math minor would give.

But neither of these things have ever stopped me from bragging about being a math minor.


Last week, however, my distinction got me some extra attention from the hubs.

Mark: What do you know about derivatives?

Me: Well, if you need to calculate how fast water would be coming out of a bucket…

Mark: Yeah, well, what about as it applies to electronics?

Me: I got nothing.

And then the sermon on Arduinos started.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

That beeping? It’s the nerd alarm. Goes off regularly at our house…

I was able to hang during the conversation for about 15 minutes. Once my braniac limit was reached my brain started wandering and I started supplying the air with “Uh-huhs” and “Oh wows” and “Danger, Will Robinson, danger! Ha, get it? That’s a robot joke. I think…”

After my eighth “you don’t say!”, I looked down at Otis who was playing politely on the floor. He looked up at me with a face that said, “Don’t you worry, Mama. I got this”. He then turned, looked up at Mark with the sweetest smile, and put his hands over his ears.


At the most perfect timing ever our son gave his dad the international sign for, “Please quit talking”.

We died. Of laughter. And pride. Because our son is one cool little mofo.

*I’m teasing Mark in this blog, but the Arduino thing is really pretty cool (20 Unbelievable Arduino Projects here). And cheap, too! In all seriousness, Mark’s my favorite nerd in the world and I’ll happily listen to him for hours as he speaks Klingon.

The Elephant Pictures

Because we need some baby up in here…


one year

At first I freaked out that we weren’t making the pictures look exactly the same. How will we know how big he really was at 8 months if he’s NOT ON  A WHITE BACKGROUND.

It’s so hard to find good help.

However, I think our more relaxed approach to documenting Otis’s growth caught more than just how big he was compared to our favorite elephant (thank you, Liza!). It caught how we lived, where we were, and that “perfect” will never triumph over getting crap done. And to put a finer point on that, this post is approximately 3 months late.


One trip around the sun… check

Dear Otis,

We did it! We survived an entire year! High five, Little Man.

You have changed our world completely and in all ways good. It’s so cliche, but you’ve allowed me to experience a kind of love that is huge. Simply huge. Thank you.

In one year we’ve already created so many memories:

There was the first time you laughed. And when you pooped on the floor.

There is the crush you have on your Aunt Melissa (you come from redneck stock, but not that redneck).  That you’re kind of snobby towards your Lola and Yada even though they probably love you more than their own kids. That you will do almost anything to make your Poppy laugh. How sitting on your Grandpa’s lap to play on his computer and fan is always at the top of your agenda. Your Uncle Bobby isn’t just an uncle he’s also the best amusement park ride on earth.

Your obsession with guitars, pianos, and radios. The reminder that music is a hobby. Not a job. Just kidding.

Taking you to countless baby showers, bridal showers, Tartar Sauce Club meetings, book clubs and even a Royal Wedding party. How I firmly believe you hid under your nursing cover during the Royal Wedding party.

How you love the cats even when they look at you like you’re a crack addict begging for money. All those things you’ve done or I’ve let happen that we can’t tell anyone about because your grandparents would have a collective freak out session.

Having heart attacks every time you coughed while experimenting with solid foods. How you’ll go almost anywhere if you think there’s food at the end of the journey. The time you begged a stranger for food. Like a puppy.

How you get really confused when people pay attention to babies that aren’t you.

The diaper that your dad saved. The joy when I get home from work. The chiropractor bill that your dad and I will have because we let you sleep with us.

The look on your face the first time you heard my voice.

Obviously that’s not even close to everything. But that’s all I can think about without becoming a tearful mess.

You have taught me so much this year. You remind me daily that one more hug is immensely more important than one more dollar. And that I can’t encourage you to do your best and chase your dreams if your dad and I don’t walk that truth out alongside you in our own lives. And that kisses make people feel special. The more slobber the better.

Happy Birthday, O-Bear. You are an absolute treasure.

Mama Bear

P.S. You still aren’t walking. Not judging. Just making a note. We’ll talk about it at your evaluation.

P.P.S. JUST KIDDING! You’re perfect.

Heaven Eleven


You’re eleven months old. Today. Or yesterday. I’m really not sure. See, you were born on the 30th. There is no thirtieth day of February so…

The weather is  starting to feel a lot like it did the week you were born. Kinda nice, but then yucky, all at the same time. The reason is because it’s quite literally been almost a year since you were born. You’ve seen almost all of the holidays and season changes. You’ve experienced an almost complete ride around the sun, Son! Way to go!

You are obsessed with wires. Which is funny because so is your dad. Just in different ways. Your dad wants to hoard them. You just want to put them in your mouth. Neither are cute to mommy.

But you know what is cute? Your kisses. Oh. My. Goodness. Your kisses. They are perfect and slobbery and I’m 99.784% sure you know that they mean love.  You grab my face when I try to get away and just keep on giving them. You give them spontaneously, too! Like when we’re walking to the car to go on a Target adventure and  it’s like it just dawns on you that “Hey, I love this lady. Lemme give you a smooch.” And there we are, a mom and baby, having some impromptu kissy time in the parking lot. It’s perfect. You are perfect.

Ok, that’s a lie. You’re not perfect, and the last thing I want to enforce is that complex. You’re actually quite stubborn and sometimes kind of stinky. Those are related because it’s your stubborn refusal to take a bath that leads to your stinky.

I mean, your dad and I seriously contemplated putting you outside during yesterday’s downpour because, “Hey, this could be his weekly bath!”

That’s right. It’s gotten so bad that we’re trying to pass bath time off to God, Otis.  FYI, He is responsible for washing away your sins. Not the dirt under your fingernails.

otis and mommy

Again, no stink or stubborness will EVER make me love you (or those slobber kisses) less.

Love you to the moon and back,

Goodbye, Single Digits.


Ten months. Sigh.

You’ve grown so much and so quickly. It’s stupid. It’s really stupid. But no sense in getting all sappy with words. Mommy got an iPhone so there are tons more pictures. You do know what an iPhone is right? Kids these days…

You’re too big for your bumbo chair. That is also the face I see when you aren’t allowed to touch something and when you hear the word “bath”.
otis and bumbo

Your favorite toy is a shoe. Yes, I’m serious.
otis and shoe

You played at Chuck E. Cheese (Thank you, Canyon, for the birthday invite!)
otis and barney

You got giddy about your “telescope”.
otis and telescope

And you give kisses. They are THE BEST.
otis and mommy
I would post the video of your first crawl but I’m shouting “My baby is CRAWLING! This is stupid!” and I don’t want to lose my street cred. (Cute story: You started to crawl when I wasn’t there and your dad stopped you so that I could see it. He’s a good daddy. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.)

I would also post the video of bath time nowadays, but I can’t even take video because I’m too busy wrestling with a miniature sumo wrestler in the kitchen sink.

I love you. Even when you’re stinky.
Mama Pigpen

We both wanted our mommy

Otis was Typhoon Mary. Or Typhoid Mary. Or something. White people sayings are so weird.

Either way, he wreaked some havoc on the stomachs of the McKinney side of the family. He started on Sunday night throwing up every half hour or so. I know this has probably been said a billion times since Adam and Eve were new parents, but there may be nothing worse than seeing your baby sick. And this was just throwing up. I said so many prayers for the moms and dads of really sick babies.

And all he wanted was hugs from mommy. And every time my heart stopped because he was puking and OH NO MARK CALL 911 all I wanted was my mommy.

Then? I got sick. Because if stomach bugs were 12 year old girls, I’d totally be their Justin Beiber. I get one every single year. What can I say? They love me.

And being sick with a baby is so different than being sick without a baby. Without a baby I got to sleep between trips to the bathroom and watch entire episodes of Ellen and generally waste away in private. With a baby? Nope. You just trudge through that crap and catch the throw up (his, not mine) with your bare hand like a good mom does.

Unfortunately, the love didn’t end there. We gave the bug to my parents’ house, getting my sister, grandmother and dad sick.

However, in the positive news that always follows a case of the stomach bug, Otis’ pajamas zipped up like they did 5 pounds ago! Go on with your bad self, Little O!


Nine is a magical number

Hi Otis,

I really suck at these. And I’m currently sucking at blogging. My last real post? December 9th. Disgusting.

Speaking of 9, you’re 9 months old. Can you believe it? You’ve been out as long as you were in! And I have to say I’m quite thankful that your gestation period ended 9 months ago. Because a 25 pound delivery would have been… hell.

You are thisclose to crawling. Which I’m not sure if you’ll ever really get to since rolling is your preferred method of transportation. This is fine except your favorite place to roll is towards things and places you shouldn’t be near. You’re getting fitted for your bubble next week…

You had your first Christmas and got what felt like a bajillion toys and do you know what you wanted to play with? Wrapping paper and the automobile vacuum cleaner your Lola got in Dirty Santa. Who knew?

I just want you to know I think you’re wonderful. And I really can’t imagine anything that could change that. I really can’t.

Ma Ma