Category Archives: Uncategorized

Five on Friday: They call me Kingmaker

1. Yesterday it was brought to my attention that Abner Ramirez has made it in the music business as the husband part of the married couple duo, JohnnySwim. Unless you’ve been reading my blog since 2004 (my Xanga days), you probably don’t know that I blogged about Abner. I fell in love with his music and then happened to see him while out with some friends downtown and I geeked out and treated just-a-Belmont-student-totally-not-yet-a-celebrity Abner like he was Justin Freakin’ Timberlake. I think I shook his hand. I’m fairly certain I terrified him.

Well, now he is married to Amanda Sudano, Donna Summer’s daughter, and they are playing little gigs like the Late Show with David Letterman. I guess she can have my handshake sloppy seconds, and get in line behind Olivia Wilde for beautiful girls that want to be me.



This also made me realize that it’s the SECOND time that I’ve launched a hipster’s career. Remember Otis James? Yeah he was in GQ and is making bowties for the Real Justin Timberlake.

otis james


I’m a king maker.

2. For some reason, this morning I remembered the first time that I got dressed up after having Otis. I took a shower, straightened my hair, put on makeup and a dress. Then I headed over to my mom’s to hangout feeling like, well, a baller. Shot caller. If I had a girl I would call her.

And then Otis wanted food. From my boobs. That were under my dress.

Yeah. #momlogicfail

3. We watched the entire season of Lindsay on OWN. Because I’m a sick person, and I really believed in Oprah’s powers.

But no one seems to be able to help sweet Lindsay, so I basically wrapped up the season like this…

4. A friend just asked on FB if people know what the periodic table is. I do. Because in a lot of ways I’m really smart. But a couple of month’s ago my brother was talking about a trivia night he goes to, and he said the question was something like, “What’s the lightest element on the periodic table?” (or something like that). And I blurt out “Copper!” (or some other insane answer).

And he looked at me like

So I knew I had gotten it wrong. Think quick, Marie. Lighter than copper, lighter than copper….

“Air! I’m going with air!”

And he was all…

Because air is not on the periodic table. Or something like that.

But here’s the thing. Ask most anyone that has only a superficial knowledge about our family which McKinney kid got the brains, and you’ll find out…

5. I really shouldn’t even be writing this blog post, but it’s essential for my sanity. I should be editing my book or blogging about Southeast Nashville or TEDxAntioch or about marriage in general. Yet, here I am laughing about gems like these

Kate Middleton, the original kingmaker.

Dinosaur Train: The True Story

(Dinosaur Train’s Opening Song in the background)

The last little baby had a different size
With teeth and a tail and big green eyes
He didn’t look anything like the rest

What am I doing in a pteranodon nest?

But dear old Mrs. Pteranodon said

Oh, this is your family and I’m your mom.
You may be different, but we’re all creatures.
All dinosaurs have different features.

Me: I mean, she isn’t even going to try and find his real mom?

Mark: Yeah, well, revenge will be had. He’ll grow up and eat them all.

5 on Friday: My Way

I like  writing “real” posts. Really, I do.

But I have so many little stories that I want to document but I can’t make them real posts because they are just these little snippets of a memory that I want to capture, not write a book about.

So I’m playing along with another Linky Party where everyone just dumps 5 things they’ve been thinking about lately so that I can get these little posts out of my system.

1. Otis loves lawnmowers. Have I mentioned that, yet?

His body literally shakes with excitement when he hears one in the distance. This video of him and our subdivision’s lawn guy is a Sam Graham Instagram favorite. The emotional range in those 15 seconds is truly epic.

2. The plunger.

Our child is a wee bit OCD about some really odd things. One odd thing is how the plunger stands.

I’ll be in the bathroom doing my bidness and he’ll barge in like he owns the place. He looks around and finds the plunger. You can see the storm brewing in his eyes, and I start begging from my… incapacitated position.

But it’s too late. It’s always too late.

He wants the plunger handle to lean against the wall AND the rubber plunger part to stay completely on the ground..

It’s physically, scientifically, gravitationally, and philosophically impossible for a plunger to lean the way Otis wants it to. Go ahead. Try. I’ll wait.

But my little boy doesn’t understand physics or science or philosophy. So he loses it.

Over a plunger. While I’m peeing.

3. The genius.

I know every other mom in America is all, “My kid only gets 30 minutes of screen time a day… maybe.” This is awesome and you’re a WAY better mama bear than me.

But do you know what my genius can do? He can do puzzles on his tablet. All kinds of puzzles. All day long he does the puzzles.

Even more impressive? He does puzzles on a Kindle Fire. Have you played with a Kindle Fire? They are like the Rubik’s Cube of tablets. And he navigates that thing like a regular Columbus. Except Otis actually gets to where he intends to go and doesn’t destroy an entire race of people in the process.

And when he puts those puzzles together you know that the crowd goes wild. Each and every time.

4. The sibling.

Mark and I are seriously considering adding on. We aren’t sure when and we kinda wish we could get accidentally pregnant again, but I don’t see that happening now that there’s an app for that.

However, I think this morning’s Storycorp interview of a brother and sister had me all kinds of weepy and totally willing to participate in baby-making activities no matter the number of flowers on the branch. (Not my branch below, FYI)


5. The Flashlight.

In case you were wondering, I do think about more than Otis and future babies. Lately, I’ve been feeling very sorry for the creators of the iPhone Flashlight App.

I use the flashlight all of the time, especially getting ready in the morning because I’m not smart enough to lay clothes out at night so I’m usually digging around in my hamper closet looking for something clean to wear without waking anyone up.  I would say that, right after the PBS Kids App, it’s the most important and life-changing app I own.

But the ads! My goodness the ads!

You can breathe on it wrong and you’ve clicked on an ad for hemorrhoid cream or a very loud commercial for heartburn medicine featuring Larry the Cable Guy.

I get that they need to monetize. I get it. But the problem is that I’m using their Flashlight app because I want to look at something NOT on my phone. You don’t have my eyeballs and scaring me with Larry the Cable Guy’s heartburn testimony at 5 in the morning while I’m digging through my underwear drawer is not how you win friends and influence people.

Clothes that can Make the Toddler

“Ok, Otis. Look off into the distance. That hand behind the head move? Brilliant.”

Otis the A&F Model

We love photo shoots in our house. There. I said it.

We especially love photo shoots when products that should/will be on Shark Tank one day are involved. Are you listening, Mark Cuban?

otis chillaxing

I would love to introduce you guys to Jorgenson’s, a clothing company that keeps real kids in mind when designing their clothes. On their Facebook page (go like them!) this is what they’re about:

Jorgenson’s cares about children with special needs and their families. We design clothing for real kids – autism, feeding tubes, children who wander or disrobe, and regular kids who want to dress themselves.

I think their business is genius. Clothing is a huge obstacle for many families with special needs. The wrong fabric or an itchy tag can ruin any chance of making it to school on time. Finding clothes to fit over a brace or allow for feeding tubes? Where would you even start? And then let’s just pretend that in the middle of all this you might want your kid’s clothes to still be cute?

This is where Jorgenson saves the day.

Jorgenson sent over an adorable 3T shirt for Otis to try out, and he “loved it”. His words, not mine. Ok, fine. My words. Because he isn’t putting two words together yet. But do you see this smile?


That’s a happy kid. A “I love my new Jorgenson shirt” kid.

And there really is so much to love. But I’ll let Otis share.

jorgenson what otis loves

It’s super soft. Super soft. If your kid has ever complained about regular shirts being itchy or uncomfortable I’d highly suggest looking into these shirts because I’d be so surprised if they had issues with this fabric. It’s soooooooofffffft. Soft.

It’s easy to get on. Jorgenson’s is a company that has a special focus on kids with special needs (autism, sensory processing disorders, etc.), but these shirts would be great for all kids learning to dress themselves. The soft fabric and roomy design allowed Otis a much better chance at successfully getting the shirt over his McKinney-sized noggin. Speaking of…

It has a wide neck. This should be first on Otis’s list of what he loves. The wide neck meant that putting a shirt on Otis wasn’t a born-again experience like it normally is. If you catch my drift. I loved that my kid’s head went through a neck hole without screaming from either of us.

It has a generous fit. Truth be told, Otis is just starting to wear 3T’s, but he isn’t quite big enough. In the belly area he’s a perfect 3T, but in the limbs? Notsomuch. So we had to roll up the sleeves, but otherwise the roomy fit seemed to be pretty awesome in his book. Jorgenson includes this feature for children that have to have braces under their clothes, for instance.

It’s stylin’. At the end of the day we want our kids to look cute. These shirts are definitely cute. The shirt Otis has is a line of cars. Which means there are cars. Which means it’s a winner in our house. The designs Jorgenson’s  has are adorable, and appropriate levels of hipster (something any boy named Otis Oates requires). It was hard to decide which shirt to go with, but, well, cars. Cars always win.

The only way this shirt could be better is if they let me Otis come with them to model the clothes for the Shark Tank.
Like I said earlier, check out their Facebook page. And if you’re in Nashville, why not stop by and pick up a shirt of your own at the Mustard Seed Preschool Marketplace. They’ll be there with this shirt and many more!

Dangerous Minds Think Alike

I’m back. I should’ve known better than to leave.

Some of you may have known that at Christmas time we stole from our Pre-K age neighbor. Well, Kharma? She’s a real Nutcracker.

If you’ve ever tried to get in touch with me you will be shocked to learn that I’m not addicted to my phone. I know. I’ll let your heart rate settle before I continue.

Not being addicted to my phone means that I “lose” it often. And by “lose” I mean I can’t find it immediately so I just go to bed and think, “Ah, it’ll turn up”.

Usually I’m right. It does “turn up”. In my purse. Between couch cushions. In that space between the driver’s seat and the console. At the local alternative middle school.

Wait. What?

Last Monday I was sitting at my desk getting ready to start the day when I remembered that I hadn’t seen my phone since  leaving my parents’ house. I knew it was either there or somewhere in my house. I decided to narrow the search and check the handy dandy Find My iPhone app.

This is what I saw (this is a dramatization, you’ll have to imagine the Google marker is a green dot):dangerous mind school


That is not my address. That is not my parents’ address. This is in West Nashville. I’ve been to West Nashville maybe twice my entire life. What the…

I refreshed the page because surely this was wrong. Surely this was wrong. Please, Jesus, let this app be wrong.

Nope. My iPhone with 7% battery life was in an area of town I’d never been to, and I was now given the task of rescuing it.

Some googling told me that my iPhone was not just on the other side of town, but it was in an alternative middle school.

You might as well have told me it was at Alcatraz. Here in Nashville, alternative schools are basically the step right before prison for most students. Or so I’ve heard. Because the only thing I ever got in trouble for during my entire time in the public school system was short shorts.

I was going to have to confront the meanest, baddest kids in the Metropolitan Nashville area to get my phone back. My first thought? “I could probably be cool with pay phones… there are still pay phones, right?”

I called the school and the officer said he would look into it. The adult high school was in the same building so it could be an adult and if it was then I’d be crap out of luck because you can search students whenever you’d like but adults are protected “by the Constitution” or something.

As I waited for the officer to call me back, I started praying a student had it because I wanted to help this wayward young thief get their life back on track. My new mission in life was to become some kid’s Michelle Pfeiffer from Dangerous Minds.

“Hey, Thief, let me change your life via Bob Dylan lyrics.”

Terrified Kid That Had My Phone: Are you going to press charges?

Me: Of course not. I’m here to help you, not convict you.

Terrified Kid: Thank you, Saint Maria. Can I call you Saint Maria?

Me: Well, Saint Marie, but sure. That works. Now what are your thoughts on Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man?

[End daydream.]

When the officer confirmed that a kid did have my phone my friend and I drove out there to get it. Apparently the kid “found” it in my neighborhood, and thought it would be a great first item for his new store, “Bad Kids R’ Us”. Yeah, he was trying to sell it, but thanks to the Find My iPhone app, the MNPD, and Miranda my chauffer into the area of town I’d never been to his plans were thwarted and my phone was returned back to its rightful, though irresponsible, owner.

*For the record, given my very real propensity for losing things I would not be surprised at all if I drove off with the phone on my car and it fell off where ever the kid “found” it. The kid is probably more entrepreneur than thief. He should try to bring his business to the Shark Tank…

Get your pilgrim hats on, People. Thanksgiving is here.

Thanksgiving Cards are going out tomorrow morning. If you want yours gimme yo address.

I’m pretty sure that most of the year the cats are NOT Otis’s biggest fan, but they probably give him some props for relieving them of Thanksgiving Card duty…

2008 Thanksgiving

2011 Thanksgiving

Seventh Heaven

Otis Bear,
7 months old. For serious? In case you care, I’m totally not cool with this.

Let me count the ways you’ve changed this month…

1 Two teeth – You’re one tooth closer to steak. Get excited.
2 Clapping – You clap. On demand. Genius? I think so.
3  Straws – You love them because you think they all taste like Sweet Tea. Also note that Sweet Tea is capitalized. You’re in the South. It’s a proper noun.
4 Blondes – You love them. Sigh.
5  Johnny Jumper – The independence!
6 LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know It –  It’s basically our song. You have some of the best Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle moves in the country.
7 Copy Cat – You’re starting to copy us, and it’s hilarious. When you try to  make raspberry noises your mouth it is ADORABLE.

Also, I just want to thank you for being so cute. This whole parenting shindig would be tons harder with an ugly kid.

Keeping it real,
Mommy Bear

Otis goes to prison

Otis and I were having a standard mom and 3 month old baby conversation on Sunday night…

Me:  Otis, you’re too cute.

Otis: drool

Me: Yes, you’re so cute they might put you in prison. It’s probably illegal to be this cute, you know.

Otis: grunt

Me: So we better hide you so they don’t find your cuteness, ok? Let’s hide Otis Bear so that they don’t put you in prison.

Otis: giggle

At some point in the conversation I got scared. What if I was causing emotional trauma to my baby bear? What if one day he somehow recalls this conversation, but only remembers the threats of prison? What if he spends his early childhood secretly afraid that I’m going to turn him in to The Law for being so ridiculously cute? Was it possible that my innocent conversation with Otis could turn out to be the root of future self-esteem issues or a general anxiety about not feeling safe because his mom was going to put him in prison?

Me:  Otis, I’m not really going to put you in prison, though. Mommy would never let anyone put you in prison.

Well, now I’m lying. If Otis really does do something one day that deserves prison his mommy isn’t going to be able to help him!

Me:  Unless, of course, you do something that deserves prison. They don’t put people in prison for being cute, though. So no worries.

Did I just tell him he could get away with things because he’s cute? This conversation was not going as planned, but thankfully it’s pretty easy to get out of awkward conversations with 3 month olds. You just, ya know, change the subject…

Me: Are you farting, Otis Bear? Is that your poopy face?

Otis: grunt fart fart

I’m pretty sure any long term emotional damage was averted. But the worst part? When I checked my blog’s stats on Monday morning someone got here by searching “Otis Oates in prison”.

Crap. My baby is on the run. And just to be real, if you could go to prison for cuteness, he’d totally be looking at a life sentence.

Baby Assassins

Me:  (watching a diaper commercial) I really want a baby. Let’s have a baby.

Mark: You’re not allowed to watch tv anymore.

Me: We would have cute babies. Really cute babies.

Mark: I thought we had a plan? No babies until we’re millionaires.

Me: We could sell them?

Mark:  Yeah…

Me: Yeah?

Mark: They could be assassins.

Me:  Um, I’m not following.

Mark: Assassin babies. Trained to destroy people who BUY BABIES. It’s poetic!

Me: Brilliant.

Had to clear my brain

I think I’ve lost my blogging spark. Nala peed in my shoe. I watched Nala pee in my shoe. Mark and I weren’t mad, if anything, we were impressed: Our cat’s got pretty good aim! He peed in a high-heel shoe and not a drop escaped. He’s better than his dad!

Cat-peeing-in-shoe stories are what this blog is made of. I live for these tales, yet, here I sit feeling like I can’t blog or make anything very funny.

It’s because my brain is crowded. It needs to purge. Here goes:

1) Healthcare reform happened and now I have to read stupid Facebook statuses. I’m actually semi-ok with people lamenting the fall of our capitalist society and that the government is getting too big/spending too much money. Those are valid opinions and genuine fears (I mean, are any of us really all that excited about the Social Security deductions that get taken out of our check for a future security we’ll probably never benefit from?). It’s the people who are mad at President Obama for making their premiums go up even when their premiums HAVE NOT GONE UP (yet) and the only reason they’re talking about it is because they heard on the news that they were going to go up. This drives me batty.  It’s ignorant and totally fear-based without a lick of reason.

And another thing? Just like the government does not have the power to be your salvation, it almost certainly doesn’t have the power to be your destruction. Some of the best ideas and companies have come about during times that look bleak. Quit whining about horrible everything is and DO SOMETHING to make you and your family’s situation better.

2) There is some article that has floated around for what seems like forever where a lady tells women to just go ahead and settle for Mr. Not Everything I Dreamed of and More so that you can get married, have babies and retire together. I haven’t read tons of responses to this article, but most people (especially 20-somethings) cringe at that dreadful word…”settle”. God forbid anyone be forced to settle for a man who watches sports on the weekend instead of going to the symphony, or works as a toner salesman (just to be real, our toner salesman is HAWT), or thinks Jane Austen is what they name unidentified female victims. People act like it’s a crime against your soul to ever settle for anything. Ever.

I don’t think settling is all that bad. I like to think of it as compromising with The Universe. I’m going to get what I really want and not worry about some of the perks I may or may not miss out on. I know that Mark isn’t my everything. In lots of ways I settled for him. I settled on a guy who will listens to Rush Limbaugh and is honest to a fault when I ask him if my pants look too tight. In exchange, I have a husband who high-fives me when our cat pees in my heels like a champ.

The most annoying part of the “I don’t want to ever settle” argument is the idea that whoever you do end up with won’t be settling, too. Hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to be anyone’s everything, either. And THAT’S OKAY.

3) I feel way too busy to blog. Work has changed a lot in the past 3 months and I end every week wondering if I can keep up this pace. All that said, I just have to stand in awe of all moms. I don’t know how in the world some of you work and run households at the same time. It boggles my mind. Boggles. my. mind.

4) My mom is awesome. And she’s getting credit for being awesome. She was just voted Staff Person of the Year at her school. And I know it isn’t a Nobel Peace Prize or an Academy Award but it makes me so proud to know that a woman who is so kind and genuine gave me half of my DNA and that I was so blessed to be raised by her. It’s nice to see other people appreciate her as well.

I think that’s it. Let’s hope my funny bone grows back.