October 8, 2013

Choosing Special Needs Adoption

I recently had the awesome honor of writing on a blog which I have admired for a long time. In fact, one day I was telling a girlfriend about this amazing family and she said, "Oh! Sister Haiti?? Yeah- I read that blog all the time. That family is incredible." Isn't it amazing how the blog world can connect strangers from across the world?

Salem is an inspiration to so many and an awesome advocate for orphans, particularly those on the waiting list with special needs. You should really go to her blog and read for awhile. Incredible.

Long story short, when she asked me if I would be interested in writing a post about choosing "special needs adoption" I was honored.

You can find that post HERE. 

Thanks again for the awesome opportunity to tell our story, Salem!

Many Blessings, 
Mae Mae

September 4, 2013

Have You Seen This?

Saw this commercial for the first time this morning.  Sooo good. 

Love. Love. Love. 

Happy Wednesday :)

August 27, 2013

Loving Everything About This

I wrote THIS post two weeks ago about how I have always been chronically fatigued and how Isagenix products have literally changed my life. Well, I now have friends and family trying the products and seeing insane results. The more I learn about the company/products/etc the more I'm impressed. One of the most incredible things I've been learning about is the effect these products have had on children, specifically those with special needs.

Just watch this: 


Happy Tuesday!
mae mae

If you have any questions about Isagenix email me at marysmcconnell@hotmail.com 

August 26, 2013

I'm Back... with a Giveaway!!

Hi friends!

Remember when I was doing the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and then failed miserably on the second half? Well, I'm back and ready to keep writing. I hope y'all had a great weekend- I know I did. I'm super excited to be back on the grid today with some great news... I've teamed up with a stellar team of ladies to give you an awesome mint colorblocked tote from Moorea Seal's new amazing online shop!

I mean just look at this beauty:

The giveaway will run from today (August 26th) to September 1st. I really hope you win and then send me some pics of you living life with your stellar tote. Enter away friends!!

Rafflecopter Widget HTML: a Rafflecopter giveaway

mae mae

August 22, 2013

Abiella Riding a Horse!

This week I had the unbelievable honor of watching Abiella ride a HORSE!!! Yep, she did it and she L-O-V-E-D it. Like mama like daughter! I grew up riding horses so to see my daughter on one for the first time was especially emotional- but even more than that was the huge wave of reality that came over me while I was standing there cheering her on.  Just 10 months ago Abiella was confined to a crib in a large government orphanage. There were so many children in there and such low funding. When I inquired about her cough during our first visit, the orphanage nurse told me point blank: "These babies are on their back 22 hours a day, they're going to develop a cough." To remember the child I first held, who appeared partially blind, almost completely deaf, and little to no movement in her limbs... To the child I see today... kicking, laughing, SEEING, HEARING, communicating in her own way, and now RIDING A HORSE. It is a miracle.

It was truly one of those incredible "I can't believe what I'm seeing" hit-you-in-your-chest, REAL, life moments. My cheeks are still sore from smiling :) She will be riding once a week and I can't wait until next time!

Happy Thursday from one grateful mama!
mae mae

August 19, 2013


It's no secret that I'm a fan of tattoos. I like them on men... women... children... just kidding. NOT on children. Unless that's part of their culture, in which case, carry on. But in all seriousness, tattoos are just kind of my thing. I might stalk you in the grocery store, ask about the meaning of your tattoo, inquire about the artist, comment on the shading... I mean, I'm a fan. (PAUSE: There are some really BAD tattoos out there. I grimace and cringe and feel my stomach tighten when I see one. Gosh- that must be a hard pill to swallow... I just always really hope THEY like it, and if they don't, that they magically convince themselves that it's awesome- or they get it fixed.  But good grief- that's a lot of money/pain for some unfortunate art.)

All that to say, I have no tattoos.

But that doesn't stop me from oohing and awwing over others... Here are some I love.

I want to get a tattoo after I am married. I want something simple. I like this one a lot.
Bun and simple tattoos :)
simple tattoo

Happy Monday Night Folks. 

August 18, 2013

remember that.

Happy Sunday friends. 


August 16, 2013

Flea Fail and a Moving Mile.

After 6 years, the pup's flea prevention failed me.  FAILED. ME.  Luckily, I think we caught it early enough but still... where there's one live flea there's thousands of eggs... or something like that, right?  The good news is, the dogs have had PERFECT weather to be outside while I fix this debacle. I called the vet this morning and told them about our odd dilemma, "I gave them their (insert brand that is the opposite of Back-Circle) like I do every month and now they have fleas!"The kind woman quickly responded, "Yep. We don't even carry that brand anymore because it's not working for very many dogs anymore. It works for ticks, but for whatever reason it's not killing the fleas and dogs all over the city are getting them." Oh- awesome.  Glad I didn't spend $80 on 3 doses recently. Oh well, point is, today Abi and I went on a hunt for the brand that DOES work, and when we got back with the goods we quickly stuffed those pills into some pastries and gave them to the dogs.  (I was out of cheese and peanut butter- pastries was a fancy choice, but it worked.) And yes, just for prevention's sake I'm in the middle of treating my house too. I've only seen one but it's worth the effort.

On another note, have you seen the new Mumford and Sons video? That's all I'm going to say about that. 

Lastly, my little town has a newspaper. I read it. It is amazing and quaint and informative and today I read about a family in the neighborhood across the street from us who needed to renovate their home for their daughter in a wheelchair.  The community got together to run a 5k to raise funds. 100 people showed up and some people exceeded the 5k and ran 10 miles, some ran 20, and some ran a MARATHON. A MARATHON. According to the paper, "This town takes care of it's own." Wow. Tear streaming down my face as I read that out loud to Sean. I just couldn't get the words out.  So thankful. 

I have much more to tell you... horse back riding, walkers, mexican food, the flood of emails I've gotten regarding Isagenix (can't wait to tell you more about how you can JOIN ME in feeling super awesome and healthy) and my great aunt's autobiography.  Too much to get to at 1:05 in the morning though.  So I'm off to sleep. 

Happy LATE Thursday!
mae mae

August 15, 2013

Because it's fun...

Geez louise it just never gets old.  I dare you not to try some of these moves today.

Just unbelievable.

(It may be 12:21am but I'm still awake- so this is day 14! Woohoo) 

August 13, 2013

Adopted from Africa- a linkup

Today I'm linking up with Adeye, a mom I really look up to and follow from afar :) Her blog No Greater Joy Mom is always encouraging and often looks at what it's like to raise children with special needs. Since our daughter has Cerebral Palsy, Microcephaly and eats with a feeding tube- I connect with her posts and love learning from her perspective. Today she asked families who have adopted from Africa to link up... and so here I am :) If you're here from the link-up, welcome! My husband and I brought our daughter Abiella home from Ghana in October of last year. She is the most amazing light and precious blessing in our lives.  Every day is a new adventure and an absolute GIFT with this incredible child. I am SO BLESSED to call her my daughter.

Can't wait to read through the other blogs who linked up. 

Happy Tuesday!
mae mae

PS: This completes day 13 of the 30 day challenge! We're almost half way through!!

August 12, 2013

Oh Dear 2 Year Old Molars...

You are not fun.  

The end. 

mae mae

August 11, 2013

Yo Mama Raps and Ships her Gas (or something like that.)

I've been a big fan of K-mart ever since I saw a thief run full speed into a glass door while trying to get away.  His 6'5" frame crumpled to the floor like a sack of potatoes. It was astounding. Nobody was hurt except maybe him and his pride, but I mean, I'm still laughing. But now, I'm an even BIGGER fan.  Have you seen their new commercials?? The "I Shipped my Pants" (say that out loud quickly and you'll understand the humor) to the "Big Gas Savings" campaign (again, say it out loud) and now kids rapping on the school bus and a playground circle of "Yo Mama Compliments?!" I mean it can't get any better.  So today I present you with my favorite k-mart ads. Cheers to their marketing team. I seriously want to go buy new school supplies and wear a rockin' tee now.



August 10, 2013

Mary Mary Quite Contrary How Does Your Garden Grow?

Like a beast.

Zucchini anyone? 

One guess what I'm having for dinner tonight...

Happy Saturday friends :)

August 9, 2013

How I have crazy energy... finally! (Part 2- Where the energy comes from!)

Okay.  Yesterday I mentioned how ridiculously tired I have been (for years) and how no amount of “eating right” or “eating clean” was making me feel 100% better.  I was juicing, I was going organic… everything.  And then I read somewhere that in order to get the same nutrition you would find in an apple from 1976, today you would have to eat 12 apples.  Ugh. Well that's not going to happen... So that's when I finally turned to Carolyn and asked her what in the world she had changed in her perfectly organic diet to make her feel so much better.  I listened, I implemented and well today, 3 weeks later, I feel AMAZING- Absolutely, off the wall, clean, clear thinking, wake-up-energized, kind of healthy… all because she introduced me to Isagenix.  Many of you might have heard of this company, but if you haven’t- let me explain.  Isagenix is a solution based system that cleanses the body of toxins and then replenishes you with optimal health and amazing nutrition. The products are all natural, no soy, no GMO, gluten free, just incredible. My friend calls it “God’s food.”  And that’s what it is, FOOD.  It’s not just supplements and teas, it is actual real FOOD that my group is not only feeding their family but trying to get into the hands of orphanages and extremely malnourished villages.  In fact, I’m in a group specifically for parents who use this food with their children with special needs AND many doctors are suggesting it to their patients now.  Formulated by John Anderson, (maker of Bare Minerals) these products are true to their word and as clean as it gets.  I love that when I look on the back of my morning drink I see words that I KNOW like, “Wolfberry, Alfalfa, hibiscus flower, watermelon, kiwi, ginger, etc. etc. etc. “ REAL food.  Real  food.  Just amazing.

So, after listening to her testimonial of having lost 16 pounds in 30 days and feeling the best she EVER HAD, I decided to give it a try. After all, she is the parent to 15 kids (some with special needs), is the executive director of an amazing non-profit, Project Hopeful, (you may have seen her on the Today Show with Jenna Bush a while back) AND moving her entire family to serve at an orphanage in Guatemala. Surely if SHE was feeling amazing energy, I could too. So 3 weeks ago, I started the 30 day cleanse to jump start the program, and while many lose a lot of weight on the program, that is just a fringe benefit to the deep cleanse.  By releasing toxins and drenching your body with raw-real-natural nutrients, your body starts to function as it was INTENDED to- and MY OH MY is that something incredible! I posted this with the following picture on our group’s facebook wall a few days ago:

“I used to wake up exhausted and float through the day with one caffeinated beverage to the next. I could barely muster the energy to just get normal tasks done. 80% of my time playing with my daughter involved activities that required as little energy as possible... Reading books, playing the keyboard, watching a cartoon, etc. Today, almost 3 weeks into Isagenix, my daughter and I went outside and I put her in her stander. (She has CP and doesn't walk or stand on her own.) Then I pushed her while I RAN (!) up and down our long driveway for almost half an hour. She LOVED it! After that we gardened... This may not seem like much, but to us it's a very big deal. As she gets bigger and heavier I'm going to need more and more strength/energy to take care of her. Now I'm headed towards a stronger, healthier, more capable me-  Not to mention, Mama has energy to do the really active fun stuff now!!!!!!!!! Isagenix is such a blessing in our family already!”

I have NEVER in my life felt this good and I can’t IMAGINE what these products could do for Abi too.  I am in a group of 1,000+ parents who are meeting with their children’s nutritionists, doctors, neurologists, pediatricians, etc. and incorporating this FOOD into their children’s diet.  I’ve seen INCREDIBLE things happen through that group. One fellow mom, even had a family call her and say, “We see the same neurologist as you.  He said that whatever you’re doing is helping your child more than he is and that we should talk to you about it.” It’s real folks and I can’t imagine living without it now. I want EVERYONE to experience this.  I already have friends and family who have joined along side me and are gaining energy and shedding pounds like crazy - AND I would LOVE to have you join along side us too! If you’re interested or simply want to know more about the products shoot me an email at marysmcconnell@hotmail.com and I’ll explain away :)  I really can’t stop talking about it :) In the meantime, watch this video and see if you’re toxic :)

August 8, 2013

Why I have CRAZY energy... finally.

Guys, for the past... maybe forever... I have really suffered to maintain energy. So much so, that a few times I saw a doctor thinking "maybe I have a blood sugar issue?" or "maybe I have mono?" but NOPE.  All checked out.  I was just TIRED and basically wishing I could just do this all day:

Over the few past years, it just got worse and worse. I would wake up tired, barely making it through the day with one caffeinated beverage to the next, and then I would hit the bed exhausted. I thought, maybe if I ate really well I would feel better.  So I started juicing, which definitely helped.  But pretty soon juicing was too expensive and WAY too time consuming for my life.  So then I started buying raw freshly made juice and getting it delivered to our door. But that wasn't a substitute for a meal the way our homemade juicing was, and it was also getting pretty expensive. So I began buying only organic food and even started gardening, eating fresh fruit and veggies as much as possible. But nope, still exhausted. I figured since motherhood requires so much energy, this was just my destiny.  To. be. tirrrreed. But then my friend Carolyn, started talking on facebook about HOW MUCH energy she had and I was curious. I knew she was SUPER organic, making SUPER healthy eating choices, and yet even she hadn't been feeling great. So what had changed in her life that she now had a crazy amount of energy that she didn't have on her "perfect" diet? She was a mother to 15 children, many with special needs.  She was also the executive director of an incredible non-profit called Project Hopeful AND she was in the middle of moving her entire family to Guatemala to serve at Village of Hope.  How could SHE have so much energy and not me?  I called her.  I learned.  And now I'm DOING what she was doing and I can't. even. believe it.  I'm a different person. I'm still eating "God's food", only taking the best-rawest ingredients into my system and yet three weeks after implementing what I learned in our conversation I feel better than I EVER have. In my life. Childhood energy included.  I'll share with you what I'm doing differently tomorrow- and I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!


August 7, 2013

Waiting Rooms with Glennon and Mindy.

Yesterday we had Speech Therapy for the first time and they took Abiella into the room without me.  That was a first and I wasn't expecting it. So I just sat in the waiting room and twiddled my thumbs with the other parents.

30 minutes to do whatever I please? What?? I didn't come prepared for this!  Now I know better. Bring a book.  Always bring a book.

Speaking of books.  I've read some pretty amazing ones lately.  Let's start with this one:

Please tell me you've read this. I really can't even speak about this one because I just loved it too much.  No words would do it any kind of justice.  Just get it, and love it, and laugh, and cry, and then sit stunned at how much beauty and hilarity and honesty can be packed into 200 pages. Oh my.

Next, is this little diddy- a book my book club read together.

This book hooked me from the beginning and a day and a half later it was all over.  I wished there was more to read because anything less than 48 hours with Mindy is unacceptable. She's just too good. "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)" is a memoir of sorts and definitely one of the most FUN books I've ever read. Somewhere on the cover it likens her to "Tina Fey's cool little sister" and I think that's a pretty accurate description.  If you're into things that are funny and honest- get it.  Also, you get sneak peeks at what it was like to write/star in The Office, guest write on SNL, and be around Amy Poehler :) I'm also pretty obsessed with the show The Mindy Project, so this was a great thing to read while they're on break.

Okay.  Go buy, go read, and enjoy.  Any books you've been loving?? I'll need something for the waiting room.

August 6, 2013

Love Outside the Lines

My amazing talented, brave, dear, hilarious friend Megan is on a unique journey.  

She is adopting four children, advocating for hundreds more in Sierra Leone, recently got married on a beach in Africa, and has now put out an amazing EP.  (Did I mention she's an insane singer and songwriter? I was actually a major fan of her music before I ever even knew her.) The EP is amazing and all proceeds from Track 1 go to the orphanage her children are currently living at, and the rest will help fund her adoption(s).  The song, "The Best Yes" was written and performed with my husband, and the day they came down from the studio and played me that song was one of the most real moments of my life.  Holding my precious daughter and hearing them sing, "You were the best yes" was almost too much for my little heart to take.

So, go to her blog, read more about her story, and get the EP off iTunes (link is below).  You won't regret it.


August 5, 2013

Abiella plays the keys...

Abiella has been working hard (or should I say playing hard) at learning the keys :)  Abi is a natural "kicker."  She's always been really active with her legs and one of her incredible teachers suggested we put the keyboard at her feet instead of her hands. You'd think I would come up with these ideas on my own!

She seemed to catch on immediately and has been having a blast.

Forgive the blurry photo... She plays pretty quickly :)

Cheers to a new week and new skills :)

When Daddy Comes Home

My husband was out of town this weekend and when he got home this afternoon Abiella was pretty darn happy about it :)

Hope you had a good weekend. 
It's 9:44pm my time so this successfully completes Day 4 of the 30 Day Challenge
PS: This post was originally uploaded last night with a video. However, the link wasn't working this morning so I replaced it with a snapshot from the video.

August 3, 2013

I forgot to mention the marriage proposal I received in an airport in Africa...

It was our second trip to visit Abi and Sean and I were coming home from Africa.  It was round 2. The night before we had spent hours on the tarmac, only to be told that our flight was missing a part (comforting) and would be delayed 24 hours, thus causing us to spend an unexpected night at a hotel with 150 other passengers. Now we were back at the airport and on our second trip through security in a day and a half.  Sean and I got split up at security.  As Sean waited in the wings for me to get through, I was asked to step up to the security attendant. Having done this twice before I knew the drill.  They would ask me if I had anything in my bags they couldn't see... I would say 'no.'  Etc.  It's always a little nerve wracking honestly.  So I stepped up and the security attendant started asking me the familiar questions.  "How long have you been here?"  "Do you like the ocean here?"  "Why were you traveling?" And then he says, "If you marry me you can stay."


"You marry me, you can stay as long as you want."

I just looked at him, reading his expressions. His face was serious. I smiled and kind of laughed and gave all the "haha you're funny, now let me through security" type of body language.  But he just stared and didn't budge. He then turned around and grabbed another man who had been sitting on a table behind him. The man walked over and looked at me. "This is my brother, he is a very eligible bachelor.  You could marry him if you wanted. He's very nice.  Good man."  The brother (late twenties early thirties) stared at me, smiling, waiting for an answer (?!)  I looked around.  They were serious.

"I'm married." I said, as I showed them my ring, previously covered by my carry-on luggage. But by this time they were too busy explaining  why each was a good candidate for marriage. The line behind me was getting longer. The only other security guard started waving people from our long line through hers to alleviate the massive crowd forming behind me. I smiled, "But I'm married." And yet they continued to explain, paying my words no attention. Finally, I took my ring finger and put it in the air (which is surely some huge cultural flub since it's my left hand) and pointed to it.  They stopped talking. Despite the other guard's efforts, the line behind me was seriously held up, but since one of the men was an employee there, nobody could say anything.

Finally, the first man looked at my hand and said, "You're married??"   "YES." At this point, a THIRD man came up to inspect my hand.  "You're married??"
"Yes, I'm married and I'm not too sure how my husband would feel about me marrying one of you." They stood there quietly.  
And then one man said, "This is very disappointing."

They handed me my bags and right before waving me through the line, the first man stared at me straight in the eye and said, "Well then come back with your sister, okay?"

I said, "Okay..." and went on to the next round of security.

Oh my.

August 2, 2013

There's a fungus among us.

Before I really get into today's post, I must mention that last night I attended a very special event. A new friend of mine and her precious family were coming through town on their way to Florida... there was a gathering of their "Tennessee friends" at my girlfriend's cabin and it was absolutely amazing. I simply don't have enough time to tell you how incredibly special the evening was. So many kids, so much love, so many amazing stories of adoption, and just an overall abundance of life.  So refreshing.  I hope to expand further one day soon, but my amazing mama is in town right now and we have a lot of antique shopping to get to :) So, I leave you on DAY 2 of the 30 DAY CHALLENGE with a story I've been dying to share with you. I have seriously not laughed this hard in a while.  This real-life tale written by my real-life friend Brittany is seriously one for the books. She has the best sense of humor and is an incredible sport when it comes to embarrassing moments.

 (See we really are friends. I am on the left and she is on the right.  Note to self: close your purse when walking the streets of PCB, silly!)

Anyhow, she posted this story on her blog the other night and I just couldn't quit laughing. I immediately asked if I could share it with you and she kindly obliged :) SO without further ado, here's "There's a fungus among us."

There's a fungus among us... by Brittany Stewart

It has recently come to my attention that I need a new doctor.  She became my doctor after I worked in the same doctor's office in high school as a file clerk.  I loved working there alphabetizing patients files and never peaking to see how much they weighed.

I was a senior in high school.
Her son was a senior in high school.
So of course we dated.

He was my first real boyfriend.  He would pick me up in his mustang.  He would write me poems.  He even sent roses to my school.  He also told his mother everything we talked about and I would have to hear all about it later at the office.
So I dumped him cold turkey.

Now to be fair I had zero experience in life, relationships, and how to work a basic flip cell phone.  I moved on, HE has moved on, but his mother clearly has not.

I only see his mom (my doctor) when I am at my best.  Like last week when I went in for a rash on my torso.  She was not in the room for more than two minutes before she was gushing about how great her son is, how fabulous his job is, and how beautiful his new wife is.

I, being polite, was trying to not scratch my rash and smile and nod agreeing with how successful he had become .  I start crawling out of my skin.  After what seemed like an eternity she finally asked me to lift my shirt and with a gleam in her eye diagnosed that I have a fungus.

That's right folks.
Talk about wanting to crawl into a hole and die.
Out of all the embarrassing diseases, this one is pretty far up on the list.

Faster than I could pull my shirt down she had convinced me to follow her to her office where she preceded to show me photos from said ex-boyfriend's wedding, including bridal portraits.  I get it, I am the perfect daughter-in-law that you always wanted.  But I have moved on, your son has clearly moved on, and you would think after 10 years you would have moved on as well.

So the search is on for a new doctor that will only judge me for my fungus and not for rash (pun intended) decisions I made in 2003.

On a lighter note the fungus/rash is clearing up.  And it is good to be back. 

August 1, 2013

30 Day Challenge.(And it's not a diet.)

A long time ago I read a post by Pioneer Woman on the top things she'd learned about blogging.  One thing that always stood out to me was her advice to write often. 

"Whether you write a sixteen-paragraph essay about the cosmic implications of a free market system, a one-paragraph description of what happens to your soul when you walk into your godforsaken laundry room, or a simple photo and caption, consider your blog a precious bloom that requires daily nurturing. " Pioneer Woman

There's no denying I've had a writer's block of sorts the past few months.  I think too much and write too little.  I may want to write about something inconsequential like my new love affair with the DVR (I'm always years behind the curve folks, but did you know you can pause LIVE tv and you don't have to grab a VHS to record a show anymore? Amazing.) But then I think, naah- too much is happening to write about the silly DVR... I should write about __blank__!" But then __blank__ takes WAY too long to write and it sits in my inbox half-done, forever unpublished, while this blog just gathers dust.

So with that said, I'm climbing my fanny out of writer's block one day at a time, friends. My sister and I have been throwing around the idea of a writing challenge for a while now, and well, it's time. For 30 days we will both post SOMETHING, everyday.  Doesn't have to be life-changing, doesn't even have to be a full paragraph.  Just something.  (Saturdays included. It's getting real up in here. But not Sundays. It's not that real. Just kidding. Sundays too! EVERY DAY.)

So... today is DAY 1.  You should join us! Any chance you've had writer's block too? If so, throughout the month, leave your posts in our comments and we'll come check out your space. We can all climb out of this writing funk together :) So with that being said, DAY 1 is today and I'm done :)


See you tomorrow folks :)

July 31, 2013

New Blog Design!!!

Woohoo!! Hello, friends!  Notice anything different? That's right, I got a brand spankin' new blog design!!!! Once again, the incredible Maddie Richardson has knocked my socks off and given me something I'm truly excited about. She's a design wizard. In fact, I often refer to her as the woman in the cloak with the staff because her skillz are so magical :)  While I LOVED my old design we both were ready to shake it up a bit and do something different. Long story short, I'm SMITTEN.  It's clean.  It's easy on the eyes and it inspires me to write. So there you have it, a new look. Also, you may have noticed that the "Two Hoots and a Holler" is missing.  Yep, I dropped it. We're just going with "Mae Mae" now.  That blog name is easier to say, makes more sense (it's my nickname), and all in all it just fits me better. Change is good and I'm definitely feeling that "after a drastically awesome new makeover" kind of high.

So friends, if you're in the market for an incredible design please check out Maddie Richardson- A Design Studio.   She's amazing!!!!!


PS- Tune in tomorrow for something very new.  I'll actually be writing a lot this month.  You'll see what I mean tomorrow. 'Night. 

July 30, 2013

We're Under Construction, Y'all

Hi Friends!

Mae's blog is currently under some fabulous construction. Please check back tomorrow to see the final draft of her facelift.
If your blog needs a facelift too, check out some pricing and packages here and my portfolio here.

Maddie @ Maddie Richardson - A Design Studio

July 25, 2013

Prayers for Sadie.

Remember when I wrote about the amazing connection with my friend Audrey who adopted a little girl I had been praying for, while simultaneously praying for OUR daughter to be adopted...all while we didn't even know each other?  And then we became friends through her finding my blog and reaching out and saying, "Our daughters were both born in Ghana and they seem to have a lot in common..." And then we STILL didn't realize the early connection of us praying for each other's daughters until months later when I got a text in the middle of the night from Audrey that said, "What was Abi's Ghanaian name???"

Anyhow, that miraculous connection has led to an incredible support system... late night texts when we were in the hospital with Abi's seizures from Audrey that say, "I've been there. How are we doing? What's the EEG looking like? How are YOU??", frequent emails and messages that seem to arrive at just the perfect moment, the invaluable gift of seeing someone live life with Abi's needs a few steps in front of us, and perhaps one of the most unique parts of the entire connection is Abiella's LOVE for Sadie.  If Abi is upset, or cranky, or not feeling well I play her videos of Sadie and she just listens and laughs and kicks.
It's pretty miraculous how God has weaved our lives together.

Photo: Would you please join us in praying for this little princess? Sadie and her mother, Audrey Beute have meant the world to us and now Sadie is in the hospital dealing with very serious issues including bleeding of the brain. Please please please put this family on your hearts and minds. We love them so much!!!

Well today, I am begging you for prayers.  Begging you to think about our precious Sadie and her amazing mama, daddy, and siblings. Earlier in the week Sadie started to not feel exactly right and began to sleep a lot. So despite thinking it was just a virus, Audrey, being the intuitive mama that she is, took her to the ER and began the longest night of her life. Hours after arriving to the hospital Sadie was in emergency surgery and today she is in a hospital bed while excess fluid and blood drain from her brain into a bag next to my precious friend.

I'm not educated enough on the terms and conditions to speak much about the medical implications. However, I can say that Audrey has asked us to pray for her precious baby girl.  To pray for the medical team behind her and that everyone who enters her room will love her baby and fight for her well.  So please lift them up- they are in as she put it "a nightmare" and I can't imagine what they are feeling.

Thank you. 
mary susan

Hotel Divas.

Last week, my girlfriend Lindsay and I were sitting on my back porch playing with her new puppy, having a drink and lamenting over the fact that her summer was almost over (she works in education).  After a few heavy sighs, and "oh-my-gosh-es" mumbled under our breath, we randomly started daydreaming about how great it would be to just go get a nice hotel room, lay in bed, watch cable, order room service and r-e-l-a-x. And then a funny thing happened.  We actually made it happen.  We looked at our calendars and realized the very next weekend was open for both of us (shockingly) and we vowed to really do it. So on Thursday night Lindsay texted that she had found a suite in a super nice hotel for a ridiculous price and had already booked it. We were going.

And we did.

Appetizers delivered via room service, lounging in the room in our pjs, a cab to our favorite restaurant, a nice dress, a purse and not a diaper bag, an adventurous battle with a monsoon, a drink at the swanky hotel bar, a marathon of Property Brothers on HGTV, down comforters, falling asleep with the tv on, and then room service in the morning and COFFEE in BED.  OMG. Coffee in BED. 

It was delightful. 

Meanwhile, Abi got some good father-daughter time, and all was well with the world.

Moral of that story: Quit thinking so much about fun things you can actually do and just go do them.

mae mae

July 17, 2013

This little light of mine...

A few days ago my grandmother asked if I still needed anything for my new house.  I laughed and told her I only had one lamp in our bedroom and it was about 3.5 inches tall- so small you have to pick it up and hold it over a book in order to read.  Today, she showed up at my door with SEVEN of her personal lamps to choose from, a bucket of KFC, a gallon of her homemade sweet tea, a basket of my favorite snacks (Moon Pies included) and 2 hours worth of playtime with Abi.  I had a fit.  What a way to spend a Wednesday afternoon! Each lamp is amazing and I think I'm keeping all of them :) Also, it must be noted how much Abiella LOVES her "Granny Jean."  After dropping the KFC on the counter, Granny Jean made a beeline for Abi and crawled onto the floor with her. What a gift. Abi really responds to Jean's voice and speaks back when she talks to her. It is so sweet to watch. After kicking, talking quite a bit, smiling a ton, and practicing holding her head up, Abi is now asleep, my grandmother is gone, and I'm going back for my 4th cookie and third glass of tea... Woohoo!!

Cheers to a happy Wednseday :) 

July 10, 2013

Back to writing.

Wow. I have not stepped onto this space in quite some time and it feels good to be back.  It also felt good to be gone J I have been busy trying to do life away from the screens (or at least some of them-DVR still has my heart. Hellllooo American Pickers and Junk Gypsies!)  and paying more attention to the stuff IN FRONT of my face. Less computer time = more just staring at a field and sipping coffee time-  which is where my vote has gone to as of late.  Also, the joys of discovering a new community have been amazing.  New restaurants, new grocery stores, new salons, new antique shops, new wineries, new take out, new order-in, new, new, new.  And yet, because I grew up a few miles down the road it also feels old, old, old. And THAT is comforting. In addition to exploring our town’s venues, we’ve also been exploring different options for Abi’s physical/occupational/feeding/speech therapies in this county.  We are still moving and shifting and getting settled into a new schedule with new therapists and new facilities but overall it has been AMAZING. We feel SO BLESSED to live in a place that offers so many incredible opportunities for our daughter.

It should also be mentioned that we have had an insane amount of friends and family grace us with their presence over the last few weeks.  Since moving here we have had nearly 15 overnight guests, some staying up to a week, some coming and going more frequently for just a night or two at a time.   It has been a blast. We've had moms, siblings, friends, and even their pets come visit.  9 of these amazing folks are from different states! Including two friends who arrived via bus (So fun) and Sean’s brother and his girlfriend who snuck in at 3 in the morning to surprise Sean. The next morning while Sean was drinking his coffee in front of the tv James walked down the stairs stretching casually and said “Morning.” The look on Sean’s face was hilarious.  He had been up all night with Abiella and the fact that I managed to sneak those two in without Sean hearing was a pretty impressive feat.  

I’ve also been gardening (we’ve got zucchini and cucumbers and tomatoes coming in as I type), I’ve been learning to cook what I’ve grown, I’m reading more, taking more baths, walking more, and attempting to be a little more intentional with my time.  And now I’m ready to fit blogging back into that space.

Also, it should be noted (in case you follow me on FB or IG and saw the last few posts) that we had to take Abiella to the children’s hospital Friday night via ambulance. Seizures.  We then spent many hours in the ER, 2 nights in ICU and one night on the 8th floor. There were some very scary hours and some truly miraculous moments too.  Eventually I will write about them, I think, but in the meantime let’s all focus on the fact that we are AT HOME, SAFE, HAPPY, and back to normal- but better.  Sometimes an emergency is a total RESET button on your life.  The smiles are sweeter, the laughs delight you even more than they did (if that’s possible) and the “normal” things in life are no longer “normal.” They are GIFTS.  That’s where we are.  In the miraculous “normal” of life and I’m thankful.

Welcome back friends.  
mae mae

May 18, 2013

Our Old Home. (And why we moved.)

Before we totally move past the old home, I must mention how much that home meant to us.  It was where we made the majority of our friends here in Nashville, where we walked across the street a million and a half times to our 4 amazing friends’ homes, where I finished my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, where I began my teaching career,  where I started my doctorate, where I timidly hit “Publish” on the first post of this blog, where Sean wrote and recorded 7 years worth of amazing music, and most importantly where we spent the bulk of our marriage, where we fought through the adoption process, and where we brought Abi home.  It was a special place, a haven, and the home of incredible memories we will always hold very dear.

And since I never showed you pics before… Here are a few of our old home. 

(My favorite room in the whole house- Abiella's room.) 

and let's not forget our tiny little kitchen where Sean's large family made Thanksgiving dinner and TWO Christmas dinners... We're talented folks. 

So why would we ever move from such a charming home across the street from best friends?

Well, while this home was quaint and magical, there was a time in our lives when it fit perfectly- and we weren't there anymore. We were feeling increasingly cramped with Sean's music studio taking the entire upstairs, and Abi's equipment not fitting well in the downstairs. There wasn't a place in the kitchen she could be while I cooked that wouldn't have her tiny hand within inches of a stove top and overall we were just ready to start the adventure that would allow us to grow. We talked about adding on, renovating the garage, etc. etc. etc. but at the end of the day we were also really hoping to find something that spoke to our heart for the country. So while it was a tough decision, it was a great decision and from the moment we signed the listing agreement we had a great peace about the entire move.  14 showings later we had sold the house and began the search for a new one.  

More on the new house (our dream home that we couldn't have created if we tried) soon... 

Now I'm off to unpack some more. 

I want to be settled and decorated ASAP!
mae mae

May 16, 2013

We're Here!

Ahhh! I’m here! I’m here! I’m finally on this space again… Wowzer.  I’m currently sitting at my desk (did you see that? I have a desk.  Oh my.) Looking into my daughter’s play room (did you see that? I said play room) and through the windows out onto the farm land behind our home. (Did you see that? I said farm land.) Yes, friends. I’ve moved to heaven… or my version of it at least.  The last three weeks came with immense hurry, some pretty understandable moving stress, and two real estate closings that went better than I could have ever hoped.  My dad helped pack, he took truck loads to the dump, and helped Sean move his studio. My mom came down and helped me take care of Abi during our last day at the old house (movers were there, we had to clean, we had final walk-throughs of both properties, etc. etc.) And that night, after clearing out our home of 7 years, we all forfeited the idea of sleeping on the hardwood floors and zoomed ourselves over to a hotel at 10pm.  It was a fun little family adventure.

The next morning, Sean and I got up at 5 am, left Abi in the hotel room with my mother, went to check on the old house once more, picked up the dogs, and got to both closings where my dad, sister, and step-mom met us with coffee and bagels.  They watched our dogs while we proceeded to walk inside, sell one home, and buy another.  It was kind of a big deal J

After both closings, (with much cheer and sense of SERIOUS relief), Sean and I hopped in our cars (with the sweet tea my awesome step-mom provided) and headed out to our new home in the country.  When we got there it was amazing.  The previous owners had left us a stocked fridge of moving drinks (cokes, diet cokes, etc.) along with gift cards to quaint places in our new little country town, a bottle of wine from a local winery, AND (are you ready for this?) an outfit for Abi.  I mean seriously!

Soon my step-dad, mother, Abi, and my good friend Megan showed up.  As the movers brought in furniture and boxes we ate bbq on the screened-in-porch and basked in our new found country lifestyle. The bbq was from a local award winning restaurant (seen on Food Network) and the country sounds had Abi pretty excited.

 By 3:00 I was fading. I hadn’t slept a WINK at the hotel and Megan (noticing my foggy demeanor) told me, “Go take a nap.  You’re exhausted. Do you trust me to put things where I think they should go?”  I promptly said, “YES!” and went to lie down on the floor next to Abi sleeping in her crib.  A few minutes later I got back up (who can nap when you’re so excited and people are there to help you?!) but that didn’t stop Megan.  She and my mother proceeded to work at lightning speed and unpack my entire kitchen.  By the time they left, our beds were put together, clean linens were on, and our kitchen was clean and organized. Unbelievable.  

That night Sean and I couldn’t believe it.  In 5 weeks we had managed to put our home on the market, get two offers, sell it, find our dream home, buy it, and move in.  All while he continued to work and I continued to maintain Abi’s therapy schedules.  It was a whirlwind to say the least; but a dang good one.
Cheers to moving, cheers to the new home, and cheers to many more stories and pictures I have to share of the last 3 weeks J     

mae mae

May 15, 2013

Poppin' collars and doodling names (or something like that.)

I had intended on writing some lengthy post about our old home and our new home and why we moved and blah blah blah- but it's 5:52pm and my child has for unknown reasons STILL not napped... THUS, I give you a short post entitled: Life According to Instagram. (Except I didn't title it that, did I?)  If you want more of these riveting photos with crazy clever captions (alliteration AND sarcasm... I'm on fire) you can find me on IG at maemaemcconnell. 

Alright here we go... Some pics as of late with some brief explanations. 

And we're off...


Here I am.  See? I do exist. Please note that my hair is not that dark.  Like at all.  At least I don't think so. Some people have told me I confuse green with grey so perhaps I'm color blind.  Regardless, the lighting in this photo gave me Katy Perry black hair.  Not the case.  In fact, as soon as I find a new hair dresser I'm going back to my roots... blonde.  Actually, my roots are pretty dark, so maybe I'll go J'Aniston blonde? Her hair always looks good... moving on.

 Girlfriend's lookin' fly in this jacket.  I mean I can barely handle it. Pop that collar baby!

And there she is... my morning view. 

And perhaps my favorite photo of all time. It is exactly what it looks like. Heaven on earth.

Alright friends!
Much love and happy instagramming!
mae mae

April 24, 2013

Fried Food and Tim Taylor.

I think I may be the only gal in history who goes to a bachelorette weekend with 10 beautiful girls, stays in an amazing cabin, enjoys two nights of relaxation, tears-streaming laughter, good food and drinks, amazing stories outside by the two story fire place every night, and manages to only take one picture. This.

Seriously.  That's all I got.  I mean what does that say about me? Looks like fried corn, mac and cheese, fried okra, and cucumber onion salad know how to make me think, "Oh- I should grab my camera."

And now completely shifting gears, we move in 6 days! What?! That went crazy fast.  I'll give you more details as the time draws closer, but go ahead and get the Green Acres theme song in your head... Girl's going back to her country roots and I'm pretty darn pumped about it.

In fact, let me take you back to those roots for a moment. This is me on my ole horse Tim Taylor.

(Yes, that was his name.  #MajorHomeImprovementFan.) 

I'm not sure what you should be more jealous of- my sweet zebra shirt, my purple sweats, my bangs for miles, or my overall disregard for the combination of the three.

Oh childhood- you served me well. 
Can't wait to be back. 
mae mae

April 11, 2013


Woah.  Where the heck has the time gone?  I've been in a time warp of feeding tubes, house hunting, house selling, house packing, taxes, feeding changes, doctor's appointments, new equipment for Abi, home inspections, transferring half of Abi's therapies to a different county... And now somehow I'm looking at the calendar and realizing weeks have passed and I've been neglecting this little ole blog of mine.
Busy Busy Busy!
The truth is though, I love coming here.  I love writing, I love reading, I love the blogging community and I get a lot out of it.  So I'm looking forward to things settling a bit and carving out more time for writing/reading.  Hopefully, the move will be done in two and a half weeks. (I can't wait to tell you about our new place!) Home inspection repairs have begun, papers upon papers have been scanned and submitted, and after a whirlwind of documents floating around my world, I'm over half way done with the "hard stuff" and in 24 hours I will be leaving for a girls weekend away.  AHH!!!!!!

Yep, somehow in the midst of the craziness, I will be getting away with 10 of my girlfriends for a relaxing/crazy weekend celebrating one of our dear friends, post-wedding, bachelorette style.  I plan on taking really long showers, eating way too much pizza dip (Malia, please bring some. I'm begging you.) sleeping in, wearing headphones to bed and not worrying about not hearing a crying babe, partaking in beverages of choice by the outside fire-pit, and maybe even going on a hike, all while spending time with 10 of my favorite gals.  I mean, I'm kind of freaking out. Oh deep breath, I'll see you in 48 hours.

In the meantime, I'd like to share with you one of my blogging buddy's latest joys. Shelby has a 30 year old sister with special needs who recently received one of her greatest dreams, a trip to Disneyland.

Go HERE and watch the amazing video that so sweetly captures that moment. (PS when you see Donny Osmond, that is Shelby's father in-law.  It will make more sense when you read her post.) It's such a beautiful video and I LOVED watching it, especially the part with Shelby and her sister in the plane together.  So awesome.

Alright, friends, have a good one!

April 5, 2013

4 AM Ramblings

*This post was written intermittently on my phone in a semi-productive attempt to keep myself awake.*
This post is brought to you by the fact that one of Abiella's musical stuffed animals went off accidentally at 4am, loudly playing a tune right into her ear, and now I'm holding a completely awake, totally wired 2 year old... at 4:52 am. I'm trying to keep a low profile, super-nanny style... But it's hard when girl's got such a zest for life that the first sign of morning has got her laughing and kicking... Which is actually pretty darn awesome to witness...even at 4:52. I keep telling her, "If the sun's not awake yet, we shouldn't be either." 
Now it's 5:30 and we're swaying and rocking to Jack Johnson's The Sharing Song and I'm about two verses away from giving in and making a pot of coffee... 
It's 6 am. Coffee is made and I'm growing increasingly aware of my choice to stay up late last night and watch Netflix with Sean until 1am... Oh Biggest Loser, why must you be so addictive?? 3 hours of sleep should treat me just fine today. (Said with only minor panic in my voice...)In other unimportant news, I saw this on pinterest recently and became immediately smitten.
Bridesmaids Movie Quote TShirt There's A Colonial Woman On The Wing
They're for sale on Etsy HERE. I think I may have to indulge.
"There's a colonial woman on the wing! I saw her! There's something they're not telling us! She was churning butter!" Oh Kristen Wiig, your genius gets me every time...
7 am. Abi eats.  She gets upset.  Sean comes in and plays guitar.  She gets happy.  We all fall back to sleep.  
Boom. There you go.  The chronicles of an early morning.  And please forgive the massive spacing issues in this post.  Blogging from a phone is no easy task.  
Happy Friday y'all! 

April 2, 2013

We have a winner!!!

Remember that $1,000 giveaway floating around these parts?  Well, we have a winner!!! 

Drumroll please....

Get your feet stomping...

Prepare to whoop whoop...

Ms. Danielle Wu from daniellewu.com!!!  
Come on down, Danielle, and grab your prize!!!  
(If you imagined my voice as the announcer from Price as Right, then you were correct.)

We're so excited for you Danielle and hope you enjoy your winnings :)  You will be receiving your loot via email in the next 3-5 business days. 

Phew.  That was fun.  Let's do it again sometime.  

Happy Tuesday!

April 1, 2013



Our first Easter with Abiella was so very, very special. 
I would tell you the details of our morning service at home or her beautiful reaction to the Easter story but it's  too sacred to put into words, honestly.
Thank you Jesus for your outrageous love. 
"Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.  The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit..." (John 20:19-22)

March 28, 2013

Moving. What?

Remember that time I was so busy I forgot to tell you that my husband and I got a pod, put our home on the market, had 14 showings, got two offers, and looked at 20 other houses in the last few days? Oh right... I didn't tell you because I barely had time to remember to shower... Oh wait, I forgot that too. Many thanks to this gal who came over tonight to play with Miss Abi while I took a much appreciated relaxing shower.

So, yes, we're moving! We have been talking about needing a larger space for some time, but once we made our minds up, our minds were made up. We flew into energizer-bunny-go-mode and haven't looked back since. It's been a whirlwind.  I will be sad to leave (don't even get me started), but I am VERY excited.  Are we staying in Nashville? Yep.  Do we know where? No. Not yet.  Does that make you nervous? Surprisingly, it doesn't make me nervous. Apparently, I like living on the edge, (and writing in the form of questions.)

Soooo, that's what I've been doing...  How are you?

mae mae

PS: Don't forget about THIS giveaway! Do you want $1,000 to spend on you, your friends, your family, a stranger, or whomever your heart desires?? Enter to win! I want to give you those cards!!!

March 22, 2013

Well, Hello There New Friends...

Just look at all of these fabulous new faces!! Many of you are seeing my face pop up in your reader because you want to win the INSANE $1,000 shopping spree!  I can't WAIT to see who wins because I have the awesome job of sending that lucky winner all the gift cards.  I picture myself typing the email while speaking outloud in my best Ed McMahon sweepstakes voice.  If I could show up at the winner's doorstep with a video camera and balloons I would.  Come to think of it... I may have to do that virtually somehow... wheels are turning, wheels are turning...

Anyhow... in hopes that you may decide to stick 'round these parts I figured I should briefly introduce myself. 

My name is Mary Susan but I often go by my nickname Mae. (Or 'Mae Mae' as my little sister calls me.)

This is me last summer when I had blonde hair.  I now have red/brown hair.  It changes often, don't be confused.
I write about everything from being married to a musician, to crazy stories from my past, to my journey as an adoptive mama. And in honor of the fact that I'm a chronic-list maker AND a lover of random facts... (I was definitely the kid who memorized The Guiness Book of World Records each year...) I thought I could introduce myself with a compilation of 10 random facts about me...

Soooo, here we go:

1)  I’m married to a singer/songwriter We’ve been married for 8 years and we live with our two dogs and precious baby girl in a small cottage in Music City.

2) I’m 28… so if you just did the math, then you are correct, we got married shortly after exiting the womb. Getting married young may not be right for everyone but it was exactly right for us :) We had a 70's themed wedding and here we are at our reception.

Just kidding. We had a normal wedding. That's us at Halloween three years ago... Although now that I think about it, a 1970's wedding would have been fun... :)

Moving on...

3)  I used to teach middle school and loved it. I'm taking a break to be a new mama and pursue my doctorate in Education.  Working with middle school kids was a blast though and I hope to get back to it one day in the future.  

4) My husband and I became parents last year! Although we want to have biological kids later, we chose to adopt first and are now the proud parents of our precious baby girl, Abiella.  

5) Abi has some special needs including cerebral palsy and microcephaly. I LOVE talking about what miracle she is and the insane amount of joy she brings into our lives.  I have been SO blessed by the connections I've made with other moms of children with special needs via the internet. Wanna talk feeding tubes, standers, and physical therapy?  Come join the party.  Show me your blog and I'd love to follow your story.  I love sharing our experiences, gaining courage from others and advocating for kids all over the world who need homes. 

 Now onto some true… but less recent (or serious) facts…

6) I once cut my finger off at school, broke my arm riding a mule, and caught a 98 pound halibut all in the same 18 months.  It was an exciting time in a child’s life… oh, and don’t worry, the finger was sewn back on… 

7)  During this time I was also the proud owner of a pair of rabbit teeth… that lived in my mouth.

 Aren't you so jealous??

8) As a child, I had a pet zebra named Zelvis and a deer named Daisy. I'm serious. 

9) When I was 11, through some random strike of fate, I managed to find myself in a gospel video on BET. It was as glorious and random as it sounds. Go see for yourself. 

10) I was a dancer for 12 years and tap was my favorite. If you meet me in real life, ask about my triple time step. It comes out more often than it should. 

So there you go; we're better friends already :)  Now tell me a few things about yourself! I love meeting new bloggers!!   
Oh, and one more thing...

It's Friday!!!! Have a safe and happy weekend!!

mae mae