Poor Mom Finds on the Internet

As a poor mom myself I loved this piece about going grocery shopping with a homeless mom.

I breastfed as long as I could, and I was happy with what we did, but it does not make sense for every family. And I think we all need to remember that LOVING our kids is what’s best. Also this.

And this whole super parent complex is possibly exactly why I decided to call this blog The Poor Mom. We have turned this wonderful adventure of watching the coolest human being we know develop before our very eyes into some weird, complex, completely made up beauty pageant. No thanks.

This video.

Momastery hit it out of the park again with her perspectacles. Love it.

If you follow enough people on the Internet you are hearing a really powerful conversation about race in America. I think it’s something we need to talk about, no matter how uncomfortable it is. Chookooloonks had a great post about how we need to be affected by what’s going on in Ferguson. And this white mama to brown boys needs you to know that white privilege exists. And My Brown Baby broke my heart wide open with this paragraph in her post about Ferguson:

And before word gets out that I’m violent or an advocate for riots (because we know how interpretations go), please be clear: Because I understand a thing, does not mean I think it is the best recourse. If a kid is hungry, hasn’t eaten for days, and walks by a fruit stand and steals a banana, I certainly understand it. I don’t have to condone stealing to say that I get WHY a person with such an UNMET NEED and such DESPERATION would resort to such a thing. I get why they wouldn’t care about the consequences. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said. “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

How to Bake a Pizza with a Broken Oven


Last spring I broke our oven. Yes. I broke it. I used it for something (first mistake), left it on ALL NIGHT LONG, was woken up by the smoke alarm at 2 in the morning, turn oven off, and it’s never worked correctly since. I think the thermostat went kaput (because that’s what happens when an oven is left on for 14 hours) so it would heat up fine, but you couldn’t tell it to warm up to 350 degrees and it stop. Nope, our oven was like, “Please. You’re an idiot and ruined your only tool for controlling me. I’m gonna just keep getting hotter and hotter and hotter. And you can’t do anything about it. Muahahahaha!”

This is why I hate cooking. Even my oven hates me.
beautiful kitchen

The oven that hates me.

Anyways, my oven’s hate didn’t stop my family from needing food. pizza in package

The food my family needed.

So I thought this would be a great time to do a little kitchen tutorial in case you find yourself in the predicament of needing to feed your family a nutritious meal (store brand pizza!) with appliances that hate you (boo hiss, oven).

Step 1 – Get your equipment
For most any pizza you need a pan. Or something metal-ish to put the pizza on. Unless you aren’t supposed to put metal in ovens… or is that microwaves? Just do what you probably already do.

Here’s our pizza pan. Like cast iron pieces, I find that not washing things that go in the oven to be helpful because of seasoning and things like that. Ok. Fine. I just don’t wash our pizza pan every time. Sue me.

pizza pan

And now a gratuitous food shot for the foodies in the crowd (looking at you, Betty Becca and A la Mode).


Step 2 – Get your bake on
This is where it took some trial and error, but we finally perfected it. Since our oven just got hotter and hotter without any limits it required me to remember lots of math and equations about parabolas and how high field goal kickers kicked things to figure out how to actually bake the pizza. In the end it turned out that you let the oven go on with its bad self for 8 minutes (set a timer), then you turn off the oven for 5 minutes (set a timer), turn it back on for another 5 minutes (SET THE TIMER, MARIE), and then take the pizza out.

During those 18 minutes you will get to experience this range of toddler emotions:

happy kid

Yay! I love being mommy’s helper.

unhappy kid

What do you mean I can’t get in the oven? Dictator.

mind numb

Caillou. Caillou. Caillou. 


But I want to help you load the dishwasher! But I only want to touch the knives.

give in

I knew she’d give in. She always gives in. Muahahaha.

Step 3 – Enjoy pizza
After all of the blood, sweat, and fake 3-year old tears you’ll get to indulge in this:

cooked pizza

Delicious, right? Perfectly cooked even if your oven and your child are out to stop all of your attempts at being a good mother. Muhahahaha, Beaches.

eating baby
Yeah, whatever, Mom. Get me a drink, would ya?

Fun, miraculous, God-sized update! Our oven works. And we have no clue why. None. We were going to just live like this, but all of a sudden the red, thermostat light thing went off and it seems like it’s getting to the set temperature. Miracles will never cease!

Poor Mom Wisdom: Work with what you got, and what you got will work out.

The Mystery of the Red Foot

A couple of weeks ago, Otis and I were having a run-of-the-mill tickle fight. All of a sudden Otis gets very serious.

Otis: Mommy hurt?

Me: No, Mommy’s not hurt. Mommy is laughing.

Otis: Mommy toe hurt.

And he lifts up my foot for a closer inspection. What on earth was he looking at? So I start looking, too. I see that the bottom of my foot is red. Like I had been bleeding? But there was no blood. Just redness. But my foot felt fine. To me it looked like I was bleeding internally, and the blood was pooling in the bottom of my foot.

My diagnosis? Death. I just knew it. What else could it be?

Tears start to well up in my eyes, and I grab Otis’s face with both of my hands and stare into his big brown eyes.

Me: I love you, Little Man. Mommy isn’t going to be here forever, but please never forget that I love you.
Just so you’re aware, approximately 3 minutes have passed between Otis pointing out my symptom and me planning out my funeral.


We go downstairs and I let him watch Youtube while I figure out what is happening to my body by calling Dr. Google. Because you know how well that works for me.

I google all kinds of things trying to figure out what it is:

“Red foot no blood”

“Red foot no pain no blood”

“Can you die from a red foot”

Google has no idea what I’m talking about.

So I do the next best thing. I send my mom a Facebook message of a picture of my foot:

red foot

Me: Mom, what is this? My foot is red. Am I dying?

I get a phone call from a pretty pissed Filipina.

Mom: What are you doing? What is that? Have you gone to the doctor? Go to the doctor.DO NOT DIAGNOSE YOURSELF ANYMORE, MARIE.

She gives me her doctor’s name because, duh, I don’t have anyone, and she makes me give them a call.

I call the doctor and explain what’s going on.

Me: Hi. I need to make an appointment. My foot is red, and I don’t know why. It might be blood? But I’m not hurting.

Dr. Office: Are you a new patient?

Me: Yes.

Dr. Office: We can get you in next Tuesday.

Me: So you’re not worried about my foot? You think I’ll make it to next Tuesday? Sure. Put me down, I guess.

Dr. Office: Great.

So I had an appointment for my possibly-not-an-emergency-but-still-could-be-an-emergency situation.

Do I really need to tell you what my mom thought about this?

Mom: Marie! You have to see someone NOW! Go to one of those clinics.

Me: You want me to go to Walgreens for my red foot? It doesn’t really hurt, and the doctor’s office didn’t seem concerned -


I agreed to go to a minute clinic the first thing in the morning mostly so I could get off the phone.

I don’t really know why I did what I did next, but I did it.

I took a baby wipe to my foot. What would happen if I rubbed it just a little bit?

Holy stuffing. It was coming off! My medical mystery was coming off, slowly but surely, with a baby wipe. What on earth kind of disease was this?

Soon after my baby wipe discovery Mark came home. Can we talk the next time we have lunch or coffee about how I literally think I’m dying and I have not once thought to call my beloved husband? Yeah…

Me: Mark, my foot is red. I don’t know what it is. But it came off, at least some of it did, with this baby wipe. I might be dying.

Mark, being a very concerned husband, checks his own feet. Ah, the sweet nurturing love of a spouse.

Mark: I have it on my feet, too…

It was a plague! We need to get Otis out of the house stat.

Mark: Do you think there’s something in the bathtub? Maybe like a fungus? I’m going to go clean it.

Mark leaves me to die while he bleaches the bathtub. At least some chores were getting done BEFORE WE DIED.

Since it looked like we were goners no matter how we cut it, Otis and I bounced and headed for the park while Mark stayed home to clean. While at the park I get a text from Mark letting me know that he found red footprints in the kitchen. It seems I stepped in a bit of spilled barbecue sauce and got it all over the kitchen floor…

Basically, I am now a person who is such a bad housekeeper she almost went to the doctor because of it.

But, hey, it did get the hubs to clean the bathroom so there’s always that!

Hear it?

When Otis hears something that he loves (a train, a siren, the ice cream truck) he holds his hand to his ear like this and asks, “Hear it? Hear it?”

hear it(I spent, like, a week trying to get a picture of the “Hear it?” pose. You’re welcome.)

Yes, it’s adorable.


The other day I tooted. Yes, I said ‘tooted’ because all of a sudden I grew manners and don’t want to use the word “fart” in public. Who am I?

Anyways, my little guy busts out his little “Hear it?” act, and cups his hand to his ear and looks around suspiciously. A few seconds later he relaxes because he’s figured out what the noise was and confidently answers, “Alarm.”

He thought my precious toot was an alarm? He mistook my adorable and decidedly feminine toot for the sound of impending danger and a warning to everyone to move, beesh, get out the way?


Introducing The Poor Mom Dot Com

A high school friend posted this to FB this morning:
galen - white girls in autumn And I liked it because the minute I got up this morning and experienced the Fall-like weather I was like, “Ah, Fall and status updates about boots are just around the corner.”

After I like his status this fool says:
galen - white girl
Um. No.

Then he comes back with:
galen mom blogOk. Fine, I’m pretty white, but still. No.

But it turned into just the conversation I needed to address some changes going around here. On ThePoorMom.Com.

What? You thought you were on McKinneyOatesCereal.Wordpress.com? The blog I’ve been writing since I said, “I do” 6 long years ago? 

Yeah, that’s the change we need to discuss. I’ve gone and changed my blog’s name!

Basically, I’m a poor mom and I’m brown and my life looks nothing at all like the blogs I read. I love those blogs, and I want their lives in lots of ways (I mean, who doesn’t want granite countertops and an oven that works? Me! Me!) But I also love my life just the way it is: Kinda poor, mostly funny, and overrun with love.

The name is all that has really changed. And probably the posting schedule, as in I’m going to become more regular (and not in the life-changing Raisin Bran kind of way).

I don’t see the content changing much, except that I’d like to talk more about the “poor” side, especially as you try your very best to give your kid the very best. And maybe to poke a little fun at the whole Pinterest-worthy lifestyles we think we should have. And mostly to show you that your life can be filled with joy, peace, and laughter even if your checking account is not filled with much of anything.

An Exercise of Faith

I quit my job last week.

No. I’m not joking.

I have been agonizing about this decision since the day I got my masters. That’s a lot of agony, y’all.

Over the last couple of months, though, God has been truly stirring things in my heart. And making me take a serious look at what I say I believe about Him and what I actually believe about Him.

And there is something terrifying to me about admitting out loud and to a religiously-mixed audience that I believe God told me to do this. That God told me to take His word seriously. That He told me to take His promises seriously. That He told me to take Him seriously.

I know you think I’m nuts. It’s ok.

Can I tell you that I asked Him to shut up? Nicely (of course). But I did. I was like, “I get it. Trust you. But can I do that next year when we have a little more money saved and this whole leap of faith is a little bit safer?”

Because the last thing I want is to have to raise money on Go Fund Me so that my kid can eat lunch:

otis eating

Because this extravagant faith thing? It isn’t like me. At all. I mean, I’m weird and I take “risks” but I have always had a job. Always. What can I say? There is nothing better than a paycheck. I love paychecks.

But here I am. Saying goodbye to paychecks because I believe there is a God that made me in a very unique way. And He wants to see those unique gifts and talents used. And He tells us to look at the birds and that He cares for them, so why wouldn’t He do the same for you us?

And I’m not going to lie. Every time I think about birds being taken care of this comes to mind:

I love chicken nuggets, but I did not want to BECOME a chicken nugget.

But I think God is wanting to show me that He doesn’t want me to be a chicken nugget, either. Or a chicken for that matter.

So we are headed full time into marriage coaching and book writing. And we are excited. Some of us more than others (Mark, meet Blog World. Blog World, meet Mark).

And with this exercise of faith and jumping into the great unknown, I’d like to ask for your help. No, you can’t sponsor Otis for $1 a day (yet). But you can do one of these things:

  • We’ve had some success with marriage workshops, but we’d like to get some feedback about what people think about them. We have a survey up right now to get your thoughts, and I’d love you forever if you’d take some time to answer the questions. Click here to take the survey.
  • Write an Amazon review of This Bleep is Hard if you’ve read it. I don’t even care if it’s a positive review. I mean, obviously a positive review will make me smile and a negative one will make me vomit, but ALL reviews are golden/much appreciated in my book. And if you want to tell your pregnant/new mom friends about it that would be very cool, too.
  • Tell your friends to check us out. You can learn more about what we do at Nashville Marriage Studio, but basically Mark and I are marriage coaches and we help couples walk through conversations that are normally tough for them (in-laws, household duties, parenting styles, love languages, etc.). I don’t know that there is anything more rewarding than helping a struggling couple regain hope in their marriage and in each other. If you have any friends or family members that could use some guidance, we’d love to chat.

That’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods, what about you? Jumping into any scary endeavors and want a shoulder to cry on? Let me know. Scaredy cats love company.


Feliz Dia Del Padre!

The Dollar Shave Club, a fun, new subscription razor service, is running a blog campaign about Father’s Day gifts of yore, and wondered if I had any stories to share about funny Father’s Day presents I’ve given to my dad or to Mark. And I totally would have a funny story to share IF my family did gifts. But we don’t. But we’re trying! Ok, not really. But we think about trying to care about holidays every single year. Every single one. But it never happens.

Anyways, I was at the store last week and I noticed that there were reminders all over the place about Father’s Day. Here I was. At the store weeks before The Big Day. I could pick something up now and not have to worry about it at 3 P.M. on Sunday, June 15th. This is what grown ups do, right? Plan ahead and take care of business? Dizzy with excitement from the idea of being on top of things, I headed straight for the card aisle.

I stood there for a good 15 minutes trying to find the perfect card because there was so much to choose from. This is not the case when you wait til the Day Of when everything is picked over and your only options are Sympathy cards and ones in Spanish. It was a greeting card smorgasbord.

Otis and I picked out an adorable card that I think perfectly captured Mark and Otis’s relationship:
(Preview shot only because I don’t want to ruin any surprises)

We continued our way around the grocery store, and headed for the register. I don’t know what day of the week it was, but the Kroger’s was surprisingly busy. The only short line was the Express-No-More-Than-15-Items line.

I looked in my cart. It was barely full. Surely this is less than 15 items! I started to count…

16 items. Dang. (I just need to interrupt myself and tell you why I strictly follow the number of items rule. One time during a Milk and Egg Sandwich run before an impending winter storm, my mom split up her groceries between the two of us so that we’d both have 10 items and could go through the express lane. The lady behind us saw what we were doing and she seriously told me that we were going to hell because of what we were doing. I was, like, 9! Who says that to a little kid? Anyways, her reprimand stuck and I refuse to be eternally damned by finding loopholes in express lane laws.)

I did another inventory. What did I need? Like, really need?

Milk and juice and goldfish crackers. All musts.

Stuff to make tacos and spaghetti. Yes.

Deodorant and body wash. For the sake of my co-workers.

I just needed to ditch one item. Just one.

The Father’s Day Card.

I mean, it was, like 2 weeks away! I didn’t need it now. And, if necessary, I could make a Sympathy card work (“My condolences for your loss of time, money, and sex. Love, Otis.”).

But I didn’t do it. I went to the long line with my 16 items and established myself, at the ripe age of 31, as a grown up. And that, my friends, is the true gift to my husband/baby daddy. I chose your card over my convenience. You. are. welcome.

Now the only question is where did I put it…

This post is part of a campaign with the Dollar Shave Club, a fun new razor subscription service. Every month dad can get razors delivered straight to the house which saves time and money. What dad doesn’t love that? They have also just added an After Shave Solution that any man could appreciate.

A Psalm 23 Parent

I always think it’s funny when someone complains that an advertising message makes them feel bad about themselves. That the bikini models don’t look like real people, and the moms in the diaper commercials look like they had time to shower and find clean pants. That the couples in the Viagra commercials look too emotionally connected, and teeth will never be that white.

Am I nuts or does this baby look photoshopped in?
Also, no dad looks like this when he gets home from work :p

It’s funny because the whole point of every advertising campaign in the history of the world IS to make us feel bad about ourselves. If we felt good about the way we looked, where we lived, how clean our floors were, the kind of man we married after watching a commercial then we wouldn’t buy their product which is the entire point! That’s the formula: Feel Bad —> Buy Stuff

The thing is we get a bajillion advertising messages a day. So all day long we are bombarded with images and words desperate to convince us that we are not enough.

And when you consider that moms are one of the most marketed to demographics in the entire world I have to think they know exactly where our “not enough” buttons are located.

Am I good mom?
Is he eating enough?
How many cookies can I give them before DCS gets involved?
Will she be ok if her clothes aren’t monogrammed?
Why isn’t she walking/talking/jumping yet?
If I take time out to clean the kitchen will I miss out on his entire childhood?
If I sit and play instead of fold laundry will he become a drain on society because he never saw responsibility in action?
If I go to work will she think the nanny is her mom?
If I stay home and get bored will he think I don’t love him completely?

And some of us are drowning in the anxiety that comes with a mixture of being the perfect mom as defined by Pinterest and being thoroughly convinced, no matter what decision you’ve made, that you’re screwing up all day, every day.

We try to relieve the anxiety. We put down other moms because that helps the focus on ourselves go away for a little bit. We get caught up in proving to an imaginary audience that we’re having the time of our lives with status updates and Facebook photo albums. We read books and blogs and forums looking for someone to validate our instincts. We pin things like 52 Crafts Every Child Should Have Made Before Entering Kindergarten. We drink, we smoke, we obsess over the baseboards.

And we’re doing all of this because we love our children. We want to give them the best, and we want to be the best. But all day long we’re hearing that nothing is enough. Nothing. Keep trying. But it isn’t enough.

(This is precisely why I believe any mom whose children were loved, fed, clothed, and not misplaced for long deserves truckloads of grace. It’s why I can’t be mad at my mom for her any of her failures because I know she was doing her best. I know this because I’m failing every day despite my desire to be my best. And just like one day I hope Otis has grace on all the ways I screwed up, I am extending the same grace to my own mom.)

I don’t think God wants us to live in this bondage to images that aren’t from Him so I started praying. God, what does parenthood look like to you?

I was scared of His answer. Because in my experience there aren’t many places more consumed by the desire to fit in/look like everyone else/have what everyone else has than the church. What if God laid down Proverbs 31 woman level standards? What if He showed me another image of a woman that has her life together in a way that simply reminded me that I am not enough?

The Lord is my Shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to His name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

Psalm 23 is one of the famous verses. You don’t even have to be a Christian to be familiar with it. Obviously I believe all of Scripture is from God, but this passage has some kind of supernatural power punch. Any anxiety I carry around melts away quickly when I consider that God is my shepherd and it’s all going to be ok.

But what if we applied that verse to parenthood? What if we are called to be our children’s shepherds?

Can I be a constant and stable presence in Otis’s life?
Can I let him rest and enjoy his childhood?
Can I lead him by streams that nourish him and give him strength?
Can I guide him towards obedience and travelling along paths that were made for him?
Can I stick close by him when he is afraid or going through a difficult time?
Can I remind him during the scary times that I am there and ready to protect him from anyone trying to harm him?
Can I encourage him when his mind or his peers or the devil want to convince him that he isn’t enough?
Can I let him live in my house forever?

Just kidding about the last one. Heh.

So this is my new parenting guide. Not Pinterest, not a Babycenter advice column, not a book about the happiest child in the neighborhood.  I’m going to focus on my Shepherd and how He walks through life with me so that I can be a shepherd to the little lamb given to me.

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.

Five on Friday: My Mommy Friend is Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde named her son Otis. Which basically means I’m being Single White Femaled by one of the funniest AND hottest celebs of our time.

It is so hard being my level of cool.

Now that our relationship (me and Olivia… keep up, People) has progressed to sharing a brain when it comes to baby naming, I’ve taken time out of my schedule to imagine how our first play date would go down…

1. The Ask

Hey, Olivia. It’s me. Marie. That blogger you love and named your kid after my kid. You wanna hang out? Go on a mommy date?

Yeah. I thought so.

2. The Place

I was thinking we could go to this little place around the corner. They serve all kinds of food and have a place for the kids to play. Your 2-day old will love it. Have you heard of the McDonald’s Play Place?

3. The Conversation

So how is breastfeeding going? Are your boobs full?

(No, seriously, you can’t talk about breastfeeding on a mommy date with out touching your boobs. It’s impossible.)

How are you and Jason doing? Everyone sleeping ok?

Is your Otis circumcised? Because I have an opinion that I think you need to consider…

Got it. Touchy subject. #pregnancyhormones

4. The Food

So, how’s your Big Mac?

Yeah, the food here is legit. And totally great for nursing.

5. The Goodbye

Well, I had a great time, but I must bounce. I’m meeting up with Drew Barrymore for Mommy-and-Me Yoga. But quick question, how much fun was this mommy date? Please use a dance move to express your joy because there really aren’t a lot of GIFs of you that aren’t simply displaying your unfair amount of hotness.

Aw! Me, too! See you and Little-er O later!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers