Category Archives: Uncategorized

#TBT Typhoons hit again


In 2012 my grandmother moved back to the Philippines to retire. She had spent the last 20 or so years working all over Nashville. In restaurants, at factories, as a nanny and housekeeper, and in hotels. And, like most people from other countries, almost every dollar she earned was sent back to her children and grandchildren back home or invested in to the home she would retire to.

And then Typhoon Ruby came through last weekend. No, not the typhoon from last year. A different one. And unlike last year’s typhoon, this one destroyed my mom and grandmother’s hometown. 27 people have died, a million people were evacuated, and 80% of the homes in coastal areas were destroyed.

My grandmother’s home was one of them.

We are praising God that everyone in our family is fine. But their homes have been destroyed, and they don’t have the resources to rebuild. More than that, this disaster hasn’t gotten the world’s attention the way it did last year so this year’s victims aren’t going to have as much help.

Yesterday I noticed that the island’s pastor, and a key contact that kept my mom in the loop, had posted on my mom’s Facebook wall about our family’s situation. He said, “There is a lot of reconstruction that needs to be done. Pray with us and for us, with limited resources, we’d like to use it where people will recognize the Lord’s love and care for them.”

So I prayed. And then I set up a Go Fund Me project for my grandmother and her family to raise money for the resources they need to rebuild. I have no clue if this is going to work, but I would love if you’d consider donating money to help them. My grandmother has been home in the Philippines for only a few years and experienced almost as many deadly typhoons, and, well, she needs a break don’t you think?

Some pics to help you get a feel for the place 🙂

ando kids

Don’t you want to help us? It’s Christmas!

pi island

An island. Probably not Ando, but probably hit by a typhoon.

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.”

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 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.

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