SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











I wish now that I had figured all of this out as a younger mom, when the monkeys were smaller. I feel like I wouldn’t struggle so much now!

With kids comes STUFF. As babies, they have more goop, accessories, diapers, clothes, and other purely baby stuff than a little bit. I know mine both became fun little people around 7 or 8 months, and toys began to flow into my home, in addition to walkers and high chairs and strollers and swings. I was glad when the bigger, more cumbersome pieces gave way to Pokémon and Build-a-Bear – except my kids have everything in excess.

Monkey #1 has over a thousand trading cards. He has Legos. He has animé books. He has them all over his room.

Monkey #2 is worse. She has a kid-sized kitchen. She has enough Barbies to populate Gobles, MI. Pillow pets and blanket animals and dress up costumes and accessories for every toy she has…all over her room.

What are some implementable ways of containing this crap stuff without stomping all over their childhood?

Tip #1 Monkey stuff should be easier to put away than to get out. There should be appropriate space allotted so that the Light Up Ladybug isn’t being crammed back where it goes.

Tip #2 Sort things according to function. Monkey #2 loves her Littlest Pet Shop toys. They’re small and we have a special bin especially for them. However, when the LPS come out to play, so do the Zhu Zhu Pets. So these are put away together. The play food is put away with the tea party sets and Tupperware play dishes, as well as her chef dress up clothes.

Tip #3 Bookshelves aren’t just for books! But this only works when spaces are assigned. Monkey has 2 shelves of books, one with movies, video games, and artsy stuff. The bottom shelf is where her bins of small toys are stored.

Tip #4 Get the kids involved. You don’t want to accidentally discard the card their bff in kindergarten made for them – even if they are 16 now. My monkeys are more inclined to give away books and toys if they know these items are going to someone less fortunate. It also sometimes works to photograph those sentimental dust collectors.

Tip #5 Art walls. Monkey #1 actually suggested this. Some cousins have “clotheslines” strung along a living room wall to clip original artwork. This way, a little Picasso can change decor easily, display creations without cluttering a fridge, and you don’t end up with swiss cheese walls (Grizzly is a little particular about nail holes!) Bulletin boards can be covered in coordinating fabric to match a monkey space. And I don’t claim to know every Kiddo’s taste, but my monkeys love a dry erase board.

Monkey #1’s space is organized and we’ll paint this summer. I’ve already implemented some of these ideas and some will come later. Monkey #2 will be tougher, because she has her own things as well as hand-me-downs from her brother. Our family seems to have an overabundance of the hoarding genes!

What ideas do you like for monkey spaces?

– Katie

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{April 21, 2013}   A Month of Birthdays

It started with a surprise for Pioneer Woman. Then it was Hot Chocolate (Real Chick, did I get it right?) and a cigar-themed party. The next Friday was a birthday dinner for Mrs. Wendy, followed by the Little General. I missed both of those.

Tonight we all gathered for Real Chick’s surprise dinner at a nice restaurant in NoBo.  (St. Yoda set the bar really high – which hubby can plan all that on the slick side?) These shindigs are usually followed by karaoke till we close the doors of whichever hole in the wall we pick.  Good friends, good times, and the occasional lap dance.

Mr. Carl, you missed out.

It’s been a month of birthdays like I’ve never experienced.

The Little General has it figured out.  Friends tend to fall into different categories. You have work friends, maybe neighborhood or church friends, and so on.  And you do different things with different people. She and the Higher Authority, who have been tight way before Bunco, and their precious hubbies started the Friday night El Mariachi tradition. We’ve been doing Sunday Funday lately with Pioneer Woman’s husband, Real Chick, and St. Yoda. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes those friendships become pretty fluid.

In a month of birthdays, I’m thankful for all of these amazing friends.

Just a thought. I’ll get back on tips and tricks in the morning.

– Katie



It’s that time of the year again. I have a love-hate relationship with my taxes. I love playing with the numbers, piecing together the puzzle of our income and outgo, trying to squeeze every possible deduction (as expensive as my four-legged baby is, she unfortunately can’t be considered a dependent!) And I hate it when I owe money. I get it, money is needed for roads, schools, defense, etc., but I don’t think the government is a smart shopper. Just sayin’.

Tax season used to be super-stressful.  Several years ago, I took care of filing Grizzly’s business taxes in addition to our personal, household stuff. I now see the accountant as an expensive, necessary evil.

What does this have to do with anything, you may wonder? Well, this is the time of year I start looking at assets and liabilities. Which things in my life enhance it and make me a better me?  Which things are holding me back?  Honestly, the answer is things.  Most things I can do without.  Some things make my life easier, for a time, but eventually add to my workload in some form or fashion (DUSTING!! STORAGE!!), turning them into liabilities.

As I declutter my house and restructure my finances, I am encouraged to look at all aspects of my life.  This includes my relationships, both personal and professional.  This is not a painless process, but it is necessary.  For example, I recognize that attitudes of others at work affect my attitude at work, and I need to adjust myself.  If that means keeping to myself until I’m back in a positive place, that is exactly what I will do.  I find it so much easier to address those professional liabilities than the personal ones.

A very quiet, wise man (Real Chick’s fantastic hubby!) says that you have to take regularly take stock of your friendships, identifying the assets and liabilities.  First of all, you are judged by the company you keep.  Second of all, it is easy to be dragged into other peoples’ sticky drama webs.  We all have issues to deal with, burdens to bear, and time is short.  Who has time to be brought down by someone else’s crazy?  But we still get sucked in.  Liabilities, my friends.

Being supportive during tough times is a good thing.  Being a crutch, not so much.

Another great quote I’ve heard from this same fella is “Show your worth, not your/you’re worthless.”  I like this a lot.  When I do or say something, I do my best to own it, good, bad, or ugly.  I don’t blame it on booze, drama in my personal life, etc.  You can’t take things back once they’re said or done.  You can move on and try to do better.  My closest friends live by this. They show their worth.   Those friends who don’t are the ones I’m beginning to see as liabilities.

Misery may love company, but company does not love misery.

How do you turn those liabilities back into assets?  Which liabilities are worth the time and stress to attempt such a feat?  How do you get rid of the ones that aren’t worth the time and energy anymore?  I’m still working on that.

I’ve long believed every person who comes in and out of our lives does so for a reason.  Some people are around longer than others.  Every one of them provides an opportunity to learn.  Sometimes you have to take a step back, look from a distance, to see the lesson.  But once you recognize someone has become a liability, you have to ask yourself, “Why am I still friends with this person?”

My husband is the owner/operator of a small business and he has to deal with assets and liabilities all the time.  If someone isn’t performing their duties, he fires them.  If a piece of equipment isn’t working, he fixes it or gets rid of it.  It may seem a little calculated or cold, but as I examine my relationships, I may start operating in a similar manner.  Our friends should be positive forces in our lives, not bring us down.  If someone is emotionally/physically/financially draining, it is time to fix it or move on.

These are not standards by which I only judge those people in my life.  I’m not always the best friend I can be.  I’m don’t always show my worth.  But I’m making a point to do better.

This week, I challenge you.  Try to do something about the liabilities in your life.  And show your worth to the world, because you’re not worthless.

~ Katie

BTW I did overindulge and get loud tonight. And I owned it.



Crazy Math Lady and I have been friends and colleagues since 2007 when we were both taking a Classroom Management course for our alternate certification program for teaching.  We make quite the odd couple – she’s single, no kids, and does not see herself as creative at all.  I’m kind of the opposite.

We are a dynamic duo.

I love crafting and re-purposing – and teaching.  I’m forever trying to get CML involved in some project or another.  We’ve made some serious progress over the years.  We’ve created cupcakes for Cub Scouts, concocted some amazing cookies just because they sounded yummy, and one night I even convinced her to scrapbook with me (the math chick in her loves the different shapes of the punches!)

In the Fall of 2011, we were both invited into one of those most sacred of southern societies – a Bunco Group.  As neither one of us is the most social ladies, this was a huge step for both of us.  And it’s been an interesting, amazing journey.  We’ve made some incredible friends, including Pioneer Woman, the Little General, the Higher Authority, the Realest Chick I Know….I could go on and on.  It gets us out of the house once a month, socializing with other ladies, and have a good time.  Each month has ended up with a different theme (mine is always pajamas, with some kind of crockpot meal – I’m lazy like that.)  We’ve had Easter Bonnets, White Trash, and Tropical Islands.  We were witches in October and formal with our Little Black Dresses in December.

This month, in honor of Pioneer Woman’s deployment, Rebecca decided our theme this month is Cuba.  Personally, I don’t know a lot about Cuba except that their cigars are quite coveted. How does one dress for a Cuban party?  Crazy Math Lady and I were clueless.  I asked the Realest Chick I Know if we should all dress as cigars.  To which she said we’d look like, and I quote, “Twelve giant turds.”

Maybe not a great plan.

On the phone with CML the other night, we had kind of decided just to go tropical. The I remembered that somewhere in my craft stash I had iron-on transfer sheets for my printer.  Why couldn’t we make cute t-shirts with Cuban postcards?  That would work.

Except in my decluttering/re-organizing/re-purosing, I’ve misplaced my transfer sheets *sigh*.  Remember how I am such a huge proponent of inventory lists?

Crazy Math Lady went to Family Dollar yesterday to get t-shirts and back up outfits.  Let me just say, the back up outfits are super-cute.  But we still wanted to try the t-shirt idea.  I showed CML some of the postcards I’d found on flickr and we proceeded to create our own versions with handy-dandy puffy paints:

Our version of "Somebody in Cuba" loves Me"The Original Cuban Missile" - I know, it looks like a turd....

I think for a few hours’ work, these turned out okay.  And they fit with the “Cuban” theme, right?  What do you think?

And I’ll probably let you all know tomorrow how I feel about Cuban food.  I told the RCIK that my only experience with Cuban food is watching a pig roast on The Real Housewives of Miami last year….

Any tips??

~ Katie



This will probably become a binder in itself, because I really am the only one to need it. This is the section I use to keep up with my projects. It is filled with clippings from magazines with ideas for projects, various instructions for said crafts, and my never-ending to-do lists.

In my attempt at organization, this section is divided up by craft type.  Some of the things I’ve included are:

  • Kids’ crafts:  Family Fun Magazine is a wealth of information.  I also list websites with cute ideas.
  • Scrapbooking:  different ideas for photos and layouts
  • Sewing: magazine clippings, Pinterest ideas, different patterns I’ve found online, doodles and drawings I’ve made with ideas for projects around the house
  • Crosstitch: patterns and ideas
  • Miscellaneous: just random re-purposing projects

I need to add an inventory of my supplies, along with where things are located (see my post about making t-shirts with Crazy Math Lady – I’ve misplaced some supplies!)

During the school year, I don’t have a lot of time for all of my craft projects.  I’ve put myself on restriction from buying more crafting things until I can get projects done, which should motivate the heck out of me, since I love crafty stuff.  My re-purposed closet still has  a ton of scrapbooking junk supplies, which I do sometimes use for my classroom, but I have an aversion to scrapbooking if the kitchen isn’t in order.  When I clean the kitchen, it takes awhile because my ADD kicks in and I get sidetracked – frequently.  By the time its spotless, I’ve run out of steam for crafting.

However, having a list of projects and setting up my bucket helps.  I like tasks broken into small chunks, where they’re more manageable.  And I’m more likely to do something. Having the idea pages in my binder inspires me and when I have a few minutes, I can knock out a small craft project.

How do you keep up with your crafts?  Do you have a system in place or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

~ Katie



et cetera
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