SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

English: Hand I'm bored Español: Mano I'm bored

So The Realest Chick called after my last post and said, “I have an idea for your blog.” She has kind of become my idea chick. She comes up with it and I run with it. And it is my first day of summer, so I have a few spare minutes.

“How about cheap family activities?”

OK. She may not have said exactly that, but it was close. And the gears in my head are grinding.

Some of the ideas I have may be specific to my area, but a quick search of our bff, Google, may point you the right way for your own place. My monkeys aren’t into team sports, so I’m not addressing that. Besides, I’m staying in the zone of cheaptitude.

The Local Library Because we prefer monkey brains not to turn to mush over the summer, I sign mine up for the summer reading program at the local library. There are different goals for different ages, and ours meets every Friday. This year, it seems there is something different each day being offered, also. I’m kind of stoked about the bubble-making! I have agreed to take the monkeys on Tuesdays and Fridays (Friday being the program day), and they’re allowed 2 books each at a time.  They’ll be in the prize zone in no time.

Movies Our local theaters have “Dollar Days.” I think nowadays, it’s actually 2 or 3 but if you feed the monkeys first, you’re golden.  Ours show older releases but do you think my kids worry about that?  Also, there is an organization in Shreveport that has a “Movies and Moonbeams” program, where they show movies every other week in local parks for free.  It starts around 8:30, so the sun should be down, hopefully taking the miserable heat with it.

Kids Bowl Free Love love love this program! Go to the Kids Bowl Free website, enter a bit of info about your family, find a local bowling center in their list, and you’re golden! Every Sunday in your email, you’ll receive coupons for free bowling. I registered the monkeys and they can bowl 2 games per day all summer. The only expense is shoe rental!

Ten-pin bowling in action

Museums Local museums are usually  a low-cost hit.  The Louisiana State Exhibit Museum over in Shreveport is one of my favorites.  In the main building, all along the walls, are dioramas with scenes from our local history.  Some of the displays change and they have things in the middle, also.  In addition, we have a wildlife museum and several art museums locally.  Many museums charge a negligible admission, with some being donation-based.

Angela checks out Louisiana

Angela checks out Louisiana (Photo credit: kristykay22)

Take it Outside  We’re so blessed living near the river and many parks.  I’ve taken the monkeys in summers past to a park a few neighborhoods over.  Picnic lunch, a kite, maybe some basketballs, and we’re happy happy happy.  There are also several lakes and pools in our area, as well as bike/jogging trails near the river.  We also frequent the local Farmer’s Market (haven’t made it yet due to scheduling, but we’ll get there!) and we’ve tried out a pick-your-own farm in Haughton.

Sunday Funday A few months ago, ol’ Grizz and I invited a few friends over to grill.  Real Chick’s husband was out-of-town for the weekend, Crazy Math Lady lives on take-out food, and we all worry about Pioneer Woman‘s sweet husband getting a solid, home-cooked meal with her being deployed.  It was a lot of fun, very kid-friendly, and turned into something of a regular occurrence.  SOme weekends the host house changes, some of the faces change.  Everyone contributes something, so it’s still low-cost entertainment.  Break out the cornhole boards and we have a party.

So these are a few activities with the House of Cheaptitude seal of approval.  What are some other cheap/free family activities?

~ Katie



{May 16, 2013}   Soapbox: Bullying

I do not remember middle school as a particularly happy period in my life.  It wasn’t awful, but it was fraught with relationship break ups and make ups and jealousies amongst my small group of friends.  As a middle school teacher, I realize what I experienced was fabulous compared to what kids deal with these days.  And compared to Monkey #1’s middle school adventure?  Gobles Middle School was paradise.

Bullying has become a buzzword in the media over the past several years.  It’s like it’s a brand-new thing all of a sudden.  The Real Housewives of Bravo TV throw it around like it is nothing (yes, I refer to Jesus Barbie). Bullying is a serious thing and with it being used  so loosely in the media, it’s lost credibility.  I work in a school where we have a zero tolerance policy and an entire system in place to deal with bullying.  I’ve had to deal with Monkey #1 being bullied at the upper elementary (according to the principal  there, Principal of the Year that year, “Boys will be boys”) and his middle school here in SoBo.  I won’t delve a lot into my family’s personal experiences, but I can tell you this: I take it very seriously.

In reality, bullying in one form or another has been around probably since dinosaurs roamed the earth.  That doesn’t make it right, it just is what it is.  Bullying isn’t new, but how we deal with it is.

Having been through anti-bullying training, I know it’s not a good idea to seek out the parents of a kid demonstrating the bullying behaviors.  Even if you want to knock their teeth down their throat.

There is a process and it is a drawn-out, miserable process.  The bullying behavior needs to be reported to adults, who need to report it to administrators, who need to investigate and get stories from all involved.  If they don’t determine it to be an isolated incident.  Which I see a lot at Monkey #1’s school.  And while this process is going on?  The kid who is being bullied gets labeled a snitch and the bullying increases in both frequency and intensity.

Which is why kids don’t want to report it.

My own monkey says, “Why should I report it?  It just makes things worse and they don’t do anything.”

This is actually not a slam against his assistant principal.  His AP is a good guy who can only act on the information he has (and probably prays every day that I move my kid to my own school and out of his hair) and he has resolved one case for us, quite satisfactorily.  Unfortunately, because that case went on for so long, my monkey may as well have a bright red target on his back.

My next concern: how many cases of reported bullying are going completely unaddressed?  How many are going completely unreported?

According to one website, grades 4-8 are the worst for bullying.  (Monkey #1 is going into 8th grade, so maybe the worst is almost over?)  The statistics for bullying are enough to make me cry.  Even worse, I’ve run across a word I had never heard: bullycide.  Bullying that leads to teenage suicide.

I learned today that an 8th grader at Monkey #1’s school committed suicide yesterday.  My monkey wasn’t close to him but I’ve heard he was a likeable, popular kid.  And rumors abound as to why he took his own life.  What strikes a chord in me is that people close to the family say he was bullied.

The third leading cause of death in teens and adolescents is suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  How many of those kids were bullied?

I don’t have the answers and I won’t claim to be perfect.  The Lord knows my life is a runaway train most of the time.  Nut as a teacher and as a mom, I do have some suggestions.

  • Talk to your kids.  Talk about whatever concerns they have.  And listen.  Really listen.  God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.
  • Encourage your kid to talk to the adults at their schools.  If they don’t feel safe for whatever reason, it needs to be addressed.  If the school won’t take care of it, go above their heads.  All the way to the state level, if necessary.  I can provide the email address in Louisiana, and I promise it makes a difference.
  • Teach them basic self-defense, or get someone to teach them.
  • Love them.  Let them know they’re loved, let them know you’re there for them, and you have their back.

I’m sure I could fill this post with stats and personal anecdotes and all that, but I’m exhausted tonight.

What is your experience with bullying?  Do you have any ideas on dealing with bullying?

~ Katie


{May 8, 2013}   Welcome to My Chaos

Today, I really just want to make it clear to Jeepnmom and Real Chick that I do not have it all together.  Well, after a few Sunday Fundays, I imagine Real Chick is beginning to figure it out.

The month of April has been rough.  I’ve fallen completely off the organization wagon (and the house isn’t too clean, either).  Our schedules have gotten messier as school winds down for the year.  The monkeys aren’t too big on lending a helping hand, Grizzly has been working a lot (today my painter is his mama’s plumber!), and I’m not feeling so motivated.  I haven’t even been to the grocery this week!

Yesterday I had a handy-dandy sub cover my classes (epic fail) and I joined Monkey #2 for her final Bellaire Field Day.  At her school, Field Day takes all day.  Fun trumped productivity.  Last night I cooked breakfast for dinner, turned on Duck Dynasty on the DVR, and wrote next week’s lesson plans instead of doing anything around the house.

I woke up at 6 this morning.

After going to sleep after 11.

Coffee is good.  Starbuck’s with an extra shot is better.

I do not currently have a list going.  At least, if I do, I can’t locate it.  I poked around the kitchen to fix a pot of coffee, debated putting dishes away and cleaning Grizzly’s icky mess from the oven (decided against it), and finally settled in the living room.

My coupons are sorted and culled.  In case I finally go to the store….

I do tend to take pride in my home.  Looking around the living room, there was no pride to be found.  Yesterday, looking for Monkey #2’s class shirt, I found piles of candy wrappers under the couch cushions, as well as lots of monkey clothes (gross).  There are baskets of laundry waiting to be folded or just put up (loving the garage sale dryer!!  That’s another post!)  And the built-in had become a cluttered, dusty mess.  When I clean, I like to go top to bottom, so the built-in became my first project.









Obviously a hot mess.  However, I got it situated!  While the rest of my house is still falling down around my ears, I have a small sense of accomplishment having cleaned the built-in top to bottom, straightening the cabinets underneath, and setting up launch pads (To-Go Baskets) for the monkeys.

Somehow the post-picture got deleted.

Proof my poop is not together yet.

What is your favorite method of avoidance when your home is a wreck?

~ Katie


et cetera
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