SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

If I were younger, had no kids, had no husband, where would I be right now? Maybe a “cheap” apartment in the city, trying to publish bits here and there, scraping to pay the bills? Maybe. It’s hard to tell, since I’ve been a wife and mom most of my adult life. I’ve been focused on bills, my home, health insurance, the needs of my family since I was 22 years old. Not the vision I had as I crossed the stage at Municipal Auditorium back in 1994. So a part of me is jealous right now.

Another of my friends is going off on an adventure.

Crazymathlady and I became friends in a parking lot over a curse word and a cigarette. She says that was the exact moment she realized I was a normal person, not a stuffy English teacher type.

We were “baby teachers” together, at the same school, seeking alternative certification together. We suffered through LATAAP and our last Praxis test and celebrated with martinis, cheesecake, and mentors when we became fully licensed. She moved on to another school. I stayed behind a while longer.

While I drowned in RSD lesson plans, state surveys, and finally, adjusted to the 8th grade ELA curriculum, Crazymathlady began working on her Master’s Degree, and became certified to run a school.  I was trying to keep it all together at home, and in middle school, and she was growing professionally.

Jealous? Yes, I am a little. The monkeys still require a lot of my attention, attention I’d like to devote to furthering my education and career. I have to find money for karate and braces, not college courses.

But if I really examine my heart, I’m truly happy for her. She has worked hard and been through a lot to get to where she is.

Crazymathlady and I never lost touch, even as our careers took us down different paths. And, of all the cuckoo crazy things, bunco has brought us closer together. We have to spend one Saturday evening together each month. And because of that, we talk more frequently now. She’s always included when we grill these days, and she rode with me to pick up my new car. She’s an important part of my life. (And she worries that she doesn’t matter!) She’s in one of my neat and tidy boxes – I’m happiest with all of my friends close by.

Months ago, I knew she was dissatisfied with her job, as well as other aspects of her life. She’s traveled a bit the past few years and even when we were brand new to teaching, she was interested in an international career.

It took her awhile to tell me about Nigeria. She knows I don’t like change.

And I cried. Because I’m selfish and I want my friends in those tidy boxes and maybe I wish I had those options. I worry about her safety. I worry that she won’t ever come back. I worry that she won’t miss me. It doesn’t fit my pretentious (yes, that chick called me the P word!) nature to sit her down and tell her how much I’ll miss her, how important she is to my family, what an indelible mark she’s left on my life. 

The Realest Chick I Know and I co-hosted Crazy’s Bon Voyage Bunco. She and I, with input from Cuba (thank you, Pioneer Woman!! Love and miss you!), crafted a going away gift. I’m sure that Grizzly and Saint Yoda will cook meat over fire for her before she goes. Little things from a place of love.

Am I still envious of the Crazymathlady? A little. I don’t have the means nor the motivation to take “the road less traveled.” I don’t think, even if I had the option, I would spread my wings the way she is. I own it.

Am I excited for her? Wholeheartedly. This will be a life-changing, amazing experience for her.

It’s life-changing for me, too. Who will I call when I can’t help the monkeys with their math homework? Who will drag me out of my house when I don’t want to go anywhere? Who will kick my butt at Scrabble? Who will run the roads with me on the spur of the moment? Who will make me buy overpriced drawers?

Who is going to con Crazymathlady into attending Mass??? (Monkey #1 is gifted like that)

I think about all of these things as she sheds the tangibles of her life here.

Am I going to miss her? Every day until she comes home.

~ Katie

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{July 20, 2013}   Reflection: See You Soon

Lately I’ve been going through a lot of old pictures for a project. It’s made me realize how my circle of friends has changed over time.

Growing up, I thought I’d be tight with my close friends forever. Now I see those folks on Facebook, we talk about getting together to catch up, but we never do.  It doesn’t make me fake, or those old friends fake, either. It just is the way it is. I still talk to Jeepnmom all the time, 30 years later, a thousand miles away, but she’s the only one.

Grizzly and I have settled down in a military  town.  Through his interests and mine, we’ve made lots of friends. Some close, some not so close, and we’ve come to accept over the years that many of our friends, military or not, have to move on eventually.

Recently, we attended a going away party for one of Grizzly’s friends, Bama Ken (not his real name, but he could have been sculpted by Mattel – Real Chick says my husband only has good-looking friends!)


And even though we don’t like to think about it, or talk about it, the fact that another of our friends is going to be someplace for several months where, let’s face it, Americans aren’t exactly winning popularity contests, brings home just how impermanent these relationships really might be.


Are we supposed to stop being close to people? Do we only become friends with people whose roots are so deeply entrenched in SoBo that we can safely assume they’ll never leave? I don’t want to live like that. I don’t have as many close relationships as maybe I once did, but geography isn’t a factor.

So we’ll continue to make memories with our friends, enjoying their company while we have it. And we’ll attend going away parties, try to stay in touch, pray while they’re away.


And hope every day that they come home safely, soon, to photo bomb us again.

~ Katie

When life (my friend, Missy) hands you a box of crayons, what do you do? You Google.


And you think back to 5th grade, in Mr. Laughlin’s class at Bloomingdale Elementary. I’m sure the project was science-related somehow, but the most memorable activity we did that year was candle making.  We used gulf wax, butcher’s string, old crayons – and orange juice cans.


Many of Missy’s contributions to my clutter have already been used for pencil holders (soup can project!) and actual coloring. Still, there was a monkey #2 sized shoebox full of crayons, begging to be repurposed!

My handy friend, Google, brought me tons of different ideas and instructions, but I specifically wanted instructions with Gulf Wax and juice cans. And I found them! (In the future, I may try repurposing old candle bits as well!) Of course, I needed the wax, scents, and wicks (not ready to make my own, yet!) I had a Hobby Lobby gift card left over from my Secret Santa and put it to excellent use. After a trip to the grocery, I was ready for some crafting!


I have many nifty kitchen gadgets left from my proud Pampered Chef days, but I never did get a double boiler. Everything I read said if the wax gets overheated, it can combust – and I doubt my homeowner’s insurance covers “stupid.” A coffee can on top of canning rings in a pot of water will work, but my coffee comes in plastic tubs. So I sacrificed Grizzly’s bat-boiling pan and went about the business of melting.


It is important to break up the crayons and wax before melting, otherwise it takes six kinds of forever. I chose purples, reds, and blues for a sugarplum flavored candle, Granny@thefarm’s favorite scent. I used plastic straws as stirrers, instead of sacrificing any more kitchen goodies, and once everything was combined well, added the scent.

I had chosen wicks with bases but it was difficult to make the silly things stay in place. I finally remembered to dip them a little in the wax and wrap them on a straw. Then I poured the wax into the containers and waited.


As the candles dry, they tend to well near the wick. Poke holes in the candle form and add more wax. I did this twice. Finally, they evened out. After a day or so, I ripped the juice cans off the candles and here is how they turned out:

Juice cans make fat, pillar candles. I’ve not lit it, as this one is a prize for Granny, but it already smells divine.

Do you have any candle tricks?

~ Katie

et cetera
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