SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











I missed out on the last big family trip.  It was a trip to New Orleans, right before Crazy Math Lady ventured off to Africa and I hosted her farewell bunco. The repercussions were bigger than I realized at the time, but it was important for me to stay home. Now I might choose differently.  Not sure.

So a month or so ago, Nana and the Biloxi Babe (awesome cousin!) started making plans for a Memphis trip. They set it all up, from hotel to tours – all we had to do was show up!

The trip fell on a weekend during state testing. Grizzly’s brother, sister, and spouses had work commitments and were unable to attend. While most of the family headed north on Thursday, school stuff kept the rest of us a day behind.

As soon as Monkey #2, the last arrival at the House of Cheaptitude, jumped off the school bus, we loaded up the pimpmobile and headed out.
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We did stop at Waffle house in North Shreveport before hitting the interstate!

Fast forward to 11 Friday night. We arrived at the Holiday Inn Express on Union, in the Medical district. A Red Bull and Cappuccino in, I got the fam settled in our room and headed to the mini gym to finish my 10k steps.

The next morning, we met in the lobby for a yummy continental breakfast and called for cabs to Beale St. Why plural? We had 14 people to transport!
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We had requested a van, but you take what you can get sometimes. We sent the monkeys with Nana and crew, while the cousins waited behind.
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It’s a good thing we like each other. By the end of the night, we were piled in a Prius. Of the 6 of us, 3 of us are 5’11 and taller!

We were dropped off at BB King’s to wait for the tour bus. We sat on the outdoor patio, did a little shopping – I’m all about magnets – drooled over the apparent Corvette convention, and quenched our thirst.

Btw, I love 3 year olds. I taught Minnie Mouse that corvettes are “the best cars ever.”
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Finally, we crossed the street to the Hard Rock and boarded the Backbeat Bus Tour. So many amazing sites, with musical accompaniment!
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We saw Johnny Cash’s old house, Elvis’s housing project, Sun, the hotel where MLK, Jr was assassinated and so many other places! The tour guide was amaze-balls, sharing all kinds of cool trivia you can’t just get anywhere….
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After the bus tour, we crammed back into cabs and cruised back to the hotel. On the trip, 2 couples actually had vans and we figured it was a better idea to drive ourselves to Graceland for our tour than to wait for more taxis.
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There was free parking on Lonely St – near Heartbreak Hotel!

We started out touring the mansion and grounds. All I can say is WOW.
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We were given iPads and headsets and allowed to tour at our own pace. We weren’t allowed upstairs, to the family’s private quarters, but that would have added massive time to the tour and I was already on sensory overload. While the decorating was not to my taste, it was really lavish for the era.
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And the grounds were breathtaking.

I think the best part of the tour for the monkeys was the airplanes. I enjoyed Elvis’s car collection myself!

I think every part of the tour had shops and food. Grizz and I split some Memphis BBQ nachos.
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When we got back to the hotel, we took a little rest time before dinner, then cabbed to Overton Square to find dinner. Several places didn’t allow under 21 folks, so our options were on the limited side with 4 little monkeys. Did we end up eating world famous barbecue? Nope. We settled on a yummy German place. The tables were picnic style and we didn’t all get to sit together but we still got to visit while we ate. There was also musical entertainment from an impromptu barbershop quartet!

Nana and crew gave the marrieds a free pass so we decided to head back to Beale for some night life and grown up beverages. We tried to ride the Roo, a bus with a kangaroo on the roof, but her route didn’t go to Beale. We finally found a cab when I jumped in the street to flag one – and it was a van so we had a little more room!

We checked out several places on Beale, preferring the ones with no cover charge. It started raining so we popped into a gift shop for $3 rain ponchos. From a smoky pool hall to Coyote Ugly, we explored. We finally settled into some patio chairs on the sidewalk in front of a bar, Club Handy, with a to-go window and people watched.
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Eventually we located a Prius cab driven by the Serbian cabby and squished back in. Teacher Cousin knew his life story by the time we pulled into a convenience store for Grizzly and Music Man to pick up beer!

The fellas wanted to sit by the pool and visit and while I was exhausted I fixed coffee and prepared to join them. While doing so, I overheard the concerned security guard telling the night clerk about the “redneck that just went to the pool with a 12pack of beer.”. Oy! What memories! When I got to the pool area, I did feel apprehensive, spotting my ” redneck” excessively close to the pool! (Turned out he was taking photos of a duck in the pool!)

Sunday morning marked the end of our part of the trip. We ate breakfast and drove over to the famous Peabody to watch the ducks march.
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We walked back to Beale to grab lunch. The rest of the family was going on to the Civil Rights Museum, and we’d be heading home. BBQ King chose Dyer’s, a burger joint famed for its 100 year old grease (google it! Craziness!) and we’ve seen it on Man vs. Food.
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Now, the burger that Monkey 2 and I split was amazing but not for those watching their girlish figures. I restrained myself and partook in just a sip of her hand-dipped milkshake. Grizz destroyed a Diablo, which was a variety of meat and grease – and a slightly extended rest stop in Little Rock!

It was not fast food and the waitress was so rude. Just sayin’.

Grizz and I stepped outside in the sprinkles and did some more people watching.
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And found a nice alleyway that meets Music Man’s standards.

After lunch, we stopped to see the Irish jumping goats at Memphis’s answer to Pat O’s. Due to inclement weather, they were chilling in their hut, but we can say we saw them!
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It was such a whirlwind trip and I’m sure there is more to do, but we had a great time. Very family friendly overall and one heck of a bonding experience!

Do you ever do quickie weekend trips?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



{April 12, 2015}   Spring Broken

So Caddo Schools and Bossier Schools decided to mess with my schedule this year.  The monkeys were on spring break the last of March while I was out the first week of April.

Not that the monkeys minded.  They spent Monday through Thursday, while I worked, hanging out with PawPaw and MawMaw.  Thursday they slept over with Nana after church and did a walk for church Good Friday.  The weekend was hectic with Easter and all. Then Monday, monkey 1 went back to the grandparents for the day – probably due to my housecleaning plans.

Since the monkeys are not really self-starters, I was up early every day of my “break.”

Tuesday, Granny@thefarm took me for a birthday breakfast and a very indulgent shopping trip.  It was nice to be spoiled!  Then Best Teacher Friend harassed me into going walking.  It was a great day.

Most of the break, I just did stuff around the house.  I had lunch one day with Monkey 2, washed lots of laundry, weeded the flower bed.

I did nothing school related.

Nothing.

And I felt no guilt.

I still have some projects to work on.  I need to Frankenstein my pantry.  I have plans for my back deck.  But I did enough for the week.  I relaxed, recharged, and did what I wanted.

Lots of my friends went out of town, but really, I prefer my “break.”. Peaceful.  I’m kind of sad to go back to school tomorrow!

Do you do anything special for spring break?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



It’s an ongoing argument in my house: how to eat meat.  I can’t stand any pink while the Griz has the Woody Harrelson approach – wipe its hiney, etc.  In a restaurant or with store bought meat, it’s easily resolved.  However, most of the meat that comes in my house is game.

After a few years of hunting, Griz has come to my way of thinking, more bang for my buck at the processor with ground venison.  But we always end up with “cuts” as well – back strap, round steak, cutlets, etc.  To cook these cuts to make mama happy dries out this lean meat, leaving it more like jerky than the juicy steak my husband seeks.  But again, the first glimpse of pink and I’m done, son.

He refuses to budge on back strap, his favorite part of the deer.  It will always be “grilled” (um, barely seared!) medium rare.  And I’ll eat pb&j that night.

Cutlets we have found to be fabulous in a stew.  Otherwise, we really haven’t figured out a great option.

The round steaks, I googled and was frustrated with the results.  Even in a slow cooker, people report over drying.  The temp on most modern crock pots, even on the lowest setting, is too high.

Grrr.  Y’all know I love my crockpot.  Time to experiment.  This is how I did it:

A few packages of round steaks – not sure an exact amount, I just eyeball it.

Several splashes of Worcestershire

1 can cola

1 can Dr. Pepper

1 can beef consommé

A healthy sprinkle of Chicago steak seasoning

Add water till the pile of meat is covered

I set my crockpot on low for 8 hours and hoped for the best.

Results:  smelled like pot roast.  Tender, juicy, falling apart.  Monkey #1 and I barely had any because Grizzly and Monkey #2 devoured it. 

I’m trying it out again today.  Monkeys have karate and church, Grizzly has an 8-ball tournament, so dinner will probably be on the run.  This way, it’s ready when folks get hungry.  All I have to do now is fix some rice and brown gravy, cook up some broccoli, and call it a meal!

What cooking experiments have you tried lately? Any successes that should’ve been fails?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



{April 9, 2015}   On to New Adventures!

When I went to my family doc on March 29, I was very disappointed in myself.  More specifically, my weight.

Weight has been a struggle my entire life.  I remember being a size 22 at one point in high school.  I lost a lot of that weight in college and seemed to settle in comfortably around a 14/16, with a few fluctuations (a month of slim fast for Yo-Yo’s wedding when my dress was a size 8?? Two pregnancies. And so on.)

So when I realized how much I’d gained over the course of the past year, I decided it was time to do something about it.  And if I’m unhappy, I’m the only one who can fix it.

Problem #1: I really enjoy food. Especially Rolos. Milk chocolate is food, right?
Fix #1: watch my portions more closely.   

Problem #2: I really love my colas. Caffeine in general, but a good coca-cola in specific.
Fix #2: drink more coffee for the caffeine fix. Switch to water. Something!

Problem #3: the queen here does not run, do push ups, etc. Her Highness, in fact, doesn’t like to sweat.
Fix #3: plastic surgery?

One of my teacher friends told me about a program our insurance is offering for those with high risk of Type 2 diabetes. Boy, should I qualify! Health issues in my family along with my unhealthy 12 year-old habits? Put me in, Coach!

The Prevent program is the brainchild of Omada Health. The Core program is a 16 week program, with a health coach, support group, and weekly lessons. They provide some kind of equipment, as well. I like the idea of the accountability!

** Update 7/27/15 **

It’s been a busy summer! I’ve been accepted into the Prevent program and am currently in the final quarter of the Core. I’ve weighed in daily (sometimes several times!), am logging everything that goes in my mouth (much to Car Guy’s unending amusement), and am walking 3-5 miles each day. I’m drinking at least 95 ounces of water each day. I’ve also started some of the challenges from blogilates.com and set up my Skinny Binder, with everything from tracking sheets to recipes to motivation – you name it!

4 months ago my weight had me in tears. Today, I’m 27 pounds lighter, and have lost 4 inches in each of my target areas. My BMI is in the healthy range!

Did I go on a diet? No. I eat the same crockpot, comfort foods i love, with the occasional new recipe thrown in. But I keep up with proper portions and track calories in the MyFitnessPal app. I rarely drink a soda now and Rolos? Forget about it. But if I eat a cookie, it’s not the end of the world.

I didn’t expect much when I started this back in April. I’ve been pleasantly surprised! And now that I’ve started, I’m not ready to stop.

~Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



{April 4, 2015}   Aging Less Than Gracefully

I know people who dread birthdays.  They lie about their age, color their hair, shop in teeny bopper stores to feel younger. They know the newest music, fashion, dance moves. They want to be 20 forever.

20 was a great year for me, but that’s not me.

Monkey #2 tells people I’m 23 and I don’t correct her.  My students ask my age and I tell them not to be rude.  But apart from that?  It’s not a big deal.

I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I turned 39 – the big four-oh is looming.  I find new gray hairs daily.  I get reminders for mammograms and catalogs from companies for the “mature” woman.  My doc says I probably should get more exercise. I probably should be flipping out.

I’m not. Pioneer Woman tells me things get better at 40 and I believe her.  Is there a little more hell to pay for too many adult beverages?  Do I have to work a little harder to not have that Snickers bar take up residence on my thighs?  Yes indeedy do, neighbor.  Is it worth it? Yes.

I’m relatively healthy.  Monkey #2 thinks my gray is beautiful and calls it tinsel – like a Christmas tree? I still wake up every morning, full of plans and ideas and life to live.

And that’s why I’m OK with growing older. And I don’t worry about being graceful.  Every day is a day to celebrate another day on this earth.  I’d rather age than deal with the alternative.

How do you feel about growing older?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



et cetera
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