SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











I love the concept of an organized life.  I have a bookshelf full of how-to organize and how-to declutter.  In theory, it creates a sense of peace.

I’m not so hot at the application!

Most of what I’ve read on organizing and decluttering goes room by room.  Well, that means I get a room nice and neat while the rest of the House of Cheaptitude is a hot mess.  My bedroom, for instance, usually looks like it’s been ravaged by Hurricane Mama.

On Pinterest lately, I’ve seen a lot about a “Konmari Method.” Apparently, Marie Kondo is a professional organizer with a ginormous waiting list for her services in Japan, and she’s written a bestseller about her method.  She details the order of decluttering, even giving instructions on how to fold and store your clothes.

Have I read her book yet? Naw.  It’s got a waiting list at my local SoBo library and I’m certainly too cheap to purchase it.

My takeaway from other blogs and articles, however, is that you gather your crap target items in one central area.  Instead of room by room, you do categories – in a hurry!  And category #1 is clothes.  You take everything out, physically touch every single thing down to your socks, and ask ” Does this Spark Joy?”. If not, it needs to leave.

Can my drawers really spark joy?  I mean, my super dee duper VS bras spark lots of joy for me.  But for real?  Everything else I put on is for function and to be a law-abiding citizen.

But with the kitchen and living room straight (and I’m still mentally blocking lesson plans!), I need a project.  So this seems to fit.

I’m not sure why clothing is the first category. Using this method, you put all of your clothing in one place (I keep reading “floor” but I have a queen-size bed and aversion to laundry!). Please keep in mind, I have 3 baskets in the family room waiting to be put up, but since those are clothes I wear all the time, it makes sense that I won’t declutter them. Right?

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Closet before


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Closet before


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Closet before

So my closet is obviously overstuffed. Not only do I rarely get rid of clothes I purchase, my mom has sent a bunch of clothes when she worked at Coldwater Creek (for Monkey #2, but they fit me!), and I have a ton of hand-me-downs from family and Pioneer Woman. Many items are too big and need to be altered but time/Cheaptitude keeps them hanging out in the closet.

There’s also crap a lot of stuff that belongs elsewhere, to be dealt with later.

I did not realize just how much clothing was on my side of the closet until I saw this mess on my bed!
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I share closet space with Grizz and had this much on my own! And I broke a rule of the strategy, choosing to ignore shoes and accessories for right now. This was literally just clothing.

My dresser (which I don’t share was not much better.
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The top needs clearing, sorting, etc. The drawers were all closing (recall the 3 baskets in the family room?) and all of the clothes were in their proper pieces of real estate, but…decluttering was definitely in order.
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See the pretty striped bin? Bed, Bath & Beyond, from Aunt Janice for Christmas. I have 2 that size. Until this point, they have both been overflowing with tightly rolled spirit shirts for school. Who needs that many tees? There are maybe 36 Fridays in a school year and I always wear an 8th grade or Yearbook shirt. Cheaptitude at its worst, I suppose.

The worst part is I also had 2 full drawers brimming with other tees and knit tops. Plus my top middle drawer is full of tanks. Oy!

Once I unloaded all of my clothes onto the bed, I started the process of touching each piece and asking if they sparked joy. OK, not really. But I did cull 8 grocery sacks of clothes to donate, added to my T-shirt quilt pile, and filled a bag to be altered. The donation bags traveled straight to the trunk of the pimpmobile before I could second guess myself. The other items that weren’t going straight back to the dresser or closet were relocated as not to be in my way.

The Konmari method is very specific about how to fold and hang your clothes once you’ve removed the joyless stuff. I went to my good friend Google and found a YouTube video so that I could fold and file my clothes. Tees and tanks are still the bulk, so I tackled those first.

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Spirit shirts


Now my spirit shirts are easy to locate and take up only a bin and a half. I feel like I fit more rolled, but that lent itself to a bit of a mess, honestly. I can locate my options more easily. The extra bin has several non-work t-shirts now, which frees dresser space!
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Loving the semi empty T-shirt drawer!


I watched two YouTube videos and still cannot “file” my jeans or drawers properly. I gave it the old college try and it’ll work for now. Because the underwear drawer is so flipping neat now, I needed to create a divider. Use what’s on hand, right? I happened to have an old shoebox left over from Monkey #2’s much smaller feet. I could go purchase something cute, but I’m the only one who sees it, and it’s just not necessary.
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Neat and organized drawers drawer 😉


I felt really accomplished by the time I finished re-loading my dresser. With it being a league night, I just hung stuff back in the closet and didn’t really organize it. That’s tentatively on my list for tomorrow. I also didn’t take after pics of everything yet, but it was so great to pull clothes out today! Most of what I still have I actually love. As I folded the three baskets this afternoon, I added to my next donation pile. Laundry is going to be so much easier now!

I’m so excited to declutter the monkeys and Grizz next….

Have you tried the Konmari method? What are your thoughts?

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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

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{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

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{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

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{March 25, 2015}   Organizing: Schedules

The older I get, the crazier my schedule seems to be.  The monkeys have more going on at school, church, karate, grandparents.  My husband has work obligations and pool league.  I’ve taken on the school yearbook this year, as well as regular 8th grade activities and school obligations.  Hubby and I, now that the monkeys are more self-sufficient, have a lot more social doings as well.

How in the crap do we keep it all straight?

I have a calendar with my Google account on my phone.  It makes the grands nuts, but EVERYTHING goes in that calendar.

I have my paper planner.  I love love love it.  My mother-in-law ordered it for Christmas from a blogger I adore.  I had it printed and spiral bound at Office Depot and it’s probably my favorite Christmas gift this year.

I also keep a calendar in the kitchen, where everyone in the house has easy reference.  The monkeys have learned that if it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t happening.  Everyone has their own color on the calendar, just my CDO in overdrive, but I love it.

I’ve noticed the monkeys write things now, too.  “Military Ball.”. ” Sleepover with Karate BFF.” They know. They don’t color code, but that’s coming.

Do I still get overwhelmed, over worked, and over extended? Of course.  I’m a mom and I forget to ask for help.  But this system is working for me.

How do you organize schedules?

~ Katie

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Starting back in April, I demanded politely requested a weekly date night with my husband.  Although I think he hated was hesitant at first, it’s a routine we both count on now.  We’ve tried a few “new to us” restaurants, a few favorites, and revisited some we’ve not been to in years.  We’ve had a picnic by the river and experienced the fine cuisine at TK’s Tavern when he’s running late for Friday pool league.

This week has been crazy with a capital C.  Back to School Night, karate, etc.  He’s got several jobs he’s trying to finish, which adds several hours to every day.  I really expected this week he’d go to pool while the monkeys and I chowed down on leftover fried rice (yum!!!). But he called after work with “What are your thoughts on dinner?”

While I’m tearing the house apart, desperately searching for Monkey #2’s karate pants is not the best time to ask me this. 

And still, we were running behind.

“How about Arby’s? Its on the way.”

I love that place.  Their little ham and cheddar sandwich is cheap. The jamocha shake is amazing. And we spent less than $20. On a dinner on date night! The kitchen was a little on the slow side, but the food was worth it.

I have figured out through the experiences over the past few months that it’s not really about the food.  It’s the time together, without the monkeys, to talk and catch up and laugh and flirt. Do I love going to the pool hall practically every Friday? Not every week, for sure. But do I love the alone time before? Yes.

So, while it’s a routine, and you can set your watch by it, our date night dinners aren’t about the food. I think we’d do just as well with Little Caesar’s and Red box.  As long as we get that it’s quality time, that’s what is important.

How do you make sure to squeeze honey time into your schedule?

~ Katie

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I wasn’t really raised in the south.  I moved here when I was almost 16, but over the past 20+ years, I’ve adopted some very southern idiosyncrasies.  My monkeys do not refer to grown ups by their first names – it’s “Mr. Shawn, Mrs. Mia,” and for those very close family friends “Aunt Janice, Uncle Karl.”. We say “yes, ma’am. No, sir.” We bless our McDonald’s value meals.  These aren’t things I grew up doing, but have totally embraced.

A little more difficult? Weddings and babies.  Southern women love love love weddings and babies.  I do, too, truth be told.  But I love love love them from a distance.

A little over a week ago, September 4, our family was blessed with a new addition. Grizzly’s “baby” brother and his sweet wife were joined by baby Tiger Bite. They were on my mind and in my prayers all day and evening. Due to a C-section, it was Saturday before they left the hospital. I didn’t go visit. Do I love them any less? Absolutely not. I don’t like hospitals or crowds, Monkey 2 is too young to go in the room, and Grizzly was out of town. I’m beyond excited to have a new nephew to spoil! But I’m OK with waiting a minute.

As for weddings, they tend to stress me out. I’ve been a bridesmaid in several. Expensive dresses and up-do’s for a 15 minute ceremony, dealing with bridezillas and in-laws, and excessive drama in general. I much prefer being a guest, so I may come and go at will.

One of my best friends married on the 12th, and I’m over the moon for her. Her new husband is young, adorable, and head over heels for her and my little buddy, Soccer Star. I wanted to throw her a shower, attend her bachelorette, etc., but when she said it was a JP wedding with just their parents, I honestly breathed a sigh of relief! Had she needed me there, I’d have stopped whatever I needed to for her. But it was still a weight off my shoulders. A wedding can wreck the best of friendships.

Am I the only weirdo that loves weddings and babies more in theory than in real life? Maybe it’s my aversion to crowds and excessive financial expenditures? And it really isn’t that I dislike either in reality. I just prefer to keep a safe distance.

Btw, BFF and Tatman are now happily married and honeymooned, and I did finally get to love on that sweet lil nephew of mine, Tiger Bite. Totally worth the lack of my immediate presence.

So, seriously, am I the only weirdo?

~ Katie

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When Grizzly and I were first married, living in the “love trailer” in the metropolis of Bethany, LA, our home was decorated in hand-me-downs and NASCAR.  After moving to town, our family room still carried the theme, as did Monkey #1’s room when he graduated to toddler-hood.  Monkey had a racecar bed, autographed dirt track photos on the walls, and Grizzly even painted an IMCA Modified on one wall.

It made perfect sense, then, when the Tony Stewart car appeared at the Home Depot in Shreveport to take the lil guy.  He was fascinated and thrilled to climb in the car.  It was almost as cool as Uncle Ace’s firetrucks.

I wanted a special frame to commemorate this occasion, so I bought one of the wooden craft frames at Michael’s and got to work.

Fast forward about twelve years and that cool frame, along with his sister’s, was still in my project bucket.

I’m proud to sat I actually finished both frames this summer.

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I’ve since added a Tony Stewart car, an old Home Depot one, thanks to Papaw.

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One project down!

How do you get your unfinished crafts knocked out?

~ Katie

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My family is blessed to live near a beautiful US Air Force Base, Barksdale AFB, home of the B-52 bomber. The base is an incredible asset to our community. Nearly every spring since I moved here in 1992, they’ve opened the gates and invited the public in for an air show, which never disappoints!
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Barksdale has hosted the air show since 1933 so the public can see what the role of the base is in our community. A lot of the base is on display during the air show, things the general public doesn’t have daily access to. Not only are there in-air displays of talented pilots in really cool planes, but visitors may also tour a lot of planes, helicopters, etc.
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When Monkey #1 was a really little guy, we would go with Aunt YoYo to the main fire house and hang with Uncle Ace, who worked there. We didn’t have to worry so much about parking or having a good view – the fire house was nearly the best seat!

In more recent years, we’ve attended with friends. We love to walk the flight line, buy frozen lemonades, and see what is going on.
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This year was a little different. Grizzly and the monkeys had a party to attend in the afternoon. We weren’t too sure about traffic and crowds, let alone how much money we tend to spend on food, drinks and souvenirs. In some neighborhoods, you can see the air show from the back yards, so we decided to take the kids to Mike Woods Park, grill, play, and see how it went.
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The monkeys found plenty to do in between planes.
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And they made some new friends.

We didn’t have to wait in any lines or worry about parking. Our only expense was picnicky stuff that we would buy anyway. We could come and go as we pleased, and it was a really nice afternoon.

Now that we figured out how convenient the park is, I can’t wait to see the 2015 show!

What are some family fun activities you have tried?

~ Katie

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This past spring was horribly difficult in the House of Cheaptitude. I would prefer to never have a repeat. However, everything happens for a reason, and I feel like part of what I went through brought me some amazing experiences with the monkeys that I otherwise may not have taken the time to enjoy.

Easter weekend was a real bonding event for us this year.  We worked hard, played hard, and had a lot of fun.

The monkeys have always enjoyed digging in the dirt.  My front flower bed needed some serious attention, so I Tom Sawyered them.  We went to a plant stand, where I thought we were just getting a few flats of annuals. Nope, my babies wanted knockout roses!
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I did get my annual flat of impatiens….

When we came home, the work really began. Pulling shrubs and trash from the flower bed, deciding where to move some perennials, choosing places for the new additions…
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The monkeys were such a help with cleanup!

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It was hot, grubby work!
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Monkey #1 wanted his roses by the garage, dressing up the driveway a bit.

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Monkey #2 preferred the front flower bed.

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She also “helped” with my annuals.
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Once our $27 worth of plants were in the ground, the rest of the front needed some clean up.
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My monkeys had a great time in the yard, but were even more excited to dye eggs.

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I hate to spend money if I don’t have to, so we consulted Google, and figured out how to dye eggs with food coloring and vinegar. The smell was on the atrocious side, but it was a lot of fun.

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I was present pretty much in a supervisory capacity. The monkeys picked out the food coloring, concocted the dyes, and colored the eggs. I was there to keep them from coloring my kitchen – or each other!

Exhaustion set in kind of early that night. Monkey #2’s biggest concern as she went to bed was if Pioneer Woman came to help with the bathroom, she needed to be very careful not to run over the Easter Rabbit. The baskets on the table and eggs in the yard the next morning were proof enough.
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They were absolutely enthralled with all of the goodies!
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Used to hunting the plastic eggs, the monkeys got a kick out of searching for eggs they’d colored themselves.
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Monkey #2 wasn’t much of an eagle eye….

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It took over an hour for them to locate all of their Easter eggs. By the time they were finished, they needed a big breakfast to refuel for church.

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(I love sunrise service for Easter, but Pioneer Woman convinced me to try out St. Mark’s midmorning.)
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Grizzly and the monkeys did Easter dinner with his family, while I slowed down enough to watch the skiers from Pioneer Woman’s back patio and have dinner with her. All in all, it was a successful weekend.

What tips do you have for quality family holiday weekends without breaking the bank?

~ Katie

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et cetera
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