SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











{October 18, 2017}   Of Butthurt and Billiards

I’ve been playing pool for almost a year now, but I’ve been watching for a few years.  Grizzly, his brother-in-law, his sister, many of our friends all play.  For me, it gives me something to do with my husband.  I’m not good, at all, (comfortable 1 in 9 ball and 2 in 8) but I have a good time. And I’ve gotten to know some really fun, really wonderful people.

And I win occasionally.  And I like it when I win.  But I’m not that competitive.  I really don’t care about going to Vegas in August.  Pool, for me, is entertainment and a way to unwind.  It’s definitely stress relief.

My Facebook feed has been flooded today by butthurt pool players and their significant others.  And, not breathing pool, I just don’t get it.  Apparently there was a big tournament out of town and our local people were up against “severely underhandicapped” players.  Seriously?

Sweet Grizz has been a 4 forever in 9 ball and fluctuates between a 3 and a 5 in 8 ball.  He’s constantly called a “sandbagger,” someone who loses on purpose to maintain handicap.  So if people in our region do this, than it makes sense for people outside our region to be guilty as well, right?  Except I know what Grizz does.  He can do things he “shouldn’t know” because he’s played for years with amazing upper handicaps.  He gets bored and experiments with the balls and what they’ll do on the table, testing his own skill.  And he enjoys his adult beverages.  I explain my theory on the regular to a lot of gripey players.  It’s not sandbagging.  It’s creating a new challenge.

I think my Grizzly is a pretty smart man, but no way is he Einstein.  And if he’s figured all this out, couldn’t people in other places?  For that matter, couldn’t it happen here, just with players being a little more slick about it?  Let me start listing names…just kidding.

I commend Fluteman’s Girl for being so defensive of her man – I’m the same way.  But losing in a tournament isn’t affecting his reputation here.  Let it go already.  Don’t get so butthurt over a game.

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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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{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

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{March 17, 2015}   Why I Don’t Hate….

I’m not what one would call a people person.  It takes me a minute to decide if I like a person or not. When I like someone, they have a ride-or-die friend for life, unless they do me wrong.  When I don’t like someone, it’s not any strong feeling.  They’re just not my cuppa Joe.

I’ve been accused of being bitter and holding grudges.  No lie, I can own that. Those feelings I tend to reserve for the most odious offenders, though. And I’ve moved past a lot of that.  I recognize that it’s really not healthy. Hatred gives me a headache, gray hair, and wrinkles.  Hatred causes one to lose sleep and focus.

I do not claim to be perfect.  I’m definitely a work in progress.  I’ll even own the occasional social media spying.  But I only do that to gauge levels of other individuals’ cray-cray.  And when I’m bored.  Better to be prepared, a wise woman told me.  That’ll go away soon, as well.

In general, I don’t feel strongly about non-friends or non-family.  I have enough going on that if someone is not a positive in my life, I view them as a waste of time, and a bother. Hate takes way too much time and energy to waste on the insignificant. Is this cold?  Maybe.  But it works for me.

The past year has been rough, and I don’t want to have negative energy around me and mine anymore.  People I’ve been social with in the past wouldn’t make the cut list today.  I don’t hate them.  There’s just no room in my life for them anymore. And that should be OK.

How do you keep the Debbie Downers away?

~ k



{December 6, 2014}   So I’m Not Mary Poppins

Lately, I feel like I’m trying to swim an Olympic pool filled with jello. I’m getting nowhere and exhausting myself in the process.

I came home from work today and realized what a wreck my house is.  I can’t keep up with the chores like I want to.

I have a totebag full of assessments to analyze before professional development tomorrow, that should’ve been done already, but I’ve been trying really hard to teach.

I have to finish putting together the conference for the Louisiana Council of Teachers of English.  Thankfully, it’s in NoBo so I don’t have to travel. Unfortunately, it’s the day after Grizzly has surgery, so guess where my mind will be?

I’m a walking acronym these days.  My brain is overflowing with PGP, SLT, RTI, STAR, CCSS, and enough data to choke an elephant.

I really need to get back to good.  Organization, lists, etc.  I’ll get there.  I just can’t expect to be Mary Poppins.

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{September 28, 2014}   Applesauce Autumn

I don’t recall ever having store bought applesauce as a kid.  I never ate the soupy yellow slop in the school cafeteria that was touted to be applesauce. I’m spoiled.  I ate homemade applesauce.

I remember chunky, not too sweet,  applesauce in quart jars from Gram’s fruit room in the basement. Sometimes, she’d make a fresh batch to go with dinner, and I’d sneak chunks of apple from the dishpan. I wasn’t so slick – she knew exactly what I was doing. And I never saw her canning it, but she must have, because there were always jars downstairs, pretty and golden and full. These days, canning is too much bother and she freezes containers instead.

My absolute favorite was always Great Grandma Sweitzer’s pink applesauce. Was it sweeter? More cinnamon flavored? Or was it simply that it was an infrequent treat? And I may be the only one who really liked it. I never can get Gram to make it for me.

When the weather turns a little cooler, my comfort cravings arrive. I watch for good prices on acorn squash and roasts. And as apples go on sale, I walk through the grocery, Droid to my ear, asking Gram which ones and how many I should get for a batch of applesauce.

Honeycrisps are good for eating, but no good for applesauce, and too pricey by far, she advised yesterday as I strolled through my Brookshire’s.

So I purchased several McIntosh, a few Red Delicious, and some Braeburns.  It takes a variety to get a good flavor, according to Gram.

As forty lurks in the not too distant future, and I’ve been away from home over twenty years, one might think these phone calls unnecessary. After all, I’ve made applesauce, baked Mac & cheese, and acorn squash on my own hundreds of times now. And I probably don’t have to call her every time. (“Don’t you ever write things down, Katherine?” “Do you have your pencil and paper ready?” I always lie and say I do, and she always knows it’s a lie). By this point, I do it out of habit. It’s an extra excuse to call my grandma.  She’s getting older, and someday I won’t be able to call and bother her with silly kitchen questions that I can answer myself or Google. So I’ll do it as long as I can.

So here is the off the top of my head because I never really write it down instructions for easy applesauce:

Easy Applesauce
3-4 varieties of apples, totaling about ten pounds
Sweetener and cinnamon, to taste

Peel, core, and cut your apples into chunks. You can run through the blender, but you may as well buy it at the grocery for that.

Place your chunks into a good-sized pot.  Add some water till your chunks are just barely covered. They should not float.

Bring to a good boil for a few minutes. Turn down and simmer till soft.  I test mine once in a while with my potato smasher.

Once soft, you can mash them easily. Give a taste and start sweetening. With the right apples, it won’t take much.

I live hot applesauce on a little ice cream.  I like it chunky and tangy. You just can’t buy it like that.

We will eat some of it, but I’ll can the rest.  It’s one of my autumn routines.

What are some of yours?

~ 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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et cetera
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