SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{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


{September 6, 2014}   Reflection: Hanging On

I remember two things distinctly from my childhood.  One was this ragged yellow baby blanket that I toted everywhere. Another is a one-eyed brown teddy bear named “Tedina” (because I was a creative kid like that!). I don’t know what ever happened to them. I’m certain they were chunked in one move or another and I forgot all about them.

When Super Nana moved in with GG and Billy, she left tons of stuff behind.  I neatly packed things away in totes, waiting for her and Grizzly’s younger sister to come and sort through them. Just one tote at a time, I remember thinking. Nana has gotten most of her stuff – it’s 7 years now – and about 2 years ago, I made a special delivery to my sister in law.

How long is too long to hold on?  When your baby blanket is useless even as a cleaning rag?  When it’s been a decade since you’ve seen whatever is in the bottom of the box? When should you let it go?

I’m in a reflective state today, with my partner in crime running errands, my husband working out of town, and the monkeys getting along.  I realize that I don’t just hold on to my tangible stuff. I hold on to friendships that have died. I hold on to hurt feelings. I hold on to unspoken thoughts.

When do you let it go?

It can’t be healthy to hang on to things like that.

A lot of it goes back to perception and reality (guess what unit I’m teaching right now?)

Friendships. Sometimes we just don’t get that the ship has sailed. A few months ago, I needed to be selfish and focus on me. Real Chick called me a liar and a bad friend. She blocked me on Facebook. Our friendship had become very one-sided and I honestly was not in a place to maintain that relationship. She has since apologized, which I’ve accepted and I wish her well. But we can never have that friendship back.

On the other side of the coin, I miss the Higher Authority like crazy. So many times in the past 6 months I wanted to reach out to her, to get some advice. A few times since the oh-so-mature “Block Party,” I’ve thought she and I were in a good place – but there’s never any follow up on her end. And she’s angry with me about something she’s never addressed with me, something I played a minuscule role in but ended up with the blame. Why do I continue to reach out, want to resolve it, want to at least get back to the place where she doesn’t hate me?

Hurt feelings. Grizzly likes to say I hold grudges and will cut people out of my life with ease. It’s not really like that. But if someone is being mean and hurtful, why bother with them? It takes a lot of work to turn the other cheek and often it just doesn’t feel worth the energy. But I hold on to the hurt. The gossip about me, the gossip about my family – those are things I find difficult to let go. How long is too long to hold on?

Unspoken thoughts. Getting stuck in your own head can be the worst. I watch a good friend go through cycles where he does this, too, and while I want to shake him, I get it. If you say it out loud, it’s real. But if you obsess on whatever’s in your brain…it’s no way to live. And sometimes, speaking those thoughts, can bring clarity. Why are we so hellbent on not speaking? What are we holding on to?

It’s easy to let go of so many things. Unless you’re a hoarder. But the intangibles, the thoughts, feelings, friendships – they’re tough. When is it time to let go?

~ Katie

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A few weeks ago, we had a “fun day” with Real Chick, St. Yoda, and the princesses. Princess 1 and Monkey 2 were having such a good time that we were bombarded with beseeching requests for a sleepover. After some fussing, electronic losses, and almost tears, we convinced the girls to wait for an upcoming 3-day weekend so they could double their fun – sleepovers 2 nights in a row.

After 2 snow days and work drama, my nerves were a little frazzled yesterday. But I refused, even given many opportunities, to back down. I could not disappoint 3 sweet little angels! And really, it was a welcome distraction.

Grizzly relieved me partway through karate so I could run to the grocery. Many folks would just call and order pizza, but I know these 3 girls. They love to fool around in the kitchen. Karate Mom gave me the idea to use tortillas (I had planned English muffins – tortillas were a better, cheaper choice!).  A quick trip to the grocery and I had the ingredients for individual pizzas!

When the girls arrived, all 3 busied themselves immediately. Seriously, the parental units went to the garage for a quick smoke and when we came in, the kitchen was emptied of chairs and every blanket in the house was in the living room.

However, at 5, 8, and 9, little girls have the combined attention span of a fruit fly, so we started creating pizzas.


Princess 2 used an entire can of black olives as well as one of pineapple chunks. Princess 1 and Monkey 2 went through half a package of pepperoni and an entire bag of mozzarella. I threw them in the oven at 350 for ten minutes, long enough to melt the cheese and warm the sauce, and was declared the “best cook EVER!”


And then it was back to the blanket fort.

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{January 26, 2014}   Reflection: A Kinder, Gentler Me

Warning: this is not sweet and nice. Read ahead at your own risk.

January 11, 2014

If you’re anything like me, come January, you begin to reflect on the past year.  Where you were, how far you’ve come, and all that.  I’ve taken part of today to read over old blog posts.

This past year has been a rough one.  Maybe the rough patches don’t always make it into my blog – that’s ok.  But looking back, I see things that I did not recognize till it was too late.

And in a way, I prefer not to reflect. But it helps one grow.

I don’t know that all of the changes in my life have been positive ones.  I’m left with more questions than answers.  I’ve been pulled into a mess I never wanted a part of by people who should’ve minded their own business. There have been several people I really loved and respected that have completely let me down.  People I thought were my friends lied to my face, lied to my husband, talked behind my back, and gossiped about my child.  I’ve been accused of “digging for information” (because the lives of middle aged + women are so incredibly fascinating) and shunned because I didn’t choose sides.

I thought I was doing the right thing by trying to maintain all of my friendships.  The drama in question was not my business.

But it’s not theirs, either.

I’ve learned, through a series of events, that I had more liabilities in my life than I ever realized.

January 22, 2014

Those liabilities have done me a favor. I didn’t see it at the time, but now I recognize that’s what they did. By removing me from their lives, and the way they did it, I am able to see their true colors. I see that the friendships I thought I had were nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Some of that has a bit more sting than I’d like. The Little General asked after me while CrazyMathLady was in from Africa. (My thought is she’s made my welfare none of her business and if she won’t talk to me, she need not talk about me.) And CrazyMathLady is still too closely aligned with Arsenic, et al, for my comfort. She says she’s not going to stop being my friend, even if I stop being hers. I believe actions speak loudly…. 7 years, lost. Of all the Bunco women that cut me loose? I miss the Higher Authority. I always saw her as a grown up version of Monkey 2, seeing the beauty in everyone and everything. Learning the truth about her was rough.

The past year has been one of many changes, and not all good ones. It’s hardened Real Chick. She doesn’t want to let anyone through that tough exterior because she sees that she cares too much and knows she’ll get too involved. She still has a heart the size of Texas and will bend over backward for a friend, but there won’t be as many with that label again. And Pioneer Woman questions things more. She’s less trusting, almost lost. Me? I’m disappointed. I want answers to the questions I don’t want to ask.

In the end, though, this past year has reinforced the Golden Rule for me. It’s made me appreciate the quality friends I have because the quantity was meaningless. It’s taught me that I’m stronger than I knew, better than I knew, and to stand behind my decisions, unpopular as they may be.

So this year is about a kinder, gentler me. This year is about taking care of my family and cultivating the friendships that are blessings in my life. My true friends and my family bring out a better version of me and that’s who I will discover this year.

{December 27, 2013}   The Gift of Friendship

My true friends don’t know all of my story. OK, not true, jeepnmom knows every secret I’ve ever had, probably, but we’ve known each other since 3rd grade, and she’s 16 hours away, so that is different. I’m talking about my true friends that I see regularly and haven’t known for 30+ years. They don’t know it all, but they know enough that matters.

These are the friends that drive from the snobby side of the tracks because Monkey #1 drank my last coke.

The friend who sent a note of encouragement from Cuba, not knowing that the day I received it was the day I needed it most. (It sits on my dresser, today.)

The friend who comes all the way from Nigeria to bring me a caramel macchiato, even after things have been odd.

The friends that bring dinner so I don’t have to cook while Grizzly is getting his insides taken out.

The friends that bring kolaches or coffee in the morning because I look like I need it.

The friends that present me with Browning jammies (in pink and brown! woo hoo!) in the middle of Superior during Friday night drinks.

My friends are amazing, brilliant, wonderful women. And it’s crazy to think about how we’ve become so close. Growing up together, a curse word in a parking lot, a move from the t-buildings to the English hall, being systematically shunned by the rest of our entire social circle….

Do these fabulous women know everything about me? No. But the little things make such a big difference.

I feel like I do so little in return. They have my loyalty and support. I’m always here to listen, occasionally to advise. I’m good for a hot meal or a shoulder to cry on. When everyone else has jumped ship, I’m still there. I hope they all know how important they are to me.

So of all the gifts I received this Christmas, the one I’ll treasure most is the gift of friendship, the bonds that keep us together through all of the crazy, and the little things that go along with it.

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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Celebrating our middle age!

Celebrating our middle age! Pioneer Woman & the Queen of Cheaptitude

Real Chick and I have been having lots of conversations lately as I try to get my brain sorted out.  I find it ironic that I go to the most hot-tempered, outspoken,(did I forget brilliant?) REALEST chick I know to calm me down and help me situate my thoughts, but it is what it is.  Do as she says, not as she does.  One of the pieces of advice she has given me (and they are her wise husband’s words, actually) is that sometimes you have to look at your circle and figure out which people are liabilities and which are assets.  Your friends should complement you, and help you become a better version of yourself – as you should do for your friends.

Examining my life in this way has brought me to the realization that I have a lot of liabilities weighing me down.  On the other hand, I am a firm believer that everyone comes into our lives for a reason.  Some of those people are there  for a short time, to teach a quick lesson.  Others, like JeepnMom, are lifelong fixtures you can’t get rid of if you tried!  (Just kidding!  I love love love JeepnMom and can’t wait to see her again!!)  But we take something away from every relationship we form in life, no matter how brief, no matter how insignificant the lesson.

One of the people in my life that I truly consider an asset is Pioneer Woman, one of the Bunco Babes.  She really inspires me to be a better person.  I know that nobody’s life is perfect, but Pioneer Woman really has her poop together.  She balances her husband, teenage son, career, keeps a beautiful home (Southern Living Magazine, anyone?) – and makes it look easy.  I know it’s not, but like I said, she has it together.  She’s incredibly thoughtful and considerate, always doing or saying the perfect thing for any situation.  (And let me just say, if she ever invites you over for dinner, do not turn her down.  She’s a phenomenal cook!)  She puts a lot of thought into things before she speaks, which is something I need to work on.  She keeps our entire crazy group of friends grounded, centered, as much as she can.  She gets everyone in our group.  That’s some kind of talent!

Like me, most of the time, Pioneer Woman likes to have her own space and hates being the center of attention.  (Blame Real Chick for this post)  And with her deployment swiftly approaching, she’s getting a lot of extra attention focused squarely on her right now.  But she’s always telling me to expand my comfort zone.  Time to take her own advice – we are focused on you right now because we love you, you’re an integral part of all of our lives, and we’re going to miss you so much!

Today is Pioneer Woman’s actual birthday and I hope she’s having a great one.  She deserves it.

Thank you, Mia, for being an asset, for inspiring me, for making me want to be a better person, and mostly for being my friend.  Be safe and come home in one piece.  We’ll see you for October Bunco.

~ Katie

Halloween Bunco

Greek Bunco

Bunco Beach Party - Pioneer Woman has musical talents!

Babes in Bonnets

et cetera
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