SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{August 20, 2014}   Monkey Spaces: DIY Organization

The little monkey is growing up quickly!  She decided recently that she’s outgrown Tinker Bell, along with a lot of her books, toys, and decor.  Her papaw promised her a new headboard and footboard if she kept her room clean for a month. I think she’s doing a great job! She’s picking up toys, books are shelved, dirty clothes are hampered, and she’s making her bed daily!

I’m hopeful she’ll earn that frame she wants.

While cleaning and reorganizing, we moved a lot of things around, including her dresser and bed. We dismantled the desktop computer and removed the old-fashioned school desk, creating great space. She still has “room for activities” yet her space looks more tween appropriate.

One thing she showed an interest in was a set of shelves in the garage. Yo Yo’s sweet husband, the Fireman, and I built them many years ago for Grizzly’s diecast collection. Once we moved, they didn’t really go with our new direction, so we put them in the garage, where the got dirty and became a dumping ground for crap.

I measured the shelves, measured the wall, and realized it could be done. The shelves were built for 1:24 model cars, though, not books and games and toys.

We stacked several books on the shelves, but there was a ton of leftover space. Monkey put some of her Littlest Pet Shop and Lego sets in canvas bins on the shelves. Her awesome 31 totes are too tall. I had an idea, though.

Soup can organizers!

She picked out stickers and paper and pretty duct tape for her organizers.

I envisioned labeling them for her arts and crafts, but she snatched them up as soon as the decoupage was dry!

Another goodie we have on hand this time of the year is the oh so versatile shoebox. I decided to cover one to match her other organizers. She can keep some of her other little toys in it.
image image
I glued the paper down, Scotch taped it in place, and then sealed with decoupage. I think it was a great idea and it fits on her shelves.

I haven’t taken a photo of monkey’s organized shelves, mostly because it’s an unfinished project! But it’s a fun one.

How do you organize your kiddos’ spaces?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android


{August 5, 2014}   The Monkey Management Binder

A few times each year, it seems, I get it in my head that it is time to organize. This summer, I’ve decluttered some cabinets, shelves, and revisited my binder systems. My Household Management Binder bears little resemblance to the original Household Notebook I created during my addiction to the Organized Home message boards. Several sections have morphed into their own binders. One of these was actually at the request of the monkeys.

Monkeys 1 & 2 are extremely busy, social little creatures. They must get that from Grizzly, because I am happier to hide out in the House of Cheaptitude. And they know if an event is not on the calendar, it’s not going to happen. They have asked for their own binder to keep up with their “stuff” and make sure I’ve not forgotten something.

Right away, I knew what I wanted their binder to look like. I wasn’t positive about the contents, but the cover? Oh, yes.


I already had scrapbook paper that was perfect.

The section dividers would be nothing fancy, yet. I had some plain old Avery dividers that will work fine for now. And while the monkeys may be in different levels of their activities, they’re both involved in the same things, if that makes sense. That was how I determined my divider categories.

Both monkeys are very involved in the Church. They’re altar servers and usually serve together, so that schedule, as well as the server roster, will go in that section. They also both have catechism, one on Sunday mornings, and this year, the other, Monday evenings. Some weeks, they don’t meet at all. So these schedules, as well as their church friends’ phone numbers, will go in this section. And if they ever start up the children’s choir again….

I would also like to see each kiddo with a prayer list in this section.

Class schedules. Teacher info. Sports schedules. Usernames and passwords for SchoolLoop. This is all information to which the monkeys should have ready access. Now that Monkey 1 is in high school, there will hopefully be some club information, as well. Books to read, science and social studies fair ideas – all of this can go in this section of the Monkey Management binder.

The academy my kids attend for martial arts is not just about kicks and punches. For each belt test, the monkeys have to pass physical fitness, vocabulary, and so on.

Guess who speaks no Korean?

In this section, I have some basic info about the school, their class schedule (one is a beginner while the other is intermediate), and their vocabulary list.
We’ve also started making flashcards that are kept in ziplock baggies in this section. That was a nifty Pinterest tip – I duct taped the side of a quart sized bag, then hole-punched to keep in the binder. We’ve done this all the way through blue belt.

This is where I *plan* to keep rehearsal schedules, head shots, and résumés.

We have none of these things right now. Thankfully, neither monkey is in a production at the moment.

But these are things they will need for auditions and future plays. And we never have them when we needs them, of course.

Chores & Money
We had some long talks about chores, allowance, what is worthy of allowance, and what is expected just as a member of the House of Cheaptitude. So in this section will be a list of what they have to do because they live here, and a list of what they will can do to earn their beloved sno-cone cash. I also think this is a good place to keep wish lists, so the monkeys can set savings goals.

We’ll see how all of this turns out. Monkey 1 and Monkey 2 have taken the first step for asking me to help them get organized. It’s a positive start.

What tricks do you have for organizing kids?

~ Katie

I woke several mornings this week to frost on the pimp-mobile.  Ironic feature to the 2013 Altima: the dashboard warns me that the outside temp is dangerously low.  Really?  Had to share that one with Jeepnmom.

Nesting mode has kicked in.  The holidays are coming, I’m totally homesick, and my crafty side is kicking in.  I called my mom, because I remember my grandma Bet’s tree being covered in homemade salt-dough ornaments.  Of course she doesn’t have the recipe and told me to call Aunt Sus.  Whose phone was busy.  So I called Gram.  Who doesn’t have the recipe and told me to call Sus.  Whose phone was no longer busy and whose voicemail picked up.

Mind you, there are recipes all over the internet and and Pinterest. Unfortunately, none of them are the one from Aunt Sus.

Eventually, my Facebook messenger alert went off on my phone and there was the recipe from Aunt Sus! Apparently, it came from a magazine years ago, and the yellowish color isn’t from old age but mustard powder. Go figure!

Grizzly and St. Yoda had a hunting date the Saturday during Thanksgiving, and I knew Real Chick would be yanking her hair out, so I invited her to bring the girls for an artsy morning. Then, because we’d tried unsuccessfully forever for a crafting date, I also reached out to Gifted Teacher, who had never heard of salt dough ornaments.

A trip to the grocery for flour and salt, and I was ready to create! Before the rest of the crew arrived, I had filled a huge bowl with dough.


I think the grown up ladies had as much fun as the little monkeys. Our only problems were how long to bake them at what temperature, and I totally overdid the dough! There is still a big bag in my fridge and Christmas has already passed.

I didn’t get picture of them after painting and Real Chick’s oldest made a tree I truly love, but I think you get the idea. This was such inexpensive, fun, monkey entertainment that I see us trying again on a rainy day.

Here is the recipe:
Cookie Clay Recipe- Sus
4 Cups flour
1 Cup salt
2 teaspoons mustard powder (there’s your yellow!)
1 1/4 Cups water

insert your wire hangers into the ornaments before baking.

bake at 300 for 2 – 3 hours, or until a toothpick can’t go into them any more. start at 2 hours, and if they are still softish, go for 3.

Thicker ones will take longer.

After cooling, use acrylic paint to add color if you want. Let air dry about 24 hours and spray with clear coat.

The ornaments on my tree, Sus made when I was a baby. These can last for a looooong time!

I’ve contemplated different cookie cutters for different seasonal ornaments, as well as magnets.

What do you think? Have you tried salt dough?

~ Katie

English: Picnic table - combined table and ben...

English: Picnic table – combined table and benches, often used in gardens and at camping sites Deutsch: Kombination von Tisch und Bänken, oft auf Campingplätzen zu finden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Being organizationally challenged runs in my family.  Granny-at-the-Farm always kept my bedroom door closed during my time living at home.  She tells me now that, as a parent, you choose your battles.  It took me reaching middle age to start to understand the benefits of organization.


Unfortunately, I have yet to get organization mastered.  And the monkeys, God love them, received a double dose of disorganized genes.


Monkey #1’s door will probably be closed until the day he moves out.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot get him to keep his clothes straight.  There are video games and movies and art supplies and cardboard boxes and plain old garden-variety trash all over his floor.  I truly believe he wore dirty uniforms to school all last week, because he couldn’t be bothered to get his clothes to the laundry.


Monkey #2 is a little better.  Every once in a while, I’ll wake up on a Saturday to find her room straightened up, bed made, everything in its place.  It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Maybe it won’t take as long for her to appreciate being organized.


For years and years, Monkey #2’s bedroom has been a hodge-podge of miscellaneous second-hand mismatched furniture.  When Grizzly and I replaced our furniture this summer, Monkey #2 asked for an upgrade.  Her furniture all matches now, but it is big and takes up a lot of her room.  Now when anything is out-of-place, her room looks a hot mess. I’ve gotten bins from 31 Gifts to organize some of her toys that she plays with all of the time.  She’s donated many clothes, books, and toys to charity (usually her idea!)  And the bedroom is still full as a mosquito on a Louisiana summer night. It’s not a losing battle, though.


One of the issues we’ve run into in the last year or so is the kids won’t play in the back yard.  I get it, we live in a busy neighborhood and the monkeys can’t be nosy from behind the fence.  However, we have a pretty good backyard.  And a pricey swing set.  And a dog who needs to rough house.


I recently moved Monkey #2’s play kitchen to the deck out back.  First of all, this frees space in her room.  Second, if she wants to play kitchen, she has to go to the back yard.  And finally, if she doesn’t play with it for quite a while, we can “sale” it, as she says. Win-win-win.


So of course, yesterday as I was clipping coupons, she gathered my scraps and informed me she was “going to the grocery” and she headed out the back door.  Today, she went outside almost as soon as she got home from school.  She announced she would be dining outside tonight if I’d hose down her picnic table, please?  I told her she could have dinner at the table with the family and we’d set up her outdoor dining tomorrow.


I’ve completed my lesson plans and most of my grades are in.  My biggest plans tomorrow were to go to the grocery and straighten the house, maybe work on my blog a little.  Instead, I’ll be helping a monkey redecorate my back porch.


And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


So what is your next remodeling project?


~ Katie



{January 6, 2013}   Monkeying Around with Crafts


Today was my last day off before heading back to work.  Usually, I’m totally bored and ready to return to work, but this year has been different.  Maybe because I hate my car right now.  Maybe because I was sick the full first week and a half of the break.  Or maybe it’s because I didn’t get everything done I would have liked.


The Grizzly and Monkey 1 planned to hunt this morning, so I was up before 5.  Feeling industrious, I put all of the totes and the Christmas tree up in the attic before 6 AM.  I did locate those missing stockings while putting other crap away!  I folded and put up two loads of laundry, ran the dishwasher, and cleaned behind the washer and dryer before being distracted by Monkey 2’s iWaste-Time.


Monkey 2 was out of bed by 7 and realized she had me all to herself.  We played Dream Heights on the iWaste-Time, learned how several states got their shapes, and watched celebrities shop for over-priced properties before she said, “Let’s do crafts today, Mama.”

I had the perfect thing in mind!


Monkey 2 has long hair.  When it is wet, it falls a few inches below her shoulder blades.  She loves bows and hair bobs of all sorts.  I made a bow holder for her a few years ago to match her bathroom (frogs), which she’s diligent about using.  Ponytail holders and headbands?  All over the floor, in drawers, in my room, even in the kitchen sometimes.  But Pinterest has a solution for that.


We turned an oatmeal container into a hair bob (that’s a technical term, by the way) holder.  I’m not a hoarder.  I’m a creative repurposer.


Project Supplies


  • Oatmeal container with the label removed and inside cleaned outimage
  • Scrapbook paper of the monkey’s choice
  • Coordinating ribbon
  • Glue
  • Scotch tape
  • Clothespins


Easy peasy, and I had everything on hand!  She picked out a pink, Valentine’s pattern for the paper and red ribbon.  We marked on the wrong side of the paper where the top and bottom of the container would be and cut away the excess.  Because our container was 14 inches around, we used part of the extra, also.  Then we wrapped and glued the paper to the container.  It wasn’t perfectly straight, but I told Monkey that was where the ribbon came in – to cover the uneven edge!  We scotch taped the seams in case the glue didn’t hold perfectly.  It was going to be covered up, anyway.  We glued ribbon around the top, near the edge, and clipped in place with clothespins until it dries.  We also added a little label, again covering the funky seams.  Then we glued a circle of scrapbook paper to the lid and added a ribbon bow from the red ribbon.


imageThe most time-consuming part was waiting for Monkey 2 to pick out her colors and patterns and such!

After setting that project aside to dry, she wanted a baking lesson.  Have I mentioned my oven is kind of messed up?  Thank goodness for Martha White Muffin Mix.  I showed her how to measure the milk and stir the batter.  Her stirring was so awkward!  I guess from watching me, she tried to stir with her right hand.  She did a great job after we straightened that out and the muffins turned out really well.


Baking done, Monkey 2 wanted to move back to crafting.  Santa Claus, that brilliant fat man, gave theEnglish: Photo of Jonathan G. Meath portraying... monkey a headband making kit for Christmas.  It came with three plain white headbands, a few pieces of ribbon, and a tube of crappy glue.  Not the jolly old soul’s finest hour.  But the Monkey had a solution!


“Mama, you have good glue and a whole box of ribbon we can use.  I think that would be prettier.”


Pretty time-consuming because she had choices again!


By the time we wrapped and glued 2 ½ headbands, started a hash brown casserole for dinner, and listened to every song Taylor Sift ever thought of recording, the Y chromosomes returned from a fruitless day of hunting (but they did finally pick up the last deer from the processor!) Monkey was excited to share her day’s accomplishments with her daddy and brother.  But it seemed she was done with me.


Until a few minutes ago.  She came up, wrapped her arms around me in one of those hugs only little kids ever give, and said, “I wish you didn’t have to go back to work tomorrow, Mama.  I liked having you to myself to do grown-up lady stuff today.”


And that’s exactly why I’m not ready to go to work tomorrow.


What crafting experiences have you had with little kids?


~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android


{December 16, 2012}   Making Christmas Merry and Bright

Money has been tighter than ever this year.  On the news, I’ve heard the economy is recovering.  Well, I can’t believe it until I see evidence in my bank accounts.  Construction is not the ideal field work right now. Unless you have a rich in-law subsidizing your business or something….just sayin’.

So, like I posted before, I’m trying to get a little more creative this Christmas.  Our gifting will consist of our children, little kid cousins, and our parental units.  We’ve not even discussed buying for each other this year.  So that is pretty much it.  And if I can figure out things that I can make, that people will appreciate and use, even better.

I can’t post pics yet, just in case any of the parental units actually reads my blog posts.

My picture frame venture has turned out super cute, but I cannot locate my Mod Podge.  I need it to seal some of the foo foo I’ve added.   As a crafter, my Mod Podge is on the same level  as my Soft Scrub Spray for cleaning.  I love it and use it for every project possible (Mod Podge, not Soft Scrub).  So where is it?  Probably hiding in the misplaced  holiday tote with my stockings.  I found a recipe, but it’s not worked out the way I like.  Thank goodness it’s easy to find at Michael’s or *shudder* Wal-Mart.

For the little kid cousins, I’d love to start ornament collections.  By the time I married, I technically should have had enough ornaments to decorate a good-sized tree.  I didn’t, due to storage issues beyond my control, but should have.  Even now, every year, my mother goes to Bronner’s and buys each of us an ornament that either reminds her of us or she thinks we’ll love.  Most of my ornaments are handmade and have a lot of memories attached.  The exceptions include Mother’s finds from Bronner’s, Hallmark ornaments from Grizzly’s mom, and of course, Aunt Pat, the angel on top of my tree.  I want my own kids to have a respectable start on their Christmas ornaments, and I think it would be a neat tradition to start for the little kid cousins.

That might not be the kind of thing the in-laws appreciate, so I probably will go out and buy them some kind of toy or book.

As for the monkeys, they wrote down their 4 things, but were pretty silly about it (really, I’m going to buy a 12-year-old an iPad???) We always try to do something “big,” and after some tense discussions (I called Grizzly materialistic at one point), we’ve agreed on some electronic devices – that I can get on sale.

Monkey 2 needs bedding since she’s moved to a queen-sized bed.  I’ve taken a crack at locating a plain old pink comforter, to no avail.  I considered sewing a comforter cover, but have had the most unfortunate time crunch this year.  Grizzly found some pink camo bedding at the sporting goods store, so that is the direction we’ll go with that.  I’m will design her some “hair bobs” (Rhonda Belle’s term) and maybe some little beady jewelry.  She’s also begun to express an interest in her fashion dolls, so maybe I can make some doll clothes.  Pinterest, here I come.

Monkey 1’s room is terribly crowded since I took his bunk bed apart, but it’s a  small amount more difficult for him to make such a nasty mess. So he could use some kind of organizers.  And he loves art.  Santa always manages to bring some kind of art supplies, and I’ve seen the coolest handmade caddies on Pinterest.  I imagine he’ll also be getting some video games, if I have enough room on my handy-dandy gift card and I can find them for a good price.  Honestly, he’s not asked me for much.  Except the iPad.  Tweenagers are a little difficult to Christmas shop.  We’ll see.

On top of doing Grizzly’s and my shopping, Rhonda Belle sends money for me to do her shopping.  Every year, I fuss that I don’t have enough ideas.  Every year, I get a lot of bang for her buck.  I think she and PaPa Mac get tickled at my shopping adventures – and I give them details, from the minute I cash the check. Monkey 1 will be going to martial arts classes and Monkey 2 needs a bigger bicycle. To quote Phil Robertson, they’ll be “happy, happy, happy.”

I also do MY grandma’s shopping.  In her Christmas note every year, she thanks me for lending her a hand with the shopping.  She’s funny.  The kids get new jammies or sneakers or some other clothing items from their great-grands.  The monkeys always love what they receive.  I’ve learned to make it easier on myself than I used to!

The one thing I’m really excited about for the monkeys this year is a journal.  I found the idea in a blog or on Pinterest or something and have seen several variations.  It’s a “Mom and Me” journal.  As kids get older, it’s kind of embarrassing to discuss certain things with parents and sometimes writing helps.  I hope so.  I’m interested to see how this project works out.  I’ll probably cover that one in a separate post, with pics and all.

Note: Last night, Grizzly and I went back to Wal-Mart.  In case you’re counting, this means I’ve been to that awful place FIVE times in one year now.  Ugh.  We did get Monkey 2’s bike and a new helmet to match from Granny and PaPa Mac.  It is safely stashed at my dad’s house for now, because both monkeys are horribly nosey.  From the Great-Grands, Monkey 2 is getting 2 new pairs of sparkly jeans, a pair of sweat pants, and three shirts.  I’ll still have to shop for Monkey 1, because all I found for him was a pair of PJ pants.

At least I’m finally making progress.

How are your holidays looking?



et cetera
%d bloggers like this: