SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

This has been an exhausting week!  With the first phase of state testing (why did I ever move to a high stakes grade level??), wrapping up a unit and a marking period, and Teacher Appreciation Week, I’ve been busier than I don’t know what!

There are so many options for Spring Break.  We have family in Texas, Arkansas, and Florida right now, all nice vacation spots.  I know Jeepnmom would not have hurt feelings if we headed to the mitten for a few days.  There is a Great Wolf Lodge close by, and plenty to do in south Louisiana – where we also have fabulous, welcoming friends.  Monkey #2 has requested that we go to a hotel with a swimming pool and elevator.  Monkey #1 wants to hang out with his friends and practice his form 2 moves (????)

At heart, I’m a homebody.  I want to cut my yard (again), work on school stuff, test prep Monkey #1, and do around the house.  But I also want the kids to enjoy staying home with me.  I’ve come up with a list of things to do without leaving my comfort zone.

  • Work in the yard:  The monkeys like to dig in the dirt.  I noticed Ellis Pottery has flats of flowers out already and my front flower bed needs some attention.
  • Go to the park:  The Realest Chick I Know has two little girls around Monkey #2’s age.  Monkey #2 wants a picnic, and although I would have to cross into the dreaded NoBo, there is a park with a duck pond nearby, so I’ve set up a play date.
  • Go to the Bookstore: Always at the top of the monkeys’ lists…..
  • Go to the Farm: Granny‘s social calendar is pretty full, but the monkeys don’t get to visit often enough, and I really need to make a point to get out there this week.

I also have a ton of hoarder junk crafting items that could be put to good use.  I do have two very creative monkeys at my house.

It’s been a long week and I’m not super-inspired tonight.  What are your Spring Break plans?

~ Katie


English: Monkeys in a barrel

The other night, cruising the web, I found a really neat blog (of course, I cannot for the life of me recall what it was!) that dealt with running a home more smoothly.  This lady has several children and she home schools them.  It sounds, from her blog, as though all of the kids help around the house.  The thing that caught my attention was LAUNDRY.


Mt. Washmore can be overwhelming for anyone.  I just went foundation shopping with Perkilicious and she was saying that she really needed to wash laundry before we go back to work next week.  So laundry even qualifies as “single girl problems.”  With my family of four active individuals, laundry can quickly get out of hand and for sure takes a big chunk of my few free minutes.  Grizzly works in construction and changes clothes at least twice a day.  Summertime, 100+ degrees?  Forget about it.  The monkeys wear uniforms to school and often change when they get home.  Monkey 2 rolls around in the dirt with her four-legged bff, Jasmine. Laundry is never-ending at my house.

The blog I found had some neat strategies.  This lady’s kids process their own laundry!  They each have their own basket.  Each family member is assigned a laundry day.  They wash, dry, fold/hang and put their clothes away!  I think she helps the littlest monkeys.  How cool is that, though?

So yesterday I snatched Monkey 1 up by his ear and took him to the bathroom hamper.

“What are we doing in here?”

“I’m going to show you how to sort laundry,” I told him.

“Why do I need to know how to sort clothes?”

So much for buy-in.

I stood my ground, though.  He sorted his clothes from his sister’s and then separated lights from darks.  We moved on to the utility room and I showed him where I keep the laundry soap, how to measure it, and how to start the washer.  I explained to him that since we use powdered soap, we let the water run a little and start dissolving the soap before we add the clothes.  He needed a little help distributing things evenly, but he actually had a look of accomplishment on his face when we closed the lid!

Not so much when I told him it was time to dry his load of laundry.

“This is taking a long time,” he complained in that whiny twelve-year old voice I’ve come to know and love.  I told him that by shaking out the clothes and putting them neatly in the dryer, things would dry more quickly and not be quite so wrinkled.  He was less than impressed but continued to shake the clothes out.

By the time it was time to actually fold clothes and put them up, the monkeys were on their way out the door for their New Year’s date with Nana and the ladies and I was a little frustrated with the process myself.

Is my adventure in Monkey participation over?  Not by a long shot.  Monkey 1 knows his way around the washer now, with some guidance, and tomorrow is another day.  Even the little bit he knows now is a time-saver for me.  Next, we will work on folding, hanging, and putting away.  He won’t like it, but I imagine he’ll get it figured out.

Vintage Wicker Laundry Basket Large Oval No. 3

{December 27, 2012}   Cleaning Up Christmas

I woke with a terrible sore throat Saturday with tons left to do!  Some projects were left incomplete until late Christmas Eve.  Some gift were thrown in recycled gift bags on the way out the door Christmas Day.  The North Pole vomited in my kitchen and living room Christmas morning this year.  And when we finally arrived home after celebrating with the in-laws, I settled in for a thirteen-hour nap.

Yesterday, I went to pick up the blue lemon from the Toyota dealership.  While there, I test-drove another, newer one, with many fewer miles on it.  Unfortunately, that purchase would have caused my monthly note to jump about $100, which is unacceptable during my quest for cheaptitude.  I walked away with few regrets.

Thankfully, it was an awkward shade of green, making it easier to squeeze lemonade from my vehicular situation.

Today, I took the monkeys to use their pizza gift cards at a local restaurant before (surprise, surprise) taking Monkey 2 to practice being a tree in a play (ok, I’m not exactly sure WHAT her role is, just that she doesn’t talk much, obviously cast against type.)  After dropping her at the playhouse, I took Monkey 1 to register for martial arts instruction at a school close by our house.  I took a call from the GSM at the Toyota place, trying to talk me into LEASING a Camry and increase my note $60/month – not happening.  Then it was time to pick up my tree, I mean, little monkey.

So Christmas is not yet put away.

On top of my house still being decked with boughs of holly, it could stand a thorough cleaning.  I love a good list, so that is what I’m doing today and tomorrow I’ll start checking it twice.

Kitchen Checklist

  • Wash and put up dishes
  • Clean the countertops
  • Straighten/sort cabinets
  • Clean top and outside fridge
  • Clean inside fridge and freezer – update inventory!
  • Sweep and mop floors
  • Put holiday dishes/linens away

Living Room Checklist

  • Dust furniture, fan, fixtures, and frames
  • Put kids’ crap belongings away
  • Return holiday decor to storage totes – attic
  • Deal with paper monster on my desk – i.e. pay bills
  • Fold blankets and put away
  • Straighten built-in
  • Sweep/Mop floor
  • Replace Wii remote

Kids’ Bath Checklist

  • Dust surfaces
  • Clean mirror & fixtures
  • Clean countertops
  • Straighten cabinets
  • Clean tub/shower
  • Clean toilet – make Monkeys take that on?
  • Sweep/mop floor

Hall(s) Checklist

  • Dust shelves & decorative items
  • Wipe down walls/door frames
  • Straighten closets
  • Sweep/mop floors

I think that covers it all.  I really think I can break these lists down and involve the monkeys – except Monkey 1 is too attached to his new electronics and Monkey 2 has more tree practicing tomorrow.  It’s not like I have anything tough on the lists, like the bedrooms (mine is bad now, too.)  I just have to figure out how to get family buy-in. Hide the iWasteTimes under some dirty clothes, maybe? Disconnect the WiFi till the house is clean?

Suggestions are welcome if they’re positively stated!





{November 28, 2012}   Repurposing a Closet

English: virtual closet lower left empty


In the hall off the bedrooms, there is a closet.  This closet is wide and full of shelves, and has stored many things over the five years we’ve been in this house.


When we first moved in, I kept movies, kids’ crafts, and board games in this closet.  The movies were taken to the monkeys‘ rooms, never to be seen again.  The kids’ crafts were started and never finished.  The board games decided to cohabitate and mix up pieces, losing many along the way.


Then I decided to move to kid-centered junk to the built in cabinet in my living room and put my craft stuff in the closet.  But it was still in reach of the monkeys, an Mom’s stuff is so very tempting.


And of course, I’d started stockpiling.  My favorite, toilet paper, is in the monkeys’ bathroom.  I’m almost as proud of my toilet paper as I am my homemade jellies and my cereal stockpile.  Ok, a little weird, but it is what it is.  I stored a lot of toiletries under my bathroom sink and above the toilet in a little cupboard.  I thought it was cool, but my stockpiles were terribly limited due to the confined areas.


Last week while I was off work, I decided I wasn’t happy with that hall closet.  It was a mess, which wastes my valuable real estate, and disorganization is expensive.  I hauled out everything and started sorting.  My scrapbook supplies were condensed and reorganized.  Several projects that had been started, I kept out to finish as Christmas gifts (I have 3 photo frames almost completed now, as well as a photo album and several hair bows!)  Once I decluttered, I had beautiful open shelves again.

I used clear plastic sweater boxes to store shampoos and conditioners on one shelf.  In those cute matchy-match photo boxes from the craft store, I have shaving supplies and deodorants. One shelf will be dedicated to toilet paper (woo hoo!) and another to extra linens.  Thankfully, Monkey 2 has a big chest in her room where I keep her extra quilts and things.  But the hall closet will be perfect for extra sheets, towels, and my cleaning rag bag.  It’s a work in progress, but I’m really excited.

By cleaning out that closet, I also found enough valentines to get Monkey 2 through Elementary, projects to give for Christmas, and space to store my stockpiles!

Do you have extra space you can repurpose?  How would you use an extra closet?

~ Katie


et cetera
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