SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

Happy New Year’s Eve, y’all! I am out of bed, showered, and wearing clothes (not my sweats, Real Chick!) by 7:44 on my school break. This is an accomplishment!

I’ve been a total Pinterest junkie the last several days (when I should be lesson planning, cleaning, etc.) I’ve been searching and pinning organizational ideas. I did an entire series this year on a household binder. I love binders. I had the best of intentions.

The forms are all on my computer while the binder collects dust.

I found the coolest idea on Pinterest – a command center instead of a management binder.  So I got out my handy dandy 31 Gifts organizer, labeled some file folders, and so far it’s working ok.  I  have a “to file” folder and a mail folder (so the mail doesn’t get lost on the kitchen counter!), s well as a folder for each family member.  All folders need to be addressed on Friday, if not sooner.  There’s enough room to include my finance binder (I’ll post about this later), and the pockets on the outside hold list pads, for groceries, to do lists, etc.

This organizer thingy fits on my unused telephone stand in the kitchen, so it’s near my calendar as well as the kitchen table – where we’ll be having weekly family and budget meetings.

It’s not the household management binder I had envisioned, but that’s ok.  The binder is coming.  The command center works for right now!

Take what bugs you and fix it.

What project are you tackling in the new year?

~ Katie

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My to-do lists seem excessive and redundant to many people.  However, listing is my way of functioning.  (Is there a learning style for that?)  Repetition develops habits.  After I’ve used the same checklist for a while, it just becomes a habit and I don’t really need my list.

One area that needed addressing in The House of Cheaptitude was morning routines.  We have two adults, two monkeys, and a four-legged monkey buddy to get moving each day.  Often I find myself already in my classroom and my phone rings because “Monkey #2 says her coat is in your car.” Or “Monkey #1 left his gym clothes on the kitchen table.  How are we handling this?”

Of course, one-half of we is across the bridge and preparing for a day of educating eighth graders.

This is one of those problem areas where checklists and routines come in to save the day.

Many of those tasks that we complete in the morning can either be done the night before or at least set up to be done.  Here are some of the things on my night-time list:

  • Finish kitchen chores:  Nothing is ickier than waking to a full counter and dirty sink.  I like to take care of everything before bed, when possible, running the dishwasher at night.  If I have spare time in the morning, I can put things away.  Otherwise, Monkey #1 can do it after school.
  • Prepare any sack lunches:  I pack my lunch every day for work.  I’m a creature of habit: peanut butter or cheese sandwich, a handful of tortilla chips, and something semi-sweet, like a granola bar or applesauce cup.  The monkeys only want to pack a lunch when there are cookies around.
  • Prepare for breakfast: I make sure the cereal containers have cereal in them because I hate the way the monkeys open boxes.  I also make sure we have bowls and spoons clean (don’t ask!)  Some organizing gurus suggest setting the table, but the monkeys eat at different times (one leaves a full hour ahead of the other) and Grizzly and I don’t have a sit-down breakfast.  Besides, if I take the time to lay out bowls and spoons, that will be the day the monkeys want toast or waffles.
  • Set the coffee pot:  My coffee pot has a timer, thank goodness, and when I get up most mornings that black gold is waiting for me.  If yours doesn’t have a timer, set it up anyway so that all you have to do is turn it on in the morning.  It saves a full 3-5 minutes.
  • Lay out clothes for the morning:  The monkeys always put them in the same spot, the coffee table.  My monkeys are in uniform schools, which should make it easier, but really doesn’t.  Their closets are arranged by function (school or home) and color, which makes grabbing an outfit simple.  However, if I lay out a red shirt, that’s the day we wanted to wear navy.  When the forecast says it will be 32 degrees in the morning, Monkey #1 lays out shorts. We do check the weather forecast, and clothes need to be laid out right down to shoes, belts, and coats, if needed, so that parental units aren’t receiving those “I can’t find my sneakers and the bus will be here in two minutes” calls.  My work clothes are always on my dresser before I go to bed, and I very rarely change anything up the next morning.
  • Set your launchpad:  I do not have a “launchpad” right now, but the monkeys have to have their school bags packed and sitting by the coffee table before they go to bed.  My school bag is always either by my bed or in my comfy chair in the living room.  Everything is situated for “pick up and hit the door” in the mornings.
  • Check your to-do lists and calendar:  The night before, I check my calendar to see if we have anything major going on the next day, such as activities or meetings.  I double check my running to-do list and add anything to my daily list that I need to.  For example, on faculty meeting days, the monkeys hang out with PaPaw after school.  I don’t have to hurry home and can stop by the drugstore or the grocery if I need to. This also lets me know if I need to defrost anything for dinner or if I can just chunk a Crockpot meal in the Crockpot on my way out the door in the morning (more usually the case)
  • Make sure everyone has their alarms set to the correct time and actually turned on. Yes, there are some stories to go along with this.

My alarm jolts me out of bed between 4 and 4:30 every morning and I have to be out the door by 6:15.  By planning ahead and having consistent routines, I actually have leisure time in the mornings – to fold clothes, start the crockpot, or watch the news.  Instead of being rushed in the morning, my nighttime routines have squashed the chaos, allowing me to relax.

Do you have nightly routines?  Are your mornings a muddled mess?

~ Katie

Nightly To-Do List

{March 5, 2013}   Time…
hello, weekend.

hello, weekend. (Photo credit: erin m)


I get out of bed at 4:30 in the morning (sometimes a little earlier) during the work week.  That gives me a little more than an hour to myself every day.  I head in to work at just after 6, never clocking in later than 6:30, where every second is pretty much packed until I walk out the door around 2:40.  I hurry home and begin dealing with whatever is going on there – activities, dinner, housework.  I squeeze in a little more work, whether it is parent calls/e-mails, grading papers, writing lessons, or updating my webpage.  I’ve gone to work when I probably should have been to the doctor because I always have so much to do.  There is never enough time.


This became clear, thanks to the DMV.  I had to renew the registration on Grizzly’s truck last month.  The blue lemon will be coming up next month.  Then I realized how long it’s been since I’ve renewed my driver’s license, so I dug it out of my purse to check the expiration.  Sure enough, it expires on my birthday in two and a half weeks.


And I can’t renew online this time, because I did so last time.


And the Office of Motor Vehicles in my area tends to be an all day adventure.


Dad gum.


I found a sub and lined up an urgent personal day.  With state testing starting on the 19th, there is no way I could put this off any longer, especially knowing that it would likely take several hours.  My teacher buddy told me I should have taken a Friday, but seriously, a Friday at the DMV?  She was also jealous that I could sleep in.  Um, I have 2 monkeys that still had to go to school today.  So I still got up early.


After putting Monkey #2 on the bus and talking to Granny-at-the-Farm for a minute, I headed to NoBo.  I had considered going to the office in Minden, but with gas prices the way they are, I loaded up some papers to grade and headed to NoBo.


Did you know you have to stand in line to get a service ticket at the DMV now?


And they don’t call the tickets exactly in order?


Thankfully, I finished up just after 9 and called my friend, TheRealestChickEVER, to see if she wanted to do coffee since I was on her side of the tracks.  Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, but I did get other errands done while out and about:


  • I drove to Target and bought lightbulbs for Monkey #1’s ceiling fan.  Thanks, Secret Santa!
  • I visited the Starbuck’s while I was there and got a Mama-sized Caramel Macchiato.  Thanks, Grizz and Aunt Yvette.
  • I went to Books-A-Million to purchase Monkey #1 the book they’re reading in class right now.  I can tell I don’t shop there often, as it took me quite a while to locate it!
  • To donate all of the bags of goodies that have accumulated in my garage since I’ve started decluttering, I ran by the nearest Goodwill location.
  • I visited Family Dollar to see about a lamp and a pink comforter.  No dice on either.
  • Finally, I dropped by the credit union to pay my car note.  A little early, even!


And I was home again by 11:30.


Exactly where I want to be most of the time!


And I returned a few work e-mails, called some parents, and graded papers.


As much as I would love to take a day off and just goof off, it’s really difficult to do so.  I want to be productive, in some way, every minute of the day if I can.  It hurts my feelings when I get so run down that I actually stay in the bed all day.


Now it’s time to compile my grocery list, match up some coupons, and go to the grocery before the monkeys return.


How would you spend an “urgent personal day?”


~ Katie



{February 18, 2013}   Lost Weekend

The best laid plans of mice and men…go awry in the House of Cheaptitude.  I hate it when I look so forward to a weekend and it goes to waste.  I’m not one of those people who enjoys being slacktastic.  And I’m not saying that this weekend has been a disaster or anything, but I didn’t get everything done that I wanted.

  • I still need to go to Goodwill.
  • I need to add objectives to my lesson plans.
  • I need to write my next Outsiders quiz.
  • My webpage for school needs updating for this week.
  • I have a stack of novel studies waiting impatiently for grades.
  • My room is a little messy again. The Monkey dens are insanely gross.
  • Mt. Washmore is starting to look like Mt. Everest.
  • I still need to move computers around.
  • The living room and kitchen look a hot mess.

Yesterday I was miserable with a headache.  This morning, when Grizzly got up to go to work, I told him I was considering going to the doctor (yes, it has been that bad!)  I didn’t overindulge in adult bevs at Bunco, so I’m not sure what exactly is going on, but it isn’t nice.

Today I need to straighten the kitchen (post-Grizzly grilling practice yikes!), stop by PaPaw’s house, pick up some more 50 cent Cheerios at the grocery (no lie – double coupon with a 3/$6 sale!), and get ready for the upcoming week.  Monkey 2’s play kitchen has moved to the back porch with her picnic table (I see a play restaurant in the future) and I can technically move my computer to her room today.  You know what is on my mind though?  THE FUNKY STOOL!

I feel that if I do something I want to do, maybe I’ll get through what I need to do.  So I’ll dust and clean the stool, do a first coat of paint, and work on chores while it dries.  I really see promise in this plan.

On a happier note, I did (kind of) clean out my email box this morning.  I’m down to about 200 emails….

Do you get frustrated with your to-do list?  How do you handle it?

~ Katie

monday morning minis I

monday morning minis I (Photo credit: bornazombie)

Pharmacy Guy likes to poke fun at my 1/2 job, because as a teacher I only work 7:30-2:30, only Monday through Friday, only mid-August through May.  This doesn’t count the fact that I have duty during lunch, parent meetings and phone calls on my planning time, a regular flurry of e-mails from probably 25% of my kids’ parents, papers to grade, lessons and tests and activities to write, professional development (unlike my pharmacy continuing ed, teaching stuff rarely involves dinner and just listening to someone lecture!), dances, and other extracurricular activities.  In fact, that 7-2:30, Monday through Friday, mid-August (getting earlier every year, by the way) through May only covers my actual teaching time!

I really wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Although often frustrating, this is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.  But I sure look forward to the breaks!

Monday is a holiday, which means a three-day weekend for the monkeys and me.  Of course, tonight is Friday, and of course I’ll finish writing lesson plans and grade some papers.  I’ll enter the grades in the online gradebook in the morning because 1) parental phones ring if I put an F in the gradebook and 2) I promised a roomful of parental units in August I would not put grades in after eight at night – so their phones won’t ring.  And tomorrow is Saturday, so I’ll need to straighten the house.  More than straighten, since Monkey 2 apparently invited her new boyfriend over tomorrow.  And it’s a Bunco weekend, so I will not feel like getting out of bed Sunday.

But it’s a three-day weekend!  And I hate to waste a minute.  On top of regular chores, I want to get some projects taken care of.  Here is my plan:

  • Re-vamp the funky stool.  It’s been on my mind since I wrote about it last and now I have time to do it!
  • Re-home some of my scrapbooking.  I cleaned out my nightstand and the bottom is still empty.  I ran out of steam last weekend, apparently.
  • Finish one more project from the closet.  I haven’t decided which one yet, but there are plenty from which to choose.
  • Take a load to Goodwill. I have a multitude of bags collected in the garage, waiting for relocation.

I’m going to attack my computer hutch in the morning after my school stuff is done.  My desktop computer, which I’ve not used in a hot minute, needs to find another place to live.  The computer for Grizzly’s business has been returned and has taken up residence on my kitchen table for the past two weeks – not acceptable.  I serve dinner at my table and that behemoth is in my way.  So, the business computer needs to move to the hutch, and my old desktop computer, I believe, will go to Monkey 2 (Monkey 1 received a computer from Granny-at-the-Farm), which, unfortunately, involves cleaning her room.

Once the computer situation is handled, I may break out the sewing machine.  I really want a new tablecloth and napkins.  And I found a pattern online for some neat-o bags that don’t look terribly hard to make.  actually, I really want to use up my fabric so I can buy some more, truth be told.

Just as I overplan my lessons, I have probably overplanned my weekend.  What’s on your latest to-do list?

~ Katie

et cetera
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