Do I Need to Shower Today?

Before I became a mother, I showered every day. I didn’t wash my hair every day – still don’t – but I managed to make it into the bath or shower at least once a day. Then I had my son. Suddenly, showering was no longer a foregone conclusion. Now, five years later, I ask myself, “Do I need to shower today?” far more than I would like to admit. Add another child to the equation and take away a job in the outside world and I find myself asking this question nearly daily.

Don’t get me wrong, I usually shower. Especially if I have run that day. Do I put off the shower if I know that I will be sweating in the Texas sun again before bedtime? You better believe it. Texas is in the middle of a drought. Really, I’m just doing my part.

I’ve done research. It turns out that I am not the only mom who asks themselves this question regularly. I know that a lot of my friends (especially my friends with kids) don’t shower every day either. Earlier this week, I was discussing this topic with one of my friends. She told me that she would be putting the clothes from her morning workout back on to go walk her kids home from school. Of course she was! Why would you put on clean clothes just to go out into the steamy heat? You are just creating more laundry.

Then there is the kid factor. Do you know what happens every time I start the shower in my house? At least one little person, usually my daughter, comes running into the bathroom tearing off her clothing. She will attempt to climb over the edge of the tub until I relent and let her in. If I don’t have the energy to shower every day, I certainly don’t have the energy to take an 18 month old in for stitches that could have easily been prevented. Thanks to my kids, I shower with foam numbers and sea animals. Apparently, my daughter’s answer to “Do I need to shower today?” is a resounding yes. For me, the highlight of my week is Sunday morning when I get to shower by myself.

Some of you are probably feeling a little grossed out right now. That’s alright. I get it. You will probably look at me a little funny the next time you see me out in public. Not every one shares my dilemma. My own father showers at least twice a day. Maybe you are a classy business woman who has to be presentable every day. Maybe, you too, are a stay at home mom but have personal hygiene far superior to my own. Never once have you thought, “Do I need to shower today?” Bravo ladies! I’m sure your husbands appreciate your dedication to keeping it together. My husband is pleasantly surprised when my leg brushes his without stabbing him. I’m telling you, it is a glamorous life I lead.

But for you fellow hygienically conflicted parents, I present the shower flowchart. The next time you find yourself asking, “Do I need to shower today?” just pull out this handy guide and we will try to help you make your decision.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in the above post are purely Tracey’s opinion. I will not pretend to speak for Sarah and Erika. Even if I suspect that both them frequently ask themselves, “Do I need to shower today?” They are free from any blame that might come from the use of this flowchart. For that matter, I am also free from any blame. You are an adult. Make your own hygiene decisions.

My Unqualified Words of Mommy Wisdom

I don’t want anyone to confuse our blog with the traditional “Mommy Blog”. Yes, two-thirds of us are moms and the other third hopes to be a mom at some point. (Hopefully soon, because the 26 nieces and nephews I currently have just aren’t enough.) This adventure is about more than being a mom. It’s about sharing our opinions and experiences. However, my experience over the last 1,719 days – it seems like so much longer – involves being a mom. In fact, it has been one of my central roles in life, so since it’s the day before Mother’s Day, the topic of motherhood itself deserves a little bit of attention.

So in honor of all of the lists on the Internet, I am going to share a list.


My Unqualified Words of Mommy Wisdom

1.  Hold your babies as much as possible. Smell them. Marvel at their tiny toes and fingers. They are only little once. Soak it up. You aren’t always going to have the time to do this. It isn’t spoiling, it is loving. Plus, there will be plenty of time for you to ignore them later on. Like when they are 4 years old and incessantly asking you for Pirate Booty as you are placing dinner on the table.

2. Follow your gut. If you think your kid is sick, take him to the doctor. If you think she is delayed in some way, meet with a professional. If you don’t agree with a diagnosis, get a second opinion. Your gut is good. You have a gift from God, nature or whatever higher power you believe in that allows you to figure out what is best for you kid. You are the his parent and therefore his biggest advocate. Be the mama bear.

3.  Parenting is 50% nurturing and 50% manipulation. Every single day I feel like I’m trying to outsmart my kids to get them to do what I want. I use rewards (bribery), logic, and flattery to get things done. Sometimes I even pit them against each other. Our little guy is particularly susceptible to this trick. All if I have to do is say, “I bet Baby Sister can get in the car/get dressed/pick up toys faster than you.” and he will race to complete the task. Keep in mind, by “Baby Sister” I mean me helping her. Is this creating an unhealthy sibling rivalry? Probably. Does it get him to do what I ask? Uhhhhh, sometimes. As Brian Fantana once said, “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.” Yes, I just quoted a fictional character from “Anchorman” to support my parenting advice. That is how unqualified we are.

4. Pay attention to them when they are talking. They have important things to say. Or you might just hear something hilarious. A couple of months ago, my son told me that his “plunger hurt.” His plunger?! Whaaaaa? Turns out his “plunger” is the word he has designated – all by himself – to describe his “manly regions.” The conversation got even better when he told me his plunger needed a band-aid. Not a band-aid near it.  A band-aid around it. I laughed for days. In fact, I’m laughing now. And I will probably use this as some form of parental manipulation in the future. Maybe when he is fourteen and I want him to clean his bathroom.

5. Take photos. Take photo of your kids. Take photos of your parents with your kids. Take photos of you with your kids. Take photos of you by yourself.  They grow up far too fast and these memories will fade with time. Their memories of you while you were young will fade. Do you have a camera on your phone? Use it. So what if they aren’t the greatest photos of all time? They are your life and in fifty years they will be precious and perfect.

6. Teach your kids the value of work. I remember when I was young, my dad found ways for us to work. Picture two little blonde girls dropping a railroad sledgehammer, smashing aluminum cans in their Las Vegas driveway. You just pictured my childhood. When it came time to earn money for camp or school activities, I folded laundry for a dollar. Hundreds of loads of laundry for 7 people. No wonder I hate folding laundry now. All those cans and pairs of socks taught me a valuable lesson. Things in life don’t come free. If you want something, work for it.

7. From Ben – Sometimes the best way to be a better parent is to get away from your kids. Don’t be afraid to get a babysitter. Maybe for just a night. Or even a long weekend. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Also, a full night of sleep will make you a better person. I promise.

8. Don’t underestimate your kids. As first-time parents, you might think, “There is no way he will be able to _______.” Kids are a lot more capable and resilient than you think they are. We thought moving our son into a toddler bed would be the greatest fight of our lives. Nope. He slept in it happily from the first night. Getting rid of the binky on the other hand . . . Yeesh.

9. In the words of our child’s teacher, Ms. Laura, “Different is okay.” One of our children has unique challenges. One day Ben heard an interview on NPR that described what it is like having a child who is profoundly different. The overall analogy goes something like this: having kids is a like planning a vacation to Italy. You read all the guide books, plan your visit, and talk to everyone you know that has been there. After 9 months of planning, you board the plane and fly to your destination. When you get off the plane, you discover that you have landed in Holland. Holland is not Italy. You didn’t plan for Holland and you don’t have the foggiest idea what to do in Holland. But that is okay because Holland is pretty great in its own way. They have tulips and who doesn’t love a bouquet of tulips? Embrace your destination. Embrace your child’s differences. Realize that God sent this child to you because you are supposed to be their parent.

10. Realize your kids are just kids. Cut them slack. This doesn’t mean let them get away with mean, harmful or destructive behavior. It just means we need to realize that, just like us, they are still learning. As I was writing this post, Ben discovered a crack in our Nintendo 3DS. Obviously our son had something to do with this. Understandably we are annoyed with the situation. Little guy picked up on this and immediately felt remorse for what had happened. He is currently wracking his 4 year old brain to figure out how to fix it. It took his look of remorse to remind us that sometimes the best way to deal with a situation is through kindness and love. Be loving. Be forgiving and remember, they are just kids!



Mother’s Day Printables

printablesMothersDaySo in keeping with our theme this week, I’d like to just say: I love my mom. I love my mom-in-law. I’m not a mom yet, but I’m excited to one day be a mom (not an announcement, just a sentiment). I’m not feeling very eloquent today, so I’m just going to let my Mother’s Day printables below do the talking. Happy Mother’s day to each and every one of you fabulous mothers and mothers-to-be out there (including future-mom-ME)!

If, this Saturday evening, you find that you have procrastinated and have no gift to give, feel free to print off any of these printables! Three of them print as a 5″x7″ and one prints as a 10″x10″. Slip it into a cute frame and you’re set!

MotherGod MothersDay MothersDayStripes TomorrowMothersDay

Simple Homemade Gifts For Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is five days away, but there’s still time to do something unique and thoughtful for the moms in your life (including your own).  Here’s a handy list of ideas!  Check back tomorrow for a list of gifts you can buy, or forward to someone else that can buy them for you.

  • From Smart School House, a sugar scrub made with baby lotion and baby oil.  Attach a note that says, “The scent may be familiar, but the feeling of being pampered may not. Happy Mother’s Day!”

Tutorial here.

  • Do a group lip sync performance. There’s a reason The Cosby Show featured them not once, but twice: the results are almost always endearing. Pick a song, get the siblings together, and add some simple choreography.  I suggest performing it as Mom enjoys the breakfast you made her. Family lives all over the place? Put it on video! Below are a couple of selections that are particularly apropos for the holiday.  Whatever you do, sell it for all it’s worth!


  • Instead of flowers, why not take a page from Stranger Than Fiction and get her a bouquet of flours? (This is obviously for a mom that’s an adventurous cook, or one that really just loves a good pun.) Bread flour, cake flour, teff, flax, whole wheat, semolina, rice, and spelt are all possibilities. Check your local health foods store for the biggest variety. For the less culinarily-inclined, you could do a selection of baking mixes.  Still call them flours, though – that joke’s a good one. (I’m one of those moms that loves puns.)

Photo source

  • Recreate an old family photo, as seen on Then and Now Photos. I think these things are so, so cool.  Below are some examples of how relatively simple this can be, with some great results.

Photo source here, and here.




Mom’s Brownies


My mom makes the best brownies.  Simple as that. I don’t say this to brag or to put down yours or your mother’s or your cousin’s or your uncle’s brownies, but really – she makes the best I’ve ever tasted.

This epiphany came recently.  My little family and I were on one of many visits to my parents’ home, and yesterday’s batch sat waiting for me in a 9×13 Pyrex dish. Next-day brownies are brownies in their prime, too.  Just settled enough: soft, but the edges still retain the faintest chewy crispness.   I helped myself, as I always did, and I suddenly remembered.

These are what brownies taste like.  They are both fudgy and cakey, and give just properly to your teeth. They taste of chocolate and vanilla and sweet and a bit of salt, and they satisfy. The best brownies, they satisfy deep. I had tried and loved many brownies before – and I will love more in my future, I’m sure – but these are it. My mother makes the brownies I will forever judge all others by.

And also in that Very Important Gastro-Moment, I knew that this was a testament of a very good mother. I love them not just because of how well they are made, but because of the pleasant associations that come each time I taste one. They speak of my childhood, my home. And her brownies, unspotted as they may be, are still only a very small representation of the good she puts into the world.  And similarly, her daughter is at times so completely overwhelmed by how unassuming yet so incredible her mother is. My mother performs the work I will forever strive to emulate.