The Stress of Family and Um, Other Stress

I was going to call this post "The Stress of Family Pressure" and then I thought that was maybe a bit redundant.

Do you want to know what I'm doing? No, seriously, do you?

Well, even if you don't, I'm going to tell you.

I'm frantically researching how to throw a Chocolate-Themed Birthday Party for a seven year old. This is not as easy as it would appear.

Because, um, I can't figure out what to put in the goody bags.

I don't know if the rest of the universe is like MY city but here, we give goody bags to party-goers because even if those party goers are only six and seven years old, we want to thank them for deigning to come to our children's birthday parties. Cake and ice cream are no longer draw enough. Goody bags are sort of the signing bonus of birthday parties here. You can actually spend more on a goody bag than the party-goer's parents spent on a present for your child.

No, stop it. I'm serious.

In the past, I have EXCELLED at goody bags. Honestly, I'd show you pictures if I could find them in the stacks. My Sagwa Chinese-themed goody take-out box was a masterpiece--it even had Jane's name on it, transcribed into Chinese characters.

But this time, other than chocolate and, um, toothbrushes, I have no idea what to give. Any clever, creative, fun ideas from you people who are clever and creative and fun? The theme is... well, chocolate. The party is Sunday afternoon.

And then I am also frantically pushing the clutter in my house around because my sister is coming for the weekend (she should be here in an hour or so) and she's bringing her three-year-old grandson. Yes, I am old enough to have a sister who is old enough to have a grandchild.

My parents are coming down tomorrow. Get this, my mother had foot surgery recently. I'm hoping this will slow her up from cleaning my floors on her hands and knees. She sets the bar so high, it just reduces me to weeping and snarling at the people around me. I mean how am I supposed to compete with that? I just realized I haven't even showered since Tuesday. And do you want to know something REALLY awful? Well, okay two really awful, horrifying things about me that you have to swear not to tell?

One is that I was waiting at the school bus stop this week with one of the fathers who is part of the cycling group with my husband and I realized that HIS legs were more recently shaven than mine were. I am such a loser.

And two, apparently, earlier this week when I was trying to make up for the fact that I hadn't had a shower and I jumped into the pool so at least I could say I was "pool clean" and I was wearing my "distract them with cleavage" bathing suit?


Well, apparently, I picked up one of the cats who had been out in the woods and I held him to my chest and snuggled him and now

(this is so embarrassing)

I have poison ivy on my upper lip where I kissed his furry little face and I also have it

(did I mention how embarrassing this is?)

between my breasts.

And people wonder why my autobiography will be entitled "My Life Is So Stupid."


hokgardner said…
I, Saint HOK of Birthdays, am absolving you from handing out goody bags to the kids at Jane's party. Don't do it. Please? Because I'm not having goody bags at Ella's party tomorrow. I have cheap-o medals that I ordered online for all the kids who attend (which I don't have a headcount for because people these days apparently don't understand what RSVP means. Not that I'm upset about it.) Anyway, when Ella asked what was going to be in the goody bags, I told her we weren't having any because kids were getting medals, her answer was "We get medals? That is so cool!" So I figure if the birthday girl is fine with it, I'm fine with it. And I'm shoving my guilt and feelings of birthday inadequacy aside.

Can you tell I've been cooped up all day with sick kids and I'm desperate for human interaction, even if it's via the comments section on a blog?

And any wine bought for the purpose of surviving a family-filled weekend does not count against the balance of the camera fund. Drink up sister!
Mrs.Q said…
You SO win for the Icky Week Award...that poison ivy has got to suck! And you can't even really scratch, can you, at least not in public...I fully second the motion that any wine needed for "medicinal purposes" doesn't count as regular consumption, to be denied. Nope. Bottoms up!
Anonymous said…
Oh my goodness. Goody bags. When my kids were growing up it wasn't the in thing to do. It wasn't even OUT. It simply didn't exist, this tradition of having to out-do a birthday party.

I vote "sheesh!" on the new custom.

However, unfortunately, you don't want your daughter to become the victim of the teasing and put-downs that kids have learned to do only so well, even in first and second grades.

It only gets worse.

How about getting a big box of individual envelopes of hot cocoa mix and putting one envelope in each bag?


Hershey bars?

Hershey Kisses?

I see I am on an edible kick. Well, what else is chocolate FOR?

How about those stirring spoons that are tipped with chocolate that they can dip into their aforementioned hot cocoa? Some espresso places have them.

How am I doing so far?

Mokihana (who still chaffs at the idea of having to keep up with the Jones' goody bag tradition).
Anonymous said…
PS... I am SO sorry about the poison ivy!

I think you should get extra chocolate for having to put up with all the itching. Especially THERE!
Anonymous said…
Sorry to make your comment numbers go up when it's only me again.

How about a bath/body shop that just may sell chocolate-scented soap?
Anonymous said…
Down with goodie bags! I bet you anything a party store came up with that idea.

To add to the edible theme, there are these strange edible straws in the cereal section these days. I think there's a chocolate flavor. Of course your family may be more "in the know" than mine and have already tried them. We're slow to figure things out around here.

Have a good one!

The Piano Tuner
Anonymous said…
Internet search gave me a few things. Is it OK to post links in comments?

First an E-zine, but it's a little short on ideas.

Here's blog entry with plenty of comments.
*snort!* Someone recommended Tide sticks!
Anonymous said…
hey someone else that got poison ivy from the cat!
I really hate idea that people have to be rewarded for coming to a party - I have heard that it applies to adults too. I wish I could advise against it, but the kids always pay for trying to buck the trend - just get each one on the attendees one of those big candy bars and be happy to get out alive - get yourself one too
Ei said…
What about making coloring books from images you can dig up online, make the cover look like a Hershey's bar with Jane's name. Homemade coloring books with the little packs of colors are a stock item in goodie bags from the Ei household. Because it's cheap and not edible. Chocolate flavored lip gloss? Betcha I could find a link to make that too if I were really determined, but you are on a time constraint, I'd check places like Walgreens or maybe even Hobby Lobby (I believe in Hobby Lobby). Um...I'm thinkin'!

Girl, you are so in love with your animals. I so love that. Love that. Boo for the poison ivy. Ack. I'm trying to figure out how my cat appears to have been in a fight when he hasn't been outside in 9 years and hasn't been around another cat since his old buddy died in August. Weird.

And I have you beat by so far. I'm younger than you and between my two sisters there are count them SIX granchildren, or will be by February. And up to this point, they are all boys. Imagine what our family get togethers will be like in a couple of years.

Oooh. You could make puzzles too...he he...little Hershey's kisses and you could put "Jane's 7th Birthday" on the little flag part on the top. Run off some copies on the printer glue them on to card stock , cut them into puzzle peices and drop them in a baggie.

And of course, you know, real chocolate never hurt. I see that as an opportunity to share the sugar induced mania with their parents.
Ei said…
Told you I could find one:

THE chocolate lip gloss recipe:


1 1/2 teaspoon grated cocoa butter
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon grated chocolate
1/8 tespoon of vitamin E oil


Combine grated cocoa butter, coconut oil and vitamin E oil in a double boiler or microwave. Heat it up until the ingredients have melted and combined.

Add grated chocolate and stir into the mix until well blended.

Use a small container (previously washed well and dried) and pour the mix into it. Let it cool down.

Whatever you do, do the poor parents a favor and make whatever you put in that goodie bag consumable. As in, they won't be stepping on it in the dark a month from now when they go in to check on their kids before going to sleep. Fill 'em with chocolate, any chocolate. It's not as if you can't find enough miniature candy bars in the stores right now!

Gotta go over to hokgardner's blog and bawl her out for hosting a b'day party in her apparently virus-ridden house tomorrow. Stomach flu - now that's something for a goody bag!
hokgardner said…
Defending myself here. Suburban correspondent read my blog and realized that our party is an outdoor party at the neighborhood park, not in our germ-filled house. Unless my kids are licking the attendees, we won't be sending anyone home with the stomach bug instead of a goody bad.
Barb Matijevich said…
Dude, I love a good Freudian slip. Hee hee. We all knew you would never send kids home with a stomach virus rather than cancel a party. You're among friends here.

Gosh, isn't that the nicest thing? It just sort of hit me. You guys totally get... well, everything about me. Just when I am feeling at my worst my parenting --about just trying to freaking survive, someone says something that makes me realize that we're all in this together--a village raising kids --and oh yeah, she noticed that my brand of parenting goes beyond the VCR and Mickey D's. Seriously, I love you guys.
Suna Kendall said…
No ideas because it is 1:45 am and I have "woken up" for taking the kids to a band trip to scenic Arlington. We have to be there at 2:30. We will be back at 2:30. I have also had equally ucky parenting experiences. I hope all your visits and stuff are going well.
Anonymous said…
I think you should print them all off a copy of the chocolate cake recipe! LOL

We are having our fall fair this weekend at the school and there will be a cake walk (!!) - I'm going to attempt your world famous cake.

I am TOTALLY down on loot bags. It's a big thing here too. One year, for Ben's birthday when he was turning 7, we took the kids bowling and I had "team shirts" made for them all. They were Pokemon but one team had one style and the other had another style. The kids, at the end of the party were like "where are the loot bags" but one of the moms actually called and thanked me for the t-shirt as opposed to the loot bag. I don't think the parents really dig those bags of erasers and candy and notepads.....all that stuff that every kid already has 1,000 of.

For Jessie's birthday last year (this year I guess actually) it was a baking theme and I made the mall personalized aprons (cotton aprons I bought at the dollar store!!) and put a little candy in each pocket of the apron and bought cake boxes and they each decorated 6 cupcakes of their own and took them home. They were happy with that.

Good luck and try to have fun, o.k.
MadMad said…
You kissed a stray cat?! Oh, honey. Yeah. I don't think you're supposed to do that. I'm sorry, though.

As for goody bags, just fill it with more chocolate! All that other stuff gets sucked up by vacuums at some point anyway. OH! How 'bout copies of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory?!

good look with ALL the guests (I know a thing or two about that...) Sorry to hear your wine budget remains blown, because I find it really, really helps, especially with the double whammy of houseguests and children's b-day parties...
Anonymous said…
I think that any thing in chocolate brown would be cute, a memo pad and pen that are brown and aqua or brown and pink, that trendy color combo, I would stick with M&Ms for the actual chocolate due to the melting factor... chocolate lip gloss is cute too but again melting might be a problem... good luck!
Ei said…
Madmad, that was HER cat. Goober.
Barb Matijevich said…
Does it make me less of a loser that I was kissing my own cat, as opposed to some strange cat that just walked up?

Either way, I'm thinking there's some qustionable judgement at work here. Especially now that I can't kiss my KIDS because I have poison IVY on my FACE.

But it's going to be a rocking party, even if I will have to dress like a Ninja since showing my cleavage is no longer an option.
DK said…
Ohhhhhhh......itchy cleavage totally does suck...

I think the homemade coloring book has a lot of merit. Also, anything chocolate scented and/or brown (like, pencils, etc) seems like a really good plan. And, Ei - Hobby Lobby. Totally.

But really, you can't go wrong with actual chocolate. And the decorate your own cupcake (or brownie, perhaps?) idea is cool, depending on how many kids you have coming.

But seriously, you can't go wrong with actual chocolate.

And you get extra. With wine.

Maybe you could get a couple of types of chocolate from, like, around the world - you know, a Lindt truffle, those little Polish chocolates (beware the ones with actual liquor in them!), etc. Between Target and Whole Foods, you should be able to find a reasonable assortment. But don't forget the good old American Hershey's (the miniatures, or kisses, maybe). That might be a little sophisticated for seven year olds, but then, your girls are sort of sophisticated for their ages.... And, Jane totally gets bonus points for picking a chocolate theme for her birthday party. I knew I liked that kid...

And, did I mention, extra chocolate for you.

Gonna go eat some M&Ms now, in honor of the Cooper women.