Do I Need a Planner for my Kid’s Birthday Party?

Posted by Susan Brown on August 17, 2016 0 Comments


     I had kids later in life so I essentially grew up in the 80s. My fondest memories of birthday parties were going to someone’s house, hanging out in their basement playing games, eating pizza and snacks and then having cake. And ice cream! Side note, whatever happened to ice cream with birthday cake? I remember the giant tubs of ice cream after that slab of cake was placed on the plate and the parent serving would say, “would you like a scoop of ice cream with that?” Uh, yes please! After that, we would all sit around in a circle and watch the birthday kid open their presents and relish in the joy that we got our friend just what they wanted. My mother was the exception of course. I had clowns and entertainment and there was one birthday where she even got a trainer to bring a baby chimpanzee. But typically, we had house parties or went to Chuck E. Cheese, McDonald's or the ice skating rink, had some fun with our friends, had cake (with ice cream) and opened presents. That was the formula for a party. Then.

     Fast forward about, ahem, 30 years from 1986 and I now have one child turning six and one turning three. We get invited to no less than two birthday parties a month. A month! And during the school year it escalates. My three year old doesn’t even have friends yet so this is basically the birthday party ‘load’ for one child. It starts with the invite. You have to have a good invite because it sets the tone for the birthday party. Paw Patrol? Star Wars? Fairy party? Whatever the theme is you know everything from there on out related to the party will have that theme.

     Now for the location. Although some people do still have parties at home, they are not just parties at home. Got a juggler? What about an acrobat? Or some live animals to pass around. At a minimum you had better have a bounce house or better yet a water slide because these kids can’t just entertain themselves, people! But really, who are we kidding, why have a party at home when you could have one at a zoo, trampoline park, movie theater or even a hotel! Yes, a hotel for a child’s birthday party.


     Luckily, the birthday food of choice hasn’t changed much since pizza. Everyone loves pizza and all great birthday parties serve it followed by…a very expensive cake? Some people probably spent less on their own wedding cake than some of the cakes I’ve seen at birthday parties. Is that five tiers?! Is that the kid’s name written in gold dust on the side?!!? After the cake (no ice cream, thank you) there are no presents. I mean, everyone brings presents but the gifts are never opened at the party. I’m not sure when this ‘switch’ happened and I’m not sure how the kids feel but I kind of miss that part of the party. Plus, I just like to know if they like my gift.


     Oh, that reminds me, it’s time to get MY child’s gift…the gift bag. This is another phenomenon of the 2010s, the kid’s birthday party thank you gift bag (personalized and themed, of course). Moms, or maybe their birthday party planners, work tirelessly to create a fabulous gift bag for the attendees of their child’s birthday party. I think it’s superfluous and to all the Moms out there…YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE OUT GIFT BAGS!. There, I said it (gasp!) gift bags are unnecessary. That being said, I would like a thank you note. So, now the formula for a kid’s birthday party is… fancy invite, great locale and entertainment, pizza, over the top bakery cake, no gift opening and fabulous goody bags. I think I need a planner.


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Posted by Susan Brown on July 18, 2016 0 Comments


     I'm waiting outside Marshall's Home Goods at 10:48am on a Sunday morning. I didn't even know the store didn't open until 11:00am but that's fine. I'll relax outside on the bench because I don't have my two kids with me. If I did, I would have to create a quick contingency plan. 12 minutes?! Ok, I have 12 minutes. I can't sit in the car because my 2-year-old son screams and cries if I park the car and we don't immediately get out and head to our destination. These 12 minutes can be critical in setting the stage for the whole experience. If my kids were with me. Today, though, I bask in the relaxation and get about 15 texts done in five minutes flat. Sometimes, with the kids one text can take three and a half hours. And then I forget to hit send because (insert Mom interruption 10,462 of the day). 


Here are some of the highlights of shopping without kids that I completely took for granted before children. 


    • My purse gets to ride shotgun! My handbag collection is kind of like the family dog after the first child is doesn't get nearly as much attention as it once did and loses the cushy spot in the bed for a swaddled newborn.

    • I get to peruse every section and some twice! When shopping with kids, you never know when you may just need to abandon the cart and get out while you can. Seeing a tantrum coming on is sort of like watching a slow-motion scene in an action movie…you see the pin coming out of the grenade and the hand cocking back to get ready to launch and you know that grenade is coming right at you.

    • I’m not a walking 7-11 when I shop alone. Snacks? Check. Water sippies? Check. Gum, wipes, Kleenex? Do you need a hair clip or an organic granola bar? Boys size 3T undies? I’ve got it all in my purse. Shopping with kids can also be compared to camping in the deep woods for three days. If you are not prepared, bears can eat you.

    • While in the fitting room, I don’t have to constantly say things like, “please don’t open the door, Mommy’s not dressed” or “I’m almost done, and just give me one more minute, please”. I don’t have to listen to Dora on the Kindle or answer questions about why I have dimples on my legs. It’s pretty quiet in there on a Sunday morning.

    • I’ve made it to the check out and since I’m not shopping with kids I get in line, make some small talk with the cashier and I’m on my merry way. Otherwise, I spend that time talking my kids out of all the things they “need” while snaking through the rate maze prior to approaching the cashier.

    Shopping today was glorious! I should definitely do this more often. Said every Mom on the planet.


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    Can summer heat make you SAD?

    Posted by Susan Brown on June 27, 2016 0 Comments

    Summer has just begun! Can it make you SAD? Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD) is a type of mood disorder that affects a person during the same season each year. Those with summer SAD — also known as reverse seasonal affective disorder — tend to sleep less, eat less, lose weight, and may become extremely irritable and agitated. People can get very depressed in extreme heat and become trapped in their homes. It is difficult to engage in outdoor activities when it's so hot. Most will stay in their homes waiting for the sun to go down. But their energy level will still spike, making for extreme productivity at night. Also the heat just makes people irritable.

    How to manage SAD...

    Stay cool - Those with summer SAD should crank up the air conditioning and take cool showers. Sufferers can even freeze water bottles and place them at their feet come bedtime.

    Keep Moving – Exercise is good for many reasons: physically, mentally and socially. Take a local exercise class offered indoors. Participating will get you out of the house and help you interact with others.

    Get your sleep – Maintain a regular sleep schedule of approximately 7-8 hours by waking up and slumbering promptly at the same time each day.

    Get out of Town – Plan a stress-free vacation. A weekend getaway where the temperatures are cooler and breezy.

    Seek Treatment – If you notice a change in mood in the summer that disappears in the fall, it’s an initial sign you could have SAD. Visit a mental health professional to discuss proper treatments such as behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, and practiced self management. In some situations, medication can also help.


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    Belly Ballot and Susan Brown's Baby!!

    Posted by Susan Brown on November 08, 2015 0 Comments

    Belly Ballot is doing a giveaway and you could win a YEAR SUPPLY of our award winning Foaming Shampoo and Body Wash! Check out to enter. Belly Ballot is a site where you can involve friends and family in the naming of your baby in a fun way. Interested in researching a new baby name or seeing what your baby's name means? Belly Ballot is the place.


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