Not my Birthday (and fashion mistakes through the years)

Everybody wants to know your date of birth. The doctor, the pharmacist, the DMV, even the nail salon. It’s become the go-to method of confirming your identity. I was born on December 31st — New Years Eve. “Oh!”, they exclaim with a big smile. “What a fun birthday!” “Yes”, I reply with a fake smile on my face hoping it’s the end of the discussion. Sometimes people will continue, “You’ve probably had some really great birthdays.” They pause, waiting for a story.

No, actually, I got nothin’ for you.

My mother always did her best to make my birthday special. However, she’s my mom. Not exactly queen of the partyers (sp?). I really can’t remember one childhood birthday. Sorry, Mom, it’s not your fault. It’s just how things were done back then.

me-70sThe first birthday I remember was my 14th. The parent’s of one of my best friends, Joan, were having a house party. Joan was allowed to invite a few friends. I was so excited! It was my first house party. I remember I wore sky-blue bell-bottomed hip-huggers and a matching sky-blue shirt with a flamingo and a palm tree on it. (Don’t ask.) I also wore matching sky blue eye shadow (Don’t ask about that either.) I was so excited! It was my birthday! I was allowed to wear make up! I had a great outfit! Surely, this would be the best night of my life! It wasn’t. There was no cake, no presents. No one even acknowledged my birthday. It was New Year’s Eve!

I don’t remember my sixteenth birthday. Believe it or not, there was no such thing back then as Sweet Sixteen parties or cruises. Yes, we had to endure the year without the fanfare that is expected today.

I do remember my 17th birthday. It was the year Saturday Night Fever came out. It was the one year disco was cool. (Don’t bother with the math, I’m 58) I abandoned my usual Levi jeans and Neal Young eight track for a sea foam green knee length dress and a Bee Gees cassette. I’m sure I was wearing sea foam green eye shadow too. I went with a group of friends to OBI North. We tried really hard to get into the pulsing music and disco ball. We may even have danced. We drank Blue Whales and Sloe Gin Fizzes. Of course, there was no cake. No presents. The DJ did not wish me a happy birthday. It was New Year’s Eve!

I drove everyone home in my 1965 VW beetle then headed for home. Imagine my surprise when I approached my house and the street was lined with kids. Apparently, my younger brother was hosting a New Year’s Eve party. Did I know about this? Why wasn’t I invited? Where were my parents? I think I found them huddled in the downstairs bedroom pretending their house was not full of drunk 15-year-olds. That night will go down in history has the night my parents met their (first) future daughter-in-law. She was barfing on the front porch. It was New Year’s Eve!*

Now, that’s a good New Year’s Eve story but it’s not my story.

The next birthday I remember I was turning 23. The previous summer, I had moved into a little bungalow with my boyfriend, Jim. Right away, we started having parties. Not the planned invitation-kind-of-parties but the impromptu “remember-the-night” kind of parties. This was my chance. I would throw the coolest New Year’s Eve birthday party. The kind of party people would talk about for years. I wore a grey and mauve striped jump suit with big padded shoulders and mauve eye shadow. My hair was freshly permed. I was really cute, really fun and had lots of friends. Our little house was packed. They tell me it was a great party. I don’t remember it. (We’ll skip the details because my daughters and mother will read this.) I’m pretty sure there was no cake or presents. I don’t think anyone wished me a happy birthday.  It was New Year’s Eve!

Four years later I married Jim. We had a baby. We started a business. Birthdays schmirthdays.

The next memorable birthday was my 50th. I didn’t really want to dwell on turning 50 but I didn’t want to be mad at my husband for not marking the occasion with something special. So I planned a Caribbean cruise for us and our two daughters. On New Year’s eve I wore a black pantsuit and too much black mascara. We had unflattering tacky photos taken and paid too much for terrible 8×10 prints. My husband gave me a nice ring and he made arrangements to have a cake delivered to our table. The waiters sang the birthday song in broken English with big smiles. They presented me with a cake. Written in icing, the cake said “Happy 60th Birthday”.

Apparently, there had been a language issue when he ordered the cake. I looked down at it and told the grinning waiters I was not 60. I was 50. They nodded and smiled and went back to serving other patrons. It was New Year’s Eve!

My husband started to chuckled, then my daughters. It really was kinda funny. We laughed until tears stared rolling down our faces. I finally had a good birthday story to tell.

Last year I decided that I was no longer celebrating my birthday on New Year’s Eve. To make it official, I went on Facebook and changed the date to August 10th. On Dec. 31st Jim and I stayed home, watched the ball drop and talked about all the idiots in Time Square.

It was New Year’s Eve!


*For those of you under 40 it probably seems like my parents were irresponsible. In reality, we probably had one of the more conservative families in the neighborhood. In this alternative universe 17-year-olds drove home after a night of clubbing (without wearing seat belts.) Parents did not hover around their teenagers monitoring their behavior. When things went wrong, you didn’t go to counseling. You just buried it somewhere deep and didn’t talk about it. And sometimes things did go wrong. Sometimes things went very wrong.

It’s different today. We do what we can to keep our kids safe. But things still go wrong. Sometimes they go very wrong. So maybe it’s not really that much different.

About the Pearl Necklace

Terri-wedding-dayWhile planning my wedding day, 30 years ago, my mother showed me a strand of freshwater pearls. She wore them on her wedding day. They belonged to my grandmother. “Don’t feel obligated,” she said, “I wore these on my wedding day. I don’t know if they are real but you can wear them if you want to.”

I’m pretty sure they aren’t real and they are kinda… well, ugly (sorry grandma.) But I took one look at those yellowed pearls and just knew they would be the perfect accessory to go with my $69 dress.


And my thrift shop pink fun fur. (Just right for doing the chicken dance during an unseasonably cold, rainy September day.)








And my guests wearing pig masks. (Thanks Patty Cornelius!)


The pearls are now in our safe. When the time comes, I’ll ask my daughters if they want to wear them. I’ll say, “I wore these on my wedding day. I don’t know if they are real but you can wear them if you want to.”


My parents marriage lasted over 50 years until my Dad passed away at the age of 92.

Today is my 30th wedding anniversary. Just like my parent’s marriage, my marriage to Jim has had it’s ups and downs.

We’ve had our share of difficult times but I can honestly say that I would wear those yellowed pearls again. My sister and my sister-in-law said “no thanks” to wearing the pearls. Neither marriage lasted more than a few years.

To me, the pearls are a symbol of what’s important. It isn’t about “the day,” “the dress,” “the jewelry,” or a hundred other little things that we stress about. It’s about the journey and the way we choose to live our lives.

I wish I kept the pink fun fur.


As I look through my wedding album, I am stuck by how many we have lost in the last 30 years. Some lived long, happy lives. Others died tragically young. RIP family and friends. May the rest of us live well and love more.


The Mysteries in Life

blog-meaning-of-lifeI have so many questions. Not the obvious ones… What is the meaning of life? Why can’t there be peace on earth? What happened to the other sock? These are all good questions, but I know the answers are beyond what most of us will ever understand.

My questions are not that deep. But yet, there seems to be no simple answers.

For example, what do you do with the tags on throw pillow? You can’t leave them. If you do, they end up sticking out and ruining the ambiance of your room. You can’t cut them because you can never cut close enough without leaving that strip of white. You can’t tear them off . The whole side of the pillow ends up opening up. I just don’t get it. I have seen many decorating shows, yet I have never seen a throw pillow with a tag on it in any of them.

Another mystery… what do you do with the clothes that you wear once, but they don’t need to be laundered yet? My daughter leaves them on the floor until she feels it is “safe” to repeat. Hmmm, not sure that is the best idea. My husband, wears them again the next day. Not sure that works for me either. When I hang back up a blouse or fold up a pair of jeans and put them back in my drawer, my husband tells me it is gross to mix clean clothes with “dirty” clothes.  He’s kinda right. So what do you do?

There are many more:

Why do grown women with muffin tops wear belly shirts?

Why don’t old guy trim their nose hairs?

Why do I eat when I’m not hungry?

Why can’t I back up a car?

Why does my husband find it so funny that I can’t back up a car?



Six Years Later

In  2009, I was told to start a blog to help search engine rankings for my website. (The cool people call it SEO.) So I bought this really hip domain name and set out to entertain bored internet surfers around the world with my quick wit and engaging stories. It didn’t last long. Apparently quick wit is too much work for me and I really don’t have that many engaging stories.

For my first blog, I planned to introduce my 14 year old daughter Jamie so I got all painted up to take a selfie of us. (Back in that day we called them “pictures of ourselves”.) After many shots, I finally got just the right angle to make me look beautiful. Unfortunately for Jamie, it was not her best shot. In my defense, she was going through that awkward stage AND really didn’t care that I was starting a blog and wanted a nice photo of us. “That is so loosery Mom”. So I felt justified in not consulting her about the photo choice.

Me and Jamie (Because "Jamie & I" sounds rediculous)Paybacks are a bitch.

Six years later and Jamie is beautiful in even her worst shots. For me, it has become almost impossible to get just that right angle. Jamie says not to worry. “I have mad skills in Photoshop Mom.” Good thing because I hate my neck.


Never buy a bathing suit that comes with instructions.

The tag said that I would look 10 lbs thinner instantly! All I had to do was follow the instructions. Instructions? For a bathing suit? Ok, this couldn’t be too hard.

“Bunch the suit as if you would a pair of pantyhose.”
OK, so far, so good.

“Step into the suit and ease the bottom portion up to your waist”
Got it.

“Bend over and place your arms into the arm holes and over your shoulders.”
This was a bit tricky getting the puppies into their allocated area. But doable.

“Stand up”
Oh, look at that. Maybe 10 lbs thinner. Certainly is snug.

What they don’t say on the instructions is…”
“Be aware that you will have to pee in the pool since there is no way to repeat this process once the suit is wet.”

How long did I struggle in that bathroom? It felt like hours.

A Christmas Story

My daughter was three years old. It was her first year of Sunday School and Christmas was on its way. I picked her up from class and she asked, “You know all about Kristen, right Mom?’

“Who’s Kristen, Honey?”

“You know, from Sunday School.”

“A girl in your class?”

“No, the one who makes leaves and sticks. She lives at the North Pole… or South America. I forget. She has a lot of houses. Her birthday is Christmas.”

“Do you mean Jesus?”

“That’s it — Jesus. Her last name is God, right?’