Happy Birthday to Me

Photo by Jessica Diamond

I’m more excited about my birthday than I normally am, perhaps because I’m still around to celebrate it. No, nothing is wrong with me. I don’t have a terminal disease (unless you consider life to be a terminal disease, which in a way, it is). But I am getting older, and I’m aware of the fact that many people who are almost 60 are in poor health for one reason or another. I don’t have any complaints, and that makes me hopeful. You see, I’m hoping to make it to one hundred. That would give me another 42 years on this earth. When you look at it that way, 58 doesn’t seem so bad.

But of course I’m not likely to live to be a hundred. The average life span for someone like me is around 85. Which gives me 27 more years. Still a good chunk of time, but then you have to consider that the last ten at least won’t be spent running marathons. But then I don’t run marathons now, so what would I be losing?

Normally, birthdays don’t mean much to me.  I make an effort to remember others,’ but I honestly don’t care if anyone remembers mine. Oh, I don’t mind a phone call, but gifts are strictly optional. I’m the same way at Christmas. Sometimes my children have been too strapped for money to get me a present and I can’t even tell you who or when that was, just that it has happened at times.

My husband, on the other hand, loves birthdays. That’s partly the German in him; apparently birthdays are a very big deal in Germany. You’re treated special for the entire day, from breakfast right through dinner. I have had to adapt myself to that mentality if only for the sake of other people, but it just makes me uncomfortable to be fussed over on my birthday. It’s not like I did anything to deserve it. I’m just still alive, that’s all.

My reluctance to be recognized on my birthday might date back to the year I turned sixteen. No one even mentioned it was my birthday until dinner that night, and it wasn’t because they had a party planned for me or anything. It was just an “ordinary” birthday. Maybe I’m afraid of being disappointed again, so I’ve trained myself to not expect anything.

I’m writing this at 2:30 in the morning of my birthday–the day is yet to unfold.  I’ll let you know how this birthday panned out. I’m not expecting anything, but I have a feeling this is going to be a good one.

NOTE: I had a great birthday, mainly because my family was all around me (except for one of my daughters who lives too far away) and I had many happy birthday wishes by email and phone. I also ate till I was stuffed, on pizza and cheesecake (not together). My youngest daughter spent hours–literally–making the cheesecake, which was stupendous, my third daughter hosted the party and my oldest daughter drove from a couple of hours away to be there with my grandson. My in-laws in Germany sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers and my wonderful husband made me feel special from the start of the day to its end.  Thanks to all for making my birthday memorable in the very best way.

Top 35 Women’s Health Charities

A few months ago, Suzane Smith shared the “Top 35 Women’s Health Charities to Learn About and Support This Holiday Season.” Of course, the big holiday season is over (although there’s always one around the corner), but I thought I’d share her list anyway because these charities always need your support. If you want more information on each charity, visit her X-Rays Vision-aries blog for capsule descriptions for each charity.

All of the charities listed below donate at least 60% of their funds to their programs.

Continue reading “Top 35 Women’s Health Charities”

The Pregnant Bride

Yesterday I raised some questions about getting pregnant before marrying. I cited some statistics about how many parents are avoiding marriage and how many babies are being born out of wedlock. I also questioned whether it was the most responsible thing to do. Having written all that, however, I have to admit that pregnant brides are becoming more prevalent and accepted. Also, if I had to choose, I’d rather see a woman get married while she’s pregnant than wait until after the baby’s born. Not all brides-to-be agree with me, but I think it’s sweet, and also symbolic of one important reason to get married: to give a child a safe and secure environment in which to be raised.

First off is a video about Destination Maternity‘s bridal fashions for pregnant brides and bridesmaids.

The main thing to keep in mind when choosing a wedding gown is that your shape is going to change, sometimes dramatically, the closer you get to your wedding (and due) date. If you can get a fast turnaround on a custom gown and your wedding isn’t too far off, you can get away with a fitted gown, like the one shown in this video.

The empire-waisted gown pictured to the right is from U.K based Tiffany Rose, which has several maternity gowns at reasonable prices. The Athena, approximately $520 (U.S.)Also check out this article from the Daily Mail (U.K.) for more pictures and statistics.

A particularly exciting (and eco-friendly) source for maternity (and other special occasion) gowns is Jessica Iverson Couture. Check out the 2010 Collection here. [Note: Don’t assume that an empire-waist will fit you all through the pregnancy. You get larger around your diaphragm, too, because of the baby pushing up. So take that into account and consider elastic!]

Another thing to keep in mind is your shoes. You definitely want them to be comfortable; high heels are probably out. You also have to take into account that your shoe size may change as you progress in your pregnancy because of swelling.  Some brides (not even pregnant ones) change into comfortable shoes like flats or even tennis shoes (in white!) for the reception.

Looking for a cake-topper that reflects your situation? Check out Magic Mud for custom-made wedding toppers such as the one pictured here.

Then there are the beverages. There should always be another option than alcohol for those who don’t or can’t drink–like the bride. The bachelorette party will need to be alcohol-free as well. And not too rambunctious!

As for the wedding and baby showers: You could simply have the wedding shower now and the baby shower later. But that depends on how close you are to delivering. If both are imminent, you might want to combine them for a little different twist.

Babies Before (Or Instead Of) Marriage: What’s Your Opinion?

Does it matter when Baby comes?

The just-released State of Our Unions report tells us that the percentage of kids born outside of marriage rose from 18% to 40% just since 1980. Not only that, but the number of kids whose parents are “just living together” rose from just under half a million to over 2.5 million during that same period. But that doesn’t mean that marriage is on its way out. The same report states that among high school seniors, 71% of boys and 82% of girls said that “having a good marriage and family life is extremely important” to them. But at the same time, over half also said “having a child without being married is experimenting with a worthwhile lifestyle or not affecting anyone else.” (Except for the child, of course.)

In data collected by The National Campaign, 47% of 18 to 24-year-olds say they expect to marry and have a baby with their current partner, but not necessarily in that order. Certainly, the example set by celebrities is that it’s almost the norm to have one or more children–or at least getting pregnant–before marrying (if they even marry at all).  Are young people today following the lead of those who are in the public eye, or are the celebrities merely mirroring the changing norms of society? Or is it a little of both?

It might sound like I’m disapproving. And I am, a little. I can understand an unplanned pregnancy precipitating a wedding. I can even accept a woman having a baby when she doesn’t have an ongoing relationship with the father. But if you’re going to get married anyway, why have your baby before the wedding? Wouldn’t you rather be husband and wife before you’re father and mother?

Continue reading “Babies Before (Or Instead Of) Marriage: What’s Your Opinion?”

What I Know

I just finished reading Alice Eve Cohen’s What I Thought I Knew which is a memoir about her late-in-life, unexpected pregnancy. Sprinkled throughout the book are lists that Cohen titles “What I Know.” The items change over time to the point where Cohen apparently decides that she never really knew what she thought she knew.

Using her lists as inspiration, I thought I’d write one myself, keeping in mind that what I know today may not be what I know tomorrow. So here it is:

What I Know

  • I love being a woman.
  • It’s hard to be a woman.
  • I thought I would be a perfect mother.
  • I failed, but my children survived anyway.
  • I loved having all daughters.
  • My grandson made me love boys.
  • The first time I married I wasn’t really ready.
  • The two marriages I rushed into turned out horribly.
  • The two I waited for were much better.
  • Marriage is all about expectations, failed and fulfilled.
  • Divorce isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you.
  • Death of a loved one is.
  • Getting older is disheartening and scary.
  • It is also liberating.
  • Being a woman isn’t about youth and beauty.
  • It’s about survival and wisdom.

Invest in Girls

These videos are part of the “Because I Am a Girl” Campaign.

From Canada:

Go to “Because I Am A Girl” Plan USA to learn more, do more, donate and make your voice heard.

Also check out Beaut.ie (The Irish Beauty Blog) for more information.

Thanks to the In the Sisterhood blog for directing me to this campaign.