Posts tagged with: birthdays

Surprise! Surprise!

I’m back! Did you miss me? [At least, pretend you noticed I was gone ;)] Doesn’t the tan look good?

Antigua 3As many of our BBs know, this year was a BIG birthday – one of those with a -O at the end. Doc Cambridge offered me the option of a birthday bash or a birthday trip – hmm, tough choice, but sun, sand, sea and …ahem … well, I chose a trip. 🙂 So, off we went to Antigua for two weeks *happy sigh*.

photo 9

It was wonderful! We stayed at Sandals, in a gorgeous room with a balcony and butler service. That’s the life! Our room even came with its very own resident black cat, called Trevor. This old boy has been at the resort for at least ten years and has a fondness for coffee-mate and ham from the breakfast buffer. He also has his own Facebook page (search black cat at Sandals!).

Antigua 4Now, having been married to Doc Cambridge for a good number of years, I suspected there might be a surprise gift or two, even though we’d agreed that the trip and a rather spiffy pair of Christian Louboutins would be my presents. I was right – he outdid himself!

But the big surprise was still to come. 

Antigua 1As we headed off to my birthday dinner, taking a few lovely sunset shots along the way, I had no idea what would await me at the restaurant … or rather, who.

I walked in the entrance and was totally and utterly stunned to see a couple waiting there that I recognised. Two of our closest friends had flown in especially to help me celebrate. Some of you may recognise the lady as one of my dearest writing pals, Terri Garey. That’s her lovely hubby in the background. (And those are my spiffy sandals 😉 )

Apparently, she and her husband had been plotting with Doc Cambridge for a long time to pull that one off!

Antigua 5A truly special and wonderful birthday surprise. A memory I will treasure always.

How about you? Have you ever had a special surprise for your birthday, anniversary or other special occasion?

The Girl in the Sparkly Tiara!

So, who is this mystery girl and why is she wearing a tiara?

It’s ME! Because today is my birthday….oh, yes it iiiisss…tiara

Yep, (mumbles) years ago, my mama gave birth to a Joanie! First born, spoiled, endowed with many wonderful gifts from her wonderful parents, destined to cure the ill and injured and to fulfill her dream of writing for publication! Showered with gifts, (red check stuffed elephant with vinyl ears, Rebecca the doll soon covered with bandaids, Make up vanity, a REAL stereo) I’ve had great birthdays. 

The celebrations are a bit more subdued now…spread out as schedules with friends are hard to match up. While I’ve given myself some great presents (trip to DISNEYWORLD *hint, hint* Susan. I mean KY is between Minnesota and Florida..just sayin’) I’ve received many from friends. This years?

1. Flowerpots and dirt. These are per my request ffrom my brother along with dinner at my favorite steak house. It came THIS close to being the adoption fee for a new kitty….but decided I needed to wait on that.

2. One friend is taking me shopping….for new silverware. She and I BOTH noticed while she came to help out during my knee surgery that I only owned 4 forks??? WHO stole my forks?

3. Hugs and snuggles from my baby cats. Though raw tuna is a poor breakfast in bed..shhhh don’t tell them! It’s the thought that counts!babies

4. The Bandits. And all our BB’s. How lucky is this birthday girl to have so many great friends? Who put up with her? 😀

These are great gifts of course, but I’d love some others. Given that we live in a world of imagination, what birthday presents would you send? A hundred downloads of THE PATRICIAN’S FORTUNE?

 If ANY are half naked men…I want them fresh and not over handled 😀

Grab some cake, toot your horn and throw that confetti! It’s my birthday, oh, yes it iiiissss….




Wishing for A Seal’s Surrender

It’s Par-Tay time!!!  I’m so so excited that A SEAL’s Surrender is hitting the shelves.  So in the fine Lair tradition, we’re having a major blowout.

A SEAL's Surrender

  Today’s treats include margaritas (of course) and a cupcake tower.  Cupcakes of every flavor are being passed around by our hunky cabana boys.  Why did we choose cupcakes to celebrate this particular launch, you ask (okay, so maybe you didn’t ask.  But hey, I am happy to fill you in you anyway 😉 ) A SEAL’s Surrender opens with my heroine, Eden, blowing out her birthday candle on a delicious cupcake.  And as we all do when we blow out candles, Eden made a wish.  A very special, very sexy birthday wish.  Or should I say, she wishes for sex. 

Check it out… 

I wish for a guy who worships my body, is great at sex and makes me feel like a well-loved Goddess.  Someone who loves me, for me.  Inside and out.  And is really, really good at it.

Cupcake-Tower  And if he could be six-foot-two, with sandy blond hair and dreamy green eyes, a body that made nymphomaniacs weep and a smile that melted her panties, that’d be nifty, too.

Eyes scrunched tight, Eden Gillespie let that visual play out for just a second.  Then, with a deep breath, she opened them wide and blew.

           The flame went out.  Thankfully.  Because she’d blown so hard, the candle toppled from its perch on the chocolate cupcake.  Good wishes did that, she told herself as she scooped up a fingerful of frosting and grinned at the woman sitting across from her.   

            “So?  What’d you wish for?”  Bev Lang leaned forward, her wild red curls bouncing like springs around her cheerful face. 

            “It’s a secret.  If I tell, it won’t come true,” Eden said primly before bursting into laughter.  Yeah.  Like she was gonna lose out on her body-worshipping lover because she put the word out that she was waiting?  Still, she pulled her cupcake closer and, since it was filled with molten chocolate, used a fork to enjoy the next bite.  And fill her mouth so she didn’t blurt anything out. 

            Because you never knew with wishes.   


           “I can’t believe you won’t tell me.  How long have we been friends?” Bev asked, putting on her best fake-affront look.  It wasn’t very effective since she still looked like she was waiting for a white apron and her boyfriend, Raggedy Andy. 

          “Eleven years?” Eden guessed, counting back to the first day of high school.  That’d been the year her dad had died, leaving her mom too broke to keep paying the exorbitant tuition to the private school Eden had always attended.  Secretly terrified, she’d put on a brave face in hopes that the public school kids would accept her more than the private school snobs had.  Bev had been the new girl in town, unaware that Eden wasn’t acceptable because of her zip code.  By the time she’d learned the ins and outs of Ocean Point social politics, she and Eden had been too good of friends for it to matter. 

            “Then as your best friend since ninth grade, I figure it’s my job to help you with the wish,” Bev decided, leaning back in Eden’s faded and frayed Queen Anne dining chair and digging into her own cupcake.  “I think this should be your year for sex.”

            “An entire year, dedicated to sex?” she asked with a laugh.  She was sure there was nothing more than dust motes and the faint air of neglect floating through the formal dining room.  But, still, it was all she could do not to look over her head to see if the wish was written there in the candle smoke. 

          “You should dedicate this year to the pursuit of sex.”  Bev scrunched her nose and pointed out, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but it might take a little effort on your part.”


            When was the last time she’d had sex worth putting in a little effort?  Definitely not with that guy.  Not with any guy, if she were being honest.  Eden swirled her fork in the gooey rich chocolate, using it to make a design on the Meissen plate.  And when better for brutal self-truths that a girl’s twenty-fifth birthday.

     The last guy she’d had sex with had broken his foot trying to play he-man and do it against a tree.  Instead of accepting that he just wasn’t he-man material, he’d blamed her.  

     No wonder her love life sucked.  Look at the kind of guys she had to work with.   

Yep.  I think if I had that kind of luck in my love life, I’d be using my birthday wish on a sexy hunk, too.  Lucky for my husband, I will probably be wishing for something more fun this week when I blow out my own birthday candles.  Shoes, some fabulous book sale numbers, shoes, possibly a massage.  Or, oh, I don’t know.  Maybe shoes. 

How about you?  Do you blow out candles on your birthday?  And do you make a wish?  Does it come true?  (you can share after the fact, if it does.  The wish fairy can’t come take it back, right?) 

Aging Gracefully – Nature or Choice?

Last Sunday, Feb. 6, was my grandmother’s 93rd birthday. There is nothing wrong with her, physically, but her mind is gone. She has no short-term memory and her long-term memory tends to focus on negative things that happened decades ago. She is dying but very sloooowly. This not-so-graceful aging has spurred many discussions in my family, because none of us want to end up like that.  Is aging gracefully a matter of genetics or a choice we make?

If it is somehow genetic, we’re in big trouble. But if it’s only partially genetic and partially a matter of choice, we’re in a better position. Recent studies on aging seem to indicate that it’s both, but that attitude plays a BIG part in how gracefully one ages. Being mentally curious, wanting to learn new things and being engaged with the world seems to be a key, though medicine doesn’t know how that influences our physiology.


My little grandmother – my only surviving grandparent – has never been a mentally keen person. She has never been one to get out and socialize, never wanted to take a class or go to the theater or even play Bingo. She is the only person I know who actively dislikes music. She has no reason to live, really, but also has no desire to die. She is sort of wasting away, drinks only when forced to and eats almost nothing. She remembers none of her grandchildren or great-grandchildren and often asks my mother who she is and who her own children are. It’s sad, but I know many elderly people end up like this. So the question is: how do each of us make sure we don’t end up like that?


I think the fact that all of us Banditas and Bandita Buddies are avid readers is a huge plus in our collective favor. The fact that we are socially engaged, reading and commenting on blogs, is another big plus. We seek out new authors, new books, new brain food. We hop on the internet and research interesting topics. We seek to learn more about interesting things we read in books, on news sites or see on TV shows or in movies. I think we’re on track to age much more gracefully  than my little grandmother. It’s too late for her, but we can choose – at least in part – how much we enjoy the end of life!


What things do you do that you think will help you age gracefully? What hobbies, habits or pursuits keep you mentally engaged? What would you like to start doing in this New Year that will keep you lively for the rest of your life? I am always looking for new and interesting things to do, so please let me know!

Crisis Management

I’ve never been one to thrill to the unexpected. I don’t enjoy surprises, unless it’s the unanticipated joy of coming to a clean house, say, or a bed that is actually made up for once. These rare, unexpected treats are sources of unanticipated contentment. The same does not hold true for surprise presents.


In general, I don’t like surprise presents. Now, I might like an unanticipated gift of a large sum of money, but no one has offered that as yet. Same goes for parties. I like to at least have a vague notion of what’s coming up, even if the details are sketchy. I’m okay with free-forming things, as long as I know the basic outline. I want to know how to dress, what sort of weather to anticipate, if I need to steel myself for exposure to a crowd. You know, the basics.


My husband and I began dating just about 25 years ago, spring of 1988. We have been married almost 20 years and have raised three children. By this time, I have an expectation that he must know a little about me. At least as much as everyone here: Caren doesn’t like surprises. Any of my friends could tell you that. My children are well-acquainted with my displeasure at the unexpected (like, at 9:30 pm, “Oops, I’m supposed to take a dozen muffins in for Teacher Appreciation Day tomorrow. I have to do it, too, because it counts for National Honor Society service hours.”).


The trouble is, I’m pretty good in a crisis. So when my people drop balls (or I do), I am able to whip up late-night baked goods. I can edit an essay, book report or scholarship application lickety-split. Forms and cash for field trips, last-minute chaperoning, rides to or from activities, forgotten birthday/graduation/Mother’s Day/Father’s Day/Christmas gifts, pictures for school or church ceremonies, an emergency corsage, left-behind homework, dinner with friends, dinner for friends? All get done, albeit not always with good grace. Often, there is much gritting of teeth, some muttered imprecations and always, invariably, oaths sworn that I will never, ever do it (whatever the eleventh-hour task is) again.


But I do. So, whose problem is it that I am expected to catch all the balls my juggling family drops? Mine, of course. All mine. Perhaps if I let the balls drop, let the husband and kids suffer the natural consequences of forgetting, maybe they would learn. On the other hand, we would probably all suffer when the taxes weren’t filed, the college and scholarship applications weren’t completed (much less turned in), the financial aid forms were neglected, the cat was unfed (not to mention the kids), the friends were stood up, the concerts missed, the tasks uncompleted and the kids had to sit with the few left-behind children at school while everyone else went on the field trip. It’s seems to be a wife’s and mother’s conundrum, though there are probably also be excellent sisters, grandmothers and aunts doing these things as well. 


I was reminded of this on Mother’s Day (which was also my birthday). I was out of town for the weekend visiting my own mother and grandmother (and sisters and brother and nieces and nephew). When I returned Sunday night, I asked my youngest (who stayed behind to attend a second prom) whether they had turned in the pictures and scholarship information at church. Because she and her dad (who stayed behind because he had forgotten it was my birthday and Mother’s Day and had committed to work at a community garden) had both been at church that day. The information was due to the church office by 9 am Monday. No, of course they had not. Matter of fact, she hadn’t even started on it. Never mind that the child had 6 weeks to get it together or that the church admin and I had each e-mailed her at least 4 times the previous week. I pulled the pictures together, she stayed up late working on the paper work and we cobbled it together. Monday morning found me riding to the rescue once again, heading in to work late to turn the bits and pieces in at the church, then sending an e-mail to make sure the staff knew it was there.


My husband (who did NOT get me the one thing I asked for on my birthday/Mother’s Day, or anything else for that matter) commented that I was really cranky Monday morning and he had no idea why I couldn’t just be happy.  I told him if he was planning anything for my birthday that week (which he had hinted at the night before), he needed to let me know because I Don’t Like Surprises.  He claimed that I has asked to be surprised. I somehow managed not to scream, throw anything or harm anyone and, happily, he came through with a nifty certificate for four facials (woot!). The bottom line is, I really need to be good at something besides crisis management, if only to convince my family that I am not, despite all evidence to the contrary, a Big Fan of Surprises!


How about you? Are you the designated crisis manager for your family? If so, have you broken everyone of the habit of expecting you to jump in and fix everything? If not, who does handle the crises around you? And do you like surprise parties or presents? I’ll be expecting to hear from you and won’t be surprised at all! 🙂

Random Thoughts of a Birthday Girl

Mornin’ everyone!

Yup, today is my birthday! Feel free to bring the presents of yourselves and a birthday cake or too wouldn’t be amiss. 😆

It’s my birthday and I’ll blog if I want to, blog if I want to…. Today is just going to be a free flow post of things I’ve been thinking about this past week as I approach…um, my next year in age.

Tradition. Last weekend I attended Easter Vigil Mass. This is the service where the Catholic church accepts new members. A handful of people of various ages were baptized. Four of them were kids whose nationality was Hispanic. Those four kids wore beautiful white dresses/suits. The boys had an elaborately embrodiered arm band on. The girls? Oh, my. They were so pretty!  Long white dresses, with crinolines, lace gloves, a matching shawl and flowered headband. It was so nice to see the occasion accorded their best. Yes, I was humbled by the simple white slacks and blue top I had on. Which brings me to my next observation.

Clothes. Really designers? Really? I went shopping on that Saturday eager to find a nice dress or skirt to wear to Easter services. I found some styles I liked but the colors! The prints!! Ugh, ugh and ugh!!!! The one dress I did find they didn’t carry in my size (and it wasn’t Easter colored) but I did like it. Why? Because it was a “retro” style. A style that was in when I was a teenager in the 70’s. (Uh, uh, uh,…you all put down those pencils!! Don’t try to do the math.) A simple short sleeve shirt colloard dress with a slightly flared skirt. Sigh.

Pets. I admit it. I admit it right here, right now in The Lair. I used to “make fun” of pet parents. Not true ridicule but I just didn’t get their devotion to their pets. Not to the degree that they lay on the floor while their sick pups lay on the couch just to be by them. The missing of them on vacation to the point of pouting. 

I get it now.

Oh, I’d started to change early on when Cricket was only 2 months old. She had an episode of low blood sugar. She was in a stupor and I had to treat her with corn syrup. She rebounded back but….I slept with her on the couch that night to monitor her. Then, left both the kittehs for a week for the first time two years ago. Yes, every duck, bird, dog, fish, topiary at DisneyWorld reminded me of my baby cats. The yearning I felt for them, the concern and worry that they were missing me too about did me in. My only salvation was Creme Brule.

The depth of my total conversion happened Tuesday. Took Grayson in for an issue and his treatment for it required him to stay for about 4 hours. “Go out and do your errands,” the vet said. Um, ok. My gut churned the whole time. Returned to pick him up and had to wait for over 20 min. (the vet was dealing with an emergency). I thought I would jump out of my skin! I was this close to barreling into the back to get my baby. Explained to the tech this was my first time leaving one of them. She laughed and said “What if he’d had to stay overnight?”. Um….then I’d be on a pallet next to him the whole time.

I get it now, people. I SO get it.

Friends. I am so blessed. I have the best friends in the world. And each friend brings some unique gift to me that helps me through life. A handful REALLY get the uniqueness that is Joanie…warts and all and still they love me. Can’t discount that enough.

Writing. I love crafting stories. I want to write gut wrenching ones, fun ones, heart bursting romantical ones. I want to write like Suzanne Collins (yes, I want a multi-movie deal). I want the world to share these with me. I want it. Bad.

So that’s about it for this 2012 Birthday Meandering. What about you all? What have you been contiplating lately? Share some of your blessings with us. Oh, and here…have a balloon 😀

Share & Share Alike

by Susan Sey

This is going to be a quick one because I’m in the process of adoring my new nephew, & it’s time consuming. That new baby smell is mesmerizing. Hours could go by while I inspect his teeny weeny fingernails. He is coming home today so I confess right up front I will be busy. We have business, this child & I, so it’s likely I will be scarce. Sorry.

But I did want to mention this odd bit of coincidence: Robbie was born July 2. My mother’s birthday is July 1. My mother is from Ireland, and St. Patrick’s Day is a big holiday for our family. My latest niece (the equally adorable Claire) arrived the day after St. Patrick’s Day. My oldest child was born on my parents’ 38th wedding anniversary, & my sister shares a wedding anniversary with my parents-in-law.

My birthday is August 29, the same day as Hurricane Katrina. Another of my sisters’ birthdays is September 11. My father’s birthday is the day after Christmas, a birthday he shares with the new baby’s father, my brother-in-law.

This seems like a lot of coincidence. We’re not an extraordinarily large family, so odds don’t favor this kind of overlap. Are we just lucky? Or do all families have this kind of share & share alike mentality for important dates?

How about you? Are there any big dates & seasons of celebration in your family? What are they? Do you make a point of giving each person their own celebration, or do you go in for the One Big Party?

Have yourself a Merry Little….Birthday?

For those of you with June birthdays, you just don’t know how lucky you are. Today is my birthday. For about the last…oh…29 years or so (Ha! Ha!), I’ve had to compete with the big guy in the Red Suit for attention. There’s no going out for girl’s night in December. Nary a table or a waiter to be had. As a child, the parents got to jaunt about to holiday parties – or worse yet, HOST ONE – on my birthday. Aaargh! Humbug!

Now, lest you think I’m following in Aunty Cindy’s footsteps and being a Grinch, think again! I’m not against Christmas at all. In fact, if you were to ask me what my favorite season is, it would be Winter in all its gorgeous snowy glory. I love snow. I love cold weather. I love winter sports, snowball fights, sledding, hot chocolate, lots of quilts piled on the bed, roaring fires in the fireplace…you get the picture.

This year is starting out great, by the way. It’s not even truly Winter yet (December 21 is Yule or the Winter Solstice), but already we’ve got snow. Now, mind you, it wasn’t SUPPOSED to snow. But it did. Ah, a birthday wish come true! Ha! And its good snowball fighting snow too. Hehhehheh. How do I know this, you wonder? Guess.

So why am I whinging and whining, you ask? Well, sometimes it would just be nice to have a birthday without any of the “tinsel, trimmings, and bells” that come with a holiday birthday. My DH and children are both thankfully holiday free when it comes to their birthdays (unless you celebrate Flag Day in a big way) and I’m happy about that. As for me, it would sometimes be fun to have the balloons be birthday balloons, the flowers be roses and not poinsettias. This year, I get to share my birthday with Hanukkah too. Ah, the agony…snicker….not really, but it’s often weird.
However, since I love Winter, and I really do love my birthday – but NOT the combining presents thing! – I try very hard not to complain. In fact, I usually count my blessings and try to remember the GOOD things about my birthday, even though it IS in December.
1. The already mentioned possibility of Snow for my birthday.

2. My parents could have named me Noel, Holly, or some other seasonal name (thanks, Mama and Dad for your astonishing restraint!) which isn’t bad for some, but wouldn’t suit ME.
3. Although I don’t like the “combining” thing for presents, it does sometimes result in bigger presents!
4. I get to be a Sagittarius, one of the more rollicking signs in the Zodiac.
5. I’m in good company (James Thurber, Queen Mary Tudor, Flip Wilson, Quintus Horatious)
6. There’s such wonderful food this time of the year!
7. Birthday Snuggling under the aforementioned quilts.
8. Great dress options for a night out…thanks to the holidays, you can ALWAYS find a special occasion dress for the birthday date-night with the DH!
So, there you have it, 8 great things about a Holiday Birthday. I’m sure others can attest to the bad things – and some good – about the whole deal of being a Holiday Baby. Hey, it could be worse, I could have been born on the 24th or 25th! So, I’m grateful.
Oh, and just for the record, my favorite holiday is Halloween!
What is the best thing about your birthday? The worst? What’s your favorite Holiday, and why? If you are a Holiday Baby, or have one, what’s the craziest thing your family has done to celebrate your birthday, or in what way have they made it stand out from the rest of the Holiday fol-derol?
Oh, and it keeping with the Bandita Holiday Fun…here’s a great recipe from a lovely friend of mine. I make it often around the holidays and always think of her fondly.
Pineapple Casserole
1 stick butter (you know its going to be good, just starting with that, right?)
4 slices of white bread, crusts removed, cut into 1″ squares
2 slightly rounded teaspoons of flour
1/2 C white sugar
3 eggs slightly beaten
1 (14 or 15 oz) can of crushed pineapple
Lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. remove the crusts from the bread and cut it into 1″ pieces. Mix flour and sugar together, then stir it gradually into the beaten eggs. Pour the can of pineapple into the egg/flour mixture. Pour into casserole. Cover the top of the mixture with the bread until the whole surface is covered. Thinly slice the cold butter and dot it on top of the bread until all the bread is covered.
Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Let stand for at least 45 minutes before serving.
Dig in and enjoy!