happy birthday

The Thanksgiving I was pregnant with Virginia, the Mr. took Isabella to the Macy's Parade. It was too good an opportunity to miss, with a window view that brought the floats and balloons to life. Since we host Thanksgiving dinner, I stayed home to cook.

While walking home from getting bread at the bakery, I began to imagine future Thanksgivings, when the girls would wake up and help me make the traditional cinnamon buns for breakfast.

Then I imagined how they'd feel coming home for a visit from college, running down in the morning. Beckoned by the scent of warm cinnamon wafting up the stairs to their rooms (we had finally moved into a house in this dream too).

And then, I imagined the first time they'd bring a special someone home for the holidays.

The next part was my downfall.

I imagined them going to their husband's family for Thanksgiving. I thought of the empty chairs that I'd have to face as we sat down for our meal.

Then I imagined their children. My grandchildren.

Then I imagined watching them from another place. I was no longer alive. My time on this earth had passed, yet I was still keeping an eye on my girls. Watching their families begin new ones too.

This all passed in a matter of three blocks, and by time I got to my doorstep, I was sobbing.

What a sight I must have been, four months pregnant, carrying bags of groceries, all alone on Thanksgiving morning.

And then, yesterday, I watched this commercial. It's as though the director read my mind.

It feels like the last seven years have been the blink of an eye. My dear sweet angel baby—as my mom calls her, turns seven years old today. Even crazier, is that her sister turns two.

Yes, my girls share a birthday. Sweet, indeed.

Though would you believe me if I said I was in tears the night I went into labor with Virginia? It meant for the first time in five years, I was going to miss Isabella's birthday. My face would not be the first she saw on waking that morning back in 2008.

I'm getting choked up just thinking about it. Oh, who am I kidding. My face is tear stained just recounting the Thanksgiving story.

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I remember being so worried while I pregnant with Virginia. I was so smitten with her sister, the thought of having to share my time and love with another felt frightening. Would there be enough to go around?

Silly me, I know. See that's something you can only understand once you become a mother. Of course, there's enough love. Time becomes a bit of the villian, with the feeling like I can't spend as much of it with each of the girls as I want.

But, love? Well, there's no shortage of that.

And it is a trait I've passed down to my girls. It seems ever since pre-K, we've had a child with one food allergy or another in Isabella's class. Rather than see this is a burden, Isabella has challenged me to create new recipes that all of her friends can enjoy. She understands that sharing a meal, of any sort really, creates a bond. It's a show of love and joy.

For Josephine, we created Friendship Cookies. They are an egg-free chocolate chip cookie.

This frosting recipe is for Oliver. He is allergic to cow's milk. It bothered Isabella that he could never partake in the treats brought in for everyone's birthdays. She wanted him to finally enjoy a celebratory cupcake with the whole class.

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I figured the cupcakes would be easy since I've been experimenting with baked goods using olive oil for the last month or so. I was deliciously, right, and you will soon get to see for yourself when I share the recipe for chocolate olive oil cupcakes.

The frosting was going to be the challenge, or so I thought.

How would I replicate that creamy classic frosting? Then I remembered the local healthfood store sells butter made from goat's milk.

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On opening the package, I was struck by the bright, white color. It almost looks like shortening or lard. The taste has that very distinct flavor reminiscent of goat's cheese. The baby didn't mind it a bit.

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And if you're wondering just how good the finished frosting tasted, well, take a look at this face. It's one of the many mementos I'm adding to my mental memory box, because that is one thing I will always have—even after my girls go out into the world on their own. And when they come home, I'll be waiting there with arms spread wide, ready to give them the biggest hug imaginable.

Happy birthday girls. 

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Oliver's Buttercream Frosting

makes enough to frost 36 cupcakes or one 2-layer cake

8 ounces goat's milk butter, softened

10 ounces confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

3 tablespoons almond milk

Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar to the bowl (all at once is fine), making sure to turn speed down to the lowest setting. Mix until the sugar is mostly combined, then increase speed to medium high.

Scrape down bowl. Add extracts and beat on high. Scrape down bowl. Add the almond milk and beat on high speed until very light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Frost cupcakes or cake as desired.

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Comments

  • Carol@nycitymama.com: Sweet, sweet post. Both the recipe and the story. Love it.

  • Kris (kmulkey007): Wow, that’s amazing that they have the same birthday.
    May 10th is my birthday too. I was the first of four, and was born on Mother’s day. It’s a great day to be born!!
    In my family three of the four of us have close birthdays – 4/29, 5/6, and 5/10. And then there was the September baby!!!! #4.
    : ) Kris

  • Jennie: Kris, would you believe me if I told you they were both also born on Mother’s Day!
    Happy belated birthday hon :)
    And Carol, I still owe you a birthday pie…unless, of course, you want cupcakes.

  • Gail: Happy BIrthday to Isabella & Virginia. And Happy Anniversary to you, Jennie, on the most important event…. giving birth to your sweet little girls.

  • maggie: Happy birthday girls!
    I’ve just finished designing a cookbook of treats without eggs, dairy, or nuts for kids who are allergic. There are a lot of substitutes made of soy and stuff–I like that yours are more natural!

  • Carol@nycitymama.com: Jennie-you know anything you make for me I love….and also, your angels share a birthday with my baby brother : ) Happy belated to them! xoxo

  • Tom Conway: A very Happy Birthday to IRP and VRP!!
    And Jen, your story reminded me of something my mother always said – A son is your son until he takes a wife, but your daughter(s) is (are) your daughter(s) for life.
    Enjoy this day and every moment with them.

  • Sarah Reynolds: Oliver was so chuffed when he got home – you certainly made his day! I think he felt as special as the Birthday girl! Thank you for your sweet consideration. XX

  • Jan (Family Bites): Now I’m weeping. I have two boys and I always worry they will eat holiday meals with their wife’s family, because that’s how it seems to be most of the time with the people we know. On the other hand, if I make cupcakes that look as good as this, they’ll have no choice but to eat at home!

  • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite: A beautiful post Jennie! Your girls are so lucky. Birthday hugs xoxox

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  • Stephanie: Hi, love this post and can totally relate to it. How many times have I fast forwarded through my life like that and then felt so relieved to return to the present…
    On another note, I also make homemade birthday cakes for my entire family, and I secretly hope that they would do the same for me one day. Until then, I always order a cake and my husband drives across town to pick it up so at least that is better than nothing ;)

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