Tuesday, May 22, 2012


May 12, 2012. 5 pounds, 11 ounces. 19 inches long. 10 fingers. 10 toes. Practically perfect in every way. Like Mary Poppins. But an infant. And no British accent. And less...witchy. Nadia Grace May has arrived. My sister, Jill, has delivered her first baby and I am...AUNTIE.
Unkie Dan with Nora and Pats
Summer 2011
My mom is an only child. My dad has ONE brother who's 12 years his junior. That brother has ONE 22 year old daughter. I have an older half sister 16 years MY senior. She has ONE 19 year old daughter. So, technically, I have one niece who feels more like a cousin and one cousin who feels more like a friend. I'm so super hip I'm friends with 22 year olds. Jealous? My one uncle, one aunt, one niece and one cousin are absolutely fabulous and obviously I love them dearly. But, I've never been a part of a big family where cousins would run around together at every holiday and were raised like brothers and sisters. I never had a ton of aunts to confide in and a ton of uncles to...get tickle tortured by? I don't know. What do uncles do? My mom and my husband grew up in families like this. It's so foreign to me. Like sleep away summer camp. You either get it or you don't. I've never really gotten it. And then, our eyes met. Nadia to Auntie Jenny. Widow's Peak to Widow's Peak (she has my hairline!)Taurus to Capricorn. Chica to chica. And someday, woman to woman... And, now I get it. 
In the blink of an eye, the stakes are a million times higher.  We're like a real deal FAMILY now. Pats and Nora have instantly gained a best friend for life. I feel like the decisions I make for my girls now somehow will impact another child that didn't come from me, and I feel this immense pressure and responsibility and excitement about that. Everything has changed. Even who my single brother- in- law dates instantly carries serious weight. An annoying voice or a passion for quinoa can't be taken lightly anymore. She's gonna be my kid's AUNT. Like I am Nadia's aunt. Like Jill's husband, Dan, is uncle to Nora and Pats. Ah, Dan...
Dan has always been family. Always. He's personally seen me through good times and very bad with respect and unconditional support. He's sat through 743 MILLION Nutcracker performances of Jill's. He's cheered her on and supported  her through 3 college major changes and eventually proudly watched her become a doctor. He's held her hand through every dark time: from a pair of jeans not fitting to the loss of her best friend. He's not LESS of an uncle to Nora and Pats because he's simply my sister's husband. I've never ever felt that way. But this weekend, platelets shifted and it became ROCK SOLID. Baby Nadia set it in stone. We now share BLOOD. She has made it real. I look into her barely open eyes and I not only see my beautiful niece. I see my sister, I see my dad, I see Pats. And, I see an engineering major from the University of Florida who went from a nice guy my sister was dating to hands down one of the closest, most important men to ME. Its official. Its forever. I feel silently bonded to Uncle Dan for life. 
A shot of me holding baby Jill.
This baby has a BABY. Crazy.

Jeremy and I had one kid in the midst of all our close friends having one kid. We felt like "Whoa. We're totally grown ups." But not really. Just one little baby didn't throw us that far. We totally could still carry her car seat into our favorite restaurant and enjoy a quick but nice meal while she snoozed. We still felt normal. Then our second came along. A little more tied down perhaps, but I mean, we still schleped across the country 3 weeks post pardom. Going where the gig was. Doing what we needed to do. Making it happen. But suddenly, that  feels...over. A not-even-6-pound baby girl just changed the game entirely. COUSINS. These girls WILL grow up together. Nadia WILL know me. My success is hers. Her joy is my light. I cannot properly describe the unique love I have for this child. Maybe it's too sacred to articulate. So different from my feelings toward my own girls, yet equally intense. I feel this overwhelming pride and responsibility to emotionally protect her. And my sister. My LITTLE sister? Wasn't she 14 yesterday? I mean, I watched her graduate and graduate and marry and graduate. But now it's really real. We're moms. WE'RE MOMS! Finally I get to share this amazing journey with her. I didn't realize how much I longed for this bond until it just happened... Nadia's birth just may have become the most significant moment in my life. I am overflowing with love thinking of these girls growing up together. And the thought of Nora experiencing this feeling when Patsy has her first baby and/or vice versa...it's quite possibly the most amazing feeling I've ever had. But we have a long way to go for that, I know. Let's conquer Nora giving up the boobies and wiping her own ass first. Oy. A long way to go, indeed.

Jill loves chocolate. My 19 year old niece, Ellen, can't have dairy. So, keeping it "all in the family" here is the best chocolate cupcake I have ever had. And ready folks? It's VEGAN! Wha, Whaaaa? I know. But it's true. No dairy. No eggs. No critters of any kind! Just delicious, delicious chocolately happiness!
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 c sugar
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c warm water
1 tsp vanilla 
1/3 c oil
1 tsp vinegar (every time I've made these I've used red wine vinegar cause that's all I had! I'm sure white or apple cider vinegar would be fine)
This is SO easy. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I don't even use separate bowls of sift anything. Just mix it all together in a big bowl until well blended. I literally use a big spoon, don't even bother getting the mixer out yet. (You'll need it for the frosting.) Either pour into a 9 inch square pan for cake OR 12 paper-lined cupcakes. 
Cake: 30 minutes
Cupcakes: 18 minutes
1/2 c Crisco Vegetable shortening
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c water
1 tsp vanilla
A slice and a shot. Of Unsweetened Soy Milk.
Who have I become?
I said its vegan. I never said HEALTHY! But awesome never the less. Just beat with an electric mixer until all the ingredients come together and it looks like...frosting! Wait till cake is cooled completely. Frost and enjoy! Decorate as you please. If you have a bit left over, store in a small tupperware and pop in the fridge. I promise I won't judge you if you dip pretzels in it alone in the kitchen while your kids are plopped in front of  "A Bug's Life" - the third time through- on a rainy day. I mean, I would never do anything like that...but you live your life. I  would go straight in with the spoon. Or more likely, my fingers. But ya know...Do watcha gotta do, girl.