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Tomorrow marks the day that my middle child (in our home, this can also mean the kid sitting in the middle – literally, the middle child), Cooper, turns seven. Hard to believe that this much time has passed since the day he entered our lives, but I remember the day very clearly. I had been working from home for the past several days. He was overdue by a week at that point and I was easily tired most days. I told my boss that no matter when he actually arrived, I was no longer going to make the effort to go into the office, but that I would work from home. I had been plugging away for about 3 hours when my laptop froze up. In frustration, I insisted that my spouse take me and our oldest son, Parker, to lunch and shopping (seriously). We had our new kingsized bed delivered the day before and I needed some sheets. We were just going into the Mexican restaurant when I got a big contraction. By this late date, I was getting them all the time, but not regularly. Before we had even been seated, my husband was on the phone with our midwife telling her that I was in labor. I was in the background saying “I am not! I have only had one contraction. Stop getting everyone all worked up.” We then had our lunch and I was ready to head to Bed, Bath and Beyond for some sheets when Tom informed me that he was taking me straight home. I was seriously pissed off. I needed some sheets, dammit. I told him that even if I was in labor, I had hours before anything would really happen. Let’s just get some sheets first. No harm in that.

Needless to say, he took me home anyway. I was left sitting for several hours with no sheets before labor really did start up. Sadly, by this time, he had left to run an errand (not getting me sheets, sad to say) and was clear across town in rush-hour traffic. So was the midwife. And my cousin, who was going to come and sit with my oldest during the delivery, was at least 3 hours away.

Parker and I leisurely watched Blues Clues and waited for everyone to arrive. So come 7:45 in the evening, little Cooper Mitchell was brought into this world. His brother ended up hanging off the end of the bed (the old one, not the new one. I had no sheets, remember?) watching the whole thing. Parker spent the next several weeks regaling any stranger who would stop to admire the new baby about his bloody, violent entry into the world. Back in those days, his brother was the best thing on earth. Now, they spend an enormous amount of time trying to eradicate each other from the face of the earth. My cousin made it, but after Coop had already arrived. We were all hungry, having last eaten at 1pm that day, so we ordered a pizza for delivery. I remember sitting in the livingroom, eating pizza, nursing the baby and watching TV. Seemed like an ordinary day, except that it wasn’t. I had an extraordinary little person added to my life.

Cooper has always been, and continues to be, the most affectionate person I know. We used to call him the spider because he would hug you so much that he literally had to be on top of you to give you all the love he had to give, like a tarantula climbing to the highest point. He always kisses and hugs me throughout my day. I look forward to waking up to kissing his lovely cheeks. He is a wonderful boy. We are indeed very lucky to have him in our lives.

So this was all just a long build up to the fact that what Cooper wanted for dessert on his birthday was: chocolate cheesecake. What seven-year old kid wants cheesecake?? Anyway, I have dutifully baked him a lovely chocolate cheesecake for after dinner tomorrow. I also have to make a batch of cupcakes for his party on Friday. I already have a stomach ache just thinking about it. I tried to convince him that he should have something brocoli-based for at least one of them. His older brother, who normally likes to lecture all of us on the prevalance of obesity, didn’t like that idea and insisted we deliver the goods for the birthday. Funny how that works.

Coop’s Birthday Chocolate Cheesecake adapted from Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients• 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
• 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 2 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside of pod and reserved
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 3 eggs
• 1 cup sour cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used 70% cocoa)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan with unsalted butter. In a mixing bowl, combine the chocolate wafer crumbs, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and the butter and mix well. Press onto the bottom of the spring-form pan and set aside.

Roughly chop the chocolate and place in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, double-boiler style. Using a spatula, mix occasionally until melted. Remove the bowl from the boiling water and allow to cool while mixing the rest of the batter, as listed below.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, remaining cup of sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and sour cream and mix well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the center is almost set. Run a sharp knife around the rim of the pan and allow cake to cool on a wire rack before removing rim of pan.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Cheesecake may be made up to 2 days in advance before serving and will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Happy Birthday Cooper!!



  1. I swear you’ve got to be the only person I know that’ll worry about getting new sheets the day she gives birth. That’s about par for the course with you! 🙂 I’m gonna guess it makes sense getting them afterwards if you’re doing a home birth, though.

    Anyway, Happy Birthday Cooper! Remember, dad loves you more than mom cuz I let you have chocolate for breakfast. 😛

  2. Thanks for making me tear up this morning! I too love his cheeks and he certainly is a loving little boy – LOVE him! (well, love them all, but since we are honoring Cooper right now I focus on him!) 🙂



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