A Happy 10th Birthday Pizza Epiphany!

Look who's ten years old today! Doesn't he look handsome like his dad, and skeptical like his mom? I'll have to start telling him he's the world's most handsome boy instead of the world's cutest, because ten-year-old boys do not appreciate their mothers pinching their cheeks and clucking at them. Leo is no exception.

He had a fun bouncing birthday party, with many of our favorite people and families -- including several of his new classmates and their equally wonderful families. It was delightful. The picture above is him at the party, about to blow out his candles.

If you needed a double-take, let me reassure you -- that's not pizza, it's cake. A very symbolic cake. A cake that the party facility owners almost blocked because non-cake outside food is prohibited. A pepperoni pizza cake*. Which we made for him because, as of Halloween, he now eats pepperoni pizza! (And garlic chicken stuffed pizza, though its confection version is less striking.) Our lifelong vegetarian-by-choice boy is finally going to get some protein from non-legume, non-dairy, non-egg sources!

Why the leap to pepperoni, after a lifetime of gagging at the smell of meat? I do believe part of it is maturation. But mostly, I credit Judy McCrary Koeppen's, Leo's former SLP, and her guidelines for picky eaters. We used the idea of "food chaining" during more than a year of weekly pizza nights: first we got Leo to nibble on the pizza crust,  then on crusts with a bit of sauce, and then crusts with a bit of sauce and cheese (that took the better part of the year). And then suddenly he was demanding pepperoni pizza on Halloween. Was it a fluke? No, because this nomming picture is from the first weekly pizza night after Halloween, when he scarfed two pieces of the pepperoni stuff. You can see the nomming yourself in this video, which Seymour says is shot in PizzaCam. Our boy is a genuine pepperoni pizza convert (and spinach pizza, too).

Leo's pizza love means a milestone for the rest of his family, too. When we went out for pizza on the night of Leo's birthday party, Seymour noted that it was the first time ever our entire family ate the same thing for dinner. First time ever. Ever.

Our boy is not in stasis, that's for certain. I am hoping for more positive surprises and more happiness for him during this, his eleventh year on our big blue marble.


*In case you were impressed by my creativity, know that I used the guidelines from the first Google hit for "pizza cake." Though I substituted healthy-ish carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and used apricot fruit leather for the pepperoni.


  1. This is ALL KINDS of awesome! Happy double-digits, Leo! And, holy cow, I got goos bumps at the idea of the family being able to eat the same thing in one meal. I live for the day that happens in my house.

    Many, mnay happy returns to Leo and your whole family. Even with the inevitable bad days, there is much to celebrate.

  2. Impressive cake! And congrats on the expanded diet. I practically threw a party the first time my kid ate something other than a chicken nugget. And then again when he started requesting fruit.

  3. Rebecca12:10 PM

    We are still awaiting the day we 5 can eat the same meal. It really is a special day for families like ours.

    The younger of my "A team" as I call my sons has also started eating pizza over the last 6 months. Its amazing what you can puree and work into the sauce. Cheese covers a multitude of heathy things. And in our home I have worked up from a few teaspoons to almost %100 whole wheat crust, which took much time and angst.

    Love the fruit leather pepperoni!

  4. I just love seeing this post, feeling your joy in your writing and knowing that you've crossed yet another milestone that (at low points) you never thought your family would reach. God bless you, Shan, for the patience and love you have for all three of your children. Sure wish I could have donned a party hat and enjoyed the festivities!

  5. Holy cow, 10?! I can't believe how long I've been reading your words. And Tammom was right; it's so wonderful to hear your joy. Thank you so much for sharing. Yay Leo! Yay 10! Yay pizza! Yay amazing pizza cake! Yay family! :)

  6. Thanks everyone, especially Tammom and Anna who've been sticking with our family for so long. I still can't believe we have a ten-year-old pizza eater. What's next, foie gras? :)

  7. Sounds like Leo is doing great! Congrats on the expanded palette! I bet he'll start to like more and more foods!

  8. Happy Birthday (one day late)! Epiphany is the word!

    And now you are making me think, hmmmm, a burrito cake when someone turns 14 next May.....

  9. congrats!!!

    There's nothing like pizza to celebrate being able to eat pizza, except for pizza cake!!!

  10. Pizza is the best and it will serve him well in years to come! Happiest of bdays!

  11. oh happy, happy birthday handsome, tough man!...my son tells me that boys are not beautiful or cute but handsome and tough.
    So thrilled with Leo's progress. He is awesome, amazing, handsome and oh-so-tough!

  12. Handsome and tough! Yes. That is how Leo will be described from now on.

    Mmm burrito cake! There's an awesome one here: http://www.lindseyandjake.com/2008/04/17/4-years-ago/.

    Really appreciate everyone who has Leo's back, both virtually and IRL.


Respectful disagreement encouraged.