Nerd Night: Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’m not gonna lie; I’m a little verklempt today. (Spellcheck insists that verklempt is not a word. Spellcheck is now dead to me.) In just a few short weeks, my blog turns 12, which isn’t all that remarkable, I suppose. But it means that when I started here, Chickadee was just 6. And today, Chickadee is 18.

I once gave birth to a baby and now that baby is a full-grown adult human (theoretically) and I HAVE MANY FEELINGS TODAY. I will give you just a glimpse of some of that, in a minute, but of course we all know the important thing here is THE GOODIES. (Of course.) This morning the kids had traditional birthday cinnamon rolls, as is dictated by family law (prepared yesterday, refrigerated, and pulled out and baked wayyyyyy too early this morning), but yesterday for Nerd Night I made buttered popcorn chocolate chunk cookies.


I adapted ever-so-slightly from that recipe as written (I chopped up Hershey’s Special Dark bars instead of using chips), and she says she adapted slightly from the version in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. (Also, shout-out to Carmen for posting about these cookies and not being offended when I demanded the recipe.)

A heaping plate of cookies left for Nerd Night and that was the last I saw of them. “A little weird but really good” seemed to be the consensus. I may actually try a gluten-free version of these at some point, because 1) salty/sweet chocolate is my jam and 2) there is so little “cookie” and so much popcorn and chocolate, I think it will be amenable to sometimes-finicky gluten-free adaptation.

* * * * *

Last night, Chickie lingered downstairs, sort of following me around instead of going up to her room at her regular time. Her birthdays have always brought a measure of angst along for the ride so I just let it go. It wasn’t until she was hovering over me around 10:30 while I was finishing the dishes and thinking about going to bed, myself, that I asked her if she was gearing up for a birthday freakout.

“Maybe?” She said. “I don’t know.” We looked at each other, years of shared experience hanging in the pause between us. “Maybe I’ll wait until tomorrow,” she offered, almost hopeful. We laughed.

“Listen, this is a GOOD birthday,” I said. “For years we just didn’t even know if we’d get here, and—”

“NOPE,” she said, waving her hands in the air. “Stop talking. No. Don’t. You’re doing that… thing… with EMOTIONS… and I can’t. We’re not talking about it.”

“Okay,” I said. I washed a few more knives and set them off to the side of the sink. She kept standing there. I moved on to the bowl from the mixer, and for a few minutes I really had to scrub to get the cinnamon roll dough remnants off the sides. “It’s just,” I said, after a bit, “I am SO PROUD OF YOU—”

“I’ll cry,” she warned. “Stop talking.”

“Okay,” I said. I finished the dishes and wiped out the sink. I turned to face her. “Why are you still HERE? GEEZ.”

“I was waiting for a hug,” she said. She flung her arms wide. “HUG MEEEEEEEEE!”

I did. I hugged her hard and long and I managed to keep my mouth shut but oh, the things I wanted to say about how much I love her and how hard she’s worked and how lucky we are and how bright the future looks. I wish she could see herself through my eyes. But she’s walking her path and I’m walking mine and I’m just so, so glad those two paths weave in and out of each other as much as they do. And when someone asks you to stop talking (twice) it’s probably time to stop talking.

Tonight we’re going to do a Very Special 18th Birthday Thing together, and I’m excited about that, but mostly I am excited just to be here and for life to feel stable and good.

18. We all made it. Today is a good, good day. Today may just be the BEST day.


  1. Mom24_4evermom

    Happy Birthday!!! <3 <3 <3

    This made me cry and I so needed to hear it.

    I'm so happy for all of you.

    • Kim

      Right there with you, sister. Hurray for Chickie! Happy Birth Day, Mir! And now I’m verklempt, too.

  2. Elz

    Happiest of birthdays to your not so little one. You’ve all come so far, baby.

    I’m amazed at your bloggy determination, I honestly can’t even remember my log in. So, yeah…plus, cookies!

  3. Dave

    The correct spelling is פֿאַרקלעמט.

    Happy birthday to Chickadee!

  4. Julie

    We all knew there was going to be crying today. Happy, happy to both of you, today and all year long. What a great team!

  5. Kate

    Is the pollen making my eyes water right now? Maybe, but so is your post. I’m so very, very happy you guys made it! Happy birthday Chickie!

  6. Alison

    Happy birthday, Chickie! I love this post. My own girl (13 as of this minute, though I expect I’ll blink and she’ll be 18) is not so much about the Words of Affection and the Hugs, so I especially enjoyed this story. And many felicitations to you for getting to this point with your girl as well!

  7. Dallas

    I feel so old that Chickie is 18 — I’ve been reading for at least 7 or 8 years! Gracious.

    Congratulations to you and Happy birthday to Chickie!

  8. Brenda

    Is it weird that I think your readers are pretty firmly Team Chickie and Team Monkey and so today feels celebratory just because we’re all rooting on Team Mir and Co? Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

    • Kim

      I’m firmly Team Mir. And Otto. Team Otto 4eva!

  9. el-e-e

    Happy, happy bird-day to the amazing Chickadee!!!!! And to you, Mom: Ya DONE GOOD.
    Really, really good. A+.

  10. HG

    Damned onion ninjas.

  11. Jabberwocky

    Happy birthday Chickie!!!!

  12. Stacy

    Happy birthday, Chickadee!

    And, wow – yum, I’m thinking those cookies would be a big hit at my house.

  13. Jenna

    Happy Birthday Chickie!!! My how time has flown.

  14. Cheyenna

    Happy happy birthday!! 🎂

  15. Corey

    Happy 18th Birthday to Chickie!
    I’m totally NOT CRYING at work while reading this, thinking of my own Chicky (odd coincidence about the shared nickname), while some things loom in the past, present, and future that sound quite familiar every time I read here.
    Hope it is the BEST birthday yet!

  16. Rachel

    Happy birthday Chickie!

  17. RuthWells

    Perfection . Way to go, Chickie. Xo

  18. Wendy

    Happy Birthday Chickadee, I remember the “we made it” feeling well.

  19. Jeanie

    Happy birthday, Chickie! Wow, 18! Now that you’re “of age,” can we see a picture of you? Have a wonderful birthday!

  20. Melinda

    Happy birthday Chickie! My eyes are watering…must be the pollen. :)

  21. Jodi

    Oh Mir, I’m thinking back to all those nights emailing, when you thought you were never going to get here. I’m so happy for you, and for her.

    Happy birthday! Much love to you both.

  22. Bob

    Happy birthday, Chickadee! And happy birthday to you too, Mir. A milestone for you both.

  23. The Other Leanne

    Chickadee, look real hard…do you see us all standing kind of ghostly there behind your mama, waving and high-fiving? You’ve had this team of cheerleaders all along, and we’ll be there no matter what your age. Be proud of yourself, you’ve earned it. Happy birthday, Chickadee. Fly high or wing it.

  24. pharmgirl


    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

    I hope this finds you with crumbs on your shirt and ribbons in your trash.

    Warmest Regards,
    (the one to the left of The Other Leanne, standing with the ghostly mob behind your mom)

  25. js

    Happy birthday, Chickie! Happy birthday, blog!

  26. Brigitte


  27. Chris

    Happy belated birthday Chickie!!!! (and still just as proud of you as your momma is)

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