A gluten-free birthday at college

It’s a done deal now. My daughter, Amanda, officially started college classes this morning.

We packed her up last week and headed off to the large, out-of-state university she is attending. The week before she left, I spent most evenings in the kitchen, preparing all the gluten-free food I thought she could fit in her dorm room freezer. I made things that will be impossible to get at school, including gluten-free cookies, bread, and chicken nuggets.

And I snuck in a small, heart shaped cake that I will tell her about tomorrow – her 18th birthday. (I’m not worried she will read about it here, she’s too busy with school to read this the first day it’s posted!)

Amanda loves birthdays and was a little worried about being away from family and friends. So I spent a lot of time trying how to figure out a way to make it possible for her to have a special celebration so far from home. I was afraid to order a cake from one of the growing number of gluten-free bakeries that ship them because the university mail system is still a mystery to me. An on-campus service delivers cakes to students, but, of course, they are not gluten free. It’s nice that the service also delivers balloons and flowers, so you can guess who is taking advantage of that offer! You can usually find ways to mark special days that don’t center on food.

I’m hoping the homemade cake and other surprises will make Amanda’s birthday a happy one.


When my husband and I were driving home alone after saying goodbye to her, I couldn’t help but recall the trip 18 years ago when we brought her home from the hospital, a tiny bundle in a pink flannel blanket. That was a much easier car ride.

Happy Birthday to my sweet daughter, so quickly grown up.


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