I recently saw an Instagram post by a new mom that said something along the following,
The first 12 weeks with a newborn are the hardest, of those first 12 weeks the first 6 are the most difficult, and of those first 6, those first 3 are the hardest thing you’ll ever experience.
I don’t know why, but it sometimes helps me to remember where we’ve come from. To know we’ve come from this,
This thing that can do literally NOTHING, to this,
So that I remember what it’s like to know 18 month old Nellie forever I want to put down some of her quirks, moments and memories here so I can remember them when I’m old and grey.
WHO IS NELLIE JONES?
Omg this kid and dogs. “Dog” was her first word, so it should be no surprise that she’s obsessed with dogs, but it warms my heart. Oly is not exactly her favorite of all the dogs in the universe since she’s usually in the way, licks her too much and tends usually to suck, but still even with her flaws Nellie finds a soft spot for Oly. In the morning when she gets up she’ll hear Oly shake or stretch, and Nellie will exclaim and point, “DOG!” Or her new thing, when we come home and Oly greets us Nellie is trying to say, “Hi Oly,” but really it comes out, “Hi-O”. Which is just as adorable as it sounds. Even more precious though than loving Oly and pointing dogs out in every book, paper and pamphlet is how she warms dog owners’ hearts everywhere. Any time we take a walk Nellie will spot a dog from 3 blocks away, point and yell, “DOOOOOOOOOGGGGGG!” Usually then the owner notices how excited Nellie is and Nellie responds by waving her arms excitedly the closer the dog gets and actually squealing with delight. No matter how stone faced the person walking towards us appears at first, by the time we’ve passed them they have a HUGE smile on their face. Nellie brings joy to random dog walkers everywhere. Recently I took her to a popular dog park on the weekend and it was like I took her to Disneyland. She was so overwhelmed by the awesomeness of so many dogs running and playing that she was speechless. Eyes wide, mouth open, she couldn’t believe her luck. So. Many. Dogs. I couldn’t stop laughing. Someday she’ll be a dog hoarder, or dog rescuer, and she’ll make her mama so very proud.
This love for all things dogs also has translated to her deep love for the show Mutt & Stuff. Oh dear how this child loves Mutt & Stuff. I think we came on this show by accident, but once Nellie saw that Cesar Milan’s son was leading a dog school full of actual live dogs that dress up, go on adventures, fetch, jump, bark and SING and DANCE she was hooked. We can’t even say the full show name anymore out loud without her demanding to watch the show so now Adam and I refer to it as, “M&S”. If it is dare mentioned Nellie will begin saying, “Mutt” which actually sounds like, “Muh. Muh.” over and over while sitting on the couch demanding her programming. We have gone on to introduce this show to anyone who will listen, and have created a few more hooked kids in the process. Which is great, because as far as kids shows go, I’m a fan of well trained dogs myself.
My-oh-my, my little outdoors wild woman. She hates after coming home from school that she has to walk through the front yard and come inside. If she had her way we would come home from school and play in the front yard until she passed out in the grass. She loves running over uneven surfaces, racing down the walkway, digging in the dirt, looking at the flowers, touching the leaves of the tree, and just generally standing outside. Similarly on the back deck where our hammock, water table and slide are, girlfriend is in heaven. Her new favorite thing to do is lay in the hammock all by herself – she’s a big girl you guys – and have someone rock her. She closes her eyes and has this look of complete chillness and I can’t stand it it’s so damn cute.
Nellie’s relationship with food has changed a lot in the last handful of months. Our kid who ate everything has started to show signs of that toddler picky nature, which makes my heart sad. We continue to offer a variety of items, but her preferences are beginning to form. The report I get daily from daycare clearly shows she is NOT a fan of veggies – never eats the green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, etc – but will happily eat things with sauce, cheese, and carbs. Really, I think if she had her way she’d eat like her Grandmother and it would be an all snack meal, all the time. If she could live off puffs, bars, strawberries, pickles, baby cookies, and cheese crackers she’d be happy. Because we attempt to be good parents, we do not let her fulfill these wishes.
Dancing is a new fun thing for Nellie these last couple months. While my parents were visiting last weekend we were waiting for our table for lunch and my mom took Nellie outside so she could walk around. There was the smallest little speakers near the restaurant playing the softest music. And yet, girlfriend was feeling it. She entertained many diners by dancing to the beat, not a care in the world. Since she seems to be getting into music more and more we’ve been trying to have it on in the background at home, and the other morning Adam had his full playlist on random (which gets REALLY random) and I come around the corner to see Nellie dancing her ass off to Ludacris, ‘You’z A Hoe”. I mean, I’m raising that girl right!
Nellie’s cognition and vocabulary have been really going crazy lately, and I swear every week we realize she knows a few more words. Here are some of the ones she’s saying now:
- Water – WaWa
- All Done
- Hi Oly – Hi-O
- Love You
- Thank You – which sounds like, “tan-yuuuuu” and she says for EVERYTHING which is amazing. We have the most polite 18 month old on the planet and I can’t stand it. Hand this kid anything and she’ll thank you.
- Apple – She can repeat it when prompted, but can’t say it on her own yet
- Mutt & Stuff – “Muh. Muh”
My favorite thing too is to ask what noises various animals make. She can make the sounds for dog, cat, horse, cow, sheep, and any other animal just sounds like a yell of some sort which is adorable and lovely. I try to ask her weird animals to stump her. Because I’m a terrible person.
One Nellie-ism that remains true no matter her age is her deep love of books. Girlfriend LOVES her books. Sure, sometimes she’ll crawl into your lap to read a book, let you read one page, close it and say, “All Done” and walk away, but she’s there. Reading. Ready for you. She’ll likely go find another book, sit down and make you do the same thing, over and over till you think you’ll die, but it’s for literacy, so you do it. Our new bedtime routine is to read 2 books, sing a song and go to sleep. Nellie has realized that we stack the books to read on her side table, so when I tell her to go get her books for bed she’ll pile like 12 books there thinking she can pull one over on me. Nice try kid. Her taste in favorite books shifts every so often and when I just can’t read Charlie Brown’s Pumpkin Adventure another time I’ll hide it and see what new gem is our book of the moment. Currently books are in my bathroom, living room, kitchen, her bedroom, my bedroom, and the car. They are everywhere, and you WILL read to her. But I love it, even when I roll my eyes at the same terrible book yet again, deep down the book nerd in me is so damn pleased that she loves books as much as I do. I can only hope when she’s 10 she refuses to speak to me and simply sits in her room reading all day. A girl can dream.
I feel like I could write a million pages about who Nellie is right now. How she still needs help walking up and down the stairs to our house and pauses and looks at you with her hand outstretched so you can help her. How she loves to sit in her moose Nod Chair, the way she babbles in the morning when you get her dressed, how terrible she is at brushing her teeth, the way she has learned to squeal and run with her chest forward and arms back like she’s crossing the finish line at a race. How she’s developed anger issues with her changing table and wants to be laying on her front for diaper changes. The way she tries to run away from me when I tell her I need to fix her wild homeless lady looking hair. How no matter what state she goes to school in, she will come home from daycare looking like this.
Her all consuming love for stickers. How much life has changed since Nellie started taking showers with me. Hanging out while I shower playing with her toys, and then I fill the bath with her and she gets her bath. It’s our special time together and she just seems both so big and so small at the same time. How after not seeing her Pop-Pop since she was 9 months old she saw him last weekend and took to him like he was her favorite friend in the world. How she almost has ALL her baby teeth and looks like a little shark! How she giggles like a manic when you give her raspberries on her belly, or how no matter where she is or what she’s doing, if you ask her where her belly is she will stop and lift her shirt to show you exactly where her belly is thankyouverymuch. The way you know she’s done eating because suddenly her milk and her food is all on the floor. Arg. The way she has a shit ton of toys but only loves 2-4 toys at a time, changing preference every couple weeks. How she can stack her wooden blocks almost 8+ blocks tall, and then cries out with such glee when she nocks them all down like King Kong.
I could go on and on and on about this kid. Sometimes we see that toddler in her, and it’s terrifying. She’s strong willed, with big opinions and a loud voice, but she’s also sweet and loving and gives her dad eskimo kisses (if she feels like it) before bed. There are times, like when she’s just NOT into it where parenting her can be a challenge, but there’s also days like yesterday where we played stickers for 20+ minutes and practiced saying different fruit names where I feel like I can see the glimmer of her at 2, 3, 4 or even 5. Talking and having ideas, playing make believe and coloring.
18 month old Nellie is big and bold and exhausting and sweet all at the same time. And I think I’ll keep her.