Sunday, September 29, 2013

I Want to Remember

Today Ellie is 18 months old. A year and a half! The six months since her birthday have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I know that I'll go to sleep tonight and wake up and tomorrow we'll be celebrating her second birthday. It's going to feel that way, anyway.

I have really been trying to memorize so many details of Ellie's life and development over the past six months. The first year of her life was so heavily documented, through not only the blog and our monthly photos and letters to her, but also her baby books (yes, plural), calendars, etc. I have a very thorough, enduring record of Ellie's first year of life and I'm so grateful for that.

But all of that really stopped at one year, and from here on out, any documentation of detail is going to require a more concerted (and less guided) effort. The calendars ran out, baby books continue only yearly now, and we decided to stop the monthly letters and photos after 12 months, now reserving them only for birthdays. At Month 13 I felt a little lost, with a nagging feeling of "shouldn't I be writing this down?!" It felt strange to transition from such heavy documentation to nothing at all.

It seems strange that we stop all that at one year, because the past six months have seen Ellie develop in leaps and bounds. She is a full-blown toddler now, running possibly more than walking. Her verbal development has really boomed in the last couple of months, and she is able to communicate most of her needs and wants through spoken word. She is also starting to put words together to form little mini-sentences. Her personality continues to be on full display, as she is unabashedly her complete self, ALWAYS. She has strong opinions and isn't afraid to express them in tantrum form if things aren't going her way. She loves cats and dogs, music, Elmo, bubbles, and walking Achilles. She's back to sleeping through the night (cue me knocking on ALL THE WOOD) and takes one midday nap. Her favorite foods are bananas, pancakes and string cheese. She has twelve teeth. And, quite possibly most exciting of all, SHE IS FINALLY GROWING HAIR.

And that's just a quick summary of 18-month-old Ellie, but over the course of the past six months, there have been so many little things about her that I am forever trying to burn into my memory. Because I never want to forget these things. And because I know my memory tends to fail me, the best way to ensure that these Ellie-isms will live on in my mind is to write them down, right here, right now.

So, off the top of my head, these are some of the things that I most want to remember about 12-to-18-month-old Ellie:

Signing: I still hope to have a fuller post about baby signs up one of these days, because we have loved baby sign language. It has been wonderful for Ellie to be able to communicate before she could speak. Now that her verbal skills are growing, I know the signs will start to be phased out, but I never want to forget how sweet she looked when she did them. My particular sentimental favorite: the "milk" sign when she wanted to nurse.

Ellie signing "eat," "more" and "all done"

VIDEO: Ellie showing off a few of her signs

Sponge Bob: I love that "Sponge Bob" was one of her very first words. Crazy kid.

VIDEO: Ellie says "Sponge Bob"

Beads: Ellie went through a phase where she wanted to wear beads all the time. First thing in the morning, she would put on her beads and would wear them until she went to bed. She'd wear them out in the world and get compliments on them and everything.

My bejeweled baby

Walking in Memphis: Her early strut down the streets of Memphis, with her arms up in the air (something that has already gone by the wayside), was so insanely adorable:

Look at her go!

Ellie and Peabody:

I mean, I just can't.

Her thumb-sucking:

What a doll.

Her first barrette:

The cheeks! The long lashes! The tiny clip! Too much.

Her goofy faces:

She kills me. Seriously, I am forever cracking up at this kid.

And her sweet face, too:

Those blue eyes...

And of course, that smile:

There was a time when I was concerned that teeth would ruin her adorable gummy smile. She's not so gummy anymore, but I would hardly say anything was ruined! She's too sweet.

How much she loves her "Kill-ee":

They're buds.

How she sometimes likes to play peek-a-boo in her crib when you get her up in the morning or from a nap:

Good morning!

How much she loves to give kisses, both to her family members and to her toys and books:

Such a love.

The way that when she figures out she can get what she wants by saying a new word, that word gets stuck like a broken record:

VIDEO: I think Ellie wants up. But who can say for sure?

The sweet sound of her voice:

VIDEO: Ellie saying a few early words

Her happy face when you figure out what it is that she wants:

VIDEO: At least she knows what she wants! (Or, more accurately, what she doesn't!)

Her "Where is it? Where did it go?" hand gesture:

In this case, "where did the airplane go?"

The way she "shops," by browsing the racks like a real grown-up person:

It's totally your color, girlfriend.

Her constant quest to find any and all belly-buttons, both her own and everyone else's:

Belly buttons can be wily. You gotta keep an eye on them.

Her always-graceful eating style:

I wish she would just let loose and enjoy her food.

Her unbridled love for "Melmo:"

She's obsessed. All day long all I hear is, "Melmo? Melmo?" as she points to the computer or the TV. She realizes I have the power to make Elmo appear as if from nowhere, and she is not afraid to ask for it.

Her impromptu dance parties:

VIDEO: A little Ellie dancing compilation

How much she loves chasing birds at the beach (or anywhere, really):

"He will be my squishy."

VIDEO: Chasing the birds at Jacksonville Beach last month

The way she has started to imitate me: She has started to want to do what I do, and it's adorable. If I'm sweeping, she wants to grab the broom and give it a try. If I'm wiping something up with a paper towel, I better give her one, too. The other day, I was putting lotion on my face and looked down to see her watching me while rubbing her face just the way I was rubbing mine. It's fun to watch her learning before my very eyes!

She commandeered this broom so she could sweep, too.

Her love of our neighborhood cats: Every day, I hear, "Achilles? Walk? Meow?" all day long because Ellie knows that when we take Achilles for a walk, we'll go find her cat friend. And when we do, she plops right down with her best buddy to catch up on old times.

"So, what's been new with you, buddy? Tell me everything! Don't leave anything out!"

VIDEO: Stalking her cat friend. I totally have the kid who hunts down a cat, laughs maniacally, says "Boo!" at it and refuses to leave it be.

Her boldness: One of the things I admire most about Ellie is her fearlessness and willing to go out into the world on her own, to meet new people and try new things. I told a story a few weeks ago about how when she heard a balloon pop, she immediately requested more. Likewise, in the above video of baby signs, after getting hit directly in the face with a stream of water, she asked for more then, too. Another anecdote that I feel really sums up her personality is this: in my limited experience with other children, it seems that a common strategy to get the kid to hurry up and follow you as you walk somewhere is to walk away, calling "bye!" back to the child. If I do this to Ellie, she looks at me, says "bye!" and blows me a kiss, and keeps walking in the other direction. The girl is already eager to leave me in the dust in pursuit of new adventures.

"See you later, Mama."

Most of all, I love and want to remember Ellie's enthusiam, excitement and joy. Her laugh is the greatest sound, her grin is the greatest sight, and she is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

See how much joy she has here in this picture? That is only a tiny fraction of the joy she has brought to my life.

It continues to be an overwhelming pleasure to watch this little girl growing up. I'm so proud to be her Mama. She is my sunshine.

Happy 18 months, baby girl. 


Dad/Papa said...

Loved it all and miss her like crazy. As soon as I saw the video of her saying "up" I started laughing all over again even before I played it.

Lauren said...

She is really growing up. The baby signing is awesome, we plan to do that in the future too. Her smile and voice are precious, love it all!