18 months

This is what an 18-month-old cutiepie with a 110th percentile head looks like.

On Saturday, Stella demanded “more pie.” Then on Sunday, after spying the gleaming white Trophy Cupcake bakery box, she shouted “CUH-CAKES!” Today, she’s been crying out for “BAGEL!”

I’d read in The Scientist in the Crib that “around 18 months” is a time of unbelievably fast development, including a “naming explosion” wherein the child can hear a word once (used as a label for an object) andsay it with ease forevermore. I knew it was coming. I just didn’t expect Stella’s language explosion to be so intensely focused on desserts and carbs. And I’m actually quite proud of it–her love of eating is beautiful to me.

Of course sweets aren’t the only emerging area of identification and communication. She knows at least several each from the shape, color, number and letter families.  Some more reliably than others, of course. She’s all, “Seven? What the HELL is that alien scribble?” but “Two and Five? Hell yeah, I can spot ’em from across the street!” “Diamond” was the first shape she could easily say and identify, which I find funny for some reason. She’s starting to string words together, and the phrase of the day is “Buckle up!” Feeling really proud and curious, I tried to count all the words she knows, and gave up when I got to 125. She’s adding more each day. This blows me away. Now that there is so much to report on, the first thing I tell Cody when he comes home is, “Here are literally all of the things Stella said, ate, did, thought about and looked at today!” And then I don’t shut up for about 90 minutes. Dinner is always done way too late.

The way Stella views the world and her place in it is clearly different now, and you can see it in the way she plays.  The playground, two blocks away, is her domain. But she’s oh-so-boldly venturing out into previously uncharted territory.  She’s no longer content to run over the toddler bouncy bridge, go down the big slide, climb the stairs, or even to scale and descend the steep rubber mounds lurking beneath the tallest playground structure. For many months now, from the safety and comfort of the bucket swing, she’s intently observed adventurous, dirty-kneed boys and girls hiking and climbing amid the boulders and tree-root-studded dirt path that make up the strip of elevated land along the edge of the playground. She now deftly explores this rocky frontier without fear, making me nervous and proud at the same time. By the time we left today, the knees and butt of her pants had dirt ground into them. There were wood chips on her sweater and hat, and sand in her shoes. She looked like a full-fledged KID.

Today we hit the pediatrician’s office for Stella’s 18-month check-up. The weigh-in that used to fill us with dread is now just a point of curiosity, a nice bit of reassurance about her continued growth. The doctor, GOD bless him (he’s seen me at my worst), always seems so happy to see Stella. He’s just so thrilled to see her thriving after those tough early months. He “gets” how hard it once was for us, and how momentous a seemingly routine and uneventful check-up is. He seems genuinely proud of all of us, happy to show us her “beautiful” growth curves, charted electronically on his fancy tablet. Stella’s now in the 40th percentile for weight and the 90th percentile for height. Her head is still off the charts, having drifted just a touch further away from the 100th percentile, which is probably why it’s such an effective counterweight for hoisting herself onto ottomans, coffee tables and assorted off-limits areas. She’s lean. She’s tall. She’s healthy. She’s fabulous. I could not ask for more in a daughter than Stella, just as she is.

The point. Right. She’s not a baby anymore. I’ve teared up (okay, maybe even wept pitifully) about this fact numerous times, of course. Because it’s all too short. Unfairly short. As a parent, just when you get the hang of babyhood, it’s over. Just when you settle into the knowledge of  “16 months”, she turns 17 months old. Then, before you even realize that she’s outgrown all her pants, 18 months. All you can do is be glad you squeezed her all those extra times, just because you couldn’t resist, and that you read her those board books a billion times even though you really would’ve preferred to watch Ellen while eating a bar of chocolate the size of a small couch. All you can do is hold on–while letting go.

But I’m not sad. Babyhood is over, but full-fledged toddlerhood is just beginning, and if the past couple weeks are any indication, it’s going to be fun–challenging, but really funny and fun and crazy. I’m proud of  how far we’ve all come. Amazed and impressed by her new independence and communication. And in awe of her passion for dessert and dirt alike.


  1. Brooke · February 22, 2010

    I feel we are right on that cusp, and while there is a little sadness at leaving behind babyhood, I am excited about toddlerhood. I’m ready for more words rather than just whining at me because words like “diamond” and “seven” are helpful in describing what exactly they want, right?! 🙂

    • amberhj · February 24, 2010

      You are at such a momentous point…. get ready to be amazed even more! Oh yeah, Stella is not frustrated at all anymore, now that she can ask for seven carat diamonds, LOL… seriously though, she’s more frustrated than ever! More words are sorely needed 🙂

  2. amoment2think · February 22, 2010

    First of all, WOW she is beautiful. And a love all the sparkle in her eyes. I know that is a cliche but I don’t care.

    We aren’t even there yet and I am already missing my ‘baby’ as I watch our girl grow up way to fast. Excited, but missing.

    • amberhj · February 24, 2010

      Thank you! I’m all about cliches–you just can’t avoid them when you have a cutiepie around all day. Enjoy every baby moment you can–and know that it really seems to get more and more fun as they become more fully themselves…

  3. Jenny · February 23, 2010

    so sweet, and so exciting!!!! as heath is inching toward his first real words i get the biggest thrill thinking that someday soon i’ll be able to *talk* to this favorite person of mine! stella is such a smart cookie and will have so many wonderful insights to pass along. she is the picture of health and happiness, and growing so fast. all we can do is soak it up, i guess!! and take sh!#loads of pictures of their amazing beauty. so precious.

    • amberhj · February 24, 2010

      Thanks, Jenny! It’s an exciting time for both of us, isn’t it? Heath is developing so much lately, even since I’ve met him I see such fun changes, from the way he can support himself to the way he interacts with more intent purpose to the way he wields a spoon. He already says so much with his expressions. Can’t wait to hear him start to use words! You do a great job of capturing and appreciating wonderful moments–not much more you can do than that. Well done!

  4. Jessica · February 23, 2010

    Great picture – she’s such a sparkler! It was good to read this today as I have not been in a good place with Logan off and on these past few days – he is just FRUSTRATING me to no end for 60% of the day. Grrrr. And he’s night-waking which is hell on my mood. So it was nice to read this to remember to take a deep breath and remember it all goes much too fast – even the crapola times!

    • amberhj · February 24, 2010

      Thanks so much, Jessica! Sorry to hear about your frustration. I SWEAR every mom I talk to lately is also experiencing extreme frustration at the moment! Night-waking is an epidemic, I swear. You are NOT alone! Going to post about that soon–I have a theory! Hang in there and when in doubt, bring him to Trophy Cupcakes. HA! This too shall pass….

  5. olga · February 23, 2010

    awwwww…..! she does reming me so much of zia. this talking thing, it’s wonderful and amazing and FUN and i am willing to bet there will come a time when you will buy her cupcakes just to get a moment of blissful silence.
    hooray and the emerging personhood. hold on and let go, thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    • amberhj · February 24, 2010

      Hey friend! I hope Stella is as poetic as Zia was/is–good LORD you should jot all those gems down and publish her early works NOW! And you bet, I’m not above using cupcakes strategically 🙂

  6. Heather · February 24, 2010

    You should be so proud of her. From reading your blog I know you’ve been through a lot.

    I’m so impressed with her speech. It makes me realize just how delayed our son Henry was.

    • amberhj · February 24, 2010

      Hey Heather! Thank you for the supportive comment! I sure am proud. THAT SAID, Einstein reportedly didn’t talk until he was 3. While early speech is definitely reassuring it’s not really to be seen as an indication of superior intelligence, though of course I believe Miss Stella to be very smart. Also, boys usually develop language at a slower pace than girls, and it’s perfectly normal and expected. At each check-up, we get a handout from our pediatrician with helpful age-appropriate tips and milestones and “what to expect.” The 18-month handout said “vocabulary of 4 to 10 words progressing to 2 words together at 2 years. Speech may not be clear.” Our doctor said Stella was ahead in this area but pretty soon all kiddos even out and no one will remember who talked first!

      • olga · February 26, 2010

        well, hell. OUR 21 month handout said 50 words plus simple 2-word combos. i guess it all depends what computer program they use. i’ve chucked ’em all anyway: zia was so far ahead it wasn’t/isn’t funny, and the boy, well, he’s alive and off the tube and had 3 months of hospital stays when he was just trying to breathe. i figure his “mama (h)ome, dada (h)ome, maneemow [=lawnmower]” works for me. 🙂
        and can’t wait to hear your theory on sleep! coun’t me in as a frazzled sleep b***h — he’s refusing to nap AGAIN!! AAAAAAAAAAA! is it too early for martinis (which i don’t really drink but they sound like a good idea)???

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