A Few of Her Favorite Things

I haven’t posted much about Nellie lately (except for her coke habit) so I figured I’d share a little bit of what she is into at the age of 2 years and 2 months. Here are a few things she enjoys.

Nellie enjoys sliding at her favorite playground on her butt…….

And also on her belly.


She enjoys visiting the aquarium in her lion hat…


Locking her best friend inside shark cages…


Being Captain America.


Nellie also enjoys watching her favorite movies Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, Charlotte’s Web, The Little Mermaid, Coraline, and many others. It seems that our little one has inherited our passion for movies. She’s independent. Her favorite phrase right now is “I do it”. She can count to ten, identify most colors (a bit inconsistently, and some colors are easier for her to point out than others), identify several numbers, and can sing several songs from start to finish. She loves strawberries, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and that’s about it. She’s a girl on the go. She loves to ask “What’s that?!”

Basically, she’s awesome.




Nellie’s vocabulary is starting to amaze us as well as a lot of people who meet her and find out how old she is. At her two year appointment, her pediatrician told me that her vocabulary is advanced by 6 months to a year.

This post isn’t about me bragging about my kid. I mean, it’s not TOTALLY me bragging about my kid. Promise.

Anyway, some of Nellie’s favorite words include “Spider-Man”, “Tangled”, “Princess”, and the most recently added, “Mine”. She can be heard demanding, “I do it!” or “Nellie do it!” when you attempt to get something for her, do something for her, put something on her or take something off of her. You get the picture. She’s independent. The other day, she was leaning into the bathtub trying to reach a toy mermaid inside. She was standing on tiptoe in nothing but a diaper, wiggling her little fingers as she tried to grasp the elusive red-headed seamaiden. She finally uttered in frustration, as clear as a bell, “I. CAN’T. REACH. IT.”

And I did a double-take, wondering when the hell my once 7 pound 2 ounce infant learned to express herself using clear, fully-formed sentences.

I attest Nellie’s prowess in all things lingual partly to the fact that Josh and I are always talking to her. When we shop, I talk to her. “Look at this apple, Nellie. Is this apple red? No, it’s green. Mommy needs to find some oatmeal. Where do you think the oatmeal is, Nellie?”
I talk to her when we drive. “Do sharks swim, Nellie? They do! What else swims? Do elephants swim? No, they don’t!”
One of the things I do every single day when I pick her up from school is ask her how her day went, and what she did at school that day. Generally, the conversation goes like this:

Me: “Nellie, did you have a good day at school?”
Nellie: “Mmm hmm!”
Me: “What did you do today?”
Nellie: “Ummm… I color. I paint. I play with Rocco.”
Me: “You colored, and painted, and played with Rocco? That’s awesome! Who else did you play with?”

Sometimes, I will ask her what she ate for lunch. Her response is usually, “ketchup”. Yum.

The other day I went by to pick her up as usual. I was walking out the door with her on my hip, asking her my routine questions.

Me: “Did you have a wonderful day at school?”
Nellie: “Uh… Yeah!”

We reached the car and I opened the door.
Me: “That’s great, Nellie! What did you do at school today?”
Nellie: “Cocaine.”

I’m sorry, what?

I froze midway through climbing in the car to get her into her seat.

Me: “I’m sorry. What did you do in school today?”
Nellie: “Cocaine! Cocaine mama!”

I looked at my little girl for a moment. I contemplated what to do. Should I go back in the school, demanding to know where exactly I signed in my enrollment paperwork that my child is permitted to have illegal substances with her milk and cookies? Should I go straight to the police? Should I have her admitted to a drug rehabilitation facility? She was acting more hyper lately. Maybe it was because of all the blow she was doing at school.

Me: “Nellie, WHAT did you do at school today?” I asked a third time.

And there it was. My daughter wasn’t in danger of becoming the next Charlie Sheen at all. No tiger blood ran through her veins, and I could rest easy. She just has a penchant for playing with pots, pans, and pretending to cook. Food. Not drugs.

Me: “OH. COOKING. You cooked. You played with the kitchen.”
Nellie: “Uh, yeah, mama.”

Duh, mom. I mean, really.

In Her Time of Dying: Music

Over ten years ago when I realized that she was never going to get better, I distanced myself from my mother for my own emotional and mental health and well-being. When she lived in Illinois and I in Tennessee, our relationship was easier because that physical proximity wasn’t an issue. I didn’t have to worry about seeing her face-to-face. Her grasp and power over me was weaker. When we lived far apart, I’d answer her calls. I’d actually pick up the phone to call her and talk about what was going on in my life. I was always hesitant and kept a margin of emotional distance for fear of making myself vulnerable to her, but our relationship was much better.

When she moved to Tennessee and began living fifteen minutes away and the physical distance between us was significantly shortened, I had to make my emotional unavailability even more pronounced and defined. I let her in even less, being very careful to not let our relationship boundaries get blurred. She wasn’t ever really capable of keeping well-defined boundaries and I had to be mindful of that.

One thing that I didn’t hide, didn’t bury, didn’t keep from her was music. I rarely shared personal things with her but when it came to music I was always eager and willing. When she would come over, I would play my chorus learning tracks for her and watch her reaction, watch for signs that she was impressed with the difficulty of music I was performing. I wanted her approval in that area. I cared about her opinion in that aspect, where in other parts of my life I could not have cared less what she thought. But I always wanted to share music with her, and was always open and receptive if she made new musical discoveries.

The other day I listened to the title track Barton Hollow from The Civil Wars’ album. This album has been out for a year, but I am just now hearing about them. I’ve heard their name more and more since their performance at the Grammy’s and on a whim, I listened to Barton Hollow on iTunes.
After hearing about five seconds of it, I downloaded it and moved on to the next track’s preview. After about five seconds of the second song, I just went ahead and downloaded the entire album.

I listened to the whole thing on my way home from work that day, marveling at how each track was more beautiful than the last. The blend of the two singers’ voices, the haunting harmonies, and the lyrics almost brought me to tears. I haven’t felt this immediately enamoured with a musical group in a very long time. As I was driving and listening to the duo sing, I felt very sad because it was precisely the type of music I would’ve loved to share with my mother. I would’ve played a track for her, watching to see her reaction and hoping she loved it just as much as I did.

I’m not sure what it was about music that felt safe to me. I suppose I perceived it as somewhat of superficial thing that she and I could connect with; something that didn’t have to go deeper than surface-level. Music can, of course, touch one’s very heart and soul but it doesn’t have to in general conversation. You can have a pleasant and enthusiastic conversation with just about anyone about your favorite bands and music that you like. Maybe that’s why it felt okay to me – because I didn’t have to delve deep into the reasons behind my liking a certain sound or artist.

My grief for my mother has been twisty and confusing. I haven’t really ever felt sad that she was gone, because as my mother she had been gone for over a decade. I’ve been grieving more over what I will truly never have in regards to a relationship with her, reliving the traumatic events of the week that she was sick, and getting over the shock of the fundamental fact that the only mother I’ve ever known is now dead.

Despite all of the confusing emotions, I miss sharing music with her. I am sad that she isn’t around to hear these beautiful melodies. I’m sad that her time to discover and enjoy new artists is gone, that the harmonies that she held so dear don’t reach her ears anymore.

The song below is performed by The Civil Wars, but it was written by Leonard Cohen… Who just happened to be one of my mother’s favorite artists.