Wow, I cannot believe it has been 10 years since my first daughter was born. I know everyone says that, but it literally seems like last week I was holding her in my arm (one arm) and napping with her on the couch.
We have been through a lot in these 10 years, including our move to Wisconsin in 2000 and the divorce of Janelle and me in 2003. I know this was, and still is, very hard on you, but you were conceived in love and truly are the pride and joy of both of us.
The changes in our family are also a blessing, because now many more people have gotten to know and love you. Missy loves you just as I do, and Halle is a best friend as well as a sister.
It has been truly amazing watching you grow up. I see so much of myself in you and am very proud of the sweet young lady you have become.
You are even more beautiful today than you were on your second birthday, and I don’t even know how that is possible.
You are certainly getting older and the number of years that you and I can go Trick-Or-Treating dressed up as dalmations (some thought we were cows) is getting fewer. But I will always have these memories and pictures to remind me just how special you are.
You definitely got my whacky sense of humor, and have had it for a long time. I have never laughed so hard in my life as when you came down the stairs in February 2001 with a bowl on your head and Mickey Mouse ears around your waist yelling “Buzz Lightyear, To Infinity and Beyond!”
I hope that you will always love your daddy as much as you did in March 2001.
You have always been a little daring, willing to try new things. That is something that I love about you and something you got from me.
Like father like daughter.
At 3 years old, I knew I was in trouble!
Halloween 2001 sure was a fun night too.
You probably don’t remember this day, but we visited Zenith Aircraft company in Mexico, MO in February 2002. That was the first time you sat in a small plane. I remember that day well, and was impressed by how well you flew the little Cessna 152 last month when I let you have the controls for the first time. You definitely have your fathers DNA. And yes, one of your birthday presents from me will be an hour flying around Madison so you can show off your Red Baroness skills to me!
And then life got really hard for a while, but you were a real trooper. When I moved into my own apartment, even though it was just down the street, I felt very alone. I loved the nights you and your sister would spend with me. You were only 4 and Haley was just 18 months when this picture was taken, but you helped me out a ton taking care of her. And even today, though you may fight and Haley sometimes may drive you nuts, you are still a wonderful sister and an even better daughter.
We didn’t have much in 2003, but we still had each other. The love we shared was the only thing that got me through this terrible year.
From Eminem: “Have you ever loved someone so much you’d give an arm for? Not the expression, no, literally give an arm for?”
I tell you girls everyday how much I love you. Sure, this tattoo is kind of silly, but it’s what I felt I needed to do at the time, a constant reminder to myself that there is much more in this life than me.
And then you turned 5, the age I told my grandpa I never wanted to leave. That was half your life ago, and yesterday to me.
And since you were 5, it was time to start school. You were very brave that day, but I was a basketcase. I put on a smile, and didn’t let the world know, but I just could not believe my little baby was getting on a school bus for her first day.
Most of 2003 you were my best friend. I mean, you were always my “bestest buddy”, but especially in 2003. Even though times were very tough, we still managed to hang out a lot together, and get into just a little trouble too!
And then “POOF”, all of a sudden you turned 6.
Definitely not a baby anymore, though you will always be my baby.
And when did you learn to sucker me into everything? I mean seriously, 2 ferrets, 2 lizards, a couple of cats, a dog and 2 guinea pigs? Yeah, you have your daddy wrapped all around your little fingers.
What? Did something scare you? It sure surprised me, you went and turned 7!
It was sometime around then you developed your love of horses. I don’t know where you got that from, it certainly was not me. But you love all animals, even the creepy kind, but I guess horses are still your favorite.
A year later, and now 8 years old, and still have horses on the brain!
This picture was taken July 4th, 2006, around the first time you met Halle. Who knew she would become one of your best friends? Could you have imagined that just a little over a year from this date, she would be your sister? Me neither 🙂
So here you are, almost 9 years old, reading to dogs. Yes, life was getting much better now. The family was coming together nicely and everything just felt more like home.
Yep, everything is coming together real nice.
And then came the big day. Just a month shy of your 9th birthday. You were so beautiful in your dress, and performed your job of helping your dad and Missy get married flawlessly. My little girl was becoming a young lady then, and I could not have been more proud of you than I was on this day.
And we sang and danced “We Are Family”. And we are, and it is very good.
And then you turned 9, and apparently into a cowgirl!
And you still loved horses. By now you were taking real riding lessons. I am always amazed when I see you ride, you really do know what you are doing, and it is great that you have something like this that is uniquely “Delaney”.
Here is the latest picture I have of you, taken on August 1st, 2008. What! We have owned this home for less than 24 hours and you are covering the walls with graffiti! You are so punished little Munch! 🙂
But back to being serious one final time. I cannot express in words how much I love you. I do try to be the best dad that I can be, but you kids don’t come with owners manuals. So far you have been easy, a downright delight to raise. I sure hope this does not mean you are saving up all your bad mojo for your teenage years!
I guess when I wake up in the morning you will be about 16, 21 by lunch time, and married by dinner. Or at least that is how it will feel to me. I do hope you have a wonderful birthday and enjoyed our little shopping spree last night. I love you more than words and pictures can say, and wish you a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!