This was the push that brought you into the world, and as you can see, your Mommy and Daddy are both already smiling. We were SO excited to meet you! Your entire family was thrilled beyond belief, and we were all so happy that everybody cried!
And finally, after the years of doubt as to whether you were even possible, and the months of waiting, waiting, waiting...here you were. I don't think I can put the enormity of that feeling into words.
You were the spit and image of your daddy from that first minute, and as soon as he got a look at your face, he cried with joy, and said that you were the first person he'd ever met who really looked like him and was part of him biologically, and the fact that it was so obvious that you were of his own blood just overwhelmed him.
There are a dozen pictures of family members holding and marvelling at you on the day of your birth, but the one I want to share today is of you in the loving arms of your Granddaddy. He is gone now, for about a year, and I can't even express to you the overwhelming love he felt for you, but the look on his face whenever he saw you pretty much was always the same. That man was absolutely delighted by you, as long as he lived. I can carry that on in his behalf, and I can provide the memories of him for you forever. He loved you like CRAZY, and you were pretty tickled by him, too, for the first couple years of your life. I love this picture--Zane was a big man. I'm pretty sure he could have palmed your whole little body the way he palmed a basketball, but he handled you like you were made of porcelain.
You and Daddy and I have had a lot of fun over the last three years, and Daddy and I have never lost our sense of wonder at the very existence of you. You've seen a lot of the country, and have done a lot of fun things.
This is how you slept...nursed yourself to sleep and slept in the crook of my arm or in your co-sleeper attached to the bed. I loved the arrangement, and so did you. And Daddy never minded staring at you while you slept, and stroking your beautiful little head, either. You nursed for two and a half years, and to this date you have never had any kind of serious illness or infection. You are, however, afflicted with allergies, and your parents both apologize for that, because you came by them honestly, and you live in Arkansas.
OK, so sometimes Mommy and Daddy had fun with you. I'm not saying we're proud of our behavior, but before you came along we also used to put peanut butter on the roofs of the dogs' mouths and cackle like hyenas while they licked and licked and licked. By the time you're old enough to read this, you will NOT be surprised.This picture was staged to make it look like you actually used, and possibly slept in, the gorgeous heirloom crib and custom bedding that your grandmothers so graciously provided. Thankfully, it converts to a toddler bed, which you are using now. OK, here's the deal about this. You were about five and a half months old when you first stood on your own power. This picture was taken when you were not quite 6 months old. Imagine our excitement at your obvious advanced physical prowess, and how we prepared for the surely-imminent walking. Then we waited. And waited. And would you like to know when you walked on your own? SEVEN MONTHS LATER! This was one of our first clues that you'd be doing things on your own terms and at your own pace in life. Ummm...yes. Mommy actually had you photographed at the Poodle Club of America National Specialty show, by the show photographer, posed as if you'd just won your class. In a poodle dress and bloomers. If you're scarred by this when you see these pictures later, I'm sorry. However, think what a cool print ad this could make if you turn out to be a top Junior Handler or a professional poodle handler! (I promise I didn't give birth to you just in hopes of having an in-house groomer and handler. I promise. We are, however, waiting for you to get big enough to carry a bucket of horse feed.) This picture, one of my all-time favorites, was taken by your Aunt Andrea on your first birthday. I love your expression...this is so "you". You spent countless hours tucked into this pouch. You loved it, I loved it, and Daddy even has one of his own (in a MANLY neutral color), we liked it so much. You were "worn" in the pouch for close to two years comfortably. It is a GREAT thing, the pouch. We did not routinely wash you in the sink. This was some sort of emergency cleaning situation(we've had our share with you), which you got a huge kick out of. Nor did we routinely let you drive Dad's Suburban, but this was a family vacation and a special occasion, so we thought, "What the heck, it's just until we get through Kansas." This is the closest you got to skiing on our Colorado ski trip, but you loved it. This would turn out to be the last trip the whole family took together, and it is full of some sweet memories. Your granddaddy believed in traveling in style and really took care of all of us. And he didn't even ski!
First haircut. This illustrates your spirit nearly perfectly, to me. I love this picture, also taken by Andrea. So many poodle-themed outfits. So many. Taken by camera-phone at your all-time favorite eatin' place, The Dixie Cafe. You love you some Dixie Cafe. And wearing ball caps like your Dad. You are our snuggle-bunny. You are our princess... And our sunshine. We love you, Bella-beans.