Valerie Nicole is 12 years old today.
When Valerie was born to us early in the afternoon of January 24, 1997 the first thing that caught our attention was how huge she was. No exaggeration. I mean huge. She weighed nine pounds, five ounces. Huge. All that evening and the next two days doctors and nurses and other patients and visitors would knock on Carrie-Anne’s hospital room door wanting to know if they could come in and see that baby that weighed 9,5. (It’s funny because today she’s so skinny I call her ‘Twig.”)
It was like Valerie was already a couple of weeks old when she came out. The very first moment I held her in my arms and talked to her and told her how beautiful she was, her eyes met mine and locked in. It was like she was truly paying attention to me, maybe even contemplating me. Possibly, even then, considering how she would manipulate me into giving her everything she ever wanted. She looked around the room as I held her in that first couple of minutes, taking it all in. It was really quite remarkable. She didn’t cry. She didn’t thrash around. I half-expected her to begin talking to me. It was strange.
And since that moment, Valerie’s always been the child who wants to see everything, do everything, and know everything. She’s always sat sideways in the car. Always. Still does. Staring out at the world as it goes by, taking it all in. She was four years old when I drove her to day school at the Mesquite Church when, totally out of the blue, she asked me, “If the world is round, why is that line straight?” She was talking about the distant horizon. I had no answer.
Valerie is our adventurer. She’s our explorer. Whitney wants to go to ballgames. Carley wants to visit the zoo. Valerie wants to spend the day at a cave in Central Texas or out in the woods. She wants to go where nobody else goes and do things she’s never done before. Except for vegetables and casseroles, she’s open to trying anything once.
Or twice. Or three times.
Following the traditional family birthday dinner out last night, we got her a hermit crab. Or, I should say, another hermit crab. This makes hermit crab number three, I think. Her first one died trying to switch shells. It just kind of disintegrated. Weird. The second one, we say, committed suicide. Valerie woke up one morning and the crab—Bob, I think, was his name—was holding his head in his little pinchers. Creepy. You regular readers of this blog already know Valerie lost two birthday rodents this time last year. This post regarding the demise of Cookie — R.I.P. Cookie — was talked about around here for weeks. That single post generated a KK&C record 35 comments, including Mel W’s link to a classic Super Bowl ad and Jason W’s well-crafted sports reference rant. Still the all-time high water mark for an open line of conversation and fellowship and discussion provoked by a single post. Most of it at my expense. But that’s OK. Lessons were learned. I’ll not be bathing her new crab. I promise.
Back to my little middle. Valerie. She’s beautiful. She’s funny. She’s smart. She has a gorgeous voice and I love to hear her sing. She memorizes words to songs she’s only heard once. She dances in front of her mirror to “High School Musical” and “Hannah Montana” and throws the football with the boy across the street. She makes friends with everybody. She’s considerate and kind to others. She never stops reading.
We’re so proud of Val-Pal. Our God has blessed us with this big-eyed gal who laughs at everything and pretends to know karate. There’s no limit to her potential. By the grace of our Father she truly can do anything she wants, she really can have anything she wants. I know our Lord has huge plans for her. I can’t wait to see how he’s going to use her to bless his Kingdom.
I love you, Val. Happy Birthday, sweetie.
Happy birthday, Valerie. You look like you’ve grown up into a beautiful young woman. Tell your mom and dad that you want a little brother for your next birthday!!