I met her for the first time at a pizza parlor on her third birthday. (This photo was taken on a trip to the Portland Zoo a few months later, which was the first time I ever photographed her.)
That means I never got to hold her as a baby.
I didn't get to see her first smile, I didn't get to hear her first words, and I didn't get to see her first steps.
But I've been here for nine years now and that means I've got to be there for a lot of other 'firsts' like her first time riding a bike without training wheels, her first day of kindergarten, her first missing tooth, and her first crush.
Today, she's turning 12.
And just a couple of days ago, Josh Downs and I picked out a new birthday bike for her. We decided to get something she could grow into and use throughout her teens, and talked about it being the last bike we'd end up buying for her.
And last night she called me (She was at her mom's house.) just so I could hear what she sounded like as an 11 year old for the last time.
And I know there are still plenty more 'firsts' to come, but I guess there's just something about birthdays that heightens my emotions to all of the 'lasts.'
Happy Birthday Courtney Lee - I love you Chickie.