It's the way your eyes sparkle when you're about to reveal a special secret.
It's how grown-up and sophisticated your voice sounds when you and your sister pretend to be "fancy Southern belles."
It's your wide smile when you tell a joke and hurry to get to the punch line so we can laugh together.
It's the short distance I have to look down to see directly into your eyes.
All of these and so much more show who you are and who you're becoming.
Along with that comes the exciting fruit of maturity. It appears when you willingly share your espresso ice cream with your sister or as you play along with her when she tries to trick you. It's the diligence you show in doing your school work and the responsibility displayed when you complete your chores without a reminder.
While a birthday is just a day on the calendar, it reminds us of the swift passing of time, that the years we have living full-time in the same house are likely more behind us than ahead of us.
But when I slip in to check on you before I go to bed, and the moonlight slicing through the blinds lands softly on your cheek, I see the same sweet face that I first gazed upon eleven years ago - and the love that I feel spills from my heart and trickles down my face.
I love you, my dear daughter. Happy eleventh birthday!