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Settling into their new house in Louisville, Ky., Larry Birkhead and his daughter Dannielynn, who turned 3 on Sept. 7, are living proof that love can triumph over tragedy. After her mother, Anna Nicole Smith, died of drug-related complications, the tot was the center of a custody battle which continues today. Through it all, America has only wanted what’s best for this little girl. At last, it seems she’s getting just that.

Away from the spotlight in her photographer father’s hometown, surrounded by family and friends, the mini Anna and SpongeBob devotee is just like any other child her age — which is exactly how her doting dad wants it.

Can you believe Dannielynn is 3?
It seems only weeks ago I was bringing her home and now all this time has gone by and she’s bigger and wiser and such a great kid. Her birthday is a happy occasion. Parties are always stressful for me because I try to make them these big blowouts. But she’s at the age where she appreciates it now and she’s excited — although I’ve been warning her that she has to give up her bottle when she turns 3, so we’ll see how that goes.

She’s a mini Anna — they’re identical!

It just happened in the last year. I have photos where they look exactly the same. She loves posing for the camera like Anna, too. And she’s going to be tall like her mommy.

CHECK OUT OK!’s EXCLUSIVE PICS OF DANNIELYNN AND LARRY AT HOME!

What’s the cutest thing she does that makes you smile?
We were flicking through stations on the radio in the car the other day and she starts singing along to this song, “You’re a jerk, you’re a jerk.” I have to watch what I say around her now because she’s a sponge.

Do you love being a dad?
I do! It’s hard work and time consuming but it’s worth it when I hear her laugh. All my friends are out in bars, but I don’t miss it. In fact, I’m morphing into my parents — I’ve become corny and sensible.

Does she miss Anna?
She misses her mom so much. Right now she’s at the age where she’s noticing that other children in television and in books have moms. She said to me the other day quite seriously, “Where’s my mom?” It was sad but I explained to her, “Your mommy is in the clouds and you’ll see her again one day.” She knows who her mom is, though — I make sure of that. Our home is filled with photos of Anna and recognizes her straight away. I want to keep her mom and Daniel in her mind.

What do you hope for Dannielynn this year and in the years to come?
I just want her to be a kid and not worry about all the nasty things going on in this world. I’m her shield and that’s how it will always be.

Interview by Sarah Ivens

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