[caption id="attachment_198" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Doting on the newest addition"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_204" align="aligncenter" width="199" caption="Karissa, Spring 2010"][/caption]
My dearest Karissa,
I can't believe it has already been 11 years since you entered this world. I remember just watching you sleep for hours, too afraid that if I closed my eyes I would wake up and you would only be a dream. You were such a happy baby, always full of smiles. I remember sleeping next to you, so that I could keep you close and keep you warm at the same time. You were my first, so in some ways you were the guinea pig of motherhood for me. I know I haven't been perfect over the years, and I do have some regrets. Unfortunately, in life, there are no "do-overs".
[caption id="attachment_194" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="First day of kindergarten 2005"][/caption]
Six years ago when I stepped out on my own, you were forced to grow up just a little faster. You became the little mommy to your younger brothers when I wasn't able to be with you. I tried my best to make sure you got to still be a kid whenever you were with me, sometimes to your disliking! You are a good role model for your younger brothers, always enjoying a challenge at school, and such a loving and caring little girl all around.
[caption id="attachment_196" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Always a loving big sister"][/caption]
The day I married your step-dad, you were so pretty in your little white dress. You were all smiles that day, sharing in my own happiness and joy. You seemed really excited to be gaining not only a great step-dad, but a fun step-sister that you could look up to as well.
[caption id="attachment_200" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Mommy's wedding day"][/caption]
The following summer, when I moved to Florida, I knew how sad you would be. I also knew that you would try your best to be a good student at your new school, and make new friends once you got there. I saw you thrive at your new school, getting straight A's every report card. We talked often, and I did my best to come see you as often as I could. You seemed content, but that little sparkle in your eye wasn't there anymore. I feel responsible for that. I often wish there had been some way I could make staying with you guys work. Then I remember all the reasons that I had to move, and I know that I made the right choice, for all of us.
I remember how excited you were when you found out you were going to be a big sister again! Even though your little brothers aggravate you often, you were still excited at the prospect of another baby. Although I know you were really hoping for a little sister this time around, you took the news that "it" was going to be a "he" really well. I will never forget your first meeting with your baby brother, at your fall concert. You were so proud, and you smiled so big again! I hadn't seen you smile like that in so long! You are such a caring little girl, and I'm thrilled that Tristan has you to look up to as well. It was really fun to watch you "mother" him, so eager to change his diapers and hold him as often as you can.
[caption id="attachment_199" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Proud Sissy!"][/caption]
I love our little talks over the phone, and I really love hearing you get excited about things that are happening in your life. Whether it be a friend's birthday party, the talent show at school, or even your upcoming trip to see me over Spring Break, I'm all ears!
So, here it is, eleven years later. I couldn't have ever dreamed of having a little girl as smart and pretty and loving as you, but here you are. I am so blessed. I look forward to a time when I will be able to see you more often, and I know that time will come as you get a little older. In the coming years you will be both breaking hearts and getting heartbroken, struggling with social pressures at school, and other things that life brings your way. I just want you to know that through it all, you can count on me. I will be there for you in any way that I can. I love you and I'm so very proud to call you my daughter.
[caption id="attachment_203" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Karissa, Summer 2010"][/caption]