I've included the four photos above because of what they represent. The picture of Larisa as a baby, asleep with her arms flung out is precious to me because that's how she slept as a baby - relaxed and secure. In each part of her life she gives her all - her children, her marriage, her family, her friends, her job -- even her sleep -- although as the mother of two preschoolers she doesn't get nearly enough nowadays.
When she was almost four, her brother was born. She didn't show a bit of jealousy but enjoyed her new role as big sister. The two of them were close growing up, and they continue to be good friends today.
My father, known as Grandshaw, gave her the nickname Stinkeroo when she was little, and I still call her that occasionally. She was Stinkeroo - her brother was Scalawag.
I love the photo of her in the striped sweater. That mischievous grin shows her funny side. She has a terrific sense of humor, but balances that with kindness and compassion. She was a tomboy at times, and very feminine at others. She'd play soccer and basketball, but she wanted bows in her hair. And that's funny because she has to practically bribe her own two daughters to put a bow in their hair for a special occasion.
The school photo also reminds me of her first day of kindergarten when she asked her father, "Which looks more like a school girl?" Then she proceeded to model carrying her bookbag over her shoulder and then carrying it by her side. She wanted to be sure to do things properly.
The wedding photo shows her with her husband, Steven, and their dog, Caesar - who is a story unto himself. A few years after the wedding, they became parents to the angel I call Sweet Stuff here, and then a couple years later, Sunshine came along. I always knew Larisa would be a good mother, but watching her with Sweet Stuff and Sunshine, I am just amazed at what a wonderful job she is doing with the most important job anyone can have.
Today Larisa is a successful business woman, and she daily juggles a zilliion demands. She calls her mother (me!) every single day, and now I talk with her whenever I have an important decision to make. She's my friend, my little girl, my tee-not, my Stinkeroo, my precious, precious daughter.
Happy birthday, Larisa. I love you!