Saturday, October 24, 2009

Birthday Girl Bio

The Birthday Girl had the flu yesterday, so I was busy nursing her back to health, and there was no congratulatory blog on her big day. So today I'm going to overcompensate and give you a big look into her life. She's a pretty interesting girl, so you'll enjoy it.

Here she is with her whole adorable family. She's one of those lucky girls who's got a truly wonderful, devoted husband--one who will do anything for her. She and Drew have been married for 13 years and she was a military wife for most of that time. After watching my daughters and their friends for the past decade, I've decided no one serves their country like a military wife. Their sacrifices are immense and these women are the unsung heroes. (Don't even get me started on that one...)

Here's her cute house. She likes to plant flowers and has something of a green thumb, as you can see. It's much prettier than the picture shows.

Here's a shot of the inside. I just love the way she's hung her family pictures here. She's got a decorator's eye and a really cute home. I think Pottery Barn knows her on a first name basis!

Now, before you go thinking she leads a storybook existence, check this out. This is what the bathroom looked like right after demo! Eww! Mold inside the shower walls! She and her friend Crystal are remodeling it themselves. It is about half-way done, and looking great, so I'll publish the pics when they are finished. You've got to be impressed that they would even tackle a job like this!

She's also into health and fitness. She's a Crossfit trainer, and she coaches us three mornings a week in her garage. She can personally take the credit for the fact that my limbs still move. Thanks to her, I can do squats, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups and even run around the block if I have to. She is a dedicated coach, and we all need her and love her for it.

Jaime is in to her family. She laughs a lot with them. She's also into health and she's diligent about feeding them nutritious, organic food. No McDonald's in this house. She's a really good mother and gives her kids a lot of guidance and attention, instead of just "things". She makes them tow the line, too. So her children are well-behaved, grateful kids, and that makes them a pleasure to be around.

This was when the world was still right, before Joey went to Heaven. Jaime and Drew were still pretty newly married here and their first-born was just an adorable wee thing. I love how fresh-faced they were--just starting their lives together. Joey was home from college for a visit. Jaime and Joey really liked each other once he grew up! Before that, he was just the annoying little brother and she teased him pretty much all the time.

(My goodness, look how all my children dwarf me! How I miss being in the middle for those family hugs. )

Once they grew up, they couldn't get enough of each other. I know not all siblings are this close, but for some reason these 3 are. They didn't live near one another, so maybe that was part of the great chemistry they had together. It was always a grand time when Joey showed up. I know Jaime misses her brother every moment of every day.

One of my favorite shots of the three of them--all of them so radiant with the simple joy of being together.

As you can see, Jaime's a pretty adorable girl. She's funny, insightful, and a natural leader. She is a legendary dancer, who always takes center stage when she gets her groove on. She is also into music and can pretty much "Name that Tune" on any song from 1980 forward. She's also feisty, out-spoken and honest, and she loves God. She is a breath of fresh air.

This is both of my girls in their tutus. Jaime is in the blue one, and was not yet 2 years old when I took this picture. She pretty much lived in her tutu for a couple of years. Then she became obsessed with bathing suits, and would wear them as a second skin, never removing them, even when bathing. She wore a suit till it was shredded, then we switched it out for a new one. I don't think she does that anymore.

She looks like she's got a secret, though.

Here, Jaime with JoAnne, me and Rachel. I love this shot of all four of us girls. We all love it when Our Rachel comes to visit. Rachel and Jaime have an extra special bond, I think because they remind each other of aspects of Joey. Anyway, they seem to get each other's humor and laugh at the same esoteric, subtly sarcastic jokes.

Jaime also adores her dad and laughs at every single joke that comes out of his mouth--no matter how many times she's heard it! They are kindred spirits. Once when she was little, she told me that her dad scared her (I don't remember why--what was it, Jaime? ). But as you can see, not anymore.

Here she is with her big sissy, JoAnne, (who is, judging from the soup JoAnne brought for her yesterday, her second mother), and two of her dearest girlfriends, Crystal and Stephanie. Jaime's got a knack for making friends. She's got several really close girlfriends from childhood that she keeps up with long-distance. She's got another group of friends from Maui that she keeps up with. She doesn't do "superficial" and tends to have substantial, deep, and long-lasting friendships. Once you're in her heart, she never lets go!
Bosom Buddies (no, I didn't just say that!)

This is Kristen, with her mom and my friend, Kathy. Kristen is Jaime's best friend since they were in diapers. Now those two have got some stories together! And a very special friendship.

The kind we all wish we had.

Both my daughters made it through adolescence and to adulthood without a body pierce or a tattoo. I was always proud of their clean, beautiful skin. But when Joey passed, it felt necessary to put his name on our arms. Jaime keeps her brother near her this way. This is what is on her forearm now:

This little slice of Americana is from their high school days--Jaime was a senior, Joey was a freshman (but still such a baby). These were school team photos, but I never heard how this shot got taken. Who initiated it? Did you do that, Jaime? I doubt that Joey, as a lowly freshman, would be so bold. This just captures such a great moment in time, that we would have forgotten without this picture. The Lesson? Take pictures, people. You never know when they might become essential to your existence.

With her beloved brother on a cruise ship.

Well, I could say more, but I've already said a lot. She's a keeper, that girl. She gives a lot of love and delight to all of our lives. Happy Birthday, dear Jaime, and wishes for a blessed year. Your Mama loves you so much.

We know our birthdays will never be quite the celebration they once were, but with each passing year we know we are closer to being all reunited again. Thanks for being our girl and walking arm-in-arm during the worst that life brings.

We all love you, Beautiful Girl .

Psalm 45:11

The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for He is your lord.

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karen gerstenberger said...

What a great birthday gift, from mother to daughter! I feel as if I just entered your home and met Jaime; I already like her and admire her.
It's wonderful when parents and kids are FRIENDS, and not simply relatives. You have done a beautiful job of fostering such a relationship, and it looks as if it's a privilege on both sides.

P.S. Someday, will you write more about the Maui years? I love Hawaii so much, and feel "at home" when I'm there. I can hardly imagine being able to live there.

Maisha Bonnie said...

wow...that is just beautiful Karen. and so are you Jaime. I love you guys.

Hula Girl Izzy said...

Wow. Thank you Mom for all of those wonderful words and all the love you expressed in this post. I am touched and even cried. Thank you so much for being such a wonderful mother to me and teaching me so much about life. You made my sick birthday into a good birthday. Thanks for the hours of laundry and cleaning and taking care of me yesterday. I love you very much.
Jaime ( signed in under izzy's account)

flowergardengirl said...

Happy Birthday Jaime!! Your momma loves you and I know you know it. What a sweet momma and wife you are and really pretty too.

Karen, no mother could have written this more heartfelt and proudly. I could see you spanning the years and going through pictures both physically and mentally.

And you are correct---take pictures people!

Doug Spencer said...

Karen, thank you so much for giving us yet another insight into your wonderful family. I felt I go to know Joey so well after he went to be with the Lord when I read through his entire travel blog and all the things you've posted about him. Now I get to know a bit more about your's and Joe's family with this trip down memory lane regarding Jaime. It is always heartwarming to read of people's successes regarding their families.

Anonymous said...

What a great shout out to the Merz! Sorry to hear that she was sick - glad to hear the mama was caring for her - how sweet!

I love the tutu picture. That was the day you all came to the airport to send us on our way to Africa. The green sweater arm is Fro's. The girls were doing a little dance for our send off! Nice!

Some things never change - Happy Birthday Dancing Queen.

Love you Auntie Viv

Mackenzie said...

What a beautiful post, Karen. Jaime is a special, lucky girl to be loved so much by her mom, family and friends. I know I sure feel lucky to know her. Happy Birthday, Jaime! I hope you kick that flu's butt and go out to celebrate soon!

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

she is beautiful... i'm bettin' she gets that from her momma... whose inwardly much healthier than i think she gives herself credit for sometimes...


i wish... your ache would lessen.

Anonymous said...

You did alot of work here and only for our enjoyment...perhaps yours as well. I related to the last post about our ache. I think it changes course but will never lessen. I love you guys. Sharon

Van Down By The River said...

I love the post! Made me tear up, it was so sweet and so accurate... I know moms like to exaggerate but I can vouch for all of your words. What a loving portrait! Love you Jaime!!