always in my heart

you guys. Today is my mother’s birth-a-day.
You’ve never met a person like my mom. She is intense, strong, graceful, and gracious . The past year has been absolute hell, yet some of my best memories have been created all thanks to my mother.


Disneyland 2010

She’s taught me about being smart with money, about striving for the things you want, about knowing who you are and like yourself. She’d done an excellent job of teaching me balance. She knows the importance hard work, dilligence, blood, sweat, and tears. More importantly, she knows the necessity of a day off, a chance to rest. My favorite memories growing up were of the times that we did service projects—tarping roofs after hurricanes, scooping elephant poop at the zoo, cleaning our church weekly and feeding hungry missionaries. She  taught me how to have fun while working hard; these projects were never a burden or a chore. Just an opportunity to forget myself for a while and have fun working with people I love.

The other category of favorite memories contains memories of the things we did instead of going to school. One morning in particular always stands out. Everyone woke up late in a panic trying to get ready for school. I distinctly remember wearing my white collared uniform shirt and sitting cross-legged in front of the orange chair so that my mom could do my hair. She took forrrrrever. I was perplexed. We were late for school, we certainly must have been in some sort of hurry. But she sat there, neatly parting my hair into sections and weaving it into an intricate web of rubber bands. Eventually we got in the car and drove and drove “to school”. I’m sure I didn’t realize how long we’d been driving until we pulled up to the beach. She’d packed our bathing suits in the trunk of the car and we spent the day soaking up sunshine instead of being in school. Trust me, this didn’t happen all the time. Just frequently enough that we remembered that school isn’t the end of the world. Nothing is. It’s important to take a day off sometimes.

New York 2008

She sent me to Germany alone. She helped me decide to pick up and move to Hawaii. She is a constant source of supportive joy when I'm happy, of comfort when my heart feels broken. She’s the reason I’m cultured and well rounded and open-minded.


Jerusalem 2010

She’s the reason that I’ve traveled the world—the instigator behind the exhilarating night in Italy where we danced in the streets in the freezing rain bringing foreign words of disgust from a clearly religious passerby.


Italy 2009

 Texas 2009

 Hawaii 2010


Jerusalem 2010


Texas 2011

Obviously the last year has been hard, and I am still incredibly astounded at how gracefully and selflessly she has handled it. The first few months were rough. She went through a divorce, yet found strength to pack up and sell a house. She moved her family across the country and still managed to make it one of the best summers ever. She constantly looked past her own pain to try to help me in the months following the accident. She still patiently puts up with my immaturity, my sometimes-coarse language, and my cynical view of humanity and she loves me anyway. She always listens to me when I need to vent or cry, sympathizes when I’m hurt beyond my own understanding, and still encourages me to be better, to be stronger.

I don’t know how she does it. I don’t know how she’s always done it. How she constantly takes what she has and absolutely capitalizes on it—the good and the bad. Seriously, fresh out of the hospital she was coordinating funeral services and making burial dresses. She knows how to get up when she’s knocked down. I feel like a huge wimp next to her sometimes, since it’s eight months later and I still can’t get out of bed some days. Her rebound rate is quite remarkable.


Every good thing I have—be it memories or talents—have all stemmed from her hard work, unconditional love, and stellar example. I know you guys all probably love your mom and stuff but honestly…mine is just better. Deal with it.


Happy Birthday to my lovely mother. To someone who has climbed mountains and moved mountains. To someone who taught me how to write, how to think, how to forgive, and how to love.

 Paris 2009

I really, really, really love you. A lot.


Texas 2009 

Always have, always will.

Utah 2011

[Title from Miles Apart by Yellowcard]


  1. I have those same sentiments, memories and love for your mom. She is a sister to me and I love her and always will. Happy birthday Nic!

  2. Jill,
    I am the luckiest woman in the world!

  3. p.s Still sorry about that comment from the nun! :)

  4. What an amazing tribute! Loved it! Love you Bridian! Happy birthday Nicole! Ofa Lahi atu! Monika

  5. Elizabeth Schwab GaertnerMarch 1, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    What a Mom! What a Daughter! What a tribute! What an inspiration you two are to me!

    Happy Birthday, Nicole!
    Happy Day, Bridian!

    Love you both--TONS!

  6. "Did you send me something floral?"

    3:02PM Thu. Mar. 1
    From: momma

  7. What a beautiful post. I can only hope that one day my girls may think so highly of me. Your mom does rock! Love you!

  8. What a beautiful tribute to your mom. I hope one day my daughter will be able to say half the things you did. You ate both amazing. -Erin B