Birthday girl!

26099_511639978477_125600644_30425405_427400_n Remember when I said I was going to introduce you to each of my sisters on their birthday? Well today it's Gretel's turn...

(Yes! Gretel! As in, "The suuuuun has goooooone to bed, and so must Iiiii..." I know. Two sisters with The Sound of Music names. It's fun.)

Anyway, Gretel lives in a little town in Nebraska with her husband Matt, who's a pastor, and their three children: Lilah, Silas, and Jonas. Gretel and Matt make beautifully fat, roly-poly babies. They're squishy and sweet.

Gretel is my oldest sister. We are nine years apart, and I was still little when she was in high school. She was so mysterious back then, with her own room all to herself, and her friends and boyfriends. When she left for college, a seven hour drive away, my sisters and I had that homesick, lonely-type of pit in our stomachs for weeks, we missed her so much. The breaks and weekends when she came home were the best-- full of loud music and long drives and trips to Dairy Queen. Gretel is the fun sister, the ring-leader, the one who convinces the rest of us to do crazy things. She's the reason I know so many rap songs with cuss words in them.

I love to watch her in social settings. I tend to get nervous and say forehead-smackingly silly things when I'm in a crowd, but Gretel handles everything with charm and grace and ease. On roadtrips, while everyone else is wearing sweats and flip flops, Gretel clips around in high heels. She's fancy.

Gretel has always had the best hair out of all of us. It's soft and glossy and swingy. She loves to cook, but hates to bake. She likes choral music, politics, and Christmas time. She's one of those ladies who wakes up early, stands in line, and snags deals on Black Friday. She has a beautiful faith in God, and when I lost my baby two Octobers ago, she sent me Bible passages every day for a long time. I wrote them all down in the back of my Bible and still use them when I'm sad.

She ended up marrying a guy who, in a lot of ways, is so much like Ryan it's weird sometimes. I love it. And I love her. Happy birthday to you, Gretel!

Now, I do have a picture of Gretel that involves braces, ice cream cake, and a 90210 shirt, but I will spare her the embarrassment and instead use this crazy one of us looking at a hamburger cake at the 2009 Wisconsin State Fair.
(Sidenote: We really need to start taking more photos together, sisters.)

Love you, Gretel. Xoxo.