This last week President’s Day came and went without much of a thought in my home. The gym was packed and my kids went to school to make up for a snow day. That was it. It started me thinking about how little attention we pay to the holidays throughout the year that deals with our country and the pride we should be taking in it. As I pondered this, I glanced down my street and realized… where were all of the American flags on these homes? There wasn’t one hanging in either direction of my neighborhood. How is this so? It became my mission to introduce myself (and the Smarty Pants readers) to someone who stands proudly behind our country and what our military provides to us on a daily basis. I instantly thought of Jaymie Nielsen.
I first met Jaymie through my FlyWheel obsession, although my obsession pails in comparison to HER obsession. She is what I would call the “President” of FlyWheel as she knows everyone and everything going on there. She is a cheerleader for everyone and I love seeing her when I enter each morning. I also got to know her a bit as she generously volunteered her time on the marketing committee of the Isabella Santos Foundation. She and her family are routinely at our events, showing support for all we do so that makes me drawn to her even more. 🙂
The more I got to know her, the more I started to adore her. I also began to notice a theme on her Facebook posts that consistently brought attention to our men and women in service. She was not only a supporter of theirs but she was educating me one of the things I take for granted every day in my life. Sure, her Dad is pretty high up on the military scale (he may or may not have Starbucks with President Obama regularly) but you would never know it by talking to her. She believes in what these people do for us and works every day to bring awareness and honor to what they sacrifice. Just sitting over coffee with her for an hour makes me want to go out an buy a flag to wave on my front porch and get involved in her passion. My hope is that it will do the same for you.
I dig the crap out of this girl and can’t wait to introduce you to Jaymie Amos Nielsen.
Smarty Mom Jaymie Amos Nielson
Children: Jack 8, Ella 6
Years married: 16 years to my husband Erik
Years in Charlotte: Approximately 18 years
Neighborhood: Hunter Oaks
Hometown: I’m a military brat so I don’t have a “true” hometown. My hometown is here in Charlotte and wherever my parents are currently stationed which is Washington D.C.
College Alumni: South Carolina Gamecocks baby!
Occupation: Sales Manager for Marine Military Expos
Tell me how you and your husband met?
We met in high school in 1990. Erik was the handsome football player and it was really love at first sight, by the high school lockers between Algebra and Spanish classes.
High school sweethearts huh? How do you keep the spice after all these years?
I do think that a monthly Brazilian and yummy romance novels definitely add the spice to our relationship. On a serious note, we truly are best friends. We try to remember to put each other first. I probably fall short of the mark quite a bit on that and my husband does a much better job than I do.
You moved around so much growing up due to your dad’s role in the military. It seems like you have lived all over the country! Where was your favorite place to live as well as your least favorite place to live?
We moved 14 times while I was still considered a dependent through the military. Hands down my favorite place we lived was Hawaii. I was born there in a big pink Army hospital (which is still pink today) and then we moved back during my middle school and early high school years.
Probably my least favorite place we lived was Meridian, Mississippi. While my mama is a southern girl and I do love all things southern, Meridian just didn’t have the “it” to make it special.
I love how passionate you are about assisting military veterans. Tell me about the Injured Semper Fi Fund and what it provides to not only our injured military but also their families.
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is very near and dear to not only my heart but also my entire family’s heart. This non-profit was created about 9 years ago by marine spouses who saw a clear need to provide immediate financial assistance to our wounded marines and sailors who were coming back from Iraq with a multitude of injuries. The Semper Fi Fund provides immediate and lifetime financial support for the injured and critically ill service members. It takes the immediate financial burden off the family of the injured so that they can focus on what’s important – taking care of their injured marine.
Beyond that, they provide a lifetime of support through volunteer case workers that stay in contact with their assigned recovering veteran to help with whatever needs come up: a specific wheelchair so that they can bike race, a particular mattress so that can accommodate their needs, etc… I have recently signed up to be a volunteer case worker and am very excited to work with our veterans.
Tell me about the Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter, and why he is important to you?
Kyle Carpenter is a 23-year-old marine and a medically retired veteran. Kyle was a Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps and was severely wounded in combat in Afghanistan. He received the Purple Heart for his heroic efforts. He is now a full time student at The University of South Carolina. I have told him that we are adopting him as the 5th member of our family whether he likes it or not.
Kyle has had several surgeries for his wounds including a glass eye. My kids know he is a true war hero and will tell that to anyone they meet. Kyle is important to us because he is one of many wounded veterans that we feel a strong duty to look out for and stay connected with. It is important to Erik and I to teach our kids to respect all of our veterans, and to thank them for their service.
Tell me how your military upbringing has impacted how you raise your children?
Erik and I are both marine brats so I think we have very similar viewpoints when it comes to raising kids. We love our kids dearly and enjoy being with our children. However, we are much more interested in being their parents than their friends. Between a southern mom and a dad who is a senior officer in the Marine Corps it was standard operating procedure to say nothing less than “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am” followed by please and thank you. Therefore, we expect our kids to have good manners. I’ve completely turned into my parents because I routinely use the phrase “remember who you belong to” when they are headed out the door for a play date.
One of the things I love about you is our similar perspective on disciplining an 8-year-old boy. How do you keep them in line but not hinder their energy?
Jack is a very energetic redheaded little boy. The redhead part is important here because I think that adds a little zing in his energy level. And I adore him for it. I often joke that he is either going to end up in jail or running the world.
Because Jack has an endless supply of energy (seriously, can I get some of that?) we make him do push-ups when he gets into trouble. My child can argue like it’s a professional sport and hearing the word “no” from one of us only acts as a catalyst for further arguing. So we adjusted our responses from “no” to “that’s ten.” Most likely there is continued arguing because that is what professional arguers do so we reply with “that’s another ten.” Jack has now figured out that doing a bunch of push-ups is really hard and it makes him stop and think before more words come out of his mouth. Or at least I hope it does. However, when we first instituted the push-up policy he probably did close to 100 in one day. The learning curve is steep…
Who are your role models?
My role models definitely my mom and dad. Growing up they were my parents first and then when I became an adult, they were my friends. I love them dearly and turn to them for advice quite often. My mom and I are best friends and there is no one better to gossip with than her. They have given a lifetime of service to our Marine Corps and continue to do so with my dad’s current job. They lead by example on how to treat others, how to live morally and how to think beyond one’s self.
What do you and your husband like to do in Charlotte on your date nights?
Our Friday night date is a yummy grilled steak and a bottle of wine in our own house. When we go on an actual date outside of the house we love to go to a movie together and then we enjoy siting at the bar in Firebird’s for a glass of wine and a light late night supper where we are not rushed. It’s very relaxing and a great way to slow down and catch up with each other.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?
I love to take naps. If I could take a nap every day I would. I also love frozen Skor bars. And I squeal with delight when Kate Spade sends out emails for a surprise 75% off sale.
Where do you like to shop in Charlotte?
I am a Lululemon, Kate Spade and White House Black Market junkie.
What topics in the news do you feel get too much attention? How about too little attention?
Too much attention: The Kardashians, need I say more?
Too little: Our teachers. They do not get paid enough here in North Carolina. Period. Think about it… they are responsible for teaching our children skills they will use for the rest of their lives: reading, writing, math, problem solving, etc… In addition, they very often hold a second and sometimes third job to help supplement their income. Why don’t they get paid more and why are we not talking about this all of the time?
What is something about you that would surprise people?
I am a Real Housewives junkie – Orange County, Beverly Hills, Miami, Atlanta, New York – I’ll take them all. I am fascinated by the constant drama and over the top lifestyles these women lead.
What are two of the products in your life that you can’t live without?
Gel nail polish and Starbucks Caramel Coffee.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Poor manners! Is it so hard to say thank you when someone holds the door for you?
What has been the most memorable experience of your life?
Living on Okinawa, Japan when I was in the 6th grade. My dad was stationed there for one year which meant we didn’t qualify for base housing so we had to live out in town. We lived in an apartment that was the size of most people’s kitchen and living room put together. Our “rent a family” lived next door – another marine family stationed with us and who we grew up with. We were the only Americans in town. We learned to speak Japanese and made several Japanese friends. We even had a bull that lived right next door to us. Apparently he was a pretty famous competitive bull fighter. We slept on tatami mats and futons. It was even 100% legal for me to walk down the road to the local store and buy beer for my parents!
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