Catch up:the rest of 2014

 The rest of 2014 in a nutshell

This was a good year for us in so many ways, it was also the hardest year that I think we've experienced since Ernie's Dad died in 2009.

Highlights: Sicily turned 4, she is the spunkiest little spitfire around.  She is so smart and fun, and stubborn and vivacious.  I recently had a conversation with my sister in law about how she had to list qualities of her children for a private school interview, she said it was kind of hard to really think about adjectives that describe your child that aren't just general statements like (kind, nice, shy etc etc).  So let me explain my Sicily...she is complicated, a child who is quite smart and able to adapt to many situations.  She is determined when she wants to be and is good at many things but if she doesn't feel like doing something she just won't do it.

She loves princesses, being outside, she loves to color, she LOVES her Daddy and loves being with her brothers and is quite a little mother to Rocco.

We went down to Utah for an unexpected death in the family.  But were able to have a little fun with both sides of cousins.  It was rejuvenating and great to be around sweet and delightful kids.  Any time I can be around kids makes me feel happy and can shed light on whats truly important.

So, the low point of the year, was my brother Justin's death.  It was a unexpected shock to us all.  It was heartbreaking and tragic and a time in all of my family's lives that will forever and always be remembered.  My brother was addicted to pain meds, I don't really talk about it but it seems more and more people are dealing with this issue, and I just have this feeling that if I can say something than maybe, just maybe someone else can benefit from our experience.  It was so sad to see how something could be have a hold over someone.  After two times in a treatment center my brother wasn't able to kick the habit.  He lost his family, his job, his trust, his sanity, his ability to connect with people.  He literally lost it all.

I have had friends ask me what they should do about a friend of family member who is struggling, and I often find myself questioning what I did or didn't do, or what I should have done or said.  I have since realized that the hardest thing about these situations is that everyone has their own ability to make their own choices and others can try and influence, persuade, guilt trip, plea etc for them to change but ultimately it's their own choice.  I think the biggest regret I had was that I tip toed around the issue.  I wish I had been more honest with my feelings and maybe if I had been more honest Justin could have been more honest with me about how he REALLY was doing.  Would this have changed the outcome? I don't think so, but I know that I could have had a little relief after he passed away.

About a week before he passed, I bought a card to send to him.  It was an encouragement card., super random but for some reason I thought I would send it to him.  I had started writing in it but then never got around to sending it to him, so I finished it after I found out he passed away.  I stuck it in his casket and buried it with him.  I'm not sure how these things work, and what really happens to people when they pass, but I hope he knows how I feel about him.

After going through something like this I have come to terms with what happened and realize that we all have the power create our own destiny (for lack of a better cliche). I also have realized that I think as humans on this earth for one life we need to make the most of it and to not miss a moment to let others know how you feel about them.  Remembering dates, birthdays, anniversaries, just saying hello, and miss you are things I don't take for granted anymore.  If through this tragedy brings me and others closer together then I guess there is a silver lining to all things.  It's hard to find good things in these situations but I truly believe we can overcome all things and create a new life when shoved into terrible situations.

We wrote messages on our balloons and released them into the air for Justin.  It was a pretty perfect sight.

Halloween with our goofballs...after all princess Cici wanted to be a dentist like her Daddy. Roman was the best Emmett.

We had some friends  tell us about Aleyeska which is about 40 miles south of Anchorage.  We decided to forgo Thanksgiving at our house and head down there for a long weekend.  It was so great.  While the lifts weren't open due to not enough snow we were able to ride the tram and look out at the top of the world.  We hiked, swam, ate, watched movies and just had a glorious time.  I fear we have ruined ourselves and liked this so much it might become a tradition.

During our 14 years of marriage we have been able to get away for our anniversary a couple/few times.  Not very often after having kids.  We decided to take advantage of Grandma Hayes, flew her up to our house and we headed to Mexico.  It was the best vacation!!  Ern got to fish, I got some sun, we drank, laughed, slept, laid out, swam and enjoyed each other's company.  

In Alaska we celebrate New Year's Eve with fireworks since July 4th it barely gets dark.  So our Uncle Shane puts on a show for us every year.  Roman was so excited to hold Roman candles haha.  A perfect way to end the year!

There was so much more that happened this year.  We had a fabulous time exploring more of Alaska. Tirips to Tangle Lakes, and Denali, lots of fishing and playing at the lakes.  Kayayking, rafting, hiking, biking...we try and do what we can do given the amount of time and light, and warmth.  I feel like we do a pretty good job at living in Alaska and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.