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Tyler-

You would have been a senior this year, graduating in June. You might have been going anywhere for school, but I would have put money on Virginia Tech. You would have gotten in. I would have made sure of it. They would have called your name in the big coliseum and I would have stretched as far as possible to get the best shot of you shaking the principles hand as she handed you your diploma. It might have been awkward with the two sides of the family but we would have laughed about it on the ride home together- the six of us. We would have gone out to dinner and I would have sneaked you some booze when your mom wasn’t looking. I would have cut you off before it went too far, because we both know I learned that lesson with your sister. 😉 We would have ended the night going in our own different directions, or maybe the four of us would have stayed in and watched a movie together after our parents decided to go to bed. We would have kept talking and laughing.  Lauren and Britt would have decided to start singing Les Mis and I would have started crying about something irrelevant. You would have pulled out the jelly beans and I would have tried to eat them all. We would have had inside jokes to laugh about and we’d have stayed up until 3 in the morning creating new ones.

I would have known you better in person and I would have had another precious little brother to brag about.

But the thing is, even with you not here anymore, I have gotten to know you better every single day. I still brag about you. You remind me every day to be a better person, to push me, and to embrace it all. I can feel you. I know you know it, too. I will always wish I had more time to get to know you better before you had to go. But then I remind myself that I get to do so every day. And I’ll have that for the rest of my life. Thank you for always being there. I love you. I’m so grateful for all the important people in my life, especially my family and my three flawless siblings. We are the luckiest people in the world to have you as an angel looking after us all. Even though you aren’t here anymore, you still make this world a better place, an easier place to navigate, and remind me that even when it feels impossible, life is still worth smiling about.

We miss you. ❤

“Maybe we could find her a wheelchair to get up the volcano, right?” A WEEKEND ADVENTURE IN SICILY

I never thought I’d say this, but last month I took a weekend trip to Italy. No big deal. Just a hop, skip, and a jump over to the famous boot-shaped country of pizza, wine, romance, and gelato. Someone please pinch me.

I went in late January with three other au pairs to the island of Sicily. We stayed in a hostel in Catania, explored the city, got lost, ate pizza and gelato all day long, and participated happily in some authentic Italian karaoke.

Some realizations about ITALY: There is no better place to get good/cheap wine; The men are just as obvious about staring at your ass and as forward as they are portrayed to be in the movies; If you have never tried authentic Italian gelato, you should do so before you die; It is possible to somehow have a complete conversation with an Italian stranger (even when they speak no English) as long as you know how to say pizzeria in a fake Italian accent; Elephant statues are my new favorite; It’s pretty damn thrilling to take a hike up to and explore an active volcano; Also, if you are determined enough, you can successfully go cave exploring even with a torn foot ligament; You will never find better olive oil or honey than the stuff in Catania; Finally, life is short, so book the ticket even if you think you shouldn’t.

Some photos:

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Chamonix

Chamonix is an area in France located about an hour east of Annecy. It’s where you can get a glimpse of the infamous Mont Blanc, or take a tramway up toward the top. While we didn’t go up the top, four of us decided to check out the adorable and cozy ski lodge town on a free Saturday earlier last month. An incredible place. Even though I don’t ski, I would absolutely love to come back, to sit in a bar and pretend like I just got done with a stellar run on the slopes. 🙂

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WALES- Chepstow Castle

When I arrived at Fiona’s house in Corsham, she asked me what I wanted to see while I was visiting England. I looked at her with wild excitement and replied, “Anywhere- wherever you think is worth it. I’ll follow your lead!”

She began to rattle of various locations that I might be interested in when I interrupted her “-Oh, yea! I forgot.  My mom said I had to visit Wales.”

“Wales?” She asked with a concerned look and a furrowed eyebrow.

“Yea, she visited last year and said it was her favorite place.”

Wales?” she repeated.

“Yea,” I laughed, “Why do you look so concerned?”

“I don’t know,” she smirked and continued, “It’s just- Wales, you know? Not much different from here. But listen- i’ll take you there if you want, it’s not too far at all.”

I got the same reaction from her parents when we told them about our plan.

“You’re sister always gets lost and ends up in Wales, you know.” Said her mother in a defined, sweet British accent.

Fiona laughed and said, “I know she does.”

I shrugged my shoulders and smiled. “I’d still love to see it.”

These photos document our trip, right past the border and into the southeastern edge of Wales. They might have thought I was crazy, but I would most definitely come back again.  This place was incredible, rich with history, and wildly exceeded my expectations.

Go. See. It.

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