Hey Al, It’s Christina

Warning: This is not a home-related post.  It’s for my brother, SSGT Alex Viola.  

So, it’s been a year.

A whole year that you’ve been gone.  Wow.  And ya know, there are still times that Lucas’ll say something funny and I’ll think to myself “Alex’ll love this!!”, then I halt and rephrase in my head “Wait. Alex would’ve loved this…”.  Dang.  I really hate it when I do that.  It’s like a shock to the system every time.

One thing that I can say is that you’re definitely missed. By me, family, friends, everyone.  I hear, see, and read about it all the time.  You made an impact on so many people and I’m sad that I didn’t really get to see that until after you were gone.

I’ve been making it a point to talk about you to Lucas at least once every day to keep his memories fresh.   Even if it’s just to remind him that you gave him his bomber jacket.   It fits him a bit snuggly this year, but I’ll make him wear it until it no longer zips if I have my way.   He hasn’t complained so far, so I think we’re good for now.   It’s funny that even though he’s so young, he seems to really get it.   He says that you’re in “Kevin”.  Which I happen to think is hilarious and refuse to correct him on.  I figure, he’ll realize its “Heaven” soon enough, so until then, he can at least up the entertainment value around these parts.  Plus, I know how much you’d love it.  Heehee! 😉  I know that he thinks about you regularly…. The other night when mom and dad were babysitting, Lucas rearranged the peas on his plate and said “It’s a flag for Uncle Alex!”.  And last night, that missed call on your heaven-version-iPhone was Lucas.   He “called” and left you a voicemail.  He may have sounded a little drunk, but that’s only because he ate a lot of pizza.

In the year since you’ve been gone, there are some things that have happened that I think  you should know about:

1.  Your Santa tradition was and will be carried on.   Last year, Anthony took over in your honor and he did a great job.   And somebody will do it this year and the next, and so on and so forth.   I’ll make sure of it.   The Santa suit you procured will be put to good use as intended.

2. Lucas has become obsessed with the ninja turtles, just like you did.   When he started getting into it, I had flashbacks of you as a child.   He even likes Michelangelo best like you.  AND much like your kiddo self, he also has ninja turtle underpants.   I had to have a “serious” discussion with him, though.   When he first got them he was so excited that he would drop trou at any point in time for anybody so that he could show them his new ninja turtle skivvies.  We had to instill the golden-rule of “underpants are secret” and now he’s over it.  He dresses like a turtle all the time, now.  Shell, bandana, nunchucks.  Everyday.  He even sleepwalks with them.  He gets up, dons his gear, walks around, takes it off, and goes back to bed.  It’s SO funny.  You would love it.

3.  Lucas has reached the age of ridicule.  Seriously.  There’s this vile commercial for Lalaloopsy Diaper Surprise that I absolutely despise.   I’m guessing that they ban this ad in Heaven, so allow me to paraphrase… It’s this doll that, well… craps out a charm for a charm bracelet into her diaper after she’s fed water.   The commercials show these little girls getting all excited about the contents of the doll’s diaper, and next ya know, they’re wearing the charms on their wrists.   It’s SO gross.  Ugh.   What is this?  Training for little girls to look forward to dirty diapers??!!!   And the icing on the cake is the annoying jingle that plays throughout the course of the commercial.  Anyways, Lucas has picked up on the fact that I hate this commercial more than I hate celebrity baby names.  Thus, every so often he’ll approach me under the guise of “I wanna hug” and then proceed to softly sing the commercial into my ear.   HE KNOWS!!!!   He totally knows!!!  And I could totally see the two of you ganging up on me and having a grand ole’ time together.  You were waiting for him to reach this age, and I hate that you aren’t here to see  it.

4.  SO many funds have been raised for the Wounded Warriors Fund and Green Beret Foundation in your name.   Honestly, my brain hasn’t been all there this past year, so unfortunately, a lot of these efforts have kind of run together in my head.  But, there have been so many amazing, and generous people who have done such kind things to raise money.  Many have donated.   It seems like any time your name is involved, people line up to help.   It’s pretty awesome.   Our cousin Ryan created this incredible decal, the proceeds of which are being donated to The Green Beret Foundation….


Aside from that, not only did CrossFit gyms across the nation hold workouts in your honor last year when we lost you, many of them did it again this year.   Your old roommate Brett was the catalyst for keeping it going, and again, proceeds were donated in your name. It’s crazy-awesome. Just like you.

In any case, you’re in our thoughts all the time and I hope you’re in a nice, safe place keeping Nanny and Billie company.   Keep an eye out for Larry, as well… He’s a cool guy.  You’d like him.   Oh yeah, and if it was you that sent that wonderful lady scuba diving to find your memorial bracelet on the bottom of the Hawaiian ocean, thanks.  Mom really needed that.  So, anyways, I really miss you!  We all do!

Until we meet again,

Your sister

P.S. If you’d like to know the back-story about Alex, read this post.












Hey guys! I hope everyone’s weekend has been awesome so far!!  Mine’s been a little different than usual. But before I get into that, let’s talk about stuff. For the last nine months, I’ve kept up a schedule of posting 2-3 times per week (usually 3) with various projects and home-related topics, most of which have centered around our home. As mentioned in various places on my site, this blog is my outlet… a DIY diary of sorts to look back on later. For the most part, this schedule has been doable without issue and I’ve continued to be excited/borderline-impatient to publish every post.

But, alas, I’m like many people when it comes to DIY stuff. It kind of ebbs and flows according to life. And lately it’s been ebbing thanks to an uncharacteristic amount of travel. I actually have painted our bedroom chair as alluded to in this Instagram pic (Yep, I’m on Instagram now. Anditrocks.)…


…but, unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to style it and take “after” pics yet. So, stay tuned for that.

Anyways, within the past month we’ve traveled twice, which is highly unlike us. And we have another trip planned before month’s end, which is pretty much crazytown in our neck of the woods. Our first trip was to Mexico as described in this post, and over the last few days we’ve been in North Carolina for a memorial at Fort Bragg to honor my brother, Alex (you can read about him in this or this post if you’re new and/or interested).

Memorials are funny things. You want to be happy to be there because your loved one deserves it, but it’s also really hard emotionally to have everything rehashed and fresh. I’ll be honest and say that I was kind of dreading it for the latter reason. In the end, though, I’m really glad I went. I didn’t take a ton of pictures, but I’ll share a few of my Instagram pics from the weekend to give you an idea.

The event was for the families of eighteen fallen solders, whose names were to be engraved in the Memorial for Fallen Special Operations Soldiers. We had a reception to attend the first night, which is where a truly momentous thing happened. Joey and I got a halfway-decent serious picture together….


I know. I can’t believe it either.

Then, the following day, we had a busy agenda with several events which culminated with the ceremony at the memorial where we finally got to see it…


As I approached the wall, I gazed at his name, then quickly brushed it with my fingers as I walked away. I had no idea at the time that one of Alex’s teammates had captured the moment…


It’s an experience that I knew I’d remember, but never expected to have a momento from. I nearly lost it when he sent it to me and am so grateful for his impeccable timing.

I have to say that everything about the weekend was very organized, respectful and interesting. We got to learn a lot about what Alex did out there with his job, which was awesome. He was the senior engineer on the team (and I learned that his actual role was called 18 Charlie) and we got to see the tools that he used and familiarize ourselves with some of his responsibilities. They had some educational exhibits and we got to visit the Airborne & Special Operations Museum to learn about our Special Ops history.

But my favorite part was getting to spend time with Alex’s team….


This is me, Joey and my parents with the team. Getting to hear stories about Alex and finally putting faces to names was incredible. We had such fun with these guys at dinner after the ceremony and at various points between the more formal events throughout the weekend. It was an experience that I’m truly grateful for.

Seriously… I know you hear things all the time about thanking and appreciating our military. I’ve always felt this way (of course), but even with my brother in the service, it was always kind of an obscure idea in my mind.  After speaking with all these guys, and hearing stories about how it is out there and things they do, I have a completely new outlook and a much grander and more specific appreciation for them. These highly-trained and especially brave men and women who serve our country deserve the type of respect reserved for the greats.  Memorial Day has a whole new meaning to me now.

So, with that said, we have one more trip coming up, then things should be getting back to normal. I have a few smaller projects up my sleeve in the interim, but content may be a little lighter than usual on the DIY side for the next week or two. I appreciate you guys bearing with me and I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday weekend.

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