Friday, June 26, 2009

It ain't easy being green... or the little brother...

Dear Sam,

I know there are days when it isn't easy being the little brother.

And having two older brothers who are twins has got to be a little rough, too. They often get a smidge more attention from others simply because there are two of them -- and I'm sure you might think it's unfair sometimes. They are older and bigger, so they get to do certain things first. That's something you're always going to have to live with, but it doesn't take away from the special things you do, too... all in time.

It may feel like you live in their shadows, but you don't. Not in my eyes. Or my heart. You have a place all your own. A place that's been yours and yours alone since the day you were born. When you were a small, bald, wrinkly newborn, Jack and Charlie called you our "tiny, little gentleman." And you know they chose your name from their favorite Dr. Seuss book at the time, "Green Eggs and Ham." Their small world at two-and-a-half years old revolved around you. I know there are days now, when they might not treat you very well, and that makes you sad. It makes me sad, too. I don't like seeing them exclude you from anything, or pick on you as brothers are apt to do. But you have to know this: Jack and Charlie love you. They probably wouldn't admit it, nor would you, but I know you three love each other very much.

My hope is that someday the three of you will be very close and the best of friends, as well as being brothers -- just like Jeff and James are. For now, though, there will be days when you're going to have to tough it out, and I will always be there to help you in any way I can. From playing a game of Uno to just hanging out watching SpongeBob, I will be there. God didn't give you a twin like He did with Jack and Charlie, but He gave you a wonderful, outgoing personality and a crazy sense of humor that will give you many great friendships in your life.

Being the little brother sure isn't easy some days -- you know this very well. And in a few years when Bobby is running around, getting into your stuff and bugging you, remember that you were once the little brother, and go easy on him. You are already a fantastic big brother to Bobby, and he is a very lucky baby to have a big brother love him as much as you do.

Proud Mama Duck...

Last night, I was one proud Mama Duck.

Here's the backstory: Jack and Charlie have played baseball since they were, like, 2. It all began with their little Fisher-Price Pop-Up Batting Tee toy. They have played every year they've been eligible, and have been fortunate enough to enjoy great, winning seasons. This year, however, things have been a bit rough. Their team, Mozzarelli's Pizza, has won maybe three games. At first, this was an extremely bitter pill for them to swallow. My heart ached for them after each loss, knowing how they'd played their own hearts out, yet having a victory kept just out of reach. I was also sad the night I realized the losses were becoming -- in their minds -- commonplace. But they still gave every bit of their hearts and souls to each game, pounding their fists into their gloves in the field, and taking clean cuts at the good pitches.

And then there was last night. It was their night.

Through the first few innings, the teams pretty much matched each other, run-for-run. Sometime in the 4th and 5th innings, however, Mozzarelli's pulled ahead. Charlie had his share of hits, landing him singles and a double or two -- where he proceeded to steal bases like a thief. And he was on fire in the field, tagging players out and being where he needed to be to make a play. When he relieved Jack as catcher, he got under a pop-up for a catch that could've made ESPN's highlight reel. And he made it look effortless.

Jack also had his share of hits, even a stand-up triple. In this league, they play 6 innings. And in his last at bat, with two on base, Jack cracked one out between right and center field. As he rounded second and headed for third, we could plainly see the huge grin on his face. This kid wasn't stopping at third. He wasn't stopping until he slid across home plate.

Which he did. Safe. An in-the-park home run, with two RBIs.

As if this wasn't crazy-good enough, my eyes filled with tears when I saw the rest of the players rushing from the dugout to congratulate Jack. With Charlie leading them all. I watched my sons leap into the air, hurling their slender frames at each other for a slap-dash chest bump.

At the bottom of the 6th, with two out, a player from the other team hit a pop-up, which the first baseman, Jack and Charlie's new pal Tristan, caught with no problem. As they rushed to line up and congratulate the other team on a game well-played, I leaned over to Tristan's parents and said, "I know what that other team and their families are feeling -- we've done it all season. But our boys deserved this one." They deserved it for all the games they lost... the ones played in the too-brisk spring air... the ones played in the rain... they deserved it for playing their hearts out, yet again, on an oppressively hot, humid night. They deserved it because they love. the. game. Not just Jack and Charlie, but every last one of their teammates.

You can't really make it out on the scoreboard, but the final score? 15-6

Monday, June 22, 2009

How cool is that?

So, last Thursday when Jeff was working, the crew decided to try something new and play sand volleyball at the church across the street from the station. (Kidding. They pretty much always do that unless they're on a run or it's raining. And it has to be coming down hard, too.) We stopped out to bring Jeff some shorts and watch for a while. We've done this before, and the boys watch for about 10-15 minutes before the novelty wears off and they start getting on each other's nerves or fighting. Or both.

This night, however, the men of station 14 extended an invitation to the boys to join them for a game. How cool is that? And how cool are they for doing so? Very. So, there's Charlie and Sam on the far court with Jeff, while Jack, Brian Fairchild and Marty Luecker and the Chief played opposite. (Apologies for the poor photo quality. Had to use my phone. Of all times to NOT have my camera with me!)

Keep in mind, right before they went out there, I gave the boys the CliffNotes version of how to hit a volleyball. Correctly. Because some of the hits the guys use? Not so legal in a real volleyball match. I taught them the basics: bump, set and spike. I'm sure not much has changed since I played on the eighth grade team, so I was pretty confident they could give it a legitimate shot out there. And they did a fabulous job. Jack dove for just about everything that came his way. Their serves were great -- over the net consistently -- amazingly from their lean, "pipe-cleaner" arms.

The boys finished the game beaming and feeling like they had moved up a little in the world. They had been hangin' with the big boys, and did so proudly.

And how cool is that?