Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Irish Twins

(For the record, I will post more about Boston at some point, but until that happens, check out Deidra's blog for the scoop on what went down)

I love this time of year, specifically between October 8 and October 28th. Why, you might ask? Because my older brother, Ryan, and I are what some people refer to as "Irish twins," meaning that we are less than a year apart. Growing up, this time of year would be the time when I would taunt Ryan about how we were the same age and he wasn't older than I was. From my birthday on October 8th until his birthday on October 28th, we were equals ... except for the fact that he was (and still is) bigger than I was and could (and still can) physically beat me into submission if my taunting got too out-of-control.

We were also in the same grade in school, which made for a good portion of sibling rivalry. I remember him coming after me with rage in his eyes and violence in every footstep in elementary school one day when I had started a rumor saying a particular girl liked him, which he soon found to be without merit. I learned quickly not to provoke him like that very often. My parents also learned this lesson early on and made sure we were never in the same class all throughout school. The one exception to this was a P.E. class that we both had to take as sophomores in high school. But there was only one or two brawls between us in that class.

It's funny how different we were from each other then, but how competitive we both were. Ryan was the athlete, playing football and basketball in high school and going on to play college football. So I had to be athletic, too. I also played football in high school (though I use the term play loosely). Mainly I sat on the bench or walked the sidelines, though I did get my share of game time on special teams. There was one game where our kick returner got injured, so I was thrown in frantically to return a kick. I caught the football and began running for my life as the opposing team came charging at me. A teammate's mom later told my mom that she had never seen somebody's legs move so quickly and go such a little distance. I was definitely not the best football player. But I also played tennis in high school, and did a little bit better in that sport.

On the other hand, I was the smart one. What this meant was that any time that Ryan and I both took the same test, had the same assignment, etc. where he got a better grade than me, I heard about it for days, if not weeks. Maybe that's part of what motivated me to get even better grades. Sometimes competition is not such a bad thing.

Ryan and I had different groups of friends in high school and really did not get along all that well, for the most part. I am glad that things change as we grow older. I relish in the accomplishments that Ryan has attained since high school: walking on to the ISU football team and playing at MSU-Northern as well. He has a beautiful wife and gorgeous little girl who is so much fun to play with whenever we get together, which unfortunately is only once or twice a year. I am proud of what he has accomplished. And I know the feeling is mutual. When I released my CD All I Fear, I was in Washington, DC. Ryan was eager to get his own copy and then called me and asked me if I would send him more copies so that he could sell them to his friends in Montana. (Which reminds me, I never did see any money come out of that deal) Anyway, he even posted the lyrics to my song Never Look Back in his football locker for inspiration. It's great to know that even though we're still very different, we've been able to respect each other and our differences. I mean, Irish twin have to look out for each other, you know?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Boston on my birthday

"Well, I've never plucked a rooster and I'm not too good at ping-pong
And I've never thrown my mashed potatoes up against the wall
And I've never kissed a chipmunk and I've never gotten head lice,
And I've never been to Boston in the fall!"
- "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" from Veggie Tales
I've never done most of those things, but I can at least check off going to Boston in the fall now! We made it out of stormy, dreary Utah and into sunny, splendid Boston yesterday evening and are excited for the fun times ahead of us. Today is my 29th birthday, which makes me feel old, since my mom has claimed to be 29 for quite some time now. So now I am somehow as old as my mom, and that's just weird.
We are heading to church here soon, and then possibly heading up north to York, ME, or Ben and Jerry's country in Vermont. The fall foliage is just as amazing as everyone raves about. Flying in to the Providence, R.I. airport, it was pretty awesome seeing all of the different colors all over. It should be a pretty drive this afternoon.
Anyway, we're off to church, so I guess I have to either close this post or take the Noyes' laptop to church, and I really don't think they would appreciate the latter.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Happy Birthday, Stephen!

I remember growing up as the second of four boys. My youngest brother, Stephen, was almost exactly four years younger than me. Of course, being the youngest, he was the one that got teased and picked on the most, but he always had an upbeat, cheery disposition about him and a determination to stand his ground in the face of his older brothers. That determination was probably the biggest advantage of being the youngest. By the time he was old enough to play city league sports like baseball and basketball, he was leaps and bounds above other kids his age because he had learned to play well enough to be competitive with his older siblings.

One story to illustrate this point is told by my mom. When Stephen was 9 years old, he tried out to be on the city's 9-10 year-old All-Star team. Most of the kids, including Stephen, did pretty well fielding and throwing balls in the infield. But nearly all of the kids had trouble catching fly balls in the outfield. Enter Stephen. He loved catching fly balls and would practice catching them all the time. He would often be playing catch with my dad, asking my dad to throw it as high as he could. When it came time for him to catch fly balls in the outfield, he did it with such ease that the coaches were amazed. In fact, at one point, he turned to my mom at the side of field and asked "Should I catch one behind my back?" (a trick also taught to him by my dad) My mom quickly dissuaded him of this idea, not wanting him to rub it in to the other All-Star hopefuls.

My personal favorite sports memory of Stephen was on the basketball court. Again, he was a pretty good basketball player for his age, since he had played against his older brothers (2,4,&5 years older, respectively) for years. I remember him coming down with a rebound on the opposite team's side of the court. He dribbled full-court, through most of the opposing team, and made an easy basket on the other end of the court. As he was jogging back to play defense, he looked at me in the crowd with an air of innocent arrogance and proceeded to give the "2 Legit 2 Quit" hand gestures (yes, this was the early '90s). It made me laugh that he was so cocky at such a young age.

Unfortunately, we will never know what could have happened with those athletic talents, or any other traits or characteristics that made up the heart and soul of Stephen - at least not in this life. He passed away at the tender age of 10, after a car accident landed him in a week-long coma. It's been 15 years since he passed away, and Stephen would have turned 25 years old today. I still think about him all the time and look forward to the day when we will meet again. But until that day comes, I just wanted to say "Happy Birthday, little brother."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Word verification?

Ever notice that when you go to add a comment to somebody's blog, it has a section called "word verification" where you have to type in the letters you see on the screen? Do you find it weird that they call it a "word verification" when it's never really a word? Why don't they call it a "character verification" or "letter verification"? That's my random thought of the day.

No more canning, please!

We're finally done (hopefully) with our first year of canning. It included salsa, tomatoes, chili sauce, apricot jam, apple sauce, and apple pie filling. The final steps came with canning the apple sauce last night, which Deidra did almost single-handedly since I was under time constraints to finish an accounting assigment. I did help with sealing the jars and cleaning up after it was all done, but I am grateful that Deidra took the initiative to get it all done tonight. I don't mind canning, but I think I have had my fill of it for this year. Hopefully, as we use the contents of our canning throughout the year, it will help me get psyched up to do more canning next year. Because right now, I don't want to see another water bath or or Ball jar for a long time to come.