WARNING: An excessively proud father wrote this entry. I figure it’s my blog, and you’re under no obligation to read it, so I can write what I want. But consider yourself warned! :)
Good morning! It’s 3:16 AM and I can’t sleep, so I figured I’d get up and do something useful. Sorry it’s been so long since I posted an entry. Life is definitely busy, but that’s really no excuse. Keeping up with this journal of our lives needs to be more of a priority. So why can’t I sleep? I figure it’s at least partially due to my 2:00 pm phone call this coming Friday. Some of you have undoubtedly read about my company, Pfizer, in the news this week. We have announced the acquisition of another large drug company, and the supposedly unrelated layoffs of several thousand of our people. That will translate to about 30% of the sales reps here in Utah. So I get to call in to my boss at 2:00 pm on Friday to find out if I’m still employed. A little scary! Due to the generous severance package, it won’t be an immediate emergency situation if I get laid-off, but we’re sure praying that I still have a job come next Monday. (Your prayers in this regard would be much appreciated. :)
So, like many of you out there, we are facing uncertain times. It sure is wonderful in times like these to have a firm foundation of faith and family. And what a great family we have! The other day, I was driving Jesi to school and we had the following conversation: (By the way, I wish each of you could have the chance to drive Jesi to school just once. The talks on the way there and her cute little “good-bye”s and “I love you”s are something everyone should experience in their life.) “Daddy,” she said. “Who’s the huffest tuffest family?” “Our family is the huffest tuffest family, Jess!” I replied. “Daddy,” who’s the greatest family in the world?” “Our family is, Jess.” “No, Daddy. Our family AND Grandma Nelson’s family is the greatest family in the world!” “You’re right, Jess. Our family and Grandma Nelson’s family is the greatest family in the world. But what about Grandma Rose’s family?” (Dad had to put a plug in for his side! :) “Oh yeah,” she replied. “Our family and Grandma Nelson’s family and Grandma Rose’s family is the greatest family in the world.” And that was that. (You can all vie for fourth place. :) By the way, in case you’ve wondered, Grandma Rose and Grandma Green are the same person. Her name is Rosemary Green, and a few years ago she decided she preferred being called Grandma Rose to Grandma Green. I think it makes her feel younger. It can be a slightly confusing nomenclature, however. Sometimes the kids will refer to “Grandma and Grandpa Rose, I mean Grandma and Grandpa Green, I mean Grandma Rose and Grandpa Green.”)
I was a klutz growing up. At least until high school. Prior to that, I played one year of little league baseball and one year of little league soccer. My parents were extremely supportive in hundreds of ways, but sports just wasn’t their thing. (My dad recently heard us talking about college football and had no idea what the BCS was. :) Anyway, all through grade school I was one of the last kids picked for every athletic game we played in PE or at recess. I was usually the slowest guy in a foot race and was generally a geek. (The “Tough Skins” brand of jeans I wore didn’t help my social status any!) My freshman year in high school, I did make the basketball team-they kept everyone at that level. I scored 3 points all season. To be fair to myself, I did go on to a fairly illustrious career in our reasonably competitive church basketball league, that being my favorite sport to play, and the only one I was any good at.
So it was pretty intimidating to marry into Christi’s family. Her dad was seriously the starting quarterback, pitcher, and star-basketball player in high school. I believe he was All-State in all three sports and All-American in basketball. (Although he played before the 3-point era, he held the high school single-game scoring record at Emery High School for years. It even stood through Shawn Bradley’s tenure there.) He played college ball, as did one of Christi’s brothers. Both of her brothers, her brother-in-law, her dad, (and even her grandpa!) were several inches taller than me. Her brother-in-law played on a high school team that won back-to-back state championships in basketball (it didn’t hurt that Shawn Bradley was the center on that team!) and then turned down a basketball scholarship at a D-I school to run track at BYU. I kind of felt like I had a neon sign on my forehead that read: “SPORTS LOSER! SPORTS LOSER!”
But, Christi’s athletic gene pool has paid off! My boys have been star athletes from the first game they played. (Well, there was some luck involved at first. Taylor hit a home run in his very first T-ball game. When he swung at the ball, it dribbled about 10 feet off the “T” and that was followed by about 17 fielding errors which allowed him to advance all the way home. But he was sure excited, as was Dad! :) Since then, each season in both basketball and baseball has produced stellar moments for both boys. The next few seasons, both boys played pitcher in T-ball. This is the premier fielding position, since at that age, most of the kids can’t hit the ball much farther than the pitcher’s mound. We have video of some innings where Taylor scored all three outs. Parker was just as good. Taylor was such a strong hitter that our coach would warn the other team’s coach to move his boys back so they didn’t get hurt fielding Taylor’s ball. Last year in baseball, Taylor was a gold-glove 1st baseman. He had several SportsCenter-worthy plays, including a couple where he pretty much had to do the splits to catch a throw from a teammate while keeping his foot on the bag. Parker was probably the MVP of his league. The other kids on his team argued over who was second-best. It was a given that Parker was the best. He hit several legitimate home runs and it seemed like he was everywhere on the field. During one game, our exasperated assistant coach yelled at our team while they were out in the field: “Guys, pay attention! Parker can’t do EVERYTHING!” That team took first place in the league. :)
Both boys are also great at basketball. Taylor really excels here. His combination of height and skill makes him tough to stop on offense and a great rebounder and defender. Parker has really improved his basketball game this year. He’s a great dribbler, which is unusual at his age. When he gets the ball at one end of the court, it almost looks like there are no defenders as he dribbles down to the other end and takes a shot. (He could use some work on MAKING a higher percentage of the shots, but he does hit quite a few and is also a good passer.) So unlike me at their age, they have experienced much success in athletics. I keep wondering when their string of stand-out moments will end, but so far so good.
This last Saturday was the best day yet. Grandma and Grandpa Nelson had come up to watch the boys in their basketball games. These are probably the only games they will see this season. Taylor’s was first. Wow! I’ve never been involved in a more exciting game as a player or as a coach. (I coach Taylor this year.) At halftime we were down by seven points, and going into the 4th quarter, we were still down by six. Six points is an almost insurmountable lead in this league, where final scores are often in the teens. So I was not too keen on our chances to pull this game out. Nevertheless, I sent the boys out on the floor telling them to do their best and give all their effort. About mid-way through the quarter it was still 16-10. Then Taylor scored to make it 16-12. With two minutes left, we could start to full-court press. I was getting rather into it at this point, directing the boys to go for steals and to make it tough for the other team to inbound the ball. With about a minute left, Colton Bailey scored, making it 16-14. There was a real possibility now. But over the final minute, we just couldn’t get the ball in the basket. With 1 second left on the clock, we were awarded the ball out of bounds on the side of the court by our basket. The score was still 16-14. (There is no overtime in our league, so at that point we were just playing for the tie.) We called a timeout, and Coach Matt (Christi’s brother) drew up a play. Taylor, our tallest player, was to flash towards Tanner, who was inbounding the ball. Tanner needed to pass it to Taylor, who had to immediately turn around and shoot. It was a good plan. Taylor has spent hours in the driveway practicing his shot, and often practicing quick shots. Well, Tanner made a perfect pass to Taylor, who was several feet from the basket. Taylor turned around…and shot it perfectly. Nothing but net! The crowd went as wild as a 3rd-grade league crowd can go. I was jumping up and down with my hands in the air. The whole team was so excited. And what a moment for Taylor. He’ll remember that for the rest of his life.
We immediately drove to another school for Parker’s game. They don’t keep score in his league, so Taylor always does in his head. Parker had another great game, scoring and stealing several times. As the game progressed, Taylor kept updating us on the score. The other team was a lot bigger than our team this week, and they were ahead most of the game. As it got close to the end, Taylor looked over at me and said it was 14-14. Nobody scored for a little while. It got down to about 5 seconds left and the other team had the ball on their end of the court. At that point, Parker stole the ball, drove the length of the court, and layed it in, with, you guessed it, about 1 second left. Since there was no official score being kept, the crowd reaction was minimal here, but wow! What a day for my boys. Both of them hit game-winning or game-tying shots with one second to go. And on the one day Grandma and Grandpa were there no less. I know it’s been hard to tell as you’ve been reading this, but I was a pretty proud papa. :) My father-in-law later commented that I was a good coach. I told him I knew boys better than I knew basketball, but I think that’s what matters most at this age. I absolutely love working with kids.
So this morning at 3:00 AM (about two hours ago now) Taylor came in almost in tears and woke me up with the not-uncommon complaint: “Dad, I have a leg ache.” As I gave him some ibuprofen, I commented: “Ah, the price you pay for being a basketball star. Part of the reason you have these leg pains at night is because you’re growing so fast and so tall.”
So here are we are full circle. I couldn’t fall back to sleep, and now you know what woke me up. Taylor went back to bed, and instead of crawling into my own bed, I went in and laid by him until he dozed off. He still likes that kind of stuff. He’ll give me hugs and kisses and hold my hand. It will be a difficult day for me when he outgrows that. I sure love those little guys.