I have never felt so busy in all my life.
Building a home on top of all that comes along with having 9 children has been quite the adventure. Most of the time it is absolutely crazy FUN, but I will admit I constantly feel on the edge of a nervous breakdown. In a good way, if that's possible. (: With all that is going on, our current home has fallen completely apart (I don't think you can even tell the color of the carpet in our bedroom) and the kids are doing more than their share of babysitting-- but we know it will all be worth it in the end! I had no idea that picking out stone, stucco, flooring, tile, baseboards, window coverings, paint, etc. could be so time consuming. I also didn't know I could have so much fun doing it. This is in large part due to the fact that I have the most darling interior designers helping me out. As I've said many times, we are in awe of all of the kind people out there who are giving their time to the project. It's amazing.
In the middle of all of the house stuff, we've had lots going on with the kids. Lexi went to a cooking camp for the visually impaired. Can't wait to blog about that! We've managed a trip to Idaho for a family reunion on Jeremy's side. Again, another fun blog post. But tonight is reserved for something extra special!!!!
Taylor and Parker have always dreamed of having a sport court outside. I don't know how many times we've had the discussion of whether or not it will ever happen, how expensive it is, etc. A couple of months ago, the Puzzle Them Home committee approached Sport Court West about the project and asked if they would be interested in being part of it in some way. I was STUNNED to receive a reply that very day that they would love to see what they could do to DONATE a court.
People: We are talking an actual sports court!!! Can you even imagine? I still feel like it's not real. And for two months I've been keeping it a secret from the boys. I must say, it is the hardest secret I've ever had to keep. We were trying to think of a fun way to let them know about the court-- something that would make it extra special-- but we hadn't decided yet.
Well, this past week, Taylor and Parker attended BYU basketball camp. This is their third year going and I can't even tell you how much they love it. They work and save their money all year to be able to go. It is a FANTASTIC camp. They love playing ball all day long, doing fun activities in the evening, having devotionals from their awesome counselors, and of course getting to experience dorm life. Jer and I always try to stop by a couple of times to watch some of their games. Tuesday evening, I did just that. It was so much fun to watch-- Parker scored 18 points in his game and Taylor scored 20 out of his team's 44. This is while only playing half of the game (they rotate the 10 players in and out.) They are both turning into such great athletes! After their games, I visited with them for a minute and then we parted ways-- they went walking toward their dorm and I went to my van.
As I walked to the van, I found Coach Rose (BYU head basketball coach) and Coach Pope were standing directly in front of the van having a conversation. Usually they are surrounded by kids getting autographs or pictures, but this time they were all alone. I had the thought that maybe I could talk to them about the whole Puzzle Them Home project and sport court. The thought lasted about .2 seconds. What would I say? What would they think? What was I even asking for? So I chided myself for being silly and instead called Jeremy to tell him about the boys' games. As I was sitting in the van talking to him, I mentioned that Coach Rose and Coach Pope were standing a few feet away from me, resulting in the following conversation:
Jer: "Go talk to them!"
Me: "About what?"
Jer: "About the project!"
Me: "I had that thought too, but I wouldn't even know what I was asking for..."
Jer: "See, we both had the same thought. It's a sign."
Me: "I'm not talking to them."
Jer: "Get out of the van now!"
Jer: "Hurry! Think of your boys!"
Me: "I don't even know what to say!"
Jer: "It doesn't matter. Get out now!"
Me: "I can't do it."
Jer: "I am hanging up the phone. Go now before they leave."
I don't know why it's so hard to talk to people so much cooler than oneself, but for me, it was a big deal to get out of that van. Besides their obvious cool factor, I didn't even know what I was asking for. And I hate asking for things!
However, I had the thought run through my head that maybe it wasn't coincidental that I had the head coach of their favorite team standing two feet away from me. So... I stepped out of the van and managed to give a little spiel about the fact that I had two boys at the camp and that we had adopted several special needs kiddos from China resulting in building a home with the help of all kinds of amazing people and that the home would be in the parade and that a sport court company had donated a sport court and that the boys didn't know about it yet and that maybe a couple of their players could come up and sign the court...
Yes, it came out sounding that jumbled. And I'm certain my face was bright red.
As it turns out, these are some stellar men. They were gracious and kind and arranged for something more amazing than we ever could have dreamed.
Thursday afternoon, the entire camp (hundreds of boys of all ages) were gathered in the seats of the gym for roll call. Coach Pope had the mic and asked for everyone to be especially quiet, as he had something he needed to talk about. He said that it would be the most important thing that they heard all week. He then asked if Taylor and Parker Green would come down on the court.
(This is where the planning went a little bit awry-- Parker's team happened to be up at the Marriott Center instead of at roll call. Oops. So he carried on just with Taylor.)
As Taylor walked down, I couldn't tell what he was thinking. He hadn't noticed that I was there, and looked a bit nervous. He later told me he thought maybe he had lost a key or something and was going to be chided in front of everyone. Ha! Coach Pope then told a little bit about our family and what incredible brothers Taylor and Parker must be to have welcomed so many kids into their home. He then told them that Coach Rose had a little surprise for him. Coach Rose then came onto the court and talked. He then called the BYU basketball team down on the court for a special presentation.
Of course, I'm crying at this point.
Our new friend, James, from Sport Court West, had given us a couple of pieces of sport court to have the team sign. Coach Rose showed Taylor the tile and explained that Sport Court West had heard about our family and wanted to give the boys a brand new sports court.
Taylor went into shock. He had the biggest grin on his face. He said afterward that he couldn't even wrap his head around what was happening. It was such a special moment for our family.
Um, why am I here?
Starting to catch on that this isn't a bad thing...
What is this tile???
A sport court? WHAT??
Starting to sink in...
Of course, we felt SO bad that Parker had missed the whole thing, so we headed up to the Marriott Center with the signed court pieces. On our way there, we noticed a few of the players and talked to them. One of them was Nate Austin, who happened to be one of Parker's coaches for the week. He agreed to pull Parker aside and present him with the court. Parker's reaction was absolutely priceless. These pictures tell the story well:
Um, what's going on?
Still not knowing what's going on?
It hits him.
He could hardly contain his emotion. He kept asking if it was a joke. (;
The face says it all.
This is him on his way down to the floor. (: Yes, he did hit the floor in excitement/disbelief.
I can't even express what this whole thing meant to me. From having the sport court completely donated to what I believe was our Father in Heaven arranging a very special way of having it presented to the boys-- this is definitely among the most incredible things that has happened in my life. I love these two boys with all of my heart and I know firsthand the sacrifices they have made to have the kind of family we do. Every time I look at that court I will be reminded of how the Lord knows them and is watching out for them.
Of course, the sport court will be loved by the other kids as well-- especially Xander! We made a big deal of telling him that the court was a special surprise for him too. He was soooo cute about it and so excited to play ball with his brothers. And the girls just might have a little (or HUGE) surprise coming up for them as well... (:
Thank you, BYU basketball! And THANK YOU, Sport Court West, for giving such an AMAZING gift. I can guarantee it will be amongst the most beloved sport courts in history. (: