WHOA !

I probably should introduce myself. I’m Ty and I’m half of Austin’s dads and my husband Damien is the other half.
David and Ben asked us to tell you a bit about our family in general – and Austin in particular. This is the first time I’ve ever written on a post, so you’ll have to bear with me.
We’re comfortably settled into our new “cabin” at Table Rock now. Alex and the architects did a wonderful job of designing/decorating it and it feels more like home than a cabin. We sold our place in Florida before we started the new cabin because we’re so content here we don’t feel we need a “get-away” place. We still own our condo in North K.C. for when we (or the other guys) need to be up there.
Now, about Austin. If you don’t remember his story, you might check out David and Ben’s “Back home from the beach” post of August 4, 2016 (you can find it under the “AUSTIN” AND “BEACH” tags). He was five when we started fostering him and he’d had a horrible life up to then. He had been physically and mentally abused and we were his third foster family. As far as we know, his mother is still in prison. Although he’s always been a sweet boy he was a real challenge for Damien and me. When we first started fostering him his nightmares were real bad. We got him with a child mental therapist and that eventually really helped. Actually, Damien and I decided a little therapy for us might be helpful too, so we saw one for about a year. Getting started with our new son was a struggle for sure.
It’s hard for us to believe, but Austin is nine years old now. When we started fostering him we were told he was “learning disabled.” Ben says that’s ridiculous and, in fact he’s a gifted student. He’s speaking a lot of Spanish and French now and loves studying languages. He and Dub have been “best buds” for as long as they’ve known each other and spend lots time together “just doing stuff” whatever that means 🙂 Although we’ve offered to get him a pup, he’s never really wanted one – even though he enjoys playing with the other kids’ dogs. About a week ago, he surprised us by saying he thought he might like to have a kitten, so he and Dub have been doing some on-line searching to see what breed of cats is most compatible with dogs. I’m guessing we’ll have a new family addition before long.
We appreciate David and Ben putting together the pics for this post. They’re the best friends anyone could ever have!
Oh, and one last thing. After Denny’s “corn hole game” suggestion, Austin got Bella one for her birthday and it was a real hit with both the kids and adults. Since it was raining outside, we moved a bunch of furniture and set the game up in Cal and Alex’ living room and had a big corn hole tournament on her birthday. The “court” was only 22′ instead of the regulation 27″ but we decided that was fine. Dub read us the rules and we divided into teams of two (one adult and one kiddo). It took a couple of hours and there was lots of shouting and good-natured banter. When we finished, our champions were “Pop-pops and “Matty” but it was really close with “Bella” and “Denise” finishing second. Thanks, Denny!
We love URD and hope you guys will enjoy this little update. Hope all of you are well and surviving the pandemic and political mess. xoxo Ty and Damien

Wrapping up a wonderful Christmas.

And a wonderful Christmas it was. Ben, Dub and I had a quiet Christmas Eve at home, opening some gifts and watching Christmas movies. Dub’s favorites are “Home Alone” and “How the Grinch stole Christmas” so we watched them both – although he fell asleep before we finished “the Grinch.”
On Sunday, the whole Northland gang got together over at Denise and Scotts’ condo. As you would expect, Denise has pretty much every square inch decorated for the Holidays and it’s beautiful. We were all complimenting them when she said, “There’s one problem. We have a tree in the den that we didn’t have time to decorate. I’m wondering if I could get the kids to decorate it?” So we went into the den and there was a 5′ tree with lights but no ornaments and four big boxes of decorations. She asked Austin if he would be in charge of the project. He said “Sure,” and flashed us about the biggest smile we’d ever seen. We left the kids in the den and went into the living room for drinks and snacks. In about a half hour, the kids came out and announced the tree was finished. We went into the den and saw the tree – decorated with most of the ornaments from all 4 boxes. We noticed some silver paper ornaments and Denise said “What are these? They’re lovely.” Travon said “They’re angels. They’ll watch over you.” He had apparently found some silver gift wrap in one of the boxes and fashioned it into origami-like angels. Denise swept him up in a big hug and thanked him, saying over and over how beautiful they were. He’s a beautiful spirit and an extraordinarily talented little guy!
The big surprise of the day wasn’t that Chad was there – but that he brought his “fishing bud, Raef” with him. Raef is a really nice guy about my age… with an amazing personality. Everyone thinks he’s great – and the kids are absolutely crazy about him. He’s a pretty big dude with dark red (almost black) hair, a good build and a terrific smile.
We don’t know if there’s anything more going on here than just being “fishing buds.” But, here’s a conversation I overheard:
Dub: “I like your new boyfriend.”
Chad: “He’s not my “boyfriend.”
Dub: He looks like he’s your boyfriend.”
Chad: “Well, Dub. He’s a boy and he’s my friend, but he’s not my “boyfriend.”
Dub: “What’s the difference?”
Chad: “It’s complicated.”
Dub (grinning): “I think he’s your “boyfriend.”
Chad: “Little dude. I think you think too much.”
I guess time will tell.
Anyway, we had a grand Christmas with tons of food and drink – and Holiday cheer with our extended family. We hope all of you had great Christmases, too!

…when one pic just ain’t enough…


Ummm. Where was I? Oh, yeah. it was Memorial Day weekend and on Friday afternoon, David, Ben, Austin Travon and I were the first to get to the cabin. Keon and Rick got there a few minutes later. We got the cars unloaded – and had some of Carol’s brownies and glasses of milk. The boys were going nuts wanting to get in the water, so we went down to the boat dock and the boys put on their swim vests and we all got in the water and played while the dogs stayed on the dock and barked. Cal and Alex got there in time to join us in the water and we were still swimming when Ty and Damien showed up on the pontoon boat they’d rented for the weekend. So we were all swimming and climbing on the dock and the pontoon boat and it was just crazy fun. After the swimming, we headed up to the cabin for dinner. Denise and Scott (Cal’s parents) were the last to arrive with Izzie and her friend Kylie. They’d been held up by the girls’ gymnastics competition at the rec center back at home. Keon and Rick made an enormous salad… we heated the pizza and bread sticks… and Jim and Carol joined us for dinner. The kids were all tired out so they all took showers and headed to bed. It was a wonderful evening.
We spent Saturday in and out of the water on the lake. The boys were excited that Izzie and Kylie mastered the wakeboard (not much of a trick for young gymnasts). We had lunch at the floating cafe over at Indian Point Marina and spent the afternoon water skiing and wake boarding and swimming. By the time we got back to the cabin, the kids were wasted, so we made salad and fish tacos… the kids showered and headed to bed… and the adults sat around drinking margaritas and eating Carol’s “adults only” treats. A great ending to a terrific day!
(This post is so long, I’m gonna start skipping a lot of detail so you won’t be bored).
Saturday morning, David, Rick, Keon and I were asleep on the screened porch when Damien surprised us by waking us to tell us he and Ty had to make an emergency trip to Houston. He had gotten word that his father had died from a sudden “massive heart attack.” Damien said he hadn’t spoken to “the man” for a couple of years because he refused to accept his being gay. So, David drove them to the Springfield airport to catch a flight to Houston. Austin was VERY upset they wouldn’t take him with them. He said, “They’re my dads and we’re family and I should go with ’em.” Damien was adamant that Austin should’t be dragged to a funeral for a man he’d never met and, of course David and I were happy to keep Austin while they were gone. When David got back, he got me aside and said, “I’ve been thinking. Austin is upset and we don’t really have to go home, so maybe we could spend the week here at the cabin with the boys? Maybe the grandparents would like to join us?” So, long story short, we stayed at the lake… the grandparents took over the rental on Ty and Damiens’ condo… Denise, Scott, Cal, Alex, Izzie and Kylie went home on Tuesday. It’s really late and I’m really tired tonight, so I’ll finish this tomorrow or Sunday 🙂 xoxo Ben