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

Nothin’ hotter than a dude in a white tee!

Hey, guys. It’s Keon. As you know, Cal kicked off our series of posts about our kids on Sunday, so I’m going to “have a go” at it. Before I do that here’s something you might find interesting. Rick loves plain white tee shirts. He buys them by the six-pack and that’s mainly what he wears. With his red hair and freckles he looks so good (sexy) in them that I’ve started wearing them a lot myself. And – you guessed it – since his Dads wear white tees all the time, that’s what Travon wears. It’s sort of our family uniform. I hope you like these “boys in white tees” as much as Rick and I do.

Ahhh. What can I tell you about Travon? As you know, we started fostering him in January, 2018 and finalized his adoption three months later. He was five years old at the time. He didn’t speak when he came to us (his former foster parents said he was “deaf and dumb”) – he was a “spitter” and even spit in my face (once!) – and he was afraid of just about everyone and everything. Today, just 2 1/2 years later, he’s talkative, has good manners, loves being with family and friends, and isn’t afraid of anyone… well maybe a little afraid of Bella… but who isn’t? 🙂
He loves school and Ben says he’s a “really quick study”. Janette tells us he’s learned French faster than any of the other kids, except Dub. He and “Max” are pretty much inseparable and we rarely see one without the other. We (Rick, Travon, Max and me) read together every night at bedtime. It’s the best part of our day. We’re currently reading book two of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.” It’s a 5-book set so it’ll take us a while 🙂
Pop-pops has given Tra a ton of photo equipment and he’s become a good photographer (we’re glad he uses only digital format because we couldn’t afford “film” for all his pics). He has the patience of a saint and sometimes sits for long periods waiting for just the right lighting and photo opportunity. He’s taken hundreds of high-res pics of the king snake that makes its’ home in our rock garden. Last month, Pop-pops made 16″ x 20″ prints of twelve of his snake photos and entered them in a
photo art competition in Springfield. He won second prize, which is really good since the other exhibitors were all professional photographers.
Tra loves swimming, wake boarding, horseshoes, fishing, being with his friends and our “Table Rock campus” school, so making our home here at the Lake is just about perfect for him. He’s a happy, 7-year old boy – he often makes us laugh and always makes us proud. As Cal pointed out, you shouldn’t expect “fair and balanced reporting” about our kids because… well, they’re our kids. I’ll end this by saying Tra is the JOY of our lives and he’s given us infinitely more than we’ve given him.
We hope you and yours are well, happy and using your protective equipment wisely. This pandemic can’t last forever.
xoxo Keon and Rick

Dude. Sock it to me!

We mentioned a while back that Cal had suggested we do a post for each of the families in our “family” – and let you guys know what’s going on with the kids. This is the first of those posts – this one from Cal and Alex. We thought “socks” seemed like an appropriate photo topic 🙂

Hey, guys… it’s Cal. I told David and Ben I thought we needed to bring you up-to-date on the kids (or “ankle biters” as my Dad calls them), and I guess Alex and I get to go first. I should probably say up front you shouldn’t expect “fair and balanced” information about our kids because… well, they’re our kids 🙂
First, there’s our amazing daughter Bella. She’s the only female among the Northland “littles” and she’s a joy. Since they’re on school break, she’s been spending most of her time over at Koala Cove with Alex and her grandmother. She loves working with colors and Alex let her pick all the colors and textures (carpets, countertops, wood trims, etc.) on the first of the villas. He says her selections are “tasteful, yet venturesome.” Something obviously worked because Mum sold the first villa to a friend from K.C. for “a million-four and change.” Not bad for a remodeled fishing cabin 🙂
Bella’s birthday is August 28th (she doesn’t know it, of course, but she shares it with Tim and Beto). She’s been very specific about what she wants. She’s getting a “Nintendo Switch” video game system from Alex and me – and Chance is giving her a “Unicorn Princess” game. Did I mention… she’s a Joy!
Chance is growing like a weed. He took another hearing test last week (they’re doing them on Zoom now) and his progress is excellent. He wears his implant most of the time but takes it off when swimming, or rough housing with the other kids. When he’s not wearing it, he sometimes says “Look at me. Look at me,” so we’ll know he’s lip-reading. Alex was laughing last week and said “I wonder if he’s the only kid in the World who lip-reads in English, Spanish, French and Australian.”
About three weeks ago, Ben texted all the adults in the gang and asked if anyone wanted a “Boxer puppy.” The story was that the retired dentist who rents our “school building” to Ben’s school has a daughter who raises pure-bred boxers. It seems she had a litter of seven puppies and when she cropped their ears, one of them ended up with a “gimpy, or floppy” ear. She said she wouldn’t be able to sell it because of the ear and wanted her dad to “put it down” for her. He took the dog and said he couldn’t bring himself to kill it. So, he called Jim… who called Ben and asked if he thought any of us would be interested in a boxer puppy with one floppy ear. Ben called me and asked if we’d be interested. The thing is, Chance absolutely loves “Cookie” but she is – and always has been- Bella’s dog. So Alex and I talked it over and asked Chance if he’d like his own dog. His face lit up like a Christmas tree and we headed over to meet the pup (wearing masks, gloves and goggles). We met the pup and the connection between Chance and him was immediate. Of course, we brought him home and he’s Chance’s dog now (although Bella – being Bella – thinks she’s in charge of raising and house training him). We told Chance the pup needed a name and he said “His name is Goliath.” We have no idea where that came from – but we all call him “Go.”
So, that’s what’s been happening with us and the kids. We’re all tired of Covid and being quarantined, but Ben is starting school on Wednesday, September 9th and that’ll keep the kids busy.
We hope you and yours are happy, healthy and being kind to one another. Be of good cheer… it’s only 79 days till election day! xoxo Cal and Alex