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

G’day, mate !

Continuing our “colors” series, today we’re featuring “Yellow.” It’s been called the color of sunshine, hope, and happiness… and now we’re adding “hotness” to the list. We hope these dudes bring you sunshine and happiness!

Hello. It’s Alex – and my first effort at “tagging on” to a post.
Ben and David asked me to tell you about Ty And Damien’s new “cabin.” I’m happy to do that. But before I do, I want to tell you an amazing thing about Chance. He’s had his cochlear implant for a little over three months, and lately we’ve noticed that from time-to-time, a distinct “Aussie” accent has been showing up when he talks. I mentioned it to one of his doctors and she said it was extraordinary. The fact that he not only hears words – but detects different vocal inflections is more than we could ever have hoped for.
As Chance would say, “G’day, mate” 🙂
Lately, I’ve been thinking about our lake properties in terms of cars. It’s as if the rest of our cabins (and Jim and Carol’s home) are Hondas. Great cars – comfortable and dependable and we love ‘em. But then there’s this new Porsche Carrera in the neighborhood. It’s sleek and beautiful and unlike anything we’ve ever seen at Table Rock.
Building the “cabin” took architects, hydraulic engineers, electrical engineers, talented craftsmen and hundreds of hours on my part. It’s 1906 sq. ft. and has a huge “great room”, two master bedrooms with private baths and a separate bath for guests. It’s built of structural stainless steel, rough cut cedar and lots of glass. It faces W-SW and the roof is a solar array with battery storage capable of supplying the cabin’s electrical requirements.
The cabin’s most dramatic feature is a waterfall on the back wall of the great room. As we’ve told you, when excavating for the foundation we encountered a large underground spring. We had the water tested and found it safe for drinking. I came up with the idea of the waterfall and the architects and engineers made it happen. Essentially, the spring water is captured in a large underground potable water storage tank, or “cistern.” It’s then pumped into the cabin for household use and to the waterfall. The neat part is that the water from the waterfall flows down through a 4 foot wide by 4 foot tall limestone chase with a glass top level with the greatroom floor. It then runs downhill to a holding pond – and eventually the excess flows into Table Rock lake. The pond is stocked with rainbow trout. The trout swim upstream toward the waterfall and you can watch them through the glass floor. The kids think it’s the greatest thing ever and spend hours and hours watching them.
I could go on and on but by now you’re probably getting the idea. It’s spectacular and Ty, Damien and Austin are thrilled with it. I was continuously concerned about “costs” while we were building, but Ty just kept saying “Don’t worry about it. It’s money from my father’s estate and since he never cared enough to meet my husband or son, it’s the least he could do.”
Te deseo sol y felicidad
xoxo Alex

…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