Declan started Kindergarten last week much to my dismay. Okay, I kid, but it's still hard to send him off to school. He's my sweet little boy. Too little to be following strict rules and schedules from 9am to 3:38pm. What happened to half day kinder? I digress.. 
 Declan has an AMAZING teacher this year. I did all I could to influence any powers-that-be to get Mrs. D. She has an adopted daughter too. Love her.
 Bye sweets! Hopefully we have taught you to be kind and loving to 
your peersand respectful to your teacher.



Declan loved VBS this year. It was a Spy theme. Here he is rocking the final concert.
Hanging out with cousin Evie at the carnival afterwards.

Catching Up

Life has been like whoa. Yes whoa. We are busy, my work is busy, my boys are busy. Even with the constant go, our summer has been fabulous.

We found this gator on a consignment site. Best money ever spent. The boys have beat it to death. Here the little blondies wanted to race me home.
My yearbook teacher in high school was more of a friend than a teacher. When I started getting interested in Mark I found out she babysat him and her parents still live across the street. Small world! Anita (I call her Annie Nannie) wanted to be married and have a family like, yesterday. Over all these years she's always held strong to the fact that God has plans for who her future husband will be and she was still waiting to see that play out. Well, God delivered big time and Ronnie and Anita's wedding was one of the most genuine and moving weddings I've ever witnessed. So happy for them.
The night of Anita's wedding we had a date night! They are few and far between but I'm so grateful we get to sneak away from time to time. We met our good friends on the patio of a new restaurant. We shared yummy good and drinks and plenty of laughs.
A girls night is good for the soul and a group of us met up at Sebastian's Table and it was such an awesome time. We laughed hard and dripped sweat (the air wasn't working) and made memories that we'll carry with us and refer to for years.
Right before we got the boys, we were enrolled with a new adoption agency in town and finished with the training and part of our home study. We've since dropped out but kept in touch with the 4 other couples we spent several days with in Omaha training to became approved adoptive families. The crew came over and we drank and played yard games while the kiddos ran around. It was a super late night. I realized I'm old and uncool because I can't handle going to bed at 1am and drinking more than 2 drinks a night. Ha! Serious fun though! Haven't laughed that hard in a long time. 
Our 3 year old is seriously the most strong willed little kid I know. Each morning he rises way before we do and usually "reads" and plays not-so-quietly. This day he took off his poop diaper all by himself and smeared Desityn all over his body. Good times. #not
Oh the pool, how I'll miss thee. We spent many evenings and days swimming this pool. Such a fun summer and our favorite activity kept us all sane and happy. Sniff, sniff. 
I started training for a half marathon! Then, 3 weeks later, learned from my physical therapist that I have a condition where my kneecaps turn outward and I should never, ever run unless I want total knees when I'm 50. No thank you. Got my bike tuned that day and I've never looked back. I'm a biker now. ;)
This picture cracks me up. We had a summer celebration at a local pool with our adoption agency. We started to head home and I looked back to pull out and Declan was like this. Who's in charge of this kid?!

4th of July and a Celebration

We love hosting the 4th of July! It will forever be extra special because my youngest son's birthday is the 7th. So a 4th party and birthday party were in order! We started the day off with a parade through our neighborhood. The kids loved it and we enjoyed walking the streets with neighbors and chatting. This is the neighborhood I always dreamed of being a part of.
Our family joined us later in the afternoon and we had so much fun. 



Towards the end of June we took a week+ staycation. The boy's daycare had Vacation Bible School so they were closed. Usually there is no way I can take off much work but since we stayed home I could sneak away at nap times and stay caught up. We ventured up to Mahoney.State.Park for a few days and rented a little cabin there. It was full of dirt, bike rides, fishing, swimming and junk food. I will admit towards the end fatigue took hold and some of the boys rode the crazy train. We ended packing up early our last day to get home and re-center. It's hard to be reminded, once again, transitions roughen the seas a bit for our littles. Once home, they de-boarded the crazy train and we had such a great weekend together. We both look back fondly on our little staycation. 
The boys rode up and down and down and up for what seemed like hours. We knew all our little cabin neighbors before the trip was up. We even met another 5 year old Declan. Cray.
On the last night the crazy train was full of all 3 small little passengers and we ended up hauling out bowls of water and random things and they made a huge mud pit. They loved it. #boyswillbeboys
Mahoney has a great pool with wave pool, slides, a huge kiddo area and more. Unfortunately a storm was a brewin' so our time there was short. The boys still talk about the wave pool.
I loved watching movies with Declan when the littles went to bed. We snuggled up and enjoyed our time together. There was no internet, no Facebook, nothing to distract. What cute little face. I just want to kiss it a million times.
Back home we started doing two-a-days at the pool. Our gym has a fabulous outdoor pool so we never feel bad going back in the evening when the heat makes you want to stay inside. The boys made friends quickly and I even connected with some past foster moms who's boys were on a play date. They were very encouraging. Small world.  


Camp Sonshine

So for years I had been hearing about Camp Sonshine. It's a summer camp that every single parent I talked to raved about. This was our year! Declan was finally old enough to go and it did not disappoint. Each day was full of fun activities like go cart racing, archery, bouncy house, water play, hikes, you name it.....they did it. I had some anxieties about it since it was ALL day (Decs usually does half day camps) and it seemed like they were so grown up with their own little bags and water bottles and sweet shop money. In true Declan fashion he did amazing. I would pick him up and his counselor Matt would jog him to the car and his tired little face had a smile ear to ear. 
Decs and Matt. Geesh he adored him.
Every day at pick up I would hear about the (optional) sleep over Friday night. At first it was a hard NO for me. Decs is only 5 after all. But my rational side- and by that I mean Mark- let him stay. Here he is with his little sleeping bag and puppy. He was so excited!
Guess what? He survived and loved it! Storms moved them from the tee pees to the barn but all the kids passed out and slept great. Exhaustion is their key to success there I believe.
The next morning we picked him up and stayed for the pancake feed. We ran in to our good buddy Lucy. She loved it too!
Lucy's little bro is a special guy in Declan's life. Why you ask? They have the exact same personality and are both "handful" spirited kids. Mark and Gage's dad take the boys fishing. I can only imagine the shenanigans on those trips. Here they got "friendship fishing necklaces". Oh, boys!
No questions remain. My son is growing up. He is friendly, likable, responsible-ish (we lost a couple nice water bottles that week) and can very much go with the flow of things. He is brave and excited to do new things. ((Hello kindergarten! This kid can't wait to meet you))

The last week of summer we enrolled Declan again at Camp Sonshine. It's spendy so we had planned just one week but it's such a magical place. The countdown has already begun ("how many weeks before I get to see Matt?!") 


The beginning of our story with our two youngest sons was unexpected. We took them as a permanency placement (adoption!) and soon found out there was a legal hiccup that almost sent them home and ultimately started the 9 month old case over.  It was (is) hard to swallow. 

Regardless, over the past 7+ months their parents have continued to choose drugs over their third chance. Their second chance came at this last removal since they had been given chances before. So, with each poor choice our hearts open wider and we attach even deeper. At this point they are our boys and, if it weren't for the constant reminders they are "in the system", we wouldn't even know they were foster kids. We adore them so...even if we are getting wrinkles and gray hair. 

We are a normal family of 5 without the whole not-legally-ours part. ;) So all of this to say that I was completely caught off guard by my own emotions at a recent birthday party. After an obligatory "kid pic" I was asked to grab the two little boys so a picture that was sharable on social media could be taken. You see...when you have foster kids you can't show their face. I get it. What I didn't know was how jolting this would be emotionally. I grabbed my babies and pulled them over to the parent paparazzi side and they looked so confused. It hit me. They are different. Not in our hearts. Not in our little family unit but in the world's eyes. 

I'm still processing this and I'm still sad over the realization. There will be no wand waved over them at adoption time. This is just our story. My children have been through things no children ever should have. They have heard things little ears should never hear and seen things I may never be able to erase. They have a different beginning. I will fight the rest of my life for them to know family and know it as a place of refuge and not pain. Such a little thing that "postable picture" but so raw.