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. 


At the end of May we celebrated 11 years of marriage. Something feels extra exciting about this upcoming year. I'm not normally a huge numbers person but Mark's birthday is 11/11 and so this 11th year has to rock, no?! 

We got a swanky little hotel room in the Old.Market in Omaha and settled in at our favorite joint, Blue Sushi. Add in outdoor dining (our absolute fave) and the night was off to a perfect start.
We walked around a bit and saw this ice cream shop with a line out the door. Must be delish! It was!
We LOVE Vegas. No secret if you read this blog. We crossed over the boarder to Iowa to play some slots and it was short lived. Good people watching but I was sure I was getting lung cancer and I lost $20 in record time. Wah wah. 
On our way back to our hotel it was getting super late and I remembered this cute little place called Nosh. We went for drinks and got sucked in by the cheap "reverse happy hour" food. I realize we ate our whole trip. Ha! 
We picked up the littles from respite and Decs from the grandparents and headed home to meet "the real world" head on. Have I mentioned on here little boys get dirty a lot and my laundry duties are out.of.control?! Regardless, amazing anniversary. So grateful that I get to do life with my best friend. 


Radio Silence

I have not given up on my little spot in the world wide web. Life has just been busy. In true summer fashion we have things going on every weekend. Speaking of fashion, the above picture is from Easter. We did not get to take the boys to church with us because J had croup and K had strep. #goodtimes At least they looked cute at home! As long as those 3 little men let me dress them alike, I will. Love these boys.