My Mom is a Rock Star!

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My Mom is a Rock Star.  Ok, so not an actual Rock Star.  In fact, not that long ago, we were having a discussion on what types of music we all liked and she said, “I like some rock and roll music.”  The conversation stopped.  We all looked at her.  This was news to us.  She was a George and Reba, Patsy and Jim type of girl.  We had no idea that she liked rock music.

“So, what type of rock music do you like, Mom?”

“Donnie and Marie”, she said.


She looked at us like we shouldn’t be confused and explained with some exasperation, “you know…she’s a little bit country….he’s a little bit rock and roll.”

Yeah… Mom is not an actual rock star….nor does she listen to actual rock music.  But when it comes to living life, she is most definitely, without a doubt, a lot country and a teeny, tiny bit rock and roll, a rock star.


My favorite picture of Mom and Sharon


She has had unfair number of challenges thrown her way.  A three time cancer survivor, on top MS, on top of a crazy, ragtag group she claims as family (some related by blood, some not, all loved the same) on top of all the challenges that come with running a ranch with a shoot from the hip cowboy.


keeping Dad lined out is a full time job

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No one would blame her if she had packed her bags long ago and rode off into the sunset, to a nice quiet beach somewhere.  But she hasn’t (and we’re hoping she won’t).  She keeps on keeping on.  She counts her blessings, declares the glass 3/4 full and lives each day to its fullest.

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When the doctor called a few weeks ago and stunned us all, we just wanted to sit in the corner and cry.  But not Mom, in typical fashion, she took a moment to let it sink in and then gathered us all up and insisted that we all “just keep on living.”  Her mantra all along has been, “you can go to the pity party, just don’t stay too long and then put on your big girl panties and keep on living.”


There have been tears, for sure and occasional cursing and a few things thrown across the room but then she’s on to whatever needs to be done next and more often than not, it’s something for someone else.

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In a world where it often seems there’s not much left you can depend on, we’ve got Mom.  She’s our ace in the hole.  She’s the thing that makes our corner of the world make sense and run smoothly.  We are, quite frankly, the luckiest people on the planet.


And she proudly endorses cake for breakfast

Happy Birthday Mom!  You Rock!



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Racing Horses and Bustin Mutton

First let me apologize.  I know some of you have probably been losing sleep and agonizing over not knowing the outcome of the Matched Horse Race.  I’m really sorry to leave you hanging like that.

I’ve had some technical difficulties…..


Before we left for Wyoming, Joe mentioned to me that my computer hard drive was almost full.  “You’re about to run out of memory on your computer,” He said.  And I thought that what he implied in that statement was this, “you’re about to run out of memory on your computer and I know you’re going to want to take a lot of pictures and videos when you’re home, so I’ll get that fixed for you before you leave so that you don’t have to worry about it.”  I mean, being married to a Senior Director at one of the leading computer hard drive companies in the world, you would think, the last thing I should have to worry about is how many gigabytes I have!

But it as it turns out, what he actually meant was, “You’re about to run out of memory on your computer.”  That’s it.  Just a statement of fact.  Nothing implied.

Men are weird.

Anyway, it turns out when your computer runs out of space, really frightening things start happening.  It starts losing pictures and videos and there are tears and headaches and cursing.  It’s not pretty.  But the lucky thing about being married to a Senior Director at a leading computer hard drive company, is that you have someone who will get you more gigabytes and move things around and figure out how to find the missing stuff and so without any further adieu, here is the conclusion to the big race.

But first I have to tell you about the Rodetto and the Mutton Bustin.

Hadley and her cousin Ashley were in the Rodetto again this year.  They did excellent and both won checks in more than one event.


Ashley running barrels


Hadley running poles


Ashley running poles


Hadley running barrels

Hadley even won enough to buy herself this awesome pair of new boots!  Pretty work ladies!


Nice boots Had!

And then these two found the donut box.  Nothing makes a couple of kids happy like a whole box of donuts and adults distracted just enough to not notice how many they are eating.


Anne and Hadley were once again in charge of getting the Mutton Bustin contestants geared up and ready and then handing out awards afterwards.

They take their job very seriously and do excellent work.

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And Alexandra made her Mutton Bustin debut this year.  Her big sis got her geared up and  being a former Mutton Bustin champ, offered some words of advice, which were, “hang on and don’t let go!”


Hadley getting Alex geared up


She’s ready!

And hang on she did!  She didn’t hang on quite long enough to make it to the short go. But look out next year because she’s got the fire in her belly now!


Hang on Alex!




waving to the crowd

Here it is in live action.


And now the horse race.  It was definitely western but nobody got hurt and that is really all that matters at the end of the day.  All the contestants were family, friends and neighbors so that made it extra interesting.  Jamie ended up racing our cousin Jack in one race and Kim in another, so there was a cousin race and a sister race.  It brought up flashbacks from childhood, of trying to settle on who had the fastest horse, when we should have been holding herd.  Only this time there were more people watching and Uncle Rog wasn’t there to shake his head at us….actually, now that I think about it,  I’m pretty sure he was up there shaking his head at us.

So if you recall how it all started.  Dick asked Jamie to jockey his horse Tigger and she, respectively declined in favor of riding her own horse Pig Pen.  So, Dick went in search of another jockey.  Pretty soon half the neighborhood had entered up.  Dick ended up having Annie K. ride the first night and then Kim finished out the race since Annie wasn’t available all week.  There were a couple of other jockey subs since Jack and Laura couldn’t be there one night.


The original challenge

Quick side note – First, I was in a different filming spot every night and never had a good angle on the finish line.  I have already scoped out a better spot for next year.  Second, in the first couple of videos someone is screaming like a lunatic.  I don’t know who it was but I think once they realized that they would sound like a crazy person when the videos were played back, then they decided to calm themselves down because it’s not as noticeable in the later videos, so turn the sound down for the first couple and then it’s safe it turn it up again.

And also, I had to choose between video and still pictures on most races because, well, I can only do one thing at a time!  Joe was there on Wednesday night to take still photos for me but otherwise it’s video only of the actual races.  I might need to hire an employee for next year.

Every night started off with a pre-race conference at the horse trailers.




Laura and Garrett


Strategizing and trash talk



And then warming up and more pre-race strategizing and occasional trash talk.


Casey, Annie and Kendra pre-race conference


waving to the fans


Jack, Laura and Garrett


Casey trying to track down a different pair of boots for Jamie….long story

First night – First up Annie K. on Tigger vs Kendra on California Chrome


Annie and Kendra on their marks….

And the winner was Annie and Tigger!

Then we had Casey and Mr. Johnny vs. Jeff and Rags.  We thought the finish line was the end of the arena, so we were really excited because it looked like Casey won.  But it turns out that the finish line was closer to the start line and she hadn’t quite passed Jeff at that point.  So the winner was Jeff and Rags!

Second night – Jamie and Pig Pen raced against Jack and Misbehavin’ Angel.  Jamie came out ahead on that one and then Laura and Ol’ Rip raced against Garrett and Crazy Cora.  And the girls made a clean sweep as Laura won her race too.


Jamie had her game face on


Cousin challenge


And they’re off!



Garrett and Laura on their marks


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Third night – Kim rode Tigger and raced against Jeff on Rags.  Kim makes a smart move at the barrel giving her just enough edge to win this one.

In the video the announcer says Annie is riding a horse called Bruiser.  She’s not.  It’s Kim riding Tigger.  He also says the owner, Dick, is engaged to be married.  This was surprising, especially to his wife Joan.  But we knew who was who, so it didn’t really matter.  We’re still trying to track down Dick’s fiancé….

Now this night was also Tough Enough to Wear Pink night.  Tough Enough to Wear Pink is a campaign to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Lots of cowboys wear pink on this night in honor of those who have fought breast and other cancers.  So, we decked out Pig Pen in pink ribbons - for Mom’s fight against breast cancer – blue ribbons - for Grandpa’s, Uncle Jack’s and Mom’s fight against colon cancer -and orange ribbons for our friend Tom’s fight against kidney cancer.  And Jamie dedicated her race that night to all of them.  The announcer only says it’s in honor of Mom but it was in honor of all of them and it made Mom cry.



Looking sharp Pig Pen


Pig Pen wanted a selfie with all of us


So, the second race that night was Jamie vs. Laura.  Their horses were ready to go and they almost take out the starter – the only rule, remember, don’t run over the starter – was very nearly broken.  In the end Jamie and Pig Pen pulled out another win.

Fourth night – this night there were three riders in each race.  First up, Casey, Garrett and Jim riding for Jack.  Jim and Misbehavin’ Angel win this one.


Casey and Mr. Johnn


Jim standing in for Jack

Then it was Kendra, Jeff and Will riding for Laura. There was a near collision at the barrel and Kendra ended up the winner.

Finals night – And here we are at the finals.  Racing for third and fourth place we had Jack riding Misbehavin’ Angel and Kendra riding California Chrome.  Kendra won.  When Dad asked Jack how he felt about being beat by a girl, he said, “oh I’m used to it.  I am married to Laura.”  Attaboy!

And running for first place and second place, we are back to where we started.  Who is faster Tigger or Pig Pen?


Jamie and Dick wished each other luck before the race and they mostly meant it too!


Dick consulting with his jockey. Even though the announcer says it was Annie riding Cruiser, it was actually Kim riding Tigger

Kim rode Tigger again in this race, so it was sister versus sister.  And it was neck in neck from start to finish. A real horse race!  If you’re worried they might have gone easy on each other, you know, because their sisters and all…..don’t worry.

And at the end of the night bets were settled and everyone raised a glass (or bottle) together because friendships trump horse races….at least until next year.


Somebody owes somebody something


Here’s to good friends and fast horses

Oh, right!  You’d like to know who won!  You’ll have to watch the video…..



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Happy Birthday Dad!

My Dad goes by many names and has many talents.


But the thing that suits him best, the thing that he is the very best at is being Pa.

Here are a few pictures of him doing what he does best.  He’s taught the kids many, many things….some of which we are still trying desperately to un-teach…..


He’s taught them to ride

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He’s taught them how to drive


Napping is one of the things he most loves to teach them





He’s teaching them his “tough” look


Fencing crew 2013


Selling calves


Teaching Chase that it’s important to wear a cowboy hat, even at the beach


Discussing the latest news in the FencePost


Looking tough after moving cattle


Trying to get Anne to try his BV and 7



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Just because you’re 2 is no excuse not to be working in the barn


lining out a corral


Swinging with his girls


Considering a second career in basketball


Wresting calves


First base coach


Tree hunting

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Teaching the kids that it’s possible to be even louder than they already are

 Happy Birthday Dad! 


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The Sweetest Words


The sweetest words ever spoken are, quite possibly, “you are cancer free!”

Mom had her post-op appointment today and the news was so very good.  The surgery got all the cancer.  She is clean as a whistle.  Good to go.  No chemo.  No radiation. Cancer free!

We are doing the happiest of happy dances here today.  And she is doing great.  She’s been tending to her roses and cheering at the matched horse race and the mutton bustin.   She probably should take it a little bit slower but there’s no telling her that.  Gosh it feels good to breath deep again!


watching the horse race


tending roses the day she got home

And she went out and bought a celebratory hat just because she could.


But at the same time that we celebrate our good news, we are hoping and praying with all our hearts that those who haven’t heard those words yet, will hear them soon.  And our hearts and love go out to those who never got the chance to hear them.

Our prayers and love go out to all families touched by cancer and to the doctors and nurses who care for them.

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Happy 13th Birthday Max!

Well, it’s official.  Max isn’t a kid anymore and not just because he’s turning 13 today.


Last week while moving cattle to Soldier Creek some people (who shall remain nameless) starting to panic just a bit because all of the sudden no one knew where Max was.  It’s a big pasture folks and any number of things could have befallen him.  He could have gotten lost, his horse could have fallen or step in a badger hole.  He could have come across a rattlesnake or gotten bogged down.  And quite a lot of time had passed since anyone had seen him.  And since we were thinking – clearly mistakenly – that he was just a kid out there alone with only his horse, some of us were a bit concerned.

But when we located him and someone expressed that there had been concern as to his whereabouts, he just looked at us like we were nuts.  You know that look that that seems to say “what in the sam hill is wrong with you crazy people”.


He said, “Well, Uncle Jim told me to go gather the cattle up the creek.  So, I went and gathered the cattle up the creek.  And then I looked back and saw a few he had missed and so I went back and got those.  Then I took the whole bunch up the fence line to the middle gate.  And since I remembered that Pa had said ‘somebody darn well better count them through the gate’, I opened the gate and counted them through….and by the way there were 365 cows and 16 bulls.”

To which we said, “oh….ok….thanks”

To which Dad said, “Pretty work!”

And Max rode off shaking his head and muttering something along the lines of “oh ye of little faith.”

So, it’s official. Max is no longer a kid.  Which I think means I can start charging him rent now.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the events of the past year.

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Rockies game with Chad


First day of 7th grade


Vikings supporter


Basketball season got off to a rough start.  Pre surgery.


Cast number one


Pin removal


Cast number two.


And finally no more cast!


This is more like it.

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Hanging out with family


Schobel cousins


Price cousins


Learning the fine art of turkey carving from Grandpa Schobel


Teaching Grandpa Schobel to take a selfie


Teaching Grandma Schobel to take a selfie

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Max and his buddy Chase


Speaking of which, if Anne is Casey’s mini me, then Chase just might be Max’s



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Max at about the same age Chase is now

He loves shopping with his sister.  It is one of his favorite things and you can see why.


Making homemade ice cream


I have no idea….


And yesterday while they were watching 80+ exhibition barrel racers waiting for Hadley’s run, he somehow talked his Dad into taking him to a Rockies game for his birthday.


The rodetto can get long. Spectators sometimes create their own entertainment

Happy Birthday Max!   

We have loved every minute of the past 13 years and can’t wait to see what comes next.

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Life Happens All At Once

One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that life happens all at once.  Life has a tendency to be complicated and unexpected and not really what you had planned. Good times happen in the middle of bad times and bad times happen in the middle of good times.  We like to think we have some level of control.  We like to think that we know what’s going to happen next but just when we think we do, there’s a sharp corner that we didn’t see coming.  Life just unfolds in front of us and all we can ever really do is roll along with it, doing the best we can to take care of the people we love along the way.  It’s messy and wonderful and happy and sad all at once.  And as my Dad would say, “it’s just part of it”

And maybe the trick to it all is to figure out how to take it all in.  To not get so stuck in the bad stuff that you miss out on the good stuff that is still happening. And to not take the good stuff for granted, thinking the bad stuff will never come around again, and end up not even realizing that your in the middle of the good stuff.

It’s a crazy life and the only thing you can do, as Mom has said many times the past 10 days, “is just keep on living”.

So here’s a few things that have happened since the race.

Casey, Anne and I had the chance to take an unexpected road trip to meet a really amazing lady and a really special horse.


Me, Anne, Amberley Snyder and Wrangler

We are so glad we had the opportunity but one thing we did learn is that neither Casey nor I can see well in the dark and so we probably should not take road trips together that involve night driving.


A pit stop at McDonalds in honor of Dad. It’s his favorite road trip stop

“Is that the exit? No, I’m sure that’s not the exit.  Oh…oh wait…it might have been the exit. Yep, yep that was the exit.  No…no you’re not in the right lane, quick switch lanes… maybe that was the right lane..”

We made it though…by the grace of God we made it.

Then there was the phone call from a Dr, saying, “I’m really sorry but that polyp I told you was definitely nothing….well it’s definitely something…it’s definitely colon cancer and you definitely have to have surgery.”

Mom hung up the phone and said, “Well hell!” and then she proceeded to do what she always does, which is whatever needs to be done.  She paid the bills, scheduled appointments, made sure the grandkids understood and were ok, cooked dinner and drank the damn clean out concoction two more times.  Jamie and Casey wanted to pull out of the horse race, it just seemed silly now, and everyone wanted to cancel all sorts of plans but Mom said “Oh no you’re not.  We are all going to keep on living.  It’s nothing but a bump in the road.”

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It’s actually a bit more than that – to say the least – but you can’t keep a good cowgirl down for long.


She had the help of Feel Better Bear from Alex and her Dammit Doll from Sharon.  And both have been used extensively over the past few days, let me tell you.


Feel Better Bear


Dammit Doll Whenever things don’t go so well, And you want to hit the wall and yell, Here’s a little dammit doll, That you can’t do without, Just grasp it firmly by the legs and find a place to slam it. And as you sack the stuffing out yell “Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!”

And in midst of scans and surgery there were cattle to move.





And horses to ride.


And fish to clean.


And ice cream to make.


And a crew to feed.


Thank you Tarver and Sally! That was the best ribs and dirty rice ever!

And the Forth of July to celebrate.

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And then just when you think you’ve found a new groove and things are settling in…..Toga gets bit by a rattlesnake.


She looked a bit like a cartoon dog for a couple of days. Thank goodness for rattlesnake vaccine! And Dr. Jane!

We wanted Toga and Mom to share a room but apparently the Wyoming Medical Center frowns on dogs as patients.  So Mom was at WMC and Toga was at Rocky Mountain Animal Hospital.

They are both home now and – knock on wood – seem to be recovering well so far.

See what I mean.  All at once.  It all happens all at once, the good, the bad, the maddening and the wonderful stuff all comes rushing at you.  We might wish it happened one thing at a time but it just doesn’t.  All you can do is try your best to enjoy it, no matter how messy it gets.

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Now if we can just get through Fair week in one piece…..

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The Race Is On

Kentucky has the Derby, Baltimore has the Preakness, New York has the Belmont and Casper has the Matched Horse Race.  There are, however, a few differences.  The hats are different.  There is whisky instead of mint julep.  The saddles must be western and there is a penalty for running over the starter.

At the Casper Fair and Rodeo this year there will be a Matched Horse Race.  This is where two riders race their horses to the end of the arena, around a barrel and back.  Two horses race each night and the top four race again on the last night to determine the winner.  This is a new event for the fair this year and it has some of the locals quite excited.

Our friend Dick decided that his horse Tigger has what it takes to win and asked Jamie to be his jockey.  That was great, except then Jamie got to thinking that her horse Pig Pen was faster than Tigger.  So she said to Dick, “I think I’d rather ride Pig Pen.  I’m certain he is faster.”

To which Dick said, “I respectfully beg to differ with you on that.”


Dick on Tigger

Actually, what he really said was closer to, “The Hell he is!”  And with that the gauntlet was thrown down, the challenge was set, it was high noon at the OK coral.  Well, actually it was 2:00pm at Kim and Jason’s arena.


Jamie on Pig Pen


As soon as Casey caught wind of this she said, “I think Mr. Jonny is faster than either of yours!”  And then Peggy said, “I’m pretty sure my horse has Secretariat in his bloodline.  Count me in!”  And the race was on!


Casey on Mr. Jonny


Peggy on Seabiscuit

The crowd gathered.




Chase put all his money on his Mom and Pig Pen

First there was warming up, reviewing the rules – which is really just don’t run over the starter –  and getting the arena set.


Mom asking, “where shall I set the barrel?”


Jamie and Casey both say, “that way” and point opposite directions

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And then they raced.  First up Pig Pen vs Tigger.


And their off!

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It was a very close race.  I can’t really say who won because, while both of these horses have got speed, what they lack are brakes.




Look out Mom!

Mom was standing just out of camera shot.  Lucky for her Pig Pen stopped in the nick of time.


Mom pulled everyone aside and reviewed the one and only rule. Do Not Run Over the Starter, especially if that person is your mother.

The general consensus in the crowd seemed to be that Pig Pen was indeed a bit faster but Tigger made the turn better, so it was sort of a tie.  They neither one stopped on a dime.

Then Casey and Jamie raced.  Then Jamie and Peggy raced.  Then Peggy and Casey raced.  Then…you get the picture.

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I’m still not sure we really know who has the fastest horse but it sure was fun to watch.  They have a couple of weeks to practice before the real race so place your bets and stay tuned.


Jamie and Dick “discussing” who’s horse was fastest

Here’s a quick video of one of the races.  Max was in the arena videoing and you will see why he took the rest of the videos from the other side of the fence.


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