Happy Birthday Jamie!

Today is Jamie’s birthday.  Here are a few memories from days gone by….

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Cake makes her very excited!

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She has her eyes closed for almost every picture ever taken of her

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The perm days

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and again with the eyes closed….maybe she’s meditating….

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Jamie and her first 4-H steer, Charlie, with two champion ribbons!

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4-H horse show, riding Peter

Fast forward to present day.


She smoked em at the matched horse race.….well, at least until Tigger caught up with her.


She wrestled calves


and vaccinated calves


and rode for miles and miles with Chase and Wrangler

Speaking of Chase…..he had a birthday yesterday!


He also gets excited about cake…even before it’s done!

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See any similarities?  most of Chase’s expressions remind me of Chad but the smile I think is Jamie’s


Happy Birthday Jamie and Chase!



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Happy Birthday Kimmi!

Today is my sister Kim’s birthday.  So just for fun here is a little look back at her younger days.

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Me and Kim….I was hoping for a puppy…or maybe a pony….but Mom said, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”

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She still eats this way

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She has spent years perfecting this look

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She’s always been an animal lover and was very bold in her fashion choices, not everyone can pull of polka dot pants let alone pairing them with stripes

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She started riding at an early age

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Looking good in a cowboy hat

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4-H horse show

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She started training early for the 2014 Matched Horse Race which obviously gave her a leg up on her competitors

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Working hard at the 4-H steer show

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High School Rodeo

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She always keeps things interesting…

Happy Birthday Kimmi!


And she still looks good in a cowboy hat


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San Francisco

I am married to a guy who loves to travel.  He went on lots of fun vacations with his family when he was a kid and he has a whole list of places that he is dying to take our kids to.

When I was a kid we went on five family vacations.  Three were to Yellowstone.  We would take one day to drive there, one day to drive through and one day to drive home.  One of those trips was during the big fire, all we saw was smoke.

One trip was to Mount Rushmore and one to Minnesota and Iowa to visit family friends.  The last trip was to Calgary to see the Calgary Stampede (and that trip is a story for another time).

What I’m trying to say is that Joe and I have vastly different experience levels when it comes to travel, add in his overseas travel for work and he was by far the more seasoned traveler.  I really like the idea of travel and I do enjoy learning about new places and seeing different parts of the world but I don’t really enjoy the process of getting there and I’m a bit claustrophobic and basically the opposite of brave and have a tendency to create disaster scenarios in my head.  So, you can imagine how much fun I can be on vacation.

Most of our “trips” in the past few years have been to Casper Wyoming so I decided it was probably passed time to let Joe start crossing destinations off his list.

So, Joe booked a summer vacation to San Francisco.  My first reaction upon hearing the destination was to say, “Excuse me, but there could be an earthquake!”  To which Joe responded, “Excuse me, Wyoming is on top of super volcano.”…..touché.

(the ironic thing is that there was an earthquake just north of where we stayed, just a few days ago but long after we were safely home.  I said, “See what I’d tell you.”  The response was a heavy sigh and eye roll)

So, off to San Francisco we flew.  The flight was uneventful and as comfortable as flying can be these days.  Our first stop was Palo Alto to visit the Stanford campus.  It is a really nice campus.  We, unfortunately, ran short on time so didn’t get to see as much of it as we wanted but we enjoyed the walking around and visiting the bookstore and at lunch at the student union.



Hoover Tower


Enjoying lunch at the student union


Then we drove north to San Francisco.  Here are a few things we learned about San Francisco and a few of the places we visited.


I don’t know what this guys story is


but he seemed to be proclaiming love for something or someone…and he had quite the dance moves

It’s really hilly!  I mean really, really steep hills.  I kept thinking that I would not want to try to pull a horse trailer around that town.  It’s also quite the workout walking around town.


It’s much steeper than it looks like in this picture


climbing up to our hotel


It’s kind of cold. It’s not really very warm at all, even in August. We stepped out of the car at our hotel and were surprised at how chilly it was.   The warmest it got all week was 67.  We had to buy jackets.  We were thinking, California, summer, who needs a jacket.  Well, if you’re visiting San Francisco you need a jacket….and a hat if your going to do the open bus tour because your ears are going to get cold.

It’s foggy.  Like every day.  That’s the one thing that I just couldn’t get used to.  I really enjoyed visiting but I don’t think I could deal with the grayness everyday.

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There is a lot of history.  If you like history, like I do, it’s a really fun place to visit.  We stayed in the Fairmont Hotel which has tons of interesting history.  It was built by two sisters, Tessa and Virginia Fair, to honor their father, James Graham Fair.  They sold it on April 6, 1906 to Herbert and Hartland Law, just days before the great earthquake on April 18, 1906.  The Fairmont withstood the quake but succumbed to the fire that followed.  The Law brothers rebuilt it and it re-opened a year later.  There are lots of interesting stories and people associated with the Fairmont, plus it’s a really nice hotel.  As we left to go to dinner the first night we asked our driver what all the security people and cameras were about.  Turns out we had just missed Arnold Scharzenegger.  So for the rest of trip we kept wondering if he left saying, “I’ll be back”…..


Max and Anne outside the Fairmont


Inside our room


the rest of our room


The view from our room. You can see Alcatraz and also Coit Tower



Max and Anne relaxing in the lobby



In the rooftop garden


And of course, there are the cable cars and the Presidio and the Golden Gate and Alcatraz and China Town and the list goes on.

We took an open top bus tour, which I would definitely recommend, although you will want a jacket and a hat.


Things we saw on our bus tour. I don’t remember the story behind these legs but they were sticking out of window


China Town


The birthplace of tie-dye


Joe and Anne


The Golden Gate


A very serious looking dog with a jacket because it’s chilly!


San Francisco city hall

Alcatraz is a hot ticket.  We wanted to visit Alcatraz but made the mistake of thinking we could just show up and buy a ticket.  Turns out they book those trips out 2-3 months in advance, so we had to settle for a boat ride under the Golden Gate and around the island.

We had wanted to ride the cable car down to Fisherman’s Wharf but the line was really, really long.  So, we ended up taking the bus.  I very nearly had a panic attack on that stupid bus.  We were crammed in like sardines, standing room only, and the driver just kept letting more people get on!  I had to stand on one leg squished in between people I didn’t know.  Then the driver says, “just a friendly reminder, there are probably pick pockets on the bus, so get to know your neighbors.”  I can not tell you how glad I was to get off that bus and have vowed to never ride a bus again.

Then before I even had time to calm myself down, we were suddenly standing in line to board a boat (boating is not my favorite activity because you know, sharks, drowning, the titanic).  I looked back and forth at the line of people, looked at the boat and declared it was very likely going to sink and there was no way they had that many life jackets on that boat.  Joe said, “we will be fine.”  I pointed out sharks, drowning, titanic.  He gently took me by the shoulders and said, “If you really don’t want to go, there is a really nice bench right over there.  I will buy you something to drink and we will be back in hour.”  To which I said, “Well if you all are going to drown and get eaten by sharks I think I should be there!”  He said, “Fine. You can come but please stop acting like we are marching to our doom.  It’s a boat ride.”


Would you trust this boat?


Alcatraz Island


Going under the Golden Gate



Max and Anne right before the big wave comes and knocks a lady down. We are lucky to have survived.

So, I wasn’t happy about it but I got on the boat and it actually wasn’t too bad.  But we did hit a really big wave that came over the edge of the boat and knocked a lady down so I felt somewhat vindicated in my assessment of the danger. (The lady was fine and it may have been the slippery floor that made her fall more than the wave but still)


Sea lions greeting us upon our return


There is a lot more to do at Fisherman’s Wharf but it was so crowded and I had I was barely hanging on after the bus and the boat so we got the heck out of there and went to Ghirarelli Square because chocolate fixes everything

Ghirardelli Square.  What can I say, we ended up there twice because they had really good chocolate, really good ice cream and also Kara’s Cupcakes.  We had to have Kara’s Cupcakes in honor of my friend Kara.  I took a picture for her and thought about trying to bring some cupcakes home for her but there was no way we weren’t going to eat them before we could them back to Minnesota.  So, we each ate two in her honor instead.


Kara’s Cupcakes. Highly recommended!


They were delicious! Sorry Kara…maybe next time or maybe we take a girls trip so you can see for yourself!



There is a nice beach area just across the street from Ghirardelli Square.  Anne declared that it had deluxe sand and it was her favorite spot of the whole trip.

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California Academy of Sciences.  We had an excellent plan for the day we visited the Academy of Sciences.  We would get early, have a quick breakfast and get there before the crowds.  It was an excellent plan that was poorly executed.  And it turns out that executing a plan is just as important as the actual plan.  Bottom line is we slept in…..and it was crowded.  But still very interesting.


This is partly why our plan was not well executed. We stayed up late and ordered room service the night before because, well because it’s vacation!


We passed by Original Joe’s restaurant on our way but we didn’t have time to eat there


The albino alligator…or could by a crocodile. I’m not sure which but he is clearly albino.

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Cable Cars.  We did finally get on a cable car.  We waited in line for about an hour but we finally made it on.


We also found Annie’s Hot Dogs

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The Redwood Forest.  The next few days we spent along the northern shore in the Arcata area checking out the Redwood Forest.  We drove up highway 101.  In San Francisco there wasn’t much evidence of the drought going on there but we definitely saw evidence of it on our drive.  It looked really dry and we drove through quite a bit of smoke from fires in the area.  We also drove past a base camp for some of the fire crews.  All the smoke reminded me of two summers ago in Wyoming when we were surrounded by fires. We went from foggy to smokey and then back to foggy by the time we got to Arcata.

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The view from our hotel in Arcata wasn’t quite the same as our view at the Fairmont.


The Redwoods are pretty amazing.  Max, Joe and I all had cameras, so we came home with 1516 pictures of trees.  Here are a few.  The rest basically look the same.

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After awhile photo bombing became the thing to do

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Arcata Scoop.  We found the best ice cream in Arcata. Even better than the Ghirardelli ice cream.  And it was the cutest little shop too.  I had a scoop of chocolate and honey vanilla lavender.  It was the best ice cream I have ever had…except of course for Max’s homemade ice cream.

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Sneaker Waves.  We also stopped at a couple of beach areas along the coast.  One had this sign.


We don’t have sneaker waves in Wyoming or Minnesota so I had to google to figure out exactly what they are.  Basically, it’s an unexpectedly large wave that can happen at anytime and sweep you out into the ocean to your doom.  I was on constant lookout from that point on and I think I started to annoy my family with my constant shouting of “sneaker wave!” and “never turn your back on the ocean”


See that there to the right. That could have easily been a sneaker wave….it wasn’t but it could have been.

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And then there was this sign at the other one.  We were in constant danger, although I seemed to be the only one who cared.


Big Foot.  It turns out this area is big on Big Foot sightings and he was nice enough to pose for a picture with us.


Big Foot


He wasn’t very talkative but didn’t seem to mind being photographed

And also Joe made a new friend.


And then it was back down to San Francisco to fly home.  It was a fun trip (aside from the bus and the boat) but it was also really nice to be home again.


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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…..my 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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