Happy Birthday Dad!

My Dad goes by many names and has many talents.

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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…..

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He’s taught them to ride

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He’s taught them how to drive

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

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shooting

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He’s teaching them his “tough” look

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Fencing crew 2013

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Selling calves

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

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Discussing the latest news in the FencePost

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Looking tough after moving cattle

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Trying to get Anne to try his BV and 7

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Napping

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

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lining out a corral

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Swinging with his girls

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Considering a second career in basketball

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Wresting calves

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First base coach

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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

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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!

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watching the horse race

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tending roses the day she got home

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

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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.

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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”.

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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

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First day of 7th grade

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Vikings supporter

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

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Cast number one

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Pin removal

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Cast number two.

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And finally no more cast!

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This is more like it.

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Hanging out with family

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Schobel cousins

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Price cousins

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Learning the fine art of turkey carving from Grandpa Schobel

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Teaching Grandpa Schobel to take a selfie

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Teaching Grandma Schobel to take a selfie

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Max and his buddy Chase

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

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Chase

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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.

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Making homemade ice cream

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I have no idea….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….oh..no..wait 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.

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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.

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Feel Better Bear

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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.

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And horses to ride.

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And fish to clean.

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And ice cream to make.

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And a crew to feed.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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!

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Casey on Mr. Jonny

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Peggy on Seabiscuit

The crowd gathered.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Whoa!

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Look out Mom!

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

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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.

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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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Happy Birthday Joe

Today is Joe’s birthday.  I will not say which one but according to his children he is getting really old!

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Here are just a few of the great things he has done this past year.

He did not get angry at all when I shut the garage door on the van….three times.  He just put the auto body repair shop number in the favorites section of his contacts.  He didn’t even say anything when the insurance company sent us a letter suggesting that “the driver, Jody Schobel, should examine her driving habits” (in my defense it’s not my driving that’s the problem, I’m an excellent driver, it’s the parking that I struggle with but that’s a story for another time).  He just handed me the letter.

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the damage is hardly noticeable

He also didn’t say a word when I accidentally washed his passport.  But really who keeps their passport in their pants pocket?

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He re-arranged two days worth of meetings at the very last minute so he could drive me and van full kids and stuff to Wyoming because I had insomnia the night before.

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And he got to change a flat tire along the way.

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He trekked all over the globe for work.  From Germany to South East Asia multiple times.  He was in Malaysia when flight MH370 disappeared, thankfully he was already on the ground when the news about that broke.  And he dutifully complied with my request to text every single chance he could on his flights back.

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cathedral in Germany

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Singapore skyline

He took about 1500 pictures of the Sensenbaugh fire.  If you scroll through them fast enough on our computer it looks like a video

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There was a fun trip to Chicago.

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Hanging out with family.

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Of course his he had his part in the famous Christmas turkey incident.

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Then there are all the basketballs, tennis balls, volleyballs, baseballs and footballs that he has thrown, caught and chased after.  One of the best things that he does is the dishes.  Every night.  But I think tonight the kids and I will take care of that.  We like to go all out on birthday celebrations.

And just because it’s important to remember past mistakes so that they are not repeated there is this.

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Happy Birthday Joe!

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Cancer Didn’t Win

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One of the last times I saw Tom was back in June.  We ran into each other at the Casper Walmart.  I was there to pick up groceries.  He had just finished a chemo treatment and was waiting for the pharmacy to fill a prescription.

He looked a little thinner and a little tired but he was the same old Tom.  We chatted for a minute or two about the kids, the weather and summer cow work.  And then he grabbed my hand and squeezed it and flashed me that thousand watt smile of his.  There were a million things I wanted to say right then and a million memories flashed through my mind but Tom would not have wanted for me to get all sentimental in the middle of Walmart, so I just squeezed his hand, smiled back and hoped he knew what I would have said if I had only known how to say it.

Here we are a few months later, forced to say goodbye long before we should have to.  There is not a stronger, tougher more stubborn cowboy out there anywhere but cancer doesn’t play fair, not even close.  Cancer robbed the world of a sweet soul and a heck of a Cowboy.  Cancer robbed Bob and Sharon of a son, Brenda of her brother, Heidi of her husband, two beautiful little girls of their Daddy and a whole lot of us of the truest friend you’ll ever come across.

Dad won’t be able to call up Tom and say,” we’re thinking about working some cows” and before he can finish, hear Tom say, “what time should I be there and how many horses should I bring” even though Dad was probably calling the night before he needed him.

We won’t be able to watch Tom ride or rope or listen to him tell wild west stories around the cooler after a branding.

Cancer robbed us all of something really special because Tom was one of a kind.

But cancer didn’t win.  There is a quote by Albert Pine, that says, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains immortal.” Cancer didn’t win because Tom left a mark on this world and on us that can never be erased.

Anyone who met Tom remembered him and immediately liked him.  Anyone who had the privilege to call him a friend, loved him.  He was always there to help, often without being asked.  He had a smile that could light up a room and a laugh you’d never forget.

Cancer may have robbed of us his physical presence but it can never take away the good that he did, the friendship and the memories.  No one will ever be able to fill the cowboy boots he left behind and we will miss him everyday.  But cancer didn’t win because he will never be forgotten and will always and forever be loved.

All week friends have been posting pictures of Tom I’ve put a few of them together in the video below.

Dad wrote this poem for Tom.  Godspeed my friend…..

Tom

It was early on in 81
Winter here had just begun

And in amongst it’s snow and wind
Here young Tom his life he did begin

Even though he had a wintery start
You could tell, this kid was all heart.

We’ve watched him grow over the years
From his first snoose to a few too many beers.

Saw him ride broncs in the arena and outside
All the while on both he had that grin that was so wide.

It didn’t matter whether it was working cattle or digin post holes
He gave you his all, it was just in his soul.

Now why God did you call this good cowboy home at this time?
When he’s got a young family and is just in his prime?

You know we’ll trust your call is the best
But it sure makes it hard on me and the rest!

I’m sure when you called and said Tom, can you come now
He couldn’t say no, he didn’t know how.

I know there were cowboys to great him up there
And mount him with whatever they had, cause he wouldn’t care.

So we’ll go on cause we’ve no choice in the matter
But we’ll sure miss Tom when the cattle begin to scatter.

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