Back to School

I sent Max and Annie back to school this morning.


Ok, so that wasn’t this morning, even if that’s the way I still picture them when they set off on their first day of school.

This was this morning.


I don’t know how it happened.  The first day of middle school and the first day of high school.  I don’t understand how they grew up so fast!  Especially since I don’t feel like I haven’t gotten any older….well except for the aching in my feet and the stiffness in my hip but mentally I don’t feel any older.  In fact, I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up, so how is it possibly that I have a middle schooler and a high schooler?

People warned me that this would happen.  When they were little, moms with older kids would say, “just wait, they grow up fast.”  But I all I knew then, was that some days lasted for weeks and I wondered if I would ever find my way out of the piles of laundry and legos and stuffed animals.  But it’s true.  Once they start school time goes by faster every year.  And now I feel like I’m standing at the edge of a vortex that is getting ready to suck me in and spit out at Annie’s graduation!

I would have never imagined that it was possible to feel so many conflicting emotions all at the same time.  Happy that they are growing up and becoming independent, sad that one day, far too soon, they will be all grown up and off on their own.  Excited about all the fun, new friends and experiences that middle school and high school bring but also terrified about all the fun, new friends and experiences that middle school and high school bring.  Relieved to have the house all to myself again but…..actually, no conflict there just relieved to have my house back to myself again.

Something about this year, probably because it’s a first for both kids, has me thinking back over their school years so far.  It makes me realize how many people have played a part in the lives of my kids.  And I wanted to say thank you.  My kids are so fortunate to have fantastic grandparents, aunts and uncles but also so many other adults who have added so much to their lives.

So, thank you to all their teachers, principles, coaches, small group leaders, scout leaders, pastors, neighbors and parents of their friends and teammates.  You have taught them, guided them, encouraged them and cheered them on in so many different ways.  It’s one thing to hear mom say, “good game!”, it’s another thing to hear your teammates mom or your coach say, “good game!”  Sometimes it takes more than just Mom and Dad, sometimes we need other adults to help us set an example and provide encouragement.  And we are forever grateful to have so many great people walking alongside our family and pouring love and friendship into our kids lives.  Thank you.

And now at the risk of being overly sentimental here’s a little video look back.  Happy 2015/2016 school hear everyone!

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Happy 14th Birthday Max!

It feels like this was just little bit ago.

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But it turns out it was quite a while ago because Max turns 14 years old today! Here’s a bit of what he’s been up to the past year.


There was ranch work.

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A California vacation

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Spending time with family

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Good times with good friends

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But mostly there was basketball, basketball, and more basketball

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And what would basketball season be without a broken wrist?


It’s been a fun year!  I just wish it wasn’t going by so fast!

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Happy Birthday Max!

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Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame

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The Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame was founded in 2013 to honor the men and women, past and present, who have had an impact on the cowboy and ranching community and culture of Wyoming.


Every year cowboys and cowgirls are nominated from each region. The nominations are sent to the state board, who then verifies their qualifications and selects the inductees for that year.

The Natrona County inductees for 2014 and 2015 will be honored during the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo.  Please join us.

Tuesday, July 7th at the VIP tent on the west end of the rodeo arena beginning at 5:00 pm. Weinrichs food truck, as well as a cash bar, will be available to purchase dinner and drinks. There will be a ceremony to honor the inductees during the rodeo performance.               You will need to pay to get on to the Fairgrounds.

And now, I am proud to introduce to you the inductees for 2014 and 2015.

2014 Inductees

Jamis Johnson 1943-

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As a three-year-old James Edward “Jamis” Johnson would sneak out of the family ranch home and down to the barn where the horses were, setting a tone for the rest of his life. He has always had a love of and a way with horses.

Jamis attended school in Casper at McKinley Elementary and Natrona County High School, where he graduated in 1961.

Always interested in working with horses, he spent time on the family ranch and became a horse trainer. He trained the World Champion roping horse for Jimmy Grieve in Oklahoma City in 1966 and has spent decades training cutting horses and cowboying. He worked on and trained horses for a number of ranches including the 3J Livestock/Johnson Ranch, the Dumbell Ranch, Sanford Ranch, Taylor Ranch at Kaycee and the Tom Sun Ranch.


Photo credit: Paws Fur a Moment Photography

Among his awards are the Legacy Award from the Central Wyoming Cutting Club and Masters Champion in 1994 from the Wyoming Cutting Horse Association. He has won over $100,000 in lifetime earnings from the National Cutting Horse Association. Johnson runs the family ranch and supports his sons Justin and Jhett, themselves award-winning Cowboys. He also paints and has been known to play the guitar and sing.

Billy Jean Shepperson Beaton 1919-2014

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Billie Jean spent her childhood and early years around Salt Creek Wyoming. She would ride out to meet herds at the nearby stockyards and help trail them to the railroad, where she would help work and load them onto the trains. She also spent summers trailing livestock from Midwest to Alcova and Mills to put on rodeos.


She bought her first cattle and the diamond heart brand in 1937. When she married Frank Shepperson they lived in a sheep wagon and built reservoirs with horses. They raised horses and cattle. Not only was she adept at roping, riding, and handling cattle but she was also a great cook. She was especially known for her pies. She canned her own food, made clothes for her family and soap out of lye.

During the Blizzard of ’49 she was called upon for her knowledge of the countryside to ride in planes that were dropping supplies to sheepherders and ranchers who were trapped by the snow.   Her two great passions were working with livestock and her family. She rode horseback through her 93rd year and loved passing on stories and history of early ranching to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

2015 Inductees

Roger Joe “Rog” Claytor May 23, 1923 – Jan 24, 2006

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Rog was born into a pioneer ranching family the 7th of 8 children. He grew up on some of the most historic ranches in central Wyoming. During his lifetime, he spent time working on cowboy crews for the 9A, The Bug, Cross L, Circle Bar and Miles Land and Livestock Co.

He served in the Navy during WWII, stationed in the South Pacific. During the Blizzard of ’49 he helped Ben Roberts trail 1700 head of cattle to the Big Horn Basin.

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He was a true cowboy, and there was nothing he could not rope, ride or fix with a little bailing twine.   Always the first one to be saddled up in the morning and the last one to head home in the evening, he was as tough as they come but just as generous. He left a legacy of two generations of cowboys and cowgirls that he helped to raise and train up in the cowboy way.

James “Buck” Allemand


Buck was born in 1931 and grew up on his family’s sheep ranch near Midwest Wyoming. As a child, he not only learned the sheep business but also broke horses and put up hay. He grew up at a time when the range was truly open; communication was by word of mouth only, transportation was primarily by horseback and supply shopping was done just twice a year.

He spent the blizzard of ’49 on his own in a sheep wagon covered with snow, with only the stovepipe visible. He did not see another soul for 36 days, while he forced his way out of the sheep wagon and rode 7 miles to make sure cattle were fed. His father flew over every few days to drop supplies.


He served in the United States Air Force for the 82nd Airborne from 1952-1954. After returning from the service, he continued in the ranching business and raised his family. In 1969, Buck ramrodded the trail drive of 1215 head of cattle from the TTT ranch near Kaycee to the Bolton Ranch near Rawlins for Herman Warner. The manuscripts of the trip reside in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He has lived an exciting western way of life, including riding a bucking horse for a Marlboro commercial. He continues the cowboy life today and after trying to retire three times he still owns cattle and participates in ranch activities.

Charles Powell “Powd” Clemmons 1901-1987

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Powd was born in Rawlins WY in 1901 and would often tell people, “I got here as quick as I could.” He grew up when the West was still wild, and there was no telephone service, electricity or indoor plumbing. He often recounted how wolves would trail him while he rode long distances to fetch the mail.

He worked for the ID and Buzzard ranches, as well as for Ben Roberts, as foreman of the JE Ranch. He also operated his own ranch on Canyon Creek in the 1950’s. He worked through many difficult conditions, including the Great Depression, severe droughts, grasshopper plagues and the Blizzard of ’49.


He was also an accomplished saddle bronc rider and competed in and won many rodeos throughout Wyoming. After retiring from bronc riding, he was often called on to serve as a rodeo judge. He also competed in roping and bulldogging

In the fall of 1961 he sustained life-threatening internal injuries when the horse he was riding fell and rolled over him. This accident forced him to retire from full-time cowboy work. After recovering from the accident, he worked for Alcova Irrigation District for 15 years. In 1976, he accepted a position as water commissioner and received a citation from Governor Herschler for his work.

Please join us on July 7th to honor these great Cowboys and Cowgirls.

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Dear Tom

Dear Tom,

I can’t believe it’s been a year.  It still doesn’t seem real that you’re not here getting ready to calve heifers, worrying about the weather, riding horses that no one else can or would want to, grinning from ear to ear as you watch your girls feed bum calves and learn to ride.  When I think of you, I still picture you doing all of that.  We didn’t see each other every day, you and I, we hadn’t for a long time, because I am here and you were there. So it’s easy for me to pretend that you haven’t really gone anywhere.  It’s easy for me to forget, for a moment, that things have changed, that you are gone.

But I know that you are.  And I know that it’s not easy, not for a second, for the ones who are used to seeing you everyday. For the ones who depended on you, who counted on your strength and your smile to get them through the day, they feel your absence every single moment. I can pretend that the world didn’t change but they can’t.

Some people will say that everything happens for a reason.  But I don’t believe that.  I don’t believe that God gave you cancer or chose not to cure you for some mysterious, so called reason, known only to him.  I don’t think God works that way.  You were too bright a light for God not to want you here in this world for as long as possible.  I think life just unfolds in front us and God is there to help us through it all but I can’t believe that there could be a reason for what you went through or what we lost when you left us.

Some people will say that God needed you in heaven.  I can’t make sense of that either.  If God is God than what help could he possibly need and even if he did, I know for fact he’s got a pretty damn good cowboy crew up there already.  We need you here more.

I will never understand why this happened.  I know it has something to do with cells dividing and treatments not living up to their promises.  But I will never understand why you and why now, when you still had so much to do.  What I want you to know is that we haven’t forgotten you.  We never could.  You are missed, deeply and often.  Life marches on but it’s not quite the same.

I don’t know what heaven is like but I hope there are green mountain pastures, and cattle to gather and horses to ride.  I hope you sit around under the stars at night and tell wild west stories with the rest of the cowboys up there.  And I hope that it’s not really that far away.  That you can look down on us once in awhile and maybe send us a sign somehow.  We’ll be thinking of you and watching for you every time we saddle up.

Tell we meet again my friend…..

video below, pictures courtesy of Toms’ family and friends

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Happy 11th Birthday Anne!

11 years ago this goofy girl showed up and we’ve been having a great time ever since.

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Here are a few of things that she’s kept us busy with this year.

Hanging out with grandparents and cousins.

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and with her favorite brother




Spending time with friends

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Hanging with Aunt Casey.  The similarities between them, and I say with love and great anxiety, are frightening.

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Moving cattle and branding calves.



Acting and singing with the POP worship team


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And just being her goofy, smiling, funny self.

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Happy Birthday Annie!  You are awesome and we love you!



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Happy Birthday Casey

Today is Casey’s birthday.  When I was looking through photos for this post I came across a few common themes.

This look

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Tree Hunts

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Dad and Casey were in charge of the Christmas tree one year. They went on a tree hunt and this is what they came back with. They have never been allowed on an unsupervised tree hunt since.


This year’s tree hunt.


They had a bit more supervision this time.



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Cowboy hats

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Reindeer Antlers

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Excitement over driving

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It just goes to show you, some things change and some things stay the same.  But one thing that has changed.  Casey and Ryan are engaged!  Congratulations!


Photo credit Alecia Scolari

Happy Birthday Casey!


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Friends in Low Places

One day last summer I found myself at Sharon’s kitchen table, discussing important things, matters of deep philosophical significance.  Who is the better country entertainer, Garth Brooks or George Straight.

Those that know me well, know that my allegiance is to Garth and it can not be swayed.  Now, don’t get me wrong, George is great, a legend even.  But Garth….Garth is it.  No question, hands down.  There was a time, back in 1990 something, that I pitched a tent and slept in the cold Wyoming wind, outside the Casper Events Center with my friend Lorinna, so we could be one of the first in line to buy tickets to Garth’s concert.  And it was worth every teeth chattering minute.  George is great and all but Garth is Garth!


Sharon on the other hand seemed to think George was the guy.  But even though she seemed fairly certain about where she stood on the issue, I sensed that there was a possibility she might be swayed…..

I said, “you know Garth just announced that he’s going on tour again maybe we should go and just see what you think after that.”  She said, “maybe.”

A few weeks later she sent me an email that said she and Brenda had been to a concert at Cheyenne Frontier Days and the guy who opened for Brad Paisley made everyone sing Friends in Low Places because it was a song that EVERYONE knew.  And she said, “guess what?  EVERYONE knew it and sang along.”

I replied, “obviously this is a sign from God.  We must go to a Garth Brooks concert. It’s almost like a burning bush!  If we don’t go there could be floods and famine and locust!”  She said, “maybe”

A few weeks later there’s a big announcement here in Minnesota.  Garth Brooks is coming to the Target Center!  I emailed Sharon right away and said, “See it’s like the 11th commandment!  We NEED to go see Garth! If I get tickets will you come?!”  She said, “maybe”…..I don’t think she thought I would ever be able to get tickets but I was determined to pitch my tent and sleep in the cold if I had to!  Thank God I didn’t have to pitch my tent and sleep in the cold.  All I needed was my computer and cup of coffee.  Standing in line for concert tickets has come a long way since 90’s.

So, I logged into the “waiting room” about 40 minutes before tickets went on sale.  At 10:00 sharp my screen said, “You are in line.  It will be your turn shortly”  I stared intently at my screen for the next hour and half.  I was just beginning to lose hope….and wishing I hadn’t drank so much coffee…and my eyes were kind of starting to burn, when bam! It was my turn.

And I very nearly panicked because all of the sudden there is a countdown clock on my screen and I have to enter all this information and make it sure its right and then it says, something like “here are you seats do want them, cause if you do you better say so quick because we going to give them to someone else in 1 minute and 15 seconds, 14…13…12…

Here is what went through my head:  ok…ok…check the date…yep right date…check the time because we don’t want the 10:30 concert I can barely stay up that late anymore…ok the early concert….good…ok…credit card info…got it…ok…ahhhh only 1 minute left…ok…number of seats, obviously I’m going to get the most I can which is eight, I’m sure I can find eight people to go with me…got it…ok…where are the seats are they any good…does it really matter, I mean we kind have to take what we get right…but maybe I could try for better ones but if I do that we might not get any….ahhh only 45 seconds left…focus….ok date, time, credit card, number of seats…ok where are they….they look ok…they might even be good but….oh it doesn’t matter for crying tears in a bucket just buy the damn tickets already before you lose them!  Click!  Done. And we had ourselves some tickets to see Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

Then just for fun I went and looked at another website that showed the concert layout for the Target Center and showed views from all the seat locations.  And what it said we could see from our seats was….a big speaker tower.  I wanted to cry.  When Joe got home I said, “I think I’ve just ruined everything!”  He looked up a few different views on some other sites and said, “I don’t think it will be totally ruined.  I think it will be ok.”  I just couldn’t think about it anymore and I told Sharon, “well, we’ve got tickets.  I’m not sure but they might be crappy seats, I just took what I could get”  She said she would come anyway.

Mom and Brenda didn’t want Sharon to have to travel alone, so they came along to keep her company and also they wanted to see Garth.  Jamie and Chad had planned coming out that weekend to watch Max play basketball and decided they could leave early enough to make it out for the concert.  My eight tickets were snapped up before I even had a chance to wonder who to take.


Brenda and Sharon

And so we listened to Garth 24/7 to prepare.  Max and Anne, I am so proud to say, now know almost all of his songs by heart.


And then finally the big night arrived!  I counted the tickets fourteen hundred times between my front door and the Target center.  I briefly let Mom hold them while I drove but told her she had to keep them where I could see them the entire time.  After a somewhat tricky drive into Minneapolis (my husband is not fun to follow in traffic…not fun at all) we were there.  We shuffled our way in with the crowd and finally found our way to our seats.  It turned out they were ok after all!


No speaker tower! Just full view of the stage! Not quite front row center stage but not too shabby


Smiling fans. This was the only time we sat during the next two and half hours.


Two of my most favorite people in the whole wide world








Garth and Trisha


Kara, Joe and I

It was fantastic!  My ears were ringing and my feet ached and my voice was hoarse but it was so worth it.  We talked about hiding out in the bathroom and waiting for the 10:30 show but we didn’t.  I never did ask Sharon if she was swayed over the Garth side but I don’t even care anymore because I got to go the concert.

I told Joe I was thinking about just following the tour around.  He said, “what about the children?”  I said, “I guess they can come too.”  We’re still working out the details….

Here are a couple of video clips that Joe took.  Enjoy!  And if you ever get a chance to go to a Garth concert, please go!  And wear comfortable shoes.


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