To the Basement!

My youngest son started high school this fall. I’ve written before about the struggles in school during junior high. He didn’t apply himself as much as he could. As a result, he missed out on participating in several things: wrestling, basketball, and other extra curriculars.

We made a deal over the summer that as long as he kept his grades up, he would be allowed to participate in whatever activities he wanted. And he’d be able to move into the basement bedroom. It’s a large room that his older brother used until he went to college.

Garris slept downstairs all summer, sort of a trial run. He had more privacy and a bit more freedom than his room upstairs. He had his own bathroom, adjacent to the bedroom.

We didn’t completely move him into the basement until about Halloween. At that point, he had kept his grades up, had participated in football and rodeo, and had agreed to a contract, of sorts.

He agreed to keep the bedroom, and the basement, tidy. He agreed to do his regular, weekly chores, without a lot of prodding from me. And he agreed to keep his grades at B or above. We talked about the bedroom being a privilege, and that his behavior with me needed to reflect a more mature tone.

Once we moved his brother’s things out of the room, and his things in, he started making the room his. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised at his level of commitment in order to keep the room as his.

He matured significantly over the summer. And although he still has his moments of child-like behavior, he has been trying very hard to get along with me, to do his chores on his own, and to do any additional tasks I ask him to do.

Yes, I have to remind him to bring his dirty dishes upstairs. And to bring his dirty clothes to the laundry room. I have to remind him about turning lights off when he’s not using them. But to be fair, I had to do those things when he was sleeping upstairs.

Bottom line: he knows what is at stake. If his grades drop, he loses the room. No second chance. If he’s disrespectful to me, he loses the room. No second chance. If he refuses to help keep the basement cleaned up, he loses the room. See a pattern?

He does. By giving him the responsibility of the basement bedroom, I’ve given him the opportunity to show me the kind of person he’s going to be. And I see a wonderful young man rising from the ashes of the little boy he was.

I was a little nervous about leaving him in the basement, because the television is downstairs. I had thoughts of him up all night and sneaking in more air time. But most nights, he’s in bed shortly after nine. Even on weekends.

If the rest of high school goes as well as this transition to the basement has gone, he’ll sail through the next three and a half years without incident. As his mom, I say, to the basement, young man!

The Big C

I haven’t posted much over the past few months. I’ve shared previously that I battle depression. On top of that, I’ve been dealing with additional medical conditions. About mid-summer, I discovered a lump. At first, I ignored it, hoping it would go away on its own.

But each time I felt it, it seemed like it as growing bigger and harder. Finally, after a couple of months of worrying and wondering, I made an appointment to have it checked out. I fully expected the nurse practitioner to tell me it was nothing. I was imagining things.

As she examined me, she admitted she felt something. She didn’t think it was anything to worry about, but we scheduled a mammogram, so that I would know for sure.  I had to wait about ten days, and my wonderful friend Colleen offered to drive me the one hour to the imaging place.

I was told the appointment could take up to three hours, and once I was in my robe and called back to begin, I sent my friend away to do her own thing for a while.

I had the usual procedure on both sides, then some extra images on the side with the lump. The radiologist looked at the images and wanted some ultrasound images as well. After that, I was told that the lump was ‘just’ a cyst.

Nothing to worry about. It had no blood supply. It wasn’t anything to cut out. And that was that. They told me to keep checking it, and if it started feeling differently, then I was to come back in.

In all, it took about a half hour. Then I waited another half hour for my friend to make her way back. I told her to take her time and do her shopping.

While I waited, I thought about the experience I had just gone through. To me, that lump felt like a golf ball. They told me it was only a few millimeters. They were surprised I felt it.

I had already reconciled myself with the possibility of cancer. And I had worried about what I was going to do if it was the big C. I couldn’t afford health insurance in 2017. My rates were set to increase 70%, up to almost $800 a month. There is no way I could afford that, so I had to go without. I did get catastrophic insurance, in case I did have something like cancer. But even with that, I couldn’t have afforded to treat myself.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed that the lump was nothing. I know, that sounds crazy. And ultimately, I was relieved. But I had built this up for so long in my head that I was feeling let down that I didn’t have to go through treatment.

That circles back to my depression issues. This has been a tough year for me. Financially, I am truly broke. I haven’t had much income for the year and nothing looks promising for the next few months. I have credit card debt that I had expected to pay off by now. And some back taxes that are killing me.

I had a couple of promising deals in the works with a couple of publishers who liked my novel manuscripts. One publisher folded and didn’t tell any of the authors. The other publisher changed focus about halfway through my acceptance read. Those two things happened close to each other and were crushing for me.

I’ve pitched freelance ideas all year to major, and minor, magazines. I’ve gotten right up to the door, but I can’t seem to walk through. It has tamped my spirit down to a point that is a bit scary for me.

So, I think I was looking forward to having something else to focus on. Something that had an actual end game. A goal. Because right now, I’m drifting.

And I know that cancer is not something to be taken lightly. I know it’s a devastating disease. But for a couple of weeks, I was in the mindset that I needed a tangible battle instead of the solitary, creative one I’ve been waging all year.

I am thankful I’m cancer free. I’m thankful I’m not sick. I’m thankful for that little lump. I’ve been trying to get into a better daily routine. I’ve been seeing things clearer than I have in a long time.

I know what I’m going through is simply a down time. Everyone has them. And I will get through this. I’m just ready to see the light. Not, that one. The light at the end of the tunnel. The one that will lead me out of my funk and toward the life I want.

So, I am grateful for that cancer scare. Ultimately, it made me re-set my priorities and re-calibrate my life back to my focus.

Baby Blues

A couple of months ago, Cyris asked me if I was still making baby quilts.

My first thought? He and Regan were having a surprise. That thought was fleeting. I knew that neither of them were ready for babies. They’re not even ready for marriage yet. They both want to get through school before they think any further about other things.

I asked Cy who the quilt was for. He told me it was for a couple of their friends. Former roommates who unexpectedly found themselves pregnant.

I breathed a sigh of relief and told him I would definitely make him a quilt. He had some ideas about the fabric patterns: the father is a fellow cowboy on the rodeo team, plus an avid hunter. He and Cyris have become good friends, so Cy wanted to combine those two passions. He didn’t know what the gender of the baby was yet, so he wanted to keep it neutral.

I started shopping for material, and ended up ordering several fabrics online, to get the right combination of patterns. I make an Around the World pattern, baby size. It’s one of the classic patterns, with a single square in the center and five fabrics making a distinct diamond pattern.

I found several cowboy type fabrics: cowboy boots, cowboy hats, ropes. I found some fabrics with deer. Some with horseshoes. I kept the colors neutral, with a lot of tan and brown throughout.

I had the top of the quilt done by the time Cy and Regan got to my house for Christmas Eve. They both loved the fabrics and helped me decide which border fabric to use. I finished the quilt while they were in Manhattan visiting her family, and they were thrilled to see the finished quilt when they stopped back on the way home to Dillon.

As I worked on that quilt, I as thankful it was for friends and not for my kids yet. Someday, I hope I have grandkids running around my house. But I’m not ready for them yet. I’m glad that my boys are waiting until they’re older to start families. Until they’re settled. Until they have some kind of plans in place.

As Cy and Regan left, they told me about another couple that were expecting a baby. At about the same time. Both Cy and Regan looked at each other and kind of laughed. I think they were both thankful the baby game was being played by other ‘kids’ and not them.

I’m in no hurry for my babies to have babies. As far as I’m concerned, they can wait years before any additional little cowboys or cowgirls are racing around the arena. Obviously, I will love any babies no matter when they arrive. But I hope the baby blues don’t hit my babies any time soon.

Pregnant Peppy

We have a lovely older mare named Peppy. She was the go-to horse for Garris while he learned how to compete in rodeo. He used her for barrels, poles, breakaway, goat tying, calf roping, and ribbon roping. Cyris used her for calf roping and heeling. He even headed a few on her, when his heading partner missed. She’s not a big horse, but she pulled those steers for Cy, which saved their team roping runs.

She was one of those horses that was willing to do whatever was asked of her. In addition, she has an awesome personality. She’s laid back, friendly, and just a solid horse. Cy took a different horse to college, as his calf roping horse. A year ago, his heeling horse came up lame, so he came and got Peppy for a Wrangler roping. After being off her for over a year, he won a saddle and had an absolutely wonderful day roping on her. He said she just felt like home.

Garris took her to the National Junior High Rodeo for two years. We made the tough decision to retire her after his seventh grade year. Her front end had started hurting. Not all the time. And not severely. But enough that it was getting hard to back out of the trailer. When she was standing at the trailer, she’d try to find a comfortable position.

I hated to take her out of competition. But I wanted her to have a few years to simply be a horse and enjoy life. She looks great, about half of her age. Her back is great shape, so she’s still healthy.

We tried to breed her last year, but the pregnancy didn’t endure. This year, we tried again with a different stud, and with more veterinary assistance. I took her in for pre-natal care. We had an ultrasound and blood work done, to ensure that she was a viable candidate for pregnancy. The vet said if he didn’t know her age, he’s guess he was looking at a two- or three-year old mare based on her ultrasounds.

Sometimes, older maiden mares simply cannot carry a foal to term. They have lowered progesterone levels in their bodies. They often times get pregnant, but can’t stay pregnant because of the deficit of that hormone.

Once we bred her and checked to make sure she had caught, we started her on a hormone regimen. She’s been taking Regimate, a synthetic progesterone, to keep her pregnant. I started putting it in her grain daily, and just last week switched to injectible, which is required every eight days. If we can make it one more month, she should be out of danger of spontaneous abortion of the foal.

Other than the added care for her advanced age, this is very exciting for us. I’m usually not crazy about breeding mares. The last time I did was 24 years ago when I had my barrel racing mare bred in order to get a colt out of her. Most of the time, people can go out and buy a colt that’s just as good or better than the colt they’re trying to breed. But in our case, because Peppy has been such an integral part of the boys’ rodeo life, we wanted to extend her genes.

She’s one of those horses that should have babies. She’s a natural athlete. She’s easy to ride, shoe, and care for. In fact, I can give her a shot by myself while she’s loose. She doesn’t even flinch or move when the needle goes in. She comes when you call her in the pasture. And she’ll choose her own halter.

The stud we found is also of the geriatric demographic. He’s 22, but looks ten years younger. He has a similar personality to Peppy: easy going, loves attention, and willing to try anything thrown at him. If we get a colt from him, I’m positive it’s going to be a gem.

Now, the boys are fighting over who gets this colt. Cy thinks he should get it, because the foaling date is close to his birthday. Plus, since he did most of the roping training on her, he thinks of her as his horse. However, Garris thinks the colt should be his, since Peppy was basically his competition horse from the time he was four years old. She took care of him while he competed in the pee wee dummy roping and goat tail tying. And as he advanced into the older age groups, she advanced with him. So he thinks of her as part of his family.

What I’ve told them both is that the colt should be MINE. It’s been about twenty years since I’ve had a horse of my own. I’ve spent those years focused on making sure all the boys were competing and riding. But it’s time for me to start again. And I think this colt is my sign that it’s my turn.

After all, if this goes well, we can breed Peppy back to this stud. His owners have already said they’d love to have her back. They have been cutting back the number of mares they breed him to, simply because of his age. But she is a mare they want to breed to. So, if we get a good colt next May, I’ll be calling them to set up a time to get her back over to the stud.

I’ll keep you posted and hopefully get some pictures up as she goes through her pregnancy. The other kids have missed seeing Peppy this past year at the rodeos. All the girls have asked Garris where she is. But when they hear she’s pregnant, they’re all excited and anxious to see the foal when it finally gets here.

I’m anxious as well.

 

My Last One

I’ve shared in previous posts that my youngest son, Garris, is starting high school this year. Tomorrow, in fact. I’ve shared how melancholy I feel about this rite of passage for him. And I’ve shared some of the bittersweet moments that have already taken place.

But let me share with you how it feels, as a mother, knowing your last child is starting high school. Your last child is making a huge step from being your child to being your grown-up child.

For me, I want to go back to his first day of kindergarten. Start over. Do it better than I did with him. Mostly, I’m not ready to let him go.

I’ve never been one of those moms that was in a hurry to boot my kids out the door. And I’ve never understood those moms. In some families, kids leave home as soon as graduation is over. And parents celebrate!

All of my boys have summer birthdays, so I waited until they were six to send them to school. They have always been among the oldest of their classes. But I don’t regret this decision. Especially with boys.

I see Garris pulling away from me almost daily. Not in a mean-spirited manner. He’s simply becoming more independent. That’s a hard thing for a mom who spent the better part of the past 24 years raising kids. I opted to stay at home with my kids and still agree with that decision. But it makes it difficult to move onto the next phase of my own life.

I don’t want to be a clingy mom and make my son a ‘mama’s boy’. I don’t want to stifle his learning or his maturity. I don’t want to make him resentful of me. But I also don’t want to be out of his life completely. And I think that’s what concerns me now.

I just want to stay part of his life. My biggest fear is that he will outgrow me to the point of not needing me for anything.

I will relish every moment with Garris over the next four years. Speaking from experience, it goes by faster than I was prepared for.

But I also need to start cultivating my own interests again. I have spent so many years making sure that my kids were following their dreams, I kind of forgot about mine. After all, while they were growing up, it was their turn to shine. Now that Garris is on the cusp of adulthood, I need to recapture my own curiosity again.

My last one. Such a final thought. My last freshman. My last student driver. My last high school rodeo rookie.

As Garris enters high school and begins his four year trek toward adulting, I know that a lot of firsts are still to come. I just have to make sure he and I both experience everything life has to offer while we still have the opportunity to share.

Whether you’re on your first or your last, have a great school year. And make every last experience count.

Even Mamas Get the Blues

I battle clinical depression.

Up until a few years ago, only my closest friends and family knew that about me. I wasn’t ashamed of my battle. I just wanted to keep that private.

I can’t explain the ‘why’ of depression. Looking at my life, I don’t have any outward reason to be depressed. I have three wonderful sons, each of whom I am immensely proud. I live in a beautiful part of the world and can claim thirty acres of it as mine. I work from home, doing what I’m passionate about. I still have my parents. For all outward appearances, my life is pretty damn good.

And I am not refuting that.

But there are aspects of my inner life that no one else is privy to. I endured an unhappy marriage for twenty years. The unhealthy relationship took a toll on my health, both physical and mental. It ate away at my self-confidence and worth. It destroyed any trust or love I felt. I was left lonely, resentful, and very near suicide. I had stopped taking care of myself and had given up all hope. No, that’s not a cliché. My life had become a hateful, dangerous, and miserable existence.

I hated the way I felt. The way I looked. The way I had become a shadow of the person I once was. I wanted to be a better mom than what I had become. I simply wanted to invest in a life in which I could be happy.

I had stopped sharing my dreams and my fears, because those were used against me on more than occasion. I had stopped talking about anything private, because my private thoughts and moments were shared without my permission and used as fodder for gossip. I pulled into myself a little further each day until everything I had and was turned into a hard, tight ball inside my chest.

I started seeing a therapist, who helped me define the type of relationship I was trapped in. He helped me vocalize my feelings and my despair. He gave me tools to help me drag myself out of the depths of darkness. Slowly. Painfully. I started to see a different path for myself.

I will always fight this affliction. It’s something that is simply part of my makeup now. But I recognize the signs that my depression is grabbing hold of my life. And I have ways to combat those symptoms to make the blue days a little brighter.

Some people will never fully understand. Unless a person has slogged through the darkness, they can’t. During one of my worst episodes, my ex told me I needed to ‘get over it’ and ‘make myself happy.’ If only it were that simple. Believe me, no one WANTS to be depressed. No one WANTS to feel so worthless that they think the world would be a better place without them. No one WANTS to stay in bed for twenty straight hours because they simply cannot swing their legs out of bed.

I have a good support system now: my parents, my kids, and a few friends who are closer to me than sisters. These are the people I can vent to. I can cry with. These are the people who know I would do almost anything to avoid the dark days. But they also know I can’t help it when I fall into the dark. I just need a safe place to land and heal.

My dark moments don’t last as long now. They are part of my life, but they don’t define it. I’m a healthier and happier person than I was five years ago, and I never want to return to the ugliness ever again. Mamas may get the blues, but this mama is looking for brighter colors as I rebuild my life.

With the Big Boys

Two weeks ago, my youngest son competed at his first high school rodeo. He will start his freshman year tomorrow, and it’s a big jump going from junior high rodeos to high school.

In junior high, he led all of his events last year, for most of the year. He almost always had a great rodeo each weekend of the season, and he was almost always in the hunt for the weekend all around. Up until the state rodeo, he was almost a lock on the year end all around.

We talked about the reality of his chances for this year. He will compete in two events this fall: calf roping and team roping. And it will be tough for him to place consistently like he did during the past three years. He’s not as big or as experienced as a lot of the boys he’ll be competing against this year.

And he understands that. He told me a few weeks ago that he’s just going to have fun this year. That’s a great attitude to have. And I’m confident he will place at rodeos. He just won’t have the same opportunities as he has in junior high. There are considerably more boys entered in high school events, and because of that, any mistakes during his runs will most likely cost him a placing.

His first day of competition in Lewistown was a bust for both events. He got his calf caught and tied, but it kicked free before the six seconds ticked off the clock. And he couldn’t get his steer turned for his partner in team roping.

On Sunday, he duplicated the no time in team roping, but he ended up placing fifth in the calf roping. It wasn’t his fastest or prettiest run, but he got a time, and that’s all that mattered to him that day.

He had last weekend off and will have this weekend off, then next week he competes at his hometown rodeo in Whitehall. He’s hoping to get a couple more times under his belt.

As long as he stays relaxed about the rodeos, he should be fine. And once he and his partner catch a few steers, they’ll probably be in top ten in team roping. They had times last year in junior high that would have beaten a lot of the high school kids. Right now, they’re in a bit of a slump. I think Garris puts too much pressure on himself to turn a steer for his partner.

When they were winning rodeos last year, they roped without fear. Garris needs to find that zone again.

Now that he’s competing against the big boys, he’ll have to focus harder than he has for awhile. But that will make him a stronger competitor in the long run. He’s got the talent to be in the hunt for points; he’s just got to believe in himself enough to let that talent shine through.

Parenting in Pieces

One of the hardest things I’ve had to adjust to over the past few years is co-parenting through divorce. Our divorce process took over two years to finalize, during which time we were forced to live in the same house. Once the divorce was final, and we each began our new lives, I looked forward to re-starting my life again.

Then reality set in. I had this idyllic vision that we would work together for the good of our sons. That we would be able to talk and plan and be parents together, even though we were no longer a couple. Things haven’t worked that way.

It’s been a struggle to maintain continuity for my youngest son, who turned 15 a few days ago. We set up a parenting plan, so that we trade weeks. He lives with me one week, his dad the next. It works out well, most of the time. And when needed, we adjust the schedule.

When my boys were little, I did ninety percent of the parenting. He was always at work or working in his shop. I stayed at home to be ‘mom’ and am still very thankful that I did. I made sure that my boys had plenty of play time during each day, plenty of chores, and a good moral foundation.

Fast forward to today. There are now different rules between the houses. I’m big on respect, especially my son’s toward me. That was lacking during our marriage, and I insist on each of my sons showing me a healthy dose of respect. Not only because I’m their mother but because mutual respect is necessary for a decent person.

There is always a period of adjustment when my son returns to my house from his dad’s. A period when he has to get used to my set of rules. Sometimes he needs a reminder of whose house he is living at.

We don’t always agree on which rules need to be enforced, and how strictly they need to be. For example, to make the beds or to not make the beds. I’ve never cared whether or not my sons made their beds in the mornings. Frankly, I think it’s healthier to leave the bedding open and let it air out. I never made my bed as a kid, and I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal to made a bed tight and crisp.

He, on the other hand, was always a stickler about beds. He thought their beds should be made every morning and spent plenty of hours yelling at the boys because they didn’t do that. Which is ironic, since he never made his bed as a kid. His mom normally made it, so that he wouldn’t get in trouble with his dad. So, I’m not sure when a made bed became so important to him.

Another rule in my house is that my son cleans his own bathroom. I started having the boys clean their bathroom when they were about twelve years old. It seemed only fair. If they missed the toilet, then they could clean up the sticky, nasty pee on the floor and the toilet bowl. It was amazing how quickly their aim got better.

In my house, my son has a bathroom that is basically his. Every week, he’s expected to clean the toilet, the sink, and the floor. It may take him five minutes, tops, to accomplish this task. But it’s expected. And if he doesn’t do it, there are consequences. Like I keep his ipod for the week he’s at his dad’s house.

I don’t know what rules he has at his dad’s house. And I don’t want or need to know. All I really care about is that he respects the rules I have in my house. Sometimes, he tries to tell me that I should do things the way his dad does them. Then I remind him that when he’s at my house, my rules are in force. Period.

It’s hard to co-parent well when you feel like you’re still battling with your ex. I do my best to leave my son out of the tug of war. But sometimes that the casualty of divorce.

Add on top of that the pressures of rodeo competition. I feel like I’m parenting in pieces. I get pieces of my son’s time. I get pieces of his days. I get pieces of his activities. But I also miss pieces of his time, and days, and activities. And most days, those pieces don’t add up to a whole of anything.

But I’ll continue to parent as best I can and be the best rodeo mom I can be. My son deserves my best effort, even if I can only achieve pieces.

Bittersweet Goodbye

My youngest son Garris is in Tennessee right now, competing at the National Junior High Rodeo. He qualified in three events: calf roping, ribbon roping, and goat tying.

He had big goals going into this rodeo. He wanted to at least place in one event. Actually, he wanted to win an event, most likely the goats. He has been the one to beat in Montana for two years in that event.

The first round of events has not been kind to him. He was in the first performance of calf roping, so he got a fresh calf. He caught quick, had a good get-off, but the calf ran and jumped and made it difficult to flank. Once he had the calf down, he tied well and quickly. But he was long on his time, just outside the top twenty.

He missed his first ribbon roping calf. His hat popped off and deflected his loop as he threw.

The goat run was a disaster. He tied two eights at the state rodeo, and normally ties below ten seconds. As he got off, the goat ran toward his horse, making it difficult to push the goat to a good spot for the flanking. Long story short, he had a 15. It will be tough for him to make the short go with that time, unless he has a stellar second run this morning. And he needs a few of the other boys to make some mistakes.

I will admit, I was very frustrated when I watched that goat run. He had a legitimate shot to win the whole thing. He has the fastest hands of any boy his age. It felt like all the time, money, and energy that we’ve spent over the last three years just blew up.

I know he didn’t make a bad run on purpose. I know he’s disappointed as well. He drew a crappy goat. But he didn’t handle that crappy goat as well as he could have.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens from this point, see how the points and times shake out. And accept whatever the results end up being.

This is the stage of a rodeo that is hardest on us moms. We can’t do anything to help the kids during their runs. We have to watch them make their run. We have to wait for every performance to be over. And then we have to be positive and supportive, even during those times we really don’t feel like it.

Next Year . . .

My son Cyris spent this past week competing at the CNFR in Casper. It was his first time, as a sophomore. He was excited and ready to rope!

He was up Monday morning slack, and his first run started out with a quick catch, a great get off, and a super start to his experience. Then, the calf started running toward him instead of running the other direction. There was too much slack in the rope, and his horse wasn’t helping him. He finally got the calf flanked and had a fast, effective tie. He was 14 flat. Longer than he wanted, but he knew if he had two solid runs in rounds two and three, he could still make the short round.

The next morning was his second round. Again, he caught quickly, just out of the chute. He got off, ran down the rope, and was set up for redemption from his first run. About halfway to the calf, the rope bounced off the neck, and the calf scampered away. So did Cy’s chances of making the short go. With that no time, he knew he would be done by the third round. It was a long ride out of the arena for him that morning.

Wednesday night was his third and final calf. He was the last man out for that performance. He caught quickly, got off effectively, and made it to the calf without any speed bumps. He flanked well. Then he missed his string, which took some extra time. Then, he tried to make up time on his tie, which bunched up his pigging string. He was under thirteen seconds. But he was out of the placings.

My heart hurt for Cy that night. He struggled all year to rope well, and qualifying for the CNFR was a huge boost to the end of his college season. His goal for that rodeo was to put down three good runs and see how he stacked up against the best in the country. That’s what I wanted for him, too.

I know it’s not the end of the world. I know he’ll be back next year. I know there is always another rodeo. But that doesn’t lessen the pain right now.

Thursday morning, Cy told me that he would like to have his runs back. For a do-over. If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it for him and give him the opportunity to show off his real roping skills.

As his mom, I want to fix this for him. And I know I can’t.

The fact that he is one of the top 46 college calf ropers in the nation has escaped his thoughts. He earned his spot. And next year will be a better year.

Right now, I am encouraging him to just go rope this summer. Enter NRA rodeos. Enter calf roping jackpots. Team roping jackpots. Anything he can do to compete. Anything to raise his confidence back up.

When he starts his junior year next fall, I want him to be roping tough, so that he can be in the standings from the first rodeo.

Next year. Next year at the CNFR, he will be back. And he will be strong. A mother knows.