There’s this thing every year called the Ranch Roundup. It’s a fundraiser for the West Texas Rehab Center and a chance for several well-known ranches to gather and compete in categories like Chuck Wagon Cornbread and Crafts. Seriously. And a ranch rodeo, of course.
Of course, a ranch rodeo. Did I mention the ranch rodeo? That’s what we spent this summer doing – traveling to obscure towns in three different states so Matt’s team could rope and ride and latigo and stuff. Latigo is a real word that I don’t know how to use properly.
So, Matt and I loaded the kids and horses and saddles and Teddy Grahams and cowboy boots and took off Thursday afternoon for the hottest place in all of earth and hell: Wichita Falls, Texas. We had planned to leave at noon, which means 1:00, which turned into 2:00. We made it 30 miles down the road before two of the trailer tires blew out. Laurie came to rescue the kids and me from the side of the highway, and we bought new tires, picked up some cherry limeades, delivered the tires to Matt to change, and went back to Laurie’s office to run around. During all of this, Claire randomly puked AND had a dirty diaper. Bad mom moment: no diapers with me. Sorry, people in Laurie’s office. Total detour time: 2 ½ hours. Total cuss words spoken during this event: 0. Small victories.
On the road again, but by that point it was dinner time, so we stopped and ate, then we stopped for diesel, then we stopped for a restroom break, then we had to put the horses in their stalls at the convention center, then we made it to the hotel at midnight. I was wiped out. It’s hard to sit in the front seat and hand snacks and toys to kids held hostage by Britax. After 10.5 hours in car seats, the kids were ready for bed.
They were ready to party at the Fairfield. And they did, until about 2 am. I heart road trips with toddlers.
The rest of our weekend was super fun.* We met my cousin and her four girls at the Kids Roundup, where two of our six kids literally threw chickens through the air at the petting zoo (frowned upon), four of them rode a mechanical bull, and one child, who shall remain nameless, ate 2 whole hot dogs. It was the little pig, Claire.
Two of my cousin’s daughters, the sweetest kids. She has four girls so they have to wear matching shirts in public.
Young Bullriders of America. You’re welcome for the great action photography.
Trevor and six of his cousins participated in the kids’ Stick Horse Races and the Goat Marking, which is too cute, and we spent Friday and Saturday nights overstimulating the kids at the rodeo and cheering for our guys. If you haven’t taken an 18-month old to a three-hour-long event in a coliseum lately, two nights in a row, I highly recommend it. It will make you thankful for every time you didn’t take an 18-month old to a coliseum. If you have no idea what a Goat Marking is, you probably don’t need to know.
My niece, Paxton, and Trevor, before the races.
Crazy Claire, with a DumDum and a front-row seat.
This weekend was nonstop action, sweating, and parenting. Our ranch won second place in the Beans and Cornbread categories, Trevor had the best time with his stick horse and his cousins, we spent $400 at the concession stand, and I learned to never stay in a hotel with my two children again. (Relearned, that is.) Parenting tip: embrace the madness. If your kids are wired at midnight in a hotel, put them in the bathtub to play and save yourself some heartache.
And on Sunday, it only took six hours to get home. Praise the Lord.
*Be aware, the definition of “super fun” is drastically different after you have children.
Post-script: I realize that most Americans haven’t experienced a ranch reunion/rodeo like this. If you want some western culture, book your tickets for next August and come to the trade show at Ranch Roundup. You can outfit yourself in every bedazzled-cross tank top available, and get a feel for what “gussied up” means. I would really like for my Chicago friends to come next year and have a taste of rural Texas fashion. Everyone is invited.