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Why yes, this was our first rodeo!

Why yes, this was our first rodeo!

Rodeos conjure up images of the Wild West and a bygone era, though there are still big cattle ranches and cowboys who ride out with the herds. For those of us who live in the city, there are guest ranches where you can try your hand at driving cattle and after watching this, we’re tempted to try out the barrel racing! While not exactly on our bucket list, a rodeo was still something we wanted to see at least once, especially with our family’s Texan heritage! We went to the 64th annual rodeo in Coulee city, Washington, a stop on the professional rodeo circuit and a town with a population of 600 people.  Even for such a small town, the winnings reached $32,000 with the annual rodeo including traditional events like tie down roping, team roping, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing. I must admit I was a little concerned about the treatment of the animals, until during the bull riding competition, two of the bulls decided they didn’t want to play today and they just sat there and were allowed to sit until time ran out.  Those Cowboys weren’t going to be winning any prizes that day! Each rodeo starts off with a parade, with rodeo queens galloping their horses around the arena carrying flags from their various states and towns.  In our case, two of the riders lost their seats and ended up in the dirt, but they got right back up.  I guess coming off your horse isn’t all that unusual! The bucking Broncs stopped as soon as their riders came off with many riders not lasting the 8 seconds required for a qualifying ride, even to us it felt like a long 8 seconds!  Points are awarded for both how the horse bucks (Broncs buck differently than riding horses) and how the rider holds on.  We tried to figure out what the judges were looking for, but most of the time, the ones we thought did really well got fewer points than the ones we found less impressive. Our favorite event was barrel racing, where a horse and rider attempt to complete a standard cloverleaf pattern around three barrels in the fastest time, with...

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Katie and the Sunflowers

Katie and the Sunflowers

Katie and the Sunflowers written by James Mayhew is another book in his wonderful series of Katie books where Katie jumps in and out of famous paintings having adventures with the subjects and sometimes bringing them into her world with mixed and amusing results. In Katie and the Sunflowers, Katie wants some of the sunflower seeds from Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for her garden.  She reaches for a flower, bumping the vase and knocking it and the flowers out of the picture and onto the museum floor.  As she tries to clean up the mess, she hears giggling.  Turning around, she discovers that the giggles are coming from the three girls in Paul Gauguin’s Breton Girls Dancing.  One of the Breton Girls offers to help Katie if she can bring her dog Zazou along. The two girls climb back into the museum and predictably, Zazou is more of a hindrance than a help.  He grabs the sunflowers and runs into Café Terrace at Night, sending everything flying before escaping back into the museum chased by the girls and an angry waiter.  With the help of the fruit from Paul Cézanne’s Still Life with Apples and Oranges, they escape from the angry waiter to find Zazou barking at the red dog in Gauguin’s Tahitian Pastorals.  After a quick swim in Tahiti, Zazou redeems himself by discovering buried treasure on the beach and Katie excitedly pockets a handful of coins.  Back in the museum, the girls realize they don’t know how to get back to Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.  Fortunately, Zazou has left a trail of sunflower seeds for them to follow.  As the girls follow the trail of sunflower seeds on the museum floor, they put back everything as they found it and give the treasure to the waiter to pay for Zazou’s destruction at the café. Katie’s Grandma is just starting to wake up by the time everything is set to rights, never noticing that anything unusual has occurred. My son loves the Katie books.  As we started this one, he looked at me and said, “Mom, all of the Katie books are blog books.”  He thinks it’s cool that there are pictures of real paintings in the illustrations, though he does say he couldn’t paint that well and insisted that they must have had a computer to...

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