I don’t even know where to start talking about this weekend. We came for my uncle’s funeral and got one heck of a week full of overdue family time, riding horses, girl cousins, beautiful Texas scenery, dirt roads, barn dinners, and so much banana pudding. Y’all, this is the view of the ranch. It looks like this in every direction, with a bunch dirt roads in between.
We pulled up our family’s ranch. It’d been years since we made it down and it was such a blessing to be able to visit again. After some big hugs, it was no time at all before they rounded up the horses and saddled them up for everyone to ride!
…turned into this. Horses and smiles and all my little cowgirl cousins everywhere! Aubrey rode that little car and the tricycles up and down the barn alllllll day long for two days straight. And guess how many times she woke up at night – that’s right, NONE.
My cousin, Amie, grew up on this ranch and she’s raising her four little girls on it now too! Sterling, Stella, Scarlett, and Sloane are the cutest little cowgirls you ever did see. Stella and Scarlett are Mitchell’s age, and Sloane is Aubrey’s age, and oh how I wish they could start kindergarten and grow up together!
We saw some llamas across the road, and the land was littered with the cutest little prairie dogs!
Aubrey had her first ride on a horse. It took awhile to convince her. I don’t think she was ever convinced, but I would say she progressed to “tolerate.”
Once everyone was hungry and more family arrived, we ate dinner in the barn. This is how they eat every night – how awesome is that?! Everyone filled up and laughed and talked about my Uncle Bill and all their memories on the ranch he built.
My cousin Amie, and these little girl cousins – Sloane and Aubrey! (They share their great grandparents Aubrey Mitchell and Betty Jean – hence the name Aubrey Jean!).
Eventually we decided it was time for some much needed showers and sleep. My dad was already there, but Aubrey and I were coming off of a 4am wake up, two flights, and three hour drive… and my mom a seven hour drive. After we were settled and in bed, I loaded up the pictures on my computer, into Lightroom, and woke up about 15 minutes later with none of them edited. I was tired and the pictures would have to wait!
The following day was the funeral. We had a relaxed morning before we headed to the church for a banquet lunch for the family. I couldn’t be more grateful to the church family being so welcoming! They served us the most delicious, gracious lunch, prayed for us, and welcomed our family with open arms. And then we walked across the street to an equally welcoming church for the service. They had the sweetest lady who kept Aubrey and Sloane in the nursery. The service was an incredible testament to a great cowboy, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and so much more. My dad officiated much of the service and his message left so many people in awe of his ability to capture my uncle’s incredible life in just a few moments. (He did this for my grandparents too, and boy can my dad really capture a feeling and make everyone feel it too with just a few words). Uncle Bill’s saddle sat up at the front of the church as a memorial to him, along with a beautiful portrait of their prize horse. They had the most beautiful bluegrass band that perfectly complemented the service. (For my memory, they played Daddy’s Hands, I’ll Fly Away – which was also at my grandfather’s funeral, and Happy Trails). I overheard so many people talking about how what a wonderful day it was, and for a funeral, it truly was. I was so grateful that I was able to be there.
Our last night on the ranch consisted of admiring this beautiful land, listening to Sterling tell all her cowgirl stories, and another family dinner in the barn – the most delicious brisket tacos. We hugged each other tight and vowed to make these visits a regular thing, because we’re pretty lucky to have an amazing extended family and we want these cute cousins to know each other!
Before we realized it, it was 9:00 and the sun had completely set. It’s really easy to lose track of time in that place. My Uncle Bill really built a place that feels like coming home, and a place that people love to be. I’m feeling extra grateful for this family of mine, and wishing Texas and North Carolina were just a little closer. And also extra grateful for Nanny (Betty Jean Brim) and Papa (Aubrey Mitchell Brim) for building this beautiful family of ours.