Friday, March 11, 2016

Angel Fire Christmas... Right After Christmas

After celebrating with James side of the family, we loaded up the car and happily headed north for Angel Fire to see the Wilson crew. Who doesn't love Christmas in the mountains? The snow, the scenery, the slower pace and the crisp air ~ Papa's "happy place" is a living legacy passed down to his children and grandchildren. 

Mama and Papa sold Eagle Mountain Lodge a couple of years ago and now have a simple but darling home just on the other side of Alan and Cameron's property. We are all pretty touched by the sweet relationships Mama and Papa built from two decades of hosting ministers and lay ministers at the Lodge (not surprised, but touched), but the time had come to slow down a bit. Papa is still getting to serve as chaplain to the area fire departments, and they continue to remain engaged in the community they've grown to call home. But Papa and Mama now come to Texas for nearly half of the year to experience "dailies" with us here in Fort Worth. We think it's a brilliant plan.

So our time in Angel Fire looks a little different now, but their new home already feels like just that ~ home. And our week between Christmas and New Years was just what the doctor ordered... a restful get-away with skiing, snowboarding, plenty of hot coffee and cocoa, and downtime to just be with grandparents and cousins.

We left at the crack of dawn to avoid a snowstorm ~ a quiet morning ride with all these teenagers (and wanna-be teenagers) sound asleep. We took John, our neighbor and close friend of Bran and Hud, so five kids in the back meant a FULL car.
 Hud opted to sleep on the aisle floor instead of lying sandwiched between the girls
Corbin and I realize we are completely spoiled ~ we take our kids skiing all day, and then stumble in the front door to the aroma of spaghetti and meatballs or baked pork chops or whatever yummy meal Mama has been preparing throughout the day. We're greeted by a glowing fireplace, a large TV showcasing those Baylor Bears during their bowl game, and generous grandparents waiting to hear about the day's adventures.

So right here - pretend there's a picture of me in my blue fuzzy Pjs and house shoes - do you see it?? 

Actually, I do have a selfie...

I received an extra Christmas gift this year ~ Corbin offered to take all (eight!) kids on the mountain for the ski days while I stayed home, holed up in what I've claimed as my bedroom overlooking Wheeler Peak, cup of steaming coffee in one hand and begging-to-be-read books in the other. The solitude was a balm at the end of crazy December. Mama and Papa were happy to let me be a hermit ~ absolutely precious. And I was one happy cat with my mornings starting later. 
I wasn't kidding about yummy spaghetti
Where's the beef??
Papa's big breakfasts (and Basden in shorts with two feet of snow outside)
Bran and John. No pics of Hud and Foster, I chose not to chase them through the trees
Bran and John ready to hit it
Those cute girls! Nettie May, Basden, Rowan and Essie
Essie and her Papa
Santa made it to Eagle Nest a few days after Christmas ~ right on time for us.
NOW it's Christmas in Angel Fire with Papa-Santa

A life-sized, homemade Jenga set! A huge thanks to Foster for all that hard work - wow!
And the stockings were hung with care... especially John's ~ exactly twenty years ago it hung on a tree outside the Hunter's Cabin, my engagement ring snuggled inside, waiting to be discovered
Are you kidding me? Is there any smile cuter than Pate's smile?
Foster loves it when I snap his picture
Hud at his most chillax
We got to share an evening with the Dickersons ~ so fun to have dinner together, especially on Brandon's birthday!
Brandon ~ we're glad God made you... and we're glad Papa made rum cake...
Kirsten ~ college roomies and friends for 20+ years
The girls' table
Taking in the beauty is one of the best gifts of all. Just so gorgeous, a few days in this snowscape makes it seem like all is right with the world.
Someone has a photographer's eye
Looking back on these pictures, a couple of months removed, my mind's eye remembers it all so perfect and magical. Even with the Normal Rockwell setting, we definitely shared moments of the adults catching another's eye across the room and encoding the silent message, "Oh my GOSH, there are a lot of kids here!" Particularly coming straight from our James Gathering ~ wowzers. One gaggle of kids to another. But even in the midst of feeding an army (several times a day), cousin scuffles (pretty minor), and about twenty (or more) people trying to live under one roof for a handful of days... I gotta say, it was pretty magical. All of Christmas.

I don't want to forget, and I don't want our kids to forget.

And little did Papa know that it would be only six weeks before we all gathered in his home again ~ this time with Clinton and his crew from Seattle ~ to celebrate Papa's 70th. More on THAT magical weekend to come...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

James Christmas Gathering ~ 2015

Oh my WORD - what an amazing Christmas!
And never mind that I'm more than two months late on posting this... still something I want memorialized in the blog archives.
I always feel like it's Christmas when my brothers bring their families home to Texas, and this time, it really was Christmas. Trey and Amy's crew from Alpharetta, Chris and Crystal's crew from Bozeman, and Luke and Julie's crew from Tulsa.
Two grandparents, 8 grown "kids," and 15 grandchildren.
As Cappy likes to say, never a dull moment.

Here we go!!!
One of our two overflowing carts... and that's just from Costco
 We spent the first few days at the lake and 7R just to get away once everyone got into town.
Board games are always in demand at the lake
Patient (and a tad competitive) Uncle Luke
Basden started off reading just to Blakely, but her audience quickly expanded
Branson enjoyed being a girl magnet
And the magnetism continues...
Did I say never a dull moment?
Where's Brantley?

My favorite lake activity ~ talking around the fire
Catfish, anyone??
Cappy's gift of storytelling in action
Naomi, Payton (I think!) and Scarlett
Uncle Christian with his ready smile
Ashlyn on a treasure hunt
Marshall ~ I'd give a penny for his thoughts
Broderick and Naomi

Brantley and his Cappy
Is that a catfish or a shark?!
 Daboo set up horse rides at 7R ~ a gorgeous morning with gorgeous horses!

Uncle Christian in his element
Broderick and Essie

- Santa brought a few gifts early to the lake
Daboo in her element

Cowtown Cousins sweatshirts for all
We heart Taco Casa
Basden and Aunt Julie
Brantley and Essie ~ quite a pair
Lotsa Blakely love!
Essie and Bogan ~ our other set of twins. 6 days apart.
I honestly don't know which twin this is. But it doesn't matter because I love them both.
- Back at Bourland to enjoy Christmas Eve and Christmas day
Love that Alicia joined us
Sic Em!
Christmas Nail stories
Cappy's airplane rides were the highlight!
Cap and Basden
Uncle Trey helping Essie get settled
Bran gets a turn at co-pilot
Pretty fun outing with Cappy
Zipping around in Cap's Panoz
- For better or for worse, electronic devices are here to stay. Especially in this gadget family.
Hud and Marshall ~ electronic Battleship
So glad we snapped some family pictures ~ proof that we were all together, but sure makes me miss all these amazing people I love.
The original six
super crew of cousins
Basden in heaven with sweet Blakely
Broderick, Essie, Bogan
A few good men
Corbin was back at work ~ sad he missed these pics!
Me, Mom and my sisters-in-love
Grateful for a beautiful week, a beautiful Christmas holiday, and our beautiful family.
Will end with this text from my friend (and forever mentor) Darby after seeing her at the Christmas Eve service ~  she sent this in response to seeing all of the James cousins running around in the foyer together. We'll take it as truth ~ trusting God with our family and Him as our mentor, our children's mentor: