by Shawni

We are home.

Back to the familiar things we longed for while we were gone: Our own beds. Lucy’s stuffed-bunny-who-wears-a-dress and who delights her to no end. A grocery store and Costco around the corner. Back-to-school night notices and orientation schedules the kids were anxious about (but that make us all a little nauseous). My husband and children mostly to myself.

Life is orderly here. Almost sterile in some ways in comparison to the lake and the cacophony of voices and needs and cooking and cleaning that goes on there. At the lake we bounce like ping-pong balls from one thing to the next: a tennis tournament in one place, a deep discussion about a particular aspect of parenting at another. Marshmallows being scraped off the floor at the pavilion and children begging for one more boat ride at the beach.

The simple-ness of it all back at home seems (at least these first few days) so very therapeutic and peaceful. Yet our hearts are still reaching back to the warmth of the chaos and color and texture of the lake and all the love that seeps in and out of that place.

At any one time of day it seems there are meals to be prepared and served…always abounding in good conversation: (Man alive we eat well up there).

Which leads to dishes to be done:
And a dishwasher to be constantly emptied:
And then, of course, kids are hungry again:
There is non-stop cousin bonding:

And some serious dance-moves for our “Just Dance” dance-off:
There are always children to be snuggled:
Especially by those who aren’t even their parents. My kids leave that place so full of confidence from all the attention they’ve received from their amazing aunts and uncles.

There are old engines to be “male-bonded” over:

And talents to be shown-off:

There’s always a tennis match to be played,
…and babies to be drooled over.

Life-jackets are put on and pulled off hundreds of times each day.

And grandchildren are made to feel like they are the best things since sliced bread.

Of course by then more food must be consumed.
…while politics or service projects are discussed in depth.

How we love that place.

Although I love coming home after each summer jam-packed full of memories there, to me, after living at Bear Lake each summer growing up it is “home” as well.

And I’m so glad it is becoming just that for my children too.

As much as I can’t get over how great it feels to stretch out in my own bed, my fingers interlaced with Dave’s, and to have our own fridge and only our own messes to take care of, I’m so grateful for the rich threads of beauty the memories of Bear Lake weave into the tapestry of what makes us “us.”

Both the family I grew up in and continue to be so inspired by as well as the one I’m growing.

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sego July 28, 2011 - 4:05 pm

Dear Shawni,

Wow ! Bear lake looks like heaven !
I have been following your blog for a few months and my husband and I have used many of your fantastic parenting advice. I have a question for your friday Q&A, do you let your children date ? Do you make compromises on the whole "dating affair" with them ? I have a 14 year old boy and man, he is giving us trouble with the whole idea of dating and my husband and I could definetely do with some advice.
Thanks for everything,

Caylie July 28, 2011 - 4:18 pm

Your pictures are always so awesome! Somehow I always end up with one person in focus, one totally blurry or a over exposed mess.. Someday lol..

Carin July 28, 2011 - 4:27 pm

Your pictures from Bear Lake are always so full of life and fun. I think it is so wonderful that you have that to look forward to each year and that you and your siblings and all the kids get to spend so much time together. My family would have been at each other's throats after a day!

Enjoy home time!

Eyrealm July 28, 2011 - 4:27 pm

Oh my heck (as Bandito would say) Shawni, these photos are the best EVER! Just couldn't stop smiling. Each brought a broader smile and a fonder memory! Plus some gave me a glimpse of what I didn't see! ALL those kids on the GTX and the fabulous one of Dad's sunglasses. I can't wait to show dad this post while he is "recovering" from surgery where he is now. Thanks for taking the time to show the best of the best! Love you!

S July 28, 2011 - 6:04 pm

these pics are absolutely priceless. Your kids are so lucky to have these lifelong summer memories.

The picture of your husband and Lucy walking up the path is my absolute favorite. Absolutely beautiful.

Vivian July 28, 2011 - 6:08 pm

HOW FUN! I used to go to Bear Lake when I was single. IT's a great place. But there is nothing better than sharing those memories (and the new ones) with my children. So wonderful your kids have all these cousins to bong with.

Kelli July 28, 2011 - 6:37 pm

What an amazing time you are able to spend with your family each summer. I adore the picture of the man holding up the baby with the sunglasses. Your pictures make me want to visit Utah.

Guinnah July 28, 2011 - 8:27 pm

what a gift of memories you are providing for your kids. Really priceless. Your photos, as always, are beautiful.

Mann Clan July 28, 2011 - 9:02 pm

We go to Bear Lake every year as well. Do you guys rent out your house there?

lovinglife July 28, 2011 - 9:10 pm

I love those sweet uncles snuggling the babies! How cute is that?!

Moody Family... July 28, 2011 - 9:58 pm

Hey Shawni! I met you in San Clemente and sat behind you in Sacrament mtg. I am the YW president in my ward and work with Sam and also knew Dave our freshman year in the dorms.
I finally have a minute to send you the, "Daughter of God" week info that we did in YW but realized I don't have your email. If you want to send it to me, I will fwd you what I have.
Thanks! Kelly scmom@cox.net

April July 28, 2011 - 10:54 pm

How long do you spend at bear lake? That looks amazing. xoxo April

Ady July 28, 2011 - 11:21 pm

as a wife of a husband who travels a lot for work I'm wondering how your husband takes off so much time during the summer? or does he? When I see him in so many pictures at Bear Lake and Aspen Grove I have a twindge of jealously only because we do so many summer activities without my husband. Also, I think you mentioned that Dave travles a lot w work. How do you manage all the stress that being a single parent brings. Having my husband gone so much seems to be getting harder as the kids get older. It's mostly harder for ME though… so much to manage alone. You inspire me. We have implimented so many things that you talk about in your blog! Thanks for taking the time to blog. As a "single" mom I just wonder how you deal w this in your family? How do YOU manage?

Marcia July 28, 2011 - 11:22 pm

yikes! I posted under my daughter's account. You might think it's weird to have an 11 year old asking questions about a traveling husband? 🙂

Rochelle July 28, 2011 - 11:28 pm

What great pictures!! I have been following your blog for awhile and love your family adventures, parenting style, home decor style, and your photography!! I have a question for your Q&A… How do back-up your photos? I am recently running into 'space' problems. I like to have 2 copies (at least!) of my pictures saved. But with my nicer camera and photos taking up too much space, I need to consider what to save and what to delete (gasp!). I know I don't need 50 pictures of my son blowing out birthday candles. I am really curious how you organize your photos on your computer, how you decide what to delete, and how you back them up in case of computer failure. Yah. I'm a little paranoid 🙂

The Denning Family July 28, 2011 - 11:52 pm

Looks like so much fun. That is so amazing to have that support and fun times with your family.
I have a question for your Q&A:
How do you involve your husband in your parenting and things you are implementing? We have recently started your parents "5 facet review" and are really enjoying discussing each of our children together. So I was wondering if you have/or are doing something similar? If so, would you mind sharing? Thanks!

Sarah July 29, 2011 - 11:15 am

Hi Shawni,
I have a few questions for your wonderful Friday Q&A posts. My family as a summer getaway similar to yours at Bear Lake and as my husband and my generation start having more and more kids, the dynamics seem to be getting more complicated. I'd love to get your family's tips on how you handle things like which family sleeps where (do families keep the same rooms year after year? do kids sleep near their parents or in a room together?), how you organize who pays for what (groceries, household items, etc.) and how your organize meals (does one family cook for whole kitten kaboodle? are their meal 'standards' as far as what's served or does each family decide what they'll cook on their own?). Also, any tips on dealing with the inevitable little squabbles that come up among kids and adults throughout your time together?
We absolutely cherish our summer family time together, but we are always looking to learn more about how to make the best of it!
All the best to you!

Tara July 29, 2011 - 12:58 pm

Sounds like heaven! What a wonderful family you have!

sweetpea July 29, 2011 - 10:52 pm

Hey, I'm the daughter of one of your readers although I read your blog all the time, I am Elle's age… I was wondering where do you get all of her cute clothes?

The Larrabees July 30, 2011 - 3:25 am

First of all I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog, it's full of great parenting advice and the photography is exceptional. I wanted to ask you about your girls' swimsuits, they are so so pretty! I have three girls and I would love to get them swimsuits that look pretty like that 🙂
Thank you so much!

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 July 31, 2011 - 12:08 pm

These pictures are so heartwarming…now I want to do a yearly trip with my entire family!

Mary Croxford August 1, 2011 - 2:26 am

Oh Shawni, your blog is so much fun to visit! I, too, love your pictures! I love to snap too, and thank goodness for digital photography, I now come up with many more pictures I can actually use than the old "film" ones that too often left me disappointed! (I love modern technology especially in this regard, photo editing etc.! Hooray!) Anyway, loved seeing the pictures of Bear Lake! We are heaading there with our family this Friday for a week of chaos bliss! This will be our 29th year! Seeing your beautiful pictures got me so exicted! Glad you all had a wonderful time!


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