Here we go….
Each year the numbers at the lake shift a little…some come to stay well before, some come and stay after, but pretty much everyone is there for four sacred days each year: those days we call the reunion.
It seems like every year we are missing one member of our family as our kids get older. Max has missed the last two years since he was in Taiwan, Grace missed last year since she was in China, and Elle was in Jerusalem this year, but it makes it even sweeter when they’re there the next time, and everyone else is there, and it is grand.
This year we had exactly FIFTY people (ok, 49 without Elle, but I’m counting her), which is kind of cool since it will be my parents FIFTIETH wedding anniversary this year.
I think I enjoyed this year even more than last because we weren’t in charge. Hallelujah! That is a lot of work (we rotate which family is in charge each year…click HERE to see the recap of last year when we had the reins). And I only half-kid about that “hallelujah” piece because we sure had fun with it. Just glad we don’t have to do it every year!
The OPENING CEREMONIES, as usual, came right after dinner that first night, as the sun was stretching all our shadows across the lawn getting ready to paint the sky for the evening.
I wish I had a video, but I will say that my heart was just so full as Saydi described how we were going to “turn the hearts,” her voice full of emotion that I think rippled through us all, with that sunset over the lake (which the pictures can’t give justice) as a backdrop.
Yep, that’s Dean, Ruthie, Hazel and Roy. And boy howdy did we ever “turn our hearts” to them this summer!
Here’s the annual “map of events” made beautifully by Hazel:
On the first night we always have our MUSIC BONFIRE where the songs are played that have been “turned in” by each of us before hand, and when your song is played (in random order) you explain why you picked it.
The kids think this is the best thing since sliced bread.
Not sure if the s’mores at the end have anything to do with that or not…hmmmmm.
Each team had to do a series of tasks related to something all those grandparents would have done. And the race was to see which team could complete them all the fastest.
Here are some of the “tasks” each team had to accomplish:
We had to whip up blueberry muffins (my Grandpa Dean, who was a great cook, loved those).
We had to churn butter (much like my Grandma Hazel used to do on the farm).
We helped get some new trees watered and situated (you know, family trees:)…since my Grandpa Roy was a farmer, so we were sort of farming in a way, right?
Each whole team had to float on a raft and sing some Joy School songs (thanks to my Grandma Ruthie):
There were some sports things thrown in there like swimming to the buoy and shooting baskets in honor of my Grandma Hazel…it was all a scramble to get to the Bear Cave where we rewarded ourselves with raspberry shakes.
Because those are a “must” at Bear Lake.
Here are the teams:
(they are doing dancing poses up there since they are representing Grandma Ruthie who was a great dancer)
These guys were the winners:
FEAR FACTOR is a tradition every year too. We switched it up last year and these guys switched it up too…but no matter how switched up it gets, somehow it always involves that tray Jeff is holding below held up high before introducing the first “course.”
This year the first round was cat food on crackers.
This is how Claire felt about that:
And this is how Lucy felt:
My favorite thing is the expressions of the “watchers” during Fear Factor. Check them out in these next pictures:
This round was the chubby bunny marshmallow challenge:
Then it was on to trying to eat the licorice out of whipping cream:
…and slurping down watermelon as quickly as humanly possible:
Love those cousins cheering on other cousins. Makes my heart happy.
I have no idea who won, but it was pretty fun.
I love it. And I LOVE this picture of Zara and Dean…such a classic sibling picture in my opinion 😉
I think my brother wins the award for the best tube driver.
(Ok Sayds, you’re good too, but I wasn’t in the boat with you this time…)
Patient “waiters” on the raft:
And the switching for the next group’s turn:
…and tennis playing.
We did “King of the Court” again this year and it’s fun to watch all the cousins in there playing their hearts out.
My brother-in-law Jeff came up with an awesome TRIVIA game…
The FOOD for the reunion is always a big deal. Here are my sisters preparing one of the breakfasts for the next morning:
This year we each were in charge of a meal as usual, but Saydi and Jeff had us mix in some favorites from those ancestors, including creamed peas and potatoes, peaches and toast, and even macaroni and cheese mixed with hot dogs for the kids one night. Ha!
But we can’t sway away from my brother’s traditional Japanese Curry, because everyone loves it way too much to slide by without it.
One night there was a cookie baking challenge (since my family cannot get enough of chocolate chip cookies). Each team made a batch of what they determined to be their own best recipe:
My brother Eli got to be the taste-tester to determine the winner since it was his birthday that day.
We had some traditional meetings at church…
…and came home to zone in on these two sweeties:
In this place that I love, gathered all around.
Here are my brother and my sister holding the babes:
So fun to have them so close together.
This one sure gets a lot of love from her older siblings…
Not sure she’s too happy about that!
Since I was taking pictures for everyone, I figured I should take some of my babies too.
Because, you know, I sort of like them.
My Grandma Dean and Grandma Ruthie were quite the dancing duo.
So we had a little DANCE LESSON following the blessings.
Sorry this is a lot of pictures, but look at that light!
Are you kidding me with these girls?? I mean, serious darlingness right there.
Saydi’s daughter Hazel made up a “sunshine note” station where people could write nice notes to each other.
This is where we talk about all kinds of stuff, mostly relating to “broadening and contributing” (our family motto).
Max was invited this year since he’s an adult and all. He, Dave and I were fully involved, but couldn’t help taking some pictures to send to Elle on the side:
The last game was Human Pinata where the dads wore these shirts:
In another competition front, there were ANCESTOR POSTERS to write as many facts as we could about each of those grandparents we were celebrating:
Each team did a little “symbol” for their team on the facts that they added (a cookie for chef Dean, a basketball for Hazel who played all kinds of sports, a flower for farmer Roy and I think a ballet shoe for dancing Ruthie) so we could keep track of how many each team added.
I learned a lot from those suckers!
The sky takes our breath away on a regular basis at the lake.
On our last night of the reunion that sky put on the best show:
…then tucked the kids in bed and came back to that exact spot to talk, talk, talk until one by one we drifted off to bed.
It’s always “doubles” and each year my dad has a new grandchild partner. (Those two beat me and Dave this year…boo!…but yay for McKay because he’s getting so good!)
And on to the grand finale… the thing the younger cousins count down to and practice for all reunion long: THE TALENT SHOW:
…as well as a serious dancing-dog-duo:
(If you look closely you’ll see that Lucy was transformed as a dog herself.)
We has a Swiss-German speaker:
And my mother dusted off her own violin at the request of the reunion chairs. Which we all thanked them for because man alive, my mother is a beautiful violinist and hasn’t played for us in ages.
HIP HIP HOORAY for the Shumways!