I am going to go ahead and proclaim this week “catch-up week” here on the blog.  It’s a weird thing having a son coming home from two years away…I almost feel like I’m in that “nesting” mode you get into when you’re about to have a baby.  You just want to prepare and get everything situated so you can enjoy that time you are anxiously awaiting and have things cleared out and tied up.  
And all these pictures waiting for me to sort here on the computer are one of my top projects I want to get done.

So here we go!  Come along with me or tune out if you’re not interested in what happened in what now seems a little like ancient history…
First things first…my favorite cactus pic.  My brother took it on one of our hikes and I just love it.  It’s a perfect depiction of the imperfect beauty of the desert.

Ok so I already summed up some of my family’s stay here with my “numbers” post back HERE.  I also talked about the Turkey Trot (and all the prep work) HERE, and also Thanksgiving day HERE.  But there were so many great memories back then I have to post just a little more about that whole deal before I do my “November little things” post. 

I mean, it was a BIG deal to have six of the nine of us together plus my parents all gathered somewhere other than Bear Lake and I’m trying to hold those golden memories close.  
I adore my family.  There is nothing in the world like having them all together…the conversations that ensue, the cousin bonding that is thick, the love that fills us all up…it’s a beautiful thing.
Each family trickled in one by one.  First my sisters…then parents, then the brothers.

All these cousins were pretty delighted to be together.  It was fun to have the first batch here on a Sunday and have them come to church with us…then Family Home Evening together.

And the party just kept growing and never stopped.  Our cul-de-sac has never been so full and appreciated.

Loved having each family trickle in one-by-one.  These grandkids were pretty excited when Grammie arrived:

Eli and his family traveled the furthest (from NYC), and they were the last ones to arrive.

Eli came right in and did a back flip on the trampoline and somehow fell and skinned his nose…which made for quite a grand entrance.  Ha!

There were non-stop GAMES in the game room:

At night there were lots of group games.

Here’s a little snippet of “fruit basket:”

SWIMMING…We heated the hot tub, and it was also quite unusually warm so these kids were turned into prunes by the time they packed up to leave….all day:

 …into the night:

We also swam at my brother Josh’s house one day in his community pool and these kids were sure delighted.

We also did a lot of HIKING.  Sometimes just the girls:

 Check out where we ended up below…see those teeny people on top of that cliff?

 I love that hike.

We hiked with everyone one time too:

 I mean, we gotta show them the beauty of the desert, right?

We were pretty excited when Elle trickled in…

Aside from Thanksgiving itself, there was a LOT of cooking going on…lots of loading up the fridge and then emptying it and then filling it again.  My mom is dreamy to have in the kitchen with you.

 These girls are pretty dreamy as well…

The kids did a little cooking themselves…making s’mores around the fire.

We played tennis to our heart’s content over at our neighbor’s house:

Lots of Turkey Trot prep (so much about that back HERE)…and then the actual Turkey Trot day…

…with this team of amazing family helpers:

 Then on to Thanksgiving dinner all crowded into the kitchen to make that beautiful meal happen.

 All the details bout Thanksgiving back HERE.

 Yoga workouts:

We stole Elle away for lunch one day so we could get her to ourselves…so much swirling around at the house we weren’t going to get a word in edgewise without that and I loved it.

We also had an adult dinner and dessert out on the town.

 I talked a little about it before, but man, I love the conversations we have together.

The one that night was all about the “language” of the gospel and unconditional love.  It’s a night I want to always remember.

There were so many little side conversations too.

 I love seeing things like Elle and my brother Noah standing there on the right below, talking about something or other.  I’m so grateful for the influence my parents and siblings have on my children.

It felt like the kitchen was always chock-full and my favorite gathering was the last night everyone was there when we were cooking up a storm, all the kids were running around, and we had different kids sit on the “hot seat” to ask them all kinds of questions about what was going on in their lives right at the moment.

I loved it.

I also loved that Eli was willing to make his famous Japanese curry he makes at Bear Lake every year and we all devour.

Temple visits were pretty awesome…

One more hike with the moms:

 Dave took the teenagers out on the boat one day.

That is the only picture I got…but they also sent this one which was sweet because they know this is my favorite mountain in all of the desert and we get to see it every time we leave the lake:

These three girls “the babes” as they are called in their “grandchildren group” made all kinds of their own fun:

The boys did some great bike rides too…wish I had pictures of everyone!

Claire tried to pass on her talent of baking flatbread to Zara 🙂


Our house certainly got the use we always intended it to have when we built it.  Eight girls slept in here:
You would never know that though by the looks of it right?  


The last night our neighbors arrived home (we had been using their house too…which was SO awesome…so grateful!)  So we had an extra large load at our house.  The little girls who had been staying in Lucy’s room moved into that other already filled room and Saren and Jared took over Lu’s room.  Lucy, who likes to stay situated, and always closes her door so that Bo won’t get her Legos left this note on her door in frustration one day when Saren and Jared had left it open a couple times:

It says “If I see my door open I will never let you in my room again.”  Oh man, that girl is a pistol sometimes.

My parents slept on an air mattress in the laundry room that night.

It was a full-on party.

So much gratitude for all those people we get to be related to…

And some great memories that will get us through to Bear Lake…or two weeks when a bunch of them will come again for Max’s homecoming.  

Woo hoo!


  1. Thanks for including some of the logistics of this since all I could think through this whole post was: "where does all these people sleep?" like do you have 1000 guest beds/mattresses or does some bring their own? I imagined like the whole game room (the one with the statement wall) as one big bed and that it still wouldn't be enough space 😀 It's a strugle to host three person in my place so I need your tips and tricks on hosting!

  2. Family gatherings are the best! What is that game that the kids are playing? It looks like a jumble of dice or something? I am always on the lookout for more fun family games, so would love it if you could share. Thanks!

    And yes! There is immense beauty in the desert. I love it so much.

  3. Elle and one of her older male cousins could be twins! No? I think they look so much alike! I love family resemblances like that! 🙂

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