After I dropped off Grace at EFY (back here) I went back up to the lake so hang with my little girls for the week until Grace was done and we would head back to the desert.
My sister sent me this picture while I was gone:
…which of course is sweet as pie and I’m sure she does love me but she was mostly anticipating my arrival back at the lake because she knew I was bringing her a special little Polly Pocket Dave had promised her if she didn’t whine for a whole day.

Yes, the whining issue is pretty bad right at this moment in time.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and those Polly Pockets worked their magic I tell you!
But I digress…back to the lake.
Some have asked about how structured the reunion is up at the lake with a little bit of concern.  We do pack those few days pretty full but it just kind of works out that way because there are so many fun things we want to fit in.  Some years are more busy than others according on who is planning but rest assured that there are lots of lazy beach days with nothing at all planned before and after the more structured reunion days.  
And as much as I adore the reunion, I think the pre and post days may be my very favorite.  
There’s just nothing like them.  The discussions that come out on the beach…
…or on the porch…
(watching gorgeous sunsets)
…or over dinner prep:
(Although our faces don’t show it in that pic, we really do adore the whole art of cooking up there at the lake.)
We linger after dinner (and sometimes get nerdy to exchange photos).
We watch our children and marvel at how quickly they are growing:

…and watch relationships blossom and flower.

Sometimes we play games late into the night.
Our kids get messy:

…and melt our hearts.

And we are THERE.

In the present.

I love that.

This year the dishwasher broke a few times spreading cascades of water all over the wood floor, so we had a few scenes like this:

I loved waking up each morning to this:

…or this:

I hardly set foot on our good old trusty boat this year…just too many kids wanting turns.

But I did get a couple pictures from the boating action from my siblings:

Lucy worked hard on several art projects.

She wasn’t a huge fan of the beach this year.

But when she did come, we sure made some whiz-bang castles with those polly pockets.

Charity and Ian took off a little early to finish packing and moving to London.

Read about their grand adventures so far over HERE.

As the numbers dwindled, one family leaving after another, we worked our tails off cleaning out and getting ready for the renters who were coming in the end of that week, but we carved out some last minutes to have a little picnic out on the raft:

…get in a little horseback riding:

…soak in some extra cousin bonding:

And a last sunset walk.

And last but certainly not least, we HAD to get in one “ski on the gold” before we left.

So Eli, Sayds and I, the last siblings left, snuck out after the little ones were in bed for one last ski.

My memory card was full so I had to keep erasing and the mosquitoes were out, but it just felt so great to be out there on that beauteous lake.
Eli got out and put on a great show:

(Most of which was missed by my out-of-memory camera, but it was a great ski.)

Then it was my turn.

I got up for the first turn and then the boat started to chug.

A little slower…

Then slower….

Until I was down….

…and we realized our fate:

We were out of gas.

And we were far away from that shoreline.

And we didn’t have any paddles except for some funny decorative one from TJ Maxx.

Now, I have no clue why that paddle happened to be in the boat right at that moment, but I sure am glad that it was!

I sat up on the bow and we took turns with the TJ Maxx paddle and waterskis and paddled our little hearts out.

We weren’t making a whole lot of headway (mostly because we didn’t put the darn motor up which we didn’t realize until later) and the sky was darkening by the minute, but as I sat up there on the bow of that boat, my sister and brother in tow and the darkness starting to blanket the familiar shore, I had a giant smile on my face.

Maybe it was because of sheer lack of sleep, but right then and there rowing along with that huge cumbersome slalom ski on the front of the boat I got a bad case of the giggles.

I couldn’t help myself.  It was all just so beautiful.

The lake.

The siblings.

The old twenty-five year old boat that holds so many memories.

The end of another great summer.

The gleaming lights of the cabin up on the beach that I love so much.

The fact that Dave and my kids are now such a part of this bigger family I adore so much.

All the things I had learned over the summer…all the thoughts, all things that worked to rejuvenate my spirit,

All of it just somehow hit as a beautiful picture (and somehow a little bit funny) as we rowed and rowed and rowed that night.

Before too long my Dad noticed we weren’t home and came to the rescue in the sailboat.

…and as he pulled us right on into the safe harbor I couldn’t help relating that to how he and my mom have always helped us find those safe harbors in life, large and small.

How grateful I am for them and that they have given me these best friends:

(minus Jo who is on a pretty wondrous adventure).
As my little girls and I drove away the next day, I said a little prayer of gratitude for this gorgeous place that has such a big chunk of my heart, and for all those I get to share it with.

Sure, we all have a whole bunch to work on.

We all have our issues, some rather big ones.

But I’m so grateful for them and the journey we’re all on to build each other up as much as we can and find ways to incorporate “Love More” into life in our own unique ways.

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    1. glad i'm not the only one with tears in my eyes over this post 🙂
      Just beautiful, Shawni! I'm so happy you let all of us tag along on your fun family adventures!!

  1. I'm crying as well! Just beautiful! I love what you said about having issues – don't we all? But we can love and accept each other anyway, it's part of being human! We can laugh and make beautiful memories even though we are all imperfect, in fact maybe because we are all imperfect. xoxo

  2. Shawni, I have only commented a few times on your posts but I read them all and look forward them to appear in my inbox. I just want to say that I love how you express yourself and it brought tears to my eyes as I read this one. Maybe it's because I spent time at Bear Lake with my family this July and experienced much of the same things with my kids and siblings. I just love that you share all of this with all of us. I love your family, your traditions, your values and it is uplifting and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your family with us!

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