We’re at Aspen Grove. And it would be an understatement to say that we are loving it here.

Bear Lake is over…already fading into rich memories. And it would be even more of an understatement to say that we sure adored it there.

We packed up and drove away last Saturday after 21 days of beach life.

It’s amazing how being at the beach can still be so full. I mean, it seems like you should just be sitting under an umbrella watching the clouds and helping build sandcastles. And, well, although we did that very thoroughly, boy howdy we sure packed in some other stuff too.

Amidst the daily ritual of greasing up 13-24 kids with suntan lotion, trying to keep up with the “revolving door” of guests and extended family showing up, trying to keep so many mouths fed, and cleaned up after, reading book after book with kids, doing P90X every morning with all the sisters, having three different reunions with extended family, we sure packed in a lot.

The kids caught all kinds of flying/creeping things…(although no rattlesnake this year):We water skied like nobody’s business. Don’t you love these faces?

Grace and Max are our skiers in our family. Elle won’t touch skis with a ten-foot pole. Hmmmm. I wonder if that’s because we FORCED her to do it last year. Maybe she’s scarred for life because of her parents. Some day we’ll redeem ourselves and she’ll become a skier extraordinaire, but for now Max and Grace are our stars.She even got up on one ski this year…for about four seconds. But hey, she was up.

Max is more of a wake boarder.

…and he loved wake boarding behind the jet skis this year.

We love to “ski on the gold” at sunset. One of my favorite things ever.(I love how the water looks on that above picture.)

We rode horses:

My parents took “Group 1” of the grandkids on a three-day motor home trip to Jackson Hole:

They were in pure HEAVEN…especially since they got to go to the midnight showing of Harry Potter on their last night.

We jet skied:

…and spent a bunch of time on the “Big Mama:”

(Big Mama pictures are my FAVORITE…especially when my Mom’s involved.)

We had visits from dear friends:

And spent so much time stuffing food in children’s mouths:We took our annual trip to hike into Bloomington Lake:

Where we soaked up the rope swing.

We buried each other in the sand:

We hung out with Aunts and Uncles who are amazing influences on our kids:We built sandcastles by the dozens:

Elle took care of every baby she could get her hands on…so did Grace:

We read stories after stories:

We flew kites:

We drank spinach smoothies like they were going out of style:

We chased the waves:

We bonded: (even my competitive girls)

We had a sleep-over with “Grandma Great” in Logan:

Lu tried to set a new trend on beach wear (my sis-in-law let her borrow a gorgeous outfit):

…somehow I’m thinking that’s not gonna catch on.

We played the candy bar game:

We had extended cousin bonding:

And we had our big reunion when everyone finally arrived.

24th of July beach games:

Annual mixed doubles tennis tournament (no, my brother doesn’t usually have a mohawk, just a reunion thing):

We made all kinds of banners for my sister who came home from her mission smack-dab in the middle of the reunion:

We’re SO happy to have her home.

Ok, too many pictures. But hey, that’s narrowed down from 2,562 of them, so that’s pretty good if you ask me!

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  1. What great pictures Shawni!!
    I can't get over how amazing that Bloomington Lake looks! And I'm thinking that water looks a little cold…..you guys are crazy!

  2. Gorgeous pics Shawni! And how fun to be at Aspen Grove. We went last summer–what a fun time!!
    p.s. i LOVE jonah's mohawk! i miss my jerusalem buddy!

  3. this may sound strange since i've never met so many of the people in those pictures, and let's be honest, i really only know you through your blog and that awesome somewhat heaven sent bond the poelman family seems to have, but I LOVED THAT POST!

    we just got back from a week at the lake with my family and other various extended family members that came and went while we were there, and i've been having some moments of post vacation blues all week. i've been working on all the very similar pictures i've got on my computer right now, and i'm wondering how in the world i'm going to narrow them down to a blog post. so, no…you did not post too many, and they are gorgeous! for some reason grace is looking so much older to me, and i definitely laughed out loud and lucy's pink uni-suit.

    so thanks for letting me relive one of the best weeks of the year for me through your awesome month! have fun in aspen grove. it is an amazing place even thoug the fool could definitely use some help.

  4. You really do have magical summers! Shawni, say hi to my niece at Aspen Grove! She is a counselor for 5-6 year olds, Bobcats, I think. Anyway, here name is Rebekah Simpson – I didn't get to see her at our South Carolina family get together because she is up there!!! Hugs from Lindsay, Caroline & Kate – they missed her so much!

  5. Once again you've inspired me to start something new with my family. We just got back from Mexico for the year and I've decided that every year we're not experiencing a foreign country, we will spend the month before school starts somewhere besides home. Maybe Bear Lake, maybe St. George, who knows but I love the family time, away from friends, schedules and stress. You are always inspiring, I love reading your blog.

  6. What an amazing trip! I especially love the waterskiing photos. What telephoto lens do you like to use for those? I love you get so close! These are beautiful.

  7. Dear Shawni,

    May I please come live with you one summer? 🙂

    No seriously, I feel envy. What a perfect way to spend your weeks. Surrounded by cousins and grandparents and beautiful scenery. I'm also envious of all your parents do for their grandkids. What an amazing tradition they have going on. And what amazing memories your kids are making.

    Glad your summer has been a success.

  8. these are great, shawni! one thing i'm noticing is that your smashing girls always have the most belightful jewelry — i need to have more info on it! do you make it, or one of your fab fam?? it's all just gorgeous!

    and i am LOVING your book. yay!

  9. Wow, that was a lot of pictures. I loved them though. I have to admit that I want a lake cabin now. Not coveting just planning. I noticed that you commented on my food blog in January and couldn't get on to my family blog. I will send you an invite if I can get your e-mail address.

  10. All of these pictures are amazing! You are always inspiring me to take the time to capture those moments with my kids… I don't know how long you are going to be in Bear Lake, but I live in Logan, UT have always wanted to meet you 🙂 I have even tried to get down to AZ for one of your photog classes… but with kids its hard to make those things happen! haha But I think we could make a day trip to the lake… I am having #3 in a few weeks, so maybe sometime before then? If you want to e-mail me and let me know what you think I would love that! casciophoto@hotmail.com 🙂 Thanks again for always being that boost I need! You are an amazing mother and photographer! Brittany

  11. I love the rope swing pictures! As always, gorgeous pictures. I can't wait to hear about Aspen Grove. My good friend is there right now too! We went there when I was about 10–so much fun! We're planning a trip for next year.

  12. Wow, SO much Fun! Hi Shawni, this is Kerri Larson. I am not sure if you remember me or not, I am Becki Howard's cousin, and you took pictures of my sweet baby girl, Hollie just after we brought her home a few years ago(we adopted). I actually came across your blog through a friend of mine, in my ward, Jennie Nichols. I later found out that you guys are cousins! Small world. In June I had surgery and Becki brought me your book, I just LOVED it! It was fabulous and have since bought it for a few friends of mine. In reading it I came across Hollie's picture and was so excited! I wanted to thank you for including her picture and for writing such an inspiring book. Since I have last chatted with you we have been blessed to adopt a boy (Hollie's half brother) and life could truly not be any better. I just wanted to say "hi" and thank you again for a wonderful book.

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