Once again our big reunion has come and gone.

Oh how I love these great people!  Everyone was here except my one brother and his family who couldn’t make it because they are living in Europe right now.  We missed them so much!

This year my sister Charity and her new husband Ian were in charge (we rotate from oldest to youngest for the “reunion chairs” each year).
And just like they planned their wedding back in October (back here), they took on this planning with some serious gusto!  Can you tell how excited Charity is? πŸ™‚
Love it. 

Here’s what we did:

My Dad welcomed us all for dinner after everyone finally arrived.

This was just the day after Elle got home from England which made me extra happy every time I caught sight of her:)

Then Charity and Ian had Claire help unveil the “theme” of the reunion this year:

“Around the World” since for some reason this happened to be the year (between last reunion and this one) that we have all traveled quite a bit.

They put together a little video of pictures of all the places we’ve been in the last year (I’ll attach it to a post when I get the link), and told us the whole schedule of events.

Let’s get a better look at that…

There we go.

(Those little boys sure love their big cousin Max.)

After dinner we headed down to the beach for our traditional 

Before the reunion begins, everyone turns in their favorite songs for the year to the reunion chairs.  They play them at the bonfire and everyone guesses who’s song is who’s.  If it’s your song you stand up and dance.  Then we listen to the songs the rest of the reunion.  Love it.

The next morning was our 
which I loved.
We all got different assignments of things that needed to be done and got to work for a few hours.  The main projects were refinishing some deck furniture that had withered in the sun over the years:

…and some serious weeding.

The place we all park went from looking like this:

…to this:

So much better!

The beach looked pretty awesome when we were done too.

And the deck furniture looked fabulous after the sprucing-up business.


Now, I have to start these pictures with a little preface.  I think this is the fourth year of “Fear Factor.”  Every year I think it should be the last.  Kids are crying and gagging and the competition is strong.  
But every year I think if you asked any of the kids what their most favorite thing was I think they would say Fear Factor.
It puzzles me when you see faces like this:
And this:

But for some crazy reason they all just love it!

…and as you can see, it’s pretty fun for us adults too:

My kids are generally the first ones out, but this year Lucy gritted her teeth and made it through a few rounds.

That seems like a good segway into how we do FOOD (ha!)
We eat well at our reunions.
This year in light of the reunion theme (“Around the World”) we all picked the meals we wanted to make according to country.  Sometimes I just have to get out my camera for meals because food can be so beautiful and everyone does it so well.

Noah and Kristi picked Mexico and made the most delicious street tacos.

..and some serious corn on the cob…

I love the food at our reunions not only because it’s so good, but because we all help out and have great conversations while whipping it up.

Do you love Dave’s shirt?  Still not sure where he even got that thing but he was pretty funny wearing it.

Check out that meal.  Wow.

Saydi did some Thai lettuce wraps her day:

Our family did Chicken Tikka Masala (our favorite right now…recipe back HERE) along with our favorite salad infused with as much fruit as we could put in.

Eli and Julie always do their Japanese curry, Anita and Tal did some delicious dish from Switzerland, Saren and Jared did pasta from Italy and a salad from Bulgaria (where they went this summer), Josh did good old American…too bad I didn’t get pictures of it all.
I love the conversations that ensue after we cook and all sit around to enjoy it.

Next on the docket was EYREALM TRIVIA, something new Charity and Ian came up with this year.  
It was the “In-Laws” against the “Out-Laws.”
Here are the In-Laws:

…and the Out-Laws deep in some serious competition mode.

Charity and Ian made up some pretty wing-dinger questions:

…and were pretty darn organized.

Dave, always a fierce competitor:

The In-Laws whipped our booties even though many of the questions were about our growing up years.  Go In-Laws!

The next morning was our SCAVENGER HUNT
We’ve done a relay the last couple years, but this year Charity and Ian mixed it up a little bit and turned it into a kind of relay-scavenger hunt.  We met up with our groups to get the run-down on how this would all work.

 (very serious business:)

And then took off.

 We each started with little clues about where to find the next clue.

 One stop was at the shake shop…and you must get shakes if you’re there, of course…

My brother Eli and I and our little group of four small kids was quite overpowered and lost by a long shot so they gave us a good little welcoming when we finally drove in for the last clue.

 Win or lose, we sure had fun!

Dave helped get a little game of dodge-ball going with our clue world globes once everyone got back.

TENNIS is always a big part of the reunion.  I wish I had taken a picture of the chart, dang it, but it was a great doubles tournament as always.  Grace got to join in this year.

Eli and Julie knocked Dave and I out at the semi-finals:
…and Noah and Kristi came out with the win in the finals:

 We had some good tennis spectators this year with a new great place to watch:

 I loved the little impromptu tennis lesson after we were done.

But my favorite part of tennis this year was when Dave and I snuck away with Max and Elle and played them in doubles.  (Wish I had a picture.)  Oh man that was fun.  They beat us 6-0 in the first set and we came back to beat them 7-5 in the second.  We need to get on that more often!

One night we had a GRADUATE PANEL with all the graduates this year:

Noah graduated with a business degree from USC (my mom wrote about that HERE),  Ian graduated with a PhD from Stanford (HERE), Tal graduated with a masters in Positive Psychology from UPENN (HERE), and Max graduated from high school (HERE).

Loved hearing what they had to say and some snippets of advice for all of us.


I don’t have a lot of pictures of this, but we did all kinds of stuff like trying to pop the balloons tied onto everyone’s ankles that weren’t on our team:

…some relay stuff, swimming, running along the beach, etc., and a ball toss:

 Dave threw the whole bucket of balls into the main bucket for the win at the end.


Over the years we have put several systems to work to make everything run smoothly at the reunions. 
The last couple years the reunion chairs have divided us into groups for a few different activities, but this year we were in the “groups” the whole time which was kind of fun.
But my favorite “system” is the one that gets kids excited to work.
Not sure how some little signs like this can get kids so dang excited to work their tails off, but my brother Tal was in charge of whipping them into shape and boy howdy were they ever excited to get those points to earn the rewards.
These girls are “group 3” of the grandkids (not to be confused with the reunion groups), and they tied for the win (which meant they get to get shakes at the local little shake place).

 One complication with all the work this year was that the dishwasher broke a few times.

 …luckily we have some fix-up brothers and brothers-in-law who take care of things around here!

Loved watching how diligent these kids were to get their cleaning points!

Every year without fail we have to come up with new ways to keep my mom from non-stop work.  No matter how much we assign out jobs and meals and clean-up she always seems to be in the center of the work action.  So this year Charity and Ian came up with this little number to keep her sitting down at least after dinner:


If you made it this far you are a champ!

There are so many other things woven into all this hoopla that I will have to post soon, but for now, let’s just wrap up with a couple pictures from the traditional closing TALENT SHOW.

The kids get pretty excited about that too.
Every year I think it hits me even harder how much I adore and admire these people I get to be related to.  And it makes me want to go forward with more love and vigor than ever before armed with their wonderful examples.

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  1. I LOVE it! This year my husband's family had a reunion for the first time near Lake George in NY. My SIL and I loosely based our week on your past reunions. We did food fear factor too, and it will always be remembered!! (tomato juice took so many of us DOWN!–we are light-weights). So fun!

  2. I love all your posts – so inspiring to always try to do better and be more happy and thankful and …. What sort of dressing is on the lettuce and fruit. It may well be just a simple salad, but it looks so fresh and yum! Thanks

    1. I know it's been years since this post, but I'm going through old reunions and realized I never came back to answer these questions! Here are some answers for what it's worth! This dressing is Brianna's Poppy Seed dressing…we use it a lot, so yummy!

  3. My entire family hasn't been together since my wedding, almost 9 years ago. Since then, we've added tons more people to the bunch (kids and in-laws). How do you guys manage to all get together and still love each other in the end, so much so, that you are able to do reunions year after year? We're supposed to get together for Christmas but one sister is bailing, I think in fear of what "could" happen. Any advice would be helpful!

    1. This is a great question. Although for sure there are disagreements and problems that arise here and there, and we have all grown in such different ways over the years, we do love each other dearly. I don't know if it is how my parents raised us, the "fighting bench," lots of travel time together where we had to learn to get along whether we liked it or not, or if the stars just simply aligned in the right way. I'm going to have to think about this and do a blog post on it some time.

  4. 1. I love Dave's shirt!
    2. Having everyone work on the property or just a few hours is a great idea, gets things done quickly and let's everyone take a bit of ownership.
    3. I keep thinking of what my dad always said growing up: "Many hands make for light work".

  5. It really does sound like fun – and so great to have the whole family together. It also sounds exhausting! I'm sure there was a little "down time" for the kids – just to lie on the beach and look up at the amazing sky….. Please comment on the down time just a bit. We will still know that "you do hard things". Show us your kids relaxing – time to just sit and contemplate (or just sit!) is so important for kids. Just as important as the group cleaning, the group yard work, etc.

    1. I've often wondered this too. It sounds like every minute is crammed with doing something. I don't it's good to be busy but people still need time to just do nothing.

    2. I have read in prior entries about the reunion that many of the moms and kids arrive early or stay late for some extra down-time. I'm sure the structure is just to facilitate cramming as much family activity in as possible. If you've ever tried to plan a trip with THAT many people, you'd know scheduling is paramount or NOTHING would get done.

    3. Oh there is a lot of down time, which is a good thing since there are SO MANY people to catch up with! Keep in mind that these reunion posts are just pictures of the actual activities…that's when I remember to grab my camera. I don't generally remember to take it out when I'm sitting under an umbrella talking about the world with the family and all the kids are building in the sand and using all kinds of imagination at that beach. Before and after the reunion are even better for the relaxing stuff.

  6. The reunion looks brill but I'm curious about a few things –

    Are all your family good at doing things in a group/team? I'm awful with things like this.

    How does Josh cope with being around so many families, does he ever feel left out?

    What happens if one group/team doesn't do their chores?

    Does someone make a scrapbook of that year's reunion & show the pix the next year?

    By the way, I loved how Charity & Ian spelt favourite – must be getting into the British spelling already.:)

    1. Charity has always used the British spelling for everything on her blog. I guess it's just another way to drip passion.

    2. Good questions. Not everyone is great at group/team stuff…especially the kids who are most competitive, but it's a great learning teamwork thing and it's gone pretty great every year despite some frustration here and there. Josh is awesome and helps with Grammie camps and rocket launching but also enjoys some quiet time when things get a little too nutty with all these crazy families πŸ™‚

      Everyone does their chores. Yes, it takes some prodding and a lot of reminding from the parents here and there, but generally, especially during the reunion when some kind of system is in place, kids do those chores.

      My sister makes AWESOME scrapbooks every year. She gives a Bear Lake scrapbook to my parents for Christmas every year. I will have to do a post on that at some point. I just ordered all of them so we could have our own copies.

  7. Awesome highlights of our grand days together! It's so great to have this post and others that will help us remember our fun 3 1/2 days with everyone but Jonah and Aja's family there, as well as the the wonderful book that Saydi publishes every year. Thanks to you and so many others who were there to record it all, although it's impossible to get it all! So many people, so much fun, so much happening! You got it! Love it!

  8. Fun! So we just got back from a Nabrotzky family reunion in Nauvoo, and I was asking my nephew (Josh) if he knew Elle since they live in the dessert too :). It's so funny, I feel like I know you so well because of your blog and reading yours and all your mother's books and heard her speak many times. I even had a dream once that I got to meet you in person haha! I look up to you (and your mom) in so many ways. We even just picked out our antique "repentance bench" πŸ™‚ Anyways, he said that Elle is such a cool girl, super fun… just like her mom :). I just know every mother loves to hear about her dear children. Thanks for being you!!! It's amazing the power and influence one individual can have on such a vast group of women around the world.

    1. I love that Josh! He is an amazing kid and has been such a great friend to Elle for so long! I love his letters these days too…he's doing great things on his mission!

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