Ok, as I mentioned in the last post, I do have pictures coming out of my ears from when Max and Elle were with us last week.

Because when there’s that much excitement in the air, you just have to try to bottle some of it up, I tell you!

But let’s back up a second…

…to when Elle and the girls reunited:

Pictures, of course, can’t do that justice, and there’s no gleefully bounding Bo in that picture which was pretty awesome, but that much will help me remember.
Elle happened to be here for the wedding of a really close family friend.  Loved that we got to be at this family dinner the night before the wedding to get to know the bride better…she is an amazing professional ballerina who lived in New York at ballet academies from the time she was sixteen.

We sported around a mini van while our car was finally in the shop, getting the duct tape that was holding it together exchanged for a new bumper.

Here’s my view from the back seat after Elle and I did a little birthday shopping and the driver for the car body shop took us from the rental place to pick up our car…

 …which actually wasn’t ready so we borrowed our neighbor’s car for a day.  (We have the best neighbors!)

Wedding reception with cousins:

Elle organized all her Jerusalem pictures to show us a slide show, and we went through some of mine while it was just the two of us at home (little girls at school).  I loved having her bring back memories of places were we stood in the exact same spots, twenty-five years apart.  Here I am at the Nimrod Fortress all those years ago:

Wish I had Elle’s picture to put next to it!
Then we packed up and headed to California where we met up with this other college kid of ours:
We whipped up some tinfoil dinners that first night, because that, according to Lucy, is our tradition in California:

 And we figured we may as well take pictures to truly appreciate the changing colors of the sky.

I loved that gorgeous backdrop of a purple sky, a huge full moon rising opposite the sinking sun.

We each talked about our most exciting thing as well as the thing we’re most worried about in life as we sat around the fire just like I do with my mom and sisters each year at MFME.  This may take some work to get to same level of sharing…ha!  But a little practice on communication and letting each one of us express some things.

We got our favorite California treat:

 …and got crisped up in the sun at the beach:

 I still can’t believe Max can whip these back flips out like nobody’s business.

 I loved all the side conversations, and the slowness of time so let those happen.

We celebrated Elle’s birthday together while we were there (it was at the tail end of her Jerusalem trip and we figured we’d wait to celebrate until we were together…which she was hesitant about, I mean, that big day was over after all, but hey, the rest of us wanted to do it so she kindly obliged :).
I finally talked the family into Beachcombers Cafe in Crystal Cove because I love it so much and I had never taken them before.

I love this place.  Made me think of Gift from the Sea as I walked along the beach while we waited for a table to free up for us.

More time at the beach that afternoon, then we headed out on a little boat to do this “dock and dine” thing.

 …and also to do Elle’s traditional cake float:

(except it was cookies instead of cake…even better in Elle’s opinion…)

(Lucy earned an iPod over the summer…a post for another day…and is pretty excited about taking her own pictures…)

We rode the ferris wheel and caught the end of the sunset from the roof.

…followed by a slide show jam packed with all the adventures Elle had in Jerusalem….streamed to the television.

We rode bikes to Huntington (14 miles round trip) and marveled that Dave did 54 miles of that in his Ironman.

Did some paddle-boarding:

My family was full of good sports for family picture taking.  Even Dave just rocked it.  I just felt like I didn’t know when we’d be all together again and wanted to capture that moment in time and instead of rolling eyes and putting up a fight, everyone just asked what they could do to help and followed along with my far-fetched plan.

We scrounged up the best outfits we could coordinate and headed to the beach with two large plastic bins I was all set to balance on top of each other on which to perch my camera with a self-timer to capture that moment.  I scoped out the perfect spot:

Everyone was seriously in the best moods, which does not happen for pictures.

See those bins (two stacked inside each other) that Dave is holding below?

That was my tripod plan (there’s a blanket in there I was working to perch my camera on top of to level it out).

Testing lighting:

Here those good sports are, just wondering how I was going to pull this sucker off:

Right at the moment when I was going to leave that camera precariously perched on those swaying-in-the-breeze plastic bins, the nicest couple came up with big smiles (partly because they were nice, but probably more because we were quite an amusing scene) and told us they wanted to help.

Oh man, they were the best!

They took a bunch of pictures for us and I think the very first one they took might be my favorite.

Out takes were kind of funny:

We tried to pay them but they refused and went their way, so happy to help.

Gosh I’m thankful for such nice people!

Everyone was so happy and the light was so beautiful that of course I had to keep pushing it to get some individual shots, and I’m so glad because there was happiness just oozing out of those kids I tell you.

…and that husband too 🙂


The girls:

 The boys:

Ok, thanks for bearing with me, I realize that was a LOT of pictures.  But believe me, I left out like 213 of them 🙂

It’s good that I’ve had horrendous family picture experiences to contrast to that one so I could know how much to appreciate that moment in time.  They’re not the best pictures in the world, but that moment is captured and I will treasure it always.

We came home on Sunday to be here for our neighbor’s mission farewell.  He’s going to Taiwan and we’re so excited for him.

We got to have a slide show from Grace’s Dominican Republic experience:

 …and it was so nice to have ALL of us sitting next to each other in church once again.

While the girls were in school on Monday we snuck off with Max and Elle and a couple other almost-to-return-to-college cousins to the lake:

Yep, that is a cast up there on her leg.

And yep, those were full-on backflips that cousin was doing on that wakeboard.

We have a lot of lake stuff to learn 🙂

And here is my favorite mountain (again):

On Max’s last night we snuck off to see Crazy Rich Asians with him.  Kind of fun to see together after living in Asia (Elle was with some college friends).

And then we sent those two off again. Max one day, then Elle the next.

Off to the land of college life.

I think I feel a tiny ounce of the feeling my parents feel after we all leave Bear Lake: piles of things to catch up on, but with a big smile of gratitude for all that togetherness we were able to pull off.


  1. I think officially it’s safe to say you see your out of state college kids more months of the year than any other parent of out of state college age kids.

    1. It is absolutely WONDERFUL and SO REFRESHING that they all LOVE each other so much and that they relish in the limited but amazing time they can spend together. I love what they model for families far and wide…to not take time for granted and to hold onto family amidst the chaos of life!

  2. I am not sure whether or not the children are in state or not matters. What matters is making the time and having the desire to be together. I know plenty of people with high school aged children who merely coexist under the same roof. Shawni and her family revel in their time together- though honestly, Max and Elle seem to have very busy schedules between school, work and semester abroad opportunities.
    We live in a culture that expects children and parents to grow apart- moreover it is expected that the only way for children to establish their own identity is through rebellion and sullenness . It's an unfortunate assumption. I appreciate this different example as my nest starts to empty out.

    1. Are the kids working? Way back in the 80’s when I working in high school and then the 90’s in college I would not be able to get off on the weekend so much. And no weekends off the first 6 months to a year after getting the job.

      Elle and Grace were in Ecuador for Xmas. In February/March the parents took a trip with Max back to Taiwan and there was a California trip and Utah Trip. April/May was going up to Utah to help Max change apartments and go with Elle to her BYU Jerusalem orientation that they ask/let parents attend. In June Grace and Max were in California. In July Max and Grace were in Idaho. Max was with them in NYC this Summer. And now in August Elle, Max and Grace are in California again. The parents were in Hawaii in June on their own.

      By all means go to all the high school, middle school and elementary school stuff with the three children still at home. The older two are grown and the third is a school year away from the next parent guided experience. It just seems like distraction or trying to relive college/adult single life through their kids. How can the adult kid’s develop relationships with future marriage partners if they are with their parents all the time? This isn’t rebellion it’s the natural progression of life.

    2. I think that is amazing that you are able to track when they are all together. Maybe your attention would be better spent elsewhere? Just a thought. To each their own, right? What works for Shawni's family may not work for you or others. If they are happy, enough said. Really, we are all just observers of another persons life that we really have little knowledge or perspective of. Take what you can that is good and that speaks truth to your heart. The rest, leave it and let be. Nothing more, nothing less. I think we get too caught up in trying to fix others behaviors and seek to fix rather than to glean. There is some good that can be learned and shared from all things.

  3. Great photos of your family! And wonderful memories made, it sounds like.

    I’m curious if Elle ever does family photos for people visiting Hawaii? Headed there next week and was curious.

  4. Did you rent the home in California or stay with friends? Curious how you found a home for just a couple days. Also, do you ever sell your pictures? Your nature/beach/sky shots would make beautiful prints. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for your example of making time to relish in family. I think it’s such a great gift to give your children- for them to know that you want to be with them and listen to them and care not only about their adventures and development, but their thoughts and feelings. I am excited to hear how Lucy earned her iPod.
    This post was inspiring, thank you.

  6. Hi! I have a very random request. Our family is going to Hawaii in about 10 days ( it will be our first time ever!) We are looking for a photographer and I know your daughter Elle is amazing, do you think she may be interested in a family photography session? She is going to school there, correct?
    Thanks so much!
    Erika L.
    From Lakeside, AZ

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