This year it was Eli and Julie’s turn to host our annual reunion (we rotate from oldest to youngest).
They did such a fabulous job and put a lot of work into it despite the fact that they just barely moved from DC to NYC and have been busy as can be.  So grateful for this dynamic duo.


Each year we start the reunion in grand style to get everyone excited about what’s coming up.
They “unveiled” the t-shirts that were centered around my parent’s 45th anniversary coming up at the end of July.

Then they “unveiled” the schedule.

(I never got a close-up pic. of the schedule this year, darn it!)

They introduced a new addition this year:

HANDCUFFS to keep my mom from working so much!

To handcuff my mom to her chair once in a while so she will quit working so hard and just enjoy.
They totally worked when Eli remembered to cuff her πŸ™‚

Let’s take a better look at those puppies:

There we go.

Jobs are always a big deal at the Lake because if we don’t have a system in place, it could get ugly.  Each year some new twist is put on the kids’ jobs to make them fun and exciting (because jobs ARE totally fun and exciting, right?)  This year when Eli and Julie set the ground rules they let each “group” get together (more about “groups” at the end of this post back HERE), and decide what they would want their “reward” to be if they happen to win the doing-jobs-exceptionally-well contest.

They took this task very seriously as you can see by Lucy’s face:

After they decided on their desired reward (some chose a trip to get milkshakes on the other side of the lake, others chose a sleepover on the tennis court, etc.), then one representative from each group picked a paper out of a hat with their “zone” for the week on it.

Then they got all pumped up to actually do those jobs.

There were random checks each day to see which zone would get a checkmark for being in order so us parents reminded them here and there that they better check those zones of theirs.  Here’s the chart Eli used to mark who was doing well:

It was fun watching them get to work with smiles stretched across their faces.

These girls actually ended up winning, and had a great whiz-bang sleepover with their favorite Aunt Charity at the end.

Ok, jobs are all fine and good but let’s get on with the reunion here.


Every year we have a bonfire on the first night and we play the favorite songs everyone turned in.  Everyone guesses who turned in which song.

The kids think this is the greatest thing ever.

And it was even cooler this year because E & J gave everyone glow sticks to snap on when their song came on.

After all those songs were played and guessed, E & J showed the video they had put together from what everyone had turned in.

I posted it before, but here it is again in case you missed it.
I am weird but it kind of makes me tear up a little seeing all those people I love in so many different places just being “happy.”

45 Years of Happy – Eyrealm from Eli Eyre on Vimeo.

The next day we skied and hung on the beach and our cousins came to visit (the ones having their own reunion close by).

That night we had a little meeting with just the siblings while the PILE members did their own hot tub discussion.  (PILE stands for “present in-laws of Eyrealm” which the first sister-in-law came up with years ago).  Love it.  My dad showed a power-point presentation that he does in speeches and my brother told a story that had us all in tears we were laughing so hard.

That was the first night of the “chocolate chip cookie baking contest.”

Why?  Because we make them all the time and we are all quite opinionated about which recipe should be used so this year we each got to do it just how we wanted.

Jo and I were on for the first night.

I am always up for taste-testing chocolate chip cookies late at night with people I adore.


It was a hit last year (back HERE) so E & J decided to do it again this year.
Here’s the warm-up:
This year they instigated a few team photo requirements:
Each team got their different-color headbands (a new idea this year) and the cars lined up.
Our pink team was excited and ready to roll.
Lucy was SO excited she got chosen to lead off in the beginning of the race for the gray team.

Boy did she ever take it seriously.  It was so darn cute.  Too bad I didn’t take my camera settings seriously, dang it!  This was so overly overexposed but I’m still posting because look at that determination on that girl’s face:

Claire was fast.  I couldn’t help but make our car stop to take a picture.

Luckily whoever took this pic. below didn’t get the front of me because that would show that I was about to keel over.

I am SO not a runner.

Dave did everything in his power to make his team come in first:

But in the end it was totally the blue team who came through victorious for the win.

But really, everyone’s a winner in this race πŸ™‚

Ian (the soon-to-be newest member of the family in October) ran pretty much the whole way trying to cheer on the little kids on our team.  He was a little pooped out after that.
The other teams:

We celebrated with some raspberry shakes (mmmm) and some tater tots (hmmmm).

We saw the most gorgeous field of purple flowers along the route and figured that would be a perfect spot for our family picture this year.

All sweaty and nasty, but since there are so many of us you can’t tell, right?

I wish I had more pictures of the food, because it was fabulous.

Each family takes a meal and when I say they “take” a meal, they take that meal of theirs seriously.

We eat well at the lake.

Dave and I did bruschetta for ours.
With pesto chicken salad.
E & J decided to put “Grandchildrens’ Green” to good use and do some water stuff.

Water balloon toss:

And this year my brother Josh brought rockets to launch, which was a big hit.

I love watching the progression of these pictures…

Since Eli lives in NYC and sees the bubble guy in Central Park all the time, he decided to give it a try at the reunion.

It was pretty cool.


It happens every year: the doubles-tennis tournament.

I can’t believe I didn’t get any more pictures than this, because it was an exciting one this year.  Mainly because Dave and I were in the finals.  Ha!

But that darn Noah and Kristi came in for the win, dang it!

Kristi just had a baby, so yeah.

We can translate that to mean that Dave and I were pretty weak, or that Kristi is quite the athlete (which she is), but I prefer to think that sweet little Shelby of theirs must have given them good luck πŸ™‚

(third annual)

This became a big hit a few years ago.

It is funny that it is a “favorite” among the kids when we get faces like this:

…and this:

…and this:

Yeah, doesn’t look like such a “favorite” to me, but whatever.  There’s always Lyla who will eat anything with a smile:

Including crispy bugs:


Eliza is pretty darn good too…here she is with fish paste:

We had one special night set aside to have my parents tell their whole love story since their 45th anniversary was coming right up on the 30th of July.  I wish I had a picture going the other direction because those kids were mesmerized I tell you!

We had texas sheet cake to celebrate because we kind of like that stuff.

Aside from all that jazz we snuggled up babies:

Soaked in sunsets in every way we could:
Had great conversations (including my mother who’s handcuffs helped πŸ˜‰
And boy oh boy did we ever enjoy these views.  My parents have raised us all to be nature-lover-extraordinaires almost to a fault.

One day when Claire was out walking she found a rattlesnake.  Here are all the boys trying to find it.

That was a kind of scary adventure!

On Sunday we had our annual testimony meeting at the church and my brother blessed his new baby after church.

I was taking pictures with my sister-in-law’s camera so I don’t have any good ones (although Dave does look exceptionally handsome in this one…).  We are so incredibly grateful for this sweet girl who has joined the family.

More about her miraculous story over HERE on their blog.  She is amazing and the faith of her parents is even more amazing.  Love them so much.
We had a wedding shower for my cousin who was getting married and all the extended family came up to the “Lighthouse” for that.

Once again, my dad told some pretty mesmerizing stories.

And so, with that the reunion came to an end.

But everyone still stuck around for as long as they could.  More on the reunion aftermath later, but for now, Wow.  I’m so incredibly grateful for these two and for the vision they had so many years ago to make all this possible.

Similar Posts


  1. I am not a part of your family, and I got teary looking at your photos. There is so much love and togetherness and fun in them. What a beautiful family you have. Who wouldn't be blessed to be a part of it?

  2. oh my gosh! We need handcuffs for my Mom she is always up cleaning and doing things while we are finishing up eating and we always have to tell her to just sit and relax. That is funny. Thanks for sharing…as always it looks like so much fun!

  3. This is one of my very favorite posts every year. I just soak up your words and every picture with my face glued to the screen. I have to say, Grace caught my eye in every picture… she is crossing that line from one of the littler girls, into such a stunning young lady. She's such a beauty (as they all are!).

  4. by far my favorite post from you each year! its just seems so fun and family oriented! could you explain where you guys stay when your there. I know their is more then one house o how does splitting up work? does each couple get their own room and the kids are just kind of where ever? thanks!

  5. Your family is wonderful and I love reading your reunion updates! I am curious though, how do you set up sleeping arrangements for that many people?

  6. These reunion posts are my absolute favorite, And I don't even know you! Next summer for the first time my inlaws have rented a house near Lake George, NY for all of us (and we are only a fraction of the size your great family is, but we are LOUD, so it makes up for it) and my sister in law & I will be borrowing some of these great ideas. I can't wait!

  7. WOW Shawni, this is fabulous. My computer is clogged up and I can't blog until I get it fixed. When I do, I'll just post about the Grammie Camps and send everyone to this post for a recap of the reunion. With your gifted eye, you have captured so many memories, such priceless expressions, so much fun and such an abundance of love! Thanks for taking the time to gather all this so we can look back and enjoy forever! Love you!

  8. Hi Shawni, my husband and I just found out we are pregnant with our first child. Do you have a previous blog post you can direct me to or a list of books about motherhood and parenting? I want to start soaking up all of the information that I can now. I know as I have read your blog I see bits and pieces of suggestions scattered here and there, but I would love a list of what you suggest of what to read now. We have no idea how this parenting stuff works! Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *