Our annual Family Reunion

Each summer we look forward to getting together with this crew:
…at the annual Eyrealm reunion at Bear Lake.
And every year I feel like we need a wider angle camera lens.
Let’s take that photo and look at half at a time so we can see more of that family we love so much.  Here’s the first half:

…and here’s the second half:

Oh boy, just looking at all those faces makes me miss them all over again.

My parents raised the nine of us kids to have a deep desire to explore the world.  And they raised us to want to raise our families all over the place.

So we do.

We are spread out from Hawaii to Switzerland and everywhere in between.  Only two of us siblings live in the same state (my brother Josh and I…the rest are in Maui, San Diego, Ogden, Boston, NYC, London and Switzerland).

Sometimes that arrangement makes me sad, because how great would it be to live all close together!?  I sometimes wonder if my parents regret so much “spread-your-wings” encouragement hoopla and wish we lived in a little compound all together.  But then I remember their foresight to create a place for us to gather and have that little “compound,” at least for as long as possible in the summer.

Everyone does their very best to get there.  The moms try to stay as long as possible in July and often the husbands come in and out as they can between work things.  And the actual reunion days (usually from Wednesday to Sunday) are pretty sacred when everyone is there.

And it is the best I tell you!

Every so often there is a family who can’t make it.  We missed out one year when we were in China.  Jo & Aja missed when they were in New Zealand and also when they were in Europe last summer.  And my baby sister Charity missed this summer since she was having a baby in London.  But other than that, for years and years, everyone has made this thing happen.
Each year the reunion evolves a little bit.  At first my parents were completely in charge.  But as we all grew older and more capable, the kids have taken over.  Each year now we have “reunion chairs” who figure out all the logistics.  It goes from oldest to youngest.  Since my older sister Saren and her family were in charge this year it will be Dave and my turn next year.  So I’m trying to gather ideas while I can!
Each year there is a little calendar of events (this has evolved over the years as well, but it has become a tradition).  Charity usually is the artist of the calendar but this year since Char couldn’t make it Saren’s daughter took a turn and did a pretty fabulous job I must say:
So, although there was so much swirling around before and after these core days, I’m going to just jump right in because otherwise I’ll never get this thing documented!
After Bloomington Lake everyone had finally arrived, and we held our first reunion dinner.

I like that that picture is kind of swirly and crazy because guess what?  That’s exactly how meals are up there at the lake with all those people.  Some year I’ll have to post a video of the noise and chaos as everyone gets served up, the boys trying their best to let the girls go first, the plates and cups and requests flying around.  And I love it.  Meals are one of my favorite things at the lake because everyone pretty much likes to cook and we eat pretty well up there!

(More about how we do food in the next post.)

After dinner we have the “opening ceremonies” where the reunion chairs unveil the “theme” and schedule as the sun sets.

These guys were pretty excited to tell us all their plans.

…and to unveil the t-shirt for the year, which I thought was pretty darn clever:

My sister Charity is always “dripping with passion” (that’s her blog name) and although she couldn’t make it (SO excited she was giving birth to a brand new little sweetie-pie cousin), she still wanted so bad to be a part of it all, so Saren figured this would be a clever way to include her from afar.  Ha!

It was a great theme and I love that they wove in some service and “charity” into the festivities including having a “secret buddy” we did service for throughout the reunion.

We split into teams for all the different events coming up.  I love that Lu got to be with this great brother of mine on his team, he sure looked out for her!

Then we headed down to the beach for our traditional bonfire.

The kids all look forward to this because before the reunion starts everyone sends the chairs their favorite song of the year.  They play a snippet from each song around the fire and people try to guess who chose which song.  If it’s your song that’s playing you get up and dance (or just raise your hand in my case:) and tell why you chose that particular song.

The last couple years there has been a dance party on the beach in the dark after all that hoopla using those favorite songs that have been introduced.

The kids think it is the best ever.

These are the only pictures I have to show for all that around-the-fire stuff:

(that moon was so gorgeous coming up behind that mountain!)

The Eyrealm Relay was up first the next morning.  Here’s Ash getting the kids all stretched out and ready to go:

This is something that has become a tradition the last few years…we relay with our teams over to get shakes on the other side of the lake.

Here’s the starting crew:

I loved watching how Lu’s team helped her be involved, and that I got to run along-side her a couple times.  She did pretty great out there!

Here are some of the team pics. at the end.

Elle was supposed to be on our team but hadn’t made it up from college at that point (that’s why Eli is holding out his arm to include her…ha!)  And Eli’s little girl who was also on our team wasn’t feeling very well and missed the pic…)

This team took it for the win:

Love their pose.

I am not a runner, but somehow those raspberry shakes make it all worth it in the end 🙂

I’m so glad these girls get to have little cousins who can sub in for more little siblings they wish they had.

After lunch there was a “Grandkid-dam-building-contest” (with jokes galore working with that title)…

…and Elle arrived straight from summer school at BYU.

So great to have that girl with us again and to be able to get caught up!

We watched the sunset as we ate dinner…

…and Claire got pretty into the photography contest looking for good things to photograph.

She borrowed my camera and took these next few pics:

Love all these pics she took, especially this one great portrait of my brother with his freshly shaven mustache:

Each night there seems to be some sort of game…and one of the favorites is Reverse Charades.

The next morning was Eyrealm Olympics, which seems to have become a tradition as well.

It started with a crawling race for all the cousins…

…and ended with some sprints  on the beach.

…team against team, and you could pick which team-mate would be best for each race.  I love Lucy’s determination up there.^^^

Saren and I didn’t do so hot in the three-legged race.

I love these finisher pictures of this race:

I love that we got to have so much beach time this year, the weather was great and the kids can never get tired of the beach.

We did kite-flying all afternoon because it was a perfect windy day for it.

…and while those kites were up in the air my sister Saydi had the great idea to practice capturing water in motion with our cameras.
Isn’t water just so beautiful?

We had a team on the beach trying to put together this whiz-bang kite:

…from these hilariously simplistic instructions:

It was quite a celebration when they got that thing up in the air!

SO we figured they better show that thing off in the annual talent show that night 🙂

I only got a handful of pictures from the talent show, but although there were some great piano and dance numbers (amidst the copious amounts of things the cousins all signed up to do…wish I had a pic. of the overflowing sign-up sheet!), this was my favorite.

These guys had a whole cirque-du-soleil type dealio going and it was awesome!

Ok, now that your fingers are tired from scrolling, (and mine are sore from typing!)

Part 2 is HERE.

Happy Wednesday!

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  1. How fun!! Some of your brothers are looking a lot like your Dad. Are all the women in the family stay at home Moms for the most part? I think it's awesome how you guys who all live so far apart from one another find time each year to come together. We only have 5 kids in our family and we all live in Utah (except one niece) and can't even get everyone together for a family picture. You are building such great memories!!

  2. I have read your blog off and on for several years now and it is obvious your whole family is extremely close. I am wondering if you could post on how you all foster these relationships. I am one of five and while we all were pretty close growing up, not so much now that we are adults. We have all married extremely different people and are now spread out across the country. I don't really know my nieces and nephews and my kids really have no ties to their cousins. This makes me sad for them – I loved seeing my cousins each year growing up. Anyway, I would think with 9 people you all would have married different folks yourself. Do you all get along really well or are there arguments? Is there ever family tension? Do you guys talk on the phone a lot? How would you encourage cousin bonding without being in the same place? These are questions I always ask whenever you do a post that focuses on your whole family. It seems so nice that you all get together each summer. I think my family was last together for Christmas five years ago!

  3. I love these reunion posts!! My goal is to get something similar going each year for our family. Thank you for posting details and ideas. Love love love it!!

    And my girls have that giant boat kite hanging in their you room… I didn't have the guts to fly it because it was so fragile! I'm in awe that you for it in the air!! so curious…. Did it totally break when it landed? I may pull it down to fly now!

  4. Love these reunion posts! Can't wait to hear more about mealtime. Curious where everyone sleeps! I'm thinking as my kids get older and go off and have their own families I need to start something like this each year!

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