Welp, the 2017 Eyrealm reunion was a big one for us.

Because our little family was in charge of it.

Yep, in charge of this huge group of 48 for a few days to make them do whatever we wanted.

Now that’s a lot of pressure.

Here they all are cheering their hearts out for us:

That was right before they loaded us on their shoulders and yelled out to the universe how much they adored us.
Ok, not really, but they were grateful, just as we are grateful every other year when other families take their turns (we rotate organizing responsibilities from oldest to youngest).

Family Reunion Ideas

We started talking about what we wanted to do at this shin-dig right after the reunion last year (back HERE).  We talked about it at random Sunday dinners and we kept notes whenever we thought of something we could add.  The biggest hanger in the works was that Grace had this internship in China come up.  She was one of the most excited ones to host and had to sure think long and hard about whether or not she could miss that thing.
In the end, of course, a five-week learning experience in China won out over a few days hosting a reunion, but we missed that girl like the dickens!
Luckily we at least had Max there in cardboard form 🙂

He had to come, you see, since the theme we chose was “Live Life to the Max.”

Yes, we are cheesy like that.  But we couldn’t resist.
And also, we couldn’t think of anything else.
We made a video to introduce the reunion in advance so Grace could be a part of it all.
We busted up laughing making this thing.  And I have to say that Elle was the mastermind behind it all.  It has a lot of inside jokes because of some of the funny little things my Dad does that have become so endearing to all of us, but I’m sharing it here despite those inside jokes that readers may not get because it explains what we based the reunion on.  Things you should know:  my parents have always done the “five-facet reviews” that include each of the facets we focused on (five-facet review post back HERE).  And also, you kind of have to know about this classic video of my Dad back HERE to get it a little better…the kids walking in and out in the background, my dad’s systems, the way he fixes his hair from time to time, etc.
Ok, so here it is:
Turn it up during the Bo part…

I love that my brother caught some of the reactions.

Lucy was especially excited about this whole deal.

She was in charge of explaining the calendar of events:

(Elle created that calendar, that good girl.)
This next picture was about the time when these girls were getting pretty sick of me explaining the jobs portion of the reunion…

“Come on already, Mom!” is what those faces are saying.

But hey, jobs are a pretty important part of the reunion too.

This was our t-shirt that we unveiled for this year:

We all put in our two-cents and Elle put it together with her graphic design know-how….the gray lines in between the blue ones represent taking each of those “five facets” we talked about “to the MAX” because the gray goes beyond all the other design…and fills up the whole shirt.

Before I go any further I better explain this wheelchair my niece had to ride around in:

That poor girl fell out of a tree a few months ago, broke both arms, and they found out a week later that she actually broke her hip as well.  So she’s had to be in a wheelchair while it heals (and crutches too if that’s easier on the occasion), and her cousins had a good opportunity to serve her by pushing her around this summer.  She was a pretty good sport about that thing, and the other cousins sure loved taking turns trying to learn tricks in it when she wasn’t using it.

After the opening ceremonies, it was time for our traditional bonfire/song reveal (where we play the first few minutes of everyone’s favorite songs from the year and everyone guesses who chose that song…followed by s’mores)….

…and also a sparkler party.

It’s hard to know how to sum up the rest of the reunion so I’m just going to randomly tell about whatever I have pictures of.

Pennant Flags

We had each family tell us in advance what each member of that family had done that year to push the limits and take life to the MAX.

We put them up on these little pennant flags, and added new flags before each meal following the family’s explanation.  Loved hearing all the things people have done over the last year to face fears and push and grow.

And I loved watching the kids glow when their parents told about something pretty cool that they did.

By the end of the reunion the family room looked like this:

Family Reunion Food Ideas

Food is always a big part of the reunion, and always something I get the most questions about.  We take cooking seriously up at the lake.  It’s just what we do.  Each family takes one meal during the reunion.  We have some pretty good cooks and it’s so fun to see what awesome creations they come up with.

If the weather is good, we usually eat lunch at this little deck place:

Bo was in Heaven eating up any scraps she could find.

My brother Jonah always makes “Jonah Burgers” and they are a huge hit.

Charity made these lentil tacos that were so delicious.

My brother Eli and his wife alway make Japanese curry (he served his mission in Japan, and makes a mean curry)… it is a favorite for sure.

For dinners we eat at the house.  We cook as the kitchen fills with the heat of the setting sun, hungry kids underfoot, and lots of helpers to chop and set up.

…and we all find a spot at whatever table (inside or outside) is available, and watch the sun set over the lake while having great discussions about the world.  I love that some of the nieces and nephews are now old enough to join in the adult conversations and that each meal you end up sitting next to a different group.

We haven’t had the reunion over a Sunday before (usually we go from Weds to Sunday afternoon), but this year we went from Thurs night to Tuesday.  So after church we had an adult dinner.

The logistics of that were a little crazy, but I loved having all these people I love in one spot at {almost} one table.

Family Reunion Job Ideas

Jobs & bead-earning
Each year we do jobs a little differently.  This year we tried to instigate the deal that each child clears and washes their own place, and then does the same for one or two adults while they talk after all the meal prep.

They were extra motivated this year because we instigated the same kind of beat necklaces we used at girls’ camp this year (back HERE).

We presented my mom with a fanny pack (she used to be the QUEEN of those things back in the day) which was filled with beads.  When she noticed the kids doing good things, cleaning without being asked, serving, etc., she got to hand them a bead to add to their necklaces.

Which was a really good idea in theory because hey, it sure helped them work…and also encouraged them to look for things that needed to be done.
But my poor mom was sure inundated with handing out those beads!  Next time I think every adult needs their own fanny pack 🙂
By the end they were doing anything they could to earn extra beads, which included back rubs galore.  Ha!

I’ve always wanted to sit and paint Bear Lake.  I mean, it’s one of our very favorite places in all the world, and it is so beautiful.  We have a whole bunch of artists in the family so we decided to have an art morning and get our creative juices going to capture some of that beauty.

I loved watching everyone hard at work creating such unique masterpieces.

I’m so mad I didn’t get a very good picture of them all together!  Next year.  Because we’re going to hang them up in the cabin, they turned out so well!

While half of us were painting, my brother Josh helped kids set off rockets.

He is SO good with those kids.  The idea was to switch off, but these boys were pretty fascinated by those things!

Lake Swim
This year my niece Ana, who is an exceptional swimmer (one of the very fastest in all of Hawaii for reals), decided to enter the “Bear Lake Monster Swim.”

It was a perfect way to “Live Life to the Max” and a big group of us went to cheer her on at the finish line.

It was a 10 kilometer swim across that lake and that girl only stopped once for a little drink.

She swam it in 3 hours and we were SO proud of her!

Here’s my brother paddle boarding along beside her:

(Yes, he did that across the whole lake as her “support person” and I think he deserves an award too…that’s a lot of rowing!)

Here’s Ana as she came in the finish line:

Ok and sorry but we have to get a closer look at that triumphant face:

There we go.

These cousins were SO excited for her.

So proud of this cute duo!

Go Ana!

Family Reunion Activity Ideas

Fear Factor for Family Reunions

Fear Factor is something my brother instigated years ago.  It consists of several rounds of eating “different” things, and the winner is the one who can make it through the most rounds.
It usually ends in tears.  We have some of the best pictures of kids just trying their darnedest to get all kinds of different unique foods down.  Yet the kids LOVE it and look forward to it every year.
Still, we decided to put a twist on the whole deal this year.
Everyone got ready to go in traditional fashion.
Getting pumped up:

A little trepidation…

We threw them off with a real “round” at the beginning.  Everyone had to eat a little piece of a red onion.
Here they are done, excited with that first accomplishment:
And then we brought out a GIANT ice cream sundae and had a little game with it instead of any other rounds.

Here’s Dave trying to fend them off before he could explain the rules.

It was pretty funny I must say.
I wondered if this break from tradition would throw anyone off, but I think it was pretty much a big hit:
We played just like we play the “candy bar game”…everyone rolls the dice, if you get doubles, seven or eleven you get to eat part of that sundae.  The dice continue to be passed around and you eat until the next person gets doubles, seven or eleven.

Really, I’m glad no one was sick because there were sure a lot of spoons going into that sundae!

Ended up with some pretty excited kids.

Tennis Tournament

We always have a doubles tennis tournament.
It used to be just adults, but now the kids who are old enough (and have had lessons) are starting to join in.
This year these were the semi-finals duos:

And here are the finals:

…with Eli and Julie taking the winning title one more year.

My dad did the award ceremony right there on the spot:

This little trophy is what the award always is.
Let’s get a better look at that thing:

There we go.

(part 2 is HERE)

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  1. Love, love, love having this recorded in beautiful photography! Thanks, not only for knocking it out of the park on the reunion but for taking a LOT of time to create this post. And there's so much more fun to come. The video is even funnier the second time around! 🙂

  2. I love the necklace idea for the kids! we have our family reunion coming up, and I would love to know where you found them or even what they are called so I can search for them on Amazon. Thanks!

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