Here we go….

Each year the numbers at the lake shift a little…some come to stay well before, some come and stay after, but pretty much everyone is there for four sacred days each year: those days we call the reunion.

It seems like every year we are missing one member of our family as our kids get older.  Max has missed the last two years since he was in Taiwan, Grace missed last year since she was in China, and Elle was in Jerusalem this year, but it makes it even sweeter when they’re there the next time, and everyone else is there, and it is grand.

This year we had exactly FIFTY people (ok, 49 without Elle, but I’m counting her), which is kind of cool since it will be my parents FIFTIETH wedding anniversary this year.

I think I enjoyed this year even more than last because we weren’t in charge.  Hallelujah!  That is a lot of work (we rotate which family is in charge each year…click HERE to see the recap of last year when we had the reins).  And I only half-kid about that “hallelujah” piece because we sure had fun with it.  Just glad we don’t have to do it every year!



as usual, came right after dinner that first night, as the sun was stretching all our shadows across the lawn getting ready to paint the sky for the evening.

Saydi and Jeff were in charge this year and they did a phenomenal job.
Their “theme” was “TURN THE HEARTS,” and everything was based around ancestors and learning more about them.  The opening ceremony was pretty incredible with beautiful music blasting, balloons flying, and banner unfurling 🙂

I wish I had a video, but I will say that my heart was just so full as Saydi described how we were going to “turn the hearts,” her voice full of emotion that I think rippled through us all, with that sunset over the lake (which the pictures can’t give justice) as a backdrop.

Each kid in that family was to be the “team captain” for the teams we would be divided into this year…and each team was named for one of my parent’s parents.  See those pictures they’re holding up below?

Yep, that’s Dean, Ruthie, Hazel and Roy.  And boy howdy did we ever “turn our hearts” to them this summer!

Here’s the annual “map of events” made beautifully by Hazel:

We divided into teams and the t-shirts were unveiled for this year (wish I had a close-up picture, but I love them…the say “turn the hearts” with a rooted tree).

On the first night we always have our MUSIC BONFIRE where the songs are played that have been “turned in” by each of us before hand, and when your song is played (in random order) you explain why you picked it.

The kids think this is the best thing since sliced bread.

Not sure if the s’mores at the end have anything to do with that or not…hmmmmm.

The next day we had our traditional RELAY, but this time it was a little different.

Each team had to do a series of tasks related to something all those grandparents would have done.  And the race was to see which team could complete them all the fastest.

Here are some of the “tasks” each team had to accomplish:

We had to whip up blueberry muffins (my Grandpa Dean, who was a great cook, loved those).

We had to churn butter (much like my Grandma Hazel used to do on the farm).

We helped get some new trees watered and situated (you know, family trees:)…since my Grandpa Roy was a farmer, so we were sort of farming in a way, right?

Each whole team had to float on a raft and sing some Joy School songs (thanks to my Grandma Ruthie):

There were some sports things thrown in there like swimming to the buoy and shooting baskets in honor of my Grandma Hazel…it was all a scramble to get to the Bear Cave where we rewarded ourselves with raspberry shakes.

Because those are a “must” at Bear Lake.

Here are the teams:

(they are doing dancing poses up there since they are representing Grandma Ruthie who was a great dancer)

These guys were the winners:

Family Reunion FEAR FACTOR

is a tradition every year too.  We switched it up last year and these guys switched it up too…but no matter how switched up it gets, somehow it always involves that tray Jeff is holding below held up high before introducing the first “course.”

This year the first round was cat food on crackers.

Oh yeah.

This is how Claire felt about that:

And this is how Lucy felt:

No problemo.

My favorite thing is the expressions of the “watchers” during Fear Factor.  Check them out in these next pictures:

This round was the chubby bunny marshmallow challenge:

Then it was on to trying to eat the licorice out of whipping cream:

…and slurping down watermelon as quickly as humanly possible:


Love those cousins cheering on other cousins.  Makes my heart happy.

I have no idea who won, but it was pretty fun.


I love it.  And I LOVE this picture of Zara and Dean…such a classic sibling picture in my opinion 😉

I think my brother wins the award for the best tube driver.

(Ok Sayds, you’re good too, but I wasn’t in the boat with you this time…)

Patient “waiters” on the raft:

And the switching for the next group’s turn:

TENNIS watching:

…and tennis playing.

We did “King of the Court” again this year and it’s fun to watch all the cousins in there playing their hearts out.

My brother-in-law Jeff came up with an awesome TRIVIA game…

The FOOD for the reunion is always a big deal.  Here are my sisters preparing one of the breakfasts for the next morning:

This year we each were in charge of a meal as usual, but Saydi and Jeff had us mix in some favorites from those ancestors, including creamed peas and potatoes, peaches and toast, and even macaroni and cheese mixed with hot dogs for the kids one night.  Ha!

But we can’t sway away from my brother’s traditional Japanese Curry, because everyone loves it way too much to slide by without it.

One night there was a cookie baking challenge (since my family cannot get enough of chocolate chip cookies).  Each team made a batch of what they determined to be their own best recipe:

My brother Eli got to be the taste-tester to determine the winner since it was his birthday that day.

Ok, on to Sunday.  I’m going to call it BABY SUNDAY because those two newest babies got blessed that day.

We had some traditional meetings at church…

…and came home to zone in on these two sweeties:

In this place that I love, gathered all around.

Here are my brother and my sister holding the babes:

So fun to have them so close together.

This one sure gets a lot of love from her older siblings…

Not sure she’s too happy about that!

Since I was taking pictures for everyone, I figured I should take some of my babies too.

Because, you know, I sort of like them.

My Grandma Dean and Grandma Ruthie were quite the dancing duo.

So we had a little DANCE LESSON following the blessings.

Everyone grabbed a dance partner and learned some new moves.

Claire picked a pretty good partner:
…and so did Lu:

Sorry this is a lot of pictures, but look at that light!

…and that coordination!
These guys are watching a slow motion video of Lucy and her Bo Jangles partner…wish I could figure out how to put that on here cause it’s pretty cute…

Are you kidding me with these girls??  I mean, serious darlingness right there.

Saydi’s daughter Hazel made up a “sunshine note” station where people could write nice notes to each other.

We let the older kids take care of the younger kids one evening and had our traditional adult MEETING:

This is where we talk about all kinds of stuff, mostly relating to “broadening and contributing” (our family motto).

Max was invited this year since he’s an adult and all.  He, Dave and I were fully involved, but couldn’t help taking some pictures to send to Elle on the side:

(She went through this phase where she did a “daily carrot snap” on Instagram.)

Reunion GAMES

(Olympics as we sometimes call them) were extra competitive this year.

Let’s get a closer look:

Most of them involved these “noodles.”  This one was like dodge ball and it was pretty funny.
When I say competitive, just take a look at Claire’s face above.
And then Max below.  I mean, come on, you’ve got to whack your little cousin in the face if you want to win!
Ha ha!  I’m sure that was unintentional but seeing that picture made me laugh.
I personally liked “noodle hockey” best…maybe because Max and I were on a team against Dave’s team in the finals and it’s always fun to beat trash-talking David:)

The last game was Human Pinata where the dads wore these shirts:

(Max got counted as a “dad” for more numbers…)

…and the kids got to try to get as much candy as they could.
Here they come:
Being a spectator was pretty fun on this one.

In another competition front, there were ANCESTOR POSTERS to write as many facts as we could about each of those grandparents we were celebrating:

Each team did a little “symbol” for their team on the facts that they added (a cookie for chef Dean, a basketball for Hazel who played all kinds of sports, a flower for farmer Roy and I think a ballet shoe for dancing Ruthie) so we could keep track of how many each team added.

I learned a lot from those suckers!

The sky takes our breath away on a regular basis at the lake.

On our last night of the reunion that sky put on the best show:

At first we watched it from dinner:

But it was so beautiful it almost felt like it willed us down to the beach to join it.
So we went.

After we had drunk up all that beauty we had a little ancestor story time:

…then tucked the kids in bed and came back to that exact spot to talk, talk, talk until one by one we drifted off to bed.

The last day we finished the TENNIS TOURNAMENT:

It’s always “doubles” and each year my dad has a new grandchild partner.  (Those two beat me and Dave this year…boo!…but yay for McKay because he’s getting so good!)

And on to the grand finale… the thing the younger cousins count down to and practice for all reunion long:


I think there must be a very serious act that was going on from the looks of those viewers up there!
There were some pretty professional musicians who sounded beautiful:

…as well as a serious dancing-dog-duo:

(If you look closely you’ll see that Lucy was transformed as a dog herself.)

And Bo was a very compliant partner.
(Right then and there my heart was sure filled up with gratitude for that dog/best friend of ours.)
…and the human one too…let’s get a close-up of that dog of mine:

Her cousin Elsie should have entered the talent show just for that make-up art work, don’t you think?  Loved it and Lucy was pretty pleased.

We has a Swiss-German speaker:

And my mother dusted off her own violin at the request of the reunion chairs.  Which we all thanked them for because man alive, my mother is a beautiful violinist and hasn’t played for us in ages.

And with that, the final ceremonies ensued, winners were announced, prizes were won, and the first of the ones who had to leave began to trickle out.
Just have to give one more giant cheer for these ancestors we all grew to love more than never before:
…and also for the kids (and their parents) who brought this all together:

HIP HIP HOORAY for the Shumways!

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  1. These are always so interesting to read every year. My mom's side has a reunion every year but it's nothing like this.

    Also, I've been curious. Is everyone in your family (like the whole giant family) not LDS? I have a gigantic Mormon family too (my great grandma had 18 kids) and there are a few of us black sheep that are not Mormon. Me and I think two cousins are atheist and one cousin is…Satanist? (She's not evil or anything, just more about respecting self and the earth. The name throws people the wrong way and it's not at all what they think. She's one of the kindest people you'd ever meet.) Anyways, there are about four of us out of my huge whole family on that side that are not LDS so I thought I'd ask about yours because I'm genuinely curious. 🙂

  2. The pic of Eli with a blindfold cracks me up. Also, I’ve always thought running into you at an airport (or somewhere) would be much more exciting than any celebrity. #fangirl

    1. I have seen her at the airport and a few other places but I just can never bring myself to say hi. She’s just as fabulous in person, though! I did mingle with her at one of her book signings 🙂

    1. yep all is well! The one who had to have heart surgery is actually in the picture…she's growing up so much and is now so beautifully healthy and spunky. So so grateful for doctors who were able to help so much!

    1. Great question! It’s from a scripture in the Bible, in the book of Malachi that states there will be a turning of the hearts of the children to their fathers and the fathers to the hearts of their children. Members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe that this prophecy is coming to pass as we prepare for Christ’s second coming, and we are encouraged to research our family history and ponder and learn from our ancestors lives, even doing temple work and uniting our families eternally.

    2. Thank you, Holly! Perfect explanation. Somehow knowing more about the blood that runs through our veins, bad and good, helps us understand ourselves better and feel so united with so much gratitude for those who have gone before.

  3. Ohhh Hazel…my piano teacher! How I love her! My heart nearly burst reading this post, as well as all the facts about her on the poster! ❤️ Surely they were among the reunion festivities! What a great theme!

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