Could you tell us who you rent the large homes from in Bear Lake? I’d love to arrange a family reunion there & want a place or maybe several homes that would hold a lot of people.
So, maybe other readers know this, but do your parents own this house [where you had your reunion] on the lake, or do you rent the house every year? Does anyone live in it the rest of the year, or does it just sit there? So, this is where you came as a child? How long has this place been in your family? I think I want a lake house of my own!

My sister wrote a great little synopsis of our family history at Bear Lake here, so I won’t go into too many details on this post. She has stories and pictures of that little a-frame we used to stay in, but over the last ten years my parents have built another house that has more room that we pack into. and a deck/kitchen area right on the beach that we call the “pavilion.” The married couples with no children and singles still stay over at the a-frame so they can actually sleep in the morning if they want. My parents do rent out both houses when we’re not there. For more information on that click here.

How do you balance those family discussions with non-parenting/non-marriage related matters? With at least one of your siblings still unmarried and without children, what do you do (or what does SHE do?) to make sure everyone feels included and that the discussion is still relevant to them? We have a similar situation in our family, and would love to help those conversations be more meaningful to everyone, not just those of us who are married with children.

I wish we were better at this! My unmarried brother and sister sometimes have the very best viewpoints because their view is not biased by having children of their own, but sadly they shy away from some of the parenting discussions (I don’t blame them!). My poor little sister is practically an expert on childbirth, nursing, weaning and discipline by now, poor girl. She used to be really frustrated with all our parenting talk but now she’s SUCH a good sport about listening in and offering her own point of view. My brother is more of a smaller-group-discussion kind of a guy and he’s mostly just involved in the conversations where we’re talking about photography or computers. Most of the discussions we have are not everyone all together…they are smaller groups and they’re really not all parenting stuff. A lot of it is travel and career opportunities, etc. And people kinda come and go. For example, the “sleepover” question came up one night among just a few of us and then people started gravitating over offering their own viewpoint. My single sister is the one who started me off on my whole “average vs. extraordinary” discussion quandary in the first place. I LOVE having her input if she’ll ever give it. We all really do try to cater the discussions to what those two are interested in at least part of the time but most of the time they are just good sports on all the parenting, nursing mumbo-jumbo.

HOW do you get the ‘jump shots?’ ?!?! First, the AIR that every participant seems to attain – is it camera angle or sheer anti-gravitational talent?! And then getting everyone to jump SIMULTANEOUSLY?!?! Is there some sort of secret??The trick is telling your subjects to lift up their legs as high as they possibly can. That makes them look like they’re higher than they really are. Then we always count “1,2,3, jump!” and they’re supposed to jump when we say “jump.” I know, very technical stuff 🙂 It takes quite a few tries but for some reason even the process is fun. And hey, good exercise too.

Where did you get your oldest girls swimsuits!! I love them!
and Where do you get your swimsuits? It is so hard to find a mom appropriate suit these days. Please share your source! and
Where did you get Elle’s swimsuit? {I’ve had quite a few renditions of these questions so here you go…}
We got Elle’s swimsuits at Lime Ricki. They’re more pricey but I figure I have four girls to go through them and they’ll last because they are such good quality so they’re worth it. Grace mostly wears swimsuit hand-me-downs from our stylish friend who hands them down to us. We are generally Target-swimsuit-shoppers for the younger girls. Love them. As for me, I lucked out and found a couple good ones at Dillard’s last year. I’ve had luck with (but I think that went out of business) and Downeast Basics before as well. But I agree, it’s tough to find a good swimsuit!

How do you travel with your camera? Do you have any tips? What is it in? How do you go on an airplane with it?

I just carry it with me all the time and sometimes I must say it is a big pain. My right shoulder is going to have problems at some point because it is heavy. But I’m always sad if I leave it home. I usually carry my camera and the lens I use most often (17-24 2.8). My telephoto lens is usually in there too just in case I want to switch it out. On airplanes it’s just one of my carry-ons.


  1. What a fabulous retreat – no wonder you have such a fantastic time! Thanks for the swimsuit info too. I have such problems finding them for my 5'9" 13 year old in the UK

  2. I love your Friday Q and A! I hopped over to the blog about the house and loved reading it. I have a camp for my grands every summer so I was particularly interested in Grammy Camp! I only have a few grands now but I envy your mom's big brood! Thanks for sharing Shawni!

  3. Thanks for answering all these questions. It is helpful as we in our family are just starting to do reunions.
    I was wondering if I could beg for one more answer? My question is whether or not you schedule your family reunion at Bear Lake at the same time each year so everyone in your family can calendar around it or do you have to go through the calendaring issue each year. I find it tricky to balance all the in-laws reunions and ours and find a time each year we can all gather at our cabin. Just wondering if you all go there the same week each year so it can be in perm. ink on the calendar.
    Thanks again! lesli

  4. Ha! You answered my jump shot question! THANK YOU! We're going to have to keep working on that one over here. We are still always in varying degrees of "jump" when "jump" is called…

    {I, too, love Fridays here :)}

  5. I love Friday Q & A.
    Can you talk a little more about the American Mothers group you belong to? I checked out their website, but aside from joining I can't seem to find anything else that they "do." I know it must be worthwhile for you to have joined (and your mother before you). Are there state chapters? Do you meet? Are there service opportunities?


  6. I've had a Lime Ricki suit for several years and it still looks great! I've had good luck with Lands End too for my daughter. They have tankinis that specifically say the top is extra long.

  7. More Q&A: 1. What are some of the service ideas that your family has done? 2. What will you do if this awesome gathering place actually sells? 3. Is the cabin/property a contribution (financially, furnishings, etc.)from each family memeber or is this something that your parents have just provided that you all enjoy? Do you do any fees, etc. (like split utilities or cost at use) It would be so fun to own a place together as a family- just curious how you divide it or if you collectively own it. Thanks- fun ideas.

  8. I absolutely LOVE your friday Q&A – you really have such wonderful ideas – so i have a QUESTION too….

    Q: What do you think are the most important attributes of being a mother and why???

  9. Hey, I was just wondering if you and your husband go out on dates with just the two of you regularly, and if you do, how you do it– how you decide what to do, making time for it, etc. My first baby is about 10 1/2 months old and last night we tried going out and he cried for the babysitter the entire time! Stranger anxiety. It makes me wonder if we should keep going out each week or not. Any ideas of what to do would be helpful! Thanks!

  10. Stumbled onto your blog after hearing your "I'm a Mormon" profile. I've loved meandering through your recent posts tonight. What a great place for moms and dads to come. Thanks for creating such a forum. Now let's hear more about your cute single sister. (smile)

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