Welp, these favorite people of mine gathered once again in one of my favorite “thin places” ever. Let’s talk about how our reunion went this year.
Eyrealm Reunion 2023
There were 57 of us this year.
Only 55 in this picture since Dave had to come late and Claire was in London. But boy, that’s a LOT of people I tell you.
So many people to love and to want to spend individual time with which makes it a little overwhelming. As we grow everyone is spread into so many different directions, doing so many things and there’s just so much to catch up on!
But even with the numbers that multiply each year, my gratitude multiplies too. For each person and for my parents who had the foresight to make this happen.
Creating memories in the chaos
That house crammed to the brim with kids and babies bonding and using their imaginations galore. Birthdays and push-up challenges and games and noise.
The beach spilling out with kids and paddle boards and waterskiing, sandcastles and rock-throwing.
My best-friend siblings, Grammie Camp and Grandfathers Secrets.
The sink is continually filled with dishes, but also usually teenager dish-doers. The whir of the old mixer cranking out double batches of cookie dough at least once a day. The popcorn popper on repeat.
(Jo figured out the best way to transport and share popcorn for the masses up there…ha!)
The kitchen a constant hive of activity to feed those hoards of hungry people (I forget how much teenage boys can eat!!).
And always sunset walks with whatever group can sneak out from the fray to bask in the glory of Gods art, walking that worn pavement and talking through the world.
It is hot. There is commotion. All of us trying to figure out a new summer with new ages and new worries and the depths of our own stories merging together. There are ups and downs as we all try to connect with our hearts with so many loved ones. Nine kids is a lot. Especially when it expands to over 50. And now as we expand with our own families, it’s tricky to find a balance.
But oh! As I look back on those memories my heart is filled with velvety gratitude for the power of family.
Murphy’s First Eyrealm Reunion
As part of the introduction, I have to share some pictures of Murphy’s first reunion.
It was pretty fun to share this baby with all these fascinated cousins!
She, and her parents, were pretty patient with all the attention:)
Ok, on to the actual reunion…
The Opening Ceremonies
Every year we gather for the grand unveiling of the reunion “theme.”
This year my sister Charity and her family were in charge and boy did they ever knock it out of the park.
The theme was “Invest,” which I loved so much.
It was all about how to invest in relationships. In health. How to invest in your spirituality. In education. Ok, and in money too! (Charity’s husband is a financial expert.)
Everyone was pretty mesmerized…although little Murph wasn’t too sure…
Let’s get a closer look at that schedule:
There we go.
The Traditional Music Bonfire
Each year we gather at the beach for a bonfire when everyone’s favorite songs from the year are played. Everyone guesses who’s is who’s.
This year Charity and Ian switched it up a bit (57 songs in one night just might be a disaster!)
They had each family chose a song, and create a little dance for it, and then others joined in.
It was a pretty fun new twist on the way we regularly do it.
They still had each person turn in their favorite individual songs and that was our “reunion playlist.”
All this music turned into a little dance party which was fun for my brother’s 40th birthday that also happened to be that day.
A Twist on the Family Tennis Tournament
Every year we have a family doubles tennis tournament, but this year Charity and Ian switched that up too.
Instead of having it stretched through the whole reunion, they had everyone come for the same few hours to the tennis court.
They made up a “draw” that wasn’t favoring the “seeded” players as per usual, and each “match” was only three points long.
Some were a little skeptical about this arrangement to begin with. There are some pretty serious tennis players in this bunch.
But it was such a great way to do it!
Got everyone involved for sure.
Each year we work in a little “upkeep” project to help take care of everything at Bear Lake.
My team was the “weeders” and we sure got some good conversations in as we weeded away.
It is tricky to find the right balance of scheduled activities and down time at a reunion. I love that although we do have a lot of scheduled activities, there’s usually beach time worked into the reunion each afternoon and early evening.
How we do Reunion Food
Oh boy, we really like food in my family. We really like to eat it and we also really like to make it.
Each family is assigned to be in charge of one dinner or lunch (breakfast is on your own). And I love how everyone, teenagers included, all crowd in the hot little kitchen chopping and mixing and prepping together. There’s not much better than cooking with family in my opinion.
There are the “regulars” we have every year like Eli’s Japanese Curry:
And new recipes like these Asian chicken lettuce wraps that our family decided to do this year.
Also my sister Saren had a pretty fabulous new sun-dried tomato pasta recipe everyone loved so much.
I’ll have to share recipes for those soon, but yow, every meal was so good!
And I think I mentioned we made huge batches of cookies at least once every day. For real. All different recipes, but I think every one had chocolate chips.
Since the theme this year was “Invest,” Ian led a “finance night.”
It was fun to see all those kids (and adults!) absolutely mesmerized by what he was saying. Filled up with so many good questions!
Then we did little “break-out sessions” to delve in deeper into specific areas.
It was awesome.
Church is always part of the reunion
Growing up at Bear Lake every year, we always attended church in Dingle, Idaho. It’s a tiny town right off the lake. Oh we have the best memories in that ward! Now I love sharing it with my kids.
I love this picture of Max just dying that he didn’t get to sit by Murphy since all of us were hogging that girl.
This was before Dave arrived and after Lu headed off to Sunday school with all the cousins.
Saydi’s family led us in a painting project that afternoon where we painted impressionistic paintings of Jesus.
I LOVED how they all turned out.
…and then served as a centerpiece the rest of the time.
Reunion Talent Show
Instead of our regular talent show that stretches out on the whole last day, Charity and Ian had another grand idea.
They had anyone who wanted to share a talent sign up for a “dinner show” each night.
This way the talents were short and sweet each night, but everyone got to perform if they wanted to.
A group of spectators from up on the balcony:
There’s not much better than watching all these cousins bonding their little hearts out.
Lucy’s cousin “group” is called the “LELEs” since their names are Lucy, Elsie, Lyla and Emmeline. And Oh how they love and support each other!
Our family was in charge of game night. We played our tried-and-true traditional “One and Done” where the loser had to agree to get written all over by everyone else. My dad lost and was a very good sport, must to everyone’s delight.
We also added a rolling prize game, where you had to roll a can of soda to land in a perfect spot to win $1, $5, $10, or $20:
We found that the table was warped in such a way that only $1 and $5 were won but it was pretty fun in the process.
We have had several kids get baptized at Bear Lake when their birthday happens to fall in. the summer. This year it was Dean’s turn.
But that is a post for another day because I have lots to say and this post is already a marathon long.
Anitas Life Coaching
My sister-in-law is a life coach and she did such a great session on “BMW” (“Be My Words”). That girl is so filled up with wisdom and goodness.
After the reunion we recorded a podcast with her filled up with so many good ideas and thoughts. Can’t wait to share it when our new podcast season starts in September! For now check out her Instagram @Foppa_Wisdom.
I mentioned above that every night we head out to walk our well-worn path to delight in the sunset. Each night with a slightly different group depending on who was in charge of dinner and who was putting kids to bed. And each night a different sky.
Spiritual Creation Award
My brother Tal always wraps up the reunion by handing out the annual “spiritual creation” award.
It is always written up all fancy on a paper plate. Ha!
Charity and Ian have done so much creating this year, including putting together an incredible reunion with four small kids in tow.
If you have made it this far, YAY to you! I know this is a long post! Just so much to say! And so much to remember!
I’m just adding a few straggler photos that I don’t want to leave out:
(Etta thought the squishing of Murphy’s face was the perfect thing to make her happy:)
We love you Bear Lake!
Goodbye until next year when you’ll cradle our hearts and so many people we love once again.
Other Reunion Helps:
- How to Plan the Best Family Reunion
- Bear Lake — “Place Based Bonding” (Eyre Sister Podcast with lots of background about how this place became so special for all of us.
We recorded a reunion podcast that will be part of our new season soon!