since we missed being at bear lake last year (thanks to covid), and we’d added two babies to our family since we’d last seen almost all of our eyre aunts, uncles, and cousins, it was especially exciting to be at the 2021 eyrealm reunion. i was thrilled to be able to spend some time at my favourite place with my favourite people, and introduce them to august and eve!
yes, our time at bear lake this summer was really special and wonderful. it also coincided with the onset of a lot of difficulty with all the change happening for our family. mixed in with the joy were waves of depression and acting out and challenges in supporting each other through our huge transition with our move. to be frank, i’ve blocked out a lot of this summer from my memory – i was in a really bad place. but i loved going through these photos and remembering all the very plentiful and beautiful good stuff.
i wish i had more pictures from when we first arrived at the lake – that reunion was so awesome. i had been away from all of my family members besides my parents and one brother for over two years – longer than ever before. and i’d grown and birthed two humans! here’s august meeting his cousins dean and ezra while i was gleefully hugging my brothers and sisters and snuggling up my nieces and nephews.
our first night sunset was a pretty good welcome. the moms went on a walk and i loved seeing groups of cousins so happy to be together at the lake.
the next evening we had lexy and ashton’s night-before wedding dinner, over on the other side of the lake where lexy’s family often vacations. it was super lovely to celebrate these two and their love on the eve of their wedding as the sun set with delicious food and wonderful tributes. adults only, so we partied with my parents, siblings, and older nieces and nephews.
after the wedding day (that was also moses’s birthday!) the eyrealm reunion officially started. we switch off every year on who is in charge, and this year it was my brother tal and his family. we all gathered on the lawn for the “opening ceremonies,” eagerly anticipating the reveal of the reunion’s theme.
it was revealed first in german (tal and his family live in switzerland!) and then in english – think again.
talmadge is probably the most deeply thoughtful person i know. he is always reading and studying something fascinating and considering on how it applies to his life. he and anita are both incredible at engaging in conversation that stretches while it uplifts. this summer, they encouraged us to think again and we had so many awesomely expanding conversations and activities. this “think again wall” was put up in a place that everyone passed multiple times a day, and it definitely got us all thinking, again!
we had a fun “think again” activity with everyone split into random groups that included drawing, building structures, creating items of clothing out of duct tape, and other fun challenges.
we had our traditional beach bonfire, where we shared the songs we’d picked for the year as the sun set (such smokey sunsets this year with all the fires in the west) and the stars came out. this year each family chose a song collectively that we listened to at the bonfire, and then there was another playlist of everyone’s individual song. i loved that! our family song for the year was brand new by ben rector, because it’s one we love to use for family dance parties and because we were starting a brand new life back in the usa!
about half way through the reunion, a little frustrated that my hands were always full and there were so many wonderful moments i wasn’t able to capture, i decided to start a list of things i wish i had a picture of but didn’t. it included:
-arrival and introducing the babies to everyone
-grandfather making evie laugh her head off and juggling for my delighted little boys
-moses exuberant about being the designated flag raiser on the boat with skiers; gabriel finally getting a chance to go on the “eed boat” after waiting his turn; me hollering with joy waterskiing after two years and two babies
-from scratch japanese curry
-gabriel singing “you are my sunshine” in the family talent show
-mo’s first official grammie camp (i cannot believe i don’t have any photos of that!!! i’ve got to check with my mom to see if she got any!)
i did gather a few snaps of the babies with their doting cousins – these interactions made me so, so happy!
i loved introducing auggie and evie to the lake. they adored sitting in the sand right where it met the water and splashing.
cousin deanie playing with the babies, and moses setting up his own little camp on the beach:
amidst all the hubbub of over fifty family members and all the challenges from the different ways each of our kids and ian and i were processing so many changes, the incredible teal water of bear lake was soothing and healing to my soul. the tiny slices of time when i got to get out on that water on my own or with a small group of loved ones – on the paddle boards or in the boat, or swimming – were hugely restorative.
cousin movie watching and book reading:
gatherings to discuss different topics at night and after church:
the big hit of the reunion this year was ducklings! tal arranged for a dozen duckling eggs to be sent to noah and his family’s home, where lyla lovingly watched over them in an incubator for several weeks. they were carefully transported to bear lake and watched over by many curious eyes, especially moses’s, until they hatched! mo got to name one of the ducklings, and he chose the name “hargle” (this is the name every “pet” in our family has ever had, haha!). can you tell he was pretty delighted about the whole thing??
we all got to watch the ducklings grow and quickly learn new skills – within a day or two they were waddling around in the grass, then swimming in the kiddie pool and then the lake!
when we all had to leave the lake, the ducklings were brought to a farm in the nearby farming community of dingle. our new friends there lovingly took them in and they’ve been sending us pictures of them periodically (now they are full-blown ducks!).
to all my nieces and nephews, ian is “uncle starburst.” this is because many nights at bear lake he stands on the balcony and throws starbursts down to the lawn. the kids go wild, haha!
sisters’ walks and a quick sisters’ breakfast up at my parents’ house on the hill:
the babies napped in the closet up there while we had breakfast, and this is how auggie felt when he woke up – the sweetest baby alive:
dinners on the deck and sunsets every night:
so fun to see big cousins with itty bitty cousins. isaac is the coolest.
this year the reunion activities included mud wrestling! my kids were pretty hesitant, but the same is not true of many of their cousins who went for it! hahah!
and there was fear factor, of course. gabriel joined in this year. i love how his cousins are cheering him on in eating all kinds of wild things. he was right in the middle of the craziness and he loved it!
love this little boy and his sunkissed freckles with all my heart!
grandma and grandpa gave moses a water balloon set for his birthday and we had a blast with it one evening on the lawn:
huge yummy meals and setting off rockets with uncle josh:
after lots of smoky sunsets (so sad to know so much was burning far away), we got this spectacularly clear one:
tennis matches (we did a womens, mens, and kids bracket this year instead of mixed doubles), and the talent show audience:
my eldest sister saren is sixteen years older than me and sixteen years before i had twins, she had twins. i had to take a photo of the twins (oliver and silas) with the twins (august and eve)!
grandfather bedtime stories, and my babies sharing a portacrib in a utility closet:
after the reunion was over, a big bunch of the dads and kids took off for oregon! they go up to some land my parents have had up there for decades and camp and live off the land. they’ve created a huge complex of ladders, slack lines, swings, and slides in the trees over the years. this year they added a see-saw! they fish, cook over the fire, whittle things out of wood, pick wild boysenberries, watch out for bears, and have a blast. this is the second time that ian and moses have been able to join on the big adventure and it is so great.
some photos my brothers sent me:
moses made some wood coins with uncle tal. mo especially was having such a hard time this summer with so much change all around him. at bear lake his behaviour was pretty monstrous – sweet overwhelmed boy. oregon, and quality time with his awesome uncles, was really restorative for him.
meanwhile, the moms and little kids stayed back at the lake enjoying some quieter days.
my sister-in-law julie was due to have her fourth baby any day – we weren’t sure if she should stay through the whole reunion as her due date inched closer, but baby was pretty snug so she stayed! as soon as the reunion was over, she and her husband – my brother eli – took off to be near the hospital where she was set to deliver. their two oldest kids went to oregon and their three year old etta stayed with all her aunties at the lake. it was so fun to have etta and gabriel playing together so much – they are just five days apart in age! they are a little bit frenemies – they mostly had a great time with a few explosions of fighting, haha.
sink baths for the babies:
and more fun with the ducklings!
it was so fun to welcome the kids and boys back when they returned from oregon. moses was so excited to show me the bow he made, and i got to witness this sweetest reunion of etta with her big siblings. yes, their baby brother had made his debut!
we had a few more days up at the lake before we headed to settle into life in provo. ian and i did a few back-and-forths to look at houses that went up for sale. i nearly didn’t go to see one that ian thought was just so-so, but decided last minute to go for it, leaving the boys with their aunts and bringing the babies along. that house turned out to be the one we live in now … so i’m glad i went, haha! while in provo we took a quick trip to yogurtland – a place we frequented often when we were dating in the bay area – and we stopped by to see our new nephew!
our twins looked so huge next to new baby simon! i have a feeling these three and going to be thick as thieves 🙂
back up to the lake a bit, where we got to see my awesome uncle chris (my dad’s brother) and aunt hedy:
and catch one more spectacular bear lake sunset before diving in to a new life in provo.
Your boys and the twins are so darling! That August just oozes charm – I think maybe Eve has a little sassiness? Five is a hard age without adding in a move – I’m sure things are better now. Gabriel has such a sweetness in his face.
Don’t forget to reach out for help!
a little sassiness is an understatement haha. she’s a total sass 🙂 thank you for your comment!
We moved cross country after 6 years with our 4 kids in the same happy place, and the time period surrounding the move (from the packing up through the summer in our new home) was so traumatic for me that even 10 years later I avoid those pictures (and couldn’t even look at them for years). It is no small thing to transplant like you’ve done… it’s very brave. Hope you are feeling more settled, it gets better and better. Thanks for sharing so much of your journey and your darling family.
thank you, steph!
What a blessing you have in such a beautiful big family. Slightly jealous, but I feel so much joy for you!