Thursday, August 4, 2011

the reunion {and how we do it}

Although we all linger at Bear Lake as long as we can each year, the actual reunion itself is only three-and-a-half days.

Each year one couple is in charge of putting it on.

We move down the family by age.

This year it was this dynamic duo who pulled it all off:(That's also the brother who pulled off fixing the boat so he was pretty much the hero this year.)

Reunion CD unveiling

Each year we kick off the reunion the first night with our traditional bonfire-reunion CD-unveiling-topped-off-with-s'mores. The "reunion CD" is a compilation of our favorite songs from the year that we have each submitted "secretly" to the reunion chairs beforehand. We listen to the songs one by one and guess who chose them. I chose the exact same song this year that I chose last year and I didn't even realize it. That's kind of sad, but it IS a good song. (It's the first song on the slide show on this post.)
We like listening to these songs all year because they're usually pretty darn good ones....

...except sometimes I'm not super in love with the kids' choices...

"Olympics"
We do this every year too...relays and stuff.I only got pictures of the kid running part...we did a swimming relay too that I was trying to be competitive and win so I couldn't take pictures.

But our team still didn't win. I stink at swimming.


Talent Show
My brother got these girls all geared up to do a rendition from "Starlight Express" for the talent show. They thought it was the most exciting thing ever and put in a lot of prep.

I wasn't so hot at taking pictures of each family but my Mom snapped this one of us doing our "talent." Boy howdy we blew everyone away with our musical abilities:)
Tennis Tournament

We have an annual mixed-doubles tennis tournament.

Elle and my dad were partners this year.

They knocked these two out in the semi-finals:
Then Dave and I lucked out and knocked these guys out.
Which resulted in us playing against our daughter in the finals. I have to admit that was kinda fun. And it was even more fun that they beat us.
Favorite Aunt Competition

Ok, I kid on that one.

But I will say that my little sister pretty much takes the cake on being the "favorite aunt." It helps that she continually quizzes the kids about who that favorite aunt actually is. She has trained them well to say that of course, it's her. Which is true. She's a wing-dinger of an aunt.

This year I just may have given her a run for her money with the introduction of my "paper airplane" book for the little boys.I whipped them up a bunch of those things and I had them in my hand like putty.

Man alive were they ever excited.

I tried some baking soda, vinegar type volcano experiment with them too.
Yeah, I was inching up in the "favorite aunt" category.

But then Charity goes and does stuff like tennis-court-sleep-overs:
...and flute lessons for an-over-eager-girl-who-is-dying-to-start-flute-this-year:
And really, who can compete with stuff like that??
I have no chance :)


Meetings

Each night we pretty much make cookies and play speed-scrabble or just get into some type of discussion.

Over the years we have scaled down on our actual "meeting" time. My Dad used to schedule meetings like twice a day (ok, a little exaggeration, but it was a LOT.) We love to talk and learn so much but we had a tough time not looking longingly at the beach. We just had one official meeting this year and that was to talk about different service opportunities we could be involved in.
Don't we look excited about it? We really were but I think it was pretty darn late.

I think the "meetings" of the past have gradually morphed into insightful on-going discussions that happen naturally all on their own. My favorites this year were about whether or not to allow kids to have sleep-overs, how much to push kids on sports, and ways to put your husband as first priority (inspired by some questions people have left on this blog...I'll share what we came up with soon).

This year a "Just Dance" night was introduced.
I think that's a keeper.

The lake was higher than it has been in ten years so it covered the terrain that we usually have driving lessons in this old thing:The kids were pretty sad about that but they survived and still got to take some rides.

The hot tub is always a favorite.

A few years ago my parents divided the grand-kids into "groups" for lots of reasons. My Dad has certain things he does with each group each year...one year they may build "treasure chests" together, or one year that particular group may get to go on a little trip with my parents. I love that and the attention they drape over my children with all my heart.

Group #1

Group #2
Group #3

(We mostly call them "the babes.")

Group #4
Group #5


Group #6

(That group includes two unborn babies not pictured here :)

This year my sis-in-law let each "group" make their own flag. (that's a "4" but backwards.)

Each time that particular "group" did something great (i.e. helped someone, jumped right on their assigned job, etc.) they got to add a "badge" to their flag (some iron-on thing she finagled).

It was a big hit. So big that a couple times kids were fighting over who got to do what work. My sis-in-law is a genius.

Different "groups" are assigned different kitchen jobs from day to day.

It was my favorite when it was group 4's turn for dishes. Check out that diligence:

Let's get one more angle. They mean serious business.Why do I love that so much?

Food

I've had a few people ask how in the world we feed all those people (39 of them).

Two things: 1) my mom is amazing and she somehow gets the bulk of the supplies up there before we arrive, and 2) there are some pretty good cooks in my family. Each of us are in charge of specific meals. We generally stop and get some of the fine-tuned ingredients we need on the way up, but my Mom heroically does the bulk of the big shopping before we get there.

It takes a lot of work to cook for that many people, especially because we often do more intricate meals complete with big {really good} salads. But most of us really enjoy that because as we cook we sit around and talk and bond as we chop and stir (even though one couple is in charge of each meal generally others pitch in and help out a bunch). Cooking is a big part of what makes the reunion to me. I love to learn all those new recipes and watch in awe as my sisters can just whip up salads and dressings from remnants of this and that in the fridge.

And let's face it, cooking is kind of fun when you have a "group" of kids to come and clean up after you :)


Reunion T-Shirts
The person in charge of the reunion designs these babies. This year they put my Dad's "lifebalance" triangle on it.


The last night we had a little ceremony to give awards to the kids for their outstanding acts of service. I couldn't leave this picture out because it makes me laugh. Doesn't it look like they are all just pleased as punch?I'm sure they were just holding their breath wondering who in the world would get the awards...

Ok, here's a little more excitement:

The last day my brother blessed his sweet new (ish) baby.(That's our favorite doctor/family-dear-friend on the left. He puts up with phone calls from all of us all the time on random health maladies. We love him.)
I love my family.

29 comments:

Cheryl said...

our reunion this year also had Just Dance, a talent/variety show, family meetings and everyone takes turns doing a meal. I love the Olympics idea, awards and tennis tournament! We played a ton of Minute to Win It games this year that were a big hit and hilarious to watch!

Mary Croxford said...

WOW! How fun to read about all these neat activities! We are leaving for Bear Lake tomorrow morning for a week. (Busy doing laundry and packing here) My hubby's side of the family has been doing this for years! This will be our 29 year! Thanks for sharing all these darling pictures and ideas!

Gina said...

You are an animal! How did you get so many posts up in one day? You must have pulled an all nighter! You amaze me. Thanks so much for your writings and musings. Keeps my chin up that maybe one day I'll be an ounce like you and your mom!

Accalia said...

Fun reunion! I love reunions and the bond they can strengthen.

Question: 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.

Karin @ 6ByHisDesign said...

Love it Shawni. Love love love.
Can't wait to hear more on the 'pushing sports' topic. I am in the middle of this epic debate for my own children.

love bug momma said...

I'm so jealous of your family. I know that's not the point, but I am.

Carin said...

@love bug momma- so am I!

Man, I wish I had that kind of family! You are truly blessed! And the reunion looks so fun and strengthening. !

Rachel said...

Hey Love Bug, I know you! (Hi, Laurie) This post is awesome for reunion ideas. Looks like a blast. Will definitely refer back when planning ours. I'm also a little jealous. In a good way. ;)

The Nicholas Family said...

Thanks for posting this! My husband has a family of 13 and they have never had a reunion - we were just talking yesterday about how we want to plan one but need some inspiration. perfect timing!

emily ballard said...

Fun to see these pictures now that I recognize more of the people and places. Your photos are amazing!

E's Mommy said...

I love reading your blog. It melts my heart and puts a smile on my face. You have such an amazing family. I love the stories you share. They are always inspiring me to make my day just a little better.

Susan R said...

Shawni
I was just curious. Does your family own the home y'all stay in there, or do you rent it from another person? Would love the name of that person if you rent it.
That is the perfect area, home and situation for the perfect family reunion.
I Absolutely LOVE how those boys are doing the dishes. Whatever it takes to get them done right?

Jenna said...

Hi Shawni, I'm sort of new to reading your blog, though I remember my mom being a big fan of your mom's when I was growing up, and I love her too. And now I love you! I really enjoy your blog, and I have been so inspired by these reunion posts. We have 9 kids in our family too (my parents, I mean) and we don't get to have regular reunions like this, but we should! So, maybe other readers know this, but do your parents own this house 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? (Don't worry, I'm not asking to go!) I am wondering how you do that part of it. I know another family that rents a big house each summer, but in a different location each year, and I think it's so neat that you seem to have memories of the same place. 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!

Katie Wiens said...

Hi, I am new to your blog and you probably already answered this question but where did you get your oldest girls swimsuits!! i love them:) i love your blog also you have an amazing family!! You are amazing!!

Andrea said...

I'm so jealous! I have never in my life been to a family reunion. Kinda sad that my family and my dh family never have any. Ever. I think I'll have to start one! I love that you have family groups. What a great idea to be able to spend time with grandparents when there are so many grandkids. I'll have to encourage my parents to start that. Thanks for sharing!

Jenny (also) said...

I think my 5 year old son would love Love LOVE being in group 4. They look like just the kind of trouble he likes to get into.

Karlene said...

LOVE hearing about Bear Lake each year! I love family reunions!

Holly said...

For the first time, we're doing a Bear Lake reunion next July! My sibs and I are just eating up the latest blog posts from you, your parents and Saydi on how things work. We can't wait to have our own Bear Lake memories. Also, we're really hoping we overlap with you all next year because (1) it would be great to see the Eyre clan and (2) we would LOVE to schedule you and/or Saydi to photograph us.

We Hinckleys love Eyrealm!

ps: I can't wait to hear your thoughts on whether or not to let kids have sleep-overs.

pakosta said...

oh my goodness, you have no idea how truly blessed you are (I am sure you really do) and how I wish EVERYONE in this world have exactly what YOU have right there in the palm of your hands. I LOVE this post and all that you put into your reunions! how much fun and excitement. talking about service and kids , all of it!!! that is AMAZING!!!!!!! My prayers are that everyone would have this kind of family....much love to you and your beautiful family! keep spreading the word. and please tell your Dad, he is truly an amazing guy and spreading forth so much GOOD into this world!!!'tara

Heather said...

Fantastic post - I love the organizational outline for reunions. It seems like a wonderful summer and I can see why everyone makes the effort. The thing that gets tricky about reunions is the cost. How does your family work it? Each pays to get there, but do you pay rent towards the cabin, or a set amount towards food or entertainment? Some siblings surely have more resources than others, does it make it hard for everyone to come every summer?

Monica said...

Loved this post! I know you said you would write more about how to put your husband first soon, but I want to ask that you also write more about the "sleepover" and sports issue as well! I find it so helpful to hear what others do and then use that to set guidelines in my home. It's especially nice to get opinions from others who have strong family values and a Christian perspective versus the mainstream America one. Thanks again for all of your inspiration.

Kristen Duke Photography said...

That was thorouoghly enjoyable to read through. I am in awe of the organization. I am a planner, I like to have it all organzed before we go, but no one else in my fam or my hubbies seems to like that and we get together and it just isn't quality time and it makes me sad. I love all the ideas here, thank you so much for sharing!

Ellie McFreaken said...

Shawni..please tell your parents to adopt me!!
Thank you :)

Monica Mary said...

I come from a family with 9 kids and we just had our reunion as well. We, like you, try to fit in a whole lot of activities in each day. Do you have trouble keeping things on a schedule? We always end up eating dinner so late and our nightly activities go till midnight. (talent shows etc.) Do you make a curfew? (Teens who like to stay up chatting and sleep in) What about differences in religious beliefs now that they are adults? Just wondering how you guys deal with some of these things... :)

I love reading your blog!

The Homesley Family said...

It's somewhat strange to love a family I don't even know...but, WOW-- what a blessing to have such an amazing family!

shannon said...

what a fabulous family reunion! It looks like you have so much fun together.

I'm intrigued by one of your "discussion" topics. Making your husband a priority. I saw this on pinterest (http://pinterest.com/pin/103909371/) and was reminded of your post. It says "Home is where your husband is."

I feel like I keep hearing of and seeing young girls (wives/mothers) who get homesick for mom and leave their husbands for weeks or months at a time (on a regular basis) to go back home to visit. Of course the kids come along with them and the husband is left alone. Sure you should visit the grandparents, but I feel like too many young girls are not grasping the "cleave unto your husband" concept and are still pining over mommy. And it affects the marriage relationship, family dynamics, church/social opportunities because they never fully "unpack their bags" where they are at. And how does that make the husband feel to know that he and the home he has provided for his family are not enough?

I'm interested to hear what your (you and your family) comments are on this topic.

JSi @ Very Pinteresting said...

I stumbled across your amazing blog, and this post about your family reunion, from Pinterest, and I have to say, the photos of your beautiful family sharing in your reunion brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful tradition to keep up. I am moved to attempt something similar with my own family, and I thank you for that inspiration.

Matt's Lazy Housewife said...

This is perhaps my favorite Pinterest pin ever! Thank you so much for sharing this and putting it online! Love the ideas! Thank you, thank you!

Emily @ RemarkableHome said...

I think I went to HS with your sister in law. Is her name Aja?

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